Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Curse of the Free Meal

Amazon.com assures me that the book that I ordered on the Gemstone File is on its way.

Meanwhile, I’ll continue a story posted early last year about a very strange journey I took through Europe in the spring of 1986.


As promised, we received intelligence briefings about once every two or three days. These mostly consisted of messages to stay away from certain nightclubs where terrorist activity might occur, advice on what to wear in order not to be mistaken for military personnel, local customs and laws, and so forth.

But when we got to Thessaloniki, Alexander the Great’s old stomping grounds, the Captain giving the briefing focused not on terrorist activity, but on lurking KGB agents. He handed out a Xeroxed sheet containing photographs and names of known and suspected KGB spies operating in the area. There were about twenty people in all on the sheet, each with their black and white picture the size of a large postage stamp. I couldn’t memorize all of those faces, and I doubted that my bandmates could either. But one, of a gorgeous young woman with long, curly dark hair, and hypnotic dark eyes, caught my attention.

Sure enough, outside of a bookstore, as I watched a group of local Macedonian separatists hold a demonstration across the street, I saw the curly headed beauty among them. She saw me too. She crossed the street and began speaking to me in whatever language she spoke. She handed me an English-language version of Pravda, the official Soviet newspaper, and pointed to it repeatedly, presumably in hopes that I would read it. I did read it, from cover to cover, trying to find any special message, but found none. I managed to sneak the paper all the way back to Cincinnati, but lost it shortly afterward. I reckon that my parents probably tossed it out to make space for something else.

Several days after my encounter with the mystery woman, and still in Thessaloniki, our drummer and I were walking through a park, when an older woman (mid-forties, or so) accosted me. She spoke no English, but that didn’t stop her from latching her arms around me, and grinning broadly.

Mindful of my foreigner status, I politely tried to excuse myself, but she wouldn’t budge. The drummer and I tried to figure out what she wanted as she babbled away. We got out our English-Greek dictionaries, but she wouldn’t let us use them. She would clam up when we consulted them. Every time I tried to leave her, she would grab me by the arm.

At one point, a local woman, about my age (early-twenties), walked by. Out of the blue I asked if she could speak English. She could. I then explained my situation and the young woman offered to translate. She listened to her older compatriot, and at first replied with a few smiles and nods.

Suddenly, the younger woman frowned. Then she opened her mouth into a wide gaping chasm; her whole face contorted in terror. “No, no,” gasped the younger woman, whose face had just turned completely white. I asked her to translate, but she ran off, shaking her head.

I finally managed to lose the old woman by buying her lunch. After wolfing down the meal, she waved. She wasn’t saying goodbye, actually. In Northern Greece, the waving bye-bye gesture means “a curse on you and five generations of your family.” I wondered what I had done to make her so angry.

Said the drummer, “Fuck it. At least she got a free meal out of you.”

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Coming Back Slowly

Dear friends and readers,

I am still alive, back in New York, and still very much planning to make a return to the blogosphere. But as of late I am making headway in the last chapter of dissertation revisions and am really hoping to finish it soon. Since my focus is on that, my time is there.

Trust me, I will be posting again soon. I will catch up on all of your blogs anon. In the meantime, my best wishes to each and every one of you.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007

WW2.5: The Order of the Double-Cross

The point of the previous series was to highlight a fundamental historical distinction, upon which much contemporary conspiracy research rests. From Mae Brussell on the political left to Alex Jones on the political right, most conspiracy researchers delving into these topics agree that twentieth century fascism has more bearing on the present day than openly acknowledged.  Conventional wisdom defines Nazism as a historically and geographically limited movement confined to Weimar and post-Weimar Germany. These people, and I would assert that Nazism is an international movement that is ongoing.

Part of the contemporary perspectives that regard fascism as an ongoing movement lay in the confusion between Nazism and Hitlerism. Hitlerism died a slow, agonizing death in 1945. Yet, the mechanism that gave it life, and then allowed it to get out of hand, still remained.

