Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 18, 2017
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 16, 2017
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 14, 2017
From early October 2016 to mid-March 2017, A FLOOD OF EVIL was “suppressed” in Germany, unavailable for purchase. I was never notified that my book was no longer for sale in Germany. When I found out, by accident, Amazon refused to say why the book was suppressed, and also refused to say what prompted the suppression. After several days of fruitless back and forth, I changed the cover to remove a small swastika and the ban was lifted.
A FLOOD OF EVIL tells the story of German Catholic boy from Munich who becomes a Nazi and a Jewish girl from the Polish shtetl of Ciechanow who becomes an internationally known journalist. Improbably, they fall in love and join forces to try to stop the rise of Hitler. The story covers the years 1923-1933, and a sequel set against the events of 1934-1945 is currently being written.
On the original cover of AFOE, the Nazi/Jewish theme was illustrated graphically by a small swastika next to the boy and a small Jewish star next to the girl. These symbols have now (I hope temporarily) been removed. I am still trying to find someone in amazon management who will recognize and deal with what I regard as the extremely shoddy way I was treated.
NOTE: this description is now “live” at Goodreads but not yet at Amazon
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 13, 2017
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 13, 2017
Regarding the Kindle edition, I’m unable to get information from them about any suppression. In terms of the Content Guidelines, we have them in our site: https://www.createspace.com/Help/Rights/ContentGuidelines.jsp. However, we are unable to provide specific information about the possible rejections if you have questions, you can reach the Content Validation team for this.
I understand about the notifications and I’ve submitted feedback about it. I’m unable to get more information as to why it wasn’t sent.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 13, 2017
Posted to Jewish Historical Fiction site … https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/6449-jewish-historical-fiction …
Amazon apparently made that decision based on the small swastika on the cover, since removed. (NOTE: my novel is surely not pro-Nazi; quite the opposite.)
Amazon never notified me that my book was removed from their site. I found out by accident when checking the amazon.de site in preparation for an upcoming book club meeting in Germany (via SKYPE).
The Amazon guidelines are not clear. There is no explicit guideline regarding swastikas. There are other books on Amazon’s German site which display swastikas.
Needless to say, I am furious with Amazon for the inconsiderate and discriminatory way they treated me and for the damage they caused me. Among other things, it was impossible to speak directly with the Contents people who made the decision to ban my book, which made resolution doubly difficult.
I would like to know if anyone knows of similar treatment of other books.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 12, 2017
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 11, 2017
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 10, 2017
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 9, 2017
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 9, 2017
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 8, 2017
Per our conversation, I am submitting your request with my call notes to our content team asking the following:
You should be hearing back from this team within the next one to two business days with their response.
In the meantime, please do try to have a better day.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 8, 2017
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 8, 2017
Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 16, 2017
Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 8, 2017
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Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 25, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 13, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 4, 2016
The book is well written and researched.
AVAILABLE IN PAPER & KINDLE AT AMAZON
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 4, 2016
It starts out with the trial of a Nazi who is facing death for his part in the atrocities. Just another evil Nazi who deserves to die, it seems. But his death is averted by the testimony of a Jewish woman whose family was all killed by the Nazis, and she herself was forced to prostitute herself to the Germans to survive death. Yet she pleaded for his life, and he was
I went back and reread the prologue after finishing the book and found it to be much more meaningful and emotional after knowing the full story. Now, I’m waiting for Book Two, to see what happens during the actual war.
AVAILABLE FROM AMAZON IN PAPER & KINDLE
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 4, 2016
AVAILABLE ON AMAZON IN PAPER & KINDLE
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 4, 2016
Author of The Blue Pencil and Liberating Belsen
AVAILABLE ON AMAZON IN PAPER & KINDLE
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 4, 2016
AVAILABLE AT AMAZON in PAPER & KINDLE
Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 19, 2016
I have made it a point to thank all Goodreads readers who have commented on or liked my reviews. But three weeks ago I suffered a massive heart attack and, although I am recovering nicely, I have fallen far behind on my thank-you’s and I don’t believe I will have time to catch up, although I appreciate your comments just as much. Please forgive me. I will try to stay current with new reader responses to my reviews.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on October 2, 2016
A FLOOD OF EVIL
is available in paper and kindle formats at …
as are all of Lew Weinstein’s books
Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 25, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 12, 2016
… stunningly precise and varied intelligence was gathered by H.E. between 1932 and 1940 on the Nazi party, the rearmament of Germany, the organization of its military, administration and police, and on the activities of the Wehrmacht High Command and the Abwehr
… H.E., familiar with illegal border crossings, had taken stock of the risks. At forty-six, well positioned in the Nazi hierarchy, holding a superior civil post, now frequenting— thanks to the fame of his parents and his brother— the upper milieus of the Berlin military and civil societies … his privileged position in the party, the rise of his brother in the military high command, his extensive responsibilities in the Forschungsamt— all offered daily opportunities.
… From February 1934, H.E.’ s invisible ink letters provided a weekly report about the increasing motorization and mechanization of the German army
Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 11, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 19, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 19, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 12, 2016
from a reader who read an earlier draft …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 2, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 1, 2016
A FLOOD OF EVIL IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON
IN PRINT OR KINDLE FORMAT …
SO IS RICK OLLERMAN’s LATEST THRILLER …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 30, 2016
A FLOOD OF EVIL IS AVAILABLE ON AMAZON
IN PRINT OR KINDLE FORMAT …
SO IS FAYE KELLERMAN’s LATEST MYSTERY THRILLER …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 28, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 23, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 15, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 16, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 14, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 14, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 13, 2016
The story opens in Nuremberg, where Berthold Becker is on trial with other major Nazi war criminals. He expects a death sentence, but Anna Gorska arrives and testifies on his behalf. Berthold is sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Forty-five years later, the daughter of Becker’s Nuremberg prosecutor asks her father to collaborate with her in a book about the characters in his Nuremberg trial. That book becomes the frame within which the story of Berthold and Anna is told. Book One covers the years from 1923 to 1933, from Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch to his appointment as Chancellor.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 11, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 9, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 9, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 8, 2016
Forty-five years later, the daughter of Becker’s Nuremberg prosecutor asks her father to collaborate with her to tell the story of the people in his trial.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 7, 2016
SELECTED EXCERPTS …
… The popular risers of anti-Semitism the planners of genocide followed a coherent set of severe ethical maximums derived from broad philosophical concepts … they denied the existence of universal moral values and instead promoted moral maxims which they saw as appropriate to their Aryan community … Asserting the superiority of their own communitarian values above all others
… Having fully absorbed knowledge of the “Jewish menace” … a Nazi was ready to accept deportation and murder as just … if he had a Jewish friend, he would say “what a misfortune that my friend is Jewish” rather than “how terrible it is at we are murdering Jews”
… The expulsion of Jews from Germans’ universe of moral obligations was carefully engineered
… The Nazi program sought to break ties between Jews and their surroundings … until Jews were totally isolated from the Christian German population
… The Nazis implemented an acceptance of “ethnic fundamentalism” which summoned its followers to seek vengeance for past wrongs and to forge a glorious future cleansed of ethnic aliens … Germans were enticed to participate in a moral universe accessible only to the favored
