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Mein Kampf (Complete Text)


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A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook

Title:      Mein Kampf
Author:     Adolf Hitler (1889-1945)
            Translated into English by James Murphy (died 1946).





INTRODUCTION

VOLUME I: A RETROSPECT


CHAPTER I    IN THE HOME OF MY PARENTS
CHAPTER II   YEARS OF STUDY AND SUFFERING IN VIENNA
CHAPTER III  POLITICAL REFLECTIONS ARISING OUT OF MY SOJOURN IN VIENNA
CHAPTER IV   MUNICH
CHAPTER V    THE WORLD WAR
CHAPTER VI   WAR PROPAGANDA
CHAPTER VII  THE REVOLUTION
CHAPTER VIII THE BEGINNING OF MY POLITICAL ACTIVITIES
CHAPTER IX   THE GERMAN LABOUR PARTY
CHAPTER X    WHY THE SECOND REICH COLLAPSED
CHAPTER XI   RACE AND PEOPLE
CHAPTER XII  THE FIRST STAGE IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE GERMAN NATIONAL
             SOCIALIST LABOUR PARTY

VOLUME II: THE NATIONAL SOCIALIST MOVEMENT

CHAPTER I    WELTANSCHAUUNG AND PARTY
CHAPTER II   THE STATE
CHAPTER III  CITIZENS AND SUBJECTS OF THE STATE
CHAPTER IV   PERSONALITY AND THE IDEAL OF THE PEOPLE'S STATE
CHAPTER V    WELTANSCHAUUNG AND ORGANIZATION
CHAPTER VI   THE FIRST PERIOD OF OUR STRUGGLE
CHAPTER VII  THE CONFLICT WITH THE RED FORCES
CHAPTER VIII THE STRONG IS STRONGEST WHEN ALONE
CHAPTER IX   FUNDAMENTAL IDEAS REGARDING THE NATURE AND ORGANIZATION OF
             THE STORM TROOPS
CHAPTER X    THE MASK OF FEDERALISM
CHAPTER XI   PROPAGANDA AND ORGANIZATION
CHAPTER XII  THE PROBLEM OF THE TRADE UNIONS
CHAPTER XIII THE GERMAN POST-WAR POLICY OF ALLIANCES
CHAPTER XIV  GERMANY'S POLICY IN EASTERN EUROPE
CHAPTER XV   THE RIGHT TO SELF-DEFENCE
EPILOGUE





INTRODUCTION



AUTHOR'S PREFACE

On April 1st, 1924, I began to serve my sentence of detention in the
Fortress of Landsberg am Lech, following the verdict of the Munich
People's Court of that time.

After years of uninterrupted labour it was now possible for the first
time to begin a work which many had asked for and which I myself felt
would be profitable for the Movement. So I decided to devote two volumes
to a description not only of the aims of our Movement but also of its
development. There is more to be learned from this than from any purely
doctrinaire treatise.

This has also given me the opportunity of describing my own development
in so far as such a description is necessary to the understanding of the
first as well as the second volume and to destroy the legendary
fabrications which the Jewish Press have circulated about me.

In this work I turn not to strangers but to those followers of the
Movement whose hearts belong to it and who wish to study it more
profoundly. I know that fewer people are won over by the written word
than by the spoken word and that every great movement on this earth owes
its growth to great speakers and not to great writers.

Nevertheless, in order to produce more equality and uniformity in the
defence of any doctrine, its fundamental principles must be committed to
writing. May these two volumes therefore serve as the building stones
which I contribute to the joint work.

The Fortress, Landsberg am Lech.



At half-past twelve in the afternoon of November 9th, 1923, those whose
names are given below fell in front of the FELDHERRNHALLE and in the
forecourt of the former War Ministry in Munich for their loyal faith in
the resurrection of their people:

Alfarth, Felix, Merchant, born July 5th, 1901
Bauriedl, Andreas, Hatmaker, born May 4th, 1879
Casella, Theodor, Bank Official, born August 8th, 1900
Ehrlich, Wilhelm, Bank Official, born August 19th, 1894
Faust, Martin, Bank Official, born January 27th, 1901
Hechenberger, Anton, Locksmith, born September 28th, 1902
Koerner, Oskar, Merchant, born January 4th, 1875
Kuhn, Karl, Head Waiter, born July 25th, 1897
Laforce, Karl, Student of Engineering, born October 28th, 1904
Neubauer, Kurt, Waiter, born March 27th, 1899
Pape, Claus von, Merchant, born August 16th, 1904
Pfordten, Theodor von der, Councillor to the Superior Provincial Court,
born May 14th, 1873
Rickmers, Johann, retired Cavalry Captain, born May 7th, 1881
Scheubner-Richter, Max Erwin von, Dr. of Engineering, born January 9th,
1884
Stransky, Lorenz Ritter von, Engineer, born March 14th, 1899
Wolf, Wilhelm, Merchant, born October 19th, 1898

So-called national officials refused to allow the dead heroes a common
burial. So I dedicate the first volume of this work to them as a common
memorial, that the memory of those martyrs may be a permanent source of
light for the followers of our Movement.

The Fortress, Landsberg a/L.,

October 16th, 1924



TRANSLATOR'S INTRODUCTION

In placing before the reader this unabridged translation of Adolf
Hitler's book, MEIN KAMPF, I feel it my duty to call attention to
certain historical facts which must be borne in mind if the reader would
form a fair judgment of what is written in this extraordinary work.

The first volume of MEIN KAMPF was written while the author was
imprisoned in a Bavarian fortress. How did he get there and why? The
answer to that question is important, because the book deals with the
events which brought the author into this plight and because he wrote
under the emotional stress caused by the historical happenings of the
time. It was the hour of Germany's deepest humiliation, somewhat
parallel to that of a little over a century before, when Napoleon had
dismembered the old German Empire and French soldiers occupied almost
the whole of Germany.

In the beginning of 1923 the French invaded Germany, occupied the Ruhr
district and seized several German towns in the Rhineland. This was a
flagrant breach of international law and was protested against by every
section of British political opinion at that time. The Germans could not
effectively defend themselves, as they had been already disarmed under
the provisions of the Versailles Treaty. To make the situation more
fraught with disaster for Germany, and therefore more appalling in its
prospect, the French carried on an intensive propaganda for the
separation of the Rhineland from the German Republic and the
establishment of an independent Rhenania. Money was poured out lavishly
to bribe agitators to carry on this work, and some of the most insidious
elements of the German population became active in the pay of the
invader. At the same time a vigorous movement was being carried on in
Bavaria for the secession of that country and the establishment of an
independent Catholic monarchy there, under vassalage to France, as
Napoleon had done when he made Maximilian the first King of Bavaria in
1805.

The separatist movement in the Rhineland went so far that some leading
German politicians came out in favour of it, suggesting that if the
Rhineland were thus ceded it might be possible for the German Republic
to strike a bargain with the French in regard to Reparations. But in
Bavaria the movement went even farther. And it was more far-reaching in
its implications; for, if an independent Catholic monarchy could be set
up in Bavaria, the next move would have been a union with Catholic
German-Austria. possibly under a Habsburg King. Thus a Catholic BLOC
would have been created which would extend from the Rhineland through
Bavaria and Austria into the Danube Valley and would have been at least
under the moral and military, if not the full political, hegemony of
France. The dream seems fantastic now, but it was considered quite a
practical thing in those fantastic times. The effect of putting such a
plan into action would have meant the complete dismemberment of Germany;
and that is what French diplomacy aimed at. Of course such an aim no
longer exists. And I should not recall what must now seem "old, unhappy,
far-off things" to the modern generation, were it not that they were
very near and actual at the time MEIN KAMPF was written and were more
unhappy then than we can even imagine now.

By the autumn of 1923 the separatist movement in Bavaria was on the
point of becoming an accomplished fact. General von Lossow, the Bavarian
chief of the REICHSWEHR no longer took orders from Berlin. The flag of
the German Republic was rarely to be seen, Finally, the Bavarian Prime
Minister decided to proclaim an independent Bavaria and its secession
from the German Republic. This was to have taken place on the eve of the
Fifth Anniversary of the establishment of the German Republic (November
9th, 1918.)

Hitler staged a counter-stroke. For several days he had been mobilizing
his storm battalions in the neighbourhood of Munich, intending to make a
national demonstration and hoping that the REICHSWEHR would stand by him
to prevent secession. Ludendorff was with him. And he thought that the
prestige of the great German Commander in the World War would be
sufficient to win the allegiance of the professional army.

A meeting had been announced to take place in the Bürgerbräu Keller on
the night of November 8th. The Bavarian patriotic societies were
gathered there, and the Prime Minister, Dr. von Kahr, started to read
his official PRONUNCIAMENTO, which practically amounted to a
proclamation of Bavarian independence and secession from the Republic.
While von Kahr was speaking Hitler entered the hall, followed by
Ludendorff. And the meeting was broken up.

Next day the Nazi battalions took the street for the purpose of making a
mass demonstration in favour of national union. They marched in massed
formation, led by Hitler and Ludendorff. As they reached one of the
central squares of the city the army opened fire on them. Sixteen of the
marchers were instantly killed, and two died of their wounds in the
local barracks of the REICHSWEHR. Several others were wounded also.
Hitler fell on the pavement and broke a collar-bone. Ludendorff marched
straight up to the soldiers who were firing from the barricade, but not
a man dared draw a trigger on his old Commander.

Hitler was arrested with several of his comrades and imprisoned in the
fortress of Landsberg on the River Lech. On February 26th, 1924, he was
brought to trial before the VOLKSGERICHT, or People's Court in Munich.
He was sentenced to detention in a fortress for five years. With several
companions, who had been also sentenced to various periods of
imprisonment, he returned to Landsberg am Lech and remained there until
the 20th of the following December, when he was released. In all he
spent about thirteen months in prison. It was during this period that he
wrote the first volume of MEIN KAMPF.

If we bear all this in mind we can account for the emotional stress
under which MEIN KAMPF was written. Hitler was naturally incensed
against the Bavarian government authorities, against the footling
patriotic societies who were pawns in the French game, though often
unconsciously so, and of course against the French. That he should write
harshly of the French was only natural in the circumstances. At that
time there was no exaggeration whatsoever in calling France the
implacable and mortal enemy of Germany. Such language was being used by
even the pacifists themselves, not only in Germany but abroad. And even
though the second volume of MEIN KAMPF was written after Hitler's
release from prison and was published after the French had left the
Ruhr, the tramp of the invading armies still echoed in German ears, and
the terrible ravages that had been wrought in the industrial and
financial life of Germany, as a consequence of the French invasion, had
plunged the country into a state of social and economic chaos. In France
itself the franc fell to fifty per cent of its previous value. Indeed,
the whole of Europe had been brought to the brink of ruin, following the
French invasion of the Ruhr and Rhineland.

But, as those things belong to the limbo of a dead past that nobody
wishes to have remembered now, it is often asked: Why doesn't Hitler
revise MEIN KAMPF? The answer, as I think, which would immediately come
into the mind of an impartial critic is that MEIN KAMPF is an historical
document which bears the imprint of its own time. To revise it would
involve taking it out of its historical context. Moreover Hitler has
declared that his acts and public statements constitute a partial
revision of his book and are to be taken as such. This refers especially
to the statements in MEIN KAMPF regarding France and those German
kinsfolk that have not yet been incorporated in the REICH. On behalf of
Germany he has definitely acknowledged the German portion of South Tyrol
as permanently belonging to Italy and, in regard to France, he has again
and again declared that no grounds now exist for a conflict of political
interests between Germany and France and that Germany has no territorial
claims against France. Finally, I may note here that Hitler has also
declared that, as he was only a political leader and not yet a statesman
in a position of official responsibility, when he wrote this book, what
he stated in MEIN KAMPF does not implicate him as Chancellor of the
REICH.

I now come to some references in the text which are frequently recurring
and which may not always be clear to every reader. For instance, Hitler
speaks indiscriminately of the German REICH. Sometimes he means to refer
to the first REICH, or Empire, and sometimes to the German Empire as
founded under William I in 1871. Incidentally the regime which he
inaugurated in 1933 is generally known as the THIRD REICH, though this
expression is not used in MEIN KAMPF. Hitler also speaks of the Austrian
REICH and the East Mark, without always explicitly distinguishing
between the Habsburg Empire and Austria proper. If the reader will bear
the following historical outline in mind, he will understand the
references as they occur.

The word REICH, which is a German form of the Latin word REGNUM, does
not mean Kingdom or Empire or Republic. It is a sort of basic word that
may apply to any form of Constitution. Perhaps our word, Realm, would be
the best translation, though the word Empire can be used when the REICH
was actually an Empire. The forerunner of the first German Empire was
the Holy Roman Empire which Charlemagne founded in A.D. 800. Charlemagne
was King of the Franks, a group of Germanic tribes that subsequently
became Romanized. In the tenth century Charlemagne's Empire passed into
German hands when Otto I (936-973) became Emperor. As the Holy Roman
Empire of the German Nation, its formal appellation, it continued to
exist under German Emperors until Napoleon overran and dismembered
Germany during the first decade of the last century. On August 6th,
1806, the last Emperor, Francis II, formally resigned the German crown.
In the following October Napoleon entered Berlin in triumph, after the
Battle of Jena.

After the fall of Napoleon a movement set in for the reunion of the
German states in one Empire. But the first decisive step towards that
end was the foundation of the Second German Empire in 1871, after the
Franco-Prussian War. This Empire, however, did not include the German
lands which remained under the Habsburg Crown. These were known as
German Austria. It was Bismarck's dream to unite German Austria with the
German Empire; but it remained only a dream until Hitler turned it into
a reality in 1938'. It is well to bear that point in mind, because this
dream of reuniting all the German states in one REICH has been a
dominant feature of German patriotism and statesmanship for over a
century and has been one of Hitler's ideals since his childhood.

In MEIN KAMPF Hitler often speaks of the East Mark. This East Mark--i.e.
eastern frontier land--was founded by Charlemagne as the eastern bulwark
of the Empire. It was inhabited principally by Germano-Celtic tribes
called Bajuvari and stood for centuries as the firm bulwark of Western
Christendom against invasion from the East, especially against the
Turks. Geographically it was almost identical with German Austria.

There are a few points more that I wish to mention in this introductory
note. For instance, I have let the word WELTANSCHAUUNG stand in its
original form very often. We have no one English word to convey the same
meaning as the German word, and it would have burdened the text too much
if I were to use a circumlocution each time the word occurs.
WELTANSCHAUUNG literally means "Outlook-on-the World". But as generally
used in German this outlook on the world means a whole system of ideas
associated together in an organic unity--ideas of human life, human
values, cultural and religious ideas, politics, economics, etc., in fact
a totalitarian view of human existence. Thus Christianity could be
called a WELTANSCHAUUNG, and Mohammedanism could be called a
WELTANSCHAUUNG, and Socialism could be called a WELTANSCHAUUNG,
especially as preached in Russia. National Socialism claims definitely
to be a WELTANSCHAUUNG.

Another word I have often left standing in the original is VÖLKISCH. The
basic word here is VOLK, which is sometimes translated as PEOPLE; but
the German word, VOLK, means the whole body of the PEOPLE without any
distinction of class or caste. It is a primary word also that suggests
what might be called the basic national stock. Now, after the defeat in
1918, the downfall of the Monarchy and the destruction of the
aristocracy and the upper classes, the concept of DAS VOLK came into
prominence as the unifying co-efficient which would embrace the whole
German people. Hence the large number of VÖLKISCH societies that arose
after the war and hence also the National Socialist concept of
unification which is expressed by the word VOLKSGEMEINSCHAFT, or folk
community. This is used in contradistinction to the Socialist concept of
the nation as being divided into classes. Hitler's ideal is the
VÖLKISCHER STAAT, which I have translated as the People's State.

Finally, I would point out that the term Social Democracy may be
misleading in English, as it has not a democratic connotation in our
sense. It was the name given to the Socialist Party in Germany. And that
Party was purely Marxist; but it adopted the name Social Democrat in
order to appeal to the democratic sections of the German people.

JAMES MURPHY.

