over into a cultural or educational layer,nhe forgets what he wrote on the previousnpage and becomes a fastidious esthete,nNew Yorker style.nA Nazi says to Sophie, for example:n”Ich mochte mit Dir schlafen.” Thisnmeans, explains Stingo, “I’d like to getnyou into bed with me.” “Dreary loutishnwords,” fumes Stingo, forgetting thatnfor the other layers of his novel, thesenwould be the most refined, or decent,nwords imaginable. An “utterance onenmight expect from a B-grade movie NazinSchweinehund, ” rages Stingo in a fitnof culture. The Nazi was drunk, “whichnmight help explain such coarseness.”nWe thus fathom the depths of degradationnto which Nazism has sunk.nHalf a page of cultural layer is devotednto a still more incredible lack ofnculture among the Nazis: the commandantnof Auschwitz loves—no, notnBach or Purcell, as one should, but thenFranz Lehar operettas. (A 19th-centurynpulp writer would have written that thencommandant did not wear gloves whennhe went out for a stroll.)nIndeed, even the moujik layers Stingongrinds out are suffused with a culturalnmessage and an educational mission.nMankind (including Bach, Rilke, EdgarnAllan Poe and all the others on Stingo’sncultural register) was the “victim ofntwo thousand years” of “Judeo-Christiannconditioning.” Thus, Stingo liberatesnmankind by a moujik’s descriptionnof a moujik’s sex (which Bach, Rilke,nEdgar Allan Poe and the others failednto discover). This duly reminds us ofnthose American girls who wear phonynpatches on their artificially faded threadbarendresses and think they have discoverednpoverty. What Stingo seems notnto notice is that most of mankind wearsnreal patches and lives in real poverty.nHe tends to overlook that most ofnmankind lives in unavoidable sexualnboorishness, that is, the unavoidablendenial of privacy and decency. Naturally,nit is women who suffer more thannmen from this lack of “Judeo-Christiannconditioning,” for a verbal sexual freefor-allnquickly turns into a physicalnsexual free-for-all in which the stronger,nthe men, gain the rapist’s advantages,nespecially if acting in gangs.nIt is the spate of books like Sophie’snChoice that provides Soviet propagandanwith perhaps the best weapon of persuasion.n”Do you now understand whatnfreedom is.'”‘ I can see in LiteraturnyanGazieta. “Freedom is where millionsnof Stingos flood life with their moujik’snsqualidness.”nIn Moscow we were told at schoolnthat our country was not even shownnon the maps of the imperialist West,nexcept as a white spot: for the capitalists,nwe do not exist. Sophie’s Choice seemsnnot only to corroborate this agitpropnwisdom, but goes further. The historicalnexperiences of Asia, Africa or bothnAmericas—prior to the advent of Europeans—arenannihilated by Mr. Styron’snversion of history. According to Stingo,nthe “concentration camp universe” isnthe “institution of chattel slavery as itnwas practiced by the great nations ofnthe West.” The Nazis “were the firstnslaveholders to fully abrogate any lingeringnhumane sentiments regardingnthe essence of life itself.” No such slaveholdersnanywhere before 1933.” Well,n”in the West Indies in the mid-1700snthe European masters for a time feltnno compunction about working slavesnto death.” Thus, chattel slavery existednbefore 1933 outside the West, but onlynwhen practiced by Europeans.nIn the early ’30s Pravda reprinted thenReichstag speeches of German communistnleaders who meticulously explainednwhom they would exterminate wholesalen(“as a class”) once they came tonpower (with Soviet aid, of course). Atnthe same time, the Nazis showed thenGermans Soviet newsreels about Russiannfarmers who were roped in on anmass scale. Germans who were afraidnto be exterminated voted for Hitlernbecause this seemed to them the bestnprotection against extermination. Theynwere little sorry that Hitler promisednto exterminate Jews.nAccording to Sophie’s Choice, allnnnthis is rather unreal: no trace of thenSoviet regime or the German communistsncan be detected in its image of thenreal world. The Western evil callednNazism descends deus ex machina, sonto speak; it is a phenomenon unrelatednto anything, except the Europeans innthe West Indies in the mid-1700s.nBut have there been any concentrationncamps outside the West since 1945,nwhen Nazi Germany was dissolved.”nThere is on page 11A of the New YorknTimes, August20th, 1979, atiny 16-linenitem, noting, in the form of a backgroundnremark, thatthe new communistnrulers of Cambodia had announced thatnthe previous communist rulers had killedn”more than three million people,” andnsince the total population was less thanneight million, this means that two membersnof almost every average family ofnfour were killed. Has this any relevancenfor Stingo.” Not very much. The onlyndanger to mankind as of 1979 is NazinGermany, plus the Southern lynchersnof 40 years ago. Otherwise, evil in historynand over the globe is a vast whitenspot.nBut some people know also that Stalinnplanned concentration camps for SovietnJews in 1954, and instructed highnNKVD officials how to dump entirentransports off railroad cars into a Siberiannlake. In 1973, Brezhnev callednfor the Arabs to destroy Israel, whichnwould have meant the wholesale exterminationnof its population. For Stingonthings are simple: the only danger tonJews as of 1979 is Nazi Germany,nthough the Southern lynchers of 40nyears ago should not be underestimated.nBut if Stingo’s conceptualization ofnthe “concentration camp universe” is anfanatic’s poster, perhaps heconveys somensubtle knowledge of the Germans andnPoles he describes which no Germannor Polish witness or participant hasnconveyed before in the libraries of memoirsnwritten in the last 30-odd years onnthe subject.nIn Stingo’s description, the commandantnof Auschwitz, Hoss, speaks to anmore cultured Nazi about a split in then11nIVovember/December 1979n