Place of Refuge

Place of Refuge

08 January 2011

FreiKorps: A History Lesson (to Gabrielle Giffords)

I need to share with you
this story disturbs me 
so much.

As the United States has become more
and rebellious,
and as we have brought back
from an unforgivable war
more and more young men
and women
who are trained to be soldiers
nothing but soldiers,

I have feared that this country might become
a bit like a large-scale Germany
after World War I.

~ ~ ~

Now, what do I mean by that?

After World War I,
which was a pretty demeaning war,
for most Germans,
the German economy dipped into,
a depression.

Stories were told of how
you needed a wheel-barrow 
full of money,
just to buy a loaf of bread.

Those who couldn't deal with the fact
of the war, or the fact of the decline
in the economy
called it a Recession.
(Some of those folks in denial
stepped into government, and
some of those folks in denial created the fabulous,
functional arts
that were developed during what we call
"The Weimar Era.")

Anyway, but the truth is -
(and don't forget I know this,
because I was
there -- remember 
the lady's age, please.)
the truth is -
it was a Depression.

A bit like what we've been experiencing,
right now.

Bush was perhaps correct
when he declared:
"victory accomplished"
so early in the invasion of Iraq.
Yes, he was right.
In a way,  a war ended precisely when Bush
said it did:

That was when the war ended for America.
In other words:
the war that the rest of the world
acknowledged as a 
legitimate war
when the United States
and from that point on
the war effort
was funded primarily
by the United States and
large corporations.
This, by the way,
is not a really financially sound way
to run a war.  To make it really
prophetable for all,
you need allies.

But anyway,
so the war may have indeed ended
shortly after we invaded Iraq, and
since then,
everything has been,
well, canon fodder.
Except for now,
as we return our energies
to Afghanistan,
which is where
the war should have been
in the first place.

But I think that's pretty common knowledge
right now.  A lot depends on if
you want to admit that or not.


There was a depression in Germany when their
"Great War" was 
over, and the German populace
was in a pretty nasty disposition.
Politically, they were
Strange parties emerged --

At this point,
I'm going to attach a link
to a fabulous slide show
posted at
that describes the period between
the Wars 

Yes, if you can watch
this slideshow,
it explains not only
the way the post-war period for Germany
really sucked,
it also explains the concept of
the Freikorps -

~ ~ ~

What you will note
as you read,
if you read
these links given above
is that 
The Freikorps
was a movement that in Germany
had a very long history.

In fact, some sources would have it
that the Freikorps could be traced
back to the Vikings:

So, let me please explain:
Freikorps is the term
that refers to
"free armies,"
basically the tradition
in Nordic countries
of including and occasionally engaging
small groups of militant men
in real political transactions.

As the Wikipedia entry tells us,
Freikorps can be traced back to the 1600s,
when there existed young militant groups
that existed in the public sector that were considered
"unreliable by regular armies, so they were mainly used as sentries and for minor duties."
In other words,
these small groups of men
had trained themselves
as soldiers and marauders
on their own.  They existed on the fringes of society,
and were more or less

Sometimes they stepped forward and took
military action, and
the military welcomed them
as camerades

~ ~ ~ 

Since this acceptance of
small militant groups
existed in Germany before the First World War,
no one blinked an eye
when young men coming back from the War,
young men trained to be soldiers,
only soldiers,
and trained by the most efficient organization
in the country,
began creating and forming
small military organizations.
It was considered
right and even healthy
to go out and shoot a gun
effectively.  After all,
you never knew when you
were going to have to go
use it again,
and many of these young veterans harbored a desire
to go back to war.

Some of those groups were
pretty bad news,
if they allied themselves
with some sort of political agenda.

One of those groups allied themselves
with others and 
called themselves
the Nazis.

Indeed, this is how the Nazis rose to power:
many of them knew how to fight;
they were trained well;
they believed in the goodness
of Germany and the Germans,
and they spoke of it
often.  They felt Germany
was mistreated
after they lost the Great War,
and they said that often,

And they spoke the truth
about the state
of the economy.  They did not say
it was a Recession
when it was a Depression.
They were the disaffected,
those who could not get jobs
any other way:
they spoke the truth
about what the common man and woman
and family
were experiencing.

And that was how they Nazis gained
the public support.

~ ~ ~ ~

I have feared,
that such movements would begin to appear
in the United States 
during this miserable,
because we are training a lot
of young solders, and we are
producing some pretty radical
views, using the media to 
express them:

I'd like to point out
at least one other
interesting parallel between
Germany then 
and the U.S.A. now:
the early 20th Century 
was the time
of the birth of 
"Mass Media," -
both aural
(in radio)
and visual
(in film)
that, for the very first time
could be distributed
internationally, and
an image, either
aural or visual
could have a vast impact.

Hitler and his crew
knew they had to manipulate this media
artistically, and so
they found artists to help them do that.
They found good artists
to help them do that,
with the most reviled and admired being

With folks like that working for them,
how could they not make
a powerful impression?

. . . and they did. . . 

And the German people
who desperately needed
a message like that
and voted.

We know the end of that story.

~ ~ ~ ~ 

I have been hearing stories
and getting information,
from friends,
on the internet, 
in the news
that suggests that as the young men
have come back from the war,
they have taken to joining shooting clubs,
joined by their fathers or grandfathers
from Viet Nam,
who know
better than anything else
how to shoot a gun.
In fact,
one doesn't even have to be a veteran
to join these groups,
one only has to want
oh, so badly,
to make a statement
about how bad their life
has been,
and who they blame for it.

Yes, we have small
militant groups emerging
in this country,
some of them have guitars,
some of them
have guns.

I have felt
it was only a matter of time
they started using their guns
to make public statements.

When I heard the story
of Representative Giffords' shooting,
I shuddered,
oh dear god,
is it happening again?
The Freikorp Effect?
In this, the greatest social experiment
of a country,
is it happening again?
Of course, the fact
that Americans don't read history
doesn't help matters much.

most Americans don't know history,
or they know
only movie-versions of it,
and in the movie versions
America generally wins.
That's what makes being American
so damned fun.

(Be Aware: this film is long!  But it's good!)
(BEWARE: this film is 1 hour & 21 minutes long, but it is interesting.)

Oh, I beg you:
America NEEDS to pay attention
to accurate representations
of history
right now--
of America
needs to listen,
right now.

Even, and especially if
you are the one of those
who is creating the machine
that will next take power in America,
be  aware of what history has shown us:

Momentary Political Power is not worth
the destruction that could be caused
by ignoring
right now.

My challenge to you is not
to use historic examples
to serve your own ends;
the challenge is to look at the events and trends of history
and the events and trends of the present
and honestly
and recognize
when the patterns are repeating
and not letting the bad patterns
repeat themselves
ever again.

Not in this time;
not on this earth;
not if you want
this earth to survive
beyond 2012.

1 comment:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

That's a good challenge to put out there. Not sure if things haven't already progressed past that.