The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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We are brought back to the most primitive ideas of the
savage tribe. All the values of civilisation accumulated in
the course of centuries are rejected, all traditional ideas
of morality, justice and law give way to the primacy of
race, its instincts, its needs and interests. The
individual, his liberty, his rights and aspirations, no
longer have any real existence of their own.

In this conception of race it is easy to realise the gulf
that separates members of the German community from other
men. The diversity of the races becomes irreducible, and
irreducible, too, the hierarchy which sets apart the

                                                  [Page 343]

and the inferior races. The Hitler regime has created a
veritable chasm between the German nation, the sole keeper
of the racial treasure, and other nations.

Between the Germanic community and the degenerate population
of an inferior variety of man there is no longer any common
measure. Human brotherhood is rejected, even more than all
the other traditional moral values.

How can one explain in what way Germany, fertilised through
the centuries by classic antiquity and Christianity, by the
ideals of liberty, equality and special justice, by the
common heritage of Western humanism to which she had brought
such noble and precious contributions, could have come to
this astonishing return to primitive barbarism?

In order to understand it and to try to eradicate for ever
from the Germany of to-morrow the evil by which our entire
civilisation came so near to perishing, it must be recalled
that National Socialism has deep and remote origins.

The mysticism of racial community was born of the spiritual
and moral crises which Germany underwent in the nineteenth
century, and which abruptly broke out again in its economic
and social structure through a particularly rapid
industrialisation. National Socialism is, in reality, one of
the peaks of the moral and spiritual crisis of modern
humanity, convulsed by industrialisation and technical
progress. Germany experienced this metamorphosis of economic
and social life not only with an extraordinary brutality,
but at a time when she did not yet possess the political
equilibrium and the cultural unity which the other countries
of Western Europe had achieved.

While the inner and spiritual life was weakening, a cruel
uncertainty dominated the spirit, an uncertainty admirably
defined by the term "Ratlosigkeit" which cannot be
translated into French but which corresponds to our popular
expression: "One no longer knows in what Saint to believe."
This is the spiritual cruelty of the nineteenth century
which so many Germans have described with a tragic evocative
power. A gaping void opens before the human soul,
disoriented by the search for new values.

The natural sciences and the sciences of the mind give birth
to absolute relativism; to a deep scepticism regarding the
lasting quality of values on which Western humanism has been
nurtured for centuries. A vulgar Darwinism prevails, which
bewilders and befuddles the brain. The Germans cease to see
in human groups and races anything but isolated nuclei in
perpetual struggle with one another.

It is in the name of decadence that the German spirit
condemns humanism; it sees in the value of humanism and in
the elements that derive from it only "maladies," which it
attributes to an excess of intellectualism and abstraction
of everything that restrains men's passions by subjecting
them to common norms. From this point onwards classic
antiquity is no longer considered in its aspects of ordered
reason or of radiant beauty. In it one sees only
civilisations violently enamoured of struggles and
rivalries, linked especially to Germany through their so-
called Germanic origin.

Sacerdotal Judaism and Christianity in all its forms are
condemned as religions of honour and brotherhood, calculated
to kill the virtues of brutal force in man.

A cry is raised against the democratic idealism of the
modern era, and then against all the internationals.

Over a people in this state of spiritual crisis and of
negations of traditional values the culminating philosophy
of Nietzsche was to exercise a dominant influence. In taking
the will to power as a point of departure, Nietzsche
preached not inhumanity but superhumanity. If there is no
final cause in the universe, man - whose body is matter
which is at once feeling and thinking - may mould the world
to his desire, choosing as his guide a militant biology. If
the supreme end of humanity is a feeling of victorious
fullness which is both

                                                  [Page 344]

material and spiritual, all that remains is to ensure the
selection of physical specimens who will become the new
aristocracy of masters.

For Nietzsche the industrial evolution necessarily entails
the rule over the masses, the automatism and the shaping of
the working multitudes. The State endures only by virtue of
an elite of vigorous personalities who, by the methods so
admirably defined by Machiavelli, which alone are in accord
with the laws of life, will lead men by force and by ruse
simultaneously, for men are and remain wicked and perverse.

We see the modern barbarian arise. Superior by his
intelligence and his wilful energy, freed of all
conventional ethics, he can enforce upon the masses
obedience and loyalty, by making them believe in the dignity
and beauty of labour and by providing them with that
mediocre well-being with which they are so easily content.
An identical force will, therefore, be manifest in the
leaders, by the harmony between their elementary passions
and the lucidity of their organising reason, and in the
masses, whose dark or violent instincts will be balanced by
a reasoned activity imposed with implacable discipline.

