Mark Twain, Traitor

I really enjoyed an article I found by chance today about Twain’s attempts to narrate and justify his conduct during the US Civil War. From the closing paragraph:

My title, “Mark Twain, Traitor,” hails the Mark Twain who appears as such in his major work, whose text is constantly involved with the question of betrayal, of confused loyalties, not edifying us, giving us resolutions, just describing betrayal’s performance, its reasoning soliloquy. Huck guiltily betrays Uncle Jake in Tom Sawyer. and he desperately strives to betray Jim in Huckleberry Finn. “Mark Twain” is, of course, the key phrase in any letter of denunciation written for some police authority. Someone is not who he or she says he or she is. I report a Mark Twain whose post–Civil War nationalist identification is questionable, a Mark Twain at play with his progressive Unionist/Republican identification, at play with his reactionary Southern patrician identification, a Mark Twain who might be a double agent, or worse, a “free” agent, outside the rules of either comity, outside the several codes of honor, a marker, not the twain, not Southern, not Northern. I report a Mark Twain loose in his loyalties, Northern in his detestation of Southern moral turpitude, Southern in his contempt for the moral rectitude of the hypocritical Northeast, always an unreliable narrator, and for that reason always somewhere in rebellion, defying the positivities of both (particular) Confederacy and (universal) Union, their different disciplines. Mark that fellow. The name itself is a denunciation. How indeed did this transsectional Civil War rogue, migrant in all the sections of the country, never at home, always moving, become the principal icon of post–Civil War patriotic nationality? Mark Twain’s humor, William Dean Howells writes in My Mark Twain (1910), “is as simple in form and direct as the statesmanship of Lincoln or the generalship of Grant” (118). I have no idea what this means. Mark Twain’s humor is never simple and direct. In 1901, telling his Civil War story at Lincoln Birthday Dinner, amid the patriotic pieties, Mark Twain would again directly address the question: why did you desert the Civil War? Why did he not fight for Abraham Lincoln’s noble cause? Great humorist that he is, he tells the truth. It was the weather, Mark Twain says in 1901. You never saw such weather (Mark Twain Speaking 382).1

  1. Neil Schmitz “Mark Twain, Traitor” Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory 63.4 (2007) 34-35 []

Jesuits on Treason

In order to procrastinate a bit on my fellowship applications on this slow Friday evening, I’ve been poking through some old books found on Google Books in search for works on treason trials and definitions of treason (back when it was a crime against the royal person, rather than the nation at large). Lots of great stuff, including downloadable versions of several volumes of Cobbet’s Complete Complete Collection of State Trials and Proceedings for High Treason… published in the 1820s.

Another book I have particularly enjoyed looking through is The Principles of the Jesuits, [translated? edited?] by Henry Handley Norris and published in 1839. As far as I can tell, this is a piece of anti-Jesuit propaganda designed to collect quotes by various Jesuit writers saying objectionable things, conveniently organized into categories of evil acts they condone. An early footnote even mentions that Jesuits have responded with the accusation that the collection of quotes are “studied fabrications” but that the editor has checked, where he could, the citations within. Thus, the contents of the work should be read with great care. I find this kind of work especially interesting though, because the Jesuits, with their Catholic universalism, are portrayed in such works with much of the same condemnatory language that has been directed at Communists (as well as their fellow travelers, or just anyone on the Left) for their treasonous internationalism.

A few passages are below. I especially am interested in the one by the Jesuit historian Juan de Mariana, which is quite famous for the fuss it created. It opens with an interesting appeal to general opinion and a proposal for a common meeting to determine whether a ruler is a tyrant. Also, in everything I have read, eradicating treason in 20th century is frequently described in medical metaphors (and certainly this is not something limited to treason), to cut away a tumor or cancer from the national body. But here we see the opposite, the treasonous act of regicide itself described as severing a putrescent member from an infected body.

Section 17 contains alleged Jesuit writings about High Treason and Regicide. Most of the quotes in this section of the work argue one of the following 1) the power of the pontiff to lawfully rob tyrannical or unfaithful kings of their sovereign powers, and thus absolves all traitors of their crimes against them, 2) the idea that the clergy is not subject to the jurisdiction of the king. 3) tyrants may be justly overthrown, without explicit reference to papal powers.

