Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
Volume Two: The National Socialist Movement
Chapter VIII: The Strong Man is Mightiest Alone
IN THE ABOVE I have already mentioned the existence of a Working Federation of German Folkish Associations and in this place would like to discuss very briefly the problem of these working federations.
1 [Reference to title, "The Strong Man is Mightiest Alone] Familiar quotation from Schiller's Wilhelm Tell Act I, Scene III.
In general we understand by a working federation a group of associations which for the facilitation of their work enter into a certain mutual relationship, choose a common leadership of greater or lesser competence, and proceed to carry out common actions. From this alone it results that we must be dealing with clubs, associations, or parties whose aims and methods do not lie too far apart. It is claimed that this is always the case. For the usual average citizen it is equally pleasant and comforting to hear that such associations, by combining in such a 'working federation,' have discovered a 'common bond ' and 'set aside all dividing factors.' Here the general conviction prevails that such a unification brings an enormous increase in strength, and that the otherwise weak little groups have thereby suddenly become a power.
This, however, is usually false.
It is interesting and in my eyes important for the better understanding of this question to attain clarity as to how associations. clubs, and the like can arise which all claim to pursue the same goal. In the nature of things, it would after all be logical that one goal should be advocated by only one association, and teat, reasonably speaking, several associations should not pursue the same goal. Without doubt that goal had first been envisaged by one association. One man somewhere proclaims a truth and forms a movement which is intended to serve the realization of his purpose.
Thus, an association or a party is founded which, according to its program, should either bring about the elimination of existing evils or the achievement of a particular state of affairs in the future.
Once such a movement has been called to life, it possesses a certain practical right of priority. It should really be obvious that men who mean to fight for the same goal should join into such a movement and thereby add to its strength, thus better to serve the common purpose. Especially every active mind must feel that the premise for any real success in the common struggle lies in such a coordination. Therefore, reasonably, and presupposing a certain honesty (much depends on this, as I shall later demonstrate), there should be only one movement for one goal.
That this is not the case can be attributed to two causes. One of these I might designate as almost tragic, while the second is miserable and to be sought in human weakness itself. But most fundamentally, I see in both only facts which are suited to enhancing the will as such, its energy and intensity, and, through this higher cultivation of human energy, ultimately to make possible a solution of the problem in question.
The tragic reason why in the solution of a single task we usually do not content ourselves with a single association is the following: Every deed in the grand manner on this earth will in general be the fulfillment of a desire which had long since been present in millions of people, a longing silently harbored by many. Yes, it can come about that centuries wish and yearn for the solution of a certain question, because they are sighing beneath the intolerable burden of an existing condition and the fulfillment of this general longing does not materialize. Nations which no longer find any heroic solution for such distress can be designated as impotent, while we see the vitality of a people, and the predestination for life guaranteed by this vitality, most strikingly demonstrated when, for a people's liberation from a great oppression, or for the elimination of a bitter distress, or for the satisfaction of its soul, restless because it has grown insecure - Fate some day bestows upon it the man endowed for this purpose, who finally brings the long yearned-for fulfillment.
Now it lies entirely in the essence of so-called great questions of the day that thousands are active in their solution, that many feel called, indeed, that Fate itself puts forward many for selection, and then ultimately, in the free play of forces, gives victory to the stronger and more competent, entrusting him with the solution of the problem.
Thus, it may be that centuries, dissatisfied with the form of their religious life, yearn for a renewal, and that from this psychic urge dozens and more men arise who on the basis of their insight and their knowledge believe themselves chosen to solve this religious distress, to manifest themselves as prophets of a new doctrine, or at least as warriors against an existing one.
Here, too, assuredly, by virtue of a natural order, the strongest man is destined to fulfill the great mission; yet the realization that this one is the exclusively elect usually comes to the others very late. On the contrary, they all see themselves as chosen and having equal rights for the solution of the task, and their fellow men are usually able least of all to distinguish which among them - being solely endowed with the highest ability - deserves their sole support.
Thus, in the course of centuries, often indeed within the same period, different men appear and found movements to fight for goals which, allegedly at least, are the same or at least are felt to be the same by the great masses. The common people themselves harbor indefinite desires and have general convictions, but cannot obtain precise clarity regarding the actual nature of their aim or of their own desire, let alone the possibility of its fulfillment.
The tragedy lies in the fact that these men strive for the same goal in entirely different ways, without knowing one another. and hence, with the highest faith in their own mission, consider themselves obligated to go their own ways without consideration for others.
The fact that such movements, parties, religious groups, arise entirely independent of one another, solely from the general will of the times to act in the same direction, is what, at least at first sight, seems tragic, because people incline too much to the opinion that the forces scattered among the different ways, could, if concentrated upon a single one, lead more quickly and surely to success. This, however, is not the case. For Nature itself in its inexorable logic makes the decision, by causing the different groups to enter into competition with one another and struggle for the palm of victory, and leads that movement to the goal which has chosen the clearest, shortest, and surest way.
But how should the correctness or incorrectness of a road be determined from outside unless free course is given to the play of forces, unless the ultimate decision is withdrawn from the doctrinaire opinion of human know-it-alls and entrusted to the infallible logic of visible success, which in the end will always render the ultimate confirmation of an action's correctness!
And so if different groups march toward the same goal on separate paths, once they have become aware of the existence of similar efforts, they will more thoroughly examine the nature of their own way; where possible they will shorten it, and by stretching their energy to the utmost will strive to reach the goal more quickly.
This competition helps to cultivate the individual fighter, and mankind often owes its successes in part to the doctrines that have been derived from the ill fate of previous unsuccessful efforts.
And so, in the fact of an incipient scattering of forces, which arose through no conscious fault of individuals and at first sight seemed tragic, we can recognize the means through which in the end the best method was achieved.
We see in history that in the opinion of most people the two roads which it was once possible to take for the solution of the German question and whose chief representatives and champions were Austria and Prussia, Habsburg and Hohenzollern, should have been joined together from the start; in their view, people should have entrusted themselves with united strength to the one or the other road. And then the road of the representative who in the end proved more significant would have been taken; the Austrian intention, however, would never have led to a German Reich.
And then the Reich of strongest German unity arose from the very thing which millions of Germans with bleeding heart felt to be the ultimate and most terrible sign of our fratricidal quarrel: the German imperial throne was in truth won on the field of Koniggrätz and not in the battles outside Paris as people afterwards came to think.
And thus the founding of the German Reich as such was not the result of any common will along common paths, but the result of a conscious and sometimes unconscious struggle for hegemony, from which struggle Prussia ultimately issued victorious. And anyone who is not blinded by party politics into renouncing the truth, will have to confirm that so-called human wisdom would never have made the same wise decision which the wisdom of life, that is, the free play of forces, finally turned into reality. For who in German territories two hundred years ago would seriously have believed that the Prussia of the Hohenzollerns would some day become the germ cell, founder, and mentor of the new German Reich, and not the Habsburgs? And who, on the other hand, would deny today that Destiny acted more wisely in this respect; in fact, who today could even conceive of a German Reich based on the principles of a rotten and degenerate dynasty?
No, the natural development, though after a struggle enduring centuries, finally brought the best man to the place where he belonged.
This will always be so and will eternally remain so, as it always has been so.
Therefore, it must not be lamented if so many men set out on the road to arrive at the same goal: the most powerful and swiftest will in this way be recognized, and will be the victor.
Now there is a second reason why often in the life of nations movements of apparently the same nature nevertheless try to reach the same goal in different ways. This cause not only is not tragic, but is positively miserable. It lies in the sorry mixture of envy; jealousy, ambition, and thievish mentality which unfortunately we sometimes find combined in individual specimens of mankind.
For as soon as a man appears who profoundly recognizes the distress of his people and then, after he has attained the ultimate clarity with regard to the nature of the disease, seriously tries to cure it, when he has set a goal and chosen the road that can lead to this goal - immediately small and petty minds take notice and begin to follow eagerly the activity of this man who has attracted the public eye. These people are just like sparrows who, apparently uninterested, but in reality most attentive, keep watching a more fortunate comrade who has found a piece of bread, in hopes of suddenly robbing him in an unguarded moment. A man need only embark upon a new road and all sorts of lazy loiterers prick up their ears and sniff some worth-while morsel which might lie at the end of this road. Then, as soon as they have found out where it may be, they eagerly start out in order to reach the goal by some other road, if possible a shorter one.
So if a new movement has been founded and has received its definite program, those people come and claim to be fighting for the same goal; but, rest assured, not by honestly joining the ranks of such a movement and thus recognizing its priority; no, they steal the program and base a new party of their own upon it. With all this, they are shameless enough to assure their thoughtless fellow men that they had desired the same as the other movement long before, and not seldom they thus succeed in placing themselves in a favorable light, instead of winning universal contempt as they deserve. For is it not a tremendous gall to aspire to write on their own banner the task that another has written on his, to borrow his programmatical principles, and then, as though he had created all this, to go his own ways? And the gall is especial/y manifested in the fact that the same elements who have caused the split by founding their new movements do the most talking as experience shows, about the need of unification and unity as soon as they think they have observed that the opponent has too much of a headstart to be overtaken.
The so-called 'folkish splintering' is due to such a process.
To be sure, the foundation in 1918-19 of a considerable number of groups, parties, etc., designated as folkish, occurred through the natural development of things through no fault of the founders. From all these the NSDAP had slowly crystallized out as the victor by 1920. The basic honesty of those individual founders could be proved by nothing more splendidly than by the truly admirable decision taken by many to sacrifice their own obviously less successful movements to the stronger one; that is, to disband them or fuse them unconditionally.
