Monday, March 20, 2006

The Problem With the Sort of History I Do

So, obviously I'm procrastinating right now. I really should get this conference paper proposal written (I have it all planned out; I just have to write it), and maybe read that chapter from the Magic Mountain (yay, Thomas Mann!) that I'm teaching in seminar on Tuesday. But I'm heavily procrastinating right now. I was reading through the pages of forum discussion on the Battlestar Galactica season finale (Yes, I know. I'm hopelessly dorky by this point.) and someone drew a comparison between the show's new president and Hitler, based in the outcome of the election. And that person said, essentially, "and Hitler was running against someone when he was legally elected as President in Germany." (Their bolding, not mine.)

I had to leave the forum at that moment. Actually, at the moment when I realised that no one corrected that blatant factual error, and I really didn't feel like getting into it there. I need to rant it out for a moment: Hitler was never President of Germany. Hitler was never elected President of Germany, in any democratic sense of the word. Hitler ran against Hindenburg and lost. Paul von Hindenburg was President of Germany, and he appointed Hitler as his Chancellor. After Hindenburg died in 1934, Hitler abolished the title of President and declared himself Reich Fuhrer, which was a blending of the two titles and then some. (Okay. So I'm not near any of my books for confirmation on all of the dates and titles, but I'm pretty sure it was 1934, because it was just after Hindenburg's death that Leni Riefenstahl made Triumph of the Will. And ask me about Leni Riefenstahl. No really: ask.)

Okay. I feel better now. Actually, I'll probably end up putting a correction in the thread. Bad history makes my head hurt. This is the problem with the sort of history that I do: everyone thinks they're already an expert in it.


Meg Persson said...

"And ask me about Leni Riefenstahl. No really: ask."

No! Folks, I warn you - don't ask!


Ancarett said...

Please do correct them! I'm another Canadian BSG fan and historian but I think I've blissfully missed that particular forum. (I mostly hang out on livejournal for my fandom discussion fun.)

Queen of West Procrastination said...

I did correct them. Mostly, the TWOP forums are really good, because the moderators police them so vigilantly.

And welcome, Ancarett! I'm an occasional lurker over at your blog. (It's nice that there's another Canadian in this academic blogosphere community.)