Adolf Hitler:  A True American

Most people think Hitler and his genocidal policies were an aberration...a monstrosity...a unique product of an evil mind. Not quite. Hitler's Holocaust was the culmination of millennia of Western history. Given the Euro-Christian imperative to conquer, it was perhaps inevitable that one man would try to conquer all.

How did this come about? For the roots of Hitler's "madness," we must part the veils of time. The story begins, as so many stories do, with God.

In the beginning....

If the Europeans' favorable geography and natural resources predisposed them to "go forth and multiply," so did their Judeo-Christian philosophy. Christ's word spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond because it complemented European culture. The justification for every princely or papal conquest lay in Biblical passages such as:

When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you are entering to occupy and drives out many nations before you—Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, seven nations more powerful than you—when the Lord your God delivers them into your power and you defeat them, you must put them to death. You must not make a treaty with them or spare them. You must not intermarry with them, neither giving your daughters to their sons nor taking their daughters for your sons; if you do, they will draw your sons away from the Lord and make them worship other gods. Then the Lord will be angry with you and will quickly destroy you. But this is what you must do to them: pull down their altars, break their sacred pillars, hack down their sacred poles and destroy their idols by fire, for you are a people holy to the Lord your god; the Lord your God chose you out of all nations on earth to be his special possessions.

~Deuteronomy 7:1-6

Hitler was intimately familiar with Christian doctrine from his early life in Lambach, Austria. As David A. Meier writes in Hitler's Rise to Power:

There was an old Catholic Benedictine monastery in the town. The ancient monastery was decorated with carved stones and woodwork that included several swastikas. Adolf attended school there and saw them every day. They had been put there in the 1800's by the ruling Abbot as a pun or play on words. His name essentially sounded like the German word for Swastika, Hakenkreuz.

Young Hitler did well in the monastery school and also took part in the boys' choir. He was said to have had a fine singing voice. Years later Hitler would say the solemn pageantry of the high mass and other Catholic ceremonies was quite intoxicating and left a very deep impression. As a young boy he idolized the priests and for two years seriously considered becoming a priest himself. He especially admired the Abbot in charge, who ruled his black-robbed monks with supreme authority. At home Hitler sometimes played priest and even included long sermons.

Hitler simply took the idea of the chosen people to its logical extreme. Since White Anglo-Saxon Protestants had come to dominate civilization, he thought they—not the meek—were destined to inherit the earth. As Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D., writes in The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Early Years:

Adolf Hitler's mad genetic vision embraced the ancient religion of the wondering Israelites; and like Moses, Hitler preached ethnic cleansing, racial purity for the "Chosen" Master Race, and woe to all "inferior" and "subhuman" species of woman and man.

And like the ancient Israelites whose god demanded the death of all inferior "evil" women and men—innocents whose only crime was to live on land the Israeli god had decided should belong to his own "godly children"—Adolf Hitler proclaimed that the lands should be cleansed of all inferior peoples.

Hitler's Third Reich would be the incarnation of the First Reich: the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted from AD 962 to 1806. He believed he was doing God's work, and said as much in Mein Kampf (1923):

Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord. (Volume 1, Chapter II)

What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and reproduction of our race and our people, the sustenance of our children and the purity of our blood, the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may mature for the fulfillment of the mission allotted it by the creator of the universe. (Volume 1, Chapter VIII)

Playing cowboys and Indians

But Hitler had a more immediate source for his genocidal beliefs than dusty chronicles of crusades and pogroms. He had only to note the self-righteous nation practicing ethnic cleansing across the sea. Yes, young Adolf was inspired by none other than the good ol' US of A.

Born in 1889, the year before Wounded Knee, Hitler was well aware of the American Holocaust. As Meier explains about the youngster in Hitler's Rise to Power:

His favorite game to play outside was cowboys and Indians. Tales of the American West were very popular among boys in Austria and Germany. Books by James Fenimore Cooper and especially German writer Karl May were eagerly read and re-enacted. May, who had never been to America, invented a hero named Old Shatterhand, a white man who always won his battles with Native Americans, defeating his enemies through sheer will power and bravery. Young Hitler read and reread every one of May's books about Old Shatterhand, totalling more than 70 novels. He continued to read them even as Führer. During the German attack on the Soviet Union he sometimes referred to the Russians as Redskins and ordered his officers to carry May's books about fighting Indians.

