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tv   Book Discussion on Year Zero  CSPAN  January 1, 2014 9:30am-10:46am EST

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i was able to talk to his family and to a number of his, you know, he was part of the core group in new orleans. i was able to talk to his comrades as well. not just demonstrators but the media that were covering the sit-ins. some of the policemen who were there. i was able to get the fbi records. i was able to talk to people pictured in the crowd. i was able to identify them and talk to them as well. it is a comprehensive story of what happened that day and impact of that day. >> what was it like talking to some of the crowd members? what was it like today? >> it was a very unusual situation. i think the fact that i was white helped me to draw out their stories as well. unfortunately some of them are still segregationist. and continued to believe the races should not mix. i think the most powerful
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stories i came across of the person who actually took the photograph. he was a white southern photographer and it was during the sit-ins that he actually had a change of heart. he was a segregationist when he walked into that woolworths and he was an integrationist when he walked out because he saw the quiet dignity of the demonstrators against the mob mentality of his friend and neighbors. and he realized that segregation could no longer rule. it was a very powerful story. that's what we had in the book. >> you also mentioned medgar evers. how much did you get into his murder and the investigation? >> well we start the book with his story. call it, medgar's mississippi. we paint the picture what mississippi was like at that time. what it was like for somebody like medgar to come back for the war where he fought for freedom in his country and not be able
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to experience it himself. so his story is is really woven throughout and of course with his assassination which is part of the book. it tells the whole story of what happened and what happened to the movement after his removal from the scene. >> thank you very much for your time. >> thank you. >> ian baruma. he looks at transformative nature of the war from displacement of people in cities throughout europe and japan and creation of the united nations and continued rise of communism in the soviet union in china. this is about an hour and 15 minutes. >> ian baruma, the helpry luce professor of human rights and journalism at barred college was educated in holland and japan. he has won several awards for his work. among them international aramus
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prize is and shorenstein journalism award. he writes for new yorker, "new york times," nrc and the guardian which, "the guardian" recently published his highly learned and highly entertaining review the british museum current section bush shun, sex and pleasure in japanese art. among his previous books are taming the gods, religion and democracy on three continents, murder in amsterdam, liberal europe islam and the limits of tolerance, inventing japan, -- 1863 to 1864. in the "year zero" he wrote as fellow at coleman center in 2011-12 to the serious envy of his fellow fellows he was to productive he produce ad brilliant portrayal of the world emerging from the devastation and unspeakable horrors of world war ii in europe and in asia.
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skeptical about the idea that we can learn much from history he nonetheless wanted to know, he writes, what those lived through the war and its end including his own father went through, for, quote, it helps me make sense of myself and indeed all of our lives in the long dark shadow of what came before. "the wall street journal" called "year zero" remarkable in combination of magnificence and modesty and "the financial times" describes it as elegant, humane, loom news. martin amis, honored last fall as new york public library lion, published 25 books including several collections of stories an many novels. among them, mon. adam: london fields, times arrow and most recently, lineal asbow, state of england. amis received the james tate black memorial prize for memoir experience and named one of the 50 greatest brittish writers
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since 1945 by "the london times" in 2008. 1945 seems to a theme here tonight. we're extremely fortunate to listen in on a conversation between these two extraordinarily gifted writers who are also friend. they will talk for about 45 minutes, then take a few questions from the audience. there are mikes toward the front on both side. please come up to the mic rather than try to speak from your chair. and then they will sign books. so when they're finished speaking let them get out to the table to sign. please welcome, ian baruma and martin amis. [applause] >> well, first thing to be said, ian, this is a tremendous book. very, it's an amazing task of organizing a great deal of kaleidoscope material because the war, the aftermath of the
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war was determined by the war itself and shaped by the year that preceded it. and i've been spending recent years writing about this war and wonder about it. and, it was, apart pro being uniquely devastating, 55 million dead, and many ruined city and and all the devastation we know of, it was, looks increasingly weird and grotesque i think some aspects of the war. it wasn't plunder didded into like the first world war. it was one man. the japanese experience is slightly different but can be almost considered separately but one man brought this about and
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the only time hitler ever made me smile when i think it was just before the invasion of poland which set the war in motion but he said, he was questioned by a general and he said, i haven't got any nerves about this war. all i'm worried is some swine is going to come up with a peace proposal. he was, he was set on it ever since 1918. and the fact that this one man flipped germany, the most, the best-educated country on earth, the best-educated country there had ever been, into this pedantic exploration of bestial, which is what happened, it is sort of remarkable and the weirdness of much of the
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aftermath is sort of inherent in the war. do you, do you have, you know, it's the great crux that no one can answer. it was said of the jews that they went like lambs to the slaughter. you could flip that a bit and say the germans went like lambs to the slaughterhouse and donned rubber aprons and got to work. do you have any view of german connections and feeling for germany? ian is exceptionally well-equipped to write such an ambitious book because of your connections with england and with america, with holland, germany and crucially with japan. >> i don't think it helps necessarily to know germany well or japan well to explain the human propensity for extreme
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violence. one of the reasons i'm very happy to be on stage with you because i think we share a sort of horrified fascination with why people are capable of doing terrible things and, i don't think, there are people who say well, you can explain it because the germans had an exterminationist mentality or go from hitler or the japanese are you leakily barbaric and cruel or anything like that. i don't believe that for a minute. and i think your question is a good one, how is it one of the most highly educated and civilized country in europe produced so many extraordinary things but hitler led it but he couldn't do it on his own. he had very active participation. i think hitler is one example and perhaps the most extreme
