nazis

“Doppel” by Lindsay Smith

doppel“Doppel” is one of those short stories where everything at first appears very much on the surface, but really, that’s not the case. Lindsay Smith’s story is told in a series of exchanges between a British spy embedded in Nazi occupied France, his “nanny” (the Special Executive Office, which he reports to), and his handler.

Posing as a German businessman who has been living in the UK for a number of years, Agent Keystone is tasked with getting close to the mysterious SS-Oberführer Albrecht, who wears a Totenkopf ring on his finger (Totenkopf being the word for skull in German; it literally translates as death head). 

Agent Keystone finds the Nazis despicable, but he must hobnob and be amicable with Albrecht, which leads him to feel like there are two versions of himself.

As I lay awakened, I felt—as I have been feeling since this operation began—as if there was another presence inside of me, stretching at my skin, tugging me, trying to subsume the me that remains.”

As he carries on a friendly relationship with Albrecht, Agent Keystone begins to see something completely different from what he had initially anticipated. The SS-Oberführer is up to something, but honestly, knowing many of the strange and horrifying things the Nazis did in real life, I’m really not surprised my any of their notions. 

The story was written in a really engaging way. The correspondence voice between each British player is wholly its own and when Agent Keystone goes missing, the messages between the SEO and his handler point to the worst. Lindsay Smith mixes history, thriller, and mythology to pen a fun tale filled with suspense. The story is very approachable for any reader, but I advise you to pay close attention to what’s going on, even if it seems odd, because otherwise you might just miss the fantastical outcome.

This story is available by the publisher as an e-book for .99 cents and online.

short story may

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Art & Propaganda

I’ve previously mentioned what my current research is. While this post isn’t specifically about books and literature, I hope that even the greatest neophyte of world history can make the connection. Yesterday, I was reading an article about Hitler and the Nazi Archives. This brief article discusses the degenerate art that Hitler’s regime censored and the Aryan art that they celebrated.

Photos of all the art pieces in the exhibitions, as well as information about who bought what, were put together into six massive volumes. But for six decades, those books have collected dust on the shelves of Munich’s Central Institute for Art History. Delving into the aesthetic inclinations of the Nazis was taboo.But that changed recently when the archive was made available online at www.gdk-research.de.

Propaganda and censorship of art and writing was a huge part of the Nazi mission. Because of my intense interest in this part of World War II history, I find myself frequently perusing the internet for articles and information about this part of the past. Nothing good can come out of censoring and condemning the arts and we have history to prove it. Below, I’ve included some interesting links to more information, as well as paintings, posters, and other art and literature from that time period.

Over this past summer, the Museum of Modern Art had a fantastic exhibit about German Expressionism. These artists were despised by Hitler and his regime. One of my favorite artists from that movement is Otto Dix.

Sturmtruppe geht unter Gas vor (Otto Dix), courtesy of Wikipedia

Dismantling an Occupation 5,554 Books at a Time

photo courtesy of the LA Times

Like most people in NYC, I awoke Tuesday morning to read about the eviction of the occupiers down on Wall Street. I’m not getting in to any kind of political diatribe. I’m just sticking to the books but the occupiers were thrown out in the “early morning” (read: middle of the night). They were not allowed to take any items with them; no tents, no African drums, and definitely NO BOOKS. You can read all over the internet about this: LA Times, Village Voice, Media Bistro. A huge collection of donated books were collected into a makeshift library downtown. According to the LA Times,

The library, which started out as a box of books and grew to a collection of more than 5,000, was originally out in the open air. Rocker, poet and National Book Award winner Patti Smith donated a tent to house the library and protect the books from the weather.

Even though Bloomberg says that the evicted can start picking up belongings on Wednesday, it has been reported that the NYPD trashed all of the books in dumpsters. As a book lover and writer (and human being), I find this all very appalling. In regards to the dumped books, I am uncomfortable and I get a feeling of dread just thinking about the whole destruction. Maybe we are inherently turned off by book trashing because of film footage of book burnings from WWII and the high school English class staple,  Fahrenheit 451. Even the idea of ripping a cover off a book seems like it should be at least a misdemeanor.

But my hyperboles are making me digress.

This whole mess has reminded me of the research I have been doing since the beginning of the year. My topic: Nazis and plundered art during WWII. The wonderfully detailed Rape of Europa by Lynn H. Nicholas was my entree into this topic (if you are a lazy lout, you can watch the equally as wonderful documentary based on the book).

Very much in trend with their book burning, the Nazis deemed many artists to be “degenerates” and would gather up as much as they could (and by gather, I mean steal). Hitler and his close circle kept the pieces of art that they deemed Germanic and Aryan for themselves and shucked the degenerates in to storage. Because of the nature of the war (bombs, destruction), many works of art were lost and have never been found.

Only the worst can come from the destruction of art and literature. An OWS librarian was apt in his/her statement,

NYPD destroying american cultural history, they’re destroying the documents, the books, the artwork of an event in our nation’s history