“Germans Are Unable to Express Their Patriotism”
An Interview with Professor Ernst Nolte

Historian/Philosopher Professor

Ernst Nolte

Born 1923 in Witten, Germany. Studied under Martin Heidegger at the University of Marburg. PhD in Philosophy in 1952. Emeritus Professor at the Free University of Berlin. In 1986, Nolte launches the “Historians’ Dispute” on a newspaper, where he poses the question “Was the Bolshevik murder of an entire class not the logical and factual prius of the ‘racial murder’ of National Socialism?”, resulting in a controversy which saw criticism from fellow philosopher Jurgen Habermas.

What are the German peoples’ views on their own history?
In the 1980’s, a controversy erupted in Germany regarding the crimes of the Nazis. We approached historian and philosopher, Professor Ernst Nolte, the man who wrote the paper which ignited the controversy, and a protégé of philosopher Martin Heidegger.
In 1986, a paper that Dr. Nolte published in a newspaper resulted in a wide ranging controversy which saw the involvement of both the mass media and politicians. The paper, which compared the crimes of the Nazis to those of the Soviet Union under Stalin, and Cambodia under Pol Pot, went against the German conventional view that “the Holocaust was a unique event in history”, and that “it is not permissible for Germans to make such a comparison”. The result was a public criticism and charge of historical revisionism. Thirty years on, Dr. Nolte continues to speak out as a conservative figure.

Interview with Dr. Ernst Nolte recorded on June 25, 2014
Interviewer: Hanako Cho


The Most Terrible Crime Under Heaven Made Germans Less Patriotic

Q: What do you think of German people’s patriotism?

A: It has been a most difficult situation for German patriotism because what the Third Reich did was so incredible. It was considered, in great parts of the world, as the most terrible crime under heaven. Thus, patriotism easily changed into anti-patriotism, and even today, there are a lot of people in Germany who consider themselves as anti-German.


The Fear of Being Labeled a Nazi Sympathizer

The curious thing in Germany is that, what possibly might be the opinion of the majority does not find any expression. Many people fear that they will be accused of being sympathetic with Adolf Hitler when they say that patriotism is still necessary and justified.


The Nature of Patriotism Changed After the WWII

Q: There is patriotism?

A: One cannot say that there is no longer patriotism, but this patriotism is rather different from the former one.

Q: Oh, I see. I’d like to ask you what was the reason people came to conceal their patriotism after the Second World War? Because in Japan, after the war, there was an occupational army, called the GHQ, and it conducted a demilitarization program. The GHQ reeducated the Japanese people with its education programs. The occupational army regarded the Japanese people themselves as the source of the belligerence, the source of savagery. It conducted reeducation programs to change Japanese Shinto traditions, to change the entire Japanese legal system, including the Constitution, commercial and civil law, etc… Did the people of Germany have similar experiences with the Americans?


America Targeted Germany’s Prussian Ideology Roots to Change the National Identity of Germany Because the Americans Decided that the Source of Hostilities Was Its Traditional Culture and Values

A: The American conviction was that the whole German tradition, beginning with Frederick the Great or Frederick II, the Prussian king in the 18th century, was a tradition of war and suppression. Therefore, this Prussian tradition and this Prussian reality had to be eradicated.


Frederick II Turned Austria into a Great Power

Frederick II was certainly not an enemy of the whole European tradition. He only wanted power for his state, which was rather weak at the time, but after his attack against Austria, Prussia became a great power.


Reeducation Was Virtually Conducted by Frankfurt School

So, this tradition had to be annihilated with re-education. There were many emigrants, who had left Germany to go to America, and many of them came back after 1945, and they wanted to be the avant-garde of democratic thinking. These people partly constituted the so-called “Frankfurt school”.

I don’t know whether in Japan there were intellectual movements saying the same thing as the Americans did. I believe there were, but I don’t know their names. Was there a protagonist of this re-education mentality in Japan?


America’s Reeducation Program in Japan Misinterpreted Japanese Culture

Q: Yes, General McArthur set up the reeducation programs. Then his subordinates conducted them. They studied the Japanese people for about four years, from 1941, and they were not very professional in their grasp of Japanese studies. They misinterpreted Japanese culture, and that is why they misunderstood it, and regarded the source of the belligerence as Japanese traditional culture.


The GHQ’s Article 9 Has Been a Big Impediment

A: The Japanese were no pacifists. They were forced by the Americans to become pacifists and to accept the Article 9. Today, it is a difficulty for the Americans because they want the military aid of Japan, and Article 9 is a big impediment.


America Did Not Force Germany into Pacifism

This was not the case in Germany, where the re-education was perhaps stronger, but such an article was never forced on Germany, therefore, already in the early times of the Cold War, Germany practically became an ally of America, who could not resist an attack from the Soviet Union and World Communism without the assistance of the Germany. This was the character of the Cold War in Germany.


The European Cold War Was Real in Germany; in Japan, Perhaps It Was Only a Belief

I do not know whether the Cold War in Japan was a reality, too, or whether it was only, let’s say a belief. In Germany, it was a reality because we had the enemy in the country itself; we had the Communist state in Germany. You did not have a Communist state in Japan.


Japan Fought the Greater East Asian War as an Anti-Communist Effort

Q: Our neighbor, North Korea, might have become a Communist nation. There was the Korean War. It was when the American army finally realized that Japan fought the Greater East Asian War as an anti-communist effort.


East Asia Had a “Hot” War

A: Yes, this was an important similarity. The Japanese were also participants in this Cold War, which in East Asia was a “hot war”, too, because in Korea, there was heavy fighting, and in the end, nobody could say who the victor was. So, the situation was in many respects similar.

Q: Can you explain more about the elimination of the Prussian tradition?


Americans Weren’t the Only Managers of the German Reeducation Program

A: No one can say that the Americans exclusively conducted it. The elimination was also conducted inside of Germany, and often, on a higher level, by people who returned from emigration.


Jews Re-shaped Germany, along with the Americans, When They Returned

One of them, and probably the most important, was Max Horkheimer. Many of them were Jews who had been forced by the National Socialists to leave Germany. They were the avant-garde in the forefront of reeducation and had considerable success.


Germany’s Academic Population Favored Change and New Forms of Progressive Education from America

In 1968, part of the German youth, especially the students, became reeducation enthusiasts. They wanted this new education, which was to change Germany and the German traditions. They fought in the university in the sense that they attacked the “reactionary” professors. They identified with the American concept of progress.


“Deutschtum” Was Banned

There used to be a concept “Deutschtum”, German-ness, which was somehow banned from German education already before 1968.


Reeducation Was Victorious in the ‘70s Because an Important Part of the German Public Shared the Views

This had a considerable effect, and one can say that since the beginning of the seventies, re-education was victorious. This did not mean that everybody was re-educated, but the most important part of public opinion shared this view.

I do not exactly know what the case was in Japan, or whether one could say at a certain moment in time the Japanese had the conviction that the Americans were totally right, or whether they still considered themselves to be, to have been, better behaved than the Americans were.


The Holocaust Was Real for All Germans; Not All Japanese Were Convinced of the Truth Regarding Korea’s Complaints and The Rape of Nanking

In Germany, there was the one great reality, which was called the “Holocaust”, the killing of millions of Jews. There was nothing like that in Japan.

Q: No.

A: There were only certain, hard politics in Korea and especially in Nanking. Nanking was a great killing; it has always been said that not all Japanese were convinced that it was true.

So, this is a great difference between Japan and Germany.

Q: Until 1968, there was no success with the re-education program?


The German Concept “Völkisch” Was Equated with Nazism

A: Let’s say it had no spectacular success, but the concept of “völkisch” (folkish) or of “German-ness” was finally banned from German education after 1945. I do not know whether there was such a concept of Japanese-ness in Japan. German-ness was equated to Nazism.

Q: I still don’t understand why the Prussian tradition considered as an extension or a source of Nazism…


Old Prussia and the National Socialists Shared a Common Trait, the Will to Attack

A: Well, it was because one of the main traits was thought to be the will to attack. For example, Poland was attacked by war in 1939, but one year later, France, the great power, was attacked, too. It was defeated in a few weeks, and this militarization of spirit was a common trait between old Prussia and the new National-Socialist Germany. Let’s say, ego-centrism, the national ego-centrism.

There was only one thing, which was very important, and that was Germany and the German people. Everything else was not so important. Re-educationists attacked this trait, the German and the American ones, and their definite success was clear, I would say. In the beginning of the ‘70’s, there were already small concessions which were being made.


The General, Established Opinion in the German Public Regarding Nationalist Ideology Isn’t Open for Change

There has been a certain general opinion in Germany that has been very sensible to every essay and to every temptation to reconstruct the nationalist ideology, which has been very much attacked. There were certain attempts to say that this re-educational ideology could not be the whole truth, but several important facts, in reality, were not considered.

Q: What were they?


Modern History Began with the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917

A: This re-educationist ideology could not be the whole truth, because it did not consider several important facts which should have been taken seriously. What people have very often mentioned in this respect is the so-called “Historikerstreit”. The point of departure came from an idea proposed by one historian that when interpreting modern history, you must not start from Germany and National Socialism, as most people have done, but from the great Russian Revolution, the Bolshevik revolution of 1917 with its postulation to destroy international “capitalism”, which was thought of as the “bourgeoisie” and the system of free markets.

Q: In that historians’ dispute, you stressed the fact that Nazis were very much aware of the threat of the Communism, but I think that your assertion was not taken seriously in that dispute.


Communism Was the Main Danger of the 20th Century

A: The principal danger for all states of the Liberal system was, in the Twentieth century, the ideology of Marxism or Communism and how its supporters strove to rule the whole world.

This movement was, during the decades after 1917, mostly called “Bolshevism”. What was important for Germany was the easily noticeable fact that the Jews (but not the orthodox Jews) had a disproportionately large role in the Bolshevik revolution. This fact, however, is understandable, because the Jews were suppressed under the Tsarist regime. But it is also understandable how many people were so impressed with the great number of Jews that they spoke of “Jewish Bolshevism”. In Germany, too, Jews played an important role in the Communist movement. That there would exist, or arise, a strong will of resistance to this singular phenomenon was most probable.


Death to the Bourgeoisie

However, that the Jews became the main target was rather natural, because in politics, the enemy is more often seen in a concrete man than in an abstract ideology or tendency. The Communists themselves wanted to annihilate “capitalism”, and they realized, during their first years in power, a formidable “social annihilation” of what had practically been the “leading classes”.

The greater part of the German Jews, however, wanted to be assimilated into “German culture”. They constituted no danger for Germany.


Hitler’s Main Driving Forces Were Anti-Communist and Anti-Jewish Ideologies

Also, if there had been, in 1918, nothing but the victory of the Western Allies, the military defeat of Germany, and the peace treaty, which one could call unjust, Hitler would have been a little artist without regular occupation, or possibly, one of the most eager “revisionists” who wanted to restore imperial Germany. But he would not have had his chance to become Reichskanzler because he would have lacked the anti-Communist and anti-Jewish ideologies, which were his main driving forces.


Germany and Japan Wanted to Be Parts of the “First World”

I must remind you that there had been an “Industrial Revolution” in the countries that became “well developed”. This was, mainly, the world of America and Great Britain.

There were other powers that wanted to be as powerful as the Anglo Saxons, and to become powerful and developed, too. They wanted to be parts of the First World, too, and Japan was one of these powers. Germany was also one of these powers. Sometimes called, “People who had come late”, these nations, which came later than the others, had to make great efforts.

One may have thought that there was a possibility for the latecomers to catch up with the more progressive ones, which could have called for a “developmental dictatorship” structure, but that developmental dictatorship would not have necessarily been a cause for war.


Britain and America Could Have Allowed Germany to Join the First World

For example, if Germany, Weimar Germany, Democratic Germany, had said, “We lost all our colonies with the Treaty of Versailles; we cannot be a developed country if they are not given back, so please give them back to us.”

This could have been a claim towards the First World which might have been difficult for it to fulfill, but not essentially as the British could have done it. The Americans could have accepted the proposals, and so on.


Germans Comprehended What the Conflict Was

In Germany, the important thing was that there was a comprehended conflict – the conflict between Communism, the Soviet Union, and Democracy, or as I have said, the Liberal system, which was a system where independent, interior forces could conflict with each other but without force and violence.


America Forced Japan to Fight; Japan Was Not Guilty

The question is whether, in regard to Japan, it was clear. Did the Japanese say, “We must have, for example, Korea; it’s our old colonial area; we must have it back; we must be the leaders of the East Asian region’s welfare.”

This could have accepted by, perhaps, the Americans, but the Americans did not. One must say that Roosevelt, for example, the President of the United States, had a role which was dubious. He brought Japan into a situation where there was no way out, except through the force of arms with Pearl Harbor, but this was, strictly speaking, not the guilt of the Japanese, but the guilt of the Americans, who later on, did not even want to speak about it, but some political scientists knew about it.


The Controversy between America and Germany over Versailles Had No Beginning

In Germany, there was no such beginning for the controversies over Versailles with the Americans. German forces did not attack America; only Hitler declared war on America, but it was not an immediate attack.

Hitler’s main wish was to attack the Soviet Union in 1941. In the beginning of 1942, when he declared war on America, the situation in Russia had become very difficult for him. He had gained great victories in the first six months of the war, but later on the great cold changed the situation, and Germany was in a most difficult situation.

Japan had been victorious for a long time; it made herself the first power in East Asia. The war was long. The war was difficult, but that was the same thing in Germany.


A Developmental Dictatorship Is an Effective Way to Become a More Powerful Country

I want to say the following: if a power, which was not as much developed as the other powers of the First World, wanted to become one of them, it would have been probable that it would have chosen to make a developmental dictatorship. This system could have achieved what it wanted, if the other powers, in this case, the Americans, would not have wanted war.

There is a possibility to say, “We are underdeveloped, but because of our ideology, we are at the head of the whole movement. We will conquer the whole world, and make it a better one.”


Communist Ideology Wanted to Unify the Whole World

This is what the Communists said; they could have become a developmental dictatorship, but they were not content with it. They made an ideology of solving all of their problems with the unification of the whole world under Communism. By doing this, they naturally aroused much enmity and opposition.


Communism in Under-Developed Russia Was a Great Danger to the First World

Q: So, how threatened did people at that time feel from the Communists?

A: Communism in an under-developed state like Russia was dangerous for the more developed states like Germany, Great Britain, and America. They all considered Communism as a great danger.


America and Britain Were Not Willing to Give Germany Any Concessions

However, there was an old conflict between America and Great Britain, in the First World, so to speak, which also included Germany, a country that wanted to be one of them, but which had to receive some serious concessions to be one. Without the concessions, it could not have become one of them, and the Americans and the British did not make the necessary concessions. They considered them, but in the end, they didn’t do anything.


Germany Fought a War of Life and Death; Japan, a Late Comer, Wanted Power

The Japanese wars, as Japan was a late comer, were wars over power because it wanted to be as powerful as the older powers. In Germany, it was different, because Germany was a neighbor of the Communist Soviet Union. It was a different situation. This conflict could not be solved by making concessions. It was a war of life and death.


America Was the Victor in the War, But It Wasn’t the Moral Victor

The war between Japan and America was not necessarily a war of life and death, but it practically became such a war of life or death, and America was the victor. It was the victor against Japan; it was the victor against Germany, but to say that it was the moral victor, the power which had the better convictions, which had the greater force of persuasion, this, I think, one cannot say.


Time Will Tell Whether German and Japanese Revisionism Will Gain Acceptance

Revisionism is opposition to reeducation. For German revisionists, it is a question of history, which will be decided by history, and it won’t be judged by a single thinker. So, we have to wait for what history will say some day.


Revisionism Is in Opposition to Reeducationism

Today, in Germany, there are tendencies of so-called Revisionism, which are in opposition to reeducationism. They are also strong in Japan. As I have read in newspapers, many of Japan’s neighboring states are perturbed. They are convinced that the Japanese do not have the right to be Revisionist.


Japanese Revisionism Might Become Accepted in the Future

As in Germany, it’s an unsolved question as to what extent Japanese revisionism could become, not victorious, but accepted. Whether German and Japanese revisionism is to be accepted, in part, is a question of history. We have to wait for what history will say one day.


Germany Must Exert Its True Power in the World

Q: Now we are living in a very dangerous world. There are so many conflicts in the world. There is terrorism in Syria. There is conflict between Iran and Israel. China is expanding. There are so many conflicts in the world, we hope that Germany…

Due to these conditions, I really hope Germany can take or assume a greater role in the leadership of the world. The German people appear to be very fearful of taking the initiative, like people of other great nations, to lead the world because they fear the backlash from other countries when they exert their true power, commensurate with Germany’s own greatness. From an outsider’s perspective, I really think the time has come for Germans to reconsider German history, to re-examine this history, and to establish in a different reality for the world in very fair manner.


Since the 19th Century, Germany Has Been a Half Hegemonic Power in Europe

A: There has been a word that’s been in use since the uniting of Germany in the 19th century to describe the country’s influence. People have referred to Germany was a half hegemonic power in Europe, half, not total.


Britain and America Didn’t Want a Europe under the Hegemony of Germany

One can say that the British and the Americans wanted to impede Germany from becoming totally hegemonic. They did not want a Europe under the Hegemony of Germany.


The Peaceful Germany of Today Is Once Again a Half Hegemonic Power in Europe

This was understandable, and there were good reasons to say so, but they had to fight it out in the great Second World War. The paradoxical result was that there are many people today who say, “Germany, though defeated in the Second World War, quasi-totally, is again half hegemonic in Europe.


A Full, Hegemonic Position Would Only Be the Result of a Victorious War

You cannot say this of Japan, because Japan is not a member of a Federation in East Asia. We have the Federation of the European Union. In the European Union, one can have a half hegemonic position, not a hegemonic position. Practically, a hegemonic position is always the result of a victorious war, but a half hegemonic is possible in peace, and it seems that this position is today that of Germany.


The Reeducated Germans in Present Day Europe Are Not Warriors Who Will Challenge the Older, Greater Powers in a War

Among the German people, there are many who say this is a dangerous position, because it was the situation after the unification after Bismarck. This was the situation during the war in ’14, the First World War. This position might again bring about a war. One does not know exactly, but I would say the re-educationist tendency has been so strong in Germany, that the idea re-educated Germans could be warriors again, who could challenge the older, greater powers in a war, is inconceivable. One would have to over estimate the Germans for one to believe it.

The situation in Japan… this is one you could tell better than me. Is Japan on the way to becoming a hegemonic power in East Asian again? Do the Japanese people want this situation? Or is it impossible for other reasons?

The powerful reason is naturally that China is becoming much stronger, as it were, so the Japanese will not have the same situation as they did in ’34 – ’35, when they could have had the idea of even conquering China. Therefore, it’s difficult to say what would be the best thinkable case scenario for Japan.

The worst thinkable situation would be if there was a re-emergence of reeducationism. and if the Japanese and Germans were considered as sort of guilty slaves, or as people who should really be enslaved so as not to become dangerous. I think the other situation is much more probable, and is much more an object of thinking, but it is unclear what the result will be.

My opinion is that half hegemony is the best solution. Every attempt to change a half-hegemonic position into a full hegemonic one would be most dangerous. It has to be resisted.


The Atomic Attacks on Japanese Cities Were Allied War Crimes Comparable to the Germans’ Killing of the Jews

Q: You stated that there were no moral differences between the British air raids of German cities in World War II, the American war crimes in the Vietnam War, and the Nazi war crimes. What’s your view on the war crimes that the Allied nations committed? There were so many atrocities.

A: Well, this question is special, and it’s actually much related to Japan, because if there were Allied war crimes comparable to the crimes of the Germans with regard to the Jews, it could only be the atomic attacks on Japanese cities with their many thousands of victims who could not defend themselves, but who were killed as harmless people.

Q: Yes, there were many civilians who were killed.


The Holocaust Was Not Worse Than the Atomic Attacks Except for the Fact That There Had Been a Normal “Declaration of War”

A: The Nuremberg trial was a sad but logical result of the reeducation in the first years after the war. There had been bombings on cities such as Dresden. The so-called holocaust was not worse than the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki except, doubtlessly, for the fact that there had been a normal “declaration of war”. In this respect, the Nuremberg trial is without analogy. There was only a verbal declaration of war by Chaim Weizmann in the name of the Jews who did not posses a state.


The Nuremberg Trial Defense Lawyers Could Not Accuse the Allies of Wrongdoing

There was a regulation which said that the defense lawyers for the accused must not consider what the Allies had done as problematical or accuse them, but a public prosecutor cannot at the same time be a judge. In this respect, Nuremberg was not a part of the Occidental tradition of law.


The German Youth Believed that the Nuremberg Trial Had Brought Out the Truth

Q: In this regard, I’d like to ask you about your take on Nuremberg trial.

A: The German youth, mainly academics, mainly students, have vehemently attacked their parents since 1968 because they had been National Socialists. For these young people, in this part of the German population, the Nuremberg processes had brought out the truth. All of their convictions were based on the fact that the Allies’ accusations were right and not wrong.


However, Most Germans Were Not Convinced Based on the Nuremberg Trial’s Standard of Justice

On this point, one must say, for a part of the German population, it has been convincing. For another part, it has not been. Even today, for a part, it is still convincing, but for another segment of population, and I believe it’s the greater part, it is not.


People Wanted a Sense of Security After the War Ended, Which the Nuremberg Trial Provided

Q: So, do you think it was not necessary to conduct the Nuremberg trial?

A: Well, after the catastrophe of 1945, which was terrible, not only for the Germans, but for other nations too, people needed an “absolute” truth to give them a feeling of security, and this was, at that time, the decision that it must never happen again, that Germany (and Japan) must never become strong enough to attack the rest of the world.


The World’s People Still Think that Germany Must Never Again Become Strong

This is also true of today. Germany is no longer enslaved today, as it was practically after 1945, but everybody is convinced that Germany must not again be given the opportunity to challenge the whole world.


The German People Have Been Reeducated; a Third World War Would Be Impossible

Q: Was it a tool to retaliate against the Germany people?

A: Regarding the German people, I think, if there were 100 people in Germany, who wanted to begin anew, who wanted to continue the Second World War as a Third World War, what would 100 people, what would a 1,000 people, what would even 100,000 people be able to do? They would be a minority, and it would be impossible. Germany is so much re-educated that a total change would be impossible.


The Time of Reeducation Has Finished and a New Time Has Begun

It is very probable that the Germans, as well as the Japanese, will have a considerable but not decisive role in this future history, but in this respect, as the Germans and the Japanese can say, fortunately, the time of reeducation was not without success, and it has finished, and a new time has begun. It is true that you should strengthen your aversion against wars and war crimes, but also be wary of “pacifism”. It leaves the world to evildoers and radical ideologists.


Americans Fought a Racial War Against More “Progressive” Japanese

As far as I know, the Japanese did not deny the racial equality of the people of East Asia. In some respects, the war of America against Japan was the opposite; it was a “racial” war against “The Yellows”. From the viewpoint of today, the Japanese, in this respect, were more “progressive” than the Americans.


The Japanese Still Had Some Defenses at Hiroshima and Nagasaki; the Jews in Germany and in German Occupied Europe Were Hopelessly Defenseless

You have to remember that both the killing of Jews and atomic bombings of civilians in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, targeted people who were mostly not military.

This is a difficult point. I would say that, of course, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, though the war was nearing its end, were still being defended. They still had forces, which took the side of the attacked, and the Japanese used anti-air-weapons against the attacking forces.


The Jews Had Powerful Allies around the World

The Jews did not have that. They were hopelessly defenseless, but this is only one side of the problem. The Jews were defenseless only in Germany and in German-occupied Europe, but they had powerful allies in many parts of the world. They were one of the oldest world-historical peoples. “He”, who instigated a “war against the Jews”, and maintained a very dubious thesis that the Jews were the main force in Bolshevism, had to expect very strong reactions.


The Allies Defeated Germany and Japan, but the Victory Should Not Have Included a Moral Judgment

In the end, the Soviets, the British, and the Americans not only defeated Hitler, he also was defeated by the Jews. The Japanese abstained, as far as I know, from his dubious thesis; for them, the victors were exclusively the British and the Americans (and not the Jews). Whether this included a moral judgment that the victors represented the good, and the defeated the bad, is quite another question.


All Things Have Not Been Considered

People must be allowed to consider several possibilities, including a very daring possibility that people could say very much against it. The curious thing is that those people, who always speak of the Jews as a minority, a helpless minority, do not know much about the history of the Jews, people who were very important, a very powerful power in world history. Sometimes, so to speak, concealed, but sometimes very, very clear, and it shows a certain kind of contempt for a powerful, world, historical people to say they were a helpless minority.

They were, if they lived in Germany, indeed helpless, but they had powerful allies, and these allies must be considered, too. In general, I do not want to say that all things have already been considered.


People Have Incorrectly Assumed a Distinction Between Guilty and Guiltless War Powers

The moral calculation equalized the two parties, the losing parties, Japan and Germany, and the victorious parties, America and Britain. This was not the case, but there was a most clear distinction between guilty and guiltless; guilty, the Japanese and the Germans; guiltless, the Americans and the British.


Historians Need to Improve the Record

This contradiction is too simple, and must be improved, not negated, but improved. This is a thesis that can’t be maintained.


The German Military Defended Its Cities

Q: From a real perspective, is this justice? Can German people justify to themselves the atrocities of the bombings of the cities like Dresden and so many other cities in Germany from the Allied nations like America, Britain, or any other country?

A: It can’t be compared to what the Germans did and what the Americans did by bombing civil populations in Germany. Here, it is very similar to the Japanese because these German victims, who could practically do nothing against these mass of bombings, or the bombs which fell down upon them, were nevertheless defended. There was artillery against the air force, and so on, whereas the others were not in the same sense, defended.


Many Comparable Events to the Holocaust Exist; It Was Not Unique

I think it must be considered, too, that the victorious powers did things which were morally not justified, but it does not mean an inversion of guilt and non-guilt. In principal, I am indeed of the opinion that the Holocaust is singular, but it is not unique. There are other comparable events. This event is, nevertheless, singular, but it’s not unique.


Victorious, Non Guilty Parties on the One Side and Defeated, Guilty Parties on the Other Is a Contrary Situation

This is an important insight, and I think that if all of the insights of the revisionists were taken seriously, we wouldn’t have the contrary situation of victorious, non guilty parties on the one side, and defeated, guilty parties on the other side. It would be very much corrected, not totally inverted, and not totally changed.


Consider the Armenian Genocide in the First World War

Q: Because there was so much genocide in the 20th Century?

A: For example, the genocide of the Armenians by an ally of the Germans in the First World War, Turkey, must be taken into consideration, too. Turkey was an ally of Germany, and the Turks sometimes questioned their German allies. “What shall we do? These Armenians are our enemies. We are inclined to kill them all. Shall we do it or not?”


Germany’s Silence Was a Sort of Participation in the Genocide

The Germans did not accept it, but they did not negate it. They said, “This is your task. You must do what you think is right.” There was a sort of participation and guilt for the genocide from the German side, if only by silence, by observing it.


President Roosevelt Formed an Alliance with the Soviet Union Because He Didn’t Believe Stalin Had the Ambition to Take Over the World

Q: What’s your take on President Roosevelt’s policy? At that time, he was very ignorant of the dangers of Communism. When he violated the Neutrality Act, he provided weapons to Britain and helped Russia become a stronger nation. He was blinded of the Communist danger.

A: He knew about the Communist danger. The U.S.A. was the only state in 1933 that did not have diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union. There was no doubt that Roosevelt knew that the Communist ideology was anti-Capitalist, and that the U.S.A. was the main force of Capitalism, but he thought that the Soviet Union, under Stalin, was no longer such a revolutionary power, one which wanted to conquer the world, which perhaps said, “In a hundred years, we should do it, but not now, and therefore we can make an alliance with the Capitalists.”


The Alliance Between Communism and Capitalism Resulted in a Cold War

Therefore, Roosevelt spoke of “Comrade Stalin”. This is a decisive fact, which Hitler would have thought to be impossible, namely that an alliance between Communism and Capitalism could become a fact, as a consequence of his, Hitler’s actions. It became true, yet after the end of the war, the result was another war, not a “hot” war, but a “Cold War” between America and the Soviet Union. This Cold War came to an end only in 1989/90, when the Soviet Union accepted the reunification of Germany in the western sense.

If one says, “This was a great victory of the U.S.,” it is, once again, a controversial thesis.


The Opinion of Jürgen Habermas

Q: I’d like to ask you about pride. I think there have been so many great German figures in various fields such as philosophy, and great thinkers and artists, for example, Kant, Fichte, and Hegel, and your teacher Martin Heidegger. There have been German artists such as Goethe, Bach, and Beethoven.

But Pundits, such as Jürgen Habermas, have criticized you, stating that only after overcoming Hitler’s history, Hitler’s Germany has finally come to its own with the West.

A: This is the opinion of Habermas.


After the War, Habermas Thought That If Germany Became Part of the Unified World, It Wouldn’t Be Regarded as Dangerous

Q: But I really wonder, does it make sense? There have been so many great minds in German history, which have created the very West, right, the very culture and academia of the West. Maybe I should ask this question to Jürgen Habermas, but…he once stated in criticism of you, that only after overcoming Hitler’s Germany, could Germany finally come into its own, come to be part of the West.

A: On the other hand, after the war, Habermas said, “Only when it has become a part of the unified world, Germany will no longer be considered as dangerous.” This unified world would have its own government. One may speak of a cosmo-polity.


Germans Would No Longer Manage Germany If Habermas Had His Way

This would be a totally different situation, a situation of “cosmopolitism”. In this situation, which Habermas wishes would occur, all of the problems of the political world would be solved. I am not totally of this opinion.


I Disagree, the World, According to Habermas, Would Still Have Wars

I think, even in a cosmo-polity, there would be serious conflicts and perhaps wars – not in the old sense of bloody wars, but with the technical means of today, one can damage an enemy in a way that he has to consider himself defeated. This is a new sort of war, a conflict of intellectual achievement. In this respect, I am not of the opinion of Jürgen Habermas.


I Believe that the Richness of Humanity Is Found in the Differences of Single Men and Groups, and that the Germans Must Maintain Their Cultural Identity

If the Germans were, indeed, still National Socialists, then it would be a terrible situation. In this respect, I agree with Mr. Habermas. However, I am convinced that the richness of humanity is difference and the variableness of single men and groups.


A Cosmopolitan Perspective Would View Pre-Hitler Culture as Responsible For His Rise

Q: How should people evaluate or view the German, pre-Hitler culture, including Kant, Hegel, or Martin Heidegger?

A: If a radical form of cosmopolitism should be the final reality of the world, the culture of the thinking of Kant, Hegel, and others would be a toy without importance. Or perhaps they would be considered to have made Hitler possible, and insofar as people could ascertain, they’d view those thinkers as guilty, too. I do not think that this is a hopeful prospect.


Lenin Wanted Mankind to Lose All of Its Culture and Become “Verschmolzen”

I’d like to share some words from Lenin, who said, that “we” should want to make the world a unitary reality where all men have lost (or renounced) their national and cultural identities and have become “verschmolzen” or merged. All are the same as each other – men who are nothing but men, who do not consider themselves as belonging to a group of men, who would engage in serious conflicts with other groups of men.


Cosmopolitism Was the Root of the Great Conflict Between Hitler and the Allies

This is a radical form of cosmopolitism, which I think is wrong, and I am of the opinion that the great conflict between Hitler and the Allies was, ultimately, a conflict in regard to the direction in which we were going, namely towards cosmopolitism.


International Relations Should Respect National and Cultural Structures

However, the most essential question would have to be, whether there will permanently remain respect for individuals, nations, and cultural structures, which would mean that differences and inegalities would belong to humanity as well as “internationalism”.

Both possibilities are engrained in human nature, I think, and therefore, the future must be a manifold future where many possibilities of living together must be realized, sometimes with a preponderance of egality, sometimes with a preponderance of structure, difference, and so on.


