A Democratic German Feminist’s Response to the Catastrophe of National Socialism
Chapter 9: Cities Razed to the Ground and Calls for Resistance: Can You Kill Hitler with a Cooking Spoon?
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Cities Razed to the Ground and Calls for Resistance: Can You Kill Hitler with a Cooking Spoon?
Anna’s diaries culminate in graphic descriptions of the impact of Allied bombing. Stuttgart, being far from any battlefront, had initially escaped relatively unscathed, but the diaries record horrifying news from other regions. Histories of the period have highlighted the statistics of destruction and death, citing eye-witness accounts of unimaginable horror. The underlying message of the personal stories reproduced in the study by Jörg Friedrich is: how we are suffering.1 Anna, by contrast, explores the ethical question: why we are suffering. The ordeals she endures are placed within the axis of guilt and retribution. Insisting that those who embark on aggressive warfare cannot complain when they suffer punitive reprisals, she construes defeat as a tragic catharsis. The fatal flaw highlighted by her vision of Germany is ‘arrogance’ (‘Überheblichkeit’; HA 18, 64; TS 468).
The Luftwaffe attacks on London and Coventry had set precedents that ordinary Germans were destined to regret. By the spring of 1942 north German cities were particularly vulnerable, but the bombing of the ancient Hanseatic town of Lübeck was particularly shocking. From their son-in-law Richard Gebhardt, an airforce engineer based on the Baltic coast, the Haags received a graphic account of the damage in a letter dated 20 March 1942.2 The news filled Anna with foreboding: ‘In Lübeck there are said to be 36,000 people made...
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