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Too often when we look across the chasm to that other side, we see the snarling faces of Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck or perhaps Pat Robertson.  We quickly decide whether something is from the "Great Right Wing Conspiracy" and if so to be rejected out of hand without serious consideration.    

It's a bit different when the voice is from an 84 year old woman, Kitty Werthmann whose antipathy towards the left is based on her own experiences as a child when Hitler took over her native Austria.  I have a good friend, Bill S., a bright man of generous spirit, who at my request keeps me up to date on the viral email that he gets as a bonafide Christian Conservative.  

I read most of them, and when I point out those that are fraudulent he sends my "correction" back down the email chain, hopefully having some effect on the most extreme accusations.  Recently I recieved one that is the  basis of this diary:  

The email that was sent to me is long, so I made it available here.  After I responded, implying that the whole essay was fiction, Bill sent me this web address, which showed the actual woman giving a long speech, 45 minutes, that the original letter accurately condensed.

I watched it carefully, taking notes, did some research; and I want to share my response, not only with my liberal friends here on Dailykos, but to Bill, whose fairness and good will continues to provide hope that our political divide can be productively bridged.

I'll intersperse my comments in italics to her excerpted letter:


America Truly is the Greatest Country in the World. Don't Let Freedom Slip Away
    By: Kitty Werthmann

   What I am about to tell you is something you've probably never heard or will ever read in history books.

   I believe that I am an eyewitness to history. I cannot tell you that Hitler took Austria by tanks and guns; it would distort history. We elected him by a landslide - 98% of the vote. I've never read that in any American publications. Everyone thinks that Hitler just rolled in with his tanks and took Austria by force. In 1938, Austria was in deep Depression. Nearly one-third of our workforce was unemployed. We had 25% inflation and 25% bank loan interest rates.

  -she then describes her home life, her mother helping those in need.

   The Communist Party and the National Socialist Party were fighting each other. Blocks and blocks of cities like Vienna, Linz, and Graz were destroyed. The people became desperate and petitioned the government to let them decide what kind of government they wanted.

   -she then described how much better things were in Hitlers Germany adding:

   Nothing was ever said about persecution of any group -- Jewish or otherwise. We were led to believe that everyone was happy.

-Here was my first gotcha, so I thought.  Surely Kristalnacht would have been widely publicized.  So, I did some research and while the statement was too broad, since the Nuremberg Laws that restricted Jewish participation in German Society had been promulgated in 1935.  But in almost all of Eastern Europe such restrictions were not uncommon.  And Kristalnach, the beginning of Nazi homicidal antisemitism, was still eight months in the future.

I happen to have a rare yellowing copy of Liberty Magazine, one of the most popular magazines in the U.S., of May 21,1938, probably written almost exactly at the time of the Anschluss  Here's the conclusion of an article by Edward P. Bell, that is mostly laudatory of Heir Hitler:

   I left convinced of his sincerity, his rectitude of intention, his high purpose according to his light.  The international danger, such as it is, arises from suspicion and fear and misapprehension and their ugly, formidable children, hated and swelling armaments.

This was the conclusion of an American mainstream publication, that it was not Hitler who was the danger to world peace, but those who overreacted to this "sincere" man. The writer, and supposedly the American people were satisfied with Hitler's answer to the question of the "Jewish Problem" which was, "we are not against Jews, we are for the Germans as Germans"

Around this same time, people such as Winston Churchill and John Maynard Keynes among many others spoke kindly of Hitler, especially when he was seen as the bulwark against Stalin, who was considered the far greater evil.  So, Ms Werthmann's memory of Hitler not persecuting his people was plausible.

I can see that this process of critiquing all of Ms. Werthmann's essay here, and her video would make this much too long, so I invite readers to go to the links above if interested.  

Every reader here looks back at Nazi Germany with knowledge of the horror it would inflict on the world, and finds it difficult, if not impossible, to go much beyond that.  To illustrate this problem, I will reference this article: Nazi Medicine and Public Health Policy By Robert N. Proctor


The Nazis...supported many kinds of science, left politics (as we often think of it) out of most, and did not abandon ethics. There was an ethics of Nazi medical practice -- sometimes explicit, sometimes not.
   The story of science under German fascism is not, as conventional wisdom would have it, only a narrative of suppression and survival; a truthful account will explain how and why Nazi ideology promoted certain areas of inquiry, and how projects and policies were championed or disappeared because of political considerations.

This article was not from or even National Review, rather it is from the website of the Anti-Defamation League, an organization dedicated to fighting antisemitism.

While Ms. Werthmann does make some errors of fact, after some careful analysis, acknowledging that I am not highly versed in this specific history, I believe that her writing and speaking for the Republican party, now going on for some two decades, is based on her actual memories of events.

In a certain slice of the left-right economic spectrum both Adolph Hitler and Barack Obama were believers in a left oriented mixed economy.  This means that both of them favored more government participation, even control, of some areas of life than those of the right.  In this narrow spectrum Adolph Hitler was a progressive.

Here, of course, is where the similarity ends.  Ms. Werthmann then makes assumptions that such similarity means that those of the left have the same intention, are of the same mentality of Hitler.  She is very careful, never to say these exact words, but the allusions are obvious, as I will show in this example from her video:

In her essay she wrote

   Hitler decided we should have equal rights for women. Before this, it was a custom that married Austrian women did not work outside the home. An able-bodied husband would be looked down on if he couldn't support his family

In the video she referred to Hitler's new rights for women as "The equal rights amendment" which, of course, was a provision that would have amended the United States constitution.  It is highly unlikely that Hitler, who at the time was ruling by edict, needed an amendment of anything to do this.

