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Archive for the ‘Nazis’ Category

Tonight’s featured weekend book review is a historical nonfiction.

The Devil's Diary Alfred Rosenberg

Robert K Wittman. The Devil’s Diary: Alfred Rosenberg and the Stolen Secrets of the Third Reich.  London, UK: William Collins, March 29th, 2016.  416 pp.

A few years ago I read a really good book titled Hitler’s Philosophers by Yvonne Sherratt.  The book mentioned Alfred Rosenberg as one of the Nazi’s influential ideologue and so when I found this book in the library I felt I had to pick it up to know more about this Rosenberg.  The book is about the diary of Rosenberg and I was expecting it to focus mainly on the contents within Rosenberg’s diary.  To be frank I was disappointed with my expectations but I couldn’t totally dismissed the entirety of the book either because it was an interesting subject.

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Planned-Parenthood-Cecile-Richards

Yesterday, on July 28th, 2015 a third video was released by The Center for Medical Progress exposing Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is having a serious PR problem at the moment.

As part of their campaign to defend the organization the president of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards posted on July 28th, 2015 at 3:05 PM EST the following on her Facebook page:

When protesters gather outside of Planned Parenthood health centers to harass patients and their doctors, this is what they are standing in the way of:

Followed with this picture:

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If one examine this carefully one would realize her argument is not without its problem.

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Hitler's Philosophers

 Available on Amazon

I’m glad that Yale Press published this.  When I first saw this book I knew I had to read it for two reasons:  As someone who enjoys intellectual history, this book will no doubt touch on the ideas and philosophy that influenced Hitler (or to be more charitable, it would point out the ideological capitals Hitler used to persuade people to his policies).  Secondly, we see an increase in the last fifteen years of historical works addressing the question of how did a mad man managed to lead a civilized people towards barbaric policies with the focus of the complicity of various institution, from the Pope, the church, scientists, social sciences and the universities.  In the same vein, this works show the intersection of philosophy/philosophers with Hitler/Nazism.  The book definitely fulfilled the initial reasons for why I wanted to read the book.

The author divided the book into two parts. The first section focused on Hitler and philosophy, and on the philosophers who collaborated with the Nazi’s ideological vision.  The second section concentrated on German philosophers that the Nazi opposed.  It is a big endeavor the author pursued since each section of the book can easily be the focus of a book-length treatment.

Chapter one was a mini-ideological biography of Hitler and what philosophers he liked and who and what influenced him.  I appreciated the chapter’s focus of the early years of Hitler before political opportunism seasoned his rhetoric and when he was passionately frank about what he believed during the lowest point of his life in a German prison.  The author worked through materials not only from Hitler’s writing and speech (he tend to brag about his intellectual prowess) but also sources from early supporters and friends.  I think chapter one definitely establishes the Nietzsche influence in Hitler’s worldview.  Chapter one also indirectly contributes to the debate of whether Hitler was a Christian or not, and what degree he was a Christian if he was one.  If one understands Hitler’s philosophy its very hard-pressed to see how his atheistic Nietzschean beliefs is compatible with Christian theism.

Chapter two looked at the historic philosophers and philosophies that Hitler invoked in his ideology.  For those familiar with philosophy the main idea of these philosophers are nothing new.  What is interesting and new to many is the thread of anti-Semitism among these philosophers, some of them who are important canons of Western philosophy.  The author is nuance in describing how these philosophers are not “Nazis” and many of these philosophers would probably be surprised with how someone like Hitler would invoke their name and thoughts.  I do think that these philosophers do project a trajectory that Hitler later borrowed and build his own philosophy upon.

Chapters three through five focused on the collaborators with Hitler’s Germany, with chapter three being specifically about the Nazi figures who controlled academia and German philosophy while chapter four and five look at the specific example of philosopher of jurisprudence Carl Schmitt and existentialist Martin Heidegger respectively.  Most interesting of this section is the author’s argument that Heidegger was more than an opportunists but one who embraced Hitler’s Nazi’s ideology wholeheartedly.  I think the author presented an excellent case.

