Boris, Hitler and the European Union: ADAM LEBOR says if anyone is suffering from ‘political amnesia’ it is the EU grandees and their allies in the British establishment
By ADAM LEBOR FOR MAILONLINE PUBLISHED: 21:06, 18 May 2016 | UPDATED: 00:58, 19 May 2016
From Belgravia to Brussels, the howls of outrage over Boris Johnson’s observation that Hitler, like the EU, had tried to unify Europe under a single authority, grow ever louder.
Lord Heseltine described Johnson’s remarks as ‘preposterous’ and ‘obscene’. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, said Johnson was suffering from 'political amnesia’.
But if anyone is suffering from ‘political amnesia’ it is the EU grandees and their allies in the British establishment.
As a journalist and author who has studied in detail both the foundation of the European Union and the Nazis’ plans for post-war economic domination, and who has reported from all over Europe for more than 20 years, I believe that Johnson’s reference to Hitler was not only correct, but absolutely necessary.
The Nazis, like Napoleon, whom Johnson also referred to, are part of a historical continuum of European empire-building.
It is a story that goes back to the original Roman empire, through Charlemagne’s Holy Roman Empire in the ninth century, the Austro-Hungarian empire, and its Ottoman rival, the Third Reich, the Soviet Bloc in the east of the continent and today’s European Union.
And Johnson is being smeared. He had deliberately NOT drawn parallels between the methods and aims of the EU and those of the Nazis.
Of course the EU is not fighting a race war or organising mass exterminations. There are no parallels to be drawn between the way Brussels carries out its business and the Nazi approach in wartime Berlin.
What Johnson did do was to make an apt and timely historical observation about diverse attempts to unify Europe that have taken place over the centuries.
As Britain debates crucial questions about its future sovereignty, and an ever-more powerful Germany dominates the European economy, it is not only legitimate, but VITAL to dig deep into the origins of a united Europe wherever they are.
Nazi Germany, far from being a subject to gloss over in any debate on the EU, is one that has to be scrutinised.
For many senior figures in Third Reich wanted economic union in Europe - and it is incumbent on us to examine whether their hopes actually came to fruition.
The fact is that the Nazis drew up detailed proposals to ensure that, even if they were militarily defeated, Germany would continue to rule Europe, but through economic, rather than military means.
The evidence can be found in documents held in American intelligence archives, and at the Bank for International Settlements, the secretive ‘bank for central banks’ founded in 1930, and still located in Basel, Switzerland.
One US intelligence report, known as the ‘Red House Report’ recounts the details of a meeting of top Nazi industrialists and officials at the Maison Rouge Hotel, in Strasbourg, France on August 10, 1944.
Guards had been posted outside and the room checked for hidden microphones. Stamped ‘Secret’, the three page document was written by a French spy who had been present. It was judged credible enough to be sent by air-pouch to Cordell Hull, the US Secretary of State.
The meeting was chaired by SS Obergruppenfuhrer Dr Scheid. Scheid told the industrialists that they must realise ‘that the war cannot be won’ and the industrialists must, as a result, take steps ‘in preparation for a post-war commercial campaign’.
The Nazi businessmen, who included officials from Messerschmitt, Krupp and Volkswagen, as well as the Navy and Ministry of Armaments, agreed that with the military struggle all but lost, the next Reich would be an economic Reich.
Scheid then convened a smaller group and explained how the Nazi party would go underground. The German government would channel vast amounts of money abroad through the industrialists so that a ‘strong German empire can be created after the defeat’.
The closely-typed document reads like a thriller (and indeed inspired me to write one, The Budapest Protocol).
Another key document, ‘Economic Reorganisation of Europe’ is much drier, but makes for even more unsettling reading.
The eight-page memo, written by Walther Funk - the president of the Reichsbank, the German national bank - in 1940, is stored in the archives of the Bank for International Settlements.
Funk was later convicted at Nuremberg for war crimes; he served as Nazi minister of economics and also sat on the board of the Bank for International Settlements.
Boris Johnson has discovered that to merely hint at any similarities nowadays between the Nazis’ post-war plans for Europe and the present European Union is to invite ridicule and disdain.
