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Adolf Hitler:  A True American

Another response to Adolf Hitler:  A True American:

>> 1) There was no wild west equivalent of the Wanssee Conference <<

So? My point was that the American holocaust influenced Hitler. If Hitler hadn't read about genocide in action, he never might've pushed for the Wanssee Conference or the Final Solution.

>> 2) Extermination of the Native Americans was not carried out as official policy. <<

This statement is either wrong or misleading on several counts:

2a) Many US localities offered bounties for Indian scalps at various times. I'd call that an official policy of extermination.

2b) One could easily call the incessant Indian Wars that raged across the continent an official policy of extermination also. They constituted an official policy of killing Indians who disagreed with the US government and its pattern of broken treaties, at least.

2c) Many US presidents and other leaders made their negative feelings about Indians known. Whether they ever passed an "official policy" is irrelevant since they had enormous power to direct the Army and other US agents to attack Indians—or to starve them when treaties obligated the US to feed them. Unofficial policies are as bad as official policies if the results are the same.

2d) The US did have various official policies to relocate Indians to barren lands at gunpoint, even when the predictable outcome was that many would die. The Trail of Tears, where the Five Civilized Nations experienced at least a 50% mortality rate while marching cold and hungry, is perhaps the best example. In legal circles, gross negligence or depraved indifference to a probable outcome is equivalent to guilt.

And if the US didn't have an official policy, the states did. James W. Loewen says, "Often [extermination] was the official policy of a sub-national body, such as CA rather than US. Some quotes confirm the point:

...[T]he real power to dispose of the Indians' lands remained with the state governments, and they were adamant for removal. These governments, in the early 19th century, passed laws that "legalized" the eradication of the Indian communities and opened their lands to settlers. Such legislation even denied the Indians any right of appeal by depriving them of standing in court.

America's Fascinating Indian Heritage

Powerful men, representing powerful interests in the roads and canals that did so much to make New York the Empire State, systematically dispossessed the Oneida and the Seneca nations of their vast inheritance. To drive home the point that influential men were the guilty parties, Hauptman lavishes his pages with their faces, where they scrutinize the reader as if from a prisoner's dock. These men came from the ranks of New York's leading families and patriots. They carried names like Schuyler, Ellicot, Jay, Fulton, De Witt, Van Rensselaer, Livingston, Clinton, Van Buren, Kirkland, Benson, Ogden, and Porter. They came from all parties: Federalist, Jeffersonian Republican, Democratic, and Whig; they were Congregationalists, Presbyterians, even Hicksite Quakers. They had overlapping interests in the development of canals, cities, and colleges. And they acted illegally, Hauptman insists, in clear violation both of constitutional provisions and federal statutes that made diplomacy with Indian nations a matter of federal, not state, authority. Federal officials were aware of the violations, but did little more than lob an occasional warning at New York's "nefarious" developers (to quote one of their favorite epithets).

Book review of Conspiracy of Interests: Iroquois Dispossession and the Rise of New York State, 3/12/02

2e) Official policies such as banning Native religions and ceremonies, kidnapping Native children to "civilize" them in boarding schools, sterilizing Native women, and terminating Indian tribes (the official US policy in the mid-20th century) were all aimed at wiping Indian people and culture out of existence. Killing people is far from the only way to destroy an ethnic group; it's merely the fastest way. That's why the UN definition of genocide includes several acts besides rank "extermination."

2f) What about policies in Canada, Mexico, or Latin America? I don't know much about them, but here's a note on Canada from a Web posting:

"It is readily acknowledged that Indian children lose their natural resistance to illness by habitating so closely in these schools, and that they die at a much higher rate than in their villages. But this alone does not justify a change in the policy of this Department, which is geared towards the FINAL SOLUTION OF OUR INDIAN PROBLEM."

(Department of Indian Affairs Superintendent D.C. Scott to B.C. Indian Agent-General Major D. McKay, DIA Archives, RG 10 series). April 12, 1910 (emphasis added)

Over the whole 100 or so years of the residential school system, 40% (50,000) of the native kids that entered this system NEVER GOT OUT ALIVE. The death rate remained consistent over the whole time and across the system. This didn't just happen in distant past. The residential school system was only abolished in 1984 and the cover up is still going on.

