In this series, Dr. Carson examines the connection between ideology and the revolutions of our time and traces the impact on several major countries and the spread of the ideas and practices around the world.
To outward appearances Hitler came to power legally in January of 1933. The Nazi Party had received the largest percentage of the vote in the last two general elections and thus had the largest delegation in the Reichstag. President Hindenburg had appointed Hitler Chancellor, which was the method prescribed by law. Indeed, naming him to head the government could have presaged a return to substantial constitutional rule. Undoubtedly, Hindenburg hoped it would. Increasingly, for the past two years Germany had been governed by presidential decree because the Chancellors and their cabinets could not command a majority in the Reichstag. The naming of Hitler to head the government was supposed to be a step toward restoring parliamentary government by placing the head of the largest party at the focus of power.
But Hitler’s rise to power was accomplished only apparently by legal means. The way is opened to seeing this when we realize that he was granted very little power on January 30, 1933. There were only three Nazis, including Hitler, in the eleven member Cabinet. The allegiance of the armed forces was to President Hindenburg, and he could assume command over them by declaring martial law. Most police powers were exercised by the states. President Hindenburg further circumscribed Hitler’s powers by requiring that he obtain a parliamentary majority in order to retain his position. The Reichstag could, in theory, force his resignation at any time by a vote of no confidence. To all but Hitler, and probably a few others, he appeared to be boxed in.
Hitler had no intention of being boxed in or restrained, but it was crucial that he observe the forms of legality. Historians have continued to ponder over the years why the army did not put a stop to Hitler, why the labor unions did not go out on a general strike, and why this or that group (or even the German people) did not rise against him. There are a number of reasons for this, but the primary one is that he had been installed legally in his position. His legal hold on power tended to disarm his enemies and render them irresolute. One scholar has described Hitler’s method of operation this way:
… For Hitler’s originality lay in his realization that effective revolutions, in modern conditions, are carried out with, and not against, the power of the State: the correct order of events was first to secure access to that power and then begin his evolution. Hitler never abandoned the cloak of legality; he recognized the enormous psychological value of having the law on his side….¹
He wore this cloak much more frequently during the first year and a half than he did thereafter.
To Gain Power
Hitler was faced with political problems as soon as he was installed. The most pressing was to get a working majority in the Reichstag. Beyond that, he wanted to have passed an Enabling Act which would permit the cabinet to promulgate laws without Reichstag approval. This would allow him to bypass not only the Reichstag but also the President. There was a possibility that he could have got his working majority, but there was no possibility of getting an Enabling Act through the Reichstag with its present composition. The Social Democrats and Communists—the Marxist parties—almost certainly would combine to prevent that. As a matter of fact, The Social Democrats determined quickly after Hitler was installed as Chancellor that they would introduce the call for a no confidence vote as soon as the Reichstag met.
The Cabinet considered three different approaches toward getting a working majority. Hugenberg, the Nationalist leader, wanted to expel the Communists from the Reichstag. Not only would this be illegal but it might also provoke the dreaded general strike. Hitler and the others rejected this approach.
Another, and legal, way would be to get the support of the Centre Party and possibly also the Bavarian People’s Party, probably by bringing them into the government. Hitler did enter into negotiations with the leaders of these parties, but reported to the Cabinet that their demands were too great for any hope of agreement. There is a widely held belief that Hitler did not want to come to terms with these parties. That may well be, for he certainly would have been boxed in if he had accepted dependency on the Centre Party, say. Even a small party holding a balance of power would have great leverage.
In any case, Hitler adopted a third approach, one which he probably had planned from the outset: to ask President Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag and call for a new election. The election was set for March of 1933.
Hitler seemed to be taking a considerable gamble by holding new elections. This would be the third such election in less than a year, and the Nazi Party vote had been smaller in the second than in the first. If it should decline once again, Hitler’s position would be less secure than it was. Of course, Hitler believed that as head of the government he would be able to employ fair means and foul to consolidate his position. The pretext for resorting to force, if he needed one, was provided by a fortuitous event: the Reichstag fire. On the night of February 27, 1933 the Reichstag building went up in flames.
