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Speeches of Adolf Hitler: Representative Passages from the Early Speeches, 1922-1924, and Other Selections

Sunday, January 10, 2010

This outstanding resource for scholars consists of two volumes with a common pagination, making it 1,980 pages long. Each speech of Hitler is profusely cross-referenced in an extensive index, so that the researcher can find what Hitler said about just about every imaginable topic. There are also scholarly articles and books for further study. Because they, and the book itself, predate WWII, they are not colored by it. Owing to the breadth of this work, I only touch on a few issues raised by Hitler. [Of course, analyzing Hitler in no way implies agreement with him or admiration for him, and my five-star rating is for the historical value.]

Consider lebensraum. Continuing this theme mentioned in MEIN KAMPF and HITLER'S SECOND BOOK, the Fuhrer repeatedly returned to this subject, as on October 1935 (p. 913-on), March 1936 (p. 1274-on), and March 1939 (p. 1586). He also reiterated the desirability of conquering Russia for lebensraum purposes (September 1936)(p. 929).

A common theme of Hitler's diatribes against Jews was the hypocrisy of western nations. They extolled Jewish virtues and expressed concern about the treatment of Jews in Germany, but generally refused to accept German Jews as immigrants. (e. g., p. 729, 740). In his infamous February 1, 1939 speech, Hitler promised the destruction of Europe's Jews in the event that the "international Jewish financiers" precipitated another world war. (p. 741).

Recurrent complaints about the Church not speaking out more against Nazi crimes are out of touch with reality. In fact, Hitler had threatened the Catholic Church with dire consequences for its enmity towards National Socialism--long before WWII and the Holocaust. (August 1935)(pp. 388-389). When the Catholic Church came out with the encyclical MIT BRENNENDER SORGE in March 1937, which condemned the racism in Nazi ideology as immoral, Hitler told the Church to stop trying to impose its concepts of morality on others, and basically to avoid overstepping the boundaries of church and state. (pp. 389-390). [Sound familiar?]

Hitler also made many speeches that sounded conciliatory, even favorable, towards Christianity. However, this was for public consumption only. In private, he verbalized an almost-pathological hatred of Christianity. (see Peczkis review of Hitler's Table Talk: 1941 - 1944).

Nazism has commonly been misunderstood as extreme conservatism. In actually, the Fuhrer attacked the German Right for such things as its blindness to Jewish rule in democracy and capitalism. (pp. 13-14, 26-27). Nor was Nazism simply conventional nationalism. In fact, Hitler scorned "bourgeosie nationalism" (pp. 93-94)--the same phrase used by Communists. Nazism was primarily a racialist ideology, as embodied by Hitler's phrase, "Blood and Soil." (p. 992).

There is no doubt that National Socialism had actually been a form of socialism. According to Hitler, the German people had to choose between physical survival and the kind of economic liberty found in western democracies. (p. 927-on). Hitler wanted a dictatorship of the German people, not the class-based rule of the bourgeoisie under capitalism or the dictatorship of the proletariat under Communism. (p. 855). He promoted the planned economy. (pp. 910-911, 914). Unlike Marxian socialism, Hitler allowed for personal property, albeit in consonance with the needs of the community. (p. 93). Hitler believed that it was nonsensical to nationalize productive industries such as the Krupp Steelworks, but he reserved the right to nationalize industries deemed inconsistent with the needs of the nation. (pp. 111-112). Hitler and his National Socialist movement consistently observed May Day. (p. 67, 739, 891). In common with all anti-capitalists, Hitler regarded common financial profit as more important than individual financial profit and, true to socialist ideation, considered individual financial profit to be egoistic. (p. 896).

Hitler's views of Poland were a mass of contradictions. The refusal of Poland to return the "rightfully German" Polish Corridor was the official German pretext for attacking Poland in 1939. Earlier, Hitler had said that the Corridor was no reason for Poland and Germany to go to war (p. 1107), that it was a matter of little importance that would be forgotten within 50 years (p. 1249), etc. A year and a half before starting WWII, Hitler had reckoned the German minority in Poland as really no different from the Polish minority in Germany. (p. 1425). Finally, the Fuhrer had repeatedly said (pp. 1424-1425, 1565), most recently six months before attacking Poland (p. 1587), that Poland was too great a nation to be denied access to the sea. [Of course, had the Corridor been the real issue, as opposed to smokescreen, Germany could've seized the Corridor and left the rest of Poland alone.]