This is just one clear example that Ms. Werthmann has managed to seamlessly merge in her own mind the most heinous man of the twentieth century with any Democratic Leader, specifically at this time, President Barach Obama.   According to her story the actual fact that Hitler removed the crucifixes from the public schools, means that being opposed to Catholicism is the necessarily and sufficient condition for brutal dictatorship. The counter example of Spanish Dictator Francisco Franco, who as a defender of Catholicism ruled as an absolute dictator for over thirty five years does not interfere in this belief, since she benefits from the simplicity of her thinking.

Medical Care after Anschluss

Werthmann, in the video, says that Hitler nationalized medical care, and that "doctors had long waits of people after this occurred."  After considerable research I have not been able to find a single source, other than she, to confirm or refute her statements.  The closest I could come to finding a carefully researched work on this era was this piece from the Annals of Internal Medicine.  It is a concise essay focusing on the medical profession, which in Austria had been overwhelmingly Jewish.  In the age of contagion before antibiotics, it was one of the few professions allowed to this group.

Of the 4900 physicians practicing in Vienna in 1938, 3200 were of Jewish origin. Thus, the proportion of Jews in medicine was greater in Vienna than in Germany, where it was about 20%. The relationship between Viennese Jews and non-Jews had been relatively unproblematic until the late 19th century, when the ideas associated with social Darwinism began to spread and combine with overt anti-Semitism [7].

Academic promotion in general became more and more difficult for Jews to obtain. The "Society of German Doctors in Austria," a professional organization in favor of German (and Nazi) influences, grew and published lists of non-Aryan colleagues, lists that later provided some of the reference material for the events to follow. Because of this insidious change in climate, many Jewish colleagues emigrated well before 1938, and the seed of Nazism fell on fertile ground. The events that ensued must therefore not be seen as an "accident of history."

While Werthmann has explained the shortage of medical care on Hitler's socialized medicine, here's another explanation, that happens to be authentic.

Medical care in general showed similar deficits. Before the Anschluss, more than 5000 physicians were practicing in Vienna; by 1942, the figure had decreased to 519 general practitioners and 211 specialists. The first anniversary of the above events was celebrated in a newspaper article by Professor Hans Eppinger: "Now that all disease has been eradicated, the Viennese School of Medicine can in future dedicate itself to its great task without inhibition"


What is important is not so much this one individual, Kitty Werthmann, but that what she says resonates with many in this country.  They know how one political leader promised his people everything, eliminated all organized opposition, and then destroyed their country, not to mention a good part of the rest of the world.

I have learned something from this process.  While many here on Dailykos, myself included, can't understand why Obama would not make health care a national program with the simplicity of single payer, or why he did not nationalize the banks that were no longer viable economic entities....the answer lies in Ms. Wertmann's speeches, and the reaction of them to a fairly large following----currently under the banner of teabaggers.  

Hitler did (to the best of my knowledge) actually nationalize the banks, and in Austria replaced private health insurance companies with British Style universal care.  And this was a surprise to me--he believed in an activist government that in other ways would protect the people (well, not all people) in promoting epidemiological studies and preventing use of tobacco  (See ADL article)

The ADL article linked above actually describes the positive aspects of Nazi governance and refutes the illusion that since the regime was the apotheosis of evil, that nothing about it could have been positive.  I doubt that such an article could have been written much before now, after those who lived through the Nazi horrors are mostly gone.

What I can tell my friend Bill, and Kitty, were she ever to read this, is that she misses the essential quality of Hitler, that his quest for power was built on hatred--- of Jews, victors of WWI, Slavs, and all of those whom he saw as inferior.  He happened to have emerged at a moment of great distress of the Germanic people.  He was enough of an intuitive master of the art of politics to marshal this suffering to his own ends.

Hitler's job was made easier by the degree of hatred, the vicious murderous state of the Kulturkamph, a permutation of our own culture war that currently is on low simmer.  Ms. Werthmann equating Obama to Hitler, does a disservice the her adopted country, and threatens this country that I believe she loves.  She makes the possibility of her fears someday coming true that much more probable.

The constant drumbeat that lawful exercise of Presidential power is tantamount to tyranny creates a dire risk that healthy political dialog will be transformed into rabid mutual hatred, resulting in the very chaos that will produce an actual tyrant, someone with a Final Solution to all of our vexing social problems.

Nazism has not become the epitome of evil because Hitler promoted equality of women, universal health care or secular public education.   He will forever be equated with evil because of a remorseless hatred that was divorced from reality.  Our country has been immune to such excesses because with all of our disagreements about policy, we have preserved a common set of values, along with mutual respect for those whom we disagree with.  

It's sad that Kitty Werthmann who lived through the efflorescence of hatred that destroyed her country along with much of the world has learned the wrong lessen, and has made a career of fostering the very distortions that contributed to such a calamity.  

Originally posted to ARODB on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 08:06 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Difficult Diary to Write... (26+ / 0-)

    and more so to post. I wrote it more than a month ago and keep waiting for the right time.  It's a serious subject, her memories, the reality of what she saw, and my attempt to be dispassionate about an event that has personal meaning to me, and many others.

    I tried to find out whether Hitler really did nationalize medical care in Austria, but I've had no success. Any further information will be greatly appreciated.  

