History hardly ever exactly repeats itself, but it often stutters.
Der Kapitän zur See Conrad Albrecht, April 1930. Albrecht was born 7 October 1880 in Bremen and died 18 August 1969 in Hamburg.
On the very eve of the German attack on Poland on 1 September 1939 which finally opened World War II in Europe, Vice Admiral Conrad Albrecht, a veteran of the Battle of Jutland in the first world war and Hitler's commander of the naval forces tasked to support the Polish campaign, was concerned that the attack on Poland would bring Britain into the war.
(S)eeing that Hitler was in a noticeably genial frame of mind, Admiral Albrecht approached him diffidently and ventured his opinion that England must inevitably be drawn into the conflict. He never understood the Fuhrer's reply: "Ich hore den Freidensengel rauschen" -- "I hear the wings of the angel of peace." -- August '39: The Last Four Weeks of Peace by Stephen Howarth, p. 238.
The "angel of peace" having been heard by the former Austrian homosexual prostitute, on 1 September Albrecht pursuant to his Leader's orders successfully led the operations of the German Kriegsmarine during the Invasion of Poland. Yet, on 31 December 1939 he went into retirement.
The reason for Albrecht's retirement was a little vague at the time and probably unknowable at this remove. Had he offended Hitler by stating the obvious? Or had Himmler's boys of the SD discovered what the British Special Operations Executive filed away in a survey of the sexual habits of German military officers and Nazi party members -- that the aging Albrecht had a younger wife who crawled the bars of Bremen and Hamburg, looking for studly sailors to bring home to sport with while Herr Admiral watched from behind a two-way mirror?
Sexual peccadilloes aside, Albrecht was a traditionalist and a Christian by all reports. Going headlong with eyes wide open into another vast war with the British -- especially since the first one had been such a terrible defeat -- while saying "I hear the wings of the angel of peace" probably did perplex him.
But to a collectivist like Hitler, there was no ambiguity, no mystery. "Peace" to a collectivist is the absence of opposition. Peace means all your enemies are dead or in prison. Thus, as Orwell famously detailed in 1984, "war is peace" to a collectivist and vice versa. Like the Red Queen, words mean what they want them to mean at the time and no amount of argument will sway them.
But Albrecht heard the words of Hitler from his own frame of reference. He probably thought that the "angel" Hitler was referring to was the same sort Conrad had read about in the Bible during his youth. But Hitler and the Nazis were not Christians and had no use for the Hebrew God. They were perfectly capable, however, of hiding behind a mask and using Christian forms -- and Christian assumptions -- as means to get what they wanted, supplanting that "effeminate" and "Jew-spoiled" religion for one of their own.
The coming of the "Fuhrer" was predicted by many writers after World War i. The tone of the writing resembled that of prophets calling for messianic salvation. This pseudo-religious idiom was readily adapted by Hitler who at first presented himself as a "drummer boy" for the future Fuhrer, rather than as a heroic leader himself. The national conservative Wilhelm Stapel said the new leader would be "simultaneously a ruler, a warrior, and a priest." . . . Novelist and essayist Ernst Junger . . . predicted the rise in the machine age of a "modern man of power" above the parties. None of these writers was referring to Hitler. They were expressing a deep fear of Bolshevism, contempt of parliamentary democracy, and the feeling that Germany had been robbed of its opportunity for heroic leadership by the premature and treacherous end of World War I. The passing of the monarchy left the Protestant churches especially with an unsatisfied need for a leader who could end the German crisis of faith. -- Seduced by Hitler: The Choices of a Nation and the Ethics of Survival, Adam LeBor and Roger Boyes, page 115.
Hitler took over the party leadership in July 1921, but he was little more than a conventional chairman with a rhetorical gift. Only the success of Mussolini and his "March on Rome" made Hitler understand that he could match the messianic expectations of the Germans with his own ambitions. The party press, by 1923, began to refer to Hitler as the Leader. He started to borrow consciously from biblical images: in Berlin, he said, he would throw out the money changers.
The looting of church ritual fed the Hitler cult. Kindergarten children recited:
Fold your hands, bow your head
and think of Adolf Hitler
who gives us work and gives us bread
and takes away all our troubles. -- Seduced by Hitler, pp. 115-116.
It was a short step from pseudo-Christianity to outright anti-Christianity. The German heathen myths and Nordic mysticism began to take hold. By 1934, teenagers were singing:
We are happy Hitler Youth,
We do not need the virtues of the church
for it is our Fuhrer Adolf Hitler
who stands at our side. -- Seduced by Hitler, p. 116.
Hitler pictures were distributed like images of Jesus or Virgin Mary, to the seriously sick as an aid to healing. Propaganda stories told of people abandoning their wheelchairs at the mere suggestion that Hitler was going to visit their hometown. . . -- Seduced by Hitler, p. 116.
"The nineteenth century was a century of reason, the twentieth is a century of cults," said Junger in 1943. . . "(Hitler) lives and thrives on this. And that explains the complete inability of the liberal intelligentsia to begin to understand where he is at." -- Seduced by Hitler, p. 116.
