Thursday, 18 August 2016

The "cultural heritage" group neurosis 13: Evil. (ii)

Celtic Plastic-Style sword pommel

Prototypical to the later developments in
British early Celtic art, this pommel was
made by a craftsman trained in a central
European workshop (Bavaria to Bohemia)
and is the only certain example of Paul
Jacobsthal's Plastic-Style made in Britain.
Taking the continental triskle motif, it
transforms it into a fully three-dimensional
space and creates different motifs according
to the viewpoint of the observer. It is thus
the earliest example of oblique anamorphosis
in the world and also the prototype of the
British trumpet-motif .
In the concluding paper of Archaeology Under Dictatorship: The Faustian Bargain of Archaeology Under Dictatorship, Bettina Arnold explains (p.207f) the emergence of the interest in the Celts in post-war Germany: they had served no function for Nazi propaganda. Paul Jacobsthal was a German Jew who had escaped to England in 1935 after being dismissed from the chair of archaeology at the University of Marburg by the new Hitler government. Contrary to what is stated in his Wikipedia biography, Jacobsthal first became interested in Celtic art in 1921 when he saw the gold foil coverings of the Attic cup from the Klein Aspergle chieftain's grave. At that time, the decoration on this foil was not recognized as Celtic but Jacobsthal was an art historian who specialized in Greek art and there were also other objects in the grave bearing similar motifs and from northern Italy that were certainly not typical of Greek art, but nevertheless had some connections. He joint-published two papers on northern imports of Greek art in 1929 and 1933 but:
 "The other problem, Celtic art, was more difficult: I soon realized that most of the finds, though known for fifty years, had never been examined and illustrated with the care they deserve. For years I travelled to many European museums, handled and photographed the objects, much helped by a friend whose name, but for hateful reasons, would appear on the title of the book." (Early Celtic Art, Oxford,1944, vi.)
For a theory as to who this unnamed friend was, see (the online): Sally Crawford, Paul Jacobsthal's Early Celtic Art, his anonymous co-author, and National Socialism: new evidence from the archives (Antiquity 85, 129–141).

It was dangerous enough, in Nazi Germany, to have an interest in the German past that excluded Aryan propaganda, but to assist a Jew to do the same would have certainly had grievous consequences for Paul Jacobsthal's German friend. What was very risky for Jacobsthal's friend became a safe haven for postwar German archaeologists.

Bettina Arnold also explains how Celtic studies furthered the aims of the European Union as it was a culture that spanned many of its countries. Britain later  saw a strong adverse opinion to the very idea of a unified Celtic culture and it does not take great genius to understand why. It arguments against such a culture were blatantly contrived by restricting the definition of a culture (but only that one) to exclude Britain from ever having been Celtic at all. The existence of actual existing Celtic languages within Britain not withstanding. The only reason that current mainstream British archaeology is still slightly soft on the issue of "Celtoskepticism" and struggles to find a few redeeming features for it is that so many of its adherents and those who believed  differently but still went along with it out of fear, still have jobs, status and influence.

In my case, I had no cause to be either brave or fearful as I was working away in relative isolation on Celtic coinage and its art and iconography in western Canada and none of the British archaeologists with whom I was in correspondence felt the need to mention the situation at all. When I first went on line and started a website with my articles and the Coriosolite Expert system, I got a number of emails from Ireland thanking me. I found this rather odd because while there were connections, in the iconography of the coins, to Ireland, the tone of the thank-you's were far more effusive than I thought was warranted. They did not go into any details, presumably because they thought such would not be needed. For me, current politics had no bearing, whatsoever, on the past I was studying, and genetically, even, I have only a very tenuous connection to the Celts at all.

This brings us back to the Nazi's and to C. G. Jung's pro-Nazi and anti-Semitic comments he made during Hitler's time:
"Jung was a man of his times, typical of the Northern Swiss culture, a region that remained neutral yet was sympathetic to the Nazis. But as early as 1934 he realized that he may have overstepped the mark. “I have fallen afoul of contemporary history,” he wrote. Yet he persisted. Many years later, in 1947, Jung invited Gershom Scholem, a well-known Israeli scholar of Jewish mysticism, to lecture at the annual Eranos Conference in Ascona, Switzerland. Aware of the rumors that Jung had sympathized with the Nazis, Scholem asked the highly respected Rabbi Leo Baeck for advice. Baeck had visited Zürich shortly after being released from the concentration camp at Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, where he had been one of the camp’s spiritual leaders. At that time he had refused Jung’s invitation to visit him at home. Jung was insistent and came to Baeck’s hotel where they talked for two hours. Defending his stance, Jung spoke of the wartime conditions in which it had not been clear how long the Nazis would be in power, that things might get better, and that to survive it was best to play along with them. Then Jung said, “Well, I slipped up.” It was the closest he ever came to an admission of guilt. This satisfied Baeck and they parted as colleagues. Having heard this story, Scholem accepted Jung’s invitation and stayed two weeks at his house."
Arthur I. Miller, 137: Jung, Pauli, and the Pursuit of a Scientific Obsession (pp. 180-181). W. W. Norton & Company. Kindle Edition.
A well-known saying, apparently wrongly attributed to Edmund Burke, the Irish statesman, but in the spirit of something he did write is: “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” I will be back with the next section on this topic tomorrow.


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