An Excuse to Suspend Liberties and Use Force
While the building was still smoldering, Hitler concluded that the fire had been set by Communists or, more broadly, Marxists. It was a signal, he proclaimed, for a Bolshevik revolution in Germany. So far as has ever been determined, it was actually the work of a lone man, a Dutch ex-Communist who confessed to it and was executed. A great effort was made to prove that there was a Communist conspiracy; several Communists were arrested and tried. However, the court found them not guilty. It was widely held for a long time that the fire must have been set by Nazis, that it probably was directed by Hermann Goering, and some still believe this to have been the case. However, careful scholarly investigation since World War II has failed to turn up any solid evidence that the Nazis did it.²
In any case, the Nazis used the occasion to suspend liberties and step up the use of force. On the day after the fire President Hindenburg was induced to sign a decree permitting the government to place "Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association….," among other things.3 Just prior to the election, "Some four thousand Communist officials and a great many Social Democrats and liberal leaders were arrested, including members of the Reichstag, who, according to the law, were immune from arrest."
.. Truckloads of storm troopers roared through the streets all over Germany, breaking into homes, rounding up victims and carting them off to S.A. barracks, where they were tortured and beaten. The Communist press and political meetings were suppressed; the Social Democrat newspapers… were suspended…. Only the Nazis and their Nationalist allies were permitted to campaign unmolested.4
The tenor of the campaign is revealed in these promises of Goering in a speech at Frankfurt two days before the election: "Certainly, I shall use the power of the State and the police to the utmost, my dear Communists, so don’t draw any false conclusions; but the struggle to the death, in which my fist will grasp your necks, I shall lead with those down there-the Brown Shirts."5
Erasing the Communists
Even with the power of an unrestrained government behind them, the Nazis failed to get the majority they sought; they received approximately 44 per cent of the total vote. However, it already had been decided that the Communist Party would not be permitted to seat any delegates in the Reichstag. Without them, the Nazis had their working majority. (It is generally believed that Hitler had only permitted the Communist Party on the ballot to forestall the shift of much of the vote of their followers to the Social Democrats.)
Hitler got his Enabling Act, too, when the Reichstag met. Only the Social Democrats, such of them as were not being held by the Nazis in prisons or concentration camps, voted against it. The scene on the day of the vote was reminiscent of that of the meeting of the Russian Constituent Assembly in January 1918. There were Storm Troopers all about, and the streets were filled with these uniformed forces, chanting for the passage of the bill. Only Otto Wels, the Social Democrat leader, got up enough courage to speak against it, and Hitler rose immediately after to denounce him. The final vote was 441 for and 84 against. The Reichstag had, in effect, voted itself into oblivion. Thereafter, "legality" hardly was distinguishable from the will of Hitler.
Even before the passage of the Enabling Act, Hitler had begun the process of subduing the potential of resistance of independent organizations in Germany. The main ones with such potential were: political parties, the states, labor unions, the churches, industrial and trade organizations, farmer groups, the regular army, professional associations, and, eventually, his own paramilitary organizations. With the Enabling Act in one hand, he could and did step up the pace of abolition, subversion, and subjection of these organizations.
Before describing this, however, the terroristic setting within which it occurred needs to be made clear. The main instrument of terror during the first year or so of Hitler’s rule was the SA (Storm Troopers), though it was ably assisted by the SS, the Gestapo, and the regular police. The SA expanded rapidly after Hitler became Chancellor. It had, perhaps 400,000 members at the beginning of 1933; by the end of the year it had from 3 to 4 million members. Many Communists now came into the SA. "Between January and November, 1933…., the numerical strength of the Berlin SA rose from 60,000 to 110,000, and former Communists accounted for about 70 per cent of the increment."6 In and around Berlin, Goering combined the SA with the police and loosed them against "anti-State organizations."
