Mein Kampf – Volume I, Chapter II: Years of study and suffering in Vienna

When my mother died my fate had already been decided in one respect. During the last months of her illness I went to Vienna to take the entrance examination for the Academy of Fine Arts. Armed with a bulky packet of sketches, I felt convinced that I should pass the examination quite easily. At the REALSCHULE I was by far the best student in the

drawing class, and since that time I had made more than ordinary progress in the practice of drawing. Therefore I was pleased with myself and was proud and happy at the prospect of what I considered an assured success.

But there was one misgiving: It seemed to me that I was better qualified for drawing than for painting, especially in the various branches of architectural drawing. At the same time my interest in architecture was constantly increasing. And I advanced in this direction at a still more rapid pace after my first visit to Vienna, which lasted two weeks. I was not yet sixteen years old. I went to the Hof Museum to study the paintings in the art gallery there; but the building itself captured almost all my interest, from early morning until late at night I spent all my time visiting the various public buildings. And it was the buildings themselves that were always the principal attraction for me. For hours and hours I could stand in wonderment before the Opera and the Parliament. The whole Ring Strasse had a magic effect upon me, as if it were a scene from the Thousand-and-one-Nights.

And now I was here for the second time in this beautiful city, impatiently waiting to hear the result of the entrance examination but proudly confident that I had got through. I was so convinced of my success that when the news that I had failed to pass was brought to me it struck me like a bolt from the skies. Yet the fact was that I had failed. I went to see the Rector and asked him to explain the reasons why they refused to accept me as a student in the general School of Painting, which was part of the Academy. He said that the sketches which I had brought with me unquestionably showed that painting was not what I was suited for but that the same sketches gave clear indications of my aptitude for architectural designing. Therefore the School of Painting did not come into question for me but rather the School of Architecture, which also formed part of the Academy. At first it was impossible to understand how this could be so, seeing that I had never been to a school for architecture and had never received any instruction in architectural designing.

When I left the Hansen Palace, on the SCHILLER PLATZ, I was quite crestfallen. I felt out of sorts with myself for the first time in my young life. For what I had heard about my capabilities now appeared to me as a lightning flash which clearly revealed a dualism under which I had been suffering for a long time, but hitherto I could give no clear account whatsoever of the why and wherefore.

Within a few days I myself also knew that I ought to become an architect. But of course the way was very difficult. I was now forced bitterly to rue my former conduct in neglecting and despising certain subjects at the REALSCHULE. Before taking up the courses at the School of Architecture in the Academy it was necessary to attend the Technical Building School; but a necessary qualification for entrance into this school was a Leaving Certificate from the Middle School. And this I simply did not have. According to the human measure of things my dream of following an artistic calling seemed beyond the limits of possibility.

After the death of my mother I came to Vienna for the third time. This visit was destined to last several years. Since I had been there before I had recovered my old calm and resoluteness. The former self-assurance had come back, and I had my eyes steadily fixed on the goal. I would be an architect. Obstacles are placed across our path in life, not to be boggled at but to be surmounted. And I was fully determined to surmount these obstacles, having the picture of my father constantly before my mind, who had raised himself by his own efforts to the position of a civil servant though he was the poor son of a village shoemaker. I had a better start, and the possibilities of struggling through were better. At that time my lot in life seemed to me a harsh one; but to-day I see in it the wise workings of Providence. The Goddess of Fate clutched me in her hands and often threatened to smash me; but the will grew stronger as the obstacles increased, and finally the will triumphed.

I am thankful for that period of my life, because it hardened me and enabled me to be as tough as I now am. And I am even more thankful because I appreciate the fact that I was thus saved from the emptiness of a life of ease and that a mother’s darling was taken from tender arms and handed over to Adversity as to a new mother. Though I then rebelled against it as too hard a fate, I am grateful that I was thrown into a world of misery and poverty and thus came to know the people for whom I was afterwards to fight.

It was during this period that my eyes were opened to two perils, the names of which I scarcely knew hitherto and had no notion whatsoever of their terrible significance for the existence of the German people. These two perils were Marxism and Judaism.

For many people the name of Vienna signifies innocent jollity, a festive place for happy mortals. For me, alas, it is a living memory of the saddest period in my life. Even to-day the mention of that city arouses only gloomy thoughts in my mind. Five years of poverty in that Phaecian (Note 5) town. Five years in which, first as a casual labourer and then as a painter of little trifles, I had to earn my daily bread. And a meagre morsel indeed it was, not even sufficient to still the hunger which I constantly felt. That hunger was the faithful guardian which never left me but took part in everything I did. Every book that I bought meant renewed hunger, and every visit I paid to the opera meant the intrusion of that inalienabl companion during the following days. I was always struggling with my unsympathic friend. And yet during that time I learned more than I had ever learned before. Outside my architectural studies and rare visits to the opera, for which I had to deny myself food, I had no other pleasure in life except my books.

[Note 5. The Phaecians were a legendary people, mentioned in Homer’s Odyssey. They were supposed to live on some unknown island in the Eastern Mediterranean, sometimes suggested to be Corcyra, the modern Corfu. They loved good living more than work, and so the name Phaecian has come to be a synonym for parasite.]

I read a great deal then, and I pondered deeply over what I read. All the free time after work was devoted  exclusively to study. Thus within a few years I was able to acquire a stock of knowledge which I find useful
even to-day.

But more than that. During those years a view of life and a definite outlook on the world took shape in my mind. These became the granite basis of my conduct at that time. Since then I have extended that foundation only very little, and I have changed nothing in it.

On the contrary: I am firmly convinced to-day that, generally speaking, it is in youth that men lay the essential groundwork of their creative thought, wherever that creative thought exists. I make a distinction between the wisdom of age–which can only arise from the greater profundity and foresight that are based on the experiences of a long life–and the creative genius of youth, which blossoms out in thought and ideas with inexhaustible fertility, without being able to put these into practice immediately, because of their very superabundance. These
furnish the building materials and plans for the future; and it is from them that age takes the stones and builds the edifice, unless the so-called wisdom of the years may have smothered the creative genius of youth.

The life which I had hitherto led at home with my parents differed in little or nothing from that of all the others. I looked forward without apprehension to the morrow, and there was no such thing as a social problem to be faced. Those among whom I passed my young days belonged to the small bourgeois class. Therefore it was a world that had very little contact with the world of genuine manual labourers. For, though at first this may appear astonishing, the ditch which separates that class, which is by no means economically well-off; from the manual labouring class is often deeper than people think. The reason for this division, which we may almost call enmity, lies in the fear that dominates a social group which has only just risen above the level of the manual labourer–a fear lest it may fall back into its old condition or at least be classed with the labourers. Moreover, there is something repulsive in remembering the cultural indigence of that lower class and their rough manners with one
another; so that people who are only on the first rung of the social ladder find it unbearable to be forced to have any contact with the cultural level and standard of living out of which they have passed.

And so it happens that very often those who belong to what can really be called the upper classes find it much easier than do the upstarts to descend to and intermingle with their fellow beings on the lowest social level. For by the word upstart I mean everyone who has raised himself through his own efforts to a social level higher than that to which he formerly belonged. In the case of such a person the hard struggle through which he passes often destroys his normal human sympathy. His own fight for existence kills his sensibility for the misery of those who have been left behind.

From this point of view fate had been kind to me. Circumstances forced me to return to that world of poverty and economic insecurity above which my father had raised himself in his early days; and thus the blinkers of a narrow PETIT BOURGEOIS education were torn from my eyes. Now for the first time I learned to know men and I learned to distinguish between empty appearances or brutal manners and the real inner nature of the people who outwardly appeared thus.

At the beginning of the century Vienna had already taken rank among those cities where social conditions are iniquitous. Dazzling riches and loathsome destitution were intermingled in violent contrast. In the centre and in the Inner City one felt the pulse-beat of an Empire which had a population of fifty-two millions, with all the perilous charm of a State made up of multiple nationalities. The dazzling splendour of the Court acted like a magnet on the wealth and intelligence of the whole Empire. And this attraction was further strengthened by the dynastic policy of the Habsburg Monarchy in centralizing everything in itself and for itself.

This centralizing policy was necessary in order to hold together that hotchpotch of heterogeneous nationalities. But the result of it was an extraordinary concentration of higher officials in the city, which was at one and the same time the metropolis and imperial residence.

But Vienna was not merely the political and intellectual centre of the Danubian Monarchy; it was also the commercial centre. Besides the horde of military officers of high rank, State officials, artists and scientists, there was the still vaster horde of workers. Abject poverty confronted the wealth of the aristocracy and the merchant class face to face. Thousands of unemployed loitered in front of the palaces on the Ring Strasse; and below that VIA TRIUMPHALIS of the old Austria the homeless huddled together in the murk and filth of the canals.

There was hardly any other German city in which the social problem could be studied better than in Vienna. But here I must utter a warning against the illusion that this problem can be ‘studied’ from above downwards. The man who has never been in the clutches of that crushing viper can never know what its poison is. An attempt to study it in any other way will result only in superficial talk and sentimental delusions. Both are harmful. The first because it can never go to the root of the question, the second because it evades the question entirely. I do not know which is the more nefarious: to ignore social distress, as do the majority of those who have been favoured by fortune and those who have risen in the social scale through their own routine labour, or the equally supercilious and often tactless but always genteel condescension displayed by people who make a fad of being charitable and who plume themselves on ‘sympathising with the people.’ Of course such persons sin more than they can imagine from lack of instinctive understanding. And thus they are astonished to find that the
‘social conscience’ on which they pride themselves never produces any results, but often causes their good intentions to be resented; and then they talk of the ingratitude of the people.

Such persons are slow to learn that here there is no place for merely social activities and that there can be no expectation of gratitude; for in this connection there is no question at all of distributing favours but essentially a matter of retributive justice. I was protected against the temptation to study the social question in the way just mentioned, for the simple reason that I was forced to live in the midst of poverty-stricken people. Therefore it was not a question of studying the problem objectively, but rather one of testing its effects on myself. Though the rabbit came through the ordeal of the experiment, this must not be taken as evidence of its harmlessness.

