A number of the books Pierce read during his Oregon State years were about a man whose life and ideas were to give him both inspiration and direction: Adolf Hitler. How Pierce could have found anything at all to like in the most universally despised figure of our time, and probably of all time, begs explanation. This chapter will attempt to explain how it happened.
“One of the books I came across when I was at Oregon State University was called Hitler: A Study of Tyranny by Alan Bullock,” Pierce told me.1 “Bullock was one of those court historian types. He’d write the kind of interpretations of history that would get him patted on the head and promoted and so on. So this was a hostile biography of Hitler. But nevertheless, what Hitler had done in a very few years and how remarkable it was came through to me. In 1918 Hitler was in a military hospital blinded from a British poison gas attack. He was just a corporal, he had no family, a limited education, no friends, no connections, no political status, nothing. He decides that he will lead Germany in redressing the grievous wrongs that had been done to it after the First World War and straightening out some of the mistakes that were being made in German society. Fifteen years later he is Chancellor of Germany and he did what he said he was going to do. A wounded war veteran with nobody to help him, and he pulled it up just through his own willpower. That is an amazing story.
“I’m sure that Bullock would have been surprised to hear the effect his book was having. It certainly had a major influence on me. Not that I could manage to do anything of the magnitude of what Hitler did, but what a person can accomplish if he has a purpose and gives everything of himself to accomplishing it, that was what came through to me. I’m sure that if Hitler weren’t so antithetically opposed to the Jewish spirit which governs the world today he would not be so demonized as he is. If he were not such a deadly threat, they wouldn’t bother.
“Another book that made a big impression on me was a little book called The Young Hitler I Knew by August Kubizek.2 Kubizek was a close friend of Hitler’s when they were both teenagers. They went to school together in Linz, Austria. Kubizek was a mild, mousey sort of guy. He and Hitler went to the opera all the time. They would get special student admission, which didn’t entitle them to a seat but rather to a standing position in front of the columns that supported the balcony. On a very cold night in 1906, I think it was – Hitler would have been seventeen years old – the two of them went to see a performance of Rienzi by Wagner. [The opera is about a Roman tribune, Cola Rienzi, who is portrayed as a patriotic hero who wrests power from a corrupt oligarchy.] Apparently the experience had a profound impact on Hitler. Kubizek describes in his book how after the performance Hitler seemed very intense. It was late at night, and they walked together to the outskirts of town to a hill and stood under the stars. And then there was this outburst of emotion from Hitler. Words suddenly started pouring out of him in a straining, hoarse voice about this feeling he had that his destiny was to lead the German people. Kubizek thought to himself, ‘What the hell has gotten into this guy, has he lost his mind?’
“Kubizek and Hitler later went to Vienna together, Kubizek to study music at the conservatory there and Hitler to go to art school, although it turned out they wouldn’t admit him. Kubizek and Hitler drifted apart, and Kubizek went on to have a fairly respectable career as a concert musician, and of course Hitler became the Chancellor of Germany. In 1941 or thereabouts, Kubizek received an invitation to attend an annual performance of The Ring by Wagner. In the presence of Winnifred Wagner in her home he met Hitler again after not seeing him for thirty years or so. Kubizek said to Hitler, ‘Do you remember that night in Linz when we climbed the Freienberg [the hill] after seeing Rienzi?’ Hitler replied, ‘Yes, indeed I do. In that hour it began.’”
“Why did that story stick with you?” I asked.
“It really inspired me. Seeing someone take his life so seriously and aspire to great things for his people – that stayed with me. And also, reading about this episode was one of the things that pushed Hitler to the center of my universe.”
I found the section of the book by Kubizek about the time he and Hitler saw Rienzi together that Pierce had referred to. Kubizek tells of standing with the eighteen-year-old Hitler after the opera late at night beneath brilliant stars:
Adolf stood in front of me; and now he gripped both of my hands and held them tight. He had never made such a gesture before. I felt from the grasp of his hands how deeply moved he was. His eyes were feverish with excitement. The words did not come smoothly from his mouth as they usually did, but rather erupted, hoarse and raucous. From his voice I could tell even more how much this experience had shaken him… I cannot repeat every word that my friend uttered. I was struck by something strange, which I had never noticed before, even when he had talked to me in moments of the greatest excitement. It was as if another being spoke out of his body, and moved him as much as it did me. It wasn’t at all a case of a speaker being carried away by his own words. On the contrary; I felt as though he himself listened with astonishment and emotion to what burst forth from him with elementary force. I will not attempt to interpret this phenomenon, but it was a state of complete ecstasy and rapture, in which he transferred the character of Rienzi, without even mentioning him as a model or example, with visionary power to the plane of his own ambitions. But it was more than a cheap adaptation. Indeed, the impact of the opera was rather a sheer external impulse which compelled him to speak. Like flood waters breaking their dykes, his words burst forth from him. He conjured up in grandiose, inspiring pictures his own future and that of his people.3
Kubizek then goes on to say, as Pierce remembers accurately, that thirty years later Hitler told him “In that hour it began.” What came through to Pierce was the tremendous sense of mission that Hitler exemplified. One’s life could be rooted in a grand purpose. One’s own life could be taken that seriously. One could attribute that level of importance to his existence. I think that Pierce took all that to heart, and that it has strongly affected how he sees himself and his own possibilities and what he has done with his life. By the way, the Wagner opera not only depicts Rienzi’s rise. It also records his downfall, as at the close of the opera he is overthrown by a mob.