… Jews, who before 1933 were friends, neighbors, and colleagues … were now to be considered pariahs, a plague on Germany
… Hitler linked “Jewish” with despised values, such as urbanism, materialism, and greed … link the Jewish press with promoting decadence … blame moral degeneration on sexual intercourse between Jews and Christians
… Most Germans tacitly approved of persecution so long as they did not feel personally threatened or inconvenienced
… Heydrich: too many German citizens perceive Jews as harmless … they must be defined as a threat, loathsome as well as lethal
… Der Sturmer and Das Schwarze Korps both portrayed Jews as not only dangerous but also subhuman … words like “extinction” and “annihilation” he came routine … the intent was to create a German conscience that minimize the psychic stress they might experience when murdering Jews
… The final solution did not develop as evil incarnate but rather as the dark side of ethnic righteousness … to German Christians caught up what they perceived as a high moral purpose purification of racial aliens became a difficult but necessary duty
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 1, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 28, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 17, 2016
Eden served three periods as Foreign Secretary and then a relatively brief term as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
SELECTED EXCERPTS …
… It can be argued that no decision taken by Poland in 1935 would have prevented the German-Russian deal that destroyed Poland in 1939 … I am not so sure … I believe Polish leaders would have been wiser to throw in their weight wholeheartedly with the Western powers, including Russia … This might have changed Germany’s actions towards Czechoslovakia, might even have averted Munich
… The rearmament of the Rhineland (in 1936) was an example of Hitler’s brazen but skillful tactics … his illegal deed was combined with assurances for the present and promises for the future … the timing was perfect, including the usual choice of a weekend … his initiative was limited, and did not show evidence of any imminent intent to attack France or Belgium … designed to inhibit effective response … Hitler’s anticipation was that neither of the French nor the British would have any appetite for physical response … He had paid close attention to press reports from France and Britain … And also had spies in both countries
… in Jan 1938 … Roosevelt communicated secretly to Neville Chamberlain … his deep concern with the deterioration of the world situation … he wished to take action along the only lines open to him, given the state of American public opinion … he proposed calling the entire diplomatic corp of Washington to the White House … He would lay before the representatives of all countries the following suggestions: reduction of armaments; equal access to raw materials; laws of warfare … If the response were favorable, the United States government would begin working with selected governments on the details of tentative proposals which could then be submitted to other nations … Roosevelt was communicating with this proposal to the British only, and would proceed only if he received assurance from Chamberlain that the proposal met with the wholehearted support of his Majesty’s government
… Eden’s recommendation was to immediately accept Roosevelt’s proposal … and to make no destructive criticisms or reservations or attempts to define issues more clearly … even if nothing concrete comes from Roosevelt’s proposals in the short-term, they will bring us time and will bring the United States a little nearer to a divided Europe
… but Chamberlain dithered and Roosevelt’s initiative was never made … Eden resigned a month later
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 14, 2016
Bishop Galen was not unlike most other German Bishops, and the Vatican, in his failure to speak out against the persecution, deportation and murder of Jews. What is infuriating was the post-war attempt of the Catholic Church to portray him as an ardent fighter against the Nazis, even to the point of proposing sainthood. Fortunately, Pope John Paul II decided in 1987 that Bishop Galen would not be canonized, and instead named Edith Stein for her courageous witness to the horror of Nazi brutality.
SELECTED EXCERPTS …
… Galen … renowned for his very public denunciation of euthanasia … was silent concerning the fate of the Jews, even when he had verifiable proof that deportation meant death … similarly, Galen did not protest the April 1933 boycott, the 1935 Nuremberg Laws, the 1938 pogrom, or any other act of violence perpetrated against Jews who had lived in his diocese of Munster since the 12th century
… Galen surely saw the signs outside Munster … Jews are Germany’s misfortune … trespassing of this community by Jews is unwanted
… Galen sermon … directly quoted Hitler’s words regarding the need to fight the “Judeo-Bolshevik conspiracy”
… Galen, in a single sermon, combined the imagery of disorder, Russian terror, heresy, and Jewishness … thus immunizing Catholics against feeling the need to intervene on behalf of their Jewish neighbors
… the Jewish question was not an immediate concern of the Church, nor was it an immediate concern of the Bishop Galen
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 11, 2016
SELECTED EXCERPTS …
… Jewish women were (compared to Jewish men) … more sensitive to discrimination … more eager to leave Germany … more willing to face uncertainty abroad
… many Jewish women experimented with new behaviors never before attempted by any German women … interceding with the authorities on behalf of their men … selling their homes on their own … seeking paid employment for the first time … deciding on countries of refuge on their own
… in their daily interactions, all Germans, from Nazi officials to ordinary Germans on the tram, had extraordinary power over Jews … this became normal
… The law became a source of persecution … perhaps the most frightening aspect was being deprived of the protection of law
… Many Germans used the vulnerable position of Jews for their own advantage … blackmail … demanding receipts for bills they had never paid … legal action against them was impossible … tenants refused to pay rent … landlords refused to honor rental contracts
… Dismissing Jewish teachers provided opportunities for the unemployed … likewise non-Jewish doctors profited from the removal of Jewish doctors … Government insurance agencies threatened patients who continued to go to Jewish doctors … Jewish doctors (male and female) lost their health insurance affiliation
… even when Jews gathered in private homes … they feared they were being watched by neighbors or by the Gestapo
… Confusing signals made the decision to leave difficult … Random kindnesses by German neighbors led Jews to conclude that Germany would never tolerate the most radical Nazi programs
… Jews faced requests for bribes and tributes at every step of the way … Gestapo agents, civil servants, packers and movers, even people in foreign consulates
… A Jewish woman is still thankful today that her mother save their lives by having sex the bureaucrat who then provided their exit papers
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 10, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 9, 2016
NOTE: As I await a decision on the publication of A FLOOD OF EVIL, I have been accumulating research which will be used in Volume Two of my novel, which I hope to begin drafting this summer.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 4, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 25, 2016
A truly excellent and detailed portrayal of how the Gestapo enforced German anti-Jewish policies and how ordinary Germans played a crucial role by denouncing their friends and neighbors. Some excerpts …
… Germans have been convincing themselves, in hindsight, that there was an extensive army of Gestapo agents and spies which allowed no opportunity for any real resistance or opposition to have crystallized … Gellately says that story is no longer convincing
… the Gestapo’s reputation for brutality … and the knowledge that anyone could be sent to a concentration camp for an indefinite period … was central to the Gestapo’s effectiveness
… police now had the authority to arrest and detain any suspect deemed a threat to the state … with no judicial procedure or permission … this could amount to unlimited trial, indeed without even charges
… Gestapo cases were organize into many categories … continuation of political parties … continuation of forbidden religious associations … forbidden youth groups … nonconforming verbal utterances … nonconforming work or leisure activities … acquiring or spreading of forbidden printed matter … listening to foreign radio … political passivity … conventional criminality … improper statements from the pulpit
… there was a high incidence of false charges … but the Gestapo could use intimidation,, extortion and blackmail to force victims to sign confessions … Gestapo interrogation was often exhausting for the victims … days and weeks filled with terror and anxiety … some, when released temporarily, attempted suicide to escape the relentless cross examination by the tireless officials
… sexual intercourse between Jews and non-Jews was declared a crime by the Nuremberg laws of 1935 … even friendly or social relations with Jews constituted an area of potential criminality
… a life-threatening incident could begin anywhere and at any time … a group was listening to dance music on the radio at a bar … the music was interrupted by a speech by Hitler … somebody turned off the radio … a woman immediately try to ascertain the name of the person who did that … the radio was turned back on but the lady was not satisfied and made a report to the Gestapo
… an elderly couple, a Jewish merchant and a woman who lived across the street from him, we’re suspected of having a relationship which might be considered raise the file … although the advanced years of both parties suggest that they fear of race defilement through production of a child of next ancestry was out of the question … nevertheless remarkably dogged and sometimes ridiculous efforts were pursued until the man died suddenly of natural causes … or did he commit suicide?
