One Long Night
A powerful exploration of the evolution of a harrowing phenomenon that forever changed the landscape of conflict in the twentieth century: the concentration and work campsConcentration camps--the preemptive communal detention of innocent civilians--first took foothold in Cuba in the late 1800s when Spain's Captain General Valeriano Weyler drove a half million Cuban refugees into makeshift camps, ultimately killing over 100,000 of them through starvation and disease. Although Teddy Roosevelt and President McKinley condemned such tactical atrocities, the U.S. would establish concentration camps of its own in the Philippines just two years later, leading to the deaths of 11,000 people. These colonial experiments paved the way for the worldwide internment of foreigners during World War I, followed by the extreme horrors of Nazi Germany and the Gulag. Yet greater consciousness and condemnation proved ineffective during the post-war years, as China and Korea soon adopted camps of their own, and the British continued their use overseas. Even Guantanamo Bay, established in 1898 partially in response to the savage abuses of the first camps, echoes their philosophy today in the detention of prisoners who have not been charged.Far from being an exclusively World War II tool for perpetrating genocide, camps have existed for more than 100 years, recurring with appalling frequency. Shocking, powerful, and necessary, One Long Night seeks to answer the question of how these atrocities continued through the years after worldwide exposure, condemnation, and the solemn promise of "never again."

One Long Night Details

TitleOne Long Night
ReleaseSep 19th, 2017
PublisherLittle, Brown and Company
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, War, World War II, Historical, Social Issues, Sociology

