Monday, 21 November 2016

Toomas Karmo (Part B): USA Election, and the Hopeful Example of a Dissenting Wartime German Bishop

Quality assessment: 

On the 5-point scale current in Estonia, and surely in nearby nations, and familiar to observers of the academic arrangements of the late, unlamented, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (applying the easy and lax standards Kmo deploys in his grubby imaginary "Aleksandr Stepanovitsh Popovi nimeline sangarliku raadio instituut" (the "Alexandr Stepanovitch Popov Institute of Heroic Radio") and his grubby imaginary "Nikolai Ivanovitsh Lobatshevski nimeline sotsalitsliku matemaatika instituut" (the "Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky Institute of Socialist Mathematics") - where, on the lax and easy grading philosophy of the twin Institutes, 1/5 is "epic fail", 2/5 is "failure not so disastrous as to be epic", 3'5 is "mediocre pass", 4.5 is "good", and 5/5 is "excellent"): 4/5. Justification: Kmo had time to do a reasonably complete and (within the framework of the version 2.0.1, 2.0.2,   2.0.3, ...  process) reasonably polished job. 

Revision history:

  • 20161122T1653Z/version 3.0.0: Kmo added a few important sentences, underscoring the uncertainty that remains around one of the key questions - how much did Bl. von Galen know about the Holocaust, and how much did he say? Kmo also added a reference to Prof. Beth Griech-Polelle's book on Bl. von Galen. - Kmo reserved the right to make tiny, nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks, over the next 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 3.0.1, 3.0.2, 3.0.3, ... . 
  • 20161122T0248Z/version 2.0.0: Kmo finished converting outline into coherent prose. He reserved the right to make tiny,  nonsubstantive, purely cosmetic, tweaks, over the next 48 hours, as here-undocumented versions 2.0.1, 2.0.2, 2.0.3, ... . 
  • 20161122T0001Z/version 1.0.0: Kmo did not have time to upload finished version just yet, and so uploaded a mere point-form outline. He hoped to convert this outline into coherent prose at some point in the next three hours. 

[CAUTION: A bug in the blogger server-side software has in some past weeks shown a propensity to insert inappropriate whitespace at some points in some of my posted essays. If a screen seems to end in empty space, keep scrolling down. The end of the posting is not reached until the usual blogger "Posted by Toomas (Tom) Karmo at" appears. - The blogger software has also shown a propensity to generate HTML that is formatted in different ways on different client-side browsers, perhaps with some browsers not correctly reading in the entirety of the "Cascading Style Sheets" which on many Web servers control the browser placement of margins, sidebars, and the like. If you suspect "Cascading Style Sheets" problems in your particular browser, be patient: it is probable that while some content has been shoved into some odd place (for instance, down to the bottom of your browser, where it ought to appear in the right-hand margin), all the server content has been pushed down into your browser in some place or other. - Anyone inclined to help with trouble-shooting, or to offer other kinds of technical advice, is welcome to write me via]

[The interest of continuity is served by starting with a reproduction of the last paragraph from last week's upload of "Part A" of this present essay, before proceeding to the start of a new section:]

I cite Argentina as a specially lurid example from this hemisphere, and yet am in my sketchy way aware of others. Even Canada, I gather, witnessed odd things in the hyper-Catholic Québec of Maurice Duplessis (1890-1959). How far in this unhappy direction, I ask, can the socially conscientious Catholic go? 

2. How One Reich Bishop Handled the Extinguishing of Civil Liberties

Germany's record of resistance to its misgovernment under the Third Reich seems, on the whole, feeble. 

I recall my depressed, despairing reading, in a Toronto bookshop, possibly some six or twelve months ago. The book I skimmed in that elegant little shop - it sits on Bay Street, in other words on the street from which financial analysts and corporate lawyers run Canada - was a recent, probably an authoritative, treatment of the Catholic Church under the Reich. Its picture was dark. The book painted a sorry scene of compromise and accommodation, to the point of cowardice - a kind of anticipation, in Germany, of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in its own feeble, indeed almost nonexistent, response to President George W. Bush's 2003 invasion of Iraq. Or, again, it was a kind of anticipation of the feeble response of Estonia's 1944-through-1987 within-Estonia university élite to the ruling Party, under the 1944-through-1991 Soviet occupation. The book cited instance upon instance of bishops, or other senior Catholic clergy, within the Reich saying basically, "Well, we have our reservations on Reich policy, and we would urge all our parishioners to consult their consciences, and it is ever so important for each of us to think hard about the issues, and of course we cannot in all our necessarily diligent ethical deliberation ignore the legitimate demands of civil authority." In a time of political and moral crisis, such soft-talking serves only to discredit Catholic moral authority. 

