Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Contra Klambauer

Here is a quote from Karl Klambauer, I hope for his sake it is not typical:

The forma­tion of a grossly distorted demonised image of the Turks began soon after the first Ottoman invasions of Habsburg territories. It had become firmly established by the end of the 16th century and made an indelible impression on people's collective memory in the Austrian regions. Undoubtedly these images of the Turks reflected the everyday inhumanities of war at that time which the population affected by them had to suffer, but to a large extent it was Habsburg and Church propaganda that created an exag­geratedly cruel image of the Turks. The more terribly the picture of Islamic Turks was painted, the more it seemed to be almost a patriotic and religious duty for everybody to support Emperor and Church in their fight against the Turks, the so-called hea­then arch-enemy. Consequently, what emerged was the image of a bestial Turkish enemy who defiled and desecrated Christian shrines and slaughtered Christian children and women in huge numbers. This pattern of a barbaric enemy was also retained in the pictures that displayed the Habsburg triumph over the Turks.

So what Karl Klambauer is basically saying is that:

a) Turks were no worse to those they considered infidels, not even the Yanitshar troops who were purposedly traumatised ex-Christians, and not even by endorsing slave hunt among infidels as per Sharia rule, than Austrians and French (both of them Catholics) were to each other when for instance fighting about Alsatia and Lotharingia;

b) The cruelty or civilisation of troops depends on what century the war is done in, not on what creeds are involved;

c) If it seems otherwise, it must be Habsburg monarchy and Church who distort and exaggerate the memory of the Turkish invasion, and absolutely cannot be any kind of effect of the High Porch on its soldiery;

d) However, when Nazists commit atrocities it is again an effect of Hitler on his soldiers (and of how they remember the Turks of 1683). Because, you know, everyone could tell you, Austrians and Germans are the only people capable of being crueller than contemporaries, especially when under the command of a thwarted painter (and what jerks were it who wanted painting to exclude the style popular in the previous century?) who had both citizenships one after another.

Wonderful that such a man as Karl Klambauer could ever be a historian! Really admirable. What University? Let the dishonour be where it belongs!

Hans-Georg Lundahl
Bibliothèque Mouffetard
Sts Julian and Basilissa
of Antioch

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