Many well-known German-speaking people used Karl May’s heroes as models in their childhood. Physicist Albert Einstein was a great fan of Karl May's books and is quoted as having said "My whole adolescence stood under his sign. Indeed, even today, he has been dear to me in many a desperate hour…"

What I liked most in his writings was the courageous stand for peace and mutual understanding, which inspires nearly all his books…” -Albert Schweitzer

“He is the most brilliant representative of a truly original type of fiction – i.e. fiction as wish-fulfillment…” -Herman Hesse

Many others have given positive statements about their Karl May reading.

Adolf Hitler was an admirer, who noted that the novels "overwhelmed" him as a boy, going as far as to ensure "a noticeable decline" in his school grades. According to an anonymous friend, Hitler attended the lecture given by May in Vienna in March 1912 and was enthusiastic about the event. Ironically, the lecture was an appeal for peace, also heard by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Bertha von Suttner. Claus Roxin doubts the anonymous description, because Hitler had told much about May, but not that he had seen him. Hitler defended May against critics in the men's hostel where he lived in Vienna, as the evidence of May's earlier time in jail had come to light; although it was true, Hitler confessed, that May had never visited the sites of his American adventure stories, this made him a greater writer in Hitler's view since it showed the author's powers of imagination. May died suddenly only ten days after the lecture, leaving the young Hitler deeply upset. Hitler later recommended the books to his generals and had special editions distributed to soldiers at the front, praising Winnetou as an example of "tactical finesse and circumspection", though some note that the latter claims of using the books as military guidance are not substantiated. However, as told by Albert Speer, "when faced by seemingly hopeless situations, he [Hitler] would still reach for these stories," because "they gave him courage like works of philosophy for others or the Bible for elderly people." This influence on the German 'Führer' was later castigated by Klaus Mann, a German writer who accused May of having been a form of 'mentor' for Hitler. In his admiration Hitler ignored May's Christian and humanitarian approach and views completely, not mentioning his – in some novels – relatively sympathetic description of Jews and persons of non-white race.

In American history, Hitler found justification for his dreams of Teutonic dominance. He spoke glowingly of the US, noting its "incomparable inner strength" (Mein Kampf, Volume 1, Chapter IV). America, he believed, showed what Aryan power and purity could achieve:

We must bear in mind that in the time when the American continent was being opened up, numerous Aryans fought for their livelihood as trappers, hunters, etc., and often in larger troops with wife and children, always on the move, so that their existence was completely like that of the nomads. But as soon as their increasing number and better implements permitted them to clear the wild soil and make a stand against the natives, more and more settlements sprang up in the land. (Mein Kampf, Volume 1, Chapter XI)

The Germanic inhabitant of the American continent, who has remained racially pure and unmixed, rose to be master of the continent; he will remain the master as long as he does not fall a victim to defilement of the blood. (Mein Kampf, Volume 1, Chapter XI)

So Hitler's version of history flowed from the Holy Land through medieval Europe to the United States. His goal was the same as America's: to bring God-given civilization to the world. His views were largely indistinguishable from American views of the era:

He has made us the master organizers of the world to establish system where chaos reigns. He has given its the spirit of progress to overwhelm the forces of reaction throughout the earth....Were it not for such a force as this the world would relapse into barbarism and night. [1]

He is the Prometheus of mankind from whose bright forehead the divine spark of genius has sprung at all times, forever kindling anew that fire of knowledge which illumined the night of silent mysteries and thus caused man to climb the path to mastery over the other beings of this earth. [2]

In these sanctified fantasy lands, there was no room for pagans, mongrels, or other degenerate animals. As God commanded in Deuteronomy, Americans destroyed sacred Indian poles and shrines and Germans destroyed sacred Jewish books and temples. If Aryan Americans had conquered a continent, Hitler would use the same techniques to conquer a world.

