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Hitler was a human being

November 7, 2008

I was recently reading a manga, Zipang, which is set in an alternate history. In part of it, there is a scene where one of the characters is sent to assassinate Hitler (he fail).

What interested me about the scene is that the very first appearance of Hitler in the story has him as a pleasant, smiling, polite man petting his dogs. It reminded me of Downfall, the movie depicting the fall of Nazi Germany and the last days in Hitler’s bunker, which also was very careful to present Hitler as a human being.

It’s an important thing, I feel, to depict Hitler as such. Hitler was not some mystical anti-christ. He was not the Devil. He was not a comic book Super-villain, or the Dark Lord Sauron, or Emperor Palpatine. Hitler was a very human person,with the same sort of pet, often irrational hatreds we all have, the same sort of carefully constructed rationalization for those hatreds we also all have. A man, who was given the power to act out on these hatreds, and, put to the test, chose to use this power – as I firmly believe many if not most humans would.

Which is why it’s a tragedy when single-faceted depictions of the Nazi as comical, completely demented, human-in-nothing-but-name characters show up in comics, in books, in movies. It’s a feel-good thing, a "Gosh, I’m glad we’re not like that anymore", or a "Gosh, I’m glad I don’t live in THAT country" thing. Because it takes away from the only worthwhile lesson every last human should draw from the tragedy that was Nazi Germany.

It could have been me.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 8, 2008 4:58 pm

    I don’t know what you’re talking about. I have it on good authority that Hitler’s genome was sequenced, and it was discovered that he had the “evil” gene.

  2. Anonymous permalink
    November 17, 2008 4:23 pm


    I suggest you read “La part de l’autre” (Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt); the parallel story of Hitler as was, and Hitler if he had been accepted into art school.


  1. Well said, mr. president. « Figments of my Imagination

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