… sometimes there were not enough cases of race defilement … Gestapo officials had to invent more cases … Jews were lured into compromising situations and then denounced … or so called evidence was simply invented … to local Gestapo officers it was a foregone conclusion that every Jewish person brought to their attention could be linked with some infringement of race regulation
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 20, 2016
AN EVENING WITH FRANK is available at amazon …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 16, 2016
A month or so ago, I was just about to publish A FLOOD OF EVIL as a POD book on amazon. But first I thought I would try to find an agent to represent me and sell the book to a real publisher. I sent out letters to agents who seemed interested in historical fiction and now 5 agents are reading my book. Doesn’t mean anyone will sign me up, but it is encouraging. For the moment, POD publishing is on hold.
Here is a synopsis of the book the agents are reading …
A FLOOD OF EVIL opens with a Nazi named Berthold Becker on trial at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials shortly after the end of WWII. He is saved from a certain death sentence by the unexpected testimony of a Polish Jewish woman named Anna Gorska.
Years later, the Nuremberg prosecutor and his daughter, now a history professor at Brandeis University, decide to work together on a book about the two people from his trial. They locate Berthold in Munich and Anna in Jerusalem and travel to them to learn their stories.
The reader meets Berthold, a Catholic, when he is thirteen years old and first exposed to the Nazis by his older brother. When the brother dies in Hitler’s failed beer hall putsch of 1923, Berthold is forever-after revered as the putsch martyr’s brother. As a result, even though he is repulsed by the Nazi violence and Jew-hatred, he is drawn into the Nazi orbit and gains unique access to the internal workings of the Nazi movement at the highest level.
Anna Gorska grows up in a Polish shtetl where her Orthodox Jewish family struggles against the forces of modernization. She leaves the shtetl to attend Warsaw University and, aided by her family’s connections with Polish strongman Josef Pilsudski, becomes a respected journalist with an international following.
Anna is sent to Munich to do a story on Jewish students in German universities. She meets Berthold and he offers to help with her student interviews. They fall in love and begin a lifetime of working together under severe duress to try to stop Hitler and the Nazis.
Through these characters, we meet many of the Nazi insiders, and also the people and institutions who could have stopped Hitler, but didn’t.
We learn Berthold and Anna’s stories not only from their recollections, but also by meeting them in “real time,” in the presence of the Brandeis professor and her father. Berthold and Anna, still sharp and intense in their 80s, thus provide the reader with a direct, first-person connection to supplement and comment on the story as they lived it.
A FLOOD OF EVIL is planned as a multi-volume historical novel. Book One, which is self-contained, begins in 1923 and ends shortly after Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 15, 2016
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 6, 2016
The sections dealing with Kristallknacht are particularly poignant, including the fate of one relatively low-ranking planner, who sent out orders to attack and destroy and murder Jews, and who, subsequent to a brief imprisonment by the Allies after the war, retired on a “fat pension” since he had been promoted to the rank of General in the Waffen-SS.
Six million dead; this Nazi pig retired on a fat pension!
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 2, 2016
In June of 1938, Pope Pius XI asked an American Jesuit priest to prepare a draft of what the Holy Father expected to become a Papal Encyclical denouncing the racial policies and antisemitism of the Nazis. Father LaFarge went to Paris and prepared such a draft, which he brought to Rome in September 1938. What happened next to that draft is not known.
A few months later, in February 1939, Pius XI died and in March 1939 Cardinal Pacelli became Pius XII. The Encyclical was never promulgated and in fact disappeared for decades.
Passelecq managed to obtain the draft and much but not all of the record related to it. Many important facts are likely still buried in Vatican archives, or perhaps destroyed, but what Passelecq obtained is enough for a fascinating story and even more fascinating questions.
Did Pius XI ever see the draft? Was it kept from him, and if so, did Cardinal Pacelli have anything to do with that? Did Pacelli see the draft? Did Pacelli decide to bury it and if so why?
Questions like these can perhaps be answered some day if the Vatican provides all the archives it has. Other questions are more speculative.
Would the Encyclical, if published, have made any difference in the Nazi’s subsequent murder of 6 million Jews? Would the Encyclical have created an anti-Nazi climate where the US might have entered the fight with England sooner? Would the Encyclical have created pressure for Allied bombing of Auschwitz and other murder sites? Would the Encyclical have led to Nazi retaliation against Catholics living in Germany, Poland and elsewhere? Would the Encyclical have encouraged other countries to allow more Jews to get out of Germany before they were murdered?
For me, Passelecq’s book provides much material for one or more possible chapters in Book Two of A FLOOD OF EVIL which I hope to write later this year.
But what are the appropriate rules for writing historical fiction when some of the facts are known and others are not? My guidelines are these:
(1) if I state an historical fact, get it as right as possible;
(2) if responsible sources disagree on the facts, I am free to choose whichever version I want to portray;
(3) for the fictional parts which go beyond the known facts, they must be plausible with regard both to known events and to the reported personalities and inclinations of the historical characters;
(4) there must be no credible negative facts which make the fiction I am writing impossible to have happened.
Given those guidelines, I feel free to create a work of historical fiction which goes beyond the history and presents a plausible version of what might have happened. “The Hidden Encyclical of Pius XI” gives me a huge and powerful canvass on which to create important aspects of my novel.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 27, 2016
Rabbi Leo Baeck was perhaps the most important leader of the Jews of Germany during the Hitler years. A scholar and spiritual leader before Hitler’s rise, Baeck turned down offers to leave Germany and took on the difficult and ultimately frustrating role of coordinating Jewish response to the closing Nazi net. Arrested several times, he survived Theresienstadt and lived his final years in England. Baker has written a marvelous account of Baeck’s long and remarkable life.
Baeck recognized that the scattered organizational structure of German Jewry was not adequate to stand against Nazi antisemitism. He helped create and was the chief spokesman for the Reichsverretung, an organization which supervised welfare problems of German Jews … education … emigration … raised funds … and sought help of Jews abroad. He was a major factor in the escape of many German Jews during the late 1930s when escape was still possible.
In 1935, on Yom Kippur shortly after the passage of the infamous Nuremberg Racial Laws, Baeck wrote a stirring sermon to be read in all synagogues in Germany. In this sermon, Baeck stated … that there was a moment of decision for each individual, the point beyond which he will not bend, the pressure to which he will not succumb, the sacrifice he will not make … that Judaism was the history of the grandeur of the human soul and the dignity of human life … that no matter how weak we are, how oppressed we might be, how abruptly our former friends turn away from us, we cannot be defeated.
Baeck was arrested by the Gestapo, but soon released after pressure from an article in the London Times and protest from a group of Christian ministers in the US. Baker points out that “no German Christian leaders protested the Baeck’s arrest.”
This event, and others in Baeck’s life, will likely play a role in Book Two of my novel A FLOOD OF EVIL.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 27, 2016
Joachim Fest has created fascinating, terrifying portraits of the major figures in the Nazi leadership.
