The Portal podcast transcription series
- Peter Thiel
- What is The Portal?
- Werner Herzog
- Timur Kuran
- Rabbi David Wolpe
- Jocko Willink
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Andrew Yang
- Bryan Callen
- Julie Lindahl
- Sam Harris
- Vitalik Buterin
- Garry Kasparov
- London Tsai
- Garrett Lisi
- Tyler Cowen
- Anna Khachiyan
- Eric Weinstein – State of the Portal 2020
- Bret Weinstein
- Sir Roger Penrose
- Ashley Mathews (Riley Reid)
- Ben Greenfield
- Agnes Callard
- Kai Lenny
- The Construct: Jeffrey Epstein
Geometric Unity – a First Look
- James O’Keefe
- Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Eric Lewis
- Jamie Metzl
- Ross Douthat
- Ryan Holiday
The following transcript was generated by a machine and not edited by any human – so it’s full of of errors. I’m posting the transcript because the podcast is excellent and a crappy transcript is better than no transcript. Questions/comments: get me on Twitter @mgmobrien.
Eric Weinstein 0:07
Hello, you found the portal. I’m your host, Eric Weinstein and I’m here today with author of the pendulum. Julie Linda. Julie, welcome.
Julie Lindahl 0:15
Eric Weinstein 0:16
So Julie, we’re doing this in a little bit of a different situation than I usually do. You’re you’ve been staying with us here in Los Angeles in our home for several nights. And we did not know each other beforehand, but you are on a book tour. Is that right?
Julie Lindahl 0:31
And I got very lucky staying with you
Eric Weinstein 0:34
We’ve been having a blast, talking to you and just really enjoying your stay. Can you tell us a little bit about
who you are and what book it is that has brought you from Europe over to the States?
Julie Lindahl 0:48
Yes. Well, I am a cosmopolitan, who ended up 24 years ago settling in Sweden. had the pleasure and surprise of ending up living on a small isolated island in Sweden for about a decade where I had some time to start to reflect about my family’s past and also grew some roots to start to, to be able to become grounded in order to be able to do the work. I didn’t know I was going to do the work. But then in April 2010, I went to the Bundesbank Eve in Germany, and asked whether they had any material on my grandparents who were German. I was born in Brazil in 1967. My mother was born and occupied Poland in 1941. And most people around me always laughed a bit that I hadn’t put two and two together. But I guess I had tried to look away from those facts. And so the documents I received They’re set me off on a very long journey. I didn’t know that it would be that long six year journey through Germany, Poland, Brazil and Paraguay to learn about the role my grandparents played in the Third Reich.
Eric Weinstein 2:17
Wow, that’s a hell of an answer to a question. So here you are talking about, I guess, secrets deeply hidden from you about why a German girl would be growing up in Brazil. And can you tell us a little bit about your evolution as to how you came to understand that there might be something fairly interesting in this family story?
Julie Lindahl 2:45
first of all, there’s a part of me that’s German. So my mother’s German. But my father was an American, which also made matters more interesting.
Because I also had an
I guess an outside perspective as well as an insider’s perspective into my German heritage. The way it started is hard to say but the way I usually think of it is back in a time when I was a two year old and put into a German Dirndl, so a traditional German dress whenever my German grandparents came to visit from the interior because they were settled on in the state, near the Brazilian Paraguayan border, and I noticed from the albums that I always had one of these traditional dresses on when they came to visit, which to me seemed very strange, given that I was the daughter of an American and a German and I was living in Brazil. There are large German communities there. So maybe you could argue with that way, but it was a little strange and In that girl’s eyes, I can see and I also remember growing up, bearing very considerable shame. And the nature of shame is different than guilt. When your guilt when you feel guilty, you know what you’ve done. It’s a reaction to something you think you’ve done wrong. But shame is something else. It’s a feeling of self self worthlessness. And you don’t necessarily know why it’s there. So I bought this with me from a very early age. Probably because my mother was very frustrated about her past and didn’t really know how to deal with it. I think she wanted to love her parents, like all children want to love their parents, yet, at the same time, understood that they had this troublesome past That was simply not acceptable in the new era that she was living in. And so therefore, I had this with me. Then I got educated. But I had a very close relationship with my grandmother. Whose affection I guess I saw it because I didn’t have a close relationship with my mother. And my grandmother remained a devoted Nazi to the end of her life. I just didn’t know. I hadn’t. I hadn’t realized that she wasn’t.
Eric Weinstein 5:31
Your grandma was a was a Nazi to the end of Italy was 103 hundred years old. So she died in what year?
Julie Lindahl 5:41
She died in 2014. She was born the year the Titanic sank.
Eric Weinstein 5:45
Oh, wow. So it’s pretty amazing to think about it. arc 2014
Julie Lindahl 5:51
Well, obviously she wasn’t a Nazi until the
Eric Weinstein 5:54
1930s. Right? No, no, no, of course. But one senses From a little bit that you’ve said that the commitment was made, and there was somehow no digging out of it, and so it was just kept going full speed ahead.
Julie Lindahl 6:07
Now, I think you can can compare it to the commitment of some people today to alternative facts. At some point, you’ve just gone too far and you can’t back out. But it does leave its devastation. You know, she was not free of nightmares and depression and so forth after the war. But anyway, she and I became quite closer. So I thought she was a well read person. She loved classical music. She loves nature. We spent lots of time together even more time when I got a Fulbright in Germany.
Eric Weinstein 6:43
Let’s humanize her a little bit. What kind of classical music did she love?
Julie Lindahl 6:48
Well, she loved
she loved the classical German composers, particularly from from the north of Germany. She also loves handles. She listened to a lot of piano music, German piano music. I’m trying to think of this not coming to me right away now, all of them that she liked, but, you know, she listened to Beethoven and Bach, and Mozart and all of those.
Eric Weinstein 7:20
So very clearly, culturally High German culture.
Julie Lindahl 7:25
Absolutely. And High German literature. She She passed on a number of the books that were her favorites to me. And a lot of it you know, well known High German literature. So when she then started tossing out shards of this old ideology during our meetings in her apartment in southern Germany, where we were having a cup of tea or a cup of coffee and a piece of cake. I was always stunned and shocked And didn’t know what to do with it, except to get up and go do the dishes. And over time, though doing that gets to you, because you end up in the position of the bystander. You end up feeling rotten inside, when you don’t stand up and say, but that’s wrong. That’s not true. And this was particularly so when she tried to convince me that the Holocaust was a plot by the international media to keep Germans down. So after the war, and I was at that time studying international affairs later on, I went on to study German Polish relations in the 20th century at Oxford University. So I knew what she was telling me was, of course, completely wrong. And yet, I didn’t say anything to her because I was so frightened of losing her affection.
Eric Weinstein 8:57
That’s really interesting. Can under him that we can all worry about but you’ve really been been through this where you’re you realize that your deepest emotional and loyal, your your loyalty connections are running to people who are a mixture of pure evil and pure normal and goodness. I mean, you know, in educated family from from everything I can discern a family where there was love and caring, and then there’s just this horrible festering I don’t know what even to call it. It’s just some stain that can’t be removed.
Julie Lindahl 9:37
Yeah, absolutely. And which is why when I go out to schools and talk about this, I take out an image which is painted by an artist in Michigan called chemo and it’s a face that has many different surfaces and dimensions, and you can’t really figure out Where exactly the face is at some level. But the point is that there are many different facades. And that’s what I learned, speaking with my grandmother and when I when I think about her today, but our conversations as time went by ended up troubling me a lot, and particularly my own reactions troubled me. I was also troubled by the fact that I was, was influenced by her perspective of Jewish people. Because, you know, she kind of imparted in various ways that Jewish people were dangerous to us, which was kind of a reaction of her generation because they were being punished for what they did in the Holocaust. But I didn’t know that at that time, of course, and I did a number of kinds of crazy things to try to counteract That inheritance of mine to really dig deep into myself and blow the whistle and say, Hey, that is a totally insane idea. Jewish people are not dangerous to you.