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example in modern history, but there are others in on a smaller scale of political regime that deliberately exploits people's basest instincts. and i think the idea there is torture in all of us is a little trite. it is probably not true either. not all of us would make good torturers but i think it is true i think that if the authorities, the government gives people license to do whatever they like with other human beings, you find a large number, and one can't put a particular number on this, you but you find a sufficient number of people who will do their worst and it leads to torture and killing. even if people had lived perfectly happily together before that and i think again another rather trite thing people often say, for example in the balkan wars people explained
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serbian violence against bosnian muslims, saying these are ancient hatred and they find a way, they explode at a certain time. i don't think hatreds are necessarily ancient even though there are all kinds of myths keep on coming back on it and manipulated by politicians and leaders and so on in order to put people up to the violence but i don't think there is such a thing as sort after smoldering hatred occasionally like a volcano suddenly bursts out spontaneously. it is always orchestrated and i think one of the best examples in my book in 1945, what happened particularly in czechoslovakia and poland, where large german populations, whose families lived there for centuries, suddenly after the
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war the poles and czechs were given license by their own leaders as well as in a way by the allies who did nothing to stop it, they were told, now you can do what you like with the germans. we can't live with these people anymore. they have to be expelled and in a way do your worst and people did for several months. now, german nationalists like to claim that what happened to the german populations of poland and czechoslovakia all, what the germans in germany suffered from the soviet red army which was also horrendous in terms of rapes and killing and torture. that somehow this was just as bad what the germans did to others which is actually not the case. >> a huge subject of reltiffizing and trying not to rewrite but put a different come eggs plex shun on these.
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-- complexion on these. it was said in "the new york times" book review that, what you didn't do in this book was, the fashionable word is deheroize the allies. that usually goes along the following lines. they say one her roche ma -- hiroshima, two, allied bombing, dresden, the return of the ethnic germans were, i think the figure you come to is, of 10 million people turfed out of poland, czechoslovakia, et cetera, ethnic germans. half a million dead, perhaps a bit more. i can't think at that where we agreed to russian p.o.w.'s to certain enslavement if not certain death.
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and the way we revived colonialism gave us a shot in the arm. also things like saying that the resistance in france particularly was not that. was certainly, i mean that's become the myth but the truth was something like collaboration, not resistance. but i find myself very much reacting against that in sort after visceral way. there is no moral equivalence and once you remember that, churchhill referred to the moral rot of war and an interesting concept that i saw raised. that wars get old and the bigger they are the faster the age. and six years in there just,
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that kind of, a loss of patience is a mild way of putting it but we don't feel that, do we? and i think, he said, well, we created the united nations and european community but why we just say we destroyed hitler. that was the achievement. >> it was a necessary achievement of course and one can't take away the heroism of that but i think that the bleaker conclusion one can draw is that very often heroes can very quickly turn into villains. for example, the soviet red army fought like heroes. the sacrifices of the soviet soldiers were extraordinary and they fought likely ons and it was necessary fight. without them we wouldn't have defeated hitler but those same soldiers behaved like beasts
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often when they invaded germany. likewise -- >> they were an army of rapists. >> army -- >> the senator in america said when a woman is raped she switches off the procreational mechanism, he might like to know that there were a million births from those rapes. >> yes, indeed. not just the soviets were not only ones who were guilty. when, because of the japanese occupation of countries in southeast asia such as dutch east indies, malaysia, and so on, the asians in those countries, local population, certainly didn't want to go back to the state does quote where the dutch, french, british, some extent did have illusions they could simply go back to the prewar order and take back their colonies. now the nationalists in these
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countries in burma and dutch east indies collaborated with the japanese quite understandably because they saw that as a chance to liberate themselves from their european colonial masters but after the war in europe, these nationalists were depicted as collaborators. collaborators with fascism. so who was sent, north africa, algeria. so who was sent to algeria, dutch east independentindies as soldiers to put down the anticolonial nationalist rebellions with brute and off then atrocious force? people who fought in the resistance against the nazis. so my point really is human behavior including the, atrocity and extreme violence is not a matter of character or of culture. it's a matter of circumstances. the same people who can behave
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like heroes in certain circumstances can behave like animals in others. >> yes. and that finding that, if someone is, if you find yourself, if you find you have someone completely at your mercy , the human thought, that comes next is, torture. although we should make note, in general, steven tinker's book, angels of our nature why violence is the kind, one sort of rears back a bit from his conclusion that violence has continuing of the reasons he abuses, one very important notion that the took a lot of re-establishing itself after the war was, who has the monopoly of violence. must be the state. this is a founding idea of what makes a nation-state, not in
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this country. >> no, no exactly. i have always thought americans just haven't accepted that precept. and they want to be able to stand up for to the u.s. army if things should get slightly tyrannical in the white house. but that has been, the police are what stops violence going back a couple of centuries and that gathering force. also you may be interested to know that it is rather flattering for a novelist the novel made a big difference because it, steven doesn't like the word empathy. he said he heard a mother screaming and one of her two children in the street saying, show some empathy! but that, my question is what the novel promoted and do you think this is, this is
