A Nazi piece of work
October 30, 2009 8:55 AM   Subscribe

Fritz Darges died on Saturday aged 96. Darges was the last surviving member of Hitler's inner circle and was present for all major conferences and policy announcements for four years of the war. He reportedly left instructions that after his death his memoirs of his time with Hitler could be published.

Historians believe that Darges' memoirs could finally put to debate revisionist theories that Hitler was unaware of the Holocaust. Darges is chiefly famous for for upsetting Hitler in the summer of 1944 [warning: links to revisionist historian David Irving's website]. A fly had been buzzing around the room during a strategy conference and when Hitler ordered Darges to kill it, Darges joked that as an airborne pest the Luftwaffe adjutant present should deal with it. At which point Hitler flew into a rage and sent him to the Eastern Front. It clearly didn't engender any hard feelings. A lifelong Nazi, Darges insisted to his death that Hitler was a genius.
posted by MuffinMan (40 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Historians believe that Darges' memoirs could finally put to debate revisionist theories that Hitler was unaware of the Holocaust.

Historians are trusting souls who believe in the power of logic and facts to overcome comforting beliefs and wingnuts, then.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:59 AM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Put to debate = Put to bed

Mods, please help this homonym-challenged poster.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:00 AM on October 30, 2009


I don't know, that's kind of a funny joke! Get it? It was a fly so the Luftwaffe adjutant should deal with it!

Geez.

The things people get sent to the Eastern Front for these days.
posted by kbanas at 9:01 AM on October 30, 2009 [28 favorites]


I remember thinking that the fly in the conference thing was hilarious as a kid. Now that I'm older, I dearly wish he'd been captured by the Soviets instead of living comfortably in obscurity until ninety-fucking-six. Nazi shithead.
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:02 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


MuffinMan: "Historians believe that Darges' memoirs could finally put to debate revisionist theories that Hitler was unaware of the Holocaust."

you mean END the debate, right? or PUT AN END to?

honestly, it won't put an end to anything. revisionist historians don't listen to evidence or reason, and they won't care if hitler himself pops up, having faked his death, to loudly proclaim "YES, I ORCHESTRATED THE HOLOCAUST INTENTIONALLY TO WIPE OUT JEWS, AND I SHOULD BE PUNISHED FOR IT. I HEREBY SURRENDER MYSELF TO THE AUTHORITIES, HAVING SEEN THE ERROR OF MY WAYS." the whole point of revisionist history is to shut the jews up, not to actually be historically accurate or anything.
posted by shmegegge at 9:02 AM on October 30, 2009 [4 favorites]


You know who else killed flies in high-level meetings?

That's right: Obama.
posted by DU at 9:03 AM on October 30, 2009 [47 favorites]


HI-larious DU....
posted by zerobyproxy at 9:05 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


So is Darges Max Aue?
posted by chavenet at 9:06 AM on October 30, 2009


That fly anecdote is absolutely ripe for a Downfall parody. I'm not sure what is so compelling about them. They're versatile, simultaneously comic and tragic. It's always weird to see a guy you've been taught to recognize as the living face of evil itself be overconfident, then throw a tantrum, and finally be reduced to whining and moaning for a while as his flunkies shuffle about, unable to do anything.
posted by adipocere at 9:07 AM on October 30, 2009 [3 favorites]



He was known to have a career as a car salesman after the war.

There's something comforting in this.
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 9:10 AM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


During a strategy conference a fly began buzzing around the room, landing on Hitler's shoulder and on the surface of a map several times.

Irritated, Hitler ordered Darges to "dispatch the nuisance". Darges suggested whimsically that, as it was an "airborne pest" the job should go to the Luftwaffe adjutant, Nicolaus von Below.

Enraged, Hitler dismissed Darges on the spot. "You're for the eastern front!" he yelled. And so he was sent into combat.
Who knew Hitler didn't have a sense of humor?

As luck would have it, they found footage of Darges on the Eastern Front (he's the blond one): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEle_DLDg9Y
posted by Davenhill at 9:12 AM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


So Hogan's Heroes was pretty much a documentary, then?
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 9:19 AM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Was there an Allied flag on the fly?
posted by lysdexic at 9:30 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I like how the Telegraph ends the article:

"We all dreamed of a greater German empire," he said. "That is why I served him and would do it all again now," said the man who had a career after the war selling cars.

