Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Enemy of Monarchy: Adolf Hitler

The way Adolf Hitler is constantly portrayed as a figure of the political “right” is astounding. The idea that anyone could perceive the leader of a group called the National Socialist German Workers Party as anything close to being a “conservative” defies belief. And yet, many seem to do just that. Of course, Hitler was not a conservative, not a member of the political right and Hitler himself would have considered such a classification deeply insulting. He despised everything that the traditional, right-wing conservatives of Germany stood for. This included Christianity, the aristocracy and, of course, monarchy. Hitler was, and always considered himself, a revolutionary and a socialist; he was simply a national socialist whereas the communists were international socialists. By his own admission, Hitler was a “little revolutionary” from his very boyhood, growing up in the Dual-Empire of Austria-Hungary and, he makes it perfectly clear in his own autobiography that he had nothing but contempt for the Imperial House of Hapsburg.

Hitler accused the Hapsburgs of favoring the Slavic peoples over the German-Austrians and even said it was the “hand of the goddess of eternal justice” which caused the Archduke Franz Ferdinand to be shot as he had been prominent in advocating greater outreach to the Slavs. He even found room to criticize the Austrian alliance with Germany, saying, “The Hapsburg hypocrisy, which enabled the Austrian rulers to create the outward appearance that Austria was a German state, raised the hatred toward this house to flaming indignation and at the same time - contempt.” He went on to refer to Austro-German friendship as an “unholy alliance” and, as we all know, when World War I broke out the young Adolf Hitler would not fight for the Hapsburg empire but instead crossed over into Bavaria to volunteer to join the more “pure” army of the German Empire. Indeed, a great deal of the first part of his book Hitler devotes to pouring scorn on Austrian history and the House of Hapsburg in particular. In fact, one of his complaints about the Bavarian people, after arriving there, was that they continued to view the Austrian monarchy as German and a reliable friend. Hitler viewed such people, as he viewed most other than himself, as hopelessly stupid.

He did remark on the loyalty of the Bavarian people toward their royal family, the House of Wittelsbach, but his anger was turned on them fiercely after his failed coup on November 8-9, 1923. Hitler tried to enlist the support of the still widely respected Crown Prince Rupprecht of Bavaria, well known not only for his royal position but as a highly successful army group commander on the western front in World War I, but the Crown Prince would have nothing to do with him and denounced the Nazi Party from start to finish. Hitler had been trying to imitate the success of Mussolini’s black shirts and their “March on Rome” the year before. However, whereas Mussolini had widespread support and ended up leading the government, Hitler had relatively little support, bolted with his men after the first shots were fired against them and he ended up in prison. While there he poured out his hatred against the late monarchy and the old order on the pages of his book, dictated to Rudolf Hess. Taking the socialist line, he denounced the aristocracy for being too cozy with wealthy financiers (universally Jewish in his mind) and he opined that in his “New Germany” the only aristocracy would be the aristocracy of race and that all class distinctions would be abolished. He criticized Kaiser Wilhelm II for allowing parliamentary democracy at all and for giving “cover” to those who had stabbed Germany in the back. At the time, few took his mindless ravings seriously.

However, he eventually did become a powerful political force, as we know, and had to reach out to some of the same groups he had earlier condemned. However, there was no doubt on either side as to where he stood from the perspective of the old, conservative monarchists. The most prominent figure in this group was probably the President himself, the aging but revered Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg who scoffed at the suggestion of making Hitler chancellor. The old Prussian aristocrat quipped that he, “wouldn’t make that Bohemian corporal postmaster much less chancellor”. Hitler tried to reach out to the conservatives of course, to further his ambitions, and even sent his most likeable deputy, former air ace Herman Göring to try to woo the exiled Kaiser over to their side. At first, a number supported the idea, but the old Kaiser had enough experience to tell fairly quickly that Hitler was not what he pretended to be and he refused to endorse him and forbid the Crown Prince from getting involved as well. When Wilhelm II died during World War II a vindictive Hitler forbid high ranking Germans from attending his funeral and refused him any state honors (but the Kaiser didn’t want them anyway).

Hitler, in his own book, let his true feelings about monarchy be known. He said on the subject of monarchy that, “If the value of this institution lay in the momentary person of the monarch, it would be the worst institution that can be imagined; for monarchs only in the rarest cases are the cream of wisdom and reason or even of character, as some people like to claim. This is believed only by professional lickspittles and sneaks, but all straightforward men - and these remain the most valuable men in the state despite everything - will only feel repelled by the idea of arguing such nonsense”. Thus, Hitler allowed himself to admire a select few monarchs while at the same time dismissing monarchy since, in his view, such worthy individuals came along at such infrequent intervals as to make having a monarchy simply not worth the trouble. Later, he hinted to the Kaiser that he might effect a restoration but, when the Kaiser saw through him to be the dishonest, power-mad politician that he was, Hitler quickly reverted to denouncing the Kaiser as a “Jew-lover”. Not all Nazis were so stridently opposed to anyone with a noble or royal title, but Hitler certainly was and in such a state it was only Hitler that mattered.