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iradicable, the idea you torture someone if you get the chance? >> no, i don't think so. and i don't think high culture makes us into better human beings. this is, this is one of george steiner's great hobby horses. how it is possible that an ss officer who could play shuman and read poems next day go to work and pull out people's fingernails. i don't think it is really all that mysterious. and nor do i think higher education makes us into more moral human beings. i really do think it's a question of, well, as i said i think of circumstances. i suppose, if you think of more recent wars, and it's a real moral dilemma, because when you
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talk about the monopoly of force, saddam hussein certainly monopolized force in his state and in an extremely brutal manner. it was a state in which torture was widespread and which people were gassed and so on. >> he came up through the torture. >> indeed he did. he was a torturer. he monopolized it. one could argue that one thing people fear more than a brutal dictatorship, it is anarchy which it is every man for himself and chaos and, which, we see to some extent, see it in libya now. we see it to some extent in iraq and so on. which is not to say, well, that means things would have been better if we left saddam hussein alone but it does but it is something people should think about a bit more before they casually say, you know, we as
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americans, it is your duty to fight dictatorship and bring military force. >> they should have listened to what saddam hussein said. iraq is a very difficult country to govern. helicopter bun ships and poison gas and ubiquitous torture. >> it was brutal, dictatorial order for most people is probably still to be preferred to violent anarchy. and violent anarchy which many ways you have from 1945 until order was reimposed. >> ideology. the period 1940, to 1945 is 30-years war, europe's second world war. ideology, looking back it was obviously was, the sense was that ideology, religion was like
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heroin and ideology was like methadone. brings you trembling down from religion. but not a bit of it. 100 million dead from communism, naziism, fascism. barbarities not seen in centuries because of ideology. >> the borderlines of ideology and religion are not always so clear. in its most violent phases, much of it was very violent, there is not a huge distinction between maoism and religion and ideology because it was also a religious cult in which people could be tortured to death for treading on a newspaper with mao's image on it. and that's, religion at its worst really. it is not ideology.
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nothing to do with marx or lenin. >> it has to do with the pier group, isn't it? one of the, if you think the peer group is, is, a overemphasized as determinant of young people's behavior and in fact, you know, throughout their lives, the great study of that is christopher browning's police reserve battalion 101. where it's established that the killing squads that went out behind the wermacht in poland and in russia would go and kill everyone in a village and, was that 38,000 dead, kill all day. kill women and children and men all day. and no one ever got punished for
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seeking, seeking -- they weren't sent to the front. they weren't sent to some penal command at the front. all you might have in the meantime is a bit of joss he willing in the lunch queue as people said, you're letting the side down. and there is not a single case of anyone being punished for requesting a transfer. and yet rather than shame themselves in front of the group, they would kill women and children all day, every day. >> they didn't necessarily enjoy it. there was a wear and tear on the nerves of ss killers. which is why of course the gas chambers were, were employed because after a while the killing gets, it is a bit of a strain and so, you know, even if they got drunk, which they did. so it was considered to be cleaner and more efficient to have gas chambers and people who
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operated the gas chambers were not usually germans either. it was left up to the victims to do that. so not necessary the case, the killers found it easy. but i suppose you can get used to anything. and the other thing is. >> while we're on this cheerful subject, i have often thought that the reason why the violence in civil wars and, again, to come back to the ethnic germans in, after the war in poland czechoslovakia, the reason why they're so particularly brutal, and, the killing, almost always goes together with humiliation. you see it in india. the last famous incident with the sikhs set upon, i can't remember now, indira gandhi's son. in india you saw it over and
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over. people who set upon their neighbors and, it wasn't enough that they, to kill people. the way the jews were killed also, it wasn't enough to just kill them. it had to go, it was always preceded by humiliation of some grotesque kind. and i think this is simply speculation. i think one of the reasons is that it is, it is not easy for one human being to murder another human being especially if they identify with them, if they were their neighbors, if they look like you. so it makes it easier if you reduce your victim to the status of an animal, some abject creature, crawling around in the mud, then you're killing an animal and no longer a human being, why you have to reduce people to that state. >> animalization or insects. >> why in rwanda the victims
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were called cockroaches on the radio. it is easier to kill cockroaches than it is your neighbor. >> the self-fulfilling shand is to watch in the ghettos of poland, p the holocaust never happened we would regard that as some sort of apogee of beastiality. how the poles, polish jews, looted ex-exploited and have to work for their conquer or. goebbels wrote a report where he said i visited a, the ghetto in warsaw, if there is anyone who still has any sympathy at all they should just go and have a look at what these people left themselves en masse. they have no self-respect, not even common decency. the way they treat their children, their children are
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starving. they don't look after them. imposition of the what you think of them and recording of your indignation. >> hitler found it rather unpleasant to visit concentration camps. >> himler. saw a massacre and fainted nearly. >> and it was, if you i had been a german in 1942 and heard that in east prussia they were machine-gunning mental patients to clear bed space for people who had gone mad while killing women and children in the east, i would have thought something is not quite right in germany. >> no, but on the other hand in the same konigsberg in 45 after the liberation, russian troops, often teenagers, raided
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hospitals and raped people, sometimes on their deathbeds, patients. so, i mean, we have to be a little careful, the two of us, when you write about violence, there is of course the danger of pornography of violence and that, we're frightened of it and therefore fascinated by it and, as a writer i don't know what you feel about it. one always has to be a bit careful you don't start to revel in descriptions of it because there is a important graphic element and one guards against that. i have no clear answer to it. . .