When I try to-day to recall the succession of impressions received during that time I find that I can do so only with approximate completeness. Here I shall describe only the more essential impressions and those which personally affected me and often staggered me. And I shall mention the few lessons I then learned from this experience.

At that time it was for the most part not very difficult to find work, because I had to seek work not as a skilled tradesman but as a so-called xtra-hand ready to take any job that turned up by chance, just for the sake of earning my daily bread.

Thus I found myself in the same situation as all those emigrants who shake the dust of Europe from their feet, with the cast-iron determination to lay the foundations of a new existence in the New World and acquire for  themselves a new home. Liberated from all the paralysing prejudices of class and calling, environment and tradition, they enter any service that opens its doors to them, accepting any work that comes their way, filled more and more with the idea that honest work never disgraced anybody, no matter what kind it may be. And so I was resolved to set both feet in what was for me a new world and push forward on my own road.

I soon found out that there was some kind of work always to be got, but I also learned that it could just as quickly and easily be lost. The uncertainty of being able to earn a regular daily livelihood soon appeared to me as the gloomiest feature in this new life that I had entered.

Although the skilled worker was not so frequently thrown idle on the streets as the unskilled worker, yet the former was by no means protected against the same fate; because though he may not have to face hunger as a result of unemployment due to the lack of demand in the labour market, the lock-out and the strike deprived the skilled worker of the chance to earn his bread. Here the element of uncertainty in steadily earning one’s daily bread was the bitterest feature of the whole social-economic system itself.

The country lad who migrates to the big city feels attracted by what has been described as easy work–which it may be in reality–and few working hours. He is especially entranced by the magic glimmer spread over the big cities. Accustomed in the country to earn a steady wage, he has been taught not to quit his former post until a new one is at least in sight. As there is a great scarcity of agricultural labour, the probability of long  unemployment in the country has been very small. It is a mistake to presume that the lad who leaves the countryside for the town is not made of such sound material as those who remain at home to work on the land.

On the contrary, experience shows that it is the more healthy and more vigorous that emigrate, and not the reverse. Among these emigrants I include not merely those who emigrate to America, but also the servant boy in the country who decides to leave his native village and migrate to the big city where he will be a stranger. He is ready to take the risk of an uncertain fate. In most cases he comes to town with a little money in his pocket and for the first few days he is not discouraged if he should not have the good fortune to find work. But if he finds a job and then loses it in a little while, the case is much worse. To find work anew, especially in winter, is often difficult and indeed sometimes impossible. For the first few weeks life is still bearable He receives his out-of-work money from his trade union and is thus enabled to carry on. But when the last of his own money is gone and his trade union ceases to pay out because of the prolonged unemployment, then comes the real distress.

He now loiters about and is hungry. Often he pawns or sells the last of his belongings. His clothes begin to get shabby and with the increasing poverty of his outward appearance he descends to a lower social level and mixes up with a class of human beings through whom his mind is now poisoned, in addition to his physical misery. Then he has nowhere to sleep and if that happens in winter, which is very often the case, he is in dire distress. Finally he gets work. But the old story repeats itself. A second time the same thing happens. Then a third time; and now it is probably much worse. Little by little he becomes indifferent to this everlasting insecurity. Finally he grows used to the repetition. Thus even a man who is normally of industrious habits grows careless in his whole attitude towards life and gradually becomes an instrument in the hands of unscrupulous people who exploit him for the sake of their own ignoble aims. He has been so often thrown out of employment through no fault of his own that he is now more or less indifferent whether the strike in which he takes part be for the purpose of securing his economic rights or be aimed at the destruction of the State, the whole social order and even civilization itself. Though the idea of going on strike may not be to his natural liking, yet he joins in it out of sheer indifference.

I saw this process exemplified before my eyes in thousands of cases. And the longer I observed it the greater became my dislike for that mammoth city which greedily attracts men to its bosom, in order to break them mercilessly in the end. When they came they still felt themselves in communion with their own people at home; if they remained that tie was broken.

I was thrown about so much in the life of the metropolis that Iexperienced the workings of this fate in my own person and felt the effects of it in my own soul. One thing stood out clearly before my eyes: It was the sudden changes from work to idleness and vice versa; so that the constant fluctuations thus caused by earnings and expenditure finally destroyed the ‘sense of thrift for many people and also the habit of regulating expenditure in an intelligent way. The body appeared to grow accustomed to the vicissitudes of food and hunger, eating heartily in good times and going hungry in bad. Indeed hunger shatters all plans for rationing expenditure on a regular scale in better times when employment is again found. The reason for this is that the deprivations which the unemployed worker has to endure must be compensated for psychologically by a persistent mental mirage in which he imagines himself eating heartily once again. And this dream develops into such a longing that it turns into a morbid impulse to cast off all self-restraint when work and wages turn up again. Therefore the moment work is found anew he forgets to regulate the expenditure of his earnings but spends them to the full without thinking of to-morrow. This leads to confusion in the little weekly housekeeping budget, because the expenditure is not rationally planned. When the phenomenon which I have mentioned first happens, the earnings will last perhaps for five days instead of seven; on subsequent occasions they will last only for three days; as the habit recurs, the earnings will last scarcely for a day; and finally they will disappear in one night of feasting.

Often there are wife and children at home. And in many cases it happens that these become infected by such a way of living, especially if the husband is good to them and wants to do the best he can for them and loves them in his own way and according to his own lights. Then the week’s earnings are spent in common at home within two or three days. The family eat and drink together as long as the money lasts and at the end of the week they hunger together. Then the wife wanders about furtively in the neighbourhood, borrows a little, and runs up small debts with the shopkeepers in an effort to pull through the lean days towards the end of the week. They sit down together to the midday meal with only meagre fare on the table, and often even nothing to eat. They wait for the coming payday, talking of it and making plans; and while they are thus hungry they dream of the plenty that is to come. And so the little children become acquainted with misery in their early years.

But the evil culminates when the husband goes his own way from the beginning of the week and the wife protests, simply out of love for the children. Then there are quarrels and bad feeling and the husband takes to drink according as he becomes estranged from his wife. He now becomes drunk every Saturday. Fighting for her own existence and that of the children, the wife has to hound him along the road from the factory to the tavern in order to get a few shillings from him on payday. Then when he finally comes home, maybe on the Sunday or the Monday, having parted with his last shillings and pence, pitiable scenes follow, scenes that cry out for God’s mercy.

I have had actual experience of all this in hundreds of cases. At first I was disgusted and indignant; but later on I came to recognize the whole tragedy of their misfortune and to understand the profound causes of it. They were the unhappy victims of evil circumstances.

Housing conditions were very bad at that time. The Vienna manual labourers lived in surroundings of appalling misery. I shudder even to-day when I think of the woeful dens in which people dwelt, the night shelters and the slums, and all the tenebrous spectacles of ordure, loathsome filth and wickedness.

What will happen one day when hordes of emancipated slaves come forth from these dens of misery to swoop down on their unsuspecting fellow men? For this other world does not think about such a possibility. They have allowed these things to go on without caring and even without suspecting–in their total lack of instinctive understanding–that sooner or later destiny will take its vengeance unless it will have been appeased in time.

To-day I fervidly thank Providence for having sent me to such a school. There I could not refuse to take an interest in matters that did not please me. This school soon taught me a profound lesson.

In order not to despair completely of the people among whom I then lived I had to set on one side the outward appearances of their lives and on the other the reasons why they had developed in that way. Then I could hear everything without discouragement; for those who emerged from all this misfortune and misery, from this filth and outward degradation, were not human beings as such but rather lamentable results of lamentable laws. In my own life similar hardships prevented me from giving way to a pitying sentimentality at the sight of these degraded
products which had finally resulted from the pressure of circumstances. No, the sentimental attitude would be the wrong one to adopt.

Even in those days I already saw that there was a two-fold method by which alone it would be possible to bring about an amelioration of these conditions. This method is: first, to create better fundamental conditions of social development by establishing a profound feeling for social responsibilities among the public; second, to combine this feeling for social responsibilities with a ruthless determination to prune away all excrescences which are incapable of being improved.

Just as Nature concentrates its greatest attention, not to the maintenance of what already exists but on the selective breeding of offspring in order to carry on the species, so in human life also it is less a matter of artificially improving the existing generation–which, owing to human characteristics, is impossible in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred–and more a matter of securing from the very start a better road for future development.

During my struggle for existence in Vienna I perceived very clearly that the aim of all social activity must never be merely charitable relief, which is ridiculous and useless, but it must rather be a means to find a way of eliminating the fundamental deficiencies in our economic and cultural life–deficiencies which necessarily bring about the degradation of the individual or at least lead him towards such degradation. The difficulty of employing every means, even the most drastic, to eradicate the hostility prevailing among the working classes towards the State is largely due to an attitude of uncertainty in deciding upon the inner motives and causes of this contemporary phenomenon. The grounds of this uncertainty are to be found exclusively in the sense of guilt which each individual feels for having permitted this tragedy of degradation. For that feeling paralyses every effort at making a serious and firm decision to act. And thus because the people whom it concerns are vacillating they are timid and half-hearted in putting into effect even the measures which are indispensable for self preservation. When the individual is no longer burdened with his own consciousness of blame in this regard, then and only then will he have that inner tranquillity and outer force to cut off drastically and ruthlessly all the parasite growth and root out the weeds.

But because the Austrian State had almost no sense of social rights or social legislation its inability to abolish those evil excrescences was manifest.

I do not know what it was that appalled me most at that time: the economic misery of those who were then my companions, their crude customs and morals, or the low level of their intellectual culture.

How often our bourgeoisie rises up in moral indignation on hearing from the mouth of some pitiable tramp that it is all the same to him whether he be a German or not and that he will find himself at home wherever he can get enough to keep body and soul together. They protest sternly against such a lack of ‘national pride’ and strongly express their horror at such sentiments.

