Two New Biographies Show How Anti-Capitalism, Conspiracism, and Fear of Contagion Shaped Hitler’s Anti-Semitism

March 17 2020

Reviewing two recent books on the life of Adolf Hitler, one by the German historian Peter Longerich and the other by the English historian Brendan Simms, Andrew Stuttaford examines their insights into the origins of their subject’s antipathy toward Jews:

Longerich does not duck a discussion of Hitler’s personality when looking for the source of the pathological anti-Semitism that came to define his life and ended six million others’. “Environmental” considerations are not enough. The answer, argues Longerich, is not to be found in Hitler’s vagabond youth in Vienna, a city in which “anti-Semitism was a fixture of everyday life” (and, for that matter, politics). . . . The best explanation, believes Longerich, lies in the shame Hitler felt at Germany’s defeat in [World War I], a shame that could not be softened by a resumption of career, friendship, and family life, of which this eccentric loner had very little.

Unable to accept the real reasons Germany had lost, Hitler, a fantasist since his adolescence, took refuge in a dreamworld of conspiracy theory in which Jews were allocated a uniquely malevolent role.

A letter from September 1919 is the earliest surviving text in which Hitler sets out his views on the “Jewish question.” Central to it is Hitler’s argument that Jews were (in Longerich’s words) behind “the unscrupulous and amoral greed of finance capital. . . . Anti-Semitism (and not the socialism of the left) was the key to removing this exploitative system.” The same letter also attracts Simms’s attention. He sees Hitler’s anti-Semitism as being “profoundly anti-capitalistic rather than anti-Communist in origin,” so much so, indeed, that, to Hitler, Bolshevism itself was little more than an instrument of Jewish capital.

But such conspiracism reads more like the symptoms of a psychosis than its cause. The same can be said of Hitler’s reference to Jews in the letter as the “racial tuberculosis of the peoples,” language (cited by Simms and Longerich) that suggests that Hitler’s obsession was already well in place, and already contained the seeds of mass murder: a disease, after all, should be eliminated.

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at National Review

More about: Adolf Hitler, Anti-Semitism, Capitalism, Communism

 

Iran’s Dangerous Dream of a Triple Alliance with Russia and China

Aug. 16 2022

Unlike Hamas, which merely receives support from the Islamic Republic, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—with which Israel engaged in a short round of fighting last week—is more or less under its direct control. In fact, the recent hostilities began with a series of terrorist attacks launched by PIJ from Samaria, which might in turn have been a response to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s call “to open a new front in the West Bank against the Zionist enemy.” Amir Taheri writes:

In Gaza, the Islamic Republic has invested heavily in promoting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. . . . Islamic Jihad is in a minority in Gaza, hence the attempt by Tehran to help it create a base in the West Bank.

Reliable sources in Baghdad say that [Iran’s expeditionary and terrorist paramilitary] the Quds Force has been “transiting” significant quantities of arms and cash via Iraq to Jordan, to be smuggled to the West Bank. The Jordanian authorities say they are aware of these “hostile activities.” King Abdullah himself has publicly called on Iran to cease “destabilizing activities.”

But such schemes, Taheri explains, are part of a larger strategic vision of creating a grand anti-Western alliance even while engaging in nuclear negotiations with the U.S. and Europe:

Last month, Khamenei praised Vladimr Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. And this month, China’s ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, praised the Islamic Republic for supporting China in “asserting its sovereignty” over Taiwan.

It is clear that some dangerous pipe-dreamers in Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran have fallen for the phantasmagoric vision of “three great powers” banding together and with help from “the rest,” that is to say, the so-called Third World . . . to destroy an international system created by the “corrupt and decadent.”

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Create a free account to continue reading

Welcome to Mosaic

Create a free account to continue reading and you'll get two months of unlimited access to the best in Jewish thought, culture, and politics

Register

Read more at Gatestone

More about: China, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Russia, West Bank