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>> but in light of what pinker's argument one might note that there was a standing ovation in congress when he got his sentence commuted. it was a rockabilly, about him that was on top of the rockabilly charge. america didn't find my line shocking. not on that.
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>> no, but i think there was, there was sort of a poor the americans -- again, americans are course -- it's an interesting case because people often wonder about things like the rate in 1937 when the japanese took the chinese capital at the time and there was massive rape and killing and looting its own. it's often been explained, the japanese are particularly cruel and barbaric your how is it possible that an army behaves like that even though in the roush a japanese more the japanese army was known for its discipline and how well it treated its. abuse and someone. i think it explains a lot of what happened in world war ii and afterwards as well.
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in that particular situation when soldiers are in a foreign country and they don't understand the language. they are often country boys. you could be shot at by anybody. the distinction but when develop fighters and soldiers and so on, almost doesn't exist. you go into a town or village, you have no idea who will be shooting at you. there is been a great temptation to be trigger-happy and just shoot at groups and shoot them all. and i think that -- i don't think my lai was an act of necessarily, despite the directions of calculated savings, i think these things also can come out of fear. and they had taken, they've taken a lot of losses. >> as had the japanese. and again, this thing of dehumanization of the enemy.
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quote unquote dux in black pajamas in remote village to a lot of those fearful, provincial soldiers from rural america would not have seemed to be entirely human. >> i would just like to read a sentence. because what this book does so well is captures the amazing complexity in all the different theaters, different situations. and how rarefied it all. this is talking about yugoslav yugoslavia. there were parties in several wars going on at the same time along ethnic political and religious lines. completion catholics versus muslim bosnians, serbians,
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slovenian communist. it sounds to me like syria. >> i mean, look at greece and indonesia. churchill again said they rule through villages. even after they've done that they don't win. revolutionary violence. >> right. and what wars do just as dictatorships often do in foreign occupation is they deliberately manipulate resentments, divisions and so on that exist in societies anyway. in france, the vichy regime that would've come to power if it hadn't been for the german occupation. increased again, the antagonism between the left and the right goes back to the prewar period when they had the right wing dictatorship, and the left wing
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opponents often were locked up in jail. the germans invade, occupy greece. the resistance comes from the left, often communist. the old guard become collaborated with the germans and that goes on after the war. and so increase it if it up and it very brutal -- brutal civil war but it could become a civil war, and france was simmering. and belgium, the dutch speaking flemish nationalists were deliberately inflamed by the german occupation against the french-speaking will lose. there was no monarch in belgium to keep things together because he was trying to make a deal with the germans and so on. to what happened after the war than, it's not that you topple the dictator or bring the brutal enemy to heal. in some ways the problems go on and the problems which have been
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made worse by war. and how do you contain that? well, having sort of a national figure, a king or queen or de gaulle, in the case of france, who has a legitimacy to patch things up and de gaulle the very deliberately by talking about everybody being anti-german and now it's time to pull together again, as though it hadn't -- you hadn't had the vichy regime. but it probably was necessary because otherwise the country could have been torn apart. the other reason, stalin, the soviets in the western eyes very clearly divided the world, and stall until the french and italian economies he was not going to support a revolution there. >> talked a bit about japan, because very extreme process went on their with macarthur.
