News this week is that DNA samples taken from Adolf Hitler's family prove that he was of both Jewish and African descent.
Does this really matter?
I guess in some ways it might destroy the hero worship of Neo-Nazi and White Supremacist groups, though I'm sure many will deny that the findings are true.
What is more important about this story, however, is the fact that Hitler is still given so much importance in world history. Because if we continue to believe that he alone engineered the Holocaust, or even instigated the Holocaust, there is a mistaken belief that now that he is gone, that evil has gone with him.
Political scientist and one time girlfriend of Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt, covered the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann for the New Yorker, and surprised everyone, including herself, when she did not find an "exception to humanity". She wrote to her husband that Eichmann was "not even sinister". Instead she called him banal, "unimaginative, ordinary and unthinking".
Hannah Arendt's conclusions about Adolf Eichmann's banality crystallized into enduring controversy. Others may have hoped to see Bluebeard in the dock, she wrote, but for her, the horror lay in the fact that "there were so many like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic ... [but] terribly and terrifyingly normal." She was one of the first to refute the "monster theory" of less-than-human Nazis (however, if banal meant "common," there was much to argue with: among the defendants at Nuremberg were eight jurists and a university professor). (1)Arendt was not the first to refer to the Nazis as banal or common. In fact the name Nazi was coined by journalist Konrad Heiden in the 1920's. He would often march with the "fascist brown shirts" to get his story and dubbed them 'Nazis', a Bavarian term meaning "country bumpkin" (2). He did not see evil then either, but a group of uneducated street thugs.
What eventually gave them legitimacy was the enormous amount of money and power that backed them up. The Nazis were free marketeers who supported top down commercialism. They were also in support of the monarchy and believed in the supremacy of the German race. Not just the white race as a whole, but the Germanic races, as defined by Houston Stewart Chamberlain.
And they would eventually tap into the pan-German sentiment, or nationalism, to gain support for their wars. But the man Adolf Hitler had very little to do with any of it. He was a narcissist who believed in his own greatness, and fed off the illusion.
An illusion originally created by the German Workers Party to draw in the occultist and monied Thule Society, who had been running seances to conjure up the Antichrist, to help Germany out of the dark post-war years. And the Antichrist of their vision was that described by Vladimir Solovyov, and found as the forward to some copies of the fraudulent Elders of Zion. Members of the party were drawn to Hitler when he showed up at one of their rallies, sporting the most unusual mustache. From Solovyov's image: "He is an absolute genius, and he may wear a small mustache." (3)
When Adolf Hitler joined the German Army, he wore a large mustache. But later, when the German troops were provided with respirator masks, in response to the use of mustard gas by the British, he was told to shave it, so that the mask could be worn properly. (4) Instead he trimmed it back, and that trimmed mustache became his trademark.
Thule member and playwright Dietrich Eckart, directed Hitler's character, and drew out his seductive power of speech. Thule member Rudolf Hess helped him to write Mein Kampf, and a former university professor of Hess's Karl Ernst Haushofer, is credited with the development of Hitler's expansionist strategies. "While Hess and Hitler were imprisoned after the Munich Putsch in 1923, Haushofer spent six hours visiting the two, bringing along a copy of Friedrich Ratzel's Political Geography and Clausewitz's On War." (5) The Thule Society would also be responsible for the Nazi flag, the Swastika, 'Sieg Heil', the Nazi salute and their anthem.
Hitler himself was not a member of the Thule Society because he did not have the pedigree.
And in 1930, when members of the Fascist Brown Shirts (Nazis) finally had a strong showing in Parliament or the Reichstag, they were not interested in working with the other parties, but instead made a mockery of the entire process.
In mass formation, with military tread, eyes front, the 107 new Fascist Deputies entered the Reichstag. When it last met they numbered twelve. Flushed with their great election victory they marched in coatless, each swelling out his Fascist "brown shirt," each flaunting the Fascist swastika on his left arm, each in khaki flare-pants, swank black leather boots—all proud that they had flagrantly, successfully broken the Prussian State ordinance forbidding "public appearance in political costume." Saluting the Reichstag and each other, the Browns roared: "Hail, Hitler! Wake up Germany! Down with the Young Plan." (6)This prompted a response by the Communist Party and there "... were times when everyone seemed to be yelling .... "Is there anybody older than I in this house?" shrilled 82-year-old Deputy Karl Herold above the tumult."
At women's names the Brown Shirts crowed. "Kikeriki! Kikeriki! Kikeriki!" —German equivalent to Cockadoodle-doo! (Fascists both German and Italian, hold that women are respect worthy as hens, jeer worthy when by entering politics they try t0 be roosters.) On the first day of the Reichstag session absolutely nothing was done except to call and jeer the roll. (6)And when Hitler came to power in 1933, any notion of democracy was gone, as Nazism and the German state became one.
