venerdì 15 marzo 2013

Daniel Guérin - The Brown Plague: Travels in Late Weimar and Early Nazi Germany - Duke University Press, Usa, 1994

Book Description (Read more on Duke University Press)
In 1932 and 1933, during the months surrounding the Nazi seizure of power, Daniel Guérin, then a young French journalist, made two trips through Germany. The Brown Plague, translated here into English for the first time, is Guérin’s eyewitness account of the fall of the Weimar Republic and the first months of the Third Reich. Originally written for the popular French left press and then revised by the author into book form, The Brown Plague delivers a passionate warning to French workers about the terror and horror of fascism. Guérin chronicles the collapse of the German workers’ movement and reports on the beginnings of clandestine resistance to the Nazis. He also describes the Socialist and Communist leaderships’ inability to recognize the danger that led to their demise. Through vivid dialogs, interviews, and revealing descriptions of everyday life among the German people, he offers insight into the tragedy that was beginning to unfold.
Guérin’s travels took him across the countryside and into the cities of Germany. He describes with extraordinary clarity, for example, his encounters with large groups of unemployed workers in Berlin and the spectacle of Goering presiding over the Reichstag. Staying in youth hostels, Guérin met individuals representing a range of various groups and movements, including the Wandervögel, leftist brigades, Hitler Youth, and the strange, semicriminal sexual underground of the Wild-frei. Devoting particular attention to the cultural politics of fascism and the lure of Nazism for Germany’s disaffected youth, he describes the seductive rituals by which the Nazis were able to win over much of the population. As Robert Schwartzwald makes clear in his introduction, Guérin’s interest in Germany at this time was driven, in part, by a homoerotic component that could not be stated explicitly in his published material. This excellent companion essay also places The Brown Plague within a broad historical and literary context while drawing connections between fascism, aesthetics, and sexuality.
Informed by an epic view of class struggle and an admiration for German culture, The Brown Plague, a notable primary source in the literature of modern Europe, provides a unique view onto the rise of Nazism.

From Publishers Weekly

Like Christopher Isherwood and Stephen Spender, Guerin, a socialist and a homosexual, was drawn to Weimar Germany. It had the strongest workers' party in Europe and, as Schwartzwald points out in his introduction, the emphasis on clean young men had an unmistakable erotic allure (``Sculptured knees emerged from Lederhosen. Legs were deeply tanned, muscles taut and hard. Thick socks tumbled down to strong, monumental shoes.''). Guerin made two trips, one in 1932 and another in the spring of 1933 following Hitler's rise to power. Although Le Peste Brun originally included only the second journey, Guerin decided to add the earlier one. Unfortunately, it is of questionable value to anyone interested in how Germany appeared to outsiders as he decided to rewrite it when it strayed ``from the essential topic: the rise of National Socialism.'' Of greater interest is the later material in which, willy nilly, Guerin's comments on Communists and Social Democrats point to a connection between far left and far right. Not only did the Communist leadership come to see ``Nazism as a necessary transitional stage on the road to proletarian dictatorship'' but Guerin's evidence suggests that workers steeped in the virulent anticapitalism and revolutionary struggle of Communists were ripe for the anti-Semitism and bloody chauvinism of the Nazis.

From Library Journal

Guerin was a major figure of the 20th-century French Left. Neither Stalinist nor reformer, he celebrated in his political and intellectual lives the ordinary men and women who were the bedrock of revolutionary change. In 1932 and 1933 Guerin made two trips to Germany. This work, translated into English for the first time, is a passionate account of Adolf Hitler's final rise to power and of the continued presence of anti-Nazi resistance in the early days of the Third Reich. Guerin takes pains not to equate fascism with German "national character." Instead, he describes the techniques of propaganda and deception, in particular the appeals to nationalism, that won over the politically unsophisticated. Written to warn French workers that the same forces were at work west of the Rhine, this study is both a useful historical source and as timely as today's headlines.
D.E. Showalter, U.S. Air Force Acad., Colorado Springs
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

About The Author(s)

Daniel Guérin (1904–1988) was the author of over forty books on a range of subjects including anarchism, decolonization, European and American workers’ movements, and the French Revolution. A pioneering gay activist, he was involved in both the postwar homophile movement and the struggles for liberation that followed in France after the upheavals of May 1968. Robert Schwartzwald is Associate Professor of French at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Read more on Daniel Guérin

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