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Norman Mailer, Hitler and the Central Council of Jews


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#1 John Simkin

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 10:44 PM

Article in today's Guardian:

http://www.guardian....2000898,00.html

Jess Smee in Berlin
Monday January 29, 2007
The Guardian

The celebrated novelist Norman Mailer has walked into a critical maelstrom in Germany with the publication of his new novel - his first for 10 years - which depicts a young and adolescent Adolf Hitler.

The Castle in the Forest, which includes the bed-wetting young Hitler known as "Adi", has been pummelled by newspaper critics and has angered Germany's influential Central Council of Jews, which has urged artists to finally leave the history of the dictator alone.

"One can't forbid artists from dealing with Hitler but art will never achieve an understanding of the phenomenon - it will rather serve as a distraction," the organisation's vice president, Salomon Korn, told the ARD television channel. "Anyone tackling [this subject] artistically should carefully consider what their real intentions are."
Mailer's 467-page tome traces three generations of Adolf Hitler's family in late 19th-century Austria, describing a tortured, incestuous family. The first-person narrator, a former Nazi intelligence officer who reveals he has been sent by the devil, starts the book with the weighty claim that he understands Hitler.

Mailer, who kept the subject of his latest book under wraps for years, reportedly not even telling his wife, denied that he used Hitler's background and childhood to explain the Third Reich and the extermination of Jews.

"I think that is cheap and hateful," the author said in a television interview. "It is of course idiotic to conclude that Hitler became a monster because he killed a few bees during his childhood. No, that is simply one reason among a thousand."

Mailer argued that since factual books have failed to explain the Hitler phenomenon, it is now down to literature to approach history on a new level. "Hitler exceeds human comprehension. For me the only answer is the existence of the devil ... Hitler is the devil's greatest feat against Jesus Christ."

The meticulously researched The Castle in the Forest ends when Hitler is a teenager. It is not the Führer-to-be, but his father, Alois Hitler, who is more vividly depicted, shown as a violent man who impregnates his own daughter and bullies his family.

But this explanatory take on Hitler's biography has sparked criticism on both sides of the Atlantic. "In Mailer's account, Hitler had no other choice than to carry out the demon's mission of war, death and destruction. It's all so clumsy and embarrassing," wrote Volker Hage in the German weekly Der Spiegel. Similarly, the Süddeutsche Zeitung headline described it as a project with "loopholes".

The debate is timely in Germany: Mailer's novel coincides with other cultural challenges to entrenched taboos about Hitler and the Third Reich. Earlier this month, Germany's first ever Hitler comedy Mein Führer went on general release. As well as scenes of the dictator playing with toy battleships in the bath and losing half his moustache it also, more seriously, showed a neurotic man, psychologically scarred by his father's beatings.

And despite the polemics, Mailer has said that he would like to write another volume about Hitler, perhaps dealing with the dictator's later years.

What may sound like a risky plan would befit the best-selling author's formidable reputation. Mailer, who will turn 84 this week, has run for mayor of New York, enraged feminists and had two stints in jail - for anti-Vietnam protests and for stabbing his second wife with a penknife.

His literary CV has been similarly dramatic: Hitler isn't the only ambitious theme he has landed on. His last major novel, The Gospel According to the Son, published in 1997, painted an intimate account of Christ - by Jesus himself.


#2 Sid Walker

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Posted 29 January 2007 - 11:21 PM

Article in today's Guardian:

http://www.guardian....2000898,00.html

[color=#8B0000]Jess Smee in Berlin
Monday January 29, 2007
The Guardian

The celebrated novelist Norman Mailer has walked into a critical maelstrom in Germany with the publication of his new novel - his first for 10 years - which depicts a young and adolescent Adolf Hitler.

The Castle in the Forest, which includes the bed-wetting young Hitler known as "Adi", has been pummelled by newspaper critics and has angered Germany's influential Central Council of Jews, which has urged artists to finally leave the history of the dictator alone.


The technique of infamy is to start two lies at once. and set people arguing which one is true.

Hitler as pathetic neurotic bedwetter v Hitler as unprecedented mega-murderer.

One does not have to be very smart to realise the limited value of this discussion as a contribution to historical understanding - or to notice that it deftly positions all 'acceptable" views of Hitler somewhere between sissy and monster, with no other points on the compass.

Edited by Sid Walker, 29 January 2007 - 11:26 PM.


