Crushing the Opposition to the Nazis

SABy itself, elimination of political opposition by the leaders of the country committed to making a Quantensprung of the magnitude that the Third Reich had to make, is not a crime.

It is actually a necessity as country leaders are facing problems and challenges of such an enormous magnitude that they simply can not afford any opposition. Hence it is no surprise that no quantum leap of a comparable scale (comparable to Nazi Germany that is) was achieved in a democracy.

It has been achieved by either a ruthless dictatorship (Soviet Union – twice, Nazi Germany, China, South Korea, Taiwan, etc.) or under occupation administration (post-WW2 Germany and Japan).

Democracy works (sometimes well, sometimes not so much) during periods of stability; in the times of a severe crisis (especially existential crisis) it can be outright deadly. During those times only the ruthless dictatorship can save the nation in question. In other words, to prevent the country from being destroyed, one must destroy the opposition.

Using the optimal tools and methods. Including deportation and even internment (under house arrest, in jail or even in a concentration camp) of leaders of opposition and other individuals deemed by the security agencies to be a threat to the Quantensprung. And unlike in the democratic environment, during the times of crisis it is far better to “over-detain” than to “under-detain”.

Consequently, annihilation of the opposition by the Nazis was criminal (although nowhere as criminal as the one committed by Stalin and his henchmen at exactly the same time) not because of their objective (which was absolutely necessary for the very survival of Germany), but because of the tools and methods that were used. Tools and methods that were far more brutal, murderous and criminal than necessary.

I will cover in sufficient detail the whole Nazi project of eliminating the opposition (including the infamous Night of the Long Knives) in the chapter devoted to Hitler’s crimes. In this section I will only briefly cover the four key tools used by the Nazis – the Sturmabteilung (SA) paramilitaries, secret political police (Gestapo), detention centers (concentration camps) and special political courts (Sondergerichte).

Contrary to a popular misconception, in just about all their peacetime endeavors (with the exception of those related to their “racial” and “Jewish” questions) were highly pragmatic.

Consequently, they understood that (a) positive motivation was far more powerful than the negative one; and (b) an ounce of prevention (of anti-Nazi activities) is far more valuable than a ton of punishment.

Hence in their management of their German subject they put emphasis on positive stimuli (i.e. on propaganda and actually caring for the German people by identifying their needs) rather than on a negative one (fear of being punished by the Nazis).

And the fundamental objective of their political repression system was to prevent anti-Nazi activities from happening in the first place rather than to punish the “wrongdoers”.

Consequently, the primary function of the SA (until they were relegated to political oblivion in July 1934), Gestapo, concentration camps and special courts was intimidation, not punishment of actual or potential political opponents.

Historians generally agree that these instruments of intimidation (especially the much-feared Sondergerichte) performed their functions very well and had a strong deterrent effect against active opposition to the Nazis. The latter appears to be was sufficiently intimidated through psychological terror to refrain from active (or even passive) resistance to the Nazis.

The Sturmabteilung (SA) was the only “terror and intimidation” tool (and a very efficient one at that) used by the Nazis prior to their acquisition of absolute power in the end March of 1933.

Nazi stormtroopers beat up their political opponents; prevented, disrupted and dispersed meetings and rallies; attacked and destroyed the premises (headquarters and branches) of political parties; kidnapped and detained opposition activists (by the time Nazis came to power, the SA operated a vast network of illegal detention centers).

After the Nazis had obtained the absolute (plenary) powers in Germany after the Reichstag Fire Decree and especially the Enabling Act became laws, they no longer needed the SA to suppress the opposition. Now they had the whole law enforcement system of Germany (police, prosecutors, the courts and the penitentiary system) to do this job for them.

Actually, this was the primary reason for the spectacular fall of the SA in 1934 – they simply had nothing to do any more. Their last valuable contribution to Nazi cause was made weeks before the Enabling Act – just before the March 1933 elections (the last multi-party elections in a unified Germany until 1990).

The SA unleashed a nationwide campaign of violence against the Communists, Social Democrats, other left-wingers, trade unionists and even the centrists. Which, however, did not achieve the desired outcome – Nazis still got only 44% of the votes (still short of an absolute majority).

After the Night of the Long Knives when just about all SA leaders were either murdered or incarcerated, SA functions were reduced to just one – attacks on the Jews.

For over four years, the Brownshirts were the main perpetrators of anti-Jewish violence which culminated on the infamous Kristallnacht in November of 1938.

After the murder of German diplomat Ernst vom Rath on November 7th by Herschel Grynszpan (a Polish Jew), the SA were used for “spontaneous demonstrations” against this very much terrorist act (which, however, does not justify the subsequent pogrom at all).