But how many people really ask themselves why it is that their own sentiments are better? How many of them understand that their natural pride in being members of so favoured a nation arises from the innumerable succession of instances they have encountered which remind them of the greatness of the Fatherland and the Nation in all spheres of artistic and cultural life? How many of them realize that pride in the Fatherland is largely dependent on knowledge of its greatness in all those spheres? Do our bourgeois circles ever think what a ridiculously meagre share the people have in that knowledge which is a necessary prerequisite for the feeling of pride in one’s fatherland?

It cannot be objected here that in other countries similar conditions exist and that nevertheless the working classes in those countries have remained patriotic. Even if that were so, it would be no excuse for our negligent attitude. But it is not so. What we call chauvinistic education–in the case of the French people, for example–is only the excessive exaltation of the greatness of France in all spheres of culture or, as the French say, civilization. The French boy is not educated on purely objective principles. Wherever the importance of the political and cultural greatness of his country is concerned he is taught in the most subjective way that one can imagine.

This education will always have to be confined to general ideas in a large perspective and these ought to be deeply engraven, by constant repetition if necessary, on the memories and feelings of the people.

In our case, however, we are not merely guilty of negative sins of omission but also of positively perverting the little which some individuals had the luck to learn at school. The rats that poison our body-politic gnaw from the hearts and memories of the broad masses even that little which distress and misery have left.

Let the reader try to picture the following:

There is a lodging in a cellar and this lodging consists of two damp rooms. In these rooms a workman and his family live–seven people in all. Let us assume that one of the children is a boy of three years. That is the age at which children first become conscious of the impressions which they receive. In the case of highly gifted people
traces of the impressions received in those early years last in the memory up to an advanced age. Now the narrowness and congestion of those living quarters do not conduce to pleasant inter-relations. Thus quarrels and fits of mutual anger arise.

These people can hardly be said to live with one another, but rather down on top of one another. The small misunderstandings which disappear of themselves in a home where there is enough space for people to go apart from one another for a while, here become the source of chronic disputes. As far as the children are concerned the situation is tolerable from this point of view. In such conditions they are constantly quarrelling with one another, but the quarrels are quickly and entirely forgotten. But when the parents fall out with one another these daily bickerings often descend to rudeness such as cannot be adequately imagined. The results of such experiences must become apparent later on in the children. One must have practical experience of such a MILIEU so as to be able to picture the state of affairs that arises from these mutual recriminations when the father physically assaults the mother and maltreats her in a fit of drunken rage. At the age of six the child can
no longer ignore those sordid details which even an adult would find revolting. Infected with moral poison, bodily undernourished, and the poor little head filled with vermin, the young ‘citizen’ goes to the primary school. With difficulty he barely learns to read and write.

There is no possibility of learning any lessons at home. Quite the contrary. The father and mother themselves talk before the children in the most disparaging way about the teacher and the school and they are much more inclined to insult the teachers than to put their offspring across the knee and knock sound reason into him. What the little fellow hears at home does not tend to increase respect for his human surroundings. Here nothing good is said of human nature as a whole and every institution, from the school to the government, is reviled. Whether religion and morals are concerned or the State and the social order, it is all the same; they are all scoffed at. When the young lad leaves school, at the age of fourteen, it would be difficult to say what are the most striking features of his character, incredible ignorance in so far as real knowledge is concerned or cynical impudence combined with an attitude towards morality which is really startling at so young an age.

What station in life can such a person fill, to whom nothing is sacred, who has never experienced anything noble but, on the contrary, has been intimately acquainted with the lowest kind of human existence? This child of three has got into the habit of reviling all authority by the time he is fifteen. He has been acquainted only with moral filth and vileness, everything being excluded that might stimulate his thought towards higher things. And now this young specimen of humanity enters the school of life.

He leads the same kind of life which was exemplified for him by his father during his childhood. He loiters about and comes home at all hours. He now even black-guards that broken-hearted being who gave him birth. He curses God and the world and finally ends up in a House of Correction for young people. There he gets the final polish.

And his bourgeois contemporaries are astonished at the lack of ‘patriotic enthusiasm’ which this young ‘citizen’ manifests.

Day after day the bourgeois world are witnesses to the phenomenon of spreading poison among the people through the instrumentality of the theatre and the cinema, gutter journalism and obscene books; and yet
they are astonished at the deplorable ‘moral standards’ and ‘national indifference’ of the masses. As if the cinema bilge and the gutter press and suchlike could inculcate knowledge of the greatness of one’s country, apart entirely from the earlier education of the individual.

I then came to understand, quickly and thoroughly, what I had never been aware of before. It was the following:

The question of ‘nationalizing’ a people is first and foremost one of establishing healthy social conditions which will furnish the grounds that are necessary for the education of the individual. For only when family upbringing and school education have inculcated in the individual a knowledge of the cultural and economic and, above all, the political greatness of his own country–then, and then only, will it be possible for him to feel proud of being a citizen of such a country. I can fight only for something that I love. I can love only what I respect. And in order to respect a thing I must at least have some knowledge of it.

As soon as my interest in social questions was once awakened I began to study them in a fundamental way. A new and hitherto unknown world was thus revealed to me.

In the years 1909-10 I had so far improved my, position that I no longer had to earn my daily bread as a manual labourer. I was now working independently as draughtsman, and painter in water colours. This MÉTIER was a poor one indeed as far as earnings were concerned; for these were only sufficient to meet the bare exigencies of life. Yet it had an interest for me in view of the profession to which I aspired. Moreover, when I came home in the evenings I was now no longer dead-tired as formerly, when I used to be unable to look into a book without falling asleep almost immediately. My present occupation therefore was in line with the profession I aimed at for the future. Moreover, I was master of my own time and could distribute my working-hours now better than formerly. I painted in order to earn my bread, and I studied because I liked it.

Thus I was able to acquire that theoretical knowledge of the social problem which was a necessary complement to what I was learning through actual experience. I studied all the books which I could find that dealt with this question and I thought deeply on what I read. I think that the MILIEU in which I then lived considered me an eccentric person.

Besides my interest in the social question I naturally devoted myself with enthusiasm to the study of architecture. Side by side with music, I considered it queen of the arts. To study it was for me not work but pleasure. I could read or draw until the small hours of the morning without ever getting tired. And I became more and more confident that my dream of a brilliant future would become true, even though I should have to wait long years for its fulfilment. I was firmly convinced that one day I should make a name for myself as an architect.

The fact that, side by side with my professional studies, I took the greatest interest in everything that had to do with politics did not seem to me to signify anything of great importance. On the contrary: I looked upon this practical interest in politics merely as part of an elementary obligation that devolves on every thinking man. Those who have no understanding of the political world around them have no right to criticize or complain. On political questions therefore I still continued to read and study a great deal. But reading had probably a different significance for me from that which it has for the average run of our so-called ‘intellectuals’.

I know people who read interminably, book after book, from page to page, and yet I should not call them ‘well-read people’. Of course they ‘know’ an immense amount; but their brain seems incapable of assorting and classifying the material which they have gathered from books. They have not the faculty of distinguishing between what is useful and useless in a book; so that they may retain the former in their minds and if possible skip over the latter while reading it, if that be not possible, then–when once read–throw it overboard as useless ballast. Reading is not an end in itself, but a means to an end. Its chief purpose is to help towards filling in the framework which is made up of the talents and capabilities that each individual possesses. Thus each one procures for himself the implements and materials necessary for the fulfilment of his calling in life, no matter whether this be the elementary task of earning one’s daily bread or a calling that responds to higher human aspirations.

Such is the first purpose of reading. And the second purpose is to give a general knowledge of the world in which we live. In both cases, however, the material which one has acquired through reading must not be stored up in the memory on a plan that corresponds to the successive chapters of the book; but each little piece of knowledge thus gained must be treated as if it were a little stone to be inserted into a mosaic, so that it finds its proper place among all the other pieces and particles that help to form a general world-picture in the brain of the reader. Otherwise only a confused jumble of chaotic notions will result from all this reading. That jumble is not merely useless, but it also tends to make the unfortunate possessor of it conceited. For he seriously considers himself a well-educated person and thinks that he understands something of life. He believes that he has acquired knowledge, whereas the truth is that every increase in such ‘knowledge’ draws him more and more away from real life, until he finally ends up in some sanatorium or takes to politics and becomes a parliamentary deputy.

Such a person never succeeds in turning his knowledge to practical account when the opportune moment arrives; for his mental equipment is not ordered with a view to meeting the demands of everyday life. His knowledge is stored in his brain as a literal transcript of the books he has read and the order of succession in which he has read them. And if Fate should one day call upon him to use some of his book-knowledge for certain practical ends in life that very call will have to name the book and give the number of the page; for the poor noodle himself would never be able to find the spot where he gathered the information now called for. But if the page is not mentioned at the critical moment the widely-read intellectual will find himself in a state of hopeless embarrassment. In a high state of agitation he searches for analogous cases and it is almost a dead certainty that he will finally deliver the wrong prescription.

If that is not a correct description, then how can we explain the political achievements of our Parliamentary heroes who hold the highest positions in the government of the country? Otherwise we should have to attribute the doings of such political leaders, not to pathological conditions but simply to malice and chicanery.

On the other hand, one who has cultivated the art of reading will instantly discern, in a book or journal or pamphlet, what ought to be remembered because it meets one’s personal needs or is of value as general knowledge. What he thus learns is incorporated in his mental analogue of this or that problem or thing, further correcting the mental picture or enlarging it so that it becomes more exact and precise. Should some practical problem suddenly demand examination or solution, memory will immediately select the opportune information from the mass that has been acquired through years of reading and will place this information at the service of one’s powers of judgment so as to get a new and clearer view of the problem in question or produce a definitive solution.

Only thus can reading have any meaning or be worth while.

The speaker, for example, who has not the sources of information ready to hand which are necessary to a proper treatment of his subject is unable to defend his opinions against an opponent, even though those opinions be perfectly sound and true. In every discussion his memory will leave him shamefully in the lurch. He cannot summon up arguments to support his statements or to refute his opponent. So long as the speaker has only to defend himself on his own personal account, the situation is not serious; but the evil comes when Chance places at the head of public affairs such a soi-disant know-it-all, who in reality knows nothing.

