Saturday, February 14, 2004


The most commonly heard "explanation" for Hitler's antisemitism is that he was "insane" or "evil". These are are however little more than the usual abuse that the Left uses in lieu or argument and explanation. Since antisemitism pervaded the whole of Northern Europe in Hitler's day (and still seems to, in fact), such explanations tend to implicate the most influential section of the human race as insane and evil. You can believe that if you like. Fortunately, it is quite easy to do better than such childish "explanations". Hitler himself explains it all at some length in the early part of Mein Kampf. It is of course true that Mein Kampf is unreliable as objective history but there can be little doubt that it is good psychological history -- i.e. it might not be a good guide to what really happened but it is a good guide to Hitler's perception of what happened.

And you might be surprised to learn that Hitler for quite a long time had a good cosmopolitan's contempt for antisemitism. He saw it as ignorant and stupid in his early years and it was quite a wrench for him when he realized "I had become an antisemite". So what changed his mind?

To answer that you first have to know the secret of why the Germans followed him so devotedly right to the bitter end. There were of course a number of factors involved in that but to any open-minded reader of Mein Kampf one answer stands out like dog's balls (forgive the Army language): The whole of Mein Kampf is in effect a love-song to the German people (Volk). Hitler loved his people and -- surprise, surprise -- they loved him back (or many did anyway). But how could Hitler love all of a people who were so bitterly divided among themselves -- who hated one another probably about as much as U.S. Democrats and Republicans do today? There was only one possible answer to that: Somebody had to be manipulating and deceiving them into fighting with one another. But who could that be? To Hitler the answer was obvious -- and it was NOT the Jews. It was the Marxists. The Austro-Hungarian Empire in which Hitler lived was in its death throes in Hitler's youth and that gave an opening for lots of radical agitation. And the military defeat of Austria in World War I only increased the radicalism. So throughout Hitler's time in Vienna the Marxists had a big following. And what were the Marxists preaching? Class warfare! They were preaching that one section of Hitler's beloved people should make war on another section of it. That was of course a horror to Hitler and he struggled to understand such folly and error. How could Germans preach such hatred of one another?

The answer came when he noticed that the prominent Marxist preachers and leaders of Marxist organizations in the Vienna of his day were just about all Jews. To this day, of course, Jews tend to the Left politically so there is no reason to doubt that there was considerable substance in what Hitler saw at that time. So that was the "out" Hitler needed to explain why Germans were so at odds with one-another -- they were being manipulated by people who were NOT really Germans. So it was his idealized and romantic love of his own German people (Volk) that caused him to see the Jews as evil and destructive manipulators who were the underminers of German strength and unity. And so he adopted the antisemitism that -- through jealousy -- was already common around him. He however saw antisemitism as a rational deduction from what he had seen and he pursued it with the zeal of a convert and the huge political passion that was characteristic of him. Tragically, he does seem to have genuinely believed that the destruction of the Jews was essential for the salvation of the German people. And he devoted his huge political talents to that end. To him, everything else became secondary to that.


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