Hitler :His Anti-Semitism Came Later
http://www.users.dircon.co.uk/~litrev/r ... itler.html
His Anti-Semitism Came Later
Hitler's Vienna: A Dictator's Apprenticeship
By Brigitte Hamann
(Oxford University Press 482pp Â£25)
When Brigitte Hamann's book, Hitler's Wien, was published in Germany a couple of years ago, it was hailed as a major advance in scholarship. As a work of biography it certainly was.
Hamann established, on the basis of an exceptionally careful reading of the sources, that Hitler's anti-Semitism was not the product of his time in Vienna, but must have originated during and immediately after the First World War. This completely contradicts Hitler's own account in Mein Kampf (including the famous 'apparition in a black caftan and black hair locks'), but the evidence is compelling.
Even before Hitler left Linz for Vienna, he was on good terms with his family's Jewish doctor, Dr Eduard Bloch. When he moved to Vienna, hoping to get a job at the opera house, he was immediately captivated by Gustav Mahler's conducting of Wagner. When he ran out of money he found accommodation in a men's hostel in Brigittenau funded partly by Baron Nathaniel von Rothschild. And, most revealing of all, a number of his closest associates in the hostel were themselves Jews.
Josef Neumann, for example, sold Hitler's mediocre paintings, which were intended as cheap souvenirs for tourists, and gave him a coat when he had nothing to wear. Other Jews who helped Hitler in his down-and-out years were the Moravian-born Siegfried Lצffner and the locksmith Simon Robinson. The most loyal buyer of Hitler's daubs was Samuel Morgenstern, a successful Jewish glazier.
It was a sure sign of the importance of Hamann's work that a number of these revelations were duly incorporated in the early chapters of Ian Kershaw's masterly biography, published last year. Of course, this slightly detracts from the impact of this translation: reading the English edition after Kershaw, one is inevitably less surprised. However, it allows the reader to pay more attention to the other half of the book. For this is not just a biography of the young Hitler. It is also a portrait of Vienna, and to a lesser extent the Habsburg monarchy as a whole, on the eve of the First World War. It is a story of multi-ethnic politics at simmering (if not quite boiling) point.
Hamann has done an excellent job of rescuing from oblivion the various right-wing ideologues and politicians who were Hitler's Vienna contemporaries. A typical denizen of the lunatic fringe was Lanz von Liebenfels, a misanthropic former monk whose most important work was entitled Theozoology, or the News about the Little Sodom Monkeys and the Gods' Electron (1906). Far more serious were the Pan-Germanist Georg Schצnerer, who argued for the exclusion of 'non-Aryans' from 'Germandom', and the Christian Socialist Mayor of Vienna, Karl Lueger, who mobilised the Catholic petty bourgeoisie of the city with his denunciations of the 'Christ-killer people'.
Clearly, a lot of the things advocated by such men were echoed in Hitler's later statements and actions for example, the campaign against buying from Jewish shops, which was one of the first manifestations of Nazi anti-Semitism after Hitler came to power. But Hamann maintains that, at the time, Hitler remained somewhat distant from the racialist Right. According to her most important 'witness', his friend Reinhold Hanisch, the young Hitler even admired certain aspects of Jewish culture, and dismissed anti-Semitic claims that Jews engaged in 'ritual murder'. He apparently regarded the Ten Commandments as the basis of all civilisation. Hamann's contention is that 'no anti-Semitic remark by the young Hitler has been documented' (with one dubious exception).
Hamann also demolishes the legend that Hitler's anti-Semitism was due to his contracting syphilis from a Jewish prostitute although she does show how his remarks about sex and race in Mein Kampf were lifted from the likes of von Liebenfels. She identifies a more subtle influence on Hitler from his Vienna years. His vision of 'Greater Germany', for example, was in large part derived from Austrian Pan-Germanism. Similarly, the scenes of pandemonium he witnessed in the parliament, as the various ethnic groups hurled abuse and even fists at one another, instilled in him a lifelong contempt for parliaments.
The implication of all this is that Hitler's conversion to extreme and ultimately murderous anti-Semitism came later, in the traumatic period of the First World War and the 1918-19 revolution. The seeds may have been planted in Vienna, in other words, but they needed the bloodshed in the trenches and the streets of postwar Munich to germinate.
Only occasionally does Hamann falter. For example, her discussion of Austria's pre-war economic problems (especially the issue of inflation) is thin and unconvincing. When providing historical background, she relies more on barrages of statistics and newspaper clippings than on knowledge of the relevant literature on the subject.