Chapters six through nine focuses on philosophers the Nazis opposed.  We read of the tragic story of the Jewish philosopher Walter Benjamin who committed suicide when he was unable to flee from the Nazis and the exile of Theodor Adorno.  The best known of the philosophers in this section is Hannah Arendt, a Jewish woman who managed to escape from the Nazis.  In juxtaposition to Arendt is the story of Kurt Huber who as a philosopher spoke out against Nazi beliefs in the classroom and involved with the White Rose resistance movement that led to his execution.  Here is a heroic philosophical martyr who dared to oppose the Nazis.  The author laments of how Huber is little known today because of his resistance to the Nazis.

 

What I learned

This book re-affirmed to me the maxim that ideas have consequences.  Though it is a bit tangent from the book, there is no political systems that are philosophically neutral: there is some kind of worldview driving one’s political theory and at minimum we can say some philosophers will be willing mercenaries for political agendas in order to advance their academic careers, their school of thoughts, etc (Kuhn’s theory of the structure for scientific revolution is applicable in evaluating social sciences and the humanities as well).

From this book I learned of the composer Richard Wagner and his influence upon Nietzsche.   From there the book also show how Nietzsche’s idea shape other influential members of the Nazi party.

Perhaps the most surprising thing I learned was Heidegger’s adulterous affair with Hannah Arendt.  In one of history’s incredibly ironic moments, we see this famous philosopher whom the Nazis earned great intellectual credibility with him on their side, being caught up with a Jewish woman.   One sees how personal affair can shape one’s philosophy in the instance of Hannah Arendt beliefs in the war and after.

What I want to look up more on

I love looking through the endnotes and the bibliography of the book for it provides a treasure trove of references for further studies.  It is a wonderful way to acquaint oneself with the primary sources and scholarly secondary sources.

This book also made me realize I need to study more of certain philosophers.  Martin Heidegger is someone that I want to look up more beyond the few selected readings from my days in undergraduate.  I have always heard the name Schopenhauer but don’t really know what he believes.

Drawback

I wished the book would have adopted Chicago style format since it was rather annoying for me as someone who reads all the endnotes to turn from the page I’m reading to the end notes and then again to the bibliography.  I don’t find this kind of format being conducive to readers’ attention to the sources (why give citation anyways when your format discourage its use?).

Conclusion

Excellent work.  I wholeheartedly recommend it and I think those acquainted with philosophy would get the most out of it.

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Christ or Hitler Pastor Wilhelm Busch

Recently I have been reading several books about Hitler’s Germany concentrating on the church and philosophy during that dark era.  Reading this book gave me a new appreciation of what the German Confessional (non-Nazi) church must have went through.  This book is an autobiography of a German Confessional church pastor name Wilhelm Busch who lived from 1897 to 1966.  Most people might know about Bonhoeffer a prominent leader of the ConfessionalChurch but I wonder about what the average pastor resisting the Nazis infiltration of the church were like.  This book is a wonderful window into one such pastor whose ministry to youths clashed with the Nazis vision for young people to be under the control of the Hitler Youth with their ideology.  Technically, Wilhelm Busch never published an autobiography but the translator, Christian Puritz was able to compile enough autobiographical information from Busch’s writings and teaching to make this into a book.  The stories of what Pastor Busch has to endure as a faithful witness to the Gospel is encouraging and will no doubt inspire courage for Christians today to stand for what is true.  There were times when I was reading the book that made me imagined what seems unimaginable today:  spying from the Gestapo, harassment from the Hitler Youth, police looking the other way when Christians are harassed, imprisonments, shut downs, etc.  It was a reminder for myself that there is no guarantee that Christian ministry will enjoy the relative calm and rights granted in the United States currently.  With the way the title of the book is phrased, I was surprised that it took over half the book before one finally start seeing any mention of the Nazis.  However, I did appreciate the autobiographical account of Busch before Hitler’s rise to power; as a Pastor I got to gain a little insight of what the Lord was doing and how He used a young pastor working with the coal miners and eventually the youth.  Those involved with ministry will find his stories to be encouraging.  Also the account of World War One and his conversion was somewhat gut wrenching to a Marine veteran such as myself.  Throughout the book one also sees the loss Busch has experienced around him, with the death of his sons in World War two in the Eastern Front and also the suffering of the poor or true Christians under the Nazi regime.  I recommend this autobiography for the encouragement of Christian souls.

NOTE: I received this book for free from the publisher Evangelical Press Books in exchange for my honest opinion. The thoughts and words are my own and I was under no obligation to provide a favorable review.