In very violent riots, the stormtroopers shattered the glass storefronts of about 7,500 Jewish stores and businesses (hence the name Kristallnacht – “Crystal Night”) given to the events. Jewish homes were ransacked throughout Germany.

Members of the SA and SS (and a lot of “ordinary Germans” who participated in the event en masse) damaged and in many cases destroyed, about 200 synagogues (nearly all Germany had), dozens of Jewish cemeteries, more than 7,000 Jewish shops, and 29 department stores. Dozens of Jews were beaten to death and more than 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and taken to now very much legal concentration camps (just about all of them were soon released).

Thereafter, the SA predictably became overshadowed by the SS, and by 1939 had little (if any) remaining significance in the Nazi Party and in the Third Reich in general.

Hitler’s Economic Program (2)

346px-Hjalmar_SchachtBy itself, budget deficit (even a large one in absolute terms) is not really such a big deal. After all, these days just about every developed nation (with a notable exception of Germany) – the United States, China, Japan, France, Great Britain, Italy, Spain, etc. – runs a substantial budget deficit and has already accumulated an impressive national debt.

These deficits are not considered a major problem, because it is believed that government spending increases gross domestic product (market value of all the final goods and services produced annually in the country in question). In other words, fuels economic growth.

Which in a law-abiding country (and the Nazi Germany was very much so – Gestapo and Kripo took good care of that) automatically increases government tax revenue, enabling the latter to pay off public debt.

Provided, of course, that the latter (and budget deficit) stays within “common economic sense”. Which in the Third Reich was not the case – Adolf Hitler’s Mission was to win the existential war, not to keep the government books in balance. When the very existence of the nation was at stake, who cared about the damn financial accounts? Hitler and the Nazis obviously did not – and justifiably so.

As borrowings on international financial markets (now-standard means of financing government budget deficits), getting loans from foreign banks, printing money, and (God forbid) defaulting on its domestic debt were out of the question, Adolf Hitler had to resort to other ways and means of paying off massive government debts. Alas, to mostly criminal ones.

The obvious benevolent source of funds (successfully used in Italy by Il Duce) was large-scale privatization. Unfortunately, it was just about the only legitimate one – all other ones were very much criminal (if not outright murderous).

Despite all his hysterics about “the existential Jewish threat”, “racial war”, etc., one of the key reasons behind Hitler’s Judenrein project was a purely financial one. The fundamental objective of this project was to physically deport Jews somewhere outside Germany (and subsequently German-controlled territories) robbing them of all their valuables.

Which could then be used for either direct financing of German economic recovery or for paying off government debt accumulated by runaway deficit financing of economic growth.

There was another – far more sinister – idea that was actually implemented, believe it or not. Force Jews to lend money and other valuables to the Nazi government and then… kill them. A very common method used by the organized crime characters to deal with creditors. Which made Nazi state a very much criminal organization (in some ways not unlike the proverbial Mafia).

Like just about all other Nazi crimes, this one was a monumental blunder. It is a well-established fact that Jews are the most efficient and productive nation by far (in terms of creating aggregate value – financial, functional and emotional).

Which Jewish (forced) immigrants from Germany proved beyond the reasonable doubt in Palestine in the 1930s, performing an economic miracle quite comparable to (and in many ways more impressive than) the one performed by the Nazis in Germany at the same time.

Consequently, Germany would have been far better off using its Jews (and then the Jews on German-occupied territories as well) to generate financial, functional and emotional value than robbing, deporting and murdering them.

Especially given the fact that even the diehard Nazis knew that the tales about the “fabulous riches of the Jews” were just that – fairy tales. In reality, valuables taken from the Jews essentially at gunpoint (i.e. proceeds from armed robberies of the latter) were not nearly enough to pay off the mammoth national debt accumulated by the Nazis through their economic revival and rearmament programs (let alone wartime military spending).

Nazis desperately needed another source – and they quickly found it (most likely, it was known to them all along). Making someone else pay off their debts. This “someone else” included not only population of German-occupied territories (i.e. essentially German colonies in Europe) but also their allies – Italy, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, Slovakia and Croatia.

I will cover these crimes (and these were crimes indeed) in sufficient detail in the chapter devoted to Hitler’s crimes. In this section I will only touch a few key points.

Financial exploitation of occupied territories was mostly simple and straightforward (although Nazis did employ some highly creative financial schemes).

First, grab as many valuables as possible; sell them in the open market (domestic or international) and use the proceeds to pay off government debt. Second, exchange government bonds for land, buildings, other real estate or shares in businesses in German-occupied territories (i.e. colonies).

Third, force the population of newly-acquired colonies to work essentially for food, clothing and shelter; import products (foodstuffs mostly) into Germany; print money to pay off government debt and then use these products to “cover” printed money (thus balancing demand with supply and putting a firm check on inflation).

