The Social and Racial Characteristics of …..
Prior to Operation Sealion – the German name given to their planned invasion of Britain – military intelligence reports had already been prepared in Berlin. The documents were headed as Militärgeographische Angaben über England. (“Military Geographic Information about England”). They comprehensively described, from an invading military logistic perspective, region by region, the physical terrain, the transport infra- structure, the power stations, the national electricity grid, the location of large “grist” (flour) mills (for hungry troops), and so on. The amount of detail and photographs, and maps was extraordinary. The intelligence material also had a brief overview of the social and racial characterises of the English. In a strikingly doctored, cut down and misleading version of Militärgeographische Angaben über England, published by the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 2007 as German Invasion Plans for the British Isles 1940 (see their cover above) there is a section on the Social and Racial Characteristics of the English. It is reproduced here with the caution that in translation (commissioned by the Bodleian Library), or in the editing, it too may have been shortened or doctored in some way. However, the observations and sentiments expressed about English social classes will be accurate. (For further points about the distortion of the Bodleian “German Invasion Plans” see Footnote 1. below)
“England is… a land of opposites in social respects. The impact of this, however, is softened by the widespread emergence of similarities in lifestyle; and the differences, because they are considered traditional, do not have such a divisive effect as they would in less conservative countries.
The not inconsiderable upper class consists of rich families as well as the old and new aristocracy, whose assets together make up the main part of the nation’s wealth. Next, with its own elaborate hierarchy, comes the extensive working middle classes, whose members enjoy sizeable incomes and considerable prosperity; in general they have a considerably more comfortable lifestyle but lower level of education than in Germany.
There is also a lower class, fairly substantial in size, of workers on poor to average pay and the long-term unemployed, who have a surprisingly low material and intellectual standard of living. They inhabit the “slums” (homes of misery) with their poor sanitary conditions, filth, and at times morbid forms of social existence (e.g. child poverty), in a state of poor health and in some cases long-term malnutrition. Some of these negative developments must be put down not to undeserved poverty but wholly or in part to insufficient competence in domestic matters, specifically among women, as well as to a lack of mutual encouragement.
The most striking features displayed by the more disagreeable sections of this class include a lack of personal ambition, indifference to the demands of the community and nation, and interests that stop with sport and frivolity, the sensations of city life.
In some cases one is dealing here with the residue of an urban social group that has already been making its presence felt for over a hundred years and whose numbers make up an alarming proportion of the population as a whole.
Racially, the population is a mixture of Mediterranean, Alpine, and Nordic elements, with the latter predominant.
The west of England, above all Wales, is home to remnants of an indigenous population whose roots go back to Celtic times and beyond. Unlike the bright English, they are dark and small in stature. Even though they have largely abandoned their language, they have still retained a reasonably strong awareness of the distinctive heritage and culture to which they belong. Radical political aspirations are confined to narrow circles and are of no practical significance.”
As the German National Socialist Adolf Hitler identified enemies and hindrances to his creation of a Thousand Year Reich, based on race, so too did InterNational Socialists Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Their “Utopia” was based not on race, but class, although race was significant for them, and many races were written off not only as not part of the Final Destiny, but as a hindrance to it. Here is some of what Engels had to say about the Irish in his The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1845 edition.
“The southern facile character of the Irishman, his crudity, which places him but little above the savage, his contempt for all humane enjoyments, in which his very crudeness makes him incapable of sharing, his filth and poverty, all favour drunkeness. . . . the pressure of this race has done much to depress wages and lower the working-class. . . . That poverty manifests itself in Ireland thus and not otherwise, is owing to the character of the people, and to their historical development….
