That one true finding of the social sciences

That there’s a truth to stereotypes.

The Jewish matriarch, tough women. Danny The Fink’s mother went through the camp system:

She never wallowed in victimhood. When told by her son Daniel that Ronald Reagan was visiting Belsen- Bergen, she retorted: “So what, I’ve been.”

33 thoughts on “That one true finding of the social sciences”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    Actually she doesn’t sound very Jewish to me. Because I am not sure that the stereotype is that Jewish women are tough.

    Guilt-inducing? Certainly.

    This one sounds more English.

  2. I first heard of Bergen-Belsen, now called Bergen, when I was a kid: they twinned the fucking place with my hometown of Pembroke. I guess we were the only ones who would take it.

  3. So Much For Subtlety

    Her father went to London to carry on his work documenting the Nazis – work that ultimately helped secure convictions at Nuremberg. He obtained visas for his family to join him, but it was too late.

    How would you feel?

    Of course Anne Frank is alive because she is a named person. There are photos. The deaths of peasants in the Ukraine or Cambodia are no less tragic. But they are just statistics.

  4. My father saw Belsen. Horror show. Two things:

    (i) It just wasn’t true that the existence of concentration/murder camps was well known to the British population, (ii) It was inconceivable that their existence was unknown to the German population.

  5. Like SMFS, I’m not convinced there’s a stereotype of strong Jewish matriarchs either. Plenty of Jewish mothers are as shy and retiring as the next person.

    People like to create narratives when it suits them. “I come from a culture of strong women” sounds better than “I can be a right cow if I don’t get my way”.

  6. I first heard of Bergen-Belsen, now called Bergen, when I was a kid: they twinned the fucking place with my hometown of Pembroke. I guess we were the only ones who would take it.

    Ha ha.

    As for the Germans knowing, of course they did. But what could they do?

  7. Much easier to show ‘they’ (all of them? 80%?) knew of the concentration camps than of the death camps, because there were dozens of the former but only about six of the latter.

  8. Concentration camps, one of the British inventions the Nazis copied just a few decades later.
    They added in facilities to kill people rather than leave them to starve, dehydrate or die of disease.

  9. No, concrentration and death camp were two very different things. Not even sure there were 6 death camps, thought only 4 myself. And all in Poland or points east, none in Germany. Hmm, maybe there were 6 death camps, looking it up.

  10. “Concentration camps, one of the British inventions the Nazis copied just a few decades later”: a much repeated piece of untrue Nazi propaganda. The first so-called concentration camps were the work of the Spain in Cuba. The next set was the work of the USA in the Philippines. The UK came third.

    And in none of those cases was the purpose as vile as Germany’s.

  11. Concentration vs Death camps: a pretty good illustration of a difference between Fascists and Nazis, if I remember right.

    The Fascists had concentration camps; but Italy got a death camp when the socialists took over the running of one.

    “Risiera San Sabba, in Trieste, a national museum since 1965, and the only restored Italian concentration camp, was actively managed by Nazi Germany from 1943 to 1945. Unlike Fossoli, the San Sabba camp was an extermination camp for antifascists and Jews. It was the only camp in Italy engaged in systematic murder.”

  12. Cynic, isn’t the trouble with that, that it doesn’t really explain the scale of Japanese atrocities in Manchuria and Korea? What I mean is, the Nips are generally considered to have been ‘fascist’, of a type, at that time.

  13. Not really, as that’s again stretching the definition of Fascist.

    Much like Nazis are generally considered to have been Fascist, when they were different.

    Pretty much the point I was making: that there is a difference and we should not just lump all the bad guys in as Fascist, even though they had much in common.

    That and having a dig at socialists for being murdering bastards.

  14. (not very scientific, but if you go to the Wikipedia entry for Fascism and search for Japan or Japanese, you get no results)

    Fascism at that time was an Italian thing.

    “The Italian term fascismo is derived from fascio meaning a bundle of rods, ultimately from the Latin word fasces.[14] This was the name given to political organizations in Italy known as fasci, groups similar to guilds or syndicates and at first applied mainly to organisations on the political Left. In 1919, Benito Mussolini founded the Fasci Italiani di Combattimento in Milan, which became the Partito Nazionale Fascista (National Fascist Party) two years later. The Fascists came to associate the term with the ancient Roman fasces or fascio littorio[15]—a bundle of rods tied around an axe,[16] an ancient Roman symbol of the authority of the civic magistrate[17] carried by his lictors, which could be used for corporal and capital punishment at his command.”

  15. Dearime,

    First-hand account from 1945, by Sydney Jary (“18 Platoon”)


    The Battalion settled down to the immediate post-war problems of life in Germany. The rifle companies were billeted in four small hamlets adjoining a village with a Norwegian name of which we knew nothing, Bergen Belsen.

    After cholera inoculations, we were conducted into the world of Frankenstein. Nothing had prepared us for what we now experienced: not Hill 112, not Mount Pincon, Elst or Hoven could compare with this horror.

    Before the incredulous eyes of 18 Platoon, spread over acres of delightfully wooded countryside, was a factory of death. Emaciated bodies, resembling wax effigies of an alien race from a strange and distant planet, filled many pits. The stench of death and the sight of such highly industrialised human degradation left my soldiers speechless. Private Macy, ‘D’ Company’s Jeep driver, aptly summed it up: “There is now no doubt that we have fought a just war.”


  16. Scott Alexander of the excellent Slate Star Codex has a thought provoking review of “Eichman in Jerusalem”

    Among the points discussed
    1. The first and second solution that arguably came before the Final solution.
    2. Difference in compliance in handing over Jews in different countries. Denmark / Italy compared to France
    3. Active participation by various Jewish civic groups in the identification, rounding up, and confiscation of assets of fellow Jews and how this coloured the state of Israel’s objectives from the trial.