From early youth I endeavoured to read books in the right way and I was fortunate in having a good memory and intelligence to assist me. From that point of view my sojourn in Vienna was particularly useful and profitable. My experiences of everyday life there were a constant stimulus to study the most diverse problems from new angles. Inasmuch as I was in a position to put theory to the test of reality and reality to the test of theory, I was safe from the danger of pedantic theorizing on the one hand and, on the other, from being too impressed by the superficial aspects of reality.

The experience of everyday life at that time determined me to make a fundamental theoretical study of two most important questions outside of the social question.

It is impossible to say when I might have started to make a thorough study of the doctrine and characteristics of Marxism were it not for the fact that I then literally ran head foremost into the problem.

What I knew of Social Democracy in my youth was precious little and that little was for the most part wrong. The fact that it led the struggle for universal suffrage and the secret ballot gave me an inner satisfaction; for my reason then told me that this would weaken the Habsburg regime, which I so thoroughly detested. I was convinced that even if it should sacrifice the German element the Danubian State could not continue to exist. Even at the price of a long and slow Slaviz-ation of the Austrian Germans the State would secure no guarantee of a really durable Empire; because it was very questionable if and how far the Slavs possessed the necessary capacity for constructive politics. Therefore I welcomed every movement that might lead towards the final disruption of that impossible State which had decreed that it would
stamp out the German character in ten millions of people. The more this babel of tongues wrought discord and disruption, even in the Parliament, the nearer the hour approached for the dissolution of this Babylonian Empire. That would mean the liberation of my German Austrian people, and only then would it become possible for them to be re-united to the Motherland.

Accordingly I had no feelings of antipathy towards the actual policy of
the Social Democrats. That its avowed purpose was to raise the level of
the working classes–which in my ignorance I then foolishly
believed–was a further reason why I should speak in favour of Social
Democracy rather than against it. But the features that contributed most
to estrange me from the Social Democratic movement was its hostile
attitude towards the struggle for the conservation of Germanism in
Austria, its lamentable cocotting with the Slav ‘comrades’, who received
these approaches favourably as long as any practical advantages were
forthcoming but otherwise maintained a haughty reserve, thus giving the
importunate mendicants the sort of answer their behaviour deserved.

And so at the age of seventeen the word ‘Marxism’ was very little known
to me, while I looked on ‘Social Democracy’ and ‘Socialism’ as
synonymous expressions. It was only as the result of a sudden blow from
the rough hand of Fate that my eyes were opened to the nature of this
unparalleled system for duping the public.

Hitherto my acquaintance with the Social Democratic Party was only that
of a mere spectator at some of their mass meetings. I had not the
slightest idea of the social-democratic teaching or the mentality of its
partisans. All of a sudden I was brought face to face with the products
of their teaching and what they called their WELTANSCHAUUNG. In this
way a few months sufficed for me to learn something which under other
circumstances might have necessitated decades of study–namely, that
under the cloak of social virtue and love of one’s neighbour a veritable
pestilence was spreading abroad and that if this pestilence be not
stamped out of the world without delay it may eventually succeed in
exterminating the human race.

I first came into contact with the Social Democrats while working in the
building trade.

From the very time that I started work the situation was not very
pleasant for me. My clothes were still rather decent. I was careful of
my speech and I was reserved in manner. I was so occupied with thinking
of my own present lot and future possibilities that I did not take much
of an interest in my immediate surroundings. I had sought work so that I
shouldn’t starve and at the same time so as to be able to make further
headway with my studies, though this headway might be slow. Possibly I
should not have bothered to be interested in my companions were it not
that on the third or fourth day an event occurred which forced me to
take a definite stand. I was ordered to join the trade union.

At that time I knew nothing about the trades unions. I had had no
opportunity of forming an opinion on their utility or inutility, as the
case might be. But when I was told that I must join the union I refused.
The grounds which I gave for my refusal were simply that I knew nothing
about the matter and that anyhow I would not allow myself to be forced
into anything. Probably the former reason saved me from being thrown out
right away. They probably thought that within a few days I might be
converted’ and become more docile. But if they thought that they were
profoundly mistaken. After two weeks I found it utterly impossible for
me to take such a step, even if I had been willing to take it at first.
During those fourteen days I came to know my fellow workmen better, and
no power in the world could have moved me to join an organization whose
representatives had meanwhile shown themselves in a light which I found
so unfavourable.

During the first days my resentment was aroused.

At midday some of my fellow workers used to adjourn to the nearest
tavern, while the others remained on the building premises and there ate
their midday meal, which in most cases was a very scanty one. These were
married men. Their wives brought them the midday soup in dilapidated
vessels. Towards the end of the week there was a gradual increase in the
number of those who remained to eat their midday meal on the building
premises. I understood the reason for this afterwards. They now talked
politics.

I drank my bottle of milk and ate my morsel of bread somewhere on the
outskirts, while I circumspectly studied my environment or else fell to
meditating on my own harsh lot. Yet I heard more than enough. And I
often thought that some of what they said was meant for my ears, in the
hope of bringing me to a decision. But all that I heard had the effect
of arousing the strongest antagonism in me. Everything was
disparaged–the nation, because it was held to be an invention of the
‘capitalist’ class (how often I had to listen to that phrase!); the
Fatherland, because it was held to be an instrument in the hands of the
bourgeoisie for the exploitation of’ the working masses; the authority
of the law, because that was a means of holding down the proletariat;
religion, as a means of doping the people, so as to exploit them
afterwards; morality, as a badge of stupid and sheepish docility. There
was nothing that they did not drag in the mud.

At first I remained silent; but that could not last very long. Then I
began to take part in the discussion and to reply to their statements. I
had to recognize, however, that this was bound to be entirely fruitless,
as long as I did not have at least a certain amount of definite
information about the questions that were discussed. So I decided to
consult the source from which my interlocutors claimed to have drawn
their so-called wisdom. I devoured book after book, pamphlet after
pamphlet.

Meanwhile, we argued with one another on the building premises. From day
to day I was becoming better informed than my companions in the subjects
on which they claimed to be experts. Then a day came when the more
redoubtable of my adversaries resorted to the most effective weapon they
had to replace the force of reason. This was intimidation and physical
force. Some of the leaders among my adversaries ordered me to leave the
building or else get flung down from the scaffolding. As I was quite
alone I could not put up any physical resistance; so I chose the first
alternative and departed, richer however by an experience.

I went away full of disgust; but at the same time so deeply moved that
it was quite impossible for me to turn my back on the whole situation
and think no more about it. When my anger began to calm down the spirit
of obstinacy got the upper hand and I decided that at all costs I would
get back to work again in the building trade. This decision became all
the stronger a few weeks later, when my little savings had entirely run
out and hunger clutched me once again in its merciless arms. No
alternative was left to me. I got work again and had to leave it for the
same reasons as before.

Then I asked myself: Are these men worthy of belonging to a great
people? The question was profoundly disturbing; for if the answer were
‘Yes’, then the struggle to defend one’s nationality is no longer worth
all the trouble and sacrifice we demand of our best elements if it be in
the interests of such a rabble. On the other hand, if the answer had to
be ‘No–these men are not worthy of the nation’, then our nation is poor
indeed in men. During those days of mental anguish and deep meditation I
saw before my mind the ever-increasing and menacing army of people who
could no longer be reckoned as belonging to their own nation.

It was with quite a different feeling, some days later, that I gazed on
the interminable ranks, four abreast, of Viennese workmen parading at a
mass demonstration. I stood dumbfounded for almost two hours, watching
that enormous human dragon which slowly uncoiled itself there before me.
When I finally left the square and wandered in the direction of my
lodgings I felt dismayed and depressed. On my way I noticed the
ARBEITERZEITUNG (The Workman’s Journal) in a tobacco shop. This was the
chief press-organ of the old Austrian Social Democracy. In a cheap café,
where the common people used to foregather and where I often went to
read the papers, the ARBEITERZEITUNG was also displayed. But hitherto I
could not bring myself to do more than glance at the wretched thing for
a couple of minutes: for its whole tone was a sort of mental vitriol to
me. Under the depressing influence of the demonstration I had witnessed,
some interior voice urged me to buy the paper in that tobacco shop and
read it through. So I brought it home with me and spent the whole
evening reading it, despite the steadily mounting rage provoked by this
ceaseless outpouring of falsehoods.

I now found that in the social democratic daily papers I could study the
inner character of this politico-philosophic system much better than in
all their theoretical literature.

For there was a striking discrepancy between the two. In the literary
effusions which dealt with the theory of Social Democracy there was a
display of high-sounding phraseology about liberty and human dignity and
beauty, all promulgated with an air of profound wisdom and serene
prophetic assurance; a meticulously-woven glitter of words to dazzle and
mislead the reader. On the other hand, the daily Press inculcated this
new doctrine of human redemption in the most brutal fashion. No means
were too base, provided they could be exploited in the campaign of
slander. These journalists were real virtuosos in the art of twisting
facts and presenting them in a deceptive form. The theoretical
literature was intended for the simpletons of the soi-disant
intellectuals belonging to the middle and, naturally, the upper classes.
The newspaper propaganda was intended for the masses.

This probing into books and newspapers and studying the teachings of
Social Democracy reawakened my love for my own people. And thus what at
first seemed an impassable chasm became the occasion of a closer
affection.

Having once understood the working of the colossal system for poisoning
the popular mind, only a fool could blame the victims of it. During the
years that followed I became more independent and, as I did so, I became
better able to understand the inner cause of the success achieved by
this Social Democratic gospel. I now realized the meaning and purpose of
those brutal orders which prohibited the reading of all books and
newspapers that were not ‘red’ and at the same time demanded that only
the ‘red’ meetings should be attended. In the clear light of brutal
reality I was able to see what must have been the inevitable
consequences of that intolerant teaching.