#3 Kathleen Collins

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 03:05 AM

Article in today's Guardian:

http://www.guardian....2000898,00.html

[color=#8B0000]Jess Smee in Berlin
Monday January 29, 2007
The Guardian

The celebrated novelist Norman Mailer has walked into a critical maelstrom in Germany with the publication of his new novel - his first for 10 years - which depicts a young and adolescent Adolf Hitler.

The Castle in the Forest, which includes the bed-wetting young Hitler known as "Adi", has been pummelled by newspaper critics and has angered Germany's influential Central Council of Jews, which has urged artists to finally leave the history of the dictator alone.


The technique of infamy is to start two lies at once. and set people arguing which one is true.

Hitler as pathetic neurotic bedwetter v Hitler as unprecedented mega-murderer.

One does not have to be very smart to realise the limited value of this discussion as a contribution to historical understanding - or to notice that it deftly positions all 'acceptable" views of Hitler somewhere between sissy and monster, with no other points on the compass.


I know Mailer may be despised here because of Oswald's Tale. He failed to uncover the fact that there were 2 men sharing LHO's identity. Or maybe he did uncover it, but thought it best not to publish this possible discovery: He mentions Oswald being taken out of the Texas Theater by a riot of cops. And a merchant in his backyard at the same time seeing 2 cops taking away Oswald. He does not explain it. Just leaves it at that.

And the wonderful Marilyn book. Did he unwittingly please the CIA elements by mentioning Monroe's alleged affairs with the Kennedys? Or was it done purposely? The following year saw The Life and Curious Death of Marilyn Monroe by Robert F. Slatzer (dead 2 years). The Oil Barons' dream. Slatzer has Robert Kennedy in Monroe's house the day she died.

However, I will read Mailer's novel on Hitler, as I love his writing and his imagination. As I do Gore Vidal's.

Kathy

#4 Sid Walker

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Posted 31 January 2007 - 05:47 AM

However, I will read Mailer's novel on Hitler, as I love his writing and his imagination. As I do Gore Vidal's.

Kathy


I'm lazy. I'd like to read your summary :)

#5 John Geraghty

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Posted 01 February 2007 - 03:33 PM

Kathleen mentioned 'Oswalds Tale', however, he did write the afterword to Carl Oglesby's 'The JFK assassination facts and myths'. Odd that he participated in two such contrasting views.

John

#6 Kathleen Collins

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Posted 02 February 2007 - 05:57 AM

However, I will read Mailer's novel on Hitler, as I love his writing and his imagination. As I do Gore Vidal's.

Kathy


I'm lazy. I'd like to read your summary :huh:


OK, when I get to it.

Kathy

#7 Kathleen Collins

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Posted 14 April 2007 - 07:26 PM

Kathleen mentioned 'Oswalds Tale', however, he did write the afterword to Carl Oglesby's 'The JFK assassination facts and myths'. Odd that he participated in two such contrasting views.

John


Mailer was crazy about John Kennedy. He said his worst moment was when he was in a bar in NY and it came over the TV set that Kennedy was shot. He said things like Oh he's letting us think he's in danger, so we'll know how much we need him. Then, after what seemed forever, it came over Kennedy had died.

Mailer always believed in conspiracy regarding the assassination. But he co-wrote Oswald's Tale and couldn't find any proof of conspiracy. The conspiracy believers became angry with him and his name is dirt to them. They view him as a sell-out. And there's a rumor that he had tax problems which disapperared when his book was published.

Kathy

Edited by Kathleen Collins, 02 June 2007 - 07:07 PM.


#8 Len Colby

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 12:12 AM

The technique of infamy is to start two lies at once. and set people arguing which one is true.

Hitler as pathetic neurotic bedwetter v Hitler as unprecedented mega-murderer.

Yes what horrendous and baseless slander of a man you seem to admire. Obviously he was neither of the above!

#9 John Dolva

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 04:59 AM

Hitler, irrespective of when he stopped wetting his bed, was indeed a mass murderer, but there are precedents in brutality, like Vlad the Impaler for example.

But in scale, in the 20th century, he certainly was the worst. It's true he had a lot of willing accomplices and many who were forced into the role of following his orders.

However, they were humans, and the slaughtering by the Death Squads following the Wermacht in Operation Barbarossa took its toll, and, while there don't seem to be records of the perps wetting their beds, it did take a toll on the psyche of many of the killers and the gas vans and then the gas chambers in the concentration camps were invented to ease their suffering, besides, a lot were taking sickies instead of killing so it was becoming a bit of a problem. Out of sight, out of mind, as they say, or perhaps ignorance is bliss. No doubt there were those who revelled in it like the typical socio-psychopathic serial killer, but by and large there were attempts to make the killings less of an unpleasant impact on the average perp.