As John Toland notes in his book Adolf Hitler:

Hitler's concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the Wild West; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America's extermination—by starvation and uneven combat—of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.

Even the Swastika hints at Hitler's debt to America. A common symbol among Native American and other indigenous people, the swastika was part of Boy Scout lore. It appeared on the back of William Tomkins' American Indian Sign Language circa 1928. Although Hitler claimed a different source for the Nazi Swastika, he might have remembered it from one of his boyhood readings. Perhaps the Native swastika and the Catholic swastikas he saw as a youth merged into a potent symbol.

David Stannard eloquently summed up the Holocaust's origins in his book American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World:

Elie Wiesel is right: the road to Auschwitz was being paved in the earliest days of Christendom. But another conclusion now is equally evident: on the way to Auschwitz the road's pathway led straight through the heart of the Indies and of North and South America.

“Killing me softly...."

Since the extremes of the American and German holocausts, Western civilization has pulled back some. Our leaders have decided physical conquest is bad—disposing bodies requires too much paperwork, perhaps—but economic conquest is another matter. To build our factories and shopping malls, we exploit the world's poor people, suck up their natural resources, and demolish the earth's environment.

We do this in the name of the god Progress, our golden idol. We must have our luxury houses, well-manicured lawns, and SUVs, and our leaders must have profits to satisfy their shareholders or campaign contributors. They give us what we want and vice versa.

Not only is this a testament to the American "dream" (freedom for me by dominating you), but also to the American media. From commercials to Pokémon games to rap songs, our media purveys the American ideology. We're told the good life is to acquire, to dominate, to be No. 1. Losers who don't become rich or successful get what they deserve: nothing.

The dime novels Hitler read were the pulp fiction of his day. They were equivalent to today's "low" forms of mass media: comic books, cartoons, syndicated TV shows, straight-to-video movies, music videos, and computer games. In both eras the message was the same. Beat the bad guys (Indians, Jews, crooks, terrorists, aliens) and you'll get the girl, the goods, or whatever your heart desires.

The meta-message of this Euro-American drive should be obvious by now. Hitler wasn't an aberration. He was the ultimate product of Western civilization, the über-American. We have met the enemy, and he was us.

Germans love Indians

An interesting epilogue to this essay is that European people, especially Germans, have come to love the American Indian. They form Native American clubs, dress as Indians, and often know more about them than Americans do. What's the connection between Hitler's love of Indian killers and the German love of Indians today? [Always have since end of 19th century!]


Ich bin ein Cowboy
May 24, 2001 RADEBEUL
From The Economist print edition

Modern Germany’s favourite author will come as a surprise

When American GIs poured into Germany in 1945, they were astonished to discover that German children, after 12 years of Nazi rule, could be found decked-out in buckskins and feathers and playing “Indians”. Every spring in Radebeul, a quiet Dresden suburb, tens of thousands of grown-ups do the same. The explanation for both these phenomena is Karl May (1842-1912), a Saxon weaver’s son, jailbird, self-described linguist—and the man who single-handedly invented the wild west for generations of Europeans. Long before the Lone Ranger, May was giving unruly cowboys what-for, befriending Winnetou, a great Apache warrior, and generally bringing peace and order to the frontier.

Though he is virtually unknown to the English-speaking world, May is possibly the most-read German author of all time: his books have sold an estimated 100m copies to date. The Germans have a saying: “We know Göthe, but we read Karl May”. Albert Einstein spent his entire adolescence under May’s spell; Hermann Hesse, who called May’s work “fiction as wish-fulfilment”, was a life-long fan. In Germany today, Winnetou is synonymous with “Indian”, and hundreds of “Indianer” clubs meet at weekends to practice tribal ceremonies in traditional costume.

No matter that May wrote his most famous “travelogues” (there were close to 80 in all) without ever leaving Saxony. Born into poverty in the small village of Hohenstein-Ernstthal, he spent much of his early adulthood engaged in petty fraud and impersonation—good training for his subsequent writing career. May’s extended sojourns in jail, meanwhile, gave the voracious reader plenty of time to absorb just about everything he could get his hands on concerning strange peoples in faraway lands.

