Saturday, June 24, 2017

Review of part of Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp

Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp is a collection of essays focusing on all parts of the Nazi’s most infamous labor-turned-death camp. This review will focus on  four of those essays: “The Auschwitz Prisoner Administration” by Danuta Czech, “Hospitals” by Irena Strezelecka, “Auschwitz – A Psychological Perspective” by Leo Eitinger, and “The Literature of Auschwitz” by Lawrence Langer.
Danuta Czech examines the prisoner hierarchy in “The Auschwitz Prisoner Administration.” German prisoners were always at the top of the hierarchy and Jews, of any nationality, were at the bottom of the prisoner hierarchy. Christian prisoners, prisoners of war, and other types of prisoners fell somewhere in between the top and bottom of this hierarchy.(364) We see this evidenced in Pelicki’s report. Pelicki, a Polish Christian, had relative freedom of movement between jobs as compared to Jewish prisoners. He changed jobs several times, usually by just speaking to a German kapo or block leader.
Czech also details the benefits of having arrived early in Auschwitz (before 1942). Early arrival usually ensured a better job that was physically less brutal than what later arriving Jews had available. Since German was the camp language, an early arrival date would allow time to learn and speak the camp orders that were always issued in German. Czech argues that early arrivals who were able to adjust to the harsh condition in Auschwitz were able to attain important positions in the prisoner hierarchy (364-365). Czech’s essay and details of the prisoner hierarchy closely mimic Pilecki’s report and read in parallel enhance understanding of the prisoner administration at Auschwitz.
In “Hospitals,” Irena Strezelecka features the two purposes of the medical service ran by the SS at Auschwitz. The first task was to provide medical care for the entire camp, but especially for SS personnel. The hospital’s secondary purpose was to carry out methods of extermination, contradicting accepted medical doctrines and principles (379). One of the most horrific instances of active involvement in the annihilation operations at Auschwitz is the role that SS physicians played an integral role in the extermination process. Liquidation of sick prisoners often involved phenol injections. SS physicians would also send emaciated or otherwise sick prisoners to the gas chambers. Strezelecka compares the SS doctors to the prisoner-doctors at Auschwitz. Prisoner-doctors were often Poles and Jews, and many times these people went to great efforts to ameliorate prisoner experiences (391). This is an important comparison and provides another example of resistance in the death camp.
Leo Eitinger surveys the victims of Nazi aggression and how these victims responded to and coped with the abuse to which they were subject. Himself an Auschwitz victim, Eitinger studies the long-term effects of the type of aggression prisoners experienced (469). He lists three phases prisoners experienced: the shock phase, the reaction phase, and the recoil phase.
  Eitinger’s shock phase begins with the journey to Auschwitz. Prisoners would be held in cattle cars for days on end, with no food, water, or hygienic facilities. When the prisoners were finally released from the cattle cars they faced armed SS men shouting in a foreign language. The result was a chaotic and panicked situation (470). Shock manifests itself in various ways, including confusion, shakiness, composure, and extreme apathy. The SS used the victim’s shock to exploit and maneuver the prisoners. Eitinger posits that the shock phase lasted until prisoners were transported to their blocks, tattooed, and numbered. Victims were transformed from people into numbers (471).
The reaction phase occurred after Auschwitz prisoners “awakened” from their shock. Now prisoners were faced with the realities of their situations. Families were disrupted. Prisoners experienced feelings of insecurity and were subjected to harsh labor. They were starved and deprived of basic human needs. Eitinger theorizes that surviving in Auschwitz meant learning to cope positively. This is observed in Vitold Pilecki’s account by the way in which he depended on his mission for survival. Without a reason to survive, inmates would quickly deteriorate and die.
Eitinger places a great deal of importance on decision making as a way prisoners coped during and after their ordeal. Some prisoners chose to ration their own bread. This enormous decision gave inmates a semblance of control in an environment meant to obliterate individual control (475). Again, Pilecki decided to ration his bread and he credits this decision as helping him survive Auschwitz.