. . . Hitler's marketing men were divided into two groups -- the mythmakers and the choreographers. The mythmakers reached back to the premodern world and tried to evoke tribal concepts -- the Leader, the Community, the Empire. At the same time, they recruited modern ideas -- the Nation, Technical Progress -- and endowed them with emotional weight. -- Seduced by Hitler, p. 117.
What d'ya say? What will it be? Heaven on earth, or catastrophy? Soon we will morph into one upon earth, mother of all, home of our birth! Soon every nation, @@!! in the sword, our global pro army, can settle the score! Soon every conflict, cuttin' us short, new resolution, from our new world court! Soon every nation, shrink into states, powerful partners, regenerate! Soon every human, wake up to the whole, as brothers and sisters, we let it all go! I pledge allegiance to the earth! I pledge allegiance to the earth! I pledge allegiance to the sun! Here we go now kingdom come! -- Lyrics, "I Pledge" by Patrick Moore.
Many observers have made the point that environmentalism is eerily close to a religious belief system, since it includes creation stories and ideas of original sin. But there is another sense in which environmentalism is becoming more and more like a religion: It provides its adherents with an identity. -- Paul H. Rubin, Wall Street Journal, 22 April 2010, Environmentalism as Religion
Wilhelmine Germany had already mixed political and Protestant holidays and laid the foundation of merging Christian movements with a distinctly German populist element. The Nazis developed that calendar. The Nazis' celebratory year began on January 30 (Day of the Takeover of Power) . . . and ended with National Socialist People's Christmas. The point was to erode and ultimately displace established religion and create instead a new set of values. The number of churchgoers had dropped steeply by the end of the 1930s, but Germans still felt the need to baptize babies, perform the marriage ceremony, and bury the dead under church auspices. The Nazis, however, gradually devalued the marriage ceremony and came up with their own death cult to compete with church funeral rites. -- pp. 117-118.
Ten-year-olds were formally introduced into Nazi youth organizations, fourteen-year-olds publicly "confirmed" their commitment to the Hitler Youth.
It was the SS that became the pioneer of the new ritualized Germany, and its leader, Heinrich Himmler, was the chief molder of myths in the Third Reich. Initially the aim of dressing up the SS as a quasi-religious order was to distinguish itself from the plebian SA -- the black-uniformed elitists pitted against the brown-shirted street fighters. But it soon became more than a tactical device. Himmler introduced the Death's Head symbol, signet rings, and daggers of honor. "The masquerade of evil" was how the dissident priest Dietrich Bonhoeffer described the black clad army. The cruelty of the SS was well known to Germans, yet its familiarity with death seemed to add to its attraction, a perverse style statement. -- p. 118.
Aristocrats, dismissive of SA rabble-rousers, saw nothing wrong with taking senior SS rank. By the end of the 19302, between 10 and 20 percent of the SS leadership were aristocrats. Some 30 percent of the SS leadership were university graduates (compared to 3 percent in the country as a whole). Lawyers and technocrats found a natural home in the ranks of the SS. Some were attracted to the political career possibilities offered by the SS -- Himmler had developed a shadow financial empire, picking up donations from big business, profiting from slave labor, looting the ghettos -- but many also swallowed the idea of the SS as an anti-Christian religious order.
In Himmler's fantasy, the SS -- or at least its leading officers -- were a twentieth century variation of the German Teutonic knights. As in all ancient courts, there were tests of courage and of fighting prowess, rewards and honors. . . This constant process of reinvention was fueled by Himmler, who collected a ragbag of pagan and occult principles to persuade the SS men that they lived in an alternative world; they need feel no Christian guilt for their murdering since Christian values had been supplanted by an alternative spirituality. -- pp. 118-119.
Pagans for Obama: "A group for all Obama-loving pagans and neo-pagans who believe we can be doing so much better for our communities, our country, and our planet."
History, too, had to rewritten. Himmler became so obsessed with witchcraft that he looted 140,000 books on the subject from libraries across Europe and set up an SS unit to investigate and publicize the issue. . . Himmler was in fact trying to prove that the persecution of witches in the seventeenth century represented a kind of holocaust of the German race carried out by the Catholic Church. "The witch-hunting cost the German people hundreds of thousands of mothers and women, cruelly tortured and executed," Himmler wrote. The SS teams were deployed to discover traces of an old Germanic culture that survived the witch hunts. The SS compiled a card index of 33,846 witch burnings in Germany and as far afield as India and Mexico in an attempt to prop up Himmler's thesis. . .The aim was to publish a series of short books highlighting individual German witches and glamorizing them. -- pp. 119-120.
As I said at the top, history hardly ever exactly repeats itself, but it often stutters. And like Hitler invoking the "angel of peace," Obama can talk about hope and change with a straight face because those words mean, to him, just exactly what he wants them to mean. And if, like Admiral Albrecht, many of us are confused what Obama really means by them, that is exactly the way he wants it.
For if he were to explain in truthful detail, the mask would slip revealing the evil behind it.
I am not saying that Obama is an American Hitler. His purpose, like Hitler said about himself, may just be to prepare the path for the real American Hitler.
And if, just right now, he appears to be bumbling and incompetent, kindly remember that some anti-Nazi Germans thought the same thing of Hitler, just before the Gestapo came to their doors.