WW2 Relevance

|   19 March 2011

Gaddafi and the Nazis

Hitler in the Reichstag

I’m normally extremely suspicious of any direct comparisons between events today and events in history. Rhetoric, at the time of the Iraq war, like ‘Saddam Hussein is another Hitler’ always made me irritated. No one is ‘another’ Hitler. Historical events and personalities exist only in the past and cannot be replicated today.

So I’ve been surprised that so many of Colonel Gaddafi’s words and actions have reminded me of the Nazis. For example, Gaddafi’s belief that straightforward lies about his own actions can work in propaganda terms certainly matches Hitler’s own belief. The Nazis pretended that they entered Poland on 1st September 1939 in response to Polish ‘aggression’, just as Gaddafi’s representatives today said that they are attacking Benghazi only in response to ‘aggression’ from rebels.

Gaddafi said that the rebels were ‘mad’ and ‘on drugs’ just as Hitler in his speech on 20 July 1944 said the conspirators who tried to kill him were ‘criminal’ and ‘unscrupulous’. Gaddafi has just said that he will fight to the death and Hitler always intended to fight to the death. Gaddafi is an immensely dangerous individual who appears to have lost contact with reality, and so, by 1945, was Adolf Hitler.

Of course, there are enormous differences between what is happening in Libya today and anything that has happened in history before. Crucially, the decision by the international community to interfere militarily in the ‘internal affairs’ of Libya is wholly unlike the decision by Britain and France to declare war on Germany only after the invasion of Poland.

I remember one former Nazi saying to me that he felt that Hitler’s ‘mistake’ had been not to be ‘satisfied’ with the borders of Germany that existed by March 1939. ‘Our country was vast by then,’ he said to me, ‘including Austria and the Czech lands. Moreover, we could have dealt with the Jewish problem then without anyone else in the world being bothered.’

Not surprisingly, I was shocked by his words. And ever since then I have wondered what the international community back then would have done if Hitler had started to kill his Jewish population en masse before war had been declared. Would Britain and France have ever gone to war with the Nazis to stop hideous crimes against humanity being committed within Germany’s borders? I doubt it.

I am glad that the international community thinks differently today – at least as far as Libya is concerned.

One Response to “Gaddafi and the Nazis”

  1. Turniphead says:

    Why do you doubt it? Why are you so cynical? I think you are wrong – I believe that when such an enormous crime was realised Britain and France and the US would have stepped in, maybe not straight to war, but they would never have stood by and watched innocent people being murdered on their doorstep.