Eitinger’s final phase is that of recoil, where victims attempts to overcome past horrors. Using newly developed coping strategies, victims see a decrease in symptoms and a gradual resumption of normal functioning (477). Many survivors had no close relatives or friends who survived the Holocaust. Upon liberation they had nowhere to go and no one waiting their return. Survivors faced lives that had to be completely rebuilt. They suffered feelings of guilt for surviving when so many others did not. Eitinger argues that many prisoners were never able to completely repress their memories of Auschwitz. Victims carry the stress of Auschwitz all of their lives.
Lawrence Langer, author of “The Literature of Auschwitz” and also a survivor of the camp, describes the perceptions created by the written sources, accounts, and fictional of Auschwitz. He struggles to understand Vikto Frankl’s ideology of minimizing atrocities experience in Auschwitz, but instead making connections between what occurred in the death camp and living reality. Langer criticizes Frankl’s comparison of Auschwitz prisoners to explorers of the human spiritual condition, such as Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky, and Thomas Mann. Langer wonders how a fictional character in Tolstoy’s Resurrection could know anything of suffering on the level of a Jewish prisoner at Auschwitz. Langer argues that Frankl’s success lies in accomplishing what Auschwitz perpetrators intended: leaving victims anonymous.(603) I think Langer believes that Frankl’s assertion that the power of literature and philosophy to maintain the inner self during the camp nightmare is futile.
Langer does, however, find a comparative belief with Jean Amery. Amery asserts that literary memory was useless once it entered the boundaries of Auschwitz. He argues that what made Auschwitz unique was not death, but the particular type of death unique to an extermination camp. Amery avows that intellect was not present at Auschwitz. (604) This fact becomes clear when one considers the many intellectually minded prisoners who were immediately gassed upon arrival in Auschwitz or were reduced to skeletons through work. Intellect meant nothing; survival meant everything.
For the post-Auschwitz generation, there is often a macabre fascination with the sign above an Auschwitz gate, Arbeit Macht Frei, or “Work sets you free.” This sign has lingered in Auschwitz literary history as an indication of Jewish suffering. However, the overwhelming majority of Jews never witnessed this sign or the “work” associated with Auschwitz because they were gassed immediately upon arrival. In an effort to classify and make sense of Auschwitz, people use the Auschwitz gate or mounds of bodies as a visual attempt to make sense of the disaster that occurred at Auschwitz. Langer identifies this as “the commonplace disguised as the profound.”(608)
Langer additionally examines the confines dividing the historical moment from its imaginative representation by looking at Elie Wiesel’s acclaimed Night. Night was written by Wiesel as an autobiographical memoir, but continues to be acclaimed and classified as a novel. Night and other written accounts of Auschwitz, and the Holocaust more generally, result in a precision of language not observed in any other communicative form. Langer argues that because Night is a written text, it suffers the privileges of art. This privilege lifts Night beyond the realm of autobiography into the land of imagined fiction.
Understanding the literature of Auschwitz is central to any study of the Nazi death mechanization. Interpretations of the struggles in Auschwitz should not minimize the prisoner experiences, but should lead to an in-depth comprehension of the varied ways in which prisoners coped and survived.
As with any collection of essays, there is a redundancy of content matter. At times this detracts from the essays, but I think the consistency of repetition adds an extra layer of truth to Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. With over twenty contributors, facts and circumstances are repeated so that readers have little choice but to put all faith in the accounts. Another advantage of this work is that several contributors survived Auschwitz and the Holocaust. Autobiographical and eyewitness testimony is more difficult to refute even from a secondary source.
Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp presents a “whole” history of Auschwitz. It provides a detailed look at all aspects of the death camp’s history, the perpetrators, the prisoners themselves, the resistance activities within Auschwitz, and a broader look at how the world perceived the camp during the 1940s. This collection of essays is important reading about the Third Reich’s most notorious and deadly concentration camp.