Eric Weinstein 11:12
Well, you have been taking your life in your own hands staying with us night after night.
Julie Lindahl 11:19
I don’t feel that way at all I feel very well taken care of.
Eric Weinstein 11:25
So, do you think your mom
knew a great deal of this history that you somehow were screened out of? Or do you think she she was also in the dark about it? Or is even the idea of how much we know about our histories is that word too sharp and that there’s some need for a kind of layered concept of knowing where you sort of know something, but maybe you don’t know. You don’t keep a copy of it. It’s too crisp in your mind, because it’s too dangerous to have it in that state. What’s the right question I should be asking?
Julie Lindahl 12:03
And I think the
Eric Weinstein 12:06
maybe start with facts, do you think she had a lot of facts that you didn’t have?
Julie Lindahl 12:09
No, she didn’t. I know that she didn’t. And neither did her siblings, and neither did their mother. Because my grandfather went to war in the autumn of 1939. And first of all, not all of that is documented what those men did in Poland. Secondly, a lot of the documents were destroyed. Thirdly, they haven’t seen any documents. I’m the one who has bothered to go and find the documents and read them and there were a lot of them. And so I probably know more than any family member because I’ve read primary documents specifically about what my grandfather was doing and also just what people around him were doing in the areas where he was
Eric Weinstein 12:56
you name your grandfather so that we have a an individual
Julie Lindahl 13:00
I just call him opa. I don’t name his name because the people are there are people who are alive who bear his last name and I, I don’t don’t want to make their lives difficult. Yeah. opa
Eric Weinstein 13:11
for the purposes of this podcast. Yeah.
Julie Lindahl 13:15
Yes. And as to these layers, I think you’re right, very right there.
In my experience
for the sake of the family unit, you look away from certain very glaring facts. I did that. I think my mother and her siblings did that. The family has been our most important unit of survival since forever, and so that’s probably a natural knee jerk type of thing to do. I think my or I know that my My family knew that my grandfather was in the SS, because later on I met an uncle. So he was the oldest of the siblings. I met him in Paraguay.
Eric Weinstein 14:11
So he you not only volunteered in 1939 but went straight for the SS.
Julie Lindahl 14:20
He was he joined the SS back in 1934 already Oh wow. So he joined the mounted SS I think what you should remember is that the SS and 34 was a political primarily political organization. And the buffin ss are the military wing of the SS emerged out of this as the 30s went on. But he joined as one of Hitler’s political soldiers and specifically the mounted SS in 1934. Mainly because, well, the mounted SS was very prestigious. The organization was also the mountain SS was created out of Riding associations that were drafted into the organization. So, you some people argue that they didn’t have a choice, but it’s more complicated than that. But so he, he was pumped full of propaganda throughout the 1930s, because he was a member of the SS throughout. so that by the time he got into Poland, he was really quite full of it. And, you know, Hitler and Himmler and the other Nazi leaders didn’t really give very precise instructions to the SS when they went into Poland. Because they trusted that they pumped these people so full of propaganda that if they just unleash them, they would fight a very brutal racial war, which is exactly what
Eric Weinstein 15:50
they did, and with no documents indicating that they had been instructed to do so. So that in part, I think this has a lot of relevance for today. So Let’s just go there. One way of making sure that your fingerprints aren’t on something is to pump people fill full pump people full of ideology. And then we know enough about how ideology sits in the human mind to know what’s likely to happen next. I mean, there’s you know, this famous example from history of the king saying, well, no one rid me of this troublesome priest, he doesn’t have to give in order to execute he just has to say this idol to himself and then he knows what happens and then there is no record. So in effect, there is no trigger, pulling finger from the Central Command
Julie Lindahl 16:44
No. And this is also reflected in the way my grandfather and others others who had a similar role as he had, as the war went on in occupied Poland reflected in the way they behaved. Because he became engaged in a mission set by the Ministry of Agriculture, so the, under the Third Reich to transform West Central Poland to the breadbasket of the Third Reich, because he was trained state manager, he knew something about agriculture. And that can sound benign. What it in fact means is deporting or murdering the existing landowners, enslaving the local laborers and murdering anyone who’s slightly troublesome and torturing people on a more or less daily basis. Early on in the war, Himmler passed a law which established that these estate managers were the law in their estates. There was no higher law over them. It’s exactly what you were saying. It’s a law that says I don’t need to know
Do do what you have to do.
Eric Weinstein 18:04
Julie Lindahl 18:05
Eric Weinstein 18:07
Okay, so here you are a young woman who has grown up in this unusual developmental environment. You’re you went to college with my wife. You guys knew each other, perhaps vaguely. And you’re living this very modern American existence at that time. How, how is this playing out? I mean, America, you know, American father, you’re an American college. You’re somehow also the granddaughter of an SS member who has. You have an inkling at this point that your grandfather has done unspeakable things in Poland or not?
Julie Lindahl 18:58
Not so much at Wellesley. I didn’t think about it so much, although I was very affected by it. Because these types of secrets when they’re when they’re this heavy,
Unknown Speaker 19:10
Julie Lindahl 19:12
Kind of inhabit a family at a cellular level.
Eric Weinstein 19:17
It is physiological.
Julie Lindahl 19:18
Yeah, absolutely. Okay.
Unknown Speaker 19:20
Julie Lindahl 19:21
Yeah. I mean, I was very sick. When I was at Wellesley. I didn’t eat most of the time. And so that was the way it expressed itself there. In fact, Pia and I worked out that we didn’t see each other that much, probably because I was hiding out a lot from people because I, I had pretty serious eating disorders. But these were all connected to a feeling of low self worth that were connected to the shame that I went around with, so I knew that there was something wrong. My relationship with my mother was extremely troubled. And as the years went by our family relationships, in fact, all of them became quite troubled. Because when you have something like this in the family that the adults knew something about, they didn’t know the whole story, but they knew enough and that they try to keep from themselves. It’s not so much they’re keeping it from the next generation. They’re trying to keep it away from themselves because they don’t want to think about it. Then it starts to strangle their relationships. And that was already going on at that time. And that affected me at a cellular level. And so, when I returned to Europe, remember I only spent three years going to college in the US. That was my American experience. Okay. Then I returned to Europe to do a Fulbright and then went to Oxford. And of course, then I went back into the European realm. Yeah, and of course got closer and closer and closer to this. And I wasn’t that surprised. Or today I’m not surprised in retrospect that my mother was a bit so so about my learning German. Because learning the German language was a path into this history. Without it, I would not have been able to do this could have gone through
Unknown Speaker 21:27
the archives. No.
Julie Lindahl 21:29
So I kept getting closer and closer and closer to this history all the time without really knowing that I was doing it. But I think there was something in me that was so desperate about what was happening in my family because I love my family. It’s not because I don’t love my family that I’ve done this work, which is what some family members may think it’s because I do love my family. And I realized that there needs to be a little little bit of pain in order to In order to try to allow some sort of healing to occur.
Eric Weinstein 22:04
Well, Julie, you were at Oxford. After college in the States, I think you’ve picked up some British understatement when you say that there tend to be a little bit of pain. It sounds like a heck of a lot more than that.
