Alice Miller’s nonsense about Hitler

Nov 15, 2011

“The persecution of the Jews made it possible for Hitler to ‘correct’ his past on the level of fantasy. It permitted him to take revenge on his father…”

—Alice Miller

The most famous “psychobiography” of Hitler in child abuse studies is Miller’s chapter “Adolf Hitler’s Childhood: From Hidden to Manifest Horror,” pp. 142-197 in the print edition of For Your Own Good. Now that I reread the chapter, the first thing that stroke me is how Miller subscribed the orthodox narrative that the elites have imposed upon all of us after the Second World War.

This was to be expected. Miller was born in Lwów in Poland to the Jewish Rostovski family: something that she hid from her fans and was not revealed until she died. In fact, “Alice Miller” is not her real name: it was an adopted name to escape the fate that many Jews endured in occupied Poland during the Nazi regime.

In a nutshell, her main thesis on eliminationist anti-Semitism can be quoted from her chapter on Hitler:

“My thesis that Hitler’s justifiable childhood hatred of his father found an outlet in hatred of the Jews…”

Miller wrote every word of that chapter assuming that, since the Jewish Problem (henceforth abbreviated as “JP”) does not exist, any anti-Semitic sentiment must be pathological. Therefore, it is impossible to discuss her thesis without basic information about the Jewish Problem (also known as the Jewish Question).

If the JP (1) does indeed exist, the whole Miller chapter based upon a psychoanalytic interpretation of Hitler’s mind is hallucinatory. On the other hand, if (2) the JP is sheer white nationalist paranoia, Miller’s chapter could be germane to explain Hitler. Everything has to do with these two possibilities.

The long quotation that below comprises most of this post —9,000+ words— conveys the idea that #1 is the right approach to the Hitler phenomenon. Rather than a quotation it’s a series of excerpts that I typed directly from an academic work by Albert Lindemann, a Jewish scholar who specializes in anti-Semitism and acknowledges the reasons why Jews have been so disliked: a plain historical point of view, nothing like “repressed feelings” originated in “child abuse.”

Lindemann is no self-hating Jew. A retired professor who escaped from Germany wrote a letter to Lindemann saying that his Esau’s Tears “is by far the best book I have ever read on this sad subject” (explaining anti-Semitism) and that “all of us who are of Jewish origin are permanently in your debt.” Actually, most reviews of Lindemann’s treatise were favorable.

Below I reproduce excerpts from the chapters describing the conflict between Jewry and Germany. These excerpts will demonstrate that even before Hitler came to power many patriots believed that the Jews were taking over Germany and Austria, and that they were mainly responsible for the Red Terror in communist Russia.

Let me issue this challenge to Miller’s fans: Will you dare to digest basic info about the historical milieu that culminated in eliminationist anti-Semitism? No ellipsis added between unquoted excerpts:

Published by
Cambridge University Press
(First edition: 1997)

Chapter 3. The Appearance of Modern Anti-Semitism (1870-1890)

Germans and Jews

The nature of German-Jewish interplay is still bitterly debated—in particular the extent to which one can properly speak of mutual benefit and respect—but there is little doubt that nowhere else have Jacob and Esau [Lindemann’s metaphor for Jew and gentile] had a more intricate, fecund, and yet finally tragic relationship. Nowhere was the rise of the Jews more notable, and nowhere was it more searchingly debated whether the nature of Jews was unchangeably foreign, undermining those among whom they resided, or adaptable and beneficial to the host people. Similarly, the possible ramifications of the notion of closeness are nowhere more clearly revealed than in the history of modern Germany, for growing numbers of Germans came to believe that they were somehow chosen by history for a special destiny.

Real issues were involved, issues that emerged from the concentration of Jews in certain occupations, from their related extraordinary economic and social success, and from a range of cultural traits that distinguished them from non-Jewish Germans.

German-speaking Jews were the largest and economically most successful population of assimilated Jews in Europe, and because of their important positions in the German economy, they were almost unavoidably identified with the Depression. Germany’s economy, or the economies of the various German states before unification, had been growing with remarkable, even breakneck speed in the 1860s, and it grew even faster in the early 1870s. Jews seemed to benefit disproportionately from that growth, and they were widely and plausibly (which is not to say justifiably) blamed for its sudden collapse.

For much of the 1880s and 1890s the first modern anti-Semitic movement found its most impressive and influential form in Germany. As noted, many Germans were inclined to see world historical significance in the establishment of the German Reich; it represented a turning point in modern history. Even more grandiosely, some German nationalists believed the new Reich was the expression of divine purpose, an affirmation of the mission of the German spirit in the modern world. How unique or “special” such beliefs were is debatable. We will see that the Jews in many countries, not only Germany, were inclined to see the rise of the Jews in modern times as expressing a divine purpose or a Jewish mission. Citizens of the United States, too, with their notions of Manifest Destiny, expressed a belief that they and the new American nation were agents of God’s will.

For such reasons, the wave of anti-Semitic indignation and rage that passed over Germany, and the efforts to give to that wave the form of a modern mass movement, caught the attention of the civilized western world.

German Liberalism and the New German State

The liberal middle years of the century had seen the final steps in granting civil emancipation to Jews in most German-speaking lands, not without mean-tempered dissent from various quarters. Being counted among the most modern, most highly civilized nations was important to Germany’s elites; discriminatory laws against the Jews characterized the backward nations, such as Russia and Romania.

By the late 1860s liberal principles were given fuller application in many arenas besides those touching the condition of the Jews. Indeed, those general principles were the primary consideration; the emancipation of the Jews was seen as a necessary of them, much as was the case in the debates of the French National Assembly from 1798 to 1791.

In 1871 a number of important liberal principles were incorporated into the constitution of the new German Empire, such as the free trade, the rule of law, representative institutions, and guarantees of free speech. Religious freedom and Jewish equality under the law were also a part of the constitution.

The Rise of the Jews in Germany

With the unification of Germany, Jewish wealth began to expand even more rapidly than before, and Jews began to move into a number of prominent positions in politics. However, until 1914 they remained almost completely excluded from the very highest and most prestigious positions of the state, as did most non-Jews without the proper pedigrees. Nonetheless, throughout the nineteenth century Jews continued to nurse hopes for an eventual change in such exclusionary practices; they persuaded themselves that much steady progress had been made and that the future was bright.

Banks, although less exclusively Jewish in Germany than elsewhere in central and eastern Europe, were still owned and operated by Jews (estimates range from forty to fifty percent, whereas Jews were one percent of the total population). The man reputed to be the richest in Germany was the Jewish banker Gerson Bleichröder.

Jews in Germany moved rapidly into the professions. Upwardly mobile Gentiles, or those who hoped for upward mobility in their children, encountered a most unwelcome competition to get into medical school or law school; Jews in those schools became overrepresented, often by ten, twenty, even thirty times their numbers on German society.

The liberal press was overwhelmingly in the hands of the Jews. It was an arena “in which Jewish intellectuals could be active in an unhampered way”.

The Mittelstand and Modernism in Germany

In literature and many other arts Jews were prominent in modernist trends, not only in Germany but in most other countries. Modernism was characterized by a contempt for traditional aesthetic norms; modern art became ever more divorced from what ordinary people could appreciate, ever more disdainful of popular tastes, ever more “difficult.” Those arguing for an “organic” Aryan art, one that had roots in the traditional peasant communities of Germany, could see modern art as inorganic, market-driven, cosmopolitan–and Semitic.

The image of modernist Jews as “culture destroyers” reflected an undeniable reality; however much exaggerated by anti-Semites. The disproportionate numbers, visibility, and volubility of Jews in modern art roughly corresponded to the disproportionate numbers of Jews in journalism, medicine, law, banking and revolutionary politics.

The “Founding Years” and the Crash of 1873

Nouveaux riches of whatever origin have rarely been known for gracious manners. Those Jewish newly rich in Germany who had recent origins in the eastern European shtetekh, where standards of civility or public manners were markedly different from those of Germany, were widely regarded as especially offensive.

In Germany during the early seventies, the contrasts between rich and poor, successful and unsuccessful, were perhaps even more striking than in the opening stages of England’s industrialization. In the summer of 1873 the stock markets collapsed. Certain anti-Semitic themes took on particularly sharp expression by the late 1870s. Now it was declared that Jews, constituting a mere one percent of the population, were more than “too influential”; they were talking over the new German nation, its economy, its political institutions, its art and music.

The Press Campaign against the Jews

The popular (circulation ca. 350,000) and generally liberal magazine Die Gartenlaube published a series of articles in December 1874 by Otto Glagau exposing the role of various shady entrepreneurs in the stock market crash. He maintained that ninety percent of brokers and stock promoters in the capital were Jews.