    •  Excellent piece of work. (9+ / 0-)

      You put a lot of work into this. Excellent diary.

    •  GOP Has Been On A Nazi Apologist Campaign (0+ / 0-)

      Pat Buchanna says Hitler didn't want war, Jonah Goldberg says he doesn't believe Hitler was actually a racist.

      Reread this email - it is vintage Nazi apology, Hitler apology. There's nothing in there to suggest Hitler was a racist.

      A Holocaust denier would be happy with this email - See Hitler was actually a great guy.

      But no, these people are saying Hitler was too liberal. Not that liberals are so much "like Hitler," but that Hitler was actually too liberal.

      And they are quoting articles from 1938, when Fascist sentiment was strong among conservatives in the US. But why not quote the "Protocols of the Elders of Zionn," which people were alsio reading, which talked about how Jews kidnap Christian babies and use their blood to make passover bread? Yes, there was a lot of pro-Nazi stuff in print in 1938 (much of it published by Henry Ford), so that's a year where you would find a peak of pro-Nazi sympathy in the US.

      The take home message here is that people pushing this stuff are right in the thick of the the right wing movement that includes the Holocaust deniers, and they don't like the Nazis because the Nazis did not go far enough, the Nazis were a bunch of wimps.

      Liberals get distracted trying to refute the gratuitous insults, but are afraid to wrap their minds how far into Nazi territory these people are.

      •  I read Buchanan's book on the subject... (0+ / 0-)

        I believe it was called, "Hitler and Churchill"  

        I really don't read that much of Buchanan, and I don't know where his true sentiments lie, but he is a valuable relic of what was the majority opinion in America before WWII.

        His major point of the book is not that Hitler did not want war ever, but what I took from it is that Hitler did not expect England to actually declare war after he invaded Poland.  And he makes the point that Englands alliance with Poland only precipitated the war as it may have been possible to appease Hitler, since he wasn't actually prepared to fight the united allied forces.

        I don't see the teabaggers as excusing Hitler, but as equating the evil Hitler with the evil Obama. That was Werthmann's theme.

        •  People With Swastika Signs Don't Get A Free Pass (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          If someone wants to run around with swastika signs, putting a little red diagonal line through some of them to claim they are "ironic" swatikas does not cut it (especially when they start shouting Zeig Heil at Jews). Nope they just have to accept being called "Nazis."

  •  good writing (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Uncle Moji, tardis10

    I'm not getting this, though:

    In this narrow spectrum Adolph Hitler was a progressive.

    I don't see how you can be "a Progressive" on a couple issues while being a fascist genocidal maniac in general. Maybe I'm splitting hairs.

    •  I expected some response to this.... (6+ / 0-)

      I hope this is as hostile as it gets!

      Progressive in the sense of wanting government to do more for people.  Of course this was actually part of his racial fanaticism, where it was only Aryans who deserved such a better life.

      The "untermenshen" were to be excluded to be non-humans.  Such objective analysis of the Nazi regime has been impossible up to now.  In fact Mein Kamph was illegal to publish in many countries, including Germany.

      •  Perhaps.. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BlackSheep1, arodb, Uncle Moji

        it was about "getting more from people", rather than doing more for people. Hitler and the Nazis were very efficient- they even sold the gold teeth of their victims. Having good health care, equality for women, great highways etc. are beneficial policies on the way to world domination.

        Interesting topic.

  •  Umm, the overwhelming "vote" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BlackSheep1, arodb, Uncle Moji, Karl Rover

    Werthmann mentions happened after Wehrmacht troops entered Austria to enforce the Anschluss. The validity of the results has always been suspect. But the welcoming Austrians of many pix was too sadly true.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 08:26:57 PM PST

    •  Hitler being an Austrian may have been a factor.. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Temmoku, Uncle Moji

      and the truth is Germany had prospered under Hitler's stimulus of military spending.  It's hard having lived, or studied WWII, to understand how Hitler was actually respected by a great many people, of all stations.

      Unlike characters like Sarah Palin, he actually did formulate his own thoughts, had a grasp of history, and didn't need to write any notes on the palm of his hand.

      I've heard interviews of Germans who lived through the period, who loved Hitler before the war, which in their mind meant before 1942, when the fortune of war changed.

      •  Fascism could have taken hold (6+ / 0-)

        in even more parts of Europe.Just barely lacked the  leadership/economic/cultural ingredients that made Hitler happen. Specifically,I am thinking about Oswald Mosley & his pals in Britain.

        "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

        by tardis10 on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 08:47:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  History Channel Showed Hitlers Victory Tour (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        arodb, tardis10

        ....of Austria driving a convoy of 6 wheeled Mercedes convertible limos. He not universally popular and there was at least one sniper took a shot at him.

      •  I remember asking my parents about the US (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        view of Adolph Hitler before the war, how he was seen by American media.  My mother used to read copies of the NY Times at the library, and in them Hitler was referred to as "Mr Hitler" in respectful and almost reverential terms as the savior of his nation, a great anti-communist ally, rescuing Germany from the brink of economic collapse preventing a communist revolution and takeover.  She said she did not remember seeing anything about his policies about Jews or other "inferior" groups.  

        The curious thing for Ms Werthmann is how she squares Hitler's great anti-Communist crusade (an essential part of his domestic and foreign policies) with the right wing take on Obama as a communist or socialist, the kind Hitler would hate (plus Obama is, uh, black in a country with a strong history of racism, versus Hitler who was a nominal Christian in a country with a strong history of antisemitism.  A more apt parallel would be if Hitler had been Jewish.)  

