I am not suggesting that the stories about Nazi atrocities are untrue.
But they are played up largely because
they give the newspapers a pretext for pornography.
They know that innumerable people get a sadistic kick
out of thinking about torture.
WAR ATROCITY SPECTACLES
And one can get a very similar kick
out of barbarous actions committed by one's own side
so long as they are thought of as the just punishment of evil-doers.
AS I PLEASE, by George Orwell
Tribune, January 12, 1945
Some time back a correspondent wrote to ask whether I had seen the exhibition of waxworks, showing German atrocities, which has been on show in London for a year or more. It is advertised outside with such captions as: HORRORS OF THE CONCENTRATION CAMP. COME INSIDE AND SEE REAL NAZI TORTURES. FLOGGING, CRUCIFIXION, GASCHAMBERS, ETC. CHILDREN'S AMUSEMENT SECTION NO EXTRA CHARGE.
I did go and see this exhibition a long time ago, and I would like to warn prospective visitors that it is most disappointing. To begin with many of the figures are not life-size, and I suspect that some of them are not even real waxworks, but merely dressmakers' dummies with new heads attached. And secondly, the tortures are not nearly so fearful as you are led to expect by the posters outside. The whole exhibition is grubby, unlifelike and depressing. But the exhibitors are, I suppose, doing their best, and the captions are interesting in the complete frankness of their appeal to sadism and masochism. Before the war, if you were a devotee of all-in wrestling, or wrote letters to your M.P. to protest against the abolition of flogging, or haunted second-hand bookshops in search of such books as The Pleasures of the Torture Chamber, you laid yourself open to very unpleasant suspicions. Moreover, you were probably aware of your own motives and somewhat ashamed of them. Now, however, you can wallow in the most disgusting descriptions of torture and massacre, not only without any sensation of guilt, but with the feeling that you are performing a praiseworthy political action.
I am not suggesting that the stories about Nazi atrocities are untrue. To a great extent I think they are true. These horrors certainly happened in German concentration camps before the war, and there is no reason why they should have stopped since. But they are played up largely because they give the newspapers a pretext for pornography. This morning's papers are splashing the official British Army Report on Nazi atrocities. They are careful to inform you that naked women were flogged, sometimes spotlighting this detail by means of a headline. The journalists responsible know very well what they are doing. They know that innumerable people get a sadistic kick out of thinking about torture, especially the torture of women, and they are cashing in on this widespread neurosis. No qualms need be felt, because these deeds are committed by the enemy, and the enjoyment that one gets out of them can be disguised as disapproval. And one can get a very similar kick out of barbarous actions committed by one's own side so long as they are thought of as the just punishment of evil-doers.
We have not actually got to the point of Roman gladiatorial shows yet, but we could do so if the necessary pretext were supplied. If, for instance, it were announced that the leading war criminals were to be eaten by lions or trampled to death by elephants in the Wembley Stadium, I fancy that the spectacle would be quite well attended....
NUREMBERG HANGINGS UNCIVILIZED and WAGING WAR MENTALITY AT HOME and ORWELL'S TRIBUNE WAR WRITINGS
Austria arrests British Holocaust denier (said Auschwitz gas chambers a hoax; Jews died from typhus not gas) & David Irving an acclaimed historian (accused of anti-semitism for saying Jews are enemies of free speech). CBC/BBC, Nov 23, 2005
HOLOCAUST DENIER DEPORTED
7.Systems of Thought
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