Talk:The Kindly Ones (Littell novel)

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Good article The Kindly Ones (Littell novel) has been listed as one of the Language and literature good articles under the good article criteria. If you can improve it further, please do so. If it no longer meets these criteria, you can reassess it.
January 20, 2010 Good article nominee Listed
WikiProject Novels (Rated GA-class, Mid-importance)
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Most Prestigious[edit]

"the most prestigious" should not be used to describe the prix goncourt. It is a point of view. It is the same reason "prestigious" is not used to describe the Grammy Awards, the Nobel Prize, or the American Ivy League schools. C5mjohn 14:13, 8 June 2007 (UTC)

I would respectfully disagree. While there are many literary prizes awarded in France, it is uniformly recognised that the Prix Goncourt is the most prestigious of them, to the point that it is tacitly agreed that no other French literary prize is awarded to a work which wins the Goncourt since it is conceded that any other prize would be superfluous.--Partnerfrance (talk) 18:54, 28 April 2010 (UTC)

WikiProject class rating[edit]

This article was automatically assessed because at least one WikiProject had rated the article as stub, and the rating on other projects was brought up to Stub class. BetacommandBot 13:40, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

Corrections and work to be done[edit]

I have corrected a couple of the glaring mistakes. Aue engages in homosexual relationships already the section Allemande I & II. But the entry needs a lot of work. If I find time I will try and add some references.--Joel Mc (talk) 16:51, 18 November 2007 (UTC)

I have now done more extensive work. Perhaps putting in all the characters was unnecessary at this stage but the list had already been started and rather than deleting....I have tried to link to references in English, but there are not a lot yet. The novel will be published in English in 2008. I am sure that there are changes to be made and if you have hesitations about editing you can email me ( with your suggestions and I will try and put them up.Joel Mc (talk) 14:04, 13 December 2007 (UTC)

Moving page[edit]

I have tried to revert to the orginal title, Les Bienveillantes, but don't seem to know how to do it. Even if it is consistent with WP policy, it would have been good to discuss moving it before taking such an action. The Kindly Ones doesn't mean much in English. As far as I know, it is never used to refer to to the Eumenides, which is the name used in the English title of the Greek tragedy. Secondly, we don't know what actual title Littell will use in English and rather than making another move it might have been better to leave it until the book comes out this year in English. True there is little harm done, specially with the redirect, still the title klangs in the ears of this English speaker. But maybe that is what Littell wants and we will find that a second move will be unnecessary.Joel Mc (talk) 09:18, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

The move was wrong and the user appears not to have understood the policy he was using as a reason for the move. The book is known in English under the name Les Bienveillantes and hasn't been translated. Home made translations of titles is very far from the policy of using English on English Wikipedia. JdeJ (talk) 10:37, 10 February 2008 (UTC)

Ukraine pogroms[edit]

One of the first mass murders of Jews described in the book is committed by Ukrainian militias wearing "blue and yellow ribbons". This is tolerated and supported unter the name "Aktion Petliura" (see Petliura) by the German occupation authorities.

This image has been deleted ot of the article, although the author describes these incidents in several pages. --Alex1011 (talk) 10:58, 7 March 2008 (UTC)

Moving Page (2)[edit]

Apparently the recent move was made without looking at the discussion above. It was intended to move the page when the English translation appeared (it is now scheduled for March 2009), or at least when the reviews of the English edition began to appear. However, since JL decided to translate the title as The Kindly Ones, it is probably good to just leave well enough alone. --Joel Mc (talk) 10:04, 21 October 2008 (UTC)

Image copyright problem with Image:Theodor Oberländer.gif[edit]

The image Image:Theodor Oberländer.gif is used in this article under a claim of fair use, but it does not have an adequate explanation for why it meets the requirements for such images when used here. In particular, for each page the image is used on, it must have an explanation linking to that page which explains why it needs to be used on that page. Please check

  • That there is a non-free use rationale on the image's description page for the use in this article.
  • That this article is linked to from the image description page.

