Racial, Ethnic & Sexual Identity & Difference - Pt 7
Last Updated: 14 June 2016
Perceived Heroes of World War TwoMany white supremacists and racist skinheads idolise Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, as a role model for national socialism. Some have swastika ('swazis') tattoos (often represented incorrectly, much as some people incorrectly draw a national flag). See Wikipedia for the definition of the swastika and its historical origins http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swastika.
However, Adolf Hitler was far from a true patriot of the German people and his parties policies were inconsistent with national socialism. His regime was more a cult of personality. Adolf Hilter was not German. He was of Austrian national descent. Was he really an 'ethnic German'? He also was reputedly not a racist in his younger years, and had several close Jewish family friends whom he grew up with. In the book “The Young Hitler I Knew” – written by Hitler’s childhood friend August Kubizek, is claimed that he was in love with a Jewish girl as a teenager but the feelings were not reciprocated, which left him heartbroken. This may have potentially been one factor in his development of hatred for the Jewish 'race'. As a leader, Hitler was obsessed with global domination, empire building and war and less interested in preserving and nurturing the German nation in a long term and sustainable fashion. He had planned on war from the outset. Was Hitler an inspirational figure? Or an emotionally stunted, drug addict who was awake all night and asleep half the day, a person incapable of forming close personal and romantic relationships? Hitler's physician prescribed him with increasingly large dosages and combinations of uppers and downers, including opiates, amphetamine, cocaine and in the latter years, methyl-amphetamine (Pervitin), which he had injected multiple times per day. In Hitler's famous meeting with Mussolini, to convince him not to change sides torwards the end of the war, he had been given some medication prior and was frantically pacing up and down, and allegedly talked non-stop for 2 hours. He was not diagnosed but neurologists examining video footage of him at the end of the war in Berlin, talking to young boys who were being enlisted to defend Berlin, his left hand was hidden behind his back, and shaking violently non-stop, clutching an object to try to suppress the shaking - it was believed he had Parkinson's Disease. Also it is believed that he had cardiovascular problems. His excessive stress levels and coctail of up to 80 different drugs, and the strychnine that he was inadvertently poisoned with over several years by his incompetent physician, evidently took an increasing tole on his health and medical professions today are amazed that he managed to function at all. Drug laws were much laxer in the 1930s and 1940s in Europe overall. Methyl-amphetamine was a new drug produced by German company under the brand name Pervitin and was a best seller amongst the general public. Whilst there was no official drug policy for the military, German soldiers were encouraged to take Pervitin to help keep them fighting, especially during the latter stages of the war when they were exhausted. This was in stark contrast to the Nazi ideal of abstaining from tobacco and alcohol to keep the Aryan race strong. Indeed, the young boys who were enlisted to help defend Berlin against the imminent onslaught of the Red Army in 1945 were bolstered up with alcohol and methyl-amphetamine. Drug addiction made it increasingly difficult for the military to function. This shows the hypocrisy at the heart of the German administration in policy terms and the incompetence and sheer madness of the German military campaigns.
Hitler was on a big ego trip and had little actual interest in the best interests of the people of the German nation, let alone the 'Aryan race'. His economic policies were highly flawed (read: over simplistic and incompetent - much like many of the populist economic policies of modern National Socialist political manifestos) and the economy was kept afloat by slave labour from Jews and other undesirables. Hitler was a traitor to his 'own people'. The night of the long knives showed how Hitler rewarded loyalty, by ordering the SS black shirts to execute all the loyal SA brown shirts (composed of street kids and what we might consider to be today's skinheads), and showed that his rule was paranoid and all about securing his own future, rather than about the German people. His stated goal and intention from the start was not to bring Germany into prosperity but to go to war, with the whole world if necessary. Whether one agrees with the reasons for his military campaigns or not, he was certainly no competent general and went about dragging down the German people by embarking on a war on two fronts. In the closing stages of the war, when Russian forces were advancing into German territory, he instructed the Luftwaffe to bomb his own country, his own infrastructure. His generals ignored his instructions in the latter stages of the war and turned against him, as he ordered highly trained, elite SS divisions into pointless suicide missions. He had no respect for the lives of his inner circle and thought he might as well expend every single soldier's life before he would consider surrender. Was that in the best interests of the German people? Or were these the actions of a sulky child? Hitler refused to entertain the idea of defeat and would rather sacrifice all the people in his nation before his ego backed down. He was not even man enough to accept defeat at the very end, choosing instead to commit suicide rather than face the consequences of his actions. Estimates of the number of assassination attempts on Hitler range between 15 and 35, many including senior officers, generals and aides. A respected military leader would not inspire so many assassination attempts from within his own hierarchy.
