Well... I did it. I've finished reading Rise and fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer. For those who don't know, it is one of the top 10 studies on Nazi Germany (if not top 3). The book is 1,143 pages long making it 2 inches thick! By far it's the 2nd longest book I've read (the Bible being the first). I've been nursing this thing for over a year, mainly reading it when I got bored, or waiting at a lobby.
But why you may ask? Well during my college years the term "Nazi" was used waaaay too liberally.
"Turn down that music, it's after 10PM"
"Back off you Nazi."
"Would you focus on your work, you're going too slowly."
"You and your company are a bunch of Nazis."
In my opinion this was just foolish. Other than the atrocities they committed in the concentration camps, nobody really knew what made them so evil. People tend to forget, yes the millions they killed was evil.... but did you know those deaths were LEGAL? To me, basic knowledge wasn't enough. One HAS to study the Nazi phenomenon if it's never to be repeated.
Ask yourself: do you know their politics? What about the party leaders, do you know their backgrounds? What was their policy on government? This is fundamentally important if one is to recognize dangerous actions before they become catastrophic.
With that said, let's review a few interesting things I've learned.
Let me start with poking fun at the author. For the most part, his writing is understandable, but damn if you need a dictionary every few pages. It strikes me as funny as being an author and yet having very limited vocabulary compared to this guy.
But I did say most of the time, there are a few areas where, he doesn't describe things very well. Mainly because he's too focused on being detailed and wordy that, even when you know what the words mean, the passages make no sense.
Another thing that annoyed me is the backtracking. You'll be reading about a certain subject, let's say, the Battle of Britain, then when that finishes, rather than continue forward with the narrative, it goes back to a year prior to go over details that happened elsewhere. What? Why not cover that while you were in that year? Why backtrack then and go to another part of the map?
I guess you could make the argument two situations like the British battle and the turn of Russia are two completely different subject lines, and thus their events are told separately. Hence why the book frequently backtracks to cover why events happened the way they did.
It's still annoying as S@#$! All I kept thinking about when it backtracked is: "Why wasn't this covered before!" Basically I want a flowing story; everything that happens in say 1941 be covered. So that way when I'm covering events in 1942 I'm not suddenly backtracking to 1939. The constant backtracking makes it harder to keep events in order. I don't mind backtracking as a marginal note to remind me why certain things happened. BUT NOOOOO!!! You'll be reading one passage taking place in 1944, then instantly be thrown back to events in 1941... for SEVERAL PAGES! GOD that is annoying!
Also, as hard as William tried to be objective, as he stated he was trying to do at the beginning of the book... he failed. Being objective is just stating the facts. For the most part he did, but being objective means you don't render opinions and theories in your narrative. He does, frequently. Part of me can't blame him. When he calls a Nazi a name, I can't help but be agreeable. Still, shame on you Mr. Shirer, you should know how to write objectively.
Oh wait... he's is dead... um... awkward.
If you've read my previous journal entries you'll know I HATE politics and politicians. So I have only myself to blame for subjecting myself to this book that is ALL about politics.
Still a study of government is important because, again, you have to know what kinds there are out there, and why certain ones are evil. For example: what is the difference between a Republic and a Democracy? What's the difference between Fascism and Communism? What's the difference between Socialism and a Dictatorship?
Did you know that a government can actually have multiple aspects of different forms of government? Example: the Third Reich was Fascist, Socialist, and a Dictatorship.
So here is how it works:
1: The Nazis were Socialists (obviously because it's the full name of the party) Socialism is a form of government that is highly regulatory of the private sector. In short we DON'T want that, because it gives too much power to the state.
2: The Nazis were a dictatorship, again obviously since they had 1 man calling the shots.
3: Lastly the Nazis were Fascists... which is... which is... you know I'm not totally sure. I looked on Wiki, and it's definition really isn't clear either - something about patriotism and left/right ideology... I don't know. The way it was explained to me is that Fascisim is a type of economic doctrine. It's also known as Crony Capitalism, in which rich tycoons get politicians to pass laws that put down other businesses so that one may corner the market (very easy to do in a Socialist government). This would explained why they didn't get along with the Soviets. The USSR and the Third Reich are both the same in that both were Socialist Dictatorships, but they differ in their economic doctrine.
But let's talk about the characters in this book... huh... where to begin! For the record, I feel bad saying I laughed at parts of this book because of the 10s of millions who died due to this regime. So instead I'm going to portray myself as insufferably angry... that way you can laugh at my torment.
The characters in this narrative are written in hindsight, but considering what they knew at the time, what down-right IDIOTS didn't think to check this Hitler guy!? I mean, MY GOD! Some of the things the politicians do are so F@#$& stupid it defies comprehension.
