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But then it was too late

An excerpt from They Thought They Were Free – The Germans, 1933-45 by Milton Mayer

But Then It Was Too Late

What no one seemed to notice was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know, it doesn’t make people close to their government to be told that this is a people’s government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to do with knowing one is governing.

What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

The dictatorship, and the whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting. It provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway. I do not speak of your ‘little men,’ your baker and so on; I speak of my colleagues and myself, learned men, mind you. Most of us did not want to think about fundamental things and never had. There was no need to. Nazism gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about – we were decent people – and kept us so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises’ and so fascinated, yes, fascinated, by the machinations of the ‘national enemies,’ without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us. Unconsciously, I suppose, we were grateful. Who wants to think?

To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it – please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

How is this to be avoided, among ordinary men, even highly educated ordinary men? Frankly, I do not know. I do not see, even now. Many, many times since it all happened I have pondered that pair of great maxims, Principiis obsta and Finem respice – ‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ But one must foresee the end in order to resist, or even see, the beginnings. One must foresee the end clearly and certainly and how is this to be done, by ordinary men or even by extraordinary men? Things might have. And everyone counts on that might.

Your ‘little men,’ your Nazi friends, were not against National Socialism in principle. Men like me, who were, are the greater offenders, not because we knew better (that would be too much to say) but because we sensed better. Pastor Niemöller spoke for the thousands and thousands of men like me when he spoke (too modestly of himself) and said that, when the Nazis attacked the Communists, he was a little uneasy, but, after all, he was not a Communist, and so he did nothing; and then they attacked the Socialists, and he was a little uneasier, but, still, he was not a Socialist, and he did nothing; and then the schools, the press, the Jews, and so on, and he was always uneasier, but still he did nothing. And then they attacked the Church, and he was a Churchman, and he did something – but then it was too late.

You see, one doesn’t see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone; you don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ Why not?—Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, ‘everyone’ is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there would be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, ‘It’s not so bad’ or ‘You’re seeing things’ or ‘You’re an alarmist.’

And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can’t prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don’t know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have.

Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further and serves as a further deterrent to – to what? It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.

But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked – if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in ’43 had come immediately after the ‘German Firm’ stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in ’33. But of course this isn’t the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.

And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying ‘Jewish swine,’ collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live in – your nation, your people – is not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way.

You have gone almost all the way yourself. Life is a continuing process, a flow, not a succession of acts and events at all. It has flowed to a new level, carrying you with it, without any effort on your part. On this new level you live, you have been living more comfortably every day, with new morals, new principles. You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago, things that your father, even in Germany, could not have imagined.

Suddenly it all comes down, all at once. You see what you are, what you have done, or, more accurately, what you haven’t done (for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing). You remember those early meetings of your department in the university when, if one had stood, others would have stood, perhaps, but no one stood. A small matter, a matter of hiring this man or that, and you hired this one rather than that. You remember everything now, and your heart breaks. Too late. You are compromised beyond repair.

Note: Thanks to mars08 for this chilling reminder.


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  1. diannaart

    when good is perceived as evil and evil as justified…

    I was never this frightened of John Howard.

  2. puffytmd


  3. puffytmd

    Our country is being changed into a mean, nasty, racist, individualistic, consumer-worshiping enclave. We need to stop it, now. We need to get back to being the Australia of the ‘fair go, mate’ before all our values are warped and trashed out of existence.

  4. clarelhdm

    chilling. Let us make sure that no Australian can claim they ‘didn’t know’

  5. mars08

    If people read nothing else… they MUST read the first three paras of this excerpt from Mayer’s book.

    Hermann and Helga Schmidt didn’t just suddenly wake up in Nazi Germany on morning, and decide to annex the Sudetenland. It was back in the 1932 elections, the Nazi Party won plurality in the Reichstag. By then, there was already no turning back. One of the most educated, liberal, and enlightened nations in Europe had been taken over the edge by some very nasty people… and it had all been achieved by working within the system.

  6. rossleighbrisbane

    I heard Rafael Epstein – on the ABC – invoke Godwin’s Law when a caller tried to suggest that the level of secrecy in concentration camps was how Nazi Germany managed to commit so many atrocities undetected, before going on to explicitly say that you couldn’t compare what happened there to what was happening in the detention centres and then asserted that when you started comparing people to Nazis you’ve lost the argument. But, while Nazi Germany is often cited by all sorts of people for trivial reasons, this caller was making the same very valid point that your blog makes: Things have to start somewhere!
    People ofter forget that the “final solution” wasn’t the first solution and that the Nazis didn’t start by exterminating their perceived enemies – they started with the gradual erosion of rights – and while I’d agree that the Abbott Government has a long way to go before they’re responsible for the attempted genocide of a whole race, I hardly find the argument that just because the Nazis committed greater atrocities we have no concerns a rather ludicrous proposition.
    Whenever I found myself in a school where people said that there were plenty of worse schools than this around, I knew that I’d want to be out of there as quickly as possible. The phrase, “Name two” would have been a worthwhile comment.
    Now I wonder how people can seriously suggest that we have nothing to worry about – when we lock up people indefinitely and keep them from scrutiny – because the Nazis did far worse things.

  7. jasonblog

    A truly haunting excerpt. One of the facets of authoritarianism is the “sense” of chaos and crises that is created and believed by the populace to be urgent and demanding of “strong” intervention. It is much like Hannah Arendt wrote in ‘The Origins of Totalitarianism’, “The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction (i.e. the reality of experience) and the distinction between true and false (i.e. the standards of thought) no longer exist.” (page 474)

    R.I.P Reza Barati

  8. Kaye Lee

    Ross I agree. I purposely made no commentary because this is an historical account of something evil that was allowed to happen in the past. Abbott isn’t Hitler and this isn’t Germany struggling under the draconian conditions imposed by the Versailles Treaty.

    Nevertheless, it is a good reminder about our obligation to speak out against what we know to be wrong.

  9. Kaye Lee

    In an extraordinary statement issued late last night, Mr Morrison admitted that much of the information he had given to the Australian public since Monday’s riot was now in doubt.

    The most explosive admission is the revelation that most of the violence probably took place within the detention centre’s fences, rather than outside its boundaries, as Mr Morrison had previously claimed.

    “I wish to confirm that, contrary to initial reports received, I have received further information that indicates that the majority of the riotous behaviour that occurred, and the response to that behaviour to restore order to the centre, took place within the perimeter of the centre,” the minister said in the statement.

    On Friday, Mr Morrison said the security company would be off the island within a week, when its contract expired.

    Transfield, which runs operations on Nauru, will take over security on the island.

    The conduct of staff on the night will be investigated as part of the review ordered by Mr Morrison, as well as that of others within the detention centre compound that night.

    During the week, Mr Morrison had claimed that the 23-year-old Iranian man killed on Monday night, Reza Berati, had been outside the centre.

    “This is a tragedy, but this was a very dangerous situation where people decided to protest in a very violent way and to take themselves outside the centre and place themselves at great risk,” he said.

    But in the Saturday night statement, Mr Morrison said he had new information that cast further doubt on that claim.

    Read more:–information-he-gave-on-manus-riot-was-wrong-20140222-339hs.html#ixzz2u3bjtBeT

    R.I.P Reza Barati

    I will be attending the light in the dark vigil in my home town on Sunday night

  10. mars08

    Jason mentions Hannah Arendt … the woman who invented the phrase “banality of evil” while observing the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann.

    Arendt found that Eichmann was not the snarling, slobbering, ranting beast she expected to see. Without doubt he was a determined Nazi, a Jew hater, a cruel and evil man. But importantly, he was an efficient bureaucrat and a functionary. He appeared to be a nondescript individual… as well as being a mass murderer. Eichmann didn’t spend his days in a cave madly cackling about the evil scheme he administered. Arendt coined the term “banality of evil” to describe Eichmann and his kind. The kind who draws satisfaction from their participation in genocide, takes pride in doing a worthwhile job… while appearing to live a refined, urbane, respectable life.

    Arendt’s wasn’t trying to excuses or trivialise the horrors of the Nazi regime. In fact, she made it more horrifying. She leads us to consider that the Final Solution wasn’t some unique, localised and insane moment of history created by monstrous madmen. Instead she suggests… given similar conditions and fanatical leadership… it is a darkness we are all capable of embracing.

  11. Kaye Lee

    “An alcohol harm reduction body has accused the federal government of an ”appalling level of transparency” after it refused to release documents explaining why it axed the nation’s drug and alcohol body after almost 50 years of operation.

    The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education had its freedom of information request denied on the grounds it was ”not in the public interest”.

    Included in the list of unreleased documents are representations from more than 200 individuals and groups that have contacted the government to express concern.

    This week Fairfax revealed Assistant Health Minister Fiona Nash had refused a request to meet with a delegation of representatives of drug and alcohol bodies to discuss a way forward in light of the cancellation of funding for the Alcohol and other Drugs Council of Australia.

    Keep shining the light

  12. PeterF

    Confirmation of the danger of this government will come when they act against the ABC. (Not if, but when.)

  13. Stephen Tardrew

    Kaye I to agree that we are not in the throes of Nazism however I think the point is that history can repeat itself to some degree in a cloak that hides similar tendencies to dogmatism, secrecy, misspeak, lies, judgement, blame and retribution. Victim blame is the tool of the villain. The methods are different but the strategies similar.

    Why when the cabinet is full of Christians does this happen. The recent attacks by several Churches on the government will go unheeded if the majority are conditioned to live in fear of the mysterious socialists come unionists and inferred communist underpinnings.

    That the general populace lack vision of the future is due to the fear of loss in the present so they hope against hope that the government knows right and has their best interests at heart. Naive, yes, but the complexities of politics and a manipulative media are not obvious to those, who through necessity, live for the now.

    What is more I think this tome is telling us that things can get worse, a lot worse, if we do not act soon. If we cannot read history and continually repeat the same mistakes what hope is there of going forwards to a better future.

  14. Stephen Tardrew

    Missed Does this happen “?” Sorry.

  15. bobrafto

    A very insightful article that rings warning bells of Abbot’s modus operandi but it also touched a raw nerve of what I experienced with the Queensland establishment.

    If one thinks that the justice system is the last bastion of democracy, one needs to have a rethink, especially in Queensland.

    To summarize this experience, I was subjected to extortion by Brisbane City Council planners while Premier Newman was Mayor, Labor’s David Hinchcliffe was deputy Mayor and Bligh was Premier.
    Complaints of extortion were made to Premier Bligh, Police Minister Spence, Lord Mayor Newman, Deputy Mayor Hinchcliffe, the CMC, the Cops, and the Queensland Ombudsman
    Two acts of extortion were blatantly written as conditions in the development approval, prima facie evidence to say the least.

    What transpired was a cover up by both Labor and Liberals.

    I took to conducting a passive and a non-vocal protest with defamatory posters of Bligh and Newman outside BCC admin for over 12 months where I was subjected to intimidation and fines by Council, another crime under chapter 10 of the QLD crim code – Interfering with political liberty.