The PSYCHE of the broad masses is accessible only to what is strong and
uncompromising. Like a woman whose inner sensibilities are not so much
under the sway of abstract reasoning but are always subject to the
influence of a vague emotional longing for the strength that completes
her being, and who would rather bow to the strong man than dominate the
weakling–in like manner the masses of the people prefer the ruler to
the suppliant and are filled with a stronger sense of mental security by
a teaching that brooks no rival than by a teaching which offers them a
liberal choice. They have very little idea of how to make such a choice
and thus they are prone to feel that they have been abandoned. They feel
very little shame at being terrorized intellectually and they are
scarcely conscious of the fact that their freedom as human beings is
impudently abused; and thus they have not the slightest suspicion of the
intrinsic fallacy of the whole doctrine. They see only the ruthless
force and brutality of its determined utterances, to which they always
submit.

IF SOCIAL DEMOCRACY SHOULD BE OPPOSED BY A MORE TRUTHFUL TEACHING, THEN
EVEN, THOUGH THE STRUGGLE BE OF THE BITTEREST KIND, THIS TRUTHFUL
TEACHING WILL FINALLY PREVAIL PROVIDED IT BE ENFORCED WITH EQUAL
RUTHLESSNESS.

Within less than two years I had gained a clear understanding of Social
Democracy, in its teaching and the technique of its operations.

I recognized the infamy of that technique whereby the movement carried
on a campaign of mental terrorism against the bourgeoisie, who are
neither morally nor spiritually equipped to withstand such attacks. The
tactics of Social Democracy consisted in opening, at a given signal, a
veritable drum-fire of lies and calumnies against the man whom they
believed to be the most redoubtable of their adversaries, until the
nerves of the latter gave way and they sacrificed the man who was
attacked, simply in the hope of being allowed to live in peace. But the
hope proved always to be a foolish one, for they were never left in
peace.

The same tactics are repeated again and again, until fear of these mad
dogs exercises, through suggestion, a paralysing effect on their
Victims.

Through its own experience Social Democracy learned the value of
strength, and for that reason it attacks mostly those in whom it scents
stuff of the more stalwart kind, which is indeed a very rare possession.
On the other hand it praises every weakling among its adversaries, more
or less cautiously, according to the measure of his mental qualities
known or presumed. They have less fear of a man of genius who lacks
will-power than of a vigorous character with mediocre intelligence and
at the same time they highly commend those who are devoid of
intelligence and will-power.

The Social Democrats know how to create the impression that they alone
are the protectors of peace. In this way, acting very circumspectly but
never losing sight of their ultimate goal, they conquer one position
after another, at one time by methods of quiet intimidation and at
another time by sheer daylight robbery, employing these latter tactics
at those moments when public attention is turned towards other matters
from which it does not wish to be diverted, or when the public considers
an incident too trivial to create a scandal about it and thus provoke
the anger of a malignant opponent.

These tactics are based on an accurate estimation of human frailties and
must lead to success, with almost mathematical certainty, unless the
other side also learns how to fight poison gas with poison gas. The
weaker natures must be told that here it is a case of to be or not to
be.

I also came to understand that physical intimidation has its
significance for the mass as well as for the individual. Here again the
Socialists had calculated accurately on the psychological effect.

Intimidation in workshops and in factories, in assembly halls and at
mass demonstrations, will always meet with success as long as it does
not have to encounter the same kind of terror in a stronger form.

Then of course the Party will raise a horrified outcry, yelling blue
murder and appealing to the authority of the State, which they have just
repudiated. In doing this their aim generally is to add to the general
confusion, so that they may have a better opportunity of reaching their
own goal unobserved. Their idea is to find among the higher government
officials some bovine creature who, in the stupid hope that he may win
the good graces of these awe-inspiring opponents so that they may
remember him in case of future eventualities, will help them now to
break all those who may oppose this world pest.

The impression which such successful tactics make on the minds of the
broad masses, whether they be adherents or opponents, can be estimated
only by one who knows the popular mind, not from books but from
practical life. For the successes which are thus obtained are taken by
the adherents of Social Democracy as a triumphant symbol of the
righteousness of their own cause; on the other hand the beaten opponent
very often loses faith in the effectiveness of any further resistance.

The more I understood the methods of physical intimidation that were
employed, the more sympathy I had for the multitude that had succumbed
to it.

I am thankful now for the ordeal which I had to go through at that time;
for it was the means of bringing me to think kindly again of my own
people, inasmuch as the experience enabled me to distinguish between the
false leaders and the victims who have been led astray.

We must look upon the latter simply as victims. I have just now tried to
depict a few traits which express the mentality of those on the lowest
rung of the social ladder; but my picture would be disproportionate if I
do not add that amid the social depths I still found light; for I
experienced a rare spirit of self-sacrifice and loyal comradeship among
those men, who demanded little from life and were content amid their
modest surroundings. This was true especially of the older generation of
workmen. And although these qualities were disappearing more and more in
the younger generation, owing to the all-pervading influence of the big
city, yet among the younger generation also there were many who were
sound at the core and who were able to maintain themselves
uncontaminated amid the sordid surroundings of their everyday existence.
If these men, who in many cases meant well and were upright in
themselves, gave the support to the political activities carried on by
the common enemies of our people, that was because those decent
workpeople did not and could not grasp the downright infamy of the
doctrine taught by the socialist agitators. Furthermore, it was because
no other section of the community bothered itself about the lot of the
working classes. Finally, the social conditions became such that men who
otherwise would have acted differently were forced to submit to them,
even though unwillingly at first. A day came when poverty gained the
upper hand and drove those workmen into the Social Democratic ranks.

On innumerable occasions the bourgeoisie took a definite stand against
even the most legitimate human demands of the working classes. That
conduct was ill-judged and indeed immoral and could bring no gain
whatsoever to the bourgeois class. The result was that the honest
workman abandoned the original concept of the trades union organization
and was dragged into politics.

There were millions and millions of workmen who began by being hostile
to the Social Democratic Party; but their defences were repeatedly
stormed and finally they had to surrender. Yet this defeat was due to
the stupidity of the bourgeois parties, who had opposed every social
demand put forward by the working class. The short-sighted refusal to
make an effort towards improving labour conditions, the refusal to adopt
measures which would insure the workman in case of accidents in the
factories, the refusal to forbid child labour, the refusal to consider
protective measures for female workers, especially expectant
mothers–all this was of assistance to the Social Democratic leaders,
who were thankful for every opportunity which they could exploit for
forcing the masses into their net. Our bourgeois parties can never
repair the damage that resulted from the mistake they then made. For
they sowed the seeds of hatred when they opposed all efforts at social
reform. And thus they gave, at least, apparent grounds to justify the
claim put forward by the Social Democrats–namely, that they alone stand
up for the interests of the working class.

And this became the principal ground for the moral justification of the
actual existence of the Trades Unions, so that the labour organization
became from that time onwards the chief political recruiting ground to
swell the ranks of the Social Democratic Party.

While thus studying the social conditions around me I was forced,
whether I liked it or not, to decide on the attitude I should take
towards the Trades Unions. Because I looked upon them as inseparable
from the Social Democratic Party, my decision was hasty–and mistaken. I
repudiated them as a matter of course. But on this essential question
also Fate intervened and gave me a lesson, with the result that I
changed the opinion which I had first formed.

When I was twenty years old I had learned to distinguish between the
Trades Union as a means of defending the social rights of the employees
and fighting for better living conditions for them and, on the other
hand, the Trades Union as a political instrument used by the Party in
the class struggle.

The Social Democrats understood the enormous importance of the Trades
Union movement. They appropriated it as an instrument and used it with
success, while the bourgeois parties failed to understand it and thus
lost their political prestige. They thought that their own arrogant VETO
would arrest the logical development of the movement and force it into
an illogical position. But it is absurd and also untrue to say that the
Trades Union movement is in itself hostile to the nation. The opposite
is the more correct view. If the activities of the Trades Union are
directed towards improving the condition of a class, and succeed in
doing so, such activities are not against the Fatherland or the State
but are, in the truest sense of the word, national. In that way the
trades union organization helps to create the social conditions which
are indispensable in a general system of national education. It deserves
high recognition when it destroys the psychological and physical germs
of social disease and thus fosters the general welfare of the nation.

It is superfluous to ask whether the Trades Union is indispensable.

So long as there are employers who attack social understanding and have
wrong ideas of justice and fair play it is not only the right but also
the duty of their employees–who are, after all, an integral part of our
people–to protect the general interests against the greed and unreason
of the individual. For to safeguard the loyalty and confidence of the
people is as much in the interests of the nation as to safeguard public
health.

Both are seriously menaced by dishonourable employers who are not
conscious of their duty as members of the national community. Their
personal avidity or irresponsibility sows the seeds of future trouble.
To eliminate the causes of such a development is an action that surely
deserves well of the country.

It must not be answered here that the individual workman is free at any
time to escape from the consequences of an injustice which he has
actually suffered at the hands of an employer, or which he thinks he has
suffered–in other words, he can leave. No. That argument is only a ruse
to detract attention from the question at issue. Is it, or is it not, in
the interests of the nation to remove the causes of social unrest? If it
is, then the fight must be carried on with the only weapons that promise
success. But the individual workman is never in a position to stand up
against the might of the big employer; for the question here is not one
that concerns the triumph of right. If in such a relation right had been
recognized as the guiding principle, then the conflict could not have
arisen at all. But here it is a question of who is the stronger. If the
case were otherwise, the sentiment of justice alone would solve the
dispute in an honourable way; or, to put the case more correctly,
matters would not have come to such a dispute at all.

No. If unsocial and dishonourable treatment of men provokes resistance,
then the stronger party can impose its decision in the conflict until
the constitutional legislative authorities do away with the evil through
legislation. Therefore it is evident that if the individual workman is
to have any chance at all of winning through in the struggle he must be
grouped with his fellow workmen and present a united front before the
individual employer, who incorporates in his own person the massed
strength of the vested interests in the industrial or commercial
undertaking which he conducts.

Thus the trades unions can hope to inculcate and strengthen a sense of
social responsibility in workaday life and open the road to practical
results. In doing this they tend to remove those causes of friction
which are a continual source of discontent and complaint.

