Category Archives: Wikipediaphile

Wiki favourites, and not just from Wikipedia

Wikipediaphile: The Stennes Revolt

I’ve not done a WPP in ages, so I’ve shaken me folders and seen what drops out. This’un’s an interesting one, especially giving the brown-shirted tumults of recent year…

The Stennes Revolt was a revolt within the Nazi Party in 1930-1931 led by Walter Stennes (1895–1983), the Berlin commandant of the Sturmabteilung (SA), the Nazi’s “brownshirt” storm troops. The revolt arose from internal tensions and conflicts within the Nazi Party of Germany, particularly between the party organization headquartered in Munich and Adolf Hitler on the one hand, and the SA and its leadership on the other hand.[1] There is some evidence that Stennes may have been paid by the government of German chancellor Heinrich Brüning, with the intention of causing conflict within the Nazi movement.[2]

The role and purpose of the SA within National Socialism was still unsettled in 1930.[3] Hitler viewed the SA as serving strictly political purposes, a subordinate body whose function was to foster Nazi expansion and development. The SA’s proper functions, in Hitler’s view, were political ones such as protecting Nazi meetings from disruption by protesters, disrupting meetings of Nazi adversaries, distributing propaganda, recruiting, marching in the streets to propagandize by showing support for the Nazi cause, political campaigning, and brawling with Communists in the streets. He did not advocate the SA’s functioning as a military or paramilitary organization.[4]

Many in the SA itself — including the leadership — held a contrary, and more glorious, view of the SA’s role. To them, the SA was a nascent military organization: the basis for a future citizen-army on the Napoleonic model, an army which would, ideally, absorb the Reichswehr and displace its outmoded Prussian concepts with “modern” Nazi ideals.[5]

We then hear the details of the actual ‘revolt’. First, in the run-up to the Reichstag elections of September 1930, Stennes put forward a platform of demands (“These included the issuance of strident denunciations of Catholicism and capitalism (hardly a propos just before an election in a country with a substantial Catholic population), an end to corruption and bureaucratization in the NSDAP, the removal of Gauleiter power over SA men, the administration of SA independent of party administration and a fixed appropriation from party funds to be earmarked for the SA”). This did not go down well with the Hitlerian leadership. So Stennes doubled down and took his men into action, demonstrating against Goebbels instead of providing a security detail for his Sportspalast speech, and then storming the Gau office in Berlin, cracking SS heads into the bargain. In the immediate interim Hitler folded – taking personal control of the SA, to demonstrate its importance (rather than it being subordinate to the Gau bureaucracy), and raising funding for the stormtroopers. The revolutionary rump of the SA represented by Stennes saw it as vindication and perhaps even victory.

However, Hitler soon moved on to the next thing, and brought back sketchy scarface Ernst Röhm from his South American bolthole to run the SA on a day-to-day basis. Did this go down well with Stennes and his faction? No, it did not – especially when it also meant “emoving control of Silesia from Stennes”. “Stennes continued to complain; he noted that the SA in Breslau were not able to turn out for inspection in February 1931 because they lacked footwear.[28] He also complained about Röhm’s return to run the SA, objecting to the Chief of Staff’s homosexuality.[21]”

The pushback continued: “On 20 February 1931 Hitler issued a decree making the SA subordinate to the party organization at the Gau level…On 26 February, Röhm forbade the SA from taking part in street battles and also forbade its leaders from speaking in public.[30]”

When Brüning, the centrist Chancellor under the Presidency of Hindenburg (1930-1932) issued an emergency decree in March 1931 “requiring all political meetings to be registered and requiring all posters and political handouts to be subject to censorship [and delegating] wide powers to Brüning to curb ’political excesses.’,” Stennes was pushed over the edge, not least because Hitler’s “‘policy of legality’ appeared to be paying dividends in the economic misery of the depression—ordered strict compliance.”

And so Stennes “rebelled again.”

The SA once again stormed the party offices in Berlin on the night of March 31-April 1 and took physical control of them. In addition, the SA took over the offices of Goebbels’ newspaper, Der Angriff. Pro-Stennes versions of the newspaper appeared on 1 April and 2 April.[25]

The response from the leadership this time was swift and uncompromising.

