TIK is a YouTuber that over the years has garnered a significant following. He took a dramatic turn by proposing the Nazis held certain economical views (I’m neutral on that front) that others highly contest, and since then he’s become highly controversial.
He’s now diving into a topic that I’m well versed on: the history of Christianity in Hitler’s Germany.
I’m rather devout myself and I’ve read about the persecution of Christians in a number of countries. Obviously the nazi regime is the most notorious of them all, so the level of interest in it is elevated compared with the rest. His most recent video is about the “Hitler’s Table Talks” fiasco.
Here is TIKs video:
Aside from his battle-storm videos (when ideology isn’t a concern), most of TIK’s videos these days are espousing increasingly odd and contrarian takes on the Second World War. He’s very eloquent, and the fact that it’s contrarian is hardly a bad thing in itself.
TIK’s argument at first starts off well, he notes what Nilsson and some previous have, that much of the historians writing about the Table Talks wrongly thought that the English version was translated from the original German rather than the French copy it was actually based on, and that the German wasn’t actual stenography. The French version basically contained many manufactured quotes by the French terrorist-financier François Genoud and other distortions. None of this is news to me. However half way through, the video goes from him presenting the overall argument of others, to turning on the author in question with some plain disagreements of his own. Ok…I’m all ears, TIK.
TIK argues that the Table Talks in question are still a viable source despite the immense controversy surrounding it, because Nilsson didn’t conclusively prove that the German version is a forgery, and that therefore the German version is still a viable source. Conveniently, he plans to do a video about Hitler and Christianity shortly after this…hmmm.
Nilsson never claimed that the German table talks were an outright forgery in his book, he reserves the term for Hitler’s “Final Testament” specifically and the changes in the French translation that many of the English-language books quote. But TIK comes up the with the logic that Nilsson implied this, therefore because he didn’t show it was an absolute forgery in his book, therefore it’s still a viable source for him to use, and Nilsson is ironically the unreliable one, and that if you do agree with Nilsson you’d have to throw out all memoir-type sources and that you’re overly selective. (Seriously TIK…syllogism AND a straw-man in the same self-supporting argument?)
In other words, he acts like if we follow Nilsson’s idea to it’s logical conclusion we would be calling all historical sources ever unreliable and so if we follow it all of history would simply be set on fire! (Hence, TIK’s choice of thumbnail) This is TIK’s usual reductio ad absurdum shtick routine, and it’s exhausting. Memoirs aren’t perfect to begin with, but obviously there is a difference between memoirs that are consistent with the facts and ones that are not, and it’s on this front that this video fails to demonstrate that we should put any sort of trust in even the German table talks.
TIK levels accusations of selectively using sources, yet he is very selective himself in the way he represents Nilsson; in this case, selective in what he quotes. Firstly, looking at TIK’s statements at 35:32, he is referring to Hitler’s statements on officer’s conduct in wartime. He sources a book by Zittelman, and notes that Hitler’s view of officers changed over time, proving Nilsson wrong on his own view that Hitler’s views “never changed”. (*Although Nilsson didn’t exactly say that, he said Hitler’s views “remained constant”, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Hitler NEVER changed his mind, not everything has to be interpreted in a black-and-white manner, let alone for a non-native English speaker like Nilsson. I suppose Hitler’s Table Talks doesn’t have to be perfect but Nilsson’s book does.) Now, when it comes to Nilsson’s book, he noted about the same subject in the following…(quoted directly from Nilsson’s book)
It concerns a comment about the mass slaughter warfare at Verdun. Pyta writes – based upon notes made by the chief of staff of Hans Guderian’s tank group, Kurt Freiherr von Liebenstein, dated 21 December 1941 – that Hitler regarded the decisions of the generals at Somme and Verdun to have been a positive expression of the will to stand one’s ground. He absolutely did not view this mass killing of hundreds of thousands of people as a consequence of madness (Starrsinn), writes Pyta. However, Heim records Hitler on 13 October 1941 as having said that the offensive at Verdun was “an act of madness” (eine Wahnsinnstat gewesen). Apparently, Hitler also said that the commanders on both sides should have been court-martialled. Since then the attitude had changed, Heim continues, and one day such misdeeds would not be dealt with so lightly. It is a complete contradiction.