    When the protests proved futile I took civil proceedings where the P&E Court register a John Taylor took on the role as Council’s stand over thug where he threatened and bullied me to withdraw my court action and this was confirmed in the summary of the Court of Appeal but nothing was done about it, a serious crime was swept under the rug.

    Judge Griffin acknowledged the extortion by saying Council did not have the jurisdiction to impose those conditions and again two serious crimes were swept under the rug.

    Judge Chesterman in the Court of Appeal tripped over himself trying to justify the extortion by saying I didn’t have to pay $30K to a third party so I could do my development, I only had to do plans for the other party at a cost of $3K, and any amount constitutes a crime, he didn’t try to cover up the other extortion, well he did by omission, as he couldn’t think of a way to have a condition that didn’t have any legal standing made legal.

    Judge Gummow of the High Court said there were no errors in the development approval to dismiss my appeal, despite the admittance by Lord Mayor Newman in a letter saying there was an ADMINISTRATIVE ERROR. Premier Newman’s tentacles even reaches the High Court judges.

    I’ve lost the lot and have been dismissed as a SAD STORY.

    Readers might think I’m not a developer so it won’t happen to me, I wasn’t a developer either but I was lucky to have a once in a lifetime opportunity to secure a retirement nest egg, but regrettably I would not be party to a crime and it wasn’t to be.

    Apart from the implications of Premier Newman being a part of a criminal cover up and signing off on a fraudulent engineering certificate to cover up the extortion, if there is an injustice committed against you by government do not expect to have justice dispensed by the Judiciary.

    And the very sad part is that we all accept this crap but where will it end?

    I’m of the belief that there are scores of victims just like me.

  16. Terry2

    Despite earlier denials by Mr Abbott, I see that Scott Morrison has “refused to rule out shutting the Manus Island detention centre”.

    Reading between the lines it would seem that there is a potentially valid constitutional challenge underway in PNG which may well rule that the detention of people who have committed no criminal offence in PNG is unconstitutional and similarly that the jurisdictional arrangements currently applying to the detention centre are unenforceable.

    Watch this space, the rule of law may yet triumph.

  17. mars08

    Kaye says:

    “…this is an historical account of something evil that was allowed to happen in the past. Abbott isn’t Hitler…”

    I have no doubt that you are right.

    And quite frankly it’s not Abbott or even the horrid Scott Morrison who worry me the most. It is my FELLOW CITIZENS!!!

    For well over a decade the Australian public has been manipulated and misinformed by scores of amoral, opportunistic politicians (and their media mates). For years they have been fed lies about the asylum seekers. The leaders of both major parties have has an crazy aution of cruelty against the boat people. Average Australians have been CONDITIONED to fear and hate these asylum seekers… and the existing core of racist, ignorant bogans have been pandered to. Just for a relative handful of votes in marginal seats.

    No… Abbott is just a clueless, boring fool who is simply gathering the votes by appealing to the angry, fearful masses. I really don’t know if he has any genuine concerns about asylum seekers or foreigners in general. He is reaping the crop sown by those before him.

    We now have a situation where (apparently) most Australians would cheer on any increased cruelty to the asylum seekers. And based on what I’ve seen and heard since the recent violence on Manus, there is little or no empathy for the victims. Our politicians know this, and use it to their advantage in the electorate.

    Now the “gradual habituation of the people” has created the situation where they almost DEMAND an inhumane solution to the asylum seeker “problem”. And we have no shortage of loathsome politicians who are happy to deliver.

    “He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount.” Our leaders manufactured this crisis, and for them, there is no turning back.

  18. lmrh5

    Reblogged this on lmrh5.

  19. Kaye Lee

    Good article bob,

    “We respond to a detainee killed, but seem far less moved by the several who have committed suicide, as though they are somehow less dead.”

  20. Pingback: But then it was too late | lmrh5

  21. Jack Tarr

    Onya Mars08.

    No matter how comforting or comfortable it is, apportioning blame does not exonerate us from the death of Reza Barati. It is the old political game of divide and conquer wrapped in the ‘divide and exonerate’ cloth. Germany blamed the Nazi party, Japan blamed its military expansionists and the USA will blame the red menace. Now Australia is blaming its politicians.

    Why do we identify with our sportsmen and women’s successes but absolve ourselves of any responsibility for action we empower our employees to do on our behalf. ?

    In principle, we have the same ‘Workplace Safety’ responsibility for the workplace of our employees. Isn’t Scott Morrison, as Minister for immigration entitled to the same responsibility that Rudd, Gillard and Garrett have for the Pink Batts Insulation scheme deaths.? Of course he is but beyond this we must realise it is Australia as a nation of 22. 6 million people that will be complicit when sharing in an act of abrogating the responsibility for the death of Reza Barati, an asylum seeker. An Australia that is addicted to concept of division and the blame game. We are the people that have already failed Reza Barati with our ingrained ability to shift blame or responsibility. Our politicians are not our political masters they are our political representatives. We have put them in power. They are in Canberra at our bidding and now we cannot just bemoan the fact that we cannot remove them. They are simple employees and we MUST remove them if their performance is a danger to human life.

    As long as we divide ourselves with these foolish us and them demarcations we are complicit in the great lie that is perpetrated in the name of Australia – or is that O.K. because we will retain the perceived right to point the finger of righteousness.

    Australia is our house and we must put it in order or collectively we all wear the shame.

