Thursday, August 14, 2008

Mein Kampf

Chapter 16

By Richard E. Noble

Next Adolf gets into the nitty-gritty of starting his little National Socialists German Workers Party.
"...I spoke for thirty minutes, and what formally I had felt in my mind, without knowing it somehow, was now proved by reality..."
Without knowing it somehow? Give us a little break here Adolf! So Adolf found that for some reason people listened to him more so than his contemporaries. Was that because of how he said it, or because of what he had to say - or both? If only he had discovered this ability as a small child and was led to acting as a career - acting on the theatrical stage that is. Ah, but for the small twists of fate. I wish he discovered singing, instead of public speaking. Maybe we would be playing his recordings today, instead of cleaning up the dead bodies and the tortured and twisted psyches of those that he left behind in the wake of his oratory. Kind of makes one want to do away with oratory altogether, doesn't it?
Sometimes Adolf makes me laugh in his 'astute' observations. He criticizes his little party group for its rather feeble early attempts at developing an audience for their cause.
"...Each of us turned to his circle of friends in order to move the one or the other to visit one of these meetings.
The success was a miserable one.
I still remember how in the first period I myself once carried out about eighty of these bills, and how in the evening we waited for the masses of the people that were to come.
With one hour's delay the chairman had finally to open the meeting. We were again seven men, the old seven..."
Upon reading this, we, the readers are supposed to laugh haughtily with our hero Adolf (the great man, the great speaker, Adolf the Great) at his inauspicious beginnings. But who the heck is Adolf Hitler in the year 1923? He is certainly no General Luedendorf. He is a nobody, but yet a legend in his own mind even at this point. Here without any doubt is an example of the power of positive thinking. You are what you think you are. Once again this whole book appears to me as a political advertisement. He and his ghost writer Rudolf Hess are putting out their pre-election campaign book, just like our politicians of today. I wonder if he was the first to use this technique.
He mentions two men who were his humble associates at the 'beginning', Herr Harrier, a journalist, and Herr Drexler, a simple workman. This is interesting. These are the two men who supplied the initial funds, the enthusiasm, the cause, and the impetus for the whole effort, but Adolf goes out of his way here to belittle their importance, and their leadership qualities. Herr Harrier was a well educated journalist, but 'not a speaker for the masses'. And as for Herr Drexler;
"...who was then chairman of the local group of Munich, was a simple workman, as a speaker equally little important, and for the rest he was not a soldier. He had not served with the Army, also during the war he was not a soldier, so that he, whose entire nature was weak and uncertain, lacked the only school which made it possible to turn uncertain and weak characters into men..."
Well, that is quite a mouthful with regards to the man who seems to have given Adolf his start in his political career - the man whose name appears on nearly every one of the posters that were printed up to advertise Adolf's speeches to this date. And I presume the man who paid for not only the posters but the hall for the evening. I can see this poor worker, Anton Drexler, running around these meeting halls with his hat turned up, begging his other poor, stupid, non-soldier-weaklings workers for their few coins in an attempt to finance Adolf the Great's next speech. It seems quite obvious that at this point Adolf had picked up some new financial backers and was about to dump his low class supporters from the old neighborhood.
Far from being a criminal at this time in his life, he was more of a celebrity. Little women from the upper crust thought he was just the berries, a German patriot and hero. They brought baskets of bread and cheese to his cell, and giggled about how brave a man he was for standing up to that horrible makeshift government set up by the allies, and those Bolshevik bullies.
"...The reds! In the year 1920, in many parts of Germany, a national meeting that dared to direct an appeal to the great masses and to extend an invitation publicly to visit it was simply impossible. The participants at such a meeting were dispersed and driven away with bleeding heads. The mere name 'German Workers Party' had an irritating effect. Terror is not broken by power of mind, but by terror. Subject; Brest-Litovsk and Versailles. Four gentlemen appeared as speakers. I myself spoke for almost an hour, and the success was greater than on the occasion of the first demonstration. An attempted disturbance was at once nipped in the bud by my comrades. The disturbing individuals were thrown downstairs with their heads knocked about..."
Ah yes, the art of political speaking in Munich. Interesting to note – this is one German talking about the treatment of fellow Germans who disagree with his point of view.
"...On the whole, the entire winter of 1919-20 was one single fight to strengthen the faith in the victorious power of the young movement and to increase it to that fanaticism which then, in the form of faith, is able to move mountains..."
And there it is! Adolf is a preacher, and fanatic Nazism is the faith. What are the basic tenets of this new faith? Nationalism, Race, and Anti-Semitism. To boost these up a notch, could we redefine these principles as Pride, Egotism, and Hate?