“Another book I read,” Pierce told me, “was by Dietrich Eckart, and it was called Bolshevism From Moses to Lenin.” Although it was later when I read it, in 1965, it did have a big effect on me. It was a short work, actually a booklet or a pamphlet. It was only available in German, but it was written in clear, simple prose, so I got out my German dictionary and I translated it. The booklet is an imagined, or reconstructed, dialogue between Eckart and Hitler. The two were close friends, and Hitler considered Eckart a mentor – Eckart was twenty-one years older than Hitler. They undoubtedly had many conversations on the subject matter covered by the booklet.
“Eckart’s booklet helped me get an understanding of the Jews. In particular, it opened my eyes to the message in the Old Testament. Biblical material tends to be misleading because of the high-flown poetic language in which it is written. I hadn’t really absorbed the message in the Old Testament until I went back to it after reading the Eckart book. It gave me a lot of insight into the Old Testament and the ways the Jews work. I had read the Bible through rose-colored glasses when I was a kid. I still quote some of the things I learned from the Eckart book.
“Eckart wrote Bolshevism From Moses to Lenin in 1923 just before he was imprisoned by the German government for his involvement with Hitler. He died as a consequence of his imprisonment. I published my translation of it in a magazine I had started called National Socialist World.”
I found the issue of National Socialist World that contained Pierce’s translation of Bolshevism From Moses to Lenin.4 In the foreword to his translation, Pierce writes that Eckart was born in 1868 in Bavaria. Pierce describes him as a “a poet, a playwright, a journalist, a scholar, and a philosopher, as well as a dedicated fighter for the National Socialist cause.”5 Pierce writes that Eckart was an “intimate companion” of Hitler. That may be true, but after reading this material I came away with the impression that while Eckart may have compiled this volume based on his talks with Hitler and he may have been trying to express Hitler’s basic ideas, the way things are expressed in this work is more Eckart than Hitler. The pamphlet was laden with footnotes and read like a scholarly article. In his foreword, Pierce said Eckart aimed the pamphlet at the equivalent of a high school graduate. If that was Eckart’s intention, I think he missed the mark. I can’t imagine the typical high-school graduate – or college graduate, for that matter – engaging the turgid prose of this volume.
Bolshevism From Moses to Lenin amounts to the harshest of condemnations of the historical role of the Jews. Some examples:
• With reference to The Old Testament, Hitler – or better, the Hitler character – is quoted as saying, “Really, the Book of Joshua should suffice; such a thing of uninterrupted genocide, of bestial cruelty, of shameless rapacity and cold-blooded cunning – Hell incarnate. And everything in the name of Jehovah, in fact, according to his express wish!”6
• Hitler is quoted as saying that when translating the Bible from the Hebrew, Martin Luther translated a certain word as “racial kinsman.” “But then,” Hitler relates, “the rabbi came and said that the word means ‘neighbor.’ And so we have the translation: ‘Love they neighbor as thyself,’ rather than, as it should be: ‘Love thy racial kinsman as thyself.’”7
• Eckart says: “No country, writes Sombart, displays more of a Jewish character than the United States. We have already seen a consequence of this in the [First] World War. In 1915, at a time when the true Americans hadn’t the slightest thought of a war against us and, in fact, were so disposed toward us that any indication of a possible conflict of interest could have been smoothly and amicably settled, a secret advisory committee met with President Wilson for the sole purpose of preparing the country for war against Germany. And who was the chief wire-puller in these nefarious activities which were set into motion a full two years before the engagement of the United States in the war? The previously unknown Jew, Bernard Baruch.”8
Bolshevism From Moses to Lenin was unfinished at the time of Eckart’s death in 1923 and was published posthumously drawing upon Eckart’s notes. Pierce reports in his journal article that Eckart’s last lines before his notes broke off were the following: “The realization of the unconditional dependence on his [the Jew’s] victims appears to me to be the main cause for his hatred. To be obliged to try to annihilate us with all his might, but at the same time to suspect that that must lead inevitably to his own ruin, therein it lies. If you will: the tragedy of Lucifer.”9
“I also read a book called The Lightning and the Sun by Savitri Devi, who had a very worshipful view of Hitler,” Pierce recounted. After Pierce mentioned that he had read The Lightning and the Sun, I made it a point to look into the book and its author. I found Devi to be a most interesting character. The Lighting and the Sun was published in Calcutta, India in 1958. Devi was born Maximiani Portas in 1905 in Lyons, France. Her mother was English, and her father was of Greek and Italian background and a citizen of France. She took the Hindu name Savitri Devi when in 1932 she emigrated to India, which she considered the cradle of the Aryan race. Devi’s many writings, published with the help of her Brahman husband, synthesized Hindu thought and Nordic racial ideology. She idolized Adolf Hitler and gave both him and the ideology of National Socialism a mystique that elevated them beyond the narrow realities of German history to a kind of cult status. After World War II, Devi was arrested in Cologne, Germany and imprisoned by the British occupational forces for Nazi propaganda activities. From the 1960s until her death in 1982, she was a leading figure in the internationalist neo-Nazi underground.10
Devi began The Lightning and the Sun in 1948 and finished it in 1956 while in prison. It is a long volume – it could have used some blue penciling – and in places dense and esoteric, with lengthy discourses on the elements of Hinduism she considered to be the legacy of the Aryan tradition. The book deals with a number of Devi’s convictions, including vegetarianism and the protection of the natural environment, but it was her enthusiasm for National Socialism and adoration for Hitler which most came through to Pierce.
