Garlasco, part 3

His own defense of his actions is here.
He writes,

    Now I’ve achieved some blogosphere fame, not for the hours I’ve spent sifting through the detritus of war, visiting hospitals, interviewing victims and witnesses and soldiers, but for my hobby (unusual and disturbing to some, I realize) of collecting Second World War memorabilia associated with my German grandfather and my American great-uncle. I’m a military geek, with an abiding interest not only in the medals I collect but in the weapons that I study and the shrapnel I analyze. I think this makes me a better investigator and analyst. And to suggest it shows Nazi tendencies is defamatory nonsense, spread maliciously by people with an interest in trying to undermine Human Rights Watch’s reporting.
    I work to expose war crimes and the Nazis were the worst war criminals of all time. But I’m now in the bizarre and painful situation of having to deny accusations that I’m a Nazi.

It is complete garbage highly misleading for Garlasco to suggest that his obsessively pursuit of the “hobby” of collecting– and lovingly displaying with almost pornographic attention to detail– various swastika-adorned military memorabilia from the Nazi era in any way makes him a better investigator of current military events.
He claims that, “I’ve never hidden my hobby.” But when I spoke with Iain Levine, who’s the head of all HRW’s programs and thus Garlasco’s supervisor’s supervisor, he said he had no inkling that Garlasco had such a hobby “until Tuesday morning.”
Garlasco writes,

    I deeply regret causing pain and offense with a handful of juvenile and tasteless postings I made on two websites that study Second World War artifacts (including American, British, German, Japanese and Russian items).

The websites in question are titled German Combat Awards and Wehrmacht-awards. From a quick scan through them they don’t, actually, seem to cover many non-German items at all.
Also, one of those allegedly “juvenile” postings was presumably this one, made in 2005: “The leather SS jacket makes my blood go cold it is so COOL!” Garlasco was 34 or 35 years old at the time. He’d been working for HRW for two years by then. It was only four years ago.
Hard to make a claim of “youthful indiscretion”, based on such facts.
… I would like to have the opportunity to discuss these issues with Garlasco, in person. I asked Levine if I could have access to him. Hasn’t happened yet.
I’d like to make a few last points here:
1. I do not claim to know what Garlasco’s attitude is toward the Nazi-era military memorabilia that he so obsessively collects. He clearly seems to have a collector’s zeal, or obsession, and to spend a lot of time pursuing this hobby. 7,734 posts on Wehrmacht Awards since March 2004, and compiling a 450-page guide to one small sub-branch of Nazi-era badges are not the signs of a casual collector. The comment shown above, made on Wehrmacht Awards in 2005, indicates some open-ness, at the very least, to the idea that one could entertain and express fondness for specifically SS memorabilia.
Also, using ‘Flak88′ seems like a signal of possible pro-Hitler proclivities to others in that part of the collecting world, who would be quite aware that ’88’ is their insiders’ code for Heil Hitler.
To my mind, this does not prove that Garlasco’s a “Nazi sympathizer”, or an anti-Semite. But his participation on these sites– including interactions there with people who clearly do seem to be Nazi sympathizers– is extremely disturbing in itself.
2. I have had my affiliation as an Advisory Committee member with HRW for some 17 years. In that time I’ve interacted with scores of HRW staff members and advisers (though never, personally, with Garlasco.) I have never had any reason at all to suspect that any of the ones I interacted with were motivated at all in their work by anti-Semitism, or that they harbored any anti-Semitism. Indeed, it is common knowledge that a high proportion of people in the upper levels of the organization are now, and have always been, Jewish.
To suggest that Garlasco is just “the tip of the iceberg” of a whole coterie of anti-Semites working at HRW is a malicious and completely unfounded accusation.
It is probably no surprise to readers here to learn that I am a little disturbed by the degree to which the HRW powers-that-be have thus far circled their wagons round Garlasco and attempted to defend him. I have been having some communications with people in HRW, which are necessarily private, to suggest better ways forward.
3. As always, the big issue here is not Marc Garlasco and his distasteful “hobby”. It is not even Human Rights Watch, tragic though the current episode is for all of us. The big issue is the need to keep everyone’s attention focused on the effort to improve the human rights situation of the extremely vulnerable and still hard-pressed population of Gaza, while also improving the rights situation of all the peoples of the Middle East.
As I wrote in my IPS piece yesterday, the revelations about Garlasco’s “hobby” come at a pivotal point in the campaign to get some real accountability for the gross rights abuses perpetrated during last winter’s Israeli assault on Gaza.
This coming week, Judge Richard Goldstone is due to present his commission’s official report on those abuses to the UN Human Rights Council.
I do not know to what extent his report builds on investigative work done by Marc Garlasco for HRW. But certainly, HRW and Garlasco are very far from the only organizations that have done extensive work documenting the nature and extent of the violations of IHL committed during the Gaza war. So regardless of the latest revelations about Garlasco’s bizarre and troubling out-of-hours activities, Goldstone will still have plenty of good documentation to build on.
If Garlasco, through his actions, had not put his employer into the position of feeling so vulnerable at this point, we might have expected HRW to be a strong voice within the US body politic, advocating for strong support of whatever Goldstone’s recommendations might be. Now, I am sure they (we) will do what we can. But I can’t disguise the fact that I am extremely upset that Garlasco’s actions led to this.
What was he thinking? Did he think no-one would ever make the connection between “Flak88” and Marc Garlasco?
He must have known the connection would likely be made, at some point. He knew there were many staunch defenders of Israel out gunning for HRW; and if he had sat back and thought for one moment about the tracks he was leaving all over those Nazi-memorabilia websites, he must have known that he’d be “outed” one day… And surely, despite his protestations about the “innocence” of his hobby, any half-way intelligent American could have predicted the deep disgust and questioning with which such revelations would be greeted by many or most other Americans.
To his buddies on those websites, meanwhile, he made little or no attempt to hide his actual name, or even his afiliation with HRW. It was only his supervisors at HRW who were nearly all, despite his somewhat general protestation that “I’ve never hidden my hobby”, kept in the dark…
Tragic.

