Paul Jackson | Feb. 02, 2002 | Orest Slepokura

Re: "Awash in trash: Last thing we need is a movie about Hitler,"
Paul Jackson ,
The Calgary Sun, February 3, 2002.

Dear Paul,

It's always an eyeopener to see how fast and loose major print and electronic media outlets are prepared to play with the truth of the history of the Second World War. The historian Robert Harris offers some insights.

Back in 1983, one of the prominent publishers of excerpts from the bogus "Hitler diaries" was Newsweek magazine. Newsweek printed an editorial in which it revealed its cynicism, even as it bemoaned the same kind of cynicism (as well as that of much of the media in general) relative to their exploitation of Second World War history. A passage from the Newsweek editorial appears in the Harris book on the 1983 Hitler's diaries hoax, Selling Hitler, on p. 329:

"Germans will have to wonder anew about their collective, inherited guilt. Jews will have to face their fears again. All of us will have to ask once more whether Hitler's evil was unique, or whether it lurks somewhere in everyone. Those speculations have been trivialized for years in gaudy paperback thrillers and made-for-television movies. Now the appearance of Hitler's diaries - genuine or not , it almost doesn't matter in the end - reminds us of the horrible reality on which our doubts about ourselves, and each other, are based."

Here Newsweek editors pontificate about how "Hitler's evil" was "trivialized," exploited by the entertainment industry, and then in the next breath announce how they intend to pry open the lid on real history using what might well be, as is stated implicitly, a set of bogus documents.

Harris continues [p. 329-330]: "By the fifth day the Hitler diaries affair had turned into a kind of giant soap opera - an international entertainment playing on almost every radio and television network and newspaper front page in the world."

Other aspects to the Newsweek editorial cited which were quite eye-opening included the very matter-of-fact way in which a "collective, inherited" German "guilt" is assumed and a fearful reaction of Jews is blandly predicted: "Jews will have to face their fears again."

The latter assertion is eyebrow-raising because of what we read earlier on in the Harris opus. For example, this passage on p. 183, concerning the hoarding and merchandising of Nazi and Hitlerian memorabilia:

"It has been estimated that there are 50,000 collectors of Nazi memorabilia throughout the world, of whom most are Americans, involved in a business which is said to have an annual turnover of $50 million...'In the States,' according to Charles Hamilton [cited by Robert Harris as an expert on Hitler memorabilia], 'the collectors of Hitler memorabilia are 40 per cent Jewish...'"

Evidently, not all Jews are, or were, as Hitlerophobic as Newsweek alleged.

The same impression might have derived from browsing through the photos of topflight Nazis as depicted in the coffee-table edition of a work titled Adolf Hitler: Pictures from the Life of the F�hrer published in tandem with a Rabbi Julius Rosenthal, who thoughfully supplied an introduction to the collection of handsome pictures of the German leader and his cronies.

In Canada, over the years Jewish-owned businesses like Coles Books and Sam the Record Man have retailed copies of such items as Mein Kampf and Nazi Marches and Speeches without there being anyone worrying overly whether, in the words of Newsweek's editors, "Jews will have to face their fears again."

Newsweek's rhetoric was all about hyping a set of fake documents in order to boost the sales of its magazine.

Who knows?

If money is to be made, perhaps (as you suggest), a few years from now, Adolf Hitler -- thanks to some enterprising souls irrespective of any religious bent they might have -- may become as much a figure of popular fascination as, say, Genghis Khan.

Sincerely yours,

Orest Slepokura
Strathmore AB

c. The Editor, Calgary Sun