Monday, July 23, 2007

Harry Potter and the Flagrant WWII References

Disclaimer: This is reposted from an old blog and, as you can see, the date is over three years old. I have since finished reading Harry Potter and I would assume that most of you have as well. In light of Nathan Bransford's recent "Harry Potter" Week, I thought I'd repost it (I hope that's not bloggy cheating), if only just to glean a whole different perspective from a new set a readers should one choose to comment. Any thoughtlessness, silliness or general callousness regarding the subject I blame on my self from three years ago. Any profound insight is claimed by my current self.

So, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: if you are in the midst of reading or have plans to read it and don't want even the slightest smidgen of the goings ons and hootenanny of said tome, then I would not suggest reading further because here ye be warned, spoilers ahead.

The one thing I'd like to discuss here is simple: Has anyone else noticed the stark and purely UNcoincidental references JK Rowling makes to Nazis, World War II, the Holocaust and other like minded situations? Let's break it down for a moment.

Voldemort acts as Hitler; born illegitimate (in a wizardly non-loving manner of speaking), he hates his father and rebels against him. He grows in power and influence and soon commands an army made of followers drawn from the common people. He marks them (dark mark/swastika) to set them apart. After flying under the radar for a number of years, they rise up and overthrow the government, supplanting it with one of their own.

The Pureblood and the Mudblood controversy and inquisition: I remember reading an article about JKR and how she was deeply affected by the anti-Semitic propaganda she found when touring the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. In fact, the entire text of the article can be read here; huzzah for the Scotsman. They say it so much better than I can paraphrase. The article seems to make the claim that Rowling discovered these parallels AFTER she had written a chunk of the books. This I can understand; if she didn't consciously make these parallels, it was a direct reflection of the stories, culture and history she and others around her had experienced following World War II. Well, maybe not her personally but seeing as how she was born in 1965, she naturally had parents, grandparents and the like that had stories to tell about such a time. Britain was certainly a lot closer to the European theater rather than us Red, White, and Bluebloods who fought more in the Pacific, yeah? (Okay, I know the Allies were spread all around, but Pearl Harbor versus the London know what I mean.)

The two threats and rises of Voldemort separated by 15, 16 years: conjures up images of The World Wars I and II, which some say were "the same war, separated by a brief interval of peace." (I am quoting the great and powerful Kathy Williams, high school AP History teacher and my vote for Headmistress of any school my kids attend.) Okay, Hitler wasn't the same threat in WWI as he was in II, but the general idea is still there.

Death Eaters become the SS (Schutzstaffel) and dang, check out the Flag and "Death's Head" sign that they used. HE-LLO. The "Snatchers" become the Gestapo (who fall under the jurisdiction of the SS just as the Snatchers were under the Death Eaters.)

Nurmengard (the prison in Deathly Hallows) versus Nuremburg? (The place where Hitler held all those Nazi Rallies?)

And rather interesting to me was (DON'T READ THIS IF YOU HAVEN'T FINISHED THE BOOK, DANG IT) how no one killed Voldemort but his lonesomeness. Many tried and heck, that was Harry's quest, but in the end, ol' Voldytler committed what could quite possibly be described as Wizard suicide. Eva Braun, the bunker and the Elder Wand...draw your own sketchy conclusions.

My disclaimer: I am intensely enjoying the book, for JKR is quite the clever writer. The world she's made for us is fascinating in many respects and just because someone writes ABOUT evil does not mean they are proponents of it. JKR is as much of a Nazi as Churchill was. (And not Adolf Churchill, from that weird Neo-Nazi group...I'm talking Winston.) There's probably a thousand more parallels I haven't got to yet (It's true, I'm still reading the book. I read the end first, okay? Lo, that is how I roll.)

Any other thoughts? Hit me up with your HP and the FWWIIR theories!


Joseph L. Selby said...

Admittedly, there were a couple of those I missed. Well played, sir.

Elaine AM Smith said...

There are thousands of similar scenarios from many nations and time periods. The way people think, plot link, live and die, are universal.

K. Marie Criddle said...

Thanks, Joseph! And Elaine, I completely agree. It's so interesting to me how the common human experience bleeds over into our creative works almost unconsciously; we often pick them out to suit our situation. :) Thank you both for stopping by!