Category Archives: Himmler, Heinrich

Britain’s festival of disorder

Poor man! If only he had been given the opportunity of rehabilitation and repentance, perhaps he wouldn’t have taken the cyanide

In Britain, one of the effects of the abolition of the death penalty has been downward pressure on prison sentences. Your average British murderer, Dalrymple explains,

serves 15 years before release. His life sentence is for life only in the sense that, for the rest of his days, he may be recalled to prison if it is thought that he is misbehaving or breaking the conditions of his release.

In one per cent of cases,

a life sentence may mean permanent incarceration without possibility of release, though the European Court of Human Rights (that giver of lessons to the world) has ruled that such a sentence breaches fundamental human rights because it does not allow for the possibility of repentance or rehabilitation. It goes to show how lacking in realism, imagination and compassion the ECHR is.

Dalrymple points out that punishment has to be roughly proportional to the gravity of the crime, but

if murder attracts only 15 years’ imprisonment de facto, what sentences can be meted out to those who commit lesser, but still serious, crimes? Moreover, the charge of murder is often reduced to the lesser crime of manslaughter, in which sentences – as a consequence – are often derisory.

It is scarcely any wonder, he says, that Britain

has gone from being a well-ordered, non-violent, law-abiding society to being a society with the highest rate of violent crime in Western Europe.

He notes that

it was not inevitable that the abolition of the death penalty should have had this effect, if conviction for murder had carried a sentence of incarceration for life. But in order for this to have been the case, society as a whole, and the governing class in particular, including intellectuals, would have had to have sufficient faith in a moral authority to impose it. The abolition itself, in my view justified per se, was — in the manner in which it was carried out — a symptom in itself of the decline in that faith.

The governing class and intellectuals

believed only in their own moral authority to defy the ‘primitive’ wishes and apprehensions of the unlettered majority. They replaced the moral view of human existence by the sociological and psychological one, with all its explaining and explaining away.

A cultured utopia

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 09.06.41It is difficult, says Dalrymple, to see

what the French wanted a mandate in Syria for, other than to maintain their prestige and be generally important.

France and Britain ratted on the Arabs and between them

carved out territories that had no real meaning for their inhabitants but whose borders held for 100 years, which is said by some to be at the root of the present troubles. I don’t really believe it: I doubt that the Middle East would have become some kind of sandy Scandinavia if it had been left to its own devices.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 08.48.18Joseph Kessel, in his 1926 book on Syria, argues that

the French made the mistake of changing their top administrators too often, so that by the time any of them began to grasp something about the country they made way for a replacement who knew nothing.

Dalrymple bought the 2014 Folio edition of En Syrie

because of the picture on its front, the photograph of a street in a still-Ottoman Damascus taken, I should imagine, about 1914, in the subtle shades of early colour postcards. It is a beautiful narrow street, leading (I think) to the Great Mosque in the distance.

Joseph Kessel

Joseph Kessel

It conveys

peace and a civilised existence. In the foreground a couple of men ride donkeys; in the middle distance are the only wheeled vehicles, a couple of calèches; the sun is overhead and the pedestrians cast long shadows, two of them walking with parasols. The architecture is pure Ottoman, with delicately-latticed mashrabiyas overhanging the unpaved road below. Life continues at a pleasingly slow pace.

The picture, says Dalrymple,

excites nostalgia for something that one has not even known and never existed; it provokes an almost dream-like state, a reverie of a life without politics and ideology, a cultured utopia, where there is an abundance of beauty and taste rather than of things, where people treat each other with ceremonial courtesy rather than in business-like fashion at best, and even the smallest and most ordinary of things are infused with a concern for aesthetics. A more fully human life.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 08.55.27Dalrymple says that in his peregrinations,

I occasionally came across somewhere in which I thought, or rather preferred in my ignorance to imagine, there was such a life. All those places have since descended into chaos and massacre, with millions fled or displaced and the vilest doctrines propagated.

Kessel, who among many other things wrote a novel about Himmler’s charlatan doctor, was, says Dalrymple, a kind of

André Malraux minus the self-advertisement and dishonesty.

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The doctrine of the Real Him

Lavrentiy Beria

Lavrentiy Beria

This is a watered-down secular version of Christian redemption, writes Dalrymple,

with Man in the place of God. Inside every person there is a core of goodness that is more real, more fundamental, than any evil act he might have committed, and which it is the purpose of punishment to bring to the surface. Punishment is therapeutic, redemptive, in purpose and intention.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that whole-life sentences to prison are against Man’s fundamental rights

because they eliminate the possibility of repentance and redemption (known in the trade as rehabilitation). The judges of a court that is supreme in matters relating to supposed human rights for a continent on which, within living memory, tens of millions of people have been systematically starved or abused to death or put to death industrially on an unimaginably vast scale, could conceive of no crime so terrible that the person who committed it was beyond earthly redemption.

Heinrich Himmler

Heinrich Himmler

On this basis people like Beria or Himmler

would have been eligible for parole, provided only that they showed themselves reformed characters.

A serial killer once upbraided Dalrymple

for suggesting that he – who had kidnapped at least five children, sexually abused and tortured them to death, then buried them in a remote place in the moors – should never be released from prison, on the grounds that he spent much of his time making Braille books. He had redeemed himself, and cancelled out the torture and murder of five children, by subsequent good works, expressing the Real Him; he had paid his debt to society, as if good and evil were entries in a system of double-entry bookkeeping, so that if one did enough good works in advance, one would have earned the right to torture and murder five children.

Men

can change; this is their glory and their burden, for it is the capacity to change that renders them responsible for their actions; but what they do may be irreparable.

We are all guilty! All we are saying, is give Heinrich a chance

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Der treue Heinrich: by all accounts a polite, refined, softly spoken and considerate person, Heinrich Himmler suffered severe abdominal pains and fell in with the wrong crowd early in life. Let us be broad-minded and compassionate and give him a second chance, for as Dr Heinz Kiosk has pointed out (as chronicled by Michael Wharton), we are all guilty!

Ludicrous, isn’t it? The idea is insane. We were certainly right to deny the Reichsführer-SS a second chance, writes Dalrymple, and we should also deny a second chance to, for example, the man who, in a recent English case, drugged his girlfriend and, while she was drugged, gouged out her eyes.

If you cannot imagine, after…the Holocaust, Pol Pot and Rwanda, a crime so terrible that people who commit it forfeit their right to live as free persons in society, then your imagination has been brutalised.

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To say that a man who gouges out someone’s eyes should never be freed

is not the same as saying that he should be treated with cruelty inside prison (as, in strict justice, he would deserve to be treated, a proof…that justice is not the only value that we hold dear). On the contrary, to say that he should have a second chance because everyone deserves a second chance is to say that there is nothing we find intolerable.

A society in which nothing was beyond the pale

would be extraordinarily vicious.

Does everyone deserve a second, a third, a fourth, a fifth chance?

Who is to pay for these chances? Generosity at the expense of others, financial or moral, is not generosity, it is moral exhibitionism.