"Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and the Sultan of Johor are seen in a blue Proton Saga... "When asked whether there is any tension with the sultan, Dr Mahathir said: “No, I don’t see anything because I went to see him and he drove me to the airport. I don’t want to comment on the sultans because if I say anything that is not good then it’s not nice because he is the sultan”"

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Trip with Jiekai - Part 17
Day 11 - Nuremburg (10/4)

Triumph des Willens

"Well, when I was watching the footages from the Nuremberg Rallies the thing that first popped into my mind was actually the National Day Parade."

This day we visited Doku-Zentrum - the Nazi documentation centre, established as part of Germany's mission to come to terms with and expitate its war guilt - in Nuremburg. It had ample information and enough photographs, but was lacking in artefacts.

We started off by watching 2 videos - one of the Nuremburg trials and one of the rallies. Watching the former makes you wonder - what about those who perpetuated crimes in China, Cambodia, the USSR, North Korea and countless other countries? Meanwhile the latter reminded me of certain Parades - one woman sang a Nazi-era song to her grandchildren to test their reactions and when they looked at her blankly wondered how they'd been motivated by such songs; there weren't any fun dances or goodie packs in that era though - Nazi citizens were very much more patriotic than those in some countries today. They should offer these videos on Bittorrent to aid in their redemptive process.

The Nazi party was really effective in uniting the country. Houses were decorated with Swastika flags, and block committees would go around persuading, cajoling and harassing households until the whole block was covered with flags. Paramilitary youth organisations (otherwise known as Uniformed Groups) were set up, which children were encouraged to join (before 1938, membership in the Hitler Youth was not compulsory).

The Nazis also had mass displays involving military elements as well as schoolchildren in mass performances. There were some clips which reminded me of the Passing Out Parade (POP) in Obedience School (BMT) - whenever the soldiers or paramilitary elements executed a drill command, the audience would clap. The only difference was that they were carrying spades instead of rifles - however, they handled them much like rifles.

The Nazi party propagated the myth of Aryan purity and Aryan Values, which was bought into by many Germans.

Germans were brainwashed by lots of propaganda in general. In particular, they were brainwashed to believe that Jews were rich, evil and the source of the country's problems (in general, they were villified in a similar way to how fundies villify the Midanites. Wait, actually it was to a lesser extent - the populace as a whole never accepted that Jews should be massacred outright). From this, we must learn the lesson that we can never allow ourselves to be brainwashed by propaganda and to always question what is fed to us.

They also had parades where everyone was singing great patriotic songs. These were completed with multiple flyovers of military aircraft, while new military hardware was paraded. I almost expected to see skydiving commandoes. Mock battles were also staged in stadiums, complete with smoke and the firing of blanks. Nationalism and militaristic nationalism in particular was elevated to the status of a secular religion.

Those who lived through Nazi rule described themselves as "politically naive" and said that they did not know what democracy was. This sounded familiar.

The Nazi party was portrayed as the savior of Germany, without which the country which collapse and enter into a state of penury (economic disaster). They also used to apparatus of state to bully the opposition and promote themselves.

The Nazis organised book burnings - books considered un-German and unhealthy to society (eg Communist books) were banned and burned. Jiekai says the Satanic Verses is not illegal in Singapore anymore - he claims it's available in Kinokuniya, but I doubt this (hopefully someone can check this for me).

There was much talk about the unity of the people under a benevolent dictatorship, with everyone in one big community and subjected to a strong man who would take care of them.

As part of a "coordination" program, trade unions were dissolved and replaced by a new national one. The leader of the National trade union, Robert Ley, was also an important member of the Nazi party, and workers were taken off by the Strength through Joy program with free cruises and vacations.

Civic institutions were replaced with mass community feeling and spirit. The individual was depersonalised - he was insignificant and had to submit to the needs of the community. The Fuhrer was an unreal figure elevated above all else; a cult of personality was created around him - I didn't see any videos of him crying, but undoubtedly those would have helped greatly.

There was a conflation of Party and State - people were appointed to positions in both concurrently. Meanwhile a myth was created surrounding Hitler, allowing him to evade legal restraints.

Throughout the exhibition, despite myself, as at Dachau, I smiled, and so did Jiekai.

The Nazi war criminals were charged with 4 crimes - participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of crime against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression and other crime against peace; war crimes and crimes against humanity. The last two were reasonable, but the first 2 were ridiculous - with this criteria, George W Bush and Tony Blair could be prosecuted for invading Iraq.

After the Doku-Zentrum, we took a walk around the remains of the Nazi monuments. It was cold and wet, as with the previous day (and so the perfect day to visit Nazi-related institutions), but I swear it was even colder - my breath condensed in front of me, so it was at least 5 degrees, I think. Jiekai needed to wear his gloves, and I rued that I'd not brought mine. It was raining from 8am till 3:30pm, when we left. Jiekai described the weather as January Oxford weather. Once again I considered buying more warm clothing, but *SURELY* May will be warmer.

In the carpark behind the building reminiscent of the Colosseum in Rome there was a travelling amusement park. This spoilt our view of the place (which wasn't that great in the first place thanks to the weather and the unimpressive facades) and we were quite upset.

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Doku-Zentrum building

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Path around lake

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Zeppelin field

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Zeppelin Seats

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Dispenser in the toilet. Gotta love these Europeans.

To counter the European tendency to cheat on train fares, Deutsche Bahn employs plain clothes ticket inspectors. Wah. One can still spot the DB logos on their bags if one is eagle-eyed enough though.

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Don't get off

On Sunday afternoon, I'd gotten the schedule for the trains back to Utrecht printed out - I'd take a train to Frankfurt Flughaven and change to a direct train back. To my horror, an hour before I was due to arrive in Utrecht, I was dumped unceremoniously in Dortmund. Presumably they'd played an announcement about the rerouting, but I was either asleep, not paying attention, it was too soft or the announcement was made in a typically heavy accent. Instead of arriving in Utrecht at 9:20pm I ended up arriving at 12:32pm and catching the last bus back to my flat, and had to make 4 connections - at Duisburg, Viersen, Venlo and Eindhoven; when I asked the man at the Dortmund office for the printout of how to get to utrecht, he asked if it was for the next morning - when I said it was for now, he looked at me as if I was mad. Technically my Eurail pass was set to expire at midnight, while I was on the train to Utrecht, but I wouldn't have had time to buy a ticket even if I'd wanted to, and that was the last train, so together with this PRC studying in Stockholm I presented my technically invalid Eurail pass to the conductor, who said it was okay.

To add insult to injury, mustard and ketchup from the bratwurst hotdog I got at Dortmund fell onto my coat and jeans.

Some guy tried hiding in the toilet on the train to Eindhoven, but the conductor saw him and went to knock on the door, as well as unlock it using his master key. I'm still interested in what'd happen if someone sneaked in without the conductor seeing him.

While we waited for the S-bahn (sub-urban train) back to the town centre, Jiekai described this movie (a comedy) playing on TV at 2pm on Sunday, most of which he'd watched in the bar of the Munich youth hostel. It was not dubbed and thus was probably a German movie. It was about oversexed Germans trying to cut down on sex. Some scenes:

i) The main character is having sex with someone under a banquet table in a country house while a party is going on. The butler wonders why the wine in the wine glasses is rippling and lifts the table cloth, only to see what's happening. Someone takes a picture of the couple going at it.

ii) After pledging to cut down on sex, the protagonist clears his room of sex toys and rips all his pornography off the wall.

iii) The protagonist goes to work in a sauna. He's so hot, the naked women are attracted to him. He's caught by his supervisor and is thrown out onto the street half-naked.

iv) The protagonist dresses in a bunny suit and hands out leaflets. He then enters the van with a woman and the van starts shaking. His fellow worker opens the van and sees the back of the bunny suit going up and down.

v) The abstinence association (the group of Germans trying to cut down on sex) shove the protagonist into a bar full of gyrating women a la the Sunshine Girls. He resists the urge to have sex with them and returns to the abstinence group, which claps and cheers for him.

Gotta love these Europeans.

I prefer Dutch (frites) curry to German (currywurst) curry - it's sweeter, less sour, thicker and less hot.

I almost felt inspired to learn German again. Then I remembered Dativ, Akkusativ, Nominativ and all that shit.

For some reason, in Germany the Da Vinci Code is titled: "Sakrileg". The original title is in the subtitle though.

The more major German trains have music channels which you can listen to by plugging in headphones. Many also have taps with motion sensors and a few even have doors with motion sensors. Wah.

I love the wonders of an integrated computer network - you can get information on the trains running in another country and have the schedule printed out.

My "Let's Go Europe 2006" guidebook doesn't have Dutch in the language guide at the back (boo). Interestingly enough, the French and Swedish phrase lists are the only ones which have the word "condom" in them, the French section is the only one with a translation for "I love you", the German the only one with translations for "Leave me alone or I'll call the police!" and "I'm waiting for my boyfriend/husband" and the Spanish one the sole section which teaches you how to say "Please do not arrest me". Make of this what you will.

Seen on someone's luggage: "Yidelixiangbao daowang" (Italy Luggage something). There were no Chinese characters on it.

Cock files, or things for which I would've pelted Jiekai with the Biggest Snowball In The World, Part Deux, if there'd been snow:

- He said he wanted to wake at 8am, but only got up at 8:40.
- When getting off the stool his coat got caught and the stool toppled to the floor
- He pressed the wrong number on the vending machine and got Maltesers instead of KitKat.
- I asked him what advantages carrying a backpack has over lugging a suitcase. He unhelpfully commented that only girls did the latter. So basically the only advantage is you look "cooler". Wth. (My brother in law says lugging a suitcase through sand or road littered with small rocks is a bitch, but I don't intend to go to Mexico soon/very often, so.)
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