This particular contradiction is within the table talks themselves. It’s funny how TIK brings this same subject out, but curiously omits this part, eschewing it by bringing up the subject but from a different book. As Nilsson points out himself after the above quote in his book, Hitler could very well have radically changed his opinion on this in twenty years, but in two months? Give me a break. For somebody who claims to be against selective use of sources, how horribly selective and deceptive of you, TIK.
In fact, TIK ignores just about everything that Nilsson uses to prove the “original” German text (and not just the French translation) is unreliable, even if not 100% fraudulent. For example; that the note takers, just like Genaud, had no qualm with lying on numerous occasions themselves, and were in a constant struggle for the publishing rights, giving in further motive to distorting the facts. Picker went as far as claiming that his notes were actual stenography, it wasn’t just the publishing companies selling Hitler’s Table Talks that made that false claim.
(I think now is a good time to bring this up: TIK’s wording throughout the video, by the way seems carefully considered but confusing. He avoids calling the Table Talks “reliable” outright, but, similar to what he accuses Nilsson of doing, he implies that anything short of a forgery is indeed reliable, and since implication counts to TIK too: Are the German table talks reliable or not in your opinion, TIK? I think Nilsson does a good job proving that’s it’s not; and interestingly enough, I think it fits with TIK’s own definition of a forgery, more on that later.)
Perhaps more convicting, is that Picker noted how Bormann constantly tampered and changed the notes he had made purposely distorting them. On top of that, there were changes made even by other unknown parties, such as paginations that neither Picker or even Bormann had written, for example. ‘Who on earth had access to these notes?’ is an obvious question. We know that Bormann himself espoused his own radical anti-Church views, and had every reason to put his own words in Hitler’s mouth to give his own positions more credence. The fact that almost all of Hitler’s views of the Church come from the Bormann/Picker text and a bit of Heim too is very telling; Müller, the most reliable of the bunch, doesn’t seem to be attributed with any of Hitler’s quotes on the Church/Christianity at all. What’s more, we already know other Nazis were willing to distort Hitler’s views of religion (Genaud himself!) so why is it such a stretch? TIK is a big proponent of the idea that German generals dishonestly represented Hitler as a mad man, so I don’t think it should be that hard for him to believe in the concept of ulterior motives. If Reichsbishop Ludwig Muller, leader of the “German Christians” (the Protestant church adjunct of the Nazi party) had supervision over the table talk notes, you can bet he would have distorted it in the opposite direction.
Nilsson states all of this in his book and all regarding the “original” German text and it’s reliability (or lack thereof). Yet TIK eschews most of this and claims they weren’t debunked at all by Nilsson, he dishonestly represents the arguments and simplifies it to: Nilsson doesn’t think it fits in with Mein Kampf. A real hatch-job of a video. He even says that Nilsson goes against the premise of his book by saying that the table talks are indeed authentic for the most part…yes TIK, they are authentic in the sense that they were written by people who were there, and also re-written and edited (namely by Bormann) in a dishonest way by the people in question, that doesn’t mean they are accurate or reliable, sometimes even a strong possibility that it’s Bormann wanting Hitler’s ideas to fit in with his own. Manstein also authentically had the conversations with Hitler where he claimed Hitler was making stupid strategic decisions….and he distorts the views and reasoning of Hitler in those meetings too, as TIK has argued in the past. Although I will note the implication in Nilsson’s book is that Bormann would edit and fill out notes of Heim and Picker even when he wasn’t present for the “talk” in question.
So how does TIK completely misrepresent a book like this so severely and not get called out in his own comment section? I don’t agree with absolutely everything Nilsson offers when it comes to his personal opinions either, but the need to basically debunk and dismiss Nilsson’s book as a whole seems to be the objective. It’s really quite shocking, looking into the comment section it’s apparent barely anybody who follows has read it themselves, otherwise they’d ask why TIK acts like “it doesn’t fit with Mein Kampf/it fits too well with Mein Kampf” is an appropriate summarization of the argument. TIK even goes as far as claiming that Nilsson hasn’t really added anything of his own and has just compiled the same arguments as before but differently, despite having pieced together a history of the German originals that even Carrier didn’t do (funny, by that standard everything that TIK is saying to defend the German table talks is just a repeat of what Richard Weikart has already said before him). He even implied that Richard Carrier had an agenda when he pointed that Genaud fabricated large texts because of his own personal views of Christianity; fair enough, Carrier is an ideologue, but then again so is TIK, and at least Carrier wasn’t dishonest in the way he handled Genaud.
