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30 January 2009

"The Bohemian Corporal"

"The Marshal and the Corporal.
Struggle with us for peace and equal rights."

Hitler was occasionally called "the Corporal" ("der Gefreite") not as a put-down but as a reference to his valor in the First World War. The nickname "Corporal" was worn as a badge of honor. Here we see it used in a pro-Hitler campaign poster from 1932, a context where the working-class connotation also seems to be exploited.

Frequently I have been engaged in arguments with a person who seems to have an unquenchable and petty animosity toward Adolf Hitler, to the point that he has difficulty according credit to Hitler even for little things.

One of the issues that arose recently was the question of the highest rank that Hitler achieved, whether in the Bavarian Army during the war or in the Reichswehr after the war. During the First World War, Hitler's highest rank was corporal. When offered a promotion to sergeant, which would have reduced his personal risk-taking, he refused. Almost all discussions of Hitler's military record that one can find are explicitly limited to his "war record"; consequently it is difficult to find references to his post-war rank in the Reichswehr, when risk-taking was no longer an issue.

I produced a page from Joachim Fest's Hitler that refers to Hitler as a sergeant. Fest was a professional historian who grew up during the Third Reich and from 1954 to 1961 he was editor in charge of contemporary history for the American-run Berlin radio station RIAS (Radio In the American Sector). Fest's reference to "the sergeant Hitler" is therefore not to be dismissed lightly. (It turns out that sergeant may have been a mistranslation. A third party tells me that in his German copy of Fest's Hitler it says Gefreiter, which is usually translated as corporal.  A German friend offers another possible solution by pointing out that the German and American command structures are different and therefore the correct translation of Gefreiter may be debatable.)

The pig-headed Hitler-hater was not satisfied, and went on saying in effect that since he never knew that Hitler had become a sergeant, and since Hitler was sometimes called "the Bohemian Corporal," it was impossible that Hitler could ever have been a sergeant. (Whether it turns out that he was right or wrong, the appeal to what "everybody knows" is not a respectable form of argument, especially when we are talking about somebody who has been such an intense object of vilification.)

The fact that Churchill and some other people called Hitler a "Bohemian Corporal" doesn't make it so. Supposedly Hindenburg and some Wehrmacht officers had called him that, but whoever called Hitler "the Bohemian Corporal" wasn't trying to be strictly accurate. For one thing, Hitler wasn't Bohemian; his native dialect was Lower-Bavarian, and he had served in the Bavarian Army.

It seems unlikely that the epithet "Bohemian Corporal" was meant as a put-down. At least, not the corporal part of it. Napoleon Bonaparte was known as "the Little Corporal" all his life even though that was not the highest rank he achieved, and it was not an insult but a mark of the bravery that he had shown as a corporal. Hitler was also distinguished as a brave soldier, even to the extent of refusing a promotion that would have reduced his personal risk. Hitler himself in wartime preferred to be a corporal, so why would it be a put-down? Perhaps the Germans who called Hitler der boehmische Gefreite, like the French who called Napoleon le petit caporal, were alluding to his personal bravery, or likening him to Napoleon.

Beaulieu, the Austrian commander, withdrew beyond the Adda River. There was no way to get at him but to cross the river by the bridge of Lodi, a bridge 350 feet long and swept on the other side by cannon. To cross it in the face of a raking fire was necessary but was well-nigh impossible. Bonaparte ordered his grenadiers forward. Halfway over they were mowed down by the Austrian fire of Lodi and began to recoil. Bonaparte and other generals rushed to the head of the columns, risked their lives, inspired their men, and the result was that they got across in the very teeth of the murderous fire and seized the Austrian batteries. "Of all the actions in which the soldiers under my command have been engaged," reported Bonaparte to the Directory, "none has equaled the tremendous passage of the bridge of Lodi."

