Hitler: Beyond Evil & Tyranny, Part 1

R. H. S. Stolfi’s Hitler: Beyond Evil & Tyranny, Part 1

2,607 words

StolfibiographyPart 1 of 2

R. H. S. Stolfi
Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny
Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2011

“No man is a hero to his valet, not because the hero is not a hero, but because the valet is a valet.” — G. W. F. Hegel

“When ZOG and all its monkey men come a gunnin’ for me, I will build myself a fortress of my Hitler biographies.” – David E. Williams, “Wotan Rains on a Plutocrat Parade”

Adolf Hitler was clearly the man of the 20th century, whose shadow grows taller as the sun of the West sinks ever lower. Sadly, though, there is no biography worthy of Hitler.

If great men are those who leave their stamp on history, then Hitler was a great man. But great men present great problems for biographers. Great men are not necessarily good men, and even good men, when they hold political power, often find it necessary to kill innocent people. Evil men do not find this difficult, but good men do. Thus a good man, if he is to be a great man, must also be a hard man. But it is difficult for biographers, who are ordinary men, to sympathize with great men, especially men who are unusually bad or hard.

But biographers must at least try to enter imaginatively into the minds of their subjects. They must feel their feelings and think their thoughts. They must feel sympathy or empathy for their subjects. Such sympathy is not a violation of objectivity but a tool of it. It is a necessary counter-weight to the antipathy and ressentiment that hardness, cruelty, and greatness often inspire. Sympathy is necessary so a biographer can discover and articulate the virtues of intellect and character necessary to achieve anything great in this world, for good or ill.

Of course, one’s ability to sympathize with great men depends in large part on one’s moral principles. A Nietzschean or Social Darwinist would, for instance, find it easier to sympathize with a human beast of prey than would a Christian or a liberal democrat. Even so, it has been possible for Christians and liberals to write biographies of such great conquerors as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Mohammed, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon without whipping themselves into thousand-page paroxysms of self-righteous moralistic denigration.

Hitler, of course, provides even greater problems for biographers, because his demonization is a prop of contemporary Jewish hegemony, and there are consequences for any writer who challenges that consensus.

R. H. S. Stolfi’s Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny is one of my favorite books on Hitler. It is not a biography of Hitler, although it is organized chronologically. It is, rather, a kind of “meta-biography,” an essay on the interpretation of Hitler’s life. Stolfi’s project has both positive and negative aspects: Stolfi critiques the existing interpretations of Hitler’s life as a whole and of specific episodes in Hitler’s life, and Stolfi sets forth his own interpretations.

Stolfi’s criticism of Hitler biographies focuses on the work of those he calls the four “great biographers”: John Toland (Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography), Alan Bullock (Hitler: A Study in Tyranny), Joachim Fest (Hitler), and Ian Kershaw (Hitler: 1889-1936, Hubris and Hitler: 1936-1945, Nemesis). In Stolfi’s words, “the penchant of [Hitler’s] biographers for gratuitous sarcasm, strained skepticism, and writing from preconceived heights of antipathy has left the world with a dangerously inaccurate portrait of Hitler” (p. 54). (Judging from the reception of David Irving’s Hitler’s War and The War Path, the existing establishment regards an accurate portrait of Hitler more dangerous than an inaccurate one.) Four examples of this bias will sufficice:

(1) Ian Kershaw claims that outside of politics, Hitler was an “unperson,” a nullity, which completely ignores Hitler’s voracious reading, serious engagement with and understanding of philosophers like Schopenhauer, love of painting and fine art, remarkable architectural knowledge and skill, and love of classical music, including a connoisseur’s knowledge of the operas of Richard Wagner that impressed the Wagner family and other highly discerning individuals.

(2) Hitler’s biographers invariably denigrate his humble, common origins, coming off like parodies of the worst forms of social snobbery. But of course the same authors would wax sodden and treacly in describing any other man’s rise from poverty and obscurity to fame and fortune. Jesse Owens, for instance.

