Wednesday, May 27, 2009

The Hitler Myth, Socialists And Social Democrats

By all accounts Adolf Hitler is the father of Social Democrats, though not awarded he achieved bringing Social Democratic politics into life, the Nazis were green, a youth movement and pioneering the hippie culture.
From an economic perspective Nazism is analysed by the Ludwig von Mise Institute and evidently is pure Socialism - Why Nazism Was Socialism and Why Socialism Is Totalitarian and Nazism is Socialism

The Hitler myth translated from Het Vrije Volk for Gates of Vienna

By Duns Ouray

One day you just do not believe it anymore.

“Hitler was a unpredictable idiot. A dictator who ruled Germany with an iron fist. He had a special gift: with his speeches he was hypnotizing his audience.

“The industrialists financed the Nazis to make profits from the German rearmament. Hitler was nothing more than a sock puppet of the capitalists. Hence the fierce struggle of the Nazis against the Social Democrats and the Communists.

“The Holocaust was anti-Semitic madness. But without the German law-abiding culture, the Holocaust could not have happened. “Befehl ist Befehl” [An order is an order] was the motto.

“The followers of Hitler were socially frustrated. The middle class were hoping to climb the social ladder with a membership in the NSDAP.

“With the military defeat in 1945, Nazism was consigned to the dungheap of history.”

That was roughly the image of Nazism I grew up with. The image that was presented to you in history class, in films, and in the newspaper. This image we might call “the Hitler myth”.

It is not the first time that myth has won out over reality. Perhaps Plato’s myth about the death of Socrates is the oldest example. Another historical myth is the idea that the Indians had a high culture, a pacifist mentality, and lived in harmony with nature, and that they were exterminated by white settlers.

This poses the following question: when does a myth win out over the reality? My answer: when all parties that benefit prefer the myth over the unwelcome reality. The Indians have an interest in their role as victim. And from the side of Westerners, history is written by left-wing pseudo-intellectuals: they want to paint capitalist society, and Christian America, in as bad a light as possible.

Back to the Hitler myth. At some point in time I started doubting. Just as children start having doubts about Santa Claus. It simply cannot be true. In this I was struggling with the following questions:

  • If Hitler was a madman, how could he come to power?
  • Can anyone really hypnotize his audience with a speech?
  • If Nazism only attracted losers, how could they suddenly grab power?
  • The Holocaust is a major operation and a historically unique. Would the motive for this have only been anti-Semitism? For anti-Semitism is (literally) as old as the way to Rome.
  • If Hitler was a sock puppet of the major capitalists, why did he call himself a national socialist?
  • This was the first speech of Hitler as Chancellor… a strange little man that is just screaming anything. Do you feel the spell of his hypnotic power come over you?
  • Via a “health care fund” the Dutch State pays the cost of health care of the below average income segment of our people. This fund is hailed as “a pinnacle of civilization”. However, it was established by the Nazis on November 1, 1941 [during the occupation of the Netherlands].
  • In 2006, the PvdA (Socialists) blocked the loosening of Dutch employment protection. The labor unions even called this employment protection “holy”. However, this measure was also introduced by the Nazis.
  • The dependent child allowance, one of the shrines of the Christian Democrats, was introduced by the Nazis in 1941.
  • After a long leftist life, Jacques van Doorn wrote German Socialism. In this book he demonstrated that historians traditionally portray the conservatives, the Reichswehr, the nobility and industrialists as the trailblazers to Hitler. However, the NSDAP was one of the few political parties in the German Weimar Republic that was not funded by these groups.
  • Did the massive support for Nazism really suddenly evaporate in 1945?

With so many contradictions, our image of Hitler cannot possibly be based on reality. There is a Hitler myth, but how could that occur?

Part II

Where did the Hitler myth come from? And why would you believe it?

In Part I demonstrated that a Hitler-myth exists. Our image of Hitler and Nazism is a fantasy. This fantasy was created by some special interest groups, who together wrote history. This section deals with these stakeholders:
- - - - - - - - -
1.
The pre-war political establishment, which was restored after 1945.
2.
The baby-boom generation, which took over power in the 1960’s.
3.
The Germans who survived the war.

What special interest did they have?