Gutman, Yisrael and Michael Berenbaum, eds. Anatomy of the Auschwitz Death Camp. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994.

Charley Rinehart

birth: September 15, 1851
location: Illinois
death: September 14, 1936
location: Gregg County, Texas

father: Dan Rinehart
mother: Minnie Swartz

spouse: Kizzie Mullins

1920 census

1930 census



children with Kizzie Mullins:

William R Rinehart - 1883
Minnie Rinehart - 1894
John Doc Rinehart - 1896
Condy Rinehart - 1900
Harry R Rinehart - 1902
Edd Rinehart - 1903
Cornelius Rinehart - 1903

Charley Rinehart - 1920 census

1920 census
location: Van Zandt County, Texas
date: January 27, 1920

Charley Rinehart  head  male  60  married  Illinois  farmer
Kizzie Rinehart  wife  female  48  married  Michigan
Condy Rinehart  son  male  white  21  single  Texas
Cornelius Rinehart  son  male  16  single  Texas 1920 United States Federal Census [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Operations, Inc., 2010. Images reproduced by FamilySearch.

Charley Rinehart - death

location: Longview, Gregg County, Texas
date: September 14, 1936

"Texas Deaths, 1890-1976," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 5 December 2014), Charley Rinehart, 14 Sep 1936; citing certificate number 45294, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2,116,964.

Condy "Red" Rinehart

birth: December 25, 1900
location: Texas
death: April 4, 1969
location: Mineola, Wood County, Texas

father: Charlie Rinehart
mother: Kizzie Mullins

spouse: Viola Young

marriage to Viola Young - 1923

World War I draft card

1920 census

1930 census

1940 census


death certificate


children with Viola Young:

Lee Rinehart
Tom Mix Rinehart
Hazel Marie Rinehart

Condy Rinehart death

location: Mineola, Wood County, Texas
date: April 4, 1969

"Texas Deaths, 1890-1976," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 5 December 2014), Condy Rinehart, 04 Apr 1969; citing certificate number 30117, State Registrar Office, Austin; FHL microfilm 2,137,441.

Condy Rinehart and Viola Young marriage

location: Union County, Arkansas

"Arkansas, County Marriages, 1837-1957," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 22 December 2016), Condy Rinehart and Viola Young, 07 Jul 1923; citing , Union, Arkansas, United States, county offices, Arkansas; FHL microfilm 1,993,210.

Condy Rinehart WWI draft card

location: McCurtain County, Oklahoma

"United States World War I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918," database with images, FamilySearch ( : 12 December 2014), Condy Rineheart, 1917-1918; citing McCurtain County, Oklahoma, United States, NARA microfilm publication M1509 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, n.d.); FHL microfilm 1,851,808.

Condy Rinehart - death

"United States Social Security Death Index," database, FamilySearch ( : 20 May 2014), Condy Rinehart, Apr 1969; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).

birth: April 30, 1900

death: April 1969

Tom Mix Rinehart

birth: November 5, 1929
location: Louisiana
death: July 26, 2003
location: Texas

father: Condy "Red" Rinehart
mother: Viola Young

spouse: Betty Jo Lewis

1930 census

1940 census



children with Betty Jo Lewis:


Condy Rinehart - 1930

1930 census
location: Jacksonville, Cherokee County, Texas
date: April 10, 1930

Condy Rhinehart  head  male  white  38  married  age @ 1st marriage - 21  Texas  laborer - repair work
Viola Rhinehart  wife  female  white  21  married  age @ 1st married - 17  Arkansas
Lee Rhinehart  son  male  white  4 11/12  single  Texas
Tom Mix Rhinehart  son  male  white  5/12  single  Louisiana
Charlie Rinehart  head  male  white  74  married  Illinois
Kizzie Rinehart  wife  female  white  62  married  Illinois
Edd Rinehart  son  male  white  28  single  Texas

"United States Census, 1930," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 June 2017), Condy Rhinehart, Jacksonville, Cherokee, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 16, sheet 13A, line 23, family 312, NARA microfilm publication T626 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2002), roll 2307; FHL microfilm 2,342,041.

