Mihail Sebastian, *Journal 1935-1944*

I am surprised this work is not better known.  A literary diary of a Romanian Jew, it captures the beauties of European high culture during the pre-war thirties, most of all classical music and early 20th century literature, but also the only slighter later descent into madness.  It’s his friends and fellow intellectuals who turn on him the most.  I don’t know a better source for capturing the sense of surprise and then foreboding that people must have felt as Hitler racked up one victory after another.

In late 1944, after the course of the war had reversed, Sebastian wrote:

I am not willing to be disappointed.  I don’t accept that I have any such right.  The Germans and Hitlerism have croaked.  That’s enough.

I always knew deep down that I’d happily have died to bring Germany’s collapse a fraction of an inch closer.  Germany has collapsed — and I am alive.  What more can I ask?  So many have died without seeing the beast perish with their own eyes!  We who remain alive have had that immense good fortune.

Miraculously, Sebastian survived the Holocaust and was never deported to the camps.  On 29 May 1945, however, he was hit and killed by a truck in downtown Bucharest, while walking on his way to teach class.

You can buy the work here, and I’ve since ordered one of Sebastian’s novels.  Here is a NYT review.

Comments

It's "racked up" not "wracked up" :P

He would have likely been familiar with these people before Hitler started racking up victories - 'The Iron Guard is the name most commonly given to a far-right movement and political party in Romania in the period from 1927 into the early part of World War II. Founded by Corneliu Codreanu, it is also known as the Legion of the Archangel Michael (Legiunea Arhanghelului Mihail) or the Legionnaire movement (Mișcarea Legionară). The Iron Guard was ultra-nationalist, antisemitic, Magyarophobic, antiziganist, anti-communist, anti-capitalist and promoted Eastern Orthodox Christianity. Its members were called "Greenshirts" because of the predominantly green uniforms they wore.

When Ion Antonescu came to power in September 1940 he brought the Iron Guard into the government. In January 1941, however, Antonescu used the army to suppress a revolt of the Iron Guard. He destroyed the organization but its commander, Horia Sima, and some other leaders escaped to Germany.' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iron_Guard

Sounds like the sort of outfit that Bannon is trying to revive, actually.

Well since the review of the book specifically mentions Romania and the rise of the Iron Guard, yes he would have been familiar with them. You could try actually looking at the links versus pasting a wall of Wiki text.

Or you could try to read to the very end, which is the actual point that was being supported by that wall of Wiki test - 'Sounds like the sort of outfit that Bannon is trying to revive, actually.'

European history is extremely ugly - it wasn't (and isn't) just Nazis. That any American is involved in helping such murderous ideologies gain power is shameful, as there is no slippery slope defense possible. Or maybe you aren't aware of whose these people were? - 'The Ustasha – Croatian Revolutionary Movement, commonly known as Ustashe, was a Croatian fascist, racist, ultranationalist and terrorist organization, active, in its original form, between 1929 and 1945. Its members murdered hundreds of thousands of Serbs, Jews, and Roma as well as political dissidents in Yugoslavia during World War II' https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ustashe

Another one of the sort of historical parties that Bannon is undoubtedly enamored with.

"Another one of the sort of historical parties that Bannon is undoubtedly enamored with." Can you give quotes of Bannon that you consider as evidence that he is "enamored with" the Ustahe, or the Green Shirts, or the Nazis ? Or is just a non-sequitur from a copy/paste of a wikipedia article unrelated to Bannon?

"as there is no slippery slope defense possible."

This was confusing; can you clarify?

The quote is very poignant and brings to light some great work being done. For instance, rape during the holocaust is a very taboo subject. https://forward.com/opinion/399538/can-we-talk-about-rape-in-the-holocaust-yet/ but it is now being discussed.

Take someone Michelle Goldberg literally pouring depression into women. In the Mafia, there is one law; it is Omerta or silence. Ms. Ford does a great and tremendous service to give a voice to the voiceless, to stand up to power, and she should be proud. Take Paul Krugman who cannot write without talking about corruption or hypocrisy. I'm sure he, like many feminists, was fine with Bill Clinton because he would uphold Roe. But he cannot grasp that universal health insurance creates scarcity of health supplies. This inflates health care costs. He misunderstands popularity with efficiency.

"Or you could try to read to the very end, which is the actual point that was being supported by that wall of Wiki test - 'Sounds like the sort of outfit that Bannon is trying to revive, actually.'"

So, you were once again, going completely off topic to make a really weak attack on somebody you don't like.

You know the troll's that are actually funny are much more interesting to read. You should try that model.

Or, when discussing Romanian history, and more broadly European history, one can look beyond Hitler or Nazis when talking about its ugliness regarding intellectuals. And the fact that Bannon is attempting to revive the sort of parties that marked a number of countries in the period between 1920-1940. This summation 'also the only slighter later descent into madness' is not very accurate, as the descent had started before the 1930s.