(3) Stolfi rebuts one of Joachim Fest’s most outrageous liberties as follows: “The great biographers all debunk Nazi theories of racial differences, which they characterise as pseudoscientific  and based on unredeemed prejudice, yet one of them [Fest] could claim confidently, without hint of countervailing possibility, that the subject of his biography had ‘criminal features’ set in a ‘psychopathic face’” (p. 268).

(4) The great biographers regularly slight Hitler’s service as a soldier during the First World War, yet as Stolfi points out, Hitler won the Iron Cross First Class, the Iron Cross Second Class, and a regimental commendation for bravery. He was also seriously wounded twice. Hitler never spoke much about what he did to earn these commendations, partly out of his characteristic modesty and reserve, but also probably because he did not wish to relive painful experiences. But even this is twisted by his biographers to cast aspersions on Hitler’s bravery and character. Stolfi notes that with no other historical figure do biographers feel entitled to take such liberties.

Kershaw is the most tendentious of the great biographers, repeatedly characterizing Hitler as an “unperson,” a “nonentity,” a “mediocrity,” and a “failure.” These epithets must surely feel good to Kershaw and like-minded readers, but if they are true, then Hitler’s career is utterly incomprehensible. Stolfi is acerbic, witty, and tireless in skewering the great biographers — although some of his readers might find it tiresome as well.

In addition to offering fascinating interpretations of particular events, Stolfi argues for three overriding theses about Hitler: (1) Hitler cannot be understood as a politician but as a prophet, specifically a prophet forced to take on the role of a messiah; (2) Hitler cannot be understood as an evil man, but as a good man who was forced by circumstances and his own ruthless logic and unemotional “hardness” to do terrible things; and (3) Hitler must be understood as one of the great men of history, indeed as a world-historical figure, who cannot be grasped with conventional moral concepts.

Surely by now you are thinking that our author must be some sort of “discredited,” “marginal,” outsider historian like David Irving, or even a dreaded “revisionist.” So who was Russell Stolfi? Born in 1932, Stolfi is to all appearances an established, mainstream military historian. He was Professor at the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and a  Colonel in the US Marine Corps Reserve. He is the author of three other books: German Panzers on the Offensive: Russian Front–North Africa 1941-1942 (Schiffer Publishing, 2003), Hitler’s Panzers East: World War II Reinterpreted (University of Oklahoma, 1993), and NATO Under Attack: Why the Western Alliance Can Fight Outnumbered and Win in Central Europe Without Nuclear Weapons (with F. W. von Mellenthin, Duke University Press, 1983). I first read Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny in May of 2012, and I was so excited that I tried to contact Stolfi for an interview only to learn that he had just died in April.

Politician or Prophet?

Adolf Hitler was a formidable political organizer who took over a minuscule Bavarian debating club and turned it into the largest political party in Germany. After being imprisoned for an abortive Putsch, Hitler decided to attain power legally, through electoral politics. To that end, he  virtually created the modern political campaign, traveling tirelessly by automobile and airplane and masterfully employing the mass media of his time. When he became Chancellor, Hitler proved a formidable statesman, transforming Germany with a virtually bloodless revolution and recovering German lands and pride through a series of deft foreign policy triumphs until the British and French started a World War to stop him.

Yet for all that, Stolfi argues that Hitler’s personality, goals, and grand strategy were more like those of a religious prophet, specifically an armed prophet like Mohammed.

Politicians presuppose a common political system and climate of opinion. They generally avoid contesting fundamental principles and instead deal with essentially quantitative differences within the same political and ideological continuum, hence their ability to compromise and their susceptibility to corruption. Stolfi points out again and again that Hitler refused to behave like a politician.

Hitler never compromised on basic principles. He took dangerously unpopular stands (p. 225). He refused to soften the party’s message to appeal to squeamish and lukewarm people. He was no demagogue: “A demagogue tells his audience what it wants to hear. A messiah tells his audience what he wants it to hear” (p. 248). Hitler never worried that his radical views would “discredit” him in the eyes of the public, whose minds were mostly in the grip of his enemies anyway. Instead, Hitler was supremely confident of his ability to lend credit to his ideas through reason and rhetoric. He wanted to elevate public opinion toward truth rather than condescend to pander to ignorance and folly.