This is an automated notice by FairuseBot. For assistance on the image use policy, see Wikipedia:Media copyright questions. --12:09, 2 November 2008 (UTC)

Leon Degrelle[edit]

Is it correct that Degrelle was the major influence for the Aue character? Dysmorodrepanis (talk) 09:52, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

No. Evenfiel (talk) 12:35, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

Good Article review[edit]

Hello everyone. If you have this page on your watchlist, please take note that I'll be reviewing the article during the next few days for Good Article status, so now's the time for any last-minute cleanup. I realize there's been a long wait for the review, so I'll try to get it done as quickly as possible. Skoal. Phoenix and Winslow (talk) 18:42, 2 December 2009 (UTC)

My preliminary review is finished. It can be found here. The article needs some work before GA status can be awarded. Phoenix and Winslow (talk) 22:09, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

GA Review[edit]

My preliminary review is finished. It's basically a very well-written article. There is good attention to detail, and it follows the flow of the subject novel well. Broadness, focus, neutrality and stability do not present any issues. All good to that point. Here are my initial criticisms.

A. Generally, in Good Articles there should be more inline citations of sources.

B. There are more images available that could be used, particularly since so many historic figures and events are woven into the plot of the novel.

C. Although I've only recently created an account at WP, I bring a substantial amount of editing experience from the world of professional publishing. I see an article where every word is spelled correctly, but there are numerous errors in grammar and punctuation. My experience tells me these symptoms indicate a product of a well-educated person for whom English is not his first language. Evenfiel is the primary author of this article. His User page indicates he's a Brazilian national living in France. English is one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn, and with all due respect, while Evenfiel's English is many times better than my Portuguese, this article needs a bit of work.

For example:

Current version: The goddess Athena intervenes setting up a jury trial to judge the case of the Furies against Orestes. Athena casting the tying vote which acquits Orestes, pleads with the Furies to accept the trial's decision and to transform themselves into "Most loved of gods, with me to show and share fair mercy, gratitude and grace as fair."

Improved grammar and punctuation: The goddess Athena intervenes, setting up a jury trial to judge the case of the Furies against Orestes. Athena casts the tying vote which acquits Orestes, then pleads with the Furies to accept the trial's verdict and to transform themselves into "Most loved of gods, with me to show and share fair mercy, gratitude and grace as fair."

I would be more than happy to help with the grammar and punctuation corrections, but this would create a conflict of interest. I can't edit the article extensively and then decide on its Good Article status. If you'd like, I'll correct the grammar and punctuation, and then seek a second opinion on Good Article status.

Reviewer: Phoenix and Winslow (talk) 22:07, 4 December 2009 (UTC)

Thanks a lot for the review! About your criticism:
A. More inline citations? It already has 36 citations! That's more than most good articles about novels. Pretty much everything - other than the plot itself - has a source.
B. I've added a few images. What do you think?
C. Sure, please work on the grammar and punctuation and then seek a second opinion. That looks just fine. Evenfiel (talk) 14:21, 5 December 2009 (UTC)
Briefly in response: I'd like to keep the discussion of the Good Article improvement and review process here on the GA review subpage if you don't mind. It can become very lengthy. Please see my comments here as the review goes forward.
A. I am accustomed to seeing more technical articles. I must confess that I don't spend a lot of time on articles about art or literature. A comparison with similar (literature) articles that have achieved GA status indicates that you are correct regarding inline citations.
B. Good work with the images.
C. I'll work on the grammar and punctuation during the next few days, and seek a second opinion. I may also import more material from the French WP version of this article. You will find that many of the changes I make are very minor. I am fussy that way. While a sentence may be technically accurate, it might appear awkward to the native English speaker; and the native English speaker is the principal audience for the English Wikipedia. Again, in general the article was very well done before I looked at it. Skoal. Phoenix and Winslow (talk) 19:26, 7 December 2009 (UTC)
Sure, we can keep the discussion here.
C. Why did you change "Aue" to "Max"? Most articles and reviews about the book call him "Aue", not "Max". Personally, I prefer the former. My ego also has to say that, except for the "two hundred" and a "him" to "Littell", you didn't edit anything that I've written. Skål! Evenfiel (talk) 02:45, 8 December 2009 (UTC)
There are other characters in the book with the surname "Aue" -- family members. I've changed the reference to "Max" to distinguish the main character from these other characters. As I said, it's just a series of minor punctuation corrections, for the most part. There's a bot that automatically posts a code, transcluding this discussion to the main Talk page. Next, I'd like to change the source citation style to be consistent with other WP articles. A citation normally incudes the name and date of the publication, a link (if it's an online source), the author's name and the date when we accessed it. I would also like to discuss including more material from the French Wikipedia article. Phoenix and Winslow (talk) 16:43, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

The family member are never referred by the surname Aue. As a matter of fact, his mother remarried and his sister is married, so they use other surnames. I prefer to use the name Aue, or a combination of Aue, Max and Max Aue.