Devi used a “man against time” doctrine she formulated to portray Hitler as a mythic, god-like being.11 In Devi’s thinking, men against time are earthly embodiments of the Hindu deity Vishnu. Vishnu is not conceived as a knowing, separate being in the way that the Judeo-Christian religions conceive of God. Rather, it is a force or aspect of all existence. Vishnu is the world sustainer, the tendency of every being to maintain itself and to procreate in its own likeness. It is the power that opposes disintegration and death. Men against time, says Devi, are “saviors of the world: forces of life, directed against the downward current of [seemingly] irresistible change; [they are] forces of life tending to bring the world back to original, timeless perfection.”12 These men against time combine the highest enlightenment and ideals (“sun”) with the often destructive power of a force of nature (“lightning”) – thus the title of the book, The Lightning and the Sun. In Devi’s conceptualization, men against time tend to be martial heroes who, in the words of her biographer, Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, “work to redeem the world from the thrall of the dark age.”13 They combine wisdom with practicality – including ruthlessness and violence – to save and regenerate the world. They are the real heroes of history.
Devi revered Hitler as the greatest man against time in all of recorded history. She viewed him as the champion of the old European tribal principles against degenerate cosmopolitanism, capitalism, and democracy. She admired in Hitler the very things others find abhorrent – his racist ideas and his anti-Semitism. She applauded the laws he propagated forbidding Aryans and Jews to marry, considering these laws instrumental in reviving the Aryan separatism she saw manifested in the Indian caste system. Goodrick-Clarke writes:
His [Hitler’s] domestic modesty, vegetarianism, and abstention from alcohol she saw as the typical traits of the kindly ascetic. His ruthless use of military violence against his enemies in a resistant fallen world, no less his uncompromising plan to exterminate the Jews, an age-old adversary and counterimage of the heroic Aryans, identified him as the essential “Man Against Time.”14
Devi describes Hitler as “the true friend of his people,” and “inspired by the inner vision of a healthy, beautiful, and peaceful world, a real earthly paradise reflecting cosmic perfection.”15
And then there was Hitler’s own book, Mein Kampf “When I was at Oregon State,” Pierce told me, “I read Mein Kampf for a second time. I had read it the first time as an undergraduate, but it didn’t really turn on a light at that time. It did when I read it again at Oregon State, though. This man, Hitler, understood things pretty much the same way I did, and he was a gifted man in the way he went about things in politics. Although I knew I couldn’t do what he did: I don’t relate well to other people, and I’m not a speaker. I was still left with the question of exactly what it was that I could do with my life.”
Adolf Hitler was born on April 20th, 1889 in a town in upper Austria by the name of Braunau am Inn. He was arrested for an unsuccessful putsch (political insurrection) in November of 1923. Hitler dictated Mein Kampf (My Struggle) while he was in prison. He was in his mid-thirties at that time. Mein Kampf was published in two volumes, in 1925 and 1926. The book gives Hitler’s own account of his life, outlines the ideology of National Socialism, and relates the history of the Nazi party and its plans for the future. A couple of years before Hitler became Chancellor of Germany in 1933, Mein Kampf became a bestseller – which is not to say that all that many Germans actually read the book.
I found a copy of Mein Kampf – I had not read it previously – and went through it.16 It is a formidable tome – two volumes totaling 688 pages. I’m not going to review the merits of the book’s ideas here; many others have done that. What I will try to do in these pages is point out what Pierce saw in it; I’ll look at Mein Kampf from his perspective. I hope doing this will help explain what Pierce and others find appealing in Hitler’s pronouncements.
