GERMANY: The Downfall. The last days of Hitler
David Krieger forwards this piece by John Whitbeck: On Thursday, a day before flying back to Jeddah (where cinemas do not exist) from Paris, I saw the controversial new German film "The Fall", which deals with the final days of Hitler and his entourage in their Berlin bunker. It is a powerful and thought-provoking film and has inspired me to recirculate a brief historical reflection of mine which was published on September 26, 2002 in The Times (London) and which, I believe, remains relevant.
A BRIEF HISTORY LESSON
During the 1930's, a great country went completely off the rails. Through democratic elections (albeit with only a minority of the popular vote), a clique of extreme right-wing ideologues came to power. They sincerely believed that their vision of a better world was destined to triumph over all alternative visions. They considered their country exempt from all constraints of international law and treaty obligations. They sought to dominate the world, seizing opportunities or excuses to attack other countries and impose their will by force. They repressed civil liberties at home and treated certain ethnic and religious groups, both at home and abroad, as sub-humans unworthy of basic human rights. They fanned the flames of ultranationalism, making their flag a sort of fetish and a virtual object of worship.
Either out of genuine enthusiasm or out of fear of being branded "unpatriotic", the great majority of their fellow citizens either supported these arrogant and dangerous delusions or kept their silence. Few dared to speak out and say that their country was headed in a direction that was both unworthy of its heritage and better values and potentially catastrophic. It turned out very badly, both for Germany and for the world.
At the start of the 21st century, will the people of another great country prove to be "good Germans"? Or will they dare to speak out, before it is too late, against the unworthy and potentially catastrophic direction in which their regime is taking them? If current trends continue, it will turn out very badly, both for America and for the world.
RH: I wonder what country he is talking about? Comparisons are odious.
Ronald Hilton 2004
February 27, 2005