Financial exploitation of German allies was far more subtle and creative but was surprisingly explicit. Nazi message to their allies was cut and dry, plain and simple, loud and clear:

“We save you from being conquered and destroyed by the Bolsheviks and you must in return pay us with your money and with the blood of your soldiers”

As Nazis did not view their occupied territories in Western Europe as colonies (the latter was reserved to occupied territories in the East), their message to the citizens of France, Benelux countries, Denmark, Norway and Greece was essentially the same (sans “blood of your soldiers”).

However, even in these transactions (let alone in ones with neutral nations – also critically important for the Nazis), Hitler and his government had to solve one no less critical problem – catastrophic lack of foreign currency.

It is estimated that for its foreign trade to function properly, the country in question had to have sufficient reserves of foreign currency for six months. In 1933-34 Germany often had the reserves for six days. Making foreign trade work under such constraints was a genuine miracle.

The ways to deal with this potentially crippling problem, were obvious. Establish tight import controls (all imports had to be approved by a special government agency). Institute tight foreign exchange controls so that no individual or organization could take precious foreign currency out of the country over a very small limit.

Convince foreign vendors to sell their goods for Reichsmarks – and then use proceeds to buy German goods (thus fueling economic growth in the Reich). Develop and sign extensive barter agreements with foreign nations, essentially exchanging their goods for the German ones.

This was Hitler’s economic program in a nutshell. However, to make it and thus his Quantensprung – his economic miracle – a reality, he needed someone who would become his “economic tsar”, the “Führer of German economy”. Someone who would take responsibility for reviving the German economy, eliminating unemployment, getting Germany out of Great Depression and implementing a gargantuan rearmament program.

Fortunately for Adolf Hitler and Germany, there was exactly such a man in the Reich. Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht – a 56-year old (a very senior citizen by the standards of youngish Nazi leadership) prominent economist, banker and politician (in 1918 he was one of the founders of the centrist German Democratic Party (it was dissolved in 1930, way before Hitler came to power).

Hjalmar Schacht had impeccable credentials for this job. A half-German, half-Danish aristocrat (his mother was Baroness Constanze Justine Sophie von Eggers), he studied political science (among other subjects) at universities of Munich, Leipzig, Berlin and Paris before finally earning a Ph. D. in economics at a University of Kiel.

His doctorate thesis was on mercantilism – national economic policy designed to maximize the exports of a nation. A very appropriate topic for Germany in 1933 which desperately needed to earn (or at least conserve) foreign currency.

In addition to extensive banking experience in Germany (he rose to the position of a deputy director at Dresdner Bank – then one of the largest German banks), and in government service (he was the Banking Commissioner for Occupied Belgium and subsequently the currency commissioner in Weimar Republic), he had extensive – and very high-level – connections in international finance.

Which included the famous American banker J. P. Morgan, as well as U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt. And the Governor of the Bank of England, Montagu Norman, was so close to the Schacht family that he was godfather to one of Schacht’s grandchildren.

After his economic policies helped battle German hyperinflation and stabilize the German mark, Schacht was appointed president of the Reichsbank at the requests of then-President Friedrich Ebert and then-Chancellor Gustav Stresemann.

Like Adolf Hitler, Schacht was firmly committed to restoring German power and glory and making again a global political, economic and military superpower. By 1930, he became convinced that Weimar Republic would never be able to achieve this all-important objective and began slowly but surely drifting towards the Nazis (who in his opinion would – if they ever come in power in Germany).

Although he never officially joined the Nazi party, Schacht helped to raise funds for the Nazis. After the July 1932 elections, in which the NSDAP won more than a third of the seats, Schacht was one of those who organized a petition of industrial leaders requesting that president Hindenburg appoint Hitler as Chancellor.

On March 17th, 1933 (even before the Enabling Act gave him essentially absolute power in Germany), Adolf Hitler re-appointed Schacht as Reichsbank president (on March 7th, 1930 the latter resigned from this position over disagreement with then-Chancellor over payment of war reparations).

But it was obviously not enough. To make Schacht the genuine “Führer of German Economy” (in full accord with all-important Führerprinzip), Hitler had to make the banker Reich Minister of Economics as well.

And, of course provide him with the necessary support. Which would become possible only after crushing the opposition to the Nazis, transforming the Weimar Republic into a centralized Führerstaat and developing and implementing a mighty and omnipresent propaganda system.

 

Hitler’s Economic Program (1)

IMG_0258One of the many common misconceptions about Adolf Hitler is that he knew next to nothing about economics. In reality, he knew enough to (a) understand the “Mussolini Blueprint” – successful economic reforms implemented by Il Duce; (2) figure out how to adapt this blueprint to very different situation in Germany; (3) hire the best individual to the position of the “economic Führer” of the Third Reich; (4) control the latter and provide him with the necessary support; and (5) replace him with the more appropriate one once the initial Mission was accomplished.