There was no difference in this attitude concerning foreign monarchs either. Hitler had rather idolized Mussolini, but when he made his first state visit to Italy he was greatly annoyed that he had to deal with HM King Victor Emanuel III, the head of state, rather than only Mussolini, the head of government. It grated on every socialist fiber of his being to have to bow his head to the King and to try to be pleasant to the Savoy royals, who he viewed as being far too friendly with the British. Hitler also commented on their perceived lack of support for Fascism, noting that the King saluted and the royal ladies bowed deeply when the flags of the Royal Italian Army passed by in review, but pretended not to notice when the flags of the Fascist black shirt militia marched by. During the war, Hitler had attached a German officer to the prisoner-King of the Belgians Leopold III. However, this man, Colonel Kiewitz, became so close to the King that Hitler came to view him as a monarchist and from that time on refused to even sit next to him. It goes without saying that he took an equally dim view of monarchs like the Queen of the Netherlands and the King of Norway who continued to oppose German occupation from exile.

Despite his writings and obvious opinions, there were German royals who, at the start of World War II, ‘rushed to the colors’ not out of any love for the Nazis but simply to defend their beloved Germany. In the same way, after the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, many people who bitterly opposed Stalin and the communists joined the Red Army simply to defend Mother Russia and not out of any political affinity with the government in Moscow. Such patriotic displays did not change Hitler’s view of royals, aristocrats or monarchists however. One of those who volunteered to defend his country was Prince Wilhelm of Prussia, eldest son of Crown Prince Wilhelm III. He fought gallantly and was mortally wounded in France. When his funeral attracted a crowd of 50,000 people Hitler was shocked and alarmed at this display of monarchist sentiment. As a result he issued his famous ‘Prince’s Decree’ which forbid any members of the House of Hohenzollern from front-line military service so as to avoid any such repeat of sympathy for the old monarchy.

The Bavarian Royal Family went into exile in the Kingdom of Italy as soon as the Nazis came to power. In 1944 the Nazis occupied half of Italy and sent most of the family to concentration camps. Princess Mafalda of Italy, also despised by Hitler, was arrested and sent to a concentration camp where she later died. Her husband, Prince Philip of Hesse, who had even been a Nazi Party member, was also sent to a concentration camp though he survived the war. King Boris III of Bulgaria was a constant irritant to Hitler, both for his refusal to hand over Bulgarian Jews for extermination and for his refusal to join the war against Soviet Russia. The Nazi takeover of Austria had also been prompted by fears on the part of Hitler that the Austrofascist (but ardently anti-Nazi) party there intended to restore the Austrian monarchy and place the Archduke Otto on the throne. The Nazi invasion plan was even named “Operation Otto” in his “honor”. It should go without saying that Hitler was infuriated by the young King Michael of Romania who had taken his country out of the Axis camp and joined the Allies. Even before that though, Hitler had also opposed King Carol II because of his refusal to persecute minorities, his suppression of more pro-Nazi elements in the country and because he had a mistress who was Catholic by religion but Jewish by blood. There was simply no monarchy or royal house in Europe Hitler ever, in any way, viewed favorably. Everyone also remembers his famous phrase about the late Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother of Great Britain, calling her, “the most dangerous woman in Europe”.

It should also be remembered, though it is not much talked about, that monarchists and aristocrats were involved in numerous plots aimed at removing Hitler or assassinating him. Baron Adolf von Harnier, a devoted Bavarian monarchist, was a leader in the secret opposition and, as most know, it was an aristocrat, Claus Graf von Stauffenberg, who was executed for his failed effort to kill Hitler with a bomb. Had that plot succeeded, the man who was to have served as chancellor was the monarchist Carl Friedrich Goerdeler (a former member of the monarchist DNVP) who favored the post-Hitler Germany becoming a constitutional monarchy (similar to the British model) with Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia assuming the throne. He had also, from fairly early on, been involved in numerous plots against the Nazi dictator and in organizing right-wing dissidents, many monarchist, in this opposition. The list of monarchists persecuted by Hitler for their opposition to him is a long one. The Bavarian Catholic Rudolf Kanzler was jailed by the Nazis for “treason” for promoting the monarchist cause. The Christian monarchist Ewald von Kleist-Schmenzin was executed for his part in the Stauffenberg plot. Another Bavarian monarchist (a Protestant one) Gustav Ritter von Kahr helped thwart Hitler’s first effort to take power and was later killed by the Nazis in the “Night of the Long Knives”.

So, it can easily be seen that Hitler hated monarchy and most monarchists felt exactly the same towards him. There would be no room for monarchs, aristocrats or traditional religion in the future Nazi Germany envisioned by Hitler. Having come from the lower classes he never got over his class envy and the bitter jealousy he felt when, as a young man, he watched Hapsburg royals dancing while he shoveled snow outside. He resented anyone who had any status or privilege which they did not “earn” as he had to (and in his case, “earn” meant to lie, cheat and kill to obtain power). Not everyone in the Nazi hierarchy was so opposed to monarchy as Hitler was, but most were and it was the opinion of Hitler that mattered. It is unfortunate that, in this regard, Hitler was so successful. The war he started would ultimately lead to the loss of the Italian, Serbian, Bulgarian and Romanian monarchies as well as stopping a near-restoration in Austria. The war would also so completely exhaust the British Empire that dominions began to fall away rapidly in the post-war years. Hitler was an enemy of everything that the “Old Europe” of Christian monarchies stood for and no one should ever forget it.