1. The pre-war establishment had to explain why they did not stop Hitler and the Holocaust. They also, after 1945, had to channel popular support for Nazism to their aid. The following components of the Hitler myth were in their interest:

Hitler myth versus the interest:
  • “Hitler was a unpredictable madman.”
    — The political establishment had been unable to predict the Second World War or the Holocaust.
  • “The followers of Hitler were mainly socially frustrated.”
    — Hitler’s followers were standing outside the establishment. Hitler was hated by the establishment.
  • “With the military defeat in 1945, Nazism was consigned to the dungheap of history.”
    — The political establishment is responsible for the cleaning up the remnants of Nazism.

2. The baby boom generation were the first “children of the welfare state”. They pinched the power of the establishment. In this struggle, the leveling of the “fascism-reproach” proved to be a strong weapon: anyone who stands in the way of the baby boomers is called “a fascist”.

Hitler myth versus the interest:
  • “Hitler was financed by the great industrialists.”
    — The baby boomers saw capitalism as an obstacle on their way to power. Therefore capitalism had to be portrayed as the breeding ground of Hitler and Nazism.
  • “The Nazis disputed social democrats and communists.”
    — The baby boomers identified themselves as socialists and/or communists. Now they also could delude themselves as the “victims of Hitler”.
  • “The Holocaust was enabled by the German law-abiding culture.”
    — If a law-abiding culture had led to the Holocaust, then the fight against the authority simply had to be justified. And the baby boomers fought against authority in the 1960s.
  • “The followers of Hitler were the middle class that grabbed the chance to improve their situation through he Nazis.”
    — The baby boomers view themselves as real intellectuals. They detest the middle class.
As you can see, the Hitler myth has something in it for everyone. But can we still find out how it really stuck together?

3. Germans who survived the war had to find ways to justify their participation. Therefore the reality was modified:
    Hitler myth versus the interest:
    • “Hitler ruled Germany with an iron fist. And with his speeches Hitler hypnotized his audience.”
      — The Germans themselves were also victims of Hitler.
    • “Hitler was financed by the great industrialists.”
      — Against this financial force majeure the Germans stood no chance.
    • “With the military defeat in 1945, Nazism was consigned to the dung heap of history.”
      — Nazism is a black page in history, but fortunately we left that behind us.
Part III

To me, the book by Sebastian Haffner (Anmerkungen zu Hitler and Geschichte eines Deutschen) was a real eye-opener. Haffner describes the bizarre everyday life in the Weimar Republic. Nevertheless, Hitler in general was regarded as a distasteful little man, cherishing weird ideas.


But when he came to power in 1933, Hitler proved to be hugely successful: unemployment was resolved, prices became stable, Germany hosted the Olympic Games, and regained international respect. Haffner summarized this as follows: if Hitler had lost his life in 1938, he would be have been remembered as the greatest German statesman of all time. Therefore you had to be very confident in the 1930’s to abhor Hitler. [1]

Another eye-opener is the book Hitler’s Beneficiaries by Götz Aly. It describes how the Germans progressed financially under Hitler. You can even question whether Hitler might be called a dictator. Firstly, Hitler came to power after a resounding election victory. Secondly, the popularity of Hitler rose enormously between 1933 and 1938.

Thirdly, a widespread repression was not necessary at all for Hitler to keep power: the Gestapo in 1937 had only 7,000 men in service, which includes office workers and supporting staff. That is probably proportional to the security personnel that currently keeps the Netherlands on track. And compare that to the DDR (only 25% of the size of Hitler’s Germany). They had 190,000 “observers” in service.

In other words, the Nazis could count on the support of a large majority of the German population. That was not so strange since Socialism had been for generations the Political Hope for the people. But the Nazis were the first to successfully bring socialism into practice.

