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KAWASHIMA Yoshiko 川島 芳子

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发表于 3-9-2023 09:04:23 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 choi 于 3-21-2023 13:02 编辑

Diane Cole, Working for the other Side; A group portrait of three morally compromised figures who repeatedly rationalized away inconvenient facts and reinvented themselves to fit a given moment. Wall Street Journal, Mar 4, 2023, at page C9
https://www.wsj.com/articles/the ... -the-devil-8a1cad6b
(book review on Ian Buruma, The Collaborators; Three stories of deception and survival in World War II. Penguin, Mar 7, 2023)

"The most eye-catching was the androgynous, cross-dressing femme fatale known as Kawashima Yoshiko [川島 芳子] (1907-48). Born in China, the 14th daughter of a Manchu prince [Shanqi 善耆 (1866 – 1922)], she was groomed by the ultranationalist Japanese adventurer Kawashima Naniwa [川島 浪速 (芳子's adoptive father)]—her mentor, guardian and purported sexual abuser—to become one of Japan's most notorious spies. Naniwa was a friend and business associate of Yoshiko's father. * * * In March 1948, the Chinese national government executed her for treason [in Hebei Province, having arrested her on Nov 11, 1945 in Beijing]. * * * More recently, she was featured in a 2020 manga, 'Kawashima Yoshiko Wants to Be a Man.' "

Note: 田中 ほさな [Hosana TANAKA], 川島芳子は男になりたい. 講談社, (books 1 to 3, all published in 2020).
月刊少年シリウス
https://shonen-sirius.com/series/sirius/kawashimayoshiko/
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 楼主| 发表于 3-9-2023 09:05:33 | 显示全部楼层
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So much sleaze oozes out of the morally compromised subjects in Ian Buruma’s disquieting group portrait, “The Collaborators: Three Stories of Deception and Survival in World War II,” that nearly every page leaves a stain of betrayal. The stories, Mr. Buruma acknowledges, will also leave readers queasy.

What made these three figures so slippery, Mr. Buruma tells us, was their uncanny ability to repeatedly rationalize away any inconvenient facts while continuing to reinvent themselves to fit a given moment. Those are the qualities that also make them “alarmingly contemporary,” Mr. Buruma writes, in an era when “critical information is dismissed as ‘fake news,’ and large numbers of people believe in plots and conspiracies that bubble up from the collective imagination of the internet.”

The sheer flamboyance of Mr. Buruma’s shape-shifters commands our attention. The most eye-catching was the androgynous, cross-dressing femme fatale known as Kawashima Yoshiko (1907-48). Born in China, the 14th daughter of a Manchu prince, she was groomed by the ultranationalist Japanese adventurer Kawashima Naniwa—her mentor, guardian and purported sexual abuser—to become one of Japan’s most notorious spies. Naniwa was a friend and business associate of Yoshiko’s father. Both men dreamed of resurrecting the Qing dynasty, which ended with China’s 1911 revolution. “Their alliance was largely opportunistic,” Mr. Buruma writes. Yoshiko’s father “saw Manchurian independence as a stepping-stone to reconquering China,” while Naniwa’s “idea of Pan-Asianism was to establish Japanese domination.”

Yoshiko took on varying roles in China, among them spy, secret liaison and, most famously, a uniformed military commander—for which she was likened to an Asian Joan of Arc. Her adventures, overseen by Japanese military officers intent on conquering China, made her a celebrity in Japan, her heroic persona further propped up by a series of semifictional, pro-Japanese movies and books.

By the time Japan entered World War II, however, Yoshiko had fallen from grace, having become addicted to opium and openly critical of Japan. After the war, her unreliable loyalties made her politically toxic to both countries. Her initial motive may have been to reinstate the Qing dynasty in a united China, but she had actively supported and participated in Japan’s invasion, which led to the death of up to 20 million Chinese. In March 1948, the Chinese national government executed her for treason.