I just read the chapter on Reinhardt Heydrich, described by Fest as … the architect and brain behind the SS state … a man free from humanitarian restraints … with an insatiable greed for power … and unencumbered by either ideologies or emotions.
Heydrich was the man who fashioned the Final Solution to murder all the Jews of Europe. Yet, according to Fest … Heydrich lived under the continual constraint of his own Jewish ancestors … he tried to destroy all the evidence … but was unable to prevent enemies and rivals from obtaining documentary evidence.
Fest states that Heydrich went so far as to change the headstone of his grandmother’s grave so that it said ‘S. Heydrich’ rather than ‘Sarah Heydrich.’
According to Fest … Himmler & Hitler were aware of Heydrich’s Jewish ‘problem’ … they regarded Heydrich as gifted but dangerous … and felt their knowledge of his ancestry would keep him in line … he will obey blindly.
It is important to note that Fest’s views on Heydrich’s Jewish ancestry are not universally accepted by other historians.
Heydrich is introduced briefly in Book One of my soon-to-be-published novel A FLOOD OF EVIL, and it is my intent that he will be a major character in Book Two, which I have begun to research and outline.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 20, 2016
JUST MERCY is a ringing denunciation of the way prosecutors, police officers and judges conspire to get convictions without having the evidence.
How do they do this? They cheat.
They make up evidence. They create and intimidate witnesses by threats and bribes. They hide exculpatory evidence they are required by law to give to the defense attorney.
These public officials are a disgrace to American law enforcement and they are almost never punished for their behavior, even when those they wrongly sent to prison are released 10, 20 or more years later, their lives ruined.
Bryan Stevenson writes as well as the top mystery novelists, except his stories are true. He is the executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative in Montgomery, Alabama. (http://www.eji.org/) which works to help correct the horrors of children sent to prison without possibility of parole, people on death row whose convictions are a travesty of justice, and minorities who do not get anything close to fair and equal treatment. The book presents examples of each of these kinds of cases. Stevenson’s cases take place in the south, but the problems he describes are found everywhere in America. Meeting these people will make you cry. It could happen to you.
I have studied and written about these matters in my novel A Good Conviction. John Grisham’s Rogue Lawyer covers much of the same territory. Our fiction is based on real cases, but Bryan Stevenson gives it to you straight, from real life, recent cases, still happening.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 18, 2016
On May 26, 1978, I attended Frank Sinatra’s last appearance at the Latin Casino in Cherry Hill NJ. Seated near the stage, I shot one roll of ASA 400 black and white film. It took about 25 minutes from start to finish.Sometime that summer, my friend Susan Rose developed the film and printed the photographs.
For almost 38 years, these photos have been in file folders, in drawers, and for the past eight years, in my garage.
Remarkably they have survived.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 4, 2016
Great news! All of my titles are now available at Books and Books at 533 Eaton St in Key West. Even “Hereje,” which is “The Heretic” in Spanish. But not A FLOOD OF EVIL, which is not yet published (soon!).
Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 21, 2016
Monsignor Thomas Hartman – Father Tom – died this weekend. I first met Monsignor Hartman at the 92nd Street Y in NYC where he opened his talk by saying “The Church did horrible things to the Jews and we were wrong.” Subsequently, he wrote a very thoughtful foreword to my novel THE HERETIC. Father Tom was everything good that a priest can be, a model not just for Catholics, but for all human beings.
Foreword to The Heretic by Msgr. Tom Hartman
Marc Gellman and I rarely disagree. We’re best friends. There are many best friends in the world, but the fact that he is a rabbi and I am a priest has caused some people to sit up and take notice. People see us on Good Morning America or Imus In The Morning or our own God Squad show. We try to look out at our world and find a reason for hope which cuts across our respective religious faiths and gets to the heart of spiritually responding to God and our neighbor. We’ve been at this for thirteen years and our disagreements and tense moments have been few.
Marc and I had it out one evening at a local television station. We were talking about the convent at Auschwitz. I was incensed. A Jewish rabbi – Avi Weiss – and a group of his followers had jumped over the convent wall to pray in protest. This startled and frightened the group of contemplative nuns who had built the convent at Auschwitz to pray for the victims of the Holocaust. “How,” I asked Marc “can you or any other Jew support such an action? If Jews knew anything about these sisters they would realize that they were selfless, holy, and prayerful. They were committed to redeeming the ugly face of mass murder and destruction.”
Marc listened. His face told me that he was searching for a way to share something painful with me in a caring way. He turned, looked me in the eye, and said, “Tom, you don’t realize what the Cross of Jesus means to us Jews. For you the Cross is a sign of hope and redemption. For us it’s a sign of despair and destruction. It was during the Inquisition and the Crusades that Christians led with the Cross as they murdered thousands of Jews. They killed Jews and Muslims in the name of the Cross. Pogroms raped and pillaged our people in the name of vengeance toward the Jews that killed Christ.” Marc’s own aunt had once been abused by people leaving a Holy Week service looking for a Jew to vent their anger toward for the death of Jesus.
I didn’t realize the depth of his feelings on the subject until we did that show. It took me aback. That which was a sign of hope and redemptive love for me – the Cross – was a sign of destruction for him. Recognizing this for the first time, I could see why a Jew would be offended at the sight of the Cross at the scene of one of the greatest massacres of Jewish people in human history. I turned and said, “Marc, if that’s what the Cross represents to Jews, maybe we ought to take it down.” “No,” said Marc, “maybe we ought to build a synagogue next to the convent and we could both pray together.”
The Heretic, a book by Lewis Weinstein, was where I turned in order to understand the Inquisition. I knew the outline of Christian atrocities but Lew’s book taught me about the painful positions many good people were put into in order to survive. It’s not a pretty picture. Their lives were all scarred in one way or another. But The Heretic reminds us of a history that we should not forget.
link to obituary in NYT …
Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 13, 2016
This is one of the first books (published in 1970) to put the persecution of Jews by the Nazis into a sequential narrative context, and it is still valuable today even after many other works have added information not available to Schleunes.
The Nazi efforts to achieve the Jew-free Germany demanded by Hitler are described as a series of vicious programs which failed, from 1933 to 1938, to accomplish Hitler’s goal. Boycotts, legislation, emigration and pogroms all caused incredible hardship but still failed to eliminate Jews from Germany or even from the German economy. Finally, after Kristallknacht in November 1938, Hitler turned the Jewish problem over to Goering, Heydrich and Eichmann, which led to Auschwitz.
Schleunes argues that Nazi policy until late 1938 was implemented by various underlings acting without consistent direction from Hitler. From what I have so far read, I think this was true but not a complete analysis. Hitler’s fanatical Jew-hatred never wavered, from the moment he came to public attention in the early 1920s until his last statement before he died in 1945. But Hitler was patient, and his career is marked by a willingness to wait for the right opportunity and to defer action on one priority – ridding Germany of Jews – while focusing on the then-higher priorities of economic recovery and rearmament. When those goals had been achieved, and Germany no longer needed to be concerned with international opinion, Hitler turned to the Jews.
One aspect of the Nazi Jew-hatred that Schleunes does not address is why Hitler hated and feared Jews as he did, and why so many (most?) Germans had no problem accepting that hatred as valid and acquiescing in Hitler’s policies, even to the point of mass murder. Why were Jews hated? Where did Hitler acquire that hatred? Why was persecution of Jews so acceptable to so many Germans? These are issues I am dealing with in the almost completed A FLOOD OF EVIL (1923-1933) and the sequel which is now taking focus.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 26, 2015
Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 21, 2015
Linda’s review of THE HERETIC on GoodReads (Aug 2015) …
A well written story that will pull at your heartstrings because of the amount of loss and betrayal that occurs when the Catholic Church decides there can be no other religions to compete with them in Spain.