What’s even more odd is that TIK has frequently used the same standards he’s accused Nilsson of using when it comes to using memoirs. TIK has claimed Manstein is a liar who can’t be trusted, but appeals to others that if they regard Manstein as reliable, implying that they should regard the table talks as reliable too. You don’t even find Manstein reliable yourself TIK! And in another video he calls Hoffman’s diary at Stalingrad a forgery. (He ironically gives the best rebuke of the the Table Talks at 16:00 of that video, despite actually referring to Hoffman’s diary.) His basis for the Hoffmann diary are a series of inconsistencies with the historical events themselves, proving that there are some lies in his view. (Kind of like how some of the note takers from the table talks falsely claimed to be stenographers, and how Hitler goes from praising generals at Verdun to saying they should have been subject to court martial in a matter of weeks?) He’ll happily throw out the same kind of memoir source when it doesn’t suit him, and often on more tenuous grounds, as he proudly states at the end of the table talks video, despite having just lectured everybody that you can’t distinguish between unreliable and reliable because by definition all sources are unreliable. Yet, strangely, TIK can differentiate between the two and call some memoirs forgeries or not when it suits him.
Perhaps summing up best these opinions of his, at 22:00 of his Table Talks video, TIK states that “all humans are imperfect”. Ahhh…history is imperfect you see, so don’t right off something just because it’s got some scratches. I get it, and there is truth to it. But TIK, boats don’t need to be perfect either, but they better well not have a fat whole in the side when you go out into the ocean in one!
In fairness TIK does admits that the Table Talks are “problematic” and that there is “more to Nilsson’s argument”, but his summary of Nilsson’s argument eschews far too much and in a dishonest way, and his usual reaction to prove himself right and others wrong gets the better of him here and refuses to call the German table talks unreliable — you know TIK, you’re allowed to quote anything you want including unreliable sources, its just that it’s highly untrustworthy whether you use it or not just as you’ve labeled Hoffmann’s Stalingrad diary in the past, even though you are pretending it’s not.
People had brought this up to him in his comments before when he tried to use the Table Talks as a source, and in preparation for his future video about Hitler’s views on Christianity, he obviously wants to try and clear the reputation of the German language text so he can quote it himself…big surprise. TIK’s become yet another historian who just can’t accept such a juicy source of Hitler quotes (especially ones that seem to confirm his own suspicions) being unavailable to him; I mean, it was always available to him. He is just making the source seem more reliable than it is.
TIK will probably use The Holy Reich as an example of an opposing view in his video on Hitler and the church. If so hopefully he won’t grossly misrepresent Richard Steigmann-Gall the way he has with Nilsson, and mention some uncomfortable facts like how most of the persecution when it came to Protestants was related to the Nazi-controlled church headed by Ludwig Muller and Hanns Kerrl fighting against the confessing church. More likely is that we’ll get the usual diatribes quoted from Rosenberg, the Goebbels diaries, and the oh/so-dependable Table Talks, instead of in inconveniences and nuances like how Göring was quite literally made the Summus Episcopus of the Prussian Protestant Church. He probably won’t mention Father Tiso in Slovakia or Ante Pavelic in Croatia and their church ties, Hitler’s most fanatical allies, either.
For the record… Hitler was not Christian in the true biblical sense to me for obvious reasons: he was a violent dictator. But I think he found the church an expedient way to control the masses. There is a lot of nuance. I plan on an article soon about a related subject, so maybe TIK will stay tuned and see what I have to say first.