… All the SA’s basest instincts, all its pent-up social discontent, all that inflammatory orators and propagandists had been dinning into it for years, was given free rein—and Prussia turned into a terrorists’ witches’ cauldron. Mobile squads of SA swept through the streets of the towns, the worst thugs being in Berlin. Section lc of SA headquarters…. drove so-called enemies of the State in front of it, dragged them into huts, shelters, cellars and out-of-the-way places, beat them up and tortured them. This state of affairs was not confined to Berlin; terror reigned in the provinces too….7
Rudolph Diels, who was able to use his position to get some of the prisoners released, described what happened to some of them: "The victims whom we found were half dead from starvation. In order to extort confessions from them, they had been kept standing for days in narrow cupboards. ‘Interrogation’ consisted simply of beating up, a dozen or so thugs being employed in fifteen-minute shifts to belabour their victims with iron bars, rubber truncheons and whips. When we entered, these living skeletons were lying in rows on filthy straw with festering wounds."
The Nazis had no intention of tolerating political opposition, nor would they collaborate for long with other political parties which were independent of them. The Communist Party had been, in effect, proscribed since the Reichstag fire. In May, 1933, its assets and property were seized, and the Party ceased to exist. Shortly thereafter the property of the Social Democratic Party was taken, and it was officially dissolved in early July. Harassment of the other parties led their leaders to dissolve them. Even the Nationalist Party, which had been most cooperative, was not permitted to survive. "On 21 June the police and S.A. occupied the Party’s offices in a number of German towns, and a week later the leaders, bowing to the inevitable, dissolved the Party." To round it all off, Hitler promulgated this law on July 14, 1933:
Article I: The National Socialist German Workers’ Party constitutes the only political Party in Germany.
Article II: Whoever undertakes to maintain the organizational structure of another political Party or to form a new political Party will be punished with penal servitude up to three years or with imprisonment up to three years, if the action is not subject to a greater penalty according to other regulations.9
The "other regulations" were probably the laws against treason. At any rate, there was now only one party in Germany.
The states were reduced to administrative units of the Reich government in a few months. That puts it too tamely: they were made into instruments of the will of Hitler and those immediately under him. Following the general elections in March of 1933 and the passage of the Enabling Act, the state legislatures were ordered reconstituted in accordance with the national elections. Even before that, however, the subjection of the states had begun. Papen, as Chancellor of the Reich, had gained control of the Prussian government in 1932. Under Hitler, Goering was given control over the police in Prussia, including Berlin. The government of Bavaria, the second largest German state, was seized by the Nazis, even before the last general election. Hitler eventually became "governor" of Prussia, and Goering its prime minister, thus consolidating the rule of Germany ‘s largest state with that of Germany. A "Law for the Coordination of the States with the Reich" was set forth April 7, 1933:
This revolutionary statute deprives the States of independent authority and largely abolishes the federal system. It provides for the appointment of… Governors appointed by, subject to, and directly representing the Reich government. They will take charge of the State governments and ensure that the latter observe "the political directions set forth by the Reich Chancellor."… The…Governors appointed during ensuing weeks are… without exception Nazis, as a rule Nazi Gauleiters.¹º
The labor unions were supposed to be the most dangerous threat to the Nazis; a general strike could, in theory, paralyze the country. The Nazis moved stealthily and swiftly against them. The government declared May 1, 1933 a national holiday in celebration of labor. This "May Day" celebration was undoubtedly intended to quiet any fears the leaders might have that anything ominous was portending for them. Then, on May 2, the Nazis struck. The socialist unions were dissolved. "Early in the morning SA and SS men, aided by the police, occupy their offices, buildings and banks throughout the country. Their leading representatives… are summarily arrested and incarcerated in prisons or concentration camps."" The Christian Trade Unions and such others as existed then "voluntarily" yielded up their independence to the Nazis. A Ger-, man Labor Front controlled by the Nazis was set up to replace the independent unions. Workmen continued to pay their dues, but they no longer were able to take any action by way of the unions.