Abbots Langley, February, 1939
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VOLUME I: A RETROSPECT




CHAPTER I



IN THE HOME OF MY PARENTS



It has turned out fortunate for me to-day that destiny appointed
Braunau-on-the-Inn to be my birthplace. For that little town is situated
just on the frontier between those two States the reunion of which
seems, at least to us of the younger generation, a task to which we
should devote our lives and in the pursuit of which every possible means
should be employed.

German-Austria must be restored to the great German Motherland. And not
indeed on any grounds of economic calculation whatsoever. No, no. Even
if the union were a matter of economic indifference, and even if it were
to be disadvantageous from the economic standpoint, still it ought to
take place. People of the same blood should be in the same REICH. The
German people will have no right to engage in a colonial policy until
they shall have brought all their children together in the one State.
When the territory of the REICH embraces all the Germans and finds
itself unable to assure them a livelihood, only then can the moral right
arise, from the need of the people to acquire foreign territory. The
plough is then the sword; and the tears of war will produce the daily
bread for the generations to come.

And so this little frontier town appeared to me as the symbol of a great
task. But in another regard also it points to a lesson that is
applicable to our day. Over a hundred years ago this sequestered spot
was the scene of a tragic calamity which affected the whole German
nation and will be remembered for ever, at least in the annals of German
history. At the time of our Fatherland's deepest humiliation a
bookseller, Johannes Palm, uncompromising nationalist and enemy of the
French, was put to death here because he had the misfortune to have
loved Germany well. He obstinately refused to disclose the names of his
associates, or rather the principals who were chiefly responsible for
the affair. Just as it happened with Leo Schlageter. The former, like
the latter, was denounced to the French by a Government agent. It was a
director of police from Augsburg who won an ignoble renown on that
occasion and set the example which was to be copied at a later date by
the neo-German officials of the REICH under Herr Severing's
regime (Note 1).

[Note 1. In order to understand the reference here, and similar
references in later portions of MEIN KAMPF, the following must be borne
in mind:

From 1792 to 1814 the French Revolutionary Armies overran Germany. In
1800 Bavaria shared in the Austrian defeat at Hohenlinden and the French
occupied Munich. In 1805 the Bavarian Elector was made King of Bavaria by
Napoleon and stipulated to back up Napoleon in all his wars with a force
of 30,000 men. Thus Bavaria became the absolute vassal of the French.
This was 'TheTime of Germany's Deepest Humiliation', Which is referred
to again and again by Hitler.

In 1806 a pamphlet entitled 'Germany's Deepest Humiliation' was
published in South Germany. Amnng those who helped to circulate the
pamphlet was the Nürnberg bookseller, Johannes Philipp Palm. He was
denounced to the French by a Bavarian police agent. At his trial he
refused to disclose thename of the author. By Napoleon's orders, he was
shot at Braunau-on-the-Innon August 26th, 1806. A monument erected to
him on the site of the executionwas one of the first public objects that
made an impression on Hitler asa little boy.

Leo Schlageter's case was in many respects parallel to that of Johannes
Palm. Schlageter was a German theological student who volunteered for
service in 1914. He became an artillery officer and won the Iron Cross of
both classes. When the French occupied the Ruhr in 1923 Schlageter helped
to organize the passive resistance on the German side. He and his
companions blew up a railway bridge for the purpose of making the
transport of coal to France more difficult.

Those who took part in the affair were denounced to the French by a
German informer. Schlageter took the whole responsibility on his own
shoulders and was condemned to death, his companions being sentenced to
various terms of imprisonment and penal servitude by the French Court.
Schlageter refused to disclose the identity of those who issued the order
to blow up the railway bridge and he would not plead for mercy before a
French Court. He was shot by a French firing-squad on May 26th, 1923.
Severing was at that time German Minister of the Interior. It is said
that representations were made, to himon Schlageter's behalf and that he
refused to interfere.

Schlageter has become the chief martyr of the German resistancc to the
French occupation of the Ruhr and also one of the great heroes of the
National Socialist Movement. He had joined the Movement at a very early
stage, his card of membership bearing the number 61.]

In this little town on the Inn, haloed by the memory of a German martyr,
a town that was Bavarian by blood but under the rule of the Austrian
State, my parents were domiciled towards the end of the last century. My
father was a civil servant who fulfilled his duties very
conscientiously. My mother looked after the household and lovingly
devoted herself to the care of her children. From that period I have not
retained very much in my memory; because after a few years my father had
to leave that frontier town which I had come to love so much and take up
a new post farther down the Inn valley, at Passau, therefore actually in
Germany itself.

In those days it was the usual lot of an Austrian civil servant to be
transferred periodically from one post to another. Not long after coming
to Passau my father was transferred to Linz, and while there he retired
finally to live on his pension. But this did not mean that the old
gentleman would now rest from his labours.

He was the son of a poor cottager, and while still a boy he grew
restless and left home. When he was barely thirteen years old he buckled
on his satchel and set forth from his native woodland parish. Despite
the dissuasion of villagers who could speak from 'experience,' he went
to Vienna to learn a trade there. This was in the fiftieth year of the
last century. It was a sore trial, that of deciding to leave home and
face the unknown, with three gulden in his pocket. By when the boy of
thirteen was a lad of seventeen and had passed his apprenticeship
examination as a craftsman he was not content. Quite the contrary. The
persistent economic depression of that period and the constant want and
misery strengthened his resolution to give up working at a trade and
strive for 'something higher.' As a boy it had seemed to him that the
position of the parish priest in his native village was the highest in
the scale of human attainment; but now that the big city had enlarged
his outlook the young man looked up to the dignity of a State official
as the highest of all. With the tenacity of one whom misery and trouble
had already made old when only half-way through his youth the young man
of seventeen obstinately set out on his new project and stuck to it
until he won through. He became a civil servant. He was about
twenty-three years old, I think, when he succeeded in making himself
what he had resolved to become. Thus he was able to fulfil the promise
he had made as a poor boy not to return to his native village until he
was 'somebody.'

He had gained his end. But in the village there was nobody who had
remembered him as a little boy, and the village itself had become
strange to him.

Now at last, when he was fifty-six years old, he gave up his active
career; but he could not bear to be idle for a single day. On the
outskirts of the small market town of Lambach in Upper Austria he bought
a farm and tilled it himself. Thus, at the end of a long and
hard-working career, he came back to the life which his father had led.

It was at this period that I first began to have ideals of my own. I
spent a good deal of time scampering about in the open, on the long road
from school, and mixing up with some of the roughest of the boys, which
caused my mother many anxious moments. All this tended to make me
something quite the reverse of a stay-at-home. I gave scarcely any
serious thought to the question of choosing a vocation in life; but I
was certainly quite out of sympathy with the kind of career which my
father had followed. I think that an inborn talent for speaking now
began to develop and take shape during the more or less strenuous
arguments which I used to have with my comrades. I had become a juvenile
ringleader who learned well and easily at school but was rather
difficult to manage. In my freetime I practised singing in the choir of
the monastery church at Lambach, and thus it happened that I was placed
in a very favourable position to be emotionally impressed again and
again by the magnificent splendour of ecclesiastical ceremonial. What
could be more natural for me than to look upon the Abbot as representing
the highest human ideal worth striving for, just as the position of the
humble village priest had appeared to my father in his own boyhood days?
At least, that was my idea for a while. But the juvenile disputes I had
with my father did not lead him to appreciate his son's oratorical gifts
in such a way as to see in them a favourable promise for such a career,
and so he naturally could not understand the boyish ideas I had in my
head at that time. This contradiction in my character made him feel
somewhat anxious.

As a matter of fact, that transitory yearning after such a vocation soon
gave way to hopes that were better suited to my temperament. Browsing
through my father's books, I chanced to come across some publications
that dealt with military subjects. One of these publications was a
popular history of the Franco-German War of 1870-71. It consisted of two
volumes of an illustrated periodical dating from those years. These
became my favourite reading. In a little while that great and heroic
conflict began to take first place in my mind. And from that time
onwards I became more and more enthusiastic about everything that was in
any way connected with war or military affairs.

But this story of the Franco-German War had a special significance for
me on other grounds also. For the first time, and as yet only in quite a
vague way, the question began to present itself: Is there a
difference--and if there be, what is it--between the Germans who fought
that war and the other Germans? Why did not Austria also take part in
it? Why did not my father and all the others fight in that struggle? Are
we not the same as the other Germans? Do we not all belong together?

That was the first time that this problem began to agitate my small
brain. And from the replies that were given to the questions which I
asked very tentatively, I was forced to accept the fact, though with a
secret envy, that not all Germans had the good luck to belong to
Bismarck's Empire. This was something that I could not understand.

It was decided that I should study. Considering my character as a whole,
and especially my temperament, my father decided that the classical
subjects studied at the Lyceum were not suited to my natural talents. He
thought that the REALSCHULE (Note 2) would suit me better. My obvious
talent for drawing confirmed him in that view; for in his opinion drawing
was a subject too much neglected in the Austrian GYMNASIUM. Probably also
the memory of the hard road which he himself had travelled contributed to
make him look upon classical studies as unpractical and accordingly to
set little value on them. At the back of his mind he had the idea that
his son also should become an official of the Government. Indeed he had
decided on that career for me. The difficulties through which he had to
struggle in making his own career led him to overestimate what he had
achieved, because this was exclusively the result of his own
indefatigable industry and energy. The characteristic pride of the
self-made man urged him towards the idea that his son should follow the
same calling and if possible rise to a higher position in it. Moreover,
this idea was strengthened by the consideration that the results of his
own life's industry had placed him in a position to facilitate his son's
advancement in the same career.

[Note 2. Non-classical secondary school. The Lyceum and GYMNASIUM were
classical or semi-classical secondary schools.]

He was simply incapable of imagining that I might reject what had meant
everything in life to him. My father's decision was simple, definite,
clear and, in his eyes, it was something to be taken for granted. A man
of such a nature who had become an autocrat by reason of his own hard
struggle for existence, could not think of allowing 'inexperienced' and
irresponsible young fellows to choose their own careers. To act in such
a way, where the future of his own son was concerned, would have been a
grave and reprehensible weakness in the exercise of parental authority
and responsibility, something utterly incompatible with his
characteristic sense of duty.

And yet it had to be otherwise.

For the first time in my life--I was then eleven years old--I felt
myself forced into open opposition. No matter how hard and determined my
father might be about putting his own plans and opinions into action,
his son was no less obstinate in refusing to accept ideas on which he
set little or no value.

I would not become a civil servant.

No amount of persuasion and no amount of 'grave' warnings could break
down that opposition. I would not become a State official, not on any
account. All the attempts which my father made to arouse in me a love or
liking for that profession, by picturing his own career for me, had only
the opposite effect. It nauseated me to think that one day I might be
fettered to an office stool, that I could not dispose of my own time but
would be forced to spend the whole of my life filling out forms.

One can imagine what kind of thoughts such a prospect awakened in the
mind of a young fellow who was by no means what is called a 'good boy'
in the current sense of that term. The ridiculously easy school tasks
which we were given made it possible for me to spend far more time in
the open air than at home. To-day, when my political opponents pry into
my life with diligent scrutiny, as far back as the days of my boyhood,
so as finally to be able to prove what disreputable tricks this Hitler
was accustomed to in his young days, I thank heaven that I can look back
to those happy days and find the memory of them helpful. The fields and
the woods were then the terrain on which all disputes were fought out.

Even attendance at the REALSCHULE could not alter my way of spending my
time. But I had now another battle to fight.

So long as the paternal plan to make a State functionary contradicted my
own inclinations only in the abstract, the conflict was easy to bear. I
could be discreet about expressing my personal views and thus avoid
constantly recurrent disputes. My own resolution not to become a
Government official was sufficient for the time being to put my mind
completely at rest. I held on to that resolution inexorably. But the
situation became more difficult once I had a positive plan of my own
which I might present to my father as a counter-suggestion. This
happened when I was twelve years old. How it came about I cannot exactly
say now; but one day it became clear to me that I would be a painter--I
mean an artist. That I had an aptitude for drawing was an admitted fact.
It was even one of the reasons why my father had sent me to the
REALSCHULE; but he had never thought of having that talent developed in
such a way that I could take up painting as a professional career. Quite
the contrary. When, as a result of my renewed refusal to adopt his
favourite plan, my father asked me for the first time what I myself
really wished to be, the resolution that I had already formed expressed
itself almost automatically. For a while my father was speechless. "A
painter? An artist-painter?" he exclaimed.

He wondered whether I was in a sound state of mind. He thought that he
might not have caught my words rightly, or that he had misunderstood
what I meant. But when I had explained my ideas to him and he saw how
seriously I took them, he opposed them with that full determination
which was characteristic of him. His decision was exceedingly simple and
could not be deflected from its course by any consideration of what my
own natural qualifications really were.

"Artist! Not as long as I live, never." As the son had inherited some of
the father's obstinacy, besides having other qualities of his own, my
reply was equally energetic. But it stated something quite the contrary.

At that our struggle became stalemate. The father would not abandon his
'Never', and I became all the more consolidated in my 'Nevertheless'.

Naturally the resulting situation was not pleasant. The old gentleman
was bitterly annoyed; and indeed so was I, although I really loved him.
My father forbade me to entertain any hopes of taking up the art of
painting as a profession. I went a step further and declared that I
would not study anything else. With such declarations the situation
became still more strained, so that the old gentleman irrevocably
decided to assert his parental authority at all costs. That led me to
adopt an attitude of circumspect silence, but I put my threat into
execution. I thought that, once it became clear to my father that I was
making no progress at the REALSCHULE, for weal or for woe, he would be
forced to allow me to follow the happy career I had dreamed of.

I do not know whether I calculated rightly or not. Certainly my failure
to make progress became quite visible in the school. I studied just the
subjects that appealed to me, especially those which I thought might be
of advantage to me later on as a painter. What did not appear to have
any importance from this point of view, or what did not otherwise appeal
to me favourably, I completely sabotaged. My school reports of that time
were always in the extremes of good or bad, according to the subject and
the interest it had for me. In one column my qualification read 'very
good' or 'excellent'. In another it read 'average' or even 'below
average'. By far my best subjects were geography and, even more so,
general history. These were my two favourite subjects, and I led the
class in them.

When I look back over so many years and try to judge the results of that
experience I find two very significant facts standing out clearly before
my mind.
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« Reply #2 on: July 18, 2008, 11:36:27 pm »

First, I became a nationalist.

Second, I learned to understand and grasp the true meaning of history.

The old Austria was a multi-national State. In those days at least the
citizens of the German Empire, taken through and through, could not
understand what that fact meant in the everyday life of the individuals
within such a State. After the magnificent triumphant march of the
victorious armies in the Franco-German War the Germans in the REICH
became steadily more and more estranged from the Germans beyond their
frontiers, partly because they did not deign to appreciate those other
Germans at their true value or simply because they were incapable of
doing so.

The Germans of the REICH did not realize that if the Germans in Austria
had not been of the best racial stock they could never have given the
stamp of their own character to an Empire of 52 millions, so definitely
that in Germany itself the idea arose--though quite an erroneous
one--that Austria was a German State. That was an error which led to
dire consequences; but all the same it was a magnificent testimony to
the character of the ten million Germans in that East Mark. (Note 3)
Only very few of the Germans in the REICH itself had an idea of the bitter
struggle which those Eastern Germans had to carry on daily for the
preservation of their German language, their German schools and their
German character. Only to-day, when a tragic fate has torn several
millions of our kinsfolk away from the REICH and has forced them to live
under the rule of the stranger, dreaming of that common fatherland
towards which all their yearnings are directed and struggling to uphold
at least the sacred right of using their mother tongue--only now have
the wider circles of the German population come to realize what it means
to have to fight for the traditions of one's race. And so at last
perhaps there are people here and there who can assess the greatness of
that German spirit which animated the old East Mark and enabled those
people, left entirely dependent on their own resources, to defend the
Empire against the Orient for several centuries and subsequently to hold
fast the frontiers of the German language through a guerilla warfare of
attrition, at a time when the German Empire was sedulously cultivating
an interest for colonies but not for its own flesh and blood before the
threshold of its own door.

[Note 3. See Translator's Introduction.]

What has happened always and everywhere, in every kind of struggle,
happened also in the language fight which was carried on in the old
Austria. There were three groups--the fighters, the hedgers and the
traitors. Even in the schools this sifting already began to take place.
And it is worth noting that the struggle for the language was waged
perhaps in its bitterest form around the school; because this was the
nursery where the seeds had to be watered which were to spring up and
form the future generation. The tactical objective of the fight was the
winning over of the child, and it was to the child that the first
rallying cry was addressed:

"German youth, do not forget that you are a German," and "Remember,
little girl, that one day you must be a German mother."

Those who know something of the juvenile spirit can understand how youth
will always lend a glad ear to such a rallying cry. Under many forms the
young people led the struggle, fighting in their own way and with their
own weapons. They refused to sing non-German songs. The greater the
efforts made to win them away from their German allegiance, the more
they exalted the glory of their German heroes. They stinted themselves
in buying things to eat, so that they might spare their pennies to help
the war chest of their elders. They were incredibly alert in the
significance of what the non-German teachers said and they contradicted
in unison. They wore the forbidden emblems of their own kinsfolk and
were happy when penalised for doing so, or even physically punished. In
miniature they were mirrors of loyalty from which the older people might
learn a lesson.

And thus it was that at a comparatively early age I took part in the
struggle which the nationalities were waging against one another in the
old Austria. When meetings were held for the South Mark German League
and the School League we wore cornflowers and black-red-gold colours to
express our loyalty. We greeted one another with HEIL! and instead of
the Austrian anthem we sang our own DEUTSCHLAND ÜBER ALLES, despite
warnings and penalties. Thus the youth were educated politically at a
time when the citizens of a so-called national State for the most part
knew little of their own nationality except the language. Of course, I
did not belong to the hedgers. Within a little while I had become an
ardent 'German National', which has a different meaning from the party
significance attached to that phrase to-day.

I developed very rapidly in the nationalist direction, and by the time I
was 15 years old I had come to understand the distinction between
dynastic patriotism and nationalism based on the concept of folk, or
people, my inclination being entirely in favour of the latter.

Such a preference may not perhaps be clearly intelligible to those who
have never taken the trouble to study the internal conditions that
prevailed under the Habsburg Monarchy.

Among historical studies universal history was the subject almost
exclusively taught in the Austrian schools, for of specific Austrian
history there was only very little. The fate of this State was closely
bound up with the existence and development of Germany as a whole; so a
division of history into German history and Austrian history would be
practically inconceivable. And indeed it was only when the German people
came to be divided between two States that this division of German
history began to take place.

The insignia (Note 4) of a former imperial sovereignty which were still
preserved in Vienna appeared to act as magical relics rather than as the
visible guarantee of an everlasting bond of union.

[Note 4. When Francis II had laid down his title as Emperor of the Holy
Roman Empireof the German Nation, which he did at the command of Napoleon,
the Crownand Mace, as the Imperial Insignia, were kept in Vienna. After
the German Empire was refounded, in 1871, under William I, there were many
demands tohave the Insignia transferred to Berlin. But these went
unheeded. Hitler had them brought to Germany after the Austrian Anschluss
and displayed at Nuremberg during the Party Congress in September 1938.]

When the Habsburg State crumbled to pieces in 1918 the Austrian Germans
instinctively raised an outcry for union with their German fatherland.
That was the voice of a unanimous yearning in the hearts of the whole
people for a return to the unforgotten home of their fathers. But such a
general yearning could not be explained except by attributing the cause
of it to the historical training through which the individual Austrian
Germans had passed. Therein lay a spring that never dried up. Especially
in times of distraction and forgetfulness its quiet voice was a reminder
of the past, bidding the people to look out beyond the mere welfare of
the moment to a new future.

The teaching of universal history in what are called the middle schools
is still very unsatisfactory. Few teachers realize that the purpose of
teaching history is not the memorizing of some dates and facts, that the
student is not interested in knowing the exact date of a battle or the
birthday of some marshal or other, and not at all--or at least only very
insignificantly--interested in knowing when the crown of his fathers was
placed on the brow of some monarch. These are certainly not looked upon
as important matters.
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« Reply #3 on: July 18, 2008, 11:42:21 pm »

To study history means to search for and discover the forces that are
the causes of those results which appear before our eyes as historical
events. The art of reading and studying consists in remembering the
essentials and forgetting what is not essential.

Probably my whole future life was determined by the fact that I had a
professor of history who understood, as few others understand, how to
make this viewpoint prevail in teaching and in examining. This teacher
was Dr. Leopold Poetsch, of the REALSCHULE at Linz. He was the ideal
personification of the qualities necessary to a teacher of history in
the sense I have mentioned above. An elderly gentleman with a decisive
manner but a kindly heart, he was a very attractive speaker and was able
to inspire us with his own enthusiasm. Even to-day I cannot recall
without emotion that venerable personality whose enthusiastic exposition
of history so often made us entirely forget the present and allow
ourselves to be transported as if by magic into the past. He penetrated
through the dim mist of thousands of years and transformed the
historical memory of the dead past into a living reality. When we
listened to him we became afire with enthusiasm and we were sometimes
moved even to tears.

It was still more fortunate that this professor was able not only to
illustrate the past by examples from the present but from the past he
was also able to draw a lesson for the present. He understood better
than any other the everyday problems that were then agitating our minds.
The national fervour which we felt in our own small way was utilized by
him as an instrument of our education, inasmuch as he often appealed to
our national sense of honour; for in that way he maintained order and
held our attention much more easily than he could have done by any other
means. It was because I had such a professor that history became my
favourite subject. As a natural consequence, but without the conscious
connivance of my professor, I then and there became a young rebel. But
who could have studied German history under such a teacher and not
become an enemy of that State whose rulers exercised such a disastrous
influence on the destinies of the German nation? Finally, how could one
remain the faithful subject of the House of Habsburg, whose past history
and present conduct proved it to be ready ever and always to betray the
interests of the German people for the sake of paltry personal
interests? Did not we as youngsters fully realize that the House of
Habsburg did not, and could not, have any love for us Germans?

What history taught us about the policy followed by the House of
Habsburg was corroborated by our own everyday experiences. In the north
and in the south the poison of foreign races was eating into the body of
our people, and even Vienna was steadily becoming more and more a
non-German city. The 'Imperial House' favoured the Czechs on every
possible occasion. Indeed it was the hand of the goddess of eternal
justice and inexorable retribution that caused the most deadly enemy of
Germanism in Austria, the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, to fall by the very
bullets which he himself had helped to cast. Working from above
downwards, he was the chief patron of the movement to make Austria a
Slav State.

The burdens laid on the shoulders of the German people were enormous and
the sacrifices of money and blood which they had to make were incredibly
heavy.

Yet anybody who was not quite blind must have seen that it was all in
vain. What affected us most bitterly was the consciousness of the fact
that this whole system was morally shielded by the alliance with
Germany, whereby the slow extirpation of Germanism in the old Austrian
Monarchy seemed in some way to be more or less sanctioned by Germany
herself. Habsburg hypocrisy, which endeavoured outwardly to make the
people believe that Austria still remained a German State, increased the
feeling of hatred against the Imperial House and at the same time
aroused a spirit of rebellion and contempt.

But in the German Empire itself those who were then its rulers saw
nothing of what all this meant. As if struck blind, they stood beside a
corpse and in the very symptoms of decomposition they believed that they
recognized the signs of a renewed vitality. In that unhappy alliance
between the young German Empire and the illusory Austrian State lay the
germ of the World War and also of the final collapse.

In the subsequent pages of this book I shall go to the root of the
problem. Suffice it to say here that in the very early years of my youth
I came to certain conclusions which I have never abandoned. Indeed I
became more profoundly convinced of them as the years passed. They were:
That the dissolution of the Austrian Empire is a preliminary condition
for the defence of Germany; further, that national feeling is by no
means identical with dynastic patriotism; finally, and above all, that
the House of Habsburg was destined to bring misfortune to the German
nation.

As a logical consequence of these convictions, there arose in me a
feeling of intense love for my German-Austrian home and a profound
hatred for the Austrian State.

That kind of historical thinking which was developed in me through my
study of history at school never left me afterwards. World history
became more and more an inexhaustible source for the understanding of
contemporary historical events, which means politics. Therefore I will
not "learn" politics but let politics teach me.

A precocious revolutionary in politics I was no less a precocious
revolutionary in art. At that time the provincial capital of Upper
Austria had a theatre which, relatively speaking, was not bad. Almost
everything was played there. When I was twelve years old I saw William
Tell performed. That was my first experience of the theatre. Some months
later I attended a performance of LOHENGRIN, the first opera I had ever
heard. I was fascinated at once. My youthful enthusiasm for the Bayreuth
Master knew no limits. Again and again I was drawn to hear his operas;
and to-day I consider it a great piece of luck that these modest
productions in the little provincial city prepared the way and made it
possible for me to appreciate the better productions later on.

But all this helped to intensify my profound aversion for the career
that my father had chosen for me; and this dislike became especially
strong as the rough corners of youthful boorishness became worn off, a
process which in my case caused a good deal of pain. I became more and
more convinced that I should never be happy as a State official. And now
that the REALSCHULE had recognized and acknowledged my aptitude for
drawing, my own resolution became all the stronger. Imprecations and
threats had no longer any chance of changing it. I wanted to become a
painter and no power in the world could force me to become a civil
servant. The only peculiar feature of the situation now was that as I
grew bigger I became more and more interested in architecture. I
considered this fact as a natural development of my flair for painting
and I rejoiced inwardly that the sphere of my artistic interests was
thus enlarged. I had no notion that one day it would have to be
otherwise.

The question of my career was decided much sooner than I could have
expected.

When I was in my thirteenth year my father was suddenly taken from us.
He was still in robust health when a stroke of apoplexy painlessly ended
his earthly wanderings and left us all deeply bereaved. His most ardent
longing was to be able to help his son to advance in a career and thus
save me from the harsh ordeal that he himself had to go through. But it
appeared to him then as if that longing were all in vain. And yet,
though he himself was not conscious of it, he had sown the seeds of a
future which neither of us foresaw at that time.

At first nothing changed outwardly.

My mother felt it her duty to continue my education in accordance with
my father's wishes, which meant that she would have me study for the
civil service. For my own part I was even more firmly determined than
ever before that under no circumstances would I become an official of
the State. The curriculum and teaching methods followed in the middle
school were so far removed from my ideals that I became profoundly
indifferent. Illness suddenly came to my assistance. Within a few weeks
it decided my future and put an end to the long-standing family
conflict. My lungs became so seriously affected that the doctor advised
my mother very strongly not under any circumstances to allow me to take
up a career which would necessitate working in an office. He ordered
that I should give up attendance at the REALSCHULE for a year at least.
What I had secretly desired for such a long time, and had persistently
fought for, now became a reality almost at one stroke.

Influenced by my illness, my mother agreed that I should leave the
REALSCHULE and attend the Academy.

Those were happy days, which appeared to me almost as a dream; but they
were bound to remain only a dream. Two years later my mother's death put
a brutal end to all my fine projects. She succumbed to a long and
painful illness which from the very beginning permitted little hope of
recovery. Though expected, her death came as a terrible blow to me. I
respected my father, but I loved my mother.

Poverty and stern reality forced me to decide promptly.

The meagre resources of the family had been almost entirely used up
through my mother's severe illness. The allowance which came to me as an
orphan was not enough for the bare necessities of life. Somehow or other
I would have to earn my own bread.

With my clothes and linen packed in a valise and with an indomitable
resolution in my heart, I left for Vienna. I hoped to forestall fate, as
my father had done fifty years before. I was determined to become
'something'--but certainly not a civil servant.
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« Reply #4 on: July 18, 2008, 11:43:13 pm »

CHAPTER II



YEARS OF STUDY AND SUFFERING IN VIENNA


When my mother died my fate had already been decided in one respect.
During the last months of her illness I went to Vienna to take the
entrance examination for the Academy of Fine Arts. Armed with a bulky
packet of sketches, I felt convinced that I should pass the examination
quite easily. At the REALSCHULE I was by far the best student in the
drawing class, and since that time I had made more than ordinary
progress in the practice of drawing. Therefore I was pleased with myself
and was proud and happy at the prospect of what I considered an assured
success.

But there was one misgiving: It seemed to me that I was better qualified
for drawing than for painting, especially in the various branches of
architectural drawing. At the same time my interest in architecture was
constantly increasing. And I advanced in this direction at a still more
rapid pace after my first visit to Vienna, which lasted two weeks. I was
not yet sixteen years old. I went to the Hof Museum to study the
paintings in the art gallery there; but the building itself captured
almost all my interest, from early morning until late at night I spent
all my time visiting the various public buildings. And it was the
buildings themselves that were always the principal attraction for me.
For hours and hours I could stand in wonderment before the Opera and the
Parliament. The whole Ring Strasse had a magic effect upon me, as if it
were a scene from the Thousand-and-one-Nights.

And now I was here for the second time in this beautiful city,
impatiently waiting to hear the result of the entrance examination but
proudly confident that I had got through. I was so convinced of my
success that when the news that I had failed to pass was brought to me
it struck me like a bolt from the skies. Yet the fact was that I had
failed. I went to see the Rector and asked him to explain the reasons
why they refused to accept me as a student in the general School of
Painting, which was part of the Academy. He said that the sketches which
I had brought with me unquestionably showed that painting was not what I
was suited for but that the same sketches gave clear indications of my
aptitude for architectural designing. Therefore the School of Painting
did not come into question for me but rather the School of Architecture,
which also formed part of the Academy. At first it was impossible to
understand how this could be so, seeing that I had never been to a
school for architecture and had never received any instruction in
architectural designing.

When I left the Hansen Palace, on the SCHILLER PLATZ, I was quite
crestfallen. I felt out of sorts with myself for the first time in my
young life. For what I had heard about my capabilities now appeared to
me as a lightning flash which clearly revealed a dualism under which I
had been suffering for a long time, but hitherto I could give no clear
account whatsoever of the why and wherefore.

Within a few days I myself also knew that I ought to become an
architect. But of course the way was very difficult. I was now forced
bitterly to rue my former conduct in neglecting and despising certain
subjects at the REALSCHULE. Before taking up the courses at the School
of Architecture in the Academy it was necessary to attend the Technical
Building School; but a necessary qualification for entrance into this
school was a Leaving Certificate from the Middle School. And this I
simply did not have. According to the human measure of things my dream
of following an artistic calling seemed beyond the limits of
possibility.

After the death of my mother I came to Vienna for the third time. This
visit was destined to last several years. Since I had been there before
I had recovered my old calm and resoluteness. The former self-assurance
had come back, and I had my eyes steadily fixed on the goal. I would be
an architect. Obstacles are placed across our path in life, not to be
boggled at but to be surmounted. And I was fully determined to surmount
these obstacles, having the picture of my father constantly before my
mind, who had raised himself by his own efforts to the position of a
civil servant though he was the poor son of a village shoemaker. I had a
better start, and the possibilities of struggling through were better.
At that time my lot in life seemed to me a harsh one; but to-day I see
in it the wise workings of Providence. The Goddess of Fate clutched me
in her hands and often threatened to smash me; but the will grew
stronger as the obstacles increased, and finally the will triumphed.

I am thankful for that period of my life, because it hardened me and
enabled me to be as tough as I now am. And I am even more thankful
because I appreciate the fact that I was thus saved from the emptiness
of a life of ease and that a mother's darling was taken from tender arms
and handed over to Adversity as to a new mother. Though I then rebelled
against it as too hard a fate, I am grateful that I was thrown into a
world of misery and poverty and thus came to know the people for whom I
was afterwards to fight.

It was during this period that my eyes were opened to two perils, the
names of which I scarcely knew hitherto and had no notion whatsoever of
their terrible significance for the existence of the German people.
These two perils were Marxism and Judaism.

For many people the name of Vienna signifies innocent jollity, a festive
place for happy mortals. For me, alas, it is a living memory of the
saddest period in my life. Even to-day the mention of that city arouses
only gloomy thoughts in my mind. Five years of poverty in that Phaecian
(Note 5) town. Five years in which, first as a casual labourer and then as
a painter of little trifles, I had to earn my daily bread. And a meagre
morsel indeed it was, not even sufficient to still the hunger which I
constantly felt. That hunger was the faithful guardian which never left
me but took part in everything I did. Every book that I bought meant
renewed hunger, and every visit I paid to the opera meant the intrusion
of that inalienabl companion during the following days. I was always
struggling with my unsympathic friend. And yet during that time I
learned more than I had ever learned before. Outside my architectural
studies and rare visits to the opera, for which I had to deny myself
food, I had no other pleasure in life except my books.

