This one will be interesting. Writing about Hitler, Jews, National Socialism, Germans…there are only two possible positions one is allowed to hold on this general topic, neither allowing for nuance and each diametrically opposed to the other. Very black and white.
One position: Hitler bad. That’s it. If you write one more word, you are labeled a Nazi sympathizer and an anti-Semite. The other is: Hitler-didn’t-kill-six-million-Jews-and-there-were-no-gas-chambers-but-there-should-have-been-because-Jews-were-communist-and-Jews-are-behind-every-bad-thing-that-ever-happened-in-the-history-of-the-world-and-if-you-don’t-believe-this-you-are-a-dupe-of-the-Jewish-controlled-media.
Wait a minute while I catch my breath…. OK, we can go on now.
There is no room for considered discussion in between these two extremes – any consideration of the gray spaces in-between brings vitriol from both camps.
But into this gray space we go….
For the first time since 1945, Adolf Hitler's 'Mein Kampf' is available for sale in Germany. With a new annotated edition, Historians hope to "defuse" the Nazi-era bestseller. Even after seven decades, it remains a dangerous proposition.
The book has been unavailable for sale in Germany for seventy years. It is always troubling when a book is banned in some fashion – troubling to me. Evil cannot stand the light of day, so why hide evil? Lies cannot withstand scrutiny, so why banish lies? If truth cannot overcome lies, what is true? Of course, it is those who have the power to try and hide the truth that have the most to hide.
Some will read the preceding paragraph and wonder – is bionic sympathizing with Hitler’s struggle? No, not at all. I ask these questions merely as an intellectual and ethical curiosity – and I would ask the same questions about any banned book. (You see, this paragraph was necessitated by my venturing into the gray area between the two extremes.)
Why has the book been unavailable in Germany (at least officially)? A hint is offered here:
For 70 years, the state refused to allow the manifesto to be republished out of respect for victims of the Nazis.
There is another reason, offered by Spiegel:
In 1945, the Allies banned the book.
Do you know – to this day it is illegal in Germany to teach anything contradictory to the conclusions reached at Nuremburg? That German law must conform to decisions reached in those trials? Courts that were stylized after Stalin’s show trials?
There are laws in various countries making illegal the denial of the holocaust of Jews, the genocide of Armenians, and various other historical episodes. Why does history need law to protect it? So people’s feelings won’t be hurt?
Hurting people’s feelings is against the law: It seems this disease has permeated every corner – note the “safe zones” now available on many college campuses (this reminds me of a great character from Saturday Night Live…Pat; don’t laugh if you are in a safe zone).
But back to the Spiegel article:
That damned book! The minister [Ludwig Spaenle, the Bavarian Minister of Education and Science] feels a need to drink something spicy.
He initially welcomed the new edition of Adolf Hitler's book, he says, and the Bavarian state parliament even approved a budget of €500,000 ($542,000) for the project, led by the Munich Institute of Contemporary History. But then, says Spaenle, he accompanied the Bavarian governor on a trip to Israel in September 2012. And after that, opinions changed, he explains. Period.
…there were the victims' rights groups, there were Israeli cabinet ministers and there were many meetings. After that, it was clear that it just wouldn't do. A new edition of "Mein Kampf" with the coat of arms of the State of Bavaria on the front cover? No one in Israel would have understood such a thing.
Seventy years later. The reaction is not “let’s look into the mind of one of history’s most brutal murderers and expose him for the world to see.” No, the fear is that if the book is too easily available in Germany a new Hitler might be born (but aren’t we told of another new Hitler almost daily? Never mind, I digress). Or the old Hitler might be seen as one degree short of the devil incarnate.
Or feelings might be hurt. It seems to me, if I was a member of a brutally victimized group of one sort or another and the guilty party could be so easily identified, that I would welcome the opportunity to look into his mind – further benefiting from an analysis of his various claims. What made him tick? Why? How warped was his thinking? What was the foundation for his thoughts and actions?
In any case, the State of Bavaria backed out of the project; however it left free the Institute of Contemporary History (IfZ) to continue working on the project without even paying back the subsidy previously granted by the Bavarian State. In a matter of days, the first run of 4,000 copies sold out. Next, a new edition:
The new edition includes the complete original text of "Mein Kampf," together with more than 3,500 astute annotations.
An edition that is heavily annotated, thereby fact-checking Hitler’s statements and debunking various claims. Even if this work is bent toward political correctness, it at least begins the dialogue.
