Thursday, December 8, 2016

The Nightmare Years...Part II...


William Shirer's account of the decade between 1930 and 1940 continues with his introduction to the men who would become the sub-leaders of the outlaw Third Reich under Adolf Hitler...I have spoken before of Shirer's unbridled and barely contained disgust with Hitler and his gang of miscreants, and here he does not disappoint, venting his feelings in his descriptions with gusto...The Nazi Party had already branded him as unfriendly, and he was under watch for any contact with those who were "enemies of the state"...

Like all successful journalists, he maintained a network of informants to garner information, tips and secrets which he passed on when he could...He guarded their identities not only from the Nazis, but from each other, never fully knowing all that were covertly working for the Third Reich...There were some hangers-on whom everyone knew were counter-spies, but he treated them as if he didn't know, sometimes gathering a snatch of truth from them in an unguarded moment...It was a balancing act that kept him in the know, but could turn deadly at any time...

Some of his sources did not even realize they were sources, being members of the working staffs in the party as well as in the government itself...Shirer knew how to get these people to give up bits of information in exchange for simply letting others retain a sense of self-importance...Some of those higher in the Nazi food chain were notorious for telling too much, if a person could tolerate their obnoxious personalities long enough...

A major example of this was Alfred Rosenberg, chief of the party Foreign Affairs Office, whom Shirer, in his inimitable descriptive style, characterized as a "crackbrained, doughy-faced dolt"...Hitler himself regarded Rosenberg as uninspired and weak, which by Der Fuehrer's own admission was the reason he appointed Rosenberg as chairman of the Nazi Party during his enforced absence in Landsberg Prison...

Rosenberg was the author of "The Myth of the Twentieth Century," a book so jumbled that even the addled mind of Adolf Hitler was unable to sort through it, dismissing it as "impossible to get through"...Hitlerjugend Fuehrer, Baldur von Schirach, was said to have remarked, "Rosenberg was a man who sold more copies of a book no one had ever read than any other author in German history"...Its million-seller status can only be explained by the same selling point as Mein Kampf; if it wasn't on your home bookshelf in Nazi controlled Germany, you were under suspicion as subversive...

After Hitler's assumption of power in 1933, Rosenberg, who was inexplicably dubbed the party "philosopher" by Hitler, hosted a regular gathering for journalists which he called a Bierabend, where invited guests from the press could talk to and get to know Nazi party officials and Third Reich leaders...Each event featured at least one member of Hitler's inner circle plus a few deputy toadlings (Shirer said these became excellent sources as they loved to pad their own resumes by boasting) who would rotate between tables of reporters every few minutes to talk and answer questions...

Rosenberg's career in Nazi Germany may have come about solely because his ambitions were rejected in the Soviet Union...Born in Estonia, which since 1721 had been part of the Czarist Russian empire until the Bolshevik Revolution...His architecture degree under Soviet tutelage opened no career doors for him

Proving my theory that the only good Nazis are the dead ones, Rosenberg was rehabilitated for his crimes at the end of a rope following his conviction at the Nuremberg Trials...He has since then meekly blended in with his surroundings...

Hermann Goring was a featured guest at some of the Bierabends if, for no other reason, than he was unlikely to ever miss an evening of beer and sausage on someone else's expense account...Shirer described him as a ruthless, self-obsessed man who, when the occasion called for it and was to his advantage, could be charming and affable, but also a brutal "blood swiller"...Always confident in his Number Two status with the Third Reich, he enjoyed firing off a few zingers of his own, such as:
"When I criticized Ribbentrop's qualifications to handle British problems, the Fuehrer pointed out to me that Ribbentrop knew 'Lord So and So' and 'Minister So and So'...
To which I replied, 'Yes, but the difficulty is that they know Ribbentrop'..."
Unfortunately Goring's ego matched his own bulk, allowing him to believe he was indispensable to the regime...He learned his true worth shortly before the Nazi collapse when Hitler slapped a death sentence on him for suggesting he take over the reins of government since the Red Army had Berlin surrounded...He ended his own days in a typically cowardly fashion by swallowing cyanide hours before his scheduled noose fitting in Nuremberg...

Shirer had plenty of descriptive adjectives for Ribbentrop as well, referring to the Foreign Minister as "ridiculous," "insufferable," and an "ignorant nincompoop"...These were his more endearing qualities as Shirer related several anecdotes of his embarrassing and numerous diplomatic faux pas...

The lesser reprobates listed among the Nazi roster of villains did not escape Shirer's acerbic depictions of their characters...Julius Streicher was described as a "sadistic, pornographic Jew-baiter" and an "unspeakably vulgar psychopathic pervert"...Joseph Goebbels came close to being complimented by Shirer as "arrogant, but not unintelligent," yet at least equally "repugnant" as the other slime gathered at the feet of Herr Hitler...

Hitler's choice for Minister of Education was a man imminently unqualified for teaching, but certainly fitting to the subject matter the Nazis valued most highly on the curriculum...The Wiemar Republic had fired Dr. Bernhard Rust as a schoolmaster for "an instability of the mind," yet his belief in the Nazi's crackpot racial theories drove even the great German universities to either bend to the new programs of studies, or have it forced onto them, such as the renowned University of Berlin which became in effect a veterinary academy...

The aforementioned Baldur von Schirach was characterized as shallow, empty-minded and silly...Heinrich Himmler at first struck him as "insignificant, mediocre," but later showed himself to be "sinister" and "murderous"...Fritz Sauckel was a "piggish, brutal, stupid little man" who served Hitler well as provider of labor, slave labor to be exact...His final service to the German people was as a rope decoration at Nuremberg...

Rudolf Hess was listed as the most loyal and least ambitious of Hitler's sucklings, described by Shirer as "muddled" and "emotionally juvenile"...Robert Ley was thought of as a "stammering drunk" by industrialist Fritz Thyssen...Even his secretary complained that he was "always drunk"...Remembered for his "Strength Through Joy" program (the naming of which always struck this reviewer as smacking of Marxist origins), he didn't even bother waiting for his trial to begin at Nuremberg before taking the wimp's way out by suicide in his cell...

Wilhelm Frick was thought of by Shirer as "competent, but colorless" with no knowledge at all of the world beyond Nazi Germany...Upon receiving his death penalty at Nuremberg, he stated he had only done his duty, then dutifully took his step through the gallows trapdoor...

The despicable Martin Bormann was said to be a "molelike man" who slipped beneath Shirer's radar in his "Berlin Diary," yet emerged later as the invisible hand behind the power who controlled all access to the Fuehrer, preventing Hitler from being told of disturbing, yet conflicting complaints by his deputies charged with maintaining his administration...The jury is still out on exactly where, when and how his death occurred...

Occasionally Hitler slipped up, and hired someone actually competent at his job, such as Freiherr von Fritsch, who was responsible for rebuilding the German Army in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles...Having faithfully done his duty, he soon ran afoul of Himmler and Goring, who manufactured evidence of homosexuality against Fritsch...The charges were disproven by the indignant Field Marshal, but his reputation and career were destroyed...His mysterious death later served as inspiration for Wehrmacht officers who conspired to remove their Fuehrer from power...

One of the sadder figures encountered by Shirer was American Ambassador William E. Dodd, a man uncommonly qualified for a duty he reluctantly accepted from President Roosevelt, he not only spoke fluent German, but understood the culture and was an admirer of the Old Germany...An avid historian, he found kinship with Shirer...His later life, after his resignation from foreign service, was marred with the knowledge of his promiscuous daughter's involvement in a communist spy ring...

It was not out of character for Hitler to appoint men to high positions who, like him, had a history of criminal behavior, sexual perversion or a complete lack of skills suitable for their jobs, as he was elected by popular vote from a German populace willing to settle for considerably less than the best...He could have chosen competent, dedicated and highly qualified men, such as Roosevelt did with Dodd, but instead gathered a band of furtive, self-serving sycophants content to destroy their own nation in their quest for personal aggrandizement...

Instead of choosing a staff which could shore up areas where he was weak, making him look better as a leader, Hitler chose mediocre men possibly fearing that someone more capable would try to replace, rather than reinforce him...His suspicious and devious nature worked against him in this case...From my studies, he also habitually kept his cohorts apart in their duties, even overlapping them thinking the resulting jealousy would prevent them organizing a coalition against him...

