Illusion, Delusion, and Useful Idiots

One of the most devastating attacks of World War II by the allies was the raid on Dresden, Germany. It happened on February 13th & 14th, 1945. It comprised two waves of British Royal Air Force (RAF) Lancaster bombers and took place over a 10 hour period. A new tactic was employed called “bomber stream,” where a high concentration of bombs were released over a target in the shortest amount of time. We are not talking about “precision bombing” here, but what is known as “saturation bombing.” The bombs used in the raid were a mix of “concussion” and “incendiary.” The objective was to inflict damage over a wide area, wearing down the morale of the civilian population. In the first wave of the attack, 254 bombers released their payloads within two minutes at 10:14PM on February 13th. In the second wave, 529 Lancaster bombers dropped all their payloads in a 24 minute period between 1:21AM and 1:45 AM on February 14. “This means that in the first raid, on average, one Lancaster dropped a full load of bombs every half a second and in the second larger raid that involved more than one RAF bomber Group, one every three-seconds.” (Reference: Just for good measure, the USAF ran a follow-up raid with 316 B-17 Flying Fortresses at noon the same day. Growing up in the 50s and 60s, the “Firebombing of Dresden” was a well-known event of WWII simply because of the death and devastation that resulted. The concept of “Total War,” which includes all associated civilian resources and infrastructure as legitimate targets, had inflicted a terrible price on the German population.

To this day, I wonder how the average German citizen must have felt as the fiery destruction rained down on them. I am sure that in the lead-up to WWII, none of them saw this in their future. The United States went on to use this tactic in Japan. In one firebombing of Tokyo alone, “Approximately 15.8 square miles of the city was destroyed and 100,000 people are estimated to have died in the resulting conflagration, more than the immediate deaths of either the atomic bombings of Hiroshima or Nagasaki.” (Reference: In James Bradley’s book, “Flyboys,” copyright 2003, is a factual and horrific description of the effects of the attack. Many died from suffocation, as a hungry firestorm consumed the oxygen from the air. Here again, in the lead-up to WWII, I am sure the average Japanese citizen did not see this in their future.

So what are the circumstances that gave rise to such terrible events? Let us focus on Germany. Should you want to read a great book on Japan prior and through WWII, I highly recommend James Bradley’s book, “Flyboys” (not to be confused with the movie – not related). In Germany, — had come the rise of the Nazis in the 1920s, led by Adolph Hitler. Many have the mistaken belief that Nazism was a “far right” movement. In reality, it was National Socialism. The Nazi Party was also known as The National Socialist German Workers’ Party of Adolph Hitler. (Reference: The Nazi movement was a blend of liberal fascism and the concept of racial superiority, — with fascism being authoritarian nationalism, — and the idea of Aryan superiority being the racial component. Note that this rise of racial/authoritarian nationalism is antithetical to our own Constitution, the primacy of the “individual,” and the concept of God given rights.

In a critique of Hitler’s book, “Mein Kampf,” Austrian scholar Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, copyright 1943, (pages 202-203), points out that Hitler repeatedly speaks of the “masses” and the “herd” referring to the people: “The German people should probably, in his view, remain a mass of identical ‘individuals’ in an enormous sand heap or ant heap, identical even to the color of their shirts, the garment nearest to the body.” I find Erik’s quote to be spot on, as the original paramilitary wing of the Nazi Party, the Stermabteilung, — meaning Storm Detachment, — are contemporarily known as “Brownshirts.” In the end, after much turmoil, the Nazi Party was able to persuade the bulk of the German population to buy in to the movement. But by what means was Adolf Hitler able to accomplish this? How did he persuade the “herd,” as he referred to them?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “illusion” as “something that looks or seems different from what it is: something that is false or not real but that seems to be true or real.” The concept of Aryan superiority in the framework of an authoritarian nationalistic government was presented as a solution to the economic and social struggles of Germany. The severe war reparations imposed on Germany after WWI had taken its toll on the economy and its citizens. Various political movements were vying for the hearts and souls of the average German. The people found hope in the racial authoritarian movement of the Nazi Party that appealed to national pride. They desperately wanted something real and true, — and in that desperation, — the German people bought the “illusion.” They bought the “lie.”

Delusion” is defined (Merriam-Webster Dictionary) as something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated. The German people had to be deluded in their thinking to allow the falsehood of racial/ authoritarian nationalism to be propagated. In some definitions “delusion” is defined as a mental illness, as a patient persists in believing something is true when there is undeniable evidence to the contrary. The reality is that no German citizens, with the exception of a few like Dietrich Bonhoeffer, stood against the growing madness.

The Nazi Government had a master propagandist in Joseph Goebbels that aided in the illusion and delusion of the people. One of his quotes is a window into his thinking. “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” (Reference:

What about Hitler’s description of the German people as the “herd.” I would have to believe that he viewed the people as “useful idiots.” The term “useful idiots” is attributed to Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin to describe sympathizers in the West who blindly supported Communist leaders. (Reference: “In political jargon, useful idiot is a term for people perceived as propagandists for a cause whose goals they are not fully aware of, and who are used cynically by the leaders of the cause.” (Source: Wikipedia) In other words, the truth of the cause has been held back from those that propagate the political movement. To say this is cynical is an understatement. It is deception in order to propagate a lie.

When one looks deeper, you will find that the Greek root of the word “idiot” is “idios,” meaning “uniquely one’s own, unique to the individual.” To be an “idiot” is to act in a self-defeating or unproductive way. So, how do we get from “one’s own” to “self-defeating?” If we allow ourselves to become self-absorbed exclusively in our own needs and wants, we run the risk of being ignorant of the true motivation of others with influence in our lives. Our actions can then become self-defeating. There is a difference between self-interest, and being selfish. The pre-WWII Germans became tools of their own government, and because of their selfish ignorance, their actions became self-defeating. They brought destruction upon themselves, and a fiery end to the lie of National Socialism.

It would be wise to question any position put before us as fact or settled “truth.” Is it illusion or fact? Is there an agenda behind the story that we should be aware of? Here are just a few to ponder: 1. “Anthropologic (caused by man) global warming is settled science.” 2. “The attack on the compound in Benghazi, Libya in 2012 was the result of a spontaneous riot as the result of a YouTube video produced in the US.” (Oh yea, and they just happened to be carrying RPGs, rocket propelled grenade launchers!) 3. “We were unable to give Ambassador Stevens any help during the “spontaneous” attack on the compound.” 4. A question asked Hillary Clinton by Rep. Mike Pompeo of Kansas,— “Pompeo: Were you aware of any U.S. efforts by the U.S. government in Libya to provide any weapons, directly or indirectly, or through a cutout, to any Syrian rebels or militias or opposition to Syrian forces?” Clinton: “No.” (Yea, right, — someone else did it under my watch). Is there a pattern here? (Reference:

I refuse to be duped, — to be so deluded into propagating lies, and becoming a useful idiot. Some will read this essay and say that all this depends on how one defines the truth. Those people are most susceptible to lies and illusion, as they have no guide or standards on which they can rely. To them and the apathetic, I leave the quotes below. As one reads them, they should be mindful of the plight of the average German at the burning of Dresden, and remember that the “rain” of bombs fell on the just and the unjust. As Mark Twain said, “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme.” In the end, there is always a price to pay for believing a lie.

“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” — Hosea 8:7

“That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and unjust.” — Mathew 5:45