By Matt Ford
Originally published October 24, 2015
Here is an excerpt:
The strongest argument for removing Hitler from history is the Holocaust, since it can be directly tied to his existence. The exact mechanisms of the Holocaust—the Nuremburg laws, Kristallnacht, the death squads, the gas chambers, the forced marches, and more—are unquestionably the products of Hitler and his disciples, and they likely would not have existed without him. All other things being equal, a choice between Hitler and the Holocaust is an easy one.
But focusing on Hitler’s direct responsibility for the Holocaust blinds us to more disturbing truths about the early 20th century. His absence from history would not remove the underlying political ideologies or social movements that fueled his ascendancy. Before his rise to power, eugenic theories already held sway in Western countries. Anti-Semitism infected civic discourse and state policy, even in the United States. Concepts like ethnic hierarchies and racial supremacy influenced mainstream political thought in Germany and throughout the West. Focusing on Hitler’s central role in the Holocaust also risks ignoring the thousands of participants who helped carry it out, both within Germany and throughout occupied Europe, and on the social and political forces that preceded it. It’s not impossible that in a climate of economic depression and scientific racism, another German leader could also move towards a similar genocidal end, even if he deviated from Hitler’s exact worldview or methods.
The entire article is here.