Unknown Speaker 22:18
Eric Weinstein 22:19
let me I’m happy to sort of glance at it using our peripheral vision, but we’re talking about an unbelievable burden.
Julie Lindahl 22:29
it’s an unbelievable burden.
you know, that we’ll let’s put it this way. There were it was interesting to me that when I decided to actively start to pursue this work in April 2010, as I was moving towards the decision to go towards the archives and really exercise my academic training, there were quite a number of Have people around me who knew what I was about to do? Who said to me, that’s not necessary? Why do you have to do that? That’s past, let it be past. It’s over. You know, they were frightened. And some of them really were extremely animated when they tried to convince me not to do this. These are well meaning people who want the best for me. And but what I knew all the time was that, no, that is just going to prolong the suffering. Not only for me,
but for other people, for my children.
My children were a very big motivator.
Eric Weinstein 23:48
So do you think that the people who are trying to dissuade you were dissuading you because they knew what you were going to find? Or was it because they didn’t know what you were gonna find?
Unknown Speaker 23:59
Julie Lindahl 24:01
I think most people thought I would find something because they knew me too well, they knew how troubled I’d been they knew these different pieces of my background, it was as though they already knew, and just wanted to put on the brakes because they didn’t want me to go into that pain that you should name, which is a caring response. At the same time, I also think that there is a selfish dimension to it. Because there is this idea in our society that looking back and looking particularly looking back at what our ancestors did, and those before us did is a dangerous thing. It’s in the myths and legends of Western culture, right. And so, I think there was a little element in that of trying to spare themselves as well, which I sensed and it annoyed me greatly. At the same time, I tried to keep in my mind that These are people who care about me. There was one person in particular who was a, an elderly professor of German literature, a scholar of Moses Mendelssohn, a very great Jewish scholar, who I knew from Wellesley and I went to see her, just before I went to the archives, she lived in a Vulcan little town, not too far from Berlin. And she was 92 at the time and could barely walk. Yet she came with me to the train station, and stood there and stared at me and said she had she had survived the Holocaust because her father had sent her away to Britain in the late 30s. And she stood there and looked at me and said, Please don’t do this. Because she knew my family very well and realized that I would find something All right.
Eric Weinstein 26:02
I got to ask, what did you find? And when did you start finding specifics that really caused caused the story to advance and for and caused you to change?
Julie Lindahl 26:14
Yeah. Well, the first find was at the German Federal archives was about 100 pages which
mostly information about my grandparents. It was my grandparents application to marry as an SS couple, which required them to demonstrate their racial suitability. So they went through medical examinations, and there were photographs of them from all angles, and they’re, you know, life accounts written by themselves. But there was also, you know, information about all the places where my grandfather been stationed in occupied Poland. So, so from there, I went to a number of archives found his denazification papers, which denotes vacation was a process that all people who join the party had to go through after the war. And, you know, declare what they had been up to, and of course, most of them regarded as a joke. Anyway, eventually I ended up in Poland at the Institute of National Remembrance, in potion on where they handed me a wad of documents that were eyewitness accounts of people who had experienced what my grandfather and his comrades had done in in local areas. And these were eyewitness accounts recorded in 1946. So they were fairly fresh accounts fresh in people’s minds. And there, I saw the action counts of the brutality and the beatings and the way, the way that he behaved. And how
Eric Weinstein 28:09
bad I mean, I should say, just so you know something about how I react. I can’t in general go to Holocaust films. No, it’s not a topic that I can even almost talk about. It’s too hard. But I’m asking you because this is a journey that you’ve been on where I think that that level of pain and the level of bravery and the uncertainty and the complexity is what animates the story. So I’m wanting to rescue What do you find?
Julie Lindahl 28:41
Well, probably what
made me just sit there and stop and look completely paralyzed when I sat in the Institute of National Remembrance was was you know the the information about beating a labor’s Tu,
Now I’m thinking of a Swedish work to do on consciousness on a regular basis. Then in those documents, I did not find evidence of murder. But there were other documents I found later on that pointed to that because he would not have tried to leave for Brazil later on. Had he not murdered anyone because in order to be put on trial, you had to have murdered somebody. And these would have been the local landowners, so I did find some evidence of that,
Eric Weinstein 29:45
but still indirect you’re spared any kind of direct account of
Julie Lindahl 29:49
Oh no, I would wasn’t spirit in its spirit of direct account. They were direct accounts of beating people to total unconsciousness so that they were not to death and No, but I did find evidence later on of, of engagement in really awful episode where a small number of these estate owners would drive two drives the existing landowners to a nearby forest? Tell them to run towards a trench that they dug themselves and shoot them.
Unknown Speaker 30:24
Julie Lindahl 30:25
so that’s what I, I learned about later on as well. And so there was evidence of that which wasn’t confirmed, but it was it was there on paper. And, and really, that’s what would have got him to to leave so quickly. So to me, it would seem very unlikely that he, that wasn’t true at all. So, so anyways, anyway, there were some names of people in those documents. The people who had given testimony were named in those documents from the Polish national archives. So I set out to try to find, see if I could find some of those families not expecting to find anyone because we all know that after that, the Soviet Union came in and redistributed everybody. And so I really didn’t expect to find any of these families in these places. But to my great surprise, with the help of a wonderful, young Polish archivist, and historian who could see how distraught I was just simply decided to join me found five families over different visits to Poland. And those meetings were very important. They were very important to me. I don’t know how important they were to those people. But to me, they were important and my my friend who drove with me who’s a young pole, whose family had also suffered in the Second World War, said trust me, this is important to them. So I would say that for me those meetings showed me why I was doing this work. Because what I realized, in retrospect I was doing was looking for a transformational dynamic, which is the portal, which is, how do we take everything that we know about the horrible things human beings have done to one another and their own experiences of that perhaps, and transform it into a force? That’s powerful enough for us to take another path? And those meetings provided one answer. There’s lots of answers.
Eric Weinstein 32:57
Do you think it gave any relief to those People that you were meeting with, do you think there was a double portal just to rip off your roofing?
Julie Lindahl 33:08
And I can’t answer the question. All I can explain to you is a few of the reactions and then you can decide yourself. So the first meeting was with a person who didn’t want to shake my hand. Because his memories of what my my grandfather was name was recognized instantly by all these people. By the way, no one had to remind them of who he was, which is weird,
Eric Weinstein 33:37
Julie Lindahl 33:38
Yeah, which is incredible. Whatever it is over seven decades later, right.
so he didn’t want to shake my hand and he was very sick. He was dying. This man and, but he was conscious and able to register who I was and my friend, the archivist So I don’t think there’s much point in carrying on with this conversation because he doesn’t want to, you know, he experienced too much and but what was in my mind was I must shake this man’s hand, I need to show some form of compassion. I can’t ask for forgiveness because I didn’t commit the crime, but I want to show humanity and compassion. And I did eventually take his hand and shake it and he looked completely bewildered. He didn’t think that someone like me, was capable. I think of shaking
his hand and showing compassion.
The next person I went to see was a person who had dementia and was in his 90s. So he couldn’t remember what happened yesterday, but he remembered things that happened over 70 years ago. And his great granddaughter was there and started shouting my grandfather’s name into his ear, which his reaction was to go back to an episode in time in which he was hiding In a barn because some people were being shocked, and there was violence going on outside, I don’t know exactly what the details of it were, but you could see, he was recognizing a moment in time. And so I begged, everyone present to switch this off. I didn’t want this to go on. And I decided that my journey was just a selfish journey. It was just for me, you know, to somehow take care of my chain and all that. And so I said to my friend, the archivist, we must stop now this is enough, because this is just bringing back bad memories for people. And he said, No, believe me, we have to go on. So there was a third guy we we met who was what healthy, a healthy 85 year old Yeah, who had a very nice garden. As it happened. His father was most likely my grandfather’s gardener on this state where he his parents had worked And he’d been beaten over the head when he was 10 year old and my grandfather had passed him and he’d forgotten to doff his hat. So we had a scar over his right eye.
