Was Hitler Evil? (The Politics of Evil)

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Optimus_Prime_, Nov 25, 2012.

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  1. Optimus_Prime_ Registered

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    In the wake of Israel's recent air strikes got me to think in depth about evil people, and I've decided for the most part, they don't exist. Probably the closest thing I can rationalize as evil is those who are truly psychotic and crazy, and have deep seated emotional problems, yet most of these people have trouble moving up the latter. We have a few noteworthy examples though of those I feel were downright crazy. My favorite is Stalin, who was highly paranoid, and probably lacked empathy. Mao was another who simply was highly deluded. Pretty much like Eric Cartman. Right down to the fat denialism.

    So the question is 'Was Hitler Evil?'.

    He was certainly a little crazy, and racist, but I think it's important to note that his anti-semitism and belief in the Aryan race were all the rage during his time. He wasn't creating some bold new message necessarily with the anti-semitism. So really Germany was in a pretty ideal position to elect an anti-semite leader, but I'll get back to that.

    So after World War I Germany was forced to pay -- for everything. In the wake of basically what amounts to an entire Country going bankrupt, a large influx of Jews, who had retained their wealth, bought what was left. So that's basically who had all their money, and so they became a convenient political scapegoat -- which was even going on in America. Perhaps we dodged a bullet there, we could've elected such a leader, you never know.

    So Hitler became their guy.

    The somewhat classic "defense" of Hitler is look at the nice things he did: Socialized medicine, basically no incidence of rape, low crime rate in the major cities, no unemployment, mostly because the purpose of this thread and this discussion is not to weigh the pros and the cons but to determine whether Hitler's "evilness" is an intrinsic value or whether he is simply the victim of being on the losing side.

    First let me get back to the point that he very much was a racist, and believed in national ethnic purity, but again this wasn't some bold new idea he shouted from his microphone, it's still around and it's pretty damn old. If I were a German man, in the 1930s, and I met Hitler, and he made pleasant dinner time conversation about these visions he lays out in Mein Kampf I simply doubt they would've alarmed me. In much the same way today someone being homophobic or "I'm not racist but" doesn't surprise me. I doubt I would've thought he would one day almost destroy the world.

    In fact not many did. He was Time's "Man of the Year", and Winston Churchhill said when his associates met him that he was "charming, and such a nice man". Winston was glad following the raid that the two had not met because so many others didn't think such a charming and polite person would ever do such things.

    Downfall sticks to this as well. It's a far more sympathetic Hitler than many are used to.

    But what is Hitler known for!? The gas chambers, which ironically, were not his idea. I believe that was Goebbles and Himmell (sp?). Hitler had originally wished to send them to Madagascar, Kenya, Gaza and even Jerusalem were considered. He also let his Generals make a lot of decisions, and didn't question them. He certainly rubber stamped all the ideas. They also prided themselves on efficiency, which the Concentration Camps were, which may have also been made in response to the War escalation.

    My biggest problem with the label of Hitler as evil is that it's flippant.

    I very much like the words of Somerset in Se7en " It's dismissive to call him a lunatic. Don't make that mistake."

    It is dismissive. Not of Hitler, but of political systems which make Hitler.

    It doesn't seem to me like the decision to gas 6 million jews is something reached at idly, even by anti-semites. You meet a lot of very racist people everyday, ones who even advocate violence, who are simply not made confrontation enough to ever act on those views.

    That's what this thread is about, the politics of evil. What made Hitler evil. If we simply say he's evil, that's it, the conversation stops and we just have to make sure we don't elect a bunch of evil people.

    Of course it's not that simple. Was Hitler a patsey of his Generals? Was he simply and evil, evil man? Were any of the Nazi's evil? Or were they simply good people co-opted by evil? Can a bunch of good meaning people just create an "evil" system.

    I think the other interesting angle that spins out of this discussion is that let's assume for a minute Germany wins. Let's say Germany takes over Europe. The war subsides, and Hitler eventually dies, because that's what happens. Let's say, for the hypothetical, he never reaches his Final Solution and Jews still exist in dwindling numbers. So the next leader, and maybe the younger generation, they feel for the Jews, so they elect a leader who frees them for these camps. Years later the history books transform Hitler's alternate Universe successor into a modern day Abraham Lincoln. Because, of course, that is what happened with Abraham Lincoln. We still live in a "winning" country, so to speak, so our culture writes about how far we've come rather than the depths to which we've sank, currently or historically.