Hitler was increasingly aloof about the war as it went on, not wanting to be involved in the details as it became increasingly clear that Germany would lose, instead preferring to stay at his home in the mountains with his entourage, almost as if he was seeking escape from reality. In the final moments of the fight in Berlin, he was seen to be ordering units about on a map that either did not exist, had surrendered or been killed, with his generals just humoring him.
His lust for glory and conquest seemed to be his main driver (a big ego trip), and once all hope of winning was lost, his life had no meaning and he took his own life. Was he inspired by his own 'ethnic Germans' to prosper in a peaceful country? I doubt it. Nazi policies of ethnic cleansing and uniting all 'ethnic Germans' under one Germany was highly flawed, and dependent on the regional policies of Nazi SS commanders in occupied territories. For example, in Poland, many people who were not considered 'ethnic Germans' were classified as Germans as the Nazis could not be bothered to process them otherwise. The classification of 'ethnic Germans' itself was highly subjective and flawed and it was an impossible task to undertake, which is why 'corners were cut' if indeed there were any corners. Himmler took a very pragmatic rather than purely ideological approach to Nazi policy. If one cannot honestly tell one's own people what one's ethnic policies really are, and has to lie about them and hide them, then that is hardly patriotic and in the population's best interests. The Nazis used non-ethnic Germans in the SS, their elite fighting force. For example, Bosnians muslims were drafted into the SS and trained up. The Nazis considered them excellent fighters as their religious beliefs made them good soldiers and very loyal, more so than faithless 'ethnic Germans'. How many neo-nazis would accept that Hitler admired the muslims? Most far right extremists who admire the Nazis believe that muslims are their enemy. In addition, Hitler's stance towards homosexuality was inconsistent. His policies were anti-homosexual but he tolerated the open homosexuality of the head of the SA, Ernst Rohm and his deputy Edmund Heines. Rohm and Hitler enjoyed an extremely close personal relationship. Rohm was only imprisoned later as he had become a political threat. So today's national socialists and communist sympathisers would do well to look at history without rose tinted spectacles. And not idolise highly flawed past historical leaders who contradicted their core ideologies, who were basically power hungry, ego-orientated bullies will little interest in the wellbeing of their own people.
Ironically, Himmler had been in communication with the Allies behind Hitler's back with a view to exchanging a number of Jews for supplies. This request was denied by Churchill and the other Allied Leaders. Clearly there was little concern for the lives of the Jews amongst the allies. Towards the end of WWII, Himmler could sense defeat, and was in contact with the head of the Swedish Red Cross, Count Folke Bernadotte of Wisborg, with a view to potentially allowing some of the concentration camp victims to be freed. In the end, it was agreed to allow Belsen-Bergen to be taken over by the Allied Troops, to serve as an idealised 'positive' example of what a concentration camp actually was.
Belsen-Bergen was considered by the Germans to be the most humane and least murderous of the concentration camps. However, Himmler was not aware of how conditions at the camp had deteriorated, and how disease had killed many Jewish inmates (as opposed to execution and gassing as at other concentration camps). Between 1943 and 1945, an estimated 50,000 people died there, up to 35,000 of them dying of typhus in the first few months of 1945.