32 thoughts on “Garlasco, part 3

  1. anon

    Before panicking, Helena, you should read what I wrote on Garlasco pt 2. This boy has acted as many juveniles do, but he’s let it go on. he’s been unwise, and now he’s going to pay the price.

  2. Craig

    That Garlasco has not gone out of his way to make sure that everyone knew of his obviously very strong interest in this material is not the same as saying that he’s been “keeping people in the dark” about it. I have interests that my supervisors and colleagues at work probably don’t know about, too, not because I am hiding anything, but simply because those interests are irrelevant to my work and the subjects have simply never come up. Now, you can argue, if you like, that Nazi memorabilia is relevant to human rights work, but I think it’s a bit of a stretch. If everyone involved in human rights work has to keep their personal lives spotlessly free of even the vaguest hint of anything politically-incorrect (which is really the only issue here), there won’t be all that many who qualify.
    It also does not surprise me that he interacts with neo-Nazis and other distasteful people in the pursuit of his hobby. Like it or not, such people are likely to be interested in the same subject, and some of them are probably devoted collectors too.
    I don’t know Garlasco and know very little about him, but if his apparently intense interest in Nazi memorabilia is the worst thing about him, you, Helena, and HRW should reply to this issue with a simple, “So what? This is irrelevant and silly. Let’s get back to work.”

  3. vadim

    What was he thinking? Did he think no-one would ever make the connection between “Flak88”– the creepily suggestive name he used for most of his postings on these creepy websites– and Marc Garlasco?
    Actually Helena, it’s pretty obvious the depraved monster Garlasco didn’t care. I know this because I noticed that in quite a few of his depraved posts he uses his real name!!!
    http://www.wehrmacht-awards.com/forums/showthread.php?t=338033
    Isn’t that shocking?!!! That someone engaged in collecting antique medals a hobby akin to child pornography in its perverse disgustingness should leave so much “evidence” behind for the authorities to discover?!?! Has anyone reported this man to the police yet? For all we know he also collects coins or stamps… Nazi stamps. Or nazi model airplanes, like so many depraved ten year olds. Sends a chill down my spine.
    Good work with this story Helena. This garlasco guy seems like quite a pervert, and deserves to be fired for his weird hobby. Glad that youve finally found something in common with Abe Foxman and the Weekly Standard crew.

  4. Don Brodzik

    This is all so silly. So what if he collects ww2 items. People like to collect things, people are interested in different things at different points in their lives. Just because you or somebody else doesn’t share those interests, so what. Who are you to judge him or his character on that basis? Next you’ll want to scrub the swastikas off his model planes!