  22. mischmash1M

    You inspire me to keep up the good fight Kaye Lee, I read you every day..Me being low key on politics of late after being put down, labelled a mad lefty and surrounded by friends and family with their heads jammed rigidly into the sand on politics. Everywhere one goes the silence is either deafening or extremely inhumane. I fought so hard as many of us did, then felt so devastated when this mob were elected by Murdoch’s propaganda media victims. Occasionally you might get an ear, a sense of agreement, yet the agreement seems hushed and silent,..many social scenes are deemed ‘political discussion banned’, your friend says please don’t talk politics and upset people? They call you a ranter, or suggest you may need a stronger dose of your anti depressants…or because of your keen awareness of the destruction of our environment you are made sport of by comments like, ‘Are you going to save the world?’. Thanks to you Kaye Lee and the great sane fair balanced team at AIM and the few other sites we have on line to find truth, I will continue to keep up the good fight, refusing always to be silenced by the sheep.

  23. Kaye Lee

    I agree Jack. We all have a personal responsibility.

    “The standard we walk past is the standard we accept.”

    The people must lead the politicians. We must stop this madness. We must listen to the experts and try to come up with solutions because our politicians are too fixated on playing the blame game and are too gutless to say “we got it wrong”. The blame is ours for not demanding better of our employees.

    Kay Rollinson made some good suggestions. Refugee advocates, psychologists, social workers etc, all have suggestions. Let’s have our own review and come up with a plan that would be humane and cost us billions less and leads to welcoming refugees and assisting them to become productive members of our society.

    If only we could say to them “You are safe now”

  24. Kaye Lee


    I know how you feel. Sometimes I get tired and depressed…but it doesn’t take long for outrage to spring again and feel I must speak out.

    The “politics is banned” line infuriates me. Are we supposed to sit there swapping recipes? That would inevitably lead to the healthy website being taken down. Are we supposed to talk about our kids? That would lead to talk of independent schools and funding and curriculum. Are we supposed to discuss how much our last electricity bill was? That leads to carbon tax and RET and privatisation. Are we supposed to talk about holidays? That leads to the Great Barrier Reef and cyclones and climate change. I could go on and on. Politics affects every aspect of our lives. To dismiss it as boring or irrelevant is giving strangers control of everything you have and do and saying “do what you will…I trust you.”

  25. mars08

    Kaye says:

    “The people must lead the politicians. We must stop this madness…”

    I really don’t see how that’s going to happen. The vast majority of Australian have been conditioned to feel no empathy towards the asylum seekers. There has been a “gradual habituation of the people” to accept that NO treatment is too harsh or cruel. Years of lies and misinformation has taken it’s toll.

    Certainly politicians in this country have a long history of demonising certain groups in the quest for easy votes. Back in the 19th century it was the Irish Catholics. But with the advent of social media this demonisation has spread like crazy.

    Howard slapped it into overdrive with Tampa and the “children overboard” fiasco. It hasn’t slowed down since, no matter who has been in power! Why would it? Spreading fear and ignorance is a quick and efficient way of getting people to fall into line behind a “tough” leader. This works particularly well with our uneducated, distracted and disengaged citizens. Consider that there are voters today who weren’t even at school when the Tampa popped into the news. These voters have known nothing other than the hysteria and media sensationalism of asylum seekers. And our politicians use that to their advantage.

    He who rides a tiger is afraid to dismount. Out gutless “leaders” will NOT sacrifice valuable marginal votes for the sake of common decency.

  26. Dennis Bauer

    given similar conditions and fanatical leadership… it is a darkness we are all capable of embracing.

    what about 50% of the Australian people are now participating in, and as far as Kaye lee saying this is not
    Germany, i have heard a lot of older Australians say, this is just like Germany before the second world war
    ……….. for the last 20 years or more, a lot of people who can see this path and have for a long time, are still
    being laughed at, (how bloody ridiculous you’re an idiot) i feel i could go on and on but it’s pointless.
    Where is the good politicians speaking out, the law society, why the attacks against Science,
    This will take it’s course, its the Great Evil, it’s happening all over the world. Here in Australia the people got good practice attacking the Australian Aboriginals, till the boat people came along, the filth that was poured on the Australian Aborigines since i was a child, told me this country wasn’t going anywhere nice.

  27. john921fraser


    According to Uriah Heep …. whoops ! sorry I meant Gerard Henderson , see how easy it is to make that mistake ? …….. Under Labor there was a thousand deaths but under Abbott there is …. ONLY … 1 death.

    No man is an island,
    Entire of itself,
    Every man is a piece of the continent,
    A part of the main.
    If a clod be washed away by the sea,
    Europe is the less.
    As well as if a promontory were.
    As well as if a manor of thy friend's
    Or of thine own were:
    Any man's death diminishes me,
    Because I am involved in mankind,
    And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls;
    It tolls for thee.

    John Donne (1572-1631)

  28. hi2lea

    Reblogged this on hi2lea.

  29. john921fraser


    @Kaye Lee

    Heep/Henderson made his statement on today's "Insiders" on ABC tv and no one pulled him up on it.

    Bloody disgraceful.

    And the ABC should be looking at it.

    Shove him in the corner with Akerman.

  30. Kaye Lee

    I will be marching in March and I will also be attending tonight’s light in the dark vigil at 8pm to show asylum seekers that we care.

  31. Möbius Ecko

    “But in the Saturday night statement, Mr Morrison said he had new information that cast further doubt on that claim.”

    That’s the other element to this that has been raised by Shorten.

    Morrison, though having this information for at least a few days, ever since the DFAT interpreter who was an eye witness to events blew the lid on it, didn’t release the information until 9pm Saturday night, a time that would have the least impact on the 24/7 news cycle.