Maybe. The work is receiving healthy criticism in Germany:
Wolfgang Benz, a Berlin expert on anti-Semitism, cannot imagine that the new edition will offer anything new, and Jeremy Adler, a professor of German in London, even tried to stop the edition last Thursday. Otherwise, he wrote in an angry op-ed in Süddeutsche Zeitung, "a disgraceful work would gain a dignity that we associate with Homer and Plato, the Bible and the Talmud."
Adler does admit, however, that he rendered his verdict "without access to the new text." Which is rather bold.
It is rather bold. Am I the only one in the room who finds this distasteful?
For if he had had the opportunity to peruse the IfZ edition, he would most likely have reached a different conclusion. In fact, this edition is one of the most important Hitler-research works to be printed in years.
This comes to one of my points, and addresses a question I raised earlier: isn’t there much to be learned via a critical examination of the innermost thoughts of one of the 20th century’s most brutal murderers? Is this something to fear?
For the last 90 years, "Mein Kampf" has been treated as a key work of Nazism and, in light of its consequences, can be considered the world's most dangerous book.
How is the book dangerous? When it is thrown at the head of your classmate, do knives protrude from the binding? No, it isn’t this at all; the book apparently has mystical, if not hypnotic, powers – specifically over Germans:
Once it was re-opened, Charlotte Knobloch, president of the Israeli Cultural Society of Munich, warned in the Washington Post, it could no longer be closed. In other words, Knobloch seemed to imply, a republication of "Mein Kampf" could expose Germany to an uncontrollable threat.
Schließ deine Augen…Sie schläfrig werden.
In "Mein Kampf," Hitler outlined the murderous ideology that dominated his thinking until his 1945 death in the Führer bunker in Berlin.
Isn’t this worthy of study? Isn’t it possible to refute much of what Hitler wrote and concluded? Can’t truth stand against this evil mind?
With the book, writes Hitler biographer Peter Longerich, Hitler began "to consistently connect the space issue with the race issue," that is, the destruction of the Soviet Union with anti-Semitism.
Finally, some discussion about the book instead of all the apologies about examining it.
From pogroms to hatred of Communists to his greatest obsession, the war, Hitler revealed in his book "what he intended to do, with an openness that was as remarkable as it was naïve," write the IfZ historians.
Remarkable openness except for a missing item…but I am getting ahead of the story.
In the last relatively free parliamentary election before the war, in March 1933, about 52 percent of Germans voted for Hitler and his coalition. They should have known what the leader of the Nazi Party had in mind.
Maybe they did know what he had in mind. Maybe what Hitler wrote had a sympathetic audience. Maybe this sympathetic audience was not to be found only in Germany. Maybe I will come back to this shortly.
It should be noted that the National Socialists gained 44%; the rest came from the German National People's Party (DNVP), a conservative party. It should further be noted that Hitler got this far only because Stalin ensured that in earlier elections in the previous year the German communists would side with the National Socialists.
Back to the book: the director of the project gets it right:
…[Andreas] Wirsching defends his institute's project. The fear "of acting incorrectly from a moral standpoint or making political mistakes in the treatment of Hitler's legacy" -- that is, continuing to pretend that the book doesn't exist -- would only amplify its taboo nature. "Mein Kampf" is "eminently valuable as a source work in studying the history of the calamity," he says, noting that no work reveals more about the delusional world of Adolf Hitler. (Emphasis added.)
Isn’t there value in this? Is this something to fear?
The fact that the ideas underpinning this delusional world are neither unique nor original is one of the most important conclusions reached by the Munich historians.
As if pretending the book didn’t exist would somehow keep the ideas bottled up. As if Hitler was the first bad man in the history of the world. As if Hitler is the only person on earth to have held such ideas at the time. (More dangerous ground, I know.)
After examining hundreds of pamphlets and books from the volkisch-conservative world of the early 20th century, they determined that Hitler's apodictic verdicts and his biologistic terminology grew straight out of the reactionary mainstream.
He wasn’t alone. But were these ideas strictly German?
The man who would later become Germany's "Führer" wasn't the only one who despised Slavs, hated Jews and bloviated about "natural selection" and the "law of the jungle." In fact, the Nazi leader derived his ideas "from the popular and pseudo-scientific knowledge of his day," especially social Darwinism…
Social Darwinism must have been a uniquely German concern, do you think?