Hitler instructed Goebbels to take whatever means were necessary to put down the revolt. This time, the Berlin police were called to expel the SA intruders from the party’s offices. Goebbels and Göring purged the SA in Berlin and environs. Since all money for SA was dispensed through the Gau headquarters, it was a simple matter to cut this off and the lack of funding caused the rebellion to collapse. Stennes was expelled from the party.[32]

In an article by Hitler in the Völkischer Beobachter he justified Stennes’ expulsion, referring to him as a “salon socialist.” Hitler’s editorial demanded that all SA men choose between Stennes and Hitler, declaring that the mutinous Stennes was a conspirator against National Socialism.

Hitler demonstrated his confidence in the SS by his replacement of Stennes with an SS man.[33]

And what of Stennes?

Stennes had a following among leftist oriented SA in Berlin, Pomerania, Mecklenburg and Silesia. When he left the SA and NSDAP he founded the National Socialist Fighting League of Germany (Nationalsozialistische Kampfbewegung Deutschlands, NSKD) and made connection with Otto Strasser, as well as Hermann Ehrhardt, ex-leader of the defunct Viking League (Bund Wiking). He recruited about 2000 SA men from Berlin and elsewhere along with 2000 Ehrhardt followers, and the leaders protested that the ‘NSDAP has abandoned the revolutionary course of true national socialism’ and will become ‘just another coalition party.’[34]

Well, I guess things might not have panned out how he thought. But he did swerve the Night of the Long Knives the following year, by virtue of already having been expelled from the SA and left Germany in 1933 to work “as a military adviser to Chiang Kai-shek until 1949, when he returned to Germany.”

As noted elsewhere:

In 1951, he was a leading member of the right wing Deutsche Soziale Partei (German Social Party). Afterwards, Stennes retired to private life. He applied for recognition as a victim of National Socialist tyranny, which was rejected in 1957 by the Federal Court. He lived in Lüdenscheid, until his death in 1983.

Meanwhile, link-hopping from this takes us to Otto Wagener (29 April 1888 – 9 August 1971), “a German major general and, for a period, Adolf Hitler’s economic advisor and confidant.” After service in the Great War leading to a position in the General Staff as a twenty-something young officer, “Wagener was [subsequently] involved in the planning of an attack against the city of Posen (now Poznań, in Poland), but had to flee to the Baltic countries to avoid arrest. There he merged all Freikorps associations into the German Legion, and assumed leadership after its leader, Paul Siewert, was murdered. After returning to Germany, he was active in Freikorps operations in Upper Silesia, Saxony, and the Ruhr area.”

After spending most of the 1920s travelling, by the decade’s close he had joined the NSDAP and the SA following recruitment by old Freikorps pal Franz Pfeffer von Salomon. “Wagener was able to put his business acumen and contacts to good usage for the Nazi Party [and] the SA…”

Wagener had used his business contacts to persuade a cigarette firm to produce “Sturm” cigarettes for SA men – a “sponsorship” deal benefiting both the firm and SA coffers. Stormtroopers were strongly encouraged to smoke only these cigarettes. A cut from the profit went to the SA ….[1]

I think we are allowed something of a W. T. A. F?! reaction here.

Wagener “functioned as SA Chief of Staff from October 1929 through December 1930, assuming effective command of the SA for a few months in the wake of the Stennes Revolt until the assumption of command by Ernst Röhm as the new Chief of Staff in early January 1931.”

He then became a prominent economic advisor to Hitler, until internal wrangling and expediency saw him replaced. He was nicked during the Night of the Long Knives, though only briefly, and after ‘rehabilitation’ “he resumed his career in the army,” serving during the war “at the front, rising to the rank of major general and becoming a division commander. After the war, Wagener found himself first in British and later, from 1947 to 1952, Italian prisoner of war camps.”

In 1946 he wrote a memoir “about Hitler and the Nazi Party’s early history,” though “it was not published until seven years after his death, in 1978.”

He died in 1971 in the Bavarian town of Chieming.

Wikipediaphile: Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic

Crest of the Volga German ASSRA bit of a call-back to an earlier Wikipediaphile entry, this – ten years ago my interest was piqued by mention of the ‘Jewish Autonomous Oblast’; this time round it’s the ‘Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic’.

The Volga German Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (RussianАвтономная Советская Социалистическая Республика Немцев ПоволжьяGermanAutonome Sozialistische Sowjetrepublik der Wolgadeutschen), abbreviated as Volga German ASSR (RussianАССР Немцев ПоволжьяGermanASSR der Wolgadeutschen) or VGASSR (RussianАССРНПGermanASSRWD), was an autonomous republic established in Soviet Russia. Its capital was the Volga River port of Engels (known as “Pokrovsk” or “Kosakenstadt” before 1931).