Gabriel Catalan and his family live in Seville where they are called Conversos because they converted to Catholicism to save their family from the torment they would get as Jews. However, Gabriel and a number of other Conversos are secret Jews. Many Catholics do not trust them yet the Conversos have been the ones to keep the country running smoothly. When the Spanish Inquisition begins Gabriel and his family as well as many friends are at risk of being caught in their secret lives and being put to death. This does not stop Gabriel and his son Tomas from hiding Gutenberg Printers so that they may print volumes of Jewish books for the future. There is hope among the Jewish population that things will one day be very different.
As I read this story I kept thinking about the present state of our world and how we seem to be becoming less tolerant again. We were supposed to have learned from the past but we seem to be ignoring it and in some cases pretending that it never happened. How sad for our future generations.
I believe that everyone should read this book as a reminder of what was and what should now be. When we think of intolerance, Hitler and the Nazis always come to mind but there is a whole lot more in our history than that. My hope for mankind is that someday everyone will “give peace a chance” and I believe this story is trying to lead us in that direction.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on September 7, 2015
A compelling read.
Several issues raised by Balson resonate sharply with me as I work through similar questions in my own new novel.
WARNING … POSSIBLE SPOILERS BELOW
,,, Ben hates his former friend and “brother” Otto for failing to save his parents and others from Nazi torture and murder but gives no credence to the enormous risks Otto did take to save Ben and his wife, the unsuccessful but still substantial efforts Otto made on behalf of others, and the numerous warnings he made for all of them to leave Poland while they still could. In the scenes where Otto was complicit in the murders, it seemed clear from Balson’s description that Otto’s only alternative was to try to save them and fail, and in the process commit suicide.
… What could Otto have done? What could any of the small cogs in the Nazi machine have done? Collectively, of course, tens of thousands of Germans could theoretically have refused to carry out Nazi orders, fomented or carried out revolution against Hitler, or fled Germany. Whether such actions were actually possible is highly questionable, but even if successful, they would likely have meant the deaths of the perpetrator’s families and neighbors.
… There should be a distinction, it seems to me, between patriotic actions in furtherance of national war aims and actions that were later termed, correctly in my view, war crimes. Should a patriotic German at a relatively low level in the army or even in the SS or Gestapo be held accountable for failing to distinguish the line between fighting for his country and committing acts against humanity (as later defined at the Nuremberg Trials)? I say yes, the line was clear enough, but the more difficult issue is whether you are obliged to risk not only your own life but also the lives of your own family, especially if you think your protest has no chance to succeed.
Balson raises all of these issues, and more, in stark dramatic form. A very good story.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on August 16, 2015
If I kept a GR shelf for family sagas, this book would be proudly placed there along withThe Pillars of the Earth, Gone With the Wind, and The Age Of Innocence. In my mind they are all historical novels which describe families and their trials and tribulations of living in troubling and/or interesting times.
This historical fiction was set during the Spanish Inquisition which I knew little about. During this inquisition under Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand of Spain in the late 1400’s and ear …more
I’m not sure where to start with my review of Lewis Weinstein’s ‘The Heretic’, so I’ll start by saying that it was a damn good read. I think that part of my problem here is that I read the sequel first, and while both books are very good works of fiction in their own right, there’s always a little less suspense when one knows, even in the broadest terms, what is going to happen down the line.
My misfortune aside, The Heretic is, like its sequel The Pope’s Conspiracy, a very well-written, historic …more
Posted by Lew Weinstein on July 24, 2015
Posted by Lew Weinstein on June 4, 2015
The new edition of CASE CLOSED could not come at a more opportune time.
Just a few days ago, on June 3, 2015, the Pentagon reported that 51 laboratories received shipments of live anthrax, across 17 states (plus D.C.) and three foreign countries over a period of at least ten years. The Defense Department admitted it didn’t know everywhere it had sent the toxic bacteria.
This is happening fourteen years AFTER the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed 5 Americans and paralyzed our country. What would you speculate about controls over anthrax BEFORE the attacks? Right, they were virtually non-existent.
Yet the FBI, in the face of no credible evidence of any kind, still insists that Dr. Bruce Ivins was the sole perpetrator of those attacks. The FBI’s case offers no physical evidence, no witnesses, no scientific evidence, and an impossible time line. Both the NAS and the GAO have conducted independent reviews which concluded the FBI’s claims to scientific evidence are not valid.
So we are left with two questions, both of which have important national security implications. Who really did carry out those attacks in 2001? Why does the FBI stick to its demonstrably false assertion?
CASE CLOSED offers a far more plausible scenario than anything the FBI says. The novel is told through the activities of a team of DIA investigators who re-trace the steps of the FBI, find many of the same flaws that have been exposed in real life, and then develop a scenario of why the FBI did not solve the case and who was responsible. This latter is of course fictional, but many informed readers, including one highly placed in the US Intelligence Community, have concluded that CASE CLOSED is more plausible than the story the FBI has concocted.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 9, 2015
I.J. Singer (the older brother of Isaac Bashevitz Singer) tells the story of three generations of a Jewish family, from Poland to Berlin to New York, from the early 1900s to the 1930s.
German Jews thought they were safe, with careers and sufficient wealth to live comfortably, to work, marry, have children and pray. They assimilated and they had become, as Singer puts it, “Jews in the house and Germans on the street.”
Then came the Nazis and everything was turned upside down.
The scenes describing the impact of the brutal, ignorant Nazi beasts are frightening and difficult to read, but impossible to put aside. In their minds in the German Jews of Singer’s novel were as good as any other German, but in public, in the “streets,” they were not Germans at all, but simply despicable Jews, to be robbed and beaten at will. They had done everything they thought was right and they had succeeded in building satisfying and productive lives, and now they were nothing, barely able to stay alive, with nowhere to turn for help.
I read this as a library copy, but immediately my purchased own, to read again as I write my still untitled story of how Hitler came to power, who supported his rise and why, who stood aside, and my young fictional characters who tried to resist.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on May 6, 2015
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 25, 2015
Big day today. I finished the first draft of my still untitled novel. There’s much editing to do before I ask any “early readers” to give me feedback, but it was very satisfying to write the final scene. I think it may turn out to be a powerful and emotional story.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 17, 2015
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 8, 2015
This is a wonderful introduction to Yiddish theater in eastern Europe and New York, seen through the prism of the playwright Jacob Gordin and his play “The Jewish King Lear,” written in 1891 when it was not unusual to adapt plays from the European repertoire into Yiddish. The play was first performed on the New York stage in 1892, during the height of a massive emigration of 2.5 million Jews from eastern Europe to America.
Gordin’s setting is the celebration of Purim and the plot shows the shifting of fortune between the older and younger generation, between traditionalism and modernity, between religion and secularism. In Gordin’s view, the transition taking place on the stage is also taking place in the audience, as parents are suffering when their children no longer honor them.
Notes by Ruth Gay and Sophie Glazer convey Yiddish secular theater as a thrilling seductive experience, arousing passionate responses from audiences who saw portrayals of tension-filled situations presented in everyday language.
