You’ve probably sent hundreds of passive-aggressive messages in your life, so you know very well what this obscure attitude that we all adopt is all about. To be passive-aggressive is to succeed in more or less masking your hostility towards someone by using devious means to piss them off. It’s petty, it’s wrong, but it’s still quite satisfying when you practice it. And in history, many have practiced it long before us. Brilliantly, often.
1. When French resistance fighters refused to let Hitler visit the Eiffel Tower
- 1 1. When French resistance fighters refused to let Hitler visit the Eiffel Tower
- 2 2. The Kavanagh Building which was built to spoil a view
- 3 3. The Treaty of Versailles
- 4 4. The white elephants of the King of Siam
- 5 5. Soldiers who inspired the phrase “passive-aggressive”
- 6 6. Commodore Perry’s White Ensign
- 7 7. Hitler who committed suicide to take away the satisfaction of judging him
During the Second World War, and more precisely during the occupation of France by the Germans, Hitler had planned to make a short visit to Paris. He had to go around a few monuments and, of course, get to the top of the Eiffel Tower. But that was the last straw that the French could not bear. Suddenly, resistants decided to cut the cables of the lifts of the Grande Dame to make them out of service. If Hitler wanted to go up, he only had to take the stairs and climb 1500 steps. Obviously, he gave up and observed the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero. In his mouth.
2. The Kavanagh Building which was built to spoil a view
In Buenos Aires, at the beginning of the 20th century, there was a powerful, wealthy and conservative family: the Anchorenas. They lived in Palazzo San Martin and had a large basilica built a few blocks away to keep an eye on their family crypt from their palace. The problems started when the son Anchorena wanted to marry Cora, the daughter of the Kavanaghs, a wealthy family of Irish descent. For the Anchorenas, it was impossible to marry an immigrant girl, so they forced their son to leave Cora. The bastards. The story could have ended there, but Cora had an idea of very mean revenge as we like them. A few years after this quarrel, in 1936, she sold 3 of her farms and had a huge PILE building built between the Anchorena’s palace and their basilica, just to block their view. It’s so passive-aggressive, and it’s so beautiful.
3. The Treaty of Versailles
The Treaty of Versailles signed on June 28, 1919 was intended to definitively end the First World War and ratify peace with the Germans. Only, the Allies who wrote this treaty mainly used it as a more or less (especially less) subtle punishment towards the Germanic people. Because yes, the Allies were pleased with all the restrictions imposed on their former enemy: withdrawal of territories given to France and Belgium, stripping of colonies, reduction of the German army, military occupation of its territory by the Allies, and huge fine that’s almost impossible to pay. This Treaty of Versailles was not a peace treaty. It wasn’t a declaration of war either, but close.
4. The white elephants of the King of Siam
This story is a bit of historical legend, but it corresponds so much to our theme of the day that we can’t miss it. It is said that the king of Siam (now Thailand) offered a white elephant to people he did not like. He passed off this present as a real gift, but in reality the elephant required so much maintenance that it was more like a poisoned gift. In addition, its owner could not resell it because it is not done to resell a gift, and could not kill it either because elephants are sacred in Thailand. In the ass lulu. Moreover, “white elephant” has become an expression to qualify something whose maintenance requires too much time and resources. Ok no one ever uses it but now you know.
5. Soldiers who inspired the phrase “passive-aggressive”
William Menninger was a veteran US Army colonel and psychiatrist. And, during the Second World War, he had observed that American soldiers sometimes deliberately adopted a passive attitude in order to disobey orders without being bashed by their superiors. They were dragging their feet, deliberately being slow, being inefficient and so on. As it was passive and relatively subtle, they couldn’t be accused of mutiny either, but it was still quite boring for the superiors. William Menninger therefore decided to qualify this attitude as “passive aggressive”. We couldn’t miss this story.
6. Commodore Perry’s White Ensign
In 1853, the United States sent Commodore Matthew C. Perry (no, not the guy who plays in Friends) in Japan to negotiate the opening of Japanese ports to Western trade. He would therefore have presented his conditions to the Japanese and offered them a white flag “in case” they decided to go to war. Subtext: if you want war, you will be so marred in the face that you will necessarily want to abdicate. It’s a pretty thinly disguised threat.
7. Hitler who committed suicide to take away the satisfaction of judging him
Honestly if that’s not a bastard passive-aggressive move…