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These people had seen the best of a generation plucked from them in the First World War and lost not to historical battles of significance but to the callousness of their leaders. Our men knew why they were fighting. Our people knew we needed breathing space. The larger the space the better the breathing. Our men entered battle like the ancient warriors they were. While every other soldier in Europe dressed for war as if they had gone to a hemp factory — our men looked like they were emissaries of the devil.



Map German Reich 1942

In the East and in the camps they had a duty that the rest of Europe had been too scared — too frightened — too weak to put into practice. These men had a task that would leave their names as constant icons to the post war world. We were making Europe clean so that after the war we didn't have to live with the rats gnawing away at our center. No these rats would go up in smoke. I had written a paper that was given to these men. To let them know that their brutal task had no precedent in modern history. Perhaps in history modern and ancient there had never been a country with the political will we possessed.



Einsatzgruppen in occupied Poland

These men — especially the first of them — that did not have the skilled machinery our scientists and industrialists had developed for us in the last years of the war. These men. These men who got down on their hands and knees, amongst the blood and the bone, the filth and the fire to do their work. These were men of a caliber unknown today. These men who packed them into pits. Into the backs of trucks. In the middle of forests. In church halls. They had to have the will to accomplish these acts of holy terror. To take a village with all the men women and children — line them up — or lock them in a building — then to torch that building. Firing at anyone who tried to escape. This was not the work of a soldier but of men who took their task to heart and carried it out with the maximum efficiency.



Nazi Germany Stamp after death of Reinhard Heydrich

That pompous oaf Churchill sent partisans to kill Reinhardt Heydrich in Czechoslovakia while it was under his protection. Once they had done the act they left the populace to our wrath. A wrath unknown to the modern world. We took a town. Any town. We killed all its inhabitants. Men women and children. We slaughtered their livestock. We burnt every single building. We blew them apart. When that was finished we razed to the ground any testimony that it had ever been a town where people went about their business — where children played and grew up — where women went to market — where men argued over chess at cafe tables — where the air and the sky was beautiful — where the surrounding forest was used for picnics. We razed it to the ground. There is no evidence — not even today that such a place could ever have existed. This town no longer existed. This town no longer exists. If we had taken that town down brick by bricks, person by person tree by tree we could not have done a more thorough job. I do not recoil in horror at what we did but in pure wonderment.



Cannot Eckstein understand that he and his tribe will be such short work for us? While talking to him I was tempted to call one of my juniors to bring films and a projector to his little hovel. We were exemplary collectors of all records in relation to these acts. We had reels of film footage. I wanted to show him some footage. I still do not know today what compelled me to do this. Perhaps it was the arrogance of the man. That is too simple a reason. I wanted to show him that we as a nation possessed a political will that would not allow anything to get in its path. I wanted to show him that there were no conventions that we would not cross. No morality that we would not tear apart. No code of ethics strong enough to withstand the force we would put behind it. We were developing a morality, a code of ethics, conventions that would take us into the modern world. He must understand this I thought.

It was not impossible for a man of his culture to understand the nature of our task. Still I wondered why I wanted this particular Jew to understand what we were doing. This little man with disheveled clothes. Our culture. Our science. Our history. These were not given to us. We ripped it from the hands of those who would have kept it from us. This struggle of unparalleled intensity. Foreigners recognized it in the New Germany. We had pulled ourselves up. We were not prepared to take the route that the rest of Europe had taken. When the Crash happened they didn't know what to do. Everyman for himself. The ruling classes battened down the hatches and waited for the storm to finish. To hell with the poor. Even when one of their own slipped they were at the ready to down them and take whatever they could before that person was lost forever. They made their masses carry the brunt.

Here we fought the storm. Straight inside it. Smashing through it like some young animal fighting to survive. We led the masses through it. Victory was inevitable. The masses knew who would lead them to greater victories. In the early thirties before we had consolidated power you could walk any of the streets of Berlin and the faces of Berliner's told you what our country had been reduced to by our enemies. A people that towered over the rest of Europe had been humiliated into accepting their sloppy metaphysics and empty empiricism.

A shopkeeper — a friend of my fathers — told me — it must have been in 1930 — and this man was no petit bourgeois. He was a worker whose family had put him through our best Universities and schools with their sweat. He was an economic planner — if I remember — and he was reduced to this small shop selling antiques of dubious authenticity that no one wanted or could afford to buy. So this man had taken to a bit of thieving. That's how my father knew him I imagine. My father so much wanted to give some sort of luxury to my mother that he accepted stolen goods from this fellow. This man was also involved in the drug rackets with some of those blueblood intellectuals.

Nevertheless at heart he was a good man. There's no doubt about that. He had told me we had become so rotten, so defiled, so debauched, that the only way a man could make a real living was by taking to crime. Crime he told me was an industry of growth. All around us he told me there are people who are prepared to take advantage of you. I take advantage of them first. I do whatever is necessary. Steal. Blackmail. Assault. I'll even take a life if that is what is necessary to make a living. I have a family he said. I'll protect them to the last. He thought we were doomed to this life. To live out this catastrophe. I knew then he would take from me as much as he would take from our enemies. He knew no distinction. I had to teach him. I had to lead good people like him in the right direction. Once they recognized our historic enemy they would be very passionate indeed.



Christopher Barnet

Christopher Barnet

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