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Interpreting Germany's "Hitler Exhibit"

See images below from the new exhibit at the German Historical Museum. Also, link to galleries at NYTimes and Der Spiegel.

In a time of economic fear and angry politics, Adolf Hitler rose to lead Germany into the maelstrom of Nazism. The world, and Germany, paid a heavy price.

Germans have had 65 years, since the end of World War II, to think about what went wrong. Now, for the first time since the war, a major German museum, in the heart of Berlin, has mounted an exhibit focused on Hitler himself, and “the Führer’s” relationship with Germans as he rose.

It’s extremely careful not to glorify. But Hitler is a weirdly hot topic again, in 2010.

We look back at Hitler, from where we are now.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests:

Dr. Simone Erpel, curator at the German Historical Museum in Berlin and co-curator of the new exhibit, “Hitler and the Germans: Nation and Crime.”

Constenze Stelzenmuller, Senior Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States and a fellow at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University. She’s a former defense and international security editor at the German weekly DIE ZEIT.

Jonathan Zatlin, professor of German and European history at Boston University. His research interests focus around modern German history, with an emphasis on Jewish-German history, communications, and economics.

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  • Michael

    “Germany’s First “Hitler Exhibit””

    This is dumb and I doubt the positives will outweigh the negatives from this.

    Could this be the reason in the rise in anti-multiculturalism and anti-immigrant Merkel was promoting last weekend?

  • Mike M

    I must argue that the exhibit cannot be fully understood from an American perspective. Our American understanding of Hitler’s Germany if often guided from a Jewish experience, a sense of guilt and compassion for one narrow viewpoint without greater academic tolerance. Our American media barely gives any attention to other victim groups such as Gypsies, Slavs or Gays. So, to be able to fully understand why “National Socialist politics packaged these enticements in the rhetoric of the »Volksgemeinschaft«, the myth of a »national community«”, it is important to focus on all these minority groups & their interactions with the Germans in that era. Furthermore, today, in America we do not even give any attention to the rise of radicalism among Europeans & its youth, although, we are becoming more extreme within our national political & moral arena.
    (Relatively speaking, how can National Socialism be so popular in Russia today if over 24 million died fighting Hitler? What cultivating environment is necessary to bring such extreme views to such popularity?)

  • lauren

    Couldn’t this exhibit be a lesson to all on propoganda? Some of the poster images look very similiar to those that promoted american wars. Granted we as Americans equate anything related to Hitler as evil (and rightfully so in my opinion), but it’s a good reminder that we as a free society should question our government or those in authority to a lesser degree and what they present to us.
    In addition, we generally only see the side of the millions of victims. Now we see how what helped the Nazi party to commit such attrocities, how they garnered support and even compassion in their time.
    Is this just Berlin’s way of “never forgetting”? As long as the exhibit doesn’t promote the ideals of Hitler, I think it may be a good thing, but I’m sure we’ll see on the show today.

  • http://brainmindinst.blogspot.com Peter Melzer

    I met several eyewitnesses who saw Hitler. The enlightened perceived him as a dark little figure making his way through the crowd in great hurry, flashing his German greetings left and right. No doubt, der Fuehrer was going to waste no time, sorting out the Volk’s destiny.

    What we must understand is the facility with which the manipulation of the truth and the pandering towards innate fears can misguide people into sanctioning the commitment of utmost atrocities in their name.

    The Nazis accomplished to co-opt the German people under their banner by making the party’s agenda the national agenda. They portrayed their wars, and all other campaigns in the wake, as actions taken in the defense of the German people. Therefore, it became unpatriotic to speak up against their evil plans. You were labeled ungerman and a traitor, if you opposed their policies.

    I hope that this exhibit may drive that point home.

  • aj

    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/10/19/hamas-suspect-arrest-canada.html

    Here’s some present-day manipulation of truth, pandering to some peoples innate fears, and misguiding people into the commiting of attrocities in their name.