About the citation style, everything is mentioned under "References". I decided to use that type of citations style after looking at many featured articles and finding out that each article used a different style, including the one I´m using, Harvnb. When I first used it, I set it up in a way that, after clicking on the citation name, like "Garcin 2006", you were automatically taken to the citation's own highlighted entry under "References". I guess that one of the citation templates was changed and that feature is now broken.

Sure, we can discuss the material in the French Wikipedia. Maybe we should translate parts of it. Evenfiel (talk) 19:30, 8 December 2009 (UTC)

Additional comments from Maria

I had originally volunteered to review this article for GAC, but time got away from me. I'm glad that Phoenix and Winslow has stepped in, as I largely agree with their points, especially regarding the state of the article's prose. Nothing that a few thorough copy-edits wouldn't fix. :) I would like to make some comments in addition to the review above, if that's okay.

  • The number of citations means far less than what is cited, per WP:RS; I believe that the article fulfills the second criteria of WP:WIAGA (article is "factually accurate and verifiable"). Additionally, I see no issue with the current citation formatting, which is consistently used throughout. Please note, however, that newspaper and magazines should be in italics (The New York Times).
  • The addition of a "Reviews" section is not standard on the English Wikipedia, although it may be on other wikis. Furthermore, several of the reviews in this section are also listed in either the "References" or "Further reading" section; this is both confusing and unnecessary. I suggest removing the "Reviews" section entirely, while integrating non-repetitive links to either "References or "Further reading", depending on whether or not it is being used as a source.
  • The lead is too short to fulfill WP:LEAD; it should be a summary of the entire article. Some of the background information, as well as some details on the novel's reception (other than awards, which are already mentioned) can be added to the lead to better summarize the article.
  • Because a majority of the article deals with plot and/or character descriptions, I fear the article may stay a little too far from WP:WAF. The main point of this guideline is to ensure articles about works of fiction remain rooted in the real world, rather than the fictional. One way to do this is to detail production details (what is currently being done in the "Background" section) as well as thematic and literary style details that reviewers/critics have noted in the work. For an example of these out-of-universe additions, take a look at Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, which contains numerous sections detailing the novel's use of themes, style, genre, etc. Because it is a fairly new book, note how a majority of the sources used are reviews, which is quite similar to how this article is currently sourced. With all of this in mind, I suggest scouring the sources (both under "References" and "Further reading") to see what can be said about various literary and real-world elements that can be connected to the novel. This will amplify the entire article, and will truly make sure it fulfills criteria #3 (article "addresses the main aspects of the topic").

I hope this helps! If there are any questions in regards to my comments, feel free to contact me. Best of luck, María (habla conmigo) 17:21, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

Thanks for the input! I´ve dealt with issues number 1 and 2. While I agree with issue number 4, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell is a featured article, not a good article. It seems to me that the content of the article, as it is right now, should be enough for a good article. Evenfiel (talk) 20:19, 9 December 2009 (UTC)
I'm quite aware of the difference between a GA and FA as I've written a few of each. ;) Jonathan Strange was meant as only an example of what various out-of-universe additions can be implemented. Again, take a look at the Good Article criteria; in order to fulfill criteria #3, the article must in fact be broad in its coverage. In order to address the main aspects of the topic, I believe it's more than fair to expect some aspect of the work's literary merit to be represented in the article. Just a suggestion, of course, but like I stated above, the sources obviously exist, so it's just a matter of weeding through for the good bits. María (habla conmigo) 21:08, 9 December 2009 (UTC)

What's the status of this GAN? Is work progressing, is it a pass/fail now at this point, etc.? Wizardman Operation Big Bear 21:38, 7 January 2010 (UTC)

All issues brought up by the first reviewer were addressed, just like most issues by the second reviewer. Evenfiel (talk) 03:52, 14 January 2010 (UTC)

Final review

I apologize for not commenting sooner, but I assumed that the initial reviewer was still active here. Because he/she is not, Wizardman has asked me to wrap up this review. I'm glad to see that my previous comments have been addressed more than adequately, and that my concerns regarding WP:LEAD and WP:WAF have been taken into account. The only minor issue I can see is the usage of bullet formatting in "Historical characters" -- while I understand it's easier to list these individuals according to group, a paragraph or two in prose conveying the same information ("Littell also introduces a number of historical characters, including top-ranking Nazi leaders such as Himmler, etc., etc.") but in a less choppy fashion. Just a suggestion, of course. Here is my final assessment:

GA review (see here for criteria)
  1. It is reasonably well written.
    a (prose): b (MoS):
    The lead can better integrate information from the entire article, including background information, and the book's international reception. The lead also perhaps dwells too much on a full plot summary, whereas the first sentence of the second paragraph is only truly necessary to summarize the article.
  2. It is factually accurate and verifiable.
    a (references): b (citations to reliable sources): c (OR):
  3. It is broad in its coverage.
    a (major aspects): b (focused):
  4. It follows the neutral point of view policy.
    Fair representation without bias:
  5. It is stable.
    No edit wars, etc.:
  6. It is illustrated by images, where possible and appropriate.
    a (images are tagged and non-free images have fair use rationales): b (appropriate use with suitable captions):
  7. Overall:

I'm satisfied that this article now fulfills the GA-criteria, and am happy to pass it. Congrats, and so sorry for the delay! :) María (habla conmigo) 14:16, 20 January 2010 (UTC)

fix'd nao[edit]

However, is this picture of Kosmodemyanskaya avaible? I guess it would be the most important illustation here. -- (talk) 07:55, 12 December 2009 (UTC)

pornographer of violence[edit]

An accusation against Littell that he was a "pornographer of violence" was linked to an article on (literal) violent pornography!! Is this someone's idea of a joke? Valkotukka (talk) 12:03, 6 April 2010 (UTC)


Eichmann was just one of hundreds Obersturmbannfuhrers serving under Reichsfuhrer Himmler (just like Aue), and even at Wannsee he was only an assistant to Heydrich (and he was pretty shy and unconfortable there, from the records, or at least according to the docudrama). He may be (in)famous, but it's just like the infamy of Mengele, who was only one of hundreds camp doctors, and not even ever a chief doctor at Auschwitz (Wirths was, and he's in the book, but very frew people even heard about Wirths, or his own superiors higher up). The chief reason why he is famous is of course that he was kidnapped and hanged by the Israelis. He's also known as a "small cog" "only following orders" and actually sparked the phrase and concept of banality of evil, from his trial. If there were comparisons made between Aue and Eichmann, they belong elsewhere.

This picture seriously distracts from the reception section while adding nothing special at all, and the execution picture illustrates the next part of the book. --Niemti (talk) 16:14, 22 November 2012 (UTC)

It hardly matters if he was just one of hundreds. He's an important character in the novel and one of the most famous nazis. Eichmann was already famous before he was caught. During the Nuremberg trials, he was seen as one of the most important figures behind the Holocaust. Hannah Arendt's book, Eichmann in Jerusalem, only added to his fame. There are no comparisons being made between Aue and Eichmann. That sentence only mentions three famous nazis that Aue meets.
The picture that doesn't add much to the article is the one with the German soldier, but I'm ok with it in case you really want it there. I think we can have both pictures. As for the execution picture, I don't have a problem with it. I only moved it up because it was too close to the next picture. Evenfiel (talk)

Eichmann was a Nazi equivalent of a mid-level grey apparatchik: he was a functionary, he was never in real position of power, he was "only following orders" (also literally), he has never even killed anyone personally (only in the sensationalist movie he did) - while even the book's Aue did kill (murder) people personally, he was not even charismatic (at all). If you watch The Conspiracy note a stark difference between him and his boss Heydrich.

But anyway: yes, Aue was compared to Eichmann, like here: "Like Forrest Gump, he meets historical figures, in this case infamous Nazis, among them Adolf Eichmann, Albert Speer, Rudolf Hess and, in the book’s final pages, Hitler himself. All in all he personifies Hannah Arendt’s famous notion — she applied it to Eichmann — of the “banality of evil.”" (Eichmann is named randomly, among Hess and Speer, only to make a later comparison between him and Aue).