Having found his calling, the young masquerader churned out a number of first-person accounts of Arabian adventures, with considerable success. But it was the 2,000-page “Winnetou” series, completed in 1893, that turned May into a rootin’-tootin’, sure-shootin’ sensation. Picking up where Buffalo Bill Cody’s 1889 German tour left off, he came up with the ingenious idea of presenting a western adventure in which a German novice, Old Shatterhand, out-lassos, out-hunts, out-shoots and finally out-wits Yankees and Indians alike. Throw in the hero’s great alliance with Winnetou, the stoical “red gentleman”, and May had created both a patriotic epic and a popular monument to the Native American race.

With the smell of success in his nostrils, May was unstoppable. He put it about that his narrator-hero’s exploits were actually his own, even showing off a lock of hair taken from his “blood brother” Winnetou. He posed for photographs with “Silver Nail” and “Bear Killer”, the rifles he said he and the Apache had used in the west. At his Villa Shatterhand in Radebeul, he surrounded himself with big game skins, Indian scalps, peace pipes, carpets, Arabian tea sets and other exotica. He set himself up on the German lecture circuit as the learned Herr Doktor May.

For a time even May’s publisher was taken in—some scholars have suggested that May himself was too. By the turn of the century, however, these role-playing antics had begun to take their toll, and the author spent much of the last decade of his life squabbling over publication rights and narrowly avoiding scandal. In 1908, the beleaguered May finally travelled to America. But he was destined to remain a true greenhorn: he made it no farther west than Buffalo, New York.

Karl May’s version of the American west bears little relation to any historical reality—which no doubt accounts for much of its charm. It remains irresistible to readers from all walks of life. Although Klaus Mann, Thomas’s son and an author in his own right, accused May of being a mentor for the Führer (Hitler reread May after seizing power in 1933), movie adaptations shot in Yugoslavia in the 1960s and starring a Frenchman, Pierre Brice, as Winnetou, created a huge new following in West Germany. For its part, the East German government rehabilitated the formerly “chauvinist” author in the early 1980s and reopened the Villa Shatterhand to May fans from all over the Eastern block. May’s most famous books have now been translated into more than 30 languages (fewer, admittedly, than the 1,200 the author himself claimed to have mastered). There is a museum devoted to May and his Indians in Lithuania. Not long ago, a Nicaraguan revolutionary, Tomas Borge, claimed that May’s western stories had inspired him in his political struggles.

So deeply rooted is the Karl May legacy today that the Native American Association of Germany, a small group started by Native American soldiers stationed in Europe during the cold war, has recently launched a campaign to re-educate Germans in the facts of Native American history. But they have an uphill battle against Old Shatterhand and Winnetou, who, like the west itself, were legends almost before they appeared in print. As a seasoned frontiersman tells the newly arrived Shatterhand at the beginning of one of his Great Plains adventures, “It’s amazing what they make you people learn over there.”


Copyright © 1995-2001 The Economist Newspaper Group Ltd. All rights reserved.

Perhaps Germans are reacting to their overly regimented and mechanized society—which reached its apotheosis under Hitler. Like America's New Agers, they may be seeking a "natural" alternative to their unnatural lives. If anti-Indian America was a source for Nazi thinking, Indian America may be an antidote to Nazi-like thinking.

We could do much worse than adopting the indigenous values of respecting nature, favouring community over competition, and thinking seven generations ahead. After all, Native people have endured for ages, while Hitler and his thousand-year Third Reich are nothing but fading memories.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[1] Senator Albert J. Beveridge, Congressional Record, January 9, 1900.
[2] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Volume 1, Chapter XI, 1923.


 

While on the subject of apologizing for crimes committed in the past, here's another meme making the rounds:

the United States as the inspiration for Adolf Hitler and the Holocaust.

 As God commanded in Deuteronomy, Americans destroyed sacred Indian poles and shrines and Germans destroyed sacred Jewish books and temples. If Aryan Americans had conquered a continent, Hitler would use the same techniques to conquer a world.

 


Exactly the same as the Holocaust.

