Who Said It: Adolf Hitler or Confederate Vice President?

Adolf Hitler (left) and  Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States of America (right).

Adolf Hitler (left) and Alexander Stephens, Vice President of the Confederate States of America (right).

Most people accept that the notion of racial purity (and Aryan superiority) provided the philosophical underpinnings of Adolf Hitler’s genocidal “Final Solution.” But 150 years after the end of the Civil War, many white Americans still insist that the essential conflict was over states’ rights, Northern aggression, or economic liberty. Sure, slavery played a role, but they insist, the “peculiar institution” was just one of many competing causes of the bloodiest conflict in our history.

The recent massacre of nine African Americans in Charleston, South Carolina, by an avowed white supremacist, has raised the old debate about the role of racism in America, past and present. Is Dylann Roof a mentally ill loner, an isolated matrix of madness and violence? Or did he grow from a familiar and troubling terrain, a modern son of the Confederacy, part of America’s unfinished business?

It may help to examine just how much the worldview that spawned the Confederacy had in common with the one that led to the Third Reich. Toward that end, I’ve put together a short quiz. It should take five minutes, tops.

Below are six statements; three from Adolf Hitler and three from Alexander Stephen, the Vice President of the Confederate States of America at its founding in 1861. I’ve grouped them into three somewhat arbitrary categories. All of them speak  specifically to their foundational values. If you believe that the Confederacy was based on something other than white supremacy, and if you misidentify the author of any of the statements below, you may want to reexamine your beliefs about America’s past and our present.

Statement 1: The Role of Nature

(Note: In a few instances, I’ve removed a noun that would identify the author of the statement given, and, in brackets, substituted two alternatives, only one of which was actually used.)

A. As a race, the [Jew/African] is inferior to the [Aryan/White man]. Subordination to the [Aryan/White man] is his normal condition. He is not his equal by nature, and cannot be made so by human laws or human institutions. Our system, therefore, so far as regards this inferior race, rests upon this great immutable law of nature. It is founded not upon wrong or injustice, but upon the eternal fitness of things.

Hitler or Stephens? (Click here for the correct answer.)

B. The consequence of this racial purity, universally valid in nature, is not only the sharp outward delimitation of the various races, but their uniform character in themselves…. you will never find a fox who in his inner attitude might, for example, show humanitarian tendencies toward geese, as similarly there is no cat with a friendly inclination toward mice. No more than nature desires the mating of weaker with stronger individuals, even less does she desire the blending of a higher with a lower race, since, if she did, her whole work of higher breeding, over perhaps hundreds of thousands of years, night be ruined with one blow.

Hitler or Stephens? (Click here for the correct answer.)

Statement 2: The Fate of Civilization

A. To bring about such a development [race mixing] is, then, nothing else but to sin against the will of the eternal creator. And as a sin this act is rewarded. When man attempts to rebel against the iron logic of nature, he comes into struggle with the principles to which he himself owes his existence as a man. And this attack must lead to his own doom. Everything we admire on this earth today, science and art, is only the creative product of a few peoples and originally perhaps of one race. On them depends the existence of this whole culture. If they perish, the beauty of this earth will sink into the grave with them.

Hitler or Stephens? (Click here for the correct answer.)

B. Those ideas …rested upon the assumption of the equality of races. This was an error. It was a sandy foundation, and the government built upon it fell when the “storm came and the wind blew.” Our new government is founded upon exactly the opposite idea; its foundations are laid, its corner- stone rests upon the great truth, that the [Negro/Jew] is not equal to the [White man/Aryan]; that subordination to the superior race is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.

Hitler or Stephens? (Click here for the correct answer.)

Statement 3: Culture and Progress

A. The last visible trace of the former master people is often seen in the lighter skin color which its blood left behind in the subjugated race, and in a petrified culture which it had originally created. For, once the actual and spiritual conqueror lost himself in the blood of the subjected people, the fuel for the torch of human progress was lost!

Hitler or Stephens? (Click here for the correct answer.)

B. Many governments have been founded upon the principle of the subordination and serfdom of certain classes of the same race; such were and are in violation of the laws of nature. Our system commits no such violation of nature’s laws. With us, all of the [White race/Aryan race], however high or low, rich or poor, are equal in the eye of the law. Not so with the [Negro/Jew]. Subordination is his place.

Hitler or Stephens? (Click here for the correct answer.)

 Sources of quotes:

1. Adolf Hitler

2. Alexander Stephens

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