Condy Rinehart - 1940 census

1940 census
location: Ozark, Polk County, Arkansas
date: April 8, 1940

Condy Rinehart  head  male  white  40  married  Texas  laborer
Ola Rinehart  wife  female  white  31  married  Arkansas
Lee Rinehart  daughter  female  white  16  single  Texas
Tommy Rinehart  son  male  white  9  single  Louisiana
Hazel M Rinehart  daughter  female  white  0  single  Texas

"United States Census, 1940," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 25 June 2017), Condy Rinehart, Grannis, Ozark Township, Polk, Arkansas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) 57-28, sheet 81A, line 6, family 2, Sixteenth Census of the United States, 1940, NARA digital publication T627. Records of the Bureau of the Census, 1790 - 2007, RG 29. Washington, D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 2012, roll 163.

Tom Mix Rinehart death

"United States Social Security Death Index," database, FamilySearch ( : 20 May 2014), Tom M Rinehart, 26 Jul 2003; citing U.S. Social Security Administration, Death Master File, database (Alexandria, Virginia: National Technical Information Service, ongoing).

date: July 26, 2003

T R Rinehart, Sr.

location: Gregg County, Texas

father: Tom Mix Rinehart
mother: Betty Jo Lewis

spouse: Linda Diane Lacy

Tommy Ray Rinehart, Jr.

location: Longview, Gregg County, Texas

father: TRR
mother: Linda Diane Lacy

spouse: Jaycie Marie Smith

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Review of Commandant of Auschwitz

