Friday, December 15, 2006

December 15

On this date in 1965, a fissure opened into Hell and The Sound of Music emerged, oozing like molten treacle across the surface of our world. As the universe sought desperately to re-establish its equilibrium, over 10,000 Bangladeshis -- innocent souls, to be sure, blameless for this Rodgers and Hammerstein nightmare -- perished in a sudden windstorm.

By horrible coincidence, this wad of cultural bolus was coughed out on the twenty-sixth anniversary of the film release of Gone With the Wind, that 20th century archetype of Confederate nostalgia. Margaret Mitchell, author of the novel on which the 1939 film was based, originally considered calling her book Tote the Weary Load, a phrase that aptly captures the experience of watching her odious, celluloid spawn. Another alternate title for the romantic epic was Tomorrow is Another Day, which might have served well as a slogan for Mitchell's own life -- at least until 16 August 1949, when she died of injuries sustained when she was flattened by an off-duty Atlanta cab driver whose driving record included more than twenty moving violations.

For Adolph Eichmann, the phrase "tomorrow is another day" would not have sounded quite so cheery on 15 December 1961, four years before the Sound of Music debuted. On that date, the former SS Obersturmbannfuhrer was sentenced by an Israeli court to hang for his role administering the so-called "Final Solution." Among other crimes against humanity, Eichmann coordinated the transport of hundreds of thousands of Jews and other ethnic, political and religious minorities to the gas chambers of Poland and Hungary. Most grievously, Eichmann continued to administer the death camps in Hungary even after being ordered to halt his work by Heinrich Himmler. Eichmann's appeals were unsuccessful, and he was executed seven months later after drinking half a bottle of dry Israeli wine and refusing the customary black hood.