To begin, Pierce undoubtedly saw parallels between Hitler’s description of German society during the 1920s and American society at the time he read the book. Hitler wrote of the “pitifully poor human beings” in Germany. He considered the Germans of his day too often cowardly in the face of responsibility, half-hearted toward the things that truly mattered, and lacking in spirit.17 Hitler believed that economic values and preoccupations were eroding his people: “In proportion as economic life grew to be the dominant mistress of the state, money became the god whom all had to serve and to whom each man had to bow down… A truly malignant degeneration set in: what made it most malignant was that it began at a time when the nation, in a presumably menacing and critical hour, needed the highest heroic attitude.”18
In Mein Kampf, Hitler decried “big city civilization,” as he called it.19 Rather than enriching and enhancing centers of culture, cities had descended to the level of mere human settlements, masses of apartments and tenements in which people lived cut off from one another. Cities had become little more than places to shop and do business. People were moving from here and there, and this was diminishing the bonds among them.20
Hitler mourned what he considered to be the cultural decay in Germany. He wrote of “the morass of present-day environment.”21 He pointed out artistic degeneration: Schiller, Goethe, and Shakespeare had given way to the base products of the time.22 Cultural forms of the past were being wiped away. “Every new institution,” Hitler declared, “the more wretched and miserable it is, will try all the harder to extinguish the last traces of the past time… Only those who can give nothing valuable to the world, but try to act as if they were going to give it God-knows-what, will hate everything that was previously given and would best like to negate or even to destroy it.”23 What was being pushed on the German people – so-called modern art being a prime example – was alien to their spirit and beneath their greatness. He called for a cultural cleansing. The challenge, he argued, was to affirm cultural forms that reflect the truest and finest characteristics of the people.
I’m sure that Pierce related to the negative picture of society Hitler painted in Mein Kampf Hitler had put words to what Pierce was seeing in America in the 1950s and ‘60s. Thus there was an essential agreement Pierce had with Hitler’s perception of society, and he resonated with Hitler’s feeling of repulsion in light of what was going on.
And beyond this general concordance with Hitler’s overall point of view, what are the specific topics and ideas in Mein Kampf that hit home with Pierce? I believe they are the ones that I outline below.
First, there is Hitler’s biocentric worldview. Hitler’s perspective on life was referenced in Nature. Hitler contended in Mein Kampf that before anything else we must attend to Nature, the world of living things and their environments. Man, Hitler is not separate from or above Nature but rather a part of Nature. We need to come to grips with how Nature actually operates. We must align our lives with Nature. We must obey Nature’s laws. That is how we will best prosper and fulfill our destiny as beings. We should not be so presumptuous as to imagine that we can ignore or overcome Nature’s realities and Nature’s imperatives. We need to learn to live Nature’s way. Hitler’s basic message was “get out of your head.” Get out of the realm of fanciful intellectualization. Get out of what you think is true or ought to be true. Instead, quite literally come down to earth.
Within this biocentric frame of reference, Hitler focused on what he considered the fundamental human reality: the life-and-death struggle for survival and a higher quality of existence among the races of man. As aggression and violence are inherent in this struggle; they are an integral part of Nature’s way. At the most fundamental level human thought and action have an impact on the outcome of this racial struggle. What is responsible and right in human affairs is that which contributes to the continued existence and upward development of one’s race. According to Hitler, this is what it means to live by Nature’s rules and by Nature’s morality.
Hitler held to a biological/cultural concept of race. As he viewed it, race has to do with biology, physiology, blood – there is that. But that is only part of it. Race also has to do with culture: values and morals, philosophies, traditions, modes of artistic expression, religious orientations, ways of working, forms of government, national and ethnic identifications, family arrangements, conceptions of masculinity and femininity, approaches to raising children, and connections to the earth. Race is about more than genetics. Hitler used the term “folk” (volk in German) to get at the idea that he was referring to a people who share a biological inheritance and a way of being. They have an approach to life in common as well as a gene pool.
Hitler’s concept of race was a dynamic one in that he emphasized the interplay between the two aspects of biology and culture. Each of the two affects the other: biological realities or impulses shape the culture of a people and, concurrently, the culture of a people has a impact on their biological or physical nature. Biological urgings – call them instincts – predispose people to conduct their lives in a particular manner. This is not to say that individuals and races can’t choose to act in a fashion contrary to these urgings, or that they can’t be distracted from them by external forces in their world – ideas, people, and situations. It is rather to assert the existence of a more fundamental, more powerful force than choice and social conditioning. There is a calling from deep within human beings, a genetically rooted predilection to be a certain way, to proceed in a certain direction, and that calling wins out in the end. In terms of race, what this comes down to is Hitler’s belief that the differences among the races go beyond skin color and his conviction that you have to go beyond an analysis of circumstance and culture to explain the conduct and accomplishments of the various races. You have to take into account the most powerful influence of all on what human beings are like: biological inheritance.
When Hitler dealt with the ways culture affects biology, he focused on culture’s impact on breeding patterns. Ideas, values, associational patterns, and so forth, have an impact on who has children with whom within a particular race and thereby affect the physical make-up of the race. Most importantly, cultural factors influence how frequently members of a race mate with members of other races. Hitler held that racial interbreeding profoundly affects the biological composition of a race.
Related to all of this is the aristocratic principle. The aristocratic principle can be contrasted with its opposite, the egalitarian principle. Simply put, the aristocratic principle says that some people are inherently better than other people; there are qualitative differences among human beings. To view man as simply a man is to be ignorant of racial laws.24 Hitler posited that rather than races and individuals being equal they are hierarchically ordered. He wrote of the “basic aristocratic idea of Nature… [which] sees not only the different value of races, but also the different value of individuals.”25 These differing values must realistically be taken into account when ordering the affairs of collective life, whether it be political or economic arrangements, education, individual and group relationships, or anything else. Hitler said that while some may be attracted to the idea that individuals and races are, or could be, equal to one another, the fact of the matter is they are not equal now and won’t be equal in the future unless the superior ones are hobbled in some way so as to bring them back to the level of their inferiors.