        "Out of Many, One." This is the great promise of our nation -9.75 -6.87

        by Uncle Moji on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 09:02:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thankfully the Bund never took off here (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Uncle Moji

          although this poster is scary.

          "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

          by tardis10 on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 09:09:41 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  She focus on the Socialist part of Nazi.. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Jim P

          which stands for National Socialist German Worker's Party.  I have always viewed Hitler's rise as being in contrast to the Communists, yet apparently there were more similarities, more socialism within Nazi ideology.

          If we remember Germany had socialized medicine since the time of Bizmark, in the 1870s, as means to unify the multitude of Germanic kingdoms into one grand country.

          Talking about this era always gets back to the "Other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play" effect.  It's hard to ignore the reality of what Hitler's policies brought the world.

          •  Hitlers Enemies Were The "Democrats" (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            To be sure, he will not cry this out to the whole public as the democratic 'friends' of the monarchy did in the exact same lying way; he will most earnestly warn and attempt to influence His Majesty, the bearer of the crown himself......the bourgeois-democratic papers knew how to give an appearance of their famous objectivity...While the Jews in their Marxist and democratic press proclaimed to the whole world the lie about 'German militarism' and sought to incriminate Germany by all means, the Marxist and democratic parties were obstructing any comprehensive training of the German national man-power....Confronted with the Jewish democratic idea of a blind-worship of numbers, the army sustained belief in personality.

          •  Exactly. Plus, iirc, Germany (6+ / 0-)

            was the first nation with something like social security, back in the 1870/80s. But where the left saw capitalism as the enemy, the right saw both capitalism and communism as the enemy, being all about the romantic phantasy of Ein Volk. (They were willing to let capitalists run free, but all companies were completely entwined with various Reichs ministries. Which ruled pretty much. In time capitalism would just disappear, was the thinking.)

            Of course, the thing would be to compare modern Sweden, Denmark, or such and say "well here is real-life socialism: show me the dictator." Maybe drag out that recent poll where something like 7 or 8 of the ten happiest nations are also socialist.

            But nothing will help these people until they recognize that they've worked themselves into a hysteria. That's unlikely, since the hysteria is psychologically strategic. The exhilaration of being on a true mission, surrounded by enemies, frees one to go as low as they wish in how they treat others. That's their whole motive right there. It ain't about reality and sense. It's about the rush.

            Until we break the corporate virtual monopoly on what we hear and see, we keep losing, don't matter what we do.

            by Jim P on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 09:56:40 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  I Guess They Didnt Read Mein Kampf...... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          arodb, billmosby, Gatordiet

          More likely they did and they liked what they heard.

          He had many fans in Britain and US, including henry Ford and Charles Lindbergh.

          •  Mein Kampf was probably not available (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            in the local plantation library in rural Oahu at the time my mother was young.

            "Out of Many, One." This is the great promise of our nation -9.75 -6.87

            by Uncle Moji on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 10:13:15 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Public Domain - The Whole Thing Is On Line (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              Various projects usually post it broken up by chapters.

              For instance, search "Mein Kampf"+"Causes of The Collapse"

              Someone needs to do a word cloud from Mein Kampf.

              Also, you can pick up a copy at your local Borders Books.

              •  Uh, my point was during the 1930s the US (0+ / 0-)

                media did not actively critique Hitler's virulent anti-semitism as a essential part of his policies...did you miss that part?

                I have a copy of Mein Kampf, thank you, I have been reading German history for the last 40 years.  As far as I am aware, however, there was no internet service, let alone computers, phone service or electricity available in rural Oahu in the 1930s for my mother do do "a word cloud" search.

                Are you normally this rude & condescending?  It's not attractive, it's idiotic.

                "Out of Many, One." This is the great promise of our nation -9.75 -6.87

                by Uncle Moji on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 10:04:02 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Virulent Antisemitism Was Fact Of Life In The US (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:

                  Which was why nobody was calling out Hitler. I did not misunderstand your point, I was ignoring it. Why would the media call out Hitler for something they took for granted in America? We turning away Jewish refugees.

                  Good lord, there was tremendous cross fertilization of anti-Semitic literature between America and Germany. Hitler got some of his stuff from Henry Ford and the Dearborn Independent, which published  virulently anti Jewish screeds before Hitler even got his start. Henry Ford got the civilian equivalent of the Iron Cross from Hitler.

                  And not to mention the KKK.

                  I was reading a sci-fi novel from just before WW1 and they were describing the wonders of 20th century. There was a line about how America's biggest improvement had been deporting all the Jews (not clear where they went).

      •  A few factors (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I forget where I read this, but one historian's account mentioned that Austria, after losing the Austro-Hungarian Empire, was an orphan (I think the phrase was "a head without a body").  This was because, of course, having just broken free of Austrian rule, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and the Slavic ex-Austro-Hungarians weren't interested in creating alliances or cooperative trade agreements with their former masters in Austria.  This meant that, due to their geographic isolation from other countries besides Italy, Switzerland and Germany, Austria would have a hard time meeting the needs of its people, with its small landmass.

        As to Germany, it was mentioned in a book critiquing AJP Taylor's work that many Germans who hated Hitler were all in favor of his re-taking of the former German lands in Poland, which they regarded as unjustly taken from them.  (Until the Berlin Wall fell, and perhaps still, there were still millions of Germans who felt that the once-German lands Poland NOW has should also be returned.)

