Mar 262012
 

Just when you thought advertising executives couldn’t get any more crass, along comes proof that there is no limit to their insensitivity.

In this Turkish ad, Hitler berates a crowd for using women’s shampoo.

If you’re not wearing women’s clothes, you shouldn’t be using women’s shampoo either, he shouts. Here it is. A real man’s shampoo. Biomen. Real men use Biomen.

Hitler on hair.

What next — Stalin on styling mousse?  Mao-Tse Tung on moisturiser?

It beggars belief, especially when we remember that Turkey inflicted its own genocide on the Armenians between 1913 and 1918, and the Turkish government continues to deny the historical reality of that crime.  When the Turks carried out that genocide, they employed techniques that would be replicated on a larger scale a quarter century later.  They employed mass deportations using railway cattle-wagons, concentration of people in death camps, mass shootings and burnings.  It was no coincidence that the methods used by the Turks came to be used for the same purpose against the Jews and gypsies throughout central Europe — after all, Turkey and Germany were allies in the First World War, and many German military officers were on hand to observe and report on the First Holocaust.

Just like the Germans, the Turks hid behind the pretence of resettlement, although the mask occasionally slipped.  In 1915, in a chilling precursor to the instructions emanating from the Wannsee conference, the Turkish interior minister, Talaat Pasha, cabled his prefect in Aleppo as follows:

You  have already been informed that the government has decided to destroy completely all the indicated persons living in Turkey. Their existence must be terminated, however tragic the measures taken may be, and no regard must be paid to either age or sex, or to any scruples of conscience.

The prefect of Aleppo took his  instructions to heart and today the Syrian desert is full of hills comprising the mortal remains of the people he enthusiastically murdered, but that’s not all it contains, for in the same desert there is a cave into which the Turks drove 5,000 people before lighting a huge fire at its mouth, killing all five thousand by poisoning and asphyxiation.  The Turks had created the first gas chamber, and Germans were on hand taking note.  Officers from the army of the Kaiser, seconded to the Turkish forces to advise on reorganisation, saw at first hand what was happening, though in fairness to their memory, not all of them approved.  Indeed, the photographic images of Armin Wegner, an army medic, form the basis for the incontrovertible case against Turkey.

Unlike the later genocide inflicted by the Nazis, the Armenian genocide took place in full view of the world.  European and American newspapers daily chronicled what was happening: the mass slaughters, the rapes, the expulsions.  Ten thousand people drowned in one single act of murder, so many corpses that the Tigris river was temporarily diverted by the blockage.  Furthermore, and perhaps most telling, the First Holocaust took place in plain view of the Turkish people, and while many of them showed extraordinary kindness to the Armenians, many others took a full and active part in the slaughter.  This is a shame that all Turks have, and that none will acknowledge.  It was not a remote historical bogeyman who did these things: it was their grandparents.

However crass advertising executives might be, nobody can deny their ability to take the temperature of the public mood and to gauge what is acceptable to the public mind.  Therefore, if they think that the Turkish people will accept something as vile as Hitler in an advertisement, we can’t read that in isolation.  We must also take into account that the current Turkish government actively opposes any suggestion that a genocide occurred, planned and executed by the Turkish people.

Turkey is applying for membership of the European Union, and let’s not forget what the genesis of the union was: two world wars.  At heart, the EU  exists to ensure that  Europe will never again engage in the internal savagery that destroyed it and that almost eradicated an entire race of people from the earth.

Germany went through decades of self-flagellation and acknowledgement of its crimes following WWII.  It instituted a gigantic education programme for its young people and made Holocaust denial a grave crime under the law.

Turkey, meanwhile, has done nothing about the fact that it provided the twentieth century model for genocide.  It continues to deny that the genocide occurred, while at the same time engaging in an exquisitely ironic pas-de-deux with Israel over the treatment of the Palestinians.  Jews are quite properly utraged at the ad, but while Turkey sends ships to break the Gaza blockade and denounces — rightly — the way Israel is treating the Palestinians, it shares a common goal with Israel in regard to the Armenians.  Both countries wish to deny the Armenian Holocaust.   Turkey, because it won’t confront its guilt, and Israel because it believes that the only Holocaust that matters is the genocide of the Jews.

The advertising executives, in their infinite shallowness, may have inadvertently mined something very deep indeed.  They may well have exposed to the world the darkness at the heart of a country that wishes to become a member of the European Union while refusing to recognise its part in genocide.

That doesn’t work on any level.

 

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Also on this site: A tale of two holocausts

External links

 

Armenian National Institute

Armenian Genocide

 

  22 Responses to “Hitler Shampoo Ad Exposes Turkish Ambivalence in the Land of the First Holocaust”

Comments (22)
  1.  

    AFAIK Turkey doesn’t deny that the massacres took place, they deny that it was strictly a “genocide”. Mind you, that’s just semantics, isn’t it?