Blame for the fact that the trades unions do not fulfil this
much-desired function must be laid at the doors of those who barred the
road to legislative social reform, or rendered such a reform ineffective
by sabotaging it through their political influence.

The political bourgeoisie failed to understand–or, rather, they did not
wish to understand–the importance of the trades union movement. The
Social Democrats accordingly seized the advantage offered them by this
mistaken policy and took the labour movement under their exclusive
protection, without any protest from the other side. In this way they
established for themselves a solid bulwark behind which they could
safely retire whenever the struggle assumed a critical aspect. Thus the
genuine purpose of the movement gradually fell into oblivion, and was
replaced by new objectives. For the Social Democrats never troubled
themselves to respect and uphold the original purpose for which the
trade unionist movement was founded. They simply took over the Movement,
lock, stock and barrel, to serve their own political ends.

Within a few decades the Trades Union Movement was transformed, by the
expert hand of Social Democracy, from an instrument which had been
originally fashioned for the defence of human rights into an instrument
for the destruction of the national economic structure. The interests of
the working class were not allowed for a moment to cross the path of
this purpose; for in politics the application of economic pressure is
always possible if the one side be sufficiently unscrupulous and the
other sufficiently inert and docile. In this case both conditions were
fulfilled.

By the beginning of the present century the Trades Unionist Movement had
already ceased to recognize the purpose for which it had been founded.
From year to year it fell more and more under the political control of
the Social Democrats, until it finally came to be used as a
battering-ram in the class struggle. The plan was to shatter, by means
of constantly repeated blows, the economic edifice in the building of
which so much time and care had been expended. Once this objective had
been reached, the destruction of the State would become a matter of
course, because the State would already have been deprived of its
economic foundations. Attention to the real interests of the
working-classes, on the part of the Social Democrats, steadily decreased
until the cunning leaders saw that it would be in their immediate
political interests if the social and cultural demands of the broad
masses remained unheeded; for there was a danger that if these masses
once felt content they could no longer be employed as mere passive
material in the political struggle.

The gloomy prospect which presented itself to the eyes of the
CONDOTTIERI of the class warfare, if the discontent of the masses were
no longer available as a war weapon, created so much anxiety among them
that they suppressed and opposed even the most elementary measures of
social reform. And conditions were such that those leaders did not have
to trouble about attempting to justify such an illogical policy.

As the masses were taught to increase and heighten their demands the
possibility of satisfying them dwindled and whatever ameliorative
measures were taken became less and less significant; so that it was at
that time possible to persuade the masses that this ridiculous measure
in which the most sacred claims of the working-classes were being
granted represented a diabolical plan to weaken their fighting power in
this easy way and, if possible, to paralyse it. One will not be
astonished at the success of these allegations if one remembers what a
small measure of thinking power the broad masses possess.

In the bourgeois camp there was high indignation over the bad faith of
the Social Democratic tactics; but nothing was done to draw a practical
conclusion and organize a counter attack from the bourgeois side. The
fear of the Social Democrats, to improve the miserable conditions of the
working-classes ought to have induced the bourgeois parties to make the
most energetic efforts in this direction and thus snatch from the hands
of the class-warfare leaders their most important weapon; but nothing of
this kind happened.

Instead of attacking the position of their adversaries the bourgeoisie
allowed itself to be pressed and harried. Finally it adopted means that
were so tardy and so insignificant that they were ineffective and were
repudiated. So the whole situation remained just as it had been before
the bourgeois intervention; but the discontent had thereby become more
serious.

Like a threatening storm, the ‘Free Trades Union’ hovered above the
political horizon and above the life of each individual. It was one of
the most frightful instruments of terror that threatened the security
and independence of the national economic structure, the foundations of
the State and the liberty of the individual. Above all, it was the ‘Free
Trades Union’ that turned democracy into a ridiculous and scorned
phrase, insulted the ideal of liberty and stigmatized that of fraternity
with the slogan ‘If you will not become our comrade we shall crack your
skull’.

It was thus that I then came to know this friend of humanity. During the
years that followed my knowledge of it became wider and deeper; but I
have never changed anything in that regard.

The more I became acquainted with the external forms of Social
Democracy, the greater became my desire to understand the inner nature
of its doctrines.

For this purpose the official literature of the Party could not help
very much. In discussing economic questions its statements were false
and its proofs unsound. In treating of political aims its attitude was
insincere. Furthermore, its modern methods of chicanery in the
presentation of its arguments were profoundly repugnant to me. Its
flamboyant sentences, its obscure and incomprehensible phrases,
pretended to contain great thoughts, but they were devoid of thought,
and meaningless. One would have to be a decadent Bohemian in one of our
modern cities in order to feel at home in that labyrinth of mental
aberration, so that he might discover ‘intimate experiences’ amid the
stinking fumes of this literary Dadism. These writers were obviously
counting on the proverbial humility of a certain section of our people,
who believe that a person who is incomprehensible must be profoundly
wise.

In confronting the theoretical falsity and absurdity of that doctrine
with the reality of its external manifestations, I gradually came to
have a clear idea of the ends at which it aimed.

During such moments I had dark presentiments and feared something evil.
I had before me a teaching inspired by egoism and hatred, mathematically
calculated to win its victory, but the triumph of which would be a
mortal blow to humanity.

Meanwhile I had discovered the relations existing between this
destructive teaching and the specific character of a people, who up to
that time had been to me almost unknown.

Knowledge of the Jews is the only key whereby one may understand the
inner nature and therefore the real aims of Social Democracy.

The man who has come to know this race has succeeded in removing from
his eyes the veil through which he had seen the aims and meaning of his
Party in a false light; and then, out of the murk and fog of social
phrases rises the grimacing figure of Marxism.

To-day it is hard and almost impossible for me to say when the word
‘Jew’ first began to raise any particular thought in my mind. I do not
remember even having heard the word at home during my father’s lifetime.
If this name were mentioned in a derogatory sense I think the old
gentleman would just have considered those who used it in this way as
being uneducated reactionaries. In the course of his career he had come
to be more or less a cosmopolitan, with strong views on nationalism,
which had its effect on me as well. In school, too, I found no reason to
alter the picture of things I had formed at home.

At the REALSCHULE I knew one Jewish boy. We were all on our guard in our
relations with him, but only because his reticence and certain actions
of his warned us to be discreet. Beyond that my companions and myself
formed no particular opinions in regard to him.

It was not until I was fourteen or fifteen years old that I frequently
ran up against the word ‘Jew’, partly in connection with political
controversies. These references aroused a slight aversion in me, and I
could not avoid an uncomfortable feeling which always came over me when
I had to listen to religious disputes. But at that time I had no other
feelings about the Jewish question.

There were very few Jews in Linz. In the course of centuries the Jews
who lived there had become Europeanized in external appearance and were
so much like other human beings that I even looked upon them as Germans.
The reason why I did not then perceive the absurdity of such an illusion
was that the only external mark which I recognized as distinguishing
them from us was the practice of their strange religion. As I thought
that they were persecuted on account of their Faith my aversion to
hearing remarks against them grew almost into a feeling of abhorrence. I
did not in the least suspect that there could be such a thing as a
systematic anti-Semitism.

Then I came to Vienna.

Confused by the mass of impressions I received from the architectural
surroundings and depressed by my own troubles, I did not at first
distinguish between the different social strata of which the population
of that mammoth city was composed. Although Vienna then had about two
hundred thousand Jews among its population of two millions, I did not
notice them. During the first weeks of my sojourn my eyes and my mind
were unable to cope with the onrush of new ideas and values. Not until I
gradually settled down to my surroundings, and the confused picture
began to grow clearer, did I acquire a more discriminating view of my
new world. And with that I came up against the Jewish problem.

I will not say that the manner in which I first became acquainted with
it was particularly unpleasant for me. In the Jew I still saw only a man
who was of a different religion, and therefore, on grounds of human
tolerance, I was against the idea that he should be attacked because he
had a different faith. And so I considered that the tone adopted by the
anti-Semitic Press in Vienna was unworthy of the cultural traditions of
a great people. The memory of certain events which happened in the
middle ages came into my mind, and I felt that I should not like to see
them repeated. Generally speaking, these anti-Semitic newspapers did not
belong to the first rank–but I did not then understand the reason of
this–and so I regarded them more as the products of jealousy and envy
rather than the expression of a sincere, though wrong-headed, feeling.

My own opinions were confirmed by what I considered to be the infinitely
more dignified manner in which the really great Press replied to those
attacks or simply ignored them, which latter seemed to me the most
respectable way.

I diligently read what was generally called the World Press–NEUE FREIE
PRESSE, WIENER TAGEBLATT, etc.–and I was astonished by the abundance of
information they gave their readers and the impartial way in which they
presented particular problems. I appreciated their dignified tone; but
sometimes the flamboyancy of the style was unconvincing, and I did not
like it. But I attributed all this to the overpowering influence of the
world metropolis.

Since I considered Vienna at that time as such a world metropolis, I
thought this constituted sufficient grounds to excuse these shortcomings
of the Press. But I was frequently disgusted by the grovelling way in
which the Vienna Press played lackey to the Court. Scarcely a move took
place at the Hofburg which was not presented in glorified colours to the
readers. It was a foolish practice, which, especially when it had to do
with ‘The Wisest Monarch of all Times’, reminded one almost of the dance
which the mountain cock performs at pairing time to woo his mate. It was
all empty nonsense. And I thought that such a policy was a stain on the
ideal of liberal democracy. I thought that this way of currying favour
at the Court was unworthy of the people. And that was the first blot
that fell on my appreciation of the great Vienna Press.