    Shorten is rightly demanding that Morrison reveal when he knew the violence took place inside the camp and how much does he know.

    Of course he’s not going to get an answer, and the MSM won’t chase it up either in protecting this government, another arm of the slide to authoritarianism. Morrison is already beginning his cover up campaign and said that the investigation into this will take many months, if not longer, and an enquiry will then take months.

  32. allenmcmahon

    We are responsible for the death of Reza Barati on Manus Island.

    We had warnings from Amnesty and the UNHCR so we knew what was likely to happen and did not act.

    Under Labor women and children were sent to Manus Island against the advice of health professionals who warned the government of the health risks associated with the chemicals used to control malarial mosquitoes. Of the six pregnant women sent to Manus Island three lost the baby they were carrying.

    We are responsible for these deaths we knew what was likely to happen and we did not act.

    Vulnerable young men who had been assaulted, including one who was raped were sent back into the same compound with the perpetrators.

    When the information came to light on Dateline our silence made us complicit in these crimes.

    We know the offshore centers are concentration camps where people queue for up to six hours in the sun for a meals or for a daily four minute shower.

    We know that on Nauru pregnant women, unaccompanied minors including one child of four with profound disabilities exist in tents where the temperature can get up the 50C.

    We know that on arrival at Christmas Island people have prosthetics, glasses and medicine taken from them and not replaced. We know that medical care is inadequate and that it takes on average three weeks for people in these camps to see a doctor. We know that the doctors that brought this to light have been replaced and the system remains unchanged.

    Some people will take 30 seconds out of their busy lives to sign meaningless online petitions, a few people will go to the vigils tonight, so few that the government will have further confirmation that they can ratchet up the torture with impunity.

    While the people in Manus Island, Nauru, Christmas Island and in our mainland centers continue to suffer we will continue to ignore their deplorable treatment and what has happened and is likely to happen again.

    I am in regular contact with people who seek asylum both in detention and in the community and they ask me why so many Australians hate them. I have given up making excuses for my fellow Australians and the truth that most people do not hate asylum seekers, it is far worse because they know what is happening to these vulnerable people but do not care enough to do anything about it.

  33. hi2lea

    For any of you who have had enough of the Abbott government and are scared of what is happening each day to our most vulnerable members of society, please come to the March in March in many cities around Australia.

    I have been thinking lately myself how what Abbott is doing is so similar to the gradual villification of the Jewish people by Hitler, ending in the holocaust. He started in the 1920s with his Nazi party campaigning to get into power and, during the campaign always stated how they would be able to improve the Germans living conditions and how the Jewish people were taking all of the money, jobs etc. When the Nazi party got into power, they slowly started taking more and more freedoms away from the jews and used propaganda for the general population to do his dirty work for him. This ended in Crystal night in 1938 where Jewish people were arrested, beaten and killed, starting the holocaust. It then included catholics, the disabled, homosexuals, socialists etc. after the war had started.

    Ever since Abbott came into government he has eroded rights of many Australians, getting rid of a minister for women, minister for science, minister for the environment etc. which shows what he thinks of these. He let the Murdoch media run his campaign for him, vilifying first Julia Gillard and then Kevin Rudd, so the general population believed it all, because, “its in the paper and on TV, so it must be true”. The treatment handed out to Julia Gillard was shocking and everyone joined in, even the so called founder of feminism, Germaine Greer. The only campaign that Abbott had was “turn back the boats and cut the carbon tax” and the simple people who believed their papers, voted for him.

    The first thing he did was he came into government was take away the promised wage rise for child care and aged care workers, who are the most poorly paid in Australia, they can hardly exist on their wages. Then he let his mates start a coal mine near the Great barrier reef that will leek tonnes of sludge into it. He is taking money from the most vulnerable in our society and giving it to the most wealthy. He has let our manufacturing industries all shut down without help, but Rupert Murdoch just got paid 869 milion dollars from the ATO. It’s not that murdoch paid more than this in tax, it is just that he did some kind of deal years ago with a money deal, and, when the australian dollar drops, the government has to pay Murdoch multi millions to make up for it.

    Now, the treatment of our asylum seekers is the final straw and it is being noticed around the world about our racist, xenophobic treatment of these most vulnerable people.

    If you feel as scared of I am about what will happen to our country if he is allowed to stay in power, please join the March in March and show the Murdoch media that there are others who don’t believe everything they tell us. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” Edmund Burke

  34. diannaart

    Besides, john921fraser, it is ‘only’ a single death that is officially recognised – unlikely, there will ever be acknowledgement of many asylum seekers lost at sea.

    Which is why “Turn Back The Boats” is so successful at appealing to the base human failure of out of sight out of mind.

    R.I.P Reza Barati

  35. Jack Tarr

    >Dennis Bauer:

    Take heart Dennis, no matter that the young berate us – the old – it is old wisdom that knows:’ each successive generation needs to be taught the lessons of humanity and fraternity. No matter that it sometimes appears there is never enough evolution to go around. We must never give up.

    We cannot leave the Australian future narrative to the political or legal fraternity or body of science because these are often ideological groups with divided loyalties and merit no extra kudos for this. It is the integrity of the individual personality and responsibility that is vital to understand as a nation if its individual voice is to carry weight in the defence of Principle and Truth..

