Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Mussolini

“Pain is more powerful than death”: Who is Lev Nussimbaum?

Pain is more powerful than life, more powerful than death, love, loyalty, and duty” wrote Lev Nussimbaum before he died in acute pain in the retreat village of Positano by the shore around Naples in 1942.

Lev Nussimbaum, (he signed his books and articles by Essad Bey in the first 8 years or Kurban Said in the last 4 years of his life), arrived from Vienna to Italy in full health at the age of 31, fleeing Nazi Germany that occupied Austria.  He was trying to obtain the rights to becoming Mussolini biographer.

Before 1938, Mussolini politics were against Hitler and the anti-semite or Aryan Nazi policies.  Lev ( a Jew by origin) was dropped from the writers syndicate in Germany, and his author’s rights from selling his already published 10 books were denied him.

He married for convenience sake a German baroness and signed Kurban Said so that he may receive money through his wife from different accounts in Europe.

By 1938, Mussolini sided with Hitler; it seems that Mussolini understood that Germany will not leave its southern front (Italy) unprotected by all means.  Thus, Italy started leisurely to tighten the grip on Jews.

Lev was suffering from Reynaud’s syndrome by 1940; it is a blood infection that asphyxiate the cells and your body witnesses internal gangrene.  Lev was amputated several times and he relied on morphine and hashish to secure short reprieves from pain.

Imagine you were born at the turn of the 20th century (say 1905) and had to witness genocides and two world wars before you reach the age of 30.

You experienced genocides against Armenians in Baku (Azerbaijan) and you had to flee persecutions with your father (since your mother committed suicide when you were only 9 years old) and you were kept on the run from Baku, to Turkmenistan, to Persia, to Georgia, to Constantinople, to Italy, Paris, Germany, and back to Italy.

Imagine that “revolutionary” gangs kidnapped people in your city for ransoms and that you had to be confined in your home for years.

Imagine that you witnessed the “Red Bolsheviks” invade your country and commit mass massacres.  You see the old world of lasting empires, monarchies, kingdoms, and dynasties falling apart and you have to get used to a new world of “barbaric” youth who are trying to live in a different changing culture, tradition, and set of values.

Trying to comprehend a world of totalitarian regimes, racial ideologies blatantly discriminating among race and religions, regimes intent on restricting freedom of opinions that you were used to and you have to juggle amid this world of upheaval while barely 20 of age.

Imagine you are mentally more mature than normal kids, that you could read in three languages and devoured all the novels in your rich library about the Orient of Sultans, Princes, and Khans, that you built an imaginary world of fast and pomp and luxury.

Imagine that you appreciated luxury and lived in luxury (your father is an oil baron in Baku and money is redundant) and then you are reduced to a life of poverty.

Imagine that you believed deep down that Islam and the Islamic world (for example, the Ottoman Empire) is the alternative political and social system to Bolshevism and racial segregation; that you converted to Islam and took the name of Essad Bey.

Suppose you could assimilate the culture of your environment and play the roles you desire; that you attended university courses in Orientalism (the history, literature, geography) of Islam and Central Asia nations (Ottoman, Mogul, Tatar, Persia) while still a high school kid.

Imagine that you started publishing big hit books at the age of 24 and that you published 15 books and 200 articles in renowned dailies and magazine within 12 years and you were hired and recognized an expert on the Orient.  Lev donned the Ottoman Fez and garments of the Caucasus regions in his home.  You earned plenty of money and recognition and then you were reduced to be penniless and mortally ill.

Imagine you had to play as many roles as countries you live in as immigrant and survived to keep a semblance of sanity in a fast changing world where liberty was doomed to disappear. Imagine that your father is living in Vienna and he is unable to travel and you know that Nazi Germany will most probably get hold of your father and send him to a concentration camp (which was done).

You are longing for a stable and tolerant society but are faced with a barbaric reality of total intolerance and totalitarian ideologies.

Then, you had to suffer the life of a prisoner, unable to travel and communicate freely in an isolated Italian village and had to deal with physical pain every minutes of your life.

Yet, Lev spent 15 hours a day writing and publishing.  His radio and typewriter were taken from him and Lev wrote on cigarette paper and on the marge of books for lack of paper.

It would have been nice to live confortably to an older age; but how else could you learn the secret of life: “Pain is more powerful than life, more powerful than death, love, loyalty, and duty”

Note: I have posted two articles on Lev Nussimbaum if you are interested in his biography.  The information were extracted from the “The Orientalist” by Tom Reiss.


“Peace treaty”: Paris, 1919; (Nov. 14, 2009)

I watched a documentary on the French channel TV5 this Thursday, Nov. 12, 2009. The documentary was relating and commenting on the 5 months that dragged on before the most lousy “peace treaty” was finally signed to end WWI.

The chiefs of the main 5 nations who won in the First World War sat around in Paris to discuss how to partition the world.  The government chiefs were: USA (Wilson), Britain (Lloyd George), France (Clemenceau), Italy, and Japan.  Germany had ceased fire; the Kaiser, “Emperor Guillaume“, is settled in the Netherlands.  Turkey is declared defeated as ally to Germany.

