Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Gandhi's July 1939 Letter to Adolf Hitler

On 23 July 1939, the Indian nationalist wrote the following remarkable letter to Hitler. In it, he tells Hitler that friends have urged on him to write Hitler, and impresses on Hitler the hope that Europe's current crisis and its descent into war could be halted.

The time is relevant to the context. From late 1938 through the summer of 1939, Germany was trying to convince Poland to return Danzig. A British war guarantee to Poland on 31 March 1939 convinced the Polish government that it did not have to negotiate with Berlin. Now, Britain was pledged to fight a war to prevent Poland from returning a German city to Germany. The war guarantee was, of course, hollow, as Britain lacked the capacity to come to Poland's aid. From 31 March, when the war guarantee was given, through August 1939, Britain and Germany were on a collision course toward a second World War.

Gandhi's letter was sent to Hitler less than two months before the British declaration of war. It was intercepted and prevented from reaching him by British agents.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Gandhi's Visit to Fascist Italy in 1931 and His Views on Mussolini's Foreign Policy from 1935

In 1931, the Indian nationalist, Gandhi, made a special visit to Fascist Italy. He came as a peacemaker and to pay respect to Benito Mussolini's government. The video below shows Gandhi being given a tour of the fascist country. Mussolini warmed to Gandhi, calling him a "genius and a saint," and Gandhi in turn hailed Mussolini as a great statesman who had "done much for the peasant class." When, in 1935, Mussolini invaded the African country of Abyssinia, Gandhi criticized the action but called for only peaceful responses.

Mussolini and Gandhi: Strange Bedfellows
Palash Ghosh
International Business Times, 3 March 2012

Politics not only make for strange bedfellows, sometimes they create bizarre, confounding, incomprehensible bedfellows.

It would be difficult to identify two historical figures from the 20th century who were more diametrically opposed to one another than the gentle, saintly hero of Indian independence, Mohandas K. Gandhi, and Benito Mussolini, the brutal Fascist dictator of Italy.

Yet, the “Mahatma” and “Il Duce” formed a mutual admiration society during the 1920s and 1930s.

According to a book entitled “Subhash Chandra Bose in Nazi Germany,” author Romain Hayes wrote that in late 1931, Gandhi accepted an invitation to visit Mussolini in Rome while the Mahatma was touring Europe.

Reportedly, the two men -- the vain Italian Fascist and the modest, unassuming Indian ascetic -- got along extremely well and admired each other.

Hayes wrote that, among other things, Gandhi reviewed a black-shirted Fascist youth honor guard during his visit.

“Mussolini hailed Gandhi as a 'genius and a saint,' admiring ... [Gandhi's] ability to challenge the British Empire,” Hayes wrote.

Regarding his visit with Il Duce, Gandhi wrote in a letter to a friend: Mussolini is a riddle to me. Many of his reforms attract me. He seems to have done much for the peasant class. I admit an iron hand is there. But as violence is the basis of Western society, Mussolini's reforms deserve an impartial study.”

Obviously, Gandhi's enthusiasm for Mussolini was tempered by the dictator's questionable tactics.

Nonetheless, Gandhi's missive continued: “[Mussolini's] care of the poor, his opposition to super-urbanization, his efforts to bring about coordination between capital and labor, seem to me to demand special attention ... My own fundamental objection is that these reforms are compulsory. But it is the same in all democratic institutions. What strikes me is that behind Mussolini's implacability is a desire to serve his people. Even behind his emphatic speeches there is a nucleus of sincerity and of passionate love for his people. It seems to me that the majority of the Italian people love the iron government of Mussolini.

Gandhi also hailed Mussolini “one of the great statesmen of our time.”

As odd as it seems, the Mahatma's affection for Mussolini was echoed by many unlikely sources.

In the mid-1920s, Winston Churchill, who met Mussolini and was impressed by his sense of apparent order and efficiency in Fascist Italy, once gushed: “If I had been Italian, I am sure I would have been with you from the beginning.”