    Principiis obsta and Finem respice—‘Resist the beginnings’ and ‘Consider the end.’ can only be relevant if the young are taught to understand what the beginnings should look like

  36. billy moir

    try this from the first Septic tank I have admired for years:
    There’s a lot to admire about Australia, especially if you’re a visiting American, says David Mason.
    More often than you might expect, Australian friends patiently listening to me enthuse about their country have said, ”We need outsiders like you to remind us what we have.” So here it is – a small presumptuous list of what one foreigner admires in Oz.
    1. Health care.
    I know the controversies, but basic national health care is a gift.
    In America, medical expenses are a leading cause of bankruptcy.
    The drug companies dominate politics and advertising.
    Obama is being crucified for taking halting baby steps towards sanity.
    You can’t turn on the telly without hours of drug advertisements – something I have never yet seen here.
    And your emphasis on prevention – making cigarettes less accessible, for one – is a model.
    2. Food.
    Yes, we have great food in America too, especially in the big cities.
    But your bread is less sweet, your lamb is cheaper, and your supermarket vegetables and fruits are fresher than ours.
    Too often in my country an apple is a ball of pulp as big as your face.
    The dainty Pink Lady apples of Oz are the juiciest I’ve had.
    And don’t get me started on coffee.
    In American small towns it tastes like water flavoured with burnt dirt, but the smallest shop in the smallest town in Oz can make a first-rate latte.
    I love your ubiquitous bakeries, your hot-cross buns. Shall I go on?
    3. Language.
    How do you do it?
    The rhyming slang and Aboriginal place names like magic spells.
    Words that seem vaguely English yet also resemble an argot from another planet.
    I love the way institutional names get turned into diminutives – Vinnie’s and Salvos – and absolutely nothing’s sacred.
    Everything’s an opportunity for word games and everyone’s a nickname.
    Lingo makes the world go round.
    It’s the spontaneous wit of the people that tickles me most.
    Late one night at a barbie my new mate Suds remarked, ”Nothing’s the same since 24-7.” Amen.
    4. Free-to-air TV.
    In Oz, you buy a TV, plug it in and watch some of the best programming I’ve ever seen – uncensored.
    In America, you can’t get diddly-squat without paying a cable or satellite company heavy fees.
    In Oz a few channels make it hard to choose.
    In America, you’ve got 400 channels and nothing to watch.
    5. Small shops.
    Outside the big cities in America corporations have nearly erased them.
    Identical malls with identical restaurants serving inferior food.
    Except for geography, it’s hard to tell one American town from another.
    The ”take-away” culture here is wonderful.
    Human encounters are real – stirring happens, stories get told.
    The curries are to die for. And you don’t have to tip!
    6. Free camping.
    We used to have this too, and I guess it’s still free when you backpack miles away from the roads.
    But I love the fact that in Oz everyone owns the shore and in many places you can pull up a camper van and stare at the sea for weeks.
    I love the ”primitive” and independent campgrounds, the life out of doors.
    The few idiots who leave their stubbies and rubbish behind in these pristine places ought to be transported in chains.
    7. Religion.
    In America, it’s everywhere – especially where it’s not supposed to be, like politics.
    I imagine you have your Pharisees too, making a big public show of devotion, but I have yet to meet one here.
    8. Roads.
    Peak hour aside, I’ve found travel on your roads pure heaven.
    My country’s ”freeways” are crowded, crumbling, insanely knotted with looping overpasses – it’s like racing homicidal maniacs on fraying spaghetti.
    I’ve taken the Hume without stress, and I love the Princes Highway when it’s two lanes.
    Ninety minutes south of Bateman’s Bay I was sorry to see one billboard for a McDonald’s.
    It’s blocking a lovely paddock view. Someone should remove it.
    9. Real multiculturalism.
    I know there are tensions, just like anywhere else, but I love the distinctiveness of your communities and the way you publicly acknowledge the Aboriginal past.
    Recently, too, I spent quality time with Melbourne Greeks, and was gratified both by their devotion to their own great language and culture and their openness to an Afghan lunch.
    10. Fewer guns.
    You had Port Arthur in 1996 and got real in response.
    America replicates such massacres several times a year and nothing changes.
    Our religion of individual rights makes the good of the community an impossible dream.
    Instead of mateship we have ”It’s mine and nobody else’s”.
    We talk a great game about freedom, but too often live in fear.
    There’s more to say – your kaleidoscopic birds, your perfumed bush in springtime, your vast beaches.
    These are just a few blessings that make Australia a rarity.
    Of course, it’s not paradise – nowhere is – but I love it here.
    No need to wave flags like Americans and add to the world’s windiness.
    Just value what you have and don’t give it away.
    David Mason is a US writer and professor, and poet laureate of Colorado.

  37. Kaye Lee

    On Monday 17 February 2014, ten unaccompanied children were sent to Nauru by the Abbott government.

  38. diannaart

    Thank you David Mason.

    I lived in the states for two years and found a great deal to admire, however my experience taught me to value Australia for the very reasons you have stated. That was in the 80’s.

    Since then I have watched the not-so-gradual infiltration of the worst of American corporatism and religiosity – with little of the best of American culture.

    Whether we can retain what is left of our Aussie traditions is very much under threat with a government clone of the American Republican party at the helm.

    I hope, I pray, that at the next US elections another Democrat is elected, else America will watch the demolition of every forward step Obama has managed to achieve, just as our Labor party’s progress is being wrecked.

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  40. allenmcmahon

    ‘On Monday 17 February 2014, ten unaccompanied children were sent to Nauru by the Abbott government.’

    Where there is no school, no recreational facilities and where everybody is confined in the camp 24/7 because the locals don’t want asylum seekers on Nauru. The compounds are on a open plateau where there is no shade and where the dust for the phosphate mines blows through the camps.