Hitler’s Goal of Eliminating All Internationalism Was Wrong

Hitler was wrong when he wished that all, what he called internationalism, should be destroyed. Even he knew that a “Weltpostverein” (a union of all postal services in the world) had been in existence for a long time, and for many years since, there have been certain regulations and rules with regard to the whole world.


Hitler Believed in Man’s Relationship to His Neighbors, Friends, and Past, and He Wanted to Prevent Cosmopolitism from Destroying Those Identities

But what is really important for men? Namely, what is his relationship to his neighbors, to his friends, and so on, and to his past? If that is considered the most important, then Hitler wanted to destroy all possibilities of questioning this situation.


People’s Existence Should Neither Be Finite nor Infinite, But somewhere in the Middle

One could say the finite, the existence of finiteness, should be the only real existence of people and of men. In the situation of infiniteness, that is to be of non-determination by finite situations, structures and so on must be destroyed. These are the two final aims, and my opinion is that they are both wrong, and the truth is a thing in the midst. And this thing, this reality in the midst, would have more similarities with our present situation than with the future in 200 years.


The Many Forms of Finite Reality, the Histories of Men, Will Become Weaker in the Future

Q: You said that you are in the middle?

A: I am, so to speak, in the middle, yes. Yes, and I’m not considering myself as guilty because I’m in the middle.

Q: So you highly evaluate or appreciate the differences of people although you also highly appreciate the sameness of each other?

A: No, I appreciate the many forms of finite reality, which are the histories of men. And the histories will become, let’s say weaker.


The Importance of Personal History Will Not Disappear

History will no longer be the only determinant factor, but it will not disappear. And it shouldn’t disappear. This is my opinion, and is often an opinion of a party man, but I do not feel myself guilty because of being a party man.


Hitler Wanted to Prevent Cosmopolitans from Making False Promises

Q: I’d like to ask you about the philosophy of Hegel and Heidegger. I heard that Hitler’s regime exploited both of them, thinking as many people did, that their philosophy could be the cause of a totalitarian regime. Do you have any thoughts regarding this criticism? Karl Popper often criticized Hegel. Do you know Popper? He claimed that Hegel’s philosophy became the cause of Hitler.

A: Hitler was not a philosopher. He was, in his way, a thinker though. In his last weeks, he wrote that the idealists, cosmopolitans, and internationalists are destroying the world by proposing utopias, which cannot be realized, and which will throw humanity into an abyss of misery. And therefore he had to combat them.


Even Though Hegel’s Philosophy Was Cosmopolitism, Germany Played an Essential Role and Individual Differences Were Not Diluted

Hegel’s philosophy was, in the last perspective, certainly a philosophy of cosmopolitism, but cosmopolitism, in which, for example, the German nation played an essential role. It was not diluting and destroying individual differences, such as that of single men or groups, but it was the harmonious whole of all.


The Richness of Humanity Is the Variableness of Single People and Groups of Men

If these finite realities were to exist no longer, then there would be only the great vacuum, only the all-comprehending slogan “Everybody is equal.” Then, humanity would have lived in vain, because the richness of humanity is the variety, the variableness of single people and groups of men.


Heidegger Feared Communism and Viewed National Socialism as a Powerful Resistance Movement in the Beginning

Q: I’d like to ask you about your teacher, Martin Heidegger. Do you think he could have rejected Nazism at that time?

A: It is quite clear that Communism impressed Heidegger at that time, and he considered it as a great danger. And he thought, in 1933, that National Socialism was a powerful resistant movement. But already in the beginning of 1934, he recognized that this concept of National Socialism had been too narrow and too optimistic.


National Socialism Developed Many Similarities with Communism

The greatest success of Communism was that in the end the most powerful resistance movement had great similarities with its original enemy. As I have formulated, Hitler became, in the end, a “Bolsho-nationalist”. Even before this change became visible, Heidegger could no longer be Hitler’s adherent, and it was already clear in 1934.


Communists Wanted to Destroy Cultural Identities in Order to End Capitalism

NSDAP had taken many similarities from the other, from the enemy, as it seems. And this enemy became stronger and stronger in and of itself. This enemy was characterized by the opinion that greater groups of men must be killed, must be destroyed, for the powerful fundament of Capitalism, the envy of possessing had to be destroyed.


By 1934, Heidegger No Longer Considered Himself as a National Socialist

Q: Does it mean that he saw through the danger of the Communists’ ways of thinking at that time?

A: Yes, yes. But the greatest success of Communism was, so to speak, that in the end the most powerful resistance movement had great similarities with its original enemy, and that was the reason why he, in his further life, no longer considered himself as a National Socialist.

“Germans Are Unable to Express Their Patriotism”
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