The general public has only recently become aware of the extent to which American industry eagerly jumped into bed with the Wehrmacht. Lockheed illegally taught the Luftwaffe strategic flight techniques by holding “air shows” in Germany, selling planes to the Nazis, and then explaining to German pilots how they could execute each manoeuvre. When it looked as though the US government might impose an oil embargo, Standard Oil entered into a joint venture with Farben AG, to help the German chemical corporation synthesize fuel from coal. Chase Bank played an instrumental role in illegally foreclosing on Jewish properties, and was the only bank operating in Vichy France. Opal AG manufactured the Panzer tanks favored by the Nazis. General Motors, which owned 80% of Opal’s Stock, also produced the Allies' Sherman tank, which the Germans derisively called ‘Tommycookers’ because of their tendency to go up in flames at the first hit. Henry Ford had business dealings with Fritz Thyssen, and most likely financed the Nazis through him. Aktion Adlerflüg, the capital flight program that scattered what the Nazis stole during the war among 700+ dummy corporations--many of their investors British and American--laid the groundwork for continuing the struggle towards widespread dominion. Add to that a number of other wealthy patrons from France, the UK and the US, and you begin to wonder whose side everybody is on.

When it suited the purposes of some, Hitlerism and Nazism were more or less synonymous from 1925-1934. From 1934-1939, that association proved far more tenuous when the tail looked as though it would wag the dog.

There wasn’t really anything special about Hitler other than a two-dimensional intellectual agility. He wasn’t exactly German, having naturalized from Austria. He wasn’t physically strong like Mussolini, nor was he known to have been of aristocratic birth. The growth and appeal of the National Socialists, to some extent, came about due to the anger and feeling of impotence among massive segments of the population. It’s for this reason that many feel that if their had never been a Hitler, there simply would have been another Führer chosen from the ranks of angry young men roaming about the streets of Germany. Many of them would have been better educated. Many would have been stronger and smarter. Many of them would have been more politically and strategically astute. Quite a few would have been just as cruel.

Perhaps Mein Kampf scored a few points with the rich and powerful. After all, the book proved that he had charisma. Better yet, its numerous, unintentional errors in syntax and grammar indicated a lack of erudition and sophistication, and presented him as a bumpkin easily led around by the nose. However, Hitler’s attempt to seize power for himself was the wild card they didn’t count on. Consequently, these elites in the Thule Society and the Ruhrlade had effectively entered a new New World Order--the Order of the Double-Cross.

I’m off to Cincy for a couple of weeks. My visits to your sites, and my comments will thus be sporadic (if at all), since my only means of accessing cyberspace will be granted and monitored by the Pleasant Ridge Public Library. Here’s wishing that each of you can carry some of the holiday cheer into Februrary!

Editor's note: this post edited for accuracy January 10, 2007

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Hitlerism vs. Nazism: National Enabling

If you’ve ever wondered how Hitler went from Chancellor to Führer, then you should focus your attention on an obscure law of the Weimar government. The Enabling Act provided for the dissolution of Parliament (or Reichstag) in the case of a national emergency.

President Paul von Hindenburg and Chancellor Heinrich Brüning feared that Hitler’s increasing political clout might splinter the country if nobody did anything about it. So, in 1932, Brüning arranged a meeting between the little corporal and the President, hoping that they could mollify Hitler with a subordinate office. Deep in mourning over the recent suicide of his niece and lover, actress Angela (Geli) Raubal, Hitler couldn’t maintain any sense of decorum during the conference, and Hindenberg worried that Adolf might not even qualify for the ceremonial position of Postmaster General.

What did Hitler do to make himself look like an idiot that day? He ranted on and on that the three of them should take over complete control of Germany via the Enabling Act. If they did, then there would be no more Parliament, and all control over the land would come from Hindenberg and his cabinet, a place to which Hitler aspired. Both the President and the Chancellor thought the idea ridiculous, however, for the Enabling Act only applied in the case of a National Emergency. How the hell could he be so sure that a national emergency would arise? Clearly, they thought, Hitler occupied a place just west of La-La Land.

But as fate would have it, Hitler joined the cabinet on January 30, 1933, the day Hindenberg gave in and named him Reichskanzler. A few months earlier, Brüning had disgraced himself by drawing up a land reform plan that would have forced some of Hindenberg’s royal friends to lose a little bit of their property. Franz von Papen, a Catholic Centrist who’d previously served as Chancellor, had the unfortunate reputation of a Buffoon First Class, so nobody paid him much attention. General Kurt von Schleicher lost face with the old man when it became clear that his ambitions included manoeuvring into the top spot himself.

In short, all of Hitler’s rivals had taken their own political lives shortly before, so there was nobody serious left to challenge him. Hindenberg, old and feeble, couldn’t really control him. And If the President had a notion to keep his second-in-command in check, he’d then have to face Ernst Rohm’s S.A. who were constantly marching around the perimeter of Berlin, while the German Army, many of its leaders sympathetic to the National Socialist agenda, looked the other way.

