Addendum: History and Lili Marleen

I was a little nervous about publishing my post on Lili Marleen, given its handling of such a profoundly troubling and sensitive history. While Fassbinder’s position regarding Germany’s horrific past has always seemed clear to me, his work has at various times triggered accusations of antisemitism (especially after his play Garbage, the City, and Death, a work which I have not mentioned in this blog)—as well as homophobia (Fox and His Friends) and misogyny (too many to name)—and I feared I would be walking into a minefield. There is a fine line between “nuance” and “ambivalence,” and I hope I have made the distinction clear (not to mention the often trickier distinction in Fassbinder between “character” and “type”).

In the meantime, several astute readers have pointed out an irresponsible and thoughtless reference in my last post to “the concentration camps in Poland” and, later, “Polish concentration camps.” This, of course, is incorrect usage, and I have corrected those errors to the more accurate “German concentration camps in occupied Poland” (and later, “concentration camps”). As a former copy editor, I know better, and must apologize for the naive assumption that anyone reading this blog would know “what I meant.” As time passes and history grows more distant, subject to interpretation and dangerous equivocation, this kind of accuracy becomes more and more crucial; I have no excuse for such sloppiness.

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