However, this book's most serious defect is not the author's fault. I must say, I cannot recall when I last read a worse translation. Hitler's father is described as a 'a smart libertine', when liberal must surely be meant. When Hitler hears of his long-lost Irish 'nephew', he fulminates: 'They will sic snoopers on the tracks of our past [sic].' Time and again, crude literalism triumphs over idiomatic English. 'I have never seen such helpless letting-down in distress', a friend is quoted as saying of Hitler's descent into poverty. The 'Wolf's Lair' becomes 'the Wolf Entrenchment'. Instead of 'transmitter' we have the German 'sender'. Treibkraft is similarly rendered as 'driving power'. And so on.
That Oxford University Press should be responsible for such shoddy work is nothing short of a scandal. The Press has been much criticised of late for its decision to cease publishing modern poetry. This calamitous testament to collapsing editorial standards worries me a great deal more. It is sad that it must inevitably limit the impact in the English-speaking world of an important and original book.
18th Dec, 04
Young Hitler's best friends
By MEIR RONNEN
The Jerusalem Post
(August 12) -- HITLERS VIENNA - A Dictator's Apprenticeship by Brigitte Hamann. New York, Oxford University Press. 482pp. $35. --
The enormity of the sufferings visited upon Europe by Hitler and Stalin tends to boggle the minds of those attempting to understand them. The lives of each of these figures, particularly Hitler, have long been enshrouded in myth.
For instance Allied wartime propaganda had it that Hitler was nothing more than a housepainter who worked his way up to lance corporal. The Austrian press, years before the Anschluss of course, accused him of being Jewish, pointing to Hitler family headstones in Jewish cemeteries. Layers of this carapace of myth have been peeled away over the years by dozens of major historians. Only a few of them have been Germans or Austrians and few of them have been as thorough as Dr. Hamann, a lecturer in Vienna.
Contemporary historians, including Hamann, have all correctly concluded that Hitler's pan-German nationalism and concurrent antisemitism were the heritage of his environment and that of his infamous predecessors, from the pan-German racist Georg Schonerer and his Heil greeting to political antisemites like Karl Leuger. While Hamann was publishing her excellent book in German, two American historians (with the curious serendipity characteristic of publishing) were offering equally excellent accounts of the origins of Nazism in Vienna and Munich (From Prejudice to Persecution - A History of Austrian Anti-Semitism by Bruce F. Pauley, University of South Carolina/Chapel Hill; and Where Ghosts Walked - Munich's Road to the Third Reich by David Clay Large, Norton, New York and London).
Well, Hitler was never a housepainter and none of the professors who rejected his application to study art at the academy in Vienna were Jewish. Hamann demonstrates conclusively what was previously evident: that Hitler was not an antisemite as a young man and remained eternally grateful to his mother's Jewish family doctor (a "noble Jew"), whom he later helped leave the Third Reich with all his money and possessions. The young Hitler's truest friend in the men's hostel in which he stayed during his darkest period in pre-war Vienna was a Jew.
Hitler was destitute at the time. He painted postcards and watercolors to fend off starvation. As Hamann shows, his most loyal buyer was a Jewish glazier, the Hungarian-born Samuel Morgenstern, who found it easier to sell a frame if there was a picture in it. His first purchases from Hitler were three architectural works in the style of the great Rudolf von Alt (whose superb architectural renderings now command huge prices at auctions).
Morgenstern was the first person to pay good prices for Hitler's work.
Between 1937 and 1939 a certain Peter Jahn, sent by the Nazi party to locate Hitler's paintings, stressed in a later deposition that the Morgenstern/Hitler relationship was extremely friendly. It now appears that most of Hitler's paintings were sold to Jews, chiefly through Morgenstern.
Following the Anschluss, Morgenstern's business was expropriated by the Nazis and he was denied even the small compensation due to him. He and his wife did not even have the money to pay the exit tax to leave Austria. Desperate, Morgenstern typed an appeal to Hitler (just as Dr. Bloch in Linz did at about the same time) recalling their relationship and asking for his help in obtaining some compensation for his business so that he and his wife could leave the Reich.