  5. lloyd fillion

    I’m struggling with your phrase “almost pornographic attention to detail”. Was J.S. Bach’s attention to counterpoint “pornographic” -as he was very concerned with details. Or Rembrandt- was his concern for color and balance pornographic? What are you attempting to say, other than making an effort to describe your personal distaste?
    Having reviewed some of the links to Galasco’s collection you provide, I am also not enthralled with the subject of his hobby, and don’t think I will want to know more. But to each his own. I don’t see a necessary disconnect between that hobby and his profession.
    I also concur that there is no evidence that he hid his hobbies from his work colleagues. Like you, I have not met him; without some further information from him, I couldn’t possibly assert that his claim that this hobby assists his professional work as an investigator is “garbage”. It does seems to correlate with an attention to detail, – likely reinforcing that skill – which I would expect the HRW would want in an investigator. He could have an interest in resurrecting diverse beer cans from garbage pits, and that might also reinforce investigating skills. It is his choice.
    You do good and critical work in your analysis of middle east politics. Please continue to provide us with your insights.

  6. lloyd fillion

    I’m struggling with your phrase “almost pornographic attention to detail”. Was J.S. Bach’s attention to counterpoint “pornographic” -as he was very concerned with details. Or Rembrandt- was his concern for color and balance pornographic? What are you attempting to say, other than making an effort to describe your personal distaste?
    Having reviewed some of the links to Galasco’s collection you provide, I am also not enthralled with the subject of his hobby, and don’t think I will want to know more. But to each his own. I don’t see a necessary disconnect between that hobby and his profession.
    I also concur that there is no evidence that he hid his hobbies from his work colleagues. Like you, I have not met him; without some further information from him, I couldn’t possibly assert that his claim that this hobby assists his professional work as an investigator is “garbage”. It does seems to correlate with an attention to detail, – likely reinforcing that skill – which I would expect the HRW would want in an investigator. He could have an interest in resurrecting diverse beer cans from garbage pits, and that might also reinforce investigating skills. It is his choice.
    As a Quaker, you do good and critical work in your analysis of middle east politics. Please continue to provide us with your insights. However,I am not sure how your Quaker faith, which you referened as relevant in the Garlasco Part II posting, brings you to register such opprobrium over this particular person. He isn’t your son, a point of comparison you mention. And I suspect if your son had that same hobby in his 30s, you would not likely air your concerns in such a public arena.

  7. Anonymous

    The subject matter is too much of an emotional issue for reasonable debate.
    I checked out the wehrmacht-awards forum. I didn’t find anything political about it.
    I also don’t equate this historical interest with any form of pornography, or it being any form of fetish.
    Some of the posters appear to really know their stuff, regarding the history, classification and authenticity of these awards. I’m sure that some of these gentleman would be contacted by the PBS show History Detectives, to help authenticate such historical artifacts, should the need arise.
    However, like I said before, this is an emotional issue. The fact that Garlasco stated previously that he realized this, shows that he knew it could and would negatively impact the work at HRW. Still, he continued. That alone is enough to let him go.
    Sad for everyone, I’m afraid, except for the political opponents of HRW.

  8. Howard

    The broken process @ HRW worries me a lot more than Garlasco’s hobby. His bosses are more clearly taking biased positions than Garlasco himself. Joe Stork and Sarah Whitson have taken extreme positions that are a lot more destructive of HRW’s credibility than Garlasco’s collection of Nazi memorabilia.
    Raising money in Saudi Arabia by trading on anti-Semitic stereotypes, and past support for the murder of innocent civilians in cold blood, should have been immediate grounds for firing Whitson and for not hiring Stork in the first place. And Whitson’s record of outright anti-Israel activities alongside organizations with deep anti-Semitic roots should have made HRW think twice about appointing her to the position that she holds. Unswerving bias against one of the peoples of the region can’t be tolerated at HRW – if HRW is to have any credibility. Would HRW hire as a Middle East leader someone who has a track record of anti-Arab bigotry?
    Unfortunately, HRW appears to have no interest in adopting a process that ensures that senior staff are hired for human rights credentials rather than anti-Israel political credentials. The resulting obsession with Israel, when most regimes in the region are far worse abusers of human rights, erodes HRW’s credibility far more than Garlasco’s hobby.
    The lack of professionalism and outright bias at HRW is the problem. Garlasco’s case is a symptom, one of many. It is only receiving blog coverage because Whitson and Stork have made such a mess.

