Thursday, October 02, 2003


I mentioned yesterday my explanation for the rise of Hitler -- which focuses on his appeal to BOTH socialists and nationalists. I have just read a Leftist explanation of Hitler's rise (originally delivered as a university lecture and written by David North -- who seems to be an academic historian) which concludes: "The Holocaust was, in the final analysis, the price which the Jewish people and all humanity paid for the failure of the working class to overthrow capitalism". Wowee! I suppose that there was no sytematic persecution of Jews in Soviet Russia, then. Tell that to Sharansky and all the other Soviet Jews! But no doubt the writer would dismiss the disastrous Soviet experiment as "State capitalism" and argue that real socialism has never been tried yet. Strange that all the attempts at it fail!

North also dismisses Goldhagen's thesis that antisemitism was widely accepted in Germany and recommends that Goldhagen read the prewar anti-Nazi writer Heiden to get a better grip on what really happened. I HAVE read Heiden and note that Heiden confirms precisely what Goldhagen says -- that Hitler was widely popular in prewar Germany: “The great masses of the people did not merely put up with National Socialism. They welcomed it”. See pp. 98, 99, 105 and 114 of Heiden (1939). And no-one could ever have been in any doubt about what Hitler's view of Jews was. It is true, however, that the average German did not share Hitler's absolute fanaticism about the Jews. Incidentally, Heiden also stresses Hitler’s great intelligence -- something you never see mentioned today.

North also claims that prewar socialists were not antisemites -- though he admits that some were. For a REALLY scholarly account of the historic socialist roots of antisemitism see here (PDF).

The old Marxist claim that Nazism and Fascism were middle-class (“bourgeois”) movements has always amused me too. As Heiden points out at length, Hitler was a hobo until 1914 so how does a hobo get to lead a middle-class movement? Another prewar anti-Nazi writer (Roberts, 1938) also portrays Hitler as enormously popular among Germans generally and Madden (1987) presents scholarly evidence that Nazism had wide support across the social classes. Mussolini, too, found supporters and adversaries in all social classes (De Felice, 1977, p. 176).

It is Communist movements that always have bourgeois leaders and mostly bourgeois supporters. The workers usually vote for more moderate Leftists. So once again we see Leftists projecting onto others things that are really true of themselves.

De Felice, R. (1977) Interpretations of Fascism Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard U.P.
Heiden, K. (1939) One man against Europe. Harmondsworth, Mddx.: Penguin.
Madden, P. (1987) The social class origins of Nazi party members as determined by occupations, 1919-1933. Social Science Quarterly 68, 263-280.
Roberts, S.H. (1938) The house that Hitler built. N.Y.: Harper.


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