  • T. Winter Gibson

    This should be interesting. I am looking forward to hearing this broadcast. I hope the show doesn’t descend into an exegesis on the holocaust. I recognize it as a significant (the significant) event of the 30s, early 40s Germany. But what governed their thinking? Was it just despotism? Hatred? Racism? What were the economic dynamics? Why was the alliance with Italy and Russia so vital? And why do we not hold those countries (for this time period) in disrepute? And lastly, (HERE IT COMES)… What does this European phenomenon have to do with Palestinian land?

  • Eva

    I am American with German-Jew ancestors (who were lucky enough to get out before the war). My husband is half German and spent most of his childhood in Germany. I have studied World War II both in school and independently, while he was taught next to nothing about the Third Reich — what little he knows comes from family stories of his grandfather’s heroism (a pilot for the Third Reich).

    Just as survivors of the Holocaust have descendants, so do the Nazis. Neither can help what side their family was on in the past… and they should not be judged for their ancestor’s actions, but given access to the truth. I hope that this display is the beginning of a more open and ongoing dialogue. German youth should be taught more about this time from unbiased sources who present the truth and evidence of the power, destruction, and ultimate fall of the Third Reich.

  • jeffe

    The timing of this, if there is ever a good time, is pretty awful. Considering that there is now a rise in anti-foreigner sentiment in the country.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/14/world/europe/14iht-germany.html?scp=4&sq=Germany&st=cse

  • Sasha Drugikh

    This would never happen in Russia, indeed “Mein Kampf” was recently banned for its “extremist content.” There’s a real danger here of getting certain Germans to show up not for history or self-reflection, but for far-right fetishism. After all, Germany has long made certain speech outlawed, and this has pushed Neo-Nazis underground.

  • Eva

    Isn’t the danger greater if we allow the German far-right extremists to own this portion of history? Yes, there are still Neo-Nazis… in Germany and elsewhere… but we cannot keep everyone else from being exposed to this time in history just because there are some who still cling to this frame of mind.

    I feel like allowing “certain Germans” to be the only ones who know much about this time is far more dangerous — this is not about “honoring Hitler” but about exposing the propaganda and control he exerted on the entire country… ALL Germans need to understand what happened in their country, not just the skinheads who wish it still continued, but the others who will work to keep that minority in check!

  • Mae

    This is no different from when the Smithsonian does exhibits on Japanese interment camps. History is history-with all its heroes and all its villains. People need to not perceive this as offensive but rather educational. Perhaps this exhibit is coming at the perfect time in our world when everyone is feeling vulnerable and looking for a quick. This exhibit might help us to remember how easy the world fell apart but promises of one man.

  • Ellen Dibble

    A few years ago I typed the memoir of a woman who had been a teenager in Nazi Germany, who had come to the USA later. I learned quite a bit from that, but I can’t find it on the Net; it was self-published. And indeed I don’t find a lot of such. I know one recent book “My Name was Five” by Heinz Kohler, that certainly lays it out. But I wish there were more. There the family had some hard-boiled Nazi’s and some quite the opposite.
    We need more memoirs while people with the memory are able, and old enough to have perspective to frame it.

  • http://cyberfumes.blogspot.com Dave Eger

    I’ve heard speculation that Hitler’s charismatic enthusiasm was enhanced by a use of amphetamines, which the Germans had recently discovered at the time. Could anyone comment on this?

  • Richard Osborne

    This is an important exhibit and the world benefits any time we have a chance to discuss these issues. It is important for people to understand, as best we can, how horrible people get power and control. We need to realize that this is not peculiar to Germans, humans are suceptible to this.

  • Nick

    Who funded this Hitler museum project?

    I don’t think this museum is necessary or helpful.
    By exhibiting human manufactured artifacts that Hitler owned or promoted him/Nazism/anti-Semitism, might “normalize or humanize” Hitler, but it does little to address/reflect his astonishingly evil psychology.

    Hitler wanted to eliminate anyone not Arian + “pure.”

    Hitler was fascist, homophobic, anti-Semitic.

  • josh

    Let’s not overlook that this was Nazi poropoganda machine was the timed among the first direct uses of the tv and movie theatre as the medium. Not tto long after people were frightened by moving pictures of frieght trains for the first time. The first tv images that radioed into space was the. Berlin Olympics.