Hitler at once responded to Bloch's appeal, appointing a party official to help him leave the country (he died in the United States), but Morgenstern's letter never reached Hitler. One of his secretaries opened it, wrote "Jew!" in a margin and returned it to the Finance Ministry in Vienna, where it was filed away for the next 56 years. Thus the Morgensterns waited in vain for a reply. Then their home was taken from them and they were deported to slave labor in the Litzmannstadt ghetto in Galicia, where Samuel Morgenstern died of exhaustion. His wife disappeared in Auschwitz; being elderly, she was probably gassed on arrival.
These touching details are only a few of the myriad assembled by Hamann in sketching in a picture of Hitler's Vienna, where the 17-year-old first arrived from Linz in 1906 with the announced intention of becoming an artist. For a while, he also took piano lessons. His best loved music was not Wagner, but Lehar's operetta The Merry Widow, to which he continued to listen throughout the Second World War.
As everyone knows, the Jews were a tremendous cultural and creative presence in pre-war Vienna and were widely resented. German university fraternities began to refuse to admit Jews back in 1877.
Hamann quotes author Hermann Bahr's joke that "every aristocrat who is a little bit smart or has some kind of talent, is immediately considered a Jew; they have no other explanation for it." In Vienna there were "spectacular" marriages of rich Jewish women to impoverished aristocrats. By law, one or the other of the partners had to convert; it was usually the Jewish one who did so. Between 1911 and 1914 such marriages occurred 10 times more frequently than ones between Catholics and Protestants.
There were 14 Jews in parliament representing five - mostly liberals of social democratic -
parties; only four Zionists and a "Jewish Democrat" were openly Jewish.
This was the Vienna of Freud and Mahler but not all of Vienna's Jews were well off. When Hitler was homeless in 1909 he profited from Jewish institutions and Jewish friendship in many ways, from Jewish soup kitchens and Jewish donations to the homeless shelter in Meidling and the men's hostel in Brigittenau. His best friend at the hostel was a religious copper polisher named Josef Neumann, who lent him money and gave him his coat to wear. Hitler fell out with his antisemitic friend Reinhold Hanisch because he turned to Jewish friends at the hostel like Neuman and Siegfried Loffner, for between eight and 10 percent of the homeless men were Jewish, roughly the same percentage as the Jewish population of the city. Hitler frequently had a breakfast of tea and a biscuit at Jakob Wasserberg's small brandy store on the Webgasse.
Hitler also witnessed family life and culture in the home of an educated middle-class Viennese Jewish family, the Jahodas, to whom he was taken several times by his friend Kubizek. Hamann notes that in all his stories of his sufferings in Vienna, Hitler never mentioned a bad experience with a Jew. He sold his paintings almost exclusively to Jewish dealers like Morgenstern, Landsberger and the framemaker Jakob Altenberg, who, like the others, could not recall Hitler's ever making an antisemitic remark.
Hamann writes that as late as 1930 Hitler talked with some admiration of the way Jewish tradition and laws managed to preserve the purity of the "Jewish race" and arrived at the conclusion that we "no doubt have to recognize with admiration this incredible strength of the Jews' preservation of their race." Hamann claims that Hitler adopted Jewish "purity" as nothing less than a model for his own weltanschauung regarding the necessity of the racial purity of Aryans. This is a bit far-fetched, for the young Hitler was soon to be influenced by the racial purity therories of 19th century bigots and rabble rousers like Schonerer, particularly once he got to Munich. He didn't read books, but absorbed what was written about them in the newspapers.
Hamann claims that the Hitler of Linz and pre-war Vienna was not yet an antisemite. She believes that antisemitism became a central issue for him when he decided to become a politician and first began addressing audiences in Munich in 1919 in aggressively antisemitic terms. It was then that Hitler, the once weak eccentric who, in his own eyes at least, had become a somebody during the war, decorated (by a Jewish officer) with the Iron Cross First Class, began reinventing himself. He quickly came to believe everything that he was saying, reinforced by the fact that it was what his audiences clearly wanted to hear. His rise would have intoxicated any ambitious politician. The painfully shy young man from Linz was reborn as The Leader. Hitler soon saw himself as a chosen one, a man of Providence. Disastrously, too many Germans and Austrians not only believed him, but loved him.
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Oct 2, 2005 - 1 post - 1 authorWhen Brigitte Hamann's book, Hitler's Wien, was published in Germany a ... The most loyal buyer of Hitler's daubs was Samuel Morgenstern, ...
Brigitte Hamann - 2010 - Biography & AutobiographyMr. And Mrs. Morgenstern The Jewish glazier Samuel Morgenstern was the most loyal buyer of Hit- ler's paintings. In this case, Hitler did not rely on an agent but
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