Eliminating unemployment (i.e. bringing the German workforce to the state of full employment) was the most fundamental need and demand of German citizens. And, therefore, it became Hitler’s top priority, his job #1.

One did not have to have a Ph. D. in economics (facts, logic and common sense were enough) to figure out that the only way to quickly reduce (and subsequently eliminate) unemployment in Germany in 1933 was by massive government spending. Primarily on civilian projects.

For a very simple reason – although radical expansion of German armed forces and of the armaments industry were (obviously) highly efficient ways to radically reduce unemployment, in spring of 1933 Hitler (and Germany) were still not strong enough politically and economically to openly violate the terms of the Treaty of Versailles.

Hence the bulk of massive government spending had to go into construction (expansion of public and residential building), transportation (building roads and increasing production of motor vehicles), land reclamation (creating additional agricultural land) and reforestation.

As the Reich government did not have (and will not have) the financial resources needed to underwrite such a massive public spending program, it had to take the road of deficit financing.

The hyperinflation of 1921-23 was still fresh in German (and Hitler’s) memories so covering the budget deficit by printing money was, obviously, out of the question. So was borrowing abroad.

German economic recovery (the so-called “Golden Era” of the Weimar Republic) in 1924-29 was financed by loans provided by American banks through the Dawes Plan (adopted in 1924) and the Young Plan (adopted in August of 1929).

However, after these banks have been hurt (and hurt severely) by the Wall Street Crash of October 24th, 1929 and subsequent Great Depression, they predictably withdrew their loans to German companies (and to Germany in general). Which immediately sent German economy into a tailspin creating severe problems that Adolf Hitler now had to fix.

Hence, the Nazi government had to restrict itself only to domestic sources of funds for covering the inevitably massive budget deficits. The other three were (obviously) borrowing from banks, corporations and individuals. Ideally in a form of government bonds (interest-bearing securities) that could be used as “parallel currencies” until they mature and will be repaid in full from the state budget.

There was no need to create a specific incentive for German businesses to invest in these government bonds – the budget will simply pay them with the latter for the jobs done for the government.

Because these bonds were designed as the essentially “industrial currency” (a very common instrument to finance rapid economic growth), the business in question will be able to pay its suppliers or creditors with this “currency” and so on.

Borrowing from individuals was a different matter entirely. To motivate Germans to invest into government bonds, Hitler had to first make them trust the German government with their money. Not a small feat after hyperinflation, Great Depression and other economic calamities.

And then to carefully managing consumption, making sure that (a) German households consume enough goods and services for a comfortable lifestyle; and (b) still have enough disposable income to invest into government bonds.

The latter essentially meant making certain items simply inaccessible to the majority of Germans so that they had nothing to spend a certain share of their income on other than investing into government bonds (i.e. on savings). And, of course, conducting a massive propaganda campaign promoting savings and investments.

Obviously, managing consumption required tight control over wages and prices (making Nazi Germany not exactly a market economy). This control was needed anyway – to avoid inflation (the word that scared Germans more than Count Dracula and Frankenstein monster combined).

Now the trillion-Reichsmark (literally) question was how on Earth Hitler’s government would be able to pay off these gargantuan debts once they come due (and sooner or later they obviously will).

 

Hitler’s “Pet Projects”

IMG_0375Although Adolf Hitler, unlike just about all politicians of that time worked mostly for his people, satisfying their needs as he perceived them, he (like just about any other politician of any time) had a number of his own “pet projects”.

His most ambitious project by far was transformation of German people into a fast-growing nation of Übermenschen – “superhuman beings”. By itself it was a noble undertaking; unfortunately, it was accompanied by two related very criminal and outright murderous projects (which I will cover in detail in the chapter devoted to numerous Hitler’s crimes). As it often happens, both projects were much worse than horrendous crimes – they were monumental blunders.

The chronologically first murderous project was sterilization and murder of “genetically inferior” (and thus undesirable) individuals which culminated in the infamous Aktion T4 – mass murder through involuntary euthanasia.

The second one was making Germany (and subsequently German-controlled territories as well) Judenrein – “free of Jewish blood”. Although initially this highly criminal objective was supposed to be achieved by forced emigration, in a few years it escalated to mass deportations (the infamous “Madagascar Plan”) and ultimately to mass murder (the Holocaust).

There was, however, a related project that saved, not destroyed lives. The lives of unborn babies. Determined to make German nation as fast-growing as possible, he outlawed abortion almost as soon as he acquired absolute power (both the doctor who performed an abortion and a woman who aborted a baby could face a death sentence). If the baby was deemed genetically heathy, of course.

Another very much criminal (thankfully, not murderous) and very much pet project pursued by Adolf Hitler was cleansing and expansion of art collections in Greater Germany (Germany + Austria + territories returned to Germany after invasion and occupation of Poland).

