An expanded version of my Indian Comics Irregular essay Adolf Hitler: A True American:
Most people think Hitler and his genocidal policies were an aberration...a monstrosity...a unique product of an evil mind. Not quite. Hitler's Holocaust was the culmination of millennia of Western history. Given the Euro-Christian imperative to conquer, it was perhaps inevitable that one man would try to conquer all.
How did this come about? For the roots of Hitler's "madness," we must part the veils of time. The story begins, as so many stories do, with God.
In the beginning....
If the Europeans' favorable geography and natural resources predisposed them to "go forth and multiply," so did their Judeo-Christian philosophy. Christ's word spread throughout the Roman Empire and beyond because it complemented European culture. The justification for every princely or papal conquest lay in Biblical passages such as:
When the Lord your God brings you into the land which you are entering to occupy and drives out many nations before you—Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, seven nations more powerful than you—when the Lord your God delivers them into your power and you defeat them, you must put them to death. You must not make a treaty with them or spare them. You must not intermarry with them, neither giving your daughters to their sons nor taking their daughters for your sons; if you do, they will draw your sons away from the Lord and make them worship other gods. Then the Lord will be angry with you and will quickly destroy you. But this is what you must do to them: pull down their altars, break their sacred pillars, hack down their sacred poles and destroy their idols by fire, for you are a people holy to the Lord your god; the Lord your God chose you out of all nations on earth to be his special possessions.
For more on the origin of the "chosen people," see Manifest Destiny = America's Pathology.
Hitler was intimately familiar with Christian doctrine from his early life in Lambach, Austria. As David A. Meier writes in Hitler's Rise to Power:
There was an old Catholic Benedictine monastery in the town. The ancient monastery was decorated with carved stones and woodwork that included several swastikas. Adolf attended school there and saw them every day. They had been put there in the 1800's by the ruling Abbot as a pun or play on words. His name essentially sounded like the German word for swastika, Hakenkreuz.
Young Hitler did well in the monastery school and also took part in the boys' choir. He was said to have had a fine singing voice. Years later Hitler would say the solemn pageantry of the high mass and other Catholic ceremonies was quite intoxicating and left a very deep impression. As a young boy he idolized the priests and for two years seriously considered becoming a priest himself. He especially admired the Abbot in charge, who ruled his black-robbed monks with supreme authority. At home Hitler sometimes played priest and even included long sermons.
Hitler simply took the idea of the chosen people to its logical extreme. Since white Anglo-Saxon Christians had come to dominate civilization, he thought they—not the meek—were destined to inherit the earth. As Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D., writes in The Mind of Adolf Hitler: The Early Years:
Adolf Hitler's mad genetic vision embraced the ancient religion of the wondering Israelites; and like Moses, Hitler preached ethnic cleansing, racial purity for the "Chosen" Master Race, and woe to all "inferior" and "subhuman" species of woman and man.
And like the ancient Israelites whose god demanded the death of all inferior "evil" women and men—innocents whose only crime was to live on land the Israeli god had decided should belong to his own "godly children"—Adolf Hitler proclaimed that the lands should be cleansed of all inferior peoples.
Hitler's Third Reich would be the incarnation of the First Reich: the Holy Roman Empire, which lasted from AD 962 to 1806. He believed he was doing God's work, and said as much in Mein Kampf (1923):
Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord. (Volume 1, Chapter II)
What we must fight for is to safeguard the existence and reproduction of our race and our people, the sustenance of our children and the purity of our blood, the freedom and independence of the fatherland, so that our people may mature for the fulfillment of the mission allotted it by the creator of the universe. (Volume 1, Chapter VIII)
Nor were these his only expressions of his belief in his Christian duty:
"My feeling as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded only by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter.
"In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was his fight against the Jewish poison.
"Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed his blood upon the Cross.
"As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice...
"And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly, it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people. And when I look on my people I see them work and work and toil and labor, and at the end of the week they have only for their wages wretchedness and misery.
"When I go out in the morning and see these men standing in their queues and look into their pinched faces, then I believe I would be no Christian, but a very devil, if I felt no pity for them, if I did not, as did our Lord two thousand years ago, turn against those by whom today this poor people are plundered and exploited."
Adolf Hitler, in a speech delivered April 12, 1922
Published in My New Order
Quoted in "Freethought Today," April 1990
Playing cowboys and Indians
But Hitler had a more immediate source for his genocidal beliefs than dusty chronicles of crusades and pogroms. He had only to note the self-righteous nation practicing ethnic cleansing across the sea. Yes, young Adolf was inspired by none other than the good ol' US of A.