  9. bb

    I’m glad the word “pornographic” has finally been used in regards to this revelation. “The Night Porter” always comes to mind when one hears about nazi and ss obsessives.
    My own son is 36 and as a single mother I gave a lot of thought to how I was going to raise him to grow into a decent male. I was very influenced at the time by Germaine Greer. The major decision I made was that he would never, ever go to an all boys school. I would guess that Garlasco probably did, and a catholic one at that, the iconography of which is very suggestable to pubescant minds.

  10. bb

    btw, further to my last post, in case anyone thinks I am being anti-catholic, not so, just stating the obvious re catholic iconography and impressionable testosterone-driven young males minds. In my own case, my ex husband had attended the top all boys Government (non religious)school in Melbourne, and intended our son to follow suit.
    However I had vivid recall of a long discussion with my then husband – we were both card carrying members of the Left in the ’60s – with him arguing at tedious length that rape was “just sex” and women who complained about it were being bourgois. Which was the chief reason I recast him as “ex” husband. It did prejudice me against single sex schools for boys and I’m pleased to say my son is the thinking woman’s dream.
    As for HRW, its rallying around of Garlasco is typical of institutions dominated by men. Why the surprise?

  11. Hazel

    Helena, I find your longdrawn-out agonising very interesting. Surely the nub of all this discussion is how on earth can an employee of an organisation named Human Rights Watch so enjoy looking at all those swastikas! This symbol is that of the ultimate robbery and destruction of human rights! His gushing captions, which you’ve so helpfully given the link to, sound like he’s getting off on these items (excuse the coarse phrase). They make me want to puke. And what about the phrase “………..the dagger has a sweet blade”? For goodness sake, that dagger was used to kill people!! How on earth does that posive comment about a knife fit with someone employed and paid by Human Rights Watch?
    All these mentions of his German Oma and Opa (granny and granpa). How many Jewish children of refugees from Nazi Germany never got to know their own Oma and Opa (those refugees’ parents who couldn’t get out of Germany), because they were murdered in the Nazi holocaust.
    And lastly, he’s got to go because HRW is no longer the story, Garlasco is the story. If he does any more reports on Israel, people will just laugh. And if he goes anywhere to report on anyone with a brown skin and non-Aryan, people will also just laugh.
    I understand the IDF refused a while ago to have anything to do with him, well these revelations have given them ample justification not to – why should Jewish soldiers be expected to talk to an admirer of the swastika?
    Well done.
    PS, I hope as a Quaker you are aware that in the UK many of the kindertransport children were saved by Quakers.

  12. b

    Helena – I believe to be on the wrong path with this.
    There good reasons to criticize Garlasco and I have done so several times. I believe he is the wrong person for the job he has for professional reasons.
    But taking him on for his hobby is clearly wrong and works into the hands of those that want to harm HRW.
    Please notice that Garlasco’s his collection you linked to also includes iron crosses from 1870 and 1914. If he would be a Nazi junkie there would be no use for them to him.
    The badges he collects that show the swastika do show it because they are from the period his grandfather was in the German army. Such badges were used for each weapon-group in the first world war too. The are still in use in today’s Bundeswehr. I have one for tanks as I was a tank officer. Today it shows the German flag. During Nazi times it showed the swastika. Before that something else.
    Indeed even the red cross awards of that time did show swastika. But to collect red cross awards from Germany does not endorse Nazis either.
    The honor-daggers show are all pure Wehrmacht, i.e. regular army, which was mostly not Nazi. They all include a swastika because it was a sign of the time. But none of those show a SS sign. If Garlasco would be a Nazi fan he surely would have gone for those.
    And again: Flak88 is an obvious short form for the Anti-Air-Artillery-Gun (FLiegerAbwehrKanone) caliber 8.8cm. The quite famous gun Garlasco’s grandfather used. FLAK is a term every German soldier even today immediately recognizes. Flak88 too. No one would connect that to a Nazi affiliation.
    Or is the M16 named after Adolf?
    On can blame Garlasco for lost of things on professional grounds.
    Here quoted in the NYT:
    ““In their deliberate targeting, the Air Force has all but eliminated civilian casualties in Afghanistan,” said Marc Garlasco, senior military analyst with Human Rights Watch. “They have very effective collateral damage mitigation procedures.” ”
    That laughable claim made a year ago should have gotten Garlasco fired immediately as it was obviously false and only intended to defend the U.S. Air Force. A month before Garlasco said the above 47 people in Afghanistan were bombed to death on their way to a wedding.
    You, Helena, were quiet then.
    But now you are following a Hasbara campaign against Garlasco that has little factual reasoning behind it and is only intended to hurt HRW.
    More professionalism please.

