Thursday, October 11, 2007

talk about your form/content split

If you have never read even just a few paragraphs of the "Wansee Protocol," you are missing a chance to read Nazi writing at its most routine and most bizarre (both at once, of course). At Wansee, a Berlin suburb, in January 1942, senior officials of the German state met in order, essentially, to figure out a way to communicate clearly to everyone above a certain level of seniority within the Nazi government about the plan to exterminate the Jews of Europe.

A gorgeously bland 1984 film about the not-quite-daylong "discussion"--boring talk around a big conference table; just another meeting--about this horrendous, insane topic. Boring talk about insane stuff. Talk about your form/content split.

The "protocol" was prepared afterward. During the Nuremberg trials after the war it was translated into English. On my Holocaust site I've made the full protocol available. Here are some typical sentences:

"Persons of mixed blood of the first degree who are exempted from evacuation will be sterilized in order to prevent any offspring and to eliminate the problem of persons of mixed blood once and for all. Such sterilization will be voluntary. But it is required to remain in the Reich. The sterilized "person of mixed blood" is thereafter free of all restrictions to which he was previously subjected.... In conclusion the different types of possible solutions were discussed, during which discussion both Gauleiter Dr. Meyer and State Secretary Dr. Buehler took the position that certain preparatory activities for the final solution should be carried out immediately in the territories in question, in which process alarming the populace must be avoided."