None Were His Own.

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Scrat
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None Were His Own.

Post by Scrat »

Found this somewhere else in a discussion about Hitler. I always heard Hitler was a maniac, I can't fully disagree but one side of me always knew there was something else to him. He was in ways all of us.

Your opinions?



I've written this many times: Hitler's beliefs were far from unusual. Some are very old, some arose from scientific theories from his own time, some were bog standard imperialism and some were the result of the cataclysmic crisis of WW1 and the post WW1 world.

Hitler plainly did not invent nationalism, fascism, anti-Semitism, racism, nor pseudo scientific ideas such as eugenics, racial superiority etc.

The British obviously believed that they were superior to all the people they conquered. The Americans plainly believed that they are superior to the Africans they used as slaves or the Native Americans- or even the South Americans.

Hitler was not the first to state that Jews and other "inferiors" should be exterminated: Martin Luther towards the end of his days was violently anti-Semitic. In the broad "Volkist" movement in Germany at the end of the 19th century and up to the rise of the Nazis, numerous Volkists had suggested mass murder, deportation and isolation of Jews. In Russia, extremely violent progroms (the word is Russian, and has come to mean violence or demonstrations against Jews) swept the empire even before Hitler.

WW1 was a major catalyst for Hitler's ideas. A very important thing to know about Hitler was that he was no madman, nor an idiot. He had a very powerful mind and went by intuition a lot: he was an inspired gambler and always took an opportunity when presented. However, he liked broad ideas, and disliked detail. These broad sweeps and general principles would become the main thrust of Nazi ideology, where rather vague ideas like the power of (German) blood, and willpower would overcome real ideologies, such as Capitalism, Communism or, indeed, world Jewry.

Hitler took in notions, rather romantic notions, such as Volkism (a pseudo scientific study of "German-ness", via history, (real and imagined), folklore, culture, politics and even biology, often with a mystical element to it), nationalism, conspiracy theories and popular racial theories from his own time. For instance, there was a popular theory at the time to explain why Sub Saharan Africans had apparently achieved so little, or the Aboriginals of Australia, and why Europeans had achieved so much. This theory put the environment at its heart: if conditions are too easy, like Tahiti for example, there is no spur or need for innovation. If conditions are so severe that life is a mere subsistence, with no hope of improvement (as was believed about much of Africa), then society stays in the stone ages. If however, the environment provides the right balance of chance for improvement, and yet enough of a spur to require improvement, like temperate Europe, then society will progress.

Hitler took all of these ideas and never let detail or counter theories bother him. He also had a cataclysmic view of history: empires are founded by men with pure blood and who understand thoroughly what they are trying to achieve, and who follow their duty fastidiously. As they conquer others, these conquered people demand rights, and are eventually fully assimilated into the empire. But because they do not have the right blood and because they secretly loath the empire, they gradually make the empire decay until collapse is inevitable.

Like it or not, this is not unlike the arguments nationalists make about mass immigration, and, indeed, the USA had very strict immigration policies at one time, where pretty much the only people allowed in were of British and Irish blood. Hitler admired this.

When WW1 happened, this seemed to confirm Hitler's broad and somewhat distorted ideas: the widespread belief that Germany had not been defeated on the battlefield, but because of a "stab in the back" by businessmen, politicians, trade unionists, communists and so on, and, allegedly, Jews. Thus preserving the notion that outsiders- those who by blood, religion or political affiliation are not actually "German"- cannot be relied upon to understand what Germany wanted to achieve and could not be trusted to do their bit.

WW1 was also mechanised slaughter. Not the first: that dubious honour must go to the American Civil War, but that was far away and, to Europeans, backwoods politics. WW1 saw several new things happen, though: entire economies became adjusted for war purposes: even civilians played a direct role in warfare, and for the first time, terrible new weapons were available in large numbers: bombers, machine guns, tanks. The days of bright uniforms and cavalry charges were over. And due to his experiences in the trenches, Hitler lived in fear of such repeats and hence leaned in the direction the German army had gone in the last few months of war: highly mobile warfare.

The Versailles Treaty, Wall Street Crash and Great Depression (the latter two blamed firmly on Jews) only confirmed Hitler's theories, and only hardened his (and other people's) nationalism. The Weimar Republic was seen as an alien, foreign imposed and unwanted, impotent Government.