        "Arguments are to be avoided. They are always vulgar, and are often convincing." -- Oscar Wilde

        by Villagejonesy on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 12:55:45 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  arodb, excellent though difficult diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb, tardis10

    I couldn't use your link to the ADL site to get to the direct article, for some reason, I had to enter "Hitler, medicine" in the search field to get to:
    the url to the excellent article Nazi Medicine and Public Health Policy by Robert Proctor.  Well worth the read, I had forgotten the language of the "hygenic" Nazi state, with Jews, Gypsies, gays, etc as diseases to be surgically eradicated from the German body. Still frightening to this day.

    Thanks for this diary.

    "Out of Many, One." This is the great promise of our nation -9.75 -6.87

    by Uncle Moji on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 08:52:38 PM PST

    •  I corrected the URL to ADL... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Uncle Moji

      thanks for noting it.

      The reality of Nazi science/racism/eugenics makes any dispassionate reference to it seem almost like parroting their ideology.

      This is one reason that for now several generations there could be no discussion that is "value free."

      This is one of the silent crimes of this regime, that it caused science and history to block out large areas of exploration.

  •  Hitler Promised To Save Germany From "Liberals" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb, Empower Ink, tardis10

    ...which included the Jews. His sworn enemies included trade unions, the "liberal press," university professors, homosexuals, pacifists, atheists, "Democrats," the "Social Democrats."

    He promised to protect white culture, end immigration bilingualism and multiculturalism, protect the sanctity of marriage, encourage early marriage, and encourage large families.

    He said the liberals and jews were planning to destroy the white race, white culture, and America

    Now we have Glenn Beck saying that Obama will detroy white culture, white culture, and America.

    Short hand version of Glenn Beck:

    "OMG OMG! Hitler was right about everything!"

    •  Atheists, Professors (aryans) not so much.... (0+ / 0-)

      as he only had an accommodation with the church.  He was not about to allow a Jewish carpenter who died two millennia ago to compete with him. He was the new Messiah.

      Were unions an issue in Germany?  I believe they were subordinated to the Communist apparatchik in Russia, which was the competing ideology.

      •  "The Trade Union Question" (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        arodb, Dirtandiron, tardis10

        It's a whole chapter in Mein Kampf. For a list of the people Hitler blamed see "Causes of the Collapse."

        •  I read the book 50 years ago.... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          What is unusual, especially now when public figures rarely write their own books, is that he did write the book.  Actually, the post WWI years featured abominable dictators, such as Hitler and Mussolini who were literate, and actual intellectual leaders of their movement.

          I recently read Von Pappen's memiors, which there are only a few copies available on Amazon.  It's a fascinating window into the era, and the impossibility of a "moderate" to survive the level of anxiety/rage that had taken over the country.

          Compared to that era, we live in calm peaceful times.  

      •  Eh... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bernardpliers, gsenski, tardis10

        The Nazis tossed huge numbers of atheists into concentration camps--not because they were atheists, but because they were Jews and/or Communists.

        And "only an accommodation"? Come on. Hitler fell all over himself conscripting German Christianity to support and serve his regime. The Roman Catholic hierarchy, in turn, saw him as a bulwark against Communism--y'know, atheistic Communism--and backed him happily; they still have never excommunicated Adolf "lifelong Catholic" Hitler.

        In private, Hitler was less Christian (and more freakish-theist) than he let on to the German people. But that hardly makes him a friend to atheists, then or now.

        My feelings as a Christian point me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, God's truth! was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter. In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. To-day, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross. As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people.

        - Onkel Adolf

        •  Interesting.... (0+ / 0-)

          It is clear that the Catholic church much preferred the Nazis to Communists.  I believe it was in an uprising in 1870s (or 1848) that the pope was actually chased from the Vatican by a communist uprising.

          And to add to Hitler never being excommunicated, every Communist, en masse, was.  

          If interested in this aspect of the German-Catholic connection I suggest Jame's Carroll's book, Constantine's Sword.

          •  Hitler and Mussolini - Catholic nt (0+ / 0-)
          •  Not quite Communist, not chased. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Capsule of wiki

            As 1870 approached, the standard European Great Power Games ended in Napoleon III (Second French Empire) suffering a terrible defeat at Sedan at the close of the Franco-Prussian War.  He withdrew the garrison that protected Pius IX's Rome from the Italians, who had unified under King Victor Emmanuel II.  The Italians, under Garibaldi, took Rome and its environs (Latium), which annexed itself to Italy by plebiscite, followed by decree of annexation.  

            Garibaldi was not a socialist or communist;  his movement was part of the nationalist fervor that swept the world during the 19th Century combined with grave dissatisfaction with Papal rule at the end of French bayonets.  He did favor a republic, but acquiesced to constitutional monarchy.  For what it's worth, he was a Freemason.


            2009: Year of the Donkey. Let's not screw it up.

            by Yamaneko2 on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 01:09:12 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Here's a little something about those unions.. (0+ / 0-)

        Strength Through Joy (KdF) and German Labor Front

        We still drive descendants of the KdF-Wagen today.

        Moderation in most things. Except Reactors. IFR forever!

        by billmosby on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 09:59:47 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  I Don't Get th Connectn Between "Left" and "Htlr" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerald 1969, tardis10, Gatordiet

    Oh, I see, "national socialist."

