From under the linoleum
Old newspapers show Mussolini's imperialism looked a lot like today's

I sat on the floor and picked through the tragedy of the country we now call Ethiopia laid out on the yellowing pages. It was eerily reminiscent of the current Iraq adventure.

A tale for our times
The December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov

Seventy years on, the killing of Sergei Kirov casts an eerie light on the events of 11 September 2001, the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the “war on Terror” and the state-sponsored hysteria surrounding the shadowy figures of Osama bin Ladin and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

Ninety-three years of bombing the Arabs
It was the Italians, hell-bent on acquiring an African empire, who got the ball rolling. In 1911 the Libyan Arab tribes opposed an Italian invasion. Their civilians were the first people in the world to be bombed from the air.

Dispossessed all over again
After spending nearly two months in the West Bank the pull towards my village was growing stronger, especially after being detained twice and threatened with deportation … an Australian Palestinian returns to her ancestral home.

The tragic inevitability of a forlorn hope
Australia slides further into the Iraq quagmire
Cabinet documents recently released under the 50-year rule show that, in 1954, Liberal (conservative) Prime Minister, Robert Menzies, and key figures in his Cabinet were extremely gloomy about the prospects for success in an American war against nationalists in Indochina. But eventually they went to the Vietnam War anyway.

Bombing King David
One man’s freedom fighter is another’s terrorist

Some historians date the beginning of modern terrorism from the 1946 bombing by Zionist terrorists of the British military HQ in Jerusalem.

Don’t loiter near the exit
Military debacle and economic decline haunt the Bush regime

When I was just a young possum in the school cadet corps there was a hoary old war story that we all knew. It was almost certainly apocryphal, but it ruefully expressed a nasty historic truth about the US role in the demise of the British Empire.


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Darville should be hauled in for questioning
9 March 2000

There was quiet consternation in Sydney's white trash intelligentsia and the incestuous world of publishing last week. Helen "Demidenko" Darville had surfaced in a little-known mag called Australian Style and many people who burned their fingers with her anti-Semitic novel wished she had not.

I had never heard of Australian Style, but when I heard the news I bought a copy and took it home in a plain brown wrapper. It is not a glossy, more of a matt -- a mag for rich teenagers, vacuous yuppies, and persons who like looking at skinny, barely-pubescent girls and boys.

The title page lists the publisher and editor-in-chief as Andrea Horwood, the managing editor as Alex McKinnon. The newly appointed editor (who commissioned the piece by Darville) is one Jack Marx. The directors are Horwood, McKinnon and young Wendy Deng's stepson, Lachlan Murdoch.

Darville is holed up in London now and her piece is a rambling impressionistic interview with David Irving, the right wing English historian who notoriously denies the existence of the Third Reich's gas chambers, and that Hitler knew about the Final Solution, at least until 1943. The occasion is Irving's libel action against an American Academic, Deborah Lipstadt for remarks about him in her 1993 book Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory.

Darville does Irving was a curious meeting of minds, for Darville, under the assumed identity of "Helen Demidenko", was the author of The Hand That Signed the Paper, a first novel that won the 1993 Australian-Vogel award and the 1995 Miles Franklin. In a cause celebre of Australian letters she was subsequently exposed as a sad little fantasist. She claimed The Hand was the story of her family. She wore a peasant blouse and screeched hysterically on the radio about Ukrainian ancestors butchered by "Jewish Bolsheviks", but when the truth came out, she was just a brazen liar and a plagiarist, a disturbed young lady from a prosaically English family.

Her novel pushed the old Nazi line that the Bolshevik Party was a Jewish conspiracy and that the Ukrainian Jews thereby brought it all on themselves.

Irving's line, by contrast, is that the Holocaust wasn't so bad after all. This is mad political masochism, an intellectual suicide mission. He doesn't deny there was a Holocaust, and he'd even put the total number of Jews killed at somewhere between one and four million. The question is, why does he bother with this bizarre crusade? In terms of saving Hitler's 'honour', could the exact numbers really matter? One million murders, four million, six million ... who cares. The whole of Nazi ideology, propaganda and social policy headed inexorably towards the Final Solution. A huge bureaucracy was created to implement it. The Einsatzgruppen were formed to hunt down and execute Jews wherever they could be found. Who cares if Hitler didn't attend the committee meetings and sign off on all the plans? Does it make a difference whether a few million people died by gassing or -- as Irving would prefer to see it -- by shooting, typhoid, starvation and forced labour?

Clearly, the ultra-right care, because their new generation must rescue the 'honour' of European fascism somehow. They must 'prove' to themselves, in some twisted way, that Hitler was actually a rational moderate nationalist, who knew nothing of extreme measures implemented by over-zealous underlings.

And what of the motives of Australian Style? Is printing Darville's piece an attempt to rehabilitate her, or is it just a tasteless tactic to boost sales through controversy? When they sat down to plan the March edition, why did they decide to commission such a person to report on a trial of such gravity? They had hundreds of freelance writers trying to crack the big time in London to choose from. Why not do something on Michael Hutchence or run a new conspiracy theory on Lady Di's death?

But one claim by Darville caught my eye: she repeats her old story that in 1992 she "conducted extensive interviews with a Ukrainian who served as a guard at Treblinka", a man she says participated in herding Jews to the gas chambers. She's probably lying again, but just to be sure, the war crimes investigators should haul her in for questioning.