And I recall also, from just a few weeks ago, my discomfort, or even my muted horror, upon viewing YouTube material from the late April of 1945. The final minutes of the footage showed ordinary citizens being directed by Allied military authorities to view the carnage at one of the camps - Bergen-Belsen, if I recall. What was upsetting, or worse, was the casual attitude of citizens. Having been obliged to gaze on pits and corpses, and I presume having been obliged to hear from some of the emaciated survivors, these citizens were filmed walking away, dressed in good Sunday clothes. They were chatting and smiling and perhaps even laughing, as though strolling home from some public picnic. 

On the credit side of the ledger, we of course have the heroic, doomed, anti-Reich resistance of the "White Rose" movement in Bavaria. 

In Berlin, we have the putatively happy example of a bishop, Konrad von Preysing (1880-1950; created a Cardinal by Pius XII in 1946), whose anti-Reich record I must some day scrutinize. 

In this present essay, I wish particularly to highlight the example of Clemens August Graf von Galen  (1878-1946; likewise created a Cardinal by Pius XII in 1946, and beatified 2005-10-09; now formally "Blessed Clemens August, Graf von Galen", but for brevity I write here merely "Bl. von Galen"). At the end of my essay, I will be suggesting that although the United States and the Third Reich should not at this early point in the evolving American situation be too closely paralleled, Bl. von Galen's life nevertheless does furnish a moral of contemporary relevance. 


"Von", in "von Preysing" and "von Galen": one's hear sinks upon seeing the preposition (literally, "of", "from", but in fact a mark of aristocracy). If you are a "von", you are a "von". It is a bit like being "Sir James Foppingue" or "Lady Foppingue" in the UK. My limited encounters - perhaps just two or three in number, and for the most part from decades ago - with titled UK persons have been happy. But how much can be said about the unhappy experiences of my forefathers in Estonia, or old "Estland", with their German counterparts, the vons!

One of my paternal grandfather's grandfathers (so my own nonagerian grandfather told me in 1974, in his last summer in this life) was whipped by his local (German) landowner, for having sought - if I recall, for having submitted a formal application - to leave that landowner's estate for some different estate. Whether the contemplated departure was legal or illegal, I admittedly do not know. The incident occurred at some now-uncertain point, I presume in the 1830s, 1840s, or 1850s. The emancipation of serfs was not simultaneous across all of present-day Estonia: two different legal frameworks applied in the two provincial jurisdictions into which Estonia was split, I think from the first tsarist days (after the 1700-1721 Great Northern War, which saw Estonia, with its local post-1208 German barons, pass from Stockholm to Moscow) right up to the Kerensky provincial-government reform of 1917. And I do not know what legal powers sometime serfs had to move from estate to estate, whether prior to their emancipation or in the wake of it. The story in any case struck my grandfather in 1974, and still today strikes me, as sad.

Happier, and yet also indicative of the general Estonian attitude to the local German aristocracy who so tediously administered us from the early 1200s until 1918, is Grandma's "Incident of the Fur Collar".

Grandma, or more precisely Mum's Mum, had relatives in our longstanding university city, Tartu. These folks were, while Estonian ("eestlased"), rather than German ("sakslased"), nevertheless possibly inclined to be "kadakasakslased". "Kadakas" is "juniper", and "kadakasakslased" are "juniper Germans" - people right up to 1939 or so who, while Estonian, liked to put on various refined, and therefore German, airs. "Kadakasakslased" might allow themselves a bit of German at the dinner table. They might have some German magazines or books ever so casually lying around the parlour. They would ensure that their children were conversationally fluent not in Estonian alone but in that most culturally exalted of Estonia's pre-war "three local languages".  (With English not yet in the ascendant, the Big Three were Estonian, Russian, and as a language-of-high-literary-culture German. The Big Three were the "kolm kohalikku keelt", as in the prewar shop signs saying "Siin räägitakse kolm kohalikku keelt" - "The three local languages are spoken here.")