While in Vienna I continued to follow with a vivid interest all the
events that were taking place in Germany, whether connected with
political or cultural question. I had a feeling of pride and admiration
when I compared the rise of the young German Empire with the decline of
the Austrian State. But, although the foreign policy of that Empire was
a source of real pleasure on the whole, the internal political
happenings were not always so satisfactory. I did not approve of the
campaign which at that time was being carried on against William II. I
looked upon him not only as the German Emperor but, above all, as the
creator of the German Navy. The fact that the Emperor was prohibited
from speaking in the Reichstag made me very angry, because the
prohibition came from a side which in my eyes had no authority to make
it. For at a single sitting those same parliamentary ganders did more
cackling together than the whole dynasty of Emperors, comprising even
the weakest, had done in the course of centuries.

It annoyed me to have to acknowledge that in a nation where any
half-witted fellow could claim for himself the right to criticize and
might even be let loose on the people as a ‘Legislator’ in the
Reichstag, the bearer of the Imperial Crown could be the subject of a
‘reprimand’ on the part of the most miserable assembly of drivellers
that had ever existed.

I was even more disgusted at the way in which this same Vienna Press
salaamed obsequiously before the meanest steed belonging to the Habsburg
royal equipage and went off into wild ecstacies of delight if the nag
wagged its tail in response. And at the same time these newspapers took
up an attitude of anxiety in matters that concerned the German Emperor,
trying to cloak their enmity by the serious air they gave themselves.
But in my eyes that enmity appeared to be only poorly cloaked. Naturally
they protested that they had no intention of mixing in Germany’s
internal affairs–God forbid! They pretended that by touching a delicate
spot in such a friendly way they were fulfilling a duty that devolved
upon them by reason of the mutual alliance between the two countries and
at the same time discharging their obligations of journalistic
truthfulness. Having thus excused themselves about tenderly touching a
sore spot, they bored with the finger ruthlessly into the wound.

That sort of thing made my blood boil. And now I began to be more and
more on my guard when reading the great Vienna Press.

I had to acknowledge, however, that on such subjects one of the
anti-Semitic papers–the DEUTSCHE VOLKSBLATT–acted more decently.

What got still more on my nerves was the repugnant manner in which the
big newspapers cultivated admiration for France. One really had to feel
ashamed of being a German when confronted by those mellifluous hymns of
praise for ‘the great culture-nation’. This wretched Gallomania more
often than once made me throw away one of those ‘world newspapers’. I
now often turned to the VOLKSBLATT, which was much smaller in size but
which treated such subjects more decently. I was not in accord with its
sharp anti-Semitic tone; but again and again I found that its arguments
gave me grounds for serious thought.

Anyhow, it was as a result of such reading that I came to know the man
and the movement which then determined the fate of Vienna. These were
Dr. Karl Lueger and the Christian Socialist Movement. At the time I came
to Vienna I felt opposed to both. I looked on the man and the movement
as ‘reactionary’.

But even an elementary sense of justice enforced me to change my opinion
when I had the opportunity of knowing the man and his work, and slowly
that opinion grew into outspoken admiration when I had better grounds
for forming a judgment. To-day, as well as then, I hold Dr. Karl Lueger
as the most eminent type of German Burgermeister. How many prejudices
were thrown over through such a change in my attitude towards the
Christian-Socialist Movement!

My ideas about anti-Semitism changed also in the course of time, but
that was the change which I found most difficult. It cost me a greater
internal conflict with myself, and it was only after a struggle between
reason and sentiment that victory began to be decided in favour of the
former. Two years later sentiment rallied to the side of reasons and
became a faithful guardian and counsellor.

At the time of this bitter struggle, between calm reason and the
sentiments in which I had been brought up, the lessons that I learned on
the streets of Vienna rendered me invaluable assistance. A time came
when I no longer passed blindly along the street of the mighty city, as
I had done in the early days, but now with my eyes open not only to
study the buildings but also the human beings.

Once, when passing through the inner City, I suddenly encountered a
phenomenon in a long caftan and wearing black side-locks. My first
thought was: Is this a Jew? They certainly did not have this appearance
in Linz. I watched the man stealthily and cautiously; but the longer I
gazed at the strange countenance and examined it feature by feature, the
more the question shaped itself in my brain: Is this a German?

As was always my habit with such experiences, I turned to books for help
in removing my doubts. For the first time in my life I bought myself
some anti-Semitic pamphlets for a few pence. But unfortunately they all
began with the assumption that in principle the reader had at least a
certain degree of information on the Jewish question or was even
familiar with it. Moreover, the tone of most of these pamphlets was such
that I became doubtful again, because the statements made were partly
superficial and the proofs extraordinarily unscientific. For weeks, and
indeed for months, I returned to my old way of thinking. The subject
appeared so enormous and the accusations were so far-reaching that I was
afraid of dealing with it unjustly and so I became again anxious and
uncertain.

Naturally I could no longer doubt that here there was not a question of
Germans who happened to be of a different religion but rather that there
was question of an entirely different people. For as soon as I began to
investigate the matter and observe the Jews, then Vienna appeared to me
in a different light. Wherever I now went I saw Jews, and the more I saw
of them the more strikingly and clearly they stood out as a different
people from the other citizens. Especially the Inner City and the
district northwards from the Danube Canal swarmed with a people who,
even in outer appearance, bore no similarity to the Germans.

But any indecision which I may still have felt about that point was
finally removed by the activities of a certain section of the Jews
themselves. A great movement, called Zionism, arose among them. Its aim
was to assert the national character of Judaism, and the movement was
strongly represented in Vienna.

To outward appearances it seemed as if only one group of Jews championed
this movement, while the great majority disapproved of it, or even
repudiated it. But an investigation of the situation showed that those
outward appearances were purposely misleading. These outward appearances
emerged from a mist of theories which had been produced for reasons of
expediency, if not for purposes of downright deception. For that part of
Jewry which was styled Liberal did not disown the Zionists as if they
were not members of their race but rather as brother Jews who publicly
professed their faith in an unpractical way, so as to create a danger
for Jewry itself.

Thus there was no real rift in their internal solidarity.

This fictitious conflict between the Zionists and the Liberal Jews soon
disgusted me; for it was false through and through and in direct
contradiction to the moral dignity and immaculate character on which
that race had always prided itself.

Cleanliness, whether moral or of another kind, had its own peculiar
meaning for these people. That they were water-shy was obvious on
looking at them and, unfortunately, very often also when not looking at
them at all. The odour of those people in caftans often used to make me
feel ill. Beyond that there were the unkempt clothes and the ignoble
exterior.

All these details were certainly not attractive; but the revolting
feature was that beneath their unclean exterior one suddenly perceived
the moral mildew of the chosen race.

What soon gave me cause for very serious consideration were the
activities of the Jews in certain branches of life, into the mystery of
which I penetrated little by little. Was there any shady undertaking,
any form of foulness, especially in cultural life, in which at least one
Jew did not participate? On putting the probing knife carefully to that
kind of abscess one immediately discovered, like a maggot in a
putrescent body, a little Jew who was often blinded by the sudden light.

In my eyes the charge against Judaism became a grave one the moment I
discovered the Jewish activities in the Press, in art, in literature and
the theatre. All unctuous protests were now more or less futile. One
needed only to look at the posters announcing the hideous productions of
the cinema and theatre, and study the names of the authors who were
highly lauded there in order to become permanently adamant on Jewish
questions. Here was a pestilence, a moral pestilence, with which the
public was being infected. It was worse than the Black Plague of long
ago. And in what mighty doses this poison was manufactured and
distributed. Naturally, the lower the moral and intellectual level of
such an author of artistic products the more inexhaustible his
fecundity. Sometimes it went so far that one of these fellows, acting
like a sewage pump, would shoot his filth directly in the face of other
members of the human race. In this connection we must remember there is
no limit to the number of such people. One ought to realize that for
one, Goethe, Nature may bring into existence ten thousand such
despoilers who act as the worst kind of germ-carriers in poisoning human
souls. It was a terrible thought, and yet it could not be avoided, that
the greater number of the Jews seemed specially destined by Nature to
play this shameful part.

And is it for this reason that they can be called the chosen people?

I began then to investigate carefully the names of all the fabricators
of these unclean products in public cultural life. The result of that
inquiry was still more disfavourable to the attitude which I had
hitherto held in regard to the Jews. Though my feelings might rebel a
thousand time, reason now had to draw its own conclusions.

The fact that nine-tenths of all the smutty literature, artistic tripe
and theatrical banalities, had to be charged to the account of people
who formed scarcely one per cent. of the nation–that fact could not be
gainsaid. It was there, and had to be admitted. Then I began to examine
my favourite ‘World Press’, with that fact before my mind.

The deeper my soundings went the lesser grew my respect for that Press
which I formerly admired. Its style became still more repellent and I
was forced to reject its ideas as entirely shallow and superficial. To
claim that in the presentation of facts and views its attitude was
impartial seemed to me to contain more falsehood than truth. The writers
were–Jews.

Thousands of details that I had scarcely noticed before seemed to me now
to deserve attention. I began to grasp and understand things which I had
formerly looked at in a different light.

I saw the Liberal policy of that Press in another light. Its dignified
tone in replying to the attacks of its adversaries and its dead silence
in other cases now became clear to me as part of a cunning and
despicable way of deceiving the readers. Its brilliant theatrical
criticisms always praised the Jewish authors and its adverse, criticism
was reserved exclusively for the Germans.

The light pin-pricks against William II showed the persistency of its
policy, just as did its systematic commendation of French culture and
civilization. The subject matter of the feuilletons was trivial and
often pornographic. The language of this Press as a whole had the accent
of a foreign people. The general tone was openly derogatory to the
Germans and this must have been definitely intentional.

What were the interests that urged the Vienna Press to adopt such a
policy? Or did they do so merely by chance? In attempting to find an
answer to those questions I gradually became more and more dubious.

Then something happened which helped me to come to an early decision. I
began to see through the meaning of a whole series of events that were
taking place in other branches of Viennese life. All these were inspired
by a general concept of manners and morals which was openly put into
practice by a large section of the Jews and could be established as
attributable to them. Here, again, the life which I observed on the
streets taught me what evil really is.