Folke Bernadotte arrived at Belsen to inspect the casualties and was horrified as were the rest of the Allied troops.
1947 UN Partition Plan, on 20 May 1948, Folke Bernadotte was appointed the United Nations' mediator in Palestine, the first official mediator in the UN's history. In this capacity, he succeeded in achieving a truce in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and laid the groundwork for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Bernadotte was assassinated on 17 September 1948 by members of Lehi, a Jewish Zionist terrorist group sometimes known as the Stern Gang. The assassination was approved by the three-man Lehi 'center': Yitzhak Shamir, Natan Yellin-Mor, and Yisrael Eldad, and planned by the Lehi operations chief in Jerusalem, Yehoshua Zetler. A four-man team lead by Meshulam Makover ambushed Bernadotte's motorcade in Jerusalem's Katamon neighborhood and team member Yehoshua Cohen fired into Bernadotte's car. Bernadotte and his aide, UN observer Colonel André Serot, were killed. An ironic end for a man who tried to help Jewish concentration camp victims perhaps more than any other.
Japan, the Soviet Union and Communist China were in fact equally as guilty of nationalism, imperialism, racism and atrocities/ethnic cleansing as Nazi Germany. Stalin was in fact more guilty of ethnic cleansing/genocide than was Hitler, but it is less fashionable to criticize communism than Nazism, which people love to hate more because of its stated, explicit racial policies. The extreme left and extreme right often seem to meet to bring left and right into a full circle. People often assume that communist human rights abuses are 'equal' amongst all the population, apart from the elite in power, and not selectively racist. Hitler wore his racism on his shirt (although he tried to shield the German people of what was actually going on with the extermination of the Jews whilst making them feel complicit in a 'lighter official, Nazism-lite' version of events which was presented to the German nation, whereas Stalin just got on with ethnic cleansing whilst pretending he was a true communist.
A web site summarising some of the death tolls of modern 20th Century dictatorships and wars is listed below.
The biggest mass murder and despot of the 20th Century must surely be Mao Tse Tung, also spelt Mao Zedong, whose rule of Communist China between 1949 to 1975 resulted in the deaths of between 40 and 70 million people, which is the same figure of the total number of military (non-civilian) deaths in WW2 combined for all participating or invaded countries. These victims of Mao were all no doubt 'equal' or equally dead. Possibly the single most murderous act of the 20th Century must surely be the deliberate flooding of the Yellow River, in China, in 1938. This was perpetrated by the Chinese Nationalist government, Kuomintang, in order to halt the advance of the Japanese invading force. It was arguably unnecessary and the flood killed an estimated 800,000 to 900,000 villagers.
Estimates of the number of deaths under Stalin's rule in the USSR vary. Counting the number executed for political or criminal 'offences', those executed whilst in investigative custody, those who died in the GULAG and those who died during kulak forced resettlement ('rich' peasants who resisted the Collectivisation policy), provides a total of 9 million deaths. If we include the 6-8 million deaths attributed to the Holomodor famine, a.k.a. the Ukrainian genocide (10 million if we count the total famine deaths across the USSR as a whole), then this brings the total dead up to 15-19 million. Some even estimate it at 30 million.
The 1931-32 famine was deemed to have been caused by incompetent agricultural policy of Collectivisation, the state taking possession of all agricultural land and having the peasants work on it collectively, thereby reducing output; but on the whole it was largely attributed to the state hoarding huge grain reserves which it refused to release to starving Ukranians as it believed they were exaggerating, continuing to export grain, and enforcing draconian anti-theft laws for grain supplies; or perhaps on purpose as an indirect form of genocide, Ukraine having shown the most resistance in the past to the regime. The total grain output in 1932 was deemed no worse than 1931. The worse famine under the Tsars rule cin 1892 claimed approximately 400,000 lives. During WWII, both Nazi and Communist forces sought to destroy the infrastructure of the 'enemy's' territory, resulting in widespread starvation amongst indigenous civilian populations.
