Thursday, June 7, 2007

In the City of X

In the city of X there used to live with her husband a woman, beautiful in body but even more beautiful in the serene quietude of her character. It was in herself that she lived and by herself that she was carried, not by the external world, so that over the years her beauty seemed to grow, as did the serenity which went out from her. Now it so happened that this woman was taken away from her husband by a man who measured his worth by the number of women he could estrange from their husbands in a given time. In this situation, two friends of the family discussed the matter. The first expressed his deep regret that this woman should have been uprooted from her proper place, and abused by the seducer, to boot. You are wrong, said the other, a violent anti-Nazi: This woman was too quiet, too sedated, too vegetative; it was necessary that this clever seducer should come along and make her more active, more dynamic, more vital; the woman needed that. Whereupon the first retorted: Ah, but is not that exactly as with the Germans? They, too, were so sedate, so sleepy, so slow and dormant; they, too, needed a shock, the awakening by the dynamic Hitler, in order to get more active themselves. Politically you are violently anti-Nazi, and you denounce the Germans because they are dynamic — but privately you say yes to Nazi manner and Nazi methods.

The addressee, in other words, was in his heart of hearts as violently Nazi as politically he believed himself to be violently anti-Nazi. Nazism had penetrated even deeper into his being, into his soul, into his spirit than his anti-attitude; only he did not know it.

— Max Picard, Hitler in Our Selves, p. 234–235