Eric Weinstein 36:11
Whoa, wait a second. He was beaten directly by your grandfather. So that this your grandfather’s Mark was still visible on his on his head? Yes, they’d be fine.
Julie Lindahl 36:21
Yeah. And when I when I realized this, I sat there and I listened to him for several hours. And I felt awful. And but I didn’t really have very much to say, of course, what should I say? I was there to listen. And there was a feeling welling up in me of wanting to beg for forgiveness, because that was really all I felt I could offer. But he realized that without my saying very much, he was a smart, very intelligent person, emotionally intelligent person. And he stood up and took my lower arms and shook me up and said This wasn’t your fault. You didn’t do anything. So I want you to go out and into my garden. And I want you to enjoy my garden. And furthermore, I want you to enjoy your life. And then I went out there and stood there and he and his wife and his daughter was also around his grown daughter and and they’ve been very kind to me, serve me cherries picked from their cherry trees in his garden. And anyway, I went outside and stood there and did exactly as he told me to do. And he and his wife came and stood next to me, and it was almost like we were holding hands. We were touching our hands together. And they were We were just silent together. And later on, I thought, well, of course.
It happened right there.
This transformational dynamic happened right there. It transformed everything that he knew. And then I knew about our violent past and what we had experienced into something else. And what it what it was it for me was that shame became energy, it became responsibility. It became a feeling that you need and have to do something with this. Get moving and without him and without that
I wouldn’t have been able to carry on.
Really? No, I would have given up because it would just have been miserable and horrible and
Eric Weinstein 38:43
terrible. Well, the thing is, it’s so disruptive because I think there’s so many different layers going on in the in a story like this, that most people have never been called upon to have to pull to pull apart. So many different layers of meaning important skill. Responsibility shame, the subtle shading that make make us need so many different words, we probably don’t even have all the words that we need. And the idea that, for example, two people could have been harmed, let’s say by the same person, and the person who is harmed more might be much more capable of showing compassion, empathy, mercy to a descendant of the person who would harm them than the person who’s been harmed less might have been less capable, so that you know, it really isn’t just about what happened, but it’s also about how strong people have become, how they’re weak, how things played with their psychology. And, you know, the sadness that I have in listening to this is I don’t know how many people in our modern consumer day and age have been pushed through this There’s many layers of metacognition and self introspection that I don’t know when you give a book reading. How much variation do you think is in the audience in terms of people who sort of can deeply relate to stories like these people from the sounds almost like too fantastical to be true?
Do you find that you find that these stories consistently find enough depth in those who read and hear them to fully appreciate them? Or do you think that in part you need to be close to a story this profound to have to be forced into this this level of self Understand?
Julie Lindahl 40:45
That’s very, very good question.
On one hand, I think that
people who come to events to listen to me by their own free choice there are events were at schools and things where they Have to they don’t have a choice. But the ones where they have a choice when they register to attend.
have, of course something there’s something in them that attracts them to this and that that there’s some level of reflection that has taken place that is bringing them there. Something in their personal histories usually. At the same time, I’m always surprised that after I give these talks, often people come up to me to express their thanks for the work that I’ve done. But then they’ll add something to that, that demonstrates to me that that
there’s no way they could really
understand the very complex dynamics of of what i what i have encountered, because people then fall back on terms like you know, forgiveness and guilt and things like that, which to me are.
There’s there’s a whole, there’s a whole
vocabulary that’s been developed around this history and the descendants of this history, whether whether they’re the descendants of the victims or the descendants of the perpetrators or the descendants of the bystanders, there’s a whole vocabulary and, and to me, it’s just old stuff that we fall back on. Because we’re not prepared to go deeper. We’re not prepared to, to let ourselves in to other levels, other experiences. And so when people start to talk to me about forgiveness, I try to say to them, yes. Well, I’ve already explained to you that I was seeking forgiveness, but it was a rat wheel. It didn’t lead anywhere. didn’t leave. Word and didn’t lead forward because for me to ask my grandparents victims for forgiveness is is is not doesn’t lead us anywhere doesn’t lead me anywhere which is what I had to learn from one of his victims. And and so but people fall back on this and then other other aspects of vocabulary that are that we formed around this the legacy of this history to kind of protect ourselves from the pain of it somehow I think that’s my read on it because when you get into the, into the into the pain of it and really get your hands dirty,
you start to come up with other things.
Eric Weinstein 43:44
Well, you know, I have to tell you that one of the things that’s been very weird about this is I’ve used the opportunity of your visit with us to explore how many different dimensions of reaction I myself And heavy. And you know, you and I have been talking about this a little bit. So I don’t mind trying to talk about it. But it’s just, it’s fascinating to become metacognitive and look at your own kind of automated reactions to a story like this. On the one hand. I’m just really impressed by the work that you’re doing with this book and telling this tale. And I think it’s really important, we’ll come back to this, to tell these stories, right at the end of living memory of the actual Holocaust. So like, hugely impressed. Second of all, just to modern people hanging out having great conversations been great talking to you. Third, maybe I have this attitude of, I can’t believe I’m stuck with the granddaughter of SS in my app, do you understand that? Just like this lineage to lineage level, which is that you know, it’s not just me and you It’s like the Jewish people and and they’re murderers, you know, are under the same roof and then you know, There’s like this selfish thing, which is this is really important. For I think, for us Jews to do some hard work, which is Germany was one of the most impressive cultures, anywhere in terms of its intellectual artistic contributions. And I am all wrapped up in the incredible contribution to world history that is German. And my belief is that it is not safe to have a very guilty Germany. Perhaps, as we saw with the refugee crisis, where you’re making sort of almost performative decisions to assuage guilt that it’s the wrong tool to attack the problem. On the other hand, you don’t want a super triumphalist Germany to emerge and say none of this was real and the Germans have been kicked to the curb. herb. So you’re trying to figure out in my opinion, should the Jewish people use the end of living memory of the Holocaust, to finally extend, extend a warmer hand up to Germany, not that Germany is suffering economically. I mean, but Germany was also just the seat of unbelievable genius. at a level that we’ve scarcely seen in the world, I mean, you have the Italian Renaissance, but there was a period of German contribution which was unparalleled. And I think that we have to do this really hard work that I’m sort of not prepared to do. And we talked about a very weird metaphor now. I wonder if we can draw you in and we were talking about how people get angry. The untrue story gets disturbed when you do this. kind of research and I went into our one of our smartphones and I found this triptych three images. Originally of some, I think it was a fresco or a painting that had been beautiful that it in the second panel it had gotten damaged. But in the third panel, there was a terrible restoration of the damaged painting. And it was almost cartoon like.
And I worry
that what we’re left with right at the moment, is a bit of a cartoon. And what you’re really trying to say is I want to go back before this bad restoration in your in the case of your family’s history, let’s say and look at both the beauty and the damage. That was your family more honestly in the hopes of maybe a better restoration. Can you talk about sort of I know that you’re in a strange place with your mom, can you talk about kind of the love that you feel for your family and your mom having done this work and having me tell you that I, you know, I’m just being open that I’m struggling with the fact that you’re in my home. And I think that, you know, this is just, this is really courageous work to be doing. Can you talk about what you’re trying to do for your family?