  13. Craig

    I think “b” above has it right. If there are reasons to criticize Garlasco for the actual work he has done for HRW (reports, statements to the press, etc.), then fine, criticize him for those things directly. Whitewashing US actions in Afghanistan is definitely not acceptable. But all this hysteria about Garlasco’s interest in German military memorabilia, especially considering he has a historical family connection to the German military, is ridiculous. The impression I get is that this really isn’t the issue at all; it seems seems more like opportunistic character assassination driven by some other motivation that isn’t being stated openly. It’s very disturbing and disappointing, and it leads me to wonder how much credit I should give to Helena’s assessments in the future.

  14. dartmouth park

    “Garlasco knew that if he was found out he’d be in trouble.”
    Indeed. In reply, ‘skip’ says:
    “Put your name on it and Fck ´em.”
    “I don´t think theres much chance of anybody outside of this hobby just happening to pick such a book up. Of course, if they google you it will probably turn up but hey, like everybody said, its a reference book and not a political work.”
    “Don´t forget in the foreword to mention how terrible war is and that your book is to remind people of this fact. Yes, WE all know this but a lot of non-historically minded people might not understand otherwise.”
    So, then. This is a reference book, not a history.
    And the disclaimer about war being terrible is a formula to keep “non-historically minded people” off the scent.
    This is all very sorry and I think you have come to the right conclusions.

  15. Warren L

    Hazel, I basically agree with your comment, and I agree that Garlasco has pretty much forfeited whatever credibility and effectiveness as a part of HRW that he had (if he ever did), due to these revelations about his hobbies, interests. He needs to step down.
    I would just add that one could argue re your comment that “Jewish soldiers” (I think in this context you more precisely mean “Israeli soldiers”) perhaps have internalized some of the symbolic import of the swastika and turned it around on those who are in a much much weaker position in relation to themselves, i.e, the Palestinians. Who was the British Jewish MP who compared Gaza back during ‘Operation Cast Lead’ to the Warsaw Ghetto?
    In the context of this blog and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I’d say the “brown skin” and “non-Aryan” people you mention in your comment would more convincingly be represented by the Palestinians (vis-a-vis the Israelis). The Palestinians are certainly the less European, and “Germanic”, of the two peoples in cultural & also ethnic background & history, when you take in the long sweep of Jewish European history.
    And that’s why some of this sort of discussion can become so convoluted, even backwards, when one tries to graft the sad, tragic history of European anti-Semitism onto the longstanding “conflict” between Semitic Palestinian Arabs and Semitic Israeli Jews (who really ought to instead be celebrating some of their wonderful shared linguistic/cultural roots). The necessary connection between language and meaning kind of breaks down at this point, it becomes empty semantics, as well as a red herring.
    And all of this is one more reason Garlasco is a distraction who pollutes the discourse, HRW needs to let him go.

  16. Gerald Steinberg, NGO Monitor

    Helena — you are on HRW’s MENA Board, along with Lisa Anderson, Robert Malley, Nathan Brown, Shaul Bakash, Rita Hauser, etc. What actual power or role does this body have, in terms of personnel or vetting drafts before they are published? Or is the board strictly “advisory” (meaning for HRW’s letterhead only)? I realize that Garlasco’s position is in Emergencies Division, but he does most of his inventing and writes his pseudo-tech babble in MENA reports. Perhaps the wider HRW board has the action on this.
    Gerald Steinberg, NGO Monitor

