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Saturday, May 17, 2008

Seattle Times: Hitler's demands were not unreasonable

Un-freakin'-believable. There are no words for the sheer lunacy of what you are about to read.
Democrats are rebuking President Bush for saying in his speech to the Knesset, here, that to “negotiate with terrorists and radicals” is “appeasement.” The Democrats took it as a slap at Barack Obama. What bothers me is the continual reference to Hitler and his National Socialists, particularly the British and French accommodation at the Munich Conference of 1938.

The narrative we're given about Munich is entirely in hindsight. We know what kind of man Hitler was, and that he started World War II in Europe. From the view of 1938, what Hitler was demanding at Munich was not unreasonable, according to the prevailing idea of the nation-state. His claim was that the German-speaking areas of Europe--and ones that thought of themselves as German --be under German authority. He had just annexed Austria, which was German-speaking, without bloodshed. There were two more small pieces of Germanic territory: the free city of Danzig and the Sudetenland, a border area of what is now the Czech Republic.

We live in an era when you do not change national borders for these sorts of reasons. We have learned the hazards of it. But 1938 was only 19 years since Germany's borders had been redrawn, and not to its benefit. In the democracies there was some sense of guilt with how Germany had been treated after World War I. Certainly there was a memory of the “Great War.” In 2008, we have entirely forgotten World War I, and how utterly unlike any conception of “The Good War” it was. When the British let Hitler have a slice of Czechoslovakia, they were following the historical lesson they had learned 1914-1918: avoid war. War produces results far more horrible than you expected. War is a bad investment. It is not glorious. Don’t give anyone an excuse to start one.

Yeah... it wasn't unreasonable to turn over first all of the German-speaking states to Hitler. Or all of Europe. Or eventually the world. And it wasn't unreasonable to let Hitler exterminate millions of people, mostly Jews, because he thought they were inferior and unclean.

That's certainly no reason to start a war, right? I mean, Germany got screwed, so Europe deserved what that got and should've given in to Hitler's reasonable requests, and let him go on murdering millions. That would've been the reasonable course of action, I guess, since all of this was our fault, thanks to WWI, according to this douchebag. And this was to defend Barack Obama!


Hat Tip: Ace


Vernunft said...

I left them with some thoughts:

Austria and Germany both happened to be inhabited by people who spoke German; therefore, they were really the same. Similarly, if a Finnish Hitler wanted to annex, say, Hungary, we ought to let him, out of respect for Finno-Ugric kinship. If language were culture, this would all make sense, but it isn't, so it doesn't.

Hitler's idea of a Greater Germany was the artifact of a rapacious mind - if anything, Germany was a bit of political artifice created out of the scattered remnants of the Holy Roman Empire, and Austria was the "proper" ruler of the German peoples. Of course, to say that Austria ought to have ruled over Germany, or Germany over Austria, or any foreign power over anyone is really to assume that domination rather than self-rule is appropriate. Chamberlain's response to Hitler's "reasonable" demands resulted in the solidification of a machine of conquest and genocide.

My goodness, if you don't know central European history, then you can, you know, not talk about it. Acting as if there is an objectively correct geographical and political division of Europe that pigeon-holes certain people into the "real" Germany is ignorant.