Shirer wrote his many articles and books with the same aim as most historians, wanting his recollections to serve as a guide, as well as a warning, for the coming generations charged with selecting their own leadership...As to whether his efforts have prevailed, look around you...

Part III will review Shirer's aptly named section, "The Road to Armageddon"...


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Monday, December 5, 2016

The Nightmare Years...


William L. Shirer's contribution to journalism and literature have been well covered both here, and in other sources since his debut in foreign news coverage in the 1920's...His nearly 70 year career made him an indispensable authority on the most momentous event of the twentieth century, World War II and the events which led to it as well as its aftermath...

I have reviewed his most well known work here, and I find I constantly refer to it as I research the various aspects of that period in time...Another of his books is "The Nightmare Years," a coverage of the buildup which became the horror of the Third Reich as it inexorably led to a cataclysmic war engulfing the entire world...

When reading accounts of history as told by a masterful writer such as Shirer, it becomes easy to forget that he was not just a man pecking away at a typewriter in his comfortable library, composing a story to be read at the leisure of others...He was also a man who searched out and found his own sources of information, developed his own contacts, heard the same story from differing viewpoints, then decided where the truth lay, and how to make it believable to others...

"The Nightmare Years" becomes a more personal story as Shirer explains it was also a personal narrative of a young reporter finding his own way not only through foreign lands, but into a budding career in which he must outwit other journalists as well as obstructive bureaucrats to find and bring to print newsworthy items before other members of his trade become aware of the awaiting story...As an example, he related how in India, when stalled in expectation of new developments in a jailed Mahatma Ghandi's struggle, he took the opportunity to pry into an unfolding story in neighboring Afghanistan as a new head was emerging as king for the fourth time in a year...

Shirer's attempts to cross the border from India at the Kyber Pass were thwarted by an uncooperative British government unhappy with Shirer's slant on their methods of reaction to Ghandi's unconventional warfare...Alert for any openings, he struck a friendship with the 16 year old son of the man who would become king...The prince knew little English and had little communication with those around him, but was fluent in French as was Shirer...Their resulting conversations got Shirer invited to join the official coronation party, gaining him entrance to Afghanistan where he reported his exclusive story on the momentous shift in power...

Ever watchful for adventure or a good story, he made his way back to his base of news operations in Vienna, through the Mideast where, mostly by instinct, he found the unreported story of what should have been front-page news, evidence of the location of the Great Flood as told in the Old Testament...Although the authenticity of the findings remain in doubt, others continue to search for new confirmation of the biblical inundation...

At first turned away by the chief archaeologist who had pre-sold the story rights to the Times of London, he soon gained entrance with his honesty and naiveté, and made a deal for the story which would not infringe on the Times...As it happened, his boss at the Chicago Tribune was not impressed, burying the story in the travel section...

Shirer found in later years that he also missed a connection to a budding novelist who had recently married the young assistant to the archaeologist, and would later use the desert setting for one of her novels...He also found romance himself on his return to Vienna, and married his own young bride, a beautiful Viennese, but his joy was soon marred by a telegram from the Tribune, firing him...

In 1932 it was tough finding another job as a reporter during the depression, even in Europe, so he and his new bride decided to go to Spain on a tramp steamer where they could live cheaply until he could find work...They found a three-story double villa in a fishing village, and paid $180,00 up front for a years rent on half of it...

As it turned out the other half was occupied by Andrés Segovia whom he had met casually after a concert in Vienna...He said Segovia was one of the most gracious people he ever met, and when he found out Shirer was writing a book, he moved his morning practice ritual which he did from 7 to noon to the farthest corner of the house so as not to disturb his writing...Shirer could not convince him that his gesture was unnecessary...

He said Segovia visited them 3 or 4 evenings a week where they listened to Shirer's collection of Asian melodies played on the Indian equivalent of the guitar...Segovia learned the notes and played along with the recordings, adding the songs to his own repertoire...Segovia also had a deep interest in literature, especially Cervantes, and gave him a leather-bound edition of Don Quixote as a farewell gift...Sometimes the guitar-playing next door neighbor turns out to be OK...

By this time Hitler and his Nazi toadlings had assumed power in a complacent Germany, and Shirer soon accepted a post with the Paris Herald where he quickly grew bored with the copydesk, and dizzy from the ever-spinning roulette wheel of French government as one corrupt and inept politician after another was shuffled through the revolving door of parliament...But his eye was constantly on Germany as he observed Der Fuehrer's expanding power grab...When offered a position with Universal Service in Berlin shortly after the Nazis' murderous Night of the Long Knives, he jumped at the chance, beginning what became arguably the most comprehensive war coverage of the 20th century...


Shirer came to an early conclusion upon seeing and hearing Hitler that his power only worked when he and his audience had something to mutually hate, for obvious example Jews and communists...I thought the same as I reviewed "Mein Kampf"...Love, whether of nation, family or self, did not hold the the same dynamics as hate for the power hungry Hitler...

He found much more camaraderie in post-WWI Germany in the numbers of disillusioned haters than he could ever have gathered among those looking to learn from mistakes, rebuild and move on to peaceful prosperity...I believe fear was also a strong motivator for him also, not fear of Jews and communists, but fear of not being thought of as hating them enough...

Shirer also soon discovered Hitler's outlandish and atrocious taste in art and architecture, and that, although he was raised as a Catholic, the only worship he could accept was that directed toward him...His ignorance of culture was evident as he removed from public view all works from artists identified as Jewish, and even non-Jewish non-Germans, depriving the German public of enjoyment from paintings by Cezanne, Van Gogh and Picasso...

Hitler's taste in art and architecture was bad, but instead of improving his own, he set out to bring the German standard down to match his...He showcased his own talent for art appreciation by commissioning his then favorite architect, Ludwig Troost, to design a particularly soulless building to house the Haus der Kunst in which Der Fuehrer displayed a personally selected collection of what has been almost universally described as some of the most vulgar and embarrassing "art pieces" ever gathered...

At the grand opening Hitler acted as tour guide pointing out to the horrified ladies in his entourage what he described as classical Grecian sculpture, which consisted mostly of statues of nude men with their genitalia exposed...It is thought by many that the disturbing array subconsciously appealed to Hitler's homoerotic personality side...

In the meantime, the confiscated works of genuine art did not gather dust, as Reichsmarshal Hermann Goring lustfully gathered as many paintings, tapestries, rugs, vases and sculptures as possible into his greedy hands for his personal collection...At first paying pennies on the dollar for their value using funds he had already purloined for himself, he later decided not to pay at all, thinking there was nobody left alive to protest...Shirer said he was offered several times a chance to purchase some of the pieces if he paid in dollars (Goring cited "foreign exchange rates" as a reason for the dollar demand), but declined the offer knowing the original source...

Hitler himself also acquired many of the banned artworks intending them for his memorial museum to be built in his hometown of Linz, allowing the purchases to be made in his name using redirected funds from the Reich treasury...Liberating forces from George Patton's Third Army found 6,755 paintings earmarked for this purpose preserved in a salt mine in Alt-Ausee...Hitler's greed was modest by comparison to Goring, who commandeered entire freight trains just to haul the stolen loot he had transported to his home in Carinhall...

Before the robber band divvied up their plunderage, Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels decided it would be educational for the German public to view examples of the offending art forms to give them an idea of the difference between "degenerate art," and what they would now enjoy in the Nazi-controlled museums...650 pieces of priceless artworks were viewed for the last time in the poorly lit and narrow rooms of a building in the Hofgarten of Munich...Shirer's figures show over two million visitors attended this showing in the four months before its closing, while attendance at the Great German Art Exhibition held concurrently amounted to an embarrassingly few thousand...

Music associated with Jewish composers and conductors the likes of Felix Mendelssohn and Otto Klemperer, and even Cole Porter and Irving Berlin were considered degenerate art and not fit for the German public...The choice of what was and was not "degenerate" in the visual arts was left to the president of the Reich Chamber of Art, Adolf Ziegler, a painter whose only claim to fame was that he once painted a portrait of Hitler's niece/girlfriend, Geli Raubal, whom Hitler almost certainly killed personally or authorized her murder...His list of taboos included not only Jewish selections, but modernist and impressionist paintings which Hitler despised...