People are, to be sure, complex. The Juniper Germans were surely in some instances also Estonian patriots. Further, individuals who were ethnically German could also be estophile. Who nowadays could even say in which of the two antagonistic ethnicities were anchored those literati observed leaving a 19th-century Estonian "cultural evening'? Gott sei Dank, they were heard to say, jetzt kann Man deutsch sprechen.  ("Thank God, now one can speak German" - this sigh of relief vented, I presume, upon exiting to the street, their wearisome Evening Seminar, or their wearisome either-native-Estonian-or-estophile-German Evening Lecturer,  having finally fallen silent.)

At any rate, as I say, Grandma herself - this was possibly in the 1920s - had Tartu relatives of a Juniper German tendency.

I should add, before finishing my small skandaalne anekdoot, that in Estonian, the name for one particular fur-bearing mammal is almost exactly the same as in English.

One of Grandma's Juniper relatives showed off her hew overcoat: Ekateriina, kuidas Sulle meeldib minu uus nahkkrae? ("Oh, Ekateriina" - or, kinda-sorta, "Oh, Ekateriina darling" - "how do you like my new fur collar?") Grandma fingered the imposing new garment. One has to imagine her fingering it with the practiced air of a Woman Who Knows Her Furs, and then delivering her appraisal in the tones of some Tartu matron, ensconced in a café, biting into a specially luscious éclair: Mmmmmm.....skunks. 

Also happy, and yet again indicative of the general Estonian attitude to their from-1208-until-1918 German rulers, is that political cartoon with those two university students. I searched hard in Google Images last week. But alas, I could not find the cartoon. Perhaps nobody has uploaded it to the Web yet. Nevertheless, it must be well known, back in Estonia. The year of original publication - if I can trust my visual memory, then in some periodical fancy enough to sport a novel thing, colour printing - was 1900 or 1910 or so.

Depicted are two strikingly similar young persons, Studenten in German and tudengid in Estonian. (It can be seen from this linguistic example how Estonian tends to borrow from German words for its more citified, as opposed to its more agrarian, concepts.) Both are to be thought of as from Tartu University, the old Kaiserliche Universität zu Dorpat founded in Napoleonic times by a moderately enlightened tsar for the primary benefit of the local ruling German families. On each is the thin cavalry moustache, on each I think is the tightly knotted necktie, on each is the Germanic student-corporation (i.e., duelling-society) cap, and I suspect across one shoulder of each sits the normal student-corporation ceremonial sash. Each is staring into his beer, with an expression of distaste such as is appropriate when a bad smell suddenly surfaces in one's Bierstube.

The caption, when translated from Estonian to English, reads thus: "Ah, Mr Saar, people find us very much alike, you know. Wasn't your mother a chambermaid on my father's estate? - No, Baron, you are mistaken. My father was, however, your mother's coachman."

Estonian attitudes to the Herrenvolk are, then, complex, and not altogether happy. But I think I can write favourably here about Cardinal von Galen without myself being accused of a Juniper German tendency.,


Before I set out to extol Bl. von Galen's remarkable record of resistance to the Third Reich and to draw from this a moral pertinent to the current American crisis, I will set out the relatively few points appearing on the negative side of the ledger.

A quick check of confirms, as one might perhaps already have predicted from the "von", that Bl. von Galen was not in general warm toward liberal democracy. Particularly embarrassing here is the Wikipedia account of a Baltic point - not, indeed, touching Estonia, but all the same touching too geographically close for comfort:

During the First World War, von Galen volunteered for military service in order to demonstrate his loyalty to the Kaiser. As parish priest, he encouraged his parishioners to serve their country willingly. In August 1917 he visited the front lines in France and found the optimistic morale of the troops uplifting. /.../ In 1916 and 1917 he welcomed reports that the German military had a plan to colonize Eastern Europe, stating that German Catholics should be moved into the area, especially Lithuania, with the goal not of expelling the Lithuanians, but educating them to think and feel as Germans.