Since politics had let Germany down, and all intellectual political theories likewise, and since it seemed that the world opposed Germany, Hitler began to think in polarised terms, as he put it himself: "It must be the either/or" with no middle ground.

This "either/or" would generalise how Hitler would deal with everything from Jews to the final fight for Germany's existence. He had told the German people in Mein Kampf and elsewhere that this was a moment of destiny: Germany would either win, and fulfil her rightful destiny, or would fail and fail completely and thus face destruction at the hands of lesser races. He wrote in his last political will and testament that the German people had failed, through lack of conviction, and hence deserved destruction.

Hitler's cataclysmic view applied to his own people, too.

Hitler could only have happened when he did, at a time of world crisis and at a time where racism, nationalism, imperialism, new science and mass slaughter and political ideology were at such odds. There were no or few countervailing ideologies around.

But the ideas themselves? Racism is merely an extension of class tensions: the notion that by birth, some are worth more than others, and hence this justifies all kinds. No, none of Hitler's ideas, even the most barbaric and preposterous, were his own.
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None Were His Own.

Post by LarsMac »

Yep. the world of his time created the man, gave him the power, and then drove him mad with it.
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Post by Scrat »

I see many similarities in this day. Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan the constant warfare in Africa and other places. The powerful few care little for the common weaker, Joseph Stalin said something about statistics, politicians the world over show the same with their actions or lack of on a daily basis.
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None Were His Own.

Post by AnneBoleyn »

Can you supply a link for this Scrat? For a piece this long, unless they are your words, I believe it is mandatory that a link is provided.
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None Were His Own.

Post by Scrat »

Here you go. If you like history it's a great forum, just a post from a thread.

Hitler! - Historum - History Forums
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None Were His Own.

Post by Týr »

I've always thought it an abuse of the word "mad", employing it to mean "I dislike his actions and opinions". I don't think Hitler obeyed voices in his head or had multiple personalities or a disabling belief system, those are circumstance where "mad" would seem an appropriate abbreviation. I think the term's used to mean "his actions and opinions are incapable of analysis", and I think that's an abdication of responsibility on the part of those trying to use "mad" in that way.
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None Were His Own.

Post by LarsMac »

I believe he was perfectly sane, if perhaps a little twisted, when he led the National Socialists into power.

It was the people who gave him the power and followed him with such fervor who were mad.
“All it takes to get elected in twenty-first-century America is a mob of frightened sheep and a wolf with a nice smile,”
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Post by Scrat »

The situation was not beyond analysis. I really think that the Germans used tools already tried and tested by others. The British used concentration camps in the Boer War, thousands upon thousands died in those camps. Mostly the young and the old. One aspect of Hitlers agenda was the betterment of the German people economically, a kind of Nazi Manifest Destiny. It's all there having been done repeatedly before, done after and being done as we speak.
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Post by Týr »

LarsMac;1422702 wrote: It was the people who gave him the power and followed him with such fervor who were mad.The German electorate, you mean? If so many people were of that mind then I suggest by definition "mad" is an inappropriate term. You dilute its effective meaning when you misapply it in that way. By all means call them misguided or thoughtless.
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None Were His Own.

Post by along-for-the-ride »

Life is a Highway. Let's share the Commute.
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None Were His Own.

Post by gmc »

Ever read Main Kampf?

The anti-semitism comes from two thousand tears of Christian propaganda blaming the jews for the execution of christ - indeed it wasn't until the sixties that they (the catholic church) finally changed to only some jews were responsible not the race as a whole, protestants of course made up their own minds on the matter. The Christians committed all sorts of atrocities on the Jews by giving them the label "Killers of Christ". Hitler is not an exception but a culmination of the 2000-year long oppression of the Jews by the Christians The yellow star of david was first introduced by pope Pope Innocent III. the first ghetto was in italy pogroms against jews are a common theme in most of europe and anti-Semitism common . Hitler thought he was doing god's work in persecuting them many of the international bankers were jewish so his global Jewish conspiracy to run everything had it's own logic. Karl marx was Jewish as were many of the intellectuals behind the various uprising throughout europe that followed ww1 and the communists terrified the establishment. The most successful eugenics programme was actually that of sweden which continued until 1975 and many countries also had such programmes including the united states who had theirs until the 1960's. Manifest destiny is simply a variation of a theme common amongst the imperial powers take a look at the religious justification for black slavery based on their inferiority as a race for a really cynical use of religion by the powerful for their own ends.