Götz Aly cites these examples:
  • The Nazis brought the automobile within reach of the people.
  • They doubled the number of holidays for workers.
  • They introduced agricultural subsidies for farmers to protect them against the risks of weather and a fickle world market.
  • Prices of food were set by the government.
  • The Nazis introduced the progressive income tax (still a “sacred” item for the leftist parties).
  • The Nazis were not just leftists, they were green as well: they were the first to make care for the environment a government responsibility.
  • Landlords were required to charge their tenants affordable rents.
  • The legal position of tenants was strengthened.
  • Child benefits were introduced.
  • Pensions were increased.
  • The cost of health care was paid for by the government. [2]
  • The only tax increase that hurt “the common man” was a 50% increase on the duty on tobacco and alcohol.
  • And in the war a “special social benefit” was introduced: benefits for the cost of rent, insurance, coal, potatoes and other essential goods.
Keegan does not mention Los Alamos, but it was the same there. Under very strict military rules the atomic bomb was developed. Richard Feynman was able to tell excellent stories about that. And again, the Japanese and the Germans were ignorant of its existence (although the Soviet Union did have a spy in Los Alamos).

And the great industrialists? How did they do under Hitler? Companies had to pay 98% tax under Hitler. In some cases even 104% of profits had to be paid. And the weapons industry? The Nazis seized all “war-related” profits. Or, in the words of Hitler himself: “As long as there are soldiers fighting at the front, nobody will be allowed to make profits from the war.”

Investors had to hand in all dividends above 6% to the State. In 1941 this was followed by a special profit tax. In that year homeowners suddenly had to pay property tax in advance over the years ahead. An increase of residential rents was not allowed.

How socialist was Hitler? Let us look at the government contributions to social security between 1938 and 1943 (in millions of Reichsmarks)

1938
640

1939
749
+16%
1940
940
+26%
1941
1395
+48%
1942
963
-31%
1943
1119
+16%

This is how socialist Hitler was. He commanded a solidarity and social justice policy the current Social Democrats can only dream about.

The question is: how could Hitler pay for this all? Well, the 31% decline in spending on social security in 1942 reveals it. In that year, the expropriation of the rights of Jews to social security was processed in the accounts.

Hitler’s welfare was paid by the theft of Jewish property and wealth. First in Germany and later in the lands under German occupation. Six million people were first robbed and then forced to work without payment. Only when Hitler’s Socialists couldn’t make any money on them anymore were they murdered.

There was nothing irrational about the Holocaust. It was the only way Hitler could finance his social security. And that very same social security was the reason that the Germans got carried away with him, despite the hardships of war. They gained: the companies and houses of Jews were available for “nothing”. Jewish household goods and clothing went to those who lost their homes in the bombings. Money, jewels, and gold went to the state.

Götz Aly explains the explicit link between the welfare state and the Holocaust: “Significantly, the will to achieve social reform was strongest among those leaders within the Nazi Party who were also the most actively involved in pushing forward the agenda of ethnic genocide.”

It seems unlikely that Hitler’s followers were amongst the wealthy, or even amongst the small firms and traders. They lost out. But if you were earning a below-average income, you gained substantially.

The Social Democrats and the Communists shared their constituencies with the Nazis, and were therefore also the biggest political threat. That is probably the reason why leftist political leaders were terrorized by the Sturm Abteilung [SA].

Besides workers, also young people were attracted to the Nazis. Jonah Goldberg points out in his superb book Liberal Fascism that fascism was a youth movement. For example, what were the ages of the Nazi leaders? When they came to power in 1933, Joseph Goebbels was 35, Reinhard Heydrich was 28, Albert Speer was 27, Adolf Eichmann was 26, Joseph Mengele was 21, and Heinrich Himmler and Hans Frank were both 26. Hermann Göring was 40 years and a real granddad amongst Hitler’s socialists.

Jonah Goldberg claims that Nazism was an egalitarian youth movement with free sex. No “Befehl is Befehl”, but a precursor of the hippies. Regarding Frei Körper Kultur there has to be no doubt that it did exist. But in Intelligence in War John Keegan adds a salient example:
The Germans developed their secret weapons in Peenemünde. The intellectual achievements, especially in V2 [rocket] design, were formidable. This was made possible by the egalitarian, free atmosphere in Peenemünde. Everyone could talk to about anything. Nobody cared for rank and status. But Peenemünde was as leaky as a sieve: the British were well aware of everything.

The contrast with the British intelligence center, Bletchley, is substantial. Ten thousand men worked there on a strict need-to-know basis. The Germans never knew of the existence of Bletchley.

Part IV

How Hitler won the war: Socialism and Democracy

The inherent problem of democracy is “the dictatorship of the majority”. In order to come to power, the politicians have to forge a majority coalition. This majority will only vote for them when there is something to gain. But where should that money come from? That can only be taken away from the minority.