    Yep a regular FDR, Hitler was.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 09:12:57 PM PST

  •  If this woman is comparing Obama with Hitler .... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gerald 1969, arodb, tardis10

    .... then Kitty Werthmann is complete and total ass.  There are none so dangerous as those who learn the wrong lessons from history.  Apparently, she's one of them.  

    Unless I'm radically reading this woman wrong and someone can point it out, my opinion stands.  

  •  Weimar Republic (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mint julep, tardis10, Gatordiet

    As a student of this period in history and the subsequent NAZI regime I can assure you that the Anschluss was not requested by the Austrian people. The statement that "98% of the vote" was for the Anschluss is more a reflection of Stalin's aphorism "it is not who casts the vote but who counts it", the Anschluss was called for by Hitler in reaction to hostile European and world opinion resulting from Hitler's entry into Austria at the "request" of the Austrian government.

    Medical care in Germany had been "socialized" under Bismark prior to WWI as a result of "social security" reforms promulgated by the Christian Democrats and Social Democrats in the Reichstag. These social programs were continued and strengthened under both Weimar and NAZI governments. Austria's national government ceased to exist after the Anschluss and the German social programs became the "Greater German" programs under the new government.

    The economic crisis in the 30's did bring significant stress to Austria and resulted in the establishment of a strong reactionary quasi dictatorship there. The street fighting, use of artillery to destroy workers' blocks in Vienna and Linz by the Austrian Army and National Police are well documented; however, the Austrian government and people at no time requested German assistance in their internal affairs.

    The national government was undermined by political assassination and economic destabilization plans originating in NAZI Germany. These plans were being promulgated by Austrian NAZI's and reactionary parties allied with the Austrian right wing.

    The Anschluss occured in March of 1938 after years of social, political and economic upheaval in Austria. It seems particularly questionable to me that someone who couldn't have been more than ten or eleven years old at the time of the Anschluss could have such clear memories of both what was being said about Germany and what was happening throughout Austria at this time.

    I think the whole testimony and subsequent narrative should be subjected to the closest scrutiny and that the "parallels" that are drawn from it strongly refuted by historians and political scientists, simply because they are incorrect and demonstrate a complete disregard for the facts.

    Hitler was not a "socialist" or progressive in any sense. He did not advocate "equality" for women and German women did not have equality in NAZI Germany, ask any German survivor of the DMB or "Strength Through Joy" programs of that era. The number of inaccuracies, misstatements and ridiculous assertions that abound in this diary are incredible.
    Although, it does point out that there is no depth to which right wing extermist propaganda will not go to discredit Democratic policies and leaders.  

    "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

    by KJG52 on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 09:42:26 PM PST

    •  I attempted to condense her speech... (0+ / 0-)

      I don't believe that I endorsed it, or claimed it was factual.  You seem to be confirming that the Anschluss did, in fact, result in socialization of Austrian Medical care.

      She described a traditional gender role society, where it was not the norm for women to work after marriage, or after childbirth.  Are you saying that this was not changed to a greater acceptance of wider roles for women?

      And to say that Hitler was not progressive in any sense is refuted by your acknowledging his expanding socialized medicine into Austria, which would be considered a progressive act.  Do you know whether the Banks were nationalized in Austria, as she claimed?

      The key to my statement was that in a very narrow swath he was progressive.  If this statement is unacceptable to you that's fine.  It would be to many people.

      •  No it wasn't... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mint julep, tardis10

        She described a traditional gender role society, where it was not the norm for women to work after marriage, or after childbirth.  Are you saying that this was not changed to a greater acceptance of wider roles for women?

        The NAZI construct did not even allow women the vote. The Deutscher Madel Bund was inaugurated under HItler to make German "Jungfrau" the "wombs of a new generation of Aryans", Germany's manufacturing labor short fall was exacerbated by Hitler's not mobilizing German women into the work force and the NAZI's actively discouraged women in the workforce and education.

        Austrian medical services were already built on the German model of assisted medical care and a floor of services provided by public hospitals.

        I am not saying you endorse the information; however, I am saying that your selective condemnation is troubling. That some statements by Churchill and Keynes or even Colonel Mc Cormick's Liberty Magazine could be construed as backing for some general sense of acceptance of Hitler as socially progressive pior to WWII is tantamount to apologizing for Ms Werthmann's obvious fascistic propogandizing.

        There is no common ground here. This is not some benighted misled person influencing an unwilling group. This is right wing propoganda used to call Democrats and the President crypto-fascists. It needs to be exposed and debunked not put forth as some sort of explanation of why people are misled because you could so easily mistake Democratic initiatives for the initiatives of Hitler.  

        "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

        by KJG52 on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 10:45:18 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Criticism correct but harsh (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          arodb, KJG52, tardis10

          I agree with the factual corrections you make, but I still support arodb's diary - there's so much ignorance about the origins and drivers of German fascism that any discussion on the subject helps.

          The right-wing propaganda machine is at the same time broadcasting the message that the Nazis weren't so bad AND that anything they don't like is Nazi and therefore bad.

          To properly counter this, it is important to understand what is historically incidental and has nothing to do with Nazi ideology (even if it was co-opted and used by the Nazis), what is incidental to Nazism and what is crucial to Nazism.

          For me, the most troubling aspects are the many veterans who returned from a lost war emotionally, physically and economically broken; the economic climate that was causing the middle class to descend into poverty; and the failure of the established political classes to find solutions for the national woes.