In the field of music, Hitler's only consistent choice was the powerful operatic talent of composer and fellow anti-Semite, Wilhelm Richard Wagner...In his youth in Vienna, Hitler is said to have sat enthralled to many performances of Wagner's operas, never speaking a word until the curtain closed...He then spent the rest of these nights robbing his roommate of sleep with his boring recitations of the importance of Wagner's work as it applied to the Germanic principles of life...

It's my guess he always imagined himself as the heroic Teuton who saved the German people as he watched from the cheap seats when he could afford it, or in the SRO section when he couldn't...In 1923, the soon-to-be-convicted Hitler met Wagner's son-in-law, who became his mentor, later having his book placed on the Nazis' must-read-or-else list...


Less talked about has been his criticism, condemnation and abolition of all forms of religion, including Judaism as well as Christianity, in the Reich, followed with its supplanting by the Reichskirche, in which the Holy Bible and Talmud were replaced with the teachings from Mein Kampf, and the Crucifix and Magen David saw their place taken by the swastika...At this time Hitler was less a believer in the 1st Commandment than he was in his Catholic upbringing, and felt that any aspect of religion which could not be bent, reshaped or interpreted as compatible with National Socialism had no place in a modern Germany...

As the elected head of the German Evangelical Church, Reich Bishop Ludwig Muller posted his 30 points by which religion would be practiced...The 30 point proclamation is also attributed to Alfred Rosenberg, although original thought of any kind was doubtful from his clouded mind...The priests, pastors and religious leaders who disagreed risked assignment to concentration camps or death...Shirer recalled in his book a pastor who, knowing the risk, kept him informed of the demands being placed on Christians who opposed Nazism...The pastor was sentenced to death by the Nazi People's Court, but was later commuted to life imprisonment...

Hitler's only serious opposition to nazified religious life in the Third Reich was the Confessional Church, led by Martin Niemoller, a highly decorated former U-Boat commander during WWI...He was a German nationalist who at first welcomed the Nazi regime, but quickly saw its abuses as contrary to God's laws, and as an alternative to the Reichskirche, formed the Confessional Church, inviting all protestant faiths to join him in a solidified front in their worship of God...Out of curiosity for this lone voice against totalitarianism, Shirer attended many of his sermons, none of which were allowed publicity in Germany...

Hitler, who up to this point had considered Protestants to be submissive and docile, found the increasingly vocal and militant Niemoller to be an embarrassment to his regime, but found it difficult to act against a religious leader who was also a respected war hero...As hundreds of the church's pastors were arrested and consigned to concentration camps and eventual death, Niemoller stepped up his attacks from the pulpit, eventually being arrested and tried before the Sondergericht...

He was acquitted of the charges of "underhand attacks against the state" since his sermons had all been public and available for hearing by anyone, but he was fined and sentenced to seven months for "abuse of the pulpit"...He was freed as having already served more than that time awaiting trial, and immediately seized by the Gestapo who incarcerated him in "protective custody" in Dachau until his release by the Allies seven years later...

Niemoller is most famous for this poetic passage from one of his sermons:
"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Socialist. 
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Trade Unionist. 
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—Because I was not a Jew. 
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me."
From this point, Shirer moved to a discussion of the Nazi leadership which I will review in another installment...

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Saturday, December 3, 2016

The will...

Human events are determined by the existence of at least three requirements: chance, opportunity and will...Emotion may also be said to be a determining factor...World history often hangs in the balance as chance and opportunity meet and wait for will and emotion to decide the outcome...In such cases the future is often decided to the regret of some, and the gratitude of others...

Chance brought childhood friends William, Arthur and Walter together with an opportunity common to many as they combined their talents in a project to create a machine which could reduce the time spent traveling from one point to another...Their joy raised their spirits as the engine which they mounted to a bicycle propelled them along the road, but disappointment overtook them as they discovered that their creation did not have the power to climb a modest hill without resorting to the pedals...

They might have given up the idea, resuming normal lives and taking jobs and raising families...Instead Harley and the Davidson brothers learned from their mistakes, and with the help of a young engine builder, Ole Evinrude, built ever bigger and more powerful machines...Chance brought the men together with the opportunity to do something together they enjoyed, and the emotions they shared of joy and disappointment forged the will needed to form a company which has provided not only the products for a demanding world but a means to provide a living for countless families for over a century...

Even in less heralded events, chance and opportunity can combine their efforts with emotion and will, sometimes twice...Chance brought a nurse to her son's Little League game where a youngster serving as a batboy was hit in the chest stopping his heart...Emotions ran wild as fear gripped those who thought the boy would die...But the nurse, remembering her training, calmly used CPR techniques to return life to the boy...

Years later as the nurse was dining in a restaurant she became choked on a piece of food lodged in her windpipe...Chance dictated that the same young man was working there, and had received training in the Heimlich Maneuver as a firefighter...Pushing fear and distress aside, he used his opportunity to employ his training, saving the nurse from death and repaying the gift of life which she had once provided for him...Both had the will to do their jobs surrounded by panic, stress and confusion...

In the ongoing storm patterns of history, chance and opportunity pause everyday waiting for will and emotion to decide which direction future events will take...Opposing enemies meet on battlefields never knowing in what their actions will result...They only know they are sent there to kill the other, reducing the will of the enemy to continue...At times there are moments when emotion decides personal as well as world-encompassing fortunes...

Two soldiers from opposing camps were sent on their separate duties, each with a job to perform, neither understanding completely why their nations were at war, but both with the conviction to complete their objectives as ordered, and return home alive after the war...Both have been in continuous battles for years, each weary of the daily sight of fighting and death...Both see each other across a battlefield, each understanding the other's duty to reduce the enemy numbers at every opportunity...

They've both been trained to view those in enemy uniforms as nothing more than a unit to be removed bringing the war to a close a few seconds earlier...Both understand that thinking of the enemy as human makes it that much more difficult to bring death to him...They are trained to leave emotion out of the equation, and simply reduce the enemy numbers...

But looking across the few yards of smoking battlefield into each other's eyes, they see themselves, battle-weary, bone tired, cold, hungry and wishing only for rest...One of the soldiers is first to remember that this is an enemy soldier he faces, and raises his rifle in aim at the other...His target stands stoop-shouldered, wounded, leaning on his rifle, waiting for certain death and the peace it will bring...

At some point the soldier with the power of death at his fingertip realizes he's looking at himself in a different uniform, and, deciding he does not have the will to destroy another enemy in this moment, he begins to lower his rifle...The emotion of gratitude in his enemy meets the look of compassion in the soldier who has lowered his rifle as they nod toward each other in acknowledgement and then move off in separate directions to resume the war...

Both survived the war, one in hard fought victory, the other in ignominious defeat...The victor finished the war as his nation's most highly decorated veteran, awarded the highest honors in recognition of his achievements...In later years, during another war the former Private served as an air raid warden, rescuing civilians from their bombed homes...He performed this duty knowing he once had the opportunity to possibly prevent the carnage all around him simply by pulling a trigger on the man who would become the most hated mass-murderer in history...

The soldier whose life was spared during a moment of compassion by his enemy, recalled the event as he recognized the enemy soldier in a photograph of a painting which brought the memory back to vivid life for him...He acknowledged the story to then British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain during discussions which would lead to the Munich Agreement in a prelude to WWII...Possibly as part of his attempts to appease the power-hungry leader of pre-war Germany, Chamberlain acquiesced to Hitler's request to attempt to convey his greetings to the private on his return to England...

Documentation is sketchy as to how the message was transferred to the former Private Tandey, but during war years he was aware of the coincidence of his battlefield opportunity, and verbally regretted not having the will that day to add Hitler's death to the many other anonymous enemy lives he took during the course of battle...The story is significant in the study of Hitler and his actions which led to the massacre of millions in that he always emphasized, whether in his book, his speeches or in private conversations, that his iron will was what set him apart from others with similar opportunities...

Both men had the opportunity to change history, and one accomplished the goal through his fanatical will to destroy people who existed as enemies only in his tortured mind...Today he is remembered as the murderer of millions who went to his own death only regretting not having killed more...

