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January 24, 2003 1:47 PM   Subscribe

What a bunch of little nazis. A scout leader in Denmark has been reprimanded for leading the kids (ages 11-14) in a theme based game of tag, with the theme being Nazi's vs. Jews. This included dressing the Jews in yellow Star of David outfits and a sign with the words "Arbeit macht frei". Danish Metafilter members, explain yourselves!!
posted by jonson (64 comments total)

 
Your last sentence was a joke. It has to be a joke.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 1:53 PM on January 24, 2003


P_G. Yes, you have identified and recognized it a joke. Consider yourself among the upper echelon of readers here ;-)
posted by jonson at 1:55 PM on January 24, 2003


Woohoo!
posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:00 PM on January 24, 2003


While I was reading the link, I tried to make up a witty remark: something like "What's next, children dressed up as..." and realized I couldn't think of something that was worse. I guess none of the children actually care what they were doing, but some adult people must have come up with this and others must have agreed that this was a good idea.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 2:02 PM on January 24, 2003


The serious comment:

Jeez. What kind of whackjob thinks a game like this is a good idea? Really. "Oh, there won't be any uproar over this." And in Denmark of all places, home of the "King wore the star during WWII" urban legend.

The inappropriate comment:

Huh. The article doesn't say, but I sure hope the Jews won this time.
posted by padraigin at 2:04 PM on January 24, 2003


How about this, Swordfish:

What's next, children dressed up as Native Americans and the Pistol-toting uncouth men of European descent who nearly slaughtered their entire population?"
posted by zekinskia at 2:05 PM on January 24, 2003


zekinskia! Shhh!!!
posted by jonson at 2:07 PM on January 24, 2003


I was going to make the cowboys 'n' indians comment, too. I went to a summer day camp where all us little boys made and wore feathered headbands and yellow plastic loincloths. The fact that I still have pictures of myself dressed like that is even more of a testament to just how much the experience warped my sense of reality.

Yeah, what the camp councilors did in Denmark is different - I'm just not exactly sure how.
posted by yhbc at 2:11 PM on January 24, 2003


zekinskia wins...

for ever and ever.
posted by cadastral at 2:14 PM on January 24, 2003


It's different because there aren't many movies where the nazis are the good guys.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 2:16 PM on January 24, 2003


I agree with the cowboys argument/comment (and I'm still wondering why I feel offended by it). There's a difference, however: the cowboy/indian game has been around since ages until it became politically incorrect. The jew/nazi GAME is new, though.
posted by swordfishtrombones at 2:18 PM on January 24, 2003


No joke: when I was growing up, the kids in our neighborhood used to play a rudimentary "Nazis vs. Jews" form of tag. None of us really understood what that meant -- all we knew is that Nazis were the ultimate eeeevil bad guys ('cause our grandfathers fought 'em in the war, and they were always so creepy in movies); Jews were therefore the good guys. It was like some awful SAT logic question for literal minded six-year-olds: Cowboys are to Indians as Jews are to Nazis. (This was short-lived, as I believe someone's parents finally set us straight, or at least handed out copies of Anne Frank to the older kids.)

Truly dreadful is the fact that there was a board game produced in Germany during the Third Reich called something like "Get The Jews Out," in which the object of the game was... well, self-evident, really. I first read about it in Claudia Koontz's Mothers in the Fatherland, an excellent study of women and the family in Nazi Germany.
posted by scody at 2:19 PM on January 24, 2003


We never played cowboys and indians when I grew up 'cause everybody wanted to be the indians. So we just practiced tracking animals in the forest (it was good to grow up in the mountains).

Inappropriate as this game of tag might have been, I think it inevitable that a certain mythology will build up around the Holocaust, especially for the young. Mythologies tend to be expressed in gameplay. And I do wonder which is worse, teaching kids to avoid the bad things that the Nazis represented, or teaching them that the Nazis were Inhuman Monsters Of Unimaginable Evil!!!

I am rather concerned about the fact that the adults were the Nazis and the kids were the Jews. That has connotations that just give me the chills.
posted by Wulfgar! at 2:22 PM on January 24, 2003


Also, the cowboys vs. indians debate, even though it was a horrific, one sided slaughter, at least there were battles fought, at least the Indians could inflict casualties. Not quite as one sided, nor as systematically evil in intent, as Jews v Nazis. almost...
posted by jonson at 2:25 PM on January 24, 2003


Cowboys are to Indians as Jews are to Nazis.

