Flashback: Lebensraum

Flashback: Lebensraum

In light of the apparent increase in Russian aggression of late, I’ve found myself contemplating nations and borders and ethnicities…  So what the hell is Russia’s deal?

I don’t know.

Butanyhoo…  There seems to be a surge recently of countries that want to break away and be smaller, more independent, though perhaps more… homogenized?  Of course, Scotland and Catalonia spring to mind… as well as Hong Kong, bits of the Ukraine, and South Florida—though these latter examples maybe aren’t quite so much about homogenization as about political differences…  In any event, it brought to mind an essay I wrote many, many years ago about Germany’s aggressiveness, leading to World War II—which, no doubt, just absolutely doesn’t have anything to do with anything—and, so, without further ado…

 Lebensraum

How quickly History has decided to cast Hitler in the role of Arch Fiend of All Time.  For the last fifty years, all we’ve been hearing about is that he was the greatest villain mankind has ever faced.  And, whenever another international bad guy turns up on the scene, he is always compared to Hitler, with everyone throwing in their opinion that the new would-be conqueror “is certainly no Hitler” or “has to be stopped before he becomes another Hitler.”  But when you get right down to it, was he truly the madman everyone seems to want to believe he was, or could he have just been a somewhat misunderstood, overly zealous, German nationalist?  In the United States it was called Manifest Destiny, and it spurred the near annihilation of the Native Americans; for Hitler it was Lebensraum, or “Living Room” for the German people, to spread out, to multiply and flourish.  Does that make him an insane and evil tyrant?

I saw a documentary about Uncle Adolph a few weeks ago, showing him lounging at home, sitting by the pool, relaxing with a drink—and in just a regular suit, rather than his Nazi “work clothes,” he pretty much looks like a regular sort of guy… though with a smudgy moustache and a bad haircut—but that’s neither here nor there…  I think we need to take a closer look at Europe itself if we want to understand this man who strove to unite it.  What is Europe—or, more specifically, who are its peoples?  Let’s begin in the south—but first I feel I must warn you to keep in mind my immense ignorance with regard to the subject of which I am about to discuss…

In the area surrounding the Mediterranean Sea, there are Spaniards, Italians, Greeks, and Turks, as well as Arabs, Egyptians, and North Africans.  Of course, the latter three (whom I realize are not, strictly speaking Europeans… they may not live on the same block, but they’re in the same neighborhood—which is near enough for the matter at hand) are all very similar, being desert peoples.  I would have to say Turks are like a mix between Greeks and Arabs, and Spaniards (including the Portuguese, though I’m sure they won’t like just being all clumped together like that), are rather like Italians with a significant Arab influence.  Naturally this brings up the subject of Italians, who are very like Greeks who have grown accustomed to living in a not so very mountainous region—which I would think really might help to improve upon a person’s general demeanor—with perhaps a bit of Etruscan influence (but what the hell is an Etruscan?… best to just forget I mentioned it).  So, in the south, we really only have Arabs and Greeks…  It could be argued, I am sure, that the Arabs should not be all grouped together as I have done; the Egyptians might differ slightly due to contact with Ethiopia, and Arabia, no doubt, is similarly effected by Persian influences… but that just starts getting a bit too far off track, and I’m not even going to deal with it.  We’ve got Arabs and we’ve got Greeks, and, just because I’ll be referring to them again soon, we’ve got Italians—and then we’ve got slight variations on each of these three themes.

In the north there are the Germans… and that’s about it!  Poles, Austrians, Prussians, Swiss, Dutch, Luxembourgese—they’re all Germanic peoples.  Even the Norse are Germans, but they’re chilly Germans; if you were to lower the temperature of a German, he would, I’m sure, become nearly indistinguishable from a Norseman.  The English are a product of what happens when Germans are isolated all by themselves on an island for an extended period of time (with, of course, a mix of more primitive influences such as Picts or Jutes or Celts—but I didn’t discuss Etruscans, and I’m not about to mention any of these in detail either).  The French—and I know they’ll never admit to it, and will probably just hunt me down and kill me for even suggesting it—are Germans, but with an Italian influence (which, given my explanation of Italians, might make them Greek Germans once removed?).  And then, finally, we have the Slavs, which are Germans with a direct Greek influence.

So there you have Europe, all broken down into its cultural origins.  As anyone can plainly see, if Hitler’s intent lay in uniting the Germanic peoples, there really is a certain, logical method to his supposed madness.  It could be argued that Germany has a qualified interest in all of Europe, except, of course, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Turkey.  Maybe Hitler was just looking to create the Germanic States of Europe—is that so wrong?  Would that be so bad?  After all, think of everything he did for Germany, for its economy and its people; they were devastated, virtually destroyed after the First World War, but Hitler was one of those individuals largely responsible for once more raising the nation up to such heights of power that it would again become a threat to civilized life everywhere.  And he did it in such a short amount of time, too—you’ve got be impressed by that…

Oh, sure, there was that whole “Blame the Jews For Everything and Really Make Them Pay” deal… not exactly something to casually sweep under the rug and forget about.  I’ll have to admit, that was just plain wrong, and there’s no getting around it.  I don’t know what he was thinking there, and I’m not about to go making excuses for him.  And, of course, if all he was out to do was unite the Germanic peoples, why invade North Africa?  But that could as easily have been by Mussolini’s prompting, reaching out for a bygone age of greatness, a hopelessly sad attempt to resurrect an empire long since dead.

There are myriad unanswered questions, all of which will forever remain mysteries; it will be a long time yet, I am sure, before people stop asking, “Just what the hell was Hitler thinking?!”  In any event, there is one fact that seems abundantly clear, nearly irrefutable:  he certainly was one funny, little monkey… and I suppose it’s just as well he’s dead.

(from Possessed By the Daemon Mishka, © 2002)

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