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Posts Tagged ‘Ernst Nolte’

The Taboo Against Truth

Posted by M. C. on December 10, 2019

Of Winston Churchill, Alexander Solzhenitsyn wrote:

He turned over to the Soviet command the Cossack corps of 90,000 men. Along with them he also handed over many wagonloads of old people, women, and children.… This great hero, monuments to whom will in time cover all England, ordered that they, too, be surrendered to their deaths.24

The great crime that is today virtually forgotten was the expulsion starting in 1945 of the Germans from their centuries-old homelands in East Prussia, Pomerania, Silesia, Sudetenland, and elsewhere. About 16 million persons were displaced, with about 2 million of them dying in the process.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/12/ralph-raico/732503-2/

By

[First published as “The Taboo Against Truth: Holocausts and the Historians,” Liberty, September 1989.]

Speaking truth to power” is not easy when you support that power. Perhaps this is the reason why so few Western historians are willing to tell the whole truth about state crimes during this century.

Last fall [1988 —Ed.] the Moscow News reported the discovery by two archaeologist-historians of mass graves at Kuropaty, near Minsk, in the Soviet republic of Byelorussia.1 The scholars at first estimated that the victims numbered around 102,000, a figure that was later revised to 250–300,000.2 Interviews with older inhabitants of the village revealed that, from 1937 until June 1941, when the Germans invaded, the killings never stopped. “For five years, we couldn’t sleep at night because of all the shooting,” one witness said.

Then in March, a Soviet commission finally conceded that the mass graves at Bykovnia, outside of Kiev, were the result not of the Nazis’ work, as formerly was maintained, but of the industry of Stalin’s secret police. Some 200–300,000 persons were killed at Bykovnia, according to unofficial estimates.3

These graves represent a small fraction of the human sacrifice that an elite of revolutionary Marxists offered up to their ideological fetish. How many died under Stalin alone, from the shootings, the terror famine, and the forced-labor camps, is uncertain. Writing in a Moscow journal, Roy Medvedev, the dissident Soviet Marxist, put the number at around 20 million, a figure the sovietologist Stephen F. Cohen views as conservative.4 Robert Conquest’s estimate is between 20 million and 30 million or more,5 while Anton Antonov-Ovseyenko suggests 41 million deaths between 1930 and 1941.6

By everyone’s account, most of the victims were killed before the United States and Britain welcomed the Soviet Union as their ally in June 1941. Yet by then, the evidence concerning at least very widespread Communist killings was available to anyone willing to listen.

If glasnost proceeds and if the whole truth about the Lenin and Stalin eras comes to light, educated opinion in the West will be forced to reassess some of its most deeply cherished views. On a minor note, Stalinist sympathizers like Lillian Hellman, Frieda Kirchwey, and Owen Lattimore will perhaps not be lionized quite as much as before. More important, there will have to be a reevaluation of what it meant for the British and American governments to have befriended Soviet Russia in the Second World War and heaped fulsome praise on its leader. That war will inevitably lose some of its glory as the pristinely pure crusade led by the larger-than-life heroes Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Inevitably, too, comparisons with what is commonly known as the Holocaust will emerge.

The “Dispute of Historians”

Such comparisons have been at the center of the raging controversy in the Federal Republic of Germany that has been labeled the Historikerstreit, or dispute of historians, and has now become an international cause célèbre. It erupted primarily because of the work of Ernst Nolte, of the Free University of Berlin, author of the highly acclaimed Three Faces of Fascism, published in the United States in 1966. In several important essays, in a large book published in 1987, The European Civil War, 1917–1945, and in a volume of responses to his critics,7 Nolte declined to treat the Nazi massacre of the Jews in the conventional fashion.

These graves represent a small fraction of the human sacrifice that an elite of revolutionary Marxists offered up to their ideological fetish.

He refused, that is, to deal with it metaphysically, as a unique object of evil, existing there in a small segment of history, in a nearly perfect vacuum, with at most merely ideological links to racist and Social Darwinist thought of the preceding century. Instead, without denying the importance of ideology, he attempted to set the Holocaust in the context of the history of Europe in the first decades of the 20th century. His aim was in no way to excuse the mass murder of the Jews, or to diminish the guilt of the Nazis for this crime dreadful beyond words. But he insisted that this mass murder must not lead us to forget others, particularly those that might stand in a causal relationship to it.

Briefly, Nolte’s thesis is that it was the Communists who introduced into modern Europe the awful fact and terrifying threat of the killing of civilians on a vast scale, implying the extermination of whole categories of persons. (One Old Bolshevik, Zinoviev, spoke openly as early as 1918 of the need to eliminate 10,000,000 of the people of Russia.) In the years and decades following the Russian Revolution, middle-class, upper-class, Catholic, and other Europeans were well aware of this fact, and for them especially the threat was a very real one. This helps to account for the violent hatred shown to their own domestic Communists in the various European countries by Catholics, conservatives, fascists, and even Social Democrats.

Nolte’s thesis continues: those who became the Nazi elite were well-informed regarding events in Russia, via White Russian and Baltic German émigrés (who even exaggerated the extent of the first, Leninist atrocities). In their minds, as in those of right-wingers generally, the Bolshevik acts were transformed, irrationally, into Jewish acts, a transformation helped along by the existence of a high proportion of Jews among the early Bolshevik leaders. (Inclined to anti-Semitism from the start, the rightists ignored the fact that, as Nolte points out, the proportion among the Mensheviks was higher, and, of course, the great majority of the European Jews were never Communists.) A similar, ideologically mandated displacement, however, occurred among the Communists themselves: after the assassination of Uritsky and the attempted assassination of Lenin by Social Revolutionaries, for instance, hundreds of “bourgeois” hostages were executed.

The Communists never ceased proclaiming that all of their enemies were tools of a single conspiracy of the “world bourgeoisie.”

The facts regarding the Ukrainian terror famine of the early 1930s and the Stalinist gulag were also known in broad outline in European right-wing circles. When all is said and done, Nolte concludes, “the Gulag came before Auschwitz.” If it had not been for what happened in Soviet Russia, European fascism, especially Nazism and the Nazi massacre of the Jews,8 would most probably not have been what they were.

The Onslaught on Nolte

The rest here

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