Without doubt, the late philosophy of Nietzsche cannot be
identified with the brutal simplicity of National Socialism.
Nevertheless, National Socialism was wont to glorify
Nietzsche as one of its ancestors, and justly so, for he was
the first to formulate in a coherent manner criticism of the
traditional values of humanism and also, because his
conception of the government of the masses by masters
knowing no restraint is a preview of the Nazi regime.
Besides, Nietzsche believed in the sovereign race and
attributed primacy to Germany, whom he considered endowed
with a youthful soul and unquenchable resources.

The myth of community which had arisen from the depths of
the German soul, unbalanced by the moral and spiritual
crises endured by modern humanity, allied itself with the
traditional theses of Pan-Germanism.

Fichte's "Speeches to the German Nation" had already, by
exalting Germanity, clearly revealed one of the main ideas
of Pan-Germanism, namely, that Germany visualises and
organises the world as it should be visualised and

The apology for war is equally ancient. It dates back to
Fichte and Hegel, who had affirmed that war, through its
classifying of peoples, alone establishes justice among
nations. In his "Grundlinien der Philosophie des Rechtes,"
Hegel writes,

   "The moral health of nations is maintained thanks to
   war, just as the passing breeze saves the sea from

The living-space theory appears right at the beginning of
the nineteenth century. It is a well-known geographical and
historical demonstration which such people as Ratzel, Arthur
Dix and Lamprecht took up later on, comparing conflicts
between peoples to a savage fight between conceptions and
realisations of space, and declaring that all history is
moving towards German hegemony.

State totalitarianism also has deep roots in Germany. The
absorption of individuals by the State was hoped for by
Hegel, who wrote, "Individuals disappear in the presence of
the universal substance (that is the People or State idea)
and this substance itself shapes the individuals in
accordance with its own ends."

Therefore, National Socialism appears in present-day Germany
neither as a spontaneous formation which might be due to the
consequence of the defeat in 1918, nor as a mere invention
of a group of men determined upon seizing power. National
Socialism is the ultimate result of a long evolution of
doctrines; the exploitation by a group of men of one of the
most profound and most tragic aspects of the German soul.
But the crime committed by Hitler and his companions will be
precisely that of unleashing and exploiting to its extreme
limit the latent force of barbarity, which existed before
him in the German people.

                                                  [Page 345]

The dictatorial regime instituted by Hitler and his
companions carries with it for all Germans the "soldier-
life," that is to say, a kind and a system of life entirely
different from that of the bourgeois West and the
proletarian East. It amounted to a permanent and complete
mobilisation of individual and collective energies. This
integral militarisation presupposed complete uniformity of
thoughts and actions. It is a militarisation which conforms
to the Prussian tradition of discipline.

Propaganda instils into the masses faith, drive and a thirst
for the greatness of the community. Those consenting masses
find an artificial derivative for their moral anguish and
their material cares in theories of race and in a mystical
exaltation held in common. Souls which yesterday were
wounded and rent asunder once more find themselves united in
a common mould.

The Nazi educational system moulds new generations to show
no trace of traditional moral teachings, those being
replaced by the cult of race and of strength.

The race-myth tends to become a real national religion. Many
writers dream of substituting for the duality of religious
confessions a world-wide dogma of German conception, which
would amount to being the religion of the German race as a

In the midst of the twentieth century Germany goes back, of
her own free will, beyond Christianity and civilisation to
the primitive barbarity of ancient Germany. She makes a
deliberate break with all universal conceptions of modern
nations. The National Socialist doctrine, which raised
inhumanity to the level of a principle, constitutes, in
fact, a doctrine of disintegration of modern society.

This doctrine necessarily brought Germany to a war of
aggression and to the systematic use of criminality in the
waging of war.

The absolute primacy of the German race, the negation of any
International Law whatsoever, the cult of strength, the
exacerbation of community mysticism made Germany consider
recourse to war, in the interests of the German race,
logical and justified.

This race would have the incontestable right to grow at the
expense of nations considered decadent. Germany is about to
resume in the midst of the twentieth century the great
invasions of the barbarians. Moreover, most naturally and
logically, she will wage her war in barbarous fashion, not
only because National Socialist ethics are indifferent to
the choice of means, but also because war must be total in
its means and in its ends.

Whether we consider a Crime against Peace or War Crimes, we
are therefore not faced by an accidental or an occasional
criminality which events could explain without justifying
it. We are, in fact, faced by systematic criminality, which
derives directly and of necessity from a monstrous doctrine
put into practice with deliberate intent by the masters of
Nazi Germany.

From National Socialist doctrines there arises directly the
immediate preparation of Crimes against Peace. As early as
February, 1920, in the first programme of the National
Socialist Party, Adolf Hitler had already outlined the
future basis of German foreign policy. But it was in 1924,
in his Landsberg prison, while writing "Mein Kampf," that he
more fully developed his views.