Hitler’s assumptions about race lead him to warn of the danger of miscegenation. His big concern was interracial procreation or, another word for it, race-mixing. Race mixing compromises the superior of two races being intermingled: it lowers the better race physically, intellectually, and spiritually. Nature has no love for bastards is the way Hitler inelegantly put it. Those of mixed racial background are reduced in cultural and spiritual strength, he claimed. They have less power and determination than those of “pure stock.” Hitler saw racial crossing as running counter to a grand plan for mankind to elevate its quality. “Nature doesn’t want the blending of higher and lower races since the work of higher breeding will be ruined,” he wrote.26 “Any crossing of two beings not at the same level,” Hitler contended, “produces a medium between the level of the two parents… Such mating is contrary to the will of Nature for a higher breeding of all life.”27 Later on in Mein Kampf he noted that a “racial porridge” will prevent the achievement of the highest goal of mankind, a goal inherent in Nature: the evolution of man into a higher form of being.28
One hears much talk about the notion of Aryans as the master race. A consideration of this notion hinges on what is meant by the term “master.” Master can refer to mastery over other people, that is to say, the domination and control of others. The master of a merchant ship is one who is in control of the people and cargo on board that ship. However, the term master can have another meaning as well: it can refer to the best, to the ones who have attained mastery at what they do. For instance, master carpenters or electricians don’t rule over other tradesmen. Rather, they are the best, the finest in their field, the most knowledgeable and skillful. So there is the question of whether master race in this instance refers to the domination of one race over other races or to those who are the best by some standard (intelligence, character, creative output, having attained the greatest mastery over themselves, whatever the criteria).
I couldn’t find an instance in Mein Kampf where Hitler uses the term master race, but it did seem to me that he employs the idea of master with regard to race in both of the meanings I listed, i.e., with reference to those who are the best by some standard and with reference to dominance over others. In fact, he blends these two ideas: Aryans are best and therefore should assert dominance over others. By best he means that Aryans have the strongest genetic and cultural features. In Nature – and Nature’s rules should prevail according to his way of thinking – the strongest should dominate. He wrote: “[National Socialism] by no means believes in an equality of the races… and feels itself obligated… to promote the victory of the better and stronger and demand the subordination of the inferior and weaker… ”29
That still leaves the question of what form the dominance is to take. Does dominance mean telling the dominated race or races what to do in every aspect of life? Or does it mean dominance in the narrower sense of the dominant, or master, race being able to take everything necessary, every resource, from the subjugated race(s) in order that the master race can move ahead on its evolutionary path as fast and as far as possible? My reading of Mein Kampf is that Hitler’s focus is on domination in this latter sense: that is, having access to everything anybody else has that you need in order to forge ahead. Said Hitler: “We all sense that in the distant future humanity must be faced by problems which only a highest race, become master people and supported by the means and possibilities of an entire globe, will be equipped to overcome.”30 And then elsewhere: “And so the folkish philosophy of life corresponds to the innermost will of Nature, since it restores that free play of forces… until at last the best of humanity, having achieved possession of this earth, will have a free path of activity…”31 That sounds to me like an “access to anything you need” form of domination.
Hitler believed everything to be at stake in Aryans assuming their rightful place in the scheme of things. He wrote hyperbolically: “The man who misjudges and disregards the racial laws… thwarts the triumphal march of the best race and hence also the precondition for all human progress, and remains, in consequence, burdened with all the sensibility of man, in the animal realm of helpless misery.”32 And later on in Mein Kampf he melodramatically added: “Human culture and civilization on this continent are inseparably bound up with the presence of the Aryan. If he dies out or declines, the dark veils of an age without culture will again descend on this globe.”33
In Mein Kampf Hitler expresses worries about the fate of the Aryan race. It is particularly important that the Aryan race not intermix with other races, said Hitler, because it embodies mankind’s highest possibility. The danger the Aryan race faces, wrote Hitler, is that it will be replaced by a “new nationality,” one “seriously reduced in spiritual and cultural stature.”34 “The stronger must dominate not blend with the weaker, thus sacrificing his own greatness,” Hitler insisted.35 And elsewhere in Mein Kampf: “In a bastardized and niggerized world, all the concepts of the humanly beautiful and sublime, as well as all ideas of an idealized future of our humanity, would be lost forever.”36
“In every mingling of Aryan blood with that of the lower peoples the result was the end to the cultured peoples,” Hitler claimed.37 He used the experience of North America to illustrate his point. “North America,” he declared, “whose population consists in by far the largest part of Germanic elements who mixed but little with the lower colored peoples, shows a different humanity and culture from Central and South America, where the predominately Latin immigrants often mixed with the aborigines on a large scale. By this one example, we can clearly and distinctly recognize the effect of racial mixture.”38
When assessing the states of mind and motivations of individuals, Hitler employed the basic distinction between idealism and egoism. Idealism is being oriented toward serving one’s people, one’s race. Egoism looks at things from the perspective of narrowly conceived self-interest and without a sense of connection to one’s community of kindred people and a commitment to their welfare. Idealism is clearly favored over egoism in Hitler’s mind. Someone who is an idealist is more laudable than one who is an egotist or, another term, individualist. Hitler wrote:
This state of mind, which subordinates the interests of the ego to the conservation of the community, is really the first premise for every truly human culture. From it alone can arise all the great works of mankind, which bring the founder little reward, but the richest blessings to posterity. Yes, from it alone can we understand how so many are able to bear up faithfully under a scanty life which imposes on them nothing but poverty and frugality, but gives the community the foundations of its existence. Every worker, every peasant, every inventor, official, etc., who works without ever being able to achieve any happiness or prosperity for himself, is a representative of this lofty idea…39
Hitler asserted that race needs to be at the center of individual and collective concerns, and that first priority must be given to keeping the race pure. “There is only one holiest human right,” he declared, “and this right is at the same time the holiest obligation… to see to it that the blood is preserved pure and, by preserving the best humanity, to create the possibility of a nobler development of these beings.”40 Hitler warned: “All great cultures of the past perished only because the originally creative race died out from blood poisoning. The ultimate cause of such a decline was their forgetting that all culture depends on men and not conversely; hence that to preserve a certain culture the man who creates it must be preserved.”41
Since Hitler saw life as a struggle, supporting the race will involve doing battle.
