The Holocaust Center exists to teach about the Holocaust era accurately, not only to understand history but also to use its lessons to inform our world today. This need is evidenced by remarks made yesterday by Alabama Congressman Mo Brooks when he quoted from Hitler’s Mein Kampf on the House floor.
Congressman Brooks may have intended to use Hitler’s words as a warning from history, but his analogy failed in two profound ways. First, he stated repeatedly that Hitler and his followers were socialists. This claim is not true. The Nazis were “National Socialists” which was a distinct political movement in Germany, different from traditional socialism. Germany had a successful socialist party at this time (the SPD) and the Nazis considered them to be among their most steadfast opponents. In fact, many of the first victims of Nazism to be sent to concentration camps were members of Germany’s Social Democratic Party. To blame these victims for the attitudes and crimes of their oppressors is a terrible insult.
Congressman Brooks made the error even worse when he highlighted Hitler’s use of the concept of the “big lie”. Unlike the congressman, Hitler was not trying to score points in a political debate. When he wrote of the big lie, he was accusing Jews of being racial outsiders whose contamination of Germany was such a threat that their elimination and destruction were justified. He led a movement that ultimately engaged in genocidal mass murder. I doubt Mr. Brooks intended to use such an odious comparison to bolster his complaints against the media, but this is what he did. It is shameful that he introduced Hitler’s words into the Congressional Record in an attempt to win an argument.
It has become sadly common in our time for people to compare American leaders they don’t like to Adolf Hitler. Every U.S. President this century has been compared to Hitler by the uninformed among their political opponents. These false comparisons should stop. None of these men are Hitler. Such claims can only be made if we forget who Hitler was and what his movement intended to do.
We urge everyone, particularly our leaders, to study history and educate themselves—whatever their political beliefs. We invite Congressman Brooks to stop by and visit the Holocaust Center, perhaps even to attend one of our programs. We welcome everyone.
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The Holocaust Center is looking to the future. Learn what it means when people say “Heritage, Not Hate,” what an UpStanders Field Trip Experience looks like, and how empathy can be a catalyst for change.Download Summer/Fall 2015
In this issue, we honor Susan and Gordon Arkin at the Annual Dinner of Tribute, discuss how the works of Herblock are still relevant, a new partnership between the Mayor’s Office and our UpStanders program, and much more.Download Winter/Spring 2015
The Holocaust Center leads the way in the Civil Rights 50th Anniversary, including the remarkable exhibit, “Hateful Things;” we discuss how cyberbullying creates unique challenges, and how “Civil Rights” inspires larger questions.Download Summer/Fall 2014
This newsletter includes Harris Rosen honored at the Annual Dinner; mourning the loss of our dear friend, Abe Wise; UpStanders collaborates with New Horizons, and ways to think about artifacts reflecting important lessons regarding humanity.Download Winter/Spring 2014