George Bernard Shaw, the famed Irish playwright and Socialist (and avowed enemy of Churchill) once declared: “Socialists should be delighted to find at last a Socialist [Mussolini] who speaks and thinks as responsible rulers do.”

While Gandhi's relationship with Mussolini may seem strange and indefensible on the surface, if one considers the global political climate between the two World Wars, perhaps such linkages are not so unusual.

Following the devastation of World War I, extremist ideologies appealed to millions of people around the world who faced economic recession, starvation, joblessness, privation and sectarian violence, among other seemingly insurmountable societal ills.

At that time, Fascism, Nazism and Communism were simply political “philosophies” which sought to find drastic solutions to overwhelming social problems.

Long before the horrors of the Nazi death camps and the mass exterminations perpetrated by Joseph Stalin and Chairman Mao Tse-Tung were exposed, many people of goodwill and with good intentions embraced these “extremist” ideologies.

From an Indian Nationalist perspective, Mussolini's Italy and Adolph Hitler's Nazi Germany were viewed not only as bulwarks against British imperialism, but they were widely admired for creating strong, economically robust nations out of the wreckage of WWI and its resultant devastation.

Tarak Nath Das, an Indian revolutionary, wrote glowingly of Fascist Italy in 1931: “Italy, under the leadership of Signor Mussolini, is roused to its very depths of national consciousness. It feels that it has a mission of introducing a higher type of civilization. It had the urge of becoming a great power again ... Italy must be great through her national power, achieved through the authority of an 'ethical State' supported by national co-operation and solidarity.”

Das added: “Every Italian citizen must think first of his duty towards his self-development, [his concern for the] welfare of the state and society ... and [he must] make his or her supreme effort to attain the ideal. Class harmony must take the place of the ideal of class-war. So-called democracy must give way to the rule of the aristocracy of intellect. ... Some superficial and prejudiced observers of new Italy have spoken of 'Fascist tyranny' and condemned the Fascist regime. To me it is clear that the Fascist government or a particular official might have made some mistakes on particular occasions; but Fascism stands for liberty with responsibility and it is opposed to all forms of license. It gives precedence to Duty and Strength, as one finds in the teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.

By the time Mussolini invaded Abyssinia (Ethiopia) in the mid-1930s, Gandhi (as well as Churchill, Shaw and other former admirers), completely disavowed Il Duce. Thereafter, Mussolini's prestige declined and completely evaporated in India.

However, Hitler and Nazism are an entirely different matter.

To this day, many right-wing Hindu Nationalists in India admire Der Fuhrer, and his infamous tract “Mein Kampf” remains widely popular, especially among the young.

Strange bedfellows indeed.

INDIA: Gandhi vs. Mussolini
TIME, 8/5/1935, Vol. 26, Issue 6, p. 19

During the Boer War well-fleshed young Lawyer Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi organized an ambulance corps and personally led it under fire to the succor of British troops with such bravery that he received the official thanks of Queen Victoria's Government.

In 1906 similar service was rendered by Mr. Gandhi during the savage Zulu Rebellion in Natal and he accepted from King George the highly coveted Kaiser-i-Hind medal, sent it back in 1920 when he began to preach "Civil Disobedience."

Last week scrawny St. Gandhi, some-what in eclipse since he failed to win Dominion Status for India, thrilled 350,000,000 Indians anew by announcing at Calcutta, "India cannot ignore Benito Mussolini's threat against the dark-skinned people. Although India is under British rule, she is a member of the League of Nations, and fully entitled to assist against another nation, in a noncombatant way."

Friday, November 20, 2015

Christ, Nietzsche, and Caesar: Excerpt of a 1933 Speech by Sir Mosley on the Historical Roots of Fascism

The following is from a speech Sir Mosley gave to the English-Speaking Union in 1933. It is partially reproduced in his book, My Life, and appears on OswaldMosley.com.