Social Darwinism is a modern name given to various theories of society that emerged in the United Kingdom, North America, and Western Europe in the 1870s, which claim to apply biological concepts of natural selection and survival of the fittest to sociology and politics.
How were these Social Darwinists intending to achieve their ends?
Many such views stress competition between individuals in laissez-faire capitalism, while others are claimed to have motivated ideas of eugenics, racism, imperialism, fascism, Nazism, and struggle between national or racial groups.
Well, we don’t have to worry about laissez-faire capitalism causing such results – non-existent in the west for…well…ever. What about some of these other paths. Who were the believers of eugenics, for example?
At its peak of popularity, eugenics was supported by a wide variety of prominent people, including Winston Churchill, Margaret Sanger, Marie Stopes, H. G. Wells, Norman Haire, Havelock Ellis, Theodore Roosevelt, Herbert Hoover, George Bernard Shaw, John Maynard Keynes, John Harvey Kellogg, Robert Andrews Millikan, Linus Pauling, Sidney Webb, and W. E. B. Du Bois.
Nary a Wolfgang or Hans in the group.
In 1909 the Anglican clergymen William Inge and James Peile both wrote for the British Eugenics Education Society. Inge was an invited speaker at the 1921 International Eugenics Conference, which was also endorsed by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of New York Patrick Joseph Hayes.
Supported by the church…and the Church.
In 1925 Adolf Hitler praised and incorporated eugenic ideas in Mein Kampf and emulated eugenic legislation for the sterilization of "defectives" that had been pioneered in the United States.
Hitler stole the idea. Imagine that! And an idea that was pioneered in the United States, no less (emphasis added):
Eugenics was practised in the United States many years before eugenics programs in Nazi Germany and U.S. programs provided much of the inspiration for the latter. Stefan Kühl has documented the consensus between Nazi race policies and those of eugenicists in other countries, including the United States, and points out that eugenicists understood Nazi policies and measures as the realization of their goals and demands.
Hitler: the fruit of their intellectual loins.
The American eugenics movement received extensive funding from various corporate foundations including the Carnegie Institution, Rockefeller Foundation, and the Harriman railroad fortune. In 1906 J.H. Kellogg provided funding to help found the Race Betterment Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan.
Now, banning publications sponsored by the Rockefeller Foundation – I might be able to get behind that!
Eugenics was widely accepted in the U.S. academic community. By 1928 there were 376 separate university courses in some of the United States' leading schools, enrolling more than 20,000 students, which included eugenics in the curriculum.
By 1910, there was a large and dynamic network of scientists, reformers and professionals engaged in national eugenics projects and actively promoting eugenic legislation. The American Breeder's Association was the first eugenic body in the U.S., established in 1906 under the direction of biologist Charles B. Davenport. The ABA was formed specifically to "investigate and report on heredity in the human race, and emphasize the value of superior blood and the menace to society of inferior blood." Membership included Alexander Graham Bell, Stanford president David Starr Jordan and Luther Burbank.
“The American Breeders Association” – sounds like something in horseracing.
Returning to Spiegel:
Hitler's choice of words, the IfZ team notes, was certainly in keeping with the period. Some terms that are frowned upon today as being of Nazi provenance -- such as Volksgemeinschaft (ethnic community) and Entartung (degeneracy) -- were also used by democrats at the time.
Terms used not just by this soon-to-be leader of the National Socialists.
…the "stab-in-the-back legend," that is, the claim that primarily Jews, Social Democrats and Communists were responsible for Germany's defeat in World War I, seemed to be the only explanation for the disaster.
As if this connection of Jews and Communism was not believed elsewhere. As regular readers know, I have recently written on the book “A Peace to End All Peace.” I cannot count the number of times various proper Englishmen in high government offices stated the same thing – communism was all the work of Jews.
Many believed such things at the time and – just as is true for every narrative – a grain of evidence is available upon which to build virtually any story. It is a reality that the story of communism’s rise in Russia cannot be told without including the names of many Jews. (The truth is: not all Jews were communists and not all communists were Jews; as if this requires stating.)
But back to the value of evil being exposed to light:
The IfZ team, headed by historians Christian Hartmann and Thomas Vordermayer, applied all the rules of historiography in completely disassembling the original, 800-page text. In the new edition, each double page consists of one page from "Mein Kampf" and one page filled with up to 15 explanatory comments from the publishers. Reading is tedious at times, but it's also rewarding: The new edition goes a long way toward permanently inoculating readers against the book's ideological poison.
