The data on which is based “The Brown Book of the Hitler Terror”, the American edition of which has just been published by Alfred A. Knopf, is the data on which the Hitler government must stand condemned in the eyes of the present and future generations. Sometimes the shriek of tirade emerges from the data, but, more often, there prevails the calm and judicious attitude which is consonant with the sifting and presentation of evidence.
Two weeks ago, you may recall, I summarized the evidence contained in this book which points to the possibility that the Reichstag in reality was fired by the Nazis, using van der Lubbe as their tool, and not the Communists. Much else though there is in the book, those chapters constitute its particularly shining merit.
The other chapters in the book, lacking though they may in the startling quality of the Reichstag fire evidence, still contain sufficient material to justify a second note, if not a third and a fourth. The first chapter, under the heading, “The Path to Power,” tells us the history of the National Socialist movement and party from the time, in 1919, when Adolf Hitler became its seventh member and not, necessarily, its most important or promising member. We have herein the history, the program, the growth, the threatening schisms, the decline and eventual triumph. The sources of its financial support are traced to the German industrialists whom the Nazi movement since has been regarded as benefitting. This book represents the Hitler movement as a movement to maintain the tottering capitalist organization of Germany.
Chapter Five, entitled “Destruction of the Workers’ Organization,” carries forward this theme, announced in this manner in its first paragraph:
“Hitler has not nationalized a single trust, nor has he expropriated a single financial magnate. But in the first few months of his rule he has carried through the expropriation of the political and trade union working-class organizations in Germany.”
After which we are given a large number of specific instances of the seizure of funds, newspapers, buildings belonging to the working class movements, of the dissolution of non-Nazi labor bodies, of the bullying of workmen to elect Nazi delegates, of the trumping-up of fake corruption charges in order to get at disliked labor officials who were not amenable to Nazi discipline, and of the Nazi methods of putting the neck of labor more neatly under the heel of the employer and destroying the so-called “inflexible” wages agreements of the past. It is also pointed out that Dr. Robert Ley, head of the German Labor Front, has never been a workingman but was a highly paid official. This chapter, I am afraid, neglects to take as fully into consideration as it might the presence in the Nazi movement of strong radical, almost Communist, elements.
The chapter entitled “The Campaign Against Culture” considers the Nazi drive against men of culture and men of science in the universities whose racial or social faith makes impossible co-ordination with Hitlerism. This chapter tells us what men of learning have been dismmissed and what books burned. It is valuable rather as an organized record of odds and ends of news which we already know. The subsequent chapters, on Brutality and Torture and the Persecution of the Jews give us, with appalling repetition, specific examples of brutality, terrorism, intimidation, torture and murder. Some of the episodes reported and authenticated make the gorge rise with horror and indignation. These chapters make it obvious that the specific examples of pain and death recorded here are to be definitely traced to a central authority of the Nazi terror government and cannot remotely be considered, as the Nazi apologists would like them to be considered, as outbreaks of initiative by individual Nazis in experiments in torture and murder.
While this book is read and pondered in America, no Nazi “explanation” can meet with anything but the contempt it deserves.
DR. MELAMED’S NEW WORK
That the source of Spinoza’s philosophy was not in Descartes but in Buddha is the theme developed by Dr. S. M. Melamed, Anglo-Jewish scholar, in his first major work in English, “Spinoza and Buddha,” which the University Press of Chicago is publishing October 10th.
In this work, which is subtitled “Visions of a Dead God,” Dr. Melamed depicts the development of Western civilization as viewed from the vantage points of jungle versus desert, universalism versus individualism and the will to die versus the will to live. Buddha and Spinoza, according to Dr. Melamed, epitomize the jungle; Moses represents desert. Buddha redeems through death; Moses admonishes humanity to live through legalistic religiosity.
The author asserts, among other things, that Christianity in the Western world is an extension of Buddhism in the Eastern. He goes on:
“It is not only not a daughter-religion of Judaism, but it grapples with it as its most deadly enemy. If it had not been for the Greek element in Christianity, white man’s religion in the West would have been unadulterated Buddhism.”
Dr. Melamed, who has won the prize of the International Peace Bureau in Berne for his work, “The Origin, Theory and History of the Idea of Peace,” is also a member of the International Society for the Philosophy of Law and Economics.”
Dr. Melamed’s new interpretation of the cross-currents of religious and philosophical influence from the time of Buddha to Spinoza is awaited with the keenest interest among scholars of both continents.