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Since Saturday they have been gathering up Berlin’s Jews; in the evening around 9:15 they are collected and locked up for the night in a synagogue. And then there is the matter of what they are allowed to carry with them as they are shipped off for Lodz and Smolensk. They want to avoid our seeing how they are left to rot starving and in the cold here—that will happen in Lodz and Smolensk. An acquaintance of Kiep saw how one Jew collapsed on the street; when she tried to help him back to his feet, a policeman stepped in between them, warned her off and kicked the poor body lying in the street, sending it rolling into the gutter. Then, motivated perhaps by a tiny residue of shame for his hideous act, he turned to the lady and said “This is what they order us to do.”
Is it possible to know that such things as this occur and go about one’s business undisturbed? What gives one the right to ignore them? Is it not in fact unavoidable that the day will come when we, too, are kicked and sent rolling into the gutter? These are all the warning signs of the approaching storm. If only I could rid myself of the terrible sense that I have allowed myself to be corrupted, that I fail to react with the moral rage that these offenses demand, that they torment me without a spontaneous reaction.
–Helmuth James Count von Moltke, letter to his wife Freya, Oct. 21, 1941 in: Briefe an Freya: 1939-1945, p. 307-08 (S.H. transl.)
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”