    However I suppose in that example Hitler becomes like Andrew Jackson or James Buchanan; some racist ex-President we hated. But think about the ire you have towards Jackson and what he did to Natives and blacks, and compare it to the auroa of evil that surrounds men like Hitler.

    So this is basically my long drawn out back and forth on this topic. Just to get the ball rolling.

    This is about Hitler and the Politics of Evil. My basic contention is that all actors in a political system our good, but their individual actions, while seen as good from their point of view at the time, in fact collectively corner them into "evilness".

    I see the Nazi's less as evil individually, but more like actors trapped in an evil play they didn't know they started.
     
  2. SV Fan Registered

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    It should be pointed out in 1938 Hitler was Time's man of the year
     
  3. BH/HHH You Are My World

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    Evil as they come, pure scum, wanted to control the world.

    Most of the soldiers however were simply following orders but he was also surrounded by some other vile evil men.
     
  4. Optimus_Prime_ Registered

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    It was.
     
  5. Optimus_Prime_ Registered

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    Had Germany won you have to wonder if FDR would've been answering for the internment camps at a Nazi run Nuremberg trial.
     
  6. Nell2ThaIzzay Registered

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    The OP pointed that out.
     
  7. Schlosser85 Registered

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    I feel the word "evil" is tossed around way too freely and flippantly, but if anyone merits being called evil, Adolf Hitler is a pretty good candidate.

    You make a lot of good points though.


    I think some of the individual Nazis were pretty vile people, but as for the rank-and-file, not to mention their hordes of mouth-foaming supporters, a mob of people whipped up into mass hysteria and caught up in an "idea" can do things most of them would probably never have done on their own.

    Downfall is hands down the best onscreen portrayal of Hitler, IMO, mostly because it doesn't caricature him like 99.9% of Hitler portrayals do, but while it portrays him as a three-dimensional human, I think the overall depiction is still a pretty (deservedly) negative one.

    The Allies definitely set themselves up for WWII with their unfair treatment of Germany in WWI, assigning it sole responsibility for the war that Austria started in retaliation for the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand by a Serbian radical and Germany got dragged into through treaties, the same as everyone else.

    People living in desperate times are more open to backing a radical who sounds like a decisive leader with a plan. If Germany was not in such a depression, I believe the Nazis would have stayed the radical fringe group they started out as, and never would have become as popularly embraced as they did.
     
    #7 Schlosser85, Nov 25, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012
  8. ObakeTora vThe "real" Ghost-Tiger!v

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    But what is Hitler known for!? The gas chambers, which ironically, were not his idea. I believe that was Goebbles and Himmell (sp?). Hitler had originally wished to send them to Madagascar, Kenya, Gaza and even Jerusalem were considered.

    Than it could be argued that Lincoln was evil as his original intention was to end slavery in border states for a military advantage and ultimately send the free slaves to South America.


    He also let his Generals make a lot of decisions, and didn't question them.


    "The history of the relations
    between Hitler and his
    Generals is a complex one but
    in 1938 after the Munich
    agreement the Fuehrer had
    achieved complete
    dominance over the German
    Generals.
    After the Fall of France, Hitler
    was so self-confident that he
    prevailed upon his Generals
    for the invasion of Russia in
    1941 in spite of the gloomy
    foreboding of his senior
    soldiers, like Brauchitsch,
    Halder and Rundstedt."


    http://schikelgruber.net/generals.html

    He certainly rubber stamped all the ideas. They also prided themselves on efficiency, which the Concentration Camps were, which may have also been made in response to the War escalation.

    How does this not make him evil? Everyone of your points support the notion that Hitler was evil. A good man who was in the responsible position to elect people would never consider allowing these men to round up, torture people like he did the Jews. I guess your trying to argue semantics, as your trying to provide a generalized view on what makes people truly evil. I've always believed that "with great power comes great responsibility" and that being said, Hitler could have done alot of good for everyone without resorting to primitive violence, based on narrow biases.
     