At the behest of Polish officials, Rudolf Hoess composed his autobiography in the weeks between his trial for the role he played in the atrocities of the Holocaust and his eventual execution. Commandant of Auschwitz is Hoess’ account of his life growing up in rural Germany, his service in the Germany military, and his various positions of authority in the Nazi government’s administration of concentration camps. Although lacking in prose and form, Hoess’ autobiography leaves readers with an intimate look at the mind of one of the Holocaust’s most notorious criminals.
Rudolf Hoess had a seemingly idyllic childhood in Germany. Hoess’ father, Franz Xavier Hoess, raised Hoess on rigid military principles and in a deeply religious Catholic environment.[1] Hoess asserts that his father taught that the highest duty was to help those in need. Given the religious atmosphere and strong awareness of duty, Hoess was groomed to become a member of the clergy upon his maturation. However, two events occurred that would alter this plan: the death of Hoess’ father and the betrayal of a confessor.[2]
With the outbreak of World War I, Hoess’ life in the German military began. He first joined the Red Cross, and, later served in the same regiment that his father and grandfather had served.[3] While a member of a German volunteer corps, Hoess was complicit in a murder. He was convicted and sentenced to ten years of hard labor in a Prussian prison.[4] After serving six years in prison, Hoess eventually answered Himmler’s call to join the active ranks of the SS. Hoess was trained to become a member of the unit associated with guarding concentration camps. [5] Thus, Hoess’ fate as one of the Holocaust’s most infamous murderers was sealed.
Commandant of Auschwitz elucidates several scenes from Hoess’ life that help readers better understand the inner-workings of the Commandant’s mind. The first involved a confessor’s betrayal and a shattering of Hoess’ religious views. According to Hoess, childhood horseplay in a stairway resulted in a classmate’s broken ankle. Hoess made a full confession of the event to a priest and resolved to explain the incident to his father later. However, the confessor related the event to Hoess’ father that very night. Hoess claims that this event alone destroyed his faith in the sacred priesthood.[6] This event is the first that demonstrates how Hoess places the blame on others for his own actions.
The next significant event of Hoess’ life is the murder in which he played a part, the following trial, and his subsequent prisoner experience. This event, too, shows how Hoess again refuses to accept full responsibility for his decisions and actions. Hoess glosses over an in-depth description of the brutal murder of a man who was a supposed Communist spy. Hoess admits to being present, but denies being the ringleader nor the person chiefly concerned. Admittedly, Hoess was dumbfounded at his conviction and sentence to ten years of hard labor.[7] Hoess writes that as he left the courtroom for the prison that he and his comrades were “in a boisterous mood, shouting and singing our old songs of battle and defiance.”[8] What Hoess seems unable to understand is that he was punished for this murder, when many murders of the same sort were perpetrated but the murderers were not pursued or prosecuted. Other murderers were able to get away with their crimes, but he is punished. Here, Hoess implies that the rules should be different for him. He truly believes that he did not deserve punishment.
Hoess’ propensity to blame others manifests itself while he was serving as Commandant of Auschwitz. The fate of millions of Jews, Polish prisoners of war, gypsies, and other prisoners of Auschwitz is well-known and documented. Hoess shirks the blame for the horrid and inhumane conditions of concentration camp life and the immediate extermination of countless Jews by blaming his superiors and those working underneath him. He claims that he was given too many duties to be able to adequately administer at Auschwitz. “I could not keep step with the rapid expansion of the camp or the constant increase in the numbers of prisoners.”[9] He states that he was constantly being pulled away from Auschwitz on endeavors that did not involve the administration of camp life at Auschwitz.[10] Hoess says that the guards did not obey his wishes, that they were intellectually limited, obstinate, and malicious. He admonishes other officials as being inefficient.[11] In all, Hoess attempts to show that his hands were basically tied and that he did the very best he could given his limited circumstances at Auschwitz.  
            Perhaps the most ironic aspect of Commandant of Auschwitz and Hoess’ life is his personal experience of prison life. Hoess devotes quite a bit of space to the description of his time served in the Prussian prison. He describes prison guards who did not care for the physical and emotional well-being of prisoners. He admits to countless occasions where prisoners complained of the lack of administrative support over prisoners’ worries and anxieties.[12] Hoess’ description of being bullied by three guards seems petty and frivolous, especially in light of the atrocities committed at Auschwitz. Hoess seems to have a complete disconnect between his experiences of prison life and of that of the prisoners at Auschwitz under his command. He is able to distance himself perfectly from the plight and sufferings of millions, but shows disdain that prison guards in Prussia did not show him more humanity.
            Hoess is an avid proponent of work in concentration camp life. He argues that work can serve to make the existence of prison life more bearable. He portrays his own experience with work in prison as a cathartic exercise that spared him hours of useless and enervating self-pity. It is here that readers get close to observing Hoess appreciating an understanding of the inhumane working conditions at Auschwitz. He maintains that work is essential for imprisonment, encourages discipline in prisoners, and makes them better able to withstand the demoralizing effect of confinement. He admits that this work philosophy “only applies where the conditions are normal.” [13] Hoess justifies his administration at Auschwitz by arguing that he made decisions with the prisoner in mind.
            Hoess is able to reconcile his actions by maintaining that he merely followed orders, and generally, those were the orders of Theodor Eicke, a high-ranking SS official. Hoess states that at times he felt that camp life was too severe, but that Eicke demanded even greater harshness.[14] Hoess also blames Eicke for giving form to concentration camps and serving as a model for the construction and administration of the extermination camps. Hoess criticizes Eicke for being narrow-minded and unable to see sufficiently far ahead to better construct and administrate the concentration camps.[15]
            Commandant of Auschwitz is beautifully juxtaposed with the introduction by Primo Levi. Levi humbly states that had Hoess grown up in a different age the his life and the lives of millions of Holocaust victims would have been different. Levi quickly asserts that Hoess’ autobiography is filled with white and black lies, and language that attempts to paint Hoess as the greatest victim. It is easy to imagine the heartbreak Levi experienced as he read Commandant of Auschwitz. Despite the horror, Levi finds Hoess’ account a necessary part of History, calling the work “complete and explicit.”[16] Hoess mirthlessly describes the manner in which so many victims were gassed, and provides at least a baseline for totaling the amount of victims. Levi’s notes and comments throughout Commandant of Auschwitz point out Hoess’ clear biases, distortions, and omissions. While Levi finds Hoess’ account necessary, I find Levi’s short introduction and notes indispensably invaluable.  
            Part of what makes Commandant of Auschwitz so horrifying is the believability of the author’s testimony. While not under strict duress during the writing, Hoess expressed appreciation for the task. He admits to enjoying the work that writing provided. While any event of his life or the descriptions of his fellow perpetrators have to be taken at face value, the perpetration Hoess describes is accurate. I believe he honestly recounts the machinations of concentration camp life from the viewpoint of the Commandant.