The other slowly fades from the footnotes of history taking to his death the knowledge that having less compassion and more will for a single moment on a battlefield might have prevented a world conflagration...The chances for such a chain of events were incalculable...


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Friday, November 25, 2016

John Toland's "Adolf Hitler"...

Much has been said in many books and articles concerning the time between Adolf Hitler's birth and his death at the end of a war largely caused through his totalitarian rule of Germany...But it's likely that no author has said as much in more words, and in greater detail than John Toland in his two-volume biography, "Adolf Hitler"...Forty years after its initial publication, it may seem to be aging, but it is aging well indeed...

It was the first serious study of Hitler's life that I read upon becoming more than casually interested in the causes and effects of the European war...Certainly not his first book, nor his only analysis of mid-twentieth century conflict, Toland demonstrated to this reader that few details, if any, could ever escape his attention...Toland's pictorial documentary published two years after the text adds life to the telling, and contains photos I've seen nowhere else...

Exposing the maleficence that made up the persona that was Hitler was never Toland's goal, as millions of words had already reached print demonstrating that Der Fuehrer was the custodian of one of the most evil souls housed in a human being in this millenium...The author stated clearly in his prologue that he began the project with no preconceived notions, and no preformed opinions, wanting only to present the evidence and testimony of others, allowing the reader to draw his own conclusions...

I applaud Toland on this ability, and in re-reading some of my own articles, I know my lack of objectivity would prevent my ever becoming a seriously considered historian...He drew not only on established sources representing the viewpoints and opinions of other researchers, but also conducted hundreds of personal interviews with surviving contemporaries, both those he admired, those he antagonized, and those who worked in close proximity with him...Before publication, he contacted each of the interviewees again with a copy of what he had written for verification and corrections...

He uncovered documents and dossiers all but forgotten and gained access to previously classified intelligence...He read unpublished foreign government files stored and forgotten in dusty boxes...His research found undiscovered letters, diaries, memoirs and notes, even receipts that yielded valuable information...

As a dedicated historian, Toland knew his research would outlive him, and arranged for its storage in the Library of Congress for use by investigators who would follow after him...His dedication to the truth, no matter where it took him, is one of the hallmarks of a true historian...He knew that analysis is merely the opinion of others, and he arranged his writing in a manner that is not only very readable, but is uncluttered with misleading distractions...For his allegiance to accuracy, both serious students and casual observers such as myself will always be grateful...

Published in two volumes to make its thousand-plus pages more manageable, it begins long before the dictator's birth, covering generations and naming likely suspects in the doubtful parentage of Hitler's father...I find documented information such as this valuable for another article in composition now concerning Herr Hitler's bloodline...As usual in his style, Toland goes into exacting detail, allowing this reader to imagine I am there as a witness to some of the research...

The rarely spoken of periods in Hitler's early growth come to life as the author painstakingly assembles the bits and pieces of testimony from those who witnessed his initial development...Toland offers a timeline in this history almost unbroken as he finds obscure passers-through in Hitler's life who left behind some documentation of the events which affected his psyche...

I will not attempt to detail the contents of the book any further, as it will speak for itself to any reader...Having read, and re-read it several times, I always come away with new insight on other volumes I've read, as well as renewed information on Adolf Hitler himself...

Any bookshelf within reach of any student of twentieth century history, regardless of the level of serious interest, is incomplete without a well-thumbed copy of John Toland's master thesis, "Adolf Hitler"...And no, my first editions are not for sale...


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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Taking a bullet...Conclusions drawn...

Click here for Part I...

Click here for Part II...

I originally planned this review of Mein Kampf as reaffirmation of what I already believed about Hitler, and in that I have succeeded...Slogging through the filth that congested his tortured mind was depressing enough to cause me to think reading other translations for tiny differences would not alter my perspective...

In re-reading what I have written in my review, I notice much of the same randomly digressive pattern as that which the author displayed in his book...I can only hope mine is the result of the linear route I took as I read through Hitler's rants one by one compiling my thoughts, and not a sudden infestation of the same pathless mind-crickets that stirred aimlessly in his head...

I find myself in agreement with Hitler's kindred spirit, Benito Mussolini, who called the book "unreadable"...And Mussolini had the advantage over me by being fluent in not only Italian, but German, French and English...He could have read several translations plus the original to ensure his review wasn't tainted by the opinions of others...

My readers may also take note as I remind them that the book I have reviewed is but one translation into English of Mr. Hitler's call to madness, along with its attending pre-determined views by the translation team...If I should live long enough to wash the foul taste of Der Fuehrer's scattergun hatred out of my mouth, I may take it upon myself to review another version taken from a differing standpoint, perhaps the James Murphy translation...

Seen from a different continent, and another era in time, and with my advantage of a historical viewpoint, Hitler's arguments against Jews as the root cause of all German problems seem so flimsy and transparently false, it makes the people of that time seem like gullible buffoons to have taken it all seriously...Even a random passage from one of his rants concerning his fear of the Jewish plan to infect "Aryan blood", such as this one:
"According to this plan, these negroid parasites of nations rape our innocent young blond [sic] girls and destroy something in this world that can never be replaced."
...should have been the tipoff that a deranged personality was on the loose, and attempting to gain control of an unsuspecting world...But that world had other priorities in its struggle to recover from an economic depression, and rebuild after a devastating war...Those who actually read the words may have dismissed them as only rhetoric in a debate...

Yet I understand that the world leaders of the time faced their own set of problems, and though they saw the danger represented in the Nazis' hunger for conquest, they prioritized it as less important than the other demands placed on them domestically...The same might be said of the German people as they struggled with their own problems, thinking they could undo the wrongs they undoubtedly witnessed as soon as their own house was more orderly...

Both those within Germany, and those watching from outside its borders all had the opportunity to read Hitler's own plan in his own words as he detailed the steps he would take if given his chance...The German people had the best opportunity as the book was a mandatory adornment in each home...But even with this close proximity, most ignored the warnings found within...

Taken strictly for its literary value, Mein Kampf is mind-numbingly dull reading...Hitler trots the same tired ponies around the worn, dusty track inside his head, revisits the same overworked misconceptions, ad infinitum, in his belief he is imparting the wisdom of the ages, when all he has produced is an eyewitness account of the splintering away of his decaying soul...

I think I'm a bit closer to understanding an unlikely rise to power under the right breeding circumstances, even with a record as a convicted criminal, such as the one attached to Adolf Hitler...I briefly note two others who became leaders of their own countries' governments both having been imprisoned after convictions of crimes, yet each leaving different legacies following their deaths, Joseph Stalin and Nelson Mandela...

The careers of all three were products of the same century, although on different continents...All three were revolutionaries, but for different causes...All three were nominated for the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize under varying circumstances, but only one was awarded...Today only one is remembered with any feelings warmer than bitterness...

My apologies to my readers for the length of this review...When I began, I had no idea I would have this much to say about a book composed in a prison cell by a convicted traitor, dictated to a submissive groupie who assembled it on a borrowed typewriter...He then allowed another adulator to revise it into something slightly more intelligible before unleashing it on a yawning, but complacent public...

For their part in bringing Herr Hitler's enmity for the human race to the printed page, both men were suitably punished...Hess rotted in a Russian controlled prison until he was in his nineties, at which time he was found dead of asphyxiation from strangulation with an extension cord (ruled a suicide, but more likely a murder)...Father Stempfle was murdered on orders from Hitler during the Night of the Long Knives, simply because the Jesuit priest knew too much about Hitler's incestuous and fatal affair with his niece, Geli Raubal...

The Bavarian government, which became the de facto executor of Adolf Hitler's estate, was right to withhold publication of the book following the war, preventing the opening of unhealed wounds...They were also right in allowing limited publishing after the expiration of Hitler's copyright...It has allowed bona fide historians, and interested amateurs such as myself, to explore and postulate the causes, and more importantly, the prevention of calamities such as that which he initiated...

The odds against another venomous bringer of malfortune being elevated to a position of such power in the same nurturing environment must be astronomical indeed, but if it happened once, then the stage is already set for another, unless the memory of such costly lessons is forever kept in the forefront of the world's collective mind...


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Sunday, November 20, 2016

An Extra Added Convenience...

