When one ponders the extreme destructive power of hatred, what can easily come to mind is the unfathomable Holocaust of World War II--the obliteration of approximately 5.8 million Jewish people1, an estimated 2.5 million Soviet prisoners of war, tens of thousands of Poles and thousands of Russian, Belorussian, and Ukrainian peasants2. It is difficult to understand; however, how the seed became planted in the mind of the man infamously known as Hitler has an origin.
In the late 1800's, Karl Lueger (1844-1910) used his belief in racial superiority, namely anti-Semitism, as a means to get votes during the Vienna mayoral elections. He used the Jews as a scapegoat for the economic difficulties his people were experiencing. This appeal was widely accepted, thus placing him at his desired post--mayor of Vienna, Austria3. Adolph Hitler was born in 1889 in Austria and it was during Lueger's long rule that Hitler found himself looking to him as a hero. He studied the anti-Semitic publications inspired and supported by Lueger that were openly distributed to the general public. Karl Lueger saw anti-Semitism as a means to win an election, never realizing that his insidious ideas would be taken to a level beyond the grasp of human understanding.
The "Savior" of Germany
In Germany, during the early 1930's, millions of people were out of work because of the worldwide economic depression. The faith of many in their existing government was waning. These factors set the stage for the inevitable rise of a new leader, Adolf Hitler. He was a charismatic speaker who won the appeal of a vast number of Germans who were desperate for change. Before the depression, Hitler's party, the Nazis (The National Socialist German Workers Party), was virtually unknown. Nevertheless, in 1932 the Nazis won the elections and in January of 1933 Hitler was recognized as Chancellor. Many believed he would be the country's savior4.
Shortly after Hitler came into power he eliminated the freedom of press, speech and assembly, also, the right to privacy; therefore, people's mail became accessible to his officials, phones were tapped, and searches without a warrant were permitted. He used these tactics to ensure the enforcement of Nazi policies. Those guilty of opposing the new order were beaten or killed by the SA (Nazi Storm Troopers).
Once all organized opposition was eliminated, Hitler poured his attention into creating an Aryan "master race." He viewed Jews as being a poisonous race that were as parasites, weakening any race they came in contact with. Therefore, they should be removed. Nazi policies with respect to Jews developed gradually. But as time passed, Hitler's ambivalence as to how this should be accomplished evolved into a decisive, permanent solution, hence, the "Final Solution."
When World War II ended, many people thought that death had come to Hitler's distorted ideals. However, in spite of the collapse of the Nazi regime, his beliefs echo on, finding expression on the lips of a new generation of believers.
The Skinhead Phenomenon
By the mid-eighties a phenomenon that originated in England during the early 1970's found its way to America's streets, the Neo-Nazi Skinheads5. The Skinheads' goal is to continue the work Hitler began, to create an Aryan race. This, however, does not only mean elimination of the Jew. Most murder victims of the American Skinheads come from Hispanics, African-Americans, Asians, homosexuals, and homeless people. Murders committed by the Skinheads in the United States during 1987-1990 came to a total of 6, and from 1990-1993 the total ballooned to 37. Our own homespun version is considered the most violent in the world, only matched by their German counterpart. They are also known to beat, stab, shoot, steal, and desecrate synagogues6.
Membership is approximately 3,500 in 40 states. There is no national Skinhead organization. However, the skins have become closely linked with other hate groups. For example, Shawn Slater, a well-known leader of the Denver skins became associated with the KKK and later led a Klan rally. Ultimately he and his faction left the Knights of the KKK to join a more radical Klan group. Through his influence, many Skinheads now march with Ku Kluxers in their demonstrations promoting anti-Semitism and white supremacy7.
Genocide in Africa
It seems inconceivable that in 1994 the world would witness the genocide of one million people. Hatred of the Hutu for the Tutsi was the instigation of this heinous act. Both groups are Rwandese people, no different in physical attributes, language, beliefs, and culture. Yet a divisional chasm was created to such an extent to bring about a difference where there is little difference. This divisional chasm was begun by the political use of one group over another8.
Astonishingly, the international community was slow in taking any action to stop the systematic, nationwide massacre of the Tutsi. People throughout the world watched the news in utter disbelief. Hundreds of bodies were seen floating down rivers while whole villages were littered with their former occupants. Men, women, children and infants were mercilessly exterminated.