Hoess, Rudolf. The Commandant of Auschwitz. Intro. Primo Levi. London: Phoenix Press, 1995.

[1] Rudolf Hoess, The Commandant of Auschwitz Intro. By Primo Levi (London: Phoenix Press, 1995), 31.
[2] Ibid., 32.
[3] Ibid., 36.
[4] Ibid., 46.
[5] Ibid., 64.
[6] Ibid., 34.
[7] Ibid., 45.
[8] Ibid., 46.
[9] Ibid., 205.
[10] Ibid., 111.
[11] Ibid., 108.
[12] Ibid., 52.
[13] Ibid., 77.
[14] Ibid., 86.
[15] Ibid., 240.
[16] Ibid., 25.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


1. Juan Trinidad Johnson, Jr. - May 1, 1935 Jim Wells County, Texas
Lydia Martinez
Juan Trinidad Johnson, III
Maria Johnson
Lydia Johnson
Mario Johnson 

2. Juan Trinidad Johnson, Sr. - September 6, 1903 Texas - February 14, 1972 Premont, Jim Wells County, Texas  buried in the Premont Cemetery
m. July 13, 1934 Jim Wells County, Texas
Julia Pena - April 15, 1910 Texas - October 23, 1993 Tarrant County, Texas
Juan Trinidad Johnson
Maria Marta Johnson
Maria Elva Johnson
Tomas Rene Johnson
Abelardo Johnson
Donato Johnson
Albeso Johnson
Enamencio Johnson
Gilberto Johnson

3. Enemencio Johnson - October 31, 1862 Nuevo Leon, Mexico - June 30, 1946 Premont, Jim Wells County, Texas  buried in the Premont Cemetery
m. 1888
Marta Rodriquez 1869 Texas
Paula Johnson
Amanda Johnson
Juanita Johnson
Enrique Johnson
Maria Johnson
Ana Johnson
Enemencio Johnson
Rosa Johnson
Juan Trinidad Johnson
Elena Johnson
Jose M Johnson

4. Pablo Johnson 1820
Februnia Salinas 1840
Ramon Johnson
Rita Johnson
Enemencio Johnson
Merced Johnson
Juanita Johnson

sister-in-law's ex-husband's family

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Review of "Imperial Reckoning" by Caroline Elkins