Or the other way 'round, depending on your view of cowboys and Indians. Growing up in Colorado and Wyoming with cowboys and Indians on my family tree, I personally felt conflicted.
posted by scody at 2:27 PM on January 24, 2003


I think P_G and swordfish are both right about the cowboys/indians game: it's different from this situation because we perceived the cowboys to be the "good guys" (even though, as noted, most kids wanted to be the indians) and it was played for a long time before it was understood to be offensive. The analogy, though, is cowboys : indians as Nazis : Jews; not the other way around.

And speaking of offensive, I just noticed jonson's tagline. Bad jonson, making me laugh about such a serious subject.
posted by yhbc at 2:29 PM on January 24, 2003


I was just debating doing a Meta post about taglines. No one EVER notices them, and sometimes they are the cleverest things about a post. Thanks for noticing my poor, poor taste, yhbc!
posted by jonson at 2:36 PM on January 24, 2003


I hadn't noticed jonson's tagline until alerted to it just now. Terribly poor taste. And soda HURTS when it's sprayed out your nose.
posted by Vidiot at 2:39 PM on January 24, 2003


Okay, I'm a Dane, I'll try to explain this. : )

First of all, it isn't really a tag game, as far as I can tell.

In Denmark, when kids go to summer camps or scout camps and such, one of the mandatory events is always natteløbet literally "the night run". It's basically a cross country run held in the dead of night (w/o flashlights / torches) where small groups of kids have to complete a course - usually taking them deep (or so it seems) into woods or other creepy, isolated areas. It is almost with no exception horror themed, and the teachers and counsellors have tell horror stories about the area natteløbet is taking place in to set the mood. Sometimes the kids' imaginations is sufficient to scare the living crap ("what if there's a real killer out here?") out of them, and sometimes the adults have created scenes like a corpse swinging from a rope in a tree, or ambushes to make sure the kids are horrified.

No biggie.

It seems, the scout leaders just went a little bit overboard, but when you try to create a truly scary and frightening scenario, well... Jews trying to escape nazis sure would scare me!
posted by cx at 3:00 PM on January 24, 2003


The analogy, though, is cowboys : indians as Nazis : Jews; not the other way around.

I don't see where you get that - it seems like the objective of the kids was to escape the bad guys, who were the nazis.

I had a prof once who said denmark was the only country that acted ethically in WWII...
posted by mdn at 3:15 PM on January 24, 2003


The difference between cowboys-indians and nazis-jews is mainly that the cowboys got away with it.
posted by spazzm at 3:24 PM on January 24, 2003


What's next, kids dressed up as Enron financial analysts and jobless ex-Enron employees who lost their 401K's?

Or kids playing "Tax the Poor"? - (playing Wall Street Journal "tax the lucky-duckies" editorialists and homeless people sleeping in carboard boxes).

Or.....here's my favorite...kids playing "the saved and the damned", with one group singing of the glories of Heaven, while the other pretends to writhe in agnoy in the fires of Hell.
posted by troutfishing at 3:26 PM on January 24, 2003


Fastest invocation of Goodwins law?
posted by spazzm at 3:31 PM on January 24, 2003


Posts about nazism don't count. I think.

And it's "Godwin".
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:51 PM on January 24, 2003


The difference between cowboys-indians and nazis-jews is mainly that the cowboys got away with it.

I am by no means excusing the conduct of "cowboys" and other European explorers and subsequent non-Mesoamericans, but the analogy is a bit off for the following reasons:

1) The Nazis and European Jews were two distinct groups, while the "white man" and "Indians' were not. Indian nations fought amongst each other and in fact often fought along side the "white man" (such as during the Revolutionary War). Why? Because you can't fit Indians (there were literally hundreds, if not thousands, of Indian nations) into one group. And, because many European countries and them North and South American countries all dealt with American Indians in different ways for different reasons during even the post horrid periods of white-Indian wars. Further, Europeans lobbied for American Indian rights (Nazis never did this for European Jews, while some Germans during period helped European Jews they can hardly be characterized as Nazis. I know of no person openly lobbying the Nazi government to improve conductions of the concentration camps)

2) The Holocaust was a signal, unified movement with the purpose of killing all Jews on Earth. While millions of Indians died, they did in many wars, for many district reasons and was not part any effort to ride them from the world. Further, there was not coordinated effort on the part of the "white man" to kill them. For example the Spanish during the 16th century did not collude with Americans in the 19th to kill Indians.

What happened to American Indians and other Mesoamerican peoples was horrific. It was a sad and terminable period in the history of European exploration of the Americans and awful episode in the history of the US, however; it was not quite the same as the Holocaust.

"White man" and "Indian" are not exact opposites, thus the Cowboys (or I guess "white man") and Indians contains a nuance that was not understood during childhood. Perhaps a more apt example would be a game of Army, in which two factions that are organized against each other in cohesive fashion with only one goal in mind: kill the other side. Among those games I recall G.I. Joe v. Cobra or U.S. v. Vietcong (not perfect examples). Or to modify the cowboy v. Indian example, I once did a reenactment of the Spanish v. Aztecs. The Aztecs won, only because they ignored history and weren’t fooled by the Spanish (then again this quite adapt because the Spanish wanted was conquest and gold, and while they killed most Aztecs, if they could get what wanted with out killing all the Aztecs they could have used other means. While Hitler’s stated goal was the total elimination of Jew worldwide)
posted by Bag Man at 5:01 PM on January 24, 2003


terminable period in the history of European exploration of the America

Sorry, ment to say "terrible".
posted by Bag Man at 5:02 PM on January 24, 2003


Yikes meant to say "period in the history of European exploration of the Americas"
posted by Bag Man at 5:03 PM on January 24, 2003


I realize you're having a good discussion, and I don't want to ruin it, I just want to make sure you all realized that they didn't play a holocaust version of cowboys & indians?
posted by cx at 5:15 PM on January 24, 2003


They didn't?!?! Oh, yeah... (scrolls up) I guess that's just a comment that zekinskia made. Sorry, got all riled up at them damn Danes for appropriatin' our 19th century history for their games of tag.
posted by jonson at 5:20 PM on January 24, 2003


"Cowboys & Indians captures in its pages the drama, grandeur and rich cultural heritage of the American West. it appeals to a wide variety of Western enthusiasts, from serious collectors to those who simply love or long for the Western lifestyle."
posted by newlydead at 5:28 PM on January 24, 2003


Cowboys & Indians, Pt. 2
posted by newlydead at 5:42 PM on January 24, 2003


"...at least there were battles fought, at least the Indians could inflict casualties.

I'm not being a smartass here. I plead ignorance, wanting enlightenment...

I wonder if someone can explain to me why Jews of that era did not or could not do as Indians did and take up arms to fight their enemies. They may have died anyway, but wouldn't it have been far better an alternative?

Better to die on your feet than serve on your knees. No?
posted by LouReedsSon at 6:13 PM on January 24, 2003


"Armenians & Turks captures in its pages the drama, grandeur and rich cultural heritage of Asia Minor. it appeals to a wide variety of minor Asian enthusiasts ..."
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 6:17 PM on January 24, 2003


sorry
posted by ProfLinusPauling at 6:17 PM on January 24, 2003


What's next, kids playing Samurai Jack vs. Aku?
posted by kindall at 6:33 PM on January 24, 2003


I wonder if someone can explain to me why Jews of that era did not or could not do as Indians did and take up arms to fight their enemies. They may have died anyway, but wouldn't it have been far better an alternative?

Some did. But for every killed nazi by a jew, there were 1000 killed jews in return. And if you have family and they might be in that 1000, you think twice about being a hero.

I might add, to the countless differences between indians and jews, that jews never had any tribal leaders, as the indians and thus noone who could have lead them into war by tradition.
Furthermore, jews had no homeland they could retreat to. Zionism was still a fairly new idea and after the infamous Wannsee - conference and the world's reaction to it, you could easily believe that jews weren't welcome anywhere in the world.
posted by zerofoks at 6:45 PM on January 24, 2003


How about:

"What's next, children dressed as redneck undemocratically elected 'leaders of the free world' thoughtlessly trying to alter any political regimes not 100% in line with there's while slaughtering the other little kids dressed in tea towels going about their everyday lives as they have for many years before the US existed all so the 'leader of the free-world' led kids can suck the final remains of earth's fossil fuel supply dry a little quicker and watch a few of his close friends get rich a little quicker???"