OK one example: Hitler threatens to attack and occupy Austria, so the Prime Minister of Britain (Nevil (sp) Chamberlain) and other countries agree to GIVE the country to Germany without a fight... wait what? WHAT!!! Um did anyone consult the Austrian authorities before FOREIGN countries decide her fate? That's like Mexico demanding California back, and Russia coming and saying "go ahead, take it". Seriously WHAT!!!
Oh and it didn't stop there, the same thing happened to Czechoslovakia. Seriously? SERIOUSLY!? The guy has a temper tantrum and you GIVE him a country without consent of the local government?! WTF!!!
Fortunately by the time Poland became an issue, Winston Churchill came on the scene and was not about to play this stupid accommodation act anymore. THANK GOD!!! I mean seriously, they never caught on that Germany's complaints were made up, and that this was just a land grab? STUPID! YOU'RE SO STUPID!!! And what's worse, is that Germany was ready for war, and yet the Brits and the French were not? I'm sorry, Germany by this point had already taken so much and violated so many sanctions, did you REALLY think this guy wasn't ready for a fight?! *sigh*
Yet there was one more example of complete irritation. In Hitler's book Mien Kampf, he basically says he's going to attack Russia, to the point of wiping them out... DID ANYONE THINK TO DO A PROFILE ON HIM?!?! I mean COME ON! Keep in mind Sir Arthur Conan Doyle only died in 1930 (the guy who wrote Sherlock Holmes), and no one thought to do a mental profile of Hitler? *grabs head* This stupidity HURTS! I mean... urr... don't want to sound so modern, yet I don't want to sound so old-fashioned... eh-F@#$%^ it. STUPID!!! Oh yes, and a week into Germany's invasion into Russia, Stalin still tried to get the Japanese to negotiate peace with their invaders. Really? The guy has been grabbing land for the last 3 years and you still try to accommodate him? Short of surrender, I'm pretty sure he's going to take it by force! Stupid!
WARNING! If you like me as a friend but have left-leaning views, stop reading now! You will hate me at the end of this passage.
Where to start and end my review. Why not with the dictator himself, Adolf Hitler. I know most people wouldn't blame me for making fun of him, because he's one of histories worst monsters, but from what I've learned about him and our Politically correct generation that task has been made a lot harder. I'm making fun of Hitler and yet you will hate me for what I'm about to say.
Imagine a new presidential candidate for the Democrats. This guy would practically be a poster-child. I mean the man never drank, never used tobacco, has a vegetarian diet, and he's GAY! Doesn't that sound like a perfect democrat model?
Yes, this is the part where everything you THOUGHT you knew about Nazis comes apart. That's right, Hitler was a closet homosexual. And before anyone accuses me of gay-bashing, my reply is: "no group in human history have ever been innocent. Gays are human too, and as such, just as prone to being subject to the human condition". This opinion is based more on William Shirer's book and not Scott Lively's book the Pink Swastika - which I've also read. Mr. Lively, I hope you're paying attention, because here is what you missed...
Aside from the Hans Mend testimony (a document where Hitler is caught having sex with another man, Ernst Schmidt), Shirer's book exposes quite a bit of homosexuality in the Nazi party. But I know what you're thinking: "The Nazis persecuted gays, they wore pink triangles." Technically true, but there was a certain context to their imprisonment which most historians blatantly ignore. Hitler's persecution of gays were strictly political, and not based on moral outrage (besides, who is he to be outraged by a man's morals when he had none himself). Remember paragraph 175 of the German criminal code existed long before Hitler's rise to power. And this law was a useful tool to get rid of political enemies. Case in point the persecution of General von Fritsch. He wasn't gay, but Himmler doctored evidence to make it look like he was, so he could be removed, because he said some not-so-nice things about the party.
Again I know what you're thinking: "Shirer didn't make any conclusions that Hitler was gay." Again true, and again Shirer fails his objectivity here. You have remember Shirer's generation, unless someone blatantly admitted to being gay, people assume you weren't - to the point of ignoring obvious signs. And, in general, openly gay men were extremely HATED, example: Captain Ernst Roehm. Roehm was so hated by the public Hitler had to move him around just to keep him out of the light - and if Hitler's sexual orientation ever got out - it would likely have ended his career. He had more reason to hide his sexuality than anyone.
Now you're probably also thinking: "Hitler had relations with women, Geli and Eva", again Shirer fails objectivity here. If you read the passages in his accounts carefully, a lot of his comments have the context of assumption and theory (assuming he had relations with these women). And yes, even though Hitler married Eva Braun, Braun's diaries frequently mention she was never intimate with him. In fact page 1111 in RFTR Eva accepted her role as neither wife nor mistress. But even after marrying her, Hitler spent the last of his days with her writing out his final will, and ranting about his antisemitism.