(The two emphases are Wikipedia's, not mine.)

We have also Wikipedia's reference to a 1932 book from the future Cardinal, bearing the prima facie discouraging title Die Pest des Laizismus und ihre Erscheinungsformen ("The Plague of Laïcism and its Forms of Expression").

Wikipedia goes on to document the future Cardinal's initial, prewar, qualified support for the Reich.

And after the Hitler war, Wikipedia finds the Cardinal, or future Cardinal, in strife with - of all people - the British Zone administrators. Personally, I am a bit pained by this British development, willing though I am to entertain the possibility of fault on both sides, or even of fault on the British side with innocence on Bl. von Galen's. One does recall the advice given to Estonian refugees who found themselves in non-Soviet Germany, in the course of their flight from Stalin: Try, if you can, to get into the British Zone; the British are specially humane.

So much, then, for the negative side.

On the positive side of the ledger, I recall first how struck I was to read, now perhaps 20 or 30 years ago, the Estonian translation of "Mit Brennender Sorge" ("Põleva murega" - "With Burning Concern" or "With Burning Sorrow"), an encyclical promulgated by Pius XI (born in 1857, raised to the Papacy in 1922, deceased in February of 1939), on 1937-03-14. The translation I had was reprinted in the cold-war exile-Estonian Catholic periodical Maarjamaa (edited by paater Vello Salo (1925-)). But it appeared originally in some official organ of our tiny prewar Estonian Catholic community. It might, for all I know, have been a little bold of the then Estonian Catholic community to publish it - Estonia was then labouring under the authoritarian rule of Konstantin Päts (1874-1956), the formally proclaimed Estonian foreign policy was resolutely neutral (this, it was vainly hoped, offered the Republic some prospect of survival in case of the feared large-scale 1930s European war),  the two thousand or so Estonian Catholics cannot have been socially mainstream in so predominantly (and at that time so self-consciously and demonstratively) Lutheran a country, and "Mit Brennender Sorge" was unambiguously anti-Reich. From my reading, a couple of decades ago, I remember especially a dark passage in which the then Holy Father remarks that whereas the 19th-century enemies of the Church had proceeded from a philosophical stance of atheism, its enemies in the then-modern, 1930s, world were zealous believers. (I presume the Holy Father was referring to the dark deities of Volk, Blut, and Boden on the German side, and of the Proletarian Dictatorship farther east - all venerated with a religiosity alien to the skeptical, secularist, markedly less crazy, 19th century.)

This autumn I find, to my surprise and happiness, that Bl. von Galen was one of the small committee of German prelates who helped compose "Mit Brennender Sorge" for the Holy Father's eventual promulgation.


Earlier this year, I heard a set of Lenten talks on Bl. von Galen, delivered by a Toronto priest who is now perhaps emerging as the principal living English-language authority on the long-dead figure. The speaker was Fr Daniel Utrecht, of the Oratory of St Philip Neri (in Toronto's rather poor, socially rather stressed, Parkdale district, south of Bloor and a half-hour walk to the east of Bathurst). I see today from that his just-completed book The Lion of Münster: The Bishop Who Roared Against the Nazis, has beome available (for around 30 USD, as a hardbound 2016 November publication, comprising 450 pages, at Saint Benedict Press, LLC, under the imprint "TAN Books"). On the strength of, I speculate that this book will emerge as a kind of corrective to the only book-length treatment of the topic so far published in English, Prof. Beth Grieche-Polelle's approximately 200-page Bishop von Galen: German Catholicism and National Socialism (asserted in a review at to lack objectivity - the review's case against Prof. Grieche-Polelle makes detailed citations, asserting in particular a surprising mistranslation of Pius XII from Actes et documents du Saint Siège relatifs la seconde guerre mondiale).