Hindenberg’s feebleness gave Hitler tremendous authority. Still, Hitler’s power was by no means absolute. True, the Nazis had become the largest minority party in a Parliament where no party had a majority. Still, there was always a chance that everyone else could team up against them if they ever tried to do something incredibly stupid, like mobilize for war or something.

Hitler must have always had the Enabling Act in the back of his head somewhere. Nearly alone at the top, with a bunch of his cronies occupying the rest of the cabinet, he could take total control if only there were a national emergency. All they would have to do is wait for one to come along. So, they waited.

And they waited.

And they waited some more.

See, that’s the problem with national emergencies. You never know when to expect them--and you know what they say about when you want a job done right.

In the Nazi’s case, they must have felt like the wait lasted an eternity. In reality it was only four weeks after Hitler assumed office. On February 27, 1933, someone set fire to the parliament building, or Reichstag. The only person inside the edifice when firefighters arrived was a newly arrived Dutch immigrant named Marinus van der Lubbe, who was immediately arrested for arson. In addition, three Bulgarians belonging to the Comintern, the Soviet-founded international socialist solidarity union, were rounded up separately for planning the crime. Van der Lubbe pleaded guilty to setting the fire and received the death penalty, which was (ahem!) executed in January the following year.

The problem with the lone-nut scenario was that the fire damage was extremely extensive. The torching was a professionally done job, seemingly over the head of your typical amateur out-of-work bricklayer who just got off the boat, like Marinus. There are a number of other technical reasons that offer solid support to the belief that Van der Lubbe did not act alone, and these I will delve into at a future time. Nevertheless, in his 2005 book Himmler’s Secret War, Marty Allen compellingly argued that the Nazis set the fire themselves, specifically the Storm Troopers (Sicherheitsdienst, or SS) who came through from secret tunnels connected to top Nazi Party official Hermann Göring’s house. William Shirer, in The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, cited General Franz Halder’s affidavit from the Nuremberg Tribunal, which amounted to a pretty astonishing third party confession:


On the occasion of a lunch on the Führer's birthday in 1942, the people around the Führer turned the conversation to the Reichstag building and its artistic value. I heard with my own ears how Göring broke into the conversation and shouted: 'The only one who really knows about the Reichstag building is I, for I set fire to it.' And saying this he slapped his thigh.
Hitler finally got his national emergency. He pressed Hindenburg to put the Enabling Act before Parliament. Hindenburg, who by that time was old, worn-out, and mindful of the S.A. marching all over town, pretty much said, “Sure. Whatever.” Many of the political parties, fearful of the Nazis, and fearful of looking soft on communism to their constituents, caved in and passed its implementation on March 23, 1933. Thus the Reichstag resolved in favor of new elections, which then yielded a slight majority for the National Socialists.

And as if on cue, Paul von Hindenberg died in August 1934, thus making Hitler the new President.

With a solid majority of his own party in the legislature, he was virtually unopposed. Hitler now controlled everything--the government, the armed forces. In fact, he finally got the nerve to bite the hand that fed him: those petty little aristocrats; the dumb-ass Thulists and their compatriots, who put him in power in the first place.

Of course, that’s the way Adolf treated all his benefactors even before the old man croaked. To show his gratitude to Rohm, his former commanding officer and the friend who made him “the great man of history” that he always wanted to be, Hitler framed him on false treason charges, and then, without trial or court-martial, ordered his execution as a traitor. Everyone understood that he alone would command the army from then on out.

And that’s how he became, Der Führer.

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Monday, January 01, 2007

Hitlerism vs. Nazism: Creating the Paper Tiger

In June of 1929, the former Allies of World War I gave Hitler an opportunity to take advantage of his connection to the Ruhrlade. American banker Owen Young’s reparations committee proposed capping German fines at $26.365 billion, to be paid off annually until the year 1988. The Young Plan, as it came to be known, met with widespread approval across German class and ideological boundaries. Yet, those within the Ruhrlade didn’t like the Young Plan, for provisions in it would make it difficult for them to refinance their own personal debts.

There was enough division within the Reichstag (Parliament) from coming to a decision on the Young Plan, so legislators turned it over to a plebiscite, a national referendum whereby German citizens would have to vote for its ratification. Steel magnate Fritz Thyssen thought Hitler’s charisma could swing popular vote against the Young Plan, and therefore urged the National Party, then headed by media tycoon Alfred Hugenberg, to form an alliance with the National Socialists (NSP). Hugenberg personally invited Hitler to join in the anti-Young coalition, and praised the future Reich’s Chancellor in all his newspapers, thus giving the Nazis their most widespread positive public relations to date.

