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The best that can be said about it is that it is "controversial", a typical attempt of a psychoanalyst (and his assistants) to make sense of the problems of a patient whom they never met. True, the investigators interviewed Hitler's nephew William Patrick (who apparently had never met his uncle) and also Dr Eduard Bloch, the family physician in Austria among others. They correctly predicted that Hitler was likely to commit suicide when things went very wrong, that he was neurotic rather than clinically mad, that he was probably heterosexual and had coprophagic tendencies. But it is doubtful whether any of this, even if correct, would be of help to political leaders. Intelligence services especially in wartime will engage in all kind of far-fetched and unlikely ventures in the hope that something unknown will turn up that could be of interest and even importance. They would consult astrologers, parapsychologists and a variety of pseudo-scientists. No one should blame them for such undertakings, but nor should they be taken too seriously.

The very first of the reports in this book is entitled "Anti-Semitism-Spearhead of Universal Terror" (dated May 18, 1943) and it is certainly the most dubious of all. It says:

"The persecution of the Jews as practiced by National Socialists, is only the prologue of more horrible things to come. The expropriation of the Jews, for instance is followed by that of the Poles, Czech, Dutchmen, Frenchmen, anti-Nazi Germans and middle classes. Not only Jews are put in concentration camps but pacifists, conservatives, Socialists, Catholics, Protestants, Free Thinkers and Members of the occupied peoples. Not only Jews fall under the executioner's axe, but countless others of many nationalities, races and religions. Antisemitism is thus the spearhead of terror. The Jews are used as guinea pigs in testing a method of repression..."

The language of this statement may be uncertain but the meaning is clear. It came therefore as no surprise that Neumann was attacked in later years for either deliberately presenting a false picture of Nazism and in particular its policy towards the Jews or for being woefully ignorant on these subjects. He did find his defenders but even they could not deny that in the "secret documents" of Neumann's group those referring to the Jews were few and far between. This was noticed later on even by those with no particular axe to grind, such as Arthur Schlesinger Jr, working in OSS but not a Jew. On various occasions he brought up the question of why the murder of the Jews had hardly ever figured or been analysed even by those who, in view of their personal background, should have been most interested in this issue.

How to explain that American intelligence services played down, or almost ignored the Holocaust? It is probably not true that there was a deliberate attempt to deny the Holocaust. Neumann never went as far as his son Michael, a Canadian philosophy professor, who argued that anti-Semitism should never be taken seriously but treated as a joke. Both of Neumann's sons demanded that the name of their grandmother, who had perished in the camps, should be deleted from the lists of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.

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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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