[Note 5. The Phaecians were a legendary people, mentioned in Homer's
Odyssey. They were supposed to live on some unknown island in the Eastern
Mediterranean, sometimes suggested to be Corcyra, the modern Corfu. They
loved good living more than work, and so the name Phaecian has come to be
a synonym for parasite.]

I read a great deal then, and I pondered deeply over what I read. All
the free time after work was devoted exclusively to study. Thus within a
few years I was able to acquire a stock of knowledge which I find useful
even to-day.

But more than that. During those years a view of life and a definite
outlook on the world took shape in my mind. These became the granite
basis of my conduct at that time. Since then I have extended that
foundation only very little, and I have changed nothing in it.

On the contrary: I am firmly convinced to-day that, generally speaking,
it is in youth that men lay the essential groundwork of their creative
thought, wherever that creative thought exists. I make a distinction
between the wisdom of age--which can only arise from the greater
profundity and foresight that are based on the experiences of a long
life--and the creative genius of youth, which blossoms out in thought
and ideas with inexhaustible fertility, without being able to put these
into practice immediately, because of their very superabundance. These
furnish the building materials and plans for the future; and it is from
them that age takes the stones and builds the edifice, unless the
so-called wisdom of the years may have smothered the creative genius of
youth.

The life which I had hitherto led at home with my parents differed in
little or nothing from that of all the others. I looked forward without
apprehension to the morrow, and there was no such thing as a social
problem to be faced. Those among whom I passed my young days belonged to
the small bourgeois class. Therefore it was a world that had very little
contact with the world of genuine manual labourers. For, though at first
this may appear astonishing, the ditch which separates that class, which
is by no means economically well-off; from the manual labouring class is
often deeper than people think. The reason for this division, which we
may almost call enmity, lies in the fear that dominates a social group
which has only just risen above the level of the manual labourer--a fear
lest it may fall back into its old condition or at least be classed with
the labourers. Moreover, there is something repulsive in remembering the
cultural indigence of that lower class and their rough manners with one
another; so that people who are only on the first rung of the social
ladder find it unbearable to be forced to have any contact with the
cultural level and standard of living out of which they have passed.

And so it happens that very often those who belong to what can really be
called the upper classes find it much easier than do the upstarts to
descend to and intermingle with their fellow beings on the lowest social
level. For by the word upstart I mean everyone who has raised himself
through his own efforts to a social level higher than that to which he
formerly belonged. In the case of such a person the hard struggle
through which he passes often destroys his normal human sympathy. His
own fight for existence kills his sensibility for the misery of those
who have been left behind.

From this point of view fate had been kind to me. Circumstances forced
me to return to that world of poverty and economic insecurity above
which my father had raised himself in his early days; and thus the
blinkers of a narrow PETIT BOURGEOIS education were torn from my eyes.
Now for the first time I learned to know men and I learned to
distinguish between empty appearances or brutal manners and the real
inner nature of the people who outwardly appeared thus.
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« Reply #5 on: July 18, 2008, 11:43:44 pm »

At the beginning of the century Vienna had already taken rank among
those cities where social conditions are iniquitous. Dazzling riches and
loathsome destitution were intermingled in violent contrast. In the
centre and in the Inner City one felt the pulse-beat of an Empire which
had a population of fifty-two millions, with all the perilous charm of a
State made up of multiple nationalities. The dazzling splendour of the
Court acted like a magnet on the wealth and intelligence of the whole
Empire. And this attraction was further strengthened by the dynastic
policy of the Habsburg Monarchy in centralizing everything in itself and
for itself.

This centralizing policy was necessary in order to hold together that
hotchpotch of heterogeneous nationalities. But the result of it was an
extraordinary concentration of higher officials in the city, which was
at one and the same time the metropolis and imperial residence.

But Vienna was not merely the political and intellectual centre of the
Danubian Monarchy; it was also the commercial centre. Besides the horde
of military officers of high rank, State officials, artists and
scientists, there was the still vaster horde of workers. Abject poverty
confronted the wealth of the aristocracy and the merchant class face to
face. Thousands of unemployed loitered in front of the palaces on the
Ring Strasse; and below that VIA TRIUMPHALIS of the old Austria the
homeless huddled together in the murk and filth of the canals.

There was hardly any other German city in which the social problem could
be studied better than in Vienna. But here I must utter a warning
against the illusion that this problem can be 'studied' from above
downwards. The man who has never been in the clutches of that crushing
viper can never know what its poison is. An attempt to study it in any
other way will result only in superficial talk and sentimental
delusions. Both are harmful. The first because it can never go to the
root of the question, the second because it evades the question
entirely. I do not know which is the more nefarious: to ignore social
distress, as do the majority of those who have been favoured by fortune
and those who have risen in the social scale through their own routine
labour, or the equally supercilious and often tactless but always
genteel condescension displayed by people who make a fad of being
charitable and who plume themselves on 'sympathising with the people.'
Of course such persons sin more than they can imagine from lack of
instinctive understanding. And thus they are astonished to find that the
'social conscience' on which they pride themselves never produces any
results, but often causes their good intentions to be resented; and then
they talk of the ingratitude of the people.

Such persons are slow to learn that here there is no place for merely
social activities and that there can be no expectation of gratitude; for
in this connection there is no question at all of distributing favours
but essentially a matter of retributive justice. I was protected against
the temptation to study the social question in the way just mentioned,
for the simple reason that I was forced to live in the midst of
poverty-stricken people. Therefore it was not a question of studying the
problem objectively, but rather one of testing its effects on myself.
Though the rabbit came through the ordeal of the experiment, this must
not be taken as evidence of its harmlessness.

When I try to-day to recall the succession of impressions received
during that time I find that I can do so only with approximate
completeness. Here I shall describe only the more essential impressions
and those which personally affected me and often staggered me. And I
shall mention the few lessons I then learned from this experience.

At that time it was for the most part not very difficult to find work,
because I had to seek work not as a skilled tradesman but as a so-called
extra-hand ready to take any job that turned up by chance, just for the
sake of earning my daily bread.

Thus I found myself in the same situation as all those emigrants who
shake the dust of Europe from their feet, with the cast-iron
determination to lay the foundations of a new existence in the New World
and acquire for themselves a new home. Liberated from all the paralysing
prejudices of class and calling, environment and tradition, they enter
any service that opens its doors to them, accepting any work that comes
their way, filled more and more with the idea that honest work never
disgraced anybody, no matter what kind it may be. And so I was resolved
to set both feet in what was for me a new world and push forward on my
own road.

I soon found out that there was some kind of work always to be got, but
I also learned that it could just as quickly and easily be lost. The
uncertainty of being able to earn a regular daily livelihood soon
appeared to me as the gloomiest feature in this new life that I had
entered.

Although the skilled worker was not so frequently thrown idle on the
streets as the unskilled worker, yet the former was by no means
protected against the same fate; because though he may not have to face
hunger as a result of unemployment due to the lack of demand in the
labour market, the lock-out and the strike deprived the skilled worker
of the chance to earn his bread. Here the element of uncertainty in
steadily earning one's daily bread was the bitterest feature of the
whole social-economic system itself.

The country lad who migrates to the big city feels attracted by what has
been described as easy work--which it may be in reality--and few working
hours. He is especially entranced by the magic glimmer spread over the
big cities. Accustomed in the country to earn a steady wage, he has been
taught not to quit his former post until a new one is at least in sight.
As there is a great scarcity of agricultural labour, the probability of
long unemployment in the country has been very small. It is a mistake to
presume that the lad who leaves the countryside for the town is not made
of such sound material as those who remain at home to work on the land.
On the contrary, experience shows that it is the more healthy and more
vigorous that emigrate, and not the reverse. Among these emigrants I
include not merely those who emigrate to America, but also the servant
boy in the country who decides to leave his native village and migrate
to the big city where he will be a stranger. He is ready to take the
risk of an uncertain fate. In most cases he comes to town with a little
money in his pocket and for the first few days he is not discouraged if
he should not have the good fortune to find work. But if he finds a job
and then loses it in a little while, the case is much worse. To find
work anew, especially in winter, is often difficult and indeed sometimes
impossible. For the first few weeks life is still bearable He receives
his out-of-work money from his trade union and is thus enabled to carry
on. But when the last of his own money is gone and his trade union
ceases to pay out because of the prolonged unemployment, then comes the
real distress. He now loiters about and is hungry. Often he pawns or
sells the last of his belongings. His clothes begin to get shabby and
with the increasing poverty of his outward appearance he descends to a
lower social level and mixes up with a class of human beings through
whom his mind is now poisoned, in addition to his physical misery. Then
he has nowhere to sleep and if that happens in winter, which is very
often the case, he is in dire distress. Finally he gets work. But the
old story repeats itself. A second time the same thing happens. Then a
third time; and now it is probably much worse. Little by little he
becomes indifferent to this everlasting insecurity. Finally he grows
used to the repetition. Thus even a man who is normally of industrious
habits grows careless in his whole attitude towards life and gradually
becomes an instrument in the hands of unscrupulous people who exploit
him for the sake of their own ignoble aims. He has been so often thrown
out of employment through no fault of his own that he is now more or
less indifferent whether the strike in which he takes part be for the
purpose of securing his economic rights or be aimed at the destruction
of the State, the whole social order and even civilization itself.
Though the idea of going on strike may not be to his natural liking, yet
he joins in it out of sheer indifference.

I saw this process exemplified before my eyes in thousands of cases. And
the longer I observed it the greater became my dislike for that mammoth
city which greedily attracts men to its bosom, in order to break them
mercilessly in the end. When they came they still felt themselves in
communion with their own people at home; if they remained that tie was
broken.

I was thrown about so much in the life of the metropolis that I
experienced the workings of this fate in my own person and felt the
effects of it in my own soul. One thing stood out clearly before my
eyes: It was the sudden changes from work to idleness and vice versa; so
that the constant fluctuations thus caused by earnings and expenditure
finally destroyed the 'sense of thrift for many people and also the
habit of regulating expenditure in an intelligent way. The body appeared
to grow accustomed to the vicissitudes of food and hunger, eating
heartily in good times and going hungry in bad. Indeed hunger shatters
all plans for rationing expenditure on a regular scale in better times
when employment is again found. The reason for this is that the
deprivations which the unemployed worker has to endure must be
compensated for psychologically by a persistent mental mirage in which
he imagines himself eating heartily once again. And this dream develops
into such a longing that it turns into a morbid impulse to cast off all
self-restraint when work and wages turn up again. Therefore the moment
work is found anew he forgets to regulate the expenditure of his
earnings but spends them to the full without thinking of to-morrow. This
leads to confusion in the little weekly housekeeping budget, because the
expenditure is not rationally planned. When the phenomenon which I have
mentioned first happens, the earnings will last perhaps for five days
instead of seven; on subsequent occasions they will last only for three
days; as the habit recurs, the earnings will last scarcely for a day;
and finally they will disappear in one night of feasting.

Often there are wife and children at home. And in many cases it happens
that these become infected by such a way of living, especially if the
husband is good to them and wants to do the best he can for them and
loves them in his own way and according to his own lights. Then the
week's earnings are spent in common at home within two or three days.
The family eat and drink together as long as the money lasts and at the
end of the week they hunger together. Then the wife wanders about
furtively in the neighbourhood, borrows a little, and runs up small
debts with the shopkeepers in an effort to pull through the lean days
towards the end of the week. They sit down together to the midday meal
with only meagre fare on the table, and often even nothing to eat. They
wait for the coming payday, talking of it and making plans; and while
they are thus hungry they dream of the plenty that is to come. And so
the little children become acquainted with misery in their early years.

But the evil culminates when the husband goes his own way from the
beginning of the week and the wife protests, simply out of love for the
children. Then there are quarrels and bad feeling and the husband takes
to drink according as he becomes estranged from his wife. He now becomes
drunk every Saturday. Fighting for her own existence and that of the
children, the wife has to hound him along the road from the factory to
the tavern in order to get a few shillings from him on payday. Then when
he finally comes home, maybe on the Sunday or the Monday, having parted
with his last shillings and pence, pitiable scenes follow, scenes that
cry out for God's mercy.
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« Reply #6 on: July 18, 2008, 11:44:13 pm »

I have had actual experience of all this in hundreds of cases. At first
I was disgusted and indignant; but later on I came to recognize the
whole tragedy of their misfortune and to understand the profound causes
of it. They were the unhappy victims of evil circumstances.

Housing conditions were very bad at that time. The Vienna manual
labourers lived in surroundings of appalling misery. I shudder even
to-day when I think of the woeful dens in which people dwelt, the night
shelters and the slums, and all the tenebrous spectacles of ordure,
loathsome filth and wickedness.

What will happen one day when hordes of emancipated slaves come forth
from these dens of misery to swoop down on their unsuspecting fellow
men? For this other world does not think about such a possibility. They
have allowed these things to go on without caring and even without
suspecting--in their total lack of instinctive understanding--that
sooner or later destiny will take its vengeance unless it will have been
appeased in time.

To-day I fervidly thank Providence for having sent me to such a school.
There I could not refuse to take an interest in matters that did not
please me. This school soon taught me a profound lesson.

In order not to despair completely of the people among whom I then lived
I had to set on one side the outward appearances of their lives and on
the other the reasons why they had developed in that way. Then I could
hear everything without discouragement; for those who emerged from all
this misfortune and misery, from this filth and outward degradation,
were not human beings as such but rather lamentable results of
lamentable laws. In my own life similar hardships prevented me from
giving way to a pitying sentimentality at the sight of these degraded
products which had finally resulted from the pressure of circumstances.
No, the sentimental attitude would be the wrong one to adopt.

Even in those days I already saw that there was a two-fold method by
which alone it would be possible to bring about an amelioration of these
conditions. This method is: first, to create better fundamental
conditions of social development by establishing a profound feeling for
social responsibilities among the public; second, to combine this
feeling for social responsibilities with a ruthless determination to
prune away all excrescences which are incapable of being improved.

Just as Nature concentrates its greatest attention, not to the
maintenance of what already exists but on the selective breeding of
offspring in order to carry on the species, so in human life also it is
less a matter of artificially improving the existing generation--which,
owing to human characteristics, is impossible in ninety-nine cases out
of a hundred--and more a matter of securing from the very start a better
road for future development.

During my struggle for existence in Vienna I perceived very clearly that
the aim of all social activity must never be merely charitable relief,
which is ridiculous and useless, but it must rather be a means to find a
way of eliminating the fundamental deficiencies in our economic and
cultural life--deficiencies which necessarily bring about the
degradation of the individual or at least lead him towards such
degradation. The difficulty of employing every means, even the most
drastic, to eradicate the hostility prevailing among the working classes
towards the State is largely due to an attitude of uncertainty in
deciding upon the inner motives and causes of this contemporary
phenomenon. The grounds of this uncertainty are to be found exclusively
in the sense of guilt which each individual feels for having permitted
this tragedy of degradation. For that feeling paralyses every effort at
making a serious and firm decision to act. And thus because the people
whom it concerns are vacillating they are timid and half-hearted in
putting into effect even the measures which are indispensable for
self-preservation. When the individual is no longer burdened with his
own consciousness of blame in this regard, then and only then will he
have that inner tranquillity and outer force to cut off drastically and
ruthlessly all the parasite growth and root out the weeds.

But because the Austrian State had almost no sense of social rights or
social legislation its inability to abolish those evil excrescences was
manifest.

I do not know what it was that appalled me most at that time: the
economic misery of those who were then my companions, their crude
customs and morals, or the low level of their intellectual culture.

How often our bourgeoisie rises up in moral indignation on hearing from
the mouth of some pitiable tramp that it is all the same to him whether
he be a German or not and that he will find himself at home wherever he
can get enough to keep body and soul together. They protest sternly
against such a lack of 'national pride' and strongly express their
horror at such sentiments.

But how many people really ask themselves why it is that their own
sentiments are better? How many of them understand that their natural
pride in being members of so favoured a nation arises from the
innumerable succession of instances they have encountered which remind
them of the greatness of the Fatherland and the Nation in all spheres of
artistic and cultural life? How many of them realize that pride in the
Fatherland is largely dependent on knowledge of its greatness in all
those spheres? Do our bourgeois circles ever think what a ridiculously
meagre share the people have in that knowledge which is a necessary
prerequisite for the feeling of pride in one's fatherland?

It cannot be objected here that in other countries similar conditions
exist and that nevertheless the working classes in those countries have
remained patriotic. Even if that were so, it would be no excuse for our
negligent attitude. But it is not so. What we call chauvinistic
education--in the case of the French people, for example--is only the
excessive exaltation of the greatness of France in all spheres of
culture or, as the French say, civilization. The French boy is not
educated on purely objective principles. Wherever the importance of the
political and cultural greatness of his country is concerned he is
taught in the most subjective way that one can imagine.

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« Reply #7 on: July 18, 2008, 11:44:46 pm »

This education will always have to be confined to general ideas in a
large perspective and these ought to be deeply engraven, by constant
repetition if necessary, on the memories and feelings of the people.

In our case, however, we are not merely guilty of negative sins of
omission but also of positively perverting the little which some
individuals had the luck to learn at school. The rats that poison our
body-politic gnaw from the hearts and memories of the broad masses even
that little which distress and misery have left.

Let the reader try to picture the following:

There is a lodging in a cellar and this lodging consists of two damp
rooms. In these rooms a workman and his family live--seven people in
all. Let us assume that one of the children is a boy of three years.
That is the age at which children first become conscious of the
impressions which they receive. In the case of highly gifted people
traces of the impressions received in those early years last in the
memory up to an advanced age. Now the narrowness and congestion of those
living quarters do not conduce to pleasant inter-relations. Thus
quarrels and fits of mutual anger arise. These people can hardly be said
to live with one another, but rather down on top of one another. The
small misunderstandings which disappear of themselves in a home where
there is enough space for people to go apart from one another for a
while, here become the source of chronic disputes. As far as the
children are concerned the situation is tolerable from this point of
view. In such conditions they are constantly quarrelling with one
another, but the quarrels are quickly and entirely forgotten. But when
the parents fall out with one another these daily bickerings often
descend to rudeness such as cannot be adequately imagined. The results
of such experiences must become apparent later on in the children. One
must have practical experience of such a MILIEU so as to be able to
picture the state of affairs that arises from these mutual
recriminations when the father physically assaults the mother and
maltreats her in a fit of drunken rage. At the age of six the child can
no longer ignore those sordid details which even an adult would find
revolting. Infected with moral poison, bodily undernourished, and the
poor little head filled with vermin, the young 'citizen' goes to the
primary school. With difficulty he barely learns to read and write.
There is no possibility of learning any lessons at home. Quite the
contrary. The father and mother themselves talk before the children in
the most disparaging way about the teacher and the school and they are
much more inclined to insult the teachers than to put their offspring
across the knee and knock sound reason into him. What the little fellow
hears at home does not tend to increase respect for his human
surroundings. Here nothing good is said of human nature as a whole and
every institution, from the school to the government, is reviled.
Whether religion and morals are concerned or the State and the social
order, it is all the same; they are all scoffed at. When the young lad
leaves school, at the age of fourteen, it would be difficult to say what
are the most striking features of his character, incredible ignorance in
so far as real knowledge is concerned or cynical impudence combined with
an attitude towards morality which is really startling at so young an
age.

What station in life can such a person fill, to whom nothing is sacred,
who has never experienced anything noble but, on the contrary, has been
intimately acquainted with the lowest kind of human existence? This
child of three has got into the habit of reviling all authority by the
time he is fifteen. He has been acquainted only with moral filth and
vileness, everything being excluded that might stimulate his thought
towards higher things. And now this young specimen of humanity enters
the school of life.

He leads the same kind of life which was exemplified for him by his
father during his childhood. He loiters about and comes home at all
hours. He now even black-guards that broken-hearted being who gave him
birth. He curses God and the world and finally ends up in a House of
Correction for young people. There he gets the final polish.

And his bourgeois contemporaries are astonished at the lack of
'patriotic enthusiasm' which this young 'citizen' manifests.

Day after day the bourgeois world are witnesses to the phenomenon of
spreading poison among the people through the instrumentality of the
theatre and the cinema, gutter journalism and obscene books; and yet
they are astonished at the deplorable 'moral standards' and 'national
indifference' of the masses. As if the cinema bilge and the gutter press
and suchlike could inculcate knowledge of the greatness of one's
country, apart entirely from the earlier education of the individual.

I then came to understand, quickly and thoroughly, what I had never been
aware of before. It was the following:

The question of 'nationalizing' a people is first and foremost one of
establishing healthy social conditions which will furnish the grounds
that are necessary for the education of the individual. For only when
family upbringing and school education have inculcated in the individual
a knowledge of the cultural and economic and, above all, the political
greatness of his own country--then, and then only, will it be possible
for him to feel proud of being a citizen of such a country. I can fight
only for something that I love. I can love only what I respect. And in
order to respect a thing I must at least have some knowledge of it.

As soon as my interest in social questions was once awakened I began to
study them in a fundamental way. A new and hitherto unknown world was
thus revealed to me.

In the years 1909-10 I had so far improved my, position that I no longer
had to earn my daily bread as a manual labourer. I was now working
independently as draughtsman, and painter in water colours. This MÉTIER
was a poor one indeed as far as earnings were concerned; for these were
only sufficient to meet the bare exigencies of life. Yet it had an
interest for me in view of the profession to which I aspired. Moreover,
when I came home in the evenings I was now no longer dead-tired as
formerly, when I used to be unable to look into a book without falling
asleep almost immediately. My present occupation therefore was in line
with the profession I aimed at for the future. Moreover, I was master of
my own time and could distribute my working-hours now better than
formerly. I painted in order to earn my bread, and I studied because I
liked it.

Thus I was able to acquire that theoretical knowledge of the social
problem which was a necessary complement to what I was learning through
actual experience. I studied all the books which I could find that dealt
with this question and I thought deeply on what I read. I think that the
MILIEU in which I then lived considered me an eccentric person.

Besides my interest in the social question I naturally devoted myself
with enthusiasm to the study of architecture. Side by side with music, I
considered it queen of the arts. To study it was for me not work but
pleasure. I could read or draw until the small hours of the morning
without ever getting tired. And I became more and more confident that my
dream of a brilliant future would become true, even though I should have
to wait long years for its fulfilment. I was firmly convinced that one
day I should make a name for myself as an architect.

The fact that, side by side with my professional studies, I took the
greatest interest in everything that had to do with politics did not
seem to me to signify anything of great importance. On the contrary: I
looked upon this practical interest in politics merely as part of an
elementary obligation that devolves on every thinking man. Those who
have no understanding of the political world around them have no right
to criticize or complain. On political questions therefore I still
continued to read and study a great deal. But reading had probably a
different significance for me from that which it has for the average run
of our so-called 'intellectuals'.

I know people who read interminably, book after book, from page to page,
and yet I should not call them 'well-read people'. Of course they 'know'
an immense amount; but their brain seems incapable of assorting and
classifying the material which they have gathered from books. They have
not the faculty of distinguishing between what is useful and useless in
a book; so that they may retain the former in their minds and if
possible skip over the latter while reading it, if that be not possible,
then--when once read--throw it overboard as useless ballast. Reading is
not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Its chief purpose is to
help towards filling in the framework which is made up of the talents
and capabilities that each individual possesses. Thus each one procures
for himself the implements and materials necessary for the fulfilment of
his calling in life, no matter whether this be the elementary task of
earning one's daily bread or a calling that responds to higher human
aspirations. Such is the first purpose of reading. And the second
purpose is to give a general knowledge of the world in which we live. In
both cases, however, the material which one has acquired through reading
must not be stored up in the memory on a plan that corresponds to the
successive chapters of the book; but each little piece of knowledge thus
gained must be treated as if it were a little stone to be inserted into
a mosaic, so that it finds its proper place among all the other pieces
and particles that help to form a general world-picture in the brain of
the reader. Otherwise only a confused jumble of chaotic notions will
result from all this reading. That jumble is not merely useless, but it
also tends to make the unfortunate possessor of it conceited. For he
seriously considers himself a well-educated person and thinks that he
understands something of life. He believes that he has acquired
knowledge, whereas the truth is that every increase in such 'knowledge'
draws him more and more away from real life, until he finally ends up in
some sanatorium or takes to politics and becomes a parliamentary deputy.

Such a person never succeeds in turning his knowledge to practical
account when the opportune moment arrives; for his mental equipment is
not ordered with a view to meeting the demands of everyday life. His
knowledge is stored in his brain as a literal transcript of the books he
has read and the order of succession in which he has read them. And if
Fate should one day call upon him to use some of his book-knowledge for
certain practical ends in life that very call will have to name the book
and give the number of the page; for the poor noodle himself would never
be able to find the spot where he gathered the information now called
for. But if the page is not mentioned at the critical moment the
widely-read intellectual will find himself in a state of hopeless
embarrassment. In a high state of agitation he searches for analogous
cases and it is almost a dead certainty that he will finally deliver the
wrong prescription.

If that is not a correct description, then how can we explain the
political achievements of our Parliamentary heroes who hold the highest
positions in the government of the country? Otherwise we should have to
attribute the doings of such political leaders, not to pathological
conditions but simply to malice and chicanery.

On the other hand, one who has cultivated the art of reading will
instantly discern, in a book or journal or pamphlet, what ought to be
remembered because it meets one's personal needs or is of value as
general knowledge. What he thus learns is incorporated in his mental
analogue of this or that problem or thing, further correcting the mental
picture or enlarging it so that it becomes more exact and precise.
Should some practical problem suddenly demand examination or solution,
memory will immediately select the opportune information from the mass
that has been acquired through years of reading and will place this
information at the service of one's powers of judgment so as to get a
new and clearer view of the problem in question or produce a definitive
solution.

Only thus can reading have any meaning or be worth while.
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« Reply #8 on: July 18, 2008, 11:45:19 pm »

The speaker, for example, who has not the sources of information ready
to hand which are necessary to a proper treatment of his subject is
unable to defend his opinions against an opponent, even though those
opinions be perfectly sound and true. In every discussion his memory
will leave him shamefully in the lurch. He cannot summon up arguments to
support his statements or to refute his opponent. So long as the speaker
has only to defend himself on his own personal account, the situation is
not serious; but the evil comes when Chance places at the head of public
affairs such a soi-disant know-it-all, who in reality knows nothing.

From early youth I endeavoured to read books in the right way and I was
fortunate in having a good memory and intelligence to assist me. From
that point of view my sojourn in Vienna was particularly useful and
profitable. My experiences of everyday life there were a constant
stimulus to study the most diverse problems from new angles. Inasmuch as
I was in a position to put theory to the test of reality and reality to
the test of theory, I was safe from the danger of pedantic theorizing on
the one hand and, on the other, from being too impressed by the
superficial aspects of reality.

The experience of everyday life at that time determined me to make a
fundamental theoretical study of two most important questions outside of
the social question.

It is impossible to say when I might have started to make a thorough
study of the doctrine and characteristics of Marxism were it not for the
fact that I then literally ran head foremost into the problem.

What I knew of Social Democracy in my youth was precious little and that
little was for the most part wrong. The fact that it led the struggle
for universal suffrage and the secret ballot gave me an inner
satisfaction; for my reason then told me that this would weaken the
Habsburg regime, which I so thoroughly detested. I was convinced that
even if it should sacrifice the German element the Danubian State could
not continue to exist. Even at the price of a long and slow Slaviz-ation
of the Austrian Germans the State would secure no guarantee of a really
durable Empire; because it was very questionable if and how far the
Slavs possessed the necessary capacity for constructive politics.
Therefore I welcomed every movement that might lead towards the final
disruption of that impossible State which had decreed that it would
stamp out the German character in ten millions of people. The more this
babel of tongues wrought discord and disruption, even in the Parliament,
the nearer the hour approached for the dissolution of this Babylonian
Empire. That would mean the liberation of my German Austrian people, and
only then would it become possible for them to be re-united to the
Motherland.

Accordingly I had no feelings of antipathy towards the actual policy of
the Social Democrats. That its avowed purpose was to raise the level of
the working classes--which in my ignorance I then foolishly
believed--was a further reason why I should speak in favour of Social
Democracy rather than against it. But the features that contributed most
to estrange me from the Social Democratic movement was its hostile
attitude towards the struggle for the conservation of Germanism in
Austria, its lamentable cocotting with the Slav 'comrades', who received
these approaches favourably as long as any practical advantages were
forthcoming but otherwise maintained a haughty reserve, thus giving the
importunate mendicants the sort of answer their behaviour deserved.

And so at the age of seventeen the word 'Marxism' was very little known
to me, while I looked on 'Social Democracy' and 'Socialism' as
synonymous expressions. It was only as the result of a sudden blow from
the rough hand of Fate that my eyes were opened to the nature of this
unparalleled system for duping the public.

Hitherto my acquaintance with the Social Democratic Party was only that
of a mere spectator at some of their mass meetings. I had not the
slightest idea of the social-democratic teaching or the mentality of its
partisans. All of a sudden I was brought face to face with the products
of their teaching and what they called their WELTANSCHAUUNG. In this
way a few months sufficed for me to learn something which under other
circumstances might have necessitated decades of study--namely, that
under the cloak of social virtue and love of one's neighbour a veritable
pestilence was spreading abroad and that if this pestilence be not
stamped out of the world without delay it may eventually succeed in
exterminating the human race.

I first came into contact with the Social Democrats while working in the
building trade.

From the very time that I started work the situation was not very
pleasant for me. My clothes were still rather decent. I was careful of
my speech and I was reserved in manner. I was so occupied with thinking
of my own present lot and future possibilities that I did not take much
of an interest in my immediate surroundings. I had sought work so that I
shouldn't starve and at the same time so as to be able to make further
headway with my studies, though this headway might be slow. Possibly I
should not have bothered to be interested in my companions were it not
that on the third or fourth day an event occurred which forced me to
take a definite stand. I was ordered to join the trade union.

At that time I knew nothing about the trades unions. I had had no
opportunity of forming an opinion on their utility or inutility, as the
case might be. But when I was told that I must join the union I refused.
The grounds which I gave for my refusal were simply that I knew nothing
about the matter and that anyhow I would not allow myself to be forced
into anything. Probably the former reason saved me from being thrown out
right away. They probably thought that within a few days I might be
converted' and become more docile. But if they thought that they were
profoundly mistaken. After two weeks I found it utterly impossible for
me to take such a step, even if I had been willing to take it at first.
During those fourteen days I came to know my fellow workmen better, and
no power in the world could have moved me to join an organization whose
representatives had meanwhile shown themselves in a light which I found
so unfavourable.

During the first days my resentment was aroused.

At midday some of my fellow workers used to adjourn to the nearest
tavern, while the others remained on the building premises and there ate
their midday meal, which in most cases was a very scanty one. These were
married men. Their wives brought them the midday soup in dilapidated
vessels. Towards the end of the week there was a gradual increase in the
number of those who remained to eat their midday meal on the building
premises. I understood the reason for this afterwards. They now talked
politics.

I drank my bottle of milk and ate my morsel of bread somewhere on the
outskirts, while I circumspectly studied my environment or else fell to
meditating on my own harsh lot. Yet I heard more than enough. And I
often thought that some of what they said was meant for my ears, in the
hope of bringing me to a decision. But all that I heard had the effect
of arousing the strongest antagonism in me. Everything was
disparaged--the nation, because it was held to be an invention of the
'capitalist' class (how often I had to listen to that phrase!); the
Fatherland, because it was held to be an instrument in the hands of the
bourgeoisie for the exploitation of' the working masses; the authority
of the law, because that was a means of holding down the proletariat;
religion, as a means of doping the people, so as to exploit them
afterwards; morality, as a badge of stupid and sheepish docility. There
was nothing that they did not drag in the mud.

At first I remained silent; but that could not last very long. Then I
began to take part in the discussion and to reply to their statements. I
had to recognize, however, that this was bound to be entirely fruitless,
as long as I did not have at least a certain amount of definite
information about the questions that were discussed. So I decided to
consult the source from which my interlocutors claimed to have drawn
their so-called wisdom. I devoured book after book, pamphlet after
pamphlet.

Meanwhile, we argued with one another on the building premises. From day
to day I was becoming better informed than my companions in the subjects
on which they claimed to be experts. Then a day came when the more
redoubtable of my adversaries resorted to the most effective weapon they
had to replace the force of reason. This was intimidation and physical
force. Some of the leaders among my adversaries ordered me to leave the
building or else get flung down from the scaffolding. As I was quite
alone I could not put up any physical resistance; so I chose the first
alternative and departed, richer however by an experience.

I went away full of disgust; but at the same time so deeply moved that
it was quite impossible for me to turn my back on the whole situation
and think no more about it. When my anger began to calm down the spirit
of obstinacy got the upper hand and I decided that at all costs I would
get back to work again in the building trade. This decision became all
the stronger a few weeks later, when my little savings had entirely run
out and hunger clutched me once again in its merciless arms. No
alternative was left to me. I got work again and had to leave it for the
same reasons as before.

Then I asked myself: Are these men worthy of belonging to a great
people? The question was profoundly disturbing; for if the answer were
'Yes', then the struggle to defend one's nationality is no longer worth
all the trouble and sacrifice we demand of our best elements if it be in
the interests of such a rabble. On the other hand, if the answer had to
be 'No--these men are not worthy of the nation', then our nation is poor
indeed in men. During those days of mental anguish and deep meditation I
saw before my mind the ever-increasing and menacing army of people who
could no longer be reckoned as belonging to their own nation.

It was with quite a different feeling, some days later, that I gazed on
the interminable ranks, four abreast, of Viennese workmen parading at a
mass demonstration. I stood dumbfounded for almost two hours, watching
that enormous human dragon which slowly uncoiled itself there before me.
When I finally left the square and wandered in the direction of my
lodgings I felt dismayed and depressed. On my way I noticed the
ARBEITERZEITUNG (The Workman's Journal) in a tobacco shop. This was the
chief press-organ of the old Austrian Social Democracy. In a cheap café,
where the common people used to foregather and where I often went to
read the papers, the ARBEITERZEITUNG was also displayed. But hitherto I
could not bring myself to do more than glance at the wretched thing for
a couple of minutes: for its whole tone was a sort of mental vitriol to
me. Under the depressing influence of the demonstration I had witnessed,
some interior voice urged me to buy the paper in that tobacco shop and
read it through. So I brought it home with me and spent the whole
evening reading it, despite the steadily mounting rage provoked by this
ceaseless outpouring of falsehoods.

I now found that in the social democratic daily papers I could study the
inner character of this politico-philosophic system much better than in
all their theoretical literature.

For there was a striking discrepancy between the two. In the literary
effusions which dealt with the theory of Social Democracy there was a
display of high-sounding phraseology about liberty and human dignity and
beauty, all promulgated with an air of profound wisdom and serene
prophetic assurance; a meticulously-woven glitter of words to dazzle and
mislead the reader. On the other hand, the daily Press inculcated this
new doctrine of human redemption in the most brutal fashion. No means
were too base, provided they could be exploited in the campaign of
slander. These journalists were real virtuosos in the art of twisting
facts and presenting them in a deceptive form. The theoretical
literature was intended for the simpletons of the soi-disant
intellectuals belonging to the middle and, naturally, the upper classes.
The newspaper propaganda was intended for the masses.

This probing into books and newspapers and studying the teachings of
Social Democracy reawakened my love for my own people. And thus what at
first seemed an impassable chasm became the occasion of a closer
affection.

Having once understood the working of the colossal system for poisoning
the popular mind, only a fool could blame the victims of it. During the
years that followed I became more independent and, as I did so, I became
better able to understand the inner cause of the success achieved by
this Social Democratic gospel. I now realized the meaning and purpose of
those brutal orders which prohibited the reading of all books and
newspapers that were not 'red' and at the same time demanded that only
the 'red' meetings should be attended. In the clear light of brutal
reality I was able to see what must have been the inevitable
consequences of that intolerant teaching.
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« Reply #9 on: July 18, 2008, 11:46:23 pm »

The PSYCHE of the broad masses is accessible only to what is strong and
uncompromising. Like a woman whose inner sensibilities are not so much
under the sway of abstract reasoning but are always subject to the
influence of a vague emotional longing for the strength that completes
her being, and who would rather bow to the strong man than dominate the
weakling--in like manner the masses of the people prefer the ruler to
the suppliant and are filled with a stronger sense of mental security by
a teaching that brooks no rival than by a teaching which offers them a
liberal choice. They have very little idea of how to make such a choice
and thus they are prone to feel that they have been abandoned. They feel
very little shame at being terrorized intellectually and they are
scarcely conscious of the fact that their freedom as human beings is
impudently abused; and thus they have not the slightest suspicion of the
intrinsic fallacy of the whole doctrine. They see only the ruthless
force and brutality of its determined utterances, to which they always
submit.

IF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY SHOULD BE OPPOSED BY A MORE TRUTHFUL TEACHING, THEN
EVEN, THOUGH THE STRUGGLE BE OF THE BITTEREST KIND, THIS TRUTHFUL
TEACHING WILL FINALLY PREVAIL PROVIDED IT BE ENFORCED WITH EQUAL
RUTHLESSNESS.

Within less than two years I had gained a clear understanding of Social
Democracy, in its teaching and the technique of its operations.

I recognized the infamy of that technique whereby the movement carried
on a campaign of mental terrorism against the bourgeoisie, who are
neither morally nor spiritually equipped to withstand such attacks. The
tactics of Social Democracy consisted in opening, at a given signal, a
veritable drum-fire of lies and calumnies against the man whom they
believed to be the most redoubtable of their adversaries, until the
nerves of the latter gave way and they sacrificed the man who was
attacked, simply in the hope of being allowed to live in peace. But the
hope proved always to be a foolish one, for they were never left in
peace.

The same tactics are repeated again and again, until fear of these mad
dogs exercises, through suggestion, a paralysing effect on their
Victims.

Through its own experience Social Democracy learned the value of
strength, and for that reason it attacks mostly those in whom it scents
stuff of the more stalwart kind, which is indeed a very rare possession.
On the other hand it praises every weakling among its adversaries, more
or less cautiously, according to the measure of his mental qualities
known or presumed. They have less fear of a man of genius who lacks
will-power than of a vigorous character with mediocre intelligence and
at the same time they highly commend those who are devoid of
intelligence and will-power.

The Social Democrats know how to create the impression that they alone
are the protectors of peace. In this way, acting very circumspectly but
never losing sight of their ultimate goal, they conquer one position
after another, at one time by methods of quiet intimidation and at
another time by sheer daylight robbery, employing these latter tactics
at those moments when public attention is turned towards other matters
from which it does not wish to be diverted, or when the public considers
an incident too trivial to create a scandal about it and thus provoke
the anger of a malignant opponent.

These tactics are based on an accurate estimation of human frailties and
must lead to success, with almost mathematical certainty, unless the
other side also learns how to fight poison gas with poison gas. The
weaker natures must be told that here it is a case of to be or not to
be.

I also came to understand that physical intimidation has its
significance for the mass as well as for the individual. Here again the
Socialists had calculated accurately on the psychological effect.

Intimidation in workshops and in factories, in assembly halls and at
mass demonstrations, will always meet with success as long as it does
not have to encounter the same kind of terror in a stronger form.

Then of course the Party will raise a horrified outcry, yelling blue
murder and appealing to the authority of the State, which they have just
repudiated. In doing this their aim generally is to add to the general
confusion, so that they may have a better opportunity of reaching their
own goal unobserved. Their idea is to find among the higher government
officials some bovine creature who, in the stupid hope that he may win
the good graces of these awe-inspiring opponents so that they may
remember him in case of future eventualities, will help them now to
break all those who may oppose this world pest.

The impression which such successful tactics make on the minds of the
broad masses, whether they be adherents or opponents, can be estimated
only by one who knows the popular mind, not from books but from
practical life. For the successes which are thus obtained are taken by
the adherents of Social Democracy as a triumphant symbol of the
righteousness of their own cause; on the other hand the beaten opponent
very often loses faith in the effectiveness of any further resistance.

The more I understood the methods of physical intimidation that were
employed, the more sympathy I had for the multitude that had succumbed
to it.

I am thankful now for the ordeal which I had to go through at that time;
for it was the means of bringing me to think kindly again of my own
people, inasmuch as the experience enabled me to distinguish between the
false leaders and the victims who have been led astray.

We must look upon the latter simply as victims. I have just now tried to
depict a few traits which express the mentality of those on the lowest
rung of the social ladder; but my picture would be disproportionate if I
do not add that amid the social depths I still found light; for I
experienced a rare spirit of self-sacrifice and loyal comradeship among
those men, who demanded little from life and were content amid their
modest surroundings. This was true especially of the older generation of
workmen. And although these qualities were disappearing more and more in
the younger generation, owing to the all-pervading influence of the big
city, yet among the younger generation also there were many who were
sound at the core and who were able to maintain themselves
uncontaminated amid the sordid surroundings of their everyday existence.
If these men, who in many cases meant well and were upright in
themselves, gave the support to the political activities carried on by
the common enemies of our people, that was because those decent
workpeople did not and could not grasp the downright infamy of the
doctrine taught by the socialist agitators. Furthermore, it was because
no other section of the community bothered itself about the lot of the
working classes. Finally, the social conditions became such that men who
otherwise would have acted differently were forced to submit to them,
even though unwillingly at first. A day came when poverty gained the
upper hand and drove those workmen into the Social Democratic ranks.

On innumerable occasions the bourgeoisie took a definite stand against
even the most legitimate human demands of the working classes. That
conduct was ill-judged and indeed immoral and could bring no gain
whatsoever to the bourgeois class. The result was that the honest
workman abandoned the original concept of the trades union organization
and was dragged into politics.

There were millions and millions of workmen who began by being hostile
to the Social Democratic Party; but their defences were repeatedly
stormed and finally they had to surrender. Yet this defeat was due to
the stupidity of the bourgeois parties, who had opposed every social
demand put forward by the working class. The short-sighted refusal to
make an effort towards improving labour conditions, the refusal to adopt
measures which would insure the workman in case of accidents in the
factories, the refusal to forbid child labour, the refusal to consider
protective measures for female workers, especially expectant
mothers--all this was of assistance to the Social Democratic leaders,
who were thankful for every opportunity which they could exploit for
forcing the masses into their net. Our bourgeois parties can never
repair the damage that resulted from the mistake they then made. For
they sowed the seeds of hatred when they opposed all efforts at social
reform. And thus they gave, at least, apparent grounds to justify the
claim put forward by the Social Democrats--namely, that they alone stand
up for the interests of the working class.

And this became the principal ground for the moral justification of the
actual existence of the Trades Unions, so that the labour organization
became from that time onwards the chief political recruiting ground to
swell the ranks of the Social Democratic Party.

While thus studying the social conditions around me I was forced,
whether I liked it or not, to decide on the attitude I should take
towards the Trades Unions. Because I looked upon them as inseparable
from the Social Democratic Party, my decision was hasty--and mistaken. I
repudiated them as a matter of course. But on this essential question
also Fate intervened and gave me a lesson, with the result that I
changed the opinion which I had first formed.

When I was twenty years old I had learned to distinguish between the
Trades Union as a means of defending the social rights of the employees
and fighting for better living conditions for them and, on the other
hand, the Trades Union as a political instrument used by the Party in
the class struggle.

The Social Democrats understood the enormous importance of the Trades
Union movement. They appropriated it as an instrument and used it with
success, while the bourgeois parties failed to understand it and thus
lost their political prestige. They thought that their own arrogant VETO
would arrest the logical development of the movement and force it into
an illogical position. But it is absurd and also untrue to say that the
Trades Union movement is in itself hostile to the nation. The opposite
is the more correct view. If the activities of the Trades Union are
directed towards improving the condition of a class, and succeed in
doing so, such activities are not against the Fatherland or the State
but are, in the truest sense of the word, national. In that way the
trades union organization helps to create the social conditions which
are indispensable in a general system of national education. It deserves
high recognition when it destroys the psychological and physical germs
of social disease and thus fosters the general welfare of the nation.

It is superfluous to ask whether the Trades Union is indispensable.

So long as there are employers who attack social understanding and have
wrong ideas of justice and fair play it is not only the right but also
the duty of their employees--who are, after all, an integral part of our
people--to protect the general interests against the greed and unreason
of the individual. For to safeguard the loyalty and confidence of the
people is as much in the interests of the nation as to safeguard public
health.

Both are seriously menaced by dishonourable employers who are not
conscious of their duty as members of the national community. Their
personal avidity or irresponsibility sows the seeds of future trouble.
To eliminate the causes of such a development is an action that surely
deserves well of the country.

It must not be answered here that the individual workman is free at any
time to escape from the consequences of an injustice which he has
actually suffered at the hands of an employer, or which he thinks he has
suffered--in other words, he can leave. No. That argument is only a ruse
to detract attention from the question at issue. Is it, or is it not, in
the interests of the nation to remove the causes of social unrest? If it
is, then the fight must be carried on with the only weapons that promise
success. But the individual workman is never in a position to stand up
against the might of the big employer; for the question here is not one
that concerns the triumph of right. If in such a relation right had been
recognized as the guiding principle, then the conflict could not have
arisen at all. But here it is a question of who is the stronger. If the
case were otherwise, the sentiment of justice alone would solve the
dispute in an honourable way; or, to put the case more correctly,
matters would not have come to such a dispute at all.

No. If unsocial and dishonourable treatment of men provokes resistance,
then the stronger party can impose its decision in the conflict until
the constitutional legislative authorities do away with the evil through
legislation. Therefore it is evident that if the individual workman is
to have any chance at all of winning through in the struggle he must be
grouped with his fellow workmen and present a united front before the
individual employer, who incorporates in his own person the massed
strength of the vested interests in the industrial or commercial
undertaking which he conducts.

Thus the trades unions can hope to inculcate and strengthen a sense of
social responsibility in workaday life and open the road to practical
results. In doing this they tend to remove those causes of friction
which are a continual source of discontent and complaint.

Blame for the fact that the trades unions do not fulfil this
much-desired function must be laid at the doors of those who barred the
road to legislative social reform, or rendered such a reform ineffective
by sabotaging it through their political influence.
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« Reply #10 on: July 18, 2008, 11:46:52 pm »

The political bourgeoisie failed to understand--or, rather, they did not
wish to understand--the importance of the trades union movement. The
Social Democrats accordingly seized the advantage offered them by this
mistaken policy and took the labour movement under their exclusive
protection, without any protest from the other side. In this way they
established for themselves a solid bulwark behind which they could
safely retire whenever the struggle assumed a critical aspect. Thus the
genuine purpose of the movement gradually fell into oblivion, and was
replaced by new objectives. For the Social Democrats never troubled
themselves to respect and uphold the original purpose for which the
trade unionist movement was founded. They simply took over the Movement,
lock, stock and barrel, to serve their own political ends.

Within a few decades the Trades Union Movement was transformed, by the
expert hand of Social Democracy, from an instrument which had been
originally fashioned for the defence of human rights into an instrument
for the destruction of the national economic structure. The interests of
the working class were not allowed for a moment to cross the path of
this purpose; for in politics the application of economic pressure is
always possible if the one side be sufficiently unscrupulous and the
other sufficiently inert and docile. In this case both conditions were
fulfilled.

By the beginning of the present century the Trades Unionist Movement had
already ceased to recognize the purpose for which it had been founded.
From year to year it fell more and more under the political control of
the Social Democrats, until it finally came to be used as a
battering-ram in the class struggle. The plan was to shatter, by means
of constantly repeated blows, the economic edifice in the building of
which so much time and care had been expended. Once this objective had
been reached, the destruction of the State would become a matter of
course, because the State would already have been deprived of its
economic foundations. Attention to the real interests of the
working-classes, on the part of the Social Democrats, steadily decreased
until the cunning leaders saw that it would be in their immediate
political interests if the social and cultural demands of the broad
masses remained unheeded; for there was a danger that if these masses
once felt content they could no longer be employed as mere passive
material in the political struggle.

The gloomy prospect which presented itself to the eyes of the
CONDOTTIERI of the class warfare, if the discontent of the masses were
no longer available as a war weapon, created so much anxiety among them
that they suppressed and opposed even the most elementary measures of
social reform. And conditions were such that those leaders did not have
to trouble about attempting to justify such an illogical policy.