A century later, when it became clear that the stock market scandals of the mid-to-late 1980s in the United States saw an overwhelming preponderance of Jews–at least ninety percent was a widely accepted figure–that clear correlation seemed to interest the broad American public scarcely at all, and overwhelmingly non-Jewish journalists and politicians skirted the issue. But in Germany in the 1870s popular interest and indignation were intense.

By no means all Germans agreed with Glagau. He responded that “No longer can we suffer to see the Jews push themselves everywhere to the front… everywhere seize leadership and dominate public opinion.”

Chapter 4. Anti-Semitic Ideology and Movement in Germany (1879 to the 1890s)

Wilhelm Marr

Wilhelm Marr has been given credit for coining the term “anti-Semitism.” His pamphlet The Victory of Jewry over the Germans has been described as the first anti-Semitic bestseller. He was married four times, the first three to Jewish women. He had intimate Jewish friends and was attacked for his supposed philo-Semitism.

Wagner, too, lamented as early as 1850 that Jews were taking over Germany. Both Wagner and Marr emphasized inherent and tenacious Jewish racial traits, ones that were destructive to Germans.

Marr [said that] wherever they go, Jews try to dominate and jewify the surrounding society. To do so is in their racial nature. It was a matter of victory or defeat—Jacob and Esau must fight to the finish, not work out ways in which they could live together. He noted that other peoples had indeed blended, had become German: the French Huguenots, the Wends, various Slavic peoples. But not the Jews. Marr concluded that the Jews are “stronger and tougher” than non-Jews.

His biographer believes that his pessimism was genuine, that it reflected his belief that the Germany he loved was doomed. Without weapons, he noted, Jews had become the masters of Germany.

Heinrich von Treitschke

The complains and laments of Glagau and Marr did not immediately alarm most Jewish observers, since the two could be easily dismissed as lowbrow, demagogic, and lacking respectability. Many influential Jewish observers considered Marr and his following not only beneath contempt but laughable. However, late in the same year and early in the next (1879-1880), Heinrich von Treitschke, the celebrated historian of Germany and popular university professor, published a series of articles critical of the role of Jews in Germany.

Treitschke expressed dismay over the persecution of Jews in history. He wrote that “the is no German commercial city that does not count many honorable and respectable Jewish firms.” Treitschke was a political liberal. How then, Treitschke earned such an evil reputation in many influential accounts of the origins of Nazism? Treitschke’s case, like so much else in nineteenth-century Germany, has been refracted through the distorting mirror of the Nazi years.

That the presence of newly-emancipated Jews in Germany could present a genuine problem, not a fantasy, was freely recognized by a number of thoughtful Jewish observers at this time, as in years past; Jews did indeed have significantly different cultural traditions from the rest of the population.

[Franz] Mehring complained that Jewish opponents of Treitschke engaged in “intellectual terrorism,” attempting as they did to smear as anti-Semitic anyone who expressed whatever critical reservations about the actions of the Jews. Treitschke’s consternation about Jewish influence also reflected his rising distaste for modern mass culture. He, like most educated Germans, felt an abhorrence for what he perceived as the Mishckultur (mongrel-culture) that was coming to characterize the United States in these years. They did not believe that the German spirit, in its barely achieved unity, could survive cultural pluralism—a chaotic and debilitating mongrelization in their eyes—that seemed to be growing up in the New World.

Treitschke remarked: “Ours is a young country. Our country still lacks national style.” But the young German nation, divided and still unsure of itself, was being flooded “from the inexhaustible cradle of Poland.” Treitschke argued further that the materialism of the early 1870s, so threatening again to the moral tone of the young German nation, was significantly reinforced by Jews.

Treitschke complained that Jewish journalists had introduced an element of petty quarrelsomeness and intolerance, of a wholly one-sided sort: “About the shortcomings of the Germans or French, everybody could freely say the worst things, but if somebody dared to speak in just and moderate terms about some undeniable weakness of the Jewish character, he was immediately branded as a barbarian and religious persecutor by nearly all of the newspapers.”

Mehring also recognized a new temper, “a gifted, shrewd, tough-fibred race,” “intoxicated” with its new freedoms. Jews in Berlin had developed into “an expansive and explosive force which is hard to imagine for anyone who has not seen it with his own eyes.” On this point, Mehring found much agreement from German Jews themselves.

Treitschke and Graetz

Heinrich Graetz (1817-1891). His History of the Jews is still lauded by twentieth-century Jewish historians as one of the great nineteenth-century histories of the Jews. Graetz harbored a deep contempt for the ancient Greeks and considered contemporary European civilization to be “morally and physically sick.” There was some substance in Treitschke’s charges: Graetz had written that Boerne and Heine had “renounced Judaism, but only like combatants who, putting on the uniform of the enemy, can all the more strike and annihilate him.”

In private correspondence, Graetz expressed his destructive contempt for German values and Christianity even more forthrightly. Treitschke was not far off base when he angrily noted that “the man shakes with glee every time he can say something downright nasty against the Germans.”

Anti-Semitic Movement and Countermovement

Agitators circulated the Anti-Semites’ Petition, which by October 1880 had gathered some 265,000 signatures. It charged than an “alien tribe” in Germany had gained domination over the “Aryan race.” In order to combat the incursions of that tribe a number of measures were needed: (1) the limitation of Jewish immigration into Germany, (2) the exclusion of Jews from positions of high governmental authority, (3) a special census to keep track of Jews, and (4) the prohibition of Jews as teachers in elementary schools. This minimal program was moderate in that it looked to orderly action through the Reichstag, not to popular violence, not to chasing Jews out of Germany. Right-wing revolutionaries comparable to the Nazis were not common at this time and found only sporadic support among the masses.

In the elections of 1881, the left-liberals in Berlin, led to an important degree by Jews, totally overwhelmed Stoecker’s party. The Progressive Party gained thirty-three new seats. Bismarck evidently concluded that not much political mileage was to be had from even covert identification with the anti-Semites, and he let it be known that “I most decidedly disapprove of this fight against the Jews.” At the height of its popularity in the 1880s political anti-Semitism in Germany won scarcely five percent of the popular vote.

None of the various bills proposed by the anti-Semites came anywhere near passage in the Reichstag, Jewish rights were in no tangible way limited by political measures in these years, and anti-Semites seeking to foment violence were arrested and thrown into jail. The various economic boycotts proposed by German anti-Semites had little or no effect; Jews continued to prosper and were increasingly among the very richest of Germany’s citizens.

The Peasants and Otto Böckel

Anti-Semitism mitigated by traditional constraints existed among the peasantry, a large class that cannot be ignored, since it was among elements of peasantry that the most dramatically successful anti-Semitic movement in late nineteenth-century Germany developed. And among the peasants one of the more colorful and charismatic anti-Semitic leaders appeared: Otto Böckel.

As he recorded in his pamphlet The Jews, Kings of our Time, “the image of the peasant robbed by the Jews drives me onward.” The pamphlet went through a hundred editions by the end of the century.

Böckel used pomp and fanfare, mass meetings, torchlight rallies, songfests, and sloganeering with great creativity. He established a newspaper that reached thousand of peasants who had never before read newspapers, and advertised “Jew-free” markets. Some called him a “second Luther.”

The situation, while in some ways unique, was also familiar: Jews under progressive rule prospered, while non-Jews believed themselves threatened with ruin, especially during an economic downturn. Böckel offered the same warnings, that a “stubborn, old, and thoroughly alien race” was taking over; that modern capitalism was weakening the very backbone of Germany.

Böckel avoided using such terms as “Aryan” and “Semite”. Nevertheless, his movement finally disintegrated. He simply did not have a long-range or realistic program; his was a movement of slogans and pyrotechnics, emotional catharsis for his followers, not long-range political realism.

Chapter 6. Austria-Hungary

Liberalism and the Rise of the Jews

These Jewish successes were less widely shared by members of the Gentile lower and lower-middle classes. Similarly, Jews did not become, or long remain, artisans, factory proletarians, or other kinds of manual laborers. Urban Jews were in general upwardly mobile; non-Jews were more often proletarianized—overwhelmed by the forces of modern urban civilization. Tens of thousands of small shops in Vienna went bankrupt in the latter half of the nineteenth century, and thousands of peasants plots in the surrounding countryside were put up for auction. The benefactors of these Gentile misfortunes were frequently Jews.

