The barbarism begins at one (1945)

The barbarism begins at one.

The newspapers are brimful of details about the macabre discoveries made by the Allies in the German concentration camps. Moreover, there is no question but that things are even worse than the most pessimistic of us could have feared. In the long list of carnage in the history of the world, the leaders of the Third Reich have eclipsed even the most sinister memories, in terms both of the numbers of their victims and the novelty of the methods employed to dispatch them.

But in the horrified stupor displayed by the civilized world, is there not something, if not quite simulated, then at least, much belated? To what extent have the horrors discovered come as a surprise?
For the dizzying statistics bandied around would make no change to the problem if it were to be shown that the Nazis, well before operating upon all the huddled masses of deportees from every country, had already indulged their sadistic fantasies, described at length on every side, on their German or Jewish adversaries. All those who took an interest in developments in Germany since 1933 have long been aware of the gloomy resonance of names like Dachau or Oranienburg, which the general public is only now learning. The war merely allowed for the extension and industrialization of an arrangement which had already been tried out when Hitler and his crew had yet to set out to conquer the world!

The infamies being disclosed today were already being practised – on a smaller scale, to be sure, but widely even so – when most of the current “outraged” and “horror-stricken” sought to ignore them, if not act as apologists for them!

The hapless French who survive the Nazi abattoirs will want to make sure that their famous compatriot Schneider[1], whom all of the cleansing waters of the Resistance are never going to be able to wash clean, is not, perhaps without some share of the blame for the inhuman treatment they underwent in Buchenwald, Mauthausen and a hundred scenes of crime and slaughter, since it turns out that he may have facilitated the accession of the Fuhrer by means of huge subsidies funnelled through Skoda.

We anarchists seem to be less taken aback than the man in the street by the monstrosities that executioners, whoever they may be, can inflict upon defenceless creatures, that a murderous State has delivered up to their sadistic fury under cover of some social or patriotic vengeance. For a start, our movement’s history has greatly enlightened us on this score. Secondly, it does not take a pile of corpses as high as the Pelions stacked on top of the Ossas before we voice our objection. Where we are concerned, the barbarism begins at one. Nazi barbarism is merely the most perfect and extensive instance of a sadly universal phenomenon. The bloodthirsty madmen of the Third Reich will have brought innovation to it primarily because they had access to greater numbers of human beings and borrowed new annihilation techniques from modern industry or “science”. To individual whim and elemental savagery (as old as the world itself) of all their rampant henchmen, they added the boundless resources of the chemists and vivisectionists. The SS – the highly qualified personnel which we have not been surprised to see a Soviet marshal allegedly identifying as the wheat among the chaff – found extensive numbers of auxiliaries in the various countries they occupied. This fact ought to be underlined to show the imprudence of attempts to establish a moral hierarchy of the races. Darnand[2] is no worthier than Himmler and the militia vermin was able to indulge itself in the French sunshine with the same ease as it might have done in Thuringia or in Pomerania.

Prudhommeaux, writing as A.P., untitled article in clandestine Le Réveil/Il Risveglio,  (Switzerland) No 113, May 1945

KSL notes
1, Schneider: In 1932 French deputy Paul Faure exposed the fact that the Schneider-Creusot artillery-makers was funding the young Nazi Party and funnelling funds to it through the Skoda works in Czechoslovakia which it partly owned. Skoda was supplying Germany with cannons, gunpowder and munitions on credit. The Schneider-Creusot trust was owned by the De Wendel cousins, one of whom sat in the French parliament and another in the Reichstag.  
2, Joseph Darnand: After serving in the French army with distinction in the Great War, he was active in a number of far right organizations, including the Cagoule. A collaborationist after the 1940 armistice in France, he went on to form and lead the Vichyist Milice and served as an officer of the Waffen SS. He was sentenced to death and executed by firing squad in France in 1945.

From Un anarchisme hors norme (a collection of texts by André Prudhommeaux, published by Tumult  )

Translated by: Paul Sharkey.