  9. Optimus_Prime_ Registered

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    Agreed. I think it's something like American slavery or that "prison experiment". The jews were essentially 'the help' (since most camps were not strictly extremination camps -- I think there were only a few of those, the rest were work camps, or transit camps) and you could use or abuse them any way you want, people did, but probably not because, deep down inside, they just really hated people.
    I think when Hitler becomes the "caricature of evil" it definitely takes away from the story of World War II.
    Oh, definitely. That's basically the heart and soul of the Nazi party; the promise of bringing the German people out of economic depression. They didn't even really run on a 'Kill the Jews' platform -- that was, I think, part of the problem too. Once the atrocities against the Non-Germans and Jews began, the chosen Germans were enjoying pretty properous times. So I think that also made them take more of a blind eye to it.
     
  10. Optimus_Prime_ Registered

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    How does that not make FDR evil for internment? Or Washington and the Founders evil for kicking the can of slavery down the road?

    This is my main issue with calling Hitler "evil"; it lets everyone off the hook.

    FDR never actually grabbed a Japanese child and forced him into an internment camp, but he also ran the Government that covered up the thousands of Japanese who died in those camps. If Truman (who didn't physically nuke anyone either) hadn't ended the war so swiftly can you imagine those internment camps morphing into concentration-like camps? I certainly can.

    It's kind of hard to say Hitler was a nice guy, and he was also racist, but he probably doesn't even approach being the most evil Nazi. The character depicted in Schlinder's List comes to mind. Hitler wasn't one to line up men just to shoot them for fun, although Nazi's like that very much existed.

    Hitler is an a**hole, and definitely a corrupt bureaucrat...but that cartoonish attachment as "evil" never quite sits right with me.

    Why is he evil? Or why is he such an avatar of evil? That's the better question.

    Mao and Stalin make Hitler look like Mr. Rogers if we're just going by sheer numbers.
     
  11. Schlosser85 Registered

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    Stalin was no better than Hitler, IMO, but numbers is splitting hairs a bit, because if the Third Reich hadn't been defeated, far more would have been murdered.

    Hitler also intended to turn all of Russia into "living space" for the Germans once the local population "disappeared", as he put it with, IMO, rather chilling matter-of--factness.
     
  12. Optimus_Prime_ Registered

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    I'm posing the question rhetorically. However I think it's funny how Stalin and Mao are brushed aside often in favor of Hitler. It's a lot rarer to see a President compared to Mao. Hitler comparisons are constant
    Which actually brings up another interesting aspect of Hitler: he hated communists most of all, and it was for that reason Europe tolerated him for so long.
     
    #12 Optimus_Prime_, Nov 25, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2012
  13. Schlosser85 Registered

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    I think people talk less about Stalin's mass murders because it makes it less awkward that we were allied with him.
     
  14. Optimus_Prime_ Registered

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    Sometimes I wonder if the Holocaust and World War II get told in such a way to appeal to those Allied sensibilities. Notice how we downplay the Germany treatment of blacks and gays. Could have to do with our treatment of blacks and gays.

    Had Axis won just think of how many black ghettos the Nazi's would've gloated about finding.

    Sometimes I wonder if its just one evil super power pointing its finger at another.
     
  15. Schlosser85 Registered

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    Well we do like to wag our fingers at those "evil Germans" and brag shamelessly about being "the greatest country in the world" while conveniently ignoring our own genocide against Native Americans.

    And it really annoys me actually the way it's so often talked about as if the 6 million Jews were the only victims of the Holocaust and there weren't 5 million others. I've had people tell me they hadn't even known there were others in the Holocaust, because high school and the media never taught them about them.

    Some Jewish groups also like to act as if they "own" the Holocaust. A few years ago a Catholic group put up a cross at Auschwitz in honor of Catholic Poles who died there, and a Jewish group raised a stink about it.
     
  16. SV Fan Registered

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    I thought that number was over inflated and has come down to about 1.5M Jews over time
     
  17. Schlosser85 Registered

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  18. ObakeTora vThe "real" Ghost-Tiger!v

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    Point taken.
     
  19. Optimus_Prime_ Registered

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    As far as I know the 6 million is based on pretty spurious logic. What is clear is Jews did die, probably in excess of a million by both organized and unorganized means of execution. Initially Hitler, Himmler and other top ranking Nazis wanted to emigrate them, that's why they are rounded up. I can't exactly say stripping you of your possessions and forcing you to move is a whole lot better what the Allies then reported about the Nazis.