"Or, when discussing Romanian history, and more broadly European history, one can look beyond Hitler or Nazis when talking about its ugliness regarding intellectuals"

That's precisely what the book was about. You didn't bother to actually read the links and instead posted a wall of text from Wikipedia that was redundant and not as well written as the actual review was.

This has been said a millionaire and times but it clearly can not be said enough.

Comparing Steve Bannon, who I utterly loathe from multiple angles, with Antonescu proves a complete lack of historical knowledge and moral understanding, and comparing him to the Iron Guard of Codreana and Sima takes that up several finely graded notches.

The principal’s speech judgement on Billy Madison is frequently enough quoted but it applies far more to comments like yours than anything any Adam Sandler character has ever uttered, and though I have not seen Mr. Sandler in anything since “Funny People” I am very confident in this assessment.

I am not comparing Bannon to Antonescu.

What I am saying that is when the AfD does not want your public support (a party who has had leaders advocating the shooting of women and children at the German border), it is not unfair to say that Bannon is a far right extremist - 'AfD spokesman Jörg Meuthen has also distanced the party from Bannon, stating in July that the AfD has “no need for coaching from outside the EU.”

On Tuesday, AfD spokesman Michael Pfalzgraf wrote in an email to The Washington Post that while “we cannot rule out that individual representatives of our party had and have had contact with Steve Bannon – these representatives have then spoken neither for the AfD-board nor for the entire party.” Pfalzgraf added that “there are no plans for cooperation with Steve Bannon on the part of the AfD Federal Association."

Cynthia Miller-Idriss, an American University professor who studies far-right culture in Germany, said some European leaders are wary of associating themselves too closely with Bannon in part because he represents a particularly extreme brand of right-wing politics that could make it harder for European parties to win new supporters.' https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/2018/08/14/steve-bannon-plans-far-right-supergroup-europe-some-key-far-right-leaders-say-theyre-not-interested/

WKPD: "A majority of the Romanian Jews living within the 1940 borders did survive the war, although they were subject to a wide range of harsh conditions ..."

The Romanian regime seems to have concentrated its mass murder on Jews in its conquered territories. So perhaps his survival was not miraculous. Anyway, such selectivity is another baffling feature of one of the most baffling crimes in history.

Baffling? Demagogues always concentrate their power by creating and demonizing an out-group.

And it's not like this was the only time it got out of hand, to the murder of millions.

Even if it is well-known and easily explanable, it is still somewhat paradoxical, that Jews in countries allied with Germany during WWII fared in general better that Jews in countries hostile to it. None of the government allied to the Nazis was as crazily antisemite as the Third Reich, and while they presses Jews, to some extent they protected their Jewish citizens from the worst the Nazis wanted to do to them (deportation and murder). So did Italy under the fascist government, despite the racial laws, Horty's Hungary, Rumania, Bulgaria, etc. (A different but somewhat in the same spirit example is the anecdote of Franco trying to save a few hundreds Jews in Greece of Spanish citizenship from the Nazis).

Of course, near the end of the war, all these countries found themselves in the opposite side of Germany (either because they changed sides of their own when they realized Germany was bound to lose the war, or because Hitler, fearing they could change sides, attacked them, like with Hungary), and then the Nazis did their best to kill the Jews as fast as possible, since time was tuning short, in the part of these countries they occupied.

In Rumania, the regime was extremely violent in war territories, "Half of the estimated 270,000 to 320,000 Jews living in Bessarabia, Bukovina, and the former Dorohoi County in Romania were murdered between June 1941 and the spring of 1944" (wikipedia), but less so in its core territory: "A majority of the Romanian Jews living within the 1940 borders did survive the war". I don't know what the proportion of Jews living within 1940 frontiers of Rumania who survived the war is. My maternal great-mother was a jewish Romanian from Bucharest, and among her and her 6 siblings, only one was deported and killed during the war -- the other ones survived, though that required lot of efforts and luck.

On 29 May 1945, however, he was hit and killed by a truck in downtown Bucharest, while walking on his way to teach class.

This seems like excessive cruelty on the part of the universe. You survive the holocaust as a Jew in an Axis country, but then get killed crossing the street. Damn.

The universe is neither cruel nor compassionate. It is indifferent. It does not say "you used up your nine lives when the Nazis ran riot, so here you go, have a meeting with a lorry".

No, it is not. An angel rides in the whirlwind and directs the storm.

So it goes.

So it goes.

Such is life in Trump's Romania.

God Bless You, Mr. Thiago Impersonator. God Bless You.

No, he does not deserve blessings. It is sad for the 50 Cent Party to be so vicious to Senhor Ribeiro. It must end imnediately!