What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and reproduction of our race and our people [here he seems to distinguish race and people when at other times he equates them], the sustenance of our children and the purity of our blood… This preservation is bound up with the rigid law of necessity and the right to victory of the best and stronger in this world. Those who want to live, let them fight and those who do not want to fight in this world of eternal struggle do not deserve to live. Even if that were hard – that is how it is!”42
Like every other social institution, the state is in service to the race. That is to say, the state is a means to the end of preserving and improving the race. The state supports the aristocratic idea of nature by promoting the victory of the noblest and strongest elements of the race and demanding the subordination of the inferior and weaker. The following excerpts from Mein Kampf give an indication of Hitler’s view of the role of the state:
The state is a means to an end. Its end lies in the preservation and advancement of a community of physically and psychologically homogeneous creatures. The state is the vessel and race is its content.43
The highest purpose of a folkish state is concern for the preservation of those original racial elements which bestow culture and create the beauty and dignity of a higher mankind. We, as Aryans, can conceive of the state only as the living organism of a nationality which not only assures the preservation of this nationality, but by the development of its spiritual and ideal abilities leads it to the highest freedom.44
A bad state is assuredly able to kill originally existing abilities by permitting or even promoting the destruction of the racial culture-bearer.45
Hitler argued that the reins of the state must be in the hands of the finest individuals, those who are the wisest and the most efficacious. The political process must be designed so as to identify the very best people given the aim of racial survival and progress, and then to bring them to “office and dignity.”46 Hitler is adamant that mass democracy is not the best way for this to occur. The finest should be in charge, not the masses. Rather than the rule of the democratic majority, Hitler affirmed the rule of personality, that is, the great man who takes control through what amounts to a process of natural selection.47
In world history the man who really rises above the norm of the broad average usually announces himself personally.48
A philosophy of life which endeavors to reject the democratic mass idea and give this earth to the best people – that is, the highest humanity – must logically obey the aristocratic principle within this people and make sure that the leadership and the highest influence in this people fall into the best minds. Thus, it builds, not upon the idea of the majority, but upon the idea of personality.49
Hitler asserted that in all areas of life other than politics – business, the military, and the rest – it is generally accepted that the best need to be in charge, and that it is not left to a vote to decide who that is.50 Hitler said many have a misplaced faith in the results of democratic elections: “Sooner will a camel pass through a needle’s eye than a great man be ‘discovered’ by an election.”51
Another idea in Mein Kampf is that the family, with childraising at its core, is the central element of society. Everything else works around the family and serves to enhance its functioning. In the folkish state – the state which centers itself around a shared biological and cultural heritage and destiny – marriage needs to be a “consecrated institution,” and children are “the most precious treasure of the people.”52 Marriage is not, in the first instance, a means of enhancing the happiness and wellbeing of those involved but rather, as with the other institutions of society, a means of preserving and improving the race.53
Hitler called for control of breeding as a way to improve the quality of the race. The word for this process: eugenics.
