From John Ray's shorter notes

6 March, 2012

Were the Nazis mad?

Below is a blurb I have received about a new book. I will add a few comments at the foot of it
HERF, JEFFREY: The Jewish Enemy: Nazi Propaganda During
World War II and the Holocaust
(Harvard University Press)

Historians once wrote about the Final Solution and World War II as if they were distinct events. Jeffrey Herf demonstrates, however, that in Hitler, Goebbels and other Nazi leaders’ minds, the Holocaust and Second World War were part of a single “war against the Jews.”

“International Jewry,” the Nazis believed, was a conspiracy operating behind the scenes, dominating Soviet, British and American government policy. The “eternal Jew,” Hitler claimed, stood behind Roosevelt, Churchill and Stalin alike. How else could one explain the alliance of these ideological foes?

Of course, there is no evidence to support the claim that the United States and Great Britain were ruled by Jews. As for the Bolsheviks, Herf documents that at no time did Jews constitute more than 5% of the Communist Party. Nazi propaganda about Jewish domination, Herf concludes, was a “complete fantasy.”

Yet the Nazis believed their fantasy. The assumption that they did not is based on an optimistic belief in the power of human rationality, and a devaluation of the human capacity for delusion. Herf shows how German ideology and propaganda were held together by a gigantic persecution mania, or paranoid myth.

It is certainly true that Hitler was obsessed with the the Jews but if he was mad ("Paranoid" in the blurb above) so are most Leftists today and so in fact is current American "anti-discrimination" law. The fact is that in prewar Germany, Jews had a "disproportionate" presence in the leadership of almost all sections of society -- as indeed they do in the USA and Britain today. Hitler viewed this disproportion as evidence of unfairness supported by a racist conspiracy and was irate about it, very irate.

But American Leftists use exactly the same logic in seeing "disproportionate" numbers of blacks in various occupations as evidence of racist conspiracy. Indeed, "disproportion" is all by itself taken as evidence of discrimination and firms and organizations are REQUIRED to bring the proportion of blacks among their employees up to the population average. Fire departments, for instance, are not allowed to employ firefighters who are all white, regardless of the skills and knowledge that the various candidates for employment might have.

Hitler's solution to the "problem" was obviously more drastic than the legal harassment that American Leftists have instituted but the thinking is the same. It is ideologically warped thinking but it is not insane.

And one of Hitler's major aims concerned the Jews only incidentally: The Drang nach Osten in search of Lebensraum. Like the Greenies of today, Hitler thought Germany was running out of resources and that in the foreseeable future it might not be able to feed all its population. So he wanted to push to the East and grab Russian land to supply Germany with the resources it needed. So are the Greenies insane? Their assumptions are the same as Hitler's.

And it was a reasonable puzzle for Hitler to work out how come the semi-Fascist Roosevelt, the Conservative Churchill and the Bolshevik Stalin all united against him. What did they have in common? To say it was the Jews provided a unifying explanation. It was a simple explanation and a wrong one but simple explanations are popular to this day. Obama's claim that America's problems are all due to the rich "not paying their fair share" is also simple but wrong.

So from the blurb it seems to me that the writer's explanation of Hitler's motivation is also simple but wrong. Hitler in fact had complex motivations. I say far more about how normal Hitler's views were in the prewar world here. Nobody else liked Jews at that time either

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