  17. steve bronfman

    Warren L states “in the context of this blog and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I’d say the “brown skin” and “non-Aryan” people you mention in your comment would more convincingly be represented by the Palestinians (vis-a-vis the Israelis). The Palestinians are certainly the less European, and “Germanic”, of the two peoples in cultural & also ethnic background & history, when you take in the long sweep of Jewish European history.”
    Warrens thought process really shows the depravity of the European left that must see everything in racial terms. 1. Why does a war need to be framed in racial terms in the first place? 2. Why are “Aryans” automatically wrong? (according to lefties) and right (according to facsists) anyway? Things should be judged on their merits and not in these terms. 3. Jews are by definition not “aryan” according to nazism. You’re legitimising nazi ideology with this very narrative. 4. Even if we analise DNA we find Palestinians are Jews closes relatives (besides Kurds) so this entire train of thought is flawed. Also, half of Jewish Israelis are not European According to DNA studies most Jews are related (and with Palestinians) but in anycase Jews range from Black to “white”. This is truly a stupid argument.
    Also, the argument presented that “Jewish soldiers” (I think in this context you more precisely mean “Israeli soldiers”) perhaps have internalized some of the symbolic import of the swastika and turned it around on those who are in a much much weaker position in relation to themselves, i.e, the Palestinians.” is also disturbing. 1. Are you (and Hazel) saying that the only way Jews can be perceived as right and just by you is by dying/losing? 2. Jews/Israel are not the stronger party. The Palestinians are an Arab and Muslim nation. Therefore its 6 million Jews against 250 million Arabs/1.3 billion Muslims.
    Your conclusions may be slightly different but you’re using the same framework as nazis by dealing with issues in racial terms. Its disgusting.

  18. Steven

    By day, castigating Israel with false reports.
    By night, hanging around with neo-Nazis, enjoying SS uniforms, and writing about his Nazi collection.

  19. Warren L

    steve bronfman, I was responding to a specific comment from another commenter talking about “brown people” and “non-Aryans” in a way that I thought was non-sensical in the context of the I-P conflict. It was a quite specific response to that comment, I wasn’t racializing anything, just showing up the absurdity and mis-guidedness of her framework. You might want to look at a comment in its CONTEXT (you’re not the brightest bulb in the barrel, are you steve?).
    In fact I quite explicity reject racialist thinking. If you want to libel and vilify me and call me a “nazi”, I guess that’s your prerogative. I suppose name-calling substitutes for rational argument in your world.
    I would suggest rather than sliming people (clearly your stock in trade), you might want to deal with the specific substance of HRW’s claims about Israeli behavior and war crimes.
    I feel sorry for someone who is so compelled to interpretively distort what another commenter says. Truly pathetic. But then anyone to the left of Sarah Palin who is critical of Israel is a “nazi”, right steve? If you’re the best apologists for Israeli behavior have, then you guys really need help.
    (little hint: the more you slime people, the less effect it eventually has over time, just sayin’…)

  20. Salah

    Some thoughts on same subject by Kevin Jon Heller here
    Kevin Jon Heller is currently a Senior Lecturer at Melbourne Law School, where he teaches criminal law, comparative criminal law, and international criminal law.
    Kevin holds a B.A. and an M.A. in Sociology from the New School for Social Research in New York City — both with highest honors — and an M.A. in Literature from Duke University. He graduated with distinction from Stanford Law School in 1996, where he was the Senior Note Editor of the Stanford Law Review.

  21. Jackie

    I heard Garlasco on Fresh Air a few years ago. He seemed sincere in his job with HRW. The first I knew about this other stuff was at this site. There is no accounting for taste in one’s hobbies.

  22. steve bronfman

    Warren name calls and accuses me of beliefs I do not hold by puting words into my mouth. Whereas his words are clear as black and white. He did racialise the conflict and he is using nazi terminology.
    “I suppose name-calling substitutes for rational argument in your world.” Ironic after just calling me a name; “you’re not the brightest bulb in the barrel, are you steve?).”
    Warren states; “In fact I quite explicity reject racialist thinking.” which of course is why he previously wrote, “In the context of this blog and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, I’d say the “brown skin” and “non-Aryan” people you mention in your comment would more convincingly be represented by the Palestinians (vis-a-vis the Israelis). The Palestinians are certainly the less European, and “Germanic”, of the two peoples in cultural & also ethnic background & history, when you take in the long sweep of Jewish European history.”
    “I would suggest rather than sliming people (clearly your stock in trade), you might want to deal with the specific substance of HRW’s claims about Israeli behavior and war crimes.” Warren, this is about the morality of a person who is obsessed with the Nazi’s writing critical essays of the worlds only Jewish country. I could debate each individual accusation at length (and be proved correct) but this isn’t the forum.
    “I feel sorry for someone who is so compelled to interpretively distort what another commenter says. Truly pathetic.” I didn’t distort anything you wrote. Readers can see I merely commented upon your racialist rantings and pointed out how idiotic your views are.
    “But then anyone to the left of Sarah Palin who is critical of Israel is a “nazi”, right steve?” No, Warren, only those who ideolise Nazi soldiers and collect swastika momentos or who write about Israelis and Arabs from a racialist perspective about who is the “most Aryan” are Nazis.
    “If you’re the best apologists for Israeli behavior have, then you guys really need help.” Lol, how about we discuss Palestinian behavior? For instance Hamas murdering and arresting all Fatah supporters in Gaza? Maybe we can talk about Arab/Muslim behavior in general? Occupying the Kurds, suppressing the Copts. Maybe the 100,000 Arab refugees created 2 weeks ago in Yemen? Oh, I forgot lets ignore all of this because according to you “I’d say the “brown skin” and “non-Aryan” people you mention in your comment would more convincingly be represented by the Palestinians” so they can’t be expected to uphold the same moral standards as “germanics” like yourself.
    “(little hint: the more you slime people, the less effect it eventually has over time, just sayin’…)” Please take your own advise.