Hitler also refused to enter common fronts with enemy parties, especially the Social Democrats, even when they took patriotic stands.

Hitler was, moreover, utterly incorruptible. He refused to make special promises to businessmen and other interest groups. He just handed them the party’s platform. In the end, he was offered the Chancellorship simply because his opponents knew he could not be bought off with anything less.

Revolutionaries deal with fundamental issues of principle, which is why they seek to overthrow existing systems and begin anew. Hitler was, of course, a political revolutionary. But he was something more. He saw himself as the exponent of a whole philosophy of life, not just a political philosophy. He placed politics in a larger biological and historical perspective: the struggle of Aryan man against Jewry and its extended phenotypes Communism and Anglo-Saxon capitalism. He believed the stakes were global: nothing less than the survival of all life on Earth was in peril. And having miraculously survived four years of slaughter and two serious wounds in the trenches of World War I — including an experience that can only be described as supernatural (p. 95) — Hitler believed that he enjoyed the special protection of Providence.

Hitler had a number of heroic role models. As a child, he was transported by Germanic myths and sagas. As a teenager, he identified with the hero of Wagner’s opera Rienzi, based on the story of Cola di Rienzi, the 14th century popular dictator who sought to restore Rome to its Imperial glory but who was undone by the treachery of the aristocracy and church and finally murdered. Hitler prophesied that he would become a tribune of the people who would rise and fall like Rienzi, and he did. Hitler also identified with Wagner’s Lohengrin and Siegfried. Although Hitler himself had little use for the Bible, his later career as armed prophet brings to mind the Hebrew prophets and lawgivers as well. Stolfi’s analogy between Hitler and Mohammed is quite apposite and revealing.

Savior of Germany — and Europe

Hitler, however, apparently did not think of himself as a messiah figure, but more as a John the Baptist, preparing the way for someone greater than him. But, as Stolfi documents, many of Hitler’s closest followers — all of them intelligent men, ranging from mystics like Hess to consummate cynics like Goebbels — as well as some of his more fair-minded enemies, did see him as a messiah figure, and in the end, he was forced to take on that role. Reading Stolfi makes Savitri Devi’s thesis in The Lightning and the Sun that Hitler was an avatar of the god Vishnu seem a little less eccentric. (Savitri did not originate that thesis. It was a view that she encountered widely among educated Hindus in the 1930s.) There was something messianic about Hitler’s aura and actions, and people around the world understood it in terms of their own cultural traditions.

Stolfi does not mention it, but there is a sense in which Hitler was the savior of Germany and all of Western Europe, although his accomplishments fell far short of his ambitions, consumed his life, and devastated his nation. When Hitler launched operation Barbarossa in 1941, the Soviets were poised to launch a massive invasion of all of Central and Western Europe. Hitler pre-empted that invasion, and although he failed to destroy the USSR, the Third Reich was destroyed instead, and Stalin conquered  half of Europe, the outcome would have been much worse if Stalin had been able to launch his invasion. Stalin could have conquered all of Europe. At best he would have been repulsed after unimaginable devastation and bloodshed. Thus every Western European who has lived in freedom from want and terror since 1941 owes a debt of thanks to Adolf Hitler, the German people, and their Asxis partners.

(See on this site Daniel Michaels, “Exposing Stalin’s Plan to Conquer Europe” and the National Vanguard review of Viktor Suvorov’s Icebreaker; for more recent literature on this subject, see Viktor Suvorov’s definitive statement of his research has been published as The Chief Culprit: Stalin’s Grand Design to Start World War II [Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2008] and Joachim Hoffmann, Stalin’s War of Extermination, 1941-1945: Planning, Realization and Documentation [Capshaw, Al.: Theses and Dissertations Press, 2001].)