Or here: "It is also a claim that recalls Hannah Arendt’s judgment on Adolf Eichmann: ‘he was genuinely incapable of uttering a single sentence that was not a cliché’ (Arendt 48). For Arendt, these linguistic limitations were ‘closely connected with an inability to think, namely, to think from the standpoint of somebody else’ (Arendt 49) – one definition, we might say, of what a novel can do. It is notable that among the many prominent Nazis to appear in The Kindly Ones (a list which includes Himmler, Speer and finally Hitler himself) it is Eichmann who receives the most extensive treatment. In a novel much concerned with twins, Aue and Eichmann form a contrasting pair: the exemplary ‘middle manager’ versus the intellectual (Littell 570). Whereas Eichmann was famously criticized by Arendt for his ‘sheer thoughtlessness’ (Arendt 287), Aue is told by his closest friend: ‘“you think too much. It’s bad for you”’ (Littell 142). While Arendt thought Eichmann suffered from a ‘lack of imagination’ (Arendt 287), Aue is a perpetual fantasist. Indeed, The Kindly Ones is a highly unstable text – combining sexual reverie, bureaucratic overload, horrific imagery and absurd humour in immense, claustrophobic paragraphs. For over 900 pages, it moves with the slow, crushing momentum of a tank. Like the killings it describes, The Kindly Ones is both bewildering and brutally efficient."

And so on. Eichmann is clearly notable for the book, but for all the different reasons (that you were not aware of). Aue was variably said to be similar to Eichmann or to be an anti-Eichmann (I think the latter is more true, that is I agree with Richard Martin's evaluation). There's also a multitude of other sources, about various aspects, that can be used to overally rewrite his character section of this (not-so) Good Article.

Actually a battle-fatigued German soldier adds, bcause it illustrates the Stalingrad chapter of the book ("the midst of the chaos, violence, and starvation", even as it was actually taken well before the worst of it) and what's most important - it's not intruding into another section of the article, dirtracting from the completely unrelated content.

The other execution picture I've seen it attributed as taken at Belarus by Oskar Dirlewanger's penal unit within the SS and the men who are shot as captured partisans (or alleged partisans; Dirlewanger also killed thousands of Jews, so maybe they're Jews indeed, or even just Jewish partisans). I think it was even on the cover of one book about Dirlewanger and his merry band. (No, it was just a similar picture. But nevertheless.)

Anothe problem is a huge "further reading" section, which is just a long list of random articles. They should be used as references and the rest deleted. --Niemti (talk) 17:41, 22 November 2012 (UTC)

I have absolutely no idea why you're talking about a comparison between Aue and Eichmann. I'm talking about the wiki article. There is no comparison in that sentence. It only mentions three famous nazi figures that Aue met. Eichmann is one of them. I realized later on that your problem was the word "leaders", which I did remove. The sentence now reads Throughout the book Aue meets several famous Nazis, including Adolf Eichmann, Heinrich Himmler and Adolf Hitler. And please stop using your patronizing tone with me ((but for all the different reasons (that you were not aware of)).
There is nothing wrong with the Further Reading section. It's a list of articles that the user can read if s/he's interested in the subject. That's a common section in featured articles. Evenfiel (talk) 20:20, 22 November 2012 (UTC)
And there should be a comparison, because a comparison was made by multiple sources (the Maximilien Aue section itself is really poor, and full of original resaarch, with the only references there having been added by me - whole article is full of unsourced content, sometimes even incorrect, like with your mistaken belief they were not under Wehrmacht orders) and there should be no "further reading" (lowercase, we don't use Random Capitalization for Wikipedia articles and sections) because nobody is going to click them to read it (and if they wanted, there is Google). All the important info from these articles should be in Wikipedia, with the articles being in the references section and only serving as sources (for "futher reading" indeed, but also for verification), and if they have none they should be deleted. Remember, it's (supposedly) GA class article. It's not even like if these were books, it's just articles. And yes, this image still adds nothing valuable to the article and still distracts from the reception section. --Niemti (talk) 20:47, 22 November 2012 (UTC)
Gosh, if you want to add a comparison, go ahead and do it! I'm not stopping you. I never said it was wrong to add a comparison.
Here is a featured article about a Candide that uses the Further reading section just the way it is used here. Actually, there are two books in that section. There are also a few relevant academic articles and all the remaining relevant reviews that were published in English.
About the Einsaztgruppen, you should go back to the wiki article you tried to use against me and read it again. Nowhere it says that they were under orders of the Wehrmacht, but that they were in close cooperation. I'll quote it for you: Each Einsatzgruppe was led by SD, Gestapo and Kripo officers, and its members included recruits from the Orpo, the Waffen-SS, and local volunteers, such as militia groups. Each death squad followed the Wehrmacht Heer (German Army) as it advanced eastwards through Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. During the course of their operations, the Einsatzgruppen commanders were authorized to request, and did receive, assistance from the Wehrmacht. Heydrich acted under orders from Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler who supplied security forces on an "as needed" basis to the local SS and Police Leaders. They were different organizations. The Wehrmacht could not give order to the SS. Again, from that article: The Einsatzgruppen were formed under the direction of SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich (deputy to Heinrich Himmler) and operated by the Schutzstaffel (SS) before and during World War II. From September 1939 forward the SS-Reichssicherheitshauptamt (RSHA – Reich Main Security Office)[4] had overall command of the Einsatzgruppen.
What Littell does is to make the picture unclear by saying that the Wehrmacht worked too closely with the Einsaztgruppen. The following passage is singular in that respect: “I don’t understand. Who should we take our orders from, in the end? From Reichenau or Jeckeln? And where is Brigadeführer Rasch?”—“I don’t know, Sturmbannführer.”. I suggest changing "attached" to "worked closely with", "cooperated" or something like that.
As for the sentence the Sixth Army, the AOK 6, to which we were attached, Littell originally used the verb "rattacher", auquel nous étions rattachés, which is usually translated as "linked", "connected" or "associated". By translating it to "attached", it took away the double entendre in Littell original text.
Unfortunately, we'll have to disagree about the image. Evenfiel (talk) 01:29, 23 November 2012 (UTC)