Kawashima Yoshiko lives on today not as a political figure but a cultural one. From girlhood on, she toggled between male and female identities. In 1925, she said “farewell to womanhood,” shaving her thick black hair in favor of a military crewcut and abandoning traditional kimonos for tuxedos and army uniforms. Throughout her life she had numerous affairs with both men and women. “She may have considered herself transgender in today’s terms,” Mr. Buruma writes. “She certainly would have understood the concept of being nonbinary.” As Yoshiko put it: “I was born with what the doctors call a tendency toward the third sex.” More recently, she was featured in a 2020 manga, “Kawashima Yoshiko Wants to Be a Man.”

The elusive masseur Felix Kersten (1898-1960) also lives on in legend, with Woody Harrelson purportedly set to play him in a film adaptation of his life. But which version of his life will the movie tell?

Born in what is now Estonia, Kersten fought for Germany in World War I and afterward settled in Finland, where he became a citizen and studied physical therapy. Later, in Berlin, he furthered his studies in therapeutic massage and became the masseur of choice for royals, wealthy businessmen with Nazi or fascist leanings, and, ultimately, the Nazi SS leader Heinrich Himmler. Himmler suffered from severe stomach pains that apparently only Kersten could soothe; Kersten was thus poised, when World War II began, to become Himmler’s personal masseur, accompanying him throughout the Reich and witnessing firsthand the mass murder of Jews as orchestrated by Himmler himself.

These facts can be mostly confirmed. The unresolved question is whether Kersten played the silent bystander as the Holocaust unfolded or, as he contended, worked behind the scenes to save countless lives.

It was only after the war, Mr. Buruma tells us, that Kersten claimed to have accepted Himmler’s job offer because he feared what would happen if he said no. He also protested that he stayed with Himmler only because the role allowed him the opportunity, between massages, to successfully petition his boss to change the course of Nazi destruction.

That account does not comport with Kersten’s prewar existence, though. In Berlin, as the Nazis rose to power, Kersten had been a careerist amply rewarded by his clients, many of whom were connected with the Nazi Party. In his postwar memoirs, Kersten found little negative to say about Himmler and his Nazi colleagues, attributing to them good hearts and intentions in seeming disregard of the war crimes for which they were tried.

Still, Mr. Buruma notes, there was truth to at least some of Kersten’s stories, even if there is no proof of his most extravagant claims—such as his having single-handedly prevented the entire Dutch population from being deported to Nazi-occupied Poland; or his foiling a plan to starve the people of France, Belgium and Holland. And controversy remains about how much of a role he played, in 1945, in arranging the transfer of thousands of prisoners out of Nazi concentration camps. Mr. Buruma’s verdict: “Kersten cannot be held responsible for mass murder,” but “he made life a great deal easier for the chief mass murderer.”

The murkiest story belongs to Friedrich Weinreb (1910-88), who as a child fled with his family from the anti-Jewish pogroms of Eastern Europe to settle in the Netherlands, where he later worked at an economic research institute and became a trusted member of the Jewish community. During the Nazi occupation, he used that trust to swindle his fellow Jews, claiming that he was working with a Nazi general who, for a price, could put their names on a special list that would exempt them from the Nazi death camps.

The Nazi general and the rest of the plan were fabrications. Weinreb scammed about 4,000 Jews out of their money and probably deprived many of them of any hope of evading the transports to Auschwitz. The Nazis, too, believed Weinreb’s scheme and even enlisted him to track down the imaginary general. They eventually caught on, but not before Weinreb had revealed to them the whereabouts of many Jews in hiding. It is unclear how many deaths he was directly responsible for.

After the war, Weinreb served 31/2 years of a six-year sentence for fraud and collaboration. He was also convicted in 1957 and 1968 of sexual offenses and posing as a doctor. But his true believers never stopped defending him. Even if his promised rescue was a fraud, they argued, he had brought hope to the desperate; for successfully conning the Nazis, they further insisted, Weinreb deserved recognition as a member of the Resistance. Weinreb spent his last years in Switzerland, where he became known as a religious guru.

Such were the fraudsters and schemers of a previous era. We are still writing the annals of our own gullibility today.

Ms. Cole is the author of the memoir “After Great Pain: A New Life Emerges.”
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