    The local staff used as guards are paid a pittance and have no training.There have already been instances of assault by local staff on detainees and the potential for violence similar to what has happened to Manus is growing. Like Manus the locals are just bodies on the ground to offer the pretense that the Nauru government controls the detention process.

    To stop scrutiny by the foreign media a visa which used to cost $200 for multiple visits now costs $8,000 as a once off. Nauru only income is Australian aid and hosting asylum seekers and most of the senior administrative positions are help by Australians.

  41. Möbius Ecko

    This won’t be a surprise to anyone but Pyne has announced a parliamentary enquiry into Craig Thomson, for get this, misleading parliament.

    This government’s ministers have taken hypocrisy to a whole new level.

    One can only wonder that the Liberals think they are going to rule forever or have planned for the complete destruction of records if they look like losing to pull all these stacked enquiries and handing over cabinet papers.

    There is none who misled parliament more and more seriously than Downer, who once stood hand on heart in parliament and said there was irrefutable evidence that Saddam had WMD and was starting a nuclear weapons program. Yet a few days prior to that Australian intelligence had told him that the evidence was very suspect and most likely a forgery, which it turned out to be. That misleading of parliament cost untold thousands of lies.

    AWB anyone? Again direct from Downer’s office.

    Let’s not forget the leaking of a Secret document to Andrew Bolt to undermine Wilkie. That also came from Downer’s office. That can carry a prison sentence of 20 years.

    Then there was his misleading of parliament over East Timor, something that cost hundreds of lives.

    Either the Liberals are cock sure their past will never come back to bite them, especially since it can lead to war crimes against them, or Abbott really is an idiot who can’t think a week ahead, but whatever the case they are playing a dangerous game for not just Labor but themselves as well and what could be the complete collapse of faith in our democracy, something that is already very shaky and made far worse by this wanton Abbott government.

  42. mars08

    You are all over-reacting!!! This discussion is SILLY.

    Offshore detention is NOT the Nazi’s “Final solution” reborn. Tony Abbott is NOT in the same league as Hitler. Australia in 2014 is NOT Germany of the 1930’s.

    To even begin to compare the conditions of the illegal immigrants to the plight of Europeans Jews, is a slap in the face to those who suffered and died in the Holocaust.

    etc, etc, etc…

    Just in case any of you were missing the usual suspects and their contrary ways…

  43. john921fraser



    Camps outside Nazi Germany :

    Just a few of the "Internment and Transit" camps
    I have been very specific in naming these camps because they were outside Germany and were "detention and transit camps" …. ring any bells ?

    Australia's camps outside Australia :–that-immigration-did-not-want-you-to-see-20140221-337n0.html

    The similarities are there.

    Everything Abbott touches turns to shit !

  44. mars08

    But…. the BOATS!!!

    Goddam it people!!! We are fighting for our way of life were!!! We are under attack!!! We are the REAL victims!!! So… “…you don’t want a wimp running border protection, you want someone who is strong, who is decent and Scott Morrison is both strong and decent.” Apparently!

  45. Hugh W

    What a timely reminder of how fragile freedom & democracy are. Thank you for posting it.

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  47. mars08

    ah …billie11… sarcasm…

  48. Matters Not.

    Frankly I’m surprised that Scott Morrison made any admissions re Manus and the death of one ‘illegal’. After all it was an ‘operational matter’. What is more ‘operational’ than battering one human to death while being an employee of a government contractor?

    Besides the deceased wasn’t an ‘Australian’. So it matters not?

    While we have a ‘much needed’ inquiry into the roof insulation ‘fiasco’ because 4 young people died because of decisions made in the now much lauded ‘private sector’ we won’t mention the 40 ‘Australian’ lives lost in Iraq because of government ‘decisions’.

    As always it matters not because the ‘sleepers’ are not yet awake.

    Can never understand why Jones never referenced Ellul.

  49. abbienoiraude

    I was terrified under Howard….and he took us to war and vilified those on Centrelink payments. Abbott is his ‘boy’ and is taking it to the next step…Terrifying indeed.

    Thank you Kaye for posting this. I am always unsure about references to Nazi’s etc because of the Godwin’s Law…but it is important to recognise and not repeat.

    The comments have been enlightening and helpful, for I too have trouble with being seen as ‘mad’ for caring so much about what is happening in Australia’s political climate. We went out for the first time in years to a ‘party’. We were the oldest there….was there one conversation about ‘politics’? NO! Yet it was thick with possibility…especially when people said; And what do you do? And I point to my man and say; I am his carer.

    I will be Marching in March…I have to. I have a grandson. I must.

  50. mars08

    Rest assured Morrison would not have made any admission if the LNP thought it would cost them votes. I suspect they are just taking this opportunity to normalise what was previously unthinkable. After all, shit happens, right?

  51. john921fraser


    Abbott …. ""He’s doing a great job for our country. You don’t want a wimp running border protection, you want someone who is strong, who is decent and Scott Morrison is both strong and decent."

    Doesn't say much for the rest of the so called conservatives.

  52. billie11

    Mars08 this stupid obsession with offshore imprisonment for asylum seekers who come by boat is very expensive – about $1 million per person

    How much of a threat to you are they really?

  53. Kaye Lee

    From the New York Times…..

    “Australia’s treatment of asylum seekers sent to offshore processing centers is cruel, inhuman and degrading and it violates international law, the United Nations’ human rights office said Friday.”