One Long Night Review

  • PWRL
    January 1, 1970
  • Adam McPhee
    January 1, 1970
    The lesson that was taught and taught again but not learned in the postwar era of concentration camps was that emergency laws in combination with demonization of military or political opposition led to a downward spiral and systemic atrocity. Moreover, when these counterinsurgency tactics appeared to succeed, they tended to deliver only temporary victory and in fact exacerbated the larger crises that initially triggered the conflict.A survey of concentration camps interspersed with the stories o The lesson that was taught and taught again but not learned in the postwar era of concentration camps was that emergency laws in combination with demonization of military or political opposition led to a downward spiral and systemic atrocity. Moreover, when these counterinsurgency tactics appeared to succeed, they tended to deliver only temporary victory and in fact exacerbated the larger crises that initially triggered the conflict.A survey of concentration camps interspersed with the stories of those who survived them. The stories aren't meant to be representative of the experience as a whole, because the author notes survivors were generally among the privileged, often with access of some kind to the outside world.The books explores:Spanish camps in Cuba, American camps in the Philippines, British camps in South Africa during the Boer War, alien detention camps throughout Europe in WW1, Soviet gulags (there's a heartbreaking story about a Jewish woman who was deported from a gulag to Nazi Germany, where she ended up in a worse camp), Nazi camps from forced labor camps to extermination camps (Hannah Arendt's story is maybe the best in the book), other camps in Europe and North America throughout WW2, Camps in post-war Asia: Maoist China, North Korea (includes a survey of recent DPRK defection literature, with a weird justification for including the partially fabricated memoir Escape from Camp 13) and Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge, the revanchism of later colonialism (British in Kenya, French in Algeria and Indochina), Right Wing South American camps in Chile and Argentina, and finally modern camps: America's Guantanamo Bay and the internally displaced persons camps for the Rohingya in Myanmar (with mentions of France's Calais and Australia's Nauru refugee camps). Pitzer does a great job of bringing the horrors of concentration camps home, with the Khmer Rouge and Guantanamo in particular. The format of the book, looking at the history of camps across the world rather than focusing on any one regime, left me constantly comparing the camps, asking which is worse. The Nazis were worst, obviously, but the fight for second place is fierce and there are too many factors to consider. I don't think it's a useful impulse, but I couldn't stop myself.Also, very weird to me that Andersonville was left out. She mentions it in her introduction, but dismisses it (and the American carceral state and North American indigenous reserves) as not fitting the bill. The later two I can see as deviating too far, but surely Andersonville meets the definition of a concentration camp? Still, good book: worth your time.Highlights:The author has a great eye for dark humour: (view spoiler)[1. A Swiss political cartoon paired British secretary of state for the colonies Joseph Chamberlain with Herod as a colleague in baby killing, with Chamberlain dismissing Herod as a bungler for his less-effective approach.57 Allen Welsh Dulles, the eight-year-old son of a Presbyterian minister in Washington, DC, gained newspaper celebrity for writing a book condemning British concentration camps and atrocities in the war.2. WHEN AUSTRIAN ARCHDUKE FRANZ Ferdinand was shot point-blank in the neck on June 28, 1914, news of his assassination ricocheted from Sarajevo across Europe before nightfall. In the ballroom of a Parisian amusement park that evening, painter Paul Cohen-Portheim asked an influential count what he thought was going to happen next. “Why should anything happen?” replied the count, looking surprised. Cohen-Portheim felt relief. The man was known to be close to Emperor Franz Joseph. If nothing came of the assassination, he could still take his annual vacation to England.3. After the genocide, Minister of the Interior Talaat Pasha asked US ambassador Henry Morgenthau for a list of Armenians who had taken out life insurance policies with American companies. “They are all practically dead now and have left no heirs to collect the money,” Talaat said. “The government is the beneficiary now.” In his account of the meeting, Morgenthau wrote that he grew infuriated with Talaat, refused the request, and left the room.4. Early in the morning on February 8, 1928, a Cheka agent came without warning to the Leningrad home of Dmitri Likhachev.10 Twenty-one years old, Likhachev belonged to an esoteric association of friends called the Cosmic Academy of Sciences. After an invitation from an old classmate to join the group, he had contributed a satirical paper denouncing Bolshevik changes in Russian spelling and was awarded the academy’s Chair of Melancholy Philology. When the head of the group later received a (fake) telegram from the “Pope of Rome,” the secret police took notice.115. The only successful escape from Dachau was by Hans Beimler, a Communist deputy in the Reichstag: Once out of the country, he mailed a postcard to Dachau telling the camp commanders to kiss his ass. Some three months after his escape, he was sitting in Moscow, writing a searing indictment of Nazi atrocities. It was printed in three languages and circled the globe.(hide spoiler)]Canadian camps (no mention of our internment of Japanese, but she gets Trotsky in Nova Scotia):(view spoiler)[1. Camps were filled with the famous and the infamous. Russian revolutionary Leon Trotsky was intercepted as he sailed from New York City on his way to Russia to greet the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917. Detained for several weeks as a political prisoner in a concentration camp in Nova Scotia, he used the time to proselytize fellow prisoners.2. The Canadian town of Berlin was renamed amid rioting. German curriculum was eliminated from schools. Sauerkraut became “liberty cabbage.”3. Canada interned more than 5,000 Ukrainian and Austro-Hungarian aliens. 4. Apparently there were hut at Auschwitz called 'Canada', which stored property confiscated from prisoners, so-called because it was seen as a place of great riches.5. Between 1939 and 1947, more than two dozen camps sprang up in Canada from New Brunswick to Alberta, most of them located in Quebec and Ontario.27 Prisoners in Canada remained stoic for the most part, though depression afflicted many. Fascists and Germans loyal to Hitler were once again housed in the same barracks as Jewish refugees, leading to intimidation and threats. “Here we have honest English soldiers as guards,” one refugee from Vienna said, “but we are forced to live in close proximity to people who persecuted our relations and whose principles we have fought all our lives.”28 The issue became a problem on both sides of the Atlantic, but over time, camp commanders took a stronger hand in segregating population groups.(hide spoiler)]A bit skeptical of this claim: (view spoiler)[Yet in history’s strange spiral, Che, like Trotsky, provided the initial spark for concentration camps as part of the revolutionary struggle. Trotsky helped carry the modern concept of extrajudicial internment from Canada back east.(hide spoiler)]For anyone using the Trump horror show to feel nostalgia for the Bush 43 admin: (view spoiler)[1. Previous writing by Yoo (John Yoo, a thirty-six-year-old attorney in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counse)had maintained a certain nostalgia for the virtues of absolute monarchy. Yoo wrote that the Founding Fathers of the country had not intended to break from the kind of unbridled power held by a king—they only wanted their own version of it.2. The government had become so wedded to a narrative that required torture and secrecy that it was willing to try to invent a place of detention under US control but outside US and international law—a place to which an unlimited number of people could be sent without legal recourse to protection or aid. This is the definition of a concentration camp, and Guantánamo fit it perfectly.(hide spoiler)]2017 hell world: (view spoiler)[The Rohingya may be the first group in the history of mass detention to launch their own digital public relations effort from inside their concentration camps. (hide spoiler)]
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