Also described is “Sappho,” another play by Gordin, which presents out-of-wedlock pregnancy and a proud statement by the heroine Sophia: “I made a mistake; it is nobody’s business; I take full responsibility; if I am to be a mother, I can care for my child by myself; I will be free and honorable in my actions, honorable the way I understand it, not Aunt Frade’s way and Uncle Melekh’s and all the rest.”
In my new novel, I’m hoping to show the impact of Gordin’s modern thinking and the spectacle of a riveting performance in the shtetl of Ciechanow, when a play written and first produced in America returns forty years later to its roots in eastern Europe.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on April 5, 2015
I extracted several lines from one of C. N. Bialik’s poems, written in the early 1900s, that beautifully express the feelings of the young Polish girl who is one of the two major fictional characters in my novel-in-progress …
Distant islands, lofty worlds
of our dreams,
they made us into strangers
wherever we went.
They made our lives hell.
Golden islands we thirsted for
as for a homeland,
all the stars hinted
with trembling light.
And on these islands we remain
friendless, like two flowers
in a desert, two lost souls searching
for an eternal loss
in a foreign land.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 27, 2015
I have only read a small part of Vital’s book, those chapters dealing with Jewish life in the years between Versailles (1919) and the invasion of Poland (1939), but there were several important insights in those chapters that have great relevance for my novel-in-process. In particular, Vital describes a change in the way European Jews were viewed …
I don’t think Vital says it exactly this way, but it seems to me that the changes he describes were very much a backlash against the progress Jews had made after gaining civil rights throughout Europe. Increased Jewish competition with the Christian population in all economic spheres was feared and resented.
This is precisely what happened in Spain after the forced conversion of Jews around 1400 unleashed Jewish competition and then a backlash that led to the Spanish Inquisition and the Expulsion. I have written about these times in Spain in my novel THE HERETIC
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 25, 2015
There are many tears to be shed for the way Janusz Korczak died, marching at the head of his final group of orphans off to a German death camp, but one cannot fail to be thrilled by the way he lived. For 30 years, he ran an orphanage in Warsaw, out of love for the children he was able to care for and as a means to study what worked and what didn’t in the interaction with children. His ideas – a court system run by the children, a newspaper written and largely managed by the children – are astonishingly on target, even today.
Betty Lifton did a superb job of capturing the emotion and the quality of Korczak’s work.
I have already written one scene in my novel-in-progress where Anna Gorska (my main fictional Polish character) shares a pre-Hanukah play session at the orphanage, and I have now outlined another 3-4 scenes involving Korczak and the children that I think will help me communicate the great richness of the world of Polish Jewry, the memory of which has survived even the German attempt to eradicate it.
Here are some of my notes …
… children’s court … not an instant success … children did not want to tattle … finally got going … counselors as prosecutor and defense attorney; three children as judges .. any child could bring a suit against another child … Korczak learning as he watched
… using the orphanage as a laboratory, Korczak wanted to work out an educational diagnostic system … children to run their own parliament, court and newspaper … a moral education based on respect for others as a prelude to self-respect
… Korczak launched an orphanage newspaper … each Saturday, he would read aloud his special column of the week … “do you remember, when you first came here, you didn’t have any friends, and you felt sad and lonely”
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 23, 2015
This is an absolutely marvelous compendium of detailed insights into Jewish life in Polish shtetls before the holocaust. Although focused on Eishyshok, much applies to other shtetls as well.
I am well along in my new novel set in Germany and Poland during the Nazi years. Recently, though, in re-reading some of what I had written, and comparing it with scenes from my earlier novel The Heretic, I began to feel that I was not adequately capturing the emotion that is my goal. I realized that I had been (necessarily) immersed in scenes about Hitler’s rise to the Chancellorship and I understood what I was feeling, which I can summarize as “too many Nazis, not enough Jews.” It is the Jews who bring the emotion to my story, as they watch from Poland, fearful, hopeful, uncertain and confused.
Yaffa Eliach’s book is my cure. Its 800+ pages captures the sense of the shtetl, facing the future that was never to be. Without a trace of hyperbole or any hint of the maudlin, Eliach paints a warm and enduring picture of people who did not live to paint it themselves. A vibrant culture for centuries, Polish Jewry struggled with the dilemmas of the 20th century, balancing Haskalah and Zionism, secular studies and Talmud, open lives and closed. So much potential, which we all know was never to be realized.
Eliach captures it all, the mind and the heart. Now my job is to weave aspects of the lives that created that emotion into my story
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 19, 2015
Dorpalen provides excellent detail of the role played by President Hindenburg, especially in the months leading up to his appointment of Hitler as Chancellor in January 1933.
The resulting image is of an old and tired man, who never liked politics to begin with, who showed no initiative to understand the implications of the choices in front of him, who listened far too uncritically to the recommendations of his equally uniformed friends and son, and who, in the end, was confused and overwhelmed by a blizzard of information all pointing to Hitler as the one person who could lead Germany out of its peril.
After Hitler was appointed, Hindenburg further capitulated by signing everything Hitler put in front of him, including the Enabling Act which transferred all decision-making from the President to the Chancellor, giving Hitler total dictatorial power.
… Hindenburg was no longer capable of prolonged concentration … dozed off during lengthy conferences … could follow short concise reports … became ever more deeply entangled in an intricate web of intrigues that he did not follow … he was bewildered … yet still proud and patriotic
… Papen finally convinced Hindenburg that Hitler’s appointment was the only constitutional solution and that the safeguards he had designed would contain him
… it is doubtful that Hindenburg understood how weak the safeguards were in which Papen put so much trust … including his own ability and inclination to play the role Papen envisioned
… just as Hindenburg had let others take the blame for the defeat of 1918 … so he now disassociated himself from the failures of the Weimar Republic to which he had so greatly contributed … LMW: in effect Hindenburg said to Papen, you wanted Hitler, now you handle the problems
Posted by Lew Weinstein on March 15, 2015
Rarely have I been so angry about a book as I now am with this one. After earlier chapters with which I had no quarrel (praised in my earlier comments previously posted) I have now read the chapter dealing with the Concordat signed by the German Reich and the Vatican in 1933. The following sequence of events seems not to be in controversy.
Wolf does not disagree with any of the above facts.
However, he asserts that Cardinal Pacelli was NOT involved in the Center Party’s consent to the Enabling Act, or in the declaration by the bishops, or even with the idea of a Concordat.
Wolf asserts that all initiative for those fateful decisions came from the Center Party delegates or the German bishops. He supports this assertion by stating that there is no evidence in Church archives that the initiative for any of these events came from Rome.
Wolf is correct that there is no documentation so far released by the Vatican to implicate Pacelli in the actions of the Center delegates or the bishops.
There is voluminous evidence from other sources, however, that Pacelli was continually negotiating with Hitler regarding the proposed Concordat, through Prelate Kaas for sure and perhaps directly with Goering.
There is also considerable evidence that the last minute votes by the Center delegates, and the recanting of the German bishops’ fierce admonitions against Nazism, were ordered by Pacelli and were carried out by obedient Catholics for whom the option to disobey Rome did not exist.
Wolf actually cites some of this evidence, before reaching his opposing and unsupported conclusion that Pacelli was not involved, which he bases solely on Pacelli’s later, self-serving statements to that effect, which statements I believe are blatant lies.