Sir Oswald Mosley founded the British Union of
Fascists to awaken the British will to live.
Our opponents allege that Fascism has no historic background or philosophy, and it is my task this afternoon to suggest that Fascism has roots deep in history and has been sustained by some of the finest flights of the speculative mind. I am, of course, aware that not much philosophy attaches to our activities in the columns of the daily press. However, I trust you will believe that those great mirrors of the public mind do not always give a very accurate reflection, and while you only read of the more stirring moments of our progress, yet there are other moments, which have some depth in thought and constructive conception. 
I believe that Fascist philosophy can be expressed in intelligible terms, and while it makes an entirely novel contribution to the thought of this age, it can yet be shown to derive both its origin and its historic support from the established thought of the past. 
In the first instance, I suggest that most philosophies of action are derived from a synthesis of cultural conflicts in a previous period. Where, in an age of culture, of thought, of abstract speculation, you find two great cultures in sharp antithesis, you usually find, in the following age of action, some synthesis in practice between those two sharp antitheses which leads to a practical creed of action. 
I would suggest to you that in the last century, the major intellectual struggle arose from the tremendous impact of Nietszchian thought on the Christian civilisation of two thousand years. That impact was only very slowly realised. Its full implications are only today working themselves out. But turn where you will in modern thought, you find the results of that struggle for mastery of the mind and the spirit of man. I am not myself stating the case against Christianity, because I am going to show you how I believe the Nietszchian and the Christian doctrines are capable of synthesis. 
On the one hand you find in Fascism, taken from Christianity, taken directly from the Christian conception, the immense vision of service, of self-abnegation, of self-sacrifice in the cause of others, in the cause of the world, in the cause of your country; not the elimination of the individual, so much as the fusion of the individual in something far greater than himself; and you have that basic doctrine of Fascism, service, self-surrender to what the Fascist must conceive to be the greatest cause and the greatest impulse in the world. On the other hand you find taken from Nietszchian thought the virility, the challenge to all existing things which impede the march of mankind, the absolute abnegation of the doctrine of surrender; the firm ability to grapple with and to overcome all obstructions. You have, in fact, the creation of a doctrine of men of vigour and of self-help which is the other outstanding characteristic of Fascism. 
At the moment of a great world crisis, a crisis which in the end will inevitably deepen, a movement emerges from a historic background which makes its emergence inevitable, carrying certain traditional attributes derived from a very glorious past, but facing the facts of today, armed with the instruments which only this age has ever conferred upon mankind. By this new and wonderful coincidence of instrument and of event the problems of the age can be overcome, and the future can be assured in a progressive stability. Possibly this is the last great wave of the immortal, the eternally recurring Caesarian movement; but with the aid of science, and with the inspiration of the modern mind, this wave shall carry humanity to the further shore.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Knut Hamsun's Obituary for Adolf Hitler

Knut Hamsun (1859 - 1952) was a Norwegian Nobel laureate writer. He long sympathized with German fascism and admired Hitler. In 1940 he wrote: "the Germans are fighting for us." On Hitler's death on 30 April, 1945, he wrote a moving obituary of the German leader, remarkable in political context and content. He was tried for treason but due to age and health, he was confined to a hospital in Grimstad, where he died in 1952.

Click here to see some materials on Hamsun.

Knut Hamsun in 1945, the year that he wrote 
his obituary for Adolf Hitler.