    I just got back from the Light the Dark vigil in my home town. It was very moving. About 150 people lined the waterfront and threw flowers into the water as we said Reza’s name. We then lit candles and placed them in a big circle. The photos from Sydney and Melbourne show very large crowds. Others who couldn’t make it are posting photos online of themselves with lit candles. It gives me hope and heartens me to see so many people who care.

  54. bobrafto

    Doesn’t say much for the rest of the so called conservatives.

    And their followers!

  55. mars08

    Kaye says:

    …photos from Sydney and Melbourne show very large crowds. Others who couldn’t make it are posting photos online of themselves with lit candles. It gives me hope and heartens me to see so many people who care.

    Well, that is encouraging. There are many people out there who really care. But the thing to remember is that the numbers aren’t all that important to this government. What matters is WHERE those people vote. A vigil in a safe Labor seat will not be nearly as troubling to Credlin (and the number crunchers) as popular outrage in a marginal seat. They will continue to pander…

    Morrisons admission that he he gave wrong information about the Manus Island death is NOT as sign of contrition. Quite the opposite. What this government is saying is: sure things got out of control and people were badly injured and killed… sure the minister’s first instinct was to got for the spin… but so what?

    To paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld, “Border protection can be messy”

  56. Cassmiranda

    Thank you for this. Hoping that more people start to question the agenda which is presented to them.
    It seems that modern day Elites understand very well that creating a common enemy is an effective way to foster nationalistic support.
    Manipulation of discourse is such a powerful method of social control. The only way we can combat it is to educate and inform people.
    Unfortunately the ones who need to read articles like this probably won’t -or if they do will miss the point.

  57. Kaye Lee

    I hope somehow the asylum seekers get to hear about this. It may at least let them know that some of us care

  58. Kaye Lee

    Another disturbing trend – we have the AFP raiding the offices of the lawyer for Timor l’Este, and then we have the AFP raiding the offices of a television station. Are they becoming Brandis’ posse?

    ”As a lawyer will you please do your job and demand some accountability from the AFP who should have simply asked for the documents referred to in the search warrant, given full compliance with the production requests, rather than wasting public resources on a ‘raid’ on a television network,” Mr McWilliam said to Senator Brandis in the email. ”We have people here swearing affidavits that criminal offences have been committed. Convincing magistrates to sign search warrants (and court orders) against a public company and its reputable lawyers. Where does this stop?”

  59. john921fraser


    @Kaye Lee

    Looks like the AFP are following the Brandis lead and not reading the documents.

    But Brandis should have told Inspector Plod to read their own Search Warrant …. just don't read what they confiscate from Channel 7.

    I wonder who Kerry Stokes "West Australian" newspaper will support now in the W.A. Senate election ?

  60. Kaye Lee

    After receiving the Colossal Fossil award for our stance on climate change, we are now being vilified for actively assisting in human rights abuses.

    “Diplomats preparing for the United Nations Human Rights Council session in Geneva next month have expressed concern Australia is working to ”actively undermine” a push for an international inquiry into human rights abuses in Sri Lanka, because of the government’s eagerness to co-operate with that country’s leaders on asylum seekers.”

  61. Terry2

    Interesting to see Phil Coorey of the Financial Review on Insiders highlighting the blatant lie by Abbott, alleging that Alcoa were closing their Pt Henry smelter partly due to the impact of the “carbon tax”.

    In fact, Alcoa had paid no carbon tax and had benefited from excess carbon credits which they traded, to put them ahead : carbon trading operating as it should.

    Good to see that we still have some investigating journalists who can research and expose these lies.

  62. john921fraser


    @Kaye Lee

    I thought the "wimps" had to take some of the blame ?

  63. jayanar

    Can I point out that “Godwin’s Law” is the equivalent of a legal fiction and that Mike Godwin, the inventor himself, is rather amused that it became the equivalent of a mathematical law amongst certain individuals of geekish persuasion?

    If it is anything it is actually a meme (see Dawkins). Without the cat.

    Godwin was concerned that the horrific nature of the Holocaust and other Nazi atrocities would be triviaklised if the Nazi and Hitler analogies were overused.

    So the advice would be to use use it where appropriate but in moderation. Such as when we look at where Coalition policy can go.

  64. Adriaan de Leeuw

    The definition of a Free Country can be explained in sort, by the following statement, A country where the rule of Law is HIGHER than the Government of the day! WHERE THE COURTS CAN TELL A GOVERNMENT that they are breaking the Law! Sadly in America this has gone the way of the DODO with So called National Security the over riding factor and Australia is fast approaching, the claim by ASIO that it doesn’t have to tell anyone how it determines a persons STATUS! The claim by the Military that they don’t have to tell Senators anything, because it is an Operational matter, Now Australia is not at War and The Military is directly and Constitutionally responsible to the Civilian Government and Parliament! The Wholesale breach of treaty law in Australia is an abomination! Geneva, the Torture Conventions, The refugee conventions all I might add signed into existence by Liberal Governments and all totally abused by Later further to the Right Liberal Governments (noting that Labor Governments should not get off Scott free either)!

    Australia has lost its Freedom and it is taking that Direction from America, the very same Tea Partiests of America are the same people that the Liberal Party is now taking Republican party advice from, and it started in earnest when John Howards Son went to America and spent several years in th Republican Party Headquarters and brought back so many ideas! Remember the Howard era changes to the electoral roll and the stink that they caused, note this week the announcement of So called Voter Fraud, the Majority of which is because of Old people who have voted twice because they have forgotten they voted Postally or Early! Wait for the Voter ID calls from the Liberals!

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  70. mars08

    Given the recent news that Philip Ruddock will go to the UN… and become Australia’s first special envoy for human rights.

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