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Hermann Rauschning - German conservative and reactionary.

Hermann Rauschning
Hermann Rauschning.

Hermann Rauschning (7 August 1887 - February 1982) was a German conservative and reactionary who joined the Nazi Party, and became the president of the Senate. After resigning, he fled Germany and became an opponent of Nazism. He wrote several books warning the world about the nihilistic nature of German dictator Adolf Hitler's movement.

Rauschning is most famous for his work Hitler Speaks where he describes the many meetings and conversations he had with Hitler. Many historians now regard this book with suspicion.


Rauschning was born in Thorn (Torun), German Empire, to a land-owning family of the military caste in East Prussia. He was educated in the Prussian Cadet Corps and was wounded in World War I. As a wealthy landowner and skilled agriculturist, he became President of the Farmers' Association of the Free City of Danzig. Believing at the time that the National Socialists offered the only way out of Germany's troubles, he joined the Nazi Party in 1926. He became President of the Danzig Teachers' Association in 1932. Rauschning served as President of the Danzig Senate from 20 June 1933 - 23 November 1934.

Rauschning was a bitter rival of the Danzig Gauleiter Albert Forster. When party agents began to insist that he should institute the Gleichschaltung (establishment of totalitarianism), such as arresting Catholic priests, disenfranchise Jews and suppress rival parties, Rauschning refused and resigned from the party. On account of his active support of constitutionalism in the election of April 1935, he was forced to dispose of his farming interests and for reasons of personal safety had to flee from the Free City of Danzig, which was increasingly under Nazi influence, to Switzerland in 1936. He settled in France in 1938 and went to the United Kingdom the following year. In 1941 Rauschning became a farmer in Portland, Oregon, in the United States, where he later died.


Disillusioned with Nazism, Rauschning wrote one of the first inside stories of the Nazi movement since Mein Kampf, "The Revolution of Nihilism". He wrote the book in the winter of 1937-38 for his fellow Germans in the hope of revealing to them the disastrous course Hitler was leading them into, He also hoped it would lead to a counter-revolution against the Nazi regime. His solution to Nazism was the restoration of the monarchy as the only hope for a turn around. (Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn said the same thing that the German people were made only for absolutism and that monarchy was the only German way.) His book went through seventeen printings in America.

Rauschning's definition of Fascism: "National Socialism is an unquestionably genuine revolutionary movement in the sense of a final achievement on a vaster scale of the mass rising dreamed of by Anarchists and Communists", Revolution of Nihilism (pg 19).

Dispute over Hitler Speaks

The book of Rauschning "Hitler speaks" was criticized by many historians, not necessarily "revisionists". In Why Hitler, the Genesis of the Nazi Reich pg 137, Samuel W. Mitcham, Jr. notes that "Wolfgang Koch, another prominent historian of the Nazi era, agrees with Turner's assessment and also points out that Reves assisted Hermann Rauschning in writing the book Hitler Speaks. referenced to H. W. Koch, "1933: The Legality of Hitler's Assumption of Power", in H.W. Koch, ed., Aspects of the Third Reich, (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1985) pg 55. Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn reports that "Theodor Schieder in his Rauschnings "Gespräche mit Hitler" als Geschichtsquelle, (Opladen:Westdeutscher Verlag, 1972) contradicts them effectively". Swiss historian Wolfgang Haenel investigated the memoir and announced his findings in 1983 at a revisionist history conference in West Germany. The renowned Conversations with Hitler, he declared are a total fraud. The book has no value "except as a document of Allied war propaganda." Among the conclusions of Haenel : Rausching's claim to have met with Hitler "more than a hundred times" is a lie : the two actually met only four times, and never alone; words attributed to Hitler were simply invented or lifted from many different sources, including writings by Juenger and Friedrich Nietzsche; an account of Hitler hearing voices, waking at night with convulsive shrieks and pointing in terror at an empty corner while shouting "There, there, in the corner!" was taken from a short story by French writer Guy de Maupassant (Le Horla). The Encyclopedia of the Third Reich considers that "The research of the Swiss educator Wolfgang Hänel has made it clear that the 'Conversations' were mostly free inventions." (MacMillan Publishing, 1991, volume 2, page 757, English translation of : Christian Zentner and Friedemann Bedürftig ed., Das Grosse Lexikon des Dritten Reiches, München, 1985) And Ian Kershaw : « I have on no single occasion cited Hermann Rauschning's 'Hitler Speaks', a work now regarded to have so little authenticity that it is best to disregard it altogether. » (Hitler, vol. 1, London, 1998, p. xiv.)

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