Without having yet inspected this just-published work from Fr Utrecht, I wish to table Bl. von Galen's wartime record herewith, quoting from Wikipedia. I seek here to cover everything from that record as Wikipedia gives it, quoting impartially, and omitting only most of Wikipdia's quotations from outside parties praising the Cardinal (along with all of Wikipedia's  footnotes):

In 1941 Galen welcomed the German war against the USSR as a positive development. Many German resisters had rallied to the cause of Germany when Hitler invaded Poland, Bishop von Galen among them, offering a patriotic benediction. /.../


While the Nazi extermination of the Jews took place primarily on Polish territory, the murder of invalids became public knowledge because it took place on German soil and interfered directly in Catholic and Protestant welfare institutions. Church leaders who opposed it – chiefly Bishop von Galen and Theophil Wurm, the Lutheran Bishop of Württemberg – were able to rouse widespread public opposition. /.../ 

In 1941, with the Wehrmacht still marching on Moscow, Galen, despite his long-time nationalist sympathies, denounced the lawlessness of the Gestapo, the confiscations of church properties, and the Nazi euthanasia programme. He attacked the Gestapo for converting church properties to their own purposes – including use as cinemas and brothels. He protested against the mistreatment of Catholics in Germany: the arrests and imprisonment without legal process, the suppression of the monasteries, and the expulsion of religious orders. But his sermons went further than defending the church, he spoke of a moral danger to Germany from the regime's violations of basic human rights: "the right to life, to inviolability, and to freedom is an indispensable part of any moral social order", he said – and any government that punishes without court proceedings "undermines its own authority and respect for its sovereignty within the conscience of its citizens".Galen said that it was the duty of Christians to resist the taking of human life, even if it meant losing their own lives.

Hitler's order for the "Aktion T4" Euthanasia Programme was dated 1 September 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland. As word of the programme spread, protest grew, until finally, Bishop von Galen delivered his famous August 1941 sermons denouncing the programme as "murder". On 3 August 1941, in one of his series of denunciations, Galen declared:

"Thou shalt not kill." God engraved this commandment on the souls of men long before any penal code... God has engraved these commandments in our hearts... They are the unchangeable and fundamental truths of our social life... Where in Germany and where, here, is obedience to the precepts of God? [...] As for the first commandment, "Thou shalt not have strange gods before me," instead of the One, True, Eternal God, men have created at the dictates of their whim, their own gods to adore: Nature, the State, the Nation, or the Race.

Galen's three powerful sermons of July and August 1941 earned him the nickname of the "Lion of Münster". The sermons were printed and distributed illegally. Hitler wanted to have Galen removed as a bishop, but Goebbels told him this would result in the loss of the loyalty of Westphalia. The sermons protested against Nazi policies on euthanasia, Gestapo terror, forced sterilization, and concentration camps. His attacks on the Nazis were so severe that Nazi official Walter Tiessler proposed in a letter to Martin Bormann that the Bishop be executed.

On 13 July 1941, Galen attacked the regime for its Gestapo tactics of terror, including disappearances without trial, the closure of Catholic institutions without any stated justifications, and the resultant fear imposed on all Germans. The Gestapo, he argued, reduced even the most decent and loyal citizens to fear of ending up in a cellar prison or a concentration camp. As the country was at war, Galen rejected the notion that his speech undermined German solidarity or unity. Quoting Pope Pius XII's Opus Justitiae Pax and Justitia fundamentum Regnorum, Galen noted that "Peace is the work of Justice and Justice, the basis for dominion," then attacked the Third Reich for undermining justice, the belief in justice and for reducing the German people to a state of permanent fear, even cowardice. He concluded: "As a German, as a decent citizen, I demand Justice".

In a second sermon on 20 July 1941, Galen said that all written protests against the Nazi hostilities had proved to be useless. The confiscation of religious institutions continued unabated. Members of religious orders were still being deported or jailed. He asked his listeners to be patient and to endure, and said that the German people were being destroyed not by the Allied bombing from the outside, but from negative forces within.

On 3 August 1941, Galen's third sermon described the continued desecration of Catholic churches, the closing of convents and monasteries, and the deportation of mentally ill people to undisclosed destinations, while a notice was sent to family members stating that the person in question had died. This is murder, he exclaimed, unlawful by divine and German law, a rejection of the laws of God. He said he had forwarded his evidence to the State Attorney. "These are people, our brothers and sisters; maybe their life is unproductive, but productivity is not a justification for killing." If that were indeed a justification for execution, he reasoned, everybody would have to be afraid to even go to a doctor for fear of what might be discovered. The social fabric would be affected. Galen then remarked that a regime which can do away with the Fifth Commandment (thou shalt not kill) can destroy the other commandments as well. Galen went on to raise the question of whether permanently injured German soldiers would fall under the programme as well.

