Nazism was reactionary rather than a thought out ideology and this was its’ great strength and its’ undoing. It reacted to Versailles, it reacted to the 1929 crash, it reacted to economic growth and it reacted to the calls of total war albeit two years too late. It reacted with whatever means were available to it and it reacted against Communism and the conventional political system controlled by moderate Conservatives, the very people that were perceived to have lost Germany the Great War.
True, it is a fixed idea with the French that the Rhine is their property, but to this arrogant demand the only reply worthy of the German nation is Arndt’s: “Give back Alsace and Lorraine” For I am of the opinion, perhaps in contrast to many whose standpoint I share in other respects, that the re-conquest of the German speaking left bank of the Rhine is a matter of national honour, and that the Germanisation of a disloyal Holland and of Belgium is a political necessity for us. Shall we let the German Nationality be completely suppressed in these countries while the Slavs are rising ever more powerfully in the East?
It does indeed sound like a Nazi style ideal and is argued to show that Hitler had sympathies with the left. This is of course nonsensical as the author fails to remember that Engels was a German, and the German national pride over the territories of Alsace and Lorraine demanded their return. Germany was a late player on the international scene and as such had not been really involved in the great land grabs for Africa or the Pacific territories and only managed to grab the parts Britain hadn’t been to interested in or in the case of the Caroline islands, bought them from Spain in the aftermath of the American Spanish war. Alsace-Lorraine had been a heavily disputed area of land for generations with both German and French nations laying heavy claims onto it. It is not an alien concept for Engels, as a proud German and Hitler, a German Nationalist politician of Austrian decent, to agree that these territories should be returned to the Vaterland and that fresh territorial gains in Holland and Belgium should be sought. I am sure that you could not label Kaiser Wilhelm II nor any of the officers of the German General staff like Von Moltke a Communist either, yet territorial gains from weaker European nations and the gaining of a Germanic Empire in continental Europe was clearly one of their aims.
The idea of the rising power of Russia was also not an alien ideal across the whole of Europe. In the wake of the Napoleonic wars many Western nations became concerned by the Russian military might, especially Great Britain who saw her as the next great competitor to her power. The advance of the Czar’s armies and the ease with which he dealt with Napoleon’s grand armies concerned British political thinkers for a whole century. The worry that the Russians could march through the German states or annexe the Balkans and finally gain a warm water port dominated military thought and planning and culminated in the Crimean war. Although an impasse was reached there was always a watchful eye on the Eastern borders of Europe lest the Russian Bear mobilise its armies. Being aware of this does not tie one to any ism in particular; it was just an on going fact within Political and military thought throughout the Nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Dr Ray’s article then moves to focus on Anti-Semitism as a root of all Nazi ideals and again quotes Marx:
Let us consider the actual, worldly Jew – not the Sabbath Jew, as Bauer does, but the everyday Jew. Let us not look for the secret of the Jew in his religion, but let us look for the secret of his religion in the real Jew. What is the secular basis of Judaism? Practical need, self-interest. What is the worldly religion of the Jew? Huckstering. What is his worldly god? Money. Very well then! Emancipation from huckstering and money, consequently from practical, real Jewry, would be self-emancipation of our time… we recognize in Jewry, therefore a general present-time-orientated anti social element, an element which through historical development – to which in this harmful respect the Jews have zealously contributed – has been brought to its present high level, at which it must necessarily dissolve itself. In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Jewry.
Marx and Hitler would have indeed seen eye to eye over the prominence of the Jewish international banks controlled by families like the Rothschild’s and as an anti-capitalist in a time where Industrialist and international capitalists were causing misery to millions of workers across Europe it would have appeared symptomatic of a wider problem. For Hitler and the Nazis it was about the International threat of Jewry and their ultimate plan of world domination and self preservation. The Nazis argued that a German Jew was firstly a Jew and their loyalty was not to the state, which they believed the Jews had betrayed during World War One and this was also crudely coupled to the idea of a Jewish conspiracy and the label of “Profiteers”.
Hitler did not see the Nazis as either Right or Left though and stated in Mein Kampf that:
Today our left-wing politicians in particular are constantly insisting that their craven-hearted and obsequious foreign policy necessarily result from the disarmament of Germany, where as the truth is that this is the policy of traitors […] But the politicians of the Right deserve exactly the same reproach. It was through their miserable cowardice that those ruffians of Jews who came into power in 1918 were able to rob the nation of its arms.
|Wehrmacht troops parading in Czechoslavkia after absorbtion|
This mixing of ideas is probably what gave it such a broad scope of acceptance by Germans from all walks of life. There was something for everyone and the party played to the popular whims and gave the people what they want. My Grandfather, a wide-eyed school boy on an exchange program to pre-war Germany was over awed by how clean the streets were, with no graffiti, no homeless people, no litter and everyone going to work. Of course he wouldn't have seen the undesirables being rounded up and taken to Dachau. Many Germans, before the Gestapo really grew in powers, were happy with the Government that solved their ills and was just the right mix of progressive socialism and older values of Conservativism.