Recently I read a book called “Benes, Statesman of Central Europe” by Pierre Crabites. It was a book that came out in 1935 on the eve of World War II, and it was a book that was focused on the qualities of Edvard Benes, the Czechoslovak president at the time. But the book came with a foreword from the author. He stated that he saw war brewing in Europe. He thought another great war would come, and he predicted it would come out of Germany. I could summarize but his words have a bone chilling potency. He said “His[Hitler’s] energy, his eloquence, his excoratiations have unleashed passions that he may be unable to master. I fear that when a generation of Germans who knew nothing of the horrors of first-line trenches has assumed control at Berlin, Hitler may be brushed aside as completely as was Kerensky. When that hour sounds, terrible will be the toll which it will exact. It is Hitlerism and the consequences of Hitlerism that I fear, not Hitler… I am obsessed by fear of another war.” He was right, war did eventually come, but he was also wrong.
Or was he? He makes a bold distinction between Hitler and Hitlerism. Hitlerism was the monster that Hitler created from his speeches and laws. Hitlerism was the monster that people clung to, ridding themselves of poverty and oppression created by the Allies after World War I. Crabites saw a very different world than we do now. He saw a tragic victim in World War I in Hitler, someone who knew the uselessness of war, and he tried to separate him from the monster of revenge that was encapsulating Germany.
Crabites saw war as inevitable. He thought Germany was already ready for war, and only Hitler held it back. Most would dismiss this theory without a second thought, but perhaps we would do so because we are biased. From birth we’ve been taught to hate Hitler and Nazism identifying them as one single thing. But as Hitler can be blamed for much of Nazism, he was not it. And it begs the question-what if Hitler had fallen from power? Would there have been a Second World War? Crabites would say yes. Why? Because as he saw it, Europe was sick with a disease, one incurred from the past century of existence, and the only way to cure it, was to remove it.