Thousands of copies of the sermons were circulated throughout Germany. The resulting local protests in Germany broke the secrecy that had surrounded the euthanasia programme known as Aktion T4. The local Nazi Gauleiter was furious and demanded Galen's immediate arrest. Joseph Goebbels and party pragmatists preferred to wait until the end of hostilities to avoid undermining German morale in a heavily Catholic area. A year later, the euthanasia programme was still active, but the regime was conducting it in greater secrecy.


The sermons inspired various people in the German Resistance. The Lübeck martyrs distributed the sermons. The sermons, influenced the Scholl siblings in founding the White Rose pacifist student resistance group. One of Galen's sermons of 1941 was the group's first pamphlet. /.../

In his history of the German Resistance, Theodore S. Hamerow characterised the resistance approach of Galen as "trying to influence the Third Reich from within". While some clergymen refused ever to feign support for the regime, in the Church's conflict with the State over ecclesiastical autonomy, the Catholic hierarchy adopted a strategy of "seeming acceptance of the Third Reich", by couching their criticisms as motivated merely by a desire to "point out mistakes that some of its overzealous followers committed" in order to strengthen the government. Thus when Bishop Galen of Münster delivered his famous 1941 denunciations of Nazi euthanasia and the lawlessness of the Gestapo, he also said that the church had never sought the "overthrow" of the regime.

There is admittedly almost nothing in this Wikipedia account to illuminate Bl. von Galen's stance regarding the Shoah. Persons of high clerical rank are, or at the very least are obliged to be, informed in detail on even secular matters: how much, then, was known at the various diocesan desks in Münster? If Bl. von Galen knew the essence of the case, then how much did he say - both before VE Day and after VE Day?

A possibly relevant fact here is that however well or poorly informed ecclesial officers in a diocese might be, Reich military officers did tend to get significant information, simply in the course of the conversations that must be normal as squadrons and divisions get moved around. The British interned a group of such military officers within the UK and bugged their recreation room. To help things along, a British official would occasionally enter the recreation room, steer the casual chat in the direction of treatment-of-prisoners or the like, and then say, "So sorry, must be getting back to my office..." - Incredibly, the detainees did not see through this ruse, and would start talking among themselves on their now-launched theme after the seemingly casual official had left. The recordings made by British monitoring personnel at the other end of their audio lines, while I think not establishing a comprehensive grasp of the Final Solution by rather ordinary Reich military officers (officers, that is, without direct involvement in the running of concentration camps), nevertheless suggest that some part of the story was leaking.   

I await, then, Fr Utrecht's book with anxiety. If Bl. von Galen turns out to have dodged the Shoah, he is in some measure compromised. In that unfortunate case, however, his broader anti-Reich record (as I have just cited it from Wikipedia) will surely still stand.

General Conclusion,
Regarding the Transcending of Personal Background

The internal Republic of the individual, like any Republic, has its security concerns. Fr Gerard Manley Hopkins writes,

There is your world within.

There rid the dragons, root out there the sin

Your will is law in that small commonweal.

One key to security in the internal Republic is the correct handling of depression. Depression cannot be overlooked or downplayed. Yet depression must be transcended. This point is put as follows by pastoral theologian-activist Jean Vanier, in a central (I would in fact suggest, the central) passage from his book Seeing beyond Depression. In the English-language edition, published in 2001 (more specifically, on the first page of the chapter entitled "Struggling against the Powers of Death"), there appears the following:

To the extent that you no longer identify yourself with your depression and that you distinguish between your deepest, real self and the feelings of sadness and guilt which well up, from you know not where, then you have the key to healing and resurrection.

I put this same point in my own terms as follows, in my essay "Depression, the Body Politic, and Frankelian Freedom-to-Appraise" (at

/.../ given the usual physiological hardware, there is a residue of free will, capable of coexistence with even violent external or internal compulsion. Our situation may conceivably be so adverse as to make us unfree to modify the evolution of external events, and also, more subtly, unfree to modify the evolution of our feelings. Nevertheless, we are free to take up either an affirming or a negating attitude toward the totality of these facts, external and also, more subtly, internal. In selecting that attitude, we create one or another meaning, and so ultimately select either to die a special kind of death or to have life abundantly - as life may be had abundantly even behind guard towers and barbed wire.

