Hitler is no doubt considered to be the world's greatest and most infamous villain. And, having said this, he is typically the standard by which we gauge the speech and actions of American politicians. It is also for this reason that we stand to compare him with politicians we prefer to dislike. Even though, in some ways, Stalin and Tse Tung were just as villainous or even more so.
Time and time again, we see - somewhere in the long posts of social media - a side-by-side comparison of some politician who eerily states something very much similar to Adolf Hitler. Hardly ever do we see a pictorial wherein Stalin or Mao Tse Tung is the villain of choice. But that does happen too.
A Modern Monstrosity
Why do we see this so much? And why does Hitler stand as a monstrosity, not over just the last century, but this century too? His gargantuan shadow casts forth its darkness into the hearts of who love individual liberty and into the nightmarish dreams of what could be again - a terrible and dark history repeating itself - right here in America. So shuddering is the idea of Nazism, there was a film made about it in 1994 called, Fatherland.
The Smallest Seeds
Perhaps we are so engaged and locked on the issues of Nazism that we find that, even the smallest similarity could bring about mass destruction, war, chaos as well as another holocaust. But, the idea is not too far from the truth. Small things start with the mildest of insinuations, accusations, the smallest deeds of slandering and libel. That's how it all starts. Books, literature, films, ideas in such a way that the smallest rumblings lead to the greatest of political upheavals. And we, the American People, are terrified of the notion that such Nazism and such horror could ever materialize here. But, we will get to that notion a little later...
Ever hear of one of the most plausible (and yet most ridiculous and unlikely) of scientific ideas? It's the idea that, on the microcosmic scale, great things begin to occur? For instance, could flap of a butterfly's wings ultimately "stir up" a hurricane? Perhaps only God knows for certain. But, in the case of politics, the idea that is real and powerful. It only takes one idea to take root and then there is the one plant, then the garden, then the field, then the forests... ever creeping, ever conquering one square inch at a time.
Libensraum ("Living Space")
This was the Nazi idea of taking land from other people and nations so that the Great Germanic Northern People might have more living space to farm, live and play. Indeed, the conquering of these other lands was akin to the idea of making such a "space" to "heaven on earth" and it was an appealing idea to the Nazis.
Manifest Destiny - The Mother Doctrine of Libensraum
There is no doubt that Germany was somewhat fascinated by America and some of its history. In fact, Joseph Goebbles' favorite film, not surprisingly, was Gone With the Wind. Likewise, German fascination with the Western Expansion was the idea that it was the "white settler's destiny" to settle in the West and to ultimately quell its wildness (including the American Natives). Such an idea, as conquering strange, new lands would have it, would have to include such a mandate. For White Americans, this was (almost as religiously as it sounds) God's plan for this "conquer" mandate to occur. For Nazi Germany, the mandate was found in the "German Blood" and therefore, Germans must rule the world because they were, after all, "far superior" to any, and all other races. This was not too much unlike the White American attitude with regard to Native Americans much of the time and therefore, because of reasons of white supremacy, there was also a mandate to not only take the land. It was, as if, these persons felt entitled to land to which they had no rights in taking.
American Indian Containment Camps - Precursor of the Modern Concentration Camp
Hate is a powerful motivational concept. And, based on skin color, looks and national origin, it can prove to be a type of racism that leads to unfair and even criminal treatment of people of color.
The internment of American Indians in "containment camps" often called, "reservations" were truly the first "concentration camps". Such places were terms that were used to confine such people to "less desirable" land and to keep them there as a precaution so as to avoid harm to White settlers and soldiers working to build American infrastructure. Indeed, the taking of land from Native American People was a common occurrence and relocating these people to other areas was a common occurrence. And it really amounted to nothing more than an act of stealing in complete violation of the Constitution's Fifth Amendment. The "forcible" trading of less acreage of less desirable land for more acreage of more desirable land does not, in my opinion, account for much of a "fair or just trade" - but that is a whole other issue for another time.
As land and property was claimed by the settlers and the American Government, the Indians had to be removed and relocated somewhere. That "somewhere" came to be the "containment" or "concentration" camps ran by an American official. Much like a Camp Commander, the Bureau of Indian Affairs' "Camp Director" became the American official to "oversee" the camps.
Such brutality often lead to horrible circumstances of relocation. The "Trail of Tears" is only one such example and is often very much similar to the "Battan Death March" experienced in the Philippines under Japanese military treatment for prisoners of war.
Fast Forward - Nazi Germany Concentration Camps
Hitler was very much interested in American history as many Germans were. In fact, they saw that America, in its treatment of American Indians and black African Americans was not much different than how the Germans treated non-Germans, especially the Jews and Slavic peoples. In fact, seeing how white Americans had effectively placed blacks into inner city ghettos limited and powerless against "Jim Crow Laws" and American Indians into concentration camps was for "re-education and re-assimilation", in Hitler's view, amazing political accomplishment and a testament to sheer will power of the white peoples of America.
Hitler would set out to do the same. He would have his manifest destiny renamed, "Libensraum" and he would place political adversaries in ghettos and concentration camps along with other "undesirables" such as Jews and Slavs. But, in Nazi madness, they would take it one step further - outright murder.
What's more amazing is that the American government didn't do this just ONCE to American Indians. They did it again, in an act of racism, by interning innocent, law-abiding Japanese-American citizens to concentration camps. They didn't do it with German-Americans and they didn't do it with Italian-Americans either. Why? Because they were a "threat" based on their nationality, and, j'accuse, their physical looks.
Hans Christian Andersen & the Ovens of the Holocaust
It is interesting to note that the holocaust would be "foretold" by a fairy tale of what would come about in Nazi Germany and the use of ovens to burn the bodies of murdered citizens. This seems to be so "far-fetched" as to be considered crazy and borderline "conspiracy theory" and yet, the nightmare became real.
Yes. Concentration camps, ghettos based on race, Jim Crow Laws are all unfair, racist, terrible, horrible and yet a product of the United States of America. But, these things are completely against that which America, itself, as an ideal, stands.
These concepts, born out in fruition in other nation states have lead to an unfathomable amount of death, war, division, destruction and unfathomable sorrow. And all these concepts have their origination right here on American soil. Not Germany. Not Japan. America.
Next time we consider what Hitler is saying, we need to ask ourselves where he got his ideas. Because if it isn't AMERICA (as the IDEA that we know it is) then it really isn't truly American at all. It is a crazy idea either based on fear, hate, sorrow, grudges or some other negative idea that stands diametrically opposed to what America is really supposed to be. America is a concept that embraces freedom, tolerance, the free exchange of ideas, democracy, republic values, constitutional freedoms, justice, life, liberty, property and the pursuit of happiness.