We just needed a little more room.
I learned about the rise and fall of the Nazis as close to first hand as someone can while not being alive and living in Germany at the time. I heard the stories from Germans who were virulently against Hitler (they even wrote a book about it - Hauenstein gegen Hitler). I know, from people who witnessed first hand, the horrors and atrocities committed in the name of the fascist leadership. I know what they did to resist, to save lives when it seemed the rest of their nation was in the tank for the Nazis.
Hitler himself came to deliver a speech in my town and none of the townspeople showed up (they all went into their houses and drew the shutters), the Nazis having to bus people in from other places to have a crowd for der Fuehrer to address. The people of my town were some of the first in Germany to see American troops (we're 10 minutes from the French border) and greeted them like liberators. From the time I can remember, I was taught how to spot a fascist in seconds by their words and deeds. It's why I'm so anti-'conservative'. The only difference between them and the Nazis is their intensity. I could write 20 pages on the similarities.
70, 80 years later, aside from some particularly foolish, stupid, and crazy (not the good kind of crazy like me, but the seriously crazy) people, I thought the crimes of my people toward themselves and the rest of the world were settled. I thought it was universally understood that it was a horrible time in human history and should never be repeated. My people went so far as to criminalize Nazi speech and symbols to assure we never get in touch with our 'inner beast' again.
Then there's Pat Buchanan. Dday:
I guess the news peg for this is the anniversary of the start of WWII in September 1939, but Pat Buchanan has gone ahead and apologized for Hitler, claiming he sought no empire or wider war with Europe, and had merely benign interests of German unification at heart: [my em]
A lot was justified by the term "German unification" (mostly bad), almost as much as the "Word of God" gave license to massacre and atrocity over the course of history. This paragraph makes me sick:
Indeed, why would he want war when, by 1939, he was surrounded by allied, friendly or neutral neighbors, save France. And he had written off Alsace, because reconquering Alsace meant war with France, and that meant war with Britain, whose empire he admired and whom he had always sought as an ally.
As "American exceptionalism" pervades our foreign policy today, so did "German exceptionalism" in the years between the wars. Germany was humiliated after WW1, a great wound to a very proud people (believe me). German unification was to be just that, a consolidation of the lands occupied by ethnic Germans outside German borders. It was a broad swath of Europe, comprising parts of Russia (You don't think "White Russian" is only the name of a drink, do you?) in addition to the Slovak states. The term "Grossdeutschland" wasn't pulled out of someone's ass; the idea of a "Greater Germany" was at the heart of Nazi policy.
I'll agree with Pat on one point. Hitler didn't want war, if he could take what he wanted without a firing a shot. You can bet there was no moralizing in Berlin if it was determined something desired could only be had by force. The tanks rolled the next day.
Hitler and his criminal band wanted a pure, white, Germany that stretched from the shores of Dunkirk to the Bosporus, from Scandinavia to the Sahara, and nothing was going to stand in their way. From the bloodthirsty SS commanders to the greedy industrialists to the exceptional propaganda machine (rivaled only by today's Republican Party), the overriding philosophy was to expand German influence and acquire the resources needed to keep what they took.
Pat Buchanan is horribly, dangerously wrong to portray Hitler as some sort of pacifist, forced into war at the tip of the Allied sword. Hitler was mad but those who envisioned riches and power as a product of his 'expeditions' enabled him. Emboldened by early victories, conquest of Europe and the reacquisition of the African colonies was a certainty. To suggest the Allies drove Hitler to war is ridiculous when the intent was there from the beginning. To suggest the atrocities committed at the camps (and on the streets) were somehow aggravated by the Allies taking a stand against Hitler in the early days is nearly criminal.
It's easy to see why Pat wants to soften Hitler because the right in 21st Century America has their own version and the similarities are too striking to be ignored. If those on the right can't make Hitler more 'human', Dick Cheney stands a good chance of going to jail and the Republicans are liable to go the way of the Nazis. It is quite worrisome to me where some can find justification for anything Hitler did, let alone hint that the Allies were somehow complicit. There are too many Americans out there who would listen to this trash and believe it's time to start rounding up and executing the untermenschen. It is amazing how far we've fallen.