By the turn of the century, a German-Jewish writer who had moved to Vienna from the German Reich was struck by how much

all public life was dominated by Jews. The banks, the press, the theater, literature, social organizations, all lay in the hands of the Jews… The aristocracy would have nothing to do with such things… The small number of untitled patrician families imitated the aristocracy; the original upper-middle class had disappeared… The court, the lower-middle class and the Jews gave the city its stamp. And that the Jews, as the most mobile group, kept all the other in continuous motion is, on the whole, not surprising.

Henry Wickham Steed, correspondent for The Times of London in Berlin, Rome, and Vienna from 1896 to 1914, and widely recognized as one of the best informed, most pertaining observers of the day, wrote that “among the peoples of the Austria-Hungary the Jewish people stands first in importance… Economics, politically, and in point of general influence they are… the most significant element in the Monarchy.” Moreover, embracing German language and culture by no means meant merging into German-Gentile society. Time and again assimilated Jews themselves referred to the Jews’ “stubborn emphasis on racial solidarity.”

It seems reasonable to conclude that any group, even one enjoying wide esteem, that rose as fast as the Jews in Austria-Hungary would have encountered some resentment and hostility.

The Jewish Press and the Crash of 1873

No area of Jewish influence in Austria-Hungary was more important than journalism in terms of spreading German language and culture—with a Jewish nuance. Jewish-owned and -operated newspapers in the empire were even more important than in Germany. “After Moritz Benedikt [the owner of Neue Freie Presse], the most popular man in the realm is Franz Joseph [the emperor of Austria]” was a popular witticism. He and his paper were admired by some, feared or detested by others. Nearly all observers regarded him as a man of fierce ambition and easy morals.

The complaint that Jewish journalists were vituperatively critical while remaining hypersensitive to criticism themselves was often expressed in Austria. Wickham Steed described the Neue Freie Presse as “a journal that embodies in concentrated form and, at times, with demonic force, the least laudable characteristics of Austro-German Jewry.”

The stock market crash in 1873, which catalyzed political anti-Semitism in Germany, affected Austria in similar ways. Jews were the obvious culprits, even more so in Vienna than in Berlin, since Jews in the stock market in Vienna were even more prominent than in Berlin. In Austria the capitalist robber barons, to borrow a phrase from the American scene, the railroad-building and factory-owning plunderers of the countryside, the noveaux riches, those ostensibly responsible for the bankruptcies of artisans and small retailers, the deceivers of the small investor were overwhelmingly made up of Jews, if only because Jews constituted a heavy majority of those involved in such modern economic activities.

Anti-Semitic Ideology

Friedrich Austerlitz asserted that the Jewish-owned liberal press was concerned to serve Jewish interests, to cover up misdeeds by Jewish capitalists, and to shower with abuse anyone who criticized Jews. Jewish press supremacy, he later observed, “was a conspiracy in favor of the Jews; the legend of the solidarity of all members of the people of Israel was at that time a reality.” Austerlitz granted that in the earlier part of the century, when Jews had been oppressed, criticism of their “eccentricities” was inappropriate, but by the latter half of the nineteenth century, when they dominated so much of public life in Austria and when their activities were so often corrupt, criticism was not only appropriate but the duty of all honest observers, Jews and non-Jews.

The notion of racial purity, of Aryan superiority, gained an even stronger hold on parts of the Austrian German-speaking Gentile population than it did in Germany itself. Similarly, in Austria fears about the “destructive mission” of Jews, their alleged tendencies to take over, dominate, and jewify, were even more pervasive.

Any synthesis of German and Jewish culture implied a distinctly larger Jewish component, an unacceptable result to many völkish Germans, who seem to have been driven, ostensibly because of the elusiveness of what it meant to be a German in the Austrian context, to an almost panicked assertion of the need to preserve the mystical “purity” of their race. They dreaded a loss of identity, a so-major dilution of what it meant to be a German that the world would lose its appeal for them. Feelings of German nationalism in Austria came increasingly to include a call for liberation from Jewish influence, a freeing of the Aryan-German spirit from the destructive inroads of “Semitism.”

Above all in Vienna and Budapest, assimilated, secular Jews were for traditional Catholics a formidable and alarming enemy. Jews were very rapidly increasing in numbers, and some were becoming spectacularly rich. They were articulate in ways that made many of their opponents feel the rage of impotence. As far as many Catholics were concerned, Jews were not only taking over modern economic life; they were also talking over the cultural life of the empire.

Catholic Antimodernism and Anti-Semitism

For large numbers of Austrian Catholics, Jews became “the enemy,” to be vigorously combated, and large numbers of Jews felt similarly about the church. The sophisticated, cosmopolitan, atomistic, and materialistic life of the modern city symbolized a world of evil and moral anarchy—prostitution, corruption, drunkenness, social and economic irresponsibility—for the Church, whereas for secular Jews the church was a repository of bigotry and unreasoning fear of the modern world.

In 1870 the doctrine of papal infallibility was proclaimed. One of the most penetrating Catholic social theorist of the time, Baron Karl von Vogelsang, hoped for a return to an idealized past, whereas Marx confidently predicated a transformed, if no less idealized, future. In their descriptions of liberal capitalism, however, they were in agreement: It was a system of unbridled egotism, and they were both inclined to derive anti-Semitic conclusions from that judgment.

Vogelsang further concluded that liberal rules favored Jews, allowing them to prosper extraordinarily and unjustly. Jewish prosperity, he observed, was paralleled by growing misery for the Christian lower orders. And that could hardly be accepted by a Christian as natural to the proper order of things.

Vogelsang lamented that Austria had lost its Christian bearing, had lost sight of the basis in Christian morality for social harmony. The country’s indigenous Christian population was being “robbed, dominated, and reduced to pariahs by the Jews.” The problem was not only exploitative Jewish capitalists; the “incredible insolent Jewish press” worked constantly to undermine the moral fabric of a society, as did the atheistic Jews at the head of the revolutionary parties.

Vogelsang was not a racist; he welcomed Jewish converts. He believed, however, that unconverted Jews could inflict and undermine an entire society if they were allowed to get out of control. And he was persuaded that just such an infected society had come into existence: “If by some miracle,” he wrote, “all our 1,400,000 Jews were to be taken from us, it would help us very little, for we ourselves have been infected with the Jewish spirit.” The taste for pushing and shoving, the mocking of sacred tradition, the sardonic wit and intellectual arrogance, the sensuality and sexual immorality—these many “Jewish” traits had infected Catholics in Austria and were fatally undermining Christian society.

Vogelsang was willing to grant that capitalism and its associated modern industrial techniques could increase material wealth, but the price paid in moral terms, he believed, was too high. It meant the breakdown of the family, alcoholism, and urban crime; the replacement of quality production by the cheap and shoddy; swelling ranks of the chronically unemployed; and the bars, cabarets, and prostitutes. Capitalism and liberalism atomized society, destroyed valuable social and economic ties.

Modern secular Jews could be credited with bringing progress, new industrial techniques, scientific discoveries, cultural sophistication, and a new intensity and richness to life in cities like Vienna. They could also be credited with exploitation, corruption, crime, prostitution, alcoholism, social disintegration, and cultural nihilism. Both views had some basis in reality: “Progress” and “corruption” went hand-in-hand in nearly every country, whether or not Jews were present.

In the early 1880s, particularly in the year 1882, the Austro-Hungarian Empire experienced an upsurge of popular hostility to Jews, much exceeding that in Germany, although not as physically violent as in pogrom-afflicted Russia.

Georg Ritter von Schönerer, in what might be interpreted as a rebellion against the world of his father, began to use language attacking the Jews that went much beyond anything so far heard in respectable circles. He spoke in coarse and brutal tones, with violent threats and violent actions.

Chapter 10. The Ambiguities of “Failure” in the Belle Époque: Germany and Austria

“Morality aside, the enmity against the Jews is nonsense, because it is simply impractical. Everybody I know here in Berlin, especially the military and nobility, are eminently dependent upon the Jews and are daily becoming more so. There is no other way but to hold one’s tongue.”

—Theodor Fontane

Enough has been said about Germany and Austria to make clear how they might be considered, already in the 1880s, failures as models of harmonious Jewish-Gentile relationships. On the other hand, millions of German-speaking Jews and Gentiles continued to live beside one another in reasonable harmony, Jewish material success continued at an impressive rate, and Jewish-Gentile interplay counted many impressive aspects. Many of those in the German-speaking world who spoke out in criticism of the Jews were not willing to go beyond mere exhortation, urging the Jew to improve manners and economic morality or encouraging them to become more whole-hearted in their national feelings. Antiliberal trends become stronger everywhere after 1890, and highlighted tensions between Jews and non-Jews could be noted in nearly all countries. But those tensions often took on curiously unfathomable forms.

