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The Neumann office was apparently tasked with providing profiles of past German political opposition to Nazism in the past likely to re-emerge after its defeat. There is a workmanlike analysis of German social democracy but curiously hardly anything on German politics of the centre. 

It would be unfair to blame OSS for the fact that the names of Konrad Adenauer or Willy Brandt do not appear in the reports published soon after the end of the war — it took time in this chaos for leading personalities to emerge. But it should have been clear that German politics would not consist entirely of parties of the Left even though the Frankfurters believed that only these could be trusted as guarantors of democracy. The authors believed that the Communists had been moving steadily towards accepting democratic theories and practices, but they also thought that the structure of the future Germany would have to be a mixture (or a synthesis of sorts) of Anglo-American and Soviet elements. 

In their assessments of Communism in Germany they seem to have relied entirely on Communist sources. They report "underground Communist activities" at a time (1943) when these had long ceased; the Gestapo had succeeded in destroying the Communist cells well before the outbreak of the war. The Secret Reports refer to entirely fictitious groups such as the "Navajos", an allegedly Communist trend in the Hitler Youth. Again, when it comes to identifying leading Communist personalities, it appears that Neumann and his fellow analysts were out of their depth. Studying the official Communist publications they apparently came across names that were known to them from the old days. But there seems to have been no inside knowledge whatsoever, which is surprising because they were dealing with a milieu quite close to their own. And so all kinds of Communist novelists and playwrights (such as Friedrich Wolf, Ludwig Renn or Bodo Uhse) were promoted to positions of political leadership and great influence, whereas those wielding real power, such as Walter Ulbricht, remained in the background, if they were mentioned at all. 

Nor did the OSS analysts understand that Communist groups and parties outside Russia (excepting only China) had no influence; that their occasional independent-sounding statements were of no consequence at all; that only Moscow mattered even after the Communist International had been dissolved. The likely influence of the party in Germany in the postwar period was greatly overrated, as was the likely future impact of the "cultural achievement" of the Soviet Union on Germans. The reasons for these misjudgments seem not to be politically motivated — the Washington analysts appear not to have known any better. The editors of the Secret Reports would have done Neumann and Marcuse a service if they had pointed out at least the more egregious factual mistakes. 

The Frankfurters in OSS did not have a monopoly as far as political misjudgments were concerned. Nazism, it should be recalled, was a novel phenomenon at the time not only for students of politics — there was little past experience to act as guidance. William Langer, the head of Research and Analysis, the section of OSS in which the Frankfurters were employed in later years, became chairman of the Harvard history department; he had a brother, Walter, a respected psychoanalyst, who was asked by Wild Bill Donovan to provide a study of Hitler's mind. The result, The Mind of Adolf Hitler, is still in print. 

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September 15th, 2013
3:09 PM
People who live in ivory academic towers are destined to intellectually suffocate in them. The so-called left had a problem with National Socialists, it currently has problems with Islam. Anti-semitism is a thread running through some "left" world-views. Might secular/atheistic Jewish "antisemitism" have contributed to this? That beginning with Marx.

Russ Davis
September 9th, 2013
2:09 PM
As usual, the whole vacuous consideration of motives and notions misses the most important, underlying matter of man's rebellion against God from the beginning with Adam & Eve. Because Jews & Christians are in varying aspects objects of God's Covenant, they are thus likewise the devil's objects of persecution and destruction before, above and beyond all other considerations, as America's Founders of her Christian endeavor understood (no matter the blind, ignorant, groundless bigotry of those in antiChristian denial). See and for a true understanding of this.

September 8th, 2013
2:09 PM
I think this analysis is somewhat misguided. The spearhead theory, as articulated in this review, might seem unpalatable, but Horkheimer and Adorno's explanation of antisemitism and the threats of fascism in Dialetic of Enlightenment offer a more nuanced view. The legacy of the Frankfurt School argument on antisemitism and genocide is, in my opinion, this: The extermination of the Jews in Nazi Germany was not just a singular, local, delimited event in history, but rather represents a dangerous potential within the structure of late capitalism itself. When ideology combines with limitless technological mobilization, evil on a grand scale is possible. I have always seen, therefore, the "conservative" strain of thought in the later Horkheimer and Adorno as being an attempt to preserve humanism against this dangerous potential. These OSS papers might not make this argument clearly, but the seminal works of the school hold up better to criticisms of naivete.

September 8th, 2013
4:09 AM
Hitler's madness may have come from influenza.

Wim Schul
September 5th, 2013
8:09 AM
I do not consider the spearhead concept as essential element in Frankfurter thought. This alarmist consideration can be found in nearly every consideration of nazism that calls to action. The legacy consists in taking attention from social and geopolitical images to that of the mindset of fascism, later autoritarism, more parallel to lines of thought of Wilhelm Reich or someone like Walter Benjamin. Apart from onesidedness and narrowness there still remains this lasting legacy of the Frankfurters in connection with fascism, as well as - contrary to some of the others - the obligation to take sides in practice, that was the Allied cause.

Granite Sentry
September 5th, 2013
2:09 AM
Not especially surprising; the record of Leftist intellectuals woefully misunderstanding, misinterpreting, and misstating political developments around the world during most of the last 100 years is unfortunately quite extensive. But to this day they still think they're the smartest guys and gals in the room. Go figure.

Ted Schrey Montreal
September 2nd, 2013
6:09 PM
This is one sad story. It is depressing in the extreme to realize activist-theorists of this calibre didn't amount to a whole-hell-of-a-heap of useful thought. It is quite incredible, actually, coming from those who lived close to the abyss, and obviously blinded by their own precious ideas. Yuck.

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