Renascence of the Third Reich

Who would have thought it twenty years ago? In the first decade of the 21st century the most important world political movement is  based on something recently thought to be as dead as the dinosaurs — the Third Reich. There has always been an Arab connection to the Third Reich, though. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al—Husseini, spent the war in Berlin, met frequently with Hitler and organized an SS—Muslim formation.  He had plans for installing concentration camps in Palestine but that was not to be. 

Given the ongoing relevance of National Socialism to radical Islamism, it is worth reviewing a couple of salient facts about the Hitler period in Germany.  While neither of these topics are secrets, they tend not to be emphasized because they are based on

(a) the now discredited race theory of National Socialism (although similar ideas were fashionable as eugenics in large parts of Europe and the U.S. in the first half of the 20th century); and

(b) Hitler's 'great man' view of history, which is not the way historians tend to view events in the post—modern world.

National Socialist race theory.  Winston Churchill summed this up admirably in The Gathering Storm, where he outlined the main thesis of Mein Kampf.  Essentially, this book, which means 'My Struggle,' takes a Darwinist view of the fate of nations.  Man is a fighting animal, therefore the nation is a fighting unit: it must fight for its existence.  In order to do this effectively, it must be free of foreign defilements, here seen as the Jews, which, being an 'international race,' weaken the national will to fight.  The people are not moved by reason but rather by the driving force of 'fanatic and hysterical passions' — hence the central role of propaganda.  The world is moving toward a great and final upheaval in which the German race must prevail.

With suitable alteration for time, place and personalities, does this sound like anyone you know?  It sounds to me a lot like Mahmood Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, to say nothing of Ayatollah Khamenei, Ruler of the Iran Supreme Council.  So we have been here before — the Third Reich — where the radical Middle East is now.

Proceeding through the Muslim Brotherhood and the Ba'ath Parties of Syria and Iraq, and under the sponsorship of the Grand Mufti, the ideas of the Third Reich never died in the Middle East. They had to exist in the shadows for a while due to the revulsion the Nazis created in the still—vigorous civilized world, but as that world has become less vigorous in its European component and as Nazi ideas have become more apposite in the minds of Islamic radicals, they are back, with the very same centerpiece, the extermination of the Jews, serving the purpose of a 'driving force of fanatic and hysterical passions.'

The Great Man theory of history. Hitler's German biographer, Joachim Fest, characterized Hitler as the last of the great warrior/conquerors — in the line of Cyrus the Great (founder of the Persian Empire), Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghiz Khan, and Napoleon (a list that is meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive).  Fest meant that a component — not the only component — of Hitler's wars was glory, an obsolete concept now, but one that the ancients understood perfectly — 'to ride in glory through the gates of Persepolis.'  Indeed, for a while Hitler styled himself Grofaz, the German acronym for 'Greatest Warlord of All Time.'

Glory was a component of Hitler's makeup, but so also was policy.  Hitler had a very definite view of the important of race — especially Teutonic racial purity — as necessary to secure his goals.  Which were 'living room in the East' — meaning acquiring all of the Soviet Union east of the Urals, securing its natural resource base for Greater Germany and turning the Slavs into a helot — slave — population serving the warrior Teutonic race, which would then direct world affairs.  Whether one characterizes this conception as 'crazy' it was a conception, and one similar historically to that of the ancient Spartans.

National Socialist society was organized around the leadership principle —  Fuhrerprinzip  — a critical aspect of the Nazi State.  It meant rule by a great man.  The Fuhrer was the great man who stood at the top of the edifice.  Other great men proved their worth by 'working toward the Fuhrer.'  The concept of 'working toward the Fuhrer' meant that ambitious subordinates would be competing for the Fuhrer's attention, which allowed him to divide and rule.  But they would also be anticipating his wishes based on the direction he outlined for the nation, so that a great deal got done without explicit orders and without explicitly burdening the Fuhrer with responsibility for every action.

Given the Fuhrerprinzip of the National Socialist State — the rule by a great man — a very important point regarding war comes to the fore, which is often overlooked even now about Nazi Germany.  On April 29, 1939, Hitler celebrated his 50th birthday.  Because Hitler saw himself as critical to the historic mission of National Socialism — to establishing the Teutonic race at the apex of world power through war — the clock was running.  It was essential that the necessary war to defeat the Slavs and gain territory in the East be undertaken while he was still young and vigorous enough to direct it.

What does this mean?  That no amount of diplomacy was going to deflect Hitler from his course.  Indeed, he was heard to curse the prime ministers of Britain and France because they 'stole' from him the war he was trying to start over Czechoslovakia.  As history knows, he overcame this obstacle.

The history of National Socialism, Hitler, and the Fuhrerprinzip suggest the limits of negotiation with Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, and the entire radical Islamist venture in Iran.  There is good reason to think that Ahmadinejad, with his millennial Shia theology, is pursuing a timetable independent of whatever countervailing offers are or will be made by the West.  If this is true, then the sooner he is out of office, the better it is for us.

Greg Richards is a frequent contributor.

