Critical judgement needed

I had mixed feelings will reading the Digital Services Act. To follow up on last week’s readings and discussion, media literacy appears to be the obvious long-term solution to halt the spreading of false information that manipulate people. This would in fact only be a solution to react to a dishonest or sensationalist use of social media by journalists or leaders of (far-right, in this case) movements, instead of fixing the downsides of fast traveling and easy-access information. But since, as mentioned by Freedman, right-wing groups are actually dependent on social medias that give them the visibility needed, it certainly won’t stop writers from molding news to convey provocative assumptions or targeting minority groups (as shown by the story on Roma in Czech Republic reported by the study of Slavíčková and Zvagulis). The tactics employed by those who wish to put forward their political group’s ideas are caught in the wheel of social media, already too big and too fast to hope to keep any control on whatever is thrown in it. The point outlined in Freedman’s article about wanting to minimize regulatory controls show how populist parties rely on social media (it then benefits them that regulations are kept at a minimal degree), but at the same time, those who are opposed to the movement (those targeted by the anti-elite narratives, presumably) actually contribute to the visibility on medias. Online platforms are at the heart of how information is introduced, consumed, and used. In this line of thought, regulations on their content are necessary, in order to complement other solutions to limit the possible negative impacts.

I think that, at first glance, the regulations proposed by the Digital Services Act are rational and well-founded. They appear to be more about not hiding information, so that it would ensure that there is no market dominance, and that costumers and companies are all protected when they navigate on websites. It seems to me that it is evidently predominantly a reaction to the misuses of how web platforms allow to display content, a short-term solution, compared to media literacy courses, for example, as it would directly affect the content, and not the way that the viewer deals with it. But I would be afraid that a guaranty that all the online material on said and said website is reliable would be reassuring, to the point where the viewer feels that he doesn’t need to exert his critical judgement. And since loopholes and other type of tinkering with rules always happen, or grey zones (such as not including the Roma side of the event in a news article, as explained by Slavíčková and Zvagulis) can be exploited, stating that online services are reliable might put judgement to sleep. Maybe adding a disclaimer that despite efforts to provide trusted information, critical judgement is still advised would help? I would think that no regulations will be inclusive or ahead enough to prevent any misuse or hiding of information. It would only be a reaction, a short-term solution until another loophole is found. It is still a good and needed plan, but I believe it has to be combined with a stress on the use of critical judgement whenever people are exposed to information online.

Appearances

This week’s readings and video were certainly entertaining. Since the beginning of the pandemic, there seems to have been a surge in conspiracy theories, mostly on random Facebook posts, but it was alarming to read just how many people are in fact involved in the QAnon movement. One of the interviewees in the video, Mirko, raises an important point when he says that media literacy should become a school subject. Now that information, any information, travels so easily and can reach so many people, and that medias onto which we rely to stay up to date with events have become a part of our everyday life, it is crucial that we learn to use them wisely from a young age. I think that it is the main reason why ideas like those put forward by QAnon and other conspiracy theories groups were able to convince such a large number of followers. There is a clear lack of knowledge on how to find reliable and trustworthy information on the Internet. Combined with the boredom, panic and questions that the pandemic brought, this created the perfect mix for people to get caught up in wacky theories (intelligence test? Virus created by Bill Gates?). In a normal context where people would not have that much time to kill spent on social media, or would not have had sanitary measures to question, their judgement would not have been clouded (at least, for the majority… conspiracy theories will always attract a minority), but the pandemic allowed for the explanations provided by QAnon to make sense to them.

I spent some time reading the comments under the video, and one in particular was interesting. It compared Attila Hildmann, seen in the video, with Hitler. Now this is a bit far stretched, but there is a parallel to be drawn with a charismatic leader (Hildmann seems to enjoy and even need to be the center of attention, given his career and the fact that his convictions allow him to draw people to his cause of ‘telling the truth’) or the speeches based on conspiracy theories that call for people to unite and fight against an imagined enemy. And frankly, considering how Hitler succeeded in convincing a lot of people, it is a bit scary to think that history could repeat itself, with the same means, albeit for different reasons.