Apparently it all harks bark to Catherine the Great and an eighteenth century Windrush-style plea for immigrants: she “published manifestos in 1762 and 1763 inviting Europeans (except Jews)[3] [plus ça change] to immigrate and become Russian citizens and farm Russian lands while maintaining their language and culture…The settlers came mainly from BavariaBadenHesse, the Palatinate, and the Rhineland, over the years 1763 to 1767. They indeed helped modernize the backward agricultural sector by introducing numerous innovations regarding wheat production and flour milling, tobacco culture, sheep raising, and small-scale manufacturing [and] helped to populate Russia’s South adding a buffer against possible incursions by the Ottoman Empire.”

By the time of the Russian Revolution the Volga German minority was substantial and concentrated around the Volga river; and so it was that they secured in October 1918 first a ‘Volga German Workers’ Commune’, which subsequently earned an upgrade to an ASSR. Fast forward a couple of decades and yer man Jughashvili is in the saddle, Europe is once more ablaze, and before you know it the Schicklgruber fella is giving it large with the Napoleon complex, haring across the steppe Barborossa-style.

Not good news for the Volga Germans, whom His Steelness considered definitely suspect; and so orders were given, the ASSR was dissolved in September 1941 and practically the entire population of more than half a million was sent into ‘internal exile’, with 438,000 sent to Siberia and Kazakhstan.

Wikipediaphile: Gadsden flag

Feminist ‘Gadsden snake’ t-shirts

Today whilst revving up the ol’ Tweetdeck for the first time in ages to see wagwan with the global agin-Trump stuff, I spotted an RT by always reliably interesting MD twitterer Jen Gunter:

What’s this ‘Gadsden snake’ thing? thought I. Well…

The Gadsden flag is a historical American flag with a yellow field depicting a rattlesnake coiled and ready to strike. Positioned below the rattlesnake are the words “DONT TREAD ON ME”. The flag is named after American general and politician Christopher Gadsden (1724–1805), who designed it in 1775 during the American Revolution. It was used by the Continental Marines as an early motto flag, along with the Moultrie Flag.

Modern uses of the Gadsden flag include political movements such as Libertarianism and the American Tea Party as well as American soccer supporter groups, including Sam’s Army and the American Outlaws since the late 1980s.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gadsden_flag

Wikipediaphile: EUROGENDFOR

A timely wiki for you, given it’s all kicking off in Greece at the moment. Only spotted this via a mention on twitter linking to a cranky-sounding website which suggested that a “non-Greek militarized riot force may have arrived to enforce austerity” in the Hellenic Republic.

Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about EUROGENDFOR:

The European Gendarmerie Force (EUROGENDFOR or EGF) was launched by an agreement in 2006 between five members of the European Union (EU): France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Romania subsequently joined in 2009. Its purpose is the creation of a European intervention force, designed after the French Gendarmerie and the Italian Unità Specializzate Multinazionali (M.S.U.) of the Carabinieri; that force will have militarised police functions and specialise in crisis management. Its status is enshrined in the Treaty of Velsen of 18 October 2007.

The EGF is based in Vicenza, in northeastern Italy, and has a core of 800-900 members ready to deploy within 30 days. This includes elements from the;

An additional 2,300 reinforcements will be available on standby. The Polish Military Gendarmerie are also a partner force, and on 10 October 2006, Poland indicated it would like to join the EGF.[1] More countries will be allowed to join in the future.

Wikipediaphile: Avvakum Petrov, Patriarch Nikon, schisms and “shit-faced Pharisees”

Whilst I find his editorialising facile and his constant précises irritating, I have really enjoyed Martin Sixsmith’s radio series ‘The Wild East’, which distills a thousand years’ or so of Russian history into fifty fifteen minute episodes.

There’s just enough detail to give you a bit of an overview, and plenty of titbits to encourage you to go investigating things further, even if it’s only wiki-hopping.

Episode 8, ‘East Into Siberia’, got us into some fascinating stuff about the Raskol schism in the Russian Orthodox Church caused by Patriarch Nikon‘s seventeenth century reforms, particularly concerning Avvakum Petrov.

Petrov was an ‘Old Believer’ who held no truck with Nikon’s nonsense, which led to his exile and ultimately his burning at the stake. It also gave him reason to write a marvellously undiplomatic autobiography, where he rails against all sorts of people, whilst also tossing out some great lines of self-effacement (“[I am just] another shit-faced Pharisee wanting to drag the Lord to court!”).

