Mein Kampf, Hitler and War
I wonder if Hitler did actually have ‘long term plans’ and what would he have done if Germany didn’t lose WW2, or even what his next plan of attack was? Because most of the time, he did what was necessary at the time to maintain his own power. And there has been debate on this matter and others including whether his psychological state of mind had anything to do with the events. I personally believe that Hitler was not normal (if normal even exists) and that there was something ‘wrong’ with him. I also do not understand why people are so obsessed with ‘growing their territory’, maybe living in Australia where there is plenty of land, and no actual land borders, makes my attitude a little different to those living in densely populated countries, where space is at a premium. But to me it just sounds greedy and selfish, you do not deserve more land than anyone else in this world, so why should you be able to steal someone else’s away from them (though that brings about the question of indigenous people whose land has been all but stolen from them right around the world, but that is another can of worms).
One interesting issue is the fact that many historians they had a need to prove to everyone that Hitler was not typical and was not a ‘normal’ German because surely all Germans do not have the same ideas as what Hitler had (not saying that they did, but clearly he appealed to the masses, otherwise he would not have power, but many of his plans the public had no idea about). Some argue that Hitler’s plans were not rational and long-term orientated but was thought as a quick ‘escape’ away from the social and economic woes of post-WW1 Germany. Which makes the war a ‘function’ of the situation, which makes it quite impersonal and robotic, considering that millions lost their lives. War is a terrible thing and I don’t think it can be created on a whim, unless you were seriously a psychopath because you would surely think about all of the lives you are putting at risk of your own countrymen, and even the lives of your enemy that will be lost. But clearly people do not think about it enough to stop them from initiating war.
I like the point that Professor Watt makes that ‘foreign policy’ can only be made by an actual government but has become something that any group or individual can sell to the government or people as their own policy. Because if you aren’t in control you don’t really have an policies and don’t control what ‘foreign policy’ is implemented. When considering the evidence of ‘foreign policy’ and what people are trying to achieve, most of the evidence is written to persuade those who are reading it that what is being does is the best thing. You would be hard pressed to hear a politician involved in a policy talk about how ineffective and pointless it is. But of course there are the actions of the country which are accurately detailed and the views of other governments whose representatives are there are also important and can paint a different picture. This is because they have to understand what the impact on their own country is going to be and why they have decided to do what they have decided to do.
A party not in government often has a different public agenda and motive, and portray an entirely different persona to when they get into power. They can say and do whatever the public want to hear, because they have no real power to enforce and implement any real policy, and money isn’t an issue because they don’t control treasury. And what they tell the public, is exactly written to appeal to the public, they wouldn’t tell you something that you really didn’t want to hear, otherwise they would lose your support. So the statements before power (by Hitler) and what he decided to do in power, are quite different, and most parties and governments tend to be the same (though possibly not to the same degree).
Three main ideas that Hitler made well known to the public from 1919 onwards (and before power was held) was on racialism (including anti-Semitism), ‘Lebensraum’ (expansion of Germany) and anti-communism. But when war broke out, it is hard to actually find any of these motives in most instances. Hitler made a great fuss about anti-communism but it was mostly a scam, even the agreement with Japan (and later Italy) on anti-communism was more a way to ‘attack’ the UK and US, than the Soviet Union. Later, the ideas of anti-communism and racialism, and Lebensraum were used to ‘justify’ their attacks on the SU. But in many of Hitler’s decisions these ideas were absent.
History is one of the strange subjects which can never be repeated, it is not like science or maths that you could just re-do an experiment and prove your hypothesis or conjecture or argument, it is something where you have all the evidence and it is up to you how to interpret it. Which is why there is always intense debate and variation in people’s versions of events, even if they look at the same evidence, and I don’t think that is something I need to explain, it is something fundamentally obvious to everyone. So it makes it hard to say that this is what happened and this is why it happened, especially when some parts of the puzzle are missing or extremely biased. Also as time goes by, it is almost paradoxical that it gets harder to prove something because it is no longer first hand, but sometimes more evidence can be uncovered and a new way of thinking or looking at the same problem could emerge. And to be honest there is a lot of evidence, for a plethora of ideas and theories, it just depends on what pieces of evidence you use to prove it (and that goes with nearly everything including science, because sometimes there is a lot of evidence, but if you pick out certain things, the picture looks different to if you looked at all of the evidence).
In many of Hitler’s wartime (or early wartime) speeches and evidence, there is no indication of ‘Germany’s economic woes’ as being a factor in declaring war (which is some historians believe was a cause) but there were mentions of the two of the three ‘ideas’ that were mentioned earlier. Historical theories (Professor Watt says) that make the context of major decisions responsible for the nature of the decisions is that the same can be said to these theorists whose own context gives insight and influence to their deductions (which is a bit complex). So history isn’t really a person and their environment but specific people and their environments and actions and decisions and issues and hopes and visions for the future, etc. Historians are in the same cycle of history as the history that they study, and are not immune from the same scrutiny, which is quite true because it 50 years time, historians may look back on how historians got it so wrong.
Many of those who surrounded Hitler were ‘a collection of the intellectually incoherent, the fantasists, the dropouts, the burnouts, etc.’ But who was Hitler, what type of person was he? This is one of the historical questions that is fiercely debated. Hitler was an original thinker (or Denker) he was a man that thought about things, and made his own conclusions. But to compare his works/texts with that of the original philosophers like Plato, is just lunacy. Mein Kampf is ‘sub-Reader’s Digest‘ and the ideas aren’t first hand but are fourth or fifth hand. Even the sources that Hitler claims to be referencing or to have read, it is impossible that he could have done so. He has created his own version of philosophy, and has done an ‘amateur’ job of piecing it all together. Many of his ideas are near identical to many of those publicised at the time, but his ideas are ‘copies of copies of copies’ they are ‘cheap and like imitations’. Hitler ‘stole’ many of his ‘original’ ideas, but what he stole wasn’t high-grade it was stolen at a ‘pawnshop, flea market or fire-sale’ (it was well below par).
Quite a lot of people had the same thoughts in Germany at that time, so it is plausible to say that if Hitler did not step up into a major role, there were plenty of others who would, some that could have been worse, who knows. And there are still major flaws and holes into Hitler’s thinking in the 30s, when some things appear to have happened randomly and without reason. It is quite likely that Hitler did not even write Mein Kampf but was merely dictating it. It is possible that Goebelles was the writer. But this confuses me because it is put as almost an aside at the end of the introduction. So I can’t be sure that Hitler didn’t write it, but it has planted a very large seed in my mind that he did not write it at all, which makes quite a lot of the introduction useless when it was written about Hitler and nearly nothing on Goebelles. But I guess that it was Hitler’s ideas and way of thinking that really dictated what was written, and I’m sure that he had a part in deciding what was written and what was not. But nevertheless the book will still give insight into the mind of Hitler in one form or another.
Just one more post tomorrow closing of the introduction and then it is into the real text!