Nazis in the US South

One of the things that I try to keep in mind of is how people can be blind to things and how placing them in a different context can make them realize things that they might otherwise be unaware of. If I talk of Nazis in America, people might think of neo-nazis and some might be aware of this element of the American past. However, what I'm thinking of in this case are Nazi prisoners of war sent to live in camps in the US, specifically as described here, and more specifically the weird sort of situations that might arise when you expose Nazis to some of the conditions in the US South at the time.

The POWs also found friends in the most unlikely of places, as they worked alongside African Americans hoeing and picking cotton, talking away long days in the hot sun. African American field hands were painfully aware that white Americans treated Nazi prisoners far better than they did people of color. African Americans waited on POWs when they were transported in Pullman cars to their camps, and prisoners were also allowed to eat in whites-only cafeterias. At the camp, they were dealt the most menial jobs, including spraying the prisoners with delousing foam. The slights hurt all the more because African-American soldiers fought diligently during WWII in all-black units such as the renowned Tuskegee airmen.

Yet, on an individual level, they got along with the Germans. And Germans were fond of them, in part because African American soldiers had protected them from the mobs of people who wanted to kill the POWs.

Surprisingly, given the blatant racism of the Nazi party, some of the German soldiers were also shocked by the shoddy treatment of their fellow farmworkers. “The blacks…didn’t do much better than us,” remarked one POW. “They were just in front of the wire, and we were behind the wire.” Another German soldier, who was a farmer in his civilian life, noted that African American were expected to pick two to three more times the cotton required of the POWs. “You have to see how they lived,” he said after the war. “These people were so exploited.”

Put Nazis in a different context and they might start to think differently... at least to an extent. That said, there are limits particularly when it comes to things too close to home:

Listening to American radio news reports eventually convinced Daumling that the films weren’t propaganda, but unvarnished truth, but he was the exception. Fewer than half believed that the Holocaust was real by the end of the war, according to a poll conducted by the U.S. government.

I wonder what fraction of those former Nazi soldiers who then had disbelieved the Holocaust changed their minds by the end of their lives.

A cross-cultural historical overview of meritocracy in bureaucracy

That's the first tweet in this thread. It manages to illustrate this in various different parts of the globe - with Europe making up more a minor part of this with examples from, e.g., China, India, and the Persian Achaemenid as well as Ottoman empires. If more data was available I suspect you'd find much the same elsewhere.

Random links

When the Muses Strike: Creative Ideas of Physicists and Writers Routinely Occur During Mind Wandering
" Participants reported that one fifth of their most significant ideas of the day were formed during spontaneous task-independent mind wandering ... There were no differences between ratings of the creativity or importance of ideas that occurred during mind wandering and those that occurred on task. However, ideas that occurred during mind wandering were more likely to be associated with overcoming an impasse on a problem and to be experienced as “aha” moments, compared with ideas generated while on task."
Amazon’s new Kindle is a boring device that can’t do very much
A positive review of an e-reader. The selling features: battery life and the lack of distraction from, e.g., email or social media.
Which Is a Good Diet—Veg or Non-veg? Faith-Based Vegetarianism for Protection From Obesity—a Myth or Actuality?
"In an Asian Indian cohort, we found that vegetarian dietary patterns were associated with a higher incidence of morbid obesity culminating in bariatric surgery. Our study is a myth breaker that all vegetarian diets are healthy diets."
How an Islamic State Rejected Islamic Law
On postcolonial Sudan: "English common law emerged from colonialism as a default option that helped local elites bridge deep social, ethnic, and political divides. Because democratic-minded intellectuals were unable to agree on a common implementation of Shari’a (roughly translated as Islamic law), English common law provided a less satisfying but (to them) more practical basis to form a new state. Choosing common law over Islamic law allowed intra-elite conflicts, particularly among political parties and ethnic groups, to lay dormant during the transition to independence. But it also marginalized progressive Islamic jurists who had sought to create a democratic state built on Islamic principles of justice and equality."

"Do men really have it easier? These transgender guys found the truth was more complex"

I've seen articles of this sort mostly looked at peoples perception now being perceived by others as a women vs having been perceived as a man before. This Globe and Mail example seems fairly representative of that sort - basically you might as well consider "male privilege" the refrain - but this article from the Washington Post was different:

My general view is not that people don't treat others differently on the basis of their perceived sex but that the "male privilege" take only sees half the story.


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