Only problem with that one would be the media wouldn't have to use their imagination too much.
posted by randomblondeboy at 7:06 PM on January 24, 2003


you could easily believe that jews weren't welcome anywhere in the world

Uh, in point of fact, they weren't. Except, for a while, in Shanghai. If they could get there.
posted by languagehat at 7:44 PM on January 24, 2003


Furthermore, jews had no homeland they could retreat to.

well, you could say the same of the indians really - their homeland was being appropriated. But I think the real difference is that the nazis did not enter this as a battle, the way the cowboys showed up and said, let's see who's the stronger man. The nazis said, just move over here and it'll be okay. Just wear these tags and it'll be okay. Just take this shower and...

There were rumors about "the showers" but no one knew for sure, and when they wanted new workers in the camps, they really did begin with a cold shower. In the camps there were often talks of uprising, but it was tough to organize and everyone was weak, sick and numbed. They only had the barest minimum food & water to live on and were worked to death all day. And there was hope that they would be freed eventually.

There was a great story in one book I read (I think Eyewitness Auschwitz, about the sonderkommando) about a woman in the room before the showers (where they were meant to be undressing) who pretended to be sexually interested in a guard, and then stabbed him with the heel of her shoe, grabbed his gun & shot another guard - but of course soon enough the rest of the guards got it together and she was killed and soon everyone else in the room was too, in the chambers... In another story, someone in that room starting singing a hebrew funeral prayer and everyone joined in and they just sang together all the way into the chamber. That book was really moving.
posted by mdn at 8:02 PM on January 24, 2003


Bag Man - I don't know how the Europeans and the pre-Columbian inhabitants of the "New World" could be construed as anything but very distinct groups, linguistically, culturally, and even, to some extent, genetically. Many historians have wondered - given the tremendous sophistication of the civilizations which the Spanish encountered in the New World, especially the Aztecs and the Incas, why these New World empires did not conquer Europe rather than vice versa. But the answer is quite simple.

The majority of the inhabitants of the New World (North and South America) prior to the arrival of the Europeans constituted a dinstinct group in at least one major way which was to prove crucial: their resistance to smallpox, which was ultimately responsible for most of the decimation of the indigenous American population groups in the sixteenth century (and continuing on in successive waves of contagion for more than a hundred years after). The fall of the Aztecs, the Inca, the decimation of the New World populations.......all have been tied to smallpox.

None of this was, to be fair, intentional on the part of the Europeans - Spanish Conquistadors or others. It was convenient, to be sure. But there was also horrific brutality inflicted quite consciously on the "Indians". Initially, these peoples were considered by the Spanish as somewhat less than human, and it was only gradually that they were granted various rights - freedom from slaughter, for example, or the benefit of immortal souls. But these reforms happened only slowly, over decades.

Columbus, for example, was given - by the Spanish Crown - dominion over what is now the Dominican republic. Within a decade or so, the inhabitants of "Hispanolia" were all killed (out of the original estimated population of at least several hundred thousands - and perhaps more). To add to the suffering inflicted by the ravages of smallpox the Spanish, under Columbus and his sons, decreed that the Indians pan for gold. Gold was very much on the mind of Columbus and all the Spaniards, of course. This decree was enforced by chopping off the hands and feet of Indians who did not meet the gold quota. There still exist many terrifying woodcots, which were made at the time, of this practice. Not all of the Spaniards thought this slaughter to be a worthy thing. Batholeme De Las Casas wrote of and publicized this brutality, at last turning it into a celebrated cause in Spain which led finally, to reform: not before, though, the obliteration of the inhabitants of Hispaniola.

If you are interested, the historians Alfred Crosby, in "The Columbian Exchange", and Hans Koning in "Columbus" His Enterprise" eloquently detail this chapter of world history.
posted by troutfishing at 8:11 PM on January 24, 2003


Damn you people, you're pissing all over my ludicrous newsfilter thread with your intelligent, well reasoned posts!!
posted by jonson at 8:19 PM on January 24, 2003


Jonson - sorry, but Bag Man gave me such a juicy opening to trundle out my heavy "Columbian Exchange" cannon. I wish I could find some pics of the chopping off of the hands and feet by the Colombus gang of the indigenous 'Hispaniola' inhabitants - I would post one on Mefi (copyrights have definitely expired!) - they were the nastiest images I think I have ever seen, combining classical elegance with an accurate rendition of emotion. Think: your hands have just been chopped off. What do you do? - Answer - just run around until you bleed to death! If you are lucky, you get herded into a barn (these indians built barns - if I can trust the wodcots) which then gets set ablaze. ....
posted by troutfishing at 9:10 PM on January 24, 2003