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the revamping of japan, root, branch into egg. -- branch and twig. >> which came as a great relief to the emperor. i don't think anybody really likes to be -- the emperor preferred to have an english breakfast. >> talk about the process. >> well, the difference between germany and japan is that, which is the other thing of course after world war ii, the allies often had a very hazy idea of what produce all this horror. as you said in the beginning, what explains what the nazis did, what the germans did, one of the most common theories at the time was that with churchill
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believed in because it was the prussian, dispirited to produce all produce all of this. of course, later we knew better. >> and depressions were the officers, the colonel to -- >> to try to assassinate hitler in 1944, although some of them had been quite enthusiastic nazis before. nonetheless, relatively speaking gentlemen. in germany it was fairly easy because there had been a clear takeover in 1933 by a criminal regime that came to an end in 1945. it was a nazi party, have a pixel in germany you could make the case that there was some truth to it that if you get rid of the nazis thalamus and the government, you get rid of knots isn't, germany could be restored to a decent european country but after all it was also the country of mozart, beethoven and
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all that. there was a real cold, -- cold. in japan it was a so-so the because is also equivalent to the nazi party. there was no hitler. there was no holocaust in fact even though there was enormous amount of killing in china particularly, also in southeast asia but there was no deliberate systematic attempt to exterminate an entire people so there had to be another explanation. and in japan the explanation was precisely, the spirit, militarism or something deeply wrong about japanese culture. while in germany you could revive the best of german culture, the feeling must be often rather ignorant allies after the world war, or there's something so wrong about the japanese culture that it's feudalistic and warrior like. the whole culture has to be
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turned upside down. kabuki plays about -- >> anything to do with judaism. >> feudalism, and to democratize japan along american lines, there have to be really sort of re- educated in a very fundamental way, which there were some comical instances of this. there was one and i think from kansas, u.s. army officer who was in charge of a town somewhere in japan, real japan, who thought that square dancing was the answer because square dancing was -- would democratize the japanese. that was the case of the first screen kiss in the cinema. the idea was japanese men and women have to be able to treat each other like equals, and that means like americans you have to be able to show their affection openly and not in dispute away in which it is hidden. it's good to have a kiss. so the american occupation
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authority, the occupational authority decreed they had to have the first cinematic kiss which was usually popular in young audiences in japan who knew when the kiss was going to come and they burst into wild applause. in any case, unlike germany, they had to be re- educated which was a key phrase at the time. the japanese were so frightened that the americans would do to them what they did to the chinese and other agents. in that they would be raped and massacred and so on. that they -- whereas in fact the u.s. occupation, it was mostly the u.s., were relatively benign, and that came as such a relief that most of the japanese who were also thoroughly sick of war and everything to do with war and the military, were more than happy to be the peoples of
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american reeducation efforts. and, indeed, even the emperor probably was. >> we are sort of coming to the end. perhaps you could tell what happened to your father, and then that very nice epilogue to your book. >> well, what gave me the idea to do this book was really my father's story. and, which is as follows. and it baffled me for a long time. he was a law student at the university in 1941. and if you are a law student, you joined a fraternity because that's where you make your contacts and so on. and to join the fraternity then and still today, it meant you had to go through an initiation. and that meant a lot of teasing and bullying and intimidation, been made to jump around like a
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frog and being beaten up and so on. the fraternities in 1941 were actually banned by the german authorities because they thought that they weren't sources of resistance. but it went on for another year, but underground. and so all the hazing was contest time, as it were. you also as a student had to sign an oath of allegiance to the nazi occupational party, and 75% of the students refused to do this. and if you refused your forced to work in germany. my father, like most others, went into hiding and someone screwed up. the resistance told him to come back to his hometown and he was met by my grandfather who was in bad health. there were a lot of german police around, and it was announced that those young men who didn't sign the oath had to go to germany immediately. and if they didn't their parents
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would be arrested. and my father was afraid this would happen to his parents so we ended up in berlin. and he lived for the bombings day and night, the u.s. air force during the day, the red army, the battle of berlin. he was almost shot by a soviet soldier. he collapsed in the middle of berlin from exhaustion and hunger. vermin, all that, fleas in his case. he was particularly frightened. but he was nursed back to some kind of health by a german prostitute, and it up in a displaced persons camp and then back to holland in 19, summer of 1940. went back to university only to be told by senior members of the fraternity because the initiation and 41 had gone on underground they had to do the whole thing all over again. [laughter] and there were those who suffered far worse than my father who were suddenly forced to jump around like frogs and so
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on. so i said to my father, how is it possible that you could've put up with this nonsense after all you have experienced? he shrugged his shoulders and said, it's the way it was, and also we thought that was normal. and i think that's the key word because i think there were some yearning for some kind of normality, if you go back to the world before the war. that to him and to others this represented the normal world. now, he was not -- he is still alive. he's 90. is not a particularly, the iceman. he was never even particularly anti-german, but certain things from his war experience did linger. one of them was the whore of fireworks and loud bangs. german crowds are not his favorite place to be stuck in either. in 1989, we decided, my sisters and i, we would go spend new year's eve in berlin and it was
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only the second time we have been back. there we were at the wall, all very festive and my father was especially happy to be there. these enormous crowds of people with champagne bottles and singing and sitting on the wall and all that. and it was the end of the night and suddenly fireworks exploded and we lost our father in the crowd. we couldn't find them. we looked for him, looked for him, and then in the end went back to the hotel. at about 2:00 in the morning he staggered into the room and he had been hit by a fire rocket right -- and the reason i used this story is that 1989 was seen by many as now finally world war ii is over. this is the end. eastern europe is now finally free. now we live in -- george bush talked about the new order, new world order. finally, we are in this better
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world that we had hoped for. the end of history, et cetera. i somewhat mischievously use that anecdote to show, unfortunately, the brave new world will never come. >> i think it's time for you to -- [applause] >> please, stick your hands up. >> it's better to come to the microphone. >> all right, but it's hard for some people to get -- i'm glad it is cooled off a bit. i was feeling a bit like albert brooks in broadcast news last night. [inaudible] >> we can do you.
