What's Wrong With Nazi Reenacting
I don't want to leave the Rich Iott controversy without addressing the question that has been filling up my in-box: What's so bad about Nazi re-enactments? I'd have thought the answer obvious, and to most people it is. But I've gotten a lot of email from re-enactors upset to see their hobby being condemned. So, with some outside help, I want to take a stab at explaining.
Their main defense--it's also Iott's defense--is that donning Nazi uniforms and pretending to fight is somehow "educational" and reflects only an interest in history. The problem with this defense is that it's categorically false, because these re-enactments downplay or simply ignore the most historically significant fact about the Nazis: the Holocaust. I spent a good deal of time on the Wiking website, the outfit that Iott was part of, and didn't once see the words "Holocaust" or "Jew." Yes, there was a pro forma disclaimer that Nazis did some bad things. But the thrust of the "history" presented therein was devoted to glorifying the exploits and implicitly excusing the atrocities of the Waffen SS soldiers. Worse, a number of re-enactors have chastised me for quoting actual academic historians because, as one of them put it, "historians of the winning side always write history the way they see it," and only they--the grown men earnestly playing soldier in the forest--are the true authorities on Nazism. It's this perversion of history that's so troubling.
Since the story broke, two legitimate academic historians who have far more experience with reenactors and Nazi history than I do wrote in to express similar concerns. One was Rob Citino of the University of North Texas, quoted in my original piece, who laid out his thoughts in this fascinating column about how certain people develop "an adolescent crush" on Nazi history, which he witnesses through his own fondness for board games (it turns out many of them are devoted to Nazi history). The other correspondent was Andrea Orzoff, who teaches Central and East European history at New Mexico State University, and draws an important distinction between those who deny the Holocaust and others who simply aren't interested in it. She's kindly given me permission to publish her email, and I'll let this be the last word:I think most of us understand the Holocaust denial movement as comprised mainly of its worst, noisiest, most extreme fringe -- the folks who yell about a "Holo-hoax" and claim that Germany, and the West, were victims of a worldwide Jewish conspiracy to set up the Jews as martyrs. They're revolting, that little gang, but they're few and far between, and they're so desperate for media attention that they're relatively easy to keep tabs on.
But in fact there are far more people out there like Rich Iott. They don't specifically deny the Holocaust; they'd just rather not think about it too much. They're more interested in the Nazi perpetrators, whom they see as cool -- powerful, purposeful, casually and overwhelmingly violent, glamorous, almost sexy.
If they think at all about Nazi policy, or about the ideology to which the people who originally wore those uniforms pledged loyalty, they tend to focus either on military strategy or domestic policy. In this portrait, the Nazis reestablished unity, order, and an appealingly traditionalist set of family and gender roles (at least nominally). They managed an astonishing set of early victories against significant odds and stood down the Communist threat: again, nominally, but the facts aren't what matter here. The fact that neither domestic policy nor military strategy can be divorced from Nazi genocidal intentions -- that it was all for the protection of the Volksgemeinschaft, the idealized Nazi racial community, and all threats to that community needed to be eliminated -- gets waved away, or just misunderstood.
I'm not calling Iott a Holocaust denier, not in the classic sense of that word. But I think it's fair to think of him as a Holocaust minimizer, at the gentler end of the denial continuum but still undeniably present on that spectrum. People like Iott, seemingly just a geek running around in uniform on the weekends, share certain qualities with hardcore Holocaust deniers. Specifically, both deniers and minimizers are interested in rehabilitating Nazism, and ignoring or lying about the millions of Jewish and non-Jewish innocents the Nazis killed.
It's an ugly business, no matter how Iott tries to defend it. Much more
than just a weekend game.
Department of History
New Mexico State University
https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/ar ... ing/64489/
We see the usual cliches being repeated here. And it's completely unreflected by that. Everything is taken for granted. Their side didn't make any mistakes, at least as far as the overall narrative is concerned. The role of propaganda and psychological warfare is completely ignored. Also, that it initially had as a goal to give "their side" some moral high ground, it apparently did thought not to have. I also subtract one point for using the term "NAZI" instead of National Socialists, One from Green, two from Orzoff, who got a phD in history from a diploma mill. I mean we don't say kikes, when we refer to Jews neither.
On the publicist re-enactors of this article:
- Joshuah Green
I think this is his twitter account: https://twitter.com/JoshuaGreen
Joshua Green is a former senior editor at The Atlantic https://www.theatlantic.com/author/joshua-green/
I didn't check his ethnic background, but I have a slight idea what that might be.
He also wrote for the Jewish Chronicle: https://www.pressreader.com/uk/the-jewi ... 7946269991
Joshuah Green is however a name that's possibly more common, so one would have to be careful to attribute everything to the same person:
https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php? ... journalist)
- Andrea Orzoff, Ph.D
She's more easy to pin. Here is her academic home page:
Andrea Orzoff, Ph.D.
Associate Professor orzoff
B.S.J., Medill School of Journalism, Northwestern University
M.A., Stanford University
Ph.D., Stanford University
Research and Teaching Interests: Central and East European history, Holocaust history, First and Second World Wars, transnational history, history of migration, history of minorities in Europe; cultural diplomacy, propaganda; politics of high culture.
Andrea Orzoff is an associate professor of European history at New Mexico State University. She completed her doctorate from Stanford University in 2000. Her book Battle for the Castle: The Myth of Czechoslovakia in Europe, 1914-1948 (Oxford University Press, 2009) is out in paperback, reviewed extensively, and praised in The Atlantic and the New York Review of Books.
Dr. Orzoff’s current interests lie in transnational history and the German-speaking world. She will be on leave for the calendar year 2016 on a fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies to work on her current book, Music in Flight, which focuses on Central European musicians who fled Nazism for Latin America. Music in Flight addresses the Holocaust in global context as well as the transnational impact of German culture. She has just finished a set of articles on the German-speaking chapters of the International PEN Club during the Cold War. Her next book will focus on [b]defectors to Communist East Germany[/b].
It's pretty clear which side she's on there. It doesn't say she's Jewish, but I found this one interesting:
On Sunday March 5th, at 2 pm, Andrea Orzoff, Associate Professor of European History at New Mexico State University will speak on her current book project, Music in Flight, which tells the stories of German and Austrian classical musicians who fled Nazism for Latin America.
Her previous book Battle for the Castle: The Myth of Czechoslovakia in Europe, 1914-1948 (Oxford University Press 2009, paperback 2011) was widely reviewed internationally and praised in the Atlantic and the New York Review of Books. Articles on international organizations, East and Central European nationalism, cultural diplomacy, and propaganda and the mass media have appeared in German History, New German Critique, the Austrian History Yearbook, Nationalities Papers, and Slavic Review. She has also Dr. Orzoff written an overview of democracy and democratic internationalism in interwar Europe for the Oxford Handbook on Europe 1900-1945 (2016).
In 2017 and 2018 her second Fulbright, a Global Flex Fellowship, will take her to Germany, Mexico and Peru. She is also a recipient of awards from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD, German Academic Exchange Commission), the Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the International Research and Exchanges Board, or IREX. She has also been an invited or keynote speaker at Tel Aviv University, Vanderbilt University, Cornell University, the University of Oxford, Trinity College (Dublin), and Berlin’s Freie Universität.
https://jewishelpaso.org/community-cale ... rea-orzoff
I see some conflicts of interest there in them being the arbiters of historical truth. They wrote what could be expected of them, and it's not due to the overall facts of the matter.