From that day Bonaparte was the idol of his soldiers. He had shown reckless courage, contempt of death. Thenceforth they called him affectionately "The Little Corporal."
Charles Downer Hazen, Modern European History, p. 159
He was made a corporal at Lodi; and the surname of " Le Petit Caporal," thence acquired, was long remembered in the army. When, in 1815, he was met by the battalion sent against him from the fortress of Grenoble, the soldiers, the moment they saw him, exclaimed, "Long live our little corporal! we will never oppose him." Nor did this fearful passage produce a less powerful impression on the mind of the general. "The 13th Vendemiaire, and the victory of Montenotte," said Napoleon, "did not induce me to believe myself a superior character. It was after the passage of Lodi that the idea shot across my mind, that I might become a decisive actor on the political theatre. Then arose, for the first time, the spark of great ambition."
Sir Archibald Alison, Bart., D.C.L., History of Europe from the Commencement of the French Revolution to the Restoration of the Bourbons in MDCCCXV, p. 67

I find that many German books contain references to Hitler as der kleine Gefreite (des  Weltkrieges), which is exactly Napoleon's nickname translated into German. I suppose that Hitler was originally called by Napoleon's nickname, then boehmischer Gefreiter, perhaps due to the fact that Hitler did not have Napoleon's small stature.

Adolf Hitler, as a painter and drifter, was a Bohemian in the loose sense of the word, in the sense of somebody who lives a "Bohemian lifestyle." The word corporal perhaps also was being used with something other than its primary denotation, to mean an ambitious leader who had the fearlessness of Napoleon. It's quite a colorful description and not necessarily derogatory if that is how it was meant.

Hitler consummated the comparison between himself and France's "Corporal" by having troops parade past (not through) the Arc de Triomphe, which commemorates Napoleon's victories over the Germans. (There was a sense of What goes around comes around in that parade that historically myopic Americans usually miss.) With this, Germany gave her answer to Napoleon and history was coming full-circle.

Adolf Hitler visits the Tomb of Napoleon
in June 1940. Six months later Hitler had the remains of Napoleon's son, the short-lived Duke of Reichstadt, called by Napoleon "l'Aiglon," relocated from Vienna to Paris as a "symbol of good will and hope for eternal peace."

24 January 2009

The Quality of Hitler's Writing

Apparently some Jew named Ryback has just written a book that includes extensive criticism of Hitler as a writer.

Since I have read the first half of Mein Kampf, Eine Abrechnung, in German, I feel qualified to make some comments.

People think that Hitler was a terrible writer mainly because that is what Konrad Heiden wrote in the foreword to Ralph Mannheim's translation, which is certainly the most widely distributed translation of Mein Kampf in English. The newer foreword to the Mannheim translation by Abe Foxman parrots Heiden on this point.

You almost have to wonder if Heiden even bothered to read the book before he wrote his foreword. Heiden says for example that the title of the first half of Mein Kampf, Eine Abrechnung ( "A Reckoning," as Mannheim renders it) is unrelated to its content, supposedly because Hitler changed his mind about what he was going to write and didn't bother to change the title. This is total bullshit. 

Heiden has failed to grasp, first of all, that the title is a double entendre. Eine Abrechnung means recounting or payback. Hitler recounts the experiences that formed his political views and notes instances of payback for ignoring the principle of race. Variants of the word Abrechnung appear at key points in the text where these things occur (thus alluding back to the book's title).

The only place where Eine Abrechnung meanders a bit is in the last chapter, where Hitler apparently wanted to say some things that seemed important but didn't entirely fit into the rest of his narrative; this is understandable since Eine Abrechnung originally was the whole of Mein Kampf.

There are a few grammatical oddities (mostly regarding word order, which some other important German authors also did not always respect) and some unusual uses of words in Mein Kampf, but nothing to make you think that the writer is unintelligent. The overall quality of the writing is very good, even poetic at times.   

An English-speaking reader might well get the idea that Hitler was a terrible writer from the Mannheim translation, because it is a badly rendered translation, in this respect: a good translator doesn't translate German phrases word for word. That results in some very clunky expressions in English whereas the original German expression may have been entirely normal to a German reader.* A translator can easily make a German author look ridiculous that way, if he wishes. It doesn't even have to be deliberate; there are a lot of hard-to-read translations of German books around. It takes considerable talent to render a German text in English that will seem completely natural without any hint of foreignness. Where there is a lot of ill will toward a German author the probability that somebody with the requisite talent will make the effort to render a good, easy-to-read, and naturally flowing translation is rather small.  In Ralph Mannheim we were not so lucky.
* The extreme case of such word-for-word translation is called Luebke English.