No remorse followed by the mundane. He began as an export clerk, rose to one of the heights of an organization that specialized in the whole sale slaughter of innocents, and afterward at some point sold cars. I suppose that's an integral story of the Nazis, showing how the common man can rise to become a terror.
posted by Atreides at 9:30 AM on October 30, 2009


I suppose that's an integral story of the Nazis, showing how the common man can rise to become a terror.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:33 AM on October 30, 2009


"It was a very familial atmosphere at the Berghof," he recalled. "One time we went off to Italy together with Eva Braun and her sister Gretel in an open-topped car.

Hey hollywood, I got a *great* road movie script for you!
posted by malphigian at 9:36 AM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure I would expect a true-believer's memoirs to debunk revisionists' claims that Hitler was unaware of the camps. Seems to me, a true-believer would act to paint his hero in as complimentary light as possible. Unless, of course, he felt the camps were a brilliant idea. Then, yeah, the hero gets all the credit.
posted by Thorzdad at 9:38 AM on October 30, 2009


I suppose this is just another example of "He wouldn't hurt a fly" is a horrible defense when talking about what people can do...
posted by yeloson at 9:39 AM on October 30, 2009 [2 favorites]


Whoa, that Irving fellow.

Anyway, re: Downfall. I've seen the parodies so many times we finally ordered it from Netflix. It's not a bad show.

I don't think this guy's going to really reveal anything new. He's got no regrets, and I'd be hard pressed to take any of it at face value.

Besides that, what does it matter "what Hitler knew and when he know it"? You can't kill six million people in a single blow; it was deliberately done by regular people and was willfully ignored my even more regular people. That's the greatest evil.
posted by lysdexic at 9:42 AM on October 30, 2009 [6 favorites]


No one likes eine Klugscheißer.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 9:56 AM on October 30, 2009


kbanas: "I don't know, that's kind of a funny joke! Get it? It was a fly so the Luftwaffe adjutant should deal with it!"

Is this this on? I mean, c'mon. What is this, a Nazi strategy conference or an oil paining?

*rimshot*
posted by brundlefly at 10:14 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


"this THING".... damnit.
posted by brundlefly at 10:15 AM on October 30, 2009


SURELY THIS....
posted by blue_beetle at 10:32 AM on October 30, 2009


I don't know. Personally, I'm a big fan of what the movie Inglorious Basterds stands for. That's a movie that provides what SHOULD have been the "inside" scoop of what was going on in Hitler's inner circle.
posted by tobe at 10:39 AM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm sorry, but the fly joke isn't funny. Sending him the the Eastern Front for it is hilarious. Hitler obviously had a genius for self-satire.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:31 AM on October 30, 2009 [3 favorites]


I'd be great if Hitler called a clown in to sweep him to the Eastern Front.
posted by brundlefly at 11:44 AM on October 30, 2009


Brings up a quote by Jacques Vergès that has been bugging me:

By turning him into a monster, you exonerate Nazism. But if you say that he is a simple, pious character, then you condemn the regime, and that is much more important.

Vergès claims to be driven as an anti-colonialist, but I suspect this to be lawyerly pooba. If each individual gets off as a victim of the 'regime,' then it keeps going up the authoritarian ladder to... whom? If it goes to the top, I think he would defend the headman by having him say, "I was just exercising my freedom of speech. I never killed anyone. And if I did, it was an enemy combatant."
posted by dragonsi55 at 12:04 PM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


We probably won't learn much about the Holocaust from this guy's book. The article says, "After serving in the SS panzer division Wiking in France and Russia he was promoted on to the Führer's personal staff in 1940." That's incorrect. Germany didn't invade the Soviet Union until June 1941. According to Wikipedia, Darges became Hitler's adjutant in March 1943.

The Nazis started building extermination camps in late 1941, and the Wannsee Conference was in January 1942. Most of the Holocaust's victims were killed in 1941-1942.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:15 PM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


> Darges joked that as an airborne pest the Luftwaffe adjutant present should deal with it. At which point Hitler flew into a rage and sent him to the Eastern Front.

That's because the fly was towing a banner advertising Liberty Bonds, and therefore it was the responsibility of one of Goebbels' underlings.
posted by ardgedee at 12:20 PM on October 30, 2009


Also, SS Panzer Division Wiking wasn't formed until after the invasion of the Soviet Union. Darges was in the SS-Verfügungstruppe (Special Purpose Troops), the precursor to the Waffen-SS, during the invasion of France in May 1940.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:23 PM on October 30, 2009


I think there was a translation error in there. Darges said Hitler was a /genus/.