Wolf’s chapter is not history. It is apologetics, perhaps with the intent of trying to preserve a portion of the unsavory reputation of Pacelli, later Pius XII, who is even now being considered for sainthood by the Catholic Church.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 24, 2015
on Jan 1, Hitler’s rise to power was over
30 days later, Adolf Hitler was the Chancellor of Germany
Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 8, 2015
Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 25, 2015
This is a well-documented report of the facts as known and the still officially unresolved question of who lit the fire.
It does seem clear that the man who was found guilty and guillotined was guilty of something, but also that he could not have been the sole perpetrator. Either it was the Nazis who set the fire to justify accelerated violence against the Communists and other political enemies or it was the Communists who set it as the first step in a planned revolution. Since there never was a planned revolution, and since the Nazis did in fact begin arresting people the night of the fire using a list they had prepared before the fire, it seems clear to me the Nazis were culpable.
For my purposes in my novel-in-progress, there are numerous fascinating details that might be incorporated into my story. Here are a few of them …
… the Berlin correspondent for the British Daily Express … one of the first reporters on the scene … tipped off by a source
… Goering & Hitler arrive at the fire while it is still burning … Goering: “This is the beginning of the Communist revolt; they will start their attack now! Not a moment must be lost!” … Hitler: “There will be no mercy now. Anyone who stands in our way will be cut down. Every Communist official will be shot where he is found. The Communist deputies must be hanged this very night. Everybody in league with the Communists must be arrested. There will no longer be any leniency for Social Democrats either.”
… on the morning after the fire … Hitler secured Hindenburg’s approval for what became known as the Reichstag Fire Decree … put an end to constitutional rights and the rule of law … the “Reichstag Fire Decree” … FIRST PARAGRAPH: suspended civil liberties contained in the Weimar Constitution … legalized imprisonment without trial for anyone the regime deemed a political threat … effectively abolished freedom of speech, of assembly and association, confidentiality of the post and telegraphic communication, and security form warrantless searches … SECOND PARAGRAPH: gave the Reich government the power to remove any state government from office
… the fire took place on the night of Feb 27 … on Feb 18 … orders had gone out (from Goering) to all Prussian police … compile lists of leaders of the Communist Party and all related communist organizations … also union leaders … include home addresses and likely hiding places … submit no later than Feb 26
Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 18, 2015
An excellent source book on illegal German rearmament, begun immediately after their defeat in WWI and clearly aimed at rebuilding an offensive war-making capability.
Consider this chilling description of a protocol for panzer attacks, developed in 1932 before Germany had the tanks to carry it out.
“Guderian envisioned a panzer thrust … led by reconnaissance troops on motorcycles probing for weak spots in the enemy line … reporting by radio to a command post … tanks would roll up for the breakthrough … once they penetrated they would keep going, plunging deep into enemy territory to strike at command, communication and supply centers … infantry would follow in trucks to secure the flanks as the tanks forged ahead … a sharp surgical strike at the foe’s central nervous system, designed to paralyze.”
Guderian led the panzer assault on Poland in 1939.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 5, 2015
Posted by Lew Weinstein on January 5, 2015
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 14, 2014
Schacht first gained prominence as the banker who solved the hyper-inflation problem in Germany in 1923, for which he was appointed President of the Reischbank. He was an important supporter of Hitler in the 1930-32 period before Hitler became Chancellor and was rewarded by an appointment as Minister of Economics after Hitler took power. A clear case can be made that Schacht’s association with Hitler was calculated for the purpose of advancing his own career, power and fame.
Schacht was instrumental in providing the funds for Germany’s rearmament program, including the invention of the notorious MEFO bills (promissory notes based on nothing used to hide the extent of Germany’s rearmament). He fought with Goering over economic policy and lost when Goering’s Four Year Plan – totally devoted to war production at the expense of consumer-friendly policies – was adopted by Hitler.
Schacht became a major participant in several anti-Hitler plots, including the pre-Munich plot in 1938. Subsequently, Schacht publicly antagonized Hitler and was removed from all positions, later to be arrested and sent to a succession of concentration camps.
Liberated from Dachau by the Allies in 1945, Schacht was immediately arrested and brought to trial at Nuremberg, where it was judged that his anti-Hitler activities outweighed his role in preparing the German armed forces for war. The judges apparently believed Schacht when he insisted he thought Hitler was rearming for defensive purposes only.
… in 1938, Allen Dulles led the American effort with the German underground (including Schacht) whereby civilians attempted to push the military into anti-Hitler action. *** Was that the policy of the US government at the time? What was FDR’s role in Dulles’ efforts? ***
… Schacht & Gisevius met with General von Witzleben … who commanded troops in the Berlin area …Witzleben had enough power to seize the centralized government and Hitler, and to neutralize Nazi opposition … could have accomplished a coup d’etat … Witzleben formulated the plans after Schacht convinced him of the need for violence to rid Germany of Hitler
… as this planning was ongoing, Hitler’s success with Chamberlain at Munich undermined the planned coup … amidst public rejoicing that territory (Czechoslovakia) had been added without war, both the generals and the nation as a whole came to believe that Hitler knew best how to handle international problems … Hitler had been right and Schacht wrong regarding what the English would do … Schacht lost prestige among the generals.
… the night after the Munich Agreement was signed … Witzleben, Schacht and Gisevius “tossed their plans into the fire” … *** literally? ***
After his acquittal at Nuremberg, Schacht founded a private banking house in Düsseldorf. He also advised developing countries on economic development. He died in 1970 at the age of 93.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on December 4, 2014
Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 26, 2014
By Joel Achenbach ’82 … Published in the November 12, 2014, issue of the Princeton Alumni Weekly
For Princeton journalists, praise from John McPhee was — and is — the ultimate reward
John McPhee ’53 has many moves as a writer, one of which he calls a “gossip ladder” — nothing more than a stack of quotations, each its own paragraph, unencumbered by attribution or context. You are eavesdropping in a crowd. You take these scraps of conversation and put them in a pile. Like this:
“A piece of writing needs to start somewhere, go somewhere, and sit down when it gets there.”
“Taking things from one source is plagiarism; taking things from several sources is research.”
“A thousand details add up to one impression.”
“You cannot interview the dead.”
“Readers are not supposed to see structure. It should be as invisible as living bones. It shouldn’t be imposed; structure arises within the story.”
“Don’t start off with the most intense, scary part, or it will all be anticlimactic from there.”
“You can get away with things in fact that would be tacky in fiction — and stuck on TV at 3 o’clock in the morning. Sometimes the scene is carried by the binding force of fact.”
The speaker in every instance is John McPhee. I assembled this particular ladder from the class notes of Amanda Wood Kingsley ’84, an illustrator and writer who, like me, took McPhee’s nonfiction writing class, “The Literature of Fact,” in the spring of 1982. In February, McPhee will mark 40 years as a Princeton professor, which he has pulled off in the midst of an extraordinarily productive career as a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of more than two dozen books.
When I meet Rick Klein ’98 at a coffee shop down the block, we examine forensically Rick’s class papers and the McPhee marginalia, the admonitions and praise from a teacher who keeps his pencils sharp. McPhee never overlooked a typo, and when Rick (now the hotshot political director at ABC News) wrote “fowl” instead of “foul,” the professor’s pencil produced a devastating noose.
(McPhee noted on a piece Rick wrote about his father: “This is a perfect structure — simple, like a small office building, as you suggest. The relationship of time to paragraphing is an example of what building a piece of writing is all about.”)
