Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
ruveyn ben yosef

"In the Garden of the Beasts"

1 post in this topic

-In the Garden of the Beasts- by Eric Larson is an historical analysis of the diaries and records of William Dodd the ambassador to Germany from the U.S. between 1933 and 1939. Dodd was not a career government worker, rather he was a professor of history.

The title of the book is a literal translation of Das Tiergarten a rural patch in the middle of Berlin somewhat analogous to Central Park in the middle of Manhattan. It was the streets and areas around the Teirgarten where the embassies and the houses of of the powerful and influential were located.

What the book showed was how Dodd who had graduated from Leipseig University in 1909 (when Germany was still under the Kaiser) bit by bit caught on to the horror in Germany. Most Americans simply did not "get" what was going on. Many Americans and some Europeans figured that the bully boys of the newly in power Nazi regime (Hitler was appointed chancellor by Hindenberg in 1933) would "settle down" and begin acting sensibly as soon as they became confident of their position and power. It turned out nothing could be further from the truth. Not only were the Nazis beginning to do a number on the Jews (ramping up, as it were, to the destruction of the Jews later on) but even non-Germans who were visiting in Germany were beat up by the Brownshirts (the S.A. under Roehm until Hitler murdered Roehm in 1934). Dodd was in a bind. He was told by his bosses in Washington that his main job was to get Germany to repay the reparations demanded by the Armistice of Versailles (1919) and NOT trying to get the Nazis from easing up on their thuggish ways. Dodd never the less attempted, feebly as it was, to convince the Nazi leadership that it was in their interests to stop their brutality toward Jews.

Dodd himself was afflicted with the ambient anti-semitism that was common in America during the period from 1900 to 1945. But Dodd never did approve or reconcile himself to the increasing brutality and wrongness the Jews suffered during his stay as ambassador. The apparent brashness of Jews, their clanishness and their outspokenness rubbed Dodd the wrong way, but he never hated the Jews like Hitler and his cronies.

The book also covered the life of Dodd's daughter Martha, who like many "progressive" young women of her age and time was "sexually liberated". She slept around quite a bit and even had a brief affair with the first head of the Gestapo, Rudolph Diels before Himmler took it over. Diels was a cultured middle European and not the Nazi Brute Type that we saw depicted in movies during the war. Martha slept with Germans and even Russian Communists.

It was a very interesting story that Larson brings out. A basically decent American requires years to catch on to what the Nazis were and he was right in their midst. But he finally caught on. And Dodd was no political hack either. He was an academic historian more at home at a university than in Washington. Contrast this with Ayn Rand who knew what political thugs were from her experience in Russia. Ayn Rand was not fooled for a minute by the Nazis, the Fascisti (in Italy) and the Communists.


Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0