Also: I call Godwin. This discussion is over.
posted by clvrmnky at 1:57 PM on October 30, 2009


Downfall is a really good movie. Sure, the Youtube Hitler-freaks-out bits are funny (at least the first time), but I can't help kind of wishing that meme had never taken off.
posted by stinkycheese at 2:24 PM on October 30, 2009


I sat by the Königssee.
I looked at the sky,
And as I looked,
A fly went by.

A fly went by.
He said, "Oh, dear!"
I saw him shake.
He shook with fear.

And when I saw that fly go past,
I asked him why he went so fast.
I asked him why he shook with fear.
I asked him why he said, "Oh, dear!"
He said, "I MUST GET OUT OF HERE!"

The fly said, "LOOK!
And you will see!
The Führer!
The Führer is after me!"

The fly went past!
The Führer came . . . FAST!

I asked the Führer,
I asked him, "Why---?
WHY DO YOU WANT TO GET THAT FLY?"
posted by kirkaracha at 3:43 PM on October 30, 2009


Revisionist history is when James Belich claims in The New Zealand Wars that the Māori actually won the military campaign but lost the subsequent peace negotiation. Or when we realise that the "Dark Ages" are only dark in that we have little in the way of contemporary sources, not dark in the sense that it was an "uncivilised" time. Or when we decide that talking about Cook's discovery of Australia ignores the role of his crew, the previous European "discoveries" of other parts of Australia, and most important of all, the fact that people had already been living there for seventy thousand years.

Revisionist history is respectable historiography motivated by a concern for the truth and sometimes a desire to phrase one's points in a way that tells more of the true story without excluding the perspectives of others.

Holocaust denial is fascist propaganda of the most vile sort. It is a betrayal of those who suffered and an insult to everyone affected by it. Calling it revisionist history is on a par with calling creationism creation "science", but with the added ick factor of the moral enormity it seeks to deny and the moral abomination it itself is.

I know some people use the term "historical revisionism" in a different way, but equating revisionism with holocaust denial both lends implicit support to the latter and sullies the former by association.
posted by GeckoDundee at 4:40 PM on October 30, 2009 [9 favorites]


the joke?
Was Hitler angry because he felt the adjutant insulted or because he as a vegetarian
did not like killing animals?
posted by Postroad at 5:06 PM on October 30, 2009


No remorse followed by the mundane. He began as an export clerk, rose to one of the heights of an organization that specialized in the whole sale slaughter of innocents, and afterward at some point sold cars.

Indeed. However, the thing that's remarkable is not that we're so willing to excorate the Germans for this (see the xenophobic trash MuffinMan linked to, for example), but so unwilling to ask uncomfortable questions about the mundane lives built on brutal, even genocidal behaviour elsewhere in the world - indeed, we prefer to divert the question by holding up our totems of evil ((see the xenophobic trash MuffinMan linked to, again) in prefence to asking ourselves how the New World conqueored itself.
posted by rodgerd at 5:36 PM on October 30, 2009 [1 favorite]


MuffinMan I suppose that's an integral story of the Nazis, showing how the common man can rise to become a terror.

Indeed. Funny thing about common men too, they're common. We're surrounded by them. Perhaps we even are one.

I think what primarily "distinguishes us from the Nazis" isn't an inherently better morality or greater strength of character; it is just that we, by virtue of living after the Nazis, are aware of the consequences and the outcome of the awful things they did. By contrast, most of us are unaware of the awful things that are done in North Korea, by our North Korean contemporaries, and the people of 2059 will judge us accordingly.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:23 PM on October 30, 2009


So we're calling Holocaust Deniers "Revisionist Historians" now? That's giving them too much credit for not being pernicious assholes.

(On preview and more careful reading, see GeckoDundee's better reasoned comment.)
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 12:26 PM on October 31, 2009


Point of order - the OP - and the Daily Telegraph article which uses the same terms - isn't talking about holocaust denial. It's talking about revisionism around how much Hitler knew about the holocaust. It may be a small distinction, but if people are going to get aggrieved about the use of a particular word, they at least be accurate in their criticisms of its use in the OP.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:47 AM on November 1, 2009


From the original post: "links to revisionist historian David Irving'"

I'm pretty sure he's a holocaust denier.
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 4:32 AM on November 1, 2009 [1 favorite]


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