For all your racketeering, you cannot admit that Sao Paulo is the East Side of Manhattan. You cannot derive that the East Village would win in all out war against Ohio, and you cannot accept that AppNexus has a resident Rockstar while the merry go round you ride on has had a resident hooligan, the entire time, laughing at the tint of your blue sunglasses.

"On 29 May 1945, however, he was hit and killed by a truck in downtown Bucharest, while walking on his way to teach class."

Yeah, that's sad. Three weeks after the end of WWII ... Weren't Romanian artists, like Tristan Tzara and Ionescu, into Absurdism? This poor guy getting hit by truck in May 1945 sounds like something made up to illustrate the Romanian penchant for the absurdly awful.

>You survive the holocaust as a Jew in an Axis country, but then get killed crossing the street. Damn.

George Patton says hi.

He defeated the Army of the Third Reich... and then got killed in a car crash later that year.

Actually to paraphrase Centrist, he "used up his nine lives when he slapped that soldier, so here you go, have a meeting with a lorry."

Joking of course (and in agreement with Centrist), but it makes one wonder if guilt and innocence are a matter of cosmic timing lol.

I was thinking of the Patton example also.

The one that really gets me, although it was a delayed twist of fate, was the families who fled Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge for the United States -- only to have their children mass murdered by a psychopathic racist American in Stockton, CA.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cleveland_Elementary_School_shooting_(Stockton)

There's also Gandhi gaining independence for India, only to then be assassinated by ... a Hindu. Albeit an extremist one.

That story’s ending is so bleak and pointless that you would think it would have to happen in Twentieth Century Romania. Actually by those standards it is pretty cheerful, he lived to see the Nazis and the Conducator fall yet died before the “elections” of November 1946. That is almost a fairytale life.

I know Miorita is Moldovan, but it is the only Romanian fairy tale I know, so maybe I misjudge the genre.

Miorita is Romanian, and so is Moldova, the fact it is now split into two countries notwithstanding.

+1 (as an immigrant myself). As I have said here, by the way, I can't see how an immigrant can rationally be supportive of mass immigration:
If you move to the US, it is to live in a different society, not just for the beauty of the Niagara Falls; if you take your old society with you, that
defeats the purpose.

So for people like Rayward, (rational) immigrants promote division, hate and violence, and in return he hates immigrants or kids of immigrants, for instance Trump. Finally Rayward is a pretty consistent character.

Good Lord, another one.

Can't you see the trap right there, after you have fallen straight in it?

rayward talked about hatred and division, and you were the one who stepped up and bound your policies to it.

It would have been hella stronger and more moral to say "yeah, I believe in reasonable immigration policies but I'm not with those assholes!"

"I believe in reasonable immigration policies but I'm not with those assholes!" But ?

Sure, there are both reasonable and unreasonable, moral and immoral, arguments for, well, either higher or lower immigration levels.

Just because you're with someone on the direction of change doesn't mean you're with them on what might be an immoral argument.

True, in a larger sense. I just didn't see anything he wrote as being assholish, or as you said, 'rayward talked about hatred and division, and you were the one who stepped up and bound your policies to it'. Nothing there to even suggest that.

Are you reading it in order?

rayword talked about demagoguery and hate, and he didn't use the word "immigration" or talk about immigration at all.

For some reason Centrist went from hate to immigration and his own feelings.

Centrist created the binding, and Joël followed down that road.

I see no 'binding'. Maybe Centrist read into Rayward's comment too much, but he and Joel had reasonable comments.

And as I hope it was clear "those assholes" refer to rayward's original "politicians who promote division, hate, and violence."

You can believe in reasonable and moral immigration policies without being with those assholes.

I assumed he meant Obama. Partisan hate has gotten much worse with his administration stoking it on for 8 years.

Partisan hate was at a manageable level under Obama worse under the Republican bookends Bush and Trump as well as Clinton. Trump is still the easiest pres since Nixon to hate.

Yeah, how many administrations of leftist hate will we have to endure?

rayward, yes and ouch.

centrist, the fact that you go from "promote division, hate, and violence" to "help me, I'm being oppressed" shows a tin ear at a minimum.

An inability on your part to separate hate from reasonable immigration policy.

I think rayword was most insightful about the silent majority who pretend big moral questions are not playing out in front of us.

But beware too those who hope to gather momentum off a wave of "division, hate, and violence" (because it does align with their policy) while demanding at the same time that we see them as separate and distinct.

This does indeed look interesting, perhaps as revealing as Szpilman's "The Pianist" and Levi's "If This is a Man." Book recommendations of this sort, btw, are my favorite MR posts. Thanks.

I hadn't heard of this author. Thanks for pointing him out, and I did buy the book.

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