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Monday, February 24, 2014

Mein Kampf, Mein Umdrehung - Adolph Hitler and 'Life Cycles'

This unusual post title happened because I decided to see what the word 'revolution' looked like in German. Not very poetic, is it? Not 'rivoluzione' (Italian), or 'giro' (Spanish), or even 'revolutie' (Dutch); but in guttaral Germanic it's 'umdrehung'. Why place revolution together with "Mein Kampf", being Hitler's best-selling book, which encapsulates the founding principals of Nazi Germany? The answer is obvious to me :- because Hitler's central, mid-life, age 36 'Year of Revolution' was defined by it.

Adolph Hitler (born April 20th. 1889), became arguably, the most synonymous name with 'The Dark Side' in history. A demagogue, with the power to sway the emotions of ordinary citizens, whilst all the time using this evil influence for his own diabolical ends. He also arose in a time in Germany's post WW1 woes, when he espoused sentiments shared to some degree by a lot of disgruntled people. However, before he was ever the country's Fuhrer and ever a political force, he had to come back from the wilderness of a failed insurrection and a gaol sentence.

Practically no-one had heard of "Mein Kampf" then, even though he had just dictated it in prison and released it as a book. He was banned from speaking in public, he lived a rather idyllic existence in a small village called Berchtesgaden in the German state of Bavaria; he didn't even run the day-to-day activities of the Nazi Party. He, in fact, may have lost control of his party's direction. He was 36. Need I say more? Welcome to the one day in Hitler's life when it was 'all on the line'.

Let's backtrack a little here. Hitler was released from prison Dec. 20, 1924 and agreed to only seek power through democratic means. In March, 1925 he was banned from speaking in public and appointed Gregor Strasser to grow the NSDAP (Nazi Party) in northern Germany. He turned 36 on April 20, 1925 and entered the often, most important 'Year of Revolution', in 'Life Cycles' terms. It was to be not only the year of "Mein Kampf", but also 'Mein Umdrehung'. On July 18, 1925 the first volume of "Mein Kampf" was released and it was, according to a Discovery Channel documentary, :- "a failure selling only 20,000 copies." He then spends his time in the quiet Bavarian village writing the second volume of "Mein Kampf", which deals mainly with the extension of 'lebensraum' (living space) for Germans. This eventually became the philosophical driver for decisions to invade other European countries and directly precipitate WW2.

Meanwhile Gregor Strasser proved to be an energetic and very effective party organiser in northern Germany, acquiring big numbers of new members. He took the word 'Socialist' in the Party's name more seriously and maintained certain ideals, that lent more towards Communist Russia, as the communists had many followers in the north. This he espoused in November, 1925, with a draft program that advocated expropriating princely estates without compensation. He also advocated a party Community, rather than absolute authority coming from the Fuhrer and Munich, which of course, struck directly at Hitler's authority. At a meeting of dissidents at Hanover in Jan. 1926, Gottfried Feder, representing Hitler, strenuously opposed these policies, but the other conferees all voted with Strasser. Not only this, but he talked of setting up a new party newspaper to compete with the one from Bavaria. Feder left fuming and reported back to Hitler.

Now we are poised for the response. Did Hitler want to fracture the Party by renouncing Strasser? If he did, how would Northern delegates react? He didn't have to risk a 'show down'. More prudent advice was to get his way by strategy. After all, calling a large general meeting was a big risk. But Hitler was a great gambler. Just as Julius Caesar was a great gambler and Napoleon was a great gambler. I've written on their gambles elsewhere. It was all to be decided in a meeting in one day :- Sunday, Feb.14th, 1926 at Bamburg.

Why Bamburg? Well it was close to the Northern districts, while still being in Bavaria, and a Sunday was picked, because it would be easier for Northerners to travel. He wanted a full house. Local Nazis turned out to demonstrate in favour of Hitler, which would have impressed the northern visitors. There was no debate. He harangued the crowd on suggested links with the Communists ("it would be the 'bolshevization of Germany' and 'national suicide'"). Germany's salvation would come with 'lebensraum' to be achieved, as it was in the middle ages, ie. by the sword. He stated without equivocation that the uncompensated expropriation of the princes was contrary to the party's aims.

But his main thrust was simple, the Party should be run not on a program, but on the principle of the leader. The party leadership therefore had a sraightforward choice: either accept or reject him as the unquestioned leader. Toland astutely places Hitler's ultimatum in Messianic terms: "National Socialism was a religion and Hitler was its Christ. Crucified at the Feldherrnhalle (ie. the so-called 'Beer Hall Putsch' attempted coup) and risen after Landsberg (the prison where he spent nine months), he had returned to lead the movement and the nation to salvation."

The dissent evaporated after this. Strasser made a short statement in which he accepted the Führer's leadership and Hitler put his arm around Strasser in a show of comradeship. Hitler became the leader on an unquestioned basis on that day. It would later be enshrined in the Party's manifesto, but it all happened squarely on Feb. 14th, 1926 at Bamburg and right in the middle of Hitler's career-defining, age 36 'Year of Revolution'. At 36, Mein Kampf was launched on the world and Hitler became, in his mind and that of the Nazi Party, his country's absolute saviour.

'Life Cycles' in a different way entirely, is becoming more and more difficult to simply dismiss, as a curiosity or a quaint occurrence. I still stand here waiting for contradiction of my evidence, or blanket dismissal of the whole notion. If there is any aspect of any post that is incorrect, (particularly this one), please let me know. Now, this is not religion and I'm not a saviour, but just because I'm not mainstream, doesn't mean I'm wrong. I do have an overall message by the way, but I'm revealing it slowly, so keep reading. Till next month :- "may the cycles always bring you good fortune".