Predatory Man

By Tyrrell, R. Emmett, Jr. | The American Spectator, February 2001 | Go to article overview

Predatory Man


Tyrrell, R. Emmett, Jr., The American Spectator


The Third Reich: A New History Michael Burleigh Hill and Wang/938 pages /$40

Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis Ian Kershaw W.W. Norton / 1040 pages / $35

REVIEWED BY

R., Emmett Tyrrell, Jr.

As with the human heart, the human brain never rests, which is knot always a good thina. Many of what are called "intellectual debates" exist merely because some third-rate thinker's brain would not shut down when sleep beckoned or cannabis agitated or an alien idea excited vast cogitations. It is then that the brain needs a rest. Alas, too often it races on, and soon its proprietor is advancing some momentous proposition injurious to the public. Recall, if you will, the momentous propositions advanced by Dr. Joycelyn Elders, the Clinton Administration's militant condomist (an advocate of godless condomism?) or earlier propositions advanced by Woodrow Wilson or by Marx (Karl, not Groucho).

A well-rested brain might have saved us from the controversies that these goof-ball academics stirred up, as well as from the current controversy over Winston Churchill's rude treatment of Adolf Hitler. Certain English academics such as John Charmley, a historian at the University of East Anglia, argue that Churchill could have avoided World War II in the spring of 194o and the consequent dissolution of the British Empire had he then offered to negotiate with the Fuhrer. Accordingly, Churchill blew it again a couple of years later when the Fuhrer, then licking his wounds at headquarters, might have welcomed a hand extended in friendship. By the way, the Fuhrer had named his headquarters the "Wolf's Lair." He named another the "Eagle's Nest." His penchant for such names can be construed differently. Doubtless to a worrier such as Churchill such names suggested the fantasies of a predator. To those academics sharing Prof Charmley's sanguinity, they demonstrate yet again the Fuhrer's fondness for animals. He did not eat meat and contemplated taking strong measures against meat-eaters once the war was over.

Churchill's latest critics have a knack for overlooking what was unique to Hitler and his Nazi party. While the twentieth century's other ideological visionaries celebrated "the dictatorship of the proletariat" and other pretty thoughts, Hitler and the jack-booted boys celebrated the predatory life, referred to generally as war. As the Nazis' chief theoretician and poet, Hitler composed dithyrambs to "the sword." Sweeping off the Asiatic steppes in the fifth century, the Hun hordes answered to the same predatory impulse and doubtless would have heralded their campaigns with rhetorical masterpieces the equal of Hitler's at Nuremberg if they could write or stand still long enough. True, in their emotionalism, Nazi racial and scientific theories took on the appearance of a pseudo-religion, as Michael Burleigh points out in his masterful The Third Reich: A New History. But for all their pseudo-mysticism, fundamentally the Nazis were a type known to all history: predators, killers.

No European diplomat would have persuaded Hitler to subside, and by the time Hitler had acquired the chancellery and the Wehrmacht, Churchill was left no alternative but force of arms. The cantankerous academics now faulting Churchill for the destruction Hitler left behind are as frivolous as the 1930's Europeans who assumed that they could "deal with" the disgusting little boor from the Austrian down-and-out.

Throngs of Germans adored the hysterical spellbinder, as his most recent and authoritative biographer, Ian Kershaw, demonstrates in the final volume of his two-volume biography, Hitler 1936-1945: Nemesis. But he had promised the mob a resurrection, and, writes Kershaw, "mounting economic problems fed into the military and strategic pressures for expansion." First came Germany's nearby democracies. …

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