Why calling Trump another Hitler is wrong and why saying so is not political

For the purposes of this post, I will begin by saying that I legitimately do not care who you are supporting in the upcoming American presidential election.  To prove my point, I must tell you that my political choices have changed over the past year, somewhat dramatically. Whether it was then or now, the point I wish to make has not changed, and that is that to compare Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler is not only wrong, it’s unconscionable.

This issue is a very specific one.  I am not debating whether or not Trump is a good man or a bad man, whether he is a good or bad president or even whether or not he is a racist. Those are different discussions to which finding a willing debate partner on both sides will be relatively easy. I am specifically addressing the comparison people make between him and Hitler.  As the son of Holocaust survivors and someone whose parents suffered through the Nazi occupation and genocide of the Jewish community in Europe, I take this matter very personally.  While I realize there are others with similar backgrounds that feel differently on this subject, it is my core belief that to compare anyone to Hitler without that individual having committed the atrocities, or even having expressed the desire to commit those atrocities, is insulting to the memory of the 6 million Jews Adolf Hitler murdered.

Even in a very troubled United States of America, the vast majority of people do not think like Nazis. There are racists, issues of equity and tolerance that need resolving, and a scary future ahead for a country at a crossroads.  The days ahead, regardless of the outcome of the election should be concerning to everyone.  There is a lot of fixing that needs to be done in America if we want the country to be the great country it has been in the past. What we don’t have is anyone in any position of political importance who has ever declared any group of people as a disease that needs to be eliminated or annihilated.  We may have bad actors on all sides that use fear and suffering as an opportunity to push their agenda and increase power, but what we don’t have is a leader calling for the downfall of a specific race or religion.  We do not have a Hitler.

In 1919, 14 years before he came to power, Hitler described the Jews as “a race tuberculosis of the peoples”.  In additional comments he said the following. “the nationalization of our masses will succeed only when, aside from all the positive struggle for the soul of our people, their international poisoners are exterminated”, and he suggested that, “If at the beginning of the war and during the war twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the nation had been subjected to poison gas, such as had to be endured in the field by hundreds of thousands of our very best German workers of all classes and professions, then the sacrifice of millions at the front would not have been in vain.” 

Long before he came into power, Adolf Hitler revealed his goal of annihilating the Jews.  Even if you want to call him a bad man, Donald Trump has never expressed the desire to wipe out any group of people. But none of this is the reason this comparison is as offensive as I, and many like me, feel it to be.

Till now I’ve only addressed words.  Had Hitler’s words been the worst of it, had he made life difficult for the Jewish people and acted in ways that made them feel uncomfortable in Germany, whether one agrees with the comparison or not, comparing him to Donald Trump under those conditions would not be anywhere close to as offensive.  But as so many of us know, and the fact that not as many know as should is an issue I will soon address, it did not stop with words.  The systematic murder of 6 million Jews, the horrors left in the minds of survivors, horrors they lived with till their dying days and the impact it had on the Jewish world is immeasurable.  The grandparents, aunts and uncles we never knew and the thriving Jewish communities destroyed is a far cry from any policy ever even hinted at in any U.S. administration ever.  The atrocities, the rapes, medical experiments, torture, are all evils a society such as the one that exists in the United States today would never tolerate, and no U.S. President to date has ever even hinted at being something they would consider. My parents lost too much, our people suffered too much, and our world saw too much pure evil for me to stay quiet while people compare Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler.

Why is this important? For one, to compare anyone to Hitler is an insult to the memory of not only the 6 million Jews killed, but the many more that died in fighting an imperialistic, war mongering sadist. What it also does is make it seem like being a “Hitler” is a far more attainable level than it is.  This is why there are people out there who get away with accusing Israel of Nazi tactics, why Louis Farrakhan is seen as acceptable to far too many people, and why uneducated, feeble minded people like Desean Jackson can attempt to quote Hitler in a way they actually consider to be productive and ethical.

If we as Jewish people do not keep Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party at their true level, a level of evil and murder not surpassed in history, we minimize what they did, willingly or not.

Vote for the person you want to vote for, hate or love whatever politician you feel like loving or hating, and call out any leader you feel is doing wrong.  But don’t desecrate the memory of my grandparents or yours by drawing a comparison that just doesn’t work.

About the Author
David Groen is the youngest of 5 children and the author of "Jew Face: A Story of love and heroim in Nazi-occupied Holland"
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