The authors of The Pink Swastika, Scott Lively and Kevin
Abrams, would have us believe that homosexuality was the driving force behind
the rise of Hitler's Third Reich. Near the beginning of chapter three of The
Pink Swastika, "The Homosexual Roots of Fascism," Lively and Abrams
state this thesis:
In seeking the
roots of fascism we once again find a high correlation between homosexuality
and a mode of thinking which we identify with Nazism.
The chapter then traces the roots of German fascism from
Plato, through Frederick the Great, and Friedrich Nietzsche - all gay by the
author's reckoning. At this point, I will not contest this, even though I
could. For instance, historians and philosophers are
divided about Nietzsche's sexuality, although only very few think he might have homosexual inclinations. Rather,
my point here is to propose a problem for the thesis of The Pink Swastika that
homosexuality and fascism have a necessary causal link of some kind.
In chapter three, Lively and Abrams guess at the
sexuality of many Nazi and related people but with the following figure -
Thomas Mann - they are probably accurate in their
assessment. About Mann, they write:
identification with Nietzsche may also have had some thing to do with the
latter's homosexuality. Among other works, Mann is famous for a 1912 novella
called Der Tod in Venedig ("Death in Venice"), in which "an
aging writer risks life and reputation in his attempts to gaze on the
Apollonian beauty of the 14-year-old Tadzio" (Reiter in Grolier).
Homosexualist historian A.L. Rowse called this novella "the most
publicized homosexual story of the century" (Rowse:212). A recently published
biography, Thomas Mann: A Life, by Donald Prater, establishes the novelist's
homosexuality. A review of this book in The San Francisco Examiner (December
23, 1995) states that the book is based in part on Mann's private diaries,
which reveal a "secret homoerotic life."
married and had six children for whom he was "a remote and some times
terrifying figure." The article reveals that two of these children, Klaus
and Michael, committed suicide. Two of his children became homosexuals
(Rowse:212). Mann confesses in his diary that the character Tadzio, the
14-year-old boy in "A Death in Venice," was actually modeled after a
boy on whom Mann "developed a crush while holidaying in Venice."
Now just as the uninformed reader might think that Lively
and Abrams are about to suggest Mann's positive influence on Hitler and
fascism, the authors write:
We must be
clear, however, that Mann's contribution to Nazism, his role in popularizing
Nietzsche, was unintended. Mann was personally anti-Nazi, and was persona non grata
with Hitler's government.
Lively and Abrams vastly understate the case. Mann was
openly anti-fascist as was Nietzsche. A contemporary of Hitler, Mann actively
opposed the Third Reich. He used his considerable popularity with the German
people in a series of radio broadcasts designed to cause common Germans to
question and oppose the regime. Here is an excerpt of one of Mann's speeches to
the German people, broadcast in July, 1942.
I know well
that I don't have to warn you against exuberance now that Hitler is once again
winning and has conquered Rostov, the city on the Don, which he had conquered
once before. It is well known that such things do not plunge you into
exuberance, that the blare of radio trumpets which accompanies the announcement
is odious to you, that you are by no means overjoyed. It is not necessary to
dampen your enthusiasm; rather, you have to be consoled. Not we, out here, are
in need of consolation when the war looks as it does at present. If you only
knew how sure we are of our cause, which to begin with, and as premise for all
that is to come, is the cause of destroying Hitler! His destruction is sealed,
believe me and don't be afraid! It is a world necessity, wholly inevitable, and
will be accomplished one way or another; and because it is decided, the
victories of that wretch are merely bloody nonsense. You are bewildered and
depressed. You are thinking: "Will he triumph after all? And shall we
never get rid of him? And will the world be German, in that desperate fashion in
which we are now German?" Be of good cheer! Hitler's victory is an empty
word: there is no such thing - it is not within the realm of the acceptable,
permissible, thinkable. It will be prevented; rather, he himself will always
prevent it, the sorry scoundrel, because of himself, simply because of his
nature, because of his impossible and hopelessly deranged disposition, which
does not permit him to think, want, or do anything which is not false,
mendacious, condemned beforehand. One speaks of the betrayed devil. But nobody
betrays the devil; he is betrayed, because of himself and to begin with. Not
with Faust's soul, the soul of humanity, will this stupid Satan go down to
hell, but alone.
Mann, Listen Germany! Twenty-five Radio Messages to the German People Over BBC
by Thomas Mann. New York, 1943, pp. 102-07.)
Please read the entire address on the German Documents website.
First, it is worth noting how Lively and Abrams' devotion
to their thesis leads them to treat Thomas Mann. Apparently the primary reason
Mann is mentioned at all is to make a feeble attempt to pin Nietzsche with the
label homosexual. Mann was a great writer, one of the best fiction writers in
modern history. He was a resolute opponent of Hitler and the Nazis. He left his
homeland in service of his convictions and used his fame and gifts to try to
bring down Hitler. However, one would not get any sense of this perspective by
reading Lively and Abrams. In The Pink Swastika, Mann's personal life is
disparaged, he is discounted as an apologist for Nietzsche and thus an
unwitting contributor to Nazism.
Lively and Abrams thesis collapses into absurdity when
one considers the vigor of Mann's opposition to Hitler's fascism. People of all
orientations and worldviews supported and opposed Hitler. The Nazis used
anyone, gay or straight, religious or not, to get to power. And once they
attained power, they systematically crushed opposition both gay and straight,
religious and not.
To close this article, read the closing argument offered
by Mann to the German people in his July, 1942 broadcast. Note his utter
contempt for the intellectual foundations of Nazism. And then recall that the
speaker was attracted to the same sex.
The end is
near, Germans, believe me, and be of good cheer! Just at this moment I tell it
to you when once again it looks like success and victory and conquest for you.
The end is near - not yours, not Germany's. The so-called destruction of Germany
is as empty a word, as non-existent a thing, as the victory of Hitler. But the
end is approaching; in fact, it will come soon - the end of the repulsive
system, the robber, murder, and liar state of National Socialism. An end will
be put to its trashy and disgraceful philosophy and all the acts of trash and
disgrace which have sprung from it. Accounts will be settled, disastrously
settled, with its bigwigs, its leaders and helpers, servants and beneficiaries,
its generals, diplomats, and Gestapo hyenas. Accounts will also be settled with
its intellectual trail-blazers and shield-bearers, the journalists and
pseudo-philosophers who licked its boots, the geopoliticians, war geographers,
teachers of "Wehrwissenschaft" and race professors. Germany will be
cleansed of all that ever had anything to do with the filth of Hitlerism and
all that made it possible. And a freedom will be established in Germany and in
the world which believes in itself, respects itself, knows how to defend
itself, and which takes not only the deed but, before that, the thoughts into
the control of those ideas which connect man with God.
Those inclined to accept the thesis in The Pink Swastika
might complain that one bisexual opponent to Hitler is not disruptive to
Lively's proposed link between fascism and homosexuality. However, I submit
that Mann's experience is one relevant rebuttal to the notion that being
same-sex attracted necessarily leads to fascist beliefs and tactics. Throughout
The Pink Swastika, Lively and Abrams play fast and loose with the historical
record in order to invent a causal link between homosexuality and fascism.