Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nazis in America

John W. Whitehead at The Rutherford Institute is warning us about Nazis in America.

If you've never heard of "Project Paperclip" or the importation of high-ranking Nazis into the United States at the end of WWII, Whitehead's article is a good place to start. (If you really want to get into anti-Nazi conspiracy theories, Dave Emory is your man.)

Without disagreeing with any facts Whitehead presents, I'd like to go a little deeper.

Whitehead paints a picture of Nazis being brought into the U.S. for their weapons expertise to be used by the U.S. in the Cold War and for U.S. imperialism in general, and U.S. intelligence agencies covering-up their Nazi backgrounds to make it easier for them to work for the U.S. government, particularly in the military-industrial complex. Whitehead quotes one writer who describes them as "ardent Nazis" who had carried out war crimes -- "crimes against humanity."

I'm wondering if anyone in a position of power is really an "ardent Nazi" in a way that an "ardent American" in a position of power is not.

I'm not talking about trailer-park losers on the fringes of society who move from one part-time job to another to finance the purchase of Nazi memorabilia. (But I think my theory also applies to them.)

I think someone who exercises political power for one regime will easily and smoothly make the transition to a rival regime if the first regime appears to be the loser, the rival regime appears to be the winner, and the power-holder is promised a position of equal power, with an equal number of ribbons on his chest, in the winning regime.

For scientists, the carrot is a nice lab and a hefty government grant, or the promise of publication in the leading scientific journals of the winning regime.

Ideologies on the left and the right are cosmetic. They are propaganda for the benefit of the trailer-park losers who buy the memorabilia and pay their taxes.

I remember hearing a story about Hans F. Sennholz, an admired figure in Free Market Economics. Born in Germany in 1922, he became a fighter pilot for the Nazis. Presumably, he killed people in France, Russia, and North Africa. He was shot down by New Zealand while killing Allies in Egypt, and became a POW in South Africa, New Zealand, and ultimately in U.S. prisoner of camps in New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Arkansas. As I heard the story, his "conversion" from patriotic German to patriotic American was instantaneous, logical, dispassionate, and pragmatic. "Germany lost. The U.S. won. I'm with the winner." That kind of thing. His political loyalty was not based on ideology. (I can't remember if I heard this from Sennholz himself, whom I met at a summer seminar at the Foundation for Economic Education, or from someone like Rushdoony or Gary North.)

I'm not sure when Sennholz became an "ardent Austrian economist." His story doesn't appear to parallel that of Ludwig von Mises, who was an "Austrian economist" before the war and had to flee the Nazis. It appears that Sennholz began his studies in economics after he made the pragmatic decision to become a U.S. citizen, and at some point became more "capitalist" than "socialist" (though again, I'm not using those terms in a purely ideological sense). Sennholz' was not brought into the U.S. for his expertise in the field of Austrian economics (which is arguably more valuable to our society than weapons expertise anyway).

[Sidebar: I had a somewhat disagreeable conversation with Sennholz at FEE. I had brought all my Sennholz books with me for him to autograph. (He was impressed that I had a copy of his How Can Europe Survive?) While he was autographing, I asked him a question about inflation. I argued that inflation was an ethical and moral problem, not a purely political one; that the real blame for inflation lies with covetous borrowers, who were the root of the problem, and the Federal Reserve was just the branches. If ordinary people had a stronger moral compass and would underconsume, save for the future, and eschew debt, like our great-grandparents did, they wouldn't have to ask the government to create money for them through the fractional reserve banking system. There would be no inflation without borrowers.

Sennholz quickly went from flattered to angry. I think I had one more book to autograph, but he stopped autographing. He vehemently insisted the problem was all on the part of the government. The change in Sennholz' demeanor was palpable. As Sennholz walked away, David Chilton, who was with me at the time, was bug-eyed to see the abrupt turn-about. (I believe Chilton was writing Productive Christians In An Age Of Guilt Manipulators at that time, and we had been talking about the primacy of morality and ethics over politics.) End Sidebar.]

Did the CIA do something remarkably evil by removing all traces of Nazi loyalty from the files of German scientists in order to employ them in the U.S. military machine? I don't think so. I don't think German weapons experts were clandestinely reserving their ultimate loyalty to Germany or a future Fourth Reich. I doubt that they were Aryan blood-worshipping White Supremacists. Their ultimate loyalty was to power, regardless of the flag or the uniform. The personnel files are just a formality. Even the Germans themselves did this, after the war, if I correctly understand one recollection.

The problem is not ex-Nazis in the U.S. Military-Industrial Complex, as though that Complex would be morally pure without the ex-Nazis. We are no longer that "City upon a Hill" because we put our faith in military imperialism and refuse to beat our swords into plowshares.


Christ Alone is King said...

It's really interesting that you brought Sennholz up... I was just reading about him the other day. John Robbins says he believed that knowledge comes directly from revelation. I assume he was a Christian... ?

Kevin Craig said...

I never have. Maybe I should. (I tend to fluctuate between assuming that everyone is [or will ultimately be] a Christian, and assuming that nobody is a Christian).

I learned in the last few minutes that Sennholz may have been a church-goer, but that doesn't tell me anything but that he wasn't outwardly hostile to Christianity.

I haven't read a lot by or about Sennholz. I understand he wrote a thousand articles and two dozen books. I've read a half-dozen of his books and a few articles. Nothing led me to believe he was a Christian.

I'd like to read Robbins' quotation ["knowledge comes directly from revelation"] in context. I just now found a candidate here. I suppose Thomas Jefferson could have made the same statement, but I don't assume Jefferson was a real Christian.

I've never heard anything bad about Sennholz, and many good things, but never that he was a Christian, or never that he was anything more than a church-going Christian.

That's not a verdict against his being a Christian. But I remember the old adage (from the Christian summer camp demographic), "If being a Christian were illegal, would there be enough evidence to convict you?" What kind of evidence should we look for? (I can't find "Jesus" or "Christ" on Sennholz' website.) If someone could bring forth evidence in your "defense," that is, an attorney arguing "My client is not a Christian: here's proof," would that evidence actually prove that you were not a Christian? "Your honor, my client committed adultery and was responsible for the deaths of thousands of people." That was king David. "My client went from house to house putting Christians in jail." The Apostle Paul. Nothing I said about Sennholz is evidence that he was not a Christian, only that he (like the rest of us) was not a perfectly consistent Christian.

Kevin Craig said...

Whitehead has posted a video here. The photos are interesting. Reminds me of a documentary I saw recently about the city that was built for the Atomic Bomb Project employees and their families. Completely self-contained: schools, grocery stores, post office, barber shops. These several thousand people were certainly "ordinary Americans" -- working on a way to obliterate hundreds of thousands of human beings. The photos of the Nazi scientists in Whitehead's video are photos of "ordinary Germans." They were just "following orders."

Remember the Tuskegee experiement began without the help of "Nazi scientists." Academia + government = lethal combination.

The Nazi scientists did not pollute the otherwise-pure "powers that be" in the U.S. As Lord Acton would say, it is power, not Nazi scientists, that corrupts.