Born in 1889, the year before Wounded Knee, Hitler was well aware of the American Holocaust. As Meier explains about the youngster in Hitler's Rise to Power:
His favorite game to play outside was cowboys and Indians. Tales of the American West were very popular among boys in Austria and Germany. Books by James Fenimore Cooper and especially German writer Karl May were eagerly read and re-enacted. May, who had never been to America, invented a hero named Old Shatterhand, a white man who always won his battles with Native Americans, defeating his enemies through sheer will power and bravery. Young Hitler read and reread every one of May's books about Old Shatterhand, totaling more than 70 novels. He continued to read them even as Führer. During the German attack on the Soviet Union he sometimes referred to the Russians as Redskins and ordered his officers to carry May's books about fighting Indians.
In American history, Hitler found justification for his dreams of Teutonic dominance. He spoke glowingly of the US, noting its "incomparable inner strength" (Mein Kampf, Volume 1, Chapter IV). America, he believed, showed what Aryan power and purity could achieve:
We must bear in mind that in the time when the American continent was being opened up, numerous Aryans fought for their livelihood as trappers, hunters, etc., and often in larger troops with wife and children, always on the move, so that their existence was completely like that of the nomads. But as soon as their increasing number and better implements permitted them to clear the wild soil and make a stand against the natives, more and more settlements sprang up in the land. (Mein Kampf, Volume 1, Chapter XI)
The Germanic inhabitant of the American continent, who has remained racially pure and unmixed, rose to be master of the continent; he will remain the master as long as he does not fall a victim to defilement of the blood. (Mein Kampf, Volume 1, Chapter XI)
Neither Spain nor Britain should be models of the German expansion, but the Nordics of North America, who had ruthlessly pushed aside an inferior race to win for themselves soil and territory for the future. (Supposedly from Hitler's Secret Book, pgs. 44-8, as quoted by Norman Rich in Hitler's War Aims: Ideology, the Nazi State, and the Course of Expansion, as quoted by Ward Churchill in Struggle for the Land)
So Hitler's version of history flowed from the Holy Land through medieval Europe to the United States. His goal was the same as America's: to bring God-given civilization to the world. His views were largely indistinguishable from American views of the era:
He has made us the master organizers of the world to establish system where chaos reigns. He has given its the spirit of progress to overwhelm the forces of reaction throughout the earth....Were it not for such a force as this the world would relapse into barbarism and night.
He is the Prometheus of mankind from whose bright forehead the divine spark of genius has sprung at all times, forever kindling anew that fire of knowledge which illumined the night of silent mysteries and thus caused man to climb the path to mastery over the other beings of this earth.
In these sanctified fantasy lands, there was no room for pagans, mongrels, or other degenerate animals. As God commanded in Deuteronomy, Americans destroyed sacred Indian poles and shrines and Germans destroyed sacred Jewish books and temples. If Aryan Americans had conquered a continent, Hitler would use the same techniques to conquer a world.
As John Toland notes in his book Adolf Hitler (pg. 202):
Hitler's concept of concentration camps as well as the practicality of genocide owed much, so he claimed, to his studies of English and United States history. He admired the camps for Boer prisoners in South Africa and for the Indians in the wild west; and often praised to his inner circle the efficiency of America's extermination—by starvation and uneven combat—of the red savages who could not be tamed by captivity.
According to James Pool in his Hitler and His Secret Partners (pgs. 273-274):
Hitler drew another example of mass murder from American history. Since his youth he had been obsessed with the Wild West stories of Karl May. He viewed the fighting between cowboys and Indians in racial terms. In many of his speeches he referred with admiration to the victory of the white race in settling the American continent and driving out the inferior peoples, the Indians. With great fascination he listened to stories, which some of his associates who had been in America told him about the massacres of the Indians by the U.S. Calvary.
He was very interested in the way the Indian population had rapidly declined due to epidemics and starvation when the United States government forced them to live on the reservations. He thought the American government's forced migrations of the Indians over great distances to barren reservation land was a deliberate policy of extermination. Just how much Hitler took from the American example of the destruction of the Indian nations is hard to say; however, frightening parallels can be drawn. For some time Hitler considered deporting the Jews to a large 'reservation' in the Lubin area where their numbers would be reduced through starvation and disease.
From the same source (pgs. 254-255):
Always contemptuous of the Russians, Hitler said: "For them the word 'liberty' means the right to wash only on feast-days. If we arrive bringing soft soap, we'll obtain no sympathy…There's only one duty: to Germanize this country by the immigration of Germans, and to look upon the natives as Redskins." Having been a devoted reader of Karl May's books on the American West as a youth, Hitler frequently referred to the Russians as "Redskins." He saw a parallel between his effort to conquer and colonize land in Russia with the conquest of the American West by the white man and the subjugation of the Indians or "Redskins." "I don't see why," he said, "a German who eats a piece of bread should torment himself with the idea that the soil that produces this bread has been won by the sword. When we eat from Canada, we don't think about the despoiled Indians."