  • Barbara

    The basic problem I have with a cultural exhibit of Hitler and the Nazis is that in this country there seems to be a revisionist concept especially with young people who have no memory of WWII or post-war. Look anywhere from creepy politicians “dressing up” like Nazis to fashion coming down the runway that emulates the cruel and intimidating face of Hitler’s insanity. More than once I have heard young, mostly men, suggest that as awful as the Nazis were, Hitler was a “brilliant” politician. He wasn’t brilliant; he did exactly what many in the Tea Party espouse, intolerance, xenophobia, fascism.

  • Marianna Holzer

    My mother always told this story: Her father, Emil Fuchs, a Lutheran minister in Eisenach, first thought this man was going to make things better for the country. He, her father, was asked to contribute his books to the cause. He packed them in his best suitcases. When he saw the soldiers take them out to the yard and burn them, he became involved in the resistance. At once point he formed a taxi company with his sons as the drivers, they said the taxis were all busy during the day and they drove Jews and others across the border at night.
    I think this exhibit is very important as a means for folks to talk and remember.

  • Ellen Dibble

    There is another author, Hans Keilson, a psychiatrist, an author a generation older, who had a publication in 1947, now available as Comedy in a Minor Key, and The Death of the Adversary, published in 1959, about learning to hate. I am really reluctant to summarize; I’m having trouble reading it. It is sort of the opposite of learning to love, the more American sort of plotline. It is about growing into the recognition of the adversary, even if the Stockholm syndrome obtains, and you want to love the ones who turn out to be amazingly dangerous and oppositional. I think it’s about learning to re-wire the brain, as psychiatrists would care about. I think he worked with PTSD post-war.

  • ArmyBrat

    Thank you for doing this program on the heels of the last one, Tom. I love NPR because you are the only ones who have the courage to speak honestly about what is happening, and making associations between the mindset of the Tea Party activists and the mindsets of the Gemeinschaft during this time.

    I would agree with the first caller, I lived six years in Germany, and there are Holocaust museums. I visited Dachau (about 15 years ago), and it is very much still intact and a commemoration to the fact that this happened. I spoke with an old lady who worked in a little shop and she wanted to know why I would visit this place. I told her I was a student. This is very hard for our generation of Germans to understand and come to terms with. I do believe Germany is ahead of the world in understanding this. Perhaps the people organizing the exhibit realize the importance of introducing the concept of Gemeinschaft RIGHT NOW.

    And nice pronunciation Tom, do you speak German?

  • Ellen Dibble

    If we think New York is the center from which the future grows, consider that Berlin in the era just before WWII was the center then. I’m not sure I believe this. It seems counterintuitive that the cultural ferment would be right next to the kind of self-destruction that took place.

  • jim thompson, fort mill,sc

    Tom:

    Could you ask your guests about the importance of the title Der Fuhrer?

  • Ellen Dibble

    Berlin is on the Google maps right down to each street address. You can locate anything without going there.
    I did go there in August 1989, and was moved by a broad field near the downtown railway station that was brown-yellow and empty. There was a mound with a little plaque, and supposedly Hitler’s bunker was over that way towards East Berlin. The Wall was right about where the Nazi administration was arrayed.
    Now I believe Germany has decided something to “do with” this space. But it was pretty effective as was.

  • Ellen Dibble

    By the time the evolution into Nazi Germany was clear, one was arrested for taking a stand, from what I read. The time to use civil courage and take a stand is WAY in advance of despotism being clear.

  • Nick

    Fascism + nationalism become popular ideologies + movements when economies falter + unemployment increases: the Tea Party Patriots, The John Birch Society, the United American Tea Party, Glenn Beck, etc.

    (Read The New Yorker article, “Confounding Fathers” by Sean Wilentz, 10/18/2010).

  • jeffe

    How about the The White Rose (German: die Weiße Rose)
    Was a non-violent/intellectual resistance group in Nazi Germany, consisting of students from the University of Munich and their philosophy professor.

  • Barry

    Adorno’s profound question regarding poetry after Auschwitz applies to the question of a museum’s representation of history. Despite the lofty motives and attempts to contextualize history, this is a form of commodification that will be utilized to different ends by neo-fascists and the newest incarnation of “folk.”