On the subject of means, other than the appeal of ideology that is expressed in the video and in Scott’s article, what emanates from the readings is how such theories rely deeply on appearances and rumors. Just from the choice of the words in Scott and Kalmar papers (theirs, and the ones they cite), it can be understood that there is a particular attention on how the ideas are formulated in order to attract people and numb judgment. Vocabulary such as ‘alleged’, ‘propagate’ or ‘reinvent’, along with the description of the methods used by Viktor Orban, for example to nurture the hatred towards Soros and his supposed plan to force Hungary to accept migrants (posters, spreading false stories, etc.), illustrate just how narratives are a powerful tool.

Holocaust and Fiction

Holocaust-inspired fictions are criticized. They are deemed insensible, disrespectful, or inaccurate. But what if they were necessary to spark an interest in the event and keep it in the collective memory?

76 years have passed since the end of the Second World War and the Holocaust. The tragedy was apprehended in different ways since, from denial to memorials. Research, memoirs, documentaries and museums have tried to unveil the horrors that happened, to present the reality to the public and, to a certain extent, to fulfill the “Never again” promise. More recently, memories of the Holocaust seem to have found their way in the popular culture through literature or cinema. And the appeal is here: on Amazon, almost all of the best-seller books in the Jewish literature section are Holocaust fictions. These include titles such as We Were the Lucky Ones and The Things We Cannot Say.

This sudden influx could be explained first on the part of the writers, that are now distanced from the events. Authors are often from the third or fourth generation after the Holocaust and are looking to tell family stories. The detachment allows for a more in-depth approach that would not have been possible with survivors of concentration camps, for example, who would not want to revive bad memories by recounting them. The result is novels or TV series and movies that narrate fictional stories based on true events.

The debate around the fictional aspect mixed with the Holocaust in the popular culture involves the moral aspect as well as the possible disinformation. As outlined in critics on the recent TV series Hunters (a story loosely based on Nazi hunters in the 1970), is it ok to invent equally horrible but false situations, inspired by the truth? Or does it, and other fictional work, exploit real sufferings in order to attract a public and gain popularity? Are imagined depictions conveying incorrect information that could contribute to historical inaccuracy or even to the Holocaust denial? Is the creation side leading to a falsification of the truth, that eventually lessens the burden of the responsibilities of the perpetrators?

The word to remember here is fiction. The Holocaust proved to be an endless source of inspiration for artists, who draw it from true events, and shape them with their own words or images into a product destined to an eager public. The interest, on its part, potentially comes from an historical curiosity. But it mainly holds such a growing place in the popular culture because books like The Tattooist of Auschwitz go beyond merely informing the readers. It allows them to have an emotional connection to the Holocaust through the characters, to visualize events, and to engage in real-time by provoking empathy or hatred in a more vivid way than a museum could.

On remarks that his novel, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, contains incorrect elements, author John Boyne responded that made-up stories can’t be inaccurate since they are fictions. This valid point must be advertised, so that readers and viewers are aware that they are consuming a fiction work that is only based on the true events of the Holocaust. It gives an idea of the kind of things that happened, but states cautiously that it is romanticized.

The beauty of the phenomenon of fiction that reached the Holocaust, is that it proposes an approach to the subject that might be less traumatic, while still conveying the tragic aura. The entertaining aspect attracts a larger public than academic work, which is the starting point for an interest in this time period.

Of course, some Holocaust-related material is just plainly distasteful and wrong. Concentration camps themed Christmas ornaments, for example, only serve to generate profit. This kind of product doesn’t honor or commemorate the victims, and it doesn’t place the Holocaust at an accessible level like fiction does. Putting the Holocaust in the popular culture needs to remain respectful and linked to history, but it is also a way to nurture the interest, and by such, the remembrance. Fiction raises awareness. It is then up to the public to forge its own opinion and do its own research.

