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Hitler on British Values - appendix


A brief  comment by Peter Brooke

Throughout most of my life I have heard the argument repeated that if only British statesmen had studied Mein Kampf they would have known that Hitler was out to conquer the world (funny how the desire to conquer the world is represented as reprehensible in the literature of the only nations - the UK and the US - that really have made a serious bid to do it) and would therefore have stopped him at a much earlier stage in his development.

It is true that Hitler talks about wanting to see Germany become a 'world power' and advocates a policy of territorial expansion. But he also makes it clear where the territorial expansion was to occur. It was to occur at the expense of the Soviet Union:


Therefore we National Socialists have purposely drawn a line through the line of conduct followed by pre-War Germany in foreign policy. We put an end to the perpetual Germanic march towards the South and West of Europe and turn our eyes towards the lands of the East. We finally put a stop to the colonial and trade policy of pre-War times and pass over to the territorial policy of the future. 

But when we speak of new territory in Europe to-day we must principally think of Russia and the border States subject to her. 

Destiny itself seems to wish to point out the way for us here. In delivering Russia over to Bolshevism, Fate robbed the Russian people of that intellectual class which had once created the Russian State and were the guarantee of its existence. For the Russian State was not organized by the constructive political talent of the Slav element in Russia, but was much more a marvellous exemplification of the capacity for State-building possessed by the Germanic element in a race of inferior worth. Thus were many powerful Empires created all over the earth. More often than once inferior races with Germanic organizers and rulers as their leaders became formidable States and continued to exist as long as the racial nucleus remained which had originally created each respective State. For centuries Russia owed the source of its livelihood as a State to the Germanic nucleus of its governing class. But this nucleus is now almost wholly broken up and abolished. The Jew has taken its place. Just as it is impossible for the Russian to shake off the Jewish yoke by exerting his own powers, so, too, it is impossible for the Jew to keep this formidable State in existence for any long period of time. He himself is by no means an organizing element, but rather a ferment of decomposition. This colossal Empire in the East is ripe for dissolution. And the end of the Jewish domination in Russia will also be the end of Russia as a State. We are chosen by Destiny to be the witnesses of a catastrophe which will afford the strongest confirmation of the nationalist theory of race.

It is true that Germany since Versailles was separated from the Soviet Union by Poland and by Czechoslovakia and Mein Kampf is reticent on the problem this poses for a policy of eastward expansion. Nonetheless the British statesman studying Mein Kampf would see nothing in it that was very menacing from a British point of view. Hitler is quite clear that if he envisages Germany as a world power he doesn't envisage it as the only world power. He is almost excessively anxious to maintain friendly relations with Britain to the extent of refraining from any hint of commercial competition. He opposes and indeed ridicules the irredentist ambitions of other nationalist tendencies who wanted to recover German territory and colonies lost at Versailles. He supports and admires the British Empire. His desire for new territory is a desire to secure self sufficiency in food supply by creating a strong agrarian class. There is here something of a contradiction in the notion that German could be a great military power (thus winning and holding its new territory) without being a great industrial power (De Gaulle took the view that the agrarian bias of the French economy had been one of the reasons for the débâcle of 1940). But at any rate, whatever the implications for Poland and Czechoslovakia, the notion that German military might would be thrown eastward against the Bolsheviks could only have been pleasing to the British statesman reading it. And he would have been reassured too by the notion that the long term goal was self sufficiency in agriculture (not an important element in British international trade) not industrial/commercial imperialism on the British/American model.

If, therefore, he relied on Mein Kampf as his only source of information on Hitler's intentions, far from being warned of a danger to British domination of the world, he could well have seen in Hitler a beautiful weapon specially crafted for use against the Bolshevik menace. He wouldn't have been too put out by the anti-semitism which he would probably have seen as a coarse and vulgar exaggeration of his own sentiments on the matter. And so perhaps reading Mein Kampf nowadays can help us understand why the British government did not just tolerate but actually facilitated Hitler's activities right through to the fall of France in 1940 (although war was declared in 1939 nominally in defence of Poland it was just, on the Western front, what we call the 'Phoney War' and the French call the 'Funny War' - drôle de guerre. Nothing was done to obstruct the destruction and occupation of Poland. For more on this see the article Thoughts about D-Day by Brendan Clifford elsewhere on the British-Values website).