It is a point perhaps not sufficiently remarked in psychology and politics that the psychological phenomena of the individual's tiny internal Republic, the "small commonweal" of Fr Gerard Manley Hopkins, parallel the wide social phenomena of entire communities, even of entire nations.

We have individuals who are quiet, morose, and businesslike - the engineers and accountants, in their dark clothes. Offsetting this, we have the individuals who wear lots of red and gold, and who make lots of noise, and who get some fun out of life while also getting into various interesting scuffles with the Law. So much is true at the level of the individual. Correspondingly, at the level of the community, we have morose, quiet Estonia, staring across the Narva River at a nation of balalaikas, and of voluptuous Natashas, and of mad dancing - staring for the most part with dismay, but on occasion mixing into its dismay an element also of silent envy. Surely many of us on the, so to speak, less noisy side of the Narva River find ourselves compelled from time to time to drop our mathematics, or our income tax papers, or whatever, and to listen on YouTube to  (Две Гитары, "Dvye Gitari/Two Guitars"; this is the 2010-11-29 upload of YouTube user "mhkogan2004", with 541,286 views as of UTC=20161122T022348Z). Or, what is equally deadly, we find ourselves compelled to drop work and listen on YouTube to (Дорогой длинною, immortalized in 1968 Anglosaxonia by Mary Hopkin as "Those Were the Days, My Friend"; this is the 2011-10-20 upload of YouTube user Золото Шансона, or "Zoloto Shansona", from a spirited Russian vocalist;   Zoloto's upload deserves a half-million views, being even better than the 1968 Mary Hopkin English-language rendition, but despite this has as of UTC=20161122T022822Z attained a viewcount of just 98,620).

We have Germany and Italy, and in rather close correspondence we have the Germans and the Italians.

Ah, Deutschland: "In Tcharrrrmany, ve clear ze Snow before it hits ze Graund, because it's more EFFICIENT." And there is that colour photo in my German grammar book, showing lots of people standing round in some city park or city square, looking cross and unhappy. They are concentrating hard, as when it proves necessary to compute the antiderivative of theta times cos theta. You would consider these unhappy citizens - these so-morose young men and women - Estonian. But no, they are German. The caption explains that they are listening to Mozart.

As for Italy, I recall a friend in college who visited Venice and was struck by an Italian attempt at military precision. It was supposed to be a Changing of the Guard, or something similar, I think right in the Piazza San Marco. Someone dropped a sword onto the paving stones - clankety-clank - and all the guys in the resplendent uniforms thought (I guess rightly) that this was funny, and they laughed, and so a good time was had by military and civilians alike.

The little internal Republic, or "small commonweal", is, as I suspect Renaissance social analysts used to write, a microcosm of the State.

To depression in the microcosm corresponds the communal upheaval, as citizens in their millions loosen their grip on reality, seemingly possessed for a while of one single mad mind.

In their more benign forms, such upheavals manifest themselves in, for example, 1950s McCarthyism; or in Louisiana's Huey Long (born in 1893, assassinated in 1935); or in a dreary figure I have already mentioned, Québec's Maurice Duplessis.

At their worst, on the other hand, such upheavals involve the torchlight processions, the armbands, the bonfires of books - with, as musical accompaniment, the Internationale and Horst Wessel.

It would be a mistake at this early stage in the evolving American situation to draw facile, close parallels with Germany. Nevertheless, Bl. von Galen, who lived through a lot, has something to teach us. Here we encounter an individual formed, or deformed, in the unhappy cultural world of the pre-1914 German Empire (a culture of grit-your-teeth memory in Estonia, among other jurisdictions), and yet who nevertheless proved able to some extent to transcend his constricting heritage. (In gauging the exact extent, we may expect Fr Utrecht's just-published book to prove helpful.) Many in Bl. von Galen's generation and class made their various easy, quiet, soft accommodations with the Third Reich. He, on the other hand, proved to some striking extent able, even at the height of the communal madness, to stand back and stay Catholic. 

[end of this essay] 

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