Fri 17 Oct, 2003 05:51 pm
though the theme of the bar is obviously inappropriate it made me think, why is hitler hated so much more than stalin, pol pot, or hirohito?
i doubt a bar named after any of those mass murderers would be as shocking to westerners. and i think that's the answer to my own question. hitler was a western mass murderer.
hnh. Just another bad coincidence. Good questions to ponder - about Hirohito and such. I guess I really don't know the details of other masters of genocide. I guess it's because the USA is home to so many Jews, Hitler is better known to us.
The remarks I'm about to make may earn me few friends, but I feel I must make them. Part of the reason that Hitler is apparently reviled so much more than other dictators among Americans has to do a guilty secret: that is that leading up to WWII, Americans were not at all sure where they stood in regard to the man. It is a fact that the Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden, just a couple of years before we entered the war, was one of the largest fascist rallies ever held.
Many prominent Americans, in particular industrialists such as Henry Ford, Prescott Bush and techno heros such as Charles Lindbergh were openly supportive of the man. Add to this our own blind eye turned toward the extermination of the Jews, including the shameful turning away of a shipload of Jews who sought haven on our shores and the equally shameful inability of the New York Times to issue reports that it had on file about the death camps, and what you have, once the enormity (correct use of this word) of the Nazi Party's deeds became more widely known, is a sense of shame on the part of America --the predictable psychological response to which was to suddenly massively express revulsion, as if we felt it all along.
Now, to be fair, why was Hitler at all admired? Because during the time of a global depression, and following the horrendous economic meltdown of the Weimar Republic, Hitler's rallying of the beleaguered German people seemed like a miraculous achievement. While America, beholding to its own industrialists and yet conflicted by it's oft expressed support for the 'little guy' was caught in paralyisis by the depression, the antlike society of the Germans, striding in lock step toward what appeared a universal recovery from hard times, appealed to people who thought that the answer was an all powerful industrial state, ie naziism.
As one who has read and studied these moments of history with an eye toward helping prevent their repetition, I would say Americans came away with all the wrong lessons (a not unusual event). It is not unusual to hear righties today express the thought, "Maybe some of the things Hitler achieved weren't bad..." There is also, in my opinion, a need to personify the whole mess in this one man's name. Naziism had many masters. Hitler was spokesman, but Goebbels, Himmler, Goering, were perhaps more powerful. And the German people themselves, though they would protest the suggestion of it, were complicit. Hitler did not alone perform all that evil. Everyday Germans ran those camps, and found rationalisation for it at the time.
It is the need so many have to distance themselves from an evil that once seemed attractive that leads to the usual placing of Hitler highest among villains. History shows that desperation may make villains of us all.
Sorry if these thoughts offend Americans, but I think they need repeating til people get it. We did not enter world war II against Hitler. We entered against the Japanese, even as our leaders and many prominent people knew the extent of the German evil.
Part of the reason that Hitler is apparently reviled so much more than other dictators among Americans has to do a guilty secret: that is that leading up to WWII, Americans were not at all sure where they stood in regard to the man. It is a fact that the Nazi rally at Madison Square Garden, just a couple of years before we entered the war, was one of the largest fascist rallies ever held.
But, Beedle - that reason only works for people who were cognitive before the second world war started, no? I was born well after WWII. I learned in school about Hitler, but not much. I guess some of the teachers I had were aware of world events during his reign and may have influenced me, but I don't think so. I still stand with the fact that we know a lot about the guy. And that's because we have such a large Jewish population.
I can say, in this regard, what you learned was only what was passed down. I myself was born after WWII (1948). I got this stuff by poking at the hornets nest until the nasty facts stung me hard. My mom, bless her, tried to tell me. All this was part of what shaped her world view/opinion. I didn't believe her until I read and read and thought and thought. And in particular, til I stopped believing the easy answers. Those little buggers are so rarely on the mark.
I can definitely see where you're coming from.
That's very interesting.