Thursday, January 01, 2009

In the New Year, a Past Remembered and to be Avoided

From an April 1933 Time Magazine article on the emergence of Hitler and the Nazi's.  Warning about the text.  It does not contain language which today would be considered more sensitive to various constituencies.  In other words, there is no modern day political correctness applied in the language of the text.  But there are some interesting parallels for our times about which we would be wise to take heed to guard against what Santayana admonished that "those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it":

1924. Barbed wire entanglements thrown up around Munich's former Military Academy to keep back a mob which roars, "Hail Ludendorff! Hail Hitler!" Stiffly in full uniform & medals, Prisoner Ludendorff poses with Prisoner Hitler who wears his raincoat with an air of defiance. Together ex-General Ludendorff and ex-Corporal Hitler, tried on charges of high treason for having led together the .famed Munich Beer Hall putsch which failed, cost 18 lives. Prisoner Hitler, as leader of the party of seven men which by this time has become the National Socialist (Nazi) Party of 30,000, shouts at his judges: "I know your sentence! But that high court above will not ask us, 'have you committed high treason?' That court will judge us all: the Quartermaster General [Ludendorff] of the old Army, his officers and soldiers, who have wanted to do their duty as Germans for the people and the Fatherland, who wanted to fight and die! You may doom us a thousand times and yet the Goddess of the Eternal Court of History will tear to pieces the indictment of the State prosecutor and the sentence of this Court! Her verdict will be acquittal!"

When Herr Hitler has been convicted, the crowd cheers him so fiercely that he has to be shown on a balcony, take several bows. When General Ludendorff is acquitted (obviously in tribute to his War-time service), he sneers at his judges: "My acquittal is a humiliation which this uniform and these decorations have not deserved!"

Convict Hitler and eight others receive the light sentence of detention in a fortress where they have connecting rooms. During his ten-month sojourn there, Prisoner Hitler pens the 800 bombastic pages of Mein Kampf ("My Struggle"). Says the warden as they part: "I too, Herr Hitler, am now a Nazi."

1932. In his presidential study 85-year-old Paul von Hindenburg disdainfully refuses 43-year-old Adolf Hitler's plea that he, as leader of the Nazi Party (largest in the Reichstag) be made Chancellor with "precisely the powers" of Benito Mussolini (TIME, Aug. 22). Less than six months after this rebuff, the Goddess of the Eternal Court of History—as Orator Hitler so fetchingly calls her—makes him Chancellor of the Reich by assent of Old Paul von Hindenburg (TIME, Feb. 6).

Last week his Goddess seemed to fling all Germany prostrate before Conqueror Hitler's triumphal car.

Hitlerism, In what sign does the pudgy little vegetarian with the Charlie Chaplin mustache conquer?

Today most Germans are agreed that Hitlerism, with its bombastic counsels of violence, treaty-breaking and Jew-baiting, would have swept their country years ago had not Germans been lulled by a false, post-War prosperity induced in the Fatherland by a flood of U. S. loans. These loans enabled Germany to pay Reparations with borrowed money, turned the shackles riveted on her by the Treaty of Versailles almost into golden bracelets. When Depression showed the bracelets to be iron, Germany-in-chains was ready to break them by turning to the doctrines of Messiah Hitler who had been preaching repudiation from the first. [my emphasis]

Basically Hitlerism is a doctrine of confused tenets, further confused by Orator Hitler as he goes along. Take, for example, the plain, basic word capital. No thinker himself, Herr Hitler has confessed that Hitlerism's tenets about capital are borrowed from a onetime building engineer, Herr Gottfried Feder, recently appointed by Chancellor Hitler to the Reichstag Finance Committee. According to Feder there are two kinds of capital: 1) raffendes or "grasping capital" hoarded in banks, from which interest or dividends is received by such 'rascals' as Jews; and 2) schaffendes or "creative capital" which is the life blood of German enterprise and therefore good, even though paying interest or dividends. Thanks to this masterly though absurd "distinction," a Hitlerite can preach expropriation of capital to factory hands, then walk into the directors' room and promise protection of capital, remaining all the while "consistent." "National Socialism." the name of the Hitler Party, is another piece of intentional confusion, useful in catching both Nationalist and Socialist votes— votes which had meant exactly opposite things until stirred into Hitlerism. [my emphasis]

Finally certain Jews—who contribute to Nazi funds—are supposed to be outside the application of Hitlerism's most if not only definite tenet: antiSemitism. In their Jew baiting (and in every Communist, Nazis see a "tainted" German, probably Jewish if his ancestry were known) the Hitler Storm Troopers take real pleasure. True Germans, they feel, are instinctively Jew-baiters. To prove this Nazis quote:

Frederick the Great: "We command that the Jews in the smaller towns, especially those which lie in the country, and which can be harmed most by Jews, be sent away."

Bismarck: "I will give the Jews every right, except that of holding a high office in a Christian state."

Wagner: "The Jew is the plastic demon of the decline of mankind."

Up to last week Adolf Hitler, who dotes on Wagnerian music and surrounds himself with portraits and busts of Bismarck and Frederick the Great, had set forth nothing which could be called a program of what his Government intends to do for and with Germany. From now until April Fool's Day (on which the new Reichstag will convene) Chancellor Hitler intends to rule virtually as a dictator. According to Nazi henchmen, the Reichstag will transact only two pieces of business: it will give Germany a new national flag, will then "adjourn indefinitely."

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