Previously by Bill Walker: The End of the Phony Express, or: The USPS Goes Postal On Our Economy
The US is about to launch yet another undeclared war on yet another eastern front, this time against Iran. Supposedly our permanent state of war is necessary to "stop the next Hitler"…. in other words, the way to prevent a Nazi regime from arising is to launch surprise attacks on small countries, round up Semitic scapegoats and put them in secret camps, spy on our own people with 17 Gestapo-style intelligence agencies, build a series of invincible robot wonder weapons… wait just a darn minute here. I think our foreign-policy cooks are using the wrong recipe book.
In order to prevent another Hitler, it is necessary to know how Hitlers are made. The National Socialist recipe is in the public domain, available in any historical cookbook. Let's go into the kitchen with master chef Woodrow Wilson and watch the Nazi soufflé rise.
Hitler: Created by US Intervention, Kept in Power by England and France
Germany and France had fought a war in 1870. Some expendable soldiers died, a few civilians were collateral damage, and a couple border areas changed hands. Overall, the war changed nothing, and after the war Europe returned to peace and business as usual.
In 1917 World War One was on track to burn itself out in similar fashion. Both sides were war-weary; common people had been reminded that being gassed and ripped apart by artillery isn't really as fun as it sounds. Another peace of exhaustion was in the cards, helped along by military technologies which favored the defender. Trench warfare and railbound supply lines made successful aggression difficult. Millions of troops died without changing the front lines very much.
Woodrow Wilson saved the War To End Wars with a major media campaign and 2.8 million drafted Americans. Funded by the recently created Federal Reserve, the US poured fresh troops and money in to support the British and French empires. This allowed Clemenceau and Lloyd George to launch a total war against the German civilian population.
The Germans signed an Armistice on November 11, 1918. However, the Allies didn't stop fighting. They used their fleets to blockade (nowadays we would say "to impose sanctions") Germany until July 1919. At least a quarter of a million Germans were killed by starvation and disease during the blockade.
Backed by their invincible US mercenaries, the French and British looted Germany. The Versailles Treaty prevented economic recovery and any return to normal trade for Germans. The Weimar government tried to pay its impossible foreign debts by inflating the mark, destroying the middle class and discrediting capitalist values like honesty and saving. Socialism of different stripes became the only ideology in Germany.
Without the Versailles Treaty, Hitler would have become a house-painting contractor or maybe a minor artist. Under the Treaty, he became a Messiah. People are evolved to live in tribes, and their default setting is xenophobic tribalism. Germans simply reset to the default setting, as other peoples from Japan to Rwanda have done under economic stress.
After Hitler came to power, the other powers jumped in to… help him. Britain and France pressured the Czechs to cede a strip of land (which coincidentally contained the Czech defense fortifications). After the Czechs were rendered defenseless, Poland and Hungary annexed parts of Czechoslovakia, helping Germany finish it off.
The interventionist policies of the other world powers also helped Hitler make Europe Judenfrei. Britain and France refused to allow most Jews to escape. Even in 1938, at the Evian Conference, the nations of the world continued to restrict Jewish immigration. The US used its navy and coast guard to turn back ships full of escaping Jews. Without these active government interventions, most of the Jews of Germany could have escaped the Holocaust.
So Hitler was created by interventionist foreign policy and war, then enabled by more interventions. After he finally attacked his benefactors in open warfare… they still worked hard to keep him around. The Springfield-toting sniper in Saving Private Ryan asks a simple question: why not send him to shoot Hitler, instead of shooting one German draftee at a time? It's a very good question.
Saving Corporal Hitler
Did the heroic Allies actually try to remove Hitler and save the Jews, as our current mythology implies? Or did they treat him as just another member of the club, a good ol' boy engaged in the gentlemanly arts of demagoguery, war, and tax collection? Roger Moorhouse has collected all the attempts on Hitler's life into one volume. The book is fairly short for lack of material; in general, governments made no serious attempts to kill Hitler. We know they could have, because one construction worker almost succeeded with no assistance.
In 1938, an ordinary German carpenter named Georg Elser was convinced that Hitler was going to plunge Germany back into war. Elser decided to kill Hitler and save the world.
First, he traveled to Munich for the observance of the November 8th anniversary of the 1923 Beer Hall Putsch, an important Nazi holiday. Hitler was obliged to give a speech at the Burgerbraukeller for these festivities. Elser simply went in afterward and bought a beer. He observed the position of the speaker's lectern and the structure of the hall. Then he went home and got a job in a quarry that used explosives.
