Letters

English
Published: 
1994-05-01
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Consistently Outstanding

I have read every issue of the "new" Journal since the change in format that began with the issue of January-February 1993. From the beginning I have been very pleased with the new directions in which the editors have taken the magazine, but I did not want to write an early letter of congratulations only to find that the "new" Journal was unable to maintain the high standards set in the first issue.

Now, a year and a half later, it is clear that the magazine goes only from strength to strength. Every issue is unfailingly informative, provocative and well-researched.

I especially applaud your willingness to broaden the Journal's coverage to include American as well as European history, and am delighted to find that your writers are as familiar with the former as they are with the latter.

Please accept my thanks for a consistently outstanding magazine and my best wishes for evergreater success in your important work.

T. J.
Louisville, Ky.


History Comes Alive

Reading Leon Degrelle's Hitler, Born at Versailles, I was really astonished by the author's grasp of the details of European history, which verges on the encyclopedic. Even more I was impressed by his uncanny ability to make history come alive. I compare his prose style with Barbara Tuchman's in The Guns of August. Three cheers for both Degrelle and his translator.

For a book of this sort, some maps would have been very helpful. For example, I know where Silesia is but am a bit vague about "Upper Silesia."

Reading Degrelle's book changed certainly changed some ofmy ideas, but not all:

  • He managed to convince me that both France and Russia were far more blameworthy for the outbreak of World War I than is generally supposed, but he failed to convince me that Germany was entirely blameless. He makes no mention whatever of the strident and threatening quality of the rhetoric that was coming out of Germany prior to 1914. It was such talk that drove France into making its fateful alliance with Russia.
  • Contrary to everything I had been told, Degrelle persuasively points out that the provinces of Alsace and Lorraine – contested for years between France and Germany – were in fact mainly German in both language and sentiment. (Could this condition perhaps have been the result of a period of deliberate colonization by Germans?)
  • One of the drawbacks of a democracy is that, in order to mobilize its people for a stupendous enterprise like a world war, only the most emotion-charged of war aims will suffice. Prosaic slogans about "maintaining the balance of power in Europe," for example, would never do. It had to be a Crusade against Evil. As the propagandistic atrocity stories of World War I show, we had to expect that the truth would be bent and stretched to mobilize people to action. It takes a lot of time and cooling down before the truth surfaces.
  • While I had always known that the Versailles Treaty was pretty severe, I had no idea just how harsh it really was, or how vindictive was the spirit that motivated it. Realistically, though, what would one expect after a horrible four-year convulsion like the Great War? Reason? Moderation? A long-term view of matters? Not after so much blood and suffering, not after passions had been inflamed to white heat. Degrelle argues that, if the Allied powers had not been so beastly to defeated Germany in 1918-1919, it would not have struck back so furiously 20 years later. He could be right, but I am inclined to think he is not.
  • While the treatment meted out to Hungary by the Allies in the aftermath of World War I – including severe dismemberment – was very harsh, it was not entirely undeserved. Hungary's pre-1914 record of oppressing its national minorities was a very bad one. One should also remember that its victims included both Slovaks and Croats, peoples for whom Degrelle showed great sympathy (provided their oppressors were Czechs or Serbs). With regard to Degrelle's claims of "injustices" inflicted by the redrawn boundaries, there is no way to draw the political boundaries of Central/Eastern Europe without inflicting grave injustices. The various nationalities are just too mish-mashed together.
  • Until reading Hitler, Born at Versailles, I had supposed – having reached my mid-60s – that I had no illusions left to be shattered. I saw my mistake when Degrelle stripped several coats of whitewash from interwar Poland and Czechoslovakia – countries we had been trained to regard as "model democracies." When considering the interwar phenomena of "Greater Serbia," "Greater Poland," and "Greater Czechoslovakia," I am not so sure that Europe's states during the 1930s can be divided into "good guy" and "bad guy" categories. They all begin to look as though cut from pretty much the same cloth.
  • Most Americans regarded Hitler's rantings against the Czechs and Poles in 1938 and 1939 as nothing more than baseless and self-serving propaganda rhetoric. After reading Degrelle, I now have to admit that Germany did have genuine grievances against both.
  • In response to the article on "The Jewish Role in the Bolshevik Revolution" in the Jan.-Feb. 1994 Journal, I wrote a letter in which I attempted to mitigate the extent of Jewish responsibility for what happened in Russia. Degrelle's account of the short-lived Communist takeovers in Bavaria and Hungary in 1919 has shown me that I was almost certainly wrong; not only wrong but naive as well. Those horrific events certainly do much to explain why people in Central (and especially Eastern) Europe turned so fiercely against the Jews in the 1930s and 1940s. European memories are long ones.