Rick reminds me that the class was pass/fail.
“You were competing not for a grade, but for his approval. You were so scared to turn in a piece of writing that John McPhee would realize was dirt. We were just trying to impress a legend,” he says.
Which is the nerve-wracking part, still. He is likely to read this article and will notice the infelicities, the stray words, the unnecessary punctuation, the galumphing syntax, the desperate metaphors, and the sentences that wander into the woods. “They’re paying you by the comma?” McPhee might write in the margin after reading the foregoing sentence. My own student work tended toward the self-conscious, the cute, and the undisciplined, and McPhee sometimes would simply write: “Sober up.”
“Don’t slather one verbal flourish on top of another lest you smother them all,” he’d tell his students. On one of Amanda’s papers, he numbered the images, metaphors, and similes from 1 to 11, and then declared, “They all work well, to a greater or lesser degree. In 1,300 words, however, there may be too many of them — as in a fruitcake that is mostly fruit.”
When Amanda produced a verbose, mushy description of the “Oval with Points” sculpture on campus, McPhee drew brackets around one passage and wrote, “Pea soup.”
That one was a famously difficult assignment: You had to describe a piece of abstract art on campus. It was an invitation to overwriting. As McPhee put it, “Most writers do a wild skid, leave the road, and plunge into the dirty river.”
Another standard McPhee assignment came on Day One of the class: Pair up and interview each other, then write a profile. It was both an early test of our nonfiction writing skills and a clever way for McPhee to get to know his students at the beginning of the semester.
McPhee’s dedication to his students was, and is, remarkable, given the other demands on his time. One never got the sense that he wished he could be off writing a magazine story for The New Yorker rather than annotating, and discussing face-to-face, a clumsy, ill-conceived, syntactically mangled piece of writing by a 20-year-old.
He met with each of his 16 students for half an hour every other week. Many of his students became professional writers, and he lined up their books on his office shelf, but McPhee never has suggested that the point of writing is to make money, or that the merit of your writing is determined by its market value. A great paragraph is a great paragraph wherever it resides, he’d say. It could be in your diary.
“I think he loves it when students run off and become field biologists in Africa or elementary school teachers,” Jenny Price ’85 tells me. She’s now a writer, artist, and visiting Princeton professor.
Use a dictionary, he implored. He proselytized on behalf of the gigantic, unabridged Webster’s Second Edition, a tank of a dictionary that not only would give a definition, but also would explore the possible synonyms and describe how each is slightly different in meaning. If you treat these words interchangeably, it’s like taping together adjacent keys on a piano, he said.
Robert Wright ’79, an acclaimed author and these days a frequent cycling companion of McPhee, tells me by email, “I’d be surprised if there have been many or even any Ferris professors who care about words as much as John — I don’t mean their proper use so much as their creative, deft use, sometimes in a way that exploits their multiple meanings; he also pays attention to the rhythm of words. All this explains why some of his prose reads kind of like poetry.”
Just to write a simple description clearly can take you days, he taught us (once again I’m citing Amanda’s class notes): “If you do it right, it’ll slide by unnoticed. If you blow it, it’s obvious.”
We had to learn to read. One of his assignments is called “greening.” You pretend you are in the composing room slinging hot type and need to remove a certain amount of the text block to get it to fit into an available space. You must search the text for words that can be removed surgically.
“It’s as if you were removing freight cars here and there in order to shorten a train — or pruning bits and pieces of a plant for aesthetic and pathological reasons, not to mention length,” McPhee commanded. “Do not do violence to the author’s tone, manner, style, nature, thumbprint.”
He made us green a couple of lines from the famously lean Gettysburg Address, an assignment bordering on sadism. A favorite paragraph designated for greening was the one in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness that begins, “Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine.” (McPhee, in assigning this, wrote: “Caution: You are approaching what may be my favorite paragraph in a lifetime of sporadic reading.”)
One time the young Bob Wright used the word “minced” in an assignment. In their bi-weekly office conference, McPhee challenged Bob to justify the word. Bob offered his reasoning. McPhee looked up “minced” in the hulking Webster’s. “You found the perfect word,” McPhee declared.
McPhee’s career coincided with the rise of “New Journalism,” but he never was really part of that movement and the liberties it took with the material. A college student often feels that rules are suffocating, that old-school verities need to be obliterated, and so some of us were tempted, naturally, to enhance our nonfiction — to add details from the imagination and produce a work of literature that’s better than “true” and existed on a more exalted plane of meaning. We’d make things up. McPhee wouldn’t stand for it.
Amanda remembers being called into his office one day: “I could tell something was wrong because he wasn’t his usual smiling self. He had me sit down and glared at me a moment. Then he asked me very sternly whether I had made up the character I had allegedly interviewed for my paper that week about animal traps and snares — I’d talked to an elderly African American friend of my grandparents, whose snare-building skills helped him survive the Depression. Once I convinced him that Oscar was a real person, McPhee sat quietly a moment, then smiled and said it was one of the best papers he had received. Those were some of the finest words I’ll ever hear.”
Some people joke about lashing themselves to the chair to get a piece of writing done, but McPhee actually has done it, with the belt of his bathrobe.
Here’s David Remnick ’81, the McPhee student who is now McPhee’s editor atThe New Yorker: “You were working with a practicing creative artist, a writer of ‘primary texts,’ as the scholars say, but one who was eloquent, detailed, unfancy, and clear in the way he talked about essential things: description, reporting, structure, sentences, punctuation, rhythm, to say nothing of the emotional aspects of writing — anxiety, lostness, frustration. He didn’t sugarcoat the difficulty of writing well. If anything, he highlighted the bitter-tasting terrors, he cherished them, rolled them around on his tongue. But behind all that was an immensely revealing, and rewarding, glimpse of the writing life. Not the glamour or the readings or the reviews. No, he allowed you to glimpse the process, what it meant to write alone in a room.”
Marc Fisher, my Washington Post colleague, points out that part of McPhee’s magic was getting students to slow down. “He catches adolescents at exactly the moment when we’ve been racing to get somewhere in life, and he corrals our ambition and raw skills and somehow persuades us that the wisdom, the power, and the mystery of telling people’s stories comes in good part from pressing down on the brakes, taking it all in, and putting it down on paper — yes, paper — in a way that is true to the people we meet and the lives they lead.”
I doubt many of us ever took a class that resonated so profoundly over the years. Part of it was that McPhee felt invested in our later success, regardless of our vocations. You could knock on his door years later and confer with him about your writing, your personal issues, your hopes and dreams. How many teachers are willing to be Professor For Life?
These are tough times in my business, which the people in suits now refer to as “content creation.” Revolutionary changes in how we consume information have created challenges for anyone who is committed to serious, time-consuming writing, the kind that involves revision and the search for that perfect word.
But I don’t think anyone can obliterate the beauty of a deftly constructed piece of writing. This is particularly the case if you’ve written it yourself. It’s like hitting a great golf shot; you forget the shanks and slices and remember the one exquisite 3-iron.
One day in McPhee’s class, he praised a sentence I’d written about the Louise Nevelson sculpture “Atmosphere and Environment X,” near Firestone Library. He had me read it aloud. The hook was set. I don’t always think about it consciously, but that’s pretty much what I’ve been trying to do for more than three decades — write another sentence that might win the approval of John McPhee.
Posted by Lew Weinstein on November 24, 2014