Apart from that dissociative dehumanising of the death production line, the people assigned to clean up the mess were often inmates themselves who survived a bit longer and then were recycled themselves and replaced with a new batch so that people wouldn't go too stir crazy (and,who knows, maybe even start wetting their beds).

On a side note, in 1943 the allies did do a psychological analysis on Hitler and rather presciently predicted he could commit suicide.

They did however refer not to bedwetting but "(i) a primitive excretory soiling tendency, and (ii) a passive masochistic tendency (hyperatrophy of the feminine component of his makeup)"

As a "grand climax" (the psychologists suggest) "he may make a funeral pyre and throw himself on it."

(see http://library.lawsc...hitler/toc.html )

Edited by John Dolva, 02 June 2007 - 05:06 AM.


#10 Sid Walker

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 06:28 AM

The technique of infamy is to start two lies at once. and set people arguing which one is true.

Hitler as pathetic neurotic bedwetter v Hitler as unprecedented mega-murderer.

Yes what horrendous and baseless slander of a man you seem to admire. Obviously he was neither of the above!


My point, Len, may not have come across clearly.

I'll try again.

For all I know, Hitler may have wet his bed in childhood. I remember sniggering about bed-wetting when I was a boy. What a loser!

On the other hand, John Dolva - and many, many others - focus on the phenomenon of 'Hitler as mega-murderer'. Like most who adhere to that belief, John doesn't worry too much about the evidence. He says it it is "certainly" the case.

Actually, I accept that Hitler gave orders to murder. Let's take something that's not contentious. There's plenty of evidence that indicates his policy towards insurgents in territory under Nazi control was not dissimilar to Israeli anti-insurgency policy throughout the last six decades. Hitler ordered reprisals - often deliberately authorizing greater loss of life than the original attacks. Brutal? Yes. Murderous? I believe so.

Nevertheless, even if Mailer is right (let's accept for the sake of argument that the young Hitler did wet the bed) AND the murderer view of Hitler is also correct (at least in part), analysis that clusters entirely around that polarity is one-dimensional and doesn't even provide a cardboard cut-out view of the man or his times. It manufactures a Hitler minus any real understanding... indeed, it makes him pure myth. He's a villain... and/or a freak. Nothing else. Nothing more.

Hitler's pre-war attempt to secure an international ban on aerial warfare, his decision not to use sarin gas during the conflict and his unwillingness to kill off more than a quarter of a million enemy troops at Dunkirk when he had every opportunity to do so, must be ignored in any such analysis. They don't fit inside straitjacket of the pathetic loser / arch-devil dichotomy - so they are typically not mentioned at all.

Refusal to even look at Hitler's positive qualities - and policies - also leads to complete inability to understand or explain his considerable popularity with the German people.

Required to view Hitler ONLY as villain OR wierdo, we are also forced to view the great majority of the German people of that era as EITHER hapless idiots OR savage villains reveling in a leader who finally allowed them to be as vile as they really wanted to be.

Simplification of analysis and demonization of enemy nations and their leaders is characteristic of war time propaganda. It has its uses - in war.

However, the Second World War ender more than six decades ago.

It's time to stop living and reliving that war and start the process of dispassionate, rational analysis of what happened. In fact, it's long overdue!

Infamy may be appropriate in wartime, but its techniques are wholly inappropriate to peaceful co-existence.

Edited by Sid Walker, 02 June 2007 - 06:36 AM.


#11 John Simkin

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Posted 02 June 2007 - 09:41 AM

Hitler's pre-war attempt to secure an international ban on aerial warfare, his decision not to use sarin gas during the conflict and his unwillingness to kill off more than a quarter of a million enemy troops at Dunkirk when he had every opportunity to do so, must be ignored in any such analysis. They don't fit inside straitjacket of the pathetic loser / arch-devil dichotomy - so they are typically not mentioned at all.

Refusal to even look at Hitler's positive qualities - and policies - also leads to complete inability to understand or explain his considerable popularity with the German people.

Required to view Hitler ONLY as villain OR wierdo, we are also forced to view the great majority of the German people of that era as EITHER hapless idiots OR savage villains reveling in a leader who finally allowed them to be as vile as they really wanted to be.

Simplification of analysis and demonization of enemy nations and their leaders is characteristic of war time propaganda. It has its uses - in war.

However, the Second World War ender more than six decades ago.

It's time to stop living and reliving that war and start the process of dispassionate, rational analysis of what happened. In fact, it's long overdue!