The Appearance of Zionism

Gentiles earnestly believed that they and their values had been rejected by Jews, that Jews were not living up to the concessions they implicitly accepted when they gained civil emancipation.

The familiar distinction that religion was a private matter, one that was compatible with various nationalities, which satisfied many Jews in earlier years, began to appear unworkable or at least very awkward in practice. The dialogue of the deaf between Jew and non-Jew ultimately went back to the flawed assumptions, on both sides, of civil emancipation in the first place. The honeymoon was over; divorce was being contemplated. But its costs promised to be terribly high, and the decision was being avoided—perhaps something could still be worked out.

Theodore Herzl [1860-1904] wrote a friend that his book had earned him the “greatest of hatreds [from fellow Jews] while the anti-Semites treat me fairly.” That “fair treatment” constituted one of the earliest examples of what would later become fairly common, that is, open agreement, even an occasional, opportunistic kind of cooperation, between Zionists and some anti-Semites, since they both agreed that Jews should get out of Europe.

The impact of Zionism on non-Jews was also mixed: While anti-Semites pointed to it as evidence that they had been right all along, other non-Jews saw Zionism as a potentially acceptable solution to the Jewish problem.

Anti-Semitism and German Tradition

As historian Steven Beller has commented, “Jews began to see themselves as the real bearers of the Enlightenment” in Austria and Germany. The matter was stated quite openly in a speech by Solomon Ehrmann to the B’nai B’rith in Vienna in 1902. His vision of the future was not simply one in which Jews were to be an honored part; it was to be in fundamental ways a Jewish future, one in which “not only the B’nai B’rith but all Judaism will have fulfilled its task. All mankind will have been jewified [verjudet, the same term used by the anti-Semites] and joined in union with the B’nai B’rith.” In short, Verjudung meant Aufklaerung, jewfication equaled enlightenment. It was in truth a broad and humane vision, but it cannot come as a surprise that many non-Jews were wary of it.

Racism and anti-Semitism were, in the eyes of many German-speaking Jews, more accurately seen as products of reactionaries and of the mob. Hatred of Jews, they believed, was most typically to be found in eastern Europe, or in the less developed parts of the German-speaking world.

There had been a wave of anti-Semitic agitation in Germany from the mid-1870s to the early 1880s, which then receded in the mid-1880s. Another wave gathered force in the late 1880s through the first years of the 1890s, with a high point in the elections of 1893, but it, too, receded, leaving the anti-Semitic parties more discredited and weaker than ever.

The next twenty years were similarly indecisive.

The “Dormant Period” of Anti-Semitism in Germany

The Wilhelmine period (1890-1914) has gone down in most histories as a relatively dormant period insofar as political anti-Semitism is concerned. [But] the decline of the anti-Semitic parties by no means necessarily indicated a decline in anti-Semitic sentiment.

Anti-Semitism of the Tivoli Program was not radical. (In it the party denounced “the multifarious and obtrusive Jewish influence that decomposes our people’s life”; a clause was voted down that said “we repudiate the excesses of anti-Semitism.”) That the latter clause was even proposed suggested that many leaders of the Conservative Party were not anti-Semitic in the radical-racial sense. A number of the party’s leading figures had Jewish wives.

The fact remains that the Conservative Party, the anti-Semitic pressure groups, and the anti-Semitic parties themselves were either unwilling or unable to pass a single piece of significant legislation against the Jews in Germany. The material welfare of the Jews in Germany, at the same time, continued its remarkable, seeming inexorable force.

The so-called “dormant” period after 1900 was only the lull before the storm.

Anti-Semitic Agitation in Austria: Karl Lueger

As we have seen, anti-Semitism in Austria had a significantly broader, more “progressive” appeal in the 1870s and 1880s than it did in the German Reich. In the generation before World War I anti-Semitism in Austria, especially Vienna, was far from politically dormant.

It will be recalled that von Schönerer’s movement suffered a sharp and humiliating decline after its initial success of the 1880s. He was arrested, thrown into jail, and stripped of his title of nobility. Within a short time, however, political anti-Semitism found a more adept practitioner in the person of Karl Lueger, far and away the most successful anti-Semitic politician of prewar Europe.

Like von Schönerer, Karl Lueger began his political career as a liberal but then turned against key liberal tenets. Mention has been made of Treitschke’s aversion to the “jewified” German culture of Austria, of Gratez’s desire to “destroy” Christianity, of Hess’s opinion that Christianity was “religion of death,” and Ehrmann’s conclusion that “jewification equals enlightenment.” Many other Enlightened Jews saw themselves as upholders of justice, as a “light unto the nations” in a modern way. The theme was endlessly manipulated, and it found expression in nearly every country, but the relevant point is that “jewification” was actually more than an absurd fantasy of the anti-Semites. Leading German Jews in Vienna did look to a jewification of the non-Jewish world. On the other hand, it does not take much imagination to understand how alien and hypocritical such an ideal may have seemed to the average citizen in Vienna at the turn of the century, especially when, in its immediately perceptible form, jewification seemed to mean financial scandals, unfair competition, and the revolver press, social exclusiveness, and capitalist exploitation.

Even while Lueger was mayor, Jews continued to move into the city at a rapid rate, Jewish upward mobility continued unabated, and Jewish wealth remained impressive. The period considered the “Golden Age of Viennese Jewry” (1897-1910) coincided with the years that Lueger was mayor. One needs to ask what the “success” of Lueger’s movement actually entailed. In truth, his anti-Semitism was mostly noise. The period of his ascendency marked an end to the honeymoon of Jewish-Gentile relations, but Lueger did not hate all Jews. He never looked forward to a Vienna that would be judenrein (free of Jews).

The “Unpolitical” Germans: Langbehn, Lagrade, Chamberlain

Houston Steward Chamberlain’s Foundations of the Twentieth Century (first published in 1900 but many editions followed, including an inexpensive one in 1906 that was distributed in Germany’s schools) became a hugely popular book by the standards of the day. Its success was all the more remarkable because, by the standards of any day, it was a lengthy tome that made large intellectual demands on its readers. And whatever may be said about the defects of the book, it grappled with many substantial issues. Emperor Wilhelm II read it avidly; he quoted it constantly and sent copies to friends and acquaintances. To be sure, Wilhelm was not an intellectually distinguished or discriminating man, but among the many others who openly and effusively admired the book were Albert Schweitzer, Winston Churchill, George Bernard Shaw, D.H. Lawrence, and Carl Becker. In his book Chamberlain tried to show, with richly arrayed historical examples, how racial determinism had operated from the distant past to the present. The racial element explained the rise and fall of civilizations, the particular genius of cultures throughout history. Like Gobineau, he was much concerned with racial mixing and the degeneration that he believed came from it.

Chamberlain’s biographer has persuasively argued that in spite of repeated denials, he harbored a tenacious if fluctuating animus against Jews, one that found clearest expression in private communications, especially after 1914, as his health and fortunes declined. The point made earlier about Treitschke (that he had no real program and did not support political action against Jews) holds even more for Chamberlain. He spoke of an inner, spiritual struggle against Jewish influence, not a physical battle against Jewish individuals or groups.

Nationalists in many areas feared that their identity was being overwhelmed and all urged against the forces that were undermining the true identity of their people.

Chapter 12: World War I

One cannot help but be impressed with the far-ranging ways in which fears and resentments were finding focus in anti-Semitism: Jews as shirkers at the front; Jews as weak-kneed parliamentarians and pacifist press lords; Jews as capitalists making money from the war; Jews as all-powerful and self-serving bureaucrats in the government; Jews as treacherous revolutionaries; even Jews as rank-and-file workers who were especially prone to destructive radicalism. The old anti-Semitic refrain—“the Jew is everywhere”—gained unparalleled plausibility in Germany and began to attract a larger part of the population than even before.

The Peace Settlement

Civilian control of the military prevailed in both France and Great Britain, and in neither country was the tendency to point an accusing finger at Jews as in Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Russia.

In Great Britain the Jewish World commented, in response to an anti-Semitic exchange in the columns of the London Times, that Jews faced “the beginning of a new and evil era. We cannot say any more that there is no anti-Semitism in the country that loved the Bible above everything.”

The entry of the United States, in the spring of 1917, gradually tipped the balance in favor of France and Great Britain. That victory was finally achieved in the autumn of 1918 after internal upheavals in Germany brought to the fore those who were willing to negotiate a peace.