  2.  

    The real horrors of war/genocides/ethnic cleansing, always sicken me.It should be noted, that Concentration Camps, were invented by Lord Kitchener, during the Boer War..he of Your Country Needs You…as cannon fodder, fame.He was born, in Sneem, Co.Kerry.

  3.  

    Concentration camps were used by the British during the Boer War, just as they were used by the USA to intern Japanese Americans during WWII. The concept is as old as mankind, and I don’t suggest that the Turks invented it. In any case, concentration camps alone don’t on their own characterise either the genocide or the similarity to the Holocaust perpetrated by the Nazis. Many other factors played a part.

  4.  

    Didn’t Hitler say ” who remembers the Armenians ? ” ?

  5.  

    Hitler is reputed to have said that.
    Stalin made a similar meaning statement.
    Both were on to something.
    It’s in our nature to do the unspeakable and too, to kill without rhyme or reason as both the Turks and the Nazis did.
    It’s will happen again.

  6.  

    it was the Union Army, in the American cival war that invented the concept of the consentration camp,used in the latter part of the war in 1863,
    it was adopted by the british in africa, to intern the spouse and children of the Boers fiting the British,
    Hitler brought the concept to its final stages,,

  7.  

    Ah, sorry if I am speaking out of place but isn’t this just a spoof to advertise shampoo? I mean fuckit if you can’t have a laugh at the past. Should every reference to Hitler be accompanied by genuflecting and waiting for mea culpas. Reminds me of the way the word nigger is treated by people while it is a disgusting way to refer to another human being the more people say ” the N word” the more credence it gets. Is this not ridiculing Hitler as opposed to ridiculing the plight of Armenians past?

  8.  

    Fuck turkey. That is all.

  9.  

    Lets not assume that Israel is unique in its position:-

    ” As of December 26, 2011, 21 states have officially recognized the historical events as genocide. Notably, 20 out of 193 (10%) United Nations member states, 11 out of 27 (41%) European Union member states, 4 out of 12 (33%) Union of South American Nations member states have recognised the face. Turkey refuses to recognise it. “

  10.  

    Would Israel be able to do anything that you wouldn’t defend?

  11.  

    Would Israel be able to do anything that you wouldn’t have a poke at ? Israels’ reasons for not recognising the Armenians had nothing at all to do with comparisons with the Holocaust but pragmatism in making an ally of Attaturks Turkey and now that Turkey is moving towards islamism Israel is now recognising the Armenian genocide. Do you have a list of countries that make 100% ethical and moral choices devoid of any hint of self interest ? It’d make for interesting reading.

  12.  

    Are you suggesting that Israel ignored a genocide for pragmatic reasons?

  13.  

    Along with all the other nations that ignored it, yes.

  14.  

    Jews have quite properly criticised the Allies in WWII for ignoring their plight under the Nazis and therefore one would have thought that a nation built largely by European Jews would be intensely aware of the reasons why genocide cannot be ignored. But now you’re saying that Israel, a nation whose very existence sprang from the crime of the Holocaust, chose for political expediency to ignore another genocide.

    Do you see anything even slightly incongruous about that?

  15.  

    Since when did pragmatism ever not leave a trail of incongruity ? Hasn’t the pragmatism of Irish politics resulted in some of the vilest murderers walking the streets…incongruously. Is it not incongruous that Egypts army was whipped into some kind of shape by Nazi officers who escaped after WWII ? Is it not incongruous that the US doesn’t officially recognise the Armenian Genocide because Turkey is a NATO member ; further complicated by the fact that the Kurds were the ones who did the actual killing ? The Israelis are as entitled to their incongruous decisions as anyone else.

  16.  

    The higher the moral ground one adopts, the greater the onus to behave morally, in my opinion. And nobody has adopted a higher moral ground than Israel.

  17.  

    Except for you, Bock.

  18.  

    Alanzo, you seem to have overlooked one tiny detail: I’m not actually a country.

  19.  

    Have they not ? I’m pretty sure that most countries don’t have constitutions beginning…” from here on in we’re going to behave like right bastards ” rather than some high falutin’ ” shining light on a hill” or ” all our children equally ” stuff. Israel while stating that it’s a Jewish state doesn’t put that in its constitution , doesn’t stop freedom of worship and gives a vote to all its citizens…even the ones who’d cheerfully see it wrecked. I imagine it’d behave even better if it wasn’t under constant threat from madmen….leaving the Palestinians aside.

  20.  

    @Bock: You may not be a country, but you *are* a state ;)

    Anyway, it’s not just countries that can adopt moral grounds.

  21.  

    Lapsedmethodist — That’s a very impressive attempt at muddying the waters and distracting from the point, but it doesn’t cut it. The fact that Israel ignored genocide for political expediency says it all.

    Alanzo — This isn’t about me. As you know, since you managed to read the post, this is about countries.

  22.  

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