Covering Key Leaders & Managers in Nazi Germany

GoeringThere is no doubt that Nazi Germany was mostly a brainchild of one individual – Adolf Hitler. However, he usually practiced a hands-off approach to managing the Third Reich, giving his lieutenants a lot of freedom in implementing his rather broad directives.

Consequently, structure and behavior of Nazi Germany was shaped by a number of “top Nazis”. Therefore, to properly understand the Third Reich, you must understand these characters (which requires development of a reasonably detailed psychological profile).

To understand each “top Nazi”, we must learn not only who he was (it was always a “he”), but also how and why he became who he was. And, obviously, not only what he did and when, but also why (i.e. why he behaved the way he did).

More specifically, what was his primary drive, what were his objectives (i.e., the intended and actual consequences of his decisions and actions and, if they were different, why).

Then, obviously, it will be necessary to pass a functional judgement on his decisions and actions – whether he made the best decisions given his resources, upbringing, education, circumstances, etc. And, of course, a legal judgement (whether his decisions and/or actions constituted a crime).

Naturally, all analysis and conclusions must be based not on emotions (positive or negative), sympathy or antipathy but strictly on indisputable facts, rock-solid logic and good old common sense.

Covering Key Organizations in Nazi Germany

OrgChartObviously, the coverage of every organization in Nazi Germany (Nazi Germany as a whole, NSDAP, SS, Wehrmacht, SD, Luftwaffe, etc.) must begin with its fundamental objective (its mission, if you will) as every successful organization has but one fundamental objective.

No less obviously, it will be then necessary to cover its key objectives (functions) naturally derived from its mission. It is vitally important to always keep in mind, however, that every organization has three categories of its key objectives (as well as of its mission) – perceived, planned and actual.

Every organization has its founders, including a primary one (the principal founder) – which also need to be covered in a sufficient detail. As must be the vision that the founders had for the organization in question, including key differences in these visions (if any).

No organization is an island; consequently, it is necessary to properly describe its environment – both internal (individuals and organizations in Nazi Germany) and in other nations (allies, enemies and neutral).

Then one must describe in sufficient detail (visual and textual) the composition (structure) of the organization in question (i.e. its key objects and how they are connected to each other). This description is typically built around the organizational chart (departments, divisions, individuals, etc.) of the system in question.

To achieve its objectives (fulfil its mission) the organization must do something. In other words, execute certain organizational projects and processes (the latter are essentially the former repeated over and over again).

Which, therefore, must be properly covered – in textual and (if necessary) visual form. Including purely internal processes and external processes that involve interactions with the environment of the organization in question.

Projects and processes are executed by individuals (rank-and-files employees and managers) of the organization in question. Therefore, it is necessary to present reasonably detailed profiles of its personnel – specific for its leaders and key employees and managers and general for the rest.

Obviously, every organization has its history (from inception to demise) which (no less obviously) must be presented in sufficient detail. A history (decisions and actions by its personnel) that must be properly analyzed and evaluated.

In other words, it is necessary to pass functional judgement on all aspects of the organization in question (mission, functions, history, etc.) and legal judgement (whether decisions and/or actions of its employees constituted a crime and whether the organization in question was criminal in question).

Again, a genuine historian must never ever make moral judgements about decisions and/or actions of employees, managers and leaders of the organization in question.

And, of course, all analysis and conclusions must be based not on emotions (positive or negative), sympathy or antipathy but strictly on indisputable facts, rock-solid logic and good old common sense.

 

Revised Methodology

To produce a genuinely comprehensive guide to Nazi Germany, one must not only cover all key components of the Third Reich, but to do it in a uniform way. To achieve this all-important objective, I developed a unique and highly efficient research methodology that became the basis for this blog (and my book).

Not surprisingly (as history is all about knowledge management) this is the methodology of uncovering, collecting, structuring and presenting knowledge (i.e. information that has value) about certain aspects (components) of Nazi Germany and its history.

History is about properly covering three broad categories of objects (yes, object-oriented approach is as applicable to history as it is to software development): events (the Holocaust, Word War II, Nazi revolution, etc.) and organizations or systems (NSDAP, SS, Wehrmacht, the whole Nazi Germany, etc.). Consequently, to properly cover all these categories of objects, one needs not one but three different methodologies.

To properly cover key Nazi Germany – related events, it is necessary to first assemble a comprehensive list of all actors (individuals and organizations) whose decisions and actions made these events happen.

Then it is necessary to describe who did what when (in other words who made decisions and performed actions that made the event in question happen). And, of course, why (in other words what were the intended and actual consequences of these decisions and actions and if they were different – why).

Then it will be necessary, of course, to pronounce the functional judgement on these decisions and actions (every genuine historian is an analyst whose job is to make functional judgements).

In other words, it is necessary to answer the fundamental question – were the decisions and/or actions in question the best under those circumstances, constraints and resources and if they were not then what would have been the best course of action given the mentality of the actor and the circumstances in question.

History is a science, not propaganda; consequently, a genuine historian must never ever make moral judgements about decisions and/or actions of historical actors. He or she must, however, make legal judgements – whether decisions and/or actions in question constituted a crime (i.e. a war crime, a crime against humanity, etc.).

No less obviously, all analysis and conclusions must be based not on emotions (positive or negative), sympathy or antipathy but strictly on indisputable facts, rock-solid logic and good old common sense.

 

Martyrdom of Reinhold Elstner

Reinhold Elstner was a German Wehrmacht veteran and a certified chemical engineer who poured petrol over himself and committed suicide at about 8 pm on April 25, 1995, on the steps of Munich’s historical Feldherrnhalle (the site of the brief battle that ended Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch and subsequently a Nazi memorial).