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>> is this on? >> no. >> just a question may be directed to both of you and triggered by your comment on hiroshima and some of the allied atrocities. and i certainly agree that there's no moral equivalence, and i buy into that. but it seems to me that kind of one of the unique qualities of world war ii was the targeting of civilians on both sides. prior wars would basically professional military people killing professional military people. and that was on both sides. with the germans and the raf, you mentioned the raf and u.s. air force bombs. you know, german civilians, some of them who may have just been like the rest of us in the room, maybe not deeply political and
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so on. i wonder if you just comment on that? >> well, they were two reasons -- it's a bit like these killers in poland. you get used to it, and are two reasons why the british began to bomb deliberately. civilian populations in cities like hamburg and later other cities. and one was an illustration of how people often learn the wrong message in history. because the generals who fought in world war ii had memories of world war i. and the last thing they wanted was a war of attrition. and they thought that bombing would demoralize the enemy population, that they would then turn against their leaders and bring the war to a speedy end, which turned out to be a completely faulty analysis. in fact, the opposite -- >> it raises morale and an odd way.
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>> they talk about the air wars being the defeat for the bombers. >> there is another reason though, which is that the british were desperate. i think hamburg was 42. and there was no way that the british then, because -- no. it must have been earlier. there was no way to fight back at that stage against what was still a formidable german enemy. they thought bombing german cities at least was a token of fighting back. and in the beginning they tried to bomb harbors, railway stations and things like that. it was too costly because they didn't have the kind of equipment that allowed you to bomb from a great height. so they had to go -- they were losing bomber crews like flies. that's why they thought this new tactic of bombing civilians and
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demoralizing them. once they started doing that, it got progressively worse, and then something that would have still been thought to be an atrocity except by the way when it came to the fuzzy-wuzzy's in the colonies. because the first instance of bombing civilians i think it was in iraq. when churchill was minister of war i believe and bomber harris was already involved, that's when it started. when they start doing large-scale in germany got progressively worse and more vindictive. and then in japan it was even worse than that because the cities were made of wooden houses and they dropped cluster bombs and get firestorms and the famous phrase by curtis lemay, the american air force general, we're bombing them back to the studies, people often associate with vietnam. actually said that when they were in 44, late 44 when they
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were bombing japan. and robert mcnamara later in the famous documentary by mcdonald said if the allies had lost the war they would be war criminals. >> although when the moral equivalence idea is brought up, and people have said it's just as bad as the death gams. >> it's a different thing. >> it's a different thing among others, the losses, were staggering, tens of thousands of people died. and only a handful of us as ever got killed. >> that's true. also they didn't do it because there were some ideological program of exterminating germans or japanese. it was an act of war. it was an atrocious act of war, but it was an act of war.