So basically I would tend to agree Hitler articulated a collection of prejudices and gave them a frightening logic and momentum. The same beliefs and prejudices are still around they have only died down in popularity with new focus for all that bigotry appearing and disappearing over the years. Fascism and Christianity go hand in hand now we have Islam fascists as a handy focus for all that bigotry.

Currently people are trying to re-write history - hitler was an atheist that's why he did all those terrible things you can hear that from religious leaders like the pope - well the old one did anyway - to protestant evangelical preachers in the states who prefer not to accept the reality that the holocaust was carried out by Christians and was the result iof religious bigotry as much as anything else. Atheists and secularists are the new bogeymen destroying the moral fabric of society. What's depressing is so many people look to religious leaders to tell them what to think instead of thinking for themselves. It's all happening again imo. OK sometimes I think it is at other times the fact that people can now go onto the internet and find out things for themselves and chat to people from all over the world is a cheering prospect.
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Post by LarsMac »

Týr;1422708 wrote: The German electorate, you mean? If so many people were of that mind then I suggest by definition "mad" is an inappropriate term. You dilute its effective meaning when you misapply it in that way. By all means call them misguided or thoughtless.


No, I am not talking about the electorate.
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Post by Týr »

LarsMac;1422732 wrote: No, I am not talking about the electorate.


"The German Electorate" is the best description I can come up with of "the people who gave him the power and followed him with such fervor". Would you like to propose an alternative group for us to consider? No other group was in a constitutional position - or any other position - to "give him the power", as far as I can recall.
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Post by LarsMac »

Týr;1422758 wrote: "The German Electorate" is the best description I can come up with of "the people who gave him the power and followed him with such fervor". Would you like to propose an alternative group for us to consider? No other group was in a constitutional position - or any other position - to "give him the power", as far as I can recall.


Yes, it was a vote of the electorate that got him into the Chancellorship, but the true power is seldom held, or controlled by the electorate, in spite of all the Civics lessons we get in school.

Have you ever read Speer's memoirs?
“All it takes to get elected in twenty-first-century America is a mob of frightened sheep and a wolf with a nice smile,”
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Post by Týr »

LarsMac;1422772 wrote: Yes, it was a vote of the electorate that got him into the Chancellorship, but the true power is seldom held, or controlled by the electorate, in spite of all the Civics lessons we get in school.

Have you ever read Speer's memoirs?


I had my copy of Inside the Third Reich down from the shelf just last week. Had the Tribunal chosen to hang him alongside the others instead of the vile but otherwise innocent Streicher it would have been a suitable end to the chap. "I had no idea" really isn't credible in his case.

There's a quote in another book on the same shelf, let me go and find it, it's where that comparison of Speer and Streicher originated, I'd rather use the original wording:Among those executed, Streicher was the only really doubtful case. An awful man who edited an awful newspaper, Streicher was hanged for his bad character rather than substantive crimes. He was a victim of the conspiracy theory if anybody was. There is no reason to waste grief on him, but we can wish that the judges who hesitated might have hesitated harder. The Russian judges, as always, didn’t hesitate at all. They wanted the death penalty for everybody and saw no objections to ex post facto law. As we now know, Stalin’s post-war purge was already rolling at the time of the trials. But the Nuremberg trials can’t be written off just because the Russians participated in them. If we now have standards for measuring Soviet history, Nuremberg helped to establish them.

Streicher was hanged and Speer got twenty years. Professor Smith is now able to reveal that some of the judges wanted the rope for Speer. Whatever you think of capital punishment, it is difficult not to hope that Speer has been suffering a slight difficulty in breathing after hearing this news. Speer got away with it. When he sent his demands for forced labour down to Sauckel, he knew what the results would be. His air of civilisation saved him from death. If the Nuremberg trials had dealt out divine justice, Streicher would have been released into the care of an animal trainer and Speer would have been punished to the full extent. But as things were, the tribunal was only human.

Only Human: On Nuremberg | clivejames.com



In the introduction to "From the Land of Shadows" Clive James throws in a further thought relevant to the thread:It is not just that I fear what havoc might be wrought by those I see around me if traditional restraints were to be removed. I fear what havoc might be wrought by myself. Once in conversation I was giving public thanks that I had never had my moral fibre tested as a prisoner in a concentration camp. Someone present reminded me, with a casual acerbity never to be forgotten, that I was being too confident: I might not have been a prisoner, I might have been a guard.

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