Cover illustration by Flavio Costantini. ‘Oranienburg, July 10th 1934. Erich Mühsam.’ “…The following morning he (the overseer) went to enquire after M. When no one replied he said, cynically — ‘If he is not here then he’s dead.’” (K. Mühsam). From ‘The Art of Anarchy’, Cienfuegos Press, 1975. Mühsam was arrested as part of the ‘First Solution’ — on unspecified charges — in the early morning of 28 February 1933, a few hours after the Reichstag fire in Berlin. Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, labelled him as one of “those Jewish subversives.”… Over the next seventeen months, he was imprisoned and brutally tortured in the concentration camps at Sonnenburg, Brandenburg and finally, Oranienburg, where he was murdered.
“IT IS TWENTY-THREE YEARS now since I first attended a National Socialist meeting, saw (without particular enjoyment) Herr Hitler at close range, and listened to the flood of nonsense—or so it then seemed to me—that he was spouting. It was only gradually that the effects of these speeches made me realize that behind all nonsense there was unrivaled political cunning.
“In 1923, as the leader of a small democratic organization in the University of Munich, I tried, with all the earnestness of youth, and with complete lack of success, to annihilate Hitler by means of protest parades, mass meetings, and giant posters. And so I am entitled to call myself the oldest —or one of the oldest —anti-Nazis now in the United State, for there cannot be many in this country who came into conflict with Adolf Hitler and his handful of followers at so early a date.
“Those who experience history and have a share in its making rarely see the enduring threads but only the whirl of exciting and quickly forgotten details. In 1920, and the years following, my friends and I certainly did not view our modest fist-fights and other encounters with the National Socialists as an attempt to put a premature end to the career of the modern Genghis Khan, and I would have jeered at anyone who had prophesied that this was the beginning of a new epoch in world history
“The narrative that follows is based partly on my own observations and experiences then and in later years. However, even the most intimate episodes and reports of private conversations are grounded on documentary evidence or on statements of individuals who seemed to me thoroughly reliable.”— Konrad Heiden
Konrad Heiden, the son of a union organizer, was born in Munich, Germany, on 7th August 1901. While at the University of Munich he led protests against Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). The historian, Richard Overy, has pointed out: “Heiden was a young socialist student in Munich when he first saw Hitler speak. It was 1923, the year of inflation and political chaos in Germany. Heiden was not impressed by what he saw: a self-centred demagogue at the head of what he calls the army of uprooted and disinherited.” Heiden later recalled: “In 1923, as the leader of a small democratic organization in the University of Munich, I tried, with all the earnestness of youth, and with complete lack of success, to annihilate Hitler by means of protest parades, mass meetings, and giant posters.”
Konrad Heiden and Hitler
After leaving university he became a journalist and worked for Frankfurter Zeitung and the Vossischen Zeitung. He was also a member of the German Social Democrat Party (SDP) and remained an active opponent of Hitler. In 1932 he published History of National Socialism. In the book he claimed that Henry Ford gave money to the NSDAP. In the book he recorded he first time he met Hitler. “He came… in a very decent blue suit and with an extravagantly large bouquet of roses, which he presented to his hostess as he kissed her hand. While he was being introduced, he wore the expression of a public prosecutor at an execution. I remember being struck by his voice when he thanked the lady of the house for tea or cakes, of which, incidentally, he ate an amazing quantity. It was a remarkably emotional voice, and yet it made no impression of conviviality or intimacy but rather of harshness. However, he said hardly anything but sat there in silence for about an hour; apparently he was tired. Not until the hostess was so incautious as to let fall a remark about the Jews, whom she defended in a jesting tone, did he begin to speak and then he spoke without ceasing. After a while he thrust back his chair and stood up, still speaking, or rather yelling, in such a powerful penetrating voice as I have never heard from anyone else. In the next room a child woke up and began to cry. After he had for more than half an hour delivered a quite witty but very one-sided oration on the Jews, he suddenly broke off, went up to his hostess, begged to be excused and kissed her hand as he took his leave. The rest of the company, who apparently had not pleased him, were only vouchsafed a curt bow from the doorway.”
On the morning of Saturday, 19th September, 1931, Geli Raubal, the niece of Adolf Hitler, was found on the floor of her room in the flat. She had been killed by a Walther 6.35 pistol that was owned by Hitler. Konrad Heiden was one of those journalists who suggested that Hitler had murdered Geli. Heiden was one of the first to suggest that Hitler was having a sexual relationship with Geli: “One day parental relations to his niece Geli ceased to be parental. Geli was a beauty on the majestic side … simple in her thoughts and emotions, fascinating to many men, well aware of her electric effect and delighting in it…. Her uncle’s affection, which in the end assumed the most serious form, seems like an echo of the many marriages among relatives in Hitler’s ancestry in its borderline incestuousness.” He also claimed that Hitler was a “sexual pervert” and obtained pleasure from undinism.
Konrad Heiden expelled from Nazi Germany
In his book, History of National Socialism (1932), Heiden tried to explain why Hitler became so popular in Germany: “His utterly logical way of thought is Hitler’s strength. There seems to be no other German politician of the present day who has the moral courage that he possesses to draw the inevitable conclusions from any given situation, to announce them despite the mockery of those who think they know better, and above all, to act on them. It is this gift of logic which makes Hitler’s speeches so convincing.”
It was later claimed that Heiden was a propagandist. The New York Times reported: “To the leaders of the Third Reich. Heiden was a hated and sought-after enemy. One of the Nazis’ acts upon taking over a country was always to ban and burn his books. The writer was a propagandist of a special kind-one who used objectivity and documents to destroy the object of his derision…. In 1932 his first book, History of National Socialism was publicly burned by the Nazis, who were then on the brink of gaining power. When they took over… In 1933, he fled.”
Heiden also attempted to explain why Hitler was so popular with the German people: “The true aim of political propaganda is not to influence, but to study, the masses. The speaker is in constant communication with the masses; he hears an echo, and senses the inner vibration. In forever setting new and contradictory assertions before his audience, Hitler is tapping the outwardly shapeless substance of public opinion with instruments of varying metals and varying weights. When a resonance issues from the depths of the substance, the masses have given him the pitch; he knows in what terms he must finally address them. Rather than a means of directing the mass mind, propaganda is a technique for riding with the masses. It is not a machine to make wind but a sail to catch the wind. The mass, however, is a phenomenon of deepest world importance – this levelled conglomeration of fools and wise men, heroes and cowards, proud and humble, the unusual and the average. This mass, with its anonymous intellectual pressure, its unexpected moods and unconscious desires, mirrors and echoes the commanding force of prevailing conditions; it embodies and personifies the necessities and resistances of the objective world; it expresses the silent command of Fate in a mysterious murmur. It is the art of the great propagandist to detect this murmur and translate it into intelligible utterance and convincing action. If he can do this, his utterances and actions may be full of contradictions – because the contradictions lie in the things themselves; they may be deceptive and misleading. The lies of propaganda reveal the deeper truth of the whole world’s cynicism and dishonesty. By his lies the great propagandist involuntarily shows himself to be an honest, self-revealing prophet of the Devil.”
Adolf Hitler’s Biographer
Heiden was forced to flee from Nazi Germany after Hitler gained power. While he was in exile in Switzerland he published Birth of the Third Reich (1934) and Hitler: A Biography (1936). In his book, One Man Against Europe (1937) Heiden argued: “He (Hitler) is a mirror of our time, for his strange personality, with its contradictions of pathos and unbridled passion, revolt and submission, greatness and depression, is the extreme type of modern man; technically, highly developed; and socially, profoundly unsatisfied.”
Heiden then moved to Paris where he published The New Inquisition (1939). After the invasion of France in May 1940 he fled to Lisbon before finally settling in the United States where he published Der Führer – Hitler’s Rise to Power (1944). Richard Overy has argued that the book is a masterpiece: “His (Hitler) account of the seizure of power and the Nazi economic revival and political consolidation is remarkably modern in tone… Heiden’s biography is not intended to be an academic account of the life of Hitler. It has about it an extraordinary literary power, reflected with exemplary success in the translation. Few accounts of Hitler can match the vivid imagination and metaphorical richness of Heiden’s text.”
Konrad Heiden died in New York City on 18th June, 1966.
By John Simkin ([email protected]) From: http://spartacus-educational.com/Konrad_Heiden.htm
Hitler’s ‘First Solution’ began in 1933 -34 primarily with anarchists, socialists, communists, liberals, Roma, Gays and dissident fellow Nazis of the S.A. —
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me