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as it was the war against jews had nothing to do with any kind of military exercise. it was purely about killing. >> and that's a tragedy from the war effort. >> my question segues into that. did and that they will have to drop the atomic bomb, bombs on japan? or with a so weak they would have surrendered anyway? >> well, they probably would have but the question is when? and the americans wanted to finish the war as quickly as they could because they were running out of money, and most americans were sick of war. they wanted the boys to come home. so the appetite to prolong it was very low, and was also the fear at that stage that the soviets would invade japan first. and so they did want to bring -- they wanted to avoid an invasion
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at all cost. was it really necessary? we will never entirely know for sure. what we do know is that even after the second bomb at nagasaki, the japanese war council, which was -- they were the ones who had to decide on whether to surrender or not and it had to be a unanimous decision. diehards in the war council still argued that they had to fight to the last man, woman and child. it was only the second time in his reign that the emperor actually did step in. i'm sure he didn't -- he did step in and said no, no. we have to surrender. the main reason i think was the japanese were afraid that the red army would get there first, or they would be a communist inspired rebellion. the other thing the bombing did was that it gave the diehards in
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some ways an excuse to surrender. because they could say, well, we haven't lost face. we haven't lost -- we fought a war. we were not defeated but with a weapon like that, it's like boxing somebody, your opponent suddenly draws begun. what do you do? so it served as a way out. now, whether it was absolutely necessary, as i said, we won't know because they would have surrendered but it may have taken more time. more interesting, you've written on this more than i have. there was a moral question. is there a moral difference between firebombing tokyo and killing more than 100,000 people in a few nights and using an atom bomb and killing 60, 70 -- the numbers are not -- lissa killing an equivalent number of people. is there a difference between, a
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moral difference between one weapon and another? it's not always clear to me. >> we should say about the russians, they had only two bombs. one uranium, one who doing in and they spent an incredible amount of money and they wanted -- you would have thought they were just a demonstration over the ocean. but they had to make those things count. becomeit comes up all the time,e moral difference. did you feel it was a moral difference in syria when chemical weapons were being used? >> well, no, it wasn't immediately clear to me because yes, of course using chemical weapons is absolutely horrific. but i think the red line was rhetorical -- was a horrible mistake. if you do nothing for 1000 people being killed by other
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means and you suddenly say, well, we have to go to work because they're using chemical weapons. i'm a bit dubious about that distinction. >> i think chemical weapons and biological weapons, based on the explanation was one should have certainly in terms of international policing, you have to have a -- >> of course i would be entirely iin favor of that but to say there's an absolute moral distinction, i'm not so sure about that. >> not an absolute one, but a practical one. that they do kill lots of people and they go on. >> yes, but then you have to say gassing people also kills a lot of people more quickly and more efficiently. was a moral distinction between the gas chambers and send in
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shooting squad to shooting people in the next? >> the gas chambers -- they probably got close using bullets. gas is cheaper. >> that's a practical solution. >> thank you for a lot of the things you have said. i really like what you said about the fact that we are all very educated. does that mean we are better and accidentally from the ignorant people of this world. for me, the question then is, what formation should we be talking about to help humanity? to make sure that people behave well, or are we doomed to believe that there is no
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information out there or we can put together to help humanity. so that, you know, each time we get into a crisis situation, it becomes a question of circumstances in which is become violent. and along with this, i realized in the last few years, especially in this country, the humanities have been taking a hit. and technologies, studies in technology and science seems to be worthy of universities, want to promote. they bring more money in, i realize. are they thinking this also that reading of humanities is not going to improve our well being? i don't want to ramble too much, but you have given me very wonderful and insightful and --
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[inaudible] >> about the novel. >> will it help me think through these, whether -- what kind of information speaks i'm not sure i can help you. unless you're religious and you believe that religion will make us behave better, which in some cases may actually be true. but it's largely a question of institutions and law. any death and monopoly on force as a government. you need to have laws that play a major role in making people behave. you need a police force. you need proper institutions. and without proper institutions, the law of the jungle prevails. and as i said, i think that when the law of the jungle prevails it doesn't matter whether you're german or american or japanese or black or white or yellow,
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then the worst happens. [inaudible] >> i'm sorry? [inaudible] >> what about him? [inaudible] >> well, no, i'm not saying all human beings are monsters. von hofer was a heroic -- he was a moral hero. he was a man -- [inaudible] spent yes. again, i don't think that if you have a government or if you have -- well, a government or occupation or whatever it is that works on peoples basic instincts, i don't think it's obviously not true that everybody can will behave like a monster. i think the number of people that behave like absolute monsters quite deliberately is
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probably, is not the majority. the majority always tries to survive and looks the other way that suits them. if the of the monsters are not the majority. nor are the moral heroes. the moral hero's are probably even rarer. even in the worst circumstances you will have moral heroes and he was one of them. he stood up to the nazi regime. he paid with his life. he was intensely and moral human being as were others in germany. [inaudible] >> but that determines whether you will be a monster or a hero. yes? that may be true but again, i think what -- yes, you are right, but as i said before i think sometimes heroes can become monsters, and possibly
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even the other way around. >> there wasn't much heroism in germany, and people, there were many more monsters than there are heroes. >> yes. >> in the camps, in auschwitz, about one in 10 of the ss were monsters who clearly got satisfaction out of this. one in what, a thousand word euros? >> well, yeah, and it's much more dangerous to be a moral hero than to be a monster. which is easy. >> the real hero, that's a minor consideration. >> yes, absolutely. >> hi. on that same point you mentioned primo levy.
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-- >> which novel? >> alone in berlin. every man dies alone. i was wondering if martin come either you or ian had an opinion about moral immigration of the author? >> i'm not entirely clear -- >> of that novel? >> yesterday and all things considered to be part of immigration. so more a much -- more or less he stayed in and recounted but ordinary german life was like. he didn't say he was a hero is able to kind of give voice to what germans experienced during the war. >> when was that publish? >> it was published in 2010 biggest publishing 1947. it was the last book that he published after his death, he died a month before it was published. >> yeah, i couldn't finish that novel. i got halfway through.