Who would have thought it twenty years ago? In the first decade of the 21st century the most important world political movement is  based on something recently thought to be as dead as the dinosaurs — the Third Reich. There has always been an Arab connection to the Third Reich, though. The Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al—Husseini, spent the war in Berlin, met frequently with Hitler and organized an SS—Muslim formation.  He had plans for installing concentration camps in Palestine but that was not to be. 

Given the ongoing relevance of National Socialism to radical Islamism, it is worth reviewing a couple of salient facts about the Hitler period in Germany.  While neither of these topics are secrets, they tend not to be emphasized because they are based on

(a) the now discredited race theory of National Socialism (although similar ideas were fashionable as eugenics in large parts of Europe and the U.S. in the first half of the 20th century); and

(b) Hitler's 'great man' view of history, which is not the way historians tend to view events in the post—modern world.

National Socialist race theory.  Winston Churchill summed this up admirably in The Gathering Storm, where he outlined the main thesis of Mein Kampf.  Essentially, this book, which means 'My Struggle,' takes a Darwinist view of the fate of nations.  Man is a fighting animal, therefore the nation is a fighting unit: it must fight for its existence.  In order to do this effectively, it must be free of foreign defilements, here seen as the Jews, which, being an 'international race,' weaken the national will to fight.  The people are not moved by reason but rather by the driving force of 'fanatic and hysterical passions' — hence the central role of propaganda.  The world is moving toward a great and final upheaval in which the German race must prevail.

With suitable alteration for time, place and personalities, does this sound like anyone you know?  It sounds to me a lot like Mahmood Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, to say nothing of Ayatollah Khamenei, Ruler of the Iran Supreme Council.  So we have been here before — the Third Reich — where the radical Middle East is now.

Proceeding through the Muslim Brotherhood and the Ba'ath Parties of Syria and Iraq, and under the sponsorship of the Grand Mufti, the ideas of the Third Reich never died in the Middle East. They had to exist in the shadows for a while due to the revulsion the Nazis created in the still—vigorous civilized world, but as that world has become less vigorous in its European component and as Nazi ideas have become more apposite in the minds of Islamic radicals, they are back, with the very same centerpiece, the extermination of the Jews, serving the purpose of a 'driving force of fanatic and hysterical passions.'

The Great Man theory of history. Hitler's German biographer, Joachim Fest, characterized Hitler as the last of the great warrior/conquerors — in the line of Cyrus the Great (founder of the Persian Empire), Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Genghiz Khan, and Napoleon (a list that is meant to be illustrative, not exhaustive).  Fest meant that a component — not the only component — of Hitler's wars was glory, an obsolete concept now, but one that the ancients understood perfectly — 'to ride in glory through the gates of Persepolis.'  Indeed, for a while Hitler styled himself Grofaz, the German acronym for 'Greatest Warlord of All Time.'

Glory was a component of Hitler's makeup, but so also was policy.  Hitler had a very definite view of the important of race — especially Teutonic racial purity — as necessary to secure his goals.  Which were 'living room in the East' — meaning acquiring all of the Soviet Union east of the Urals, securing its natural resource base for Greater Germany and turning the Slavs into a helot — slave — population serving the warrior Teutonic race, which would then direct world affairs.  Whether one characterizes this conception as 'crazy' it was a conception, and one similar historically to that of the ancient Spartans.

National Socialist society was organized around the leadership principle —  Fuhrerprinzip  — a critical aspect of the Nazi State.  It meant rule by a great man.  The Fuhrer was the great man who stood at the top of the edifice.  Other great men proved their worth by 'working toward the Fuhrer.'  The concept of 'working toward the Fuhrer' meant that ambitious subordinates would be competing for the Fuhrer's attention, which allowed him to divide and rule.  But they would also be anticipating his wishes based on the direction he outlined for the nation, so that a great deal got done without explicit orders and without explicitly burdening the Fuhrer with responsibility for every action.

Given the Fuhrerprinzip of the National Socialist State — the rule by a great man — a very important point regarding war comes to the fore, which is often overlooked even now about Nazi Germany.  On April 29, 1939, Hitler celebrated his 50th birthday.  Because Hitler saw himself as critical to the historic mission of National Socialism — to establishing the Teutonic race at the apex of world power through war — the clock was running.  It was essential that the necessary war to defeat the Slavs and gain territory in the East be undertaken while he was still young and vigorous enough to direct it.

What does this mean?  That no amount of diplomacy was going to deflect Hitler from his course.  Indeed, he was heard to curse the prime ministers of Britain and France because they 'stole' from him the war he was trying to start over Czechoslovakia.  As history knows, he overcame this obstacle.

The history of National Socialism, Hitler, and the Fuhrerprinzip suggest the limits of negotiation with Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, and the entire radical Islamist venture in Iran.  There is good reason to think that Ahmadinejad, with his millennial Shia theology, is pursuing a timetable independent of whatever countervailing offers are or will be made by the West.  If this is true, then the sooner he is out of office, the better it is for us.

Greg Richards is a frequent contributor.