23 January 2009

Bishop Richard Williamson says No Jews Gassed

Bishop Williamson declared that Ernst Zundel was right following the publication of the Leuchter Report in 1988. The Leuchter Report was a study of the alleged homicidal gas-chambers at Auschwitz, Birkenau, and Majdanek by Fred A. Leuchter, who was a consultant on execution technology for U.S. penitentiaries. Ernst Zundel had commissioned the report as evidence in his series of trials in Canada on the archaic charge of "spreading false news" for publishing a Canadian edition of Did Six Million Really Die? Today Ernst Zundel sits in a German jail but he can be confident that his efforts and suffering have not been in vain.

12 January 2009

Does Mein Kampf Say that Jews should be Gassed?

Jackson Falsifies

from Freispruch für Deutschland by Heinrich Haertle, 1965
translated by Hadding Scott, 2008

Even where harsher words were used, for example "annihilation," this did not necessarily have to mean physical extermination, rather the annihilation of Jewish power.1 Similarly, Churchill demanded in an official speech before the House of Commons in September 1943 "that Prussian militarism and National-Socialism be exterminated root and branch." He could not have meant physical extermination with that.

Chief Prosecutor Jackson2 demonstrated the lack of evidence for this "plan of annihilation" when he tried to trace it back to Hitler's Mein Kampf. He asserts that Hitler already at that time regretted that the Jews had not been exterminated with poison gas in the last war. That is simply a falsification.

Since this falsification is also still repeated today (1965) in the re-education literature, let's review briefly the actual text and its context.

Were it possible to prove a plan of extermination against the Jews already from Hitlers' Mein Kampf, then the collective guilt for anti-Jewish crimes would fall upon every German citizen and soldier. An exact analysis of the actual wording, however, proves the opposite.

Hitler does not turn against Jewry as such and demand its total extermination; rather he attacks Marxism and its destructive effect in the First World War. Propagandistically generalizing, he turns above all against Jewish Marxists and asserts that had the German working class of 1914 in its inner orientation consisted of Marxists, the war would have been ended in three weeks and Germany would have been crushed. That the German People still fought proves that the Marxist false doctrine had not eaten its way in deeply enough. But to the extent that the German soldier again falls into the hands of Marxist leaders, he is lost to the Fatherland.

Only after this qualification does that passage follow which ostensibly demands the extermination of the Jews:

If at the outbreak and during the war, twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew nation-corruptors had been held under poison gas once, as hundreds of thousands of our best German workers from all classes and callings had to endure on the battlefield, then the sacrifice of millions on the front would not have been in vain. On the contrary: twelve thousand scoundrels eliminated at the right time would perhaps have saved the lives of a million Germans who are more orderly and more valuable for the future.

Hitler then reproaches bourgeois statecraft for thoughtlessly sending millions of soldiers to a bloody death while declaring ten or twelve thousand traitors, black-marketeers, usurers, and swindlers as sacrosanct.

With this out-of-context passage, which was written in 1925 and relates to the war situation of 1914, Jackson can prove no plan of extermination for 1942. Nevertheless this citation wanders like a ghost through the whole literature of re-education, and even Dr. Hans Buchheim of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte still repeats this nonsense with his book published in 1958.3

As the Jewish writer Tenenbaum confirms in his book Race and Reich, despite the difficulty of exchanging foreign currency, 1500 Jews per month were able to emigrate legally from Germany. The Jewish historians Poliakoff and Wulf confirm in their book, The Third Reich and the Jews, that prior to 31 December 1942, altogether 557,357 Jews were able to emigrate from the Old Reich, Austria, and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia.

If not all were able to emigrate, it was due not to restrictive measures on the German side but to the barriers which the rest of the world had erected against Jewish immigration.4

Even Madam Professor Arendt confirms that in the pre-war years a modus vivendi was able to be found which made possible a cooperation of Germans and Jews regarding emigration. The National-Socialists, she says, had essentially adopted a pro-Zionist attitude. Thus in this period an actual collaboration between Jews and Germans had come about. In those first years an apparently reciprocal and highly satisfying agreement between "Nazi officials" and the Jewish Agency for Palestine was struck, which made it possible for the emigrants to transfer their money in the form of German goods.5 What they had paid in Germany was refunded to them in pounds on arrival in Palestine. This led to the result that in the thirties, as American Jewry organized the famous boycott of German goods, Palestine was flooded with all possible products "Made in Germany." (The author can confirm this for 1937 from his own observation in all cities of Palestine .) This led in the Eichmann Trial to the paradoxical situation that the accused could assert that back in the day he had saved hundreds of thousands of Jews. Back then a functionary from Palestine visited him in Berlin to invite him to Palestine for a sight-seeing tour of their land.