History of Coexistence

The theme of religion, religious identity and its entangled role with the immigration as perceived by far right and populist movements was center to the readings of this week. A few key aspects of the subject caught my attention.

First, Göle’s article rightly points out that Muslims have been a part of Europe’s mosaic of religions and ethnicities since the medieval period, from Spain through the Ottoman-occupied Balkans in the East. The Bosnian Muslims, as mentioned, as well as other ethnic groups such as Albanians, represent a continuous Islamic presence on Europe’s soil. Given these documented facts, I think that it would be wrong to assume or to advocate that Muslims migrants are challenging, or replacing, to use Camus’ words presented in Onishi’s article, the European’s whiteness and Christianity. If anything, this happened centuries ago, when the Ottoman conquered the Balkan territories, for example. And it certainly did not replace the population of Europe, it was just an added component. The tensions between Christians and Muslims, as outlined by Göle, were always present, but there were also periods of relatively peaceful coexistence between the religious groups. The Ottoman-era Balkans cities were, according to some sources (for example, this short documentary about the city of Thessaloniki in now Greece that presents the various ethnicities of the Balkans living together), an example of how different ethnic and religious groups could live alongside harmoniously.

This fact, in my opinion, contradicts Viktor Orbán’s claims, from Coman’s article, that Islam is a threat to Europe, even if he means Western Europe (and this calls attention to the definition of the imagined borders of Europe), since Muslims have been living on the territory, in Spain for example, for centuries. The antemurale myth he nourishes to portray himself as a protector of European values implies a very narrow definition and interpretation of European values. Whiteness and Christianity are traditionally associated with Western Europe, but as the appellation of Europe is opening up to encompass the whole continent, historical events should alter and add more values in order to represent the population in its entirety.

Second, I found interesting to read about the importance given to the religion in the context of a post-communist society, as depicted in Coman’s article. During the communist years, atheism was preferred, so the fall of the regimes provided an opportunity for people to express their faith freely, as well as for religious organizations to bear the cultural and traditional weight of society. I think this partly explains why Christianism now appears as an integral part of Eastern Europe and why migrants that brings in another religion might seem like a threat to it. I think that it is not the Islam religion per se that is threatening, but the fact that a part of the population does not adhere to something that was protected and that held the cultural spirit of the society during the communism years. Christianism in a way represents something that could not be crushed by the regime, and it is a symbol of victory over it. As such, it is normal that people feel entitled to protect it. It is the extent to which it is protected and the assumptions that non-Christians are a threat that are extreme, and even contradictory to the religion’s ways, as Pastor Gábor Iványi remarks.

The New Right in writings

One thing that struck me during each reading is the attention given to newspapers, books or just any publication that had to do with the spreading of the New Right’s ideas. There was the book Vu de droite that comprises written work from Alain de Benoist, the French leader of the movement. Given his importance and how his opinion reached Western Europe, it may well be the basis of other writings on the subject (more details on this book and its place among the New Right literature would have been appreciated). Other examples were particularly numerous in Marchi’s article on Portugal. The magazine Futuro Presente was seemingly the biggest vector of the movement, along with other daily newspapers like Journal de Notícias that would report on its cultural activities.

What is interesting is that publications on the New Right could also be used to criticize it, so the written spreading was not necessarily positive or only in favor of the movement. For example, the Portuguese magazine Patuleia critically presented its counterpart Futuro Presente as the “cultural journal of the ultra-reactionnary right”. And since the articles published in this journal, and other similar that were inspired by the movement (Terceiro Milénio, Universidade e Cultura), were talking about the New Right and to a certain extent promoting it, by writers and publishers associated with it, I think that the observation rightly so put these magazines as tools of the movement. The particular critic that the New Right is associated with fascism, racism and the Nazi regime (mentioned in Bar-On’s article) was formulated through writing (the petition An Appeal to Vigilance printed in the magazine Le Monde). In short, publications brought the New Right to the front, by either promoting, informing or criticizing it. Magazines were therefore a key tool associated to the movement.

In the same vein of writing, the choice of words when talking about the New Right appears to have been particularly weighty. Given the fact that the movement faced different critics about its association, writers could attack it by naming it “neofascist” or other permutations of the term fascism, as outlined by Griffin’s article. This might have led to misconceptions or misunderstanding of the New Right. Writers that wished to promote it, on the contrary, might have emphasized a distance with such terms. For example, as stated by Bar-On, the New Right journal Nouvelle École created by Alain de Benoist avoided vocabulary “associated with fascism, racism, colonialism and antisemitism in order to restore the right’s credibility.” The focus was rather put on other themes like the defense of culture and the protection of Europe’s diversity.

I found interesting to note that the movement originated from France before being spread across Western Europe mainly, through writing. It is also mentioned that it even reached East European countries such as Croatia and Romania. It reminded me of the cultural and political influence that France had in Europe, from the Louis XIV period until the 19th century, where French Institutes and Alliances where established all over Europe. In this way, France appears to be a cradle for political ideas, and a special attention is given to spreading them. The 20th century’s New Right found its vector in writings.

Evading responsibility for (too) long

As time passes, the Nazis criminals that escaped from the law in the post-war years trials might be left unpunished due to their old age.

The Nuremberg trials convicted Nazi collaborators for their crimes during the Second World War. But some of them escaped from Germany and were able to live out their life as free men and women, away from the suffering that they caused.

Hidden Nazis

They were difficult to trace down because they obviously changed their name, or they were protected and assisted in their escape. This was for example the case of Klaus Barbie, who worked in the gestapo police in Lyon.

The American government kept him safe after the war because he possessed important information on French communist parties. Sadly, it also kept him from facing justice for many years. He spent years in Bolivia before he was traced by Nazi hunters, and was tried in 1987 in France, the very place where he tortured Jews.

Nazi hunters, people dedicated to finding the remaining Nazis hiding mostly in American countries, were able to trail some of them thanks to meticulous work. Examples include Jakiw Palij, a former labor camp guard who lived in the USA before he was discovered in 2003. What gave him away is that his name figured on an archived Nazi record. As for the guard Friedrich Karl Berger, he was discovered because his name was on a document found on a sunken Nazi ship.

Tedious trials

The advanced age and health condition of the criminals make the trials complex. The sessions in court are short and limited, as shown be the recent case of Bruno Dey, also a former guard, who was tried this last summer.

Unfortunately, some die before they can face their crimes. Laszlo Csatary died in 2013 at 98 years old, just days before his trial would start, after spending decades living as an art dealer in Canada. Similarly, Oskar Groening, known as the bookkeeper of Auschwitz, died in 2018 at aged 93 before the trial could start.

This points to the urgency of acting quickly when Nazis are located, something that host countries are not always good at. In Barbie’s case, it took about 20 years before Bolivia agreed to turn him to France, where he could symbolically be tried.

Another obstacle that time brings is that there is not enough material. Less witnesses are available, and some Nazis walk away free because of a lack of evidence. There is also the fact that most of them will say that they were just doing their job. They don’t consider themselves criminals, and won’t confess, which complicates things.

Nazi hunting in the popular culture

The subject of Nazi hunting is accessible through the work of hunters publishing books and doing interviews. The case of the notorious Adolf Eichmann and how he was found in Argentina and tried inspired a movie (Operation Finale) and a book.

More recently, the controverted TV series Hunters placed this aspect of history in the popular culture. It was maybe an attempt to honor the victims of the Holocaust despite the very frustrating fact in the 1970s, Nazis were still free out there. Or it might just have been in order to popularize the subject, as it is inspired by the story of real Nazi Hunters during the Cold War in New York. Either way, the awareness raised certainly helps with bringing into light this part of the legacy of the Holocaust, and how it is dealt with.

