Am I the only one who woke up this morning and thought, “Oh, it’s Adolf Hitler’s 117th birthday!” Well, me and the neo-Nazis who have been looking forward to this day all year. The only thing to celebrate on Hitler’s birthday, of course, is the fact that he’s been dead for 61 of the past 117 years.
I thought when my job ended last month that I’d suddenly have all the time in the world to write in my blog. That hasn’t happened yet and I’ve been watching with some narcissistic alarm as my stats and comments take a nosedive. What better way to bring back my readers than by writing a happy-go-lucky post about everybody’s favorite subject: Adolf Hitler! Oy, stop me. And in some kind of déjà vu scenario, I’m once again sitting on La Brea watching the Chasidic families walk by in large numbers (it's the last day of Passover) while pictures of Hitler are visible on my computer screen. And I wonder why my numbers are down? I’ve always been fascinated by the hoopla surrounding Hitler’s birthday, both the massive celebrations that took place when he was alive and the way the anniversary of his birth has been violently commemorated by right-wing hate groups and other dangerous lunatics (Oklahoma City, Columbine).
Every year at this time, the Anti-Defamation League notes a sharp increase in the activities of white supremacist groups, neo-Nazis, and anti-government extremists (it’s also the anniversary of the Branch Davidian standoff). I admire the work of the ADL but don’t know if I’d have the stomach to expose myself to the vile propaganda constantly being put out by such organizations. Here’s a brief sampling of the activities planned for Adolf’s special day:
—The National Alliance, a West Virginia-based organization that has local units across the country, is encouraging its members and supporters to distribute copies of an anti-Semitic flier with the headline “Support Our Troops.” The flier demands that the United States government bring home all of the troops in Iraq and station them on the Mexican border to keep Third World immigrants out of the country. The flier blames “powerful Jewish lobbyists and advisors” for creating the war in Iraq as a way of protecting Israel.
—The National Knights of the KKK will celebrate the birthdays of both Hitler and Klan leader Ray Larsen with an event in Osceola, Indiana.
—The Northern Hammerskins will hold its annual hate music concert in Detroit, dubbed the “6th Annual Adolf Hitler Birthday Bash.”
Even taking a tiny dip into this world makes me want to take a shower and erase my computer cache. The saddest part to me is how the people involved in these groups are training their own children to hate, one of the worst forms of child abuse that I can think of.
Okay, I’ve already talked about this more than I planned to. Do I have a blog death wish? Am I trying to drive people away? Oh well, as long as I'm on the subject, did you read Robert Harris’ excellent book “Fatherland” that supposes a world in which Germany did not lose the war? In the book Germany is preparing for the Fuhrer’s 75th birthday gala in 1964 as well as a state visit from U.S. President Joseph P. Kennedy, Sr.
During Hitler’s actual reign, from 1933 to 1945, the German Ministries issued elaborate guidelines for the April 20th celebrations of Hitler’s birthday. Has there ever been a more organized group than the Nazis? They should have all been wedding planners. Here is a sampling of the strict recommendations:
The room in which the ceremony for the Führer's birthday is held must be carefully prepared. The decorations must be simple, but dignified. If possible, in the center should be a bust of the Führer decorated with flowers and greenery. The size of the bust must correspond to the size of the room.
If no bust of the Führer is available, decorate the room with Swastika flags or through an artistically appropriate eagle or picture of the Führer. Do not have a lot of symbols!
The spoken texts should be read by selected speakers who are able to read the Führer's affirmations in a dignified and simple manner, without excessive emotion, genuinely and truly. No theatrics, but simplicity. If possible, have a good choir or singing group.
If there is a piano and someone who can play it, the music is found and practiced. If there is no instrument, the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls or a school choir rehearse the music. The party leader prepares his speech.
The program is rehearsed several times until everything goes without a hitch.
Even more chilling is a speech I found that was read during one of Hitler’s gala birthday celebrations during the war. I’m NOT calling George W. Bush a Hitler, I’m really not, but I do think it is interesting to read portions of this speech and see how some of the rhetoric fits like a glove with our current administration:
As we celebrate today the birthday of our Führer and bow before the greatness of this man, we have both the right and duty as people who think politically — beyond all cheap outward enthusiasm — to ask what is behind this greatness.
Deceived by liberal superficiality during the bourgeois era, people said that character was molded by the environment. While “well-meaning” bourgeois circles at best were dreaming that one day freedom would once more shine on Germany, the Führer pondered and labored to realize his idea of freedom, which had as its presupposition the mobilization of the German soul. Year in, year out, first unnoticed, then piled high with suspicion, envy, and ridicule, the Führer wandered through Germany and woke the best of the nation, leading them to self-awareness, forcing them under his prophetic will.
History teaches that great revolutionary brilliant ideas always encounter the fierce hatred of the world, and that no one has come to lead a nation who is not threatened with war by all the old forces.
With enormous determination and clear knowledge of the way things were, the Führer proceeded to rearm Germany and make it strong. The enemy no longer had the freedom to dream of an attack on the German people.
There were some who, seeing the gathering thunderclouds around Germany, nervously asked what fate had in store should war break out. We National Socialists who saw the Führer as a unique historic personality who took into account all conceivable possibilities were and remain full of confidence. As the enemy forces began the war, the Führer proved that he had the answer to the frequently discussed question of who should have the final say during war, the politician or the general. There was no division between politician and general: the Führer possessed both gifts!
We have not asked how long the war will last nor which tasks lie before us. After each victorious battle we have tightened our helmets and waited for the Führer's next orders.
Do you think Karl Rove read this speech?