Also about Eichmann in the book (where Aue compares himself):

If I have described these meetings with Eichmann at such length, it’s not because I remember them better than the others: but this little Obersturmbannführer, in the meantime, has become a kind of celebrity, and I thought that my memories, shedding light on his character, might interest the public. A lot of stupid things have been written about him: he was certainly not the enemy of mankind described at Nuremberg (since he wasn’t there, it was easy to blame everything on him, especially since the judges didn’t understand much about how our services functioned); nor was he an incarnation of banal evil, a soulless, faceless robot, as some sought to present him after his trial. He was a very talented bureaucrat, extremely competent at his functions, with a certain stature and a considerable sense of personal initiative, but solely within the framework of clearly circumscribed tasks: in a position of responsibility, where he would have had to make decisions, in the place of his Amtschef Müller, for example, he would have been lost; but as a middle manager, he would have been the pride of any European firm. I never perceived that he nourished a particular hatred of the Jews: he had simply built his career on them, they had become not just his specialty but, in a way, his stock in trade; later on, when they tried to take it away from him, he defended it jealously, which is understandable. But he could just as easily have done something else, and when he told his judges that he thought the extermination of the Jews was a mistake, we can believe him; many people, in the RSHA and especially in the SD, thought similarly—I’ve already shown this—but once the decision was made, it had to be seen through to the end, he was very aware of that; what’s more, his career depended on it. Of course he wasn’t the kind of person I liked to see frequently, his ability to think on his own was extremely limited, and when I returned to my place, that night, I wondered why I had been so expansive, why I had fallen so easily into that familial, sentimental atmosphere that is usually so repugnant to me. Maybe I too had some need to feel I belonged to something. His interest was clear; I was a potential ally in a higher sphere to which he would normally have had no access.

--Niemti (talk) 21:25, 22 November 2012 (UTC)

Orders from the 6th Army / Wehrmacht in general[edit]

So I just consulted the book. Here go the relevant parts:

The next morning, Standartenführer Blobel, our commander, gathered his Leiters together to go to HQ. The Leiter III, my immediate superior, wanted to type up a report, so he sent me in his place. The headquarters of the Sixth Army, the AOK 6, to which we were attached, had occupied a large Austro-Hungarian building, its façade gaily painted orange, enhanced with columns and stucco decorations, and riddled with shrapnel. An Oberst, who seemed to know Blobel well, received us: “The Generalfeldmarschall is working outdoors. Follow me.” He led us toward a vast park that stretched down from the building to a bend in the Bug, down below. Near a solitary tree, a man in swimming trunks was walking with long strides, surrounded by a buzzing cloud of officers, their uniforms drenched in sweat. He turned toward us: “Ah, Blobel! Hello, gentlemen.” We saluted him: he was Generalfeldmarschall von Reichenau, the commander in chief of the army. His hairy chest, thrust forward, radiated vigor; embedded in the fat that, despite his athletic build, drowned out the Prussian fineness of his traits, his famous monocle gleamed in the sun, incongruous, almost ridiculous. Without stopping his precise and meticulous instructions he continued his jerky movements to and fro; we had to follow him, which was a little disconcerting; I bumped into a Major and didn’t grasp much. Then he stood still to dismiss us. “Oh yes! One other thing. For the Jews, five guns are too much, you don’t have enough men. Two guns per condemned man will be enough. As for the Bolsheviks, we’ll see how many there are. If they’re women you can use a full squad.” Blobel saluted: “Zu Befehl, Herr Generalfeldmarschall.” Von Reichenau clicked his bare heels and raised his arm: “Heil Hitler!”—“Heil Hitler,” we all replied in chorus before beating a retreat.