  • Emily

    Does anyone else see a relationship between the US treatment of Muslims in the middle east (rounding people up, labeling them “terrorist” and shipping them to various prisons around the world) to Hitler’s treatment of the Jews?

  • Tracy Altman

    I think this exhibit provides an incredible warning of how easy it is to do nothing at first when prejudices take hold in a democracy. I lived in Germany in the mid-1970′s, when the miniseries “The Holocaust” was being shown on German television, and the upset among europeans about that program. Germany (for the most part) does seem to understand what it did, I think whenever anyone, like the current Chancellor, brings up how “outsiders” are not fitting in there is a rush to conclude Germans are going back to that mindset from the time of Hitler.
    In the U.S., we should all be grateful we have the opportunity to voice our democratic concerns during the upcoming election, and strive to push for more open-mindedness to all views–Democracy does not mean we all have to agree, but we should respect that everyone has a right to their own views and should not be bullied onto any other individual.

  • http://Martinathiel.org Martin A. Thiel

    I am of paternal German descent. My father was born in E.Prussia (Passenheim, now Pasim)in 1896 of an upper class family. I still have his letterhead with one of the first phone numbers (F.007) in the area. They were one of the few Catholic families in the area tracing their freehold land rights back to the 1600′s. My first cousin traced this family tree to prove that he was pure Aryan in order to join the Wehrmacht. He was killed as a decorated second Lieutenant on the Russian front. His brother flew bombers for Hitler and was City engineer for Erlangen before he retired. He is a very typical German with some very modern offspring who do very avant-garde things in Berlin. Another branch of the family from an uncle who was thrown into the front by the SS in the last days of the war and perished in a tank 9 hours before the Armistice. His descendents and daughter now live in Bavaria and are quite prosperous. I have family photographs of my cousin as a child in a reviewing stand with Hitler as an example of superior German youth. THE WOLVES OF WORLD WAR II (McFarland) is an acount of his in our attic for over forty years. He survived bolshevik prisons an escaped. Not all Germans were bad. Read it.

    • Marc Plessa

      Dear Martin, one of my ancestors is a Thiel from Passenheim, too. Cold you please get in contact with me? Best regards,
      Marc Plessa (plessa(at)web.de)

  • Philip

    Aren’t there some interesting parallels between pre-WWII Germany and right-wing US politics today? For example, think about the way that today’s right wing demonizes “socialism” and applies the label to all kinds of people and ideas FOR POLITICAL REASONS, when those things may or may not have anything to do with actual socialism. Compare that to the way the Nazi party used the communists as a bogeyman when there was, in fact, little actual threat…

  • Adrian from Hamburg

    It is easy to be sanctimonious about this now, but I often wonder what I would have done in the 30th in Germany when the only choice seems to have been socialism of the Hitler-fascist kind or the Stalin-communist kind.
    Remember it is not politicians who make a culture. It is the other way around. It is the intellectual, the cultural climate that results in a certain kind of politicians.
    History is driven by philosophic ideas. It were Enlightenment ideas that made the America of our Founding Fathers possible, and it were post-Kantian ideas that made a “Fuhrer” almost inevitable. Remember, the pen is mightier than the sword. A book about the pen is “The Ominous Parallels” by Dr. Leonard Peikoff. This book ought to be for sale in the Berlin “Hitler Exhibit” gift store. Tom, a look at history as shown in this unique book would also make an interesting topic for an “On Point” show.

  • http://brainmindinst.blogspot.com Peter Melzer

    Why did’nt you do anything?
    This question was asked after the Nazi’s demise over and over again.

    Like all who embrace totalitarianism, the Nazis were absolutely paranoid and were hyper-aware of their adversaries. They had compiled lists of names and addresses of everybody who possibly could pose a threat, large or small. When Hitler was appointed chancellor he assumed absolute powers and saw to it that at the first opportunity a national state of emergency was declared. This gave the security forces the right to arrest anyone without a warrant. All enemies of state were hauled in and confined to concentration camps. Opposing political activists were arrested or running for their lives, including parliamentarians who could not stomach the Nazis from center right (Zentrum) to the extreme left (communists). Critical literature was banned, news were censored. If you spoke up against the party, draconian punishment loomed. If you were born in 1920 or later, there was little chance that you were exposed to any thought or discussion critical of the Nazis. At that stage organized resistance was nearly impossible. Fear and indifference ruled the country. It seems miraculous that some attempts on Hitlers life could be carried out under the circumstances, and at least one was almost successful.