It [the National Socialist state] must see to it that only the healthy beget children; that there is only one disgrace: despite one’s own sickness and deficiencies, to bring children into the world; and one highest honor: to renounce doing so. And conversely it must be considered reprehensible to withhold healthy children from the nation. Here the state must act as the guardian of a millennial future in the face of which the wishes and selfishness of the individual must appear as nothing and submit… Those who are not physically and mentally healthy and worthy must not perpetuate their defects in the bodies of their children. In this the National Socialist state must perform the most gigantic educational task. And someday this will seem to be a greater deed than the most victorious wars of our present mediocre era… In the National Socialist state, finally, the National Socialist philosophy of life must succeed in bringing about that nobler age in which men no longer are concerned with breeding dogs, horses, and cats, but in elevating man himself, an age in which one knowingly and silently renounces, the other joyfully sacrifices and gives…54
Hitler called for an education for nobility. He criticized German schools for focusing too much on “pure knowledge” and neglecting the development of personal character. He decried “half-education,” as he called it, which pumps a certain amount of knowledge in young people but at the same time removes them from nature and their instincts and their connection to anything beyond themselves. He claimed that students were emerging from the schools of that time knowing little or nothing of the joy of responsibility. He referred to students “crammed full of knowledge and intellect, but bereft of any healthy instinct and devoid of all energy and boldness.”55 He said the German educational system was turning out weak-willed people who lack forcefulness and decisiveness. Rather than strong and courageous men and women, the schools were producing “clever weaklings” and “cowardly physical degenerates.”56
Hitler held up the Greek ideal of an education that promotes a noble soul, physical beauty, and a brilliant mind. He called for an emphasis on the development of firm character, especially self-confidence, willpower and determination, and a sense of responsibility.
Don’t heap on material, Hitler implored. Help students gain the store of material that they actually need as individuals and that will benefit the community. This will necessarily include specialized training suited to the particular student.57
Hitler emphasized the study of Nature in order that students learn to understand and respect Nature and live by its laws: “A man must never fall into the lunacy of believing that he has really risen to be the lord and master of Nature – which is so easily induced by the conceit of half-education; he must understand the fundamental necessity of Nature’s rule, and realize how much his existence is subjected to these laws of eternal fight and upward struggle.”58
Hitler advocated a focus on the history of the Roman and Greek heritage in order that students find the motivation to contribute to its continued existence: “Especially in historical instruction we must not be deterred from the study of antiquity. Roman history correctly conceived in extremely broad outlines is and remains the best mentor, not only for today, but probably for all time. The Hellenic ideal of culture should also remain preserved for us in its exemplary beauty.”59
Hitler called for the development of racial consciousness. Education must, he said,
burn the racial sense and racial feeling into the instinct and intellect, the heart and brain of the youth entrusted to it. No boy and no girl must leave school without having been led to an ultimate realization of the necessity and essence of blood purity. Thus the groundwork is created by preserving the racial foundations of our nation and through them in turn securing the basis for its future cultural development. For all physical and all intellectual training would in the last analysis remain worthless if it did not benefit a being which is ready and determined on principle to preserve himself and his special nature.60
Hitler affirmed the value of a strong program of physical training to “steel and harden” young men’s bodies.61 He argued for the inclusion of one sport in particular, one he acknowledged many people considered vulgar and undignified: boxing:
There is no sport that so much as this one promotes the spirit of attack, demands lightning decisions, and trains the body in steel dexterity. It is no more vulgar for two men to fight out a difference of opinion with their fists than with a piece of whetted iron [he is referring to the sport of fencing]. It is not less noble if a man who has been attacked defends himself against his assailant with his fists instead of running away and yelling for a policeman.62
Hitler saw boxing as teaching a young man to suffer blows and continue forward.
Hitler’s desire to avoid educating a “colony of aesthetes” applied to girls as well as boys.63 He valued vibrant health and a kind of steel-springed physicality for both boys and girls. He wanted both boys and girls to be strong, agile, bold, courageous, and able to endure and triumph amid hardship. Therefore, he advocated a strong emphasis on physical training for girls as well as boys. At the same time, however, Hitler held that there were inherent and complementary differences between the sexes, and thus the ultimate purposes of boys’ and girls’ physical training were different. He distinguished between the manly strength to live powerfully in the world and to be a good father and the womanly strength to bear and raise healthy and vital children and to be a good wife and create and maintain a good home. Hitler considered future motherhood – which he saw as equally important to education for careers or political life – to be the major goal of female education.64
Hitler believed Jews stood in the way of all that he wanted to achieve. Jews were his enemy. What were his objections to the Jewish presence and influence in Germany at that time?
• Jews are alienated from Nature. They seek to conquer Nature rather than live in accordance with it. Hitler contended that the modern, pacifist, humane Jewish outlook is “nonsense” given the true reality of the natural order.65
• Jews undermine the political system. Jews promote democracy, which excludes the personality and replaces it with the “blind worship of numbers” (rule by the majority).