Imperial Reckoning
            Caroline Elkins is a professor of history and African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning book, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya is a sober recounting of Britain’s attempt at imperialism in Kenya. Not just a British-version of colonialism in Kenya, what sets this book apart from accepted histories of colonialism in Kenya is Elkins’ attention to the Kikuyu version of Mau Mau.
Imperial Reckoning presents the Mau Mau rebellion from the point of view of the Kikuyu and explores the atrocities they faced during the uprising. The Mau Mau rebellion is normally presented as a brutal and savage perpetrated by the Kikuyu. The Kikuyu did commit their share of violent crimes on British colonials living in Kenya. This, coupled with their refusal to disavow Mau Mau oaths while under detainment have been used as evidence of Kikuyu savagery. However, Elkins asks readers to reconsider this assumption and examine evidence against the numerous atrocities committed by colonial forces.
            Elkins lays the foundation for the uprising by examining land in Kenya. For the Kikuyu, land was fundamental to being Kikuyu (14). Given the British’s imperial habits in other parts of the world, land was fundamental to empire. In Kenya, the British saw an African population for labor, and land that would meet their needs for imperialism (15). Elkins explains the social hierarchy that emerged in Kenya: landed British colonialists at the top, African tribal chiefs somewhere in the middle, and landless African laborers at the bottom. The Kikuyu had previously been a stateless society, governed by councils of elders and lineage heads (18). The Kikuyu had previously used the land to meet their needs without restriction. Elkins argues that the colonization of Kenya took place to exploit the country’s natural resources and labor (55). In time, the Kikuyu, under the influence of London-educated Kenyan native Jomo Kenyattta, would foment a rebellion known as Mau Mau.  
As the rebellion unfolded, the governor of Kenya, Sir Evelyn Baring, and colonial official Thomas Askwith devised methods of detainment and rehabilitation to quell Mau Mau. Elkins lists many administrative and governmental measures taken to punish the Kikuyu: repressive laws, taxation, imprisonment, legal floggings, and terror. For Baring’s part, his State of Emergency produced communal punishment, curfews, control of mass and individual movements of people, confiscation of land and property, censorship and banning of publications, disbanding of all African political organizations, control of labor, suspension of due process, and detention without trial.
Straying from the traditional argument that the Kikuyu were the brutal party, Elkins describes the manners in which Mau Mau suspects were subjected to upon intake and detention. During the initial screening process, suspects would be interrogated in order to elicit information and confess Mau Mau affiliations (63). There were two outcomes for the Kikuyu after this screening process. The first would be deportation to Kikuyu reserves, which was territory set aside especially for the Kikuyu people, but land that could not agriculturally sustain the enormous numbers of Kikuyu sent there. The second outcome of screening was deportation to a detention camp. These camps were used for the Kikuyu who refused to confess Mau Mau oaths or affiliations.
It is generally at this part of Imperial Reckoning where Elkins upholds her thesis and begins her assault on the “paternalism” of the British in Kenya. She begins to explain in severe detail the conditions in the Kikuyu reserves and detention camps. Kikuyu would be subjected to extreme humiliation upon arrival at detention camps. Strip searches, sanitation dips, and brutal beatings greeted the Kikuyu (134). In addition, the British supposed Africans had lower health and sanitation standards, permitting disease to run rampant (143). Several compounds held the designation as the place where “hard core” Kikuyu would be sent. There, Kikuyu were met with intense pain and degradation as the foundation of camp life (156). The vituperation experienced by detainees is incredibly unimaginable.
            I think Elkins provides an interesting and normally silent account of life in the detention camps of Kenya. Despite the terror of camp life, the detainees created their own social world and rules to survive their detention. Survival and resistance strategies abounded. For instance, in order to speak without subjecting themselves to beatings, some Kikuyu would feign mental illness and pretend to speak to the wall or yell incoherently. It was only the Kikuyu who could understand, thus undermining the constant control they were normally subjected to while in the cruelty camps.