Christ that's heavy. Every once in a while I run across an example of injustice that, even though it occurred hundreds of years ago, sticks with me for decades...
posted by jonson at 9:18 PM on January 24, 2003


Sheesh, people get upset over the smallest of things.
posted by mischief at 10:35 AM on January 25, 2003


tag your it, now hit the showers LOL!
posted by yeahyeahyeahwhoo at 10:50 AM on January 25, 2003


I just want to point out that our mefi Dane, cx, did, in fact, explain what happened much better than the article. Don't you get that urge when reading some strange international news article from a place where you don't have a citizen handy to come to mefi and demand that residents of said place explain themselves? Ahh... the internet.
posted by Wood at 11:13 AM on January 25, 2003


Hear, hear. Thanks, cx, for the cogent & helpful explanation.
posted by jonson at 11:22 AM on January 25, 2003


The author would have done well to have some fact checking done since the "the infamous inscription over the entrance to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland" wasn't at Auschwitz or even in Poland. "Arbeit Macht Frei" was the motto built into the famous gate at the Dachau camp just outside Munich, Germany. Having walked through that very gate and toured the location makes it stick in one's mind just a bit.
posted by RevGreg at 11:28 AM on January 25, 2003


Ack! They had the same thing over the gate at Auschwitz also...my bad. Should have researched that one BEFORE inserting my foot in my mouth. Never mind...
posted by RevGreg at 12:03 PM on January 25, 2003


Okay, okay...last post on this...the Auschwitz gate was not built until much later (work began in April 1940) than Dachau which was started in 1933.
posted by RevGreg at 12:11 PM on January 25, 2003


Jonson - I could find the images for you. The book - by Hans Koning (with the terrible woodcots) is still in print. I'm just not sure I should....because it's akin to something people involved in war atrocities report: there are things unspeakable...or at least something that should not be spoken of But still, these woodcots would be a good antidote to many attitudes concerning the 'moral supremacy' of western European civilization.

now, where are my woodcots of US troops, late 19th century, shooting Phillipinos?
posted by troutfishing at 12:56 PM on January 25, 2003


Jessamyn posted this in December and it's stayed with me ever since:

A conversation between Mark Kurlansky and Isaac Bashevis Singer, from A Chosen Few: The Resurrection of European Jewry

MK: Do you think that the Holocaust was an anomaly of human history?
IBS: No. It's a part of human history. The whole of human history is a holocaust.
MK: If that is true, and there is a God, what is God doing?
IBS: [shouting angrily] He did it! HE did it! I didn't do it! He created a world in which animals and man and God knows what else fight like hell all of the time. Fight! They fight for sex. They fight for territory. They fight for all kinds of cultures. They fight about religion.
posted by jokeefe at 2:02 PM on January 25, 2003


For the most part, cowboys did not actually hunt or kill Indians. They were far more likely to hire them. Many cowboys WERE (and still are) Indians.

Indian killing was done by soldiers, other Indians, and microbes.

Nineteenth and early twentieth century American (and European) children loved to play Indians (sans cowboys) because the literature made them seem ultracool - the Boy's Own Noble Savage Myth Simplified.

With the rise of movies came the rise of the cowboy as a hero figure - and merchandising center. Kids could dress up in their Tom Mix outfits ordered for fifty cents. Indian regalia was usually homemade.

Kids seem to like fighting team games, so Cowboys & Indians was a natural result. So was Cops and Robbers, although nobody to my knowledge is protesting the plight of the safecracker (yet!).

Nazis & Jews would be a nasty game. I wonder if it isn't played more often than we like to admit.
posted by anser at 2:06 PM on January 25, 2003


And I should have included the end of the excerpt:

IBS: [...] ...when it comes to the so-called eternal questions, none of them were answered.
MK: So you keep asking them?
IBS: I was always compelled to. We always say what did God do? And God is silent as ever. We have to make peace with it or else.
posted by jokeefe at 2:07 PM on January 25, 2003


After a lot of thinking back and forth on this issue, I think the thing that hit me the most was amazement that people could have such distance from the nazi/jew thing that they would consider this kind of roleplaying appropriate. I read and understood the context that cx laid down, but where I'm from, you couldn't get away with that sort of game because there are still too many people whose relatives died in Germany and Poland who would call bullshit almost immedately.

