One Man's Hitler Fascination

Posted: May 29, 2013 12:01 AM
One Man's Hitler Fascination

Here's a story you probably haven't heard, unless you read Drudge or Breitbart. The Independent in the U.K. has published a story (from which I pull freely), as have a couple of Jewish outlets. That's all I can find. You tell me if it qualifies as "news" that the "news " media should be covering.

It involves a young man who would someday become one of the best-known and most powerful men in the world. A new book is out. It explores recently uncovered diaries kept by this young man. The journal entries document his fascination with Adolf Hitler and Nazism.

This young man traveled to Germany three times between 1937 and 1945. Clearly he admired the Germans -- and that includes the racial imperatives of Nazism. The Independent reveals this entry logged after he visited the Rhine in 1937:

"Very beautiful, because there are many castles along the route. The towns are all charming which shows that the Nordic races appear to be definitely superior to their Latin counterparts. The Germans are really too good -- that's why people conspire against them -- they do it to protect themselves."

By today's standards, that sentiment is clearly racist. It glorifies Aryans as "superior" to brown people. (If you doubt me, contact your local La Raza office, read them that passage, and solicit a comment or two.)

This young man wrote as well: "I have come to the conclusion that fascism is right for Germany and Italy. What are the evils of fascism compared to communism?" His travelling companion, Lem Billings, would later state that the young man was "completely consumed by his interest for the Hitler movement."

The young man would return to Germany after the war, in 1945, and after visiting Hitler's famous "Eagle's Nest" mountain-top retreat, would write that, "Anyone who has visited these places can imagine how in a few years, Hitler will emerge from the hate that now surrounds him and come to be regarded as one of the most significant figures that ever lived. There is something mysterious about the way he lived and died and which will outlive him and continue to flourish. He was made of the stuff of legends."

This man was 20 in 1937. It is undeniable that any pro-Nazi sentiments that might have existed in his youth -- his father was a public apologist for Hitler -- evaporated with time. Still, this man was one of the most prominent men of the 20th century. How could this not be of interest to the media?

You can hear the explanations. They are what the press had to say to justify not reporting the late Senator Robert Byrd's membership in the KKK.

It's not news. He was young and naive. This is in some respects true. There is no "hard" news here, but how often do we find news reports about a prominent person's past? George W. Bush for one would find this curious. How many stories -- hundreds? -- were filed about his wild partying days at roughly the same age?

It's not news. These clearly were not his views during his public years. Again, a defensible position. Yet when former Senator Trent Lott said in 2002 that when, as a young man at approximately the same time (1948) he'd supported the segregation agenda of Strom Thurmond, a position he'd come clearly to repudiate, there followed an avalanche of negative press and he was forced to resign in disgrace.

It's speculative. Admiration does not necessarily an endorsement make. I'll buy that one, too. Clearly when this young man evinced his admiration for the "superiority" of the Nordic races, he had no idea that Hitler would make this a justification to slaughter six million Jews. We could state just as emphatically that to declare Hitler would be "one of the most significant figures that ever lived" is, in fact, accurate. He was "the stuff of legends" -- and so was Nero.

But what if this man's name was Ronald Reagan? None of this would apply. Youthful ignorance would be no excuse. A man of his historic importance? Admiring the "superiority" of Nazism? You betchum we're going to cover it!

Taken further, they would argue, Who are we to declare these views had no impact on his thinking? After all, in some circles, his name is synonymous with radical right, even fascistic, leanings.

Most importantly, the news media would tell us, It is precisely because it is speculative that it should be reported. At best, it's a simple curiosity, at worst, a bombshell of Nagasaki proportions. Don't the American people deserve to be told, and shouldn't they be allowed to judge for themselves?

If this young man's name was Ronald Reagan, it is undeniable that this new book would be a top-shelf media story everywhere. But his name wasn't Reagan.

It was John F. Kennedy.