Hitler, the Universal Simile

Andrew Stephens, Saturday the 20th of September, 2008

It is a sad fact that in any Internet debate on any topic, one side (or more probably, both sides) will eventually be compared to Hitler This post was automatically imported from my old sandfly.net.nz blog. It may look a little weird since it was not originally written for this format.. This is often called Godwin's law, after a man called Mike Godwin who first proposed it in 1990, although another term, Reducto Ad Hitlerum, has been around in since the 1950's to describe what was even then a tired rhetorical device.

Whatever it is called, it seems to me that half the time the participants in these debates ascribe characteristics to Hitler that he didn't have in their haste to tar the other side with the Hitler brush. The following is my attempt to list the Hitler "facts" floating around the Internet along with some commentary on the veracity of those claims.

Hitler was a Christian

True(ish.) Hitler was brought up as a Roman Catholic but never found much use for it after he left home. He expressed his belief in God and Jesus (who the Nazis viewed as a force against traditional Jewish values) many times in speeches and publications. Having said that he was not quite as religious in private and was not a church goer.

He tended to use German churches as political tools and went out of his way not to antagonise them (unless they opposed him, which few did.)

Hitler was an Atheist

False(ish.) As mentioned above, Hitler was certainly religious (of a kind). He did tend to play up religion in his speeches to appeal to his audience but even in private professed a belief in God.

Hitler was a Teetotaler

Supposedly true.

Hitler was a Vegetarian

Mostly true. There is much debate as how much meat Hitler ate and why he decided to go vegetarian, but he certainly ate very little meat for much of his adult life. Various stomach aliments are usually cited as the reasons, although Hitler reportedly loved animals and hated to think of them being harmed. He did occasionally tuck into a meat dish though.

Hitler was an Anti-smoking Advocate

True; he hated smoking and would badger or bribe people close to him to quit - with little success.

Hitler was a Supporter of Gun Control

True but for no particularly sinister reason, despite what sites like this say.

Although the Nazis did have a strict law requiring registration of privately owned guns, it was mostly just an extension of a previous law designed to disarm the various private armies (including the Nazi brownshirts) that existed in pre-Nazi Germany's politically troubled years. The Nazis were so powerful and popular that they hardly needed to be afraid of an armed population.

Hitler was a Lefty Socialist

This was an argument that I was previously unaware of, but it is certainly an idea that gets around. His party was certainly called National Socialist but that was mostly for show early on when it arose out of worker protest meetings. Once in power the old trade unions were dissolved and replaced by Nazi organisations that benefitted the existing business elite in Germany, whom he needed to help build his war machine.

Far from leaning left, Hitler hated Marxism and communism and set about destroying anybody who expressed such views.

Hitler was a British Agent

No, Hitler was an Illuminati Agent

Let's just move on, shall we.

Hitler was partially Jewish

Possible but unproven. Hitler's paternal grandmother (Maria Anna) gave birth to Hitler's father out of wedlock while she was employed as a housekeeper for a Jewish family. This family paid a maintenance allowance to Maria Anna for the upkeep of her son up until the child's teens even after Maria Anna later married an unrelated man.

If one had a suspicious and cynical mind, one could imagine that a man in the Jewish family could have easily been Hitler's grandparent and that the maintenance was hush money. Nobody knows.

Hitler was a Crypto-jew, and The Holocaust was Designed to Ensure a Jewish State

Ummm, no.

Hitler was Gay

Opinion is divided. Some of the Allied intelligence reports of the time concluded that he was homosexual based on psychological analysis, but not much can be read into this since mid-20th century psychologists tended to think of everyone except themselves as some kind of sexual deviant.

Hitler himself liked to portray himself as being too busy keeping Germany strong to have much of a love life, leading to speculation that he just wasn't interested in sex. On the other hand, he was engaged in the 1920s and later had a famous mistress, which seems to suggest he was into woman.

In conclusion, he was either homosexual, heterosexual, or asexual. I am glad I could help clear this up.