For the anti-Semitic right in German-speaking central Europe, America’s alliance with the French and the English meshed into a by now well-established image of Jewish-controlled powers that were conspiring to destroy Germany. The prewar assertion by men like Treitschke, Langbehn, and Chamberlain that the English and the Americans were shallow, commercial minded and materialistic—Jewish in spirit—was now made even more adamantly. Chamberlain, in a letter to Wilhelm II, wrote that “England has fallen totally into the hands of the Jews and the Americans. This war is in the deepest sense the war of Jewry [Judentum] and its near relative, Americanism, for the control of the world.”

When the Germans agreed to an armistice, they thought that it could be in accordance with Wilson’s Fourteen Points. They were tragically mistaken.

The Paris Peace conference that gathered in early 1919 oversaw the redrawing of the map of most Europe and large parts of the rest of the world. The Jewish Question was on the agenda at Paris, one of a large number of nettlesome issues, seemingly impossible to resolve in a way that would be just to all concerned. The German quickly labeled it a “Jewish peace,” not only because they believed it vindictive, which it unquestionably was, but because they were persuaded that it meant even greater Jewish power in the postwar world.

Again, their fantasy world found much in the real world to nourish it. Even many of those who were not notably anti-Semitic viewed the peace settlement as part of a titanic struggle between German and Anglo-American values. Germans saw themselves as an idealist, disciplined, self-sacrificing people facing peoples devoted to shallow liberalism and egotism. Those Germans who had put faith in Wilson’s points believed themselves cynically betrayed. In their eyes, the final “dictated peace” (Diktat) was an act of unspeakable perfidy. A number of smaller adjustments favoring Germany’s neighbors only added to the sense of impotent outrage in Germany. The worst outrage on the eyes of many Germans was the huge reparation payments with which they were saddled.

Most Germans concluded that these measures were designed not only to punish but to ultimately destroy their country. Enormous debate emerged at the time and for many years afterward about the wisdom and justice of these draconian arrangements. Those Germans leaders who eventually agreed to work within the terms of the treaty did so not because they accepted them as reasonable but because they finally saw no realistic alternative.

The Balfour Declaration and the Palestinian Mandate

Churchill and others argued that Jewish financial clout and the control of the news media by Jews were compelling reasons to have them on Great Britain’s side. Churchill was particularly concerned to rally American Jews. Other British leaders worried about the reaction of the indigenous Arab population in Palestine, and those who knew something about the population warned that British support for a Jewish national home in Palestine risked permanently alienating the Arab world, with disturbing long-term implications for British national interest.

In a letter published in the London Times on May 24, 1917, the presidents predicted that a Jewish homeland in Palestine would be a “calamity.” It would be a dangerous violation of the principle of equal rights if Jews in Palestine were to get special political privileges and economic preferences. Prophetically, the letter warned that the result would be endless, bitter warfare with the Arabs of the region.

Churchill’s comments in 1919: “We are pledged to introduce the Jews into Palestine, and they take it for granted that the local population will be cleared out to suit their convenience.”

As suggested in the Preface, it would be grotesque to argue that the hostility of the Arabs, this “anti-Semitism” by “Semites,” was mysterious, having to do only with their own psychic problems and not at all with Jewish actions [Chechar’s note: This remark is worth remembering when pondering whether Alice Miller’s claim that anti-Semitism denotes psycho-pathology makes sense or is nonsensical.]

At the same time, another bold experiment, which might be described as an utterly contrasting attempt to resolve the Jewish Question, had begun in Russia.

Chapter 13: Jews and Revolution (1917-1934)

The horrors of the revolution from 1917 to 1921 were in some areas even more devastating than those of the war; the connections of Jews and socialist revolutionaries were more visible than ever before and the anti-Semitic potential greater. The perception that revolutionaries were predominantly Jewish and that Jews were particularly vicious as revolutionaries spread now from minds like those of Nicholas II—limited, paranoiac, almost pitiful—to those of a different cut, such as Woodrow Wilson and Winston Churchill. It was no longer only scandal sheets like La Libre Parole or the Bessarebetz that identified radical revolution with Jews; now that identification was made by newspapers like the London Times, the Chicago Tribune, or the Christian Science Monitor, all of which enjoyed a reputation for sobriety on Jewish issues and at least relative fairness.

Many of those who had been inclined to a hesitant or inconsistent anti-Semitism before the war, such as Wilhelm II, now embraced more extreme opinions. Wilhelm’s attitude to “the threat of international Jewry” was influenced by reports like those of Walther von Kaiserlingk, the German admiralty’s chief of operations, who had visited Petrograd in the winter of 1917-18: He described the new government as run by Jews in the interest of Jews; it was “insanity in power,” and it presented a moral threat not only to Germany but to the civilized world. Wilhelm agreed that the Russian people had been “turned over to the vengeance of the Jews, who are connected with all the Jews of the world.”

We have seen how, in western countries where Jews experienced less oppression, an active and highly visible minority of them, especially young, secularized Jewish intellectuals in the generation before the war, were powerfully attracted to socialist ideas. Jews such as Hess, Marx, Lassalle, Bernstein, Otto Bauer, Luxemburg, Martov, Trotsky, and León Blum played a major role in formulating, refining, and propagating those ideas. Non-Jews (Engels, Kautsky, Bebel, Plekhanov, Lenin, Guesde, Jaurès) were also important, in many regards more important than Jews, but considering that the Jewish population of Europe was approximately 2 percent of the total, the Jewish participation in socialism, revolutionary and democratic, was remarkably large.

Both Jewish and non-Jewish socialists in the late nineteenth century saw great merit in the idealism and radicalism of a moral elite of Jews. Just as the non-Jew, Friedrich Engels, had praised Jews for their contribution to the socialist movement, so V.I. Lenin, in a speech in Zurich in 1905, observed that “the Jews furnished a particularly high percentage of leaders of the revolutionary movement. It should be noted to the credit of the Jews, they furnish a relatively high percentage of internationalists.” On another occasion Lenin, in lamenting the low moral and intellectual level of his compatriots, remarked to Maxim Gorky that “an intelligent Russia is almost always a Jew or somewhere with Jewish blood in his veins.” León Blum, who after his participation of the Dreyfus Affair went on to become a prominent figure in the French socialist movement, “glorified in the messianic role of the Jews as social revolutionaries.” Although he was one of the most perceptive critics of Bolshevik theory in the debates within his own party in 1919 and 1920 concerning whether it should join the new Communist International, he had earlier written that “the collective impulse” of the Jews “leads them toward revolution; their critical powers… drive them to destroy every idea, every traditional form which does not agree with the facts or cannot be justified by reason.” Revolutionary socialism, he asserted, was a modern form of “the ancient spirit of the Jewish race.”

Most Russian Jews were pulled unwillingly, even uncomprehendingly into the vortex of revolution and ensuing civil war from 1917 to 1921, observers rather than actors. But others, especially many who had felt blocked in their dreams of a career or who had suffered daily under the irrationality and inefficiency of the tsarist regime, were only too understandably moved by a desire for violent revenge. Some of those revolutionaries, especially when driven into the moral anarchy of civil war, proved themselves capable of breath-taking ruthlessness.

Recognizing that there were fewer Jews in the Bolshevik faction than in the Menshevik, or even that Bolshevism was not a typically Jewish ideology, does not mean that the issue of the role of Jews in Bolshevism is settled, for there were still many Jewish Bolsheviks, especially at the very top of the party. And there were even more in the dreaded Cheka, or secret police, where the Jewish revolutionary became visible in a terrifying form.

Any effort to compose a list of the most important Bolsheviks must be unavoidable subjective, but it seems beyond serious debate that in the first twenty years of the Bolshevik Party the top ten to twenty leaders included close to a majority of Jews.

At a notch down in visibility was Yakov Mikhailovich Sverdlov. Described as “very Jewish looking,” he became secretary and main organizer of the Bolshevik Party in 1917. There was at any rate no little symbolism in the fact that a Jew was both the head of the state and the secretary of the ruling party. Percentages of Jews in state positions or in the party do not capture that adequately.

In approximately the same second-level category was Moisei Solomonovich Uritsky, notorious as the chief of the Cheka in Petrograd where Red Terror raged with special brutality. For anti-Semites he became the personification of “Jewish terror against the Russian people.” He was certainly less fanatical than Zinoviev [another Jew], whose pervasive cruelty and vindictiveness toward alleged counterrevolutionaries prompted Uritsky at one point to lodge an official complaint.

A list of prominent non-Jews in the party would begin with Lenin, whose name outweighs the others, although in the first year or so of the revolution, Trotsky’s name rivaled his. Yet his status as a non-Jew and “real Russian” is not as clear as subsequent Soviet propaganda tried to make it. His grandfather on his mother side was Jewish, though a convert to Christianity and married to a woman of German origin. On Lenin’s father side were Kalmyk and Swedish forebears. Lenin the non-Jew, in other words, was Jewish enough to have fallen under the shadow of doubt in Nazi Germany or to have been accepted in the state of Israel.