Every delegation from all over the world, when allowed, was given 10 minutes to expose his case and demands.  Ho Chi Minh (from Viet Nam) was refused an appointment; he will later defeat the French in 1954 and then the US forces in 1973.

Wilson wanted to discuss establishing a world organization of State of Nations to prevent further military escalations; the other four leaders were trying hard to convince Wilson that they are not against this idea but there are more urgent matters to resolve at this junction.

The four other leaders wanted to redraw world’s borders; cartographers spent 5 months redrawing borders.  Wilson wanted the people to decide and vote for their destiny; the other four leaders tried hard to educating Wilson on pragmatic procedures.

In the meantime, Communism was spreading everywhere in Europe and the USA.  The “Spanish flu” had decimated 20 millions in Europe and America (it was called the “Spanish flu” simply because it was the Spanish press that divulged this scourge that States were trying to keep under cover).

Soldiers were returning from the war front at the pace of 100,000 each month; I see one-legged soldiers hoping around in a baseball game and their companions laughing and having good time. Soldiers were returning home to experience famine, miseries, and desolate institutions to take care of business.

The world’s “five leaders” are smoking cigars and pipes and looking mightily serious. Lloyd George wanted 300 billions in gold for war reparation from Germany; his financial counselor, the famous Keynes, is steadfastly suggesting agreeing on 10 billions for material damages on the ground that Germany could barely pay even that amount; Lloyd George had plenty of time to get practical at this stage.

Wilson does not want any reparations and the other four leaders are fuming because it was not the US that lost millions of dead and injured soldiers and civilians in the war.

Clemenceau wants

1. to recover the Alsace and Loraine in addition to

2.  La Sarre region, rich in coal production, in Germany, in order to exploit for 15 years as war reparation.

The Italian President just wants a port on the Adriatic Sea as an advanced post to check any resurgence of hostility but the other leaders adamantly refused his wish.

A Germany delegation of over 110 individuals arrives in Paris to deal a peace treaty.

The train is made to stop first in Verdun where 450,000 soldiers on both sides died. This delegation is typing reams of legal papers claiming that they are not the only culprit for starting the war.

The vanquishers have no time to read the German side of view: they want Germany to admit that it is the sole bad party and that it had lost the war. The Germans are upset: why discuss a peace treaty if the other party has already made his mind?

The German delegation refused the humiliating peace deal and the war was on the verge of resuming.  The German sank their merchant marine in order not to be captured by the allies.

Clemenceau is furious because he could not convince Lloyd George to jointly board these ships to avoid sabotage.

By now, Wilson is totally worn out and more hawkish than even Clemenceau. In the last 5 days before the refusal of Germany to sign the humiliating peace treaty Lloyd George had second thoughts: if Germany is completely humiliated then any demy-god would take power and start another war.

Lloyd George also needed to trade goods with a strong Germany. What Keynes suggested as reasonable reparation of 10 billions in gold is fine with Lloyd; Germany does not need to admit that it lost the war.

The problem was how to convince Wilson after manipulating him for five month on pragmatic politics. Wilson is adamant: Germany has to understand that it lost the war; period!  The German Chancellor resigned and another peace delegation arrived in Paris and signed the treaty in Versailles. Wilson could go home to face major downturns.

The Italian President lost the election and could not attend the peace signing ceremony: Mussolini was on the rise.

The American Congress refused the plan of Wilson for establishing the Society of Nations.

China and Japan were not satisfied; Japan will invade China in 1935 and capture Korea as a colony.

While the leaders in Paris were discussing dividing the world into mandated colonies, Wilson’s concept of people deciding on their future destiny by vote went down the drain as the months eroded his determination into “pragmatic” attitudes.

Clemenceau got just what he asked La Sarre. and Poland recaptured a region in Germany with the Danzig port.

The Middle East people want independence from Turkey that lost the war. No problems.

Turkey is to lose the eastern region for an independent Armenia, the western region for Greece, including the city of Izmir, and the southern region under French mandate. The army of Mustapha Kemal “Ataturk” will recapture all the lands taken out of Turkey, including the Syrian land of Antaquia and Iskandaroun.

Hussein of Mecca has many children. One of them by the named of Faissal is appointed King to Syria and Lebanon. Another by the name of Abdullah is appointed King to Jordan. A third is appointed King to Iraq, I think: I am confused.

Wilson sent a delegation to gather field intelligence on the wishes of the people. Clemenceau and Lloyd George had another plan: they partition the Middle East between them.

France is to have mandate on Syria, Lebanon, and “Antaquia” in Turkey that Syria claimed to be part of its lands.  England is to have mandate on Iraq, Jordan, and Palestine. There were barely 5,000 immigrant Jews in Palestine at the time.

Clemenceau sent a French army to depose King Faissal and govern his “mandated people”.

Mount Lebanon is split from Syria and more lands are attached to Lebanon so that it might have the illusion of agricultural “self-sufficiency”.




June 2023

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