Julie Lindahl 48:26
First of all, I wanted to say that you’re having me in my home and having this conversation is the work. So you are doing the work. So you don’t have to say that you are not doing the work. You’re doing the work right now.
as far as my
as that image goes, that you shared with me of this poor restoration. I reacted to that immediately as the best representation of what has happened in my family that I I have seen so far really, visually, I think you grasped it so fast and which means that we’re getting somewhere with our conversation. But But if I think of you asked me about the love of my family, and if I had not done this work, I can safely say that I would have hated several members of my family.
I don’t want to say which ones it’s
Unknown Speaker 49:35
you don’t have to know.
Julie Lindahl 49:38
I really would have hated them. Not just the generation that committed the crimes, but the generation afterwards to I would have hated them for lying to me about very serious things. And leaving me with a shame that I felt at the cellular level. Not only me, but my sister too, and she’s younger than that. So my job was to protect her, and I couldn’t. I couldn’t protect her from this messed up her life for a long time.
But going back,
and, for example, getting in a Jeep with a Brazilian genealogist in Brazil and driving out into the interior of Brazil, where my mother and her some of her siblings ended up because my grandpa parents went there because of what they’ve done in Europe and seeing what a young teenager faced a life in a wilderness, a dangerous wilderness place dominated by the drug trade, having your youth taken away from you. Not being able to grow up in Germany, which, after all, as you said, had a very rich And old culture having you’re just having your opportunities taken like that. And as I stood actually on this estate was the the, this place where they had established themselves and then your interior persona looked at the structures that were still standing there. The man who was with me said, Take a picture of you in front of this and I said, I never want to have a picture of me in front of this ever. This is the source of our suffering. This is a source of my mother’s suffering.
And I realized then,
how much sympathy I had, for her situation well, and for her siblings as well. I don’t think they really realize that that’s part of the content. sequence of this work today I have a sympathy for them.
And it’s not like feeling sorry for just a,
you know, like a
hurt person it’s it. It’s it’s a deep love
of of them
as you would love a person who you can see is enduring the unbearable. You know, we all have children you have a you have children who are teenagers, I have children who have just over the teenage years, and if you just think of them in that situation, their future just taken from them pulled out from under their feet, by parents who had committed crimes. It’s a terrible thing. And so for me, I there is a healing in that awful moment. Because otherwise I would have remained in a in a space of, of hatred, which is exactly where we need to not be, which is exactly that what everyone needs to get out of wherever they can.
Unknown Speaker 53:08
Yeah, I mean, I’m
Eric Weinstein 53:12
I’m finding our current Vogue for talking about oppression very bizarre because it to me, much of it lacks the I don’t know what to call it the texture of really deep discussions about how do these crimes perpetuate themselves and propagate really as a wave in the in the medium of our generational structure inside of our families that you see something that goes wrong and then it cascades generation after generation. You know, in my own case, one of the things I wrestle with is that my family I think, for the best of reasons became interested in far left public Politics and that blinded them to the horrors of communism and Stalin ism for a period of time when the US was, you know, not fully aware of what exactly had been going on in the Soviet Union, it was possible to think that that maybe the Soviet Union was trying to build a better world, they were more open to, you know, blacks migrating to Moscow or, you know, interracial marriages or whatever that that were less comfortable in the US who knows. And from that, you know, a blind eyes turn because we don’t know how to die and all a cart. Politically, it’s very hard to say, well, these aspects were positive, these aspects were negative. And we keep finding very simplistic solutions that work their way through the world historical spirit. But you know, 10s of millions of people can die at a time. Ideas are explored. What work do you think we should be doing now? Like, what do you think the most important thing is? For people who can make the leap to metacognition and kind of look in on themselves and say, isn’t it interesting that I’m simultaneously feeling like the both the blessings of multiculturalism and the need to have cultures that are exclusive in order that there are cultures that can be made into multi cultures. So you know that that’s a great contradiction right there that cultural ism is based on exclusion. multiculturalism is based on inclusion. We can’t resolve it. What is our work right now? Do you think
Unknown Speaker 55:46
for 2019 this time? Yeah.
Julie Lindahl 55:50
I don’t want to go into this typical diatribe about what Have to reduce polarization and all that. Yeah. Because in some ways the polarization induces a lot of thinking and reactions and forces, new things to emerge in forces people to look for a new way new ways, new way out of the situation.
Well, I can only refer to what I’ve been doing. I can’t tell other people what they should be doing. And so what is a person who has been done this kind of work do? Yes.
Eric Weinstein 56:42
Well, you’re living in Sweden. Yeah. So that’s your base of opera. Yeah,
Julie Lindahl 56:45
yeah. I live in Sweden and, and although I, I come to the United States, and I write in English, so so therefore I speak here, really, I’ve been involved in doing the work Sweden and
the direction it’s taken me is that
I have become engaged in different circles of individuals who have very different areas of expertise but are working at a very high level of their field but have decided that it is insufficient that they remain in their fields. We will not find a way forward that way. We have to come together in different networks with our different areas of expertise and address problems that come up. So when I was pulled in by a bunch of IT experts who are fighting white supremacy on the internet, I don’t know I don’t like to use the word fighting, let’s say counteracting white supremacism on the internet and asked to participate In some of their projects, I was wondered what it was I could do, because I don’t know anything about what they do. But as it happened, they saw that there were things I was doing, they couldn’t do. And so one of the manifestations of this collaboration is that we were called upon to help an area of Sweden that was being lamed by white supremacy, white supremacy. So there was a neo nazi party that had brought a town to a halt.
as it turned out, the solution was not to try to get at the neo nazis, the solution was to move into that society and to inspire it to mobilize itself. So to bring in all the major stakeholders business The church, local government, whatever, everyone who played a role there, and to get them to decide that their community was too important to allow
the things that bound them together originally, which had weakened to just fall apart. And I think this is a story that is happening in many parts of the Western world. It’s why we see this situation that we’re in that at a community level. There isn’t the the the things that bind us together. I don’t know what we’re going to call them that the bonds have weakened. They have weakened in quality. In fact, they’re becoming so weak that groups like the neo nazis and yeah, in other places, other groups can just move in And finish them off. So basically finish off these bonds between us and just slice right through them. And so by going into this community and saying, Come on everyone, let’s all sit down in this church, which was usually the largest gathering place in a Swedish town. Why not because people are particularly religious, but because that’s where people gather, and talk about how we can strengthen the bonds between us. Within one year, people stopped moving out of that town. And business had doubled down on its investment in that town.
Unknown Speaker 1:00:39
Right. And to me,
Julie Lindahl 1:00:42
I guess what I’m what I should extract from that as a sort of general thought about what we should be doing. It’s seeking just to strengthen the bonds between us in whatever way we can which is in my view, what you and I are doing, despite the fact that We have to get over a number of emotional hurdles. I mean to do that, but we’re doing it. Yeah. And this is what needs to happen everywhere where it can, especially among individuals, who have quite a lot of hurdles to jump in order to, you know, who where there are a lot of a lot of emotional, difficult emotional feelings that you need to overcome in order to strengthen that bond. This is as also been true for me in my interactions with the Islamic community. I’ve been approached by people from the Islamic community, who know that there has to be Holocaust education in their communities, but who also know that their communities will not welcome hearing it from a Jewish person or you know, a descendant of a Holocaust survivor, which is terrible. It’s not always the case. But it is the case sometimes, because there are lots of Descendants of Holocaust survivors who generously give their time to go around speaking about what happened to their parents and grandparents in the Holocaust, but often, at least what I have encountered in Sweden is that in in a number of Islamic communities, it’s they just can’t. They can’t emotionally break through. They can’t get over the hurdles, they can’t sit down.
