To the Far Left and Right from Lorne Bair Rare Books
Watch out for the bite of the fascist insect.
Lorne Bair Rare Books, Manuscripts & Ephemera has issued a new catalogue, and despite the image on the cover, which might lead you to believe its title is “Death to the Fascist Insect that Preys on the Life of the People,” it is actually simply called Catalog 14. That piece on the cover is not surprising for Bair, who generally specializes in material well to the left of center. However, the Winchester, Virginia, bookseller also frequently includes some items far to the other side of the spectrum (what you won't find here is much material from the center). This time, there is also a substantial amount of material from the far right, Nazis taking their place at the table with Communists. While the far left wing material offered tends to be more over-the-top, some of the pieces from the right can be horrifying, such as the Adolph Hitler photo album. Here, now, are some of the items from the farther edges of the spectrum being offered.
William Z. Foster was a labor organizer in the teens who joined the Communist Party in America in the early 1920s. He rose in the ranks as a result of taking the right side in the squabbles going on in Moscow at the time. He supported Stalin over Trotsky. Despite battles within the U.S. party, Foster managed to secure the party's nomination for President in 1932. It was in this year that he published this explanation of the party platform, Toward Soviet America. He was also stricken with heart problems that year, that reduced his power going forward. Still he managed to survive until 1961, dying in Moscow and receiving a state funeral. And, for those not familiar with the voting in 1932, he lost the election. Item 15. Priced at $150.
Item 80 is an unexpected sounding title, The Communistic Societies of the United States; From Personal Visit and Observation. One would not expect anyone to use the “C” word in describing a society at all sympathetically with the paranoia that surrounded the word. However, this book goes back to the days before it had such connotations, the pre-Soviet era. Those communistic societies were more often referred to as “utopian,” idealistic communes, often based on religious beliefs. The most notable such group was the Shakers, a devout, celibate group who made sturdy, but uncomfortable furniture, consistent with their no-frills, no-fun lifestyle. Author Charles Nordoff visited several of their communities and those of other groups, including Aurora, Bethel, Amana and Oneida communities. Published in 1875. $350.
We need to give the other side its due, so here is one from the very far, extreme right: Hitler and the 20th Century Hoax, by Kenneth Goff, published circa 1954. Goff was a minister from the Christian Identity movement, a white supremacist theology with little affection for anyone else. The Nazis would have fit in well with many of these people, but once the war started, it was hard to be pro-Nazi and develop any kind of following in America. What's a poor anti-semite to do? Goff had the answer. Call Hitler a Communist of Jewish background, bankrolled by Jewish bankers. Blame the victims. Item 32. $95.
Here is an item that shows just how involved its author was in his state. Huey Long was a Governor of and Senator from Louisiana who was assassinated in the year this songbook was published – 1935. He is a man hard to peg on a traditional left-right spectrum. He was an extreme populist, passing much legislation designed to help the average people of his poor state, but he was a dictatorial, bullying leader not above his share of corruption. His career came to an end when he was gunned down by the son-in-law of a political opponent, and though his family and political machine continued to operate in Louisiana almost to the next century, it was never close to the powerhouse it had been under Huey. Item 121 displays a bit of how much he had become embedded in every state institution. It is LSU Songs, containing music to the songs Darling of L.S.U. and Touchdown for L.S.U., with words and music by Long and L.S.U. Marching Band Director Castro Carazo (selected for the position, naturally, by Long). $200.
To the Far Left and Right from Lorne Bair Rare Books
That is Angelika “Geli” Raubal in photo to the right.
Some books are surprising, at least by today's standards. Item 181 is Plutocracy or, American White Slavery. A Politico-Social Novel. This obscure piece was the work of Thomas Manson Norwood. In this 1888 book, he assails the stock market, the trusts (the 19th century version of today's corporations), and the unequal distribution of wealth. What makes this surprising is that Norwood served as a senator and representative from Georgia. It is hard to imagine any senator from Georgia today attacking large corporations or unequal distribution of wealth. $85.
Item 104 is a hand-made photo album containing 60 photographs of Adolph Hitler and his inner circle. It was put together for his 44th birthday in 1933 by Heinrich Hoffmann, a close friend and personal photographer. Many of these informal photographs, taken from 1929-1931, appear not to be available elsewhere. Hitler shows up in 24 of the photographs, and his then closest aid, Joseph Goebbels, is also seen. However, what is remarkable is the presence of Angelika “Geli” Raubal in 55 of them. She was Hitler's half-niece, the daughter of his half-sister. His relationship with Geli remains a mystery. She came to his household when Hitler brought in his half-sister to manage it. He was controlling of his niece, either personally or through someone else keeping constant tabs on her. He forbid her from having normal relationships with men, and various other activities she wanted to pursue. Rumors spread that he was sexually involved with her. One of his opponents in the Nazi Party claimed some very deviant sexual practices he demanded of her. Whether this was politics or true is not known. Claims have been made that Hitler was homosexual, asexual, and heterosexual, so it is unclear whether she would have attracted him physically. Certainly, he was one of the more twisted personalities to ever emerge on the public stage, so it is hard to know exactly what was going on behind closed doors. Geli killed herself in 1931 at the age of 23, after some reputed heated arguments with Hitler. There were rumors that rather than suicide, he killed her. Again, what exactly happened is unknown. It is interesting that two years later, Hoffman would present Hitler with a photograph album filled with her images as a birthday present. Eva Braun was in the picture by this time. She obviously still was on his mind. Photographer Hoffman would later claim that the “seeds of inhumanity” were planted in Hitler after Geli's death, not that he was a nice guy before then. This album came to America as a result of being removed from Hitler's residence by a G.I. at the end of the war. $50,000.
Lorne Bair Rare Books may be reached at 540-665-0855 or email@example.com. The website is www.lornebair.com.