In relation to the Faith espoused by Jesus Christ for example, what did we have? Of course, in place of hate, Jesus preached love; in place of egotism, Jesus preached Humility; in place of Pride, Jesus taught Respect.
These two are pretty much opposites. So once again Adolf is up to his Hegelian tricks. He suggests for his moral standards the antithesis to Jesus. But is the antithesis to the teachings of Jesus the antithesis to the teachings of Christianity? Was Charlemagne any different than Adolf Hitler? Were the Popes and the Christian leaders of the Crusades any different than Adolf Hitler? Was Alexander the Great, great; or simply a mass murderer? Adolf speaks from a unique view of history. To him it matters little how many people or nations a great leader slaughters, what really matters is how many pyramids he leaves behind. Once again, Historians take note. Maybe we need a different emphasis in our history books on what is truly 'great.' Even today in our own country we study presidents who presided over times of war and talk of them as great. Could it not be that these are the failures of historical rank of presidents, and maybe, just maybe we should be studying those presidents under whose administration nothing of so called note happened. Maybe 'nothing' happened because they were smart enough to prevent it from happening in the first place. We say for example what would the Nation have done without such a great man as Abraham Lincoln? Could it be that without Abraham Lincoln there may not have been a Civil War? Without Washington no American revolution? Without Wilson, no U.S. involvement in World War I? Even without Wilson there would have been a World War I, and without Roosevelt there would have been a World War II. How about Truman? Maybe no Korean War? Without Johnson, no Vietnam war? Well, whatever, it does leave room for thought and investigation into the lives of our so-called lesser presidents for the future.
"..But a man, who in this world does not succeed in being hated by his adversaries, seems to me of little value as a friend..."
Well, this sounds to me another of Adolf rationalizations. From my point of view it seems to me that any man who says anything on any subject will be hated by somebody. Jesus Christ you will remember had said that a man should love his neighbor as himself. Even if this neighbor becomes his enemy and strikes him on the right cheek, he should turn the left cheek also. This man was brutally tortured and killed for uttering such incendiaries. But maybe it wasn't these lines that got him into all the trouble. It might have been some of those remarks about a rich man passing through the eye of a needle or that one about giving away all of your possessions and come and follow me; or helping the poor; or sharing what you have with others. Who knows?
In any case, Adolf is implying here that if a man speaks his mind he will make enemies. I think that a man will make enemies even if he doesn't speak his mind. But I do not consider anybody a friend or a hero because he has amassed an army of detractors and hateful enemies, and I truly admire people who are able somehow to speak their minds and somehow even make friends of some of their enemies. The more that I read Winston Churchill, and maybe I haven't read enough, the more I become impressed. He really had a way with words, and seemed to be able to say some of the sharpest things to his opponents, and still maintain a respectful attitude. This is something I would want to learn myself. I guess it is what they call 'class'. Tom Paine on the other hand was not so good at this technique, and, it seems, either is Adolf.
"...But it makes no impression whatsoever on such a quack that in a peoples' assembly a Demosthenes can be silenced if only fifty idiots supported by their talk and their fists, won’t let him speak..."
Gee wiz, Adolf Hitler, the Demosthenes of the 20's, 30's and 40's, had trouble giving his great orations. I wonder why fifty idiots didn't show up at the speeches of Demosthenes and bust a few heads? You know coming from a bad neighborhood and slum myself, I have the impression here that Adolf was trying to give his political speeches in the wrong neighborhoods. Of course, I do remember Richard Nixon, Henry Kissinger, Robert McNamara and even Ronald Reagan having a similar problem during their political careers. Obviously, whatever Adolf was saying at the time was unpopular to a lot of people. When I read some of the posters put out by Adolf Hitler at the time, they remind me of the stories about John L. Sullivan walking into a local tavern, jumping up on a table and announcing - Me name is John L. Sullivan, and by Gaud, I can whip any man in the house - Adolf's speeches were to say the least incendiary. I can't imagine that at nearly every turn he wasn't arrested for disturbing the peace. If you think that Malcholm X and Eldridge Cleaver had some bad things to say about the government under which they lived, you should have heard Adolf. Like McCarthy, Adolf got very personal. He named names and pointed his finger. He made accusations. He slandered, ridiculed, and accused people of treason and cowardice.
This next statement is interesting;
"...A man who knows a thing, who realizes a given danger, and who sees with his eyes the possibility of a remedy, has the damned duty and obligation to work, not in 'silence,' but to stand up publicly against the evil and for its remedy..."
