Friday, 24 May 2013

Hitler's Second Book

This is another dull, wordy and over-long book by the most evil man of the twentieth century.

Hitler's first book, Mein Kampf, had initially appeared in 1924, but it had not sold well.  Hitler thought that the German public needed a further explanation of his ideas, so he wrote this book in 1928 to fill the perceived gap.  It was never published in his lifetime, nor even given a proper title - his publisher thought that issuing a second Hitler tome would only reduce sales of Mein Kampf, and by the time Hitler was famous he didn't want the foreign policy plans outlined in this book to become common knowledge.

The book was precipitated by a specific political controversy.  Hitler disagreed with contemporary German chauvinism over South Tyrol, a German-speaking region which had been incorporated into Italy and in which the German inhabitants were being forcibly Italianised by the Fascist authorities.  Hitler was not prepared to alienate Mussolini - whom he regarded as a "brilliant statesman" - over the issue.  He accused the other parties of selective patriotism, denouncing Italian policy in South Tyrol but allowing Germany to go to the dogs at home.

Hitler, being Hitler, believed that race was the key to history.  We find his characteristic half-baked racial Darwinism: "History itself is the presentation of the course of a Folk's struggle for existence", "Politics is the art of carrying out a Folk's struggle for its Earthly existence".  From the racial point of view, things were not looking good.  European culture was the creation of the Aryan race, but it was currently threatened on nearly every side.  Germany was in trouble, having fallen into the hands of a "collection of Marxist, democratic, pacifistic, destructive traitors of our country who pushed our Folk into its present state of powerlessness".  The Jews had triumphed in Russia and were leading her on the path to racial debasement.  France had likewise given into Jewry, along with the negroes of her colonial empire.  Only in Mussolini's Italy had the Jews been defeated.  Italy would make a suitable ally for Germany, though Britain was another possibility.  Hitler also feared the development of American hegemony in the world - a significant shift from his outlook in Mein Kampf, in which he had shown little concern for the United States.

Meanwhile, Germany's survival was in peril.  She was overpopulated and suffering from internal decay.  The solution was rearmament, the gathering of all Germans into a single state, and the conquest of Lebensraum in the East.  The purpose of German foreign policy was to secure this living space, and the purpose of domestic policy was to make this militarily possible.  War was destructive, sure, but peace wasn't good either, and war toughened up a nation.

The "international Jewish racial maggots", of course, are the villains of the piece.  Hitler's antisemitism was of the most radical and paranoid variety: Jews were ruthless and brutal, relying on their "cunning, intelligence, astuteness, knavery, dissimulation, and so on" to achieve world domination.  They were aiming to racially debase other peoples and to rule over them.  This would spell disaster for the nations concerned: "the result of Jewish domination is always the ruin of all culture, and finally the madness of the Jew himself. For he is a parasite of nations, and his victory signifies his own end as much as the death of his victim."

This was not the vision of a mainstream German right-winger.  Hitler despised respectable middle-class conservative nationalists and their "mendaciously sentimental, bourgeois patriotic nonsense".  He wrote:
I am a German nationalist. This means that I proclaim my nationality. My whole thought and action belongs to it. I am a socialist. I see no class and no social estate before me, but that community of the Folk, made up of people who are linked by blood, united by a language, and subject to a same general fate.
This was a radical, populist form of racial nationalism which differed in crucial ways from the conventionally patriotic traditionalist conservatism which characterised the old Bismarckian right.  Unlike most of the nationalist movement, Hitler did not want to turn the clock back to the pre-1914 era and put the Kaiser back on his throne.  He wanted to forge a new order based on blood and conquest, in which a mobilised Folk was led by a charismatic Leader chosen by destiny.  He condemned "the mass insanity of democracy", which meant that only inferior men would rise to positions of power.  He believed not in the mass of the people but in the great individual - "the man whose greatness lies above the average measure of the general stupidity, inadequacy, cowardice, and arrogance".  By the time he wrote this book, Hitler had come to see himself in this role, and he unapologetically raved about the "stupidity" of the "fools" who disagreed with him.

In sum, this is another turgid, paranoid screed filled with drivel and hate.