Lenin was of course considered jewified, if not exactly Jewish, by anti-Semites. As noted, he openly and repeatedly praised the role of the Jews in the revolutionary movement; he was one of the most adamant and consistent in the party in his denunciation of pogroms and anti-Semitism more generally. After the revolution, he backed away from his earlier resistance to Jewish nationalism, accepting that under Soviet rule Jewish nationality might be legitimate. On his death bed, Lenin spoke fondly of the Jewish Menshevik Julius Martov, for whom he had always retained a special personal affection in spite of their fierce ideological differences.

An even more remarkable case was Felix Dzerzhinsky, the head of the Cheka, a “non-Jewish Jew” in a different sense. (The destruction of his statue in front of the KBG building in Moscow in August 1991, after the ill-fated putsch by party conservatives, was widely seen as symbolic of the destruction of a hated past of secret police domination.) In origin a member of the Polish gentry, he had learned Yiddish as a young man in Vienna and had established close friendships with many Jews in the revolutionary circles of the town. He had several romances with Jews and finally married one.

The backgrounds and personal contacts of non-Jews such as Lenin, Kalinin, and Dzerzhinsky help explain how it was that so many observers believed the Bolsheviks were mostly Jews or were in some way under Jewish tutelage. The various refinements of Jewishness—traditional Jew, reform Jew, cultural Jew, half-Jew, non-Jewish Jew, self-hating Jew, Karaite, jewified Gentile—did not have much meaning to most of those who were in a life-and-death struggle with the Bolsheviks and who of course were not used to seeing Jews in any position of authority in Russia; to see them in such numbers spoke for some radical undermining of a previously accepted order. The leaders of the anti-Bolshevik White armies were convinced that they were fighting Jews and other foreigners (Georgians, Armenians, Lithuanians, Poles)—but most importantly Jews—who had somehow seized control of Mother Russia. To most of the Whites the differences between the various revolutionary factions were of little importance; they all appeared alien, foreign in inspiration, jewified, and destructive. Indeed, for many on the right even the liberal Kadets were viewed as westernized and jewified.

Such exaggeration was hardly limited to the White armies. One book published in the West, The Causes of World Unrest, presented a list of fifty members of the Bolshevik government and declared that 95 percent of them were Jews, a common conclusion, as was the notion that the Bolsheviks were murderously destructive.

Destruction of the Jews by the Nazis was from this perspective to be considered a preventive measure, ultimately one of self-defense. As early as 1917, Belloc’s friend and intellectual colleague, C.K. Chesterton, had sternly warned the Jews in Great Britain who were sympathetic to the revolution that “if they continue to incite people against the soldiers and their wives and widows, they will learn for the first time what anti-Semitism really means.”

Anti-Semitism, well entrenched on the right, revived in the rest of the political spectrum, undermining what had been achieved through the patriotic unity of August 1914. The older charges that Jews were unpatriotic or part of the capitalist conspiracy now refocused on the Jew as a social subversive, “taking orders from Moscow.”

A revolutionary unrest spread to central Europe in late 1918 and 1919. The party’s first two leaders, Rosa Luxemburg and, after her murder in January 1919 at the hands of a right-wing paramilitary organization, Paul Levi, were of Jewish origin. Even in France and Italy, with their small and overwhelmingly bourgeois populations, the emerging Communist parties counted a number of Jews in hardship positions. “Foreign Jews, taking orders from Moscow” became an issue.

A Communist coup was attempted in Berlin in January 1919 (the Spartacus Uprising, when Rosa Luxemburg was killed), and in the course of that tumultuous year in Germany pro-Bolshevik revolutionaries took over, however briefly and confusedly, in Munich. In France a general strike was launched in the spring of 1920, and in the autumn of that year there were massive factory occupations in the industrial north of Italy. Perhaps most worrisome to the western powers, the Red Army, headed by Trotsky, launched an offensive against Poland in the summer of 1920 that was touted as the beginning of a triumphant advance of the Red Army into western Europe.

Russian Jews in Revolution: From March to November

One of the first measures taken by the Provisional Government was a decree conferring complete civil equality upon Russia’s Jews. That action was hailed as long overdue by the Russian press; even Novoe Vremia, which, as a semiofficial organ before 1917, had often published anti-Semitic material, applauded the move.

Many of Russia’s Jews were jubilant at the news. In some Jewish homes, Passover was celebrated that year with the reading of the decree instead of the traditional Haggada. Plans were quickly made by Jewish activists for an all-Russian Jewish congress. The excited appeal that went out for it proclaimed that whereas elsewhere Jews had received civil equality, only now in revolutionary Russia were they also going to receive recognition of their separate nationality within another nation. Nothing finally came of this congress, since the Bolshevik Revolution, and then civil war, got in the way.

In Russia, perhaps even more than elsewhere, civil equality for Jews, to say nothing of an official recognition of Jewish nationality, opened up Pandora’s box.

Jews who had faced pervasive discrimination and persecution suddenly found government positions opened to them while closed to the older privileged classes, who were overwhelmingly of Great Russian background.

Still, after 1917, especially after November 1917, there was in Europe a most remarkable change in the status quo: Large numbers of individual Jews assumed, for the first time in modern history, a major role in the government of non-Jewish peoples. Such was the case not only in Russia but in other areas, most notably Hungary and Germany.

The Red Terror—a Jewish terror?

In some areas, for example, the Ukraine, the Cheka leadership was overwhelmingly Jewish. By early 1919 Cheka organizations in Kiev were 75 percent Jewish, in a city where less than a decade earlier Jews had been officially forbidden to reside, except under special dispensation, and constituted about 1 percent of the total population.

The pattern of employing non-Slavic ethnic minorities in the Cheka was duplicated in many other areas of Russia. George Leggett, the most recent and authoritative historian of the Russian secret police, speculates that the use of outsiders may have been a conscious policy, since such “detached elements could be better trusted not to sympathize with the repressed local population.”

It is instructive that the high percentage of Jews in the secret police continued well in the 1930s, when the population of Jews gradually diminished in most other areas of the Soviet and party cadres. The extent to which both Cheka and Gestapo leaders prided themselves in being an elite corps, characterized by unyielding toughness—unmoved by sympathy for their often innocent victims and willing to carry out the most stomach-turning atrocities in the name of an ideal—is striking.

The number of Jews involved in the terror and counterterror of this period is striking. These many Jewish terrorists helped to nurture, even when they killed Jewish Chekists, the belief that Jews, especially once they had broken from the confines of their traditional faith, turned naturally to fanaticism and anarchistic destructiveness.

An even more important institution than the Cheka in defending the revolution was the Red Army, and, again, Jews played a key role in its leadership.

Trotsky fascinated a broad public inside and outside Russia. In Hungary, a Jewish observer who was in fact hostile to the Bolsheviks nonetheless write: “The evolutionary flame which has burned beneath the surface of world history is now blazing up for the first time in a Jewish genius: Leo Trotsky!” According to Paul Johnson,

It was Trotsky who personally organized and led the armed uprising which actually overthrew the Provisional Government and placed the Bolsheviks in power. It was Trotsky who created the Red Army, and who ensured the physical survival of the new Communist regime during the Civil War.

Trotsky’s paramount role in the revolution cannot be denied; Johnson’s views even if exaggerated, underline how powerful and durable has been the mystique around Trotsky’s name. He was second to Lenin, but a strong second. There was no Jew in modern times, at least until the creation of the state of Israel, to rival him.

It has been claimed that the actual proportion of Jews in top party and state positions in the 1930s did not notably drop from the 1920s. However, “visible” Jewish leaders, comparable to Trotsky, Zinoviev, or Uritsky, diminished in numbers and would continue to do so in subsequent years, so that by the mid-twentieth century there were almost no Jews among the highest officials in the Soviet Union.

To state the obvious, Jews were never purged explicitly as Jews in the Soviet Union, and millions survived the worst years of Stalin’s terror.


My comment:

In a crucial paragraph within her psychobiography about Hitler, Alice Miller wrote:

It would have been no different for the thirteen-year-old Hitler when he lost his father and from then on encountered nothing but an idealized father image on all sides. Who would have acknowledged to the boy his father’s cruelty and brutality then, if even today biographers still attempt to describe those regular beatings as harmless? As soon as Hitler succeeded in transferring the evil he felt in himself to “the Jew per se,” however, he succeeded in breaking out of his isolation.