Although after having been poisoned by mustard gas in October of 1918, Hitler could no longer paint or draw, he still was very much a connoisseur of arts (or at least considered himself such).

But not of all arts – only of classic arts that Hitler declared emotionally and spiritually healthy for a German nation. Hitler considered Cubism, Futurism, Dadaism and other “-isms” of the “modern art” decadent and thus poisonous for the German minds, hearts and souls.

Consequently, it is no surprise at all that after he came to power he began to vigorously cleanse German museums and art galleries from the abovementioned “garbage”. By either selling the art abroad (and then using the proceeds for military or civilian purposes) or destroying paintings or sculptures (if no buyer could be found).

The “works of degenerate art” were to be replaced first by “classics” confiscated from the Jews (who were forced to leave just about everything behind when they left Germany) and then by items obtained by plundering museums, art galleries and the like in German-occupied territories. His ultimate objective was to establish the European Art Museum in his almost native Linz.

Fortunately, not all Hitler’s pet projects were of criminal (let alone murderous) nature. He loved animals dearly and so was fundamentally and fiercely opposed to vivisection (surgery conducted for experimental purposes on a living animal, often without proper anesthesia).

Hence he made it his priority to outlaw the practice (common at the time worldwide) making Germany the first nation to do away with this diabolical method. Most such laws in the world (including those that require humane slaughter of livestock), are derived from the laws put forth by the Nazi Party.

It, however, did not prevent Nazi doctors from performing vivisection on living humans – often without proper anesthesia. Or from murdering millions of Jews, Russians, Poles, etc.

Another his concern was protection of German wildlife. In 1934, a national hunting law was passed to regulate how many animals could be killed per year, and to establish proper ‘hunting seasons’. These hunting laws have now been adopted in most countries.

The Nazi Government also footed the bill for education on animal conservation at Primary, Secondary and College levels. The next year another law was passed, – the Reich Nature Protection Act. This law placed several native species on a protection list including the famous grey wolf and Eurasian lynx. Additions were added later as to afforestation (creation of forests) and the humane slaughter of living fish.

Without this law it is very likely that many species would have completely disappeared from Germany’s forests.

Another Hitler’s pet project that ended up saving quite a few lives, was his anti-smoking campaign. He hated the smell of tobacco smoke so much that he couldn’t stand someone lighting up in the same room (hence no one dared to), and publicly called this habit “a waste of money”.

Hence it is not a surprise at all that the NSDAP and the Nazi government launched one of the most expensive (and very successful) tobacco movements in modern history. While during the 1930s and 1940s, other anti-tobacco movements failed miserably in other countries, in Nazi Germany it was an outstanding success.

The Nazis banned smoking in restaurants and public transportation systems, citing public health, and severely restricted the advertising of smoking and cigarettes. There was also a high tobacco tax, and the supplies of cigarettes to the Wehrmacht were rationed. Several health organizations in Nazi Germany even found out (and preached) that smoking heightened the risks of miscarriages by pregnant women, now a commonly known fact.

The statistics of annual cigarette consumption per capita in 1940 was very impressive – an average German smoked four times less cigarettes than an average American – 749 versus over 3,000.

Although Adolf Hitler never entered the School of Architecture, he was always keenly interested in the subject. And, according to memoirs of Albert Speer (who at that time had no incentive whatsoever to praise his former boss), Hitler did have an unquestionable talent for architecture.

And a penchant for the grandiose. Hence it is not surprising at all that his favorite pet project was Welthauptstadt Germania. Even well before he acquired absolute power in Germany, Hitler made no secret of his plans (plans, not dreams) to create a genuinely new world and make Berlin (renamed Germania) the capital of that world.

Which was supposed to eclipse all modern world capitals and being comparable only to ancient Babylon and Rome – the capital of the original Roman Empire. It was a key part (a core part, actually) of Adolf Hitler’s vision for the future of Nazi Germany after the seemingly inevitable victory in World War II.

The official plan for rebuilding Berlin, which Albert Speer was put in charge of, was called the Gesamtbauplan für die Reichshauptstadt “Comprehensive Construction Plan for the Reich Capital”.

And not only for the Reichshauptstadt, but for the Welthauptstadt – the Capital of the World. The Mittelpunkt der Welt – the Center of the World.

 

Needs of Germans in 1933

Abraham_MaslowWhether they admitted it or not (many didn’t), Germans in 1933 were overwhelmingly nationalist. Hence they both wanted and needed a government (and a leader) who would liberate Germany and Germans from humiliating shackles imposed on them by the “Versailles criminals”, return German lands taken away (by the same criminals) at gunpoint, unite all Germans into Ein Reich and restore Germany to its rightful power and glory by making it again a European – and even global – economic, political and military superpower.