Using the Churches
The churches, too, were subdued by the Nazis, but the approach to them was more subtle than to many other organizations. Hitler sought to use them as an instrument in forging German unity and to limit their impact when it would not be in that direction. The Roman Catholic
Church posed the potentially greatest problem, since significant control over it was exercised from beyond the bounds of Germany. Hitler sent emissaries to the Vatican, and these eventually were able to work out a Concordat with the Pope. The effect of this was to tend to undermine any opposition from the Catholic clergy within Germany. So far as the Lutherans were concerned, Hitler managed to get Nazi sympathizers in positions of authority over many of them.
There can be little room for doubt, however, that the thrust of Christianity is in the opposite direction from National Socialism, that the unity and militancy of the Nazis ran counter to Christianity. Warfare is hardly a Christian ideal as it was an ideal for the Nazis. Undoubtedly, leading Nazis hoped eventually to replace Christianity with Hitler worship, but in the meanwhile they sought to subvert the churches, and they persecuted those who attempted to maintain the distinct mission and independence of Christianity.
Indeed, the brunt of Nazi terror was focused on carrying out religious persecution. The most dramatic, sustained, and, eventually, horrible instance of this was the persecution of the Jews. Hitler claimed, of course, that the assault upon the Jews was motivated by racial rather than religious considerations. Yet, if Jews were distinguishable from the rest of the population by anything other than a common religious background, Hitler never discovered it, for he required them to display the Star of David—surely a religious emblem—so that they would be recognized. Jews were subjected to discriminatory measures, to being hounded out of the professions, to the loss of property, to harassment by the populace, to persecution in concentration camps, and encouraged to go elsewhere to live during the 1930′s.
Jehovah’s Witnesses were invariably persecuted because of their pacifist views. Of Catholic persecution, William L. Shirer says: "thousands of Catholic priests, nuns and lay leaders were arrested, many of them on trumped-up charges of `immorality’ or of ‘smuggling foreign currency.’ Erich Kausener, leader of Catholic Action, was… murdered…. Scores of Catholic publications were suppressed and even the sanctity of the confessional was violated by Gestapo agents."12 Among Protestants, those who identified themselves as the “Confessional Church“ were the most vigorously persecuted.
No Active Opposition
Neither industrialists, shopkeepers, nor farmers posed any great threat to the Nazi regime. They are, in any case, fundamentally engaged in peaceful pursuits, and such organizations as they possessed were used by the Nazis to direct and coordinate their activities. Much of German industry was already cartelized; it served Hitler’s purposes for it to be even more so, for concentrated industry was much more readily controlled by the state.
The question often has been raised of why the Nazis did not meet greater opposition in Germany. Why, it has been asked, did the state leaders or political parties or labor unions not mount an effective opposition? Why did the churches not speak out strongly and unequivocally against Hitler? Why, even, did the Jews not serve as catalysts for a concerted opposition? Why did business leaders not resist the Nazi thrust to power? Why did the army not prevent the spread of terror and barbarism in Germany ? Indeed, why was there such apparent widespread support among the German people for Hitler? What happened, it is well to ask, to journalists, writers, judges, lawyers, artists, and what may be thought of in general as the keepers of civility? Why did all these not raise such a storm of opposition that the Nazi tide would have been turned back from the beginning?
There are, of course, particular explanations to be made in answer to each of these questions, explanations which would account, in part, for the failure of particular groupings and organizations. But there is a broader explanation which includes all of them and is, hopefully, more complete than all the separate explanations would be. In the broadest sense, Germany did not rise in opposition to Hitler because it was deeply divided. It was divided into many different political parties, as has been shown, and most of these were locked in ideological conflict with one another. Many laborers were members of unions intent on gaining their own ends and in opposition to much of the rest of the populace. The army was imperiled by the paramilitary organizations. Many, many people were monarchist rather than republican in inclination.
