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Re: Germany then and now
In a message dated 9/29/11 11:21:03 AM, email@example.com writes:
<< Get your measurements, Greg. That`s what this list is for. Please go
to WWII forum if you want to rag on 20th century Germany. >>
Although I can understand where some of this is coming from, in the end I
disagree. There is a real danger to popular paleo pretending that the field
has in a sense no deep history outside the rather cheerful tale we are
normally presented. It is rather like how it is only recently being
that even the NE US was heavily dependent upon slavery until the early 1800s.
I had no clue that the White House was built largely by slaves until fairly
recently, or that early NYC was also built to a great extent by bonded
Of course this list can include extensive discussions on paleohistory,
especially the "fun & entertaining side" such as the famous Marsh-Cope feud and
what it was like to work at Garden Park and Como Bluff in the 1880s. But
what happened at Tendaguru? It was the largest dinosaur "mining" operation that
I know of, involving hundreds of colonized laborers. What circumstances
were they operating under? Where they happy to have the pay however minimal I
suspect it was? Or were they in some way discontented or forced by the German
colonizers? How did it connect with the notorious genocides underway in
Africa at that time? And what happened when the Brits took over? Where they
nicer, or worse? That the fate of all these Africans has been largely ignored
in favor of the western oriented focus of paleohistory is not to the credit
of the paleocommunity.
For example, is the circumstances that the Africans worked at Tendaguru
covered at the new HMN exhibit? If not it should be researched and covered at
the museum. This sort of thing has practical implications for modern paleo.
By treating the past efforts of colonized peoples with more attention and
respect the field may enjoy better relations with some current governments
where resentment against the colonial period remains strong. Just waving it
as being typical of those olden days is not the best idea PR wise.
Likewise that some key German paleos were in deep with the Nazis is fair
game for discussion. What I would better like to know is who did what and
when. It's worth a book assumming it has not yet been done -- better than yet
another tome on Marsh & Cope.
When I used the term Kraut for some Nazi era paleos I was just venting a
little frustation about how bad some of the figure scaling is in the
Palaeontolographica publication figures and text -- the Germans are supposed to
meticulous after all -- and I did not expect any notice of it. But in
hindsight the subject has greater import. Paleontology is not just about
measurements and fossils, it is part of the greater human story for better or