Despite the illusion of Hitler as being the supreme power of Germany during those years, the truth is that the industrialists and the bourgeoisie, directed the actions of the Nazi Party, from the Holocaust to the World War. And a lot of people became filthy rich because of both.
It is already common knowledge that the Bush family made their fortune when Prescott Bush financed the Nazis, but there were many others in the Corporate world who gained, including IBM who wrote the program for annihilation.
IBM’s machines were used at all stages of the persecution of the Jews. They collected the necessary information to identify the Nazis’ victims, first to enforce the bar on Jews working in certain academic, professional and government jobs and later to carry out mass evictions from their homes and into the ghettoes. IBM technology was used to organise the railways, so that millions of Nazi’ victims could be transported to the concentration camps, where they were immediately led into the gas chambers .... IBM was involved in virtually every aspect of the Third Reich’s operations. (7)After taking over the punch card technology from Deutsche Hollerith Maschinen Gesellschaft, in 1922, IBM monopolized the industry, and "... when Hitler came to power, [Thomas] Watson had transformed the formerly ailing German company into IBM’s flag ship—producing more than three times above its quota."
But not only corporations benefited from their alliance with the Nazis. Many of the German middle class also prospered. According to Gotz Aly, when discussing the initiatives of Stuart E. Eizenstat, to recover damages from the Swiss and German governments on behalf of victims of persecution during World War II.
Watson was not a fascist, but a ruthless profiteer. The strong German state under an authoritarian leader offered great potential for moneymaking, and that was what Watson identified with. In fact, as the chairman of IBM, one of the most prestigious companies in the USA, Watson was a well-respected businessman, a supporter of Roosevelt and special advisor to the president. Watson was elected chairman of the Foreign Department that also made him chairman of the American section of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).
This, in essence, made Watson America’s official businessman to the rest of the world. He became installed as president of the entire ICC in 1937 and arranged the organisation’s next conference in Berlin. Right from the start, IBM developed business solutions for the Third Reich. (7)
Eizenstat was, of course, entirely right to demand compensation for the stolen gold and confiscated bank accounts of those murdered in the Holocaust, as well as for the slave labor performed by survivors. Nonetheless, his highly public negotiations gave rise to a distorted picture of history. The fact that the names of large Swiss and German banks—together with those of world-famous companies like Daimler-Benz, Volkswagen, Allianz Insurance, Krupp, the Bertelsmann publishing group, and BMW—were constantly in the news gave the impression that prominent German capitalists, occasionally in alliance with major Swiss banks, were the main culprits behind the terrible crimes of Nazi Germany.There was also an epidemic of widespread satisfaction:
There is no question that many leading German industrialists and financiers were complicit in Hitler's regime. But it would be wrong to conclude that primary responsibility for the Holocaust or other Nazi crimes lay with the elite of the German bourgeoisie. Eizenstat's efforts, as well as those of the Jewish Claims Conference, indirectly, if unintentionally, encouraged such a conclusion. And indeed many Germans had a stake in seeing the public's attention focused on the captains of industry and finance, since it shifted the burden of blame for Nazi barbarism to a handful of individuals. (8)
Precisely because so many Germans did in fact benefit from Nazi Germany's campaigns of plunder, only marginal resistance arose. Content as most Germans were, there was little chance for a domestic movement that would have halted Nazi crimes. This new perspective on the Nazi regime as a kind of racist-totalitarian welfare state allows us to understand the connection between the Nazi policies of racial genocide and the countless, seemingly benign family anecdotes about how a generation of German citizens "got through" World War II ... "We were well off during the war ... Food deliveries always went smoothly." (8)And being constantly told that they were only doing better because the government was eradicating the country of Jews, who they believed had been the source of all their problems, why would they protest?
So You Don't Think it Could Happen Again, Huh?
When I compare Stephen Harper to Adolf Hitler, it is not because of the Holocaust, but because they are both "images" of a political leader. Hitler made few decisions, but was presented to the German people as a Messiah. They adored him. Or I should say they adored who they thought he was.
Had they known the real Adolf Hitler at the time, they might not have been so smitten. He was a bully, and while called a dog lover, actually beat his dogs mercilessly. He was not a vegetarian as suggested, but loved sausages and cavier. He was not a strong leader but was actually a coward. His best friend during his Vienna days said that when he was in their room, raising his voice over some political matter, the landlord would bang on the wall and Adolf would cower into a corner.