The Promise of Unity and the Crushing of Resistance
What enabled Hitler to consolidate his power and subject the German people to his will was the Promise and the Terror. What Hitler promised was to end the divisions within Germany, to forge a national unity, to concert the energies of the people behind the building and expansion of a specifically German state. Hitler offered himself as the visible symbol, the Leader, of such a unity. He would lead Germany to the realization of its national greatness. Opposition to Hitler, in this context, became opposition to German unity, opposition to German greatness, opposition to the melding of the Germanic people into an organic whole.
Those who have contemplated Nazi Germany from a safe remove in time and place have imagined options which were not apparent to the German people. The alternative, if it could be called that, which Hitler offered was either to blend with and become a part of the organic unity or to be isolated and alone. In theory, no organization could exist which did not contribute toward the achievement of this unity and was not subordinate to it. Bishop Marahrens of Hanover had grasped the point when he made this public declaration in 1937: "The National Socialist conception of life is the national and political teaching which determines and characterizes German manhood. As such, it is obligatory upon German Christians also."13 The Promise, to those who would so yield, was that they would realize their own potential by identification with the greatness of the nation.
Those who would not, or could not as in the case of the Jews and Gypsies, would be crushed. Underlying the Promise was the Terror. There was no real option of being left alone in Nazi Germany. Any who were not for Hitler were against him; all who were not of the collective were a menace to it. Just as a farmer insists on having all the pigs in the pen, so Hitler would have all broken to the mentality of his collective or destroyed. A stubborn pig will sometimes resist being penned, running hither and yon to escape his fate. He will, of course, be pursued, hounded, beaten about his tender nose, and otherwise tormented until he goes in or dies of exhaustion. There were object lessons aplenty in Nazi Germany for any who gave thought to resisting. Two examples may suffice.
Purging the SA
The first usually is described as "The Night of the Long Knives." Most of the events associated with it took place June 30-July 1, 1934. During that time and in the succeeding days, the leaders of the SA were put to death, along with a goodly number of other people whom Hitler feared or hated. "Put to death" may be too gentle a phrase; they were murdered, murdered in a manner that is usually associated with gangland massacres. Hitler personally went to Munich to oversee the roundup of victims there; the chief of these was Ernst Röhm, the commander of the SA. Himmler’s SS carried out this purge, and it was the signal of the triumph of that organization over the SA. It is generally believed that several hundred were killed, but the exact number never has been determined.
The background, so far as it is known, is this. As already noted, the SA had expanded rapidly in the course of 1933 until it was far and away the largest organization in Germany with the potential of being a military force. The SA had been Hitler’s main instrument of terror during his thrust to power in the early months of 1933. However, by the middle of the year Hitler was ready to declare, and did, that the political revolution had been accomplished and that henceforth change would be made gradually and by evolutionary means.
There were rumblings within the SA of the desirability of completing the "social revolution." But Hitler had no intention of allowing German industry to be destroyed by turning it over to the heavy handed and inept SA. Relations between Hitler and Röhm ranged from cool to cordial thereafter, but the impression prevailed that the SA leaders were champing at the bit to play some more vital role in the Reich. Röhm focused increasingly on one goal, to train and equip the SA as an army and have it become the bulwark of Germany ‘s expanded and revitalized armed force.
The idea may have appealed to Hitler. His goal, of course, was a vastly expanded army following the repudiation of the Treaty of Versailles. In the SA he might have the potential for such an army already enlisted. But there clearly were drawbacks to such an approach. The Storm Troopers were street fighters, more like a mob than an army, and their loyalty—whether to Hitler or Ram—was uncertain. More, the regular army leaders unalterably were opposed to being undercut by Röhm’s amateurs. This was one area where President Hindenburg, a professional soldier himself, was adamant; the SA must be put in their place. Caught between these pressures, Hitler dallied, apparently reluctant to strike down an old comrade. But when he struck, he struck in his usual underhanded, masterful, and monstrous fashion. Röhm was sent on sick leave, and the SA was given a month’s vacation in July with the promise that they would be reassembled at the end of that time. On the eve of their vacation, Hitler made his move.