In August 1939, Elser moved to Munich. Every evening he bought dinner in the Burgerbraukeller. After each dinner he hid in a storeroom until the employees left. Then he emerged and worked all night, constructing a hidden cavity in a pillar behind the speaker's dais. On the 2nd of November 1939, he installed a large homemade bomb. On November 5, he set the timers for the evening of November 8 (remember this is a punctual German bomb, it had a backup timer).
On the evening of November 8, Hitler entered the Burgerbraukeller and gave his speech. Unfortunately he was an hour early. Due to bad weather, he had decided to use the train instead of displaying his high-tech flair by flying. So he left the hall at 9:07. Elser's bomb went off exactly at 9:20, not only blasting the lectern but bringing the whole gallery down onto the dais. Instead of killing Hitler and other high-level Nazis, he got only a few low-ranking supporters.
Elser missed… but not by much. He demonstrated that any individual who put a few months of their time into killing Hitler would have a pretty good chance of success. Unfortunately, as the rest of Moorhouse's book shows, the major governments of the world never spared as much as one full-time carpenter to kill Hitler. Stalin put elaborate assassination nets in place, but then carefully avoided any harm to Adolf, probably fearing that a less crazy leader would make Germany more powerful.
The democratic Allies did no better. The British demonstrated that they could assassinate even the highest-ranking Nazis deep inside Eastern Europe, by killing Reinhard Heydrich. They produced James Bond weapons like the Welrod pistol and distributed them to resistance movements, and assassinated Nazi small fry all over Europe. But though they did a feasibility study ("Operation Foxley") on shooting Hitler at his retreat in the Alps, they too left him strictly alone. On April 25, 1945, the British finally made some PR shock and awe by sending 375 bombers to blast Berchtesgaden. The results were the same as the attacks on Saddam Hussein at the beginning of the Iraq War; the dictator was nowhere nearby.
The American war leadership followed the British lead. They preferred to spend billions on bombing ordinary German civilians rather than sending in one sniper to Berlin. (Killing Hitler makes it plain that Hitler drove openly around Berlin until quite late in the war; he would have been no harder to hit than Heydrich). Hitler was left to pursue his campaign against the Jews to the very end.
Governments, whether "democratic" or openly totalitarian, are all driven by the same evolutionary laws. They gain power by maximizing the length and cost of wars.
"War is the health of the State" is a truism because it is true. Governments create and maintain Hitlers; if they remove one it is usually only to install another. (Ask the Poles and the Czechs how much they "benefited" from World War II… unlike switching to Geico, switching to Stalin didn't save them hundreds of thousands of lives).
Hitler only died as an accidental byproduct of the financial and political machine that was World War. If he had actually used the WMDs that he had built to win on D-Day and/or at Kursk, he might have come to a Cold War accommodation of his own and lived on to die of old age. As it was he simply failed to be a strong enough bogeyman, and was replaced by Stalin and Mao… each of whom killed far more people in peacetime genocides than Hitler.
Mao alone killed around 77 million Chinese according to historian R.J. Rummel. Maybe Mao should take Hitler's place as the generic epithet for politician… but he won't, since he didn't lose. In fact, he went on to enjoy his palaces and harems and die at a ripe old age, much to his own surprise.
After World War Two: Let a Thousand Hitlers Bloom
Since 1945, the US has given foreign aid to most of the world's genocidal dictatorships. Pol Pot was on the US dole, even after achieving the all-time record for "proportion of population killed". Castro was given massive aid after the Bay of Pigs…. and the biggest job security boon to a Latin American dictator ever, in the form of US trade restrictions that kept Castro economically dominant and most Cuban homes free of VCRs.
Ho Chi Minh got a chunk of change from the US after the Vietnam War, although most of his support before that came from Warsaw Pact countries that borrowed the money from US banks. Idi Amin, Julius Nyerere, Robert Mugabe, Mobutu, Charles Taylor… you can just call the roll of dictators and not risk hitting one that wasn't on the take from official US foreign aid.
Official foreign aid, like the current official US national debt, is just the tip of the iceberg. Unofficial aid can't even be easily tracked. All a dictator has to do is borrow money from a US bank; with a wink and a nudge from the Federal Reserve, he's on foreign aid that won't be on the books for twenty years, and even then not without a real audit of the Fed. This is how "socialist" regimes can exist with no visible means of support; they don't need a domestic market economy as long as they have their foreign-aid credit card.
So let's drop the pretense that US intervention is about "stopping the next Hitler". Our taxes and borrowings and printings and flat-out imaginary wild promises support a worldwide network of little Hitlers, from the ex-Soviet Afghan warlords to the nuclear-armed god-kings of North Korea.
If we want to "prevent the next Hitler", we first have to stop US foreign aid to all the little Hitlers of the world. Then we have to stop our home-grown Goebbels and Goerings from bankrupting our country with wars on every front. The "next Hitler" is us.