The plebiscite passed the Young Plan nevertheless, and President Paul von Hindenburg signed it into law. Thyssen blamed Hugenberg’s NP for it’s passage. At the same time, due in large part to the press Hugenberg gave them, the Nazis and Hitler were credited with narrowing the gap, making the election closer than it should have been. From that point on, the NP lost its credibility as the voice of the far-right in German politics as more conservatives began to pay attention to the Nazis.

Hitler attempted to capitalize on this media windfall by taking over state (provincial) governments, starting in Thuringia. Fixated on the idea that the Interior and Education Departments offered the surest route to power, he pressured the Deutsche Volkspartei (DVP), the dominant party of big business, to seat his nominee, Wilhelm Frick. Frick’s attempts to “nazify” school and the police, however, met with general abhorrence, and he was dismissed shortly after. Many speculated that this might prove to be a good strategy for dealing with the Nazis in the future--give ‘em an unimportant post, then let them discredit themselves. But the failure of the Frick ministry only convinced Hitler that attempting to gain control of Germany state-by-state would be impractical. Vowing to rule Germany by 1933, he focused on the national elections.

With the help of his chief propagandist, Joseph Goebbels, Hitler carried the momentum of 1929 into the following year. He also enjoyed the political fortunes brought about by the Stock Market Crash and subsequent depression, which wiped out economic gains made during the 1920s. Left destitute by the catastrophe, many displaced workers and small business owners either joined the NSP, or became sympathetic to it. Even the wealthier bourgeoisies, who were at first cold to National Socialism, stated embracing the movement once Goebbels' propaganda machine stepped up its vicious diatribes against Jews, who were increasingly becoming the scapegoats of German misery, alternatively representing ruthless capitalism or tyrannical communism. In either case, Jews could be blamed for the Great Depression, a calamity that Hitler vowed to end by eliminating them along with “spongers, shirkers, and other parasites.”

A dramatic rise in available funds allowed the Nazis to increase their presence on the political scene through Goebbels’ media machinations and Hitler’s barnstorming in 1930. In the September elections of that year, the Nazis increased the number of seats held in the Reichstag from twelve to 107, capturing 18.3% of the vote as opposed to the 2.6% garnered just two years earlier. The Party membership increased to more than 400,000, with the Brown Shirts (or S.A.), Hitler’s personal force, boasting about 300,000 men.

While 18.3% of the vote does not constitute a majority, let alone a mandate, the NSP emerged as one of the major parties in the splintered Weimar government. Furthermore, their numbers grew as the depression worsened, and Hitler’s charisma attracted followers across class lines. Appealing to the Army’s sense of patriotism, Hitler implored the armed forces to support nationalism in general principle. In response, a growing number of officers privately supported the Nazis, even though restricted by law to join the party.

Hitler also had his own private army in the S.A., newly revamped after the re-installment of Ernst Röhm, Hitler’s former CO, and 100,000 additional troops. With unrelenting campaigning and propagandizing, the Nazis also won the 1931 state elections in Oldenburg and Hamburg.

All of these factors, in toto, alerted many of the major players in national government to the fact that Hitler was the face of the fastest growing political party in Germany. In order to advance their own political careers, they now had to deal with Hitler and the Nazis. The NSP became a necessary cornerstone to any coalition building, and Hitler’s popularity could concentrate power for anyone smart enough to harness it.

From 1931 on, Hitler’s further rise to power would result from the miscalculations of those attempting to harness the power of the Nazis, among them Lt. (Maj.) Gen. Kurt von Schleicher, Hindenburg’s personal advisor, and then-Reichskanzler, Heinrich Brüning.


Sources

Bullock, Alan. Hitler: A Study in Tyranny. Rev. ed. New York: HarperPerennial, 1971.

Fest, Joachim. The Face of the Third Reich: Portraits of Nazi Leadership. Tr. Michael Bullock. New York: Pantheon Books, 1970.

Kershaw, Ian. Hitler 1889-1936: Hubris. 2 vols. New York: W.W. Norton, 1992.

Pool, James and Suzanne Pool. Who Financed Hitler? The Secret Funding of Hitler’s Rise to Power. New York: Dial Press, 1978.

Shirer, William. The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1960.

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