Richard G. Phillips
Pepperell, Mass.


Enlightening

Congratulations on your excellent article about the Jewish role in Soviet Communism (JHR, Jan.-Feb. 1994). I have shown it to numerous scientists and college professors, and all were impressed and enlightened.

Paul Grubach
Lyndhurst, Ohio


Dire Threat

Your piece on George Will [in the Nov.-Dec. 1993 issue] was excellent. He, along with the rest of the "Amen Corner," are a dire threat to freedom in the United States.

(Dr.) Alfred Lilienthal
Washington, D.C.


Minor Weaknesses

Thank you for sending me the Jan.-Feb. issue of the Journal, which includes Weber's review of my book Streitpunkte as well as Prof. Warren's interview with me. I wonder if the Journal has ever published so much about and by an "exterminationist"? It's a good sign of objectivity.

Weber's review is quite good. There are only minor weaknesses, the most striking of which is that he does not always make a clear distinction between my representations of what other authors have written, and my own views (which are perhaps not always clear). For example, I do not agree with Hans Mommsen's opinion of Hitler as a "weak dictator," and it is not my view that a degree of administrative chaos may be an integral feature of "every modern liberal democratic state." Rather, this may be a feature of all states in times of emergency, including liberal democratic ones.

Prof. Warren's interview is also very good, although there are some minor misunderstandings that I must have overlooked: younger historians such as Martin Broszat had no experience during the period before 1933 (not 1945), and Armin Mohler is not be counted among those who came from the Left. It is not true that the "whole of the so-called German [wartime] resistance" belonged to the former Right, but rather only that part which was able to act in a relevant way. But these are rather minor points, and there is hardly an interview that is entirely free of such misunderstandings.

(Prof.) Ernst Nolte
Berlin, Germany


Durable Myths

The unhappiness evidenced by Carl Hottelet in his critical comments about Wilton's book, The Last Days of the Romanovs (letter, March-April 1994 Journal, pp. 4647), stems, I believe, from frustration that the myths of German guilt for the First World War still live on, while the guilt of France, Russia and England continues to be ignored.

Especially galling is the durability of the tales of German atrocities during that war. Although these stories are 180 degrees contrary to historical fact, they continue to smear and libel a great people.

During the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, a French newspaper sadly noted the sharp contrast between the behavior of the thoroughly disciplined Prussian troops, and that of "our own drunken hordes." In 1914, a group of newspaper war correspondents traveling with German General von Kluck's Army Group commented on the severity of the punishment meted out to his troops for even slight breaches of discipline.

While the vilification of Germany and the German people continues with no letup, Marxism – the most evil and destructive form of government in history – continues be promoted by avowed Marxists in our universities.

Russia's Tsar may well have been stupid, as Hottelet writes, to "allow himself and his country to be sucked into the Anglo-French aggression against Germany." But what the Tsar hoped to gain was the destruction, once-and-for-all, of the rival Ottoman Empire and control of Constantinople and the Straits – Russia's centuries-old dream. France and England had equally "good" reasons for their unprovoked aggression against Germany.

P. H.
Norwalk, Calif.


Fundamental Contribution

Your exposition of Auschwitz in the Fall 1992 Journal, in the context of the "Sterbebücher" (camp death certificate volumes) is a fundamental contribution to this episode in history. I had no idea that some 86 percent of Auschwitz' Jewish inmates were officially designated as "arbeitsunfähig" (unemployable). That being so, Auschwitz could not be called a labor camp. And the relatively high proportion of inmates who died of "weakness of old age." What, then, was Auschwitz? A detention camp were some work was done? And yet, with the Auschwitz III (Monowitz) works, it was part of a great chemical manufacturing complex.

Leon Degrelle's retrospective in the same issue, "How Hitler Consolidated Power in Germany and Launched a Social Revolution," is superb.