Since the remaining fugitive Nazi will soon all be dead, this might well be the only way to outline their crimes and expose them. It would be a part of pursuing the mission behind the phrase “Never again”. Artistic and academic projects are becoming necessary to acknowledge this historical heritage, since the bureaucratic justice failed and will fail to punish most of the perpetrators.

“Part of the problem [mass murders still happening after the Holocaust] is that so few of the people who were involved in these crimes were actually held accountable.” That is how Efraim Zuroff, a Nazi hunter, concludes his interview. It justly shows how a punishment, even post-mortem, is needed.

Nazis that got away

Sollors’ article on the Fragebogen brings attention to the process of denazification through the particular mean of answering a detailed questionnaire. This bureaucratic response to a phenomenon that penetrated all spheres of life just a few years before seems, in my opinion, a rather weak approach to the elimination of Nazism.

The first aspect which I found troubling is the honesty of the answers. The questions were, as mentioned, embarrassing for some, and could prevent people from getting jobs, so I can imagine that the temptation of lying, or at least concealing incriminating facts, would be present. They were also very specific (an example was to tell for which party one had voted in November 1932 and March 1933). False answers were apparently punished and could be verified with archived files of membership. The punishments were public in order to discourage others to lie. But there were limits to this system, as it is reported by the article that it was suspected that many still lied. Membership could easily be checked out with an access to SS files, for example. But in the instance of a vote that occurred years ago, how could it be confirmed? Someone could simply have forgotten, or could answer with a political party that would not undermine his future job. I don’t know how voting worked in Germany in the 1930s, but I doubt that records were kept on who voted for whom. But if so, that would be a very interesting aspect of democracy to study.

This specific process of denazification in the immediate post-war years tallies with one of the objectives of the Nuremberg trial of purging Germany from the remnants of the Third Reich. Apart from trying to ensure that workers have no history of association with the Nazi Party, bringing known criminals to justice was also a way of getting a clean slate. An eye-catching point in this article is the complaint that real Nazis got away. Some were tried, less of-interest had to file a questionnaire, but some were exonerated, and some, in the real sense of the word, got away. This particular point took me through an interesting search on Nazi hunters, people that dedicated their time to finding Nazis that had escaped and hid in South America. This documentary (in French… this youtuber is my go-to for videos about “fun” historical facts, but there are many others on the subject of Nazi hunting) retraces the story of Klaus Barbie, a former Gestapo chief in Lyon, France, who was able, with the help of the American government that needed information he possessed on French communist parties, to leave Germany and spend years in Bolivia. Nazi hunters were able to find him in the 1970s, and during an interview, a French journalist, asking a question in French that caught Barbie off guard, could identify him. What is frustrating is that it still took about 20 years before he was brought back to France to be tried, but in the end justice won… but there are more that escaped it, in South America, or just in Germany, with lies and loopholes.

At one point though, wherever former Nazi criminals are, they will all be dead. But just the fact that some didn’t get caught and were able to spend good years in another country, away from the suffering that their crime had caused, is probably not helping with the coping of the Holocaust that is questioned, challenged and put in perspective today, as shown by comparisons in Rothberg’s article.

Works cited:

W. Sollors,“Everybody Gets Fragebogened Sooner or Later’: The Denazification Questionnaire as Cultural Text.” German Life & Letters. Vol 71, Issue 2 (2018): 139-153.

Michael Rothberg, “Comparing Comparison: From the “Historikerstreit to the Mbembe Affair” Geschichte der Gegenwart September 23, 2020