The Question of Evil

In today’s climate of moral relativism and rot, Adolf Hitler is probably the only human being that even liberals will denounce as evil. Hitler is the modern world’s paradigm and embodiment of evil. But of course other people can be evil if they are “like Hitler.” Thus the most radical thesis of Stolfi’s book is that Adolf Hitler was not evil.

There are many dimensions to this argument.

(1) Stolfi points out that there is no evidence that Hitler had psychopathic or sociopathic personality traits as a child. He did not torture animals or steal, for instance. He was polite, serious, and reserved.

(2) Stolfi also points out that Hitler was not primarily motivated by hate or ressentiment. He arrived at his two great enmities, namely against Jewry and Bolshevism, based on personal experience, current events, and extensive research. But when he was rationally convinced of their enormity, he naturally hated them with appropriate magnitude and intensity. As Stolfi writes, “It is difficult to imagine Hitler either as messiah or otherwise and not hating the enemy. Did Jesus the Christ or Mohammed the Prophet hate Satan or merely disapprove of him?” (p. 233).

(3) Calling Hitler evil, like calling him “crazy,” is mentally lazy, because it exempts us from trying to understand the reasons for Hitler’s actions: both his thought processes and objective events that prompted him to act. Hitler had his reasons.

(4) Stolfi argues that Hitler’s character, goals, and actions were not evil. Hitler did what he thought was right, and he was hard enough to spill oceans of blood if he thought it was necessary to advance the greater good. A Socratic, of course, would claim that it is an empty claim, as nobody does evil as such but only under the guise of a perceived good. The evil of an act is in its outcome, not its motive. We all “mean well.”

(5) Stolfi hints that Hitler may have, in a sense, been beyond good and evil, because his goal was nothing less than the creation of a new order, including a new moral order, and it begs the question to subject such men to the moral laws they seek to overthrow. This points us back to Stolfi’s thesis that Hitler has to be seen more as a religious than a political figure and forward to his third major thesis, that Hitler was a world-historical individual.

To be continued . . .

2,607 words

StolfibiographyPart 1 of 2

R. H. S. Stolfi
Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny
Amherst, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 2011

“No man is a hero to his valet, not because the hero is not a hero, but because the valet is a valet.” — G. W. F. Hegel

“When ZOG and all its monkey men come a gunnin’ for me, I will build myself a fortress of my Hitler biographies.” – David E. Williams, “Wotan Rains on a Plutocrat Parade”

Adolf Hitler was clearly the man of the 20th century, whose shadow grows taller as the sun of the West sinks ever lower. Sadly, though, there is no biography worthy of Hitler.

If great men are those who leave their stamp on history, then Hitler was a great man. But great men present great problems for biographers. Great men are not necessarily good men, and even good men, when they hold political power, often find it necessary to kill innocent people. Evil men do not find this difficult, but good men do. Thus a good man, if he is to be a great man, must also be a hard man. But it is difficult for biographers, who are ordinary men, to sympathize with great men, especially men who are unusually bad or hard.

But biographers must at least try to enter imaginatively into the minds of their subjects. They must feel their feelings and think their thoughts. They must feel sympathy or empathy for their subjects. Such sympathy is not a violation of objectivity but a tool of it. It is a necessary counter-weight to the antipathy and ressentiment that hardness, cruelty, and greatness often inspire. Sympathy is necessary so a biographer can discover and articulate the virtues of intellect and character necessary to achieve anything great in this world, for good or ill.

Of course, one’s ability to sympathize with great men depends in large part on one’s moral principles. A Nietzschean or Social Darwinist would, for instance, find it easier to sympathize with a human beast of prey than would a Christian or a liberal democrat. Even so, it has been possible for Christians and liberals to write biographies of such great conquerors as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Mohammed, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon without whipping themselves into thousand-page paroxysms of self-righteous moralistic denigration.

Hitler, of course, provides even greater problems for biographers, because his demonization is a prop of contemporary Jewish hegemony, and there are consequences for any writer who challenges that consensus.

