Two Sides to Every Coin

Photo by Micah Sittig (Flickr)

True Love's Kiss

Following World War 1, the German economy was suffering. Much like the depression that was plaguing the U.S. at the time, the German economy was in great peril. Germany's people people were left disillusioned and broken-spirited in the wake of World War 1's ravages. Hitler was devastated by seeing his beloved country in ruins and he set about heading a political party that would restore Germany to its former glory. His socialist party quickly rose to power in the German political arena on promises of restoring German prosperity.

From 1938, well into 1945, Hitler and his socialist party, now known as the Nazi party, rebuilt Germany. The method used was Imperialism, which entailed the conquering of other nations and exploitation of their resources. Using this method, Hitler rebuilt the infrastructure of Germany, including work on building the Autobahn, one of the largest highways in the world. He also poured vast amounts of money into technology in the hopes of advancing it. All of these things contributed to a better quality of life, and a renewed patriotism for the German people in a fairly short time, and it was Hitler’s love of his nation that brought it about.

Spinning Gold From Straw

Rebuilding a nation is not an easy task. It’s a lot like trying to spin gold from straw. The assassination of Archduke Ferdinand led the German people into World War 1 and ultimately into an economic downward spiral. After losing the war, matters were only compounded by the fact that the German government was then forced to pay out reparations to the nations they had devastated in that war. The German populace was plagued with unemployment, poverty, and desperation.

On the heels of those events however, a vibrant and charismatic young man rose up and started speaking to the German people. He spoke of the greatness of the German people and offered them hope that they might once again shine on the world stage. He offered them hope that Germany would once again prosper and he did so with absolute conviction. In the early 1930’s when Hitler began this message, the people were listening intently. By the late 1930’s, Germany was well on its way to becoming a world superpower and they believed that no end for their prosperity was in sight. In short, times were good for the German people—well, most of the German people anyway.

My, What Big Eyes You Have

Hitler was a visionary. He saw a path for the rise of Germany to dominate the landscape of the entire world. He envisioned the unification of all nations under the rule of the Nazi party, and he saw the path to get there. Of course with any great endeavor there are always sacrifices that must be made, and unfortunately there were many who stood in the way of Hitler’s vision for the future. In order to bring stability, he would have to use military force and questionable tactics to achieve success.

Hitler was said to be a highly intelligent man who surrounded himself with other very intelligent men. Together with these men, Hitler set out on a campaign to ignite the hearts of the German people and unite them in a common goal. This campaign was very successful and nationalism in Germany was at an all-time high during the war. Ultimately however, the Allied Forces were simply too strong to overcome and in 1945 the war concluded with Germany once again devastated and in ruins, and Hitler left disgraced, ultimately bringing him to commit suicide.

Shattering the Glass Slipper

I want to stress, with utmost clarity, that I do not actually support the idea that Hitler was a “hero”. I do not endorse Hitler or Nazism in any way whatsoever.

What you’ve read up to now is known as apologetics. Anyone familiar with debate or historical literature is familiar with the idea. In simplest terms, apologetics is painting a Disney portrait of a Grimm Brothers tale, and one of the most common uses of apologetics is by religion. There are countless apologist books and articles that make excuses for such atrocious acts as the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades (Christian and Muslim), acts of witch burning, and pretty much the entire “Dark Ages.” There are even apologists for the supposed acts of the gods listed in their various doctrines, and in the end their argument boils down to, “You just don’t understand. You’ve got to think about it like this...”

The terrible thing about apologetics is that they selectively use portions of facts to make their case. The things I said above about Hitler restoring the German economy and bringing prosperity back to the German people are true—but they only reflect part of the story. When you look at all the facts, you see that while Hitler brought some small temporary benefit to some of Germany’s citizens, overall he was a despot and a tyrant who enlisted the German people in a plot to commit genocide. He was a blight on humanity and there can be no apologies or excuses or justification for his actions or those who followed him. An estimated 6 million human beings were murdered in cold blood at the order of Adolph Hitler, and some stains cannot be washed clean or erased.

Paying The Piper

Christopher Hitchens once said, “Many religions now come before us with ingratiating smirks and outspread hands, like an unctuous merchant in a bazaar. They offer consolation and solidarity and uplift, competing as they do in a marketplace. But we have a right to remember how barbarically they behaved when they were strong and were making an offer that people could not refuse.” Mr. Hitchens was spot-on in that statement. These apologists are the glad-handing, smiling, con-men of the religious world. They work very hard to make people think historians and the secular communities have sought to sully the good name of their chosen religions. They want us to look at these horrible acts and think, “Maybe it’s not as bad as I’ve been led to believe,” when in truth, it is often far worse.

Just as there are still groups who idolize Hitler, there are those who believe the men of the Crusades were heroes who were doing the work of their God. There are those who believe that the Inquisition was simply ridding the world of a plague of heretics. There are some who still believe in witchcraft and the power of the “cleansing flame.” There are even those who believe that the Holocaust was divinely inspired by their God.

We should fear those who believe such things, and we should speak out against them. There is no amount of good that can justify such horrible actions. Those living today are not responsible for the acts of those in the past, but when one makes excuses for them and tries to justify them, they dishonor the innocent dead and make light of some of the most atrocious actions of mankind. In the end, the religious apologetics are no better than holocaust deniers, because a half-truth is just as worthless as an outright lie.

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