In they era before Hitler, Socialism was seen as weird, intellectual, and unsuccessful. Hitler made two innovations that were crucial for the practical success. And finally Hitler succeeded in transferring money from a minority to a majority.

1. The Pincer

Hitler went to work as a pincer. At the top the NSDAP took part in democracy as a legitimate party. At the bottom “the activists” terrorized his opponents. Hitler maintained sufficient distance from his activists to prevent legal and public-relations trouble.

Moreover, Hitler himself was (in Mein Kampf) rather generous. He gave the Social Democrats all the credits. Hitler supposedly learned the Pincer from the social-democratic activists in Vienna. But who will say whether this is just propaganda?

2. The Coalition of the Profiteers

Hitler welded a coalition of people who benefited from his policies. That was “the common man” and “the youth”. They were favored. The bill was paid by wealthy people and especially by the Jews. Since those who gained from Nazism were more numerous than its victims, Hitler had no need for widespread repression to stay in power.

Modern social democracy

While he is not awarded the honor, Hitler is the founder of modern social democracy. Both tactical innovations, the Pincer and the Coalition of Profiteers, were embraced by leftist parties after the war (and of course Hitler’s welfare state was expanded further).

In this matter we recognize the Dutch squatters’ movement, environmental activists, and other (professional) demonstrators. It is their duty to eliminate social opponents outside the parliament. Officially, the leftist parties keep themselves well-distanced from this terror. But there are many links between them.

  • Firstly, the puppets are often the same. Many leftist politicians have a history in activism.
  • Secondly, the living costs of the activists are paid for by leftist parties, through benefits and grants.
  • With regard to housing we must congratulate the leftist politicians on their inventiveness. Hitler arranged “affordable rent” by law. But by squatting, our present politicians arrange for rent-free housing for their activists. It is no coincidence that the losing parties, the property owners, are not supporters of the leftist parties.

The power of the Left is still formed by the Coalition of Profiteers. But there have also been some changes in it. Because of technological progress, labor productivity rose substantially. Therefore you can grab enough from the minority through taxes keep the majority happy.

Moreover, high taxes are much more elegant than a holocaust:

  • Firstly, you can only rob and murder someone one time. However, higher and higher taxes can be demanded each year. [4]
  • Secondly, the Holocaust was a publicity nightmare for Hitler’s Socialists. But high taxes can be justified with beautiful concepts such as “solidarity”, “social justice” and “redistribution of wealth”.

Because changes in society happen quickly, the composition of the Coalition of Profiteers has to be adjusted as well. The “Fortuyn-period” [2001-2002] was such a landslide: the classical worker nowadays faces more drawbacks than benefits from the welfare state. He is the main victim of crime and lack of civil order, while the Santa of increased prices tiptoed past his little rented house [late nineties]. And therefore the Left can no longer rely on “the people in the old neighborhoods”.

(If you remove the social housing associations, and the offer the houses at a reduced price to the tenant, the Right will finally be able to score a large election victory.)

Hitler had it much easier. He could work with a majority of workers, but the workers nowadays are threatened with extinction. They have been replaced by an army of managers and bureaucrats.

It is not difficult to point out the new Coalition of Profiteers. Just follow the money. The media, universities, NGOs, the immigrants, the beneficiaries, officials, the semi-officials and care sector. They all gain from the welfare state.

The leftist policy is the art of a balancing act: one must over and over again forge a Coalition of Profiteers. And when this is successful, the left owns the future!

Notes

[1]
One of the first measures of Hitler when he was in power was to make May 1 not only the official workers’ day, but also a holiday: “Der 1. Mai ist der Feiertag der nationalen Arbeit; signed: Adolf Hitler; Frick; Dr. Goebbels” [The first of May is the feast day of the national workers; Berlin, April 10, 1933]
[2]
Already in 1933 the National Socialists had organized the welfare state through the “family welfare security,” the NS-Volkswohlfahrt. In their advertising they showed the wealthy capitalists with their private security on one side and on the other a happy National Socialist family looking down upon them.