Broken system

Wendy Lower’s book, Hitler’s Furies, is a chilling ascending tale, from, as she puts it, witnesses, to accomplices, to perpetrators, culminating with the last sentence: they got away with murder. Sadly, I think that the trials and investigations of the 1950s and the 1960s and the results, especially where charges are dropped because of a lack of convincing elements, are not specific to this time period, nor accused women. The Nuremberg and Lemberg trials mentioned in the last chapters, regarding the motivations and fate of the women, reminded me of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia trial held in La Hague. The process, accusations and testimonies are described in the novel They Would Never Hurt a Fly by Croatian author Slavenka Drakulić. Although she does not, like Lower, focuses exclusively on the crimes committed by women, the atrocities reported and the outcome of the trials unfortunately point to the same conclusion. People that had murdered, planned and conducted genocide, would try to turn the system to their advantage, by lying, denying, using false alibis, pretending to have forgotten, accusing others (even accusing the presumed victims!..), up to the point where even a good amount of testimonies was not considered a sufficient proof. The particular case of Johanna Altvater, who murdered children, really struck me. The fact that she was acquitted because of insufficient evidence, even though there were witnesses, is plainly frustrating and discouraging, and makes me question what more proof would be needed. I think this is taking the “innocent until proven guilty” a little too far, and that it translates into modern day trials. We probably all have heard or followed a case where the accused was found not guilty because of a reasonable doubt. Even though evidence point to him, and the judge and prosecutor know so, the law is made so that the accused are more protected than the victims. And in cases where victims have been dead for years, well, of course, proof like a body is not available, which is to the advantage of the accused. And this was my moment of anger against the legal system that is not getting better.

Another point that I found interesting in the book and that happens to be a recurrent aspect of war is the feeling of helplessness. It is most apparent in the narrative of watching through the window Jews being rounded up to presumably be shot. Although it does trigger an inner indignation, the witness rightfully thinks, but what can I do? And that can probably apply to every horrifying event where witnesses, made accomplices against their will, simply had no option but to let it happen, because of the fear (which was proven justified) of being punished if they spoke up and tried to stop things or help out. And I think that this helplessness, enhanced by the Nazi propaganda, plagued a lot of people, witnesses, accomplices and perpetrators, and victims, prisoners of a system that, once started, can’t be stopped, at least not from the inside where the helplessness prevails.

Fascism resurgence in Croatia

A country with an infamous fascist past, Croatia faces resurgence of this movement since its independence from Yugoslavia.

From the 1990s up to today, Croatia had to redefine its identity as an independent country. One of the ways of concretely splitting from the Yugoslavian period was to bring back the “kuna”, or at least, introduce in 1994 a new devise with the same name that the Croatian fascist government used during the Second Word War. (See more)

Officials denied a link with the fascist past, or with an apparent attempt to revive it. Instead, the then president Franjo Tudjman explained that it was a final step in establishing the national sovereignty of Croatia. It still seems like a thoughtless act, considering the many victims of the fascist regime in Croatia, in neighboring countries like Serbia, and in the Jewish and Roma minorities of the region that were persecuted by the Ustaša Movement. It was indeed a currency from a time where Croatia was an independent country, but a lot of other symbols from Croatia’s centuries of history could have been the new face of the national money. Today the kuna seems to have been accepted, but more events suggest other resurgences of fascism.

During the socialist period of Yugoslavia, many monuments and statues were erected in order to commemorate the anti-fascist struggle of the Partisans fighters. The socialist narrative presents them as heroes who liberated Croatia from Nazi Germany. As such, they deserved public recognition. Several monuments are also dedicated to countless victims of the war, for example memorial plaques in villages that suffered population loss in massacres. Together, they represent an important historical heritage of the Croatian people.

Throughout the 1990s and up to today, Croatia is going under what can be interpreted as a historical revisionism. (See more on this process)

Anti-fascist monuments and statues are vandalized by the local population. Some events are more of an anecdotal nature, like the story of a man who ended up in the hospital after getting stuck under a statue he was vandalizing. (See more)

But this is far from being an isolated case: there have been more than 3000 monuments vandalized in the independence war of the 1990s. (See pictures here)

In an apparent process of changing the narrative of the newly independent country, monuments or memorial plaques were destroyed or changed, in order to commemorate the victims of the latest socialism regime. This can be interpreted as a way of consolidating the sovereignty of Croatia, as the fascist period was one of freedom that socialist Yugoslavia took away. It also can mean that socialism is now seen as the darker period of Croatia, and the fascist crimes are erased from the collective heritage. (See more)

If there is nothing to commemorate them, they don’t exist, right?