The disease argument, again
>> The vast majority of deaths were due to disease there was no immunity to, that is, causes out of the hands of the Europeans. <<

I already addressed that point at length in Genocide by Any Other Name.... The ultimate cause of the diseases was the Europeans' invasion of the Americas. That they certainly could've helped.

They also could've stopped their genocidal depredations, which exacerbated the effects of disease, at any point. When the Spanish and English invaders forced the Natives off their traditional lands, away from their food sources, into back-breaking labor, weakness and malnutrition resulted. That the Indians then died of illness was inevitable.

>> The long standing official policy was co-existence. <<

I don't think there was ever one official policy. The policy changed from administration to administration—at least until the BIA was formed to manage Indian affairs in 1869. Before then, we could safely characterize the overall official policy as "sign treaties we have no intention of honoring, then enforce our illegal violations at gunpoint, so we can get rid of the Indians."

Here are a few of the official US policies before the nation finally pacified the Indians:

In Sharp Knife's [Andrew Jackson's] first message to his Congress, he recommended that all these Indians be removed westward beyond the Mississippi. "I suggest the propriety of setting apart an ample district west of the Mississippi...to be guaranteed to the Indian tribes, as long as they shall occupy it."

Although enactment of such a law would only add to the long list of broken promises made to the eastern Indians, Sharp Knife was convinced that Indians and whites could not live together in peace and that his plan would make possible a final promise which never would be broken again. On May 28, 1830, Sharp Knife's recommendations became law.

Two years later he appointed a commissioner of Indian affairs to serve in the War Department and see that the new laws affecting Indians were properly carried out. And then on June 30, 1834, Congress passed An Act to Regulate Trade and Intercourse with the Indian Tribes and to Preserve Peace on the Frontiers. All that part of the United States west of the Mississippi "and not within the States of Missouri and Louisiana or the Territory of Arkansas" would be Indian country. No white persons would be permitted to trade in the Indian country without a license. No white traders of bad character would be permitted to reside in Indian country. No white persons would be permitted to settle in the Indian country. The military force of the United States would be employed in the apprehension of any white person who was found in violation of provisions of the act.

Before these laws could be put into effect, a new wave of white settler swept westward and formed the territories of Wisconsin and Iowa. This made it necessary for the policy makers to shift the "permanent Indian frontier" from the Mississippi River to the 95th meridian.

Many illegal incursions into Indian country occurred. Then:

To justify these breaches of the "permanent Indian frontier," the policy makers in Washington invented Manifest Destiny, a term which lifted land hunger to a lofty plane. The Europeans and their descendants were ordained by destiny to rule all of the Americas. They were the dominant race and therefore responsible for the Indians—along with their lands, their forests, and their mineral wealth. Only the New Englanders, who had destroyed or driven out all their Indians, spoke against Manifest Destiny.

Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee

Sherman and General Phillip Sheridan were associated with the statement that "the only good Indian is a dead Indian." The problem with the Indians, Sherman said, was that "they did not make allowance for the rapid growth of the white race" (Marszalek, p. 390). And, "both races cannot use this country in common" (Fellman, p. 263).

Sherman's theory of white racial superiority is what led him to the policy of waging war against the Indians "till the Indians are all killed or taken to a country where they can be watched." As Fellman (p. 264) writes:

Sherman planted a racist tautology: Some Indians are thieving, killing rascals fit for death; all Indians look alike; therefore, to get some we must eliminate all . . . deduced from this racist tautology . . . the less destructive policy would be racial cleansing of the land . . .

Accordingly, Sherman wrote to Grant: "We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux, even to their extermination, men, women and children." Writing two days later to his brother John, General Sherman said: "I suppose the Sioux must be exterminated . . ." (Fellman, p. 264).

This was Sherman's attitude toward Southerners during the War for Southern Independence as well. In a July 31, 1862 letter to his wife (from his Collected Works) he wrote that his purpose in the war was: "Extermination, not of soldiers alone, that is the least part of the trouble, but the [Southern] people." His charming and nurturing wife Ellen wrote back that her fondest wish was for a war "of extermination and that all [Southerners] would be driven like the Swine into the sea."