  23. Ael

    I think Helena has gone off the deep end on this one.
    If I collect stamps from the USSR, does that make me a communist?
    If I collect stamps from the USA, does that make me a Republican?

  24. Scott McConnell

    Helena,
    I first heard of this whole contretemps from reading the Times today, and came here. I know one collector, Confederate mostly, but probably some Nazi stuff. He’s not a Nazi, racist, or a bad guy at all– but the hobby raises questions, and is the subject of wry teasing.
    I think for a highly public, political, and important organization like HRW, a Nazi collection fetish is pretty inappropriate. Being an official in an organization like that is like being a public servant — you forfeit some right to a complete “private” life. No one with a known hobby like this could get confirmed by the Senate or hired for a political by most American presidential administrations or (in most states) elected to office. That should be the standard.
    Thanks for taking this on.–Scott

  25. Andrew

    In the first place, as mentioned on the other thread, the handle “flak88” refers to the fact that flak cannon, which are what Marc Garlasco studies, are 88 millimeter-caliber cannon.
    And Helena, this “almost pornographic attention to detail” you mention–did it never, ever occur to you, or anyone leaping to the conclusion that it means he’s certainly a Nazi, that any historian, or amateur historian, has a duty to be almost “obsessively” attentive to detail, as you put it? He became intensely interested in collecting this sort of memorabilia, and has written a book about it. If you become an amateur historian, writing books about these things, then of COURSE you want to be attentive to detail! The alternative is to write a book riddled with factual errors. You’d prefer that historians and students of this era be more sloppy, in order to prove to the simplistic thinker that they’re not “weird”?
    Whether he is a Nazi sympathizer of some sort, I can’t say without living inside his head. But you’ve just indicted every single historian worth his or her salt. No-one is allowed to take an intense interest in a distasteful historical subject anymore, then? Anyone who wants to become expert in some unpleasant history is now “obsessive” and “weird” and, as you call it, indulging in a “distasteful hobby”? If this is not what you’re saying, then exactly when will you deign to allow historians, amateur or professional, to practice their vocation?
    You should be ashamed of yourself for indicting, as you’ve just done, every student of history who seeks to become expert, at the minute level of detail which is demanded of every historian. You should be ashamed of yourself for promoting the obscuring of the Nazi era, on which we should be shining the historian’s light at every opportunity, by implying that anyone learning the minutiae of it is “obsessive” and has a “distasteful hobby.”
    These postings of yours, and the uproar that brought them on, were not well-thought-out. I think you should be ashamed of yourself for posting them.

  26. Andrew

    Case in point: if I hadn’t known that flak cannon were 88-millimeter-caliber cannon, displaying my own “obsessiveness,” no doubt, then we wouldn’t have become aware of the obvious truth of Marc Garlasco’s online handle. That is, if anyone is interested in learning truths. That, I think, is what the study of history is for. If you’re not interested in that, then you can hardly claim to be helping anyone’s human rights, whether those of the Jewish people or anyone else’s.

  27. steven slater

    Well it could be pointed out that no only did they use the 8.8 cm FlaK 18/36/37/41 but also The 2.0cm FlaK 30/38 the 3.7 cm FlaK 36/37/43 The 10.5 cm SK C/33 The 12.8 cm FlaK 40 Any of which could have been picked. but its true that the 8.8cm is the most well known.

  28. Andrew

    @Steven: in the introduction to Mr. Garlasco’s book, he specifies that his grandfather worked on “88s”. I mentioned this on another of the Garlasco threads here, but not on this one. But that is the particular flak cannon that started his interest in the subject, since it was the one that his grandfather worked on.

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