traveling from Westeros to Nazi Germany in this unusual—and, to us,
urgent—episode of the Boiled Leather Audio Hour. Why are we venturing so
far afield from our usual topics of discussion and debate? Because
we’ve always believed that A Song of Ice and Fire, like life itself, is
best viewed through an unsparing ethical and historical lens. Lately,
however, that lens has been clouded. In recent weeks, numerous
right-wing politicians—most notably Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson and his supporters
in the United States—have distorted and repurposed the rise of Adolf
Hitler and the roots of the Holocaust to suit their preexisting
positions. Astonishingly, in the day since this podcast was recorded, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
followed suit. We believe this to be an act of tremendous disrespect
for the dead, one that also does a grave disservice to the living. Given
our personal and professional interests in this pivotal epoch in
history, which have shaped our interaction with ASoIaF in ways large and
small, we decided to explore the era’s real lessons as best we could.
role did privately held weaponry and paramilitary organizations
actually play both in the Nazi Party’s ascent to power and the
resistance against it? How should we view Europe’s failure to act in the
face of Hitler’s belligerence, and Germany’s failure to capitulate in
the face of certain defeat? What parallels can be drawn between the
forces that fueled the war Hitler ignited and those at play in Westeros
and Essos? What makes World War II different enough from other conflicts
for the likes of Vietnam-era conscientious objector George R.R. Martin
to say it was worth fighting? Is there such a thing as a “good war” at
all? In this experiment of an episode, we try to answer those questions.
Two notes before we proceed:
1) We are deeply indebted to the work of the historians Ian Kershaw and Richard J. Evans, particularly Kershaw’s two-volume Hitler biography and Evans’s Third Reich trilogy.
On a much lighter note, this episode (hopefully—with iTunes, god only
knows) marks the debut of our brand new logo, created by Sean’s partner,
Julia Gfrörer. We are in her debt.