Always searching for new ways to enrich the lives of his readers, Truckman has made note of the growing number of articles published here which have become part of a series...Previously he added links to the bottom of each article for the convenience of those wishing to read more on similar subjects, and this feature will continue...

Now with the growing number of serialized articles and stories, Truckman has taken it upon himself to add links at the beginning of such articles for those readers who find themselves in the middle of a discussion, and wish to either start at the beginning, or continue directly to the next chapter...

This particular series will be the only exception as all others in this sequence are linked at the bottom...As always, there is no additional charge for this valuable service, as Truckman feels it is just another way to say "thank you" to his valued readership...You're welcome...


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Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Taking a bullet for my readers...Part II...


The second part of Mr. Hitler's outline of his poison dart in the heart of humanity delves more into the politics involved in his plot...His intended divisiveness is exemplified as he continues his belief that the large scale hatred displayed against his party was good as a sign of recognition, saying indifference to their cause was its reason for its slow start under the direction of a more timid leadership...

My theory is that the violence and vitriol his fledgling party caught was thrown as a general display of the unhappiness felt by so many Germans who expected victory in the recent war, and would have felt some relief no matter who caught the mud bouquets...As evidence I offer the constantly changing tide of political current as Germans switched parties and directions in their attraction to the loudest jeering voices in the years following their military defeat in the First World War...

Hitler demonstrated his own theory of lumping his adversaries together to appear as one by calling communism a tool of the Jews hoping to incite the "masses" that hated one or the other to think of them as inseparable...It is supposed that he thought of the generic "masses" as being formless and having no direction, waiting only to be led to a vague promised land...

Hitler talked of the various meetings in the beer halls of Munich where politicians of every stripe vied for the attention of the miserable mobs looking to be led from their deep forest of blue funk...He added literary dramatic effect to one gathering in particular in February 1920 at the Hofbrauhaus, where the Nazi Party's Twenty Five Points were read to the crowd...Politics were not unknown here as The Communist Party was headquartered in the building, and Vladimir Lenin made regular visits during his residency in Munich...

Hitler had previously penned at the end of his Part I dissertation that he had insisted the party's meager treasury be emptied and spent on flyers and posters advertising the meeting because of his pre-destined vision of making a great impact with his oratory...They did pick up considerable steam afterward, the credit to which I imagine Hitler in his retrospect attached his own vision and powers of speech...It didn't hurt that the gang of low-brow goons which would soon form the Sturmabteilung, or SA, used their highly effective rubber club methods to quiet the outcry of dissenters who disagreed with the presentation...

I feel sure that the subject matter of the 25 Points appealed to the vocal remainder of the crowd who had not joined those who had been stunned into silence...The largely anti-Semitic portion of the beer hall gathering was certainly encouraged by the specific exclusion of Jews in what was described as "the race," the only ones fit to exist in their Nazified world...

This surely came as no surprise to anyone who had followed his ever-broadening target of race as his recipient of blame for the ills of the world...As early as 1919, he had committed to paper in a military report to his Army unit commander concerning his characterization of the "Jewish menace," that all legal means should be exhausted in depriving Jewish people of a place in German society, "but the final aim must unquestionably be the irrevocable Entfernung of the Jews"...John Toland, in his thoroughly researched and extensively annotated biography, "Adolf Hitler," explained that "entfernung" has more than one meaning in the German language, but that Hitler likely meant "amputation" in this reference...

As the author gets down to his perception of the state's role in the governance of people, he is emphatic that its main focus and almost its only reason for existence is in the preservation of racial purity...It is left for supposition that he expected other nations to wait patiently by for their inferior races to be overrun and plundered for whatever items of value could be taken by the "superior Aryans"...

His likening of the state as a bottle sealing its contents, "the race," from the rest of the world could be extended to its utilization as a Molotov Cocktail thrown against the wall of resistance of the "inferior" remainder of the world...In this allegory the energy contained by his master race is spent without gain on an enemy which kept the scar as a lasting warning against another rise of similar danger...

Deeper into his treatise on his perfect "state," he proposes controls over families and education, all harkening back to his familiar rant on racial construction...Here he introduces his state-imposed restrictions on marriage:
"A race-based nationalist state, will, therefore, have to first raise marriage from the level of constant racial contamination and to bless it as an institution that is appointed to reproduce mankind in the image of the Lord, not monsters that are half man and half ape."
A bare decade later the Nazi's Nuremburg Laws took effect as Hitler's ideal society began to take form...But not content with dictating who might be permitted to marry whom, in the next pages he outlined what he deemed as necessary for the proper education of the healthy children produced by these favored marriages...

I specified "healthy" as Hitler did not believe educational resources should be wasted on those children unfortunate enough to be born in a sickly body:
"A decayed body is not made even a tiny bit more beautiful by a brilliant mind. In fact, the highest intellectual training could not be justified at all if it were possessed by one who was physically degenerate and crippled, weak-willed, indecisive, and cowardly in character."
Given those limitations, Hitler himself and his later devoted lackey, Joseph Goebbels, would both be denied an education...Again using John Toland for reference, young Adolf (registered in the church's baptismal ledger as Adolfus Hitler) was a sickly child from birth, and in his own regime of later years would likely have been euthanized by nurses...He would probably have been denied even a primary education, at which his marks were graded as "excellent"...

Joseph Goebbels, as another example, suffered from inflamed lungs as a small child, and walked with a permanent limp from a clubbed left foot, the result of a congenital birth defect...Rejected for military service for his physical deformity, he never grew taller than five feet, five inches...Under his Fuehrer's guidelines, such a child would never have received his advanced university education, and might have even been euthanized as an infant...

Never an athlete himself, although he enjoyed outdoor activities, whether with other children or by himself, Hitler dedicated quite a few words in this chapter in the encouragement of boxing as a school sport...He seemed almost gleeful in his thoughts of two young men duking it out to settle a difference, and rather disparaging of those he termed as "intellectual" who might see the violence as unnecessary...

Eventually he boiled down his proposed changes in the German educational system to these three:
  • His belief that young heads were being filled with more information than they could ever process or retain, he proposed only a generic "basic overview" of scholastic subjects with more attention on physical training and idealism...
  • He urged less coverage of "pure science" and foreign languages, saying the subjects were too specialized to be absorbed by students of whom a large percentage would never need the subject matter in their future worklives...
  • His belief that great achievers were only great because of their association with their national identity led to his recommendation that only significant developments by German nationalists be given study priority...
It seems then that his ideal school would discuss the history of only the more meaningful and successful Germanic inventors, statesmen and generals, plus German grammar in the mornings...The afternoons would then be devoted to sports and physical exercise as the students were reminded that they should devote all their energies toward building a stronger state, and destroying the lesser nations...

As for expending any resources on educating those who are not of "Aryan blood," he equated such a feat to training a dog to jump through a hoop, admitting that it can be done, but the exercise was pointless and without benefit...He exemplified his belief in the following quote:
"It is a sin against the will of the Eternal Creator to let hundreds and thousands of His most gifted creatures decay in the modern worker-laborer swamp while Hottentots and Zulus are being tamed for intellectual professions. As with the poodle, it is just animal training and not scholastic education."
Overlooking the obvious inaccuracies in his words, I'm reminded of his own history in Vienna in which he was twice denied entrance to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts, and forced to prevent starvation by accepting work as a day laborer...The taste of sour grapes must have been strong in his mouth as he dictated his resentment to his fawning stooge, Rudolf Hess...He may have been composing these words in his short-circuited mind since his supposed unfair rejection...

He followed his dream of the future state with his depiction of its inhabitants...This short, confusing chapter proposes conferring citizenship upon native German men following successful schooling and completion of military service...Females would be eligible for citizenship only through marriage (to a citizen presumably), or by way of an essential career...All other inhabitants were to be accorded the title of "subject" having no political status, and none of the privileges of citizenship...

Given these narrow (and understandably tentative at that early date) confines, it is unclear whether future henchmen Joseph Goebbels and Albert Speer would have been eligible for citizenship since neither served in the military, Goebbels having been rejected as unsuitable and Speer neither being drafted nor volunteering...Equally unclear is the possibility of potential citizenship for future SD commandant Reinhard Heydrich who was forced to leave his naval career in the Reichsmarine in disgrace...