….. The Irish are a people related in their whole character to the Latin nations, to the French, and especially to the Italians…. With the Irish, feeling and passion predominate; reason must bow before them. Their sensuous, excitable nature prevents reflection and quiet, persevering activity from reaching development — such a nation is utterly unfit for manufacture as now conducted. . . . Irish distress cannot be removed by any Act of Repeal. Such an Act would, however, at once lay bare the fact that the cause of Irish misery, which now seems to come from abroad is really to be found at home” (2)
Engels assessment, written in the early 1840s of some of the reasons for the condition of the Irish peasantry is identical to the reasons given by the National Socialist assessment, written in 1939/1940 for the causes of poverty amongst some of the English working class in the 1930s. Engels assessment was primarily based not on political or economic criteria, but on race.
Friedrich Engels regarded all people of a Celtic background (he mentioned, for instance, the inhabitants of the Scottish Highlands) as an impediment to the forward march of an ‘enlightened proletariat’, whose heightened political consciousness would act as the force that would eventually lead to a proletarian paradise. His friend and political colleague Karl Marx believed, dogmatically, that he had discerned it as a scientific based historical fact.
Engels regarded Slavs and Basques as retrogressive elements, too, standing in the way of “progress” and that they would have to be dealt with, or would “perish in the revolutionary process.” (His words.)
Ambivalent about the people of France as a positive revolutionary force, he nevertheless approved of their Government’s subjugation of the inferior Arabs in their north African colonies.
Negro and Jew were untermenschen. (sub-human). Despite his Jewish background Marx was also dismissive of Jews and contemptuous of negroes.
Compared with the German National Socialists of the 1920s and 30s, Marxist socialists, years earlier theoretically, and then practically, embraced the removal of those who got in their way of arriving at their Messianic goal. Lenin wrote in 1918. “Ruthless war on the kulaks! Death to them!” (3) The programme/pogram against Kulaks in the USSR started in 1918, but reached its appalling climax in the early 1930s with Stalin remaining faithful to the tenents of Lenin.
Hundreds of thousands were uprooted and sent to gulags (concentration work camps) with hundreds of thousands, or more, worked to death on projects such as the White Sea Canal. Others were executed. Like the improvised gallows of the Nazis public hangings in occupied Europe eighteen years later as a warning to those who resist, some kulaks were hung and left on village gallows for the local population to take note of what happened to those who were perceived to be class “traitors”.
A translation of what is known as Lenin’s 1918 “Hanging Order”
11-8-18 Send to Penza
To Comrades Kuraev,
Bosh, Minkin and
Comrades! The revolt by the five kulak volost’s must be suppressed without mercy. The interest of the entire revolution demands this, because we have now before us our final decisive battle “with the kulaks.” We need to set an example.
1) You need to hang (hang without fail, so that the public
sees) at least 100 notorious kulaks, the rich, and the
2) Publish their names.
3) Take away all of their grain.
4) Execute the hostages – in accordance with yesterday’s
This needs to be accomplished in such a way, that people for
hundreds of miles around will see, tremble, know and scream out: let’s choke and strangle those blood-sucking kulaks.
Telegraph us acknowledging receipt and execution of this.
P.S. Use your toughest people for this. (5)
Definitions by the Soviet Marxist-Leninists of what constituted a kulak shifted sloppily, like an unsecured cargo in a boat’s hold. It is reported that in many villages, neither villagers or kulaks knew which was which, partly because the criteria was not clear. Being a perceived enemy of the revolution was often enough, even when the individual had no land, for he might be harbouring “kulak” thoughts. Bearing in mind land ownership and cultivation in Ireland in the 1920s, as a comparison, a kulak, very roughly, was considered to own one or two cows and five or six acres of land. Estimates range widely on the numbers of kulaks who died. A conservative estimate for the 1930 to 1940 period puts the figure at three quarters of a million. Others have put it much higher.
The Marx and Engels emphasis on “backward races” largely disappeared with the ascendency in Russia of the Bolshevik Party in the worlds’ first “proletarian” revolution. Ideologically it had to disappear because it was in economically backward countries such as Imperial Russia – contradicting Marx’s “scientific” law – that became the centres of Red Revolution. The sickle, the emblem of backward, peasant agricultural communities, now became, along with the proletarian hammer, the symbol on the red flag of the United Socialist Soviet Republics. Peasants vastly outnumbered industrial workers in the U.S.S.R. The next great “triumph’ of Red Revolution was in an even more “backward” country: China. Writing about the Chinese in the 19th century Mark and Engels had written of the “Heredity stupidity of the Chinese” (Marx, 1853); “The overbearing prejudice, stupidity, learned ignorance and pedantic barbarism” (Engels, 1857) (6)
Class, always central to Marxist ideology became foremost, in the ideological somersaults that had to be performed to rationalise the circumstances in which the revolutionary Marxist-Leninist parties found themselves in. Besides the obvious class enemy of the aristocracy and large land-owners, in the USSR the small land owning Kulaks were identified as one of the immediate “reactionary” elements to be wiped out.
In the backward peasant agricultural societies that existed in Pol Pot’s Cambodia and Mao Tse-Tung’s China the twisted Marxist ideology identified “intellectuals” (brain workers) as a class enemy, and hundreds of thousands of what they deemed intellectuals were either worked to death, or executed.
Grotesquely, at the same time, revolutionary posters in both countries had images of classic intellectuals (brain workers) – Marx, Engels and Lenin – staring into the triumphant socialist future, whilst at the same time anyone wearing glasses and not reading Lenin or Chairman Mao was a potential suspect. As far is known neither Marx, Engels or Lenin ever picked up, or knew how to handle a hammer or a sickle. They were good with pens, though.
Unlike the Nazis who only started to plan for the Final Solution to exterminate their perceived race enemies, the Jews, in January, 1943, and kept very circumspect about their plans, and consequent activities, the nineteenth century writings of Engels clearly pointed the way, followed by Lenin proclaiming in 1918 death to the perceived class enemies of the United Socialist Soviet Republics in his Comrade Workers, Forward to the Last, Decisive Fight! (7)
The openness on how to deal with class enemies was characteristic of many who supported the Marxist revolutionary socialist government in the USSR in the 1920s and 1930s. The Irish playwright, reviewer, polemicist and socialist admirer of the U.S.S.R, George Bernard Shaw, writing a preface to a print edition of his play On The Rocks (1933) derided the principle of the sanctity of human life as an “absurdity to any good socialist” and called for extermination to be put ‘on a scientific basis’ and added that to kill off the acquisitive classes is ‘quite reasonable and very necessary’, since no punishment would ever cure them of their capitalist instincts. (8) He repeated a variation of his views on film in 1931, asking that a pain free way of killing people should be developed. In 1934 he called for the development of a “humane’ killing gas, writing in the British Broadcasting Corporation’s magazine The Listener of 7 February.
His English Fabian socialist colleague Beatrice Webb was aware of, and approved of the campaign against the kulaks. In 1932 she was uneasy about what was happening to the kulaks getting known in Britain. She reportedly had said that it had been very poor stage management to allow a party of British visitors in the Ukraine to see cattle-trucks full of starving “enemies of the state” at a local station. She thought it was “ridiculous to let you see them. The English are always so sentimental”. (Recalled conversation by her niece Konradin Hobhouse, in a letter to the Manchester Guardian, February 1958.)
Besides his support for the USSR, there was a point in the 1930s when Shaw simultaneously admired Hitler’s National Socialist Germany, and the Italian fascist regime of Benito Mussolini. Before the first world war Mussolini was a prominent and active revolutionary socialist, influenced by syndicalist ideas, and edited, amongst other publications, Lotta di Class (The Class Struggle), and later Avanti!, the newspaper of the Italian Socialist Party. He took its weekly circulation from 20,000 to 100,000. Impatient with ‘reformist’ social democracy, and rejecting the historical determinism of Marxist he developed his own brand of national socialism, partly inspired by the writing of the German Friedrich Nietzsche. Mussolini’s Italy of the 1920s and 1930s, which was not based on racial theories, promoted syndicates between employers and employees. Shaw’s support for the national socialist regimes, besides the USSR, was not so illogical. George Orwell was aware of, and commented on Shaw’s position, in a footnote in his James Burnham and the Managerial Revolution article, 1946. (9).
Orwell, Franz Borkenau (author of the Spanish Cockpit) and Robert Bruce Lockhart, who had known Lenin and Trotsky, were three who understood at the time – at a deeper level – the ideological inter-connection between the United Socialist Soviet Republics, the German National Socialists and Mussolini’s corporate state. Musing in his diary on 18 May, 1933, Robert Bruce Lockhart wrote: “… Russia does not hate fascism so much as the jelly-bellied democracy of Britain. She prefers the fascist system of government: (1) because the Fascist form of rule justifies and is the same as her own; (2) because the corporate state is more akin to her own ideal and in the event of a change goes over en bloc to Communism; and (3) she understands exactly where she is with Mussolini: trade and no propaganda nonsense. Result is Mussolini is never attacked in Soviet Press. Gorky once wrote something against Musso. It did not go in.“ (Diaries of Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart 1915 – 1938, edited by Kenneth Young.)
In a May, 1940, review of Franz Borkenau’s The Totalitarian Enemy, George Orwell wrote:
“….We cannot struggle against Fascism unless we are willing to understand it, a thing which both left-wingers and right-wingers have conspicuously failed to do – basically, of course, because they dared not.
Until the signing of the Russo-German Pact, the assumption made on both sides was that the Nazi régime was in no way revolutionary. National socialism was simply capitalism with the lid off, Hitler was a dummy with Thyssen pulling the strings – that was the official theory, proved in many a pamphlet by Mr John Strachey and tacitly accepted by The Times. Blimps and Left Book Club members alike swallowed it whole, both of them, so to speak, had a vested interest in ignoring the real facts. Quite naturally the propertied classes wanted to believe that Hitler would protect them against Bolshevism, and equally naturally the Socialists hated having to admit that the man who had slaughtered their comrades was a Socialist himself…… Then came the eye-opener of the Hitler-Stalin pact. Suddenly the scum of the earth and the blood-stained butcher of the workers (for so they had described each other) were marching arm in arm, their friendship ‘cemented in blood’, as Stalin cheerily expressed it. National Socialism is a form of Socialism, is emphatically revolutionary, does crush the property owner just as surely as it crushes the worker. The two régimes, having started from opposite ends, are rapidly evolving towards the same system – a form of oligarchical collectivism….”
(Volume 2, The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell: My Country Right or Left, 1940 – 1943, Secker & Warburg, 1968)
The 1939 Russo-German Pact, as Orwell describes it, was often also called the Non-Aggression Pact. That is, non-agression between the German National Socialists and the United Socialist Soviet Republics. Their first, and joint aggression, was their invasion of Poland in September, 1939.
The non-aggression pact held for three months short of two years. Whilst it did, the USSR attacked Finland in late November, 1939. The German Nazis attacked Denmark and Norway in April 1940, followed by attacking Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg and France in May 1940. The USSR attacked Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia two months later, in July 1940. Germany attacked Roumania October, 1940, and then Greece and Yugoslavia in April 1941.
And then, in Hitler’s biggest strategic military mistake (though not on National Socialist race ideology and geographical grounds) German forces attacked the USSR in June 1941.
Six months after the United Socialist Soviet Union had occupied their pre-agreed areas of Poland (agreed with the German National Socialists), the USSR systematically executed Polish “class enemies” in a short period, beginning on 3 April, 1940. The victims were executed in several Polish locations, including near the Katyn woods. 22,000 were shot in the back of the neck by a small team of NKVD executioners. The “pain free” way of killing the “acquisitive classes” that George Bernard Shaw asked for was reserved for the executioners. It was soon realised that the strong recoil on the Russian made pistols the NKVD executioners used caused hand and arm ache after 12 executions. They were therefore issued with German made Walther pistols, with a softer recoil. Vasilli Mikhailovich Blokhin, chief executioner for the NKVD, executed approximately 7,000 of the 20,000 who were killed. Besides Polish army officers – who were the largest group – Polish NCOs, university professors, physicians, lawyers, engineers, teachers, writers and journalists were also amongst those shot. The Polish film director Andrzej Wadja’s father was one of the executed. The bodies were buried in shallow mass graves in 1940, and were discovered and exhumed by the German National Socialists in 1943. In 1943 the USSR angrily denied they were responsible and broke off diplomatic relations with the exiled Polish Government in London, who had correctly accused them. The culprits, according to the USSR, were the German National Socialists. The USSR stuck to this story until 1990. And then blamed Stalin for the executions, and not Marxist theory.
“Accused peasants are kept under guard by local militia as they wait to be denounced at a mass rally as one of the ‘four elements’ – landlords, rich peasants, counter-revolutionaries, or ‘bad characters’ – as indicated by the sign.” – Red-Colour News Soldier: A Chinese Photographer’s Odyssey through the Cultural Revolution, Li Zhensheng, Phaidon, 2003. All photos copyright Li Zhensheng. (The above two photos are from one photo spanning two pages in the above publication. They have been reproduced as above because of the limitations of the photo scanner used in scanning the size of the original, and not for editorial reasons.)
And so it goes on…….
At the time of writing, in 2015 the totalitarian left continues to meet the totalitarian right. The new Greek Foreign Minister, Nikos Kotzias in the Syriza dominant Greek Government was a previous member of the Central Committee of the Greek Communist Party. In the 1980s he applauded the attempted suppression of the Solidarity movement by the Polish communist government. The Economist magazine is reported to have said that he “enjoys cordial relations with the religious-nationalist segment of the Russian elite”. Indeed he does.
Russian TV online news story, 1 February, 2015:
“EU must stop ‘feverish’ anti-Russian steps, think long-term relations – Greek FM: The EU should consider long-term relations with Moscow, instead of making feverish anti-Russian moves, new Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias said, adding that his country does not want to give up its historic ties with Moscow…”
Besides social democrats, democratic socialists and green groups comprising the original elements in what became the “Coalition of the Radical Left” (SYRIZA), Greek Maoists, Trotskyists and Communists were also part of the original ‘radical’ mix.
1. The Oxford Bodleian Library is a ‘respectable’ library of rare manuscripts. Academic fidelity has gone out the window with their publication of German Invasion Plans for the British Isles 1940. No such title in the original German was produced in Berlin, nor were the original documents covered with the imprint of the National Socialist swastika. The Bodleian Libary’s editorial thinking is that swastika’s sell. And of course, they’re right. But that has nothing to do with academic fidelity to the original documents.
The Bodleian Library on the back cover of their publication claim the material they have translated is from “One of the only surviving copies found by Allied Forces…”. How many is One? Two? Three? Ten? Twenty? More? At the time of writing a seller on Abebooks is selling an original German edition of the Berlin documents from 1940, and 1941. “Two important items, 1, Militargeograhische angaben uber England prepared 15 August 1940, numerous photographs of the southcoast and coloured maps and profiles, designed to provide information for German forces invading Britain 446pp., coloured map, additional information at rear c.50pp., large folding map. Modest blemishes and chip to rear cover and modest stain to front else vgc. Also 2. Militargeographische angaben uber England. London 2 Auflage August 1941 Text und Bildheft 18pp., 51pp., Seperately in case 5 coloured folding maps, as called for, all vgc with interesting stamp to cover “First Canadian Army Documents 23 October 1944″ indicating when it was captured. In summary two seperate items, historically interesting and rare, German text. Bookseller Inventory # 18674”
Similar original documents are also available from David Archers Maps.
In the anonymous Editor’s Note to the Bodleian ‘fake’ he or she writes “The text for this edition has been abridged and some of the headings have been altered”. Abridged by how much is not discussed. No reasoning is given for the editorial guidelines in changing England to Britain, for instance. In a forward it is acknowledged (blink and you’ll miss it) that this fake is drawn from ‘Portfolio A” but doesn’t mention, to put it in a meaningful context, how many other Portfolios there were. The Bodleian Library has produced other small bite sized Second World War books in the same series, keenly priced and aimed at the impulse buyer. Just to add to the ‘period feel’ they have produced them in the stressed British Economy Standards wartime look. And that is a fake too, as the British Economy Standards didn’t come into force until later in the war, and weren’t, of course, on the original source material.