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he goes off on a huge red herring with the gestapo and all things like he has been wearing the star during the invasion of france which is 1940, and the star didn't come in until september 1941. inaccuracies. but the writing of the book was very courageous. have you seen -- scathing, hate filled, very intelligent reaction to the nazi -- not a day by day diary but little chunks that he did 10 feet deep in his garbage. but just put pen to paper to it. >> like the diaries of victor klemperer?
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the linguistics professor, also kind of a heroic day by day account of? >> i don't think a road is quite the word. but yes, it's a fascinating one but your question of inner immigration is a very important one because of course that every system allows the. the difference i think between actually nazi germany, unless you were jewish, in which case you are doomed, but if you were a non-jewish german in nazi germany, or the most fascist state, inner immigration was a possibly. he didn't stick your neck out. you kept quiet. you tended your roses and you would survive. under mao, this is actually impossible, or stalin. got to actually actively participate and voice your enthusiasm, and you couldn't just withdraw and retreat into one. it wasn't an option. >> thank you.
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>> my question is about japan, and correctly, japanese government is becoming more and more right wing and 1945 commemorates the beginning of the nuclear war. and now japanese government is trying to tell nuclear industries. what do you think about that? >> well, this is a long way from 1945. although not entirely. let's leave the nuclear question aside for a minute. the right wing nature of the current prime minister, that does go back to 1945. and partly the reeducation of japan in 1945-46, 47 was that the americans wrote, as you well know, wrote the new
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constitution. and because the war was blamed on militarism, it was a pacifist constitution. and most japanese are perfectly content, proud of it even, but some japanese nationalists felt that this was robbing japan of its sovereignty. if you can't use military force in any, under any circumstances in foreign policy, then you have to leave it up to somebody else, you're security, and in this case to the americans. so there's always been a vociferous minority that wants to change that was addition and restored japan's sovereign rights to use its armed forces in any way they saw fit. now, the mainstream in japan, especially the left, have always used the argument against revision of the constitution by saying look, japan as it were is that like an alcoholic. you can't start waving a drink under its nose because it will go back to its at least.
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look what happened in -- we should never be tempted again. as long as that argument is used, the right will say, every country has wars and its history. wars are terrible, we do bad things but no worse than any other country. there's nothing we should feel particularly ashamed about. and so let's revise the constitution and feel proud of ourselves. that's the attitude of the current prime minister. and what is disturbing about it is history has become so polarized and politicized in japan that nobody is really talking about finding, talking about, nobody attempts to find the truth anymore. it's all about what political agenda you have, and that determines your view of the war rather than facing it coolly and squarely, as the germans have learned how to do. late, but they learned.
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>> i'm interested, very interested in the german people's acceptance of hitler. i'm not sure that it was as easy as you have depicted. were there not perhaps as more as 30 active plots against hitler, the most famous of which was in 1944? but whether not many, many others? whether not religious groups, military groups, other groups of people who did not care for hitler? and many of them actively worked against him? for example, allen dulles and the military intelligence were cropping very, very closely with anglo-american historians seem not to realize that. but is that, in fact, true of? >> the only institution that stood up to hitler was the only.
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i think the army, all the opposition in the army nailed it up in france in the summer of 1940. no one believed he could conquer france in the way he had proposed. and he did it. it did look like a miracle and he was very sound and good people that just for a couple of weeks thought, well, he's a bit rough around the edges. look at this, france. the historical enemy. but once the army had come on board that was the end of the opposition. >> and he got rid of generals very quickly who didn't go along with them. and so they were indeed people in germany who opposed them in the '30s, but the use of care was very effective.
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and so it took more and more courage to oppose him, opposing open late which became almost impossible. so yes, once he was in power, and there were many people who didn't like what was going on but many chose inner immigration because that was the only way to survive. but i don't think it's anglo-american prejudice to say there was not -- there was not much in the way of real organized opposition. there was some, their opposition groups here and there in the army and elsewhere but not much. >> the people, i mean, when the assassination attempts, the colonel's plot failed, he had the nation behind them in 1944.
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>> and those germans did okay, as long as you weren't jewish until people got badly bombed. they acted better than people in occupied countries. life wasn't all that bad. i mean, it was oppressive. it took a huge amount of courage to active -- actively resisted, and i don't think there was a huge amount of it. >> very difficult to be brave in nazi germany. you have to be prepared to die. you have to be prepared for torture. and you had to withstand that because naming no names, and it's not very accessible to us. it's a very german thing, that in the occupied countries any criminal could die like a
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martyr. but in germany it was arranged so that any martyr could die like a criminal. you wouldn't be celebrated after your death. your wife would turn your photograph around in -- your parents wouldn't talk to you. your children would be told -- >> that doesn't matter after your death. >> no, but -- but it's a sort of -- age would find it very difficult to contemplate. and vaughn walker said that is actually what stopped people. it was the shame. [applause] >> thank you very much. >> for more information, visit the author's website, ianburuma.com.

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