The Sinister Purpose
It is doubtful that Hitler would have had several hundred people killed, and that illegally by all civilized standards, in order simply to downgrade the SA. Besides, a goodly number of those killed had no association with the SA. His sinister purpose may be revealed more clearly in the murder of two professional soldiers. "On the morning of June 30, a squad of S.S. men in mufti rang the doorbell at General von Schleicher’s villa on the outskirts of Berlin. When the General opened the door he was shot dead inhis tracks, and when his wife, whom he had married but eighteen months before… stepped forward, she too was slain on the spot. General Kurt von Bredow, a close friend of Schleicher, met a similar fate the same evening."14 The lesson hardly would be lost on military men. Their rank and status—Schleicher had been a Chancellor, too—would not protect them if they opposed Hitler. A man, even a professional soldier, is ever exposed and potentially alone, when he is subject to being shot down in his home on orders from the highest government officials. Hitler drove the point home in his speech to the Reichstag later that month: "And everyone must know for all future time that if he raises his hand to strike the State, then certain death is his lot."15 And Hitler was the State.
The second example of the Terror shows also, but in a different way, the lot of the opponent, real or imagined, of the regime. It takes us into the concentration camps where the ultimate nature of revolutionary socialism is revealed. The concentration camp is as essential to revolutionary socialism as the garbage dump is to cleaning the modern city. Indeed, the functions of each are so similar that Solzhenitsyn has referred to the camps in Russia as a garbage disposal system. The idea that has the world in its grip is that all human effort will be concerted toward achieving felicity. But there are those who will not be concerted or for one reason or another cannot be concerted. (Indeed, there may be no upper limit to the number who might be put in this category.) Something must be done with them, and the concentration camp is their most plausible destiny. They are, so to speak, the refuse of collectivism.
The Recycling Process
Nowadays, considerable effort is put into reclaiming for use the refuse of the cities: waste materials are recycled; sewage water goes through a purification process; even garbage might be reused in some way. In like manner, concentration camps have been used, to some extent, for "recycling" or "purifying" human beings and bringing them into accord with the collective. This "recycling process" entails separating them from society, isolating them from one another, cutting away every shred of their independence, and developing in them a longing to be identified with the collective, even with the most visible of the collective, their own jailers. Even if they cannot be finally repatriated, so to speak, collectivism finds its vindication and justification in their longing for it.
Bruno Bettelheim makes a particularly good witness about this aspect of the Terror and of concentration camps. An Austrian Jew, trained in psychology, Professor Bettelheim was confined in the Nazi concentration camps at Dachau and Buchenwald in the late 1930′s, prior to the time when they became extermination camps. In contrast to many who have written about the camps, he concluded that the torments to which the prisoners were subjected ordinarily were not aimed at satisfying the sadistic whims of the SS guards. On the contrary, they were designed to bend and break the will of the prisoner in order not only to make him pliable but also to align him with the aims of the regime, or, at the least, make him useful in some way.
The first stage in this attempted transformation took place during the initial transportation to a camp. The prisoners were kicked, slapped, knifed, or wounded in other ways. They also were put in uncomfortable and unusual positions for long periods to produce extreme exhaustion. "The guards also forced prisoners to hit one another and to defile what the SS considered the prisoners’ most cherished values. They were forced to curse their God, to accuse themselves and one another of vile actions and their wives of adultery and prostitution…. Until it was over, any failure to obey an order, such as slapping another prisoner, or any help given a tortured prisoner was viewed as mutiny and swiftly punished by death." "The purpose of this massive initial abuse," says Bettelheim, "was to traumatize the prisoners and break their resistance…."16 The purpose, too, was to cut the individual loose from the protection he usually received and confidence he had from being civil, moral, and decent. It began the process of severing him emotionally from society and isolating him from the protection of his fellows.