2. The complete Condition of the Working Class in England is online from various sources. Telling extracts from it, such as Engels’ view of the Irish, are available in English, with a link to the original German at jonjayray.tripod.com/engels.html
3. Lenin’s “Ruthless war on the Kulaks, Death to Them” quote is from his Comrade Workers! Forward to the last, Decisive Fight
4. The authenticity of photographs can be questionable. When the advancing western Allied Forces in 1945 stumbled across the appalling scenes in slave work camps and concentration camps in Germany, photographers and cinematographers were advised to shoot establishing shots, besides close ups of corpses and dying inmates. The concern was that when seen by a viewing public some would not believe what they were seeing and would dismiss the photos and films as propaganda, unless there was a general establishing view first. The impact of the images reduced people to tears in cinemas, for instance, in Britain. Others, reasonably, covered their eyes, so horrific were the images. Others, who had believed that stories of Nazi atrocities were largely Allied propaganda, such as an active anarchist war-resister in wartime London, realised their mistake. (see You!, You! & You! Chapter 29 “Lets Face It – Who Cared About the Jews?”). Because the USSR was not over-run there is no irrefutable photographic evidence of the enormity and barbarity of the crimes committed by the Marxist-Leninist Bolsheviks. (The same reasons apply to what has happened in China, and is continuing to happen in North Korea). There are no photographs of cattle trucks loaded to bursting point with “kulaks” being sent to Siberian labour camps, for instance, with the dying strewn across the railway sidings. The very few photographs from the Ukraine, in the early 1920s and then the early 1930s, are sometimes difficult to authenticate.
Some of the photos from the Ukraine in the early 1930s cannot be refuted as they were taken by the Welsh journalist Gareth Jones. They usually show a dead malnourished clothed body, lying on the pavement, whilst pedestrians walk by. Photo evidence from the early 1920s is problematical, not only in the captions that over the years have been attached to them, but also in interpretation of what we are looking at. The photograph of naked corpses loaded on a cart, reproduced above, has appeared on the internet with either 1921 or 1922 or 1921-22. Photographs that document the Ukraine at this time were usually taken by Western Food Aid agencies. But what are we looking at? Those who have died from starvation? Why are they naked? Victor Kravchenko in his I Chose Freedom: The Personal and Political Life of A Soviet Official (1947) was enforcing policies against the Kulaks in the Ukraine in the early 1930s, and records how some peasants deliberately made themselves naked in their homes, in the mistaken belief that the NKVD would be too embarrassed by their nakedness to haul them out.
Another interpretation of the naked corspes is that they have been hung from gallows, on orders from Lenin. We just don’t know.
5. When the newly elected and first President of the new Russian Federation, Boris Yeltzin was elected in June 1991, he ordered in August that the files of the KGB be opened. It was from this time, for a while, that historians had relatively free access to study documents never seen before. Lenin’s ‘Hanging Order’ was one of those documents. There would have been many other damning documents from the pen of Lenin, but there had been several removals of politically sensitive documents over the years, usually following a power struggle within the Politburo. In other instances, some damning documents survived in the most strange of circumstances, such as the documentation discovered in a church in the Tambov area in 1982 detailing the orders of the suppression of the 1920 – 1921 organised peasant uprising a few hundred miles south east of Moscow in the Tambov area, where chemical warfare was used by the Marxist-Leninists. In 2004 the material was finally written up.
7. The full text: Comrade Workers! Forward to the last, Decisive Fight
8. see The Lost Literature of Socialism, George Watson, 2010 edition.
9. The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, Volume 4: In Front of your Nose. Secker and Warburg, 1968.