Adolf Hitler promised “all of the above” and knew, just knew that he would deliver on these promises. But it will take years – and he did not have years. Germans were still highly skeptical of his promises (as they were of any promises by any politician) – hence the disappointing results of the March elections for the Nazis.

And they would definitely not wait years – a few months at the most. After that, if Hitler does not deliver something of crucial importance to Germans, all bets would be off – Enabling Act or not, Gestapo or not, SA or not.

So he had to act quickly and deliver that “something”. Which was obvious – he had to begin radically reducing unemployment – by far the biggest (and seemingly insurmountable) economic and social problem in Weimar Republic.

The Republic was dead, but the unemployment was not – so Adolf Hitler had to prove beyond the reasonable doubt that (a) achieving full employment was his #1 priority and (2) that he will deliver on his promises – and fast.

Actually, he had to deliver even more than that – he had to provide guaranteed employment. In other words, to create an economic system that will guarantee that every able-bodied man will be able to earn enough to provide for a comfortable lifestyle for himself, his homemaking wife and four children (Nazis considered that number to be ideal for a German family).

Employment supported (obviously) by generous and efficient pension, insurance (health, disability and unemployment), vacation and other welfare systems. In other words, provide a comprehensive economic and financial security.

Another important need and want of the Germans that had to (and fortunately could) be satisfied was political stability. The population of Germany was sick and tired of the state of permanent elections and kaleidoscopic changes of governments.

Germans wanted politicians and statesmen to focus not on getting more seats in Reichstag and more lucrative positions in the government, but on solving dire political, economic and social problems in Germany.

And if it required sacrificing some basic freedoms – habeas corpus, freedom of expression and of the press, the freedom to organize and assemble, the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications, etc. – so be it. These freedoms failed to solve any vital economic or social problem anyway and thus were all but worthless.

Obviously, the Germans wanted economic stability as well. In other words, they wanted to make sure that none of the horrors of the past – hunger of 1917-19, hyperinflation of 1920-21 and the Great Depression that started in 1929 and was still not over by a long shot – never ever happen again.

One of the biggest social problems of Weimar Germany (inherited from the Second Reich, to be completely honest) was a deeply ingrained caste system. Unofficial, of course, but omnipresent nevertheless.

In practice, it meant that professional, social and economic perspectives of an individual were determined (constrained, mostly) by the social group he was born into. There was essentially no “upward mobility”; in other words, very few lucky folks were ever able to rise above the “lower castes”.

The overwhelming majority of Germans were obviously not very happy (to put it mildly) with that situation. And wanted their new government (and their) to replace aristocracy (power of the mobility) with meritocracy (power of the most qualified for the positions in question).

The Germans wanted the government (and the leader) who would genuinely love them, care about them and work for them. Not for the elites (like just about any politician in Weimar Germany – or in any Western “democracy” for that matter); not for himself (like Stalin) but for them. For “average Hans, Otto, Anna and Bertha”.

Germans are (and always were) very pragmatic and practical people. So they wanted a very pragmatic and practical love from their leader and his government. Not one-time deal, but a permanent, stable and highly efficient system.

The system that will identify their wants and needs and then motivate the government officials at all levels to satisfy their needs to the maximum extent possible and in the most efficient way.

And not only financial and functional needs, but emotional and spiritual needs as well (ultimately, it is all about the latter two – the former two are only as good as the emotional and spiritual value that they generate).

In 1933, Germany could be rightfully labeled a “PTSD nation”. A long sequence of severe psychological and emotional traumas – hunger of 1917-19; humiliating defeat in the Great War; even more humiliating (crushing even) terms of the Treaty of Versailles; collapse of the Imperial Germany and its replacement with Weimar Republic (a totally unknown form of government); Communist and right-wing coups in Berlin, Bavaria and other places; hyperinflation of 1921-23; still very much ongoing Great Depression; chronic political instability, etc., etc. – predictably plunged just about all Germans (even those who appeared to be quite successful on the surface) into the depth of very genuine depression.

And a no less genuine post-traumatic stress disorder. With all its consequences (in addition to depression) – anxiety disorders, mood disorders, disturbing thoughts, feelings and dreams, highly negative expectations, hopelessness, etc. And, of course, a feeling of deep shame – after all these humiliations it was only natural for Germans to be ashamed of being German.

Germans desperately needed someone who would get them out of the depth of depression, heal their PTSD and fill their hearts, minds and souls with joy, serenity, enthusiasm, cheerfulness, confidence, positive expectations and ultimately happiness. Someone who would make them inspired, motivated, driven and justifiably proud and happy to be German.

From a more scientific perspective, they (like every nation, in fact) wanted their leader and his government to satisfy their whole comprehensive system of human needs.