R. H. S. Stolfi’s Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny is one of my favorite books on Hitler. It is not a biography of Hitler, although it is organized chronologically. It is, rather, a kind of “meta-biography,” an essay on the interpretation of Hitler’s life. Stolfi’s project has both positive and negative aspects: Stolfi critiques the existing interpretations of Hitler’s life as a whole and of specific episodes in Hitler’s life, and Stolfi sets forth his own interpretations.

Stolfi’s criticism of Hitler biographies focuses on the work of those he calls the four “great biographers”: John Toland (Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography), Alan Bullock (Hitler: A Study in Tyranny), Joachim Fest (Hitler), and Ian Kershaw (Hitler: 1889-1936, Hubris and Hitler: 1936-1945, Nemesis). In Stolfi’s words, “the penchant of [Hitler’s] biographers for gratuitous sarcasm, strained skepticism, and writing from preconceived heights of antipathy has left the world with a dangerously inaccurate portrait of Hitler” (p. 54). (Judging from the reception of David Irving’s Hitler’s War and The War Path, the existing establishment regards an accurate portrait of Hitler more dangerous than an inaccurate one.) Four examples of this bias will sufficice:

(1) Ian Kershaw claims that outside of politics, Hitler was an “unperson,” a nullity, which completely ignores Hitler’s voracious reading, serious engagement with and understanding of philosophers like Schopenhauer, love of painting and fine art, remarkable architectural knowledge and skill, and love of classical music, including a connoisseur’s knowledge of the operas of Richard Wagner that impressed the Wagner family and other highly discerning individuals.

(2) Hitler’s biographers invariably denigrate his humble, common origins, coming off like parodies of the worst forms of social snobbery. But of course the same authors would wax sodden and treacly in describing any other man’s rise from poverty and obscurity to fame and fortune. Jesse Owens, for instance.

(3) Stolfi rebuts one of Joachim Fest’s most outrageous liberties as follows: “The great biographers all debunk Nazi theories of racial differences, which they characterise as pseudoscientific  and based on unredeemed prejudice, yet one of them [Fest] could claim confidently, without hint of countervailing possibility, that the subject of his biography had ‘criminal features’ set in a ‘psychopathic face’” (p. 268).

(4) The great biographers regularly slight Hitler’s service as a soldier during the First World War, yet as Stolfi points out, Hitler won the Iron Cross First Class, the Iron Cross Second Class, and a regimental commendation for bravery. He was also seriously wounded twice. Hitler never spoke much about what he did to earn these commendations, partly out of his characteristic modesty and reserve, but also probably because he did not wish to relive painful experiences. But even this is twisted by his biographers to cast aspersions on Hitler’s bravery and character. Stolfi notes that with no other historical figure do biographers feel entitled to take such liberties.

Kershaw is the most tendentious of the great biographers, repeatedly characterizing Hitler as an “unperson,” a “nonentity,” a “mediocrity,” and a “failure.” These epithets must surely feel good to Kershaw and like-minded readers, but if they are true, then Hitler’s career is utterly incomprehensible. Stolfi is acerbic, witty, and tireless in skewering the great biographers — although some of his readers might find it tiresome as well.

In addition to offering fascinating interpretations of particular events, Stolfi argues for three overriding theses about Hitler: (1) Hitler cannot be understood as a politician but as a prophet, specifically a prophet forced to take on the role of a messiah; (2) Hitler cannot be understood as an evil man, but as a good man who was forced by circumstances and his own ruthless logic and unemotional “hardness” to do terrible things; and (3) Hitler must be understood as one of the great men of history, indeed as a world-historical figure, who cannot be grasped with conventional moral concepts.