Although the attack on the personality was not so severe once they were in camp, it was much more prolonged. The way they were treated appeared to be designed to make them regress to a childlike condition. They were not permitted to address one another by their titles nor to use the formal modes of address. They were whipped for misbehavior, even as children sometimes are. Their attention was focused on bodily elimination, even as small children are, by allowing them insufficient time to take care of it and obsequiously gain permission from the guards to seek relief. They were made to do meaningless work, sometimes were hitched to wagons like horses, and made to sing rollicking songs when they marched. They were being robbed of their status as adult human beings.17
Bettelheim experienced the next stage at Buchenwald; it was the merging of the individual into a mass, the group. This is how it was done:
Whenever possible the prisoners were punished as a group so that the whole group suffered for and with the person who brought about the punishment…. It was in the group’s interest to prevent anyone from endangering the group. As already noted, the fear of punishment was more frequent than the reality, which meant that the group asserted its power over the individual more often and more effectively than the SS. In many respects group pressure was practically permanent. Moreover, each prisoner was unusually dependent for survival on group cooperation. This added further to a situation where the group was constantly controlling the individual."
The final stage occurred when the prisoners had come to identify themselves with their captors, the SS, to imitate their behavior, and to treat other prisoners, and think of them, as did the SS. This was a stage reached only by "old prisoners," those who had been in the camps for years. How far this identification went is suggested by Bettelheim:
Old prisoners tended to identify with the SS not only in their goals and values, but even in appearance. They tried to arrogate to themselves old pieces of SS uniforms, and when that was not possible they tried to sew and mend their prison garb until it resembled the uniforms…. When asked why they did it, they said it was because they wanted to look smart. To them looking smart meant to look like their enemies."
But, of course, the SS was no longer to them the enemy; the enemy had become anyone and everyone who by thought or deed resisted the rule by the SS. By extension, the enemy had become all who were not in accord with the collective will. The transformation of personality had taken place.
It might be supposed that once such a transformation had taken place the prisoner then would be released. The present writer has encountered no evidence that this happened generally. True, prisoners were released from concentration camps from time to time, but their release did not depend upon any stage of personality transformation, so far as we know. If one of the purposes of the camps was to terrify the general populace, and that must have been the case, the purpose probably would have been poorly served by sending back those who had so thoroughly adjusted to them. The camps are best understood as diabolical experiments in people control, not experiments whose results would be inmates reclaimed for society but experiments whose results could be used for controlling people more generally.
Legality is only an appearance when the idea that has the world in its grip has behind it the mechanisms of the state. It is an empty form whose substance has been drained away to be replaced by arbitrary power, force, and terror in the service, supposedly, of the collective will. The concentration camp is the "law school" of socialism.
Next: 12. Nazi-Soviet Parallels.
1Alan Bullock, Hitler: A Study in Tyranny (New York: Harper & Row, 1962, rev. ed.), p. 257.
2See Eliot B. Wheaton, Prelude to Calamity: The Nazi Revolution, 1933-35 (New York: Doubleday, 1968), pp. 230-43.
3William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960), p. 194.
5Bullock, op. cit., p. 264.
6Wheaton, op. cit., p. 436.
7Heinz Höhne, The Order of the Death’s Head, Richard Barry, trans. (New York: Coward-McCann, 1969), p. 85.
8Ibid., p. 86.
9Bullock, op. cit., pp. 274-75.
10 Wheaton, op. cit., p. 288.
11Ibid., p. 303.
12Shirer, op. cit., p. 235.
15Bullock, op. cit., p. 308.
16Bruno Bettelheim, The Informed Heart: Autonomy in a Mass Age (Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press, 1960), p. 124.
17See Ibid., pp. 133-34.
19Ibid., p. 171.