Today, the main issue, beside the fact that monuments are still being vandalized or destroyed, is the lack of concern. The ones that are still standing are slowly decaying, since next to nothing is done to preserve them. As an example, the Monument to the Uprising of the People of Kordun and Banija at Petrova Gora is disappearing because people are stealing materials from it. (See more)

A few dozen of monuments have also been vandalized between 2015 and 2017( see more), which could mean a resurgence in the extreme nationalist ideas of the 1990s. While any political groups are entitled to their opinion, the destruction of historical heritage and the memory of victims should not be the way to express it. Authorities should not tolerate this behavior and concrete measures of protection must be put in place. The message that the vandalizing and its tolerance send about a new rise of fascism is worrying in the way it seeks to erase the historical legacy of the Croatian anti-fascist struggle, and disrespectful in the name of the victims who fought and suffered under the former fascist regime. National awareness must be raised to protect this part of Croatia’s history.

Metaphorical Soldiers

Sandulescu’s article about the Romanian Legionary Movement raises the question of fascism as a cultural revolution. Besides its political ideas, fascism seems to have aesthetic matters intertwined with it, whether it appears in photography, or in the physical features that should represent an ethnic nation, as we saw last week. In fact, fascism appears to be more than a political label, but an ideal to strive towards, a revolution to be a part of, and more concretely, a reaction to a country’s economic problems, a series of everyday gestures that are inscribed into a political current seemingly on the same level than an architectural or literature style, that blends decisions for the well-being of citizens and metaphorical higher purpose calling.

Romanian fascism, best represented by the Legionary Movement, draws on Italian fascism and German Nazism. Sandulescu identify similarities between them such as the presence of a charismatic leader that can lead and inspire people, and give them a sense of duty that is interpreted as almost divine. In Romania’s case, Corneliu Zelea Codreanu, the Movement’s leader, resemble Hitler in the anecdotal fact that he wrote a Romanian version of Mein Kampf, Pentru legionari (For my Legionaries), or that he also had a strong anti-Semitist opinion, blaming the Jews for the poor economic state of Romania.

But more broadly, he too was able to (or at least worked in order to) instill into is followers a feeling of belonging, sacrifice and loyalty to the national cause. He wished for a new Romania, a national unity that could be achieved through fascism and the new archetype man that it could create. This new man finds an equal in the man depicted by Kühne in his article about what it meant to be a man in the German Nazi society and army. Sandulescu recounts the vocabulary used in the Legionary Movement in the lexical field of soldier and battles with a divine mission, as the name Iron Guard or Legion of the Archangel (for divisions of the Movement) inspire. Similarly, the ideal man Germans aspired to be had superhuman like qualities.

In the Legionary Movement as well as in the Nazi army, the comradeship was highly regarded, and even fondly remembered by some veterans. The fascist new societies were to be devoid of classes, which was the goal of bringing people together, regardless of their background. It is interesting to note that this goal of unity was fostered in both countries. In Germany it happened by training soldiers to leave no one behind and to help each other… and to participate in war atrocities. In Romania, work camps were used to create solidarity between participants, by mobilizing them into working together towards the new Romania, which, according to an article by author Raul Carstocea, consisted mostly of building infrastructures. It appears that the metaphorical divine mission of German soldiers and Romanian new men was not exactly as glamorous as it was presented to them.

Works cited:

Carstocea, Raul. “Building a Fascist Romania: Voluntary Work Camps as Mobilisation Strategies of the Legionary Movement in Interwar Romania.” Fascism, 6, no. 2 (December 2017): 163-195.

Kühne, Thomas. “Protean masculinity, Hegemonic Masculinity: Soldiers in the Third Reich” Central European HistoryVol 51, Issue 3 (September 2018): 390-418.

Sandulescu, Valentin. “Fascism and Its Quest for the ‘New Man’: The Case of the Romanian Legionary Movement.” Studia Hebraica 4 (2004): 349-61.