IMHO, the best model (paradigm) of human needs was developed by American psychologist Abraham Maslow (Hitler’s contemporary, believe it or not), although whether it is a hierarchy (“pyramid”) or some other geometrical object is still a very much open question.

According to this model, Germans needed Adolf Hitler to satisfy their following key needs:

  1. Physiological – food, drink, shelter, clothing, etc. (and thus a guaranteed income required to satisfy these needs in a market economy). Guaranteed wages for those who are able to work and a decent pension for retirees
  2. Safety. First and foremost, protection from being enslaved, incarcerated and murdered by the Bolshevist conquerors. But also from street and organized crime and natural, health and financial disasters. Hence it requires unemployment, health and other insurance and an extensive welfare  system
  3. Love and belongingness. Need to love your stakeholders – your family, friends, your country, your government and be loved in return. And the need to belong – to a family, a social group, a nation, etc. – that is valuable and prestigious enough to desire belonging to. These needs include the need to trust your peers, superiors, subordinates, your government and your leader and acceptance by them (although the latter could be viewed as belonging to the next category of needs)
  4. Esteem needs. Esteem for oneself – personal dignity, professional and personal accomplishments (i.e. mastery of one’s profession or trade, creating objects of financial, functional, emotional or spiritual value), self-worth and recognition from others – professional and personal reputation, prestige, status in the social group, in society in general and in the world at large
  5. Self-actualization – “being the best one could be”. Living one’s professional and personal lives to the fullest, operating at maximum possible performance (in terms of creating aggregate value for one’s stakeholders) and achieving maximum possible results in one’s profession, hobbies and personal life
  6. Self-transcendence. Serving a higher entity than oneself (people, nation, country, race, civilization, Church) and the idea higher than one’s personal success – e.g. victory in the existential war, salvation of mankind, etc. Often includes mystical and/or religious (and sometimes even supernatural) experiences

 

The Day After the Enabling Act (3)

12-11-41Preparation for and victory in the inevitable existential war required a military-industrial Quantensprung of genuinely miraculous magnitude – unheard of in modern history.

To make this quantum leap happen, Adolf Hitler needed every German to get the maximum possible contribution from every German. And he definitely could not afford even the tiniest opposition to his Divine Mission – let alone the “stab-in-the-back” that he (erroneously) believed to be the root cause of German defeat in the Great War.

This time he (and Germany) would be fighting the war for the very existence of Germany and the European civilization; therefore, defeat was not acceptable. Consequently, he must guarantee that the new “stab-in-the-back” will not happen under any circumstances, no matter how drastic.

Which meant that the opposition to the Nazis had to be annihilated. By either transforming his political opponents into fiercely dedicated and loyal Nazis (preferably), neutralizing them (by forced emigration or, better, indefinite internment in a concentration camp) or, in the most severe cases, murdering them.

To annihilate the opposition (and make sure it never rises from the grave), he will need a very powerful and omnipresent (or at least perceived that way by the population) political police, a highly efficient domestic intelligence service, a vast network of concentration camps and special political courts (as everything had to be perfectly legal). A preventive detention law was already on the books – it was a part of the Reichstag Fire Decree.

Elimination of opposition was necessary, but not sufficient. Not by a long shot. Another root cause of German defeat in the Great War was internal strife – conflict between social groups and classes in German society. This time the threat of such an internal conflict was genuinely existential and thus needed to be done away with. Quickly, efficiently and for good.

Class and social group warfare had to be replaced with not just cooperation, but synergy between different social groups. Synergy that will lead to the maximum possible performance of every German and of the whole Germany in both preparing for and fighting the inevitable wars.

Hitler’s Quantensprung was essentially a military endeavor; hence it had to be managed as a military operation. Which in practice means transforming the whole German society (both its military and civilian components) into a mighty army, infused with invincible fighting spirit, iron will, discipline and a total obedience to its commander-in-chief. To Adolf Hitler.

However, there was a problem with this obedience (to put it mildly). Despite often horrific violence unleashed by the Nazi stormtroopers (the SA) on Hitler’s political opponents – Communists, Social Democrats, other left-wingers, trade unionists, the Centre Party, etc. – NSDAP got only 43.9% of the popular vote. Not even a majority, let alone an overwhelming majority that Adolf Hitler needed.

Actually, he needed more than that. Much more. To make the Quantensprung and to win the existential war, he needed a powerful, enthusiastic and very practical, concrete and efficient everyday support of over 90% of German population.

Support so powerful that they would willingly, lovingly, enthusiastically and happily work for him, fight for him and (if necessary) even die for him doing everything possible (and even seemingly impossible) to make the Quantensprung and with the existential war.

Terror, intimidation and violence, while necessary to annihilate opposition (a must if you want to get support from almost the whole population), are obviously not sufficient.