After the Beer Hall Putsch, he wanted to commit suicide, and the wife of a friend who was hiding him, had to talk him out of it. And he was also a sexual deviant. But so long as they could keep his ego fed, he would behave.
And I don't think I need to go into 'Mr. Photo-op", and the illusion of strong leader, who actually hides whenever his government is receiving bad press, allowing others to take the fall.
But more importantly, we have to look at who is now being blamed for all of our ills. Not the Jewish people, but the Muslims.
Look at the uproar over the so-called ‘Ground Zero Mosque‘.
Islamic investors want to build a community centre for Manhattan Muslims in a derelict coat factory two blocks from the site of the World Trade Centre. This community centre is intended to be a bit like a YMCA – containing an auditorium, a gym, a swimming pool, a basketball court, childcare services, art exhibitions, a bookstore, a culinary school and a food court serving halal dishes, as well as some prayer space. It is to be run by a famed moderate – Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf – a Kuwaiti cleric who has written about how to integrate Islam with the West.Fox News went nuts, and polls were everywhere, suggesting that Obama was a Muslim, like it was some kind of disease. He's not. He's a Christian, but should that matter? He did not blow up the World Trade Center, nor would he or the vast majority of Muslims ever condone such a thing. The issue was Western aggression, not religion.
It should be nothing more than a local zoning issue, and not a problem. Not a problem, that is, until a few prominent far-right demagogues noticed it and seized upon it. Sarah Palin tweeted about it to her hundreds of thousands of followers and then the usual cavalcade of Teabaggers, opportunist election hopefuls and Fox pundits dogpiled the issue.
Suddenly, the ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ is no longer a local zoning issue; it’s a ‘desecration’ of ‘hallowed ground’, a slight to the heroes and victims of 9/11. The ‘Ground Zero Mosque’ label makes it sound to the public like the place is being built at the actual Ground Zero – which could maybe be construed as insensitivity. This is not the case: it is to be built hundreds of metres away in a damaged, vacant building on a dilapidated side street.
I watched a bit of CNN (before I started screaming and shut it off), and one of their media people asked if, since Tim McVeigh was Catholic, would it be appropriate to build a Catholic church two blocks from the site of the Oklahoma bombing? He was besieged with emails accusing him of being anti-Catholic and anti-Christian.
And even those defending Obama, made it about the religious issue, and defending his Christianity. It should have been a non-issue, but it shows how low the Republicans have sunk.
One of my favourite columnists, Haroon Siddiqui, wrote a great piece: American anti-Muslim prejudice goes mainstream.
Gingrich equates the proposed Islamic centre there to a Nazi display next to the Holocaust Museum in D.C. or a Japanese warrior monument at Pearl Harbor. (The analogy would be fine if Osama bin Laden was the one building a mosque at the World Trade Center and not a Manhattan couple, devoted to interfaith work, proposing a Muslim Y.)We wince at the things said about Jewish people back in the day, and yet barely bat an eye, when we hear the same things said about the Islamic World. They are all 'Taliban' or 'Al Qaeda', despite the fact that the majority are not. They are ordinary people who want the same things that we do for ourselves and our families.
“Gingrich is too smart to be that stupid,” says John Esposito, professor of Islamic Studies at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., by way of illustrating how anti-Muslim bigotry has become so acceptable that “mainstream politicians, including two potential Republican presidential candidates (Gingrich and Sarah Palin), media commentators, hardline Christian Zionists and a large number of Americans feel that they can say anything about Islam and Muslims with impunity.
We are no better than the Nazis, if we are not appalled by this. And remember the words of Hannah Arendt, when covering the trial of the Holocaust organizer, Adolf Eichmann. "... the horror lay in the fact that "there were so many like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic ... [but] terribly and terrifyingly normal."
Antisemitism is horrific, but so is this, and when left unchecked, can result in the unimaginable.
1. Long Shadows: Truth, Lies and History, By Erna Paris, Alfred A. Knopf, 2000, ISBN: 0-676-97251-9, Pg. 318
2. Books: Master of the Masses, Time Magazine, February 7, 1944
3. Der Fhehrer, Hitler's Rise to Power, By: Konrad Heiden, Houghton Mifflin Company, 1944, Pg. 100
4. Total Power: A Footnote to History, By: Edmund A. Walsh, Doubleday & Company, 1949, Pg. 14-15
5. The Unknown Private - Personal Memories of Hitler, By: Alexander Moritz Frey
6. GERMANY: Br, Time Magazine, October 27, 1930
7. IBM and the Holocaust, By Edwin Black, Little Brown, 2001, ISBN 0-316-85769-6
8. Hitler's Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State, By Gotz Aly, Metropolitan Books, 2005, ISBN: 10-0-8050-7926-2, Pg. 1-2