          A politician who even just promises to fix this will very quickly have a large and unquestioning following.  Hitler promised "morning in Germany"; thanks to luck, timing and also a measure of skill, he as able to deliver.  The cost, initially, was ignored.

          γνωθι σεαυτόν

          by halef on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 11:16:16 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  My criticism may be harsh... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            mint julep, halef, tardis10

            and I do agree with you that there were many events and confluences of circumstance that brought about the rise of German fascism. The joining of the "Black Reichwehr" with the NAZI's, the suppression of the social progressives within the NAZI movement and the support of German industrialists and the Catholic Church for Hitler also contributed to Hitler gaining power.

            The social/economic conditions in all of Europe were ripe for either Communist or Fascist movements; however, the wealth and conservative power of the various national armies set up fascist regimes in Spain, Romania, Poland, Hungary, Italy and Germany. The rest of Europe was not a haven for "social justice" or democracy, France, Belgium, Austria, Greece and Bulgaria were home to very socially stagnant and repressive governments.

            The conflating of "socialism" and NAZIism is a terrible and willfully misleading talking point of the right.  It is meant to equate all socially progressive initiatives by governments or parties as inevitable steps toward totalitarianism.

            I agree we should talk about the foundations of totalitarianism no matter of what type. What I do not agree with is accepting the right's conflating "liberalism" with NAZIism, it must be fought and not treated as some type of mild miscommunication.  

            "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

            by KJG52 on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 11:55:26 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Agreed - and two problems with "liberal" (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              KJG52, tardis10

              When it is said that the Nazis were "gegen die Liberalen", "liberal" is used in a very different sense than it is today in the US.  In today's US usage, "librul" is more or less what Europeans call "social democrat", while in European usage, then and now, "die Liberalen" are for a diversified market economy, minimum necessary state intervention, anti-clerical, non-religious, anti-monarchist and against state intervention in people's private lives (like abortion or gay marriage).  They're mostly the party of the professionals.

              The truly Hegelian redefinition of political terms for the purpose of confusion and ultimately propaganda is very dangerous.  I have no doubt that Goebbels would feel a flash of pride at Roger Ailes, who has really surpassed the master.  The only remaining question in my mind is:  What for?

              γνωθι σεαυτόν

              by halef on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 12:09:01 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Correct (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                mint julep, bernardpliers, halef, tardis10

                I also wonder what Roger Ailes and his propaganda factory are actually trying to accomplish. It is worrisome...

                "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

                by KJG52 on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 12:18:33 AM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thanks for your contribution, but here's the... (0+ / 0-)

                  problem.  My diary has to be read as a whole, the subjective truth of Werthmann's memory, how there is self conflation (lessening of traditional roles described as "equal rights amendment) and how the Nazi era was more than the headline horrors.

                  Your conclusion seems to be to explicate this, in the form of an analysis of Wertheims work is in some way condoning the meme that Liberals=Nazis.

                  Actually, it is the furthest thing from this.  But by simply castigating one who is part of perpetuating this, we make people immune to this distortion.  Shutting out opposition with anger only is effective until the person sees that there is an element of truth to such beliefs, and then their feeling of betrayal can lead to a strong acceptance.

                  This is why Ayn Rand is so effective.  She open closed doors, making a truth that individual self interest is not only ubiquitous but acceptable into the meme that "greed is good"  It is better to acknowledge the ubiquity and validity of such motivation so it can be integrated into effective societal norms broader than such self interest.  

                  •  I Guess She Was "Only Following Orders" (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:

                    It's not necessary to excuse her as a little old lady. She's probably the kind of "respectable" self righteous rat who sold out Anne Frank's family.

                  •  Your analysis of this is incorrect (0+ / 0-)

                    it is not incumbent on progressives to try to understand what makes the right think they might have some basis in reality for their beliefs, when ther is none.

                    This is why Ayn Rand is so effective.  She open closed doors, making a truth that individual self interest is not only ubiquitous but acceptable into the meme that "greed is good"  It is better to acknowledge the ubiquity and validity of such motivation so it can be integrated into effective societal norms broader than such self interest.


                    It is clear that you think understanding the propaganda and its root cause is important, eg Ayn Rand, who by the way is not so effective except in very conservative circles.

                    This method of communication is called disinformation, you pretend to be for "mutual dialogue" while insidiously putting forth an argument that these "people" are misunderstood, not actively engaging and promulgating their agenda.

                    Again, it is not incumbent upon progressives to hand hold fascists and "understand" them, we have to fight them and their propaganda at every turn. You are clearly trying to get some hearing for this set of beliefs on a Democratic and Progressive blog under the rubric of "understanding", and unfortunately having some success, you are a fraud and so is this diary.

                    "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

                    by KJG52 on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 12:55:02 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I had a diary a few days ago... (0+ / 0-)

                      where some people identified themselves as "hating/despising those on the right.  Others had a more nuanced view.

                      You appear to be in the former, where you have about 20% companionship on this site.  Actually, you have more in common with Ms. Werthmann and her followers than you realize.

                      Best of luck.

                      •  Republicans do not have a nuanced view (0+ / 0-)

                        and you are trying to carry their water here, this is not a place to conciliate the right it is a Democratic Blog, and you're surprised that advocating the views of "understanding" fascists and Ayn Rand are strongly challenged here.

                        Republicans are trying to crush the working class and middle class Americans that are the majority in this country and they are doing it with the complicity of revanchist apologists like you.