    I think there's a hefty bit of rivision done to the loser Nazis. Nazism, at its core, was a Nationalist Socialist movement that just so happened to have some pretty extreme leadership. They needed money, and the Jews certainly had that. So it's, again, as much about economics as anything. The desperate climate made the extreme seem more palatable as some point out.

    One of the things I see was pointed out is its always seen as such a Jewish Holocaust but it was no such thing. It was an everyone but who Hitler says is cool Holocaust which was way more than just Jews. Gypsies? Gypsies have it so bad, when is history nice to them? Gays, blacks, handicapped.

    The Nazis very much felt it was the 'lesser class' that propped up the perfect race. Classic social Darwinism, but definitely not exclusively about the Jews. In fact I think there were 150,000 Jews in the Nazi ranks who deemed worthy and served in the army.
     
  20. Schlosser85 Registered

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    Hitler himself has pretty much been conclusively proven via DNA testing of his living relatives to have had Jewish ancestry.

    Reinhard Heydrich supposedly covered up Jewish ancestry in his family tree too.
     
  21. DACrowe Registered

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    Short answer: Yes.

    If you want to discuss the politics of the Weimar Republic or the effects of the Treaty of Versailles that is fine. There is much to be said how such a highly-educated and cultural, intellectual haven of the late 19th and early 20th century became crazed by following an anti-semetic fascist into the deadliest, ugliest war in recorded history...but if the question is Hitler evil? YES. There is such a thing as evil and murdering 6 million people based on their faith and exterminating systematically another 3-6 million people based on ethnicity, disability, sexuality and age while starting the single bloodiest war ever to simply and literally to take over the world is clearly it. I think it is far too simplistic when people say, "there is no such thing as evil." And to excuse that some of the ideas may have been Himmel or Goebbels or create a false equivalency between the horrid and awful Japanese-American interment camps and the death camps of the SS is a ridiculous level of rationalization.

    Yes, he is evil x 1000. We can ask why he was or how Germany became enthralled by such an evil man. But do not pretend that the answer to this question is not obvious.
     
  22. Schlosser85 Registered

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    As much as I think OP made a lot of valid and interesting points, I am inclined to agree with DA.

    IMO Hitler was as "evil" as any person can be said to be.
     
  23. Optimus_Prime_ Registered

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    Honestly, it's our relationship with Israel. I think the reason you see outright denials of the Holocaust in the Muslim world is because Israel, or rather certain prominent Israelis want it to be their thing and own it despite the fact that the Nazis did it to Muslims and many others. It's a sort of my Holocaust is better than yours. I dislike when anyone dies needlessly, because of someone else.

    I think you point out a great disservice.

    I don't think there's some great conspiracy, but definitely the media is very pro-Israel and they're pushing a very certain slant on the Middle East and the Holocaust.

    You never see 60 Minutes do a piece of the "Gypsy Man" who survived the Holocaust.
     
  24. DACrowe Registered

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    Um, no. Lincoln actually did not originally end slavery in borer states. In fact, the reason the Emancipation has no teeth was it only applied to Southern states, during a time of active rebellion, and left the border states (pro-Union states with slaves, for example: Kentucky) alone.

    Lincoln's colonization plan changed and he truly did view slavery as evil. His ultimate goal was to end slavery all together, as it was an evil institution that weighed on his mind since at least his first trip down to New Orleans as a young man working on the Mississippi. Read his Second Inaugural. Study his debates with Douglas. Even watch Spielberg's excellent, Lincoln to see how he evolved. His views on African-Americans changed drastically from 1860 and 1865. But he always believed slavery was an evil institution.

    And again this is a false equivalency. As his ultimate action was to end slavery and he hoped to reconstruct the South softly, but with an emphasis on introducing African-Americans into the culture. Hitler went from banishing Jews to trying to exterminate an entire race. Again, I hate such over-simplified logic. I am not trying to pick on you, but this kind of false equivalency drives me nuts.
     
  25. Optimus_Prime_ Registered

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    Internment camps weren't Concentration Camps but with segregation in full swing I can't say we were much better than the Nazis at that time in History. Maybe a bit, but they are not laughable comparisons. Or, you know, the forced expulsion of Native Americans. That's pretty much note for note the same idea.
     
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