Of course it's not enough JUST to disprove his interest in women, Shirer also missed the fact that he pointed out 2Xs that "Hitler had no relations or interest in women"(P20, PH3; P30, PH3) Yes, Hitler fancied himself in love with a woman named Stephanie, but with no last name, it's probable this was made up. He wrote love poems to her, but never sent them, but insisted... let me emphasize, insisted, INSISTED, on reading his love poems to his male friend at the time August Kubizek (P15, PH2)... sounds like was testing the waters there.
"What about the 1934 Blood Purge, AKA Night of the Long Knives"? ... again, CONTEXT PEOPLE! Read the book! Remember, Roehm was greatly hated by the public, and he was circulating the idea of taking the country by force (A second revolution). In page 219 second paragraph, President Hindenburg threatened to declare marshal law and end the Nazi party unless Hitler reigned in his minions. Hitler, being a politician first, couldn't allow his vision for power go up in smoke. Roehm, like all of Germany, was expendable and therefore took what ever action he deemed needed to seize power. Also during the purge, Hitler got rid of other political rivals, and blackmailers.
Shoot Hitler got rid of people who tried taking credit for even having influenced him. The guy wouldn't share the least bit of glory. This is why he is one of history's greatest monsters, because took control of life and death in Germany and tortured and killed ANYONE whom he even REMOTELY saw as a threat.
Also, Hitler may have celebrated Christmas, but he was by far no Christian. In fact Shirer goes into detail on how Hitler brought down the Christian Churches. Christianity was so badly mutilated by his state, that it ceased being Christian all together, and Christians who didn't cooperate were sent to camps. They wore Purple Triangles.
A lot of Hitler's ideas actually come from pagan sources, namely Thule Society. And if you do your homework, you can actually see the swastika among Thule runes (more angled or circular but still the same premise). Any church attendance by the Nazi party was merely for show, and to the casual observer wouldn't know better.
So those of you out there that keep preaching the evils of Christianity through Nazis, drop it. It isn't what happened! Yes I know the Catholic Church has a bloody history, with the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition, and moving child molesters around, and the Puritan movement. I'm not blind to their atrocities, HOWEVER, that's the fault of the man not the message. I get irritated when people try to portray Christianity as a bigoted religion, but passages like Matthew 5: 44, Luke 6; 27, 35 talks about loving and helping your enemies... yes I can see how you would translate that has hateful.
But let's get back to Hitler's homosexuality. In Page 122 first Paragraph (and in several other passages) Hitler surrounded himself with homosexuals, and other various types of criminals. He OBVIOUSLY didn't care about a man's sexual preferences. In fact Hitler writes that the regime was to be ran by a group of elites free of moral restraints of a "private nature"(P98 PH1). What's that supposed to mean?
But by far the most damning indication of Hitler's sexual orientation is found on Page 85-86, where Shirer reveals that Hitler devotes 10 (other web sites say 13, but I guess it depends on font) turgid pages to the eradication of syphilis... Wait what? Hitler wants to destroy Syphilis? ... Uh question: why would he care?
...unless... he had it?
BUT WAIT A MINUTE... We've just read he had nothing to do with women... so where did he get it from?
This is where I had to do some homework. Syphilis as you know is and STI, what people don't often know is, depending on the degree of infection it can cause brain damage. This damage comes in the form of distortion of precepts of reality, and a lowering of aggression filters... sounds familiar.
But this doesn't answer the question: where did he get it? Well, when looking into how syphilis starts (it can't come from no where, there has to be a source of where it starts), I surprisingly didn't get an answer, but I did find this interesting statistic. 60% of new syphilis cases in America are homosexual. Keep in mind that the gay community amounts to 2% of the population in America... and yet 6 out of 10 cases are gay men? *scratches head* I'm going to go out on a limb here, but it sounds like syphilis is often the result of anal sex (I mean straight people get it too so it follows).
Meh! just my imagination.
A Cautionary Tale
To end my review, I tell people everywhere educate yourselves and don't take anything at face value. The Nazi era was a dark time in our human history, but believing that we are not capable of such atrocity, then you take the first steps toward acting like them. Hate has an ironic way of turning against you; in that you become what you hate. The Nazis hated "lower and savage" beings, but in turn they became the inferior savages.
The maxim still applies: those who forget history are doomed to repeat it. Indeed America today has taken many steps in adopting Nazi political practices. Modern America is taking on Nazi economic practices, welfare practices, and legal practices. If we are not careful, all that is needed is the wrong charismatic leader to seal our fate.
Until next time...
Listening to: Two Steps From Hell
Watching: Cinema Snob
Playing: Alien: Isolation