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On Eric Hobsbawm

I was going to comment on the death of the famed historian who was the Soviet Union’s most venerable and shameless apologist, but I was beaten to it in a brilliant piece by British blogger and fellow Chicago Boyz member, Helen Szamuely:

A great Communist crime denier dies

On my way to and from Manchester yesterday and today I read Anne Applebaum’s latest book Iron Curtain about the subjugation of Eastern Europe between 1944 and 1956. Ms Applebaum’s knowledge and understanding of the European Union is not quite what it ought to be, given that she usually appears in the guise of one of our leading political commentators but she does know the history of Communism and what it did to the countries and peoples who, for various reasons, found themselves under its rule. The first few chapters describe in some detail the brutality, violence, whole scale looting and widespread rapine that marked the Red Army’s route across Eastern and Central Europe, regardless of whether they were in enemy or friendly countries, with soldiers or civilians, men or women, adults or children, friend or foe. And then came the NKVD and the organized violence and looting. How many people know, for instance, that several of the Nazi camps, Auschwitz and Buchenwald included, were reopened by the Soviets for their own purposes? Not a few of the people they imprisoned there had been liberated only a few weeks previously.

As I was reading this horrible tale I got a text message from somebody who saw on the news that Professor Eric Hobsbawm, the best known apologist for Stalin and denier of Communist crimes, has died. We are entering a period of unrestrained mourning for this man who has on various occasions been described as the greatest living historian and one of the most influential ones. Sadly, the last part of it is true. He has been influential.

While Holocaust deniers are rightly excoriated Professor Hobsbawm has been treated in life and will be in death with the greatest adulation. Channel 4 lists some of the misguided souls who are pronouncing sorrowfully on the demise of this supposedly great man and asks rather disingenuously whether he was an apologist for tyranny.

Well, yes, as a matter of fact, he was….

Read the rest here.


3 Responses to “On Eric Hobsbawm”

  1. Mr. X Says:

    It’s nice to know that there are Americans who want ‘deniers’ of any sort investigated by the FBI/CIA. And then they tweet against laws about insulting the opinions of religious believers in Russia without the slightest sense of irony.


    As Reagan said in response to criticism of his speech near a cemetary where some Nazis were buried (which hardly excused what those buried there did in life), whatever these men have done, they’ve already answered to the Supreme Judge of this World, and the same goes for Mr. Hobsbawm. I cannot imagine it will go well for those who would set up a police state in the United States in the name of ‘suppressing foreign agitprop’ and who do not repent either.

  2. zen Says:

    Mr. X – I have no idea who this Quill guy is. Or why he is important. Is he important?

  3. seydlitz89 Says:

    I’d give Hobsbawm a break since I too “came of age politically in Berlin”, although in a very different Berlin than the one Hobsbawm experienced . . . 
    He wrote regarding his time in Berlin (1931-3):
    We were on the Titanic, and everyone knew it was hitting the iceberg.  The only uncertainty was about what would happen when it did.  Who would provide the new ship?  It was impossible to remain outside politics. But how could one support the parties of the Weimar Republic who no longer even knew how to man the lifeboats?  They were entirely absent from the presidential elections of 1932, which were fought between Hitler and the communist candidate Ernst Thälmann and old imperial Field Marshall Hindenburg, supported by all non-communists as the only way of holding up the rise of Hitler.  (Within a few months he was to call Hitler to power.)  But for someone like myself there was really only one choice.  German nationalism, whether in the traditional form of the Prinz Heinrichs Gymnasium or in the form of Hitler’s National Socialism was not an option . . .
    I don’t think we can remove Hobsbawm’s politics from the political context of liberal failure and nationalist menace he experienced as a child, which “left the deepest impression in my life”.  

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