Media's Take on the News: 7-15-03 to 9-02-03Media's Take on the News
Daniel Benjamin, writing in Slate (August 29, 2003):
As American post-conflict combat deaths in Iraq overtook the wartime number, the administration counseled patience. "The war on terror is a test of our strength. It is a test of our perseverance, our patience, and our will," President Bush told an American Legion convention.
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice embellished the message with what former White House speechwriters immediately recognize as a greatest-generation pander. "There is an understandable tendency to look back on America's experience in postwar Germany and see only the successes," she told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in San Antonio, Texas, on Aug. 25. "But as some of you here today surely remember, the road we traveled was very difficult. 1945 through 1947 was an especially challenging period. Germany was not immediately stable or prosperous. SS officerscalled 'werewolves'engaged in sabotage and attacked both coalition forces and those locals cooperating with themmuch like today's Baathist and Fedayeen remnants."...
In practice, Werwolf amounted to next to nothing. The mayor of Aachen was assassinated on March 25, 1945, on Himmler's orders. This was not a nice thing to do, but it happened before the May 7 Nazi surrender at Reims. It's hardly surprising that Berlin sought to undermine the American occupation before the war was over. And as the U.S. Army's official history, The U.S. Army in the Occupation of Germany 1944-1946, points out, the killing was "probably the Werwolf's most sensational achievement."
Indeed, the organization merits but two passing mentions in Occupation of Germany, which dwells far more on how docile the Germans were once the Americans rolled inand fraternization between former enemies was a bigger problem for the military than confrontation. Although Gen. Eisenhower had been worrying about guerrilla warfare as early as August 1944, little materialized. There was no major campaign of sabotage. There was no destruction of water mains or energy plants worth noting. In fact, the far greater problem for the occupying forces was the misbehavior of desperate displaced persons, who accounted for much of the crime in the American zone.
The Army history records that while there were the occasional anti-occupation leaflets and graffiti, the GIs had reason to feel safe. When an officer in Hesse was asked to investigate rumors that troops were being attacked and castrated, he reported back that there had not been a single attack against an American soldier in four months of occupation. As the distinguished German historian Golo Mann summed it up in The History of Germany Since 1789, "The [Germans'] readiness to work with the victors, to carry out their orders, to accept their advice and their help was genuine; of the resistance which the Allies had expected in the way of 'werewolf' units and nocturnal guerrilla activities, there was no sign. " ...
So, how did this fanciful version of the American experience in postwar Germany get into the remarks of a Princeton graduate and former trustee of Stanford's Hoover Institute (Rumsfeld) and the former provost of Stanford and co-author of an acclaimed book on German unification (Rice)? Perhaps the British have some intelligence on the matter that still has not been made public. Of course, as the president himself has noted, there is a lot of revisionist history going around.
Laurie Goodstein, writing in the NYT (August 31, 2003):
Pope Pius XII has been branded by some authors and Jewish leaders as "Hitler's Pope" for his silence during the Holocaust.
Now, diplomatic documents recently brought to light by a Jesuit historian indicate that while serving as a Vatican diplomat, the future pope expressed strong antipathy to the Nazi regime in private communication with American officials.
One document is a confidential memorandum written in April 1938 from Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, who the next year became Pope Pius XII, in which he says that compromise with the Nazis should be "out of question."
The other is a report by an American consul general relating that in a long conversation in 1937, Cardinal Pacelli called Hitler "a fundamentally wicked person" and "an untrustworthy scoundrel."
Historians who have seen the documents say they bolster the view that the man who became Pope Pius XII was not a Nazi sympathizer, and was in fact convinced that the Nazis were a threat to the church and the stability of Europe.
But the historians also agreed that the documents in no way explained or exonerated Pius XII's inaction in the face of the Holocaust. Indeed, in neither document does the cardinal even mention the persecution of the Jews that was well under way when they were written.
The documents were described by Charles R. Gallagher, a Jesuit historian at St. Louis University, in an article in the Sept. 1 issue of America, the Jesuit weekly. Mr. Gallagher, 38, a former police officer who is a nonordained Jesuit studying to be a priest, said he came across them while researching a biography about another more obscure papal diplomat.
Pope Pius XII's record has been under scrutiny in recent years while the Vatican considers whether he should be beatified, the final step before sainthood.
Church officials in Rome and in the United States have expressed concern that the case for Pius XII's canonization suffered a setback with the popularity of books like "Hitler's Pope," by John Cornwell, and "Constantine's Sword," by James Carroll, that argue that Pius XII was complicit in the genocide of the Jews. Some historians cautioned that Catholic officials were now eager to employ any evidence to rehabilitate Pius XII's image.
Mr. Gallagher said in an interview that he merely hoped the documents would illustrate that as a diplomat, Cardinal Pacelli made his case against the Nazis in private, to other diplomats.
"I wouldn't go so far as to say that these documents exonerate him," Mr. Gallagher said. "What I think these findings might help to dispel is the impression that this pope was, as others have called him, `Hitler's Pope.' "
Luke Harding, writing in the Guardian (August 26, 2003):
Yesterday's blasts took place only hours after the publication of a long-awaited report on Ayodhya - the temple town in north India, which has long divided Hindus and Muslims.
In 1992 thousands of Hindu zealots tore down the 16th-century Babri mosque in the town, claiming it had been built on the site of an earlier Hindu temple sacred to Lord Ram, Hinduism's most important deity. The incident led to rioting across India, with several thousand killed.
It also propelled the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) to power - which exploited a wave of Hindu sentiment over Ayodhya to defeat India's Congress party. Since then Hindu extremists have claimed that they were entitled to de stroy the mosque - because India's former Muslim Mughal rulers did the sa