There is probably no more reliable common tie among the peoples of Europe than their shared hatred of the Jews….

Where does anti-Semitism’s perpetual ability to renew itself come from? The answer is not difficult to find. A Jew is not hated for doing or being something specific. Everything Jews do or the way they are applies to other groups as well. Jews are hated because people harbor a forbidden hatred and are eager to legitimate it. The Jewish people are particularly well-suited objects of this need. Because they have been persecuted for two thousand years by the highest authorities of church and state, no one ever needs to feel ashamed for hating the Jews.

A Jew “is not hated” for “doing something specific”? Really? I now believe that informed studies on the etiology of anti-Semitism such as Lindemann’s demonstrate that Miller’s self-serving thesis is ahistorical nonsense.


26 Responses to “Alice Miller’s nonsense about Hitler”

  1. George Says:

    “Jews are hated because people harbor a forbidden hatred and are eager to legitimate it….”

    – Statements such as this one underscore what I have always felt to be true of all of Jewry; that they are a paranoid race of people. There are myriad statements like unto this one by Miller and I for one believe that this paranoia of theirs is actually genetically transmitted in the same way that their talent for handling money, networking among themselves to advance their interests, inciting discontent between other groups of people (especially racial groups at odds with one another) to advance their own agendas and interests, and their ethnocentrism are all distintive genetic Jewish traits.

    • Marianne Says:

      Bloody Hell! This is a classic case of projection! He says Jews are paranoid, and then goes on to repeat paranoid myths about them. Anti-Semitism is really a kind of paranoia. Jews are just people with a specific culture and religion, no better or worse from anyone else and no different either.

      Considering they have been blamed -without evidence- for everything from the Black Death to Germany losing WW1 to the child abuse scandal at the BBC, and have been the victims of pogroms and genocide, if they had a teeny weeny feeling that other people didn’t like them, that wouldn’t be paranoia. They would be right.

      ‘George’ says that he ‘has always believed’ that this paranoia in Jews is passed on through the genes, as if they were genetically distinct rom other humans or even a separate species. George, mate, you need help.

    • Yvonne Quick Says:

      If you believe that Catholic ( my Mother) were not asking for your pity your dead wrong. Most German’s at that time were either Luthern ( derivative of Catholic / or Catholic) Catholic’s believed in even dying for their religion a stark contrast to supporting people in any religion. The article if myopic enough to base murder of people (as the Grand Inquisition Catholic via socio economics? Or religious practice? ) You are actually in agreement with Miller here that religion was and still is a primary reason for extreme behaviors in people – not economics or religion for the sake of itself My Mother fed on your pity and became extremely indignant if yo u did not serve her more ok? So like this article you base the ideology of purpose and the reasoning for murder ? How is this different than Miller who actually tells you the difference? She is saying the opposite of you . You believe in murder then simply for the sake of perfectionism . My Father was a Perfectionist my Mom Catholic if you want a depiction of German at that time there in this sentence ok? In other parts of Europe Jewish people were dirt poor and you ONLY MENTION GERMANY why? You and others today as yester have what you too believe are accepted norms and ideology . If you believe your’s truly superior you agree with the Nazi’s ok? You have not differed here and have essentially said nothing that deviates for that matter. My Father would not be questioned about his EGO which like your article protects the actual natural reality . It’s nice to believe in oestensible things that make us look good However if you look deeper and you absolutely have to if your alive . And definately think outside of problems like these is the same thing You only put make up on here and believe it’s seed produces reasons where there isn’t even a human being reasonable also – I have no reason to defend any religion which creates your very myopic way of looking at life ok? Life moves and on doesn’t care about what we actually look like at all REALITY

  2. Chechar Says:

    The problem is a little more complicated than what you say. Miller herself said that there was nothing wrong with hate as long as you hate the child abusers who have not repented (i.e., basically all parents who abused their children). I’d expand that sentiment to those who are striving to undermine Western civilization, especially the white traitors (curiously, I don’t hate the Muslims or the Jews: I hate the white traitors who opened the immigration gates for them).

    But this is a huge subject that goes well beyond the limits of this blog. Have you seen my meta-political blog, The West Darkest Hour? These subjects ought to be discussed there, not here.

    Thanks for your comments anyway. The Miller readers I know in the forums of Mackler, Jeff and Rodie are so pussycats that, unlike you, they avoid the whole issue, such as the facts mentioned in the above post—with zero arguments!


    • Marianne Says:

      Cesar, I have read the stuff you have kindly directed my attention to. It makes no sense. You need your head read too, and so does Phil



  3. Phil Says:

    “Treitschke expressed dismay over the persecution of Jews in history.”

    Persecution? What persecution? Taking measures to keep Jews in check in order to prevent these anti-gentiles from (eventually) taking over and wrecking your economy, culture, etc. as has been the case throughout history, is NOT “persecution.” No way. Pogroms were a defensive response to Jewish domination, exploitation, etc.Just like Ernst Zundel once said in an interview: “There is no anti-semitism without semitism (Jewish behavior); one presupposes the other.”

    “[Franz] Mehring complained that Jewish opponents of Treitschke engaged in “intellectual terrorism,” attempting as they did to smear as anti-Semitic anyone who expressed whatever critical reservations about the actions of the Jews.”

    Boy, oh boy, oh boy, ain’t that the truth!

    “Treitschke’s consternation about Jewish influence also reflected his rising distaste for modern mass culture. He, like most educated Germans, felt an abhorrence for what he perceived as the Mishckultur (mongrel-culture) that was coming to characterize the United States in these years.”



    P.S. Excellent article.

  4. Phil Says:

    “A Jew is not hated for doing or being something specific.”

    Au contraire! That is exactly, precisely, specifically, and the ONLY REASON why Jews are hated.

    “Jews are hated because people harbor a forbidden hatred and are eager to legitimate it.”

    LOL! How delusional!



      It’s with “Jews are hated because people harbor a forbidden hatred and are eager to legitimate it,” that Alice Miller shows herself to be a pure Freudian, even though she claims to have repudiated her (former) mentor. Freud “believed” that each person “harbored” seething, anti-human hatreds in the unconscious …. Pure Jewish nonsense/dogma.

  5. Jon Says:

    I have always felt there is something deeply amiss with psychoanalysts’ insistence on reducing issues, even the most complicated of social, cultural and civilizational processes, to the individual person, and further within the level of the individual to some highly specific figment of his or her psyche. So the Holocaust was not about modernity, technology, and so forth. It was about one dictator’s feelings about his dad. Is this not a perfect illustration of the modern withdrawal from “the social” and the consequent inability of modern subjects to imagine anything meaningful outside the self?

    • Gary Goodman Says:

      I found deMause take on the decline of neo-Freudian personal self-examination (on David Horowitz’ anti-liberal site) to have some interesting merit, but I also thought that his attribution of Nazi-ism to Hitler’s childhood to be breathtakingly weak. Hitler was a rousing speech-maker, esp with Goebbels supplying the speeches. (Hankey pointed out that the Freicorps people trained him in oratory and sent him to spy on and take over the original Nazi movement.)

      I expected to NOT like ANY of deMause’s essays at all (I declined to read the Hitler drivel), since I first read or heard Michael Parenti, a Marxist, ridicule the idea of “psycho-history” and reducing large trends to the actions of one or more “leaders”. Without willing and engaged followers, without an existing purpose, Hitler could not have led the German people where he led them, both as active participants and passive. Hitler brought order and action, decisively killed the Versailles debts and treaty, and restored “the economy (, stupid!).” What more was needed to win people’s affection?

      DeMause’s essay on Reagan’s America is a bit more interesting — true or not — because he describes a choice by the American people to worship a man who purposely harmed an otherwise-functioning and prosperous American economy. Reagan ruled over dismantling of the economy of production and the creation of an economy based on finance. (Volker was kept on and Prime rates allowed to hit 21%, despite alarm from GOP stalwarts, which destroyed union jobs but also destroyed small business.)

      The Vietnam war was over. The USSR was not much of a looming threat, even the CIA’s later NIEs said so — see Bush and “Team B” neocons. I think there were some calls for a “peace dividend” vs war budget. Iran was a problem, but Carter felt it was manageable, without all-out war. There was inflation, and people don’t like inflation, but that was largely due to oil price spikes of a few years earlier.

      I saw Reagan as this rise in “nationalism”, plus great marketing or an actor who played “heroic” parts, but deMause saw a desire for self-punishment and externalizing shame and hate.

  6. Gary Goodman Says:

    1) I am biologically or genetically a Jew. Also, of little power, wealth, or consequence.
    2) I’m also a bit too intellectual and “weird”. Good/bad?

