In 1963, my pals and I were sniggling at half-nude women in Nat-Geo magazine during library break. Someone suddenly produced a book with graphic Nazi holocaust pictures. We were horrified. The book was called “The Rise & Fall of the Third Reich” and as a precocious youngster who enjoyed reading, I decided to check it out. The grotesque contents of that book made an indelible impression on my young life. I remember thinking (in current parlance): What kinda people would allow themselves to be manipulated and bullied by such a dangerous, unstable madman? Hitler’s Aryan entitlement propaganda and ethnocentric notions (“Germany first” nationalism) led to prejudice, hatred, genocide and ultimately the bloodiest world war in history.
What kinda spineless German Christians were unwilling to confront the systemic Godlessness and racial/religious bigotry demonstrated by this leader? (Initially, Hitler pandered to Christian supporters, but his corrupt, vindictive behavior personified darkness.)
I never dreamed that a lifetime later I would discover that I was living amongst such people … friends and family alike … cajoled into trading real American patriotism (that embodies universal human values) for self-serving, trumped-up, “America first” nationalism … victims of a rare convergence of circumstances eerily reminiscent of those that facilitated Hitler’s rise to power.
Michael Howard, Boise
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