The part which the Jews played in the social phenomenon of prostitution,
and more especially in the white slave traffic, could be studied here
better than in any other West-European city, with the possible exception
of certain ports in Southern France. Walking by night along the streets
of the Leopoldstadt, almost at every turn whether one wished it or not,
one witnessed certain happenings of whose existence the Germans knew
nothing until the War made it possible and indeed inevitable for the
soldiers to see such things on the Eastern front.

A cold shiver ran down my spine when I first ascertained that it was the
same kind of cold-blooded, thick-skinned and shameless Jew who showed
his consummate skill in conducting that revolting exploitation of the
dregs of the big city. Then I became fired with wrath.

I had now no more hesitation about bringing the Jewish problem to light
in all its details. No. Henceforth I was determined to do so. But as I
learned to track down the Jew in all the different spheres of cultural
and artistic life, and in the various manifestations of this life
everywhere, I suddenly came upon him in a position where I had least
expected to find him. I now realized that the Jews were the leaders of
Social Democracy. In face of that revelation the scales fell from my
eyes. My long inner struggle was at an end.

In my relations with my fellow workmen I was often astonished to find
how easily and often they changed their opinions on the same questions,
sometimes within a few days and sometimes even within the course of a
few hours. I found it difficult to understand how men who always had
reasonable ideas when they spoke as individuals with one another
suddenly lost this reasonableness the moment they acted in the mass.
That phenomenon often tempted one almost to despair. I used to dispute
with them for hours and when I succeeded in bringing them to what I
considered a reasonable way of thinking I rejoiced at my success. But
next day I would find that it had been all in vain. It was saddening to
think I had to begin it all over again. Like a pendulum in its eternal
sway, they would fall back into their absurd opinions.

I was able to understand their position fully. They were dissatisfied
with their lot and cursed the fate which had hit them so hard. They
hated their employers, whom they looked upon as the heartless
administrators of their cruel destiny. Often they used abusive language
against the public officials, whom they accused of having no sympathy
with the situation of the working people. They made public protests
against the cost of living and paraded through the streets in defence of
their claims. At least all this could be explained on reasonable
grounds. But what was impossible to understand was the boundless hatred
they expressed against their own fellow citizens, how they disparaged
their own nation, mocked at its greatness, reviled its history and
dragged the names of its most illustrious men in the gutter.

This hostility towards their own kith and kin, their own native land and
home was as irrational as it was incomprehensible. It was against
Nature.

One could cure that malady temporarily, but only for some days or at
least some weeks. But on meeting those whom one believed to have been
converted one found that they had become as they were before. That
malady against Nature held them once again in its clutches.

I gradually discovered that the Social Democratic Press was
predominantly controlled by Jews. But I did not attach special
importance to this circumstance, for the same state of affairs existed
also in other newspapers. But there was one striking fact in this
connection. It was that there was not a single newspaper with which Jews
were connected that could be spoken of as National, in the meaning that
my education and convictions attached to that word.

Making an effort to overcome my natural reluctance, I tried to read
articles of this nature published in the Marxist Press; but in doing so
my aversion increased all the more. And then I set about learning
something of the people who wrote and published this mischievous stuff.
From the publisher downwards, all of them were Jews. I recalled to mind
the names of the public leaders of Marxism, and then I realized that
most of them belonged to the Chosen Race–the Social Democratic
representatives in the Imperial Cabinet as well as the secretaries of
the Trades Unions and the street agitators. Everywhere the same sinister
picture presented itself. I shall never forget the row of
names–Austerlitz, David, Adler, Ellenbogen, and others. One fact became
quite evident to me. It was that this alien race held in its hands the
leadership of that Social Democratic Party with whose minor
representatives I had been disputing for months past. I was happy at
last to know for certain that the Jew is not a German.

Thus I finally discovered who were the evil spirits leading our people
astray. The sojourn in Vienna for one year had proved long enough to
convince me that no worker is so rooted in his preconceived notions that
he will not surrender them in face of better and clearer arguments and
explanations. Gradually I became an expert in the doctrine of the
Marxists and used this knowledge as an instrument to drive home my own
firm convictions. I was successful in nearly every case. The great
masses can be rescued, but a lot of time and a large share of human
patience must be devoted to such work.

But a Jew can never be rescued from his fixed notions.

It was then simple enough to attempt to show them the absurdity of their
teaching. Within my small circle I talked to them until my throat ached
and my voice grew hoarse. I believed that I could finally convince them
of the danger inherent in the Marxist follies. But I only achieved the
contrary result. It seemed to me that immediately the disastrous effects
of the Marxist Theory and its application in practice became evident,
the stronger became their obstinacy.

The more I debated with them the more familiar I became with their
argumentative tactics. At the outset they counted upon the stupidity of
their opponents, but when they got so entangled that they could not find
a way out they played the trick of acting as innocent simpletons. Should
they fail, in spite of their tricks of logic, they acted as if they
could not understand the counter arguments and bolted away to another
field of discussion. They would lay down truisms and platitudes; and, if
you accepted these, then they were applied to other problems and matters
of an essentially different nature from the original theme. If you faced
them with this point they would escape again, and you could not bring
them to make any precise statement. Whenever one tried to get a firm
grip on any of these apostles one’s hand grasped only jelly and slime
which slipped through the fingers and combined again into a solid mass a
moment afterwards. If your adversary felt forced to give in to your
argument, on account of the observers present, and if you then thought
that at last you had gained ground, a surprise was in store for you on
the following day. The Jew would be utterly oblivious to what had
happened the day before, and he would start once again by repeating his
former absurdities, as if nothing had happened. Should you become
indignant and remind him of yesterday’s defeat, he pretended
astonishment and could not remember anything, except that on the
previous day he had proved that his statements were correct. Sometimes I
was dumbfounded. I do not know what amazed me the more–the abundance of
their verbiage or the artful way in which they dressed up their
falsehoods. I gradually came to hate them.

Yet all this had its good side; because the more I came to know the
individual leaders, or at least the propagandists, of Social Democracy,
my love for my own people increased correspondingly. Considering the
Satanic skill which these evil counsellors displayed, how could their
unfortunate victims be blamed? Indeed, I found it extremely difficult
myself to be a match for the dialectical perfidy of that race. How
futile it was to try to win over such people with argument, seeing that
their very mouths distorted the truth, disowning the very words they had
just used and adopting them again a few moments afterwards to serve
their own ends in the argument! No. The more I came to know the Jew, the
easier it was to excuse the workers.

In my opinion the most culpable were not to be found among the workers
but rather among those who did not think it worth while to take the
trouble to sympathize with their own kinsfolk and give to the
hard-working son of the national family what was his by the iron logic
of justice, while at the same time placing his seducer and corrupter
against the wall.

Urged by my own daily experiences, I now began to investigate more
thoroughly the sources of the Marxist teaching itself. Its effects were
well known to me in detail. As a result of careful observation, its
daily progress had become obvious to me. And one needed only a little
imagination in order to be able to forecast the consequences which must
result from it. The only question now was: Did the founders foresee the
effects of their work in the form which those effects have shown
themselves to-day, or were the founders themselves the victims of an
error? To my mind both alternatives were possible.

If the second question must be answered in the affirmative, then it was
the duty of every thinking person to oppose this sinister movement with
a view to preventing it from producing its worst results. But if the
first question must be answered in the affirmative, then it must be
admitted that the original authors of this evil which has infected the
nations were devils incarnate. For only in the brain of a monster, and
not that of a man, could the plan of this organization take shape whose
workings must finally bring about the collapse of human civilization and
turn this world into a desert waste.

Such being the case the only alternative left was to fight, and in that
fight to employ all the weapons which the human spirit and intellect and
will could furnish leaving it to Fate to decide in whose favour the
balance should fall.

And so I began to gather information about the authors of this teaching,
with a view to studying the principles of the movement. The fact that I
attained my object sooner than I could have anticipated was due to the
deeper insight into the Jewish question which I then gained, my
knowledge of this question being hitherto rather superficial. This newly
acquired knowledge alone enabled me to make a practical comparison
between the real content and the theoretical pretentiousness of the
teaching laid down by the apostolic founders of Social Democracy;
because I now understood the language of the Jew. I realized that the
Jew uses language for the purpose of dissimulating his thought or at
least veiling it, so that his real aim cannot be discovered by what he
says but rather by reading between the lines. This knowledge was the
occasion of the greatest inner revolution that I had yet experienced.
From being a soft-hearted cosmopolitan I became an out-and-out
anti-Semite.

Only on one further occasion, and that for the last time, did I give way
to oppressing thoughts which caused me some moments of profound anxiety.

As I critically reviewed the activities of the Jewish people throughout
long periods of history I became anxious and asked myself whether for
some inscrutable reasons beyond the comprehension of poor mortals such
as ourselves, Destiny may not have irrevocably decreed that the final
victory must go to this small nation? May it not be that this people
which has lived only for the earth has been promised the earth as a
recompense? is our right to struggle for our own self-preservation based
on reality, or is it a merely subjective thing? Fate answered the
question for me inasmuch as it led me to make a detached and exhaustive
inquiry into the Marxist teaching and the activities of the Jewish
people in connection with it.

The Jewish doctrine of Marxism repudiates the aristocratic principle of
Nature and substitutes for it the eternal privilege of force and energy,
numerical mass and its dead weight. Thus it denies the individual worth
of the human personality, impugns the teaching that nationhood and race
have a primary significance, and by doing this it takes away the very
foundations of human existence and human civilization. If the Marxist
teaching were to be accepted as the foundation of the life of the
universe, it would lead to the disappearance of all order that is
conceivable to the human mind. And thus the adoption of such a law would
provoke chaos in the structure of the greatest organism that we know,
with the result that the inhabitants of this earthly planet would
finally disappear.

Should the Jew, with the aid of his Marxist creed, triumph over the
people of this world, his Crown will be the funeral wreath of mankind,
and this planet will once again follow its orbit through ether, without
any human life on its surface, as it did millions of years ago.

And so I believe to-day that my conduct is in accordance with the will
of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against the Jew I am
defending the handiwork of the Lord.

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4 thoughts on “Mein Kampf – Volume I, Chapter II: Years of study and suffering in Vienna”

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