The Jewish doctrine… rejects the aristocratic principle of Nature and replaces the eternal privilege of power and strength by the mass numbers and their dead weight. This denies the value of the personality in man, contests the significance of nationality and race, and thereby withdraws from humanity the premise of its existence and culture. As a foundation of the universe, this doctrine would bring about the end of any order intellectually conceivable to man. And as, in this greatest of all recognizable organisms, the result of an application of such a law could only be chaos, on earth it could only be destruction for the inhabitants of this planet.66
Hitler cited the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917 as a Jewish takeover of that country and the triumph of Jewish doctrine.67
• Jews have gained a stranglehold on finance and commerce and control of key professions in Germany, and have used this position to serve their interests at the expense of the general welfare of the people.68
• Jews have used their economic power to gain undue influence in the government in order to serve their own ambitions.69
• Jews are working to destroy the racial foundations of the European white race through the promotion of miscegenation. They are doing this because of their basic resentful attitude and because it is in their interest not to have to deal with a sturdy white race but rather a “rickety herd.” It is the Jews, Hitler wrote, who most wanted to bring the Negroes to the Rhineland, with the secret aim of the racial mixing which was certain to occur. If they get their way, said Hitler, Jews will turn the European people into raceless bastards.70
• Jews contribute to cultural decay. They are the spokesmen of a “modern era” that debases the society. They ridicule Christianity and represent traditional ethics and morality as outmoded, and this leaves Gentiles (non-Jews) adrift. In the political realm, Jews “refuse the state the means for its self-preservation, destroy faith in the leadership, scoff at history and the past, and drop every thing that is great into the gutter.”71 The Jew, Hitler contended, “contaminates art, literature, the theater, makes a mockery of national feeling, and overthrows all concepts of beauty and sublimity, of the noble and good.”72 Said Hitler: “In everything base and profligate in mass entertainment and artistic trash, vice, or pornography there will most certainly be a Jew.”73
Hitler’s example and pronouncements appear to have had five major influences on Pierce. First, they encouraged the development of an ideological identity – as a National Socialist. Second, they pushed him toward a focus: race. Third, they helped establish who his adversary is: the Jews. Fourth, they legitimized his antagonism toward this adversary. This fourth one – legitimizing his antagonism toward Jews – is especially significant, because in the post-World War II period the idea of public, or even private, criticism of and opposition to Jews and Jewish interests has been considered by virtually everyone to be beyond the realm of acceptability. In our time, respectable individuals don’t even think of assuming such a posture. And yet here was someone, Adolf Hitler, whom Pierce found to be extremely admirable, who had come to do just that, and do it openly and proudly. In Mein Kampf, Hitler wrote about himself: “I had ceased to be a weak-kneed cosmopolitan and became an anti-Semite.”74 If so truly remarkable a man as Hitler could be an anti-Semite, so too could William L. Pierce. And the fifth major influence on Pierce, Hitler’s personal example showed him that you can take your life seriously and root it in a grand purpose related to the well-being of the race and give everything that is in you to accomplishing it. That is what Pierce has done.
1 Alan Bullock, Hitler: A Study of Tyranny (London: Odhams Press, 1959).
2 August Kubizek, The Young Hitler I Knew (New York: Tower Publications, 1954).
3 Kubizek, p. 97.
4 Dietrich Eckart, “Bolshevism From Moses to Lenin,” translated from German by William Pierce, National Socialist World, no. 2, Fall 1966, pp. 13-33.
5 Ibid., p. 13.
6 Ibid., p. 16.
7 Ibid., p. 27.
8 Ibid., p. 20.
9 Ibid., p. 33.
10 See the excellent recent biography on Devi: Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, Hitler’s Priestess: Savitri Devi, The Hindu-Aryan Myth, and Neo-Nazism (New York: New York University Press, 1998)
11 Goodrick-Clarke, pp. 117-120.
12 Ibid., p. 115.
14 Ibid., p. 118.
15 Quoted in Goodrick-Clarke, p. 119.
16 Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981, originally published in 1925).
17 Ibid., pp. 41, 240.
18 Ibid., pp. 41, 234.
19 Ibid., pp. 41, 254.
20 Ibid., pp. 41, 263.
21 Ibid., pp. 41, 255.
22 Ibid., pp. 259-260.
23 Ibid., p. 260.
24 Hitler, p. 397.
25 Ibid., p. 383.
26 Ibid., p. 286.
27 Ibid., p. 285.
28 Ibid., p. 397.
29 This was taken from quotes from Mein Kampf Pierce included in an editorial he wrote for his journal: William Pierce, “Editorial,” National Socialist World, no. 2, Fall 1966, p.9.
31 Hitler, pp. 383-384
32 Ibid., p. 289.
33 Ibid., p. 383.
34 Ibid., p. 400.
35 Ibid., p. 285.
36 Ibid., p. 383.
37 Ibid., p. 286.
39 Ibid., p. 298.
40 Ibid., p. 402.
41 Ibid., p. 289.
42 Pierce, p. 9.
43 Ibid., p. 393.
44 Ibid., p. 394.
45 Ibid., p. 395.
46 Ibid., p. 431.
47 Ibid., pp. 446-447.
48 Ibid., p. 88.
49 Ibid., p. 443.
50 Ibid., p. 447.
51 Ibid., p. 88.
52 Ibid., p. 403.
53 Ibid., p. 252.
54 Ibid., p. 403-405.
55 Ibid., p. 432.
56 Ibid., pp. 237, 244-245, 407-408.
57 Ibid., pp. 414, 419, 421-423.
58 Ibid., p. 245.
59 Ibid., p. 423
60 Pierce, p. 10.
61 Hitler, p. 254.
62 Ibid., p. 410.
63 Ibid., p. 414.
65 Ibid., p. 287.
66 Ibid., p. 65.
67 Ibid., p. 326.
68 Ibid., pp. 309, 639, 193.
70 Ibid., pp. 315, 322, 325, 625.
71 Ibid., p. 326.
73 Ibid., p. 57.
74 Ibid., p. 64.