People said that in Europe after the Holcaust there was a whole generation of Jewishness sort of skipped by survivors who believed that they made it through in some way because they could "pass". Their children were, for a large part UltraJews, refusing to stand down and be afraid. There are a lot of people who still evoke the bogeyman image of the Nazi [even casually in that "don't be such a Nazi" way] but often forget that the evil of the Nazis was best highlighted by what happened to their victims, the Jews [and gypsies, dissidents, gays, handicapped, etc]. This game just included both parts of the equation.
posted by jessamyn at 3:31 PM on January 25, 2003


I wonder if someone can explain to me why Jews of that era did not or could not do as Indians did and take up arms to fight their enemies. They may have died anyway, but wouldn't it have been far better an alternative?

The explanation I'm most familiar with has that the Nazis were able to construct each tiny step as a lesser-of-two-evils scenario, where the Jews were able to tell themselves, "Okay, we'll wear the armbands, they'll be happy, this will be the end." "Okay, we'll move to the ghettos, that will satisfy them." Each step had, what was perceived to be, a much worse alternative, because no one knew where it was heading. (Not even, necessarily, the Nazis, for a long time.) Basing all of this on Zygmunt Bauman's Modernity and the Holocaust.
posted by claxton6 at 5:31 PM on January 25, 2003


I think the thing that hit me the most was amazement that people could have such distance from the nazi/jew thing that they would consider this kind of roleplaying appropriate. I read and understood the context that cx laid down, but where I'm from, you couldn't get away with that sort of game because there are still too many people whose relatives died in Germany and Poland who would call bullshit almost immedately.

There are plenty of fun american movies where the "bad guys" are nazis - like Raiders of the Lost Ark. How is that really any different?

And it wouldn't be "calling bullshit" - they said the nazis were the bad guys. It's the lack of somber reverence that upsets people. But all horror/ adventure movies & games are based on thrills that mean not taking the very serious very seriously...

Also, they didn't get away with it, because those relatives did step in almost immediately.
posted by mdn at 6:28 PM on January 25, 2003


Bag Man - I don't know how the Europeans and the pre-Columbian inhabitants of the "New World" could be construed as anything but very distinct groups, linguistically, culturally, and even, to some extent, genetically. Many historians have wondered - given the tremendous sophistication of the civilizations which the Spanish encountered in the New World, especially the Aztecs and the Incas, why these New World empires did not conquer Europe rather than vice versa. But the answer is quite simple.

I was not saying that Europeans and Mesoamericans were not distinct groups. They were, but the history of the European exploration and settlement of the Americas was complex. Often European groups aided native people and vice-a-versa. The perfect example is how Indians from the northeastern US fought on the site of British during the Revolutionary war. There were also periods of peace between native peoples and Europeans. Sometimes their interests even ran concurrent to each others. I wanted to point the rich complexity and nuanced relationship that Europeans (and their descendants) had with native peoples. The relationship of Nazis to Jews during the Holocaust does not bear any resemblance to the situation I described above.

I also wanted to show that within the group of the “white man” and the group of “the Indians” there was many different nations, nationalities, aspirations and motivations. The different groups with in each sub-set have different relationship with each other. Again, the relationship of Nazis to Jews during the Holocaust does not bear any resemblance to the situation I described above.

Jonson - sorry, but Bag Man gave me such a juicy opening to trundle out my heavy "Columbian Exchange" cannon. I wish I could find some pics of the chopping off of the hands and feet by the Colombus gang of the indigenous 'Hispaniola' inhabitants - I would post one on Mefi (copyrights have definitely expired!) - they were the nastiest images I think I have ever seen, combining classical elegance with an accurate rendition of emotion. Think: your hands have just been chopped off. What do you do? - Answer - just run around until you bleed to death! If you are lucky, you get herded into a barn (these indians built barns - if I can trust the wodcots) which then gets set ablaze.

I am in not way denying the horrific cruelty inflicted on Mesoamericans by Europeans and their descendants (not to mention Indians fighting other Indians). However, the Holocaust is a unique episode in human history and there are few (if any) exact parallels, this includes what occurred in North, South and Central America from about 1500 - 1900.