You can not “sit on bayonets” for very long and Germans already had a very recent experience of a successful and radical revolution. And, of course, while political police and stormtroopers are a powerful force, it is a no match for a regular army. Which will not take kindly to the idea of a terrorist (let alone murderous) dictatorship.

Therefore, the only way to obtain the necessary level of support was to “reprogram” hearts, minds and souls of just about all Germans. To achieve this absolutely vital objective, it will be necessary to develop and deploy the omnipresent propaganda system – newspapers, magazines, radio, documentaries and feature films, symbols, rituals, mass meetings, rallies, parades, etc., etc.

But propaganda by itself (and even in a powerful synergy with state terror and violence) is not sufficient as “you can not fool all the people all the time”. To obtain (and keep) support of over 90% of the population, you must genuinely satisfy their key aggregate needs – financial, functional, emotional and spiritual. All the time. In other words, make your population (your stakeholders) genuinely happy.

 

The Day After the Enabling Act (2)

IMG_0374He understood those – politicians and “regular folks” – who did not take his chancellorship seriously. Humanly speaking, they were right, of course – he had a chance of a snowball in hell to stay in power (quite limited, actually) for longer than several months. And acquiring plenary powers in Germany was flatly impossible – there was no question about that.

But it was humanly speaking – i.e. in the opinion of those who did not believe in the supernatural. In Providence. In God. In the Almighty Power. And Adolf Hitler believed in “all of the above” (which for him were one and the same omnipotent spiritual entity).

Hence he knew for a fact that he was, indeed, a fully authorized agent, tool, an instrument of this Almighty Power. The power that will provide him with all supernatural support that he will need to accomplish his Divine Mission – (a) fight and win the existential war with the godless Bolshevik Soviet Union (and with the alien “Jewish race”); and (b) make the Aryan race in general and Germany in particular the masters, the rulers of our world.

Unlike just about every German politician, statesman and government official (and the overwhelming majority of ordinary Germans), Adolf Hitler knew, just knew that the existential all-out open “hot” war with the Soviet Union was inevitable.

For a very simple reason – “Red Tamerlane” Joseph Stalin (a) was totally committed to invading, conquering and transforming Europe (and subsequently the whole world) into a one totalitarian Communist state – a global Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; and (b) by 1933 had the absolute power in the Soviet Union (much more absolute than Hitler would even have in Germany).

As was the war with France and Great Britain. Neither would accept the fusion of immense Soviet resources with the German technologies and management (and thus the emergence of a global German superpower) inevitable after the German victory in the existential war with the Soviet Union.

To win this war, German Army had to launch a pre-emptive strike on the latter. Which required a common border between Germany and the USSR making war between Germany and Poland (and occupation of the latter by the former) inevitable as well.

Which would almost definitely lead to France and Great Britain declaring war on Germany. The war made even more inevitable by the “Alsace-Lorraine problem” as the overwhelming majority of the population of that territory still were of German nationality and thus wanted to be part of Germany, not France.

Germany had neither the resources nor stamina to win the war of attrition (the previous war was lost precisely because it turned into the latter); consequently, the only way to win these wars was by blitzkriegs lasting no more than a few months.

Blitzkrieg against France was crystal-clear – destroy sufficient chunk of French armed forces and occupy sufficient part of French territory to force the French government (not terribly eager to fight even the defensive war in the first place) to essentially surrender.

Soviet Union was simply way too big for its government to be forced to surrender; consequently, the only realistic military objective was to force it (by the abovementioned means) to sign peace treaty on German terms (“Brest-Litovsk II”, if you will).

And after the fall of France and (especially) the defeat of the Soviet Union Britain will have no choice but to accept peace on generous German terms as winning the war without Soviet “cannon fodder” (and a lot of it) was simply impossible. Especially after the German Kriegsmarine (especially its U-boat arm) and incessant Luftwaffe attacks will make everyday life on the island very uncomfortable.

To win these inevitable wars, Germany (more precisely, its Nazi government and Adolf Hitler personally) had to transform its tiny Reichswehr – not capable of protecting the country from an attack by Poland – into the most powerful, fearsome and efficient military force in the world (excluding purely naval operations, of course).

And support it with sufficiently industrial complex (system) – both military (production of military hardware, ammunition and other supplies) and civilian “foundation industries” (oil, coal, metals, energy, chemicals, foodstuffs, etc.).

Obviously, making Germany self-sufficient in foodstuffs and basic raw materials to the maximum extent possible – by developing whole industries for manufacturing substitute “ersatz” products (petrol, synthetic rubber, etc.), increasing the amount of land available for agriculture and maximizing the productivity of existing agricultural land.

And, of course, by acquiring industries and agricultural lands of the whole nations – Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland and subsequently (for fighting the war with the mighty Soviet Union and no less mighty British Empire) France and other European nations.