Sturmbannführer Dr. Kehrig, my superior, greeted my report sullenly. “Is that all?”—“I didn’t hear everything, Sturmbannführer.” He made a face and fiddled distractedly with his papers. “I don’t understand. Who should we take our orders from, in the end? From Reichenau or Jeckeln? And where is Brigadeführer Rasch?”—“I don’t know, Sturmbannführer.”—“You don’t know much, Obersturmführer. Dismissed.”


I must not have been the only one asking questions. A mute but profound uncertainty was pervading the ranks of the Wehrmacht. Cooperation with the SS was still excellent, but the Great Action had provoked anxious stirrings. A new order of the day by von Reichenau was beginning to circulate, a raw, harsh text, a brutal disclaimer of Rasch’s conclusions. It described the men’s doubts as vague ideas about the Bolshevik system. The soldier in the territories of the East is not only a fighter according to the rules of the art of warfare, he wrote, but also the bearer of a pitiless völkisch ideology and the avenger of all the bestialities inflicted on the German and ethnically related nations. Therefore, the soldier must have a full understanding of the necessity for harsh but just countermeasures against Jewish subhumanity. Human pity had to be banished: offering a traveling Slav, possibly a Bolshevik agent, something to eat was pure thoughtlessness, a mistaken humanitarian act. The cities would be destroyed, the partisans annihilated along with the uncommitted. These ideas, of course, didn’t all come from von Reichenau; the Reichsführer must have suggested a few passages to him, but the main point was that this order worked correctly toward the Führer, along his lines and toward his aims, to use the fine expression of an obscure employee of the Prussian Ministry of Agriculture, and so it was hardly surprising that the Führer was delighted with it, that he caused it to be distributed as an example to all the armies in the East. But I doubted if it was enough to set people’s minds at rest. National Socialism was a complete, total philosophy, a Weltanschauung, as we said; each person had to be able to find his place within it; there had to be room for all. But now, it was as if an opening had been forced into this whole, and all the destinies of National Socialism had been driven into it, on a one-way path of no return, which everyone had to follow until the end.


There was some agitation on the ground floor: groups of men were milling in the corners, whispering agitatedly. I caught a Scharführer by the sleeve: “What’s happening?”—“I don’t know, Obersturmführer. I think there’s a problem with the Standartenführer.”—“Where are the officers?” He pointed to a stairway that led to our quarters. On the way up, I met Kehrig, who was muttering as he came down, “This is insane, just insane.”—“What’s happening?” I asked him. He glanced at me gloomily and said, “How do you expect to work in such conditions?” He continued on his way. I climbed up a few more steps and heard a shot, the sound of broken glass, some shouts. On the landing in front of the open door of Blobel’s bedroom, two officers from the Wehrmacht were pacing furiously back and forth in front of Kurt Hans. “What’s happening?” I asked Hans. He gestured toward the room with his chin, his hands clenched behind his back. I went in. Blobel, sitting on his bed, wearing his boots but no jacket, was waving a pistol around; Callsen was standing next to him and trying without grasping his arm to direct the pistol toward the wall; a window pane had shattered; on the floor, I noticed a bottle of schnapps. Blobel was livid and spluttering incoherent words. Häfner came in behind me: “What’s happening?”—“I don’t know, it seems the Standartenführer is having a fit.”—“He’s gone nuts, you mean.” Callsen turned around: “Ah, Obersturmführer. Go ask the gentlemen from the Wehrmacht to excuse us and come back a little later, all right?” I stepped back and bumped into Hans, who had made up his mind to come in. “August, go find a doctor,” Callsen said to Häfner. Blobel was bawling: “It’s not possible, it’s not possible, they’re sick, I’m going to kill them.” The two officers from the Wehrmacht hovered in the hallway, rigid, pale. “Meine Herren…,” I began. Häfner pushed me aside and ran down the stairs. The Hauptmann squeaked: “Your Kommandant has gone mad! He wanted to shoot at us.” I didn’t know what to say.