    We should remember those of whom we know that they risked their lives in their opposition. They comprise the conservative chancellor Konrad Adenauer who ended up in a concentration camp for his believes to the socialdemocratic chancellor Willi Brandt who fled to Norway to fight against the Wehrmacht with the local insurgency. And they comprise all those untold who defied the Nazis with actions large and small that we never learned about.

  • http://brainmindinst.blogspot.com Peter Melzer

    Sorry, I introduced some errors in my previous post. Please, find below the corrected version:

    Why didn’t you do anything?
    This question was asked after the Nazi’s demise over and over again.

    Like all who embrace totalitarianism, the Nazis were absolutely paranoid and were hyper-aware of their adversaries. They had compiled lists of names and addresses of everybody who possibly could pose a threat, large or small. When Hitler was appointed chancellor, he assumed absolute powers and saw to it that at the first opportunity a national state of emergency was declared. This empowered the security services to arrest anyone without a warrant. All enemies of state were hauled in and confined to concentration camps. Opposing political activists were arrested or running for their lives, including parliamentarians who could not stomach the Nazis from center right (Zentrum) to the extreme left (communists). Critical literature was banned, news were censored. If you spoke up against the party, draconian punishment loomed. If you were born in 1920 or later, there was little chance that you were exposed to any thought or discussion critical of the Nazis. At that stage organized resistance was nearly impossible. Fear and indifference ruled the country. It seems miraculous that some attempts on Hitler’s life could be carried out under the circumstances, and at least one was almost successful.

    We should remember those of whom we know that they risked their lives in their opposition to the Nazi regime. They comprise conservative Chancellor Konrad Adenauer, who ended up in a concentration camp for his believes, and socialdemocratic Chancellor Willi Brandt, who fled to Norway to fight against the Wehrmacht with the local insurgency. And they comprise all those untold who defied the Nazis with actions large and small that we never learned about.

  • http://none sam

    Typical liberal NPR disinformation about calling nazis right wingers and aligning them with Tea Party or conservatives. Nazis, fascists, socialists and communists were LEFT WINGERS. Conservatives are for constitutional government and LIMITED government, which is freedom. Liberals are more in tune with nazis and communists since liberals are for MORE government. Academia, Hollywood and the news media has passed out disinformation at least since the 50s and no wonder voters are confused.

  • Thomas Kane III

    As a Black American I am appalled at this exhibit. The glorification of the rise of one of the most unctious individuals ever to walk the face of the earth is not only stupid but arrogant.

    This regime was the basis for all the hate speech of the Fruit of Islam and the Honarable Elijah Muhammed in Harlem. The hatred for white people preached by their organization and Malcolm X was predicated on the barbaric treatment of Black people and Jews during this era in history. Lynchings and concentration camps.
    I’ve heard that because of this renewal of interest, regrets of the Wall comming down are justified.

    Now I know how a radio station can hold a marathon and not break one million dollars.

  • Roy Merritt

    Sad to say that the atmosphere that promoted the rise of the “Thousand year Reich!” permeates the U.S. today. The right wing will stoop to any level to achieve their goals. The Tea Party is a perfect example of this. They are for the most part reacting to a world they are unprepared to cope with. They scapegoat those weaker than themselves for their own predicament clueless to the real culprits behind their deleterious position, the corporate interest that has no sense of country other than the pursuit of a dollar, which they diminish everyday in their counting houses. They are amoral, soulless, individuals who have revealed capitalism for what it is a rigged game determined to enslave the masses. They have driven our nation to the brink of anarchy giving rise to the aforementioned Tea Party thugs who will resort to
    Second Amendment remedies to quote the vile Sharon Angle in Nevada, when the citizens of this country eventually do what the American people have always done when threatened by movements such as this.
    Time and again America has been beset with elements bent on totalitarianism and their reaction has always been to reconfirm our quest for a more perfect union. We will in time elect lawmakers who will acquiesce to the desires of the more sensible and reasoned citizen who does not take the title of American as something to be corrupted but as something sacred that in the end has made us such a great nation. Upon then these right wing maniacs that range throughout our society will be thrust in the dust bin of history, which is always the plight of such nihilistic movements.

    Roy Merritt
    Wilmington, North Carolina

  • Jana Mayer

    I am struck by the similarity of the Nazi propaganda tactics and the tactics of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and so many others on the far right.

    Limbaugh has always reminded me of Hitler, the yelling, the brainwashing, the mean-spiritedness.

    Now we have Fox (Faux) News in the mix. The kind of people who buy into this nonsense amaze me, including my father, an architect licensed in almost all the states; who used to be a moderate who leaned a bit to the left. He’s managed to get my usually free-thinking mother on board as well.

    I doubt if it will happen, but it would be good if Americans would take a long, hard look at Germany’s exibit, ane seriously compare what is going on in our own country today.

  • dead peasant

    I have many students in China who idolize Hitler and Nazis. Its common in China. And they hate-HATE JApanese. And they look down on many non-Chinese. They include Taiwan as one of the 26 provinces–however it is an independent country with an independent gov. and military. They are extrememly nationalistic here and often say–”Our Motherland”.

    The point is: I think this museum can be misconstrued and even seen a motivator, and icon for some people-German, American, Chinese,…wherever. There is a fascist wave on the horizon. I wonder if thee are some powerful people sponsoring this museum.

    I hope it has a clear tone of the darkness and evil this movement represents. Perhaps the museum should highlight how ignorance, fear, and hatred leads to a dark marriage with powerful wealth. perhaps it should illustrate the need the for community grassroots direct-democracy and the terror and evil of a military industrial complex.

  • dead peasant

    Sam is confused, very very confused. The left is not for big government, but more regulation –laws–a social contract–that restrict corporate power, corporate defilement of community and pollution of mind, and usurpation of democracy.

    The right is fascist. You want More police, more concentration camps called detention centers and torture centers, imperialistic wars, bans on free speech and civil disobedience with pain rays and stun guns and gas, patriot act powers–people who dont think like me are criminal. The right are hypocritical moralists who kill in the name of murder and self-righteousness.

    The right is nationalistic and viscous–the same as nationalists the world over–the same as nazis.

    Sam is very very confused. Hitler was a nationalist and a fascist with similar ideologies as the American right and esp. the teabaggers.

  • http://scetv Windy

    During this conversation on a topic of history, the relationship of Nazi-ism to the common German citizen at the time… and the general debate over the exhibit’s purposefulness… you, of course, managed to interject derision of the Tea Party into the story. Does NPR never get tired of towing the liberal line… or subjecting those of us listening to your political backers? We know you are LIBERAL… why must you shove it in our faces in every single show and in every single segment? Are the liberal candidates in such dire straights that NPR must resort to this spectacle every day?

  • jeffe

    sam, how interesting. I mean your comments are so absurd.
    And they are also self serving in how you try to tie them into your political zeitgeist.
    Fascism has always been a right wing political ideology.
    Ask anyone over the age of 40 from Spain and they will tell you that fascist are right wing.
    Or anyone form Chile (Under Augusto Pinochet) or Argentina old enough to remember the right wing juntas that ruled their countries with iron fists.

    It’s sad, so very sad that some people have no clue at all of what they are talking about. You mix up liberals, socialist, communist and fascist. Amazing, simply amazing the level of your complete lack of understanding of history and politics is not only astounding it’s dangerous.

