Posts Tagged ‘Hitler’

Aphorism XCIX

Monday, July 11th, 2016

One sure sign of ascendant fascism is a group that forcefully takes over a stage and microphone from another scheduled speaker. Such acts are especially offensive in a university setting, where theoretically freedom of speech and inquiry should rule.

This bullying tactic hearkens back to the shirt movements such as the Brownshirts and the Blackshirts that brought the Fascism of Hitler and Stalin to power in the 1920s and 30s.

Such public bullying today is no longer a virtual shirt movement online, simply multiplying tweets, but political thugs of the worst kind trying to wrestle control of the physical public square. Such a group will not moderate its use of force to simply take over stages from other speakers, but is capable of much more coercion and even violence.

© Copyright 2016, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved

The views posted at are those of Albert J. Schorsch, III, alone, and not those of any of his employers, past or present.


Dietrich von Hildebrand’s 1930s Anti-Nazi Essays

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

The 20th century philosopher Dietrich von Hildebrand (1889-1977), best known in the English-speaking world for his writings on human intimacy and personality, aesthetics, ethics, and the liturgy, was also an active and determined opponent of the National Socialist or Nazi movement from its early days in the 1920s.

When Hitler took power in Germany in 1933, von Hildebrand, who had a decade earlier been condemned to death by the first Nazi thugs, left the country, and eventually settled in Vienna, where he led, through his journal Der Christliche Ständestaat (the Christian Corporative State, a concept that drew its inspiration from Pius XI’s 1931 encyclical, Quadragesimo Anno) and his partnership the soon-to-be-assassinated Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, an intellectual resistance to Nazism and especially to anti-Semitism, until von Hildebrand was again forced to flee Austria as Hitler’s Anschluss absorbed that country in 1938.

The recent publication in English of selections from von Hildebrand’s handwritten memoir as My Battle Against Hitler: Faith, Truth, and Defiance in the Shadow of the Third Reich has brought von Hildebrand again into the intellectual and cultural mainstream.

While reviews of My Battle Against Hitler have focused on von Hildebrand’s adventurous fight with and narrow escapes from Nazism, I urge readers to study his 1930s essays collected as a group in this memoir. While it is fun to learn how von Hildebrand and his friends tricked the Nazis into allowing his furniture to be shipped from Munich to Vienna after his flight from Germany, and sobering to read how many were taken in by the Nazis, it is better to read the focused, insightful, and passionate words of von Hildebrand written at the time against the steady advance of anti-Semitism and Nazism.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), once the teenage student paramour of philosopher and later sometime Nazi Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), achieved fame in 1963 with her coining of the phrase “banality of evil” in her Eichmann in Jerusalem. Yet von Hildebrand’s November 10, 1935 Der Christliche Ständestaat essay, translated as “The Danger of Becoming Morally Blunted,” contemporaneously described this blunting process as it was happening decades before Arendt. This essay alone is worth the price of My Battle Against Hitler, since it describes how moral compromise can weaken us all. The power of anti-Semitism as a moral anesthetic that deadens resistance to violent extremism is very much still at work today, whether in the Middle East, in Russia, or in First World cultural elites.

My compliments to John Henry Crosby, Alice von Hildebrand, John F. Crosby, and all those from the Hildebrand Project who spent the decade necessary to bring this book to English-language readers.

I understand that the Hildebrand Project intends to eventually post all the writings of Dietrich von Hildebrand online. I especially look forward to more Der Christliche Ständestaat essays, and especially to an English translation of his Metaphysik der Gemeinschaft: Untersuchungen über Wesen und Wert der Gemeinschaft, or The Metaphysics of Community.

The Hildebrand Project is worthy of our support!

© Copyright 2015, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Remembering Dr. Erich Klausener, 1/25/1885 – 6/30/1934, German Catholic Action Leader Shot by Hitler’s Henchmen

Sunday, June 29th, 2014

I’ve written previously of Dr. Erich Klausener, one of the very first victims of Hitler’s 1934 “Night of the Long Knives” purge on 6/30/1934, now 80 years ago —


Dr. Klausener was the leader of Catholic Action in Germany, shot at his desk, whose crime against Hitler was to co-author the Marburg Speech by German Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen, which criticized the violence and mob rule of the Nazis. Dr. Klausener also gave an anti-Nazi address just a few days prior to his death.

Erich Klausener is considered one of the first Catholic martyrs against Hitler, and is memorialized as such in a Berlin church, Maria Regina Martyrum.

To my knowledge, while there is a biography of Dr. Klausener in German —

Adolph, Walter. 1955. Erich Klausener. Berlin: Morus-Verlag.

— one is still lacking in English. Quite a pity! When critics write about the “silence” of German Catholics against Hitler, they conveniently leave out Dr. Klausener, the head of German Catholic Action, who publicly witnessed, and quickly died a martyr’s death.

© Copyright 2014, Albert J. Schorsch, III
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Aphorism LV

Friday, August 31st, 2012

The author of just about the first statement that one should work, or one should not eat, was not Left wing or Right wing, Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican, Objectivist or Libertarian, Adam Smith or Karl Marx or Hitler or Stalin or Mao, but St. Paul of Tarsus, who said:

In fact, when we were with you, we instructed you that if anyone was unwilling to work, neither should that one eat.

2 Thessalonians 3:10

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Seventy-Five Years Since Cardinal Mundelein’s “Paperhanger” Speech

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

May 18, 2012 marks the 75th anniversary of one of the most memorable addresses by a clergyman in American history, the so-called “Paperhanger” speech of Cardinal George Mundelein (1872-1939), Archbishop of Chicago, during which Mundelein on May 18, 1937 in Quigley Seminary chapel called Hitler “an Austrian paperhanger, and a poor one at that.” Many American GIs and citizens referred to Hitler as a “paperhanger” during World War II as a result.

Several years ago, I composed an entry on the Archbishop Quigley Preparatory Seminary Wikipedia page describing the significance of this speech, and the virulent reaction that followed from the Nazis in Germany, in which hundreds of German Catholic newspapers were closed.

Mundelein spoke out against the persecution of Catholics in Germany, and against the show trials of Catholic religious on trumped-up sexual immorality charges (sound familiar?), that Mundelein stated were designed to seize control of German Catholic schools, which at the time educated two million children. Mundelein said:

The fight is to take the children away from us. If we show no interest in this matter now, if we shrug our shoulders and mutter, ‘Maybe there is some truth in it, or maybe it is not our fight;’ if we don’t back up our Holy Father (Pope Pius XI) when we have a chance, well when our turn comes we, too, will be fighting alone. . . . Perhaps you will ask how it is that a nation of sixty million people, intelligent people, will submit in fear to an alien, an Austrian paperhanger, and a poor one at that I am told, and a few associates like Goebbels and Göring who dictate every move of the people’s lives.. (“Mundelein rips into Hitler for Church attacks,” Chicago Tribune, 5/19/1937, pg. 7)

Please refer to the Quigley Seminary Wikipedia Page for more details on the aftermath in Germany and America to Mundelein’s address.

While Mundelein’s speech put German Catholics at risk in Germany, it helped German Americans to break away from Hitler and to develop a distinct identity as Americans putting the public cloud for German national acts during World War I behind them.

Mundelein was unsparing in his remarks, and noted that the Nazis held power by “making every second person a spy,” “destroying civil liberties,” and by “forcing candidates for the religious life into work and military camps.”

According to the Chicago Tribune, Mundelein said:

“During and after the World War [I] the German government complained bitterly of the propaganda aimed at it by the Allies concerning atrocities perpetuated by German troops . . . Now the present German government is making use of this same kind of propaganda against the Catholic Church and is giving out through its crooked minister of propaganda [Joseph Goebbels] stories of wholesale immorality in religious institutions in comparison to which the wartime propaganda is almost like bedtime stories for children.”

Mundelein’s 5/18/37 speech followed by a few weeks the 3/14/37 encyclical of Pius XI, Mit Brennender Sorge, which attacked the racist Nazi ideology, and which was being rabidly suppressed at the time of Mundelein’s address. According to the Chicago Tribune on 5/22/37, the Nazi secret police were then on high alert in response to the distribution of 20 million copies of the encyclical, leading to seizure of eighteen German Catholic printing plants and to daily Nazi accusations of sexual scandal against the Church. Catholic priests were being attacked in the streets by even children, according to the Tribune, if they appeared in some quarters in clerical garb.

Mundelein’s “Paperhanger” speech was part of a concerted effort by the Catholic Church to defend religious freedom and human rights at the height of an anti-Catholic propaganda war by the Nazis, more than a year in advance of the Kristallnacht attack on German Jews.

I wonder if today’s Commonweal Magazine and America Magazine editors were around in 1937 whether they wouldn’t criticize Mundelein for meddling in politics or for being too “partisan.”

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Commonweal and Pius XII

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Commonweal, which one day may be known as the Sr. Carol Keehan of Catholic magazines, is at it again in their own subtle and sophisticated way in keeping the slanders against Pius XII alive with an online scholarly article by John Connelly weakened by just a few too many unsubstantiated anti-Pius XII asides in an otherwise very interesting and informative narrative about the role of convert Catholics against Hitler.

[Please see the Comment to this post attributed to Fr. John J. Hughes for specific criticisms of the Connelly excerpt.]

The narrative of Catholic resistance to Hitler rarely includes three sets of facts:

1. The assassination by Hitler’s henchmen of Erich Klausener, the head of German Catholic Action during the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, thus decapitating Catholic Action as a movement in German civil society;

2. The closing of hundreds of German Catholic newspapers, the seizure of German Catholic schools, and deportation of Catholic clergy immediately after Chicago Cardinal George Mundelein’s famous “paperhanger” speech against Hitler in 1937. Please see the references for these at the Archbishop Quigley Seminary Wikipedia page;

3. The German Catholics involved in the various anti-Hitler assassination plots. The hundreds of plotters executed after failed attempts were not exclusively Protestant.

Hitler and Goebbels intentionally set out to destroy Catholic mediating institutions and to decapitate Catholic leadership in German civil society. While this doesn’t account for all of the silence among German Catholics against Hitler, the systematic decapitation of Catholic Action leadership and Catholic mediating institutions is lopped out of the story with regularity.

Moral superiority to Pius XII is part of the bedrock of Catholic progressivism. I wish they would, but I don’t expect the editors of Commonweal to depart from this unfortunate theme any time in the near future. They just can’t seem to let it go, no matter how much evidence piles up to the contrary.

Please see the book, The Pius War, for another view.


For what it’s worth, I have three long-term “beefs” with Commonweal which led me to drop my subscription many years ago, and dispose of an extensive collection of back issues:

1. Commonweal’s dissent on Humanae Vitae. (Which brought me to give Commonweal the sobriquet, Cogleyweal, after its late editor and Humanae Vitae dissenter John Cogley.)

2. Commonweal’s prolonging of the slanders against Pius XII, above mentioned.

3. (And this one may be obscure, Catholic “inside baseball,” but it’s a dispute about a Catholic essential) Commonweal’s support for the anti-Fr. Hugo camp in the Catholic Worker. Fr. John Hugo was a pious retreat master who led the “cool” sophisticated Dorothy Day of the New York intellectual night life to embrace a life of Eucharistic prayer and devotion along with her activism for social justice. For some reason, a few in the Catholic Church, and perhaps still at Commonweal, have yet to forgive Fr. Hugo for this. While this theme rarely manifests itself in Commonweal any more, it still irks me to no end when it does.

Dorothy Day’s daily Eucharistic devotion was an integral part of her mission and message. The integration of devotion to the Eucharist with Catholic social action is absolutely essential. Witness the contribution of Msgr. Reynold Hillenbrand to this same essential Catholic theology and practice. Please see my scholarly article on Msgr. Hillenbrand for more.

© Copyright 2012, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


“Shirt movements” and Catholic Action

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

Because in the 1930s European Catholic Action movements and the “shirt movements” occupied some of the same “political space,” Catholic Action was seen as a threat to fascist movements, which heavily relied on different forms of mob action and intimidation to rule over public life until their leaders seized full control of the government and the military.

Fascist governments used the “shirt movements,” the blackshirts in Italy and the SA or brownshirts in Germany, to consolidate power. Hitler’s goal was actually to finalize his control over the military and the government, and his strategic turning upon his previous supporters, the leadership of the brownshirts during the “Night of the Long Knives” in 1934 was merely a means to an end: the acquiescence of the military and political elites to his leadership. To Hitler, the shirt movements were merely a path to power, not the enduring exercise of it.

Authoritarian governments in Latin America have also used turba, or mob action to silence the opposition from the public square. Similar mini-turba are seen on college campuses from time to time, where they suppress public opinions which differ from theirs.

Today Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez leads a red-shirted throng, and Thailand witnesses street violence between red-shirted and yellow-shirted mobs. These “red shirts” have an ominous predecessor movement, the infamous and murderous anti-Catholic “Red Shirts” of Mexico in the 1930s.

Hitler’s 1934 purge of the SA, like the Jacobean purge after the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 in England, was expanded to include members of the current or even potential opposition, not just the brownshirts–ostensibly to protect the government in the name of civil society–but through the means of select summary execution, followed by show trials. Tyrants have been using this same playbook for centuries.

One of the very first victims of Hitler’s 1934 purge was Erich Klausener,


the leader of Catholic Action in Germany, shot at his desk, whose crime against Hitler was to co-author the Marburg Speech by German Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen, which criticized the violence and mob rule of the Nazis.

Erich Klausener is considered one of the first Catholic martyrs against Hitler, and is memorialized as such in a Berlin church, Maria Regina Martyrum.

Those who criticize the “silence” of the Catholic Church in Germany during the 1930s conveniently forget that this silence had an external cause: the martyrdom of the likes of Klausener, the Nazi’s systematic closing of the Catholic schools, the shutting down of the Catholic press, and the arrest and deportation of the Catholic clergy–after a long campaign by Joseph Goebbels against–Guess what?–clerical sexual misconduct.

Today in the US, we do not have Catholic Action as it was known from the 1920s through the early 1960s. The Knights of Columbus, under attack from several quarters, are sometimes likened to Catholic Action, but they have deeper roots in the 1800s as a fraternal organization.

While the anti-tax Tea Party movement has witnessed scuffles with today’s closest approximation of a North American shirt movement, the “purple ocean” of the SEIU, the Service Employees International Union, large-scale 1930s-style street-fighting has been rare during 2010 in the US.

Let’s hope that the US gets nowhere close to a true “shirt movement.” Unlike certain Latin American or European countries of the past or present, we have nothing close to a Catholic Action movement in the US to oppose the consolidation of political power by such mob action.

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved


Man: The Forgotten, by Frank J. Sheed

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

On my Recommended Catholic Reading list in the right hand column of this blog is a link for a book called Man: The Forgotten by Frank J. Sheed.

Frank J. Sheed; Photographer, Unknown

The title is a philosophic pun on the “forgotten man” theme of the 1930s. But Sheed’s book was a 1942 vade mecum — a take-along book for young members of the Allied military fighting against the Axis — published by the wartime National Catholic Community Services branch of the USO.

Man: the Forgotten is an amazing, short reflection on the difference between the Christian view of humanity vs. that of the Fascist (and other statist) movements. Thousands of young people carried this book to war as a “what we are fighting for” book. If you check my link for this book on the right of this S&SJ blog, you can connect to the Google book listing for Man: The Forgotten, now a rare item, although some libraries still have it. At the bottom of the Google Books listings, you can Provide Feedback, and ask Google to hunt down a book and publish it online.

I promised to publish a few quotes from Man: the Forgotten:

“The really practical man is the man who, when something needs to be done, refuses to lift a finger until he has done as much thinking as the problem requires.” (p. 7)

“We cannot settle this matter [the difference between Hitler’s view of man and ours] by reason or by argument. We can only hurl high explosive at each other. Whichever of us has some high explosive left at the end will win the war: but he will not have won the argument: there will not even have been an argument: an exchnage of prejudices is no more an argument than an exchange of high explosive. I have said that we might win the war and yet be unable to win the argument. But if–through not clearly understanding what man is–we cannot win the argument, then we cannot win the peace: for a social structure built upon a false view of man cannot endure.” (p. 16)

“But two such groups are more important than all others in the natural order, and provide a natural framework of life in which others must find their place. These two are the Family and the State.

Of these two the Family is primary. To the State belongs the job of seeing that human life is organized; to the Family belongs the job of seeing that human life continues.” (p. 28)

“Society is concerned with the earthly life of men: but in its arrangements for this life it must never forget what men are (for such forgetfulness could involve it in treating men what they are not, which would be folly); nor must it forget that this earthly life itself has a further goal (for that would mean treating this life as what it is not–treating a road as a destination–and that too would be folly).” (p. 30)

“If a man tries to kill me, I have a right to resist him; if a man tries to kill some other person, I have a duty to resist him. . . . Evil must be resisted or the world becomes chaos. But here comes the appallingly difficult Christian paradox. The worst of criminals, the most brutal of aggressors, remains, in Christ’s sense, our neighbor. We have to resist him, if he violates the laws of God to the harm of other people. We may even have to kill him–by judicial means if he is a private criminal, in battle if he is in the army of the aggressor. But we must not cease to love him, for all men are our neighbours.” (pp. 38-39)

Sheed contrasted four of Hitler’s views with those of the Christian:

Hitler (1): “I will create a violently active, intrepid, brutal youth before whom the world will shrink back.” (p. 45)

Sheed: “Just as our consideration of man’s nature shows that man wrongs himself is he acts brutally, so it shows that he is wronged if he is treated brutally. To exult in being the kind of man ‘before whom the world will shrink back’ is to show a total unawareness of the likeness of nature between the man who acts the brute and the man he wants to see shrinking before him. In fact, all men were made by God. How dare any man made by God maltreat some other man made by God? Yet this, too, is true: the damage the brute-man does to the victim is not as great as the damage he does to himself. For he has lied in his own soul.” (p. 46)

“(2) Hitler teaches that there is no moral authority higher than the Nation and no Moral Law except what the Nation wills for its own good.”

Sheed: “God has already made the man before Hitler can get at him; so Hitler can only do with him what can be done with that kind of being. He cannot make man. Though he can, of course, destroy him.” (pp. 47-48)

(3) “Hitler teaches that the individual has no rights whatever against the Nation.”

Sheed: “Society exists solely to help man to be more completely man.” (p. 48)

(4) “Hitler teaches that the German people is superior to all other peoples, and has a right to dominate them.”

Sheed: “To arrive at what man is, which has been our object all through, we simply considered man: not rich man, white man, civilized man, Aryan man or German man. All those adjectives are simply adjectives. None of them alters the meaning of the word ‘man.’ The nature of man and the rights of man are already established before we consider whatever may be added by being rich, white, civilized, Aryan or German. And whatever we have found to be true of the nature of man and the goal of man, and the values and the rights of man flowing from that nature and that goal, applies equally to the poor man, the Negro, the savage, the Jew, and all races whatsoever. Man is a worldwide pehonomen.” (p. 51)

Sheed then offered a series of tests “which may be applied to any human arrangement to see whether it is in accord with the nature of man, that is with reality.”

“(1) Does it acknowledge the moral law as something superior to itself, something by which it is willing to be tested, something which must not ever be infringed? . . . (p. 55)

(2) Does it treat Men as Men? That is, is it aware of the nature of Man and of rights rooted in that nature, which no one can infringe and which the whole effort of society is bent towards supplying? . . . (p. 56)

(3) Does it provide the fullest development for men as men? . . . Does it give men, as far as possible, the responsibility for handling their own lives, and thus the opportunity to develop responsibility and initiative–to develop, in fact, as men?
(p. 59)

Sheed postscripts his book with a short consideration of how the further study of man is necessary “for the construction of Social Systems.” (p. 62)

Sheed then ends with “another consideration” —

“The closest study of Man and of the Social Techniques is still not enough. There is no space here to discuss Religion; but a Society will not be well-run, however skilled its members, unless their relation to God is right. Just as we could not have existed without God, so we cannot accomplish anything in His universe without Him. If the world is to be remade, He must be the principal agent in its remaking; and we shall win Him to that by living in accordance with His will and by praying to Him. One prayer expresses it perfectly:

Send forth Thy Spirit and our hearts shall be created

And Thou shalt renew the face of the earth. (p. 62-63)

© Copyright 2010, Albert J. Schorsch, III
All Rights Reserved