Sometimes, quite unexpectedly, there is something in the Internet, in one of the forums, a chat room or elsewhere, which is interesting, which provokes a little bit of thought, which excites more than just cursory interest. All it takes is a few well chosen words, a photograph, a link or something similar.
I’m not talking about the hundreds of comments – mainly asking whether what was published is really news or not – that appear on places like Yahoo News, but little things which stir the imagination. So it is in this case, with this one photograph.
There is no doubt that this image stirs many emotions, even amongst those who weren’t there, who aren’t directly involved, who are only going from a form of prejudice inherited from past generations.
I found it on Tumblr today, along with the following discussion which, surprisingly enough considering the subject matter, is remarkably civil. Whether, with additional comments bound to follow, it will remain that way is another matter entirely. However, this is what I found:
Do you understand how scary this picture is
As with all such discussions in the Internet, punctuation and similar tend to take a back seat. However, it is a very good start.
god forbid a real person do real person things he wasnt just a robot who killed people jesus fucking christ
And someone has to swear, of course, because a discussion without obligatory cuss-words just isn’t a real discussion, at least not in the Internet. Leaving that aside, there is a very deep thought caught up in there somewhere. The fact that Adolf Hitler, no matter what we may think of him and his regime, was, indeed, a human being. He did things that other human beings do, including holding a little girl’s hand. Normal, everyday things. Hard to believe, but here’s the evidence.
uh yeah its not like he killed and tortured six million jews or anything
Well, yes, there is that too. No matter what happens, this small (almost) fact will always rear its head. I don’t think we would want it any other way, to be honest, the fact of his regime killing indiscriminately is not something that we can, or should, forget. But, there are other little facts which might be overlooked, such as the idea that only Jews were killed. It’s a little bit like the claim, often heard, that thousands of Americans died in the World Trade Center attack. True, but not quite perfectly true since there were also many other nationalities involved.
Hold on just a tick. Listen, I’m Jewish, so I’m perfectly capable of understanding that what he did was just…..well, there are no words for it. But let’s not round it up to simply Jews that got killed. It was six million people that died in those camps, not just Jews. Did you know that homosexuals were sent there, too? Yeah, I’m sure you did. They had to wear special little symbols on their clothes. Do you know what it was? It was a pink triangle.
It was six million PEOPLE.
But you let that roll over in your mind for a while and you are going to forever see this man as a monster, but that’s not what he was. He was someone who thought he was truly doing something right for his nation, no matter how shitty he was doing it. Believe me when I say that I don’t like him. I really don’t. My grandfather’s brothers died in those camps, and my grandfather escaped to Spain, then to Mexico. He was lucky.
This is not a monster holding hands with a little girl.
This is Adolf Hitler, a man, holding hands with a little girl.
Yeah. It’s fucking scary. It really is. Do you know why?
It’s because you’re seeing that he wasn’t, in fact, a monster. You’re seeing in this picture that he was a man. He was a man, and that’s really the saddest part of it all.
There is the reality. You are seeing that he wasn’t just a monster, if you will allow me to amend the above slightly. You are seeing that there was another side to him too, a human side.
As a History major who specializes in the history of early modern Europe, I’ve studied a lot of dictators in detail, not just Hitler. The number one mistake anyone could ever make in history is making the assumption that only inhuman monsters are capable of doing terrible things.
Stop dehumanizing Hitler just so you can reassure yourself that “normal” humans aren’t capable of doing bad things. Hitler liked children and dogs, he was a vegetarian and he cried like a little boy when his mother died. I’m not saying he was a good, innocent person, but when you stop attributing human characteristics to historical figures like Hitler, it’s how you overlook people just like him in real life, and it’s how people like him end up back in power.
This is the side that most people forget because, well, because it’s easier than admitting that any human could be just like Hitler. Anyone can be a mass murderer given the right motivation, the right tools, and still be a human being with absolutely normal, human reactions otherwise.
It is something that we see every single day of the year: a quiet man going about his business, loving husband and father; a respectable woman with children living in the suburbs somewhere, nothing unusual about her, nothing which stands out as being out of the ordinary; a young man, barely into or out of his teens, usual friends and activities, usual problems and so on.
These are the people who suddenly seem to break, leave the ordinary, normal road they have been treading, take a shotgun and kill their co-workers, their children, innocent schoolchildren.
That’s the real truth: Human Beings are scarier than any ‘monsters’ out there because we’re all born blank slates and BECOME our legacy.
These are the people who, for some reason or another, become monsters in our eyes, through their actions which, after the fact, we could all have seen coming, if we’d bothered to look, but didn’t.
This is the best post I’ve seen in a while.
And why? Because it goes to the very heart of things. It brings out that little bit of truth which we all try to avoid, which none of us wants to accept.
I agree with most of the comments, still the picture is kind of chilling. It may be the disparity of thoughts that come to mind e.g. Hitler and sweet little girl with a flower.
The man could have been anyone: a friend; neighbor; a member of our own family. And, as we all know, that is exactly what these people are: people we know; people we work with; people we study with; people we drink a beer with. They are just like us in many ways, happily posing, holding the hand of a little girl holding a flower. Ordinary human beings.
And the little girl? Has anyone given a thought to who she might have been, or does everyone concentrate just on the monster, on Adolf Hitler?
I ask because she seems to be completely left out of every single discussion, simply because Hitler is in the photograph. Her name is Helga Goebbels and she, like so many others, was also a victim.
- Viktoria Michaelis.