            Elkins examines the rehabilitation methods as put forth by Askwith. Under Askwith’s rehabilitation plan, detainees would be offered domestic and agricultural classes, education, and other skills that would ease assimilation into British society. After intense research, Elkins was able to find little if any evidence of rehabilitation taking place in detention camps. When British officials were questioned about the rehabilitation process, they would either lie or completely fabricate rehabilitation measures. I think that it is in the realm of rehabilitation measures that the British erringly regard their imperialist actions as to the benefit of Kikuyu society. However, from the Kikuyu point of view rehabilitation was non-existent.
            As detention camps came to represent unimaginable repression and brutality for the Kikuyu, Governor Baring instituted a new policy of villagization. The goal of villagization was to contain, control, and discipline Mau Mau women (240). British colonialists considered Kikuyu women the foundation of Africa. Women faced forced communal labor, public terror, torture, and malnutrition. Many women also had the responsibility of caring for and providing for children. Elkins describes villagization as detention camps in all but name. These villages were surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. Villagization served to disrupt the supply line between women and the remaining forest fighters, thus helping to root out Mau Mau (250).
            The most brutal detention camps were reserved for hard-core male Mau Mau suspects. These men experienced a form of violent and systematic brutality officially sanctioned by Governor Baring (328). Under the tutelage of district officer Terrance Gavaghan, Kikuyu men were under a perpetual atmosphere of fear and uncertainty that intended to break them of their Mau Mau support (244). Gavaghan’s compound, Mwea, was the site of indescribable sexual and physical abuse, public torture, and violence. After reading Imperial Reckoning, it is hard to imagine any other perspective of Mau Mau that could be believably brought forth other than inhumane violence. Elkins convincingly argues and provides evidence that British colonial leaders repeatedly “obfuscated the facts, skirted the issues, and lied” about the procedures taking place in detention camps (332). 
            Interestingly, Elkins points to Jomo Kenyatta as being implicitly complicit in the cover up of British brutality in Kenya. Kenyatta refused to speak of the past horrors that Mau Mau suspects survived. Elkins argues that Kenyatta sacrificed the past Kenya for the future Kenya. Mau Mau men, women, and children have never been memorialized. No African loyalist or British official was prosecuted (360).
            Part of what makes Imperial Reckoning so clarifying for history, is Elkins’ use of sources to formulate and construct her narrative. Not satisfied with the limited British sources, Elkins conducted oral testimonies of not just Kikuyu who lived through the Mau Mau rebellion, but also the interviews of British officials complicit in the adherence to colonial policy in response to the uprising (374). Elkins admittedly struggled with the believability of the Mau Mau suspects’ harrowing ordeals in camps and on the reserves. However, she was struck with the consistency of oral testimonies over time and space. Elkins was also able to corroborate the oral data with what little did survive in the written record after the British denial and cover-up.  
            British imperialism operated under a cloak of protective civilization. I think this book, better than any other this semester, demonstrates how the British continually justified imperialism by holding on to paternalism. The British believed they had a duty and moral obligation to redeem the heathens of the world (5). Elkins found little evidence of the British in Kenya as paternalistic reformers. Imperial Reckoning serves as evidence of the British’s brutality. The author’s investigative skills are impressive. Despite the British’s attempts to cover-up notorious atrocities, Elkins presents a view from the Kikuyu side. In the end, the British won the long, hard war against Mau Mau, but lost the war for Kenya (353).

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Edna Davis Fairley

birth: June 1883
location: Texas

father: James Anderson Monroe Davis
mother: Malissa Jane Castellaw

spouse: Cornelius Ethel Fairley

1900 census

1910 census

1920 census

1930 census

1940 census


children with Cornelius Ethel Fairley:

H C Fairley - 1903

C E Fairley - 1910 census

1910 census
location: Scurry County, Texas
date: April 20, 1910

C E Fairley  head  male  white  32  married - 10 years  Texas  farm labor
E P Fairley  wife  female  white  26  married - 10 years  3, 3  Texas
H L Fairley  son  male  white  9  single  Texas
H C Fairley  son  male  white  7  single  Texas
U M Fairley  son  male  white  4  single  Texas

"United States Census, 1910," database with images, FamilySearch ( : accessed 26 April 2017), E P Fairley in household of C E Fairley, Justice Precinct 3, Scurry, Texas, United States; citing enumeration district (ED) ED 234, sheet 5A, family 80, NARA microfilm publication T624 (Washington D.C.: National Archives and Records Administration, 1982), roll 1588; FHL microfilm 1,375,601.