11 comments:

  1. Wonderful words. Gerald Warner in his excellent article last year and others understand that fascism and Nazism are not "reactionary" movements but in fact revolutionary movements.

    Communism and Nazism are really two sides of the same coin, they both rejected traditional morality and invented enemy clases of people for extermination. No rule of law exists in totalitarian states where there is premacy of ideology, hence bestial crimes were committed regardless of what laws existed. The real spiritual intellectual roots of Communism, Nazism, Irish Republicanism, all terrorism and ironically, of modern-day religious fundamentalism and their hatefulness, lie with the Jacobins.

    Notice how modern "far left" and "far right" people are a) hardcore Communists and Nazis who defend those regimes and deny their crimes or b) people who package themselves as something else (like the postmodern Left that is poisoning the West with PC). They like to pretend their policies won't have social costs, but they would!

    To be a true German or Austrian reactionary would be to utterly reject post-1918 developments.

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  2. While Hitler was indeed contemptible and loathsome, I feel that we monarchists could learn a lot from his methods in obtaining power: Cultural revival, running on primarily anti-system ideas (in elections), and having a distinct leader.
    And we needn't necessarily run with fascists, and certainly not Nazis. The Boulangist period in French political history shows how monarchist groups, both royalist and bonapartist, failed to use the political success of General Boulanger to benefit their own cause, even if it would not have directly resulted in absolute victory. We have to be politically pragmatic enough to get the best possible result, even if not an ideal one.

    But we are in complete agreement on Hitler's status as anti-monarchist. As for his political orientation, I find best to classify him as a Nazi. They tend to be distinct enough from traditional conceptions of left/right that you can group them with the Third Positionists. You could also call him a fascist racialist.

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  3. DV -you are correct and with the Nazis and their ilk the lack of real law showed with the cult of personality. They really had ideology insofar as it was convenient. The leader can say one thing one day and the opposite the next because they have no 'right' and 'wrong' just the will of the dictator. They also both tend to change the language to generate sympathy for some and to de-humanize others. They also each tend to argue against any individual rights because that clashes with their totalitarian concept of the "State". There's no "an Englishman's home is his castle" with them.

    AN - Political pragmatism is necessary, but the farther out you get, the more careful you have to be. People thought Hitler would be someone they could control and in the end he destroyed them. As far as left/right goes, in America at least the classification can be simplified and there's no such thing as a "third position". Here it usually comes down to being an individualist or a collectivist. The person or the state and no matter what one says any political ideology will fall into one camp or the other. On a simpler level there is no "third position" between right and wrong.

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  4. I think Third Positionism is more of an economic distinction, but it would fall on the "state" side of economics. I do believe that economics is a whole other issue, however I'm very much in favor of moral dualism.

    I am of course not suggesting alliances with extremists of revolutionaries like Hitler. However, he did use methods that are worth using today, like I said. We can learn techniques from the success of our opponents, so long as these techniques do not compromise our own ideals.

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  5. The whole thing is so frustrating, I've basically given up even trying to argue. The idea of a modern conservative being labeled a "Nazi" is so asinine, its beyond belief. If any member of the rabid left were to step back and reflect on the massive contribution inherent in the concept of a "small government fascist" or a "capitalist socialist", their feeble brains would positively explode. But, of course, leftist Occupy folks are incapable of thinking rationally about anything. All they know is how to chant bumper sticker slogans and beat up or drown out anyone that dares oppose them. What do you expect from America's modern educational system.

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  6. It is probably pointless to argue it with anyone. If they are so deluded to think Hitler a "conservative" they are probably not going to be swayed by any of those pesky things called "facts". One of the biggest things the modern leftist idiots have in common themselves with the Nazis (though to perhaps an even greater degree) is simply being against everything rather than being for something.

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  7. I'd like to see you do an "Enemy of Monarchy" on Georges Clemenceau. He was a STRONG hater of both Germany and Austria-Hungary.

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  8. I love going back and reading the older articles on your website; so many glorious gems to be found here. I linked this article on my FB page to a friend of mine who said that Adolf Hitler was a monarchist "but not the type you think." That his only problem with monarchy was that other monarchies were in his way and he wanted to be the ultimate monarch. Basically my friend fails to see the difference between Dictatorship and Monarchy; I know the difference, but I'm sort of stuck on a way to put it more eloquently. Any advice on how to address people like this?

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    1. In the first place, most monarchs today ave NO power as opposed to dictators that have total power. However, if we're talking about theoretical purity, just ask your friend where a leader takes his legitimacy from and who he feels himself responsible to. A dictator draws legitimacy from popular support or a belief in their own strength and brilliance. A monarch draws legitimacy from tradition, heritage and religious sanction. And of course there are other ways to tell.

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