And as Ward Churchill notes in Struggle for the Land:
Perhaps the very clearest articulation of the conceptual and practical linkages between nazi performance in eastern Europe and 19th century US Indian policy may be found in a lengthy memorandum prepared by Freidrich Hossbach to record the content of a Fuhrer Conference conducted on November 5, 1937; the relevant portion is contained in Trial of the Major War Criminals before the International Military Tribunal (42 vols), Nuremburg 1947-9, 386PS, 25:402ff.
Even the swastika hints at Hitler's debt to America. A common symbol among Native American and other indigenous people, the swastika was part of Boy Scout lore. It appeared on the back of William Tomkins's American Indian Sign Language circa 1928. Although Hitler claimed a different source for the Nazi swastika, he might have remembered it from one of his boyhood readings. Perhaps the Native swastika and the Catholic swastikas he saw as a youth merged into a potent symbol.
David Stannard eloquently summed up the Holocaust's origins in his book American Holocaust: The Conquest of the New World:
Elie Wiesel is right: the road to Auschwitz was being paved in the earliest days of Christendom. But another conclusion now is equally evident: on the way to Auschwitz the road's pathway led straight through the heart of the Indies and of North and South America.
"Killing me softly...."
Since the extremes of the American and German holocausts, Western civilization has pulled back some. Our leaders have decided physical conquest is bad—disposing bodies requires too much paperwork, perhaps—but economic conquest is another matter. To build our factories and shopping malls, we exploit the world's poor people, suck up their natural resources, and demolish the earth's environment.
We do this in the name of the god Progress, our golden idol. We must have our luxury houses, well-manicured lawns, and SUVs, and our leaders must have profits to satisfy their shareholders or campaign contributors. They give us what we want and vice versa.
Not only is this a testament to the American "dream" (freedom for me by dominating you), but also to the American media. From commercials to Pokémon games to rap songs, our media purveys the American ideology. We're told the good life is to acquire, to dominate, to be no. 1. Losers who don't become rich or successful get what they deserve: nothing.
The dime novels Hitler read were the pulp fiction of his day. They were equivalent to today's "low" forms of mass media: comic books, cartoons, syndicated TV shows, straight-to-video movies, music videos, and computer games. In both eras the message was the same. Beat the bad guys (Indians, Jews, crooks, terrorists, aliens) and you'll get the girl, the goods, or whatever your heart desires.
The meta-message of this Euro-American drive should be obvious by now. Hitler wasn't an aberration. He was the ultimate product of Western civilization, the über-American. We have met the enemy, and he was us.
Germans love Indians
An interesting epilogue to this essay is that European people, especially Germans, have come to love the American Indian. They form Native American clubs, dress as Indians, and often know more about them than Americans do. What's the connection between Hitler's love of Indian killers and the German love of Indians today?
Perhaps Germans are reacting to their overly regimented and mechanized society—which reached its apotheosis under Hitler. Like America's New Agers, they may be seeking a "natural" alternative to their unnatural lives. If anti-Indian America was a source for Nazi thinking, Indian America may be an antidote to Nazi-like thinking.
We could do much worse than adopting the indigenous values of respecting nature, favoring community over competition, and thinking seven generations ahead. After all, Native people have endured for ages, while Hitler and his thousand-year Third Reich are nothing but fading memories.
 Senator Albert J. Beveridge, Congressional Record, January 9, 1900.
 Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, Volume 1, Chapter XI, 1923.
More on Hitler as a good American
Churchill: Manifest Destiny = Holocaust
"So far, I've seen nothing to eliminate the possibility that Bush is on the same course as Hitler."
Giving up PEACE ON EARTH
Genocide by any other name...
Violence in America
America's cultural mindset
Hitler "never referred to any of the most basic [Christian] doctrines such as the resurrection of Christ...."
May couldn't have influenced Hitler because "the term 'Cowboy' was invented in Hollywood."
"Obviously Hitler was fascinated by the Manifest Destiny idea but he sure didn't get those ideas from Karl May."
Hitler was a pagan, not a Christian.
"The comparison of USA to Hitler is hatefull rhetoric and propaganda...."
"This idea is worth consideration. 'Manifest Destiny' isn't that far from a 'Thousand Year Reich'...."
Hitler´s horoscope was "astonishingly EMPTY, like a vessel ready to take up all contemporary evil...."
"Kemal Ataturk...was Hitler's precedent, NOT the wild west."
"[Karl May's] first-person hero embodies all the ideals every true American has ever stood for...."
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Original text and pictures © copyright 2007 by Robert Schmidt.
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