It’s getting just a little bit silly now, but with the Daily Mail’s rather crazy obsession with Adolf Hitler and the Nazis my jokey plan to write a book on the subject is becoming more of a reality. There have been two new stories since my last submission; it would appear that they are churning them out far faster than I can write reviews.
Everybody who is on the Internet must have seen at least one of these spoofs – some ridiculous, some where you find yourself struggling to see the point, and some which are perfectly timed and very funny. From Hitler as Jose Mourinho (aka the “special one”) to a parody of Gordon Brown berating his cabinet ministers, they are entertaining little scales on the back of that monster called the Internet.
While I can understand why some people may be slightly annoyed at this clip being used by jokers to flood email inboxes, I find it rather bizarre as to why the film company would voice objections to these clips being circulated: after all, the creators of these three-minute skits are not attempting to seek any sort of reward, and if anything it generates even more publicity for the film itself. I am sure that many people after watching these clips might be wondering what Hitler is really saying and pick up a copy of the film for themselves.
Perhaps more annoying however is the fact that the Anti-Defamation League and its rather oily self-promoting spokesman Abraham Foxman have attempted to get involved in this ridiculous story, though one really has to wonder what their angle is. There is nothing in the vast majority of these clips that is remotely offensive to Jews; in fact one could argue that the only person being defamed by these clips is good old Onkel Adi himself.
This, of course, is the crux – reduce Hitler to a parody, and he becomes less of that dark and evil magic spell that can continually be invoked to close down a discussion on the one hand or justify the most ridiculous theories on the other.
This conveniently leads me to the second Daily Mail Nazi Story of the past couple of days, which centres on a new book by some hitherto unknown American professor that attempts to create a solid line of continuity between Hitler and the modern Islamic fundamentalism.
I’m sorry, but this is abject bullshit. While it is true that Hitler and his cohorts did attempt to curry favour with the Arab world as part of a wider strategic objective – even inviting the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem to bed down in Berlin – these plans came to nothing. While many in the Nazi foreign ministry promoted cooperation between Germany and the Arab world, Hitler himself thought little of the idea. Apart from the odd skirmish in Iraq and Egypt, influential Arabs threw in their lot with the British or remained neutral; the most that ever came out of the planned Nazi-Islamic alliance was the formation of two rather inconsequential Waffen-SS divisions formed from a cadre of Bosnian Muslims, who were more concerned with their own petty squabbles and settling local scores than with any sort of long-term National Socialist mission.
While it cannot be disputed that the Arab world was courted by the Nazis, it is silly to attempt to join imaginary dots between Hitler and someone like Osama bin Laden, who was the product of failed American Middle East policy as opposed to some bearded student of Mein Kampf.
What started off as simple Arab – for this read Palestinian – nationalism had always existed in some form prior to 1945, but this was in the main the preserve of people who defined themselves firstly as Arabs as opposed to Muslims. Many of the key nationalist movements of the 1970s and early 1980s were secular, and were defined by groups such as the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) led by Yasser Arafat and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (FPLP) led by the Christian radical George Habash. These groups were wholly concerned with the Israel-Palestine issue, and were distinct the likes of Osama bin Laden, radical Saudi-funded Islamists that had cut their teeth on the field of battle in Afghanistan following the Soviet invasion.
With the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War in the early 1990s, the Mujahideen groups in Afghanistan were surplus to US foreign policy requirements; having fought for the best part of ten years against the communists with US support, they now found themselves at the sharp end of a US foreign policy that had more or less reversed itself. Cue the rise of groups such as al Qaeda, and with it the radicalisation and almost virus-like spread of fundamentalist Islam. As this more belligerent radicalism began to gain a firm foothold in the Middle East and beyond, the familiar Arab nationalist groups were rapidly marginalised; the likes of the PLO and FPLP were soon usurped by more radical Islamic movements such as Hamas.
The finger of blame for this mess can ultimately be pointed at the United States: as a result of fifty years of myopic pro-Israel policy and its awful treatment of the ultimately dispensable Afghan fighters, it is largely to blame for the rapid rise of the phenomenon now known as Islamic fundamentalism.
Not Adolf bloody Hitler.
To attempt to ignore all this and place the blame on Hitler is ridiculous in the extreme – so it’s an E- for Professor Jeffrey Herf I’m afraid. I just wonder what the next writer will choose to blame Hitler for next – global warming? Eyjafjallajökull?