Unraveling Hitler’s american obsession: A new perspective

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The Aryan Type

Unraveling Hitler’s american obsession: A new perspective

December 23, 2020 Never Forget Comments Off

We explored Hitler’s alleged american fascination, according to the insights from Cambridge historian Brendan Simms in an interview titled: “Hitler’s little-known American Dream,” where they spoke to Mr. Simms on his controversial biography that explores how the dictator’s fraught obsession with the US supposedly shaped the Third Reich.

When we think of Adolf Hitler and his heinous regime, our minds often leap to his conquests in Europe and his obsession with the Soviet Union. However, Brendan Simms, a historian from Cambridge, introduces a compelling twist to this narrative in his biography, “Hitler: A Global Biography.” Simms suggests that Hitler was deeply fascinated, even obsessed, not primarily with Bolshevism or the East but with the United States and the concept of international capitalism. This fixation wasn’t just a footnote in Hitler’s ideology but a driving force that influenced many of his decisions, from domestic policies to the catastrophic events of the Holocaust.

A Slow-Burning Revelation

Simms’ journey to uncovering Hitler’s American obsession wasn’t a straight path. It evolved gradually, piecing together Hitler’s references to “Anglo-America” throughout his speeches and writings. Simms describes this research as an iterative process, where each discovery in the archives led to new insights. Interestingly, Hitler often spoke of the Anglo-Saxons, referring to the British and Americans, as the epitome of the Aryan race, a concept that he ardently believed in and wished to emulate for Germany.

An Encounter That Echoed Through History

A pivotal moment that solidified Hitler’s views on the United States occurred during WWI, specifically at the Second Battle of the Marne. Hitler encountered American soldiers who embodied the Aryan characteristics he idealized—tall, blonde, and blue-eyed. This wasn’t just propaganda; archival records confirm Hitler indeed captured two American prisoners, proving this formative encounter wasn’t a figment of his imagination. It underscored his belief that the United States, with its population bolstered by European immigrants, was a breeding ground for the Aryan race.

The Allure of America’s Lebensraum

For Hitler, America represented the ultimate Lebensraum—a concept of living space crucial for the growth and prosperity of a race. He envied America’s vast landscapes and resources, which allowed for the racial and economic flourishing that Germany lacked due to its geographical and political constraints. Yet, Hitler perceived America as lacking in culture, particularly denouncing jazz music as a sign of degeneracy. Despite this, he couldn’t ignore the country’s industrial and military might, viewing it as a model of modernization that Germany needed to surpass.

Cambridge historian-Brendan Simms

“The one thing they don’t have, in Hitler’s view, is culture. He refers on a number of occasions to jazz as an instrument of cultural degeneracy, and historians have tended to focus on those passages and deduce from that a general contempt for the United States and a discounting of its power, which in my view is completely wrong. Hitler had a very high regard for American industrial, military and, as he would call it, racial power.”

— Cambridge historian Brendan Simms

Positive Eugenics: Aspiration Over Reality

Simms delves into Hitler’s eugenic policies, differentiating between positive and negative eugenics. Initially, Hitler focused on elevating the German race, seeing the United States as an example of successful racial cultivation. However, as pressures mounted, the regime increasingly turned to extermination policies to hastily “improve” the racial stock. This shift from aspiring to match the racial “quality” of Americans to implementing barbaric policies reveals a dark evolution in Hitler’s racial ideology.

American Influences and Eugenic Policies

Hitler’s admiration for American eugenics and restrictive immigration policies, such as the 1924 Immigration Act, is striking. These policies resonated with his own racial ideology, reinforcing his belief in the need for racial purity. Hitler also drew inspiration from American racial theorists like Madison Grant, whose works further fueled his obsession with racial superiority and the idea of America as both a model and a competitor.

Cambridge historian-Brendan Simms

“…he was very impressed with the 1924 American Immigration Act which excluded Slavs and Jews from Eastern Europe and privileged ‘Nordic elements’ for Western and Northern Europe. He asked, ‘why can’t we do this as well in Germany, instead of importing inferior elements form the East?’”

— Cambridge historian Brendan Simms

Edgar “Putzi” Hanfstaengl: A Transatlantic Connection

The story of Edgar “Putzi” Hanfstaengl illustrates the complex relationship between Nazi Germany and the United States. As a confidant of Hitler who later advised the Americans, Hanfstaengl’s life reflects the fascination and fear that America instilled in Hitler. The dictator was intrigued by the assimilation power of America, fearing it could dilute the Germanic identity of emigrants, transforming them into Americans rather than preserving their German heritage.

Cambridge historian-Brendan Simms

“Hitler was fascinated and horrified by the way Germans who left Germany for the US became Americans. Whereas if they went East – to Russia –they stayed German.”

— Cambridge historian Brendan Simms

A Revisionist Approach to History

Simms challenges the traditional focus on the Soviet Union as Hitler’s main concern, arguing that Hitler’s actions were primarily driven by his rivalry with Anglo-American capitalism. This perspective suggests that Operation Barbarossa and the persecution of Jews were influenced more by Hitler’s desire to compete with the United States than by an intrinsic hatred of Bolshevism.

Cambridge historian-Brendan Simms

“Hitler saw Jews as hostages for what he calls the ‘good behaviour’ of the US. He signals a clear warning on a number of occasions that if America enters the war, he will punish the Jews. Then, after the start of open hostilities with the US, he tells Goebbels, ‘Well, I warned them, the war is here and now the Jews must pay the price.’”

— Cambridge historian Brendan Simms

Hitler’s Complex Relationship with Capitalism

While Hitler despised international capitalism for its perceived Jewish influence and its competitive threat to Germany, he maintained a pragmatic relationship with German capitalists. This nuanced stance highlights Hitler’s ability to distinguish between what he saw as destructive international forces and the national capitalism that could serve his ambitions.

Controversy and Modern Implications

Simms’ interpretation of Hitler as an antagonist of international capitalism has sparked debate among historians, with some critics accusing him of inadvertently aligning with alt-right narratives by essentially painting Hitler as left-wing. This underscores the complexity of interpreting historical figures and the importance of examining their ideologies in the context of their time.

America’s Enduring Impact

The United States loomed large in Hitler’s imagination and in the broader German cultural consciousness. Before and after Hitler, America represented a land of opportunity and a model of modernity that Germany aspired to emulate. Hitler’s American dream, though twisted and perverted by his racial ideologies, underscores the profound impact of the United States on global history and the dangers of idolizing power and racial purity.

Cambridge historian-Brendan Simms

“Before that, the US was omnipresent in the 1920s in terms of cinema, music, consumerism, economics and emigration. It’s the model that Hitler was trying to beat, or if not beat, then indeed match. And that’s what Hitler was trying to offer in the 1930s: German consumerism, Autobahns, radios, even Coca-Cola franchises. It was the German Dream.”

— Cambridge historian Brendan Simms

Simms’ biography of Hitler offers a fresh lens through which to view the dictator’s motivations and actions. By exploring Hitler’s American obsession, we gain insight into the complexities of historical figures and the unpredictable ways in which their ideologies can be shaped by international influences.