The survival rate amongst POWs captured by the Russians amongst the axis forces was very low, typically between 5 and 10%, the rest dying of starvation, malnutrition, exhaustion or disease on the march or in labour camps. Those POWs captured during the Battle of Stalingrad alone who later died in Soviet captivity number was roughly between 250,000 and half a million.
The holocaust in Nazi Germany and its captured territories during WWII, killed approximately 6 million European Jews. Also killed were a number of dissidents, gypsies, disabled people, political prisoners, and any arbitrarily (non-scientifically) classified as non-ethnic Germans. The number of Jews killed by Nazi Germany is almost equal to the number of Ukrainians allowed to starve to death by the USSR, however, few make a fuss about the Ukrainian genocide. The holocaust almost pales into insignificance if we consider the possible maximum estimated total figure of 30 million victims during Stalin's rule. The Rwandan Genocide of 1994 resulted in between 800,000 and 1,000,000 deaths, yet this is rarely discussed compared with the holocaust. Clearly all such executions and human rights abuses are wrong, but it is helpful to gain a little historical perspective.
People like to pick on Nazism but pay much less attention to the far worse despots of the 20th Century. It is helpful to put Nazism into historical perspective. Hitler whilst imprisoned drew his inspiration from popular books on Genetics, which were based on the concept of Eugenics. This is an extension of Darwinism where one ascribes undesirable social behavioural qualities to physical characteristics and one seeks to selectively remove those with these physical qualities from the population. Ironically the dawn of anthropology, whilst introducing many novel scientific methods, came to very bizarre conclusions. Early anthropology was indeed very racist and very different from modern anthropology today. The upper and middle classes at the end of the British Empire during the Edwardian era were very scared of the dawn of mass consumerism, the spread of democracy especially amongst the poor, and the preservation of high culture, and fearful of the spread of the culture of the working classes. Practitioners of the occult regarded it as a priviledge for the elite and not something for the masses and 'common man'. The western industrialised countries on the whole regarded their 'white' stock as being superior to their respective colonised populations, with a pecking order of evolutional superiority. This was used to explain the success of the British Empire for example. Eugenics was very popular as a concept. It was even a famous British author, D.H. Lawrence, who first came up with the concept of a gas chamber for killing undesirable people (tramps, working class etc.)
It could be argued that a state such as Nazi Germany would have arisen whether it was initiated by Hitler or not. Indeed, many states were quietly indulging in ethnic cleansing in any case. The Nazi government was quite popular in Britain at the time, prior to the war. The fear of communism was rife in Western Europe since the Russian Revolution which occurred during the First World War. Western nations were fully aware of the anti-Jewish policies of Germany but weren't really very bothered. Indeed, during the war, when the extent of Nazi's racial policies became clear, nothing was done about it. Of course, the public were told that one of the reasons they were fighting the Germans was because they were evil and slaughtering fellow human beings in occupied territory, but in reality it was mainly territorial and perhaps financially related. The allies had knowledge of where the actual railway lines were that lead to the concentration camps, that carried millions of Jews to their deaths, but these were never once bombed. They chose other targets to bomb instead, strategic, military and civilian. The allied governments did not lift one finger to help the Jews in occupied territory, only to defeat Germany, and help people in liberated territories as they came upon them. Churchill even declined an offer from Himmler to trade the lives of Jews for trucks prior to the invasion of Normandy. Rudolf Hess himself defected and escaped from Nazi Germany and flew a plane solo to Scotland, whereupon he contacted the authorities with a view to working with the Allies to negotiate a peace settlement with Germany - he was promptly arrested, and sent to prison, without trial, where he lived until his death. Evidently the Allies were not interested in any moves towards peace and wished to continue the war until the bitter end. History is told by the winning side and the motives for war are always glossed over to make them sound good and to inspire loyalty and patriotism.