The following was published in the Alftenposten:
Adolf Hitler 
I'm not worthy to speak up for Adolf Hitler, and to any sentimental rousing his life and deeds do not invite. 
Hitler was a warrior, a warrior for humankind and a preacher of the gospel of justice for all nations. He was a reforming character of the highest order, and his historical fate was that he functioned in a time of exampleless brutality, which in the end felled him. 
Thus may the ordinary Western European look at Adolf Hitler. And we, his close followers, bow our heads at his death. 
Knut Hamsun

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Letter from a Waffen-SS Soldier to Steven Spielberg

Hans Schmidt (d. 30 May 2010) was a member of the Waffen-SS and a dedicated soldier. In protest of distortions and outright lies included in the film, Saving Private Ryan, he sent the letter reproduced below to its producer, Steven Spielberg. Schmidt remained politically and socially active well after World War II. In 1983 he founded the German-American National Political Action Committee. In 1995 he was sentenced to prison for passing out political newsletters and sentenced for "incitement to hate" in Germany. 

Hans Schmidt (1927-2010) in his youth, as a
soldier of the pan-European Waffen-SS.
Dear Mr. Spielberg, 
Permit me, a twice wounded veteran of the Waffen-SS, and participant in three campaigns (Battle of the Bulge, Hungary and Austria) to comment on your picture, "Saving Private Ryan." 
Having read many of the accolades of this undoubtedly successful and, shall we say, "impressive," film, I hope you don’t mind some criticism from both a German and a German-American point of view. 
Apart from the carnage immediately at the beginning of the story, during the invasion at Omaha Beach, whereon I cannot comment because I was not there; many of the battle scenes seemed unreal. 
You made some commendable efforts to provide authenticity through the use of several pieces of original-looking German equipment, for instance, the Schützenpanzerwagen (SPW), the MG 42s, and the Kettenkrad. 
And, while the appearance of German infantry soldiers of the regular Army in the Normandy bunkers was not well depicted, the Waffen SS in the street fighting at the end of the film were quite properly outfitted. 
My comment about the unreality of the battle scenes has to do with the fact that the Waffen-SS would not have acted as you depicted them in "Private Ryan." 
While it was a common sight in battle to see both American and Russian infantry congregate around their tanks when approaching our lines, this rarely if ever occurred with the Waffen-SS. 
(The first Americans I saw during the Battle of the Bulge were about a dozen dead GIs bunched around a burned-out, self-propelled, tracked howitzer.) 
Furthermore, almost all the German soldiers seen in "Private Ryan" had their heads shaved, or wore closely cropped hair, something totally in conflict with reality. Perhaps you were confusing, in your mind, German soldiers with Russians of the time. 
Or else, your Jewishness came to the fore, and you wanted to draw a direct line back from today’s skinheads to the Waffen-SS and other German soldiers of the Third Reich. 
Also, for my unit you should have used 18 or 19-year old boys instead of older guys. The average age, including general officers of the heroic Hitlerjugend division at Caen, was 19 years! 
The scene where the GI shows his Jewish “Star of David” medallion to German POWs and tells them: "Ich Jude, ich Jude!" is so outrageous as to be funny. 
I can tell you what German soldiers would have said to each other if such an incident had actually ever occurred: "That guy is nuts!" 
You don’t seem to know that for the average German soldier of World War II, of whatever unit, the race, color or "religion" of the enemy didn’t matter at all. He didn’t know and he didn’t care. 
Furthermore, you committed a serious error in judgment when, in the opening scenes of "Private Ryan" you had the camera pan from the lone grave with the Jewish star to all the Christian crosses in the cemetery. 
I know what you wanted to say but I am sure that I was not the only one who immediately thereafter glanced over all the other hundreds of crosses one could see, to discover whether somewhere else was another Star of David. 
And you know the answer. In fact, you generated exactly the opposite effect of what you had intended. Your use of that scene makes a lie out of the claim now put forth by Jewish organizations that during World War II Jews volunteered for service in numbers greater than their percentage of the general population, and that their blood sacrifice was (therefore) higher also. 
I visited the large Luxembourg military cemetery where General Patton is buried and counted the Jewish stars on the gravestones. I was shocked by their absence. 
After World War I, some German Jewish leaders mounted the same ruse: They claimed then and still do to this day that, "12,000 Jews gave their lives for the Fatherland," which would also have made their general participation higher, which it was not. But perhaps the "12,000" figure is intended as a symbol denoting, "from our point of view, we did enough." 
During World War II, as now, about a quarter of the American population considered itself German-American. Knowing the patriotic fervor German-Americans harbor for America, we can be certain that their numbers in the Armed Forces were equal or higher than their percentage of the population. 
Yet in "Saving Private Ryan" there was not one single German name to be heard or seen among the Americans. 
Did you forget Nimitz, Arnold, Spaatz or even Eisenhower? Well, perhaps Capt. Miller from Pennsylvania was a German whose name had been anglicized. In omitting the American Germans you seem to have taken a cue from the White House at whose contemporary state dinners rarely someone with a German name can be found. 
Well, maybe someone thinks that the abundance of German sounding names such as Goldberg, Rosenthal, Silverstein and Spielberg satisfies the need for "German-American" representation. 
My final comment concerns the depictions of the shooting of German POWs immediately after a fire fight. A perusal of American World War II literature indicates that such incidents were much more common than is generally admitted, and more often than not, such transgressions against the laws of war and chivalry are often or usually excused, "because the GIs got mad at the Germans who had just killed one of their dearest comrades". 
In other words, the anger and the war crime following it was both understandable and, ipso facto excusable. In "Private Ryan" you seem to agree with this stance since you permit only one of the soldiers, namely, the acknowledged coward, to say that one does not shoot enemy soldiers who had put down their arms. 
As a former German soldier I can assure you that among us we did not have this, what I would call, un-Aryan mindset. 
I remember well, when in January of 1945 we sat together with ten captured Americans after a fierce battle, and the GIs were genuinely surprised that we treated them almost as buddies, without rancor. 
If you want to know why, I can tell you. We had not suffered from years of anti-enemy hate propaganda, as was the case with American and British soldiers whose basic sense of chivalry had often (but not always) been dulled by watching too many anti-German war movies usually made by your brethren. 
(For your information: I never saw even one anti-American war movie - There were no more Jewish directors at the UFA studios.) 
Hans Schmidt