But that's mere speculation on this reviewer's part as I feel confident that Herr Hitler would have found some pathway to citizenship for such talented individuals...He also proposed taking away the status of citizenship from convicted criminals, although he may have planned special exemptions for those convicted of crimes such as murder or treason as in the cases of Martin Bormann, Rudolf Hess and, of course, himself...

Moving on to his discussion of state governing concepts, Mein Kampf's author returns again to one of his central themes, in which a majority of voting citizens can't rule as efficiently as one brilliant mind possessing a driving will to accomplish a preset goal...He suggests here that his upstart political organization become accustomed to such one-man-rule by adopting the principle to its own leadership...We are left to speculate that he intended the position of supreme leader for himself...

His concept of a "World-Concept" may have been crystal clear somewhere in the whirling thoughts racing around and around in Herr Hitler's brain, but he had a serious problem transferring it to paper to share with the waiting world...Although titled "World-Concept and Organization" in the Ford translation, I found little in this chapter resembling organization, and I'm still struggling for a clear picture of his world concept...Another source (claiming to be unbiased), which does not identify its translator, titles this chapter "Philosophy and Organization"...I do not know which version is clearer to a mind born to the English language, but in either case the chapter may have been more aptly titled "World Subjugation and Organization"...

In his stated attempt here to separate the ideas of world concept and political party, Hitler has again erroneously lumped his opponents into a single target zone, saying that Social Democracy (one of the Nazis' main antagonists in the battle for control of the Reichstag), Marxism and Jewry are one and the same...The goal of his pursuit in this chapter seems to aim for swaying his readers into thinking of Nazi idealism in grander terms as a "World-Concept," and less as just another political manifesto...

In this effort, he eventually drags out his previously mentioned 25 Points as a summation of guiding principles calculated to lure the large German working class into his net as a basis for his organization...He stated correctly that an army of generals is useless in battle, as the foot soldiers must fight, kill and die before any general can take credit...It is also clear that he believed in only one real general, and the remainder of the army were only in place to follow his orders...

Hitler's discussion on the power of speech left me scratching my head until I remembered the time-frame in which he wrote his thesis...His loud, vindictive harangues were part of the vehicle which landed him in prison where these writings were assembled...His chapter detailing the strength of the spoken word over the weakness of the printed media would not become a moot point until his regime's takeover when dissenting newspapers, writers and publishers were liquidated, and his were the only words dared spoken aloud...

He wrote here of the usual Jew/Marxist/Capitalist controlled newspapers whose lies were shattered by the richly intoned truth when he began to speak (pardon my sarcasm)...He also mentioned in passing that the best time to force his hate message into the empty heads in the beer halls was after dark, when the mouth-breathers were well lubricated with the local Bavarian joy juice...He said that the same word-for-word speeches he used in mid-morning or afternoons were met by cold silence from the mostly sober ditch-digging crowds...

He attributed his more favorable evening reception by the masses in this way:
"A man of dominating force, a man who has the character of an apostle, and a man who is an outstanding speaker will be the one who succeeds in winning over men whose resistance has already been weakened. Their resistance is more easily overcome than those who are still in full possession of their force of will and their intellectual strength."
What he neglected to mention was the fact that the "outstanding speaker" was still cold sober (Hitler did not drink), and the men in the audience, having traded in their pay envelopes for an equal amount of alcohol were ready to agree with anyone promising more freedom, more money and mostly more beer...The next morning as the antagonist newspapers printed their opposing opinions, his listeners of the previous evening were too hungover and bleary-eyed to suffer through reading it...

Naturally after he assumed his totalitarian power, his voice and the mimicry of his stooges became the only voices heard as German citizens began to notice that those who spoke up in opposition were suddenly carted away to the concentration camps for "re-education"...And formerly busy newspaper publishers printing alternate views were reduced to smoldering ashes...

However, Hitler's point in this chapter was in representing how he best got his opinions out to the people whose support he sought...He wanted massive backing by large numbers of souls...To do this, he had to know his audience, and talk at their level on subjects of primary interest to them...In this aspect he was successful, and he knew why and how to expand that success...

After his assumption of total power in Germany, he also knew that he was not the only forceful speaker with powers of persuasion...Since keeping power is often much harder than acquiring it, he began in 1933 to eliminate not only the freedom of speech in Germany, but the freedom to listen to foreign broadcasts and read foreign news reports, or any other sources which were contradictory to his goals...

In the few years prior to Hitler's imprisonment resulting from his failed Beer Hall Putsch, the Wiemar Republic was splintered politically by several parties all wanting dominance, but none having the majority needed to gain control...The largest were the democracy and religion based parties who usually formed a coalition to push through their own agendas...The loudest, and most boisterous were the Communists and the National Socialists, or Nazis, who each saw the other as their biggest threat to attaining more power...

The author's discussion of struggle against the "Red Front" is more a how-to article in either attaining or defeating control of a scheduled rally or meeting...He talked of attending meetings of the mainstream "privileged class" parties and dismissing them as incapable of stirring enough emotion to increase or even keep their own numbers...

But one thing did impress him, and that was the symbolism used by the Communists in their red flags, red armbands and red flowers displayed as they marched and demonstrated in the streets...He saw how this could draw the curious into the crowds who saw it as a sign of power...He also noted that the more mainstream parties had no symbolic flag, and therefore no rallying point for new converts...

He noted there were several submissions for his party's own flag, but there were no designs which pleased him...He then designed his own black, white and red banner complete with swastika, which he ramrodded through to acceptance...He said it was an instant success as female party members began sewing flags together, and he ordered armbands for everyone...

At this point he began waxing nostalgic as he recalled the head-cracking good times at the meetings where a few dozen of his storm troop goons held off several hundred Marxists...He fondly recalled both Emil Maurice, who served as the first SA commander, and Rudolf Hess, his prison secretary and later Deputy Fuehrer, both of whom were instrumental in maintaining order...[It is thought by this reviewer that his memory of the huge numerical odds of storm troops vs. Marxists may have been slightly skewed to make his boys appear more fearsome than they actually were]...

Also at this early date, despite his self-assumed clairvoyant powers, he did not yet know of his future betrayal by the single-browed Hess after the outbreak of WWII, in which he flew to Scotland in one of the Luftwaffe fighters with an unauthorized peace plea, nor of Maurice's future romantic entanglements with Hitler's niece/ersatz paramour, Geli Raubal...Perhaps at this point his foresight was more closely concentrated on political events, rather than personal duplicities...

To digress for just a paragraph, little hard evidence exists even 80 years after Geli Raubal's death, but much speculation has been written of surrounding her alleged suicide...Today historians almost universally believe that Hitler, if he did not participate personally in her death, almost certainly agreed to its necessity...Heinrich Muller, later Chief of the Gestapo, was said to have been the first Munich policeman at the scene of her death...Key witnesses were conveniently eliminated during the Night of the Long Knives...

Herr Hitler has referred several times in this book to the importance of a great cause being directed by just one man, and not a committee, certainly not a democracy...In his next chapter he outlines his reasons why Germany can only move forward with one man in control, presumably himself...He illustrates in this quote:
"However, the best proof of a people's strength and of its being fated to survive is the fact that one day, Fate grants it the brilliant man who can fulfill their long held desire. It may be the release from some long held oppression, elimination of bitter distress, or contentment of the people's soul which has become restless from their insecurity."
...or, if this reviewer may add from retrospect, it may signal the beginning of a calamity of incalculable harm to nations and humanity, and can only be seen as a weakness in that people which allowed it...In such a case, Fate didn't take a liking to that nation at all...

Hitler's strong belief in fate and destiny is seen throughout this chapter as he talks of a leader being selected by unseen forces to bring Germany to the forefront of nations...He speaks constantly in the third person of the strong, brilliant man whose divinely-inspired will must rise to guide his "race" to the victory of which it was robbed in the previous war...Naturally that one man can only be him...

He spoke of the many various groups and movements started in Germany with the same vague goal in mind, and told of his belief that combining them in the quest for strength only weakens them as they have no common leader...He talked of Nature pitting these groups against one another, while favoring the one on the surest path to victory...It's clear he inferred that the favored one was Nazism and Adolf Hitler...