As the masses were taught to increase and heighten their demands the
possibility of satisfying them dwindled and whatever ameliorative
measures were taken became less and less significant; so that it was at
that time possible to persuade the masses that this ridiculous measure
in which the most sacred claims of the working-classes were being
granted represented a diabolical plan to weaken their fighting power in
this easy way and, if possible, to paralyse it. One will not be
astonished at the success of these allegations if one remembers what a
small measure of thinking power the broad masses possess.

In the bourgeois camp there was high indignation over the bad faith of
the Social Democratic tactics; but nothing was done to draw a practical
conclusion and organize a counter attack from the bourgeois side. The
fear of the Social Democrats, to improve the miserable conditions of the
working-classes ought to have induced the bourgeois parties to make the
most energetic efforts in this direction and thus snatch from the hands
of the class-warfare leaders their most important weapon; but nothing of
this kind happened.

Instead of attacking the position of their adversaries the bourgeoisie
allowed itself to be pressed and harried. Finally it adopted means that
were so tardy and so insignificant that they were ineffective and were
repudiated. So the whole situation remained just as it had been before
the bourgeois intervention; but the discontent had thereby become more
serious.

Like a threatening storm, the 'Free Trades Union' hovered above the
political horizon and above the life of each individual. It was one of
the most frightful instruments of terror that threatened the security
and independence of the national economic structure, the foundations of
the State and the liberty of the individual. Above all, it was the 'Free
Trades Union' that turned democracy into a ridiculous and scorned
phrase, insulted the ideal of liberty and stigmatized that of fraternity
with the slogan 'If you will not become our comrade we shall crack your
skull'.

It was thus that I then came to know this friend of humanity. During the
years that followed my knowledge of it became wider and deeper; but I
have never changed anything in that regard.

The more I became acquainted with the external forms of Social
Democracy, the greater became my desire to understand the inner nature
of its doctrines.

For this purpose the official literature of the Party could not help
very much. In discussing economic questions its statements were false
and its proofs unsound. In treating of political aims its attitude was
insincere. Furthermore, its modern methods of chicanery in the
presentation of its arguments were profoundly repugnant to me. Its
flamboyant sentences, its obscure and incomprehensible phrases,
pretended to contain great thoughts, but they were devoid of thought,
and meaningless. One would have to be a decadent Bohemian in one of our
modern cities in order to feel at home in that labyrinth of mental
aberration, so that he might discover 'intimate experiences' amid the
stinking fumes of this literary Dadism. These writers were obviously
counting on the proverbial humility of a certain section of our people,
who believe that a person who is incomprehensible must be profoundly
wise.

In confronting the theoretical falsity and absurdity of that doctrine
with the reality of its external manifestations, I gradually came to
have a clear idea of the ends at which it aimed.

During such moments I had dark presentiments and feared something evil.
I had before me a teaching inspired by egoism and hatred, mathematically
calculated to win its victory, but the triumph of which would be a
mortal blow to humanity.

Meanwhile I had discovered the relations existing between this
destructive teaching and the specific character of a people, who up to
that time had been to me almost unknown.

Knowledge of the Jews is the only key whereby one may understand the
inner nature and therefore the real aims of Social Democracy.

The man who has come to know this race has succeeded in removing from
his eyes the veil through which he had seen the aims and meaning of his
Party in a false light; and then, out of the murk and fog of social
phrases rises the grimacing figure of Marxism.

To-day it is hard and almost impossible for me to say when the word
'Jew' first began to raise any particular thought in my mind. I do not
remember even having heard the word at home during my father's lifetime.
If this name were mentioned in a derogatory sense I think the old
gentleman would just have considered those who used it in this way as
being uneducated reactionaries. In the course of his career he had come
to be more or less a cosmopolitan, with strong views on nationalism,
which had its effect on me as well. In school, too, I found no reason to
alter the picture of things I had formed at home.

At the REALSCHULE I knew one Jewish boy. We were all on our guard in our
relations with him, but only because his reticence and certain actions
of his warned us to be discreet. Beyond that my companions and myself
formed no particular opinions in regard to him.

It was not until I was fourteen or fifteen years old that I frequently
ran up against the word 'Jew', partly in connection with political
controversies. These references aroused a slight aversion in me, and I
could not avoid an uncomfortable feeling which always came over me when
I had to listen to religious disputes. But at that time I had no other
feelings about the Jewish question.

There were very few Jews in Linz. In the course of centuries the Jews
who lived there had become Europeanized in external appearance and were
so much like other human beings that I even looked upon them as Germans.
The reason why I did not then perceive the absurdity of such an illusion
was that the only external mark which I recognized as distinguishing
them from us was the practice of their strange religion. As I thought
that they were persecuted on account of their Faith my aversion to
hearing remarks against them grew almost into a feeling of abhorrence. I
did not in the least suspect that there could be such a thing as a
systematic anti-Semitism.

Then I came to Vienna.
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« Reply #11 on: July 18, 2008, 11:47:24 pm »

Confused by the mass of impressions I received from the architectural
surroundings and depressed by my own troubles, I did not at first
distinguish between the different social strata of which the population
of that mammoth city was composed. Although Vienna then had about two
hundred thousand Jews among its population of two millions, I did not
notice them. During the first weeks of my sojourn my eyes and my mind
were unable to cope with the onrush of new ideas and values. Not until I
gradually settled down to my surroundings, and the confused picture
began to grow clearer, did I acquire a more discriminating view of my
new world. And with that I came up against the Jewish problem.

I will not say that the manner in which I first became acquainted with
it was particularly unpleasant for me. In the Jew I still saw only a man
who was of a different religion, and therefore, on grounds of human
tolerance, I was against the idea that he should be attacked because he
had a different faith. And so I considered that the tone adopted by the
anti-Semitic Press in Vienna was unworthy of the cultural traditions of
a great people. The memory of certain events which happened in the
middle ages came into my mind, and I felt that I should not like to see
them repeated. Generally speaking, these anti-Semitic newspapers did not
belong to the first rank--but I did not then understand the reason of
this--and so I regarded them more as the products of jealousy and envy
rather than the expression of a sincere, though wrong-headed, feeling.

My own opinions were confirmed by what I considered to be the infinitely
more dignified manner in which the really great Press replied to those
attacks or simply ignored them, which latter seemed to me the most
respectable way.

I diligently read what was generally called the World Press--NEUE FREIE
PRESSE, WIENER TAGEBLATT, etc.--and I was astonished by the abundance of
information they gave their readers and the impartial way in which they
presented particular problems. I appreciated their dignified tone; but
sometimes the flamboyancy of the style was unconvincing, and I did not
like it. But I attributed all this to the overpowering influence of the
world metropolis.

Since I considered Vienna at that time as such a world metropolis, I
thought this constituted sufficient grounds to excuse these shortcomings
of the Press. But I was frequently disgusted by the grovelling way in
which the Vienna Press played lackey to the Court. Scarcely a move took
place at the Hofburg which was not presented in glorified colours to the
readers. It was a foolish practice, which, especially when it had to do
with 'The Wisest Monarch of all Times', reminded one almost of the dance
which the mountain **** performs at pairing time to woo his mate. It was
all empty nonsense. And I thought that such a policy was a stain on the
ideal of liberal democracy. I thought that this way of currying favour
at the Court was unworthy of the people. And that was the first blot
that fell on my appreciation of the great Vienna Press.

While in Vienna I continued to follow with a vivid interest all the
events that were taking place in Germany, whether connected with
political or cultural question. I had a feeling of pride and admiration
when I compared the rise of the young German Empire with the decline of
the Austrian State. But, although the foreign policy of that Empire was
a source of real pleasure on the whole, the internal political
happenings were not always so satisfactory. I did not approve of the
campaign which at that time was being carried on against William II. I
looked upon him not only as the German Emperor but, above all, as the
creator of the German Navy. The fact that the Emperor was prohibited
from speaking in the Reichstag made me very angry, because the
prohibition came from a side which in my eyes had no authority to make
it. For at a single sitting those same parliamentary ganders did more
cackling together than the whole dynasty of Emperors, comprising even
the weakest, had done in the course of centuries.

It annoyed me to have to acknowledge that in a nation where any
half-witted fellow could claim for himself the right to criticize and
might even be let loose on the people as a 'Legislator' in the
Reichstag, the bearer of the Imperial Crown could be the subject of a
'reprimand' on the part of the most miserable assembly of drivellers
that had ever existed.

I was even more disgusted at the way in which this same Vienna Press
salaamed obsequiously before the meanest steed belonging to the Habsburg
royal equipage and went off into wild ecstacies of delight if the nag
wagged its tail in response. And at the same time these newspapers took
up an attitude of anxiety in matters that concerned the German Emperor,
trying to cloak their enmity by the serious air they gave themselves.
But in my eyes that enmity appeared to be only poorly cloaked. Naturally
they protested that they had no intention of mixing in Germany's
internal affairs--God forbid! They pretended that by touching a delicate
spot in such a friendly way they were fulfilling a duty that devolved
upon them by reason of the mutual alliance between the two countries and
at the same time discharging their obligations of journalistic
truthfulness. Having thus excused themselves about tenderly touching a
sore spot, they bored with the finger ruthlessly into the wound.

That sort of thing made my blood boil. And now I began to be more and
more on my guard when reading the great Vienna Press.

I had to acknowledge, however, that on such subjects one of the
anti-Semitic papers--the DEUTSCHE VOLKSBLATT--acted more decently.

What got still more on my nerves was the repugnant manner in which the
big newspapers cultivated admiration for France. One really had to feel
ashamed of being a German when confronted by those mellifluous hymns of
praise for 'the great culture-nation'. This wretched Gallomania more
often than once made me throw away one of those 'world newspapers'. I
now often turned to the VOLKSBLATT, which was much smaller in size but
which treated such subjects more decently. I was not in accord with its
sharp anti-Semitic tone; but again and again I found that its arguments
gave me grounds for serious thought.

Anyhow, it was as a result of such reading that I came to know the man
and the movement which then determined the fate of Vienna. These were
Dr. Karl Lueger and the Christian Socialist Movement. At the time I came
to Vienna I felt opposed to both. I looked on the man and the movement
as 'reactionary'.

But even an elementary sense of justice enforced me to change my opinion
when I had the opportunity of knowing the man and his work, and slowly
that opinion grew into outspoken admiration when I had better grounds
for forming a judgment. To-day, as well as then, I hold Dr. Karl Lueger
as the most eminent type of German Burgermeister. How many prejudices
were thrown over through such a change in my attitude towards the
Christian-Socialist Movement!

My ideas about anti-Semitism changed also in the course of time, but
that was the change which I found most difficult. It cost me a greater
internal conflict with myself, and it was only after a struggle between
reason and sentiment that victory began to be decided in favour of the
former. Two years later sentiment rallied to the side of reasons and
became a faithful guardian and counsellor.

At the time of this bitter struggle, between calm reason and the
sentiments in which I had been brought up, the lessons that I learned on
the streets of Vienna rendered me invaluable assistance. A time came
when I no longer passed blindly along the street of the mighty city, as
I had done in the early days, but now with my eyes open not only to
study the buildings but also the human beings.

Once, when passing through the inner City, I suddenly encountered a
phenomenon in a long caftan and wearing black side-locks. My first
thought was: Is this a Jew? They certainly did not have this appearance
in Linz. I watched the man stealthily and cautiously; but the longer I
gazed at the strange countenance and examined it feature by feature, the
more the question shaped itself in my brain: Is this a German?

As was always my habit with such experiences, I turned to books for help
in removing my doubts. For the first time in my life I bought myself
some anti-Semitic pamphlets for a few pence. But unfortunately they all
began with the assumption that in principle the reader had at least a
certain degree of information on the Jewish question or was even
familiar with it. Moreover, the tone of most of these pamphlets was such
that I became doubtful again, because the statements made were partly
superficial and the proofs extraordinarily unscientific. For weeks, and
indeed for months, I returned to my old way of thinking. The subject
appeared so enormous and the accusations were so far-reaching that I was
afraid of dealing with it unjustly and so I became again anxious and
uncertain.

Naturally I could no longer doubt that here there was not a question of
Germans who happened to be of a different religion but rather that there
was question of an entirely different people. For as soon as I began to
investigate the matter and observe the Jews, then Vienna appeared to me
in a different light. Wherever I now went I saw Jews, and the more I saw
of them the more strikingly and clearly they stood out as a different
people from the other citizens. Especially the Inner City and the
district northwards from the Danube Canal swarmed with a people who,
even in outer appearance, bore no similarity to the Germans.
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« Reply #12 on: July 18, 2008, 11:47:45 pm »

But any indecision which I may still have felt about that point was
finally removed by the activities of a certain section of the Jews
themselves. A great movement, called Zionism, arose among them. Its aim
was to assert the national character of Judaism, and the movement was
strongly represented in Vienna.

To outward appearances it seemed as if only one group of Jews championed
this movement, while the great majority disapproved of it, or even
repudiated it. But an investigation of the situation showed that those
outward appearances were purposely misleading. These outward appearances
emerged from a mist of theories which had been produced for reasons of
expediency, if not for purposes of downright deception. For that part of
Jewry which was styled Liberal did not disown the Zionists as if they
were not members of their race but rather as brother Jews who publicly
professed their faith in an unpractical way, so as to create a danger
for Jewry itself.

Thus there was no real rift in their internal solidarity.

This fictitious conflict between the Zionists and the Liberal Jews soon
disgusted me; for it was false through and through and in direct
contradiction to the moral dignity and immaculate character on which
that race had always prided itself.

Cleanliness, whether moral or of another kind, had its own peculiar
meaning for these people. That they were water-shy was obvious on
looking at them and, unfortunately, very often also when not looking at
them at all. The odour of those people in caftans often used to make me
feel ill. Beyond that there were the unkempt clothes and the ignoble
exterior.

All these details were certainly not attractive; but the revolting
feature was that beneath their unclean exterior one suddenly perceived
the moral mildew of the chosen race.

What soon gave me cause for very serious consideration were the
activities of the Jews in certain branches of life, into the mystery of
which I penetrated little by little. Was there any shady undertaking,
any form of foulness, especially in cultural life, in which at least one
Jew did not participate? On putting the probing knife carefully to that
kind of abscess one immediately discovered, like a maggot in a
putrescent body, a little Jew who was often blinded by the sudden light.

In my eyes the charge against Judaism became a grave one the moment I
discovered the Jewish activities in the Press, in art, in literature and
the theatre. All unctuous protests were now more or less futile. One
needed only to look at the posters announcing the hideous productions of
the cinema and theatre, and study the names of the authors who were
highly lauded there in order to become permanently adamant on Jewish
questions. Here was a pestilence, a moral pestilence, with which the
public was being infected. It was worse than the Black Plague of long
ago. And in what mighty doses this poison was manufactured and
distributed. Naturally, the lower the moral and intellectual level of
such an author of artistic products the more inexhaustible his
fecundity. Sometimes it went so far that one of these fellows, acting
like a sewage pump, would shoot his filth directly in the face of other
members of the human race. In this connection we must remember there is
no limit to the number of such people. One ought to realize that for
one, Goethe, Nature may bring into existence ten thousand such
despoilers who act as the worst kind of germ-carriers in poisoning human
souls. It was a terrible thought, and yet it could not be avoided, that
the greater number of the Jews seemed specially destined by Nature to
play this shameful part.

And is it for this reason that they can be called the chosen people?

I began then to investigate carefully the names of all the fabricators
of these unclean products in public cultural life. The result of that
inquiry was still more disfavourable to the attitude which I had
hitherto held in regard to the Jews. Though my feelings might rebel a
thousand time, reason now had to draw its own conclusions.

The fact that nine-tenths of all the smutty literature, artistic tripe
and theatrical banalities, had to be charged to the account of people
who formed scarcely one per cent. of the nation--that fact could not be
gainsaid. It was there, and had to be admitted. Then I began to examine
my favourite 'World Press', with that fact before my mind.

The deeper my soundings went the lesser grew my respect for that Press
which I formerly admired. Its style became still more repellent and I
was forced to reject its ideas as entirely shallow and superficial. To
claim that in the presentation of facts and views its attitude was
impartial seemed to me to contain more falsehood than truth. The writers
were--Jews.

Thousands of details that I had scarcely noticed before seemed to me now
to deserve attention. I began to grasp and understand things which I had
formerly looked at in a different light.