1. The word Vernichtung, which etymologically seems as if it should be translated with the word annihilation, is used by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf to describe the Habsburg Monarchy's policy of trying to turn Austria's German population into Czechs. Therefore one should not automatically assume that the word connotes killing. Furthermore, hyperbolic language seems to be a common German vice; at least it was one of Hitler's vices when addressing the general public; perhaps the dramatic language was helpful for motivating people. It is a common practice among Holocaust promoters to zoom in on the shocking word or phrase while ignoring context that clarifies the meaning. A particularly glaring example of this is Heinrich Himmler's speech of 4 October 1943 wherein he refers to Ausrottung (usually translated "extermination") of the Jews, but juxtaposes it with the word Evakuierung, evacuation. Since these words both refer to the same action, the question becomes, is Himmler being euphemistic with Evakuierung -- as the Holocaust promoters take for granted -- or is he being hyperbolic with Ausrotting?

2. Robert H. Jackson, the Chief Prosecutor in the International Military Tribunal, was simultaneously an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. He had been a political protégé of Franklin Roosevelt.

3. Haertle is probably referring to Hans Buchheim's The Third Reich: Its Beginning, Its Development, Its End, (1958).

4. Britain restricted Jewish immigration to Palestine beginning in 1937.

5. What is described here is an arrangement that allowed Jews leaving Germany to take their money with them. It was necessary to convert the Jews' German currency into goods which then could be exported and sold for foreign currency, because the Reichsmark was not accepted by foreign banks. This fact also made it difficult for Germany to import foreign goods: with what could they pay? The solution was that instead of paying for foreign goods with currency, Germany would trade goods for goods. For example, in one instance Standard Oil was paid with Hohner harmonicas.

02 January 2009

Frank Capra Falsified the “Rape of Nanking”

In addition to fabricating and falsely attributing statements to Adolf Hitler, Frank Capra's Why We Fight also misrepresents documentary film footage. This video demonstrates that Capra edited footage of an execution of Communists by Nationalist Chinese troops to misrepresent it as an execution of civilians by Japanese troops. The evidence for this is given beginning at 5:36 in the video.

The original, unaltered footage of the National Revolution Army that we see also shows very briefly a scene of dead bodies in a narrow street, similar to some other scenes shown in Why We Fight. The execution scene is probably not the only scene that Capra lifted from that footage.

In retrospect it is possible to discern that there is something suspect about that segment even without having the original, uncropped footage for comparison. Aside from the fact that Capra's film doesn't show the executioners and their uniforms, there is the editing of the segment. We see prisoners shot then there is a momentary Hollywood-style cut to a closeup of what is supposed to be a Japanese officer, probably an actor, shouting an order. For this to be authentic there would have had to be two cameramen on the scene, working with this kind of Hollywood film-editing in mind, and the Japanese officer would have had to allow the closeup. This seems extremely unlikely just on its face. Most likely Capra spliced in the actor dressed as a Japanese officer to compensate for the fact that there were no Japanese soldiers visible elsewhere in the scene. The consideration of how a film is edited can in itself generate legitimate doubt about the authenticity of what is presented as documentary footage.

I do not mean to suggest that the Japanese were not cruel; the Japanese and the Chinese alike (although Capra portrays the Chinese as passive and thoroughly gentle) could be very cruel to prisoners. But the fact is that certain scenes in Frank Capra's Why We Fight, a US Army training film later released to the general public, are not what they are said to be.

The U.S. Army Signal Corps, which was responsible for the creation of this series of propaganda films, was also responsible for footage depicting German concentration camps at the end of the war.

The Kuomintang also misrepresented photos allegedly portraying the "Rape of Nanking." The non-Japanese man on the show who wants to maintain that the Rape of Nanking really happened is David Spector, a Jew: