YDS: The Clare Spark Blog

October 2, 2014

Burleigh’s final assessment of the Nazi empire

The Racial StateFrom the end of the section on “Occupation and Collaboration in Europe, 1939-1943.” Michael Burleigh’s HISTORY OF THE THIRD REICH (Macmillan, 2001) is a good read. Here is just a sample of why I am plowing through this very long book, with candid opinions that I have rarely seen in other such histories (with the exception of an earlier book, co-authored with Wolfgang Wippermann, THE RACIAL STATE):

[Burleigh, p.481:] “How might this most transient of modern empires be viewed in the longer perspective which separates us from other empires, both ancient and modern? The Nazi empire was created by violence, lived by violence, and was destroyed than violence. In contrast to other empires created by armed might, which bequeathed art and literature that are still widely admired, or administrations, customs, languages and legal codes that Europeans and non-Europeans still adhere to,  from Ireland to India, the tawdry Nazi anti-civilization left nothing of any worth behind, except perhaps its contemporary synonym for human evil. Nazism’s material remains number a few third-rate buildings, for Albert Speer was hardly Bernini, Wren, or Lutyens, concrete coastal fortifications too dense to destroy, and the wooden huts, wind-swept parade grounds, watchtowers, and barbed wire of the concentration camps, which are paradoxically restored, rather than left to rot and rust. Nazism was literally ‘from nothing to nothing’: with its powerful imaginative afterlife curiously disembodied from its pitiful achievements. Rarely can an empire have existed about which nothing positive could be said, notwithstanding the happy memories of wartime tourism with which we began. Even in the limited terms of its own aesthetic politics, the Nazi ‘New Order’ was merely the universalization of ugliness.”

Have we entirely escaped the universalization of ugliness?

"The New Order"

“The New Order”

Advertisements

2 Comments »

  1. So shall ISIS leave nothing behind.

    Comment by harryschell — October 2, 2014 @ 10:22 pm | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: