Interestingly, Dr. Edwin Rollett’s pamphlet contained, among other things, an historical documentation of how Pan-Germanic Socialism came into being and how it developed in the lands that was once part of the old Austro-Hungarian Empire. As we had concluded a year or two ago, Pan-Germanic Socialism originated in the former Austro-Hungarian Empire as a trade union movement associated with the Austrian-Hungarian Social-Democrats. Social-Democracy in the Austro-Hungarian Empire fractured, resulting in the Social-Democrats trying to develop their own versions of Socialism that were informed by a sense of National Identity. Dr. Rollett alluded to those developments when he mentioned the “Ultra-Czechs” and “Ultra-Germans” in connection to this and Pan-Germanic Socialism.
The central crux of Dr. Rollett’s rhetoric was that any Austrian advocacy of an Anschluss with the German Reich should be condemned as treasonous behavior. The German Reich during the early 20th century was unlike the Holy Roman Empire or the Confederation of the Rhine. Despite the dethronement of the House of Hohenzollern, the Weimar Republic and the Hitlerists, the German Reich was a “Prussian Nation.” If Austria joins the German Reich, the “Austrian Nation” becomes a protectorate of the “Prussian Nation.”
Conversely, the Pan-Germanic Socialist would argue that the German Reich was never meant to be Prussian or Austrian, but something entirely new. The new German Reich that they wished to create will encompass the entire German-speaking world as a single unified nation. Prussia and Austria are both part of the German-speaking world. Therefore, they should be included into the German Reich. By uniting the German-speaking world, a new Germanic National Identity would emerge to supersede the preceding Prussian and Austrian National Identities.
It is rather bizarre that the Dr. Rollett tried to frame Hitlerism as the logical conclusion of Pan-Germanic Socialism. I am convinced that he did that for propaganda purposes. Even so, I cannot help but notice how his rhetoric implies signs of an apparent disconnect between the aims of Pan-Germanic Socialism and those of Hitlerism. Dr. Rollett was somehow inclined to believe that Pan-Germanic Socialism was something that originated from the Prussian half of the German-speaking world and that Hitlerism has no origins in the German-speaking world. Going by his logic, Hitlerism appealed more to the sensibilities of people living in France or Great Britain.
Why do I say this? Dr. Rollett specifically stated that Hitlerism’s racialist political thinking has its origins in the works of Arthur de Gobineau. It is noteworthy that he referred to him as a “Frenchman” because de Gobineau came across to me as somebody whose racialism was a reaction to the French Revolution. There have been compelling arguments from historians that de Gobineau was the intellectual source behind the so-called “Aryan Race,” which was later reasserted in the works of Houston Stewart Chamberlain (who is also mentioned in this pamphlet). To be frank, the “Aryan Race” was a Reactionary concept that de Gobineau created to claim that the European nobility are racially superior to the European commoners. The alleged racial superiority of the European nobility is what guarantees their dominion over the peoples of Europe.
Moreover, Dr. Rollett claimed that Pan-Germanic Socialism was only successful in the German Reich because the NSDAP had borrowed the mass movement tactics of the Soviets and Italian Fascists. The Soviets succeeded in the 1917 Revolution against Czarist Russia, while Mussolini and the Fascists achieved power by gaining the favor of Italian Monarch. The “German Revolution of 1933” was merely the synthesis of the Soviet and Fascist approaches.
Is it possible to view Pan-Germanic Socialism and Hitlerism as two separate ideologies? Does the former find its future alignments with the Soviet Union and Fascist Italy? Does the latter have far more in common with the France and Great Britain? Is the German Reich merely the continuation of Prussia or the beginnings of a Germanic nation whose National Consciousness ought to be distinguished from everything associated with Hitlerism?
Based on my readings of what Dr. Rollett wrote in his pamphlet, I am convinced that these questions are still valid ones that have not been properly answered.
Leave a Reply