Eric Weinstein 1:02:32
Even in the US there’s this very bizarre thing that we’re going through were suddenly slavery, which was one kind of a disaster. That, you know, obviously was bound up in the founding of the United States has a tremendous salience inside of the media commentariat you have a more recent situation like the Holocaust, which you know, is not a North American phenomena was a European one. But it’s much more recent. And the you know, the body count is spectacular and in the mechanized horror and deliberate nature of the whole thing, etc, etc, is fairly unparalleled. And it doesn’t have the same kind of salience because it’s somehow bound up in this question of, are we really talking about oppression? Or are we really talking about financial distribution and redistribution, because the Jewish community is always vulnerable in a violent way, but it’s often very successful in a financial way. And so I’ve had this theory that you can tell who’s really focused on envy and who’s really focused on oppression by how do they treat whatever the minority communities are that are very financially successful in some spheres like overseas Chinese or you have Indian communities in East Africa that are vulnerable but are often doing well in the Jewish community is often if you’re measuring oppression financially, but you’re, you’re talking about it as if what you’re really upset about is, you know, murder or one human owning another human. These things get pulled apart based on the on which community you’re discussing. So for whatever reason, slavery is very central to the current American discussion. And the vulnerability of Jews is increasingly invisible to the far left and the far right. And I don’t know what to do about that. It just it’s too weird because this I mean, in human terms, this is super recent. You know, there isn’t anyone who can remember slavery and thank God, it’s Moving into the past, so we have to, you know, rely on records, but we still have people walking around who are quite old now who were, you know, in the camps are exposed to what was going on. And you know, most of those people were children now, if they have any contact with that at all, but it feels to me like we’re, we’re unable to remember the horror and the vulnerability because somehow we just feel like, it doesn’t matter anymore. I don’t. I don’t know if you have this feeling.
Julie Lindahl 1:05:31
the thing is that you and I can’t remember the Holocaust. Because we didn’t live through it. No,
Eric Weinstein 1:05:41
we’re both in our sort of early mid 50s.
Unknown Speaker 1:05:43
Julie Lindahl 1:05:46
So so that’s gone.
But what we remember, and I think we remember it, intellectually. So I don’t know Don’t you want to call it emotionally or spiritually, and we recall it in ourselves. What we recall is the legacy and the reactions of our families, to the Holocaust. That’s what we remember. And in some of us, it’s more cute than in other people. And then those of us were, the memory of the legacy is more acute. As in my case, for example, I think those people have a very strong responsibility to support remembering the legacy of that time.
Remembering is gone, or will be gone soon
will be not entirely gone. I shouldn’t say that because there are Holocaust survivors out there doing the work and continuing to do it. But I also know I Holocaust survivors have been, and their descendants have been like the greatest supporters of my work. They’re the ones who have stood up and said carry on when I just didn’t feel like
Eric Weinstein 1:07:12
you know, I could do well there’s a selfish aspect of but you know, there’s also this very weird
I don’t swear that much on these programs, but I will swear a little bit for emphasis. There is just this incredibly beautiful fuck you to Nazi ism. When you invite somebody from that lineage as a Jew into your home. And you say, Boy, did you guys get us wrong? Because we’re just such dicks. No, it doesn’t. It’s meant not to do it justice because there’s nothing you can say to the Holocaust. But like, all of these things that I’m reading on the internet about how Jews control everything and the narrative and you know, spend time with Jews. You I don’t know anybody who’s being invited as Elders of Zion to examine its protocols. It’s just, it’s a very bizarre thing that when people become divorced from Jews and Judaism, they start telling incredible stories inside of their mind as to what it must be and what it represents. So, I mean, I think that there’s a way in which we need you to tell the story. I think that there’s a way in which we test our own strength to it. And, you know, because this is a struggle for me, Julia a little bit, it’s not the easiest thing in the world, because there’s a lineage to lineage thing, just as there’s a human to human and human to human thing. I couldn’t be more admiring in the lineage to lineage thing. I’m thinking like, what am I doing? And so, you know, the ability to sort of share, be able to share that with you at a metacognitive level, and to also just like laugh at the whole thing. You know, that to modern human beings are talking about something that we can’t even imagine going through ourselves
Julie Lindahl 1:08:59
but Can I say something? What the
What am I doing? Question? Yeah,
is what we, where we need to get to, to open up this new space. That is the purpose of your podcast?
Eric Weinstein 1:09:12
Well, that’s the thing was that we’ve got to break out of these things. I’m very concerned for them at the moment in our country in the US, that the the Democratic Party has gone into this kind of emotional feeling. We can’t say no to anybody. And you know, diversity is is strength that we should sort of, there are no people who are illegal and why should somebody born outside the US be any less fortunate than some? So this sort of Christ like stance on all things, which I think is incredibly irresponsible and very, very dangerous because it’s not sustainable, and only Christ was Christ, if anybody at all was Christ, on the other hand, You see this truck lydic perspective, which is just like, you know, I’m tired of feeling guilty and this is our country and very close to ethno nationalism, even if it isn’t, as the the media portrays it, it’s certainly inching in directions that I find terrifying. I don’t know what to do about it because I just want both of these parties to go away for very different reasons. And I think that they’re feeding off of each other and our worst instincts and I feel like the hard work is done when people sit down with people who are very different than than them and find out that the conversations they end up having don’t don’t sound anything like the conversations we might have imagined.
Julie Lindahl 1:10:50
Yes, and who are
prepared, prepare to be open to an evolution because Humans, humans like everything and let it go other living beings,
beings on this planet
develop move forward in an evolutionary way. And so when you have these parties screaming out, vision, visions to me are very dangerous visions of things of how things are going to be unbelievably dangerous and you know, all of the most destructive leaders have had them and but people who are inching their way forward in this evolution and having doing the slow work, of repairing the bonds between us is what is needed and The other stuff to me is
Yeah, it’s it’s,
it’s always it’s always going to lead to a repeat, you know, just a rerun of the past.
Eric Weinstein 1:12:14
You know, I’ve mentioned this before I was going to start the podcast with this cousin who I’d never met. But I’ve been talking to a little bit on and off over the years
who lived in Indiana.
And she was a Mengele twin who had an incredible story in the camps. And I spoke to her just before the podcast started and before she left on her Android annual pilgrimage to Auschwitz. And she was really excited about about it. She had freed herself by having to go to the extraordinary length of forgiving Dr. Mengele. And the first time I heard that I had a cousin who had forgiven Dr. Mengele was so pissed. Like how can you do that? You can Let this person off the hook, you know that there’s responsibility. When I talked to her, I realized I hadn’t understood what a genius move this was. So I was like, I had to take this anger that I felt and realize that first of all, she had been through this episode and me getting angry on behalf of her was a little rich. When she wasn’t angry herself, it was one thing if she was going to carry that her perspective was I and her name was Eva. I even needed to free myself from victimhood. By doing what he couldn’t what Dr. Mengele couldn’t stop me from doing. He couldn’t stop me from the grave, from forgiving him when I had every reason not just had no desire to forget or to let him off the hook, but simply did use her power not to be his victim. This woman was an incredible powerhouse. And she was a next level thinker. And I’m sorry that I only got a chance to really even connect with her at the very, very end, she dies on this trip to Auschwitz. So she can’t make it onto the portal is my first episode. I learned a ton from talking to her about that, which is that we do have bizarre powers to write off things that still might have some value to let people go or to find arrangements in which we can pass power back and forth. I’m talking more about this on the podcast The way I see it, is that we Jews have the power to celebrate German culture. There’s a lot of things that happened in Germany that were unbelievable. That happened well before Adolf Hitler ever came to power and the You know if I could just even talk about things that Nazis did that are incredibly beautiful and profound. So for example, there’s a guy named Pascal Jordan, who contributed some of the algebra around quantum mechanics that’s finds its way into beautiful, exceptional algebraic structures. I love his work. It was a straight up Nazi. Or i’ve you know, communicated with Carl Christian gunfights occur the economist who was the son of, I guess, a Nazi physicist. It’s very clear that this kind of German precision enters into the work that the economist was doing is one of the few people who could evaluate some of my work. So there are ways in which we have to be in dialogue, even with our purest representation of true evil, and have to be able to have a more more nuanced relationship with it. lest the childlike relationship of you know this is pure bad and can’t be talked about No, now it’s going to come erupting out of Pandora’s box.