These days the term Holocaust is often used to note simply the total destruction of one group. Or, to the a lesser extent, the one group severely beating on another group. However, Holocaust in Europe was something very different. It was a systemic and well organized effort to destroy a single group solely because that group was of a certain religion. That's not what occurred to native peoples in the Americas. First it was not unified nor organized and/or systematic over the entire period inwhich the Americas were explored and settled by Europeans (i.e 1492 - 1900s). Plus, the reasons for doing so varied from group to group and time period to time period. The actions of many Europeans and their descendants are not defensible, but it was not Holocaust like the one European Holocaust. Thus, all the talk of cowboys : Indians :: Nazis : Jews is foolish or simple a lack of historical understanding.
posted by Bag Man at 11:30 AM on January 26, 2003


Bag Man - I agree. oh no! what do we do now?
posted by troutfishing at 7:04 AM on January 27, 2003


oh no! what do we do now?

Kick back and have a bud.
posted by Bag Man at 11:59 AM on January 27, 2003


I just want to point out that among the countries of Europe, Denmark has one of the highest Jewish survival rates because of its efforts in helping its Jews to escape and in protecting its captured citizens. The primary escape effort, where Danes carried thousands of Jewish citizens and refugees over to Sweden in fishing boats, probably could have been mentioned as background context in the yahoo post. Should we assume the game was replaying Nazi hatred, or Danish heroism? [disclaimer: I'm 1/64th Danish.]
posted by win_k at 3:30 PM on January 27, 2003


Should we assume the game was replaying Nazi hatred, or Danish heroism?

I saw it as neither of those things. In my view it's likely an example of how people don't understand the gravity of historical events. It's true that Nazis and Jews were at one time groups on the opposite sides of a conflict (but nothing like Cowboys and Indians). I think the game was just refection of that. It is an us v. them and one the best examples of us v. them in the last 100 years is Nazis and Jews. win_k, I would like to think it is about Danish heroism. While the hate of Nazis needs to be remembered for posterity (to prevent future organized hate), a children's is perhaps the wrong place to do it.
posted by Bag Man at 12:52 PM on January 31, 2003


"Danish heroism" is something of a myth, as Istvan Deak reported in his recent NYRB review of Goldhagen's book A Moral Reckoning. Only the first paragraph of the review is online for free, but here is the heart of the relevant section:
For instance, [Goldhagen] does not have a good word to say about the unrelenting Polish fight against the Nazis; on the other hand, because of their defense of Danish Jews, he holds up the Danish King, government, Evangelical Church, and society as models of humanity. No one wishes to deny the fundamental decency of Danish society towards the 7,500 Jews in their country. But again, the historian should avoid presenting history as a matter of black and white. Careful research has shown that Denmark contained only 7,500 Jews because it had admitted virtually no Jewish refugees from Germany. The historian Myrna Goodman calls the Danish record with respect to refugees 'dismal.' Wealthy Denmark could have trained a fighting force to deter a German invasion; instead, it practically disbanded its operetta army before the Germans arrived and chose to surrender virtually without firing a shot.....

[Deak quotes Goodman on the Germans' wish to maintain peaceful relations with the Danes in order to obtain "enormous amounts of food" and Danish war materiel.] ...As a concession to Danish sensibilities the German authorities...took no action to stop the departure of the Jews... [T]hereafter, however, Denmark continued its invaluable assistance to the German war effort. Had all other countries behaved as the Danes did, the war would have lasted even longer and many more Jews as well as non-Jews would have perished. It is simply wrong to measure other countries' wartime behavior against what happened to the Danish Jews."
(Emphasis added.)
posted by languagehat at 12:41 PM on February 1, 2003


Thanks, languagehat, for the further info. What I had found on Denmark said the 7,500 included refugees, but I didn't look any further than that. I was trying to add some strangely missing credit for the Danes' "fundamental decency" to the discussion, but it looks like I overstated the case.

Bag Man, given that I don't know the details of the game played, I'll agree with you here. However, I don't necessarily agree that the darker side of human nature should be hidden from children--it depends on how it's done. A good example is the famous blue-eye/brown-eye experiments Jane Elliott conducted with her elementary students to teach them about racism.
posted by win_k at 3:49 PM on February 3, 2003


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