This applies especially to the chief fighter of the German-Socialist Party (Deutsch-Sozialistische Partei) of those days in Nuremberg, Julius Streicher.2 The NSDAP and the DSP had arisen with the same ultimate aims, yet absolutely independently of one another. The main fighter for the DSP, as I have said, was Julius Streicher, then a teacher in Nuremberg. At first he, too, had a holy conviction of the mission and the future of his movement. But as soon as he could recognize the greater power and superior growth of the NSDAP clearly and beyond all doubt, he ceased his activity for the DSP and the Working Federation, and called on his adherents to join the NSDAP, which had issued victoriously from the mutual struggle, and to fight on in its ranks for the common goal. A decision as grave from the personal point of view as it was profoundly decent.
And no form of split has remained from this first period of the movement; the honorable intention of the men of those days led almost entirely to an honorable, straight, and correct conclusion.
2 Julius Streicher, Gauleiter of Nuremberg and publisher of the anti-Semitic paper Der Stürmer, devoted chiefly to pornographic exposures of sexual relations between Jews and Aryans, retained until the Second War a local independence enjoyed by no other party leader. His fusion with Hitler was not as peaceable as Hitler makes it.
In 1921, Streicher tried to wrest the party leadership from Hitler, but failed because of a revolt in the ranks of his own Nuremberg supporters.
What we designate today as 'folkish splintering' owes its existence, as we have already emphasized, exclusively to the second of the two causes I have cited: ambitious men who previously had no ideas, much less goals of their own, felt themselves 'called' at the very moment in which they saw the success of the NSDAP undeniably maturing.
Suddenly programs arose which from start to finish were copied from ours, ideas were put forward which had been borrowed from us, aims set up for which we had fought for years, roads chosen which the NSDAP had long traveled. By every possible means they sought to explain why they had been forced to found these movements despite the NSDAP which had long been in existence; but the nobler the alleged motives, the falser were their phrases.
In truth a single reason had been determining: the personal ambition of the founders to play a role to which their own dwarfish figure really brought nothing except a great boldness in taking over the ideas of others, a boldness which elsewhere in civil life is ordinarily designated as crooked.
There was no conception or idea belonging to other people, which one of these political kleptomaniacs did not rapidly collect for his own business. And those who did this were the same people who later with tears in their eyes profoundly bemoaned the 'folkish splintering' and spoke incessantly of the 'need for unity,' in the secret hope that in the end they would so outwit the others that, weary of the eternal accusing clamor, they would, in addition to the stolen ideas, toss the movements created for their execution to the thieves.
But if this proved unsuccessful, and if, thanks to the small intellectual dimensions of their owners, the new enterprises did not prove as profitable as they had hoped, they usually reduced their prices and considered themselves happy if they could land in one of the so-called working federations.
Everyone who at that time could not stand on his own feet joined in such working federations; no doubt proceeding from the belief that eight cripples joining arms are sure to produce one gladiator.
And if there were really one healthy man among the cripples, he used up all his strength just to keep the others on their feet, and in this way was himself crippled.
We have always regarded fusion in so-called working federations as a question of tactics; but in this we must never depart from the following basic realization:
By the formation of a working federation weak organizations are never transformed into strong ones, but a strong organization can and will not seldom be weakened. The opinion that a power factor must result from an association of weak groups is incorrect, since the majority in any form whatsoever and under all presuppositions will, as experience shows, be the representative of stupidity and cowardice, and therefore any multiplicity of organizations, as soon as it is directed by a self-chosen multiple leadership, is sacrificed to cowardice and weakness. Also, by such a fusion, the free play of forces is thwarted, the struggle for the selection of the best is stopped, and hence the necessary and ultimate victory of the healthier and stronger prevented forever. Therefore, such fusions are enemies of natural development, for usually they hinder the solution of the problem being fought for, far more than they advance it.
It can occur that from purely tactical considerations the top leadership of a movement which looks into the future nevertheless enters into an agreement with such associations for a short time as regards the treatment of definite questions and perhaps undertakes steps in common. But this must never lead to the perpetuation of such a state of affairs, unless the movement itself wants to renounce its redeeming mission. For once it has become definitely involved in such a union, it loses the possibility and also the right of letting its own strength work itself out to the full and thus overcome its rivals and victoriously achieve the goal it has set itself.
It must never be forgotten that nothing that is really great in this world has ever been achieved by coalitions but that it has always been the success of a single victor. Coalition successes bear by the very nature of their origin the germ of future crumbling, in fact of the loss of what has already been achieved. Great, truly world-shaking revolutions of a spiritual nature are not even conceivable and realizable except as the titanic struggles of individual formations, never as enterprises of coalitions.
And thus the folkish state above all will never be created by the compromising will of a folkish working federation, but solely by the iron will of a single movement that has fought its way to the top against all.
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