ALEXANDER KIMEL - HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR
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HITLER, DEMONIZATION AND THE HOLOCAUST
by Alexander Kimel - Holocaust Survivor
National hatred is something peculiar. You will always find it strongest and most violent where there is the lowest degree of culture. ---- Goethe.Hitler arrived to Vienna in 1907, at a time of re-surging anti-Semitism. The French defeated Germany in the 19th century, and the humiliation caused a yearning for the romanticized Teutonic past. In addition, the industrial revolution brought displacement and great changes to the middle class, artisans and small farmers. The farmers were afraid to lose their land, the artisans were afraid of the competition from the great capital. The Jews were blamed for the changes and displacements in the society brought by the changes in technology. New anti-Semitic parties were created, and the Jews were blamed for being capitalist and communist at the same time. The Jews became the scapegoats.
In Vienna, at that time, there were many anti-Semitic pamphlets and newspapers, which influenced Hitler. The Deutsche Volksbaltt was a popular Viennese paper whose appeal was derived from its anti-Semitism, anti-capitalism, anti-French and anti-liberalism.
In Mein Kampf Hitler wrote:
Another thing that got on my nerves was the loathsome cult for France which the big press, even then carried. A man couldn't help feeling ashamed to be a German when he saw these saccharine hymns of praise to the great cultural nation. And on one occasion I was forced to recognize that one of the anti-Semitic papers, the Deutsche Volksblatt, behaves more decently. ..I was not in agreement with the sharp anti-Semitic tone, but from time to time I read arguments which gave me some food for thought. ....... My views with regard to anti-Semitism succumbed to the passage of time, and his was my greatest TRNASFORMATION of all.Hitler was deeply influenced with the anti-Semitic pamphlets with their myths of the soil, cult for the Nordic, and the romantic longing for the simple, heroic, idealized past. Neither in the Mein Kampf nor in any Nazi literature can one find accounts of Hitler having unpleasant encounters, frictions or quarrels with Jews; it looks like that Hitler had very few personal or social contacts with Jews. In 1939 Hitler personally permitted Dr. Bloch, a Jewish physician to emigrate from Austria. Dr. Bloch was the gentle physician who provided intensive care for of his ailing mother, and on several occasions Hitler expressed his gratitude. Another Jew who played a positive role in Hitler's life was his World War I commanding officer, who recommended Hitler for the Iron Cross. The Jews were for Hitler and abstract depersonalized evil, a mythological evil like the devil in many religions.
Life in Vienna was rough for Hitler. The winter of 1909 was a severe winter. He was at the end of his resources, his hands covered with chilblains, his stomach was empty. Hitler was living on the periphery of the society, eking out a meager living by peddling of his painted postcards, living in a flophouse.
In Mein Kampf Hitler wrote:
"To me Vienna, the city which, to so many, is the epitome of innocent pleasure, a festive playground for merrymakers, represents, I am sorry to say, merely the living memory of the saddest period of my life. ... Five years in which I was forced to earn a living, first as a day laborers, then as a small painter; a truly meager living which never sufficed to appease even my daily hunger. Hunger was then my faithful bodyguard. .....The uncertainty of earning my dally bread soon seemed to me one of the darkest sides of my new life.Contrasting to his own failures he saw the successful and prospering Jews in all fields of arts and culture, business and politics.
What had to be reckoned heavily against he Jew in my eyes was when I became acquainted with their activity in the press, art, literature, and the theater. And when I learned to look for the Jew in all branches of cultural and artistic life and its various manifestations, I suddenly encountered him in a place where I would least have expected to find him.. When I recognized the Jew as the leader of the Social Democracy, the scales dropped form my eyes. A long soul struggle had reached its conclusion.In anti-Semitism Hitler found an explanation for his failures, a rationalization for his sufferings - the Jews and their conspiracy. The Jews were the single cause of his tensions and humiliation. Hitler adopted the crude simplistic outlook on life: the Jews are the source of all evil in this world. Hitler found a purpose in life, cleansing the German race from the clutches of the Jews. Hatred of the Jews became his obsession, his creed, faith and religion.
Demonization and the Holocaust.The anti-Judaism of the New Testament became the primary matter for building the multi-layered mythical Demonization of the Jews. Anti-Judaism rolling through time and space acquired new layers of religious, secular, economic, social, xenophobic, political and finally the Nazi anti-Semitism, becoming the pervasive irrational background matter of the Western civilization.
In a curious chain of events the technological and social changes interacting with the demonization myth lead to the birth of Austrian anti-Semitism, that in turn infected the mind of Adolf Hitler. Later the Demonization coupled with the WWI displacement helped Hitler in assuming power leading to WWII and to the Holocaust. The Demonization of the Jews created an enormous, underground reservoir of badwill tapped successfully by Hitler to remake the world into his own distorted, sickly image. The question arises how do we stop this snowballing effect and purge the civilization from the evil myth?
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