And, to be fair, the post-war European integration project has contributed to opening the continent to free trade, stabilising a war-torn continent after 1945 and nurturing a new pan-European mentality among younger generations.
But the uncomfortable - and usually unspoken - truth is that the parallels between the plans of the Nazi leadership for the post-war European economy and the subsequent process of European monetary and economic integration are real.
The difference is, the plans have been imposed by stealth rather by war and genocide.
The new ‘European large-unit economy,’ wrote Funk, ‘must be an organic growth’ and will result from ‘close economic collaboration between Germany and European countries’.
The Reichsmark would be the dominant currency of this economy, but that was of secondary importance to the question of economic leadership. Conversion rates must be controlled and kept stable, to avoid wild currency fluctuations, before the ultimate of aim monetary union could be reached.
Meanwhile, the area of the Reichsmark would ‘continue to widen’, wrote Funk. There would be an incremental process of abolishing foreign exchange controls and a bonfire of regulations that slowed down trade and commerce.
‘The sense of common interest in the economic field must be strengthened among European peoples by collaboration in all spheres of economic policy (currency, credit, production, trade, etc.)...This united Europe will not accept the imposition of conditions of a political or economic nature from any extra-European group.'
The deciding factor in trade relations would be the quality of German goods for export 'and in this respect we really need have no anxiety'.
The central pillar of the post-war economy would be German needs. Other countries would plan their production on the German markets.
Much of what Funk predicted has come to pass. The Reichsmark evolved into the Deutschmark, which became the most powerful currency in Europe.
Behind the scenes at the Bank for International Settlements, technocrats laboured in secret for decades to harmonise different currencies’ exchange rates and prepare the ground for the launch of the Euro.
Foreign exchange and capital controls were abolished.
And while we tend to associate the EU with a mass of bureaucracy, the European Single Market did abolish what Funk called the 'mass of forms' previously needed to do business, so labour and capital could flow unhindered between countries.
Meanwhile, the Reichsbank’s successor, the Bundesbank, became Europe’s most powerful central bank, making Germany Europe’s most dominant economy.
Funk lived to see two of the most important milestones in European unity: the establishment in 1951 of the European Coal and Steel Community, Europe’s first supra-national institution; and the signing of the Treaty of Rome in 1957, the same year he was released from prison on ground of ill-health.
He died in 1960 but he would have applauded the launch of the European Single Market in 1993 as the culmination of his dream of a united continent, dominated by Germany.
Funk’s ‘European Large-Unit Economy’, would be better known today perhaps the Eurozone. Funk’s prediction that there was no need for anxiety about German exports has also come true: every second euro in Germany is earned by exports.
But for many smaller countries German economic domination has proved a disaster.
Germany’s mania for low inflation (rooted in the traumatic hyper-inflation of the Weimar republic after World War 1) has forced austerity onto weaker eurozone countries with disastrous results.
Today, parts of Europe face economic collapse. The Bundesbank and the European Central Bank, based in Frankfurt, have driven the mania for austerity that has already forced Greece to the edge and destabilised its neighbours.
From Oslo to Athens, the far-Right is resurgent, fed in part by soaring poverty and unemployment. The Euro might yet collapse and those with money seek safe haven in gold or property. Across the Mediterranean a whole generation has been thrown on the scrap-heap.
The answer to the crisis, say the euro-federalists, is more of everything: more integration, more shared sovereignty, more control over a central currency, more rule by unaccountable technocrats who caused the crisis in the first place.
In other words, allow the Bundesbank and its allies at the European Central Bank in Frankfurt – to take more control of eurozone nations’ economies.
Monetary union has been achieved, albeit at terrible social and economic cost.
And the long march to a fiscal and political union continues. Just as Walther Funk dreamt it would - in 1940s Berlin.
‘Tower of Basel’ Adam LeBor’s investigative history of the Bank for International Settlements is published by PublicAffairs.
Please consider seriously the reason why these elite institutions are not discussed in the mainstream press despite the immense financial and political power they wield?
There are sick and evil occultists running the Western World. They are power mad lunatics like something from a kids cartoon with their fingers on the nuclear button! Armageddon is closer than you thought. Only God can save our souls from their clutches, at least that's my considered opinion - Tony
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