He sacrificed his life in protest against what he called “the ongoing official slander and demonization of the German people and German soldiers 50 years after the end of World War II“.

Twelve hours later, on April 26, he died in a Munich hospital. In a farewell letter, he wrote:

Fifty years of unrelenting smear campaigns and demonization of an entire people are enough. Fifty years of incessant insults hurled at German war veterans are enough. With my 75 years of age, all I can do is to set a final sign of contemplation with my death in flames. And if only one German comes to consciousness and finds his way to the truth, then my sacrifice will not have been in vain.”

 

Why Study History?

Time History Clock

IMHO, the most compelling case for studying history was made by a prominent British historian Robert Crowcroft in his article “The Case for Applied History” published in History Today (https://www.historytoday.com/robert-crowcroft/case-applied-history) :

In An Autobiography, published in 1939, R.G. Collingwood offered an arresting statement about the kind of insight possessed by the trained historian. The philosopher of history likened the difference between those who knew and understood history and those who did not to that between ‘the trained woodsman’ and ‘the ignorant traveler’ in a forest.

While the latter marches along unaware of their surroundings, thinking ‘Nothing here but trees and grass’, the woodsman sees what lurks ahead. ‘Look’, he will say, ‘there is a tiger in that grass.’

What Collingwood meant was that, through their familiarity with people, places and ideas, historians are often equipped to see how a situation might turn out – or at least identify the key considerations that determine matters.

Collingwood’s musings implied an expansive vision of the role historians might play in society. Their grasp of human behavior, long-term economic or cultural processes and the complexities of the socio-political order of a given region of the world meant that they could be more than just a specialist in the past. By being able to spot the tiger in the grass, historians might profitably advise on contemporary and future challenges as well.

For around 2,500 years, the notion of the historian-as-commentator has been well established. It origins lie deep in antiquity. Thucydides, for example, imagined his History of the Peloponnesian War as being not merely a history of an epic struggle, but a possession ‘for all time’, which revealed the mainsprings of political ambition and human conflict. It would remain useful ‘so long as men are men’.

Historians writing thereafter often saw themselves as not only piecing together the details of a specific event, but offering their readers conceptual tools with which to understand other situations in the world around them – and in that to come. For centuries, statesmen and thinkers used history as a tool to shed light on their own difficulties and to suggest courses of action.

When Niccolò Machiavelli wrote The Prince published in 1532, he illustrated his case by constant reference to examples from the past. Politicians of 19th-century Europe were classically educated and sought a Greek or Roman analogy for every problem. The Victorian historian J.R. Seeley went so far as to declare that history was no less than a ‘school of statesmanship’; a bold assertion of what the discipline might offer us.”

Key Differences between Genuine History and Propaganda

Clio3Genuine knowledge (i.e. accurate, objective, comprehensive and unbiased information) about Nazi Germany (or any other object of historical research for that matter) can be obtained only from sources that are genuine history – not (usually political) propaganda.

Consequently, to obtain this knowledge, one needs to be able to tell genuine history from propaganda. To do that, one obviously must know the key differences between the two.

The most fundamental difference is, obviously, in key objectives. The only fundamental objective of genuine history is to discover, disseminate (preach, if you will) and defend (if necessary) historic truth.

The fundamental objective of propaganda is usually political – to seize and maintain political power (which typically includes manipulation and control of the social group in question).

Genuine history is all about truth; consequently, it is always objective and unbiased. Propaganda is all about manipulation; consequently, it is always biased (often very heavily biased).

Genuine history always seeks to create an objective and accurate (and thus comprehensive) picture of the object of historical research. Consequently, a genuine historian always strives to collect and properly structure all relevant indisputable facts about the object in question and analyze them using only rock-solid logic and good old common sense.

And accepting whatever conclusions these facts, logic and common sense would lead to. In other words, genuine historic research contains only truth and nothing but the truth.

Propaganda seeks to achieve certain political objectives. Therefore, it strives to create the picture of the object in question (i.e. Nazi Germany, Soviet Union, etc.) that will be the most valuable for the political objective in question.

Consequently, a propagandist (consciously or unconsciously) selects only information that supports the “politically correct” objective and structures it in a “politically correct” way.

Using only “politically correct” logic, of course. Thus ignoring all indisputable facts that paint a “politically incorrect” picture and often ignoring good old common sense. Thus inevitably creating grossly distorted and highly incorrect perception of historic reality.

Genuine historian does not make moral judgement (only functional and legal). He or she only investigates what happened and why, who did what and why, what were the intended and actual consequences of their decisions and actions and why they were different (if they indeed were).

Propaganda is all about making moral judgements as the latter are one of the most efficient tools for manipulating individuals. And while a genuine historian can (and often does) make honest mistakes, propaganda (i.e. so-called “Holocaust denial”) is full of deliberate lies.

Genuine history is strictly logical; there can be no positive or negative emotions in research deliverables created by genuine historians. Propaganda is full of powerful emotions because they are very efficient tools for manipulating individuals.

A genuine historian serves only the Truth; propaganda serves political parties (e.g. Communists), social groups (e.g., “liberals”, “progressives”, neo-Nazis, etc.), “special interest groups”, etc.

A genuine historian MUST publish the Truth that he (or she) has discovered even if it leads to very “politically incorrect” conclusions and highly undesirable consequences (for some or even the overwhelming majority of the population). Even to the reincarnation of the Third Reich.