                        You are a fraud, to hell with your phony conciliatory tone, and to hell with your "Best of Luck" too, snide and insincere as it was.

                        "Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are..." George Santayana

                        by KJG52 on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 05:35:33 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                •  GOP Diluting The "Nazi" Brand To Use Its Message (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  KJG52, tardis10

                  They are trying to erase the image of the Nazis as racists (like this email, like Glenn Beck every single night, Jonah Goldberg) so they can use Mein Kampfs talking points about secularists, pacifists, homosexuals, the "liberal media," academics, trade unions, cultural purity, national "spirit" (shoutout to Palin). They know this script works, and they are not deviating from it even a little bit.

    •  Also, Austria had lost... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mint julep, arodb, tardis10, Gatordiet

      ... the vast, multi-cultural empire it had up to WW I.  The unification of "Greater Germany" was a tenet of German national movements in the first half of the 19th Century.  Bismarck decided that the "Greater German" solution (including Prussia and the Austrian Empire) was politically unachievable, so he worked toward the "Lesser German" solution and achieved it 1871 - the various principalities of Germany under an overweaning Prussian leadership, with Austria and its empire, composed of mostly non-German peoples, separate and independent.

      The severe economic crises of the post-WW I era undermined Austrian commitment to independence as a small country.

      Do not underestimate the importance of economic decline and the middle class' fear of loss of status as a strong factor in the rise of fascism.

      γνωθι σεαυτόν

      by halef on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 11:03:32 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Beautifully written. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb, tardis10, Gatordiet

    Thanks so much.
    This shows the grave danger in vast oversimplifications--what can happen when "facts" are carefully chosen, some ignored, some manipulated.  Hitler is like Obama because he wanted health care for his people and equality for women, etc.

    The real evil of Hitler-- his belief in racial purity, his fanaticism and use of propaganda to control his people, his warmongering-- all sound a lot more similar to Republican politicians than Democratic ones. And I don't mean to say that we have any Republicans that come anywhere close to the evil of Hitler, so don't get me wrong...

    This provides a lot to think about.

  •  About "socialized medicine" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb, tardis10

    and its German roots in 1883.  I've done a little search on this topic and have found a lot of right wing sites that (without explanation of precisely what "socialized medicine" means in German terms) repeat the statement that the German "socialized medicine" with its roots in Bismark was "socialism" ie government-run, the same claim that Ms Werthamm seems to make.  Ironic since the Social Democratic Party was banned by Bismark in 1878, and he referred to socialists as "rats who should be exterminated."

    I haven't been able to find a precise detailing of what "socialized medicine" meant in Nazi Germany (we know from modern experience that "heath care reform" or "the public option" run a gamut of meanings) but here's what I could find about the 1883 version:

    Experts date the pioneering legislation for a system of compulsory national health insurance to Germany in 1883...

    The German system and the other European systems were extensions of already-existing voluntary associations, which were often guild or mutual aid groups whose benefits to members included the pooling of insurable risks.  The political impetus for converting or merging voluntary local groups in a system of national coverage was often its usefulness as a stabilizing influence...

    The German laws of 1883 set up a highly decentralized program that covered workers in mining, transportation, construction, manufacturing, mechanical trades, and establishments using power machinery.  Other countries followed...

    International Health Policy

    The 1883 laws also set up "accident" and "old age" insurance, as well.  It appears that German physicians at the time did not follow the popular US private practice model, but used the traditional European guild or association model of practice.

    The use of the term "socialized medicine" appears to be cloaked in a kind of fog that is used by different people to mean different things, most as a fright to claim parallels to Obama as a "socialist" or a Nazi.

    "Out of Many, One." This is the great promise of our nation -9.75 -6.87

    by Uncle Moji on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 09:58:54 PM PST

    •  One other piece on "socialized medicine" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      arodb, tardis10

      In 1883, Otto von Bismarck instituted the world’s first compulsory health care scheme, requiring workers to get insurance from private carriers through their employers, paid for by a payroll tax. Sound familiar?

      Bismarck’s law mandated coverage only for certain low-income workers.

      (Health reform's conservative roots by Rich Barlow)

      fyi for some reason I couldn't get the url to link.

      "Out of Many, One." This is the great promise of our nation -9.75 -6.87

      by Uncle Moji on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 10:11:01 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are reasons the Nazis were able (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb, Dirtandiron, Gatordiet

    to get themselves into a position where they became unstoppable.  They certainly did not start out powerful.

    Internationally, too, the Nazi's ruthless suppression of unionist/socialist/communist was quite popular abroad - especially Britain and the US.  Ford's treatment of unions was no different.

    Several big US corporations actively traded with the Nazis, and did so through the war.  IBM was instrumental is enabling the rounding up of Jews, Ford built tanks and Rockefeller supplied the Nazis with fuel at his South American stations, thus enabling the submarines and raiders that bedevilled Allied shipping.

    γνωθι σεαυτόν

    by halef on Wed Feb 10, 2010 at 10:52:05 PM PST

  •  Good First Hand Account (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    arodb, tardis10

    A neighbor of mine escape post-Anschluss Austria with his family and recently published a memoir about it:
    Out of Vienna: Eight Years of Flight from the Nazis.

    Interestingly, the (Jewish)family was denied entry into the US during the war, and instead were welcomed in Cuba.

    The opposite of "good" is "good intention" - Kurt Tucholsky

    by DowneastDem on Thu Feb 11, 2010 at 05:24:10 AM PST

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