Let me get this right – people reading this volume will be inoculated; people who do not read the volume are susceptible. Therefore let’s ban the book and otherwise fear this new release?
What the IfZ scholars call this "monstrosity" has never been annotated -- and refuted -- so comprehensively….the editors have uncovered every lie and half-truth…. The number of factual errors alone is in the hundreds.
There are numerous examples of exaggerations, lies, and half-truths in the work – exposed by this new effort. There is also much focus by Hitler regarding the supposed evil of the Jews. But there is also an idea not in the book.
First, what is in the book?
But was there more to "Mein Kampf" than just agitation against Jews and Communists? Was the book even a kind of political platform for the National Socialists? The historians at IfZ also explored this question and discovered a number of "direct connections to the practical structures of National Socialism."
In the book, Hitler outlines the political platform:
That the "first task" of "really national government" is "to seek and find those forces that were determined to wage a war of destruction against Marxism and to give those forces a free hand."
That the "people's state" would classify its population in three groups: "Citizens, subjects of the state and aliens," but that only "citizens" should be given all political rights.
That those who "show hereditary defects" and invalids should be forcibly sterilized and that the "people's state" must ensure that "only those who are healthy shall beget children."
That Aryans had the "sacred duty" to ensure that the "purity of the racial blood should be guarded."
That the 80 million Germans Hitler counted in Europe should be united in one empire.
That France should be considered the "deadly enemy" of the German people and that they must rally together for the "last decisive contest" with their neighboring country.
That the Germans must be provided with Lebensraum, or greater living space, in the east but that "Germanization" can only be applied to land, and not to people.
Each of these came to fruition during Hitler’s reign.
But there was one more piece – the one item for which Hitler is best remembered:
Nevertheless, in the opinion of the historians at Munich's IfZ, the text cannot be read as the blueprint for the crimes of the "Third Reich." The Holocaust, for example, the most horrifying of all of Hitler's crimes, isn't mentioned in "Mein Kampf." At most, he hints at his plans in a passage blaming the Jews for the defeat in 1918.
Six-million murdered in a systematic manner and not a hint of this in the book? Well, what does Hitler say about murdering Jews?
"If twelve or fifteen thousand of these Jews who were corrupting the nation had been forced to submit to poison gas…”
Poison gas – at least Hitler got that in the book. But not in a gas chamber; Hitler is recalling the terrible life on the front in the Great War:
What is referred to here, though, was death on the fighting front and not in a factory of extermination, so the quote does not deliver a hint at Auschwitz.
Even though the copyright barrier has now been lifted, no bookseller in Germany has stated it wants to stock the IfZ edition.
Why? What is there to fear?
The German Teachers' Association, for its part, is in favor of using the book in classrooms.
Hooray! They are probably tired of teaching only the court-approved history.
Third, despite being the cover for the murder of 100 million or more (and far more murder than attributable to Mein Kampf), the Communist Manifesto by Marx and Engels receives no such treatment.
Even after the collapse of Marxism-Leninism in the 1990s, the Communist Manifesto remains ubiquitous; Hobsbawm says that "In states without censorship, almost certainly anyone within reach of a good bookshop, and certainly anyone within reach of a good library, not to mention the internet, can have access to it." The 150th anniversary once again brought a deluge of attention in the press and the academia, as well as new editions of the book fronted by introductions to the text by academics. One of these, The Communist Manifesto: A Modern Edition by Verso, was touted by a critic in the London Review of Books as being a "stylish red-ribboned edition of the work. It is designed as a sweet keepsake, an exquisite collector's item. In Manhattan, a prominent Fifth Avenue store put copies of this choice new edition in the hands of shop-window mannequins, displayed in come-hither poses and fashionable décolletage."
Maybe this favorable treatment is because the media is entirely controlled by Jewish Bolsheviks (JUST KIDDING, FOR GOODNESS’ SAKES).
Finally, I have no idea about the validity of the publicly-accepted narrative regarding Hitler and the Holocaust. For this reason, I do not question it – there is so much pain surrounding this episode that I feel to question it one must feel quite confident. I do not.
But antenna must be raised when history is subject to law. It casts a shadow of doubt over that which it is intended to protect. That there is so much concern about exposing this book to critical examination is troubling.
Truth needs no such protection. It needs only light.
Comments? This should be entertaining.