FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Hitler’s Women and Ours

by CLANCY SIGAL

When I attended the Nuremberg war crimes trial in the U.S. zone of defeated Germany I looked at the 22 indicted top Nazis, all men, and wondered, where are the women?

As a young GI I didn’t know much about what would later be called the Holocaust – the industrialized murder of Jews and other “subhumans”.  But around my home barracks I’d see masses of German women working incredibly hard to clean up bomb rubble and dig out the corpses.  They were so humble and submissive to us their friendly American conquerors, I kept thinking, what were they up to just a year or so ago?

Now, due to such scholarly books as Wendy Lower’s Hitler’s Furies, we know much more about how widespread was German young women’s active complicity in mass murder, especially in the “bloodlands” of eastern Europe.

At least half a million German women, the baby boomers of the World War One,  eagerly went into Nazi-Occupied lands not only as concentration camp guards but in the “female” occupations as teachers, nurses, lovers and mistresses of SS killers.  Patriotically they even volunteered to shoot, stab and torture prisoners.

In other words, aside from infamous camp sadists like Elsa Koch and Irma Gries (hanged for their crimes), masses
OR Book Going Rougeof German ordinary girls saw what was happening – systematic mass murder – as a career move, a form of female liberation.  (If you watch old newsreels, note especially the women’s hysterical Nazi salutes and over-the-top approval of a preening Hitler.)

Jump to today.  I’ve just seen Katherine Bigelow’s film Zero Dark Thirty as well as some episodes of the immensely popular, award-winning TV series Homeland.

The heroines of both the TV series and movie are young attractive CIA woman agents, single (apparently) and about the age of the German women who “went east”.  In Zero Dark Thirty asexual “Maya” is played by Jessica Chastain as a female fury fanatically, cruelly, patriotically obsessed with capturing and killing Osama Bin Laden.  (“Bring me somebody to kill,” her CiA boss demands and she complies.)  Part of her job is to witness and encourage the sadistic torture of Arab prisoners.  These brutal film sequences spare us nothing and go on for a tortuously long screen time allowing us – and the wincing heroine – to enjoy the pain.

Zero Dark Thirty is torture porn.

I’m so intimidated by Homeland’s Emmys and fan loyalty, not to mention almost unanimous critical praise, I hesitate to connect this show and its reckless, self-confessed “bipolar” CIA heroine with Bigelow’s austere heroine with her taste for sadism.  And – what a stretch, right? – to Hitler’s furies.

Homeland did three full seasons of multi-episodes.  So it’s no spoiler to reveal that the heroine “Carrie” (Claire Danes), a creepy, ethics-challenged, guilt-scarred young CIA counter-intelligence employee, has a “crazy” womanly intuition that a returned Marine hero (Damian Lewis), who has been an Al Queda captive for eight years, is actually a sleeper double or is it triple agent?

Carrie’s bi-polarism is a brilliant ploy that attracts female audiences who can identify with her “rapid mood cycling” (which seems in real life to affect more women than men).  I’ve seen Homeland fan blogs where female viewers express heart-wrenching sympathy for Carrie’s mental problem.  These women fans are intensely curious about the particular med she takes to control her unstable moods because they wonder how Claire Danes can stay so slim on a pill that makes most real women put on weight.  Almost no fan seems to have a problem with Carrie’s enthusiastic six weeks of electro-shock treatment to bring her back to normal.  (ECT is coming back into fashion.)  Fans swallow whole implausible plot twists that would put a daytime soap opera to shame.

The feminizing of torture probably is here to stay on our screens.

As with Jessica Chastain’s Maya, Carrie’s all-male bosses doubt her intelligence and (with some evidence) her sanity.  Her main agency supporter is a bearded Jew brilliantly underplayed by Mandy Patinkin who seems the nicest and most reasonable of spooks.  Did I say that the show was originally conceived in Israel and made by the same team that did 24?

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Hemingway Lives. Sigal and Doris Lessing lived together in London for several years.

Clancy Sigal is a screenwriter and novelist. His latest book is Black Sunset

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

January 18, 2017
Gary Leupp
The Extraordinary Array of Those Questioning Trump’s Legitimacy (and Their Various Reasons)
Charles Pierson
Drone Proliferation Ramps Up
Ajamu Baraka
Celebrating Dr. King with the Departure of Barack Obama
David Underhill
Trumpology With a Twist
Chris Floyd
Infinite Jest: Liberals Laughing All the Way to Hell
Stansfield Smith
Obama’s Hidden Role in Worsening Climate Change
Ron Leighton
Trump is Not Hitler: How the Misuse of History Distorts the Present as Well as the Past
Ralph Nader
An Open Letter to President-Elect Donald Trump
Binoy Kampmark
NATO and Obsolescence: Donald Trump and the History of an Alliance
Zarefah Baroud
‘The Power to Create a New World’: Trump and the Environmental Challenge Ahead
Julian Vigo
Obama Must Pardon the Black Panthers in Prison or in Exile
Alfredo Lopez
The Whattsapp Scandal
Clancy Sigal
Russian Hacking and the Smell Test
Terry Simons
The Truth About Ethics and Condoms
January 17, 2017
John Pilger
The Issue is Not Trump. It is Us
John K. White
Is Equality Overrated, Too?
Michael J. Sainato
The DNC Hands the Democratic Party Over to David Brock and Billionaire Donors
John Davis
Landscapes of Shame: America’s National Parks
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Politicians and Rhetorical Tricks
Chris Busby
The Scientific Hero of Chernobyl: Alexey V. Yablokov, the Man Who Dared to Speak the Truth
David Macaray
Four Reasons Trump Will Quit
Chet Richards
The Vicissitudes of the Rural South
Clancy Sigal
“You Don’t Care About Jobs”: Why the Democrats Lost
Robert Dodge
Martin Luther King and U.S. Politics: Time for a U.S. Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Jack Sadat Lee
I Dream of Justice for All the Animal Kingdom
James McEnteer
Mourning Again in America
January 16, 2017
Paul Street
How Pure is Your Hate?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
Did the Elites Have Martin Luther King Jr. Killed?
Robert Hunziker
Global Warming Clobbers Ocean Life
Patrick Cockburn
The Terrifying Parallels Between Trump and Erdogan
Kenneth Surin
The Neoliberal Stranglehold on the American Public University
Lawrence Davidson
Is There a Future for the Democratic Party?
Douglas Valentine
Who Killed MLK Jr?
Robert Fisk
The Foreign Correspondent in the Age of Twitter and Trump
Dale Bryan
“Where Do We Go from Here?”
David Swanson
The Deep State Wants to Deep Six Us
Dan Bacher
Obama Administration Orders Speedy Completion of Delta Tunnels Plan
Mark Weisbrot
Obama Should Make Sure that Haitian Victims of UN-Caused Cholera are Compensated
Winslow Myers
The Light of the World
Bruce Mastron
My Latest Reason to Boycott the NFL: Guns
Weekend Edition
January 13, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Gregory Elich
Did the Russians Really Hack the DNC?
Jeffrey St. Clair
The President Who Wasn’t There: Barack Obama’s Legacy of Impotence
Anthony DiMaggio
Ethics Fiasco: Trump, Divestment and the Perversion of Executive Politics
Joshua Frank
Farewell Obummer, Hello Golden Showers
Paul Street
Hit the Road, Barack: Some Farewell Reflections
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail