Nazism in Context: The Personal and Professional Life of the Butcher of Poland. Atypical Insights on Stauffenberg
By Jan Peczkis | May 7, 2014
One major shortcoming of this book, for which reason I give it three stars, is the information and quotations that are not linked to any of the sources in the bibliography. This makes it difficult for the reader to conduct further research, and s/he must resort to other books on Hans Frank.
Author O’Connor puts emphasis the role of the Bavarian Catholic Church in supporting Hitler. However, he sees this as a church that had allowed itself to be shaped by the popular culture, as he comments, “`The Church which is married to the Spirit of the Age will be a widow in the next’. Dean Inge’s judgment is often quoted today in support of Catholic traditional values. In many disastrous ways the Catholic Church in the late 1920’s and the 1930’s was married to the `Spirit of the Age’.” (p. 103).
In time, the Nazis showed their true anti-Christian colors. Already in 1934, the song of the Hitler Youth included stanzas that were anti-Christ, anti-papist, and openly stated that the singer is not a Christian and not a Catholic. (p. 97). Hitler repeatedly made snide remarks about Christianity. (pp. 98-on). The Nazis abolished mandatory prayer in schools in 1935, and eliminated religious education for 14-15 year olds in 1940. (p. 95, 105).
The author touches on the sexuality of the Nazis. They modeled their homosexuality on that of the male bonding of the Spartans. (p. 57). He considers it inconclusive as to whether Hans Frank was a homosexual or bisexual. He also puts the later Nazi persecution of gays in perspective, “Later the Nazis prosecuted homosexuals and sent them to concentration camps, though this did not happen with the thoroughness of the destruction of Jews, Catholics, intellectuals, opponents of the regime, and the disabled.” (p. 95).
What about the possible Jewish ancestry of some of the Nazi leaders, including Hitler? The author notes that this question is not answerable because the Nazis had destroyed the relevant records. (p. 87).
Unfortunately, this book repeats the old canard about Polish cavalry charging German tanks during the 1939 German-Soviet conquest of Poland. (p. 124). On the other hand, author Gary O’Connor has a good grasp of the Nazi German crimes in occupied Poland, especially for a non-Polish author. These crimes were hardly limited to Jews as victims. The author features the destruction of Poland’s intelligentsia, and mass shootings of Poles, the systematic confiscation and destruction of Polish cultural treasures, the mass deaths (by starvation and cold) of Poles expelled from the Reich-annexed territories, the thorough German destruction of Warsaw after the fall of the Soviet-betrayed Warsaw Uprising, etc. One minor point: the genocidal “Zamosc experiment” against Poles is misspelled as Zamosz. (p. 171).
But, according to white nationalists, Hitler was “Mr. White Solidarity”, “White Power”, “White Nationalism.” Why, then, did he do this to the white Poles?
The author demythologizes Claus von Stauffenberg, notably as portrayed in the movie VALKYRIE. The would-be assassin of Hitler supported the German conquest, exploitation, and colonization of Poland. Even in 1944, Stauffenberg wanted a peace with the Soviet Union that would return Poland to the partitioned state of 1914. (p. 130). This reminds us once again that being anti-Hitler does not make one an anti-Nazi, and that being an anti-Nazi does not prevent one from being a German imperialist.
At the Nuremberg trials, the Nazi defendants commonly attempted to exculpate their conduct by blaming it on the “injustices” of Versailles, and by adopting an “Allies were just as bad” line of rationalization. Some tried to equate the authoritarianism of the Nazis with that of the Catholic Church. Psychologist Douglas Kelley, accused of being the one who smuggled the cyanide capsule to Goering, later (December 1957) himself committed suicide by taking the same poison–an alleged souvenir from the Nuremberg trials. (p. 238).
Hans Frank warned that Hitler was but the first stage of a “new man”–one that is amoral. The author then juxtaposed it with the warnings of Pope John Paul II about the emergence of a “culture of death”, albeit one that manifests itself in many different forms, and not only totalitarian ones. (p. 220).