Evil Genius (TQP #0039)
I meant this to be my first entry, but I found myself grappling with the tone. And then I started listening to The Who a lot, and got distracted. The tonal problem stems from the opening sentence, so I’ll just say it, and ask for a little patience:
Nazis fucking fascinate me.
Just…just hold on a second.
I don’t mean Nazism. It’s wrong-headed and abhorrent and disgusting. Obviously.
But the fact is, the leaders of the Nazi party were in the classic sense Evil Geniuses, and so it’s hard for me not to be intrigued.
I learned this about myself a while back: if the History Channel is airing one of those specials on the religion or the weaponry of the Third Reich, I do not change the channel.
Anything discussing the history of World War II? I’m just not terribly into it. I get that it’s important, a defining period of the 20th century, but, y’know, I went through 10th grade history. I got it.
Show me concept designs of the strange-ass weapons they were trying to develop? Don’t touch that dial.
Sadly, what may keep me interested is my dork-sense recognition of it all: the Nazis were the only real-life supervillain group of the modern world.
Cobra, the evil organization bent on world conquest, opposed only by G.I. Joe, could not have possibly come up with crazier ideas than the Nazis. And Cobra was a cartoon.
(This is especially glib when you read that the writers on “G.I. Joe” only hit their stride on Cobra Commander when they stopped writing him like Hitler and started writing him like Yosemite Sam. Which is a great example of one of our greatest defense mechanisms: Take something that scares us, and make it a cartoon. Anyway.)
Here’s what really honks me off. It’s that these lunatic ideas weren’t even ideals, so much as a means to an end.
Himmler shoved a wildly esoteric and otherwise completely discarded Aryan mythology down everyone’s throats because he believed it to be a rallying tool to unite the German people. That the Ubermensch depicted in this mythology is a tall, blonde, blue-eyed man-among-men, a polar opposite to the short, dark-haired lunatic they called leader didn’t matter. It was a glorious image, and that it had no relevance to reality was an afterthought.
More disconcertingly, the Third Reich had such astounding plans for breaking the bonds of gravity – of reaching outer space – that at the time they would reasonably have been considered fever dreams.
But what was their primary goal? Was it the development of a moon base, or a space station that would rocket the human race out to the great beyond?
No. The grand idea of the Nazi party was a space-based laser beam that could burn London to the ground.
I tend to be amazed at the presence of geniuses in the world. People with both brainpower and vision. People who could change the course of history.
(See, it’s sentences like that that made me want to wait a while before writing this one up. Tell me I’ve gained a certain level of trust from you all by now.)
I’m not disappointed in Nazis. Obviously.
I’m just disappointed that such staggering imagination, these fantastic dreams that could have propelled the human race into the future, were owned by power-hungry, hateful fucking lunatics. Even worse, lunatics who weren’t necessarily actual racists. A racist at least has a belief structure, warped and inhuman as it is. But these bastards were just so cynically manipulative, that they saw how well hate could work as a means to an end and said, “Let’s try that.”
These were men who looked up at the sky with absolute certainty that the human race could get up there. But as far as they were concerned, the only reason to do it was to scorch the hell out of Europe.
How could people of such limitless imagination have been so limited in scope? How could they have dreamed of the heavens only as a means of creating hell on earth?
Why would anyone want to use their genius that way?
If the Nazi party could have dreamed the future without coloring it with hatred and horror. If they could have powered their potential technology with love and fellow-feeling.
I realize that at best, I’m asking, “Why couldn’t they have used their powers for good instead of evil?” And at worst, I’m just wondering, “What if the Nazis were really smart hippies?” But as a guy constantly looking at tomorrow and wondering why we weren’t there half a century ago, I have to ask that big what-if:
If the Nazis weren’t such stupid hateful fucking bastards, if they recognized that we’re all part of the same world, the same chemistry-set we call life. If the men behind the most horrendous atrocities of modern history could’ve just played for Team Humanity…what could the 20th century have been?