The relationship with the USSR amongst the West Europeans was a little strained during and after WWII. Clearly, Stalin had shown his true colours when he signed a deal with Hitler, his arch enemy, in order to gain territory when both sides invaded Poland in September 1939. This officially marked the start of WWII. The Allies claimed to be outraged, however it was only really when France was invaded that many of the allied nations became involved in the war. The USSR went to war with Nazi Germany when the Germany invaded the USSR in June 1941 as part of Operation Barbarossa. The USA did not bother until the Japanese on Pearl Harbor in December 1941. Stalin was however annoyed that the West European Allies had not not launched their final attack on the Western Front until June 1944. Did the Allies want to see Hitler inflict more damage on the USSR? Or were they focussed on the right strategy, waiting for the right moment, gaining enough intelligence and building up sufficient forces? The Allies were also distrustful of the USSR and suspected that there might be problems after the war, with the USSR being evasive about what was going on in their captured territory and indeed within their own country. Both sides pushing to reach Berlin first, however the USSR reached there first.
The aftermath of WWII of course saw the Soviets retained control of all captured land, on the pretext that it wanted a buffer, a set of satellite states to protect against any possible future Germany aggression. However, it was more an imperialist strategy of spreading communism, or rather gaining more land in their control, than the Trotskyite model of global (indepdendent) revolution. When it was established that the USSR was not going to cooperate with the Allies over the captured Eastern Bloc, did the Allies choose to go to war with Russia, seeing as they had the Atomic bomb and superior numbers of troops? After all, the Allies officially went to war with Germany over the invasion of Poland, and ironically the USSR invaded Poland twice during WWII. The Allies knew what the USSR's real intentions were at the start of WWII, making allies when it suited their needs and desire to capture territory. Did the USSR hold onto its captured territory on account of its disappointment with the allies during the early 1940s? Or was it all along intending to spread it's empire as much as possible. It was most likely more of the latter. The Allies rhetoric of standing up against totalitarian invasion and standing up for self-determinism were hollow words, as it was not prepared to go to war with the USSR over 'East Europe'. If the USSR had pressed on through Western Germany and beyond prior to the Western Allies reaching Germany, then would the Allies have gone to war with the USSR? Almost certainly. But clearly they did not care a great deal about Eastern Europe. It was not as interesting financially or strategically for them.
After WWII, East German communist forces continued to use Nazi Prison camps to detan dissidents, not in a dissimilar manner to the Nazis ironically. One particular Nazi concentration camp in East Germany was used by East German communists and between was run between 1945 to 1950, killing of total of 7000 prisoners. This is a small number compared to the number who died in the GULAG, but still a huge number.
So the East Germans swapped one dictator for another. Poland was occupied by both the Nazis and the Communists. For the Poles who lived in the UK, and who fought alongside the British army in various parts of Europe, they were not invited to take part in the Allied Victory Ceremony, as Churchill was afraid he might upset Stalin. They were not made welcome in the UK, and many decided to emigrate back to Poland, despite it being occupied by Communist forces. When they arrived back in Poland, they were not trusted by the government on acount of their political affilitation and familiar with non-totalitarianism, and many were told that they were not welcome. Many were imprisoned or harrassed by the authorities. Not much thanks for fighting with 'allies' and for those that died to help the allies.
Were the allies fighting the wrong dictator during WWII? It is all very well in hindsight to criticise, but it is helpful to look beyond the propaganda of both sides and examine the actual facts. Clearly politics is always about compromise, and no politician today is regarded universally in a good light, especially during times of war. We should not look at either the First or Second World War with rose tinted spectacles either. It is important to recognise the commitment and efforts of the troops involved, and appreciate the spin that they were sold by their own governments, and remember those who were not acknowledged or recognised for their efforts. It is easy to acknowledge Nazi propaganda, and blame those who fell for it, but we should consider the systematic and long term brainwashing that went on, and also the propaganda of our own governments. We should also remember the silent victims, the innocent civilians who were imprisoned, killed or executed. Not only during the war, but also during 'peace time' at the hands of brutal regimes. Not many think of their sacrifice or suffering.