Capitalists and Nazis
[3]
Appeal by The Reich Leader of the German Labor Front, published in the Völkischer Beobachter (November 20, 1939)

In the following excerpt from the [National Socialist] party newspaper Völkischer Beobachter, Dr. Robert Ley, the leader of the German Labor Front [Deutsche Arbeitsfront or DAF], addresses the German workforce, highlighting the regime’s success in prosecuting the war and emphasizing that conditions for workers had improved since the first weeks of hostilities. […] Ley interpreted the forced improvements as proof of the socialist character of the German Reich, which had to assert itself in the face of threats by capitalist England.
[4]
It is not well known that the Turks tried an in-between strategy during WWII with the Wealth Tax. After the death of Kemal Atatürk in 1938, the ruling elite slowly fell back into usual Islamic behavior. After an agreement with Nazi Germany in 1941, the Turks rounded up Jewish, Armenian and Greek males between the ages of 18 and 35. They were sent to labor camps. But to displace later fears onto the minorities, the Turkish government placed the blame for he financial crisis on the non-Muslim businessmen and implemented the “Varlik” tax (1942). A wealth tax of sometimes far over 100% of the total value of property and savings. Those who were unable to pay within two weeks lost everything to the State and were sent to labor camps. This included family members and even children. Tax “assessment” was estimated and in three categories: M for Muslims (ca 0%-15%), G for non-Muslims (Gayrimüslim), E for foreigners (Ecnebi) and D for Dönmde, members of the Jewish clan who chose to convert in stead of being murdered. Category G for instance (Greek Christians and Jews), was taxed from 50%-100%+. This led not only to a horrible persecution of non-Muslims but also a continuing crisis in the economy till long after the war.

Dutch Nazi party (NSB) posters from How leftist was the National Socialist Alliance (NSB)?: “Our Socialism, Your future”

Our Socialism

and “Together with Germany AGAINST Capitalism”:

Tegen Kapitalisme

A German NSDAP poster form 1932: “Work and Bread, through list 1”:

Work and Bread

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Anonymous said...

Excellent work1 I have been saying for years that people don't understand World War 2,despite all the books,films,tv shows,etc. Yes,Hitler,Mussolini,Mussert of Holland,and even Oswald Mosley of England,were all on the LEFT,not the right. They were SOCIALISTS of one kind or another. What really kills me are the so-called "Neo-Nazis" in today's world,who go around trying to emulate what they THINK the original Nazis were all about (lol)...the joke's on them! (lol)...

Anonymous said...

Nice. I love how you try to paint the Nazi party as being a Leftist invention, IN SPITE of the consensus of historians that it was a FAR RIGHT movement. But what do they know, huh?

Ir's also very convenient that you mention the "healtchcare fund" that was "started" by the Nazis, yet completely leave out the fact Germany has had Universal Healthcare since Otto von Bismarck passed it starting in 1883. I guess that half century you left out just didn't fit in so well with your ideology, huh?

It's also ironic that the "facts" you "present" (read:skew), appear to come straight out of the Nazi propaganda playbook. And quoting Götz Aly? Seriously? The same man who claimed Gandhi and Hitler WERE FRIENDS, all because Gandhi pleaded with Hitler (whom he called "my dear friend" like someone says "sir" or "buddy") in a letter to not go to war? He was Gandhi. He referred to EVERYONE as "Dear Friend". This same man, who said that "black soldiers were rapists" during WWII. No, nothing wrong with this picture at all...

You mentioned that they were socialists, to draw paralleles with the accusatory name calling by the right in this country of the left, yet fail to mention how VIRULENTLY anti-communist they were as well. Instead you attempt to link the two as one because hippies in the 60s identified as one or the other? Utter rubbish.

If you don't like what you resemble, then just change what it is you resemble into something else, right? Goebbels would have been PROUD of this article of yours.

Yeah, the Nazis were REAL lefties, ousting the Social Democrats from government and promulgating their extreme militarism and Nationalism. Just like in America! Oh wait...

Sure, it's everyone ELSE that's wrong, not you. Isn't it funny? That's EXACTLY what Hitler thought.

Anonymous said...

There is no impartiality from ANY historian, most academics would agree that the version of history you are told is undoubtedly skewed by the writers personal beliefs. Many flaws in the article as a whole but it is well documented linking Hitler to socialistic beliefs and policies. As said, many flaws in the article and key points.....