OPINIONSnGuns, Butter, and Guilt by Lee Congdonn”Guns will make us powerful; butter will only makenus fat.”n—Hermann GoeringnHenry Ashby Turner Jr.: German BignBusiness and the Rise of Hitler;nOxford University Press; New York.nR.J. Overy; Goering: The “IronnMan”; Routledge and Kegan Paul;nLondon and Boston.nKay Heriot: To The Edge; The BooknGuild; Sussex, England.nIt is 40 years now since the Alliesnclaimed victory over Germany andnsurvivors on both sides made the firstngroping attempts to uncover the meaningnof Nazism. Yet despite the availabilitynof almost inexhaustible sourcesnand the persistence of armies-of scholars,nthe effort to locate the Third Reichnin the history of Western civilizationnhas not produced results that are altogethernsatisfying. Studies of the Hitler-nZeit would fill libraries, but its innernhistory continues to resist conventionalnresearch strategies. Brought face tonface with questions that reach tonthe very heart of what it means tonbe human, many have had recoursento psychological examinations, sociologicalninvestigations, and literary reinventions.nPerhaps it is because of Nazism’snpeculiar elusiveness that the door wasninitially opened to enterprising ideologistsnwho have made it their aim tonbend modern German history to theirnpolihcal purposes. In particular, theynhave been eager to identify Nazismnwith conservatism and with capitalism.nThe Frankfurt School theoristnMax Horkheimer once gave it as hisnLee Congdon is author of The YoungnLukacs (University of North CarolinanPress).n101 CHRONICLES OF CULTUREnopinion that it was impossible to speaknof fascism without speaking of capitalism.nThe Third Reich, on such anview, was the logical consequence of anbourgeois capitalist “system” that hadnreached the end of its tether. In thenfinal analysis, Nazism was to be explainednin economic terms as capitalism’sndesperate and ultimately doomednattempt to compel socialism’s forces tonretreat. Hitler was merely the agent,nconscious or otherwise, of the captainsnof industry, the executor of a fate thatnawaits all capitalist states that do notnmake way for History. This widelyncirculated myth can be traced back atnleast as far as Die Linkskurve, latenWeimar’s quixohc Communist journal.nFor its contributors, as for mostnmembers of the prewar left. Hitler wasnno more dangerous than other tools ofn”monopoly capitalism,” including hisnpredecessors in the Reich’s chancelleryn—Briining, Papen, and Schleicher.nIf anything can undermine faith innthat particular myth, it is Henry AshbynTurner’s superbly written and impressivelynargued study. Turner has devotednlong years to a close examination ofnvirtually all the relevant sourcesn— including the archives of majornGerman corporations—in a determinahonnto assess without prejudice thenrole of German big business in Hitier’snrise to power. Marshaling his evidencenwith skill and sound judgment, he hasnconcluded that with the exception ofnFritz Thyssen, the leaders of Germannbig business were wary of Hitler andnfed very little money into Nazi coffers.nThis is not particularly surprisingnwhen one reviews, as Turner doesnpatiently. Hitler’s evasive, contradictory,nand untutored economic pronouncements.nNot only was the Nazinchieftain innocent of the dismal sci­nnnence, he was largely indifferent, insisting,nquite righdy, that polihcs shapednhistorical events far more decisively.nBig business leaders were suspiciousnnot only of the Fiihrer, but also of thenNSDAP’s left wing and its leader,nGregor Strasser. Strasser and othernParty members, including JosephnGoebbels and many Reichstag deputies,nwere outspoken critics of capitalismnand often adopted positions onnissues like the eight-hour workday andnthe right to strike that were disconcertinglynsimilar to those championed bynthe socialists and communists. To bensure, Hider always saw to it that bignbusiness was placated whenever thenvoice of socioeconomic radicalismnthreatened to drown out that of anti-nMarxism. Yet to this day, it remainsnsomething of a mystery why, in view ofnthe Nazis’ forked tongue, industrialnleaders played the “longest guessingngame” about the Party’s economic programnfor so long. By 1932, when theynfinally fired of waiting and lent theirnenthusiastic support to .Franz onnPapen, a man too clever by half, thendie was already cast.nAlthough Turner does not claim tonhave made a comprehensive study ofnlesser businessmen, the evidence henpresents suggests that they were farnmore susceptible than big businessmennto Nazi propaganda. Their enterprisesnwere, after all, in greater andnmore immediate peril. And unlike bignbusinessmen, they had a weakness fornanti-Semitism. Sfill, during the GreatnDepression they were not in a positionnto provide the Bewegung with substantialnsums of money. Nor did theynpossess anything like the kind of politicalninfluence that would have beennrequired to pave Hitier’s way to power.nIn this, they were no different from bignbusinessmen who, as Turner emphasizes,nwere never able to translate economicnpower into political clout. In annage of universal suffrage, votes alwaysncount for more than money, a homelyntruth that our demagogues and selfstyledn”investigative reporters” havenyet to discover.n