Surely by now you are thinking that our author must be some sort of “discredited,” “marginal,” outsider historian like David Irving, or even a dreaded “revisionist.” So who was Russell Stolfi? Born in 1932, Stolfi is to all appearances an established, mainstream military historian. He was Professor at the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and a  Colonel in the US Marine Corps Reserve. He is the author of three other books: German Panzers on the Offensive: Russian Front–North Africa 1941-1942 (Schiffer Publishing, 2003), Hitler’s Panzers East: World War II Reinterpreted (University of Oklahoma, 1993), and NATO Under Attack: Why the Western Alliance Can Fight Outnumbered and Win in Central Europe Without Nuclear Weapons (with F. W. von Mellenthin, Duke University Press, 1983). I first read Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny in May of 2012, and I was so excited that I tried to contact Stolfi for an interview only to learn that he had just died in April.

Politician or Prophet?

Adolf Hitler was a formidable political organizer who took over a minuscule Bavarian debating club and turned it into the largest political party in Germany. After being imprisoned for an abortive Putsch, Hitler decided to attain power legally, through electoral politics. To that end, he  virtually created the modern political campaign, traveling tirelessly by automobile and airplane and masterfully employing the mass media of his time. When he became Chancellor, Hitler proved a formidable statesman, transforming Germany with a virtually bloodless revolution and recovering German lands and pride through a series of deft foreign policy triumphs until the British and French started a World War to stop him.

Yet for all that, Stolfi argues that Hitler’s personality, goals, and grand strategy were more like those of a religious prophet, specifically an armed prophet like Mohammed.

Politicians presuppose a common political system and climate of opinion. They generally avoid contesting fundamental principles and instead deal with essentially quantitative differences within the same political and ideological continuum, hence their ability to compromise and their susceptibility to corruption. Stolfi points out again and again that Hitler refused to behave like a politician.

Hitler never compromised on basic principles. He took dangerously unpopular stands (p. 225). He refused to soften the party’s message to appeal to squeamish and lukewarm people. He was no demagogue: “A demagogue tells his audience what it wants to hear. A messiah tells his audience what he wants it to hear” (p. 248). Hitler never worried that his radical views would “discredit” him in the eyes of the public, whose minds were mostly in the grip of his enemies anyway. Instead, Hitler was supremely confident of his ability to lend credit to his ideas through reason and rhetoric. He wanted to elevate public opinion toward truth rather than condescend to pander to ignorance and folly.

Hitler also refused to enter common fronts with enemy parties, especially the Social Democrats, even when they took patriotic stands.

Hitler was, moreover, utterly incorruptible. He refused to make special promises to businessmen and other interest groups. He just handed them the party’s platform. In the end, he was offered the Chancellorship simply because his opponents knew he could not be bought off with anything less.

Revolutionaries deal with fundamental issues of principle, which is why they seek to overthrow existing systems and begin anew. Hitler was, of course, a political revolutionary. But he was something more. He saw himself as the exponent of a whole philosophy of life, not just a political philosophy. He placed politics in a larger biological and historical perspective: the struggle of Aryan man against Jewry and its extended phenotypes Communism and Anglo-Saxon capitalism. He believed the stakes were global: nothing less than the survival of all life on Earth was in peril. And having miraculously survived four years of slaughter and two serious wounds in the trenches of World War I — including an experience that can only be described as supernatural (p. 95) — Hitler believed that he enjoyed the special protection of Providence.

Hitler had a number of heroic role models. As a child, he was transported by Germanic myths and sagas. As a teenager, he identified with the hero of Wagner’s opera Rienzi, based on the story of Cola di Rienzi, the 14th century popular dictator who sought to restore Rome to its Imperial glory but who was undone by the treachery of the aristocracy and church and finally murdered. Hitler prophesied that he would become a tribune of the people who would rise and fall like Rienzi, and he did. Hitler also identified with Wagner’s Lohengrin and Siegfried. Although Hitler himself had little use for the Bible, his later career as armed prophet brings to mind the Hebrew prophets and lawgivers as well. Stolfi’s analogy between Hitler and Mohammed is quite apposite and revealing.