  • Ellen Dibble

    dead peasant, thanks for the inputs. What you say exactly squares with what I learned from neighbors from central and southern China and their parents.
    I don’t know what you teach in China, and this has me thinking: In public school, our not-so-well-paid teachers were firm about one thing: Nationalism; pride. All the elements of nazism???? It seems to be part of the curriculum. We always get to win (by bullying, I suppose, if necessary); we are the best. Hear us sing! Hear us pray! (Those were the days.)
    Whatever else is taught, conformity and confidence is taught. I heard that America is way down the line globally on competence, but numero uno in confidence.
    I don’t think Republicans and conservatives should be lumped together as proto-Nazis or something like that, but I think the politics of fear, as promulgated by ads to the left and to the right, are plenty fascist. And the hidden agendas are more so than in the 1930s. Were there big corporations and banks jockeying for position behind the parties in Germany at the time? Was government the arena for wrestling matches between the rich and the richer? Whilst the little guy got manipulated to the max? Probably…

  • http://nonw sam

    Leftists, Progressives and Socialists
    by Walter E. Williams

    One of the greatest sources of confusion and deception is the difference between leftists, progressives, socialists, communists and fascists. I thought about this as I caught a glimpse of the Oct. 2 “One Nation” march on Washington. The participants proudly marched with banners, signs and placards reading “Socialists,” “Ohio U Democratic Socialists,” “International Socialists Organization,” “Socialist Party USA,” “Build A Socialist Alternative” and other signs expressing support for socialism and communism. They had stands where they sold booklets under the titles of “Marxism and the State,” “Communist Manifesto,” “Four Marxist Classics,” “The Road to Socialism” and similar titles.

    The gathering had the support of the AFL-CIO, Service Employees International Union, stalwarts of the Democratic Party such as Al Sharpton and organizations such as the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, Green for All, the Sierra Club, and the Children’s Defense Fund.

    What goes unappreciated is that socialists and communists have produced the greatest evil in mankind’s history. You say, “Williams, what in the world are you talking about? Socialists, communists and their fellow travelers care about the little guy in his struggle for a fair shake! They’re trying to promote social justice.” Let’s look at some of the history of socialism and communism.
    Nazism is a form of socialism. In fact, Nazi stands for National Socialist German Workers’ Party. Nazis murdered 20 million of their own people and in nations they captured. The unspeakable acts of Adolf Hitler’s Socialist Workers’ Party pale in comparison to the horrors committed in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Between 1917 and 1987, Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and their successors murdered, or were otherwise responsible for the deaths of, 62 million of their own people. Between 1949 and 1987, Mao Tse-tung and his successors were responsible for the deaths of 76 million Chinese. The most authoritative tally of history’s most murderous regimes is in a book by University of Hawaii’s Professor Rudolph J. Rummel, “Death by Government.” A wealth of information is provided at his website.

    You say, “Williams, isn’t it a bit unfair to lump the “One Nation” communists, socialists and their supporters with mass murderers such as Hitler, Stalin and Mao Tse-tung? After all, they expressed no such murderous goal.” When Hitler, Stalin and Mao were campaigning for political power, you can bet they didn’t campaign on the promise to murder millions of their own people, and probably the thought of doing so never crossed their minds. Those horrors were simply the end result of long evolution of ideas leading to consolidation of power in central government in the quest for “social justice.” It was decent but misguided earlier generations of Germans, Russians and Chinese, like many of today’s Americans, who would have cringed at the thought of genocide, who built the Trojan horse for a Hitler, a Stalin or Mao to take over. But as Voltaire said, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.”

    While America’s leftists, socialists and communists condemn Hitler, they give the world’s most horrible murderers a pass. First, they make a false distinction between fascism, communism and socialism but more importantly, they sympathize with the socioeconomic goals of communism and socialism. The primary goal of communism and socialism is government ownership or control over the means of production. In the U.S., only a few people call for outright government ownership of the means of production. They might have learned that government ownership would mess things up. Instead, they’ve increasingly called for quasi-ownership through various forms of government regulation, oversight, taxation and subsidies. After all, if someone has the power to tell you how you may use your property, it’s tantamount to his owing it.

    I believe most Americans find the ideals and principles of socialism, communism and progressivism repugnant, but by our sanctioning greater government centralization and its control over our lives, we become their dupes or, as Lenin said, “useful idiots.”

  • Ellen Dibble

    There is a difference between despotism and democracy, however blurred it may sometimes be. If Walter E. Williams were here, we could discuss it.