I saw the Liberal policy of that Press in another light. Its dignified
tone in replying to the attacks of its adversaries and its dead silence
in other cases now became clear to me as part of a cunning and
despicable way of deceiving the readers. Its brilliant theatrical
criticisms always praised the Jewish authors and its adverse, criticism
was reserved exclusively for the Germans.

The light pin-pricks against William II showed the persistency of its
policy, just as did its systematic commendation of French culture and
civilization. The subject matter of the feuilletons was trivial and
often pornographic. The language of this Press as a whole had the accent
of a foreign people. The general tone was openly derogatory to the
Germans and this must have been definitely intentional.

What were the interests that urged the Vienna Press to adopt such a
policy? Or did they do so merely by chance? In attempting to find an
answer to those questions I gradually became more and more dubious.

Then something happened which helped me to come to an early decision. I
began to see through the meaning of a whole series of events that were
taking place in other branches of Viennese life. All these were inspired
by a general concept of manners and morals which was openly put into
practice by a large section of the Jews and could be established as
attributable to them. Here, again, the life which I observed on the
streets taught me what evil really is.

The part which the Jews played in the social phenomenon of prostitution,
and more especially in the white slave traffic, could be studied here
better than in any other West-European city, with the possible exception
of certain ports in Southern France. Walking by night along the streets
of the Leopoldstadt, almost at every turn whether one wished it or not,
one witnessed certain happenings of whose existence the Germans knew
nothing until the War made it possible and indeed inevitable for the
soldiers to see such things on the Eastern front.

A cold shiver ran down my spine when I first ascertained that it was the
same kind of cold-blooded, thick-skinned and shameless Jew who showed
his consummate skill in conducting that revolting exploitation of the
dregs of the big city. Then I became fired with wrath.

I had now no more hesitation about bringing the Jewish problem to light
in all its details. No. Henceforth I was determined to do so. But as I
learned to track down the Jew in all the different spheres of cultural
and artistic life, and in the various manifestations of this life
everywhere, I suddenly came upon him in a position where I had least
expected to find him. I now realized that the Jews were the leaders of
Social Democracy. In face of that revelation the scales fell from my
eyes. My long inner struggle was at an end.

In my relations with my fellow workmen I was often astonished to find
how easily and often they changed their opinions on the same questions,
sometimes within a few days and sometimes even within the course of a
few hours. I found it difficult to understand how men who always had
reasonable ideas when they spoke as individuals with one another
suddenly lost this reasonableness the moment they acted in the mass.
That phenomenon often tempted one almost to despair. I used to dispute
with them for hours and when I succeeded in bringing them to what I
considered a reasonable way of thinking I rejoiced at my success. But
next day I would find that it had been all in vain. It was saddening to
think I had to begin it all over again. Like a pendulum in its eternal
sway, they would fall back into their absurd opinions.

I was able to understand their position fully. They were dissatisfied
with their lot and cursed the fate which had hit them so hard. They
hated their employers, whom they looked upon as the heartless
administrators of their cruel destiny. Often they used abusive language
against the public officials, whom they accused of having no sympathy
with the situation of the working people. They made public protests
against the cost of living and paraded through the streets in defence of
their claims. At least all this could be explained on reasonable
grounds. But what was impossible to understand was the boundless hatred
they expressed against their own fellow citizens, how they disparaged
their own nation, mocked at its greatness, reviled its history and
dragged the names of its most illustrious men in the gutter.

This hostility towards their own kith and kin, their own native land and
home was as irrational as it was incomprehensible. It was against
Nature.
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« Reply #13 on: July 18, 2008, 11:48:45 pm »

One could cure that malady temporarily, but only for some days or at
least some weeks. But on meeting those whom one believed to have been
converted one found that they had become as they were before. That
malady against Nature held them once again in its clutches.

I gradually discovered that the Social Democratic Press was
predominantly controlled by Jews. But I did not attach special
importance to this circumstance, for the same state of affairs existed
also in other newspapers. But there was one striking fact in this
connection. It was that there was not a single newspaper with which Jews
were connected that could be spoken of as National, in the meaning that
my education and convictions attached to that word.

Making an effort to overcome my natural reluctance, I tried to read
articles of this nature published in the Marxist Press; but in doing so
my aversion increased all the more. And then I set about learning
something of the people who wrote and published this mischievous stuff.
From the publisher downwards, all of them were Jews. I recalled to mind
the names of the public leaders of Marxism, and then I realized that
most of them belonged to the Chosen Race--the Social Democratic
representatives in the Imperial Cabinet as well as the secretaries of
the Trades Unions and the street agitators. Everywhere the same sinister
picture presented itself. I shall never forget the row of
names--Austerlitz, David, Adler, Ellenbogen, and others. One fact became
quite evident to me. It was that this alien race held in its hands the
leadership of that Social Democratic Party with whose minor
representatives I had been disputing for months past. I was happy at
last to know for certain that the Jew is not a German.

Thus I finally discovered who were the evil spirits leading our people
astray. The sojourn in Vienna for one year had proved long enough to
convince me that no worker is so rooted in his preconceived notions that
he will not surrender them in face of better and clearer arguments and
explanations. Gradually I became an expert in the doctrine of the
Marxists and used this knowledge as an instrument to drive home my own
firm convictions. I was successful in nearly every case. The great
masses can be rescued, but a lot of time and a large share of human
patience must be devoted to such work.

But a Jew can never be rescued from his fixed notions.

It was then simple enough to attempt to show them the absurdity of their
teaching. Within my small circle I talked to them until my throat ached
and my voice grew hoarse. I believed that I could finally convince them
of the danger inherent in the Marxist follies. But I only achieved the
contrary result. It seemed to me that immediately the disastrous effects
of the Marxist Theory and its application in practice became evident,
the stronger became their obstinacy.

The more I debated with them the more familiar I became with their
argumentative tactics. At the outset they counted upon the stupidity of
their opponents, but when they got so entangled that they could not find
a way out they played the trick of acting as innocent simpletons. Should
they fail, in spite of their tricks of logic, they acted as if they
could not understand the counter arguments and bolted away to another
field of discussion. They would lay down truisms and platitudes; and, if
you accepted these, then they were applied to other problems and matters
of an essentially different nature from the original theme. If you faced
them with this point they would escape again, and you could not bring
them to make any precise statement. Whenever one tried to get a firm
grip on any of these apostles one's hand grasped only jelly and slime
which slipped through the fingers and combined again into a solid mass a
moment afterwards. If your adversary felt forced to give in to your
argument, on account of the observers present, and if you then thought
that at last you had gained ground, a surprise was in store for you on
the following day. The Jew would be utterly oblivious to what had
happened the day before, and he would start once again by repeating his
former absurdities, as if nothing had happened. Should you become
indignant and remind him of yesterday's defeat, he pretended
astonishment and could not remember anything, except that on the
previous day he had proved that his statements were correct. Sometimes I
was dumbfounded. I do not know what amazed me the more--the abundance of
their verbiage or the artful way in which they dressed up their
falsehoods. I gradually came to hate them.

Yet all this had its good side; because the more I came to know the
individual leaders, or at least the propagandists, of Social Democracy,
my love for my own people increased correspondingly. Considering the
Satanic skill which these evil counsellors displayed, how could their
unfortunate victims be blamed? Indeed, I found it extremely difficult
myself to be a match for the dialectical perfidy of that race. How
futile it was to try to win over such people with argument, seeing that
their very mouths distorted the truth, disowning the very words they had
just used and adopting them again a few moments afterwards to serve
their own ends in the argument! No. The more I came to know the Jew, the
easier it was to excuse the workers.

In my opinion the most culpable were not to be found among the workers
but rather among those who did not think it worth while to take the
trouble to sympathize with their own kinsfolk and give to the
hard-working son of the national family what was his by the iron logic
of justice, while at the same time placing his seducer and corrupter
against the wall.

Urged by my own daily experiences, I now began to investigate more
thoroughly the sources of the Marxist teaching itself. Its effects were
well known to me in detail. As a result of careful observation, its
daily progress had become obvious to me. And one needed only a little
imagination in order to be able to forecast the consequences which must
result from it. The only question now was: Did the founders foresee the
effects of their work in the form which those effects have shown
themselves to-day, or were the founders themselves the victims of an
error? To my mind both alternatives were possible.

If the second question must be answered in the affirmative, then it was
the duty of every thinking person to oppose this sinister movement with
a view to preventing it from producing its worst results. But if the
first question must be answered in the affirmative, then it must be
admitted that the original authors of this evil which has infected the
nations were devils incarnate. For only in the brain of a monster, and
not that of a man, could the plan of this organization take shape whose
workings must finally bring about the collapse of human civilization and
turn this world into a desert waste.

Such being the case the only alternative left was to fight, and in that
fight to employ all the weapons which the human spirit and intellect and
will could furnish leaving it to Fate to decide in whose favour the
balance should fall.

And so I began to gather information about the authors of this teaching,
with a view to studying the principles of the movement. The fact that I
attained my object sooner than I could have anticipated was due to the
deeper insight into the Jewish question which I then gained, my
knowledge of this question being hitherto rather superficial. This newly
acquired knowledge alone enabled me to make a practical comparison
between the real content and the theoretical pretentiousness of the
teaching laid down by the apostolic founders of Social Democracy;
because I now understood the language of the Jew. I realized that the
Jew uses language for the purpose of dissimulating his thought or at
least veiling it, so that his real aim cannot be discovered by what he
says but rather by reading between the lines. This knowledge was the
occasion of the greatest inner revolution that I had yet experienced.
From being a soft-hearted cosmopolitan I became an out-and-out
anti-Semite.

Only on one further occasion, and that for the last time, did I give way
to oppressing thoughts which caused me some moments of profound anxiety.

As I critically reviewed the activities of the Jewish people throughout
long periods of history I became anxious and asked myself whether for
some inscrutable reasons beyond the comprehension of poor mortals such
as ourselves, Destiny may not have irrevocably decreed that the final
victory must go to this small nation? May it not be that this people
which has lived only for the earth has been promised the earth as a
recompense? is our right to struggle for our own self-preservation based
on reality, or is it a merely subjective thing? Fate answered the
question for me inasmuch as it led me to make a detached and exhaustive
inquiry into the Marxist teaching and the activities of the Jewish
people in connection with it.

The Jewish doctrine of Marxism repudiates the aristocratic principle of
Nature and substitutes for it the eternal privilege of force and energy,
numerical mass and its dead weight. Thus it denies the individual worth
of the human personality, impugns the teaching that nationhood and race
have a primary significance, and by doing this it takes away the very
foundations of human existence and human civilization. If the Marxist
teaching were to be accepted as the foundation of the life of the
universe, it would lead to the disappearance of all order that is
conceivable to the human mind. And thus the adoption of such a law would
provoke chaos in the structure of the greatest organism that we know,
with the result that the inhabitants of this earthly planet would
finally disappear.

Should the Jew, with the aid of his Marxist creed, triumph over the
people of this world, his Crown will be the funeral wreath of mankind,
and this planet will once again follow its orbit through ether, without
any human life on its surface, as it did millions of years ago.

And so I believe to-day that my conduct is in accordance with the will
of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am
defending the handiwork of the Lord.

http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200601.txt
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« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2008, 11:49:26 pm »

CHAPTER III



POLITICAL REFLECTIONS ARISING OUT OF MY SOJOURN IN VIENNA


Generally speaking a man should not publicly take part in politics
before he has reached the age of thirty, though, of course, exceptions
must be made in the case of those who are naturally gifted with
extraordinary political abilities. That at least is my opinion to-day.
And the reason for it is that until he reaches his thirtieth year or
thereabouts a man's mental development will mostly consist in acquiring
and sifting such knowledge as is necessary for the groundwork of a
general platform from which he can examine the different political
problems that arise from day to day and be able to adopt a definite
attitude towards each. A man must first acquire a fund of general ideas
and fit them together so as to form an organic structure of personal
thought or outlook on life--a WELTANSCHAUUNG. Then he will have that
mental equipment without which he cannot form his own judgments on
particular questions of the day, and he will have acquired those
qualities that are necessary for consistency and steadfastness in the
formation of political opinions. Such a man is now qualified, at least
subjectively, to take his part in the political conduct of public
affairs.

If these pre-requisite conditions are not fulfilled, and if a man should
enter political life without this equipment, he will run a twofold risk.
In the first place, he may find during the course of events that the
stand which he originally took in regard to some essential question was
wrong. He will now have to abandon his former position or else stick to
it against his better knowledge and riper wisdom and after his reason
and convictions have already proved it untenable. If he adopt the former
line of action he will find himself in a difficult personal situation;
because in giving up a position hitherto maintained he will appear
inconsistent and will have no right to expect his followers to remain as
loyal to his leadership as they were before. And, as regards the
followers themselves, they may easily look upon their leader's change of
policy as showing a lack of judgment inherent in his character.
Moreover, the change must cause in them a certain feeling of
discomfiture VIS-À-VIS those whom the leader formerly opposed.

If he adopts the second alternative--which so very frequently happens
to-day--then public pronouncements of the leader have no longer his
personal persuasion to support them. And the more that is the case the
defence of his cause will be all the more hollow and superficial. He now
descends to the adoption of vulgar means in his defence. While he
himself no longer dreams seriously of standing by his political
protestations to the last--for no man will die in defence of something
in which he does not believe--he makes increasing demands on his
followers. Indeed, the greater be the measure of his own insincerity,
the more unfortunate and inconsiderate become his claims on his party
adherents. Finally, he throws aside the last vestiges of true leadership
and begins to play politics. This means that he becomes one of those
whose only consistency is their inconsistency, associated with
overbearing insolence and oftentimes an artful mendacity developed to a
shamelessly high degree.

Should such a person, to the misfortune of all decent people, succeed in
becoming a parliamentary deputy it will be clear from the outset that
for him the essence of political activity consists in a heroic struggle
to keep permanent hold on this milk-bottle as a source of livelihood for
himself and his family. The more his wife and children are dependent on
him, the more stubbornly will he fight to maintain for himself the
representation of his parliamentary constituency. For that reason any
other person who gives evidence of political capacity is his personal
enemy. In every new movement he will apprehend the possible beginning of
his own downfall. And everyone who is a better man than himself will
appear to him in the light of a menace.

I shall subsequently deal more fully with the problem to which this kind
of parliamentary vermin give rise.

When a man has reached his thirtieth year he has still a great deal to
learn. That is obvious. But henceforward what he learns will principally
be an amplification of his basic ideas; it will be fitted in with them
organically so as to fill up the framework of the fundamental
WELTANSCHAUUNG which he already possesses. What he learns anew will not
imply the abandonment of principles already held, but rather a deeper
knowledge of those principles. And thus his colleagues will never have
the discomforting feeling that they have been hitherto falsely led by
him. On the contrary, their confidence is increased when they perceive
that their leader's qualities are steadily developing along the lines of
an organic growth which results from the constant assimilation of new
ideas; so that the followers look upon this process as signifying an
enrichment of the doctrines in which they themselves believe, in their
eyes every such development is a new witness to the correctness of that
whole body of opinion which has hitherto been held.

A leader who has to abandon the platform founded on his general
principles, because he recognizes the foundation as false, can act with
honour only when he declares his readiness to accept the final
consequences of his erroneous views. In such a case he ought to refrain
from taking public part in any further political activity. Having once
gone astray on essential things he may possibly go astray a second time.
But, anyhow, he has no right whatsoever to expect or demand that his
fellow citizens should continue to give him their support.

How little such a line of conduct commends itself to our public leaders
nowadays is proved by the general corruption prevalent among the cabal
which at the present moment feels itself called to political leadership.
In the whole cabal there is scarcely one who is properly equipped for
this task.

Although in those days I used to give more time than most others to the
consideration of political question, yet I carefully refrained from
taking an open part in politics. Only to a small circle did I speak of
those things which agitated my mind or were the cause of constant
preoccupation for me. The habit of discussing matters within such a
restricted group had many advantages in itself. Rather than talk at
them, I learned to feel my way into the modes of thought and views of
those men around me. Oftentimes such ways of thinking and such views
were quite primitive. Thus I took every possible occasion to increase my
knowledge of men.

Nowhere among the German people was the opportunity for making such a
study so favourable as in Vienna.
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