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Towards a Fascist Europe: A Brief Excerpt from "The World Alternative" by Sir Oswald Mosley

The following is an excerpt from Sir Mosley's "The World Alternative"; here, he argues for a British recognition of Germany's right to Empire, and that only a British recognition of Hitler's vision of the East can secure peace in Europe, avert a policy of bringing the Soviet Union into Europe, and secure a genuine basis for a fascist Europe.

Sir Oswald Mosley (1896-1980), struggled for an
Anglo-German entente and a unified Europe.

From "The World Alternative"
Fascist Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 4, 1936, pp. 377-395
Sir Oswald Mosley

Views may vary as to the causes of the division of Europe and the restoration of the Balance of Power, but dispute can scarcely arise concerning the re-emergence of a situation and a system which has invariably brought war. It is to the solution of this problem thus recreated that this article is addressed, and in searching for that solution we must return to the fundamental conception of European union which animated the war generation in 1918 and has been frustrated by the perversion of the League of Nations to exactly the opposite purpose that it was intended to serve. This examination, therefore, begins with an inquiry into the factors which divide the individual nations, and in particular into the factors which inhibit peaceful and friendly relations between Great Britain and other great nations.

Having established the particular of possible friendship between Great Britain and other nations we will proceed to the general idea of European union built on the firm foundation of justice and economic reality. The sequence of thought will naturally follow the story of prior disaster and will strive to show at each stage how the previous fatality can be eliminated in the system of the future. Therefore, in proceeding to build first a system of European union we shall naturally begin with Germany.

In fact, the only policy which can logically produce another explosion on the Western frontiers of Germany is the denial of expansion; not only on her Eastern frontiers but in her limited though necessary and natural colonial ambitions. Yet Financial-Democratic policy could not be more perfectly designed to promote that explosion than by the dual policy of denying Germany colonial outlet and of circumscribing her in the East by a menacing Democratic-Soviet alliance.