Here are a few examples, along with a good chunk taken from the Mariana piece that was included:

p218-19 – 1594 John Bridgwater “If [kings] … violate the faith which they have pledged to God and to the people of God; the people are not only permitted, but they are required, and their duty demands, that at the mandate of the vicar of Christ, who is the sovereign pastor over all the nations of the earth, the faith which they had previously made with such princes should not be kept.”

p221-25 – 1603 Francis Tolet “…the language of St. Paul is not opposed to it, who means that all men should be subject to the higher powers, but not to the secular powers: for he does not deny to spiritual ministers the power of exempting all, as many as they shall choose, from teh secular power, whenever they may deem it expedient.”

p248 – 1659 Anthony Escobar “What is sedition? The disagreement of citizens: a special offence against charity. If the state is drawn away from its obedience to the prince, it is a crime of high treason. If it extends but to the deposition of magistracy, it is only sedition. But when it is in opposition to a tyrant, it is not a sin, neither is it properly sedition; because a tyrannical government is not directed to the general good.”

p223-24 – 1640 [1599? 1598?] John Mariana “It is necessary to consider attentively what course should be pursued in deposing a prince, lest sin be added unto sin, and crime be punished by the commission of crime. This is the shortest and safest way: if a public meeting can be held, to deliberate upon what may be determined by the common consent; and to consider as firmly settled and established whatever may be resolved by the general opinion…But what you will ask, what is to be done if a public meeting cannot be held? which may very commonly happen. In my opinion, a similar judgment must be formed; for when the state is oppressed by the tyranny of the prince, and the people are deprived of the power of assembling, the will to abolish the tyranny is not wanting…I shall never consider that man to have done wrong, who, favouring the public wishes, would attempt to kill him…Thus the question of fact which is contested is this, Who may deservedly be considered as a tyrant? The question of right, Whether it is lawful to kill a tyrant? is suffficiently evident…

…Still it is useful that princes should be made to know, that if they oppress the state, and become intolerable by their vices and their pollution, they hold their lives upon this tenure, that to put them to death is not only lawful, but a laudable and a glorious action. The life of a tyrant is evidently wretched which is held upon the tenure, that he who should kill him would be highly esteemed, both in favour and in praise. It is a glorious thing to exterminate this pestilent and mischievous race from the community of men. For putrescent members are cut off lest they infect the rest of the body. So should the cruelty of that beast in the form of man, be removed from the state, as from a body, and be severed from it with the sword.”

Interesting to note that Mariana’s support for tyrannicide is used in this work to portray Jesuit support for treason, since Mariana’s views were condemned by his own order in 1610 (same year Henry IV of France was assassinated). According to this page, his views were later even used to justify excesses in the French Revolution. See the Catholic Encyclopedia’s entry on Tyrannicide for more on Mariana’s condemnation and for more on his life, the same encyclopedia’s entry and of course, wikipedia’s entry. The Austrian school of libertarian radicals also appear to look up to him as a hero for his works on political economy and taxation.

Unfulfilled Expectations

This afternoon, my last in Stavanger before I leave for Iceland and soon after Boston, I have been skimming through some old Norwegian memoirs from World War II. One interesting book entitled Med Guds ord i fiendeland: Fra Sjømannskirken i Hamburg 1940-45 (With God’s Word in an enemy land: From the seaman’s church in Hamburg 1940-45) by Conrad Vogt-Svendson, focuses a lot on Norwegian prisoners in camps and prisons in Germany and their eventual release, much thanks to (neutral) Swedish intervention. However, the book also has a fascinating chapter on daily life in Hamburg during the war.

In one passage he discusses the frequent visits of Norwegian women who had married or wanted to marry Germans:

Ikke sjelden ble vi oppsøkt av norske piker som var gift eller skulle gifte seg med tyskere. Noen kom innom på gjennomsrreise fra Norge. De var temmelig kjepphøye. Enkelte av dem og atskillige andre kom innom etter å ha vært i Tyskland en tid. Da var overlegenheten gjerne sporløst forsvuunnet. Bare den dypeste tragedie var igjen. Hva de hadde ventet seg da de reiste ned til Tyskland, vet jeg ikke, men hva de fant der nede fikk vi tydelig rede på. Hvis de ikke ble presset til arbeid i krigsindustrien, sørget den tyske svigermoren eller svigerinnen for at de ikke var uvirksomme. Forholdene de levde under var også på andre måter helt forskjellige fra dem ektemannen hadde forespeilet dem. Og det verste av alt for dem var at deres Hans eller Otto ikke var den romantiske krigeren de hadde truffet i Norge. Temmelig typisk er historien til en som kom fra en Østersjøby for å søke tilflukt og hjelp hos oss. Hun var over den første ungdommen og den andre med, og da hun traff sin tysker, tok hun ham som sin siste sjanse. De ble gift, og hun fulgte med ham ned til hjemmet hans. Det viste seg å være delvis i ruiner. Svigermoren var en slavedriver. Og da hun og ektemannen hadde solgt stakkarens klær og eiendeler, fikk hun en grundig omgang juling og ble jagd på gaten. Så kom hun til oss, met et blått øye, flere tenner slått ut, og blå og gule merker langt oppover arrmene. Det kan sies om henne som om så mange andre at det gale hun hadde gjort var hun blitt straffet grundig nok for. Og når det var mulig, hjalp vi dem til å komme hjem. (132-133)

Essentially this passage reports that these Norwegian women, who would be ostracized and abused in the aftermath of the war for their treasonous liaisons if they returned or stayed in Norway, often met with tragedy in Germany when they followed their husbands back. They would have all their expectations shattered, both those related to life in Germany and for their “romantic warrior” husbands. He brings up as a typical example a Norwegian woman who married a German when she was getting up in years, “as a last chance.” She followed him to his home in Germany and found it partly in ruins. Her mother-in-law was a slave driver, sold her clothes and other belongings, beat her and threw her out onto the streets after which she went to the Norwegian seaman’s church with a black eye and several teeth knocked out. Vogt-Svendson concludes that her beating and treatment served as sufficient punishment for her wrongs, presumably referring to her nuptial treason. However, as in so many other countries, for thousands of Norwegian women who associated with or had relationships with German soldiers however, the worst would come when the war was over…

曲线救国: Saving the Nation Through Twisted Means

One of the interesting catch phrases during the Sino-Japanese war of 1937-1945 is Quxian jiuguo (曲线救国) or “Saving the nation through twisted means” (In his book The Shanghai Badlands Frederic Wakeman translates it as “Saving the nation in a devious way”, 126). This was the phenomenon of Nationalist military agents or soldiers entering into the collaborationist military or puppet government and secretly continuing to retain contact with Nationalist agents, give them information, or if no contact was maintained, to at least engage in anti-Communist suppression while they served in the puppet government and the occupying forces of the Japanese. Sometimes those who claimed to be doing 曲线救国 were not in fact connected to the Nationalists in any way before they surrendered to or joined the puppet institutions.

When the war was over and many of the puppet officials were tried in the treason (汉奸) trials after the war those with any considerable power would invariably claim that they were trying to save the nation indirectly through their anti-communist activities or by feeding the Nationalists information. We have some evidence to show this kind of contact between the agents of puppet regime of Wang Jingwei or the various puppet military units and the intelligence services of the Nationalists (Juntong) and its ruthless leader Dai Li, but some of those who made this claim (such as Chu Minyi 褚民谊) may have been executed quicker to prevent the embarrassing revelation of ongoing contact and peace negotiation efforts between the Nationalists and the puppet government from getting out. A lot of these claims are far from conclusively proven but serve as great conspiracy material.

I’m now reading 刘熙明’s book on the puppet military or 伪军 and he talks quite a bit about the phenomenon of 曲线救国 for those in the military. He argues that there was a Communist equivalent and says there is reason to believe that the CCP also occasionally tolerated the surrender of some of their units to the Japanese and their conversion into puppet troops as long as they continued to serve them indirectly. For these semi-traitors they used the term 白皮红心 or “white skin and red heart” (Fascist or reactionary on the outside but a Communist at heart). (102)

刘熙明 (Liu Ximing) also listed (103) a wonderful collection of some of the idioms that the Nationalist military and government allegedly used to indicate that surrender to the Japanese while shameful, was still better than to give up the fight against the Communists. Here are a few that he has dug up: 反共第一,抗战第二 First: The fight against Communism, Second: the war of resistance 宁亡与日,勿亡与共 Never lose to the Communists, lose rather to the Japanese 日可以不打,共不可不打 It is acceptable to not attack the Japanese, but unforgivable to not attack the Communists 变匪区为沦陷区 Turn a district plagued by [Communist] bandits into a [Japanese] occupied territory 宁可让给敌人,不可让给匪军 Never give up to the bandit [Communist] forces, it is better to give up to the [Japanese] enemy. 宁投日本人,不投八路军 Never surrender to the [Communist] 8th Army, surrender rather to the Japanese.