Finally, John Ries' article, "History's Greatest Naval Disasters," on the 1945 sinkings of three German refugee ships, is of profound interest.

Carl Hottelet
Toms River, N.J.


New ADL Campaign?

I was glad to see the amazing quote by Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, reproduced in the March-April Journal (p. 41). It might be observed that this is the Jewish equivalent of the "deicide" charge (i.e. "Christ killers") traditionally leveled against Jews.

The January issue of ADL On the Frontline – the ADL newsletter from which the Foxman quote is taken – also confirmed my suspicion that there is now an ADL operation to link revisionism with vandalism and violence. The first sign I noted was the article in the Chicago Tribune (Feb. 3) by Jon Hilkevitch and Emily Gurnon, quoting ADL functionary Richard Hirschhaut as blaming some Chicago arsons of Jewish institutions on our "followers." Then there was the Feb. 5 airing of Joel Weisman's "Chicago Week in Review" panel discussion in which Hilkevitch said:

Bradley Smith, who's a white supremacist, up till now has been able to travel around the country and go to college campuses, such places as Berkeley... and garner large audiences... these people aren't getting that soapbox anymore – it's starting to change and there are statistics showing that they are moving from rhetoric to vandalism to actually personal attacks.

I got in touch with Bradley about this. As for the arsons, three Palestinians were subsequently arrested for one of them.

This January issue of ADL On the Frontline (p. 3) claims a "growing connection between Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic vandalism," giving as examples cemetery desecration in Stockholm, which is blamed ("leaders fighting anti-Semitism link") on Ahmed Rami [who spoke at the 1992 IHR Conference], and arsons and vandalism in Australia, blamed on "Holocaust deniers and Nazi apologists." Yes, this appears to be the start of a premeditated propaganda campaign.

Enclosed are recent (April 7 & 8) items clipped from the Daily Northwestern [student paper of Northwestern University, where Dr. Butz teaches]. Even here one finds a suggestion that revisionism has something to do with "anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses."

(Dr.) Arthur R. Butz
Evanston, Ill.


Reflections of a Former German Soldier

I saw one of the films in the famed "Why We Fight" wartime series for the first time at an IHR conference some years ago. This series of official US armed forces documentary-style propaganda films was designed to promote feelings of hatred against the German and Japanese enemies. During the Second World War I was a German soldier and a "Fahnenjunker" trained to become an officer. I do not remember even a single German movie to match the hatefulness of those in Frank Capra's "Why We Fight" series.

Nor did the regular German cinema show such hatefilled movies. German wartime propagandistic films, such as "Ohm Krueger," "The Titanic," "Kolberg," "Fox of Glenarvon," "A Life For Ireland," and "Refugees," were directed rather against the enemies' political systems. Only three of the twelve hundred movies released during the twelve-year Third Reich were anti-Jewish: "The Eternal Jew," "The Rothschilds," and "The Jew Suess."

During this same period, and in the years since, Hollywood has turned out oodles of anti-German films. One might suppose that, because they are so embarrassingly hateful and simplistic, such movies would be locked up and shown only to scholars researching the insanities of our age. But even the wartime movies are still being shown on American television, apparently to influence attitudes and behavior even today. The other evening, for example, I saw "Hitler's Children," a particularly grotesque wartime Hollywood production. Supposedly depicting life in my boyhood hometown of Berlin, it portrayed young boys like me and my schoolmates as cruel, mindless automatons. We were shown beating up American kids attending the American school, and, of course, chanting "Today Germany, Tomorrow the World."

To another matter: I have doubts about the very high deathrate figures given by James Bacque in his book, Other Losses. As a German prisoner of war, I spent nearly a year at Central Continental Prisoner of War Enclosure No. 15, Attichy, France. I first worked for about four months for Sam Gordon, a US Army mail sergeant who changed my status in September 1945 from DEF ("Disarmed Enemy Forces") to regular POW ("Prisoner of War"). I then worked as a telephone switchboard operator from December 1945 to June 1946. Although food in the holding cages amounted to very, very little, I recall that the death rate was low.

Dieter W. Schmidt
La Mesa, Calif.


Appreciation

Wishing you all the best, with appreciation for destroying the unwarranted faith I had in the mendacious agitprop of "respectable" historians.

M.A.H.
Port Orchard, Wash.


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