Saturday, August 17, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Moscow Nationalist Site Details ‘Russian Roots of German National Socialism’

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 17 – There are few more sensitive and even explosive issues among Russians than the ways in which the totalitarianism of the Soviet system and that of the National Socialists in Germany resembled one another, but there may be one: the extent to which Russians were involved in the birth and rise of Hitler’s Nazi Party.

            That link, however, was discussed this week on a nationalist Moscow website, one whose authors find it less offensive than most Russians would and thus are prepared to provide more details about the ways in which these two 20th century totalitarianisms were linked and Russians contributed to Nazism (

            “When one begins to speak about national socialism,” the site says, “then the first thing to be mentioned is the NSDAP,” a mention that implies that its “motherland” is Germany.  No one can dispute that national socialism “flourished in Germany, but its roots lie all the same in the Russian land.”

            Not only does the name NSDAP recall the Russian Labor Popular Socialist Party which existed between 1905 and 1918, the site suggests, but many, including Ataman Dutov, propagandist Fyodor Kryukov, and Archbishop Andrey of Ufa who participated in the anti-Bolshevik White Movement put forward ideas later associated with Nazism.

             After the defeat of the Whites, some of their number, the Moscow site continues, settled in Munich where Max Erwin von Scheubner-Richter, a Balter German who became Hitler’s friend and confidant, organized a joint Russian-German “Rebirth” organization (in Russian “Vozrozhdeniye” and in German “Aufbau”).

            The group had as its goal, the Moscow site says, “the unification of Russian and German nationalists for the struggle with bolshevism. In fact, it became a union of Russia White emigres and the young NSDAP” given that at the time “German patriotic circles were often extremely suspicious of national socialism, viewing it as alien” to “the ‘German spirit.’”

            These German nationalists “were to a large extent right,” the Moscow site says. The Baltic Germans who had flooded the Bavarian capital remained “faithful to the Russian Empire” as did other White emigres. They found allies among those Germans who recognized the threat that communism presented.

            Among the Russian emigres who took part in Vozrozhdeniye/Aufbau were Fyodor Vinber, Vasily Biskupsky, Sergey Taboritsky, Petr Shabelsky-Bork, Nikolay Talberg, Arno Shikendants, and Konstantin Sakharov. Most prominent of all, of course, was the Baltic German and later Nazism’s racial theorist Alfred Rosenberg

            The ties between these Russian groups and the Nazis were very much in evidence at the time of the Beer Hall Putsch.  When it failed, Hitler hid for a week in Biskupsky’s apartment where he spoke with Vinberg, a notorious anti-Semite.  At that time, the Nazi leader also had contact with Andrey Shkuro, Petr Bermont-Avalov, and the entourage of Grand Duke Kirill.

            “Russian patriots saw in the young phenomenon of fascism and German national-socialism that universal political doctrine which fully expressed their own views and was capable of becoming the basis for the cleansing of the world of the communist plague,” the Moscow nationalist site says.

            It quotes a number of them, most prominently Ivan Ilin who has influenced numerous Russian nationalist figures in recent years and has been cited on occasion by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

            According to Ilin, “a reaction to bolshevism had to come. And it did. If it had not,” bolshevism would have swept across Europe. “What did Hitler do? He stopped the process of the bolshevization in German and in this way gave the greatest service to all of Europe. This process in Europe,” the Russian ideologist wrote in the 1930s, “is still not stopped … But [as a result of Hilter] it is not what it was earlier.”

            The Russian nationalist site adds that “even German anti-Semitism to a large degree had Russian roots.” The Germans published “the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” for example, and “much else says that [anti-Semitic] ideas originated more from the Russian entourage of the national socialists than from the latter themselves.” Had not von Scheubner-Richter died during the Beer Hall Putsch, that would have been more obvious, the site suggests, but “as Hitler said,”, he was “truly irreplaceable.”

            The Russian nationalist site concludes with a citation from Konrad Heyden, who wrote a book on Nazism that was translated into Russian in 1935.  According to the German historian, “Rosenberg’s plans, brought to him as a gift to national socialism was not a German foreign policy; it was the foreign policy of the Russian White Emigration.”

            “This policy in general becomes understandable only in connection with the cardinal importance it gives to the Jewish question.  It would be an exaggeration to describe the foreign policy of national socialism as tsarist; but in fact, its spiritual sources are to be found in tsarist Russia, in the Russia of the Black Hundreds, and in the ‘Union of the Russian People.’”

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