  17. As for the Germans knowing, of course they did. But what could they do?

    Quite a lot, would be my guess. I have read a lot about the Soviet Union and one of the things I came to realise is how the whole system of repression was only possible with the voluntary participation of an awful lot of people. Sure, nobody can expect an ordinary citizen to speak out or intervene when somebody is being arrested or shot. And nobody can expect an ordinary citizen to refuse to do their job or sabotage the works. But did they really have to be so utterly cuntish in running around informing on one another and fucking each other over in order to please their masters? Nobody is going to get shot for having “not seen” people visiting your neighbour’s flat when the KGB come asking questions. Nobody is going to get arrested for choosing not to eat, sleep, drink and play with somebody who works for the authorities.

    I also learned from the excellent film The Lives of Others that the Stasi in East Germany had very few officers: instead they relied on something like 200,000 informers to snitch on their friends, family, and neighbours. There is plenty people can do simply by not doing stuff, but there are too many cunts like Ritchie in any given population.

  18. From Gunker’s link, sort of what I was talking about:

    Pride of place goes to Denmark and Bulgaria, both of which resisted all Nazi demands despite the Germans having almost complete power over them. Most people have heard the legend of how, when the Germans ordered that all Jews must wear gold stars, the King of Denmark said he would wear one too. These kinds of actions weren’t just symbolic; without cooperation from the Gentile population and common knowledge of who was or wasn’t Jewish, the Nazis had no good way to round people up for concentration camps. Nothing happened until 1943, when Himmler became so annoyed that he sent his personal agent Rolf Gunther to clean things up. Gunther tried hard but found the going impossible. Danish police refused to go door-to-door rounding up Jews, and when Gunther imported police from Germany, the Danes told them that they couldn’t break into apartments or else they would arrest them for breaking and entering. Then the Danish police tipped off Danish Jews not to open their doors to knocks since those might be German police. When it became clear that the Nazis weren’t going to accept any more delays, Danish fishermen offered to ferry Jews to neutral Sweden for free. In the end the Nazis only got a few hundred Danish Jews, and the Danish government made such a “fuss” (Arendt’s word) about them that the Nazis agreed to send them all to Theresienstadt, their less-murderous-than-usual camp, and let Red Cross observers in to make sure they were treated well. As a result, only 48 Danish Jews died in the entire Holocaust.

    Good on the Danes.

  19. And this:

    Fourth, resistance worked. Not for the Jews, who generally had no good options. But for the Gentile population of occupied countries, absolutely. It didn’t need heroic martyrs willing to stand in front of Panzers Tiananmen-style. It just took a general attitude of annoying obstructionism. The Germans said “Give us a list of all the Jews in your country by next week,” and the police said “Oh, yeah, sure”, and then the next week the Germans asked where their list was, and the police said, “Sorry, we must have forgot.” When the attitude was so universal that the Nazis didn’t know who to punish, or didn’t dare punish everyone for fear of rebellion, they generally gave up.

  20. That’s funny, I thought the Danes had them ready to hand over when they let the Krauts just walk in. So now I know.

    That, and off-topic, Copenhagen having the most dog-shit infested streets I’ve ever encountered, although really snowy places beat it for sheer horror when the snow’n’dogshit millefeuile that mounted up over months finally melts..

  21. Thanks TimN, really good stuff.

    Maybe this is a bit daft, but whenever I read about how

    “the whole system of repression was only possible with the voluntary participation of an awful lot of people”


    “but there are too many cunts like Ritchie in any given population”

    I always end up thinking of people that work in HR.

  22. and then onto: diversity and equality, the inland revenue, too many of the police (Twitter monitoring), TV licensing…

  23. I think it was Len Deightons novel “Winter” that posited the location of the camps was very important as Germans Jews had their life insurance cancelled/annulled if their deaths were recorded outside of Germany.

    Sounds a bit off the wall, but perhaps believable given the time honoured reluctance all insurance companies have when settling contractual obligations.

  24. Bloke in Costa Rica

    The so-called antifascists burning stuff and breaking windows in Berkeley are nothing of the sort. They would have been enthusiastic participants in Kristallnacht.

  25. BiCR: the left have always been the fascists, the anti-free speechers, the anti- Brexiteers, the anti-small governmenteers, the anti-anyone who disagreers.

  26. Ljh and Theo, good points. But equally, this is why I dislike – in the sense of, ‘distrust’, names and categories like ‘Fascist – because the real point is one about the character and conduct of the individual: the lust for power, the way in which dislike of something translates into, “I know better, and you will conform”.

    We need a new name. Not Fascist. Not Nazi. Not Puritan. Not BluLab, or whatever. The enemy is no more Nazi or Progressive or religionist than it ever was. Those things are just vehicles. The enemy is, as in my view it always has been, those whose characters urge them to control others who are not harming them.

  27. Bloke in North Dorset


    Isn’t the difference between East Germany and Denmark that one was invaded and the other essentially governed by its own, albeit as a puppet regime?

    The viscousness of civil war and all that?

  28. So Much For Subtlety

    Tim Newman – “I also learned from the excellent film The Lives of Others that the Stasi in East Germany had very few officers: ”

    Actually there were a lot of Stasi officers.

    Between 1950 and 1989, the Stasi employed a total of 274,000 people in an effort to root out the class enemy.[12][13] In 1989, the Stasi employed 91,015 people full-time, including 2,000 fully employed unofficial collaborators, 13,073 soldiers and 2,232 officers of GDR army,[14] along with 173,081 unofficial informants inside GDR[15] and 1,553 informants in West Germany

    Compare and contrast:

    By March 1937, the Gestapo employed an estimated 6,500 persons in fifty-four regional offices across the Reich.

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