With this attitude, Sherman issued the following order to his troops at the beginning of the Indian Wars: "During an assault, the soldiers cannot pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age. As long as resistance is made, death must be meted out . . ." (Marszalek, p. 379).

Most of the raids on Indian camps were conducted in the winter, when families would be together and could therefore all be killed at once. Sherman gave Sheridan "authorization to slaughter as many women and children as well as men Sheridan or his subordinates felt was necessary when they attacked Indian villages" (Fellman, p. 271). All livestock was also killed so that any survivors would be more likely to starve to death.

Sherman was once brought before a congressional committee after federal Indian agents, who were supposed to be supervising the Indians who were on reservations, witnessed "the horror of women and children under military attack." Nothing came of the hearings, however. Sherman ordered his subordinates to kill the Indians without restraint to achieve what he called "the final solution of the Indian problem," and promised that if the newspapers found out about it he would "run interference against any complaints about atrocities back East" (Fellman, p. 271).

Thomas J. DiLorenzo, How Lincoln's Army 'Liberated' the Indians

Does that sound like coexistence to you? Only if you define "coexistence" as "removing the savages from our existence."

Indians fought back, Jews didn't?
>> 3) Dime novelists predicated their plots on the existence of Native Americans who gave as bad as they got. The Holocaust assumed Jews would not fight back. <<

Have you read enough dime novelists—or any—to know that? I don't think Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey count as dime novelists.

Hitler read US history in more than dime novels. He wasn't deluded into thinking US policies failed because resourceful Natives sometimes stymied the Army. He saw that the subjugation of ethnic groups worked—in America, British India, and South Africa—so he decided to copy it.

>> 4) Comparing the Boer War concentration camps to the ones used for the Final Solution is like comparing a purse snatcher to a serial killer. <<

I don't think anyone compared them. Hitler admired them and learned from them. Criminals who succeed at minor crimes like purse snatching often turn to worse crimes—breaking and entering, grand theft auto, even murder—because their success encourages them.

>> 5) Hitler DID however cite with approval the Turks' genocide of the Armenians ("who remembers the annihilation of the Armenians?"), and was an open admirer of Kemal Ataturk. THAT was Hitler's precedent, NOT the wild west. <<

No doubt all the examples we've discussed were precedents, but the American precedent preceded the Turkish precedent. If Hitler admired Ataturk as well as Old Shatterhand...well, I'd argue that childhood influences are usually the strongest. Perhaps Hitler admired Ataturk precisely because Ataturk reminded him of his childhood heroes.

Again, Hitler played cowboys and Indians, read books featuring indomitable Western heroes, and told his commanders to treat the Russians like "redskins." Toland explicitly said Hitler was familiar with concentration camps and the idea (not the "policy") of extermination through US history. That seems a lot more persuasive than your counterargument.

If you have evidence Hitler was as familiar with the Armenian genocide as he was with the Indian genocide...or that he denied the American influence in favor of other influences...go ahead and provide it. I'll add it to my site. Until then, you haven't undermined my argument...as usual. <g>


The debate continues....
>> you don't lose resistance to illness by being exposed to it <<

I suspect the author meant the children were being exposed to illness more when they were shipped to government schools. It wasn't their natural resistance being threatened, but rather their natural isolation. That's a technicality compared to the government's approval of a "final solution."

From a book review by Michael Bliss in the National Post, 10/13/01:

The aboriginal demographic and political renaissance in the second half of the century has not only upset everyone's suppositions, it has also led to a rewriting of history. In Canada, there has been an outpouring of studies suggesting native problems, including health issues, were not so much a tragic accident of history as the consequence of deliberate white man's policies.

In Medicine That Walks, Maureen Lux, a post-doctoral student, says Canadian plains tribes probably held their own against infectious disease until they were reduced to poverty and squalor in the aftermath of the treaty signings. Only then were they overcome by tuberculosis and other diseases of the poor.

>> their use of "Final Solution" does not seem to connote the same thing it did in Wannsee in early 1942. <<

Probably not. But General Sherman's use of "final solution" did.

The point is, tolerating massive deaths—whether on Indian reservations, in Iraqi homes, or in the WTC—is morally wrong. And this was an official government policy: to let the children die as part of some "final solution."


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