  • JJ Malloy

    (Relatively speaking, how can National Socialism be so popular in Russia today if over 24 million died fighting Hitler? What cultivating environment is necessary to bring such extreme views to such popularity?)

    Those involved with Neo-Nazi movements in Russia are a very tiny, but violent, group.

    A better question would be: why do Putin and others in Russia attempt to glorify or whitewash the legacy of Stalin? He killed tens of millions of his own people and his ethnic genocides predated Hitler’s.

    Without each other and their regimes, Stalin and Hitler could not have murdered as many people as they did. No doubt they are rotting in hell together, if there is one.

  • Mark in NC

    Wow, it seems as Mr. Zatlin is describing Glen Beck and the Tea Party. Creepy. I can see how it happens.

    The Tea Party is uniform minded, right wing conservative, anti-immigrant group. Is the “Dont Tread on Me” snake the new America swastika?

  • Mark in NC

    Sam,stop, you’re wrong. You are not allowed to say that fascism is solely a left leaning ideology. So you’re saying Hitler was a liberal? Was he liberal or was he conservative? Why did Hitler rid Germany of the Socialists? Was he pro immigrant?

    Did you even listen to the show?

  • Roy Merritt

    Sam I’m afraid quoting something written by Walter E. Williams will not cut it. Anyone familiar with the tripe that Rush Limbaugh spews everyday can not take Williams seriously in that he often is a substitute for that fat pig. And he managed to gather all that information in a mere glimpse. And I am shocked that anyone would equate the freaking Sierra Club with Bolsheviks and the crimes of the likes of Stalin and Mao. I am not under the illusion that any of these foreign concepts are applicable to the USA. I myself am a disabled Vietnam veteran who is proud of his service and the history of this country. You Sam on the other hand are foolish enough to believe that allowing a small number of industrialist and very wealthy individuals determine the course of our nation is all we need. You, by your words dismiss unions (who in the history of this country have been the main reason we have a middle class), but have no idea of how they have benefited you and the majority of our citizenry. I suppose you are opposed to a middle class. And yet at the same time I suspect you are just another working slob who never took the time do any research as to why this country achieved the status that it has in our brief history. It didn’t become the greatest, and richest democratic republic in the world because we allowed the capitalists free reign over us all. You undoubtedly would allow them to do as they please neither respecting any law or any of their fellow citizens. You would likely deny everyone save but white property owners to vote. You and those of your ilk seem determined to push us to the brink of destruction simply for the benefit of these bastards who are contemptuous of you and everyone else. And I suspect you wouldn’t even defend yourself as they marched you to the gas chambers. It’s been my experience that blowhard right wingers are always cowards who think that if they kowtow to the likes of Limbaugh, Beck, and Walter E. Williams and the corporate thugs they will show them some charity. But being a man of color I’m sure Williams would be forced to the front of the line to the gas chamber just ahead of you. You know nothing just like all the buffoons that make up this tea party crowd and seemingly revel in your obvious ignorance. I pity you and all who have the same mindset.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I happened to visit East Berlin the summer before the Wall fell, and there near the Brandenburg Tor, on Unter den Linden, I saw an Anti-Fascist parade, which apparently was a very frequent occurrence. My German was just good enough to figure out that the Communists considered not only West Germany to be fascist (in 1989), but all who were not Communists. They were marching against fascists like me and the rest of the USA.
    After that, I consider name-calling a whole ‘nother art in propaganda, wherever it is used.

  • millard_fillmore

    “Fascism has always been a right wing political ideology.”
    ___

    jeffe, what would you call Stalin and Castro’s regimes?
    Or would you argue that Stalin and Castro were/are right-wingers?

  • millard_fillmore

    Or for that matter, Nicolae Ceauşescu of Romania. I don’t know whether “fascism” would be the correct term to describe his regime and that of the other two I mentioned, but the fact is that both left and right are eerily similar when it comes to totalitarianism. But of course, by citing dictators only on the right, one can maintain an illusion or imply that the left is not totalitarian.

  • http://allwellbeing.com/ Douglas Adams

    This is a very disturbing exhibit and i feel it should have been left alone

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