According to "Mein Kampf," the foreign policy of the Reich
must have as its first objective the return to Germany of
her "independence and her effective sovereignty" which is
clearly an allusion to the articles of the Treaty of
Versailles, referring to disarmament and the
demilitarisation of the Rhineland. It would then attempt to
reconquer the territories "lost" in 1919, and fifteen years
before the outbreak of the Second World War the question of
Alsace and Lorraine is clearly raised. It would also have to
seek to extend German territories in Europe, the frontiers
of 1914 being "insufficient" and it would be indispensable

                                                  [Page 346]

to extend them by including "all Germans" in the Reich,
beginning with the Germans of Austria.

After having reconstituted Greater Germany, National
Socialism will do everything necessary to "ensure the means
of existence" on this planet to the race forming the State,
by means of establishing a "healthy relation" between the
size of the population and the extent of the territory. By
"healthy relation" is meant a situation such that the
subsistence of the people will be assured by the resources
of its own territory. "A sufficient living space on this
earth will alone insure to a people its liberty of

But so far that is but a stage. "When a people sees its
subsistence guaranteed by the extent of its territory, it is
nevertheless necessary to think of ensuring the security of
that territory," because the power of a State "arises
directly out of the military value of its geographical

Those ends, Hitler adds, cannot be reached without war. It
will be impossible to obtain the re-establishment of the
frontiers of 1914 "without bloodshed." How much more would
it be impossible to acquire living space if one did not
prepare for a "clash of arms."

   "It is in Eastern Europe, at the expense of Russia and
   the neighbouring countries, that Germany must seek new
   territories. We arrest the eternal march of the Germans
   towards the South and the West of Europe and cast our
   eyes towards the East."

But before anything, declares Hitler, it is necessary to
crush France's tendency towards hegemony and to have a
"final settlement" with this "mortal enemy." "The
annihilation of France will enable Germany to acquire
afterwards territories in the East." The "settlement of
accounts" in the West is but a prelude. "It can be explained
only as the securing of our rear defences in order to extend
our living-space in Europe."

Henceforth, also, Germany will have to prevent the existence
near her territory of a "military power" which might become
her rival, and to oppose "by all means" the formation of a
State which possibly might acquire sufficient strength to do
so, and if that State exists already, to "destroy" it is,
for Germans, not only a right but a duty. "Never permit,"
recommends Hitler to his compatriots, in a passage which he
calls his political testament, "the formation in Europe of
two Continental powers. In every attempt to set up a second
military power on Germany's borders - even if it were in the
shape of a State which might possibly acquire that power -
you must see an attack on Germany."

War to reconquer those territories lost in 1919, war to
annihilate the power of France, war to acquire living-space
in Eastern Europe, war, finally, against any State which
would be or which might become a counter-weight to the
hegemony of the
Reich, that is the plan of "Mein Kampf. "

In this way, from the inception of National Socialism, he
does not recoil from any of the certainties of war entailed
by the application of his doctrines.

In fact, from the moment of his accession to power, Hitler
and his companions devoted themselves to the military and
diplomatic preparation of the wars of aggression which they
had resolved to wage.

It is true that even before the accession to power of the
National Socialists, Germany had already shown her
determination to reconstruct her Armed Forces, notably in
1932 when, on the occasion of the Disarmament Conference,
she demanded "equality of rights" as regards armament; and
she had already violated in secret the articles of the
Treaty of Versailles regarding disarmament. But after the
arrival of Hitler to power, German rearmament was to be
carried out at a vastly different rate.

On 14th October, 1933, the Reich left the Disarmament
Conference and made known, five days later, its decision to
withdraw from the League of Nations, under the pretext that
it was not granted equality of rights in the matter of
armament. France had, however, expressed her readiness to

                                                  [Page 347]

equality of rights if Germany would first consent to an
international control which would enable the level of
existing armaments to be determined. Germany very obviously
did not wish to agree to this condition, for an
international control would have revealed the extent of the
rearmament already carried out in secret by the Reich in
violation of the treaties. As a matter of fact, at a Cabinet
meeting which took place on 13th October, 1933, the minutes
of which have been found, Hitler had declared that he wished
to "torpedo" the Disarmament Conference. Under these
conditions it is not surprising that the attempts made to
resume negotiations with Germany after her withdrawal ended
in failure.

When, 18 months later, Hitler's Government decided to re-
establish conscription, and to create immediately an Army
which would, on a peace establishment, comprise 36
divisions, as well as to create a military air force, it was
breaking engagements which Germany had undertaken by the
Treaty of Versailles. However, on 3rd February, 1935, France
and Great Britain had suggested to the Reich that it resume
its place in the League of Nations and prepare a general
disarmament convention which would have been substituted for
the military articles of the Treaty. At the moment when
Hitler was on the point of obtaining, by means of free
negotiation, the abolition of the "unilateral burden" which,
as he said, the Treaty of Versailles laid on Germany, he
preferred to escape any voluntary limitation and any control
of armaments by a deliberate violation of a treaty.

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