Hitler also describes in this chapter a personality which he says often leads the unsuccessful movements to their own failures:
"It originates in the sorry mixture of envy, jealousy, ambition and a desire to take what belongs to others. This kind of ambition is unfortunately often found in individual members of the human race"
If the German Workers Party and the German nation had been able to recognize the above traits in Hitler, they and the world around them might have been spared the misery and destruction which befell them...Instead he drew in others of his ilk, such as the sexual pervert and anti-Semitic publisher, Julius Streicher, along with the membership of Streicher's German Socialist Party, saying this was the honorable way for Streicher to dissolve his party...

The other "racialist" parties which refused to capitulate to the Nazis were accused here by Hitler of stealing his platforms and policies, and using them as their own...But he said the resulting worker party coalitions failed to make the weaker parties stronger, only draining the existing strength from the stronger ones, while his retained its strength by staying pure...The author arrogantly closed his chapter championing self-sufficiency with this quote:
"Above all, the new race-based state will never be created by the compromising indecisiveness of a racialist worker-coalition, but only by the iron will of a single movement that has fought its way through all that opposed it"
I'm reminded here that Hitler wrote these words from his prison cell following the failure of his party's coup against the Wiemar Republic...After his capture by authorities he was imprisoned  along with his iron will and those stalwart souls who stood with him in unity...

In another chapter, this one titled to lure the reader into thinking it a dissertation on the need and assembly of his corps of bodyguards, Hitler spends pages of brain-wearying words explaining how the Jew/Bolshevik/privileged-class member created the 1918 Revolution, then couldn't hold it against the returning army veterans without a plan of deceit...His twisted mind then linked the formation of the Wiemar Reichswehr into being the creation of the Jews who turned it against his own Storm Troops, as he had begun to refer to his bodyguards...

He noted that other political entities had begun to recruit their own paramilitary divisions from what was known then as the Freicorps, largely drawn from restless, unemployed war veterans...Most of these were somewhat understandably disheartened to come home in defeat to find only unemployment and frustrated anger...Some even felt entitled to engage freely in violence and criminal behavior...

Seizing on this the Nazis and other political factions began recruiting them as enforcers of their particular governing tenets...In defense of his own hooligans, Hitler said they were a cut above the other thugs opposed to them, since they were thoroughly indoctrinated with Nazi idealism, and adhered to their code of ethics...To be sure, they were devoted little ruffians, willing to rough up anyone who did not agree with their adored leader...

Both Hitler and his followers found the true worth of each other's value when all bets were finally down and the cards were on the table the evening of November 8, 1923...The archives of a British newspaper, The Guardian, reported that Hitler, along with General Ludendorff and the Nazi faithful, marched in on a meeting in Munich's Burgerbrau Keller and announced:
"Today begins the national revolution, which is solely directed against the Berlin Jewish Government." 
After firing his revolver into the ceiling for attention, and nominating himself as the head of a provisional government, he continued:
"The task of the Provisional Government is to begin the march against the den of iniquity in Berlin. Tomorrow there will either be a National Government in Germany or we shall be dead."
As it turned out, when tomorrow dawned, sixteen of his faithful followers were dead, and an injured Hitler was on the run just like any other criminal...William Shirer, telling of the event in his book, "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich," reported that the origin of the first shot, whether from one of Hitler's band or a policeman in the opposing force, was never determined, but the very first to rise and run, before the smoke or noise had dissipated, was Adolf Hitler...

It was reported later he was wounded, and feeling this added to his persona as a revolutionary, he did not make it public that he had only dislocated a shoulder when diving for the ground in fear of being shot...His route to safety led him to the home of the ridiculously named and self-important socialite, Putzi Hanfstaengl, where, two days later, hiding behind Hanfstaengl's wife and sister, Hitler surrendered to arrest...

The only members of the rebellious group who did not duck for cover or run away turned out to be the only professional soldiers present, General Erich Ludendorff, and his adjutant, Major Streck...Shirer reported that both remained calm, marching with heads erect straight into the line of firing policemen, where they turned to find themselves alone and unharmed by the gunfire...Both were arrested, and after their acquittal at trial, Ludendorff condemned the empty courage of both the Nazis and the Army for not following his leadership...He vowed he would never again recognize a German officer, nor wear an officer's uniform...

Hitler's memory was apparently affected by the traumatic events as his recollections did not match those of reporters, nor of eyewitnesses, including members of his Nazi cohorts who were present with him at the time of the incident...

Discussing the unique appearance and training of the SA, and its readiness as a military arm, may have been the kernel of the ill-fated Ernst Rohm's idea to take over as commander of the Reichswehr by integrating it with his brown-shirted SA...In his discussion thereof, Hitler said in his description of the SA:
"If the German nation is given six million athletically-trained bodies, all of which are excited with a fanatical love for their country and all of them trained to the highest pitch of aggressive spirit, then a national state will have the ability to create an army in less than two years if necessary"
In Rohm's defense, it might be said that the homosexual thug may have become enraptured reading of the "athletically-trained bodies" "excited with a fanatical love," and misinterpreted Hitler's intention...But, no matter, as it became a moot point in 1934 when Rohm was executed on the order of his friend, Adolf Hitler, to whom he was loyal to his dying breath...Left to speculation is the question of whether Hitler would have also consigned his idol, Frederick the Great, to the same fate as punishment for the same crime...

Hitler waxed poetic at describing the effectiveness of the training of his storm troops, telling of the Reds being "scattered with bloody heads" during parades in Munich and Coburg...But he was saddened by the fact his beloved SA was disbanded, and his party forced into dissolution after his conviction for treason...He ended this chapter trying to see the bright side of his failed coup by saying it put his movement on a different path to the same goal...

Again, in a new chapter, Hitler let his old paranoia run unfettered as he accused his favorite nemesis of orchestrating a plot during the First World War to set the Prussians of Northern Germany against the Bavarians of Southern Germany...He accused the Jews of stirring up thoughts of Federalism, and separating the states by planting the seeds of rumor in Bavaria that the Prussians in Berlin were responsible for the capitulation of Germany in the war, and the resulting formation of the Wiemar Republic...

Of course the ever elusive Jews were always just out of reach as they gleefully gobbled up the profits from an unjust war forced upon the German people, and its bloody aftermath in the hated Wiemar Republic...It has always amazed me how, if Hitler could know of these dastardly plans, he could never call any of the culprits by name, or provide any specific evidentiary trail...It was always a vague shadow group who, in his studied opinion, just had to be Jewish...

He drew others into his imaginary cabal as he further accused the Jews of taking the heat off themselves by somehow convincing the Catholics to raise the public specter of Ultramontanism, thus alarming the Protestants that their influence would dwindle...To give credit where due, Hitler showed some scholastic ability when he described the state/nation relationship as it applies to federalism, centralized republics and monarchies, but that could be the subject of a separate article...

However, all Hitler's arguments become lost in the darkness as he reveals the aim of National Socialism to create a totalitarian state...In 1934 new law abolished the existence of the sovereign states he once championed, and replaced them with administrative districts (Gaue) governed by mini-dictators (Gauleiters) responsible only to him...He even admits that individual liberties and states' rights will be taken away, but justifies this with the thought that all citizens will see this as necessary in making a greater nation...

In this same paragraph, I also note what I believe to be a Freudian slip as he refers to the resulting state as an "Empire," twice...Sigmund Freud, born into a Jewish family in Austria, would have almost certainly delighted in a chance to psychoanalyze Hitler's empirical dreams, especially in regard to Freud's studies of the death drive, but wisely fled the regime before making that first appointment...

Hitler next took another dip in the propaganda pool, this time in comparison with recruitment of new converts...He claimed personal responsibility for all party propaganda from the time of his initial membership, and of course claimed credit for any success in adding new members...In this chapter his focus is on the effectiveness of propaganda as a tool in attracting followers...

He defines a "follower" as one who accepts the party doctrine and its principles...A "member" is defined as someone who will actively work to spread that doctrine as gospel, without becoming a hindrance to the party...He describes the "propagandist" as one who must try to compel all people to accept the doctrine, while the "organizer" selects the best (read as "most rabidly convinced") from the followers to become members...

