Orwell & Hitler

Ollie Garchy

Active member
Does anyone care to respond to the follow Orwell quote?: (it surprised me)

Mein Kampf, by Adolph Hitler review by George Orwell New English Weekly, March 21, 1940 excerpted from The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, Volume II, My Country Right or Left.

"It is a sign of the speed at which events are moving that Hurst and Blackett's unexpurgated edition of Mein Kampf, published only a year ago, is edited from a pro-Hitler angle. The obvious intention of the translator's preface and notes is to tone down the book's ferocity and present Hitler in as kindly a light as possible. For at that date Hitler was still respectable...

On the internal evidence of Mein Kampf, it is difficult to believe that any real change has taken place in Hitler's aims and opinions. When one compares his utterances of a year or so ago with those made fifteen years earlier [when Mein Kampf was written], a thing that strikes one is the rigidity of his mind, the way in which his world-view doesn't develop. It is the fixed vision of a monomaniac and not likely to be much affected by the temporary manoeuvres of power politics. Probably, in Hitler's own mind, the Russo-German Pact represents no more than an alteration of time-table. The plan laid down in Mein Kampf was to smash Russia...

It is easy to say that at one stage of his career Hitler was financed by the heavy industrialists, who saw in him the man who would smash the Socialists and Communists. They would not have backed him, however, if he had not talked a great movement into existence already. Again, the situation in Germany, with its seven million unemployed, was obviously favourable for demagogues. But Hitler could not have succeeded against his many rivals if it had not been for the attraction of his own personality, which one can feel even in the clumsy writing of Mein Kampf, and which is no doubt overhwhelming when one hears his speeches. I should like to put it on record that I have never been able to dislike Hitler. Ever since he came to power--till then, like nearly everyone, I had been deceived into thinking that he did not matter-- I have reflected that I would certainly kill him if I could get within reach of him, but that I could feel no personal animosity. The fact is that there is something deeply appealing about him. One feels it again when one sees his photographs-- and I recommend especially the photograph at the beginning of Hurst and Blackett's edition, which shows Hitler in his early Brownshirt days. It is a pathetic, dog-like face, the face of a man suffering under intolerable wrongs. In a rather more manly way it reproduces the expression of innumerable pictures of Christ crucified, and there is little doubt that that is how Hitler sees himself. The initial, personal cause of his grievance against the universe can only be guessed at; but at any rate the grievance is there. He is the martyr, the victim, Prometheus chained to the rock, the self-sacrificing hero who fights single-handed against impossible odds. If he were killing a mouse he would know how to make it seem like a dragon. One feels, as with Napoelon, that he is fighting against destiny, that he can't win, and yet that he somehow deserves to. The attraction of such a pose is of course enormous; half the films that one sees turn upon some such theme.

Also he has grasped the falsity of the hedonistic attitude to life. Nearly all western thought since the last war, certainly all "progressive" thought, has assumed tacitly that human beings desire nothing beyond ease, security and avoidance of pain. In such a view of life there is no room, for instance, for patriotism and military virtues. The Socialist who finds his children playing wilth soldiers is usually upset, but he is never able to think of a substitute for the tin soldiers; tin pacifists somehow won't do. Hitler, because in his own joyless mind he feels it with exceptional strength, knows that human beings don't only want comfort, safety, short working-hours, hygiene, birth-control and, in general, common sense; they also, at least intermittently, want struggle and self-sacrifice, not to mention drums, flags and loyalty-parades. However they may be as economic theories, Fascism and Nazism are pshychologically far sounder than any hedonistic conception of life. The same is probably true of Stalin's militarised verison of Socialism. All three of the great dictators have enhanced their power by imposing intolerable burdens on their peoples. Whereas Socialism, and even capitalism in a more grudging way, have said to people "I offer you a good time," Hitler has said to them "I offer you struggle, danger and death," and as a result a whole nation flings itself at his feet. Perhaps later on they will get sick of it and change their minds, as at the end of the last war. After a few years of slaughter and starvation "Greatest happiness of the greatest number" is a good slogan, but at this moment "Better an end with horror than a horror without end" is a winner. Now that we are fighting against the man who coined it, we ought not to underrate its emotional appeal."

The last Paragraph is extremly interesting. I have always liked George Orwell's work. Great Find Ollie
Hitler was a genius...albeit misguided....I have read pieces of Mien kempf and man what a crazy concept he had and to think he wrote that book while in jail and then almost pulled it off...

As Orwell put it more less you would kill the man but you respected the man....

Hitler was def. FUBAR
It is very foolish to assume that because someone is evil he is stupid. Hitler's actions were devastating because some of them were based in some very true principles about human nature (others were based in false principles, like the superiority of certain races, and that's what brought the evil).
The same concept goes for Orwell, who advocated many wrong things, but was heard because he had insight into some truths.
This is a quote everyone should read, not only because it gives us insight into the goals, claims, and effectiveness of certain types of governments, but also into human nature. Even if socialism were ever able to provide a life of equality and plenty for everyone - would people be satisfied with a life of monotony, with nothing to strive for except maintaining the status quo?
There will always be an attraction to "tin soldiers," because there will always be something that needs conquered, and victory over evil will always be one of the most satisfying achievements.
Hitler understood human nature all to well, mainly how to manipulate it for his own purposes. You are correct about the ridicules racial principles. I do believe he was evil in that this one man empowered a movement - a nation to start a genocidal war of conquest that resulted in perhaps 60 million deaths.
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