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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
A regular guy
From the Telegraph:



A decades-long taboo was broken in Germany yesterday with the launch of a feature film in which Adolf Hitler appears for the first time in a central role, not as a ranting demagogue but as a soft-spoken dreamer.



The Downfall is a huge shift from the previous tendency in German cinema to show Hitler only as a background figure or a character who does not appear on camera at all.



It tells the story of the last 12 days of Hitler's life in his 25ft-deep bunker in Berlin - including his suicide alongside his new wife Eva Braun on April 30, 1945 - while advancing Soviet troops pulverise the city with shellfire.



The production by Bernd Eichinger, a respected director, is likely to cause controversy when it opens in German cinemas next month. It depicts the Fuhrer as an avuncular character with a penchant for chocolate cake, who slides into madness when his lifelong dream of a 1,000-year reich slips from his grasp.



The Downfall offers a sympathetic portrayal of the Führer. Until he starts having hysterical fits, Ganz's Hitler talks in a soft, melodic Austrian accent, far different from the barking tone he adopted for his mass rallies. The director said the voice was copied from the single recording which exists of Hitler talking in normal tones.



Mr Eichinger, who also wrote the screenplay, reconstructs the last days of the Third Reich as seen from the claustrophobic and dimly-lit bunker with the help of diary extracts and eye-witness accounts by Hitler's secretary, Traudl Junge, who died in 2002, as well as his telephonist, and an officer, Major Freytag, who are the last two living survivors.



Shot in Berlin, Munich and St Petersburg at a cost of £9 million, making it one of the most expensive German films of all time, The Downfall has been welcomed by critics for demythologising Hitler - even before they have had the chance to see it.



Writing in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, the critic Frank Schirrmacher praised The Downfall for bringing Germany's evaluation of its history into "a new phase".



Until now Germans had been afraid to portray on screen "the man who still dominates the German imagination more than any other figure in history", he wrote.



But the tabloid Bild yesterday posed the question that an increasing number of critics will no doubt ask: "Should a monster be portrayed as a human being?"Eichinger, the 55-year-old son of a Wehrmacht soldier who fought on the eastern front, said he believed the film would offer an "emotional release" for many Germans still traumatised by the Second World War, even though only one in five living Germans experienced it.



Its release comes at a time when Germans are involved in an intense debate about their suffering in the war.



There have been several popular books and historical analyses of German suffering during Allied bombing of Dresden and other cities, most famously Gunter Grass's Crabwalk of 2002. The subject went virtually undiscussed for half a century after the war ended.



Critics say the debate is in danger of playing into the hands of revisionists - those who play down the crime of the Holocaust.



Germany breaks the Hitler taboo

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zorkmidden in Discarded Lies:
On Hating the Jews
Natan Sharansky writes:

...



The world, we are told by friend and foe alike, increasingly hates Jews because it increasingly hates Israel. Surely this is what the Belgian ambassador had in mind when he informed me during his visit that anti-Semitism in his country would cease once Belgians no longer had to watch pictures on television of Israeli Jews oppressing Palestinian Arabs.



Obviously, the state of Israel cannot be the cause of a phenomenon that predates it by over 2,000 years. But might it be properly regarded as the cause of contemporary anti-Semitism? What is certain is that, everywhere one looks, the Jewish state does appear to be at the center of the anti-Semitic storm--and nowhere more so, of course, than in the Middle East.



The rise in viciously anti-Semitic content disseminated through state-run Arab media is quite staggering, and has been thoroughly documented. Arab propagandists, journalists, and scholars now regularly employ the methods and the vocabulary used to demonize European Jews for centuries--calling Jews Christ-killers, charging them with poisoning non-Jews, fabricating blood libels, and the like. In a region where the Christian faith has few adherents, a lurid and time-worn Christian anti-Semitism boasts an enormous following.

....



The Jewish state is no more the cause of anti-Semitism today than the absence of a Jewish state was its cause a century ago.



To see why, we must first appreciate that the always specious line between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism has now become completely blurred: Israel has effectively become the world's Jew. From Middle Eastern mosques, the bloodcurdling cry is not "Death to the Israelis," but "Death to the Jews." In more civilized circles, a columnist for the London Observer proudly announces that he does not read published letters in support of Israel that are signed by Jews. (That the complaints commission for the British press found nothing amiss in this statement only goes to show how far things have changed since Orwell wrote of Britain in 1945 that "it is not at present possible, indeed, that anti-Semitism should become respectable.") When discussion at fashionable European dinner parties turns to the Middle East, the air, we have been reliably informed, turns blue with old-fashioned anti-Semitism.



No less revealing is what might be called the mechanics of the discussion. For centuries, a clear sign of the anti-Semitic impulse at work has been the use of the double standard: social behavior that in others passes without comment or with the mildest questioning becomes, when exhibited by Jews, a pretext for wholesale group denunciation. Such double standards are applied just as recklessly today to the Jewish state. It is democratic Israel, not any of the dozens of tyrannies represented in the United Nations General Assembly, that that body singles out for condemnation in over two dozen resolutions each year; it is against Israel--not Cuba, North Korea, China, or Iran--that the U.N. Human Rights Commission, chaired recently by a lily-pure Libya, directs nearly a third of its official ire; it is Israel whose alleged misbehavior provoked the only joint session ever held by the signatories to the Geneva Convention; it is Israel, alone among nations, that has lately been targeted by Western campaigns of divestment; it is Israel's Magen David Adom, alone among ambulance services in the world, that is denied membership in the International Red Cross; it is Israeli scholars, alone among academics in the world, who are denied grants and prevented from publishing articles in prestigious journals. The list goes on and on.



The idea that Israel has become the world's Jew and that anti-Zionism is a substitute for anti-Semitism is certainly not new. Years ago, Norman Podhoretz observed that the Jewish state "has become the touchstone of attitudes toward the Jewish people, and anti-Zionism has become the most relevant form of anti-Semitism."



On Hating the Jews

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