Learning to Flinch

Hitler wouldn't be happy until he lived in the fantasy world he believed in. Bush has a ranch in Crawford he seems happy with.

America won't be gassing Jews — or Arabs — or even (sadly) telemarketers — in our lifetime and hopefully never.

Hitler really missed an opportunity to show his more creative side as an evil genius when he lost the atomic bomb by chasing out the Jewish physicists. If you ever start despairing that the people in charge of the world are hopelessly inhuman and corrupt, ponder what Hitler would have done with a hydrogen bomb.

I think you'll agree it could be much, much worse.

Hitler is remembered for history-making crimes, most notably the genocide against the Jewish people. He's also frequently noted for his escalating assualt on human decency that lead up to World War II, such as the Nuremberg laws of 1935.

And so he should be.

Let's not pretend, however, that he invented any of the evils he perpetrated. Rescinding the human status of an ethnic group by virtue of judicial fiat? That's brilliant American jurisprudence. Methodical mechanized genocide? The holocaust was the BMW to our Ford — German engineering meets American innovation.

"We must act with vindictive earnestness against the Sioux," Sherman wrote to Ulysses S. Grant (commanding general of the federal army) in 1866, "even to their extermination, men, women and children." The Sioux must "feel the superior power of the Government." Sherman vowed to remain in the West" till the Indians are all killed or taken to a country where they can be watched."

"During an assault," he instructed his troops, "the soldiers cannot pause to distinguish between male and female, or even discriminate as to age." He chillingly referred to this policy in an 1867 letter to Grant as "the final solution to the Indian problem," a phrase Hitler invoked some 70 years later.

Thomas J. DiLorenzo,The Feds versus the Indians
The Free Market, January 1998, Volume 16, Number 1

At least Sherman had a practical goal for his pogrom: the US wanted land. That can't be said for the Turks, who nearly succeeded in genocide of the Armenians in 1915. That beat Hitler to the "genocide for its own sake" level of madness by a good 20-25 years. Hitler certainly gets credit for effort and talent, but not so much for originality.

The history of man is the history of crimes, and history can repeat. So information is a defense. Through this we can build, we must build, a defense against repetition.

Simon Wiesenthal, Baltimore Jewish Times
24 February, 1989

If anything positive can be said to have arisen from the Nazi death camps, it's a realistic belief that there can be a brighter future for the human race — we aren't doomed to endlessly replay our past mistakes. The fact that there have been post-WWII genocides despite our increased awareness is disappointing, but none of these tragedies has repudiated our hope for progress.

Sadly, there seems to be no shortage of tyrants vying for Hitler's spot on The Top 100 Historical Figures we Really Could Have Done Without. Still, they are no longer greeted with the international apathy and complicity that allowed Hitler to get as far as he did. The hyponotically atrocious story of Adolph Hitler's career as Germany's Supreme Executive is certainly something we should never forget, although I wonder how we could if we wanted to.

I don't think the world will ever tolerate those events again. And when I say "tolerate" I mean, avert their eyes and pretend they don't see it… kinda like everyone did with East Timor.


Moving on.

What concerns me, is not so much what he did while in power, but what he did to get there.

Hitler's actions from 1933 forward were so abhorrent that people lose sight of something — they forget something that we should also Never Forget. Before Hitler ordered the first Jew murdered, or the first political enemy imprisoned, or commisioned the first U-boat — hell, before he'd had those snappy uniforms designed — he'd already destroyed freedom, democracy and human dignity in Germany.

It wasn't long before people began to realize what Hitler was becoming, and even how far it might go, but by the time anyone did, it was usually beyond their capability to stop him.

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