"A lesson in tyranny too soon forgotten", Patrick Buchanan, Chicago Tribune, August
25, 1977 Section 3 page 3
"If Hitler had died in 1937 on the fourth anniversary of his coming to power... he would
undoubtedly have gone down as one of the greatest figures of German history. Throughout Europe he had
millions of admirers. Gertrude Stein (who found Roosevelt boring) thought Hitler should get the Nobel
Peace Prize. In magazine and newspaper articles George Bernard Shaw defended Hitler and other
So writes John Toland in his brilliant biography of Hitler. From his masterful study in tyranny, a
generation without memory of World War II can learn the lessons the West has already forgotten.
Those of us in childhood during the war years were introduced to Hitler only as caricature. Either
he was a ranting, raving, carpet-chewing Chaplinesque buffoon -- or the anti-Christ, Satan Incarnate, a
devil without human attribute who had hypnotized the German people.
Such ignorance is folly. Though Hitler was indeed racist and anti-Semitic to the core, a man who
without compunction could commit murder and genocide, he was also an individual of great courage, a
soldier's soldier in the Great War, a political organizer of the first rank, a leader steeped in the history of
Europe, who possessed oratorical powers that could awe even those who despised him.
But Hitler's success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive
sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts
of the statesmen who stood in his path.
Men like Chamberlain and Daladier needed a moral justification for their acts of weakness and
betrayal. They needed to believe they were making minor concessions, doing the right thing, to preserve
the larger good -- the peace of Europe. Hitler generously provided those justifications.
Had he preached at Munich in 1933 of his New Order, a thousand-year-old Reich where the Jew
would be exterminated, the 'lesser' peoples enslaved, and the German would rule, East and West Europe
might have united to destroy him.
Instead he cloaked each of his territorial seizures in the rhetoric of rationality and righteousness.
When his battalions marched into the Rhineland, even the liberal British Lord Lothian declared, 'The
Germans, after all, are only going into their own back garden.'
To those who protested the Anschluss, Hitler could reply that a plebiscite was subsequently
conducted, which showed 99 per cent of the German and Austrian people approving annexation.
Even at Munich, Hitler could appeal to the principle of self-determination. After all, why should
Britain and German go to war to deny several million Sudeten Germans the right to link politically with
their ethnic brothers in Berlin rather than their Czech rulers in Prague?
Today, we condemn Chamberlain as the arch appeaser. But today we listen attentively as the
Sinologists who follow John K. Fairbank and A. Doak Barnet argue for turning over 17 million people on
Taiwan to the control of their ethnic brothers who rule the mainland -- to remove the principal irritant in
Washington-Peking relations. Where is the moral distinction?
Even in the Polish crisis which led to World War II, Hitler's case was not without cogency.
After all, Danzig was a German city, separated, like East Prussia, from Greater Germany by an
artificially created Polish corridor. Hitler's case for eliminating this artificial division of his country was
at least as persuasive as Panama's case for eliminating the artificial division of its territory by the Canal
Almost alone among European statesmen, Churchill saw that -- under the guise of restoring
Germany to her rightful place among nations -- Hitler was marching along the road toward a New Order
where Western civilization would not survive.
The vision lacking in the statesmen of '37 appears lacking as well in the men of '77.
Communists, pro-Communists, Western-haters appeal to Western commitments to anti-colonialism,
nonintervention, majority rule, and strategic parity. But these arguments are the indentured servants of a
global enterprise, which has as its objective the collapse of the West. Unlike Churchill, we cannot see the
linkage between Southeast Asia and Panama, between Angola and Taiwan, between South Korea and
[end] -- Back to Pat Buchanan's Skeleton Closet