Trying to figure out how to put that to bed.
By having these more difficult, more nuanced conversations is a lot of what what the portal is supposed to be about. I wonder if we could turn it just to towards the end to, to your mom. The sadness that I feel in listening to your story is, you know, at one level, it’s cosmic, it’s about you know, two important cultures that were intertwined in some kind of crazy memetic rivalry, an earlier world war reparations and the disaster that came from that. But then there’s just this very personal thing about you and your mom, and a question of how do we reconceptualize the work? I don’t even think you had choice. I think you had to do this work. I think you were compelled. And it was inexorable in some sense. One thing you talked talked to me about was the idea that in Germany is that in all cultures, there’s a concept of merging one’s family and you can you say with the word for this nest,
Julie Lindahl 1:17:20
fish Meazza, which means one who dirties the nest,
Eric Weinstein 1:17:23
and I was thinking about this from the perspective of this restoration work and art, that what you’re doing is, is that the nest was Bish monster, if you would buy. buy the cheap coat of paint over the top of it. And I don’t think your goal is to focus just on the whole. I think your goal is to restore the nest and that that work may be pretty tough. Is that a fair read?
Julie Lindahl 1:17:58
Yes, it’s my goal I, if I try to conceptualize that restoration as we’re all going to be able to sit around the table and be loving to each other and have natural relationships with one another, in my, at least with the with the generation that came before me and my mother’s generation,
probably won’t succeed. I’m not going to try and create that expectation. In my heart, a restoration has taken place, in the sense that I have sympathy. I don’t hate. I’m not furious and angry. at everybody who came before me. I see their different facades. You can’t forgive what some of them did, but it’s not for me to forgive. So there’s nothing to do about it. It’s the victims who, who should decide whether to forgive or not like your relative. But when it comes to my own family, my children and my husband, who are my family now, that is my nest. And it’s sharing a nest of course with with the others too.
And that part is
becoming more like the beautiful painting at the beginning of the series, the complex painting. When I first had to appear on television when the book was released in Sweden, in January in Swedish language, I was asked to come and have an interview on morning television and it was the first time when the story really hit the headlines everywhere in Sweden. And then
Eric Weinstein 1:20:01
it was a big deal in Sweden,
Julie Lindahl 1:20:02
it was it was a quite a big deal. And
suddenly, after I came off this interview, I became very frightened about how my children would feel because I didn’t anticipate that this would be such a big deal. And suddenly it was and I thought, how will my children feel? all their friends will know everybody who knows them know that I’m their mother. And how do they react to this because I had not, you know, talk to them constantly about this through the years, neither had I hidden it from them, but now we were in a different situation. And
my daughter fixed it. My daughter,
my daughter showed me that we will move forward be able to hold this complexity. She showed me by calling me up and saying, Mom, I’m proud of you. And it wasn’t so much the, the need to feel that my daughter was proud of me that was so important. But what was important was that she could feel the emotion of pride. Yeah, family, about being open about what happened, and that she doesn’t feel any form of hatred or anger or anything to any of the characters in a story. Rather, she can see and she can be hold it and she knows and she can then draw strength from that and move forward with that into a society that’s changing very quickly.
so if there’s anything that I any restoration work that I Hope I’ve succeeded then it’s in, in that piece in, in making the part of the nest that’s inhabited by my children and me and my husband more.
Unknown Speaker 1:22:20
Yes. I mean, look,
Eric Weinstein 1:22:23
I can’t tell you how well it’s not even you, I really want to be talking to you. I think it’s really like, I want to be talking to your mom. And I want to be letting somebody know that. On the other side of this, it’s not just a question of shame and sticking somebody’s head in the toilet bowl for the rest of eternity, forcing them to relive the worst parts of everything. It’s a question of, it really needs to be understood that this happened. It was as bad as we say it was. And that that is not the entire story and in particular, this issue of passing power back and forth. When People who have lineage and connection to the perpetrators of what happened during the darkest of periods in human history, talk about these things and own them from the lineage perspective, because you can’t own it personally because it wasn’t. And it allows the rest of us to do the other part of the work, which is to say, you know, I’ve always felt vaguely guilty about how attached I am to Schubert leader, or, you know, music is huge for me. So, you know, whether it’s Bach or Beethoven, or
Julie Lindahl 1:23:38
Yeah, me too. Richard Strauss is my favorite. Right?
Eric Weinstein 1:23:40
There you go. And, you know, I remember the first time I was in Berlin, and somebody said, My Germanic last name. I’d never wanted to go to Germany because of my trauma. And suddenly I had this question. Did that sound awful or did it sound awesome? You know, it’s a very weird thing to be bound up. I think that in part Yiddish, Which is really some version of Judaic, Middle High German. We’ve gotten divorced from Yiddish kite, the culture that in part, you know, surrounds this language because of this horrible history. So I think that there’s so much to be gained from people like you, you know, sort of owning the connection to it, and talking about the deepening of understanding of it, and the rest of us are in a position to do the other part of that work, which just letting your mom know, I couldn’t very easily celebrate things that are dramatic, which have had a huge impact and a hugely positive impact on the world without people like your daughter, writing books like this and having the courage to go on the lecture circuit talking about the unspeakable. And so I think it’s really important that we figure out how to restore Germany to her right place in the world order as the last people to have touched the Holocaust from any side, you know, take their take their last bows. The one thing let’s let’s leave on is you told me something I didn’t know about child rearing in Germany and empathy. And I wonder if you could just share that a little bit with our listeners. And then I’ll say a couple of words and finish now.
Julie Lindahl 1:25:29
Well, I didn’t know about it either, really, except through observation in my own family, my own experience until
major German daily newspaper, finally published the research findings that show that child raising techniques that were practiced in some of the more radical Nazi families but this was this was these were techniques that were summarized in a book that was written by somebody called Dr. Johana horror in 1934. This book was published. And
it was a book that made its way into many
Nazi households, especially households of SS families. And these were ideas about how to raise children, but not only how to raise children, it was how to raise them for the struggle, because the the motivating idea behind Hitler society was that there was a constant struggle going on between the races and the you know, the the ariens and the other degenerate peoples and and so the the effect To these practices, if if you take them in their sum total is to remove empathy from people. And there were all kinds of ways in which this took place. Mothers weren’t supposed to look into their infants eyes and things like that. And of course, I don’t think that most mothers that implemented these things were conscious that that’s what they were doing. But that was the that was the effect. And I’m not saying that those babies ended up with no empathy but what the research is showing is that those babies that are now
are moving into in their 70s if I don’t know if you regard a person in their 70s is elderly But anyway, they’re about I used to but I’m not
that’s why I did that. But but
it what is emerging is that in families where These techniques were implemented in a systematic manner. The effects on the children were very serious. And this, there was research available about this already back in the early 90s. But no German paper wanted to touch it. No one wanted to publish it. And it was at the beginning of this year, did cite the courage to publish an article about this, which was almost immediately translated into English and published in Scientific American. And without going into the details, when I read about it, I recognize a lot of things and just emotionally from from, from
reactions, the behaviors I’d seen, and the generation that came before me, the behavior between my grandmother and her children, things that are I then experienced because no one in my family really confronted, you have to confront what came before you in order not to repeat it. And unfortunately, that didn’t happen. So I am familiar with some of these things. And I think this is going to be very, very big thing and very important for a lot of families that this is coming up out into the open now. I think it’s also important because there are other places where extremism exists in the world, and questions about whether the children of extremists should be should remain with those extremists or not. And I must say, with my with, with what I know, I would question whether that’s a good idea in all cases, because maybe some of those children would be better off being raised in other families. depends on the number of factor
Eric Weinstein 1:30:00
and child of extremists.
