Nazi Germany

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Nazi Anti-Semitism

Nazi Leaders

1920's Nazis tended to be nasties like Rohm (basic thug), Goering (upper-class thug) and Goebbels (PhD-in-literature thug). Others, like "banality of evil" Adolf Eichmann (#889,895), joined in 1932, and a big rush in Spring 1933 to get government jobs.

The camps wouldn't have killed a tenth of the people they did without the bureaucrats. That goes for the really bad ones like Eichmann, but also the nice guys like Speer.

Speer just wrote good memos allocating foreign workers to different sectors of production, but was careful not to probe into how they were carried out or why there was so much wastage. At Nuremberg he was the only repentant sinner.

Speer declared that he indeed deserved punishment. That is contrary to the bureaucratic mode of thought, where following procedures correctly is the highest virtue.

But Speer was at heart an artist, Hitler's architect who was so good at practical contractor stuff and so refreshingly honest that Hitler put him in charge of the German economy and competing Nazis thought he was harmless enough not to be backstabbed much.

Nazi Wokeness

Speer was an idealistic 28-year-old architect who in 1933 became a favorite of Adolf Hitler's and during World War II became minister for the economy and accomplished wonders of organization, increasing German arms output so much that he may have lengthened war significantly via his competence. It's noteworthy that what first brought him to Hitler's attention was not his architecture (which was really too modernist for Hitler), but that he had renovated Dr. Goebbel's house in an unbelievably short time through brilliant scheduling of subcontractors. From Albert Speer's Inside the Third Reich, page 65:

I must have had the feeling that it was no affair of mine when I heard the people around me declaring an open season on Jews, Freemasons, Social Democrats, or Jehovah's Witnesses. I thought I was not implicated if I myself did not take part.

The ordinary party member was being taught that grand policy was much too complex for him to judge it. Consequently, one felt one was being represented, never called upon to take personal responsibility. The whole structure of the system was aimed at preventing conflicts of conscience from even arising. The result was the total sterility of all conversations and discussions among these like-minded persons. It was boring for people to confirm one another in their uniform opinions.

Worse still was the restriction of responsibility to one's own field. That was explicitly demanded. Everyone kept to his own group--- of architects, physicians, jurists, technicians, soldiers, or farmers. The professional organizations to which everyone had to belong were called chambers (Physicians' Chamber, Art Chamber), and this term aptly described the way people were immured in isolated, closed-off, areas of life. The longer Hitler's system lasted, the more people's minds moved within such isolated chambers. If this arrangement had gone on for a number of generations, it would have caused the whole system to wither, I think, for we would have arrived at a kind of caste society. The disparity between this and the Volksgemeinschaft (community of the people) proclaimed in 1933 always astonished me. For this had the effect of stamping out the promised integration, or at any rate of greatly hindering it. What eventually developed was a society of totally isolated individuals.

The Reichstag Fire of 1933

Hett, Bahar, and Kugel agree that van der Lubbe alone could not have caused a blaze of the dimensions of the Reichstag fire in the less than twenty minutes at his disposal and with the modest tools he used. All three rely heavily on the reports of experts on the setting of fires, both from 1933 and also since the 1970s. All present strong circumstantial evidence that an S.A. unit trained in the use of flammable liquids prepared the chamber for van der Lubbe by dousing the chairs, tables, and curtains with a chemical accelerant. And all three suggest that Tobias wrongly dismissed the evidence presented by Gisevius, whose 1946 memoirs linked the S.A. to the fire. Part of the significance of Hett’s book lies in his careful reexamination and confirmation of many of Bahar and Kugel’s findings. ...When Hett began his investigation of the Reichstag Fire in 2008, Fritz Tobias warned him about the dangers of the project. “Do you know what happens to people who write about the Reichstag fire?,” Tobias asked.

"This Story Is about Something Fundamental": Nazi Criminals, History, Memory, and the Reichstag Fire, Benjamin Carter Hett, Central European History , JUNE 2015, Vol. 48, No. 2 (JUNE 2015), pp. 199-224,

Tobias attempted to disprove the conclusions of the London commission by alleging that van der Lubbe acted alone, that the Nazis were innocent, and that the defendants had received a fair trial. The greatest part of his effort was directed at showing that the materials before the London commission had been prepared by Communists (and were in some cases forged), and that the commission itself was a giant piece of Communist propaganda. Quoting extensively from “recantations of ex-Communists,” Tobias derided those who organized the commission and saw to the publication of its work, particularly the Brown Book. Tobias focused on Willi Muenzenberg, who was a principal organizer of the commission, and portrays him as scheming and unreliable. In his list of ex-Communists, Tobias prominently included Arthur Koestler, although he failed to note that Koestler’s later memoir— written when he was very much an “ex”—credits the Brown Book with exposing Nazi terror and regards it as a “certainty” that Nazi circles, probably a group of Storm Troopers, were the authors of the fire. In addition to his (then effective) Cold War argument that anything alleged by a Communist is likely to be false, Tobias relied heavily on speculative—and contradictory—testimony that Hitler appeared to be surprised at the fire and could therefore not have been party to a plot. In portraying van der Lubbe as sole perpetrator, Tobias dismissed the forensic evidence of extensive fire damage from multiple points of origin. The testimony of the fire experts at the trial asserting the necessity of multiple arsonists with knowledge of the building’s layout (and even of Goering himself to that effect) is dismissed as “exaggerations” intended to make the fire seem more serious than it was. As for the Gisevius account, Tobias claims that Gisevius had not been at the Reichstag Fire trial as observer for the Gestapo, that Ernst had an alibi for the time of the outbreak of the Reichstag Fire, and that Rall had been shown not to be a member of Ernst’s SA brigade (unfortunately for those who would rely upon Tobias, it was later shown that each of these statements was false).

The Reichstag Fire Trial, 1933–2008 The Production of Law and History, Michael E . Tigar a n d John Mage,

On April 18, students at Wari, a cooperative for black women, reported a burning cross on their lawn and blamed racist whites for the incident. The cross burners were never caught, and Ithaca police suspected, but could never prove, that AAS members themselves had burned the cross, trying to create a pretext for further protest. Stephen Goodwin, a Cornell student at the time who served as the AAS treasurer, later called the cross burning “a set-up. It was just to bring in more media and more attention to the whole thing.”

Whether it was a set-up or not, the incident set the stage for a massive escalation. At 5:30 AM the next day, the AAS took over Willard Straight Hall, Cornell’s student-activity center. Though AAS leaders claimed that their action was a response to the cross-burning, they had planned the move weeks earlier, choosing April 19 to coincide with the university’s Parents Weekend. Cornell in the 1960', City Journal (2021).