Friday, April 1, 2011

Germany's Anti-Hitler Right, 1938-1939

Nicholson Baker's Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization introduces us to several figures

"Abnormal times call for deed that are also our of the ordinary," said General Ludwig Beck, who would later be involved in the 20 July plot to kill the Führer, committing suicide when it failed. We learn of Franz Halder, who "believed Hitler to be both mentally ill and evil." Both generals "wanted Hitler arrested and put on trial." It was 1938.

"Among well-informed people in Berlin I notice a good deal of despair," said Ulrich von Hassell in 1939 after the invasion of Poland. "When people use their revolvers to shoot down a group of Jews herded into a synagogue, one is filled with despair." He wanted to the replace Hitler with "an organic government based on the rule of law and operating under popular controls." He was executed in 1944 after the failed plot. Lieutenant Colonel Helmuth Stieff, who would also be executed after the plot, during the invasion of Poland called the Schutzstaffel (SS) "subhumans who do not deserve the name German."

And it was not only those to whom the grace would be given to oppose Hitler who objected. General Johannes Blaskowitz, who would later be charged with war crimes and commit suicide during the Nuremberg Trials, we learn, "didn't believe in torture, flogging, looting, rape, and the killing of families," "was disgusted by the stories his men were telling him." He reports on the abuses, writing, "Surprisingly quickly the like-minded and the deviant personalities come together, as is the case in Poland, in order to give full event to their animalistic and pathological instincts."

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Blogger Mark in Spokane said...

Two more men worth encountering in the study of those who opposed the Nazis: Fr. Johannes Messner, SJ, and Heinrich Rommen (a Catholic lawyer and layman). Messner was an Austrian who wrote a magnificent treatise on Catholic social thought -- Social Ethics -- in opposition to the collectivist brutality of both National Socialism and International Socialism.

Rommen wrote one of the best books of the 20th century on natural law theory. He ended up teaching in the US after he was driven into exile by the Nazis.

Both Messner and Rommen provide an excellent overview of Catholic social teaching -- a wonderful antidote both to statism and libertarianism.

12:47 PM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Let us also remember the Lion of Münster, Blessed Clemens August von Galen, who was rewarded by having his cathedral destroyed by the Allies.

11:22 PM  

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