At the time of his writing, Hitler's plans call for a small organization, only large enough to execute the movement's plan...This is in direct contradiction to the later events in which a very large bureaucracy was employed to carry out his orders...This bloated government, the increase in size of the military and paramilitary organizations, all added to the burgeoning re-armament program resulted in an artificial reduction in unemployment figures from 6 million in January 1933 to 302,000 in 1939 out of a population of 70 million...

All this was paid for from confiscated property and businesses, deficit spending and outright theft from victims of pogroms launched against Jews...The Reich Minister of Economics, Hjalmar Schracht, introduced Mefo Bills, a form of government sponsored fraud, as payment to business owners who gave up control of their companies under the Nazi-administered Four Year Plan...

Equally contradictory is his statement that the party must limit membership to only essential numbers after achieving success...In later years, almost every German citizen felt compelled to become a badge-carrying (and dues paying) member for fear of criticism and persecution for non-membership...

As Hitler addresses the issue of trade unions in a new chapter, he begins on a note of sympathy and solidarity with the working man, saying he understands the need of the fight for living wages...In his attempt to define a role for trade unions in his Nazi utopia, he says unions do not represent a class of people, but only identify different occupations...He adds that his movement seeks a "class-free society" only recognizing two groups - citizens and subjects...

Since his "class-free society" seems taken directly from the Marxist mantra, he attempts to polarize them by saying the Marxists use the unions as a tool by organizing workers to fight against all other forms of government...Predictably, he goes on to say their true goal is to enslave free nations in a Jewish super-state...

He then points out that unions organized under the National Socialist banner would only work to increase the safety of the national economy, thereby increasing its power...He points out that employees and employers alike would be trustees of the national economy...In my own view, this points to his demand that business owners and workers must yield to his authority, having no other purpose than to serve the state...

At this point, Hitler recognized that his party did not have the funds to openly compete with established unions, and he knew of no one with the talents necessary to build a new union which could challenge the others for members and power...He recommended at that time that a wait-and-see strategy was best, hoping for a rising star to present himself for the role...

After assumption of power in 1933, such an opportunity arose with the formation of the German Labor Front under the direction of the fanatical and alcoholic Nazi, Robert Ley...The German Labor Front, or DAF, abolished all other trade unions and worker representatives, making itself responsible for all labor needed in the Reich, including slave labor...

Ley's increasing public drunkenness and outrageous outbursts embarrassed the Nazi government, and he was eventually removed from authority, his offices being absorbed by Armaments Minister, Fritz Todt, then Albert Speer...After the end of WWII, Ley strangled himself to death in his cell while awaiting trial in an Allied prison on four counts of war crimes...

Hitler's treatise on foreign policy boils down to one thing - foreign countries only exist to be conquered and plundered...If the strength isn't sufficient to do so, then make an alliance with another country and double-team them...He had previously said his first choice would be an alliance with Great Britain against the Soviet Union...Failing that, he could accept Russia as a partner against England...

In his chapter covering alliances, he underscores those same choices again...Joe Stalin took the bait in 1939, and paid the price...Neville Chamberlain lost his bet with Der Fuehrer also, and was replaced by the one man in England who had consistently opposed the appeasement of the Nazi war lord, Winston Churchill, taking the job scant hours before the invasion of France...

Hitler claims to have analyzed the world situation from his prison cell, and determined that Germany's best bets for an alliance aimed at increasing territory were England and Italy...But he offered no empirical data to support his position, leaving this reviewer to suggest his "analysis" was mostly guesswork based on his long-standing admiration of British success in foreign relations, and his swelling affection for Benito Mussolini and his Fascist advances...

From here his arguments deteriorate into the customary indictments against the Jews who, as usual, work behind the scenes to distract the German people, and drive a wedge between Germany and its potential allies...The remainder of this chapter deals with breaking the supposed bondage in which the Jews hold the British will hostage...

In his next to last chapter, Hitler exposes his own plan for the expansion of German territory at the expense of his largest rival...Knowing the fight he would have invading in any direction, he chose the east believing the land was not only more fertile and rich with minerals, but that the Slavic people would be easier to kill, and less mourned by a shocked watching world...

He states flatly that the Soviet Union was doomed the moment it allowed a takeover by Bolsheviks, ousting the upper ruling classes which he said stemmed from a Germanic nucleus...His belief was that the Russian monarchist state only existed so long by the intelligent leadership from the Romanovs, and their successors, the Holstein-Gottorps...

His conclusion that communism, or bolshevism as he termed it, was a Jewish scheme likely originated from the knowledge that Karl Marx had Jewish ancestors even though he was an ethnic German, born in Trier, a pleasant city in the Moselle Valley where this reviewer spent many off-duty hours while stationed there with the USAF...His thought at that time was that slow-witted Russians would welcome his assistance in shedding the yoke of Marxism, after which the Germans could easily take the resources-rich lands they coveted...

In his few coherent moments, Hitler did manage to analyze a possible Germany/Russia alliance, saying it would likely touch off another world war...His fears were that any retaliation from other powers, no matter which way Germans led an attack, would come against Germany first as Russia is already insulated against attack by climate and great distances...He would have been wise to remember that as later events unfolded...

He also correctly foresaw that Russia did not have the manufacturing capacity to quickly gear up in war production...But he was mistaken in thinking they could never manufacture anything more advanced than rudimentary automobiles...Their WWII tank and munitions production proved overwhelming to Axis forces in later years...

This quote:
"Even if a miracle should happen and combat under these conditions did not end with the utter destruction of Germany, the final result would still mean we had been bled white. Afterwards, Germany would be the same as she was before, and we would remain surrounded by large military states - there would have been absolutely no change in conditions at all."
...was chillingly accurate...As history shows, Germany's size after WWII remained roughly the same as when he took power, while its resources and humanity had indeed been "bled white"...It was not only surrounded by "large military states," it was occupied by them...For once, he should have listened to his own advice...

He also correctly explained that just because an alliance was forged between Germany and Russia, it does not mean there would be no war between the two...He warned that such a treaty would probably exist on paper only, a prediction which turned out to be deadly accurate as the Molotov/Ribbentrop Pact was quickly breached when German forces attacked Russia soon after decimating Poland at the outset of the Second World War...He further warned:
"An alliance that is not ultimately about war is foolish and worthless. Alliances are made for the purpose of battle. Even though the friction is not apparent when the alliance is formed, war is the fundamental motivation and the expected result."
I join the many other students of Nazi aggression who have said he wrote categorically of his war plans fifteen years before they were implemented only to have them ignored by a clueless world...Hitler went on to detail the reasons why a German/Russian treaty could never work; Stalin and Molotov would have been well advised to read a copy of the book before signing any contracts with him...

In his final chapter, Herr Hitler makes the attempt to justify his future aggression as self defense by invoking the words of Carl von Clausewitz, a prodigious military thinker whose works were often misinterpreted because of incomplete analysis...His praise for the towering thoughts of Clausewitz as he wrote of the high honor in dying for a cause, seems to underscore the later words of Captain B.H. Liddell Hart who warned against the literal metaphrasing of the abstract thoughts penned by Clausewitz...It is almost certain that Clausewitz would have approved of living to continue the fight for one's beliefs...

Hitler's aim in this final chapter was his call for aggression in the name of self defense against what he would always refer to as "the stab in the back," demanding revenge and reparations for Germany's loss of power and territory resulting from the Treaty of Versailles, the Ruhr Occupation and the Treaty of Locarno...He says the best chance for this occurred in the spring of 1923 when the French occupied the Ruhr Valley...

But Hitler only uses these references as reinforcement for his idea of re-fighting the First World War until it ends in a manner befitting his own ranking of Germany's place in the family of nations...Such a family could only find its destiny in a branchless tree as the last twig fell having no shelter from other branches...

Adolf Hitler was a man born into the defeat of his own dysfunctional family, a man who lived his entire life in search of victory by gathering the other emotional cripples he found who sought to cure their ills by blaming a convenient grouping of commonly hated people...Victory stood before him his entire life beckoning him to build on its shoulders, but instead he chose to tear down what others had built in the hope that his view would improve when he could no longer see the happiness of others in the distance...


Truckman's conclusions from having read and reviewed Mein Kampf will be posted in a follow-up article...


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