He doesn’t say if any of these were widespread, indeed it is possible that some of these are fabrications created by Communist propaganda. Though Liu Ximing is a scholar working out of Taiwan, at least some of his footnotes (104) for these lines are from mainland China sources (for example Shandong provincial party archives and Jiangsu Wenshi ziliao).

Learning from a Quisling in the Netherlands

I was just skimming through the excellent Nazi Rule and Dutch Collaboration: The Netherlands under German Occupation, 1940-45 by Gerhard Hirschfeld and found an interesting discussion about German policy towards the native fascist movements after the occupation of the Netherlands. (266-8)

Apparently, the Germans concluded that the Quisling coup d’etat just before Norway’s capitulation actually increased Norwegian military opposition to German troops. Having “learnt a lesson” from the Quisling debacle, Hitler’s instructions to Seyss-Inquart in the Netherlands included no orders to include local fascist NSB party inclusion in the occupied government and he apparently had no interest in native fascist movements in the Netherlands. Thus for some time in the early stages at least, it was an uphill battle for the Dutch fascists (and in some ways this mirrored the Norwegian case) to carve out a position of power in the new occupied environment, which they eventually did.

As for a comparison of military enlistment, it looks like in total, between 22,000 and 25,000 Dutchmen volunteered for the various formations of the Waffen-SS (around 40% were NSB members), which if I remember correctly is more than the about 15,000 volunteers for German units in the much less populated Norway. (288) Fortunately, a German plan to conscript 300,000 Dutch troops was eventually dismissed by Hitler who did not want to depend too much on the NSB leader Mussert. (303-4)

Related Posts:
Tale of a Norwegian Soldier
Primary Materials on Norway During WWII

Political Retribution in early postwar Denmark

I assumed that there hasn’t been much written on early postwar political retribution in Denmark, even in Danish scholarly literature. I found some mention in secondary Danish materials, but usually in the last chapter of books talking about the occupation of Denmark during WWII.

That was before I discovered the over 800 page book by Ditlev Tamm Retsopgøret efter besættelsen complete with excellent bibliography, a chapter on sources, and chapters on every category I could imagine…It is mostly a legal history but my first look indicates he has touched on many of the other related issues I’m interested in. Now, to find the time to read it…

Tamm has written several other monographs and papers on similar topics, and even an introduction to Jorge Luis Borges! I will have to see if I can get in touch…but only after I have made my way through some of his work….ack! So much to read…

Primary Materials on Norway During WWII

I have been collecting some materials on occupied Denmark and Norway in various languages from the Harvard libraries. I was flipping through a great book I found today called Parti og Plakat NS 1933-1945 which is a collection of some 250 propaganda posters from Norway’s Nasjonal Samling party (the Norwegian national socialists).

I told my mom about my discovery and she pointed out that you can find basically all of these posters and many more directly online through the Norwegian National Library’s database of propaganda materials. She then soon put me on to NorgesLexi, which is a site hosting a dictionary of wartime reference information, and pictures and documentary propaganda movies from the occupation period. Elsewhere on the Norwegian National Library’s online databases was a set of pages on humor in occupied Norway which is also the topic of the book Folklore Fights the Nazis: Humor in Occupied Norway, 1940-1945.

Finally, the National Library hosts dozens of RealAudio streams of English-language “Norwegian Information Service” wartime news/propaganda radio reports (see the list by topic). I can get my fill of 5-15 minute clips updating me on the latest valiant efforts of the “patriotic” Norwegian resistance fighters and the “treacherous plots” of the “puppet quislings” in occupied Norway. Lots of interesting material, not all of it news reports, which gives you a great look into 1940s life and times. For example, check out this 15 minute clip by a Norwegian talking about his 23 years in China.