Julie Lindahl 1:30:03
I don’t know what to say about that. But But I think what I can can say is that
the tendrils of that time
are so long, and so many Yeah. That
Yeah, will go on in another way. And it’s going to go on for a very long time. And it is, the remembering will happen through those kinds of things. These child rearing practices are something that have left an imprint on families through generations. What is more shocking is that in 1945, when the war was over, and this this particular book, which was called the German mother in her first child, should have been put on a big heap and, well, maybe we shouldn’t burn books. But it should have just been it. No, I want to read more. And instead, the worst Nazi ideology was taken out of it, it was republished, and also translated to a number of European languages, and sold continued to be sold throughout Europe. So these ideas continue to affect, you know, people into the 1960s. And then 70s there was a break with this late 60s there were the student revolts in Germany, and then there was a sort of, and also student revolts in different parts of Europe. And so, yeah, exactly. And so then this stuff started to be people distance themselves from this, but it continued to have an impact after the war. So there are these continuity ease. That means that the tendrils of the Nazis reached even further. That’s not to say that the techniques that were in there are so little attributable to the Nazis because they also drew on thinking that came before
Eric Weinstein 1:32:04
this, you know, there’s an intertwining of responsible and even very high German thought with this very dangerous and low Nazi ism, authoritarian and authoritarianism and of course, you know, it’s not like there’s no country on Earth that’s been immunized from the authoritarian tendencies. And you know, there are founding murders and atrocities found everywhere. I don’t want to overdo the idea that this is totally singular to Germany, but just with this empathy riff, maybe we could close it out by me asking for something that I would never be able to ask for if you hadn’t done the hard work and might show a payoff to your family and anyone else who’s interested. I would never want to hear a humanizing story about your life with your great with your grandmother and not a Germanic one. But because of this work, I wonder if we shouldn’t sort of explore a payoff of it, which is, Can you take me into something that’s really precious and sweet to you about your relationship with your grandma, as you said, a committed Nazi till 103, or whatever it is. This work opens up to show what the benefit is of actually confronting this, that this is something that would be of interest to somebody who would would never be of interest to me and their circumstance.
Julie Lindahl 1:33:36
When I was writing the last chapter of my book, and actually, it was that was the short version of the book. So that’s no longer the last chapter. But now it’s somewhere in the middle of the book, but it is the part of the pendulum where I reflect on my grandmother’s death because she passed away in 2014. somewhere in the middle of where I was doing my research, and When I first excuse me when I first wrote the section about my reflection on her passing, I hurled my fury at her. And then I took those pages, and I sat in the couch and I thought, That’s a lie. That’s a lie. You’re just doing that for everybody else, because everybody else wants you to hate her. Yeah. But you don’t hate her. You know, you love her. But you also realize that she did. She supported very bad things. Yep. And so I wrote rewrote it. And what I wrote there was a recognition that my grandmother had influenced me and formed my life in ways that I can never quantify. She wasn’t enormous influence on my life. Yeah, yes, she was. And well, partly led me into this research. After all, it was her willingness to speak with me over very, very many years, about many things, just not just not certain pieces of the essential truth was just that they were an SS couple. But she was willing to speak with me about very many things opened up for me, the gray zone that women inhabited, under narcissism that they were both victims and perpetrators at the same time, because narcissism also promoted male violence, including at home. And so so I’m very formed by her and I recognized it there. And I went back to one particular memory which is, which is a sweet memory of her that I tried to keep in my mind, I don’t cling to it, because I can actually today hold both the memory of her sitting there in a harsh voice trying to convince me the Holocaust didn’t happen, as well as this sweet memory. But you can’t let one memory erase the other one because then you’re not you’re not dealing with the reality you’re not facing the truth. So the other memory is
when I was a young girl, and
I was I was kind of chubby as some young girls are. And my mother sent me to stay with her rather than in the apartment where the rest of the family were staying because my grandmother was into health food into healthy food and she had a way of handling food in a very sparing way as many people from award war generation people person has been through two World Wars is very sparing with food. And she would prepare a muesli for the following day the night before because it had to, it had to rest before you ate it on the next morning. It was a way of handling the fruits of the earth with respect in a way that we don’t do in our consumer society. That’s a problem. And we sat there grading an apple together, and I would watch her grading this apple was such reverence into this bowl, because she really appreciated every ingredient. And she would talk quietly to me in her tiny little kitchen about you know, not having food, the absence of food Why this apple was healthy. And the next day, the next morning, we would eat it together together in this apartment. And to me as a positive memory, it’s a simple memory. It’s full of. It’s full of things that we have lost in our society that perhaps we need to find our way back to greater reverence for things that the earth produces. And so I keep that with me. Next to the other memories as well.
Eric Weinstein 1:38:36
Well, thank you for trusting me with in my audience with a beautiful vignette from your life with your grandma. And for making it possible just to understand the complexity. You know, the old adage that hurt people hurt people. There were a lot of hurt people in Germany before the Nazis came to power and people got swept up in things and there’s responsibility and a lack of responsibility. And I assume we’ll spend many years trying to sort out what’s what. But I want to just say thank you, like the most human of levels. I have so much love for you and your project what you’re trying to do, Julie. So thanks for coming on the program and sharing your story with us.
Julie Lindahl 1:39:23
Thank you, Eric, for doing the hard work.
Eric Weinstein 1:39:25
No, no, it’s it’s you who’s doing the hard work the book people is the pendulum. Check it out. The author is Julie lindo. You’ve been listening to us discuss this important work and this important book. So thanks for coming through the portal with Julie and please remember to subscribe to the podcast wherever you listen to podcasts. Be that Stitcher, Spotify, Apple. Or if you listen on YouTube, make sure to subscribe and click the bell so you’ll be like no one ever we drop our next episode.
The Portal podcast transcription series
- Peter Thiel
- What is The Portal?
- Werner Herzog
- Timur Kuran
- Rabbi David Wolpe
- Jocko Willink
- Bret Easton Ellis
- Andrew Yang
- Bryan Callen
- Julie Lindahl
- Sam Harris
- Vitalik Buterin
- Garry Kasparov
- London Tsai
- Garrett Lisi
- Tyler Cowen
- Anna Khachiyan
- Eric Weinstein – State of the Portal 2020
- Bret Weinstein
- Sir Roger Penrose
- Ashley Mathews (Riley Reid)
- Ben Greenfield
- Agnes Callard
- Kai Lenny
- The Construct: Jeffrey Epstein
Geometric Unity – a First Look
- James O’Keefe
- Daniel Schmachtenberger
- Eric Lewis
- Jamie Metzl
- Ross Douthat
- Ryan Holiday