    Fascinating essay. I had little understanding of the LOOOONG political & social ramifications of the rise of Jewish power and influence.

    I had read a bit of Mein Kampf. A friend told me it was “ghost written” and supplied some background to Hitler from other German historians. John Hankey has an essay on that, I think on Rense. It seems — details are full of gaps — that the Nazi rise to power was ironically well-supported covertly by US capitalists and a few British Lords of Parliament (Halifax, Chamberlain) seemly “courted” the Nazis, while considering them crude. There may be inaccuracies, but Hankey’s intentions are honorable, and footnoted.

    In any case, I found “Hitler’s” take on Jews to be crazy and irresolvable. What I mean is, Jews were responsible for Capitalism, which people hated, and for ANTI-Capitalism, which people also hated. And what else was there? Older bloodline feudalism. And the new idea of national-socialism, sold as socialist tendencies (largely squashed quickly) within a nationalist pro-German pro-Austrian ethnic framework.

    Hankey or others also noted that while the Nazis did not target the old aristocracy for persecution NOR favors, the Nazis supported and were supported by I.G. Farben, which was a multi-national corporation sharing it’s directorate with Rockefeller oil & financial interests and Dupont industrial concerns.
    In that sense, Hitler and the Nazis could ALSO be described as “jewified”, right?

    While Jefferson, Paine, Hume, Smith, etc. were among the philosophers responsible for the “free market” ideology and western liberal ideals, which also LED to the licentiousness and “moral corruption”, especially in big cities, that got blamed on Jews too. And I have no doubt that the essay is accurate, that Jews owned or led some of these institutions and trends.

    One thing I can cop to is that “sardonic” sense of wit, nowhere near as witty as Jon Stewart, and a tendency to think and speak along the lines of “Devil’s advocate” or “iconoclast”, with *some* contempt for traditions that seem ripe for mockery — including Jewish traditions — and a tendency to cling to “reason” beyond the point of wisdom at times. I sometimes piss off friends who LIKE me. But I also try to be more self-aware and aware of others and where they are coming from.

    I’m also anti-Zionist, at least insofar as the wanton brutality against Palestinians, which is hardly a balanced fight. I like Mondoweiss. I like Jeff Halper.

    Then again, if Jews — even secular/assimilated — really ARE so maddeningly different and abrasive when in contact with non-Jews, maybe it’s just a FACT that Jews NEED a separate country, smack in the midst of a self-created conflict zone no less, because we are — in a certain sense — a “different breed”. (Heck, my niece, who is half-Jewish and half-Irish-Catholic, who is not yet in high school, scored in the very top percentiles in the college ACT exam. I read some criticism that it’s watered-down compared to Europe, but still. More evidence?)


  7. Mariam Farooq Says:

    I am a BIG Alice Miller fan and would like to rise to your challenge humbly. Yes, Jews are hated for ‘actions’ that they take (have taken). . . not merely for who they are. Atrocities in Modern Palestine is a case in point. Ascendence in ALL forms of socio/politico/culutural life in our country, USA, arguably is another example. However, Alice Miller’s main point of Hitler’s actions resting and resulting from his childhood abuse is not refuted by this fact. It is not even muted. Here is why: The Extremes to which Hitler and his regime decided to ‘extreminate’ not only jews, but gays and the disabled was a heinous and disproportionate reaction (even by the moral standards of 1940s). The sheer cruelty was not Hitler’s only option to the JP. His ability and will to dish out so much pain, horror and cruelty WAS a result of his inner child’s plight. Quiet simply that is Ms. Miller’s point. And I agree with it. 🙂
    Nice to have found your blog. . .I have enjoyed browsing it and learned new things from it.

    • Chechar Says:


      I completely disagree. Did you even read the whole post above, before writing your reply?

      As to Hitler’s morals besides the Jewish issue, I’d recommend to become familiar with the other side of the story: what the Allied forces did was infinitely more monstrous than what Hitler did, and Miller did not “psychoanalize” any of these monsters, the Americans included (see link above).

      • Ninon Thomas Says:

        I agree with Miriam. If Miller would have “psychoanalyze” the other side of the story, she would have found deep childhood wounds as the motivations for their crimes. All violence has the same root.


      • Mariam farooq Says:

        Well, I super quickly browsed through the whole post. 🙂 I didn’t find it necessary to read it diligently. I am familiar with the atrocities of war be it the allied forces or the axis powers.
        You said, you “completely disagree” and then Suggested a read about the atrocities of the allied forces. But you never said why you disagreed? Yes, Miller didn’t analyze allied powers atrocities or childhoods of its members. However, I am certain if she was asked she would say that “all violence” is rooted in childhood trauma. Her point is rather simple. What was yours?

      • Chechar Says:

        “Well, I super quickly browsed through the whole post.”

        Exactly what I suspected. Since you didn’t read it you are completely unaware that there’s a “Jewish Problem”. (I used Lindemann because he’s Jewish himself and hardly can be accused of biased scholarship.)

        Forget Allied atrocities in WW2 for the moment. The point of my whole article was to show that Miller’s analysis of Hitler was hallucinatory insofar as the Jewish Problem is a very serious problem in the Western world. Miller, a Jewess herself who lived in a Nazi ghetto in Poland, writes under the assumption that Jews were not a hostile, powerful minority in Europe before the backlash.

  8. Chechar Says:

    “All violence has the same root.”

    But there’s a problem here, trying to psychologize all history as if no actual threats were happening before WW2.

    Hitler didn’t win an electoral majority. He won most seats and was given the Chancellorship by the German elite in 1933: the year after the Jewish Bolsheviks deliberately starved six million Ukrainians to death.

    Can there be any real doubt that the threat of the Bolshevik terror influenced both the German voters and the decision to give Hitler the Chancellorship? Why isn’t this taught in the schools?

    A reading of history that merely focuses in child abuse while ignoring these very real threats makes no sense. No sense at all.

    • Mariam farooq Says:

      Well, “real threats” and the historical “facts” is not the point here. A person’s ability to put forth so much violence is grounded in them by having received this much violence themselves. The march of time and Hitler’s ascendency, yes is very much influenced by a myriad of historical facts. However, Miller was speaking to his ability to be so extraordinarily violent and cruel. She would say that about all persons who resorted to “violent means” have the capacity to do so ONLY because of the their own subjugation as a helpless child. . .and this isn’t refuted. Even science is slowly catching up to her groundbreaking insight.

    • Chechar Says:

      See what I said above after responding to your words, “Well, I super quickly browsed through the whole post.” Please, read carefully the post before commenting. Otherwise you don’t even seem to know my point.

    • Mariam Says:

      I was being humble and playful when writing well, browsed through it super fast. . I wrote a paper on ESau’s tears while I was at the new school graduate faculty. I am from Pakistan, from an old military family. So, I am super familiar with what you called JP issue. And my response was about Ms. miller and her belief that one cannot express violence outward unless one has experienced it inward at a time when, you know, normal functions like brain and emotional development are being hard-wired. Hitler and all of us who engage is some form or another of violence , regardless, of the JP issue, do so because violence is our inner experience. . . .if it weren’t, if we were treated with respect and compassion, we would find alternate solutions to any problem. Have a nice day!

      • Chechar Says:

        “one cannot express violence outward unless one has experienced it inward…”

        And I say this is nonsense. If Bolshevik Jews kill millions in your backyard you got to use violence if you want to defend yourself.

  9. Ninon Thomas Says:

    I was asking myself if it would make it easier for you, dear Chechar, to understand the situation if you would change JP for women. Women experiences so much violence since so long but I do believe that the root of that particular violence is the same that made Hittler the monster he became.


  10. Ninon Thomas Says:

    I just listened to an interview of Thomas Goodrich by Deanna Spingola about his book Hellstorm. What a beautiful man! Since I read some of deMause work, I have lost a lot of my naïvety and I’m not surprised to hear about these more than horrible crimes done to the germans civilians. Not surprised at all that they have been hidden.
    But could we agree on one point? These americans who killed and raped thousands of german women and children were first children who grew up in families where violence and domination were largely used. Do we agree on this? As far as I’m concerned a man who hits or kills a child and rape a woman is a monster. He can be a german, an american or a russian, he is a monster. There are so many secrets hidden from us…just like in most families.

    • Chechar Says:

      Thanks for the tip. I’ll listen today to that interview.

      Still, Hitler has been demonized by the controlled media. See what I say about Hitler and the Holocaust and Hellstorm and the Holodomor at West’s Darkest Hour.

      You can also see what I wrote about deMause in this blog.

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