In summary: TIK didn’t prove that Nilsson was really wrong about much at all, except maybe the definition of what makes a “primary source”, or that the German version of Hitlers Table Talks are a reliable source by implication, or at least “not a forgery”, whatever shifting meaning that has to him. Even the original German is unreliable, surrounded by controversy, proven liars, additions and subtractions by people pushing an idealogical agenda — and though we don’t know the all exact places where Bormann did that specifically, unlike Genoud, we just know that he did tamper and distort them based on the note-takers and other supporting evidence, so it’s not just a shot in the dark, plus we have people who weren’t caught lying over and over again (Schramm and Rosenbaum) saying that Bormann did that too. Some of what is in it is likely accurate to what Hitler said, even an unreliable engine can start sometimes, but much of it — especially regarding the subject of religion that Bormann cared so much about — is not, it is precisely the religious aspects of the table talks that were most tampered with by Bormann. TIK is free to quote whatever source he wants, and I and others will be free to continue telling him that it’s an absolute unreliable dumpster fire of a source.
Perhaps some will say I’m being to hard on TIK, maybe even accuse me of misrepresenting his position; but I honestly think I didn’t misrepresent him, and at least people can watch his YouTube video to check for themselves with ease. How many people who watched TIK’s videos will read the book for themselves?
I don’t think I trust TIK in the way he presents a lot of his sources, and how authors need to be transparent and not “selective” about the sources they use…fair enough, but he doesn’t take his own advice. For example, his video on Wehrmacht -committed rapes.
Somebody asks TIK a question; it’s about some people ignoring the sexual atrocities committed by the Soviets, and that he thinks there is a difference between individual rapes and mass rapes. TIK (opening with the claim that “this video is backed by direct sources listed in the description”) then proceeds to respond with the claim that Soviet war rapes were on a much smaller scale: only two million compared with ten million committed by the Germans. Leaving aside that he says “Soviet atrocities pale in comparison to German ones”, and yet ends on the note “don’t take sides” implying the questioner was somehow excusing Nazis with his question, what is his source for this?
A PDF link that appears on screen in smaller lettering for about 30 seconds. Despite his qualifier that at the beginning that all his sources would be listed below, the source for this bombshell number and the crux of his entire argument is curiously absent from the description. In the google spreadsheet listed below it’s nowhere to be found either; he says in that spreadsheet that his source list is incomplete, but by his own admission it should be somewhere to find if he claims to be open about it.
Perhaps TIK was hoping no one would bother to pause the video and manually type out the link and check for themselves…well, I did, since I didn’t just take TIK’s word for it, unlike 90% of his followers. His source is a rather obscure article in PDF forum from a November 1998 issue of a Schleswig-Holstein based magazine, page 9. The relevant excerpt is below. Anyone who doesn’t trust my own translation can use this link and translate it themselves to double check.
In discussion with Prof. Dr. Jan Phillip Reemtsma, Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Eichwede mentions the fact that there were an extraordinarily large number of children of Wehrmacht soldiers in the former Soviet Union. Referring to Russian historians and German sources, he assumes that more than a million children were conceived under wartime conditions and emphasizes that there is much evidence of rape (cf. Thiele, p. 96).
On the basis of biological conditions, it can be assumed that, statistically speaking, about every tenth sexual intercourse results in a pregnancy. Consequently, it must be assumed that around 10 million women were raped by German men on Russian soil alone. Around 200,000 children of German occupation soldiers were born in Norway, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands and France. The extent to which the causal contacts were voluntary or carried out out of fear, hunger and violence remains a matter of speculation for as long as how there is no interest in research (cf. Sander, p. 71).
So, let’s get this straight: a German professor assumed around one million children born to Russian women fathered by German men in Russia based on Russian and German sources, and notes there is evidence of some rape in the individual cases he can examine. Then based on that, the author of this text assumes that statistically it can be assumed that one in ten instances of sexual intercourse result in pregnancy, and that therefore it can be assumed 10 million Russian women were raped by German men. (LOL, an assumption based on an assumption based another persons assumption, need I say more?) This is despite the fact that at the end it even notes that the number of children born and romances that were willful or not is purely speculation anyways because of a lack of research. Pure idiocy. What’s to stop someone from saying: there is much evidence of consensual sex between Germans and women in occupied territories, and therefore that 10 million number pulled from a hat was all consensual? Of course, that would be absurd to any reasonable person. No wonder TIK wasn’t transparent with this source!
Everyone’s titled to their own bias of course, but TIK just seems too self-assured in his opinions for my taste.