But, of course, if you happen to be standing up against the opinions of Adolf you are a coward, a traitor to your homeland, not to mention an idiot who deserves to be thrown down a flight of stairs, by some ex-soldiers who know how to talk with their fists and aren't afraid to bust a few heads.
And here is the basic formula for success.
"...propaganda; influence on the great masses, concentration on a few points, continuous repetition of the latter, self-assured and confident wording of the texts in the form of apodictic assertion, greatest persistency in spreading, and patience in awaiting the effect..."
And today we have the thirty second TV spot, the one liner confidently spoken over and over and over. Is this something that Adolf thought up, and has since been adopted by our politicians, or is this just the way that it has always been?
"...At 7:30 the opening was to take place. At 7:15 I entered the banquet hall of the Hofbrauhaus at the Platzl in Munich, and my heart nearly burst with joy. The enormous room, for then it appeared to me like that, was overfilled with people, shoulder to shoulder, a mass numbering almost two thousand. And above all-those people had come to whom we wished to appeal. Far more than half of the hall seemed to be taken by communists and independents ... After the first speaker had finished, I took up the word. A few minutes later interrupting shouts came down like showers of hail, violent clashes occurred in the hall, and a handful of the most faithful war comrades and other adherents were struggling with the disturbers and only by and by were they able to restore peace. I was able to continue. After half an hour applause gradually began to drown out the shouting and calling.
When after almost four hours the hall began to empty and the crowd, shoulder to shoulder, like a slow stream, began to push, to scramble, and pour towards the exit, then I knew that now the principles of a movement which never could be forgotten walked out into the German people.
A fire had been lighted, and out of its flames there was bound to come some day the sword which was to regain the freedom of the Germanic Siegfried and the life of the German nation.
And side by side with the coming rise, I sensed that there walked the goddess of inexorable revenge for the perjured act of the 9 of November, 1918..."
And there we have the end of book one of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.
For me it has been a worth while endeavor. I think that I have a better understanding of Adolf Hitler than I have ever had before. Many of my questions have been answered and many new ones have been raised. Adolf was a self-styled Messiah, preaching a faith. He came from out the Germanic Woods like the fabled Siegfried to rescue his people from world domination. If only he had turned to the theater rather than politics.
World War I and his experience as a soldier formed the basis of his moral thinking and from what I can see formed his personality. It was certainly the most traumatic experience of his life. I've read several accounts or analyses of Adolf's life and it seems so humorous to me that so many great thinkers, psychologists, journalist and writers can concentrate so heavily on Adolf's childhood, or his love life or lack of love life, on his relationship with his mother and his father or siblings, and totally ignore World War I. I think this is a great insight into our culture. War is accepted as normal and everyday. Watching men die by the millions, smelling their rotting carcasses heaped in front of you as a protective wall; seeing the dead; watching them die sometimes slowly, and other times in an instant; seeing, witnessing, and possibly participating in the killing of children and the raping of women; these are not considered traumatic enough to alter one's psyche, or change one's personality?
War is so much a part of the every day nature of man that like the Mail box and the Campbell's soup can, it becomes inconsequent and an invisible part of the background. War not only arranges men's lives but changes their souls. It is such a horrible experience that most men never recuperate from it. They live it over and over every day of their lives. Some rebel against it, some spend the remainder of their lives trying to justify their part in it, but I have never met a one who has experienced combat that has been able to totally put it aside.
Adolf's reaction is one man's alternative. He learned from the war to incorporate death and brutality as a part of the living cycle and even a part of God’s wisdom and direction. Dying on the battlefield for a cause of whatever nature seems much more glorious to him than willowing away at the hands of fate by way of old age, or purely natural causes. He has found a meaning for life in war. By war the race is purified, the superior justified, and brutality sanctified. The authoritarian Military structure provides order to the chaos of the human relationship. Indecision makes one weak. It is better to make a positive, resounding, authoritative statement even if it is wrong, than to waver. The way to leadership is to seize it, and resist all challengers with a club. Murder and killing are not only justified but are actions performed in accordance and imitation of the Divine. God eventually kills everyone. To be like God is to seize the power over life and death, to put terror into the hearts of the timid and to kill the weak and impure, and imperfect. This is the example of God. Peace can only be established by the power of the sword. There will be no peace for man until the world has one sole ruler. This ruler has no need of principle, only power. He should use whatever means or method within his abilities to become victorious and in the end when all is said and done, the world will not remember his misdeeds, only his achievements. History does not count bodies but buildings and pyramids, columns and coliseums, shrines and monuments.