Nikon at once (1654) summoned a synod to re-examine the service-books revised by the Patriarch Joasaf, and the majority of the synod decided that “the Greeks should be followed rather than our own ancients.” A second council, held at Moscow in 1656, sanctioned the revision of the service-books as suggested by the first council, and anathematized the dissentient minority, which included the party of the protopopes and Paul, bishop of Kolomna. The reforms coincided with a great plague in 1654 and Russians were also greatly concerned about the upcoming year 1666 which many considered the year of the apocalypse.

Heavily weighted with the fullest ecumenical authority, Nikon’s patriarchal staff descended with crushing force upon those with whom he disagreed. His scheme of reform included not only service-books and ceremonies but the use of the new-fangled icons, for which he ordered a house-to-house search to be made. His soldiers and servants were charged first to gouge out the eyes of these heretical counterfeits and then carry them through the town in derision. He also issued an ukase threatening with the severest penalties all who dared to make or use such icons in future. Construction of tent-like churches (of which Saint Basil’s Cathedral is a prime example) was strictly forbidden, and many old uncanonical churches were demolished to make way for new ones, designed in the “Old Byzantine” style. This ruthlessness goes far to explain the unappeasable hatred with which the Old Believers, as they now began to be called, ever afterwards regarded Nikon and all his works.

(Yes, there is an inevitable book tie-in, which seems to be the radio script verbatim.)

Wikipediaphile: Margaret Simey

Whatever happened to those well-meaning upper middle class types who were wonted to sticking their oars in for us ‘umble, ‘orny-‘anded toilers who lacked the skills to articulate our own views?

I came across the name of Margaret Simey (1906-2004) whilst reading around about the uprisings of the 80s by way of comparison with those of 2011; it seems she was chair of the Liverpool Police Authority at the time of the 1981 Toxteth riot, and crossed swords with Chief Constable Kenneth Oxford over the scouse cops’ gung ho tactics:

Representing the inner-city Granby Ward, she was well aware of the local tensions which led to the Toxteth Riots; over the preceding decade, use of police powers to stop and search had increased, and the police had recently begun to close nightclubs frequented by black youths. Simey had foreseen that this would cause tension, and had predicted that the closure of one club in particular would lead to a riot. She was correct.

I can’t tell if she fully met the criteria laid out in at the start of this post (though she was a sociology graduate, Labour councillor, magistrate…) – for example, Kirkby Times doesn’t have her down as a tin-shaker – but she certainly sounded like an interesting old cove.

Wikipediaphile: The Droste effect

Whilst cruising through excellent comics website 2000AD Covers Uncovered I came across mention of the ‘Droste effect’ in a post about how artist Jock put together one particular cover for 2000AD.

Never heard the name before, but as the Wikipedia page on the Droste effect explains, it’s a pretty familiar concept:

The Droste effect is a specific kind of recursive picture, one that in heraldry is termed mise en abyme. An image exhibiting the Droste effect depicts a smaller version of itself in a place where a similar picture would realistically be expected to appear. This smaller version then depicts an even smaller version of itself in the same place, and so on. Only in theory could this go on forever; practically, it continues only as long as the resolution of the picture allows, which is relatively short, since each iteration geometrically reduces the picture’s size. It is a visual example of a strange loop, a self-referential system of instancing which is the cornerstone of fractal geometry.

The effect is named after the image on the tins and boxes of Droste cocoa powder, one of the main Dutch brands, which displayed a nurse carrying a serving tray with a cup of hot chocolate and a box with the same image. This image, introduced in 1904 and maintained for decades with slight variations, became a household notion. Reportedly, poet and columnist Nico Scheepmaker introduced wider usage of the term in the late 1970s.

The Droste effect was used by Giotto di Bondone in 1320, in his Stefaneschi Triptych. The polyptych altarpiece portrays in its center panel Cardinal Giacomo Gaetani Stefaneschi offering the triptych itself to St. Peter. There are also several examples from medieval times of books featuring images containing the book itself or window panels in churches depicting miniature copies of the window panel itself. See the collection of articles Medieval mise-en-abyme: the object depicted within itself for examples and opinions on how this effect was used symbolically.

I vaguely recall it first making an impression on me on the front of some 1970s Blue Peter annual I picked up at a jumble sale or boot fair…

ETA1:

From a quick google I see that the Blue Peter annual has been axed.

ETA2:

I knew it! Here’s the Blue Peter annual cover I was thinking of (image via Nigel’s WebSpace Galleries Of Annuals) – the tenth one, from 1973.