But the solution here suggested is not the partition of Russia, not merely because it is the first interest of Europe and should be the first objective of British policy to keep the peace, but also because the solution of the European problems in terms both economic and political is possible on the lines already indicated without any offensive action against Russia. Rather it is here my purpose to suggest Russia should be told to mind her own business and to leave Europe and Western civilization alone to manage their own affairs. We seek war and strife with no nation, but to Russia we say: ‘Hands off Europe and back to the East where you belong!’

While, therefore, Fascist Europe desires only peace, it can give reality to collective security by a new collective spirit in face of the common menace to Europe and the British Empire, which is the ceaseless intrigue of Soviet power that seeks to gain time, by negotiation and fair speech, for the destruction of Western civilization by the simple process of first dividing the advanced nations of Europe and then setting them at each other’s throats in quarrels which have neither material nor spiritual relevance to reality.

The system of Financial Democracy crumbles in decay to collapse throughout the world and the stricken and bewildered peoples search for an alternative which presents hope of peace and security. The alternative of the modern Movement rises with the stark realism of granite above the confusion of present politics not only as a rock on which humanity may build anew but as a conception illuminated by the highest ideal of national and world citizenship which has yet animated the soul of man. The realism of the new creed builds upon the basic fact of economic settlement and justice for individual nations, without which all else is vain. It recognizes that European leadership must rest with the great powers and that in material terms a Four Power Bloc of Fascist nations can guarantee not only the peace of Europe but the peace of the world once their policies are united in objectives which are susceptible of synthesis. But materialism alone is not enough, and upon the basic fact of an established community of interest the universalism of Fascism and National Socialism erects the majestic edifice of a new world idea which commands the mind and spirit of man with the fiery force of a new religion. The old world will not mingle: so the peace of mankind attends in all lands the passing of the Old World, and Britain by force of material power and potential of moral leadership becomes the ultimate arena of struggle between the Old and the New, within which the destiny of White civilization will be decided. Great is the responsibility that high fate imposes upon us. We fight not only for the salvation of the land we love; we fight also for the Peace of Mankind.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

'Portretul luptatorului la tinerete' (2010): 'Portrait of the Fighter as a Young Man', on Postwar Anti-Communist Resistance

Portrait of the Fighter as a Young Man is a Romanian film that focuses on the life of Ion Gavrilă Ogoranu, who had been a member of the Iron Guard. During and after World War II, Ogoranu became the leader of an armed anti-Communist resistance focused in the Făgăraş Mountains. He evaded capture for 26 years, until 1976, when he was finally caught. It is reputed that former President Nixon's intervention kept him from execution. The film itself was shown at the 60th Berlin International Film Festival, which drew the futile objections of the Elie Wiesel foundation in Romania to keep it from being shown.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

A Quote from Polish Marshal Rydz-Śmigły on Germany

“Poland wants war with Germany and Germany will not be able to avoid it even if she wants to.” 
- Polish Marshal Rydz-Śmigły, Daily Mail, 6 Aug., 1939
Edward Rydz-Śmigły (1886-1941), Polish Marshal.

The following is an article from the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, indicating Rydz-Śmigły was widely supported by the bulging Jewish population of interwar Poland.

Jews Participate in Ceremony Marking Smigly-Rydz Elevation
November 11, 1936
Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA) 
Jewish communities of Poland participated today in celebrations marking the elevation of General Edward Rydz-Smigly, head of the Polish Legion, to the position of marshal. His name was changed to Smigly-Rydz. Special prayers were ordered in all synagogues throughout the country. Jewish leaders expressed hope that the new marshal would follow the late Marshal Pilsudski’s friendly attitude toward the Jews. The Polish Legion head has been mentioned little in regard to the Jewish question.