Anthology – Peoples’ Plan for Life, Now and Forever …


Posted on August 25th, by A. Robert Johnson in Foreign Policy. Comments Off on Anthology – Peoples’ Plan for Life, Now and Forever …

A concert by the New York Philomusica in West Nyack, New York in about 2006 referred in the spoken program note to its commission in 1993 to noted author, Kurt Vonnegut, for a new text to accompany the famed Igor Stravinsky’s A Soldier’s Tale, composed in 1918. Vonnegut, you may recall, became renowned for his skeptical fiction about human nature, interweaving fantasy and reality, sometimes as outright science fiction. His most popular book, Slaughterhouse Five, took its title from the German word for a meat processing facility in Dresden where Vonnegut was being held as a POW. In the immediate aftermath of the bombing of Dresden, with the loss of 135,000 civilian lives, Vonnegut and his fellow POWs were put to work clearing away the bodies and debris. One of the concert attendees, a Jewish woman in her late years, approached the speaker to tell of an exchange of letters with Vonnegut she’d had soon after publication of his book to say his scale of reference was slanted. She would not reveal his response to her because she considered it private correspondence. The slant to which she referred was this: having walked 1,000 km east from Warsaw and, after the defeat of Germany, back again, she told him he had no idea what real destruction was. The scene that greeted her upon returning to Warsaw was a flat plain. Where once a vast city had stood, there was nothing. The land had been denuded of all structures, all vegetation and all life. Nothing remained. [Among the survivors of the Dresden bombing, thankfully, was Victor Klemperer (first cousin of the conductor), whose   – I Shall Bear Witness, Vols I & II –  are “must” reads, an invaluable contribution to understanding the German civilian populations’ behavior  during the war.]

[resuming Hilberg’s narrative on page 213] “Only the ghetto of Warsaw had produced the complete turn from compliance to resistance, and that turn was accomplished, after the loss of more than 300,000 Jews, under the leadership of a twenty-four-year-old commander. It came too late to change the fundamental Jewish reaction pattern, and it was too feeble to interfere with German plans.”





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