Hitler comparisons gone wrong
One direction in which the lessons learned from Second World war has been taken is that of seeing Adolf Hitler as the epitome of evil, and of using it to claim that everything that Hitler did was evil and should be seen as evil when found in anyone else. Like most others, I agree that Hitler was a monster. That is not however grounds to claim Hitler as definition of evil and everything that anyone does that is at all like anything that he did as itself being evil.
Hitler was a fitness buff and a vegetarian. That does not meant that every fitness buff or vegetarian wants to kill 50 million people.
Hitler read Nietzsche and studied Teutonic mysticism. That does not mean that everyone who reads Nietzsche or studies Teutonic mysticism wants to kill 50 million people.
Hitler liked blue-eyed blonde Aryans. That does not mean that everyone who likes a blue-eyed Aryan wants to kill 50 million people.
The worst danger with history is not that of learning no lesson; it is that of learning the wrong lesson. In no case is this more true than with Second World War. Europe, America and the Soviet Union all learned different lessons from Second World War. Europe learned the lesson that war and nationalism are evil, and that things should be done in a civil and diplomatic way. America's lesson was that it was the greatest and should impose itself on everyone else. soviet Union's lesson was that, since it had defeated a major Western power, it would be able to defeat the West proper. Of these, only Europe's lesson can be seen as any kind of good.
In addition there have been others also inferring wrongful lessons. Church has been claiming that World War II is the kind of disaster that happens when people don't follow Christian principles, when the 1,000 years that Europe had under Church domination in the Dark Ages were far worse than the condition of European people during the 20th century. There have been also people in psychology who have decided that the character type that they ascribe to Hitler is one that is inavoidably evil, when most of the world's greatest economic, political, religious, scientific and cultural contributors - as well as the ancestors of every white person in America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America and South Africa - can be easily themselves be described as having the same character type.
Spurious Hitler comparisons are as irresponsible as spurious claims of Satanism. It is a case of crying wolf, until one's credibility is destroyed for when a real wolf comes out of the woodwork. Worse than no lesson learned is a wrong lesson learned; and we see that with both the religious and the psychological interpretations of Hitler and World War II.
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States