Hier Ist Kein Warum

When Primo Levi, as a newly arrived prisoner at a Nazi concentration camp, reached for an icicle to quench his desperate thirst, a guard knocked the icicle out of his hand. To Levi’s question “Warum?” (“Why?”), the guard replied with what was destined to become a famous quote: “Hier ist kein Warum” (“Here there is no why”).

Gosh, don’t it make you glad to live in a free country?


4 Responses to Hier Ist Kein Warum

  1. Anon73 February 17, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    It’s kind of hard to wrap my head around the fact that internal oppression and aggressive foreign policy always seem to go hand in hand with governments, yet that is how it is.

  2. dennis February 18, 2010 at 2:07 am #

    I have a hypothesis, that I’d have to compare with the historical record, but I think that the colonial space has served as a training ground for the metropole. While people in the “home country” aren’t typically exposed to the same level of oppression as their colonial counterparts, much of what is practiced abroad is brought home. There are probably a number of problems with this, but it would be an interesting path to follow.

  3. Rad Geek February 18, 2010 at 4:12 am #


    You might be interested to read this article from last summer’s issue of The Match!, where Fred Woodworth argues much the same claim. As Woodworth points out, what’s going on isn’t just a matter of government police consciously emulating military training, attitudes, tactics and equipment (although they do do all of that); it’s also a matter of them getting militarized just in simple terms of personnel, through many active programs (in collaboration with the Feds) to recruit former government soldiers after their tour in occupied Iraq or occupied Afghanistan has come to end.

    • Roderick February 18, 2010 at 10:11 am #

      Herbert Spencer had the theory that “militant” societies become oppressive domestically as a result of being aggressive internationally.

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