 

Wounded Knee = Auschwitz.

 

When you've seen one Holocaust, you've seen 'em all. Naturally, these historians link liberally to each other, and drag in as many respected authors as possible:

 

David Stannard eloquently summed up the Holocaust's origins in his book American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World:

 

Elie Wiesel is right: the road to Auschwitz was being paved in the earliest days of Christendom. But another conclusion now is equally evident: on the way to Auschwitz the road's pathway led straight through the heart of the Indies and of North and South America.

 

Nowadays, our genocidal policies are a bit more covert and closety, but the "little Eichmanns" are everywhere at work -- even at your local shopping mall:

 

Since the extremes of the American and German holocausts, Western civilization has pulled back some. Our leaders have decided physical conquest is bad—disposing bodies requires too much paperwork, perhaps—but economic conquest is another matter. To build our factories and shopping malls, we exploit the world's poor people, suck up their natural resources, and demolish the earth's environment.

 

We do this in the name of the god Progress, our golden idol. We must have our luxury houses, well-manicured lawns, and SUVs, and our leaders must have profits to satisfy their shareholders or campaign contributors. They give us what we want and vice versa.

 

Jeez. I'm feeling so overwhelmed by guilt right now that I just don't know what to do. We more than deserve the severest possible punishment. 9/11 was a mere trifle considering the magnitude of our crimes against humanity.

 

If only a righteously indignant oppressed group could really do something to get our attention!

 

At any rate, Hitler might as well still be in charge of the evil Amerikkka that inspired him (and vice versa).

 

The meta-message of this Euro-American drive should be obvious by now. Hitler wasn't an aberration. He was the ultimate product of Western civilization, the über-American. We have met the enemy, and he was us.


And we must therefore wage war against the enemy -- which of course is us!

 

There's more there, and at other similar web sites, and not surprisingly, Ward Churchill is quoted liberally.

 

A leftist scholar at Columbia University shares his insights:

 

Scholars estimate the North American Indian population at 15 million at the time of Columbus's arrival. In 1900, the US census found that there were 237,000 Indians in North America. This dwarves anything that Hitler ever did. What is interesting about the American architects of genocide is that they don't even feel the need to use euphemisms. They openly called for the "extermination" of the Indian, while nobody can find a single statement by Hitler that is so blunt.

 

During the discussion period, someone asked what the policy toward the American Indian tells us about American civilization, especially its foreign policy. Ward Churchill was very succinct. He stated that the best analogy is to think of the Axis as victors in WWII and Hitler, or his successors, ruling over a worldwide empire. Taking advantage of my prerogatives as chairman, I added that imagine what Jews would feel like if they were living in such a Europe under Axis rule, in which they were still in ghettoes. Furthermore, they were poverty-stricken, addicted to drugs or alcohol, and were committing suicide out of despair in numbers all out of proportion to the rest of the population. To add insult to injury, a number of the leading soccer teams were called the "Hebrews" or "Jewboys" and had mascots with big noses. That is what American represents to the indigenous peoples.

 

I suspect that Ward Churchill does not view his talks as a way to advance his career, but as part of a crusade to defend the survival of his people. If 1/10th of the intensity that moves him were disseminated across the left, we would be much more effective, I'm sure. From the brief experience I have had with them, the intellectuals of American Indian radical movement appear to be the most motivated and most uncompromising people involved in struggle today. The reason for this is that they, like African-Americans, have fewer reasons to have illusions about the true nature of this country. For the European descendants, it is possible to be seduced by notions that this country is democratic and civilized. In reality, it is a country that is based on conquest and genocide.

 

One of the unfortunate features of the American socialist movement is that it has ceded entirely too much to the notion of the United States as a beacon on the hill, or as James Axtell puts it, "a huge nation of law and order and increasingly refined sensibility." On the contrary, the United States has come into existence by breaking sacred laws and by betraying a sensibility on a par with the SS or Attila the Hun. All the rest is sheer cosmetics.

 

Yes, the United States is incredibly guilty. Not only did we inspire Hitler, but we've claimed his mantle forever into the future.


E Pluribus Führer!