Von Radetzky appeared at the door: “What is this mess?” Kurt Hans spoke up: “The Generalfeldmarschall gave an order and the Standartenführer was ill, he wasn’t able to bear it. He wanted to shoot at the officers from the Wehrmacht.”


An hour later, the officers met in the main hall. Von Radetzky and Häfner had left with Blobel; he had started kicking when they put him into the Opel, Sperath had been forced to give him another shot while Häfner held him round the waist. Callsen began to speak: “Well, I think you’re all more or less up to date about the situation.” Vogt interrupted: “Could you perhaps go over it quickly?”—“If you like. This morning, the Generalfeldmarschall gave the order to undertake a retaliatory action for the ten German soldiers found mutilated in the fortress. He ordered us to execute one Jew for each person assassinated by the Bolsheviks; that is more than a thousand Jews. The Standartenführer received the order and that seems to have brought about a fit…”—“It’s also somewhat the army’s fault,” Kurt Hans said. “They should have sent someone with more tact than that Hauptmann. And transmitting an order of this importance through a Hauptmann is almost an insult.”—“We have to admit that this whole business reflects badly on the honor of the SS,” Vogt commented.

--Niemti (talk) 18:36, 22 November 2012 (UTC)

"Further reading"[edit]

An useless collection of links. --Niemti (talk) 01:59, 4 March 2013 (UTC)

That was already discussed above. Just read the discussion again. There is nothing against a "Further reading" section. Plenty of featured articles have it. Evenfiel (talk) 18:31, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
They have when there are relevant books on the subject. --Niemti (talk) 18:34, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
In that list there are books and academic articles written about The Kindly Ones, as well as reviews by Holocaust and French literature specialists. I'll remove the less important links. Evenfiel (talk) 18:44, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Then use them in the article, JUST AS I ALREADY DID WITH SOME. Now revert yourself or I'll report you (for breaking Wikipedia guideline and spamming with external links). --Niemti (talk) 19:00, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
I've trimmed it down. If you want, you can use them in the article, if not, just leave them there. Thanks. Evenfiel (talk) 19:04, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
No, if YOU want, you can use them. Now, it's spam, serving no purpose for th article, breaking Wikipedia guideline. And so you have to remove the spam. You're welcome. --Niemti (talk) 19:11, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Please read about the "Further reading" section here: Wikipedia:Further_reading. Also, you should add all references used by you to the "References" section. I had to add a few that were still in the "Further reading" section, but you should still add a few more. Evenfiel (talk) 19:18, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
"The following is a proposed Wikipedia policy, guideline, or process. The proposal may still be in development, under discussion, or in the process of gathering consensus for adoption." No. --Niemti (talk) 19:27, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
I have been away for sometime, but having started working on this piece in 2006, and am certainly opposed to deleting the whole "Further reading" section. Perhaps it had gotten a little long, but Evenfiel's cull works for me, the remaining list seems to be most useful to any reader who wants to further their knowledge.Joel Mc (talk) 19:15, 5 March 2013 (UTC)
Oh yeah? Whatever purpose might some list, compiled either at random or arbitrarily (I'm not sure what's worse), serve to any reader equipped with the arcane powers of an Internet search engine? It's a repository of external links by another name. Also. --Niemti (talk) 19:21, 5 March 2013 (UTC)

Also, "At the time, he had a pharaonic project of writing a 10-volume book, which he gave up after writing the first three. The seeds of The Kindly Ones are to be found in the future fourth volume.[1] " What the hell does it mean? What books, what 4th volume? Is it some kind of really broken translation but it makes sense in the original French? --Niemti (talk) 19:29, 10 March 2013 (UTC)

If I remember it correctly, it was a 10-volume book about the Second World War, but I'll need to check. He wrote the first 3 volumes and used the ideas for the future 4th volume to start a completely new project, The Kindly Ones. Evenfiel (talk) 01:13, 13 March 2013 (UTC)

No mention of another award this book won?[edit]

The Bad Sex in Fiction Award: [1] In such a long article, surely it's possible to make room for that somewhere? Robofish (talk) 16:12, 25 October 2013 (UTC)

Speculative mention of Mandelbrod[edit]

The unreferenced, speculative, statement: "His name might be inspired...." has now been reverted by two editors. If you disagree with the reverts, please discuss here before continuing. --Joel Mc (talk) 16:07, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Cite error: There are <ref> tags on this page, but the references will not show without a {{reflist}} template (see the help page).