    Hitler's Table Talk: 1941 - 1944  
 
Perhaps surprisingly, Hitler's diatribes against Christianity are more common in this volume than those against Jews. In fact, his scurrilous attacks are reminiscent of those of prominent infidels such as Voltaire and Paine. "What is this God who takes pleasure only in seeing men grovel before Him?" (p. 143). "While we're on this subject, let's add that, even amongst those who claim to be good Catholics, very few really believe in this humbug. Only old women, who have given up everything because life has already withdrawn from them, go regularly to church." (p. 342). "The catastrophe, for us, is that of being tied to a religion that rebels against all the joys of the senses." (p. 142). "A negro baby who has the misfortune to die before a missionary gets his clutches on him, goes to Hell!" (p. 69). "And what nonsense it is to aspire to a Heaven to which, according to the Church's own teaching, only those have entry who have made a complete failure of life on earth!" (p. 419). "What hasn't the Church discovered as a source of revenue, in the course of these fifteen hundred years?" (p. 90). "One cannot succeed in conceiving how much cruelty, ignominy and falsehood the intrusion of Christianity has spelt for this world of ours." (p. 288). "Christianity is the worst of the regressions that mankind can every have undergone..." (p. 322). "Pure Christianity--the Christianity of the catacombs--is concerned with translating the Christian doctrine into facts. It leads quite simply to the annihilation of mankind. It is merely wholehearted Bolshevism, under a tinsel of metaphysics." (p. 146). "Our epoch will certainly see the end of the disease of Christianity." (p. 343).

Hitler even said: "Here Christianity sets the example. What could be more fanatical, more exclusive and more intolerant than this religion which bases everything on the love of the one and only God whom it reveals?" (p. 397). Look who's talking! And my, how familiar that sounds!

The Fuhrer opposed the revival of Wotan (Odin, Woden) worship (p. 61). It is easy to see that Hitler was a consummate rationalist: "Religion is in perpetual conflict with the spirit of free research..." (p. 83). "But there will never be any possibility of National Socialism's setting out to ape religion by establishing a form of worship. Its one ambition must be scientifically to construct a doctrine that is nothing more than a homage to reason." (p. 39). Of course, open opposition to Christianity would have to await the end of the war (e. g., p. 411, 555).

Some modern feminists have used Hitler's presumed views on women as a weapon against those who disagree with them. Interestingly, although Hitler did oppose women in the rough-and-tumble worlds of combat and politics, he actually went far beyond kuchen kinder kirche: "It has therefore often been said that we are a party of misogynists, who regarded a women only as a machine for making children, or else as a plaything. That's far from being the case." (p. 252). He praised creative women in non-traditional roles, notably interior-decorator Frau Troost and film-maker Leni Riefenstahl. Otherwise, the Fuhrer commented: "Of primary importance were the measures we took to ensure a living wage for working women...By insisting that they receive a regular wage in accordance with their qualifications--instead of the sort of pocket-money they formerly received--we have delivered them from the doleful necessity of being dependent on an ami for their existence." (pp. 494-495).

Holocaust-uniqueness advocates have insisted that the Nazis intended to exterminate ALL Jews, first in Europe and then in the rest of the world. Hitler's comments don't support their contentions. Just two weeks before the Wannsee Conference, the Fuhrer said that the English must "settle that between themselves", adding that: "It's not our mission to settle the Jewish question in other people's countries!" (p. 185). Within days of Wannsee, Hitler spoke of Jews either leaving Europe or being exterminated (p. 235), or perhaps moving to Russia (p. 260). Evidently, Hitler was still open to a Final Solution that would include the mass emigration of Europe's remaining Jews. Finally, Hitler did NOT envision a Judenrein (Jewish-free) world in the distant future. Four days after Wannsee, he wrote: "A good three hundred or four hundred years will go by before the Jews set foot again in Europe. They'll return first of all as commercial travelers..." (p. 236).

Much current thinking has attempted to blame Christianity for the Holocaust, and Hitler's endorsement of the Passion Play has been misrepresented as a blame-Jews-for-Crucifixion ploy. In actuality, Hitler's motives had been primarily racist in nature: "There one sees in Pontius Pilate a Roman racially and intellectually so superior, that he stands out like a firm, clean rock in the middle of the whole muck and mire of Jewry. The preservation of our racial purity can be assured...not only against Jewish, but also against any and every racial infection." (p. 563).

Apropos to this, Hitler opined that all successful Poles are of German descent (p. 405), yet excessively-broad attempts to re-Germanize such Poles ran the risk of contaminating German blood with Slavic blood (p. 473). Finally, Hitler didn't see the Slavs themselves as having any more inherent right to live than the Jews: "Jodl is quite right when he says that notices in the Ukrainian language `Beware of the Trains' are superfluous; what on earth does it matter if one or two more locals get run over by the trains?" (p. 589).
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