Savior of Germany — and Europe

Hitler, however, apparently did not think of himself as a messiah figure, but more as a John the Baptist, preparing the way for someone greater than him. But, as Stolfi documents, many of Hitler’s closest followers — all of them intelligent men, ranging from mystics like Hess to consummate cynics like Goebbels — as well as some of his more fair-minded enemies, did see him as a messiah figure, and in the end, he was forced to take on that role. Reading Stolfi makes Savitri Devi’s thesis in The Lightning and the Sun that Hitler was an avatar of the god Vishnu seem a little less eccentric. (Savitri did not originate that thesis. It was a view that she encountered widely among educated Hindus in the 1930s.) There was something messianic about Hitler’s aura and actions, and people around the world understood it in terms of their own cultural traditions.

Stolfi does not mention it, but there is a sense in which Hitler was the savior of Germany and all of Western Europe, although his accomplishments fell far short of his ambitions, consumed his life, and devastated his nation. When Hitler launched operation Barbarossa in 1941, the Soviets were poised to launch a massive invasion of all of Central and Western Europe. Hitler pre-empted that invasion, and although he failed to destroy the USSR, the Third Reich was destroyed instead, and Stalin conquered  half of Europe, the outcome would have been much worse if Stalin had been able to launch his invasion. Stalin could have conquered all of Europe. At best he would have been repulsed after unimaginable devastation and bloodshed. Thus every Western European who has lived in freedom from want and terror since 1941 owes a debt of thanks to Adolf Hitler, the German people, and their Asxis partners.

(See on this site Daniel Michaels, “Exposing Stalin’s Plan to Conquer Europe” and the National Vanguard review of Viktor Suvorov’s Icebreaker; for more recent literature on this subject, see Viktor Suvorov’s definitive statement of his research has been published as The Chief Culprit: Stalin’s Grand Design to Start World War II [Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2008] and Joachim Hoffmann, Stalin’s War of Extermination, 1941-1945: Planning, Realization and Documentation [Capshaw, Al.: Theses and Dissertations Press, 2001].)

The Question of Evil

In today’s climate of moral relativism and rot, Adolf Hitler is probably the only human being that even liberals will denounce as evil. Hitler is the modern world’s paradigm and embodiment of evil. But of course other people can be evil if they are “like Hitler.” Thus the most radical thesis of Stolfi’s book is that Adolf Hitler was not evil.

There are many dimensions to this argument.

(1) Stolfi points out that there is no evidence that Hitler had psychopathic or sociopathic personality traits as a child. He did not torture animals or steal, for instance. He was polite, serious, and reserved.

(2) Stolfi also points out that Hitler was not primarily motivated by hate or ressentiment. He arrived at his two great enmities, namely against Jewry and Bolshevism, based on personal experience, current events, and extensive research. But when he was rationally convinced of their enormity, he naturally hated them with appropriate magnitude and intensity. As Stolfi writes, “It is difficult to imagine Hitler either as messiah or otherwise and not hating the enemy. Did Jesus the Christ or Mohammed the Prophet hate Satan or merely disapprove of him?” (p. 233).

(3) Calling Hitler evil, like calling him “crazy,” is mentally lazy, because it exempts us from trying to understand the reasons for Hitler’s actions: both his thought processes and objective events that prompted him to act. Hitler had his reasons.

(4) Stolfi argues that Hitler’s character, goals, and actions were not evil. Hitler did what he thought was right, and he was hard enough to spill oceans of blood if he thought it was necessary to advance the greater good. A Socratic, of course, would claim that it is an empty claim, as nobody does evil as such but only under the guise of a perceived good. The evil of an act is in its outcome, not its motive. We all “mean well.”

(5) Stolfi hints that Hitler may have, in a sense, been beyond good and evil, because his goal was nothing less than the creation of a new order, including a new moral order, and it begs the question to subject such men to the moral laws they seek to overthrow. This points us back to Stolfi’s thesis that Hitler has to be seen more as a religious than a political figure and forward to his third major thesis, that Hitler was a world-historical individual.

To be continued . . .

This entry was posted in Civic Responsibility, History, Literature, Philosophy, Reviews, Social Criticism, Western Culture and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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