Monday, February 21, 2022


Les Fleurs du Mal

Hanns Ludin was Hitler's ambasssador to Slovakia.  His son Malte made an extraordinary documentary film whose core subject is the ability of people to rationalize evil.  The rationalizers in this case are his own sisters and his mother, all of whom are interviewed at length in the film.  

The historical record makes it quite clear that Hanns was more than complicit in the deportation of thousands of Jews from Slovakia to slave labor and to death camps, but Malte's nephew, Hanns' grandson, somehow grows up with the impression that his grandfather was a "resistance fighter."  A fighter against resistance to the Holocaust I suppose.

One sister is direct in her defense of her father, and bitter at the very making of the film.  The mother and one other sister have developed an almost absurd ability to talk in circles around what he did during the war.  They seem to see themselves as victims of a psychological legacy that was left to them not so much by Hanns as by history.

At the end of the film, Malte interviews an old Jewish man whose family was wiped out under the puppet regime that Hitler installed in Slovakia.  It seems difficult for the two men to make eye contact.  The old man says that "evil is stronger than good."  How so?   "Good is passive.  Evil is active.  Evil is a vacuum."

In what sense is evil a vacuum?  "It is insatiable.  It is never satisfied."


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