Where to Buy:

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Liberal Fascism Goldberg

Most people misunderstand what fascism really is.  The stock response usually has something to do with Hitler and Nazi Germany (which they were).  While the Nazis were fascists, it does not follow therefore that fascism is the same thing as Nazism, since Nazi ideology wouldn’t make sense in defining Italian fascism under Mussolini.  This book argues the thesis that Left-leaning progressives have a lot more in common with fascism and that what fascism is creeping into the West in the form and imagery of contemporary “liberalism.”  This book is part history and part political commentary of today’s politics and makes for a fascinating read.  As a result of this book I want to explore the history of Mussolini’s rise to power in Italy, since the book argues that Mussolini was a lot more brighter than we give credit to him today since we see him as nothing more than a mere stooge for Hitler.  This book also makes me want to study more deeper the history of the rise of the Nazis since this book explores the question of how exactly did an evil government under Hitler ever achieved the power it had when there were many ordinary citizens in Germany.  How Mussolini and Hitler rose to power should be a cautionary tale of today’s rise of power of the Federal Government.  The author does a good job arguing that the Left’s caricature of Hitler and Mussolini as far right extremists is not accurate at all but they belong more appropriately with the Left with their socialism and Statism.  I also enjoyed the book for its discussion of Fascist economics; the author makes an excellent observation of how government regulation of business paradoxically brings in more business intrusion into government via lobbyists.  The explosive growth of lobby industry in Washington D.C. is a good example of that.  Can we blame the business if they are out to protect their interests when every regulation for an industry will impact them?  The unintended consequence of this is that big businesses in their industry have advantage for these regulations so as to kill smaller competitors with more regulations and need for more employees (and specialists such as lawyers, accountants, etc) to follow through with the regulation.  What you end up producing is a fascist-like relationship of government and businesses.  The irony of government intruding in business is that it brings every business interests into the affair of politics, either to go against a competitor or defend against a competitor.  There are so many other things that are insightful; one just has to read the book instead of a mere review.

ORDER IT NOW ON AMAZON!

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What made me wanted to read this book was due to the claims I have heard over the years by some atheists that the Nazis were Christians so it seems that a book on the Nazis or key leaders of the Nazis embracing an alternative belief system would be important to consider. The book was good in the beginning and the end. Right at the beginning of the book the authors defined the occult, paganism, Satanism and Christianity which is helpful though readers will note that his definition of Christianity is too broad and problematic for an Evangelical (basically, whatever religious system that attributes its belief as coming from Jesus). What I appreciated about this book is that it acknowledge how difficult it is to get an accurate history of Nazi occultism given that there has been a lot of sensationalism promoted by four main groups talking about Nazi occultism today: those for or against Paganism/Satanism/occult and those for or against the Nazis. The authors even devote a chapter on the myths of Nazi occultism and four sources for the embellishment of the extent of Nazi occultism including Allies’ propaganda and former disgruntled Nazis. This is balanced by the next chapter on the reality of Nazi occultism in which the authors argue that it was not as well spread as some might think though it seem to exists mainly among those under Heinrich Himmler and some in his organization, the SS. The book does not go into the full extent of all the Nazis named but interested readers would certainly have some sense of direction of trails of names to research up on. The rest of the book is then devoted to Karl-Maria Wiligut, a man whom Himmler clearly favored and the creator of much of the occultic imagination for Himmler and his Nazis’ fans. The bulk of the book is then devoted to primary sources translated from Himmler’s work—and the lack of much meaningful commentary by the authors means that for the general reading audience it remains enigmatic—and boring. The only exception is the part about the SS’ honor ring which Wiligut designed which shows the extent of Wiligut’s influence as pushed by Himmler. The rest of the primary sources is a collection of weird and unintelligible garble of wild interpretations of drawings filled with a whacky cosmology and fanciful pseudo-history.  The guy even thought he was a secret Gypsy king! I did enjoy one of the appendix towards the end which interviewed a family friend and co-worker under Wiligut—and I thought she too was out there but it was an illustration to me of just how silly some people were in following Wiligut. It makes me realize the Christian truth that when people reject Christianity (Wiligut talked a lot about “Khristianity” which he believed is before “Christianity” and has something to do with Eurocentricism), they often times embrace something even more weird, foolish and bizarre.

Purchase: Amazon

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