Infamy may be appropriate in wartime, but its techniques are wholly inappropriate to peaceful co-existence.


I agree with this view. This is the point I will be eventually making on the Duke of Kent thread. The established facts and those documents that have been released (far more have been destroyed, unreleased, or sent to the Royal Archives, outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act) show that the black and white view we have of Hitler and Churchill is incorrect. Unfortunately, before people can accept this, they have to relearn history. Before they do that they have to get their nationalistic and emotional feelings under control.

#12 Sid Walker

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Posted 03 June 2007 - 05:39 AM

[quote name='Daniel Wayne Dunn' post='104584' date='Jun 3 2007, 02:35 AM'][quote]Hitler's pre-war attempt to secure an international ban on aerial warfare, his decision not to use sarin gas during the conflict and his unwillingness to kill off more than a quarter of a million enemy troops at Dunkirk when he had every opportunity to do so, must be ignored in any such analysis. They don't fit inside straitjacket of the pathetic loser/arch-devil dichotomy - so they are typically not mentioned at all.[/quote]An odd assertion -- these subjects have been covered routinely for some time. Hitler's various pre-war disarmament and conciliatory "peace" proposals are well-known. Hitler was certainly a genius in propaganda, shaping opinion and exploiting psychology (particularly, viz, people's weaknesses), and in general in SEEMING to be this or that........He was, in other words, a great master of politics; otherwise, he could hardly have risen to the positions of extraordinary power that he did auf Deutschland und der Welt

The decision to hold back at Dunkirk is BELIEVED to be a possible instance of Hitler's tactical thinking in his hopes of opening peace/surrender negotiations with the British, a "magnanimous" gesture which didn't last long. Another possibility to consider is tactical error: Hitler and/or his generals might have assumed the British Expeditionary Force would have to surrender in-place as they couldn't conceive how such a large force could be extracted from such a position (tactical retreats being the most difficult of military operations, even to the extent that some consider a commander's real quality to be revealed in his ability to handle such tasks -- viz., MacArthur's retreat in the Philippines to Bataan and Corregidor).

Aside from the suggested possibility that refusal to use chemical weapons was based on Hitler's own negative attitude toward such weapons due to his exposure to mustard gas in the First World War, the decision is also BELIEVED to be an instance of a shared attitude on the part of Hitler and Wehrmacht leaders that such "extras" were not needed as German soldiers and the German Army were invincible as such (they were, after all, Aryans -- a master race). An open and interesting question about why this was not resorted to later in the war, particularly against the Red Army. But an argument that this was out of humanitarian considerations (viz, vis-a-vis Russians/Slavs) seems contradicted by tremendous amounts of other evidence
[quote]Refusal to even look at Hitler's positive qualities - and policies - also leads to complete inability to understand or explain his considerable popularity with the German people.

Required to view Hitler ONLY as villain OR wierdo, we are also forced to view the great majority of the German people of that era as EITHER hapless idiots OR savage villains reveling in a leader who finally allowed them to be as vile as they really wanted to be.[/quote]Hitler's "considerable popularity with the German people" has been assessed, discussed, thought about, etc ad infinitum for seventy-five years. Who has refused to look at these things? Who has not recognized that the circumstances of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich in Germany are extraordinarily complex, confounding, troublesome?

Talk about a "black and white view": here we have it promoted even as it's being questioned and objected to -- quite a complex point of view all by itself. The bottom-line questions about the Third Reich are political and economic (in other words, sociological). This has not exactly been under-researched for almost a century now
[quote]Simplification of analysis and demonization of enemy nations and their leaders is characteristic of war time propaganda. It has its uses - in war.

However, the Second World War ender more than six decades ago.

It's time to stop living and reliving that war and start the process of dispassionate, rational analysis of what happened. In fact, it's long overdue!

Infamy may be appropriate in wartime, but its techniques are wholly inappropriate to peaceful co-existence.[/quote]Am I the only one that recognizes contradictions here? "It's time to stop living and reliving that war," but let's talk about it as much as possible

And simplification of analysis is characteristic of all propaganda -- it has its uses in war and in peace.

[quote name='John Simkin' post='104523' date='Jun 2 2007, 04:41 AM']I agree with this view. This is the point I will be eventually making on the Duke of Kent thread. The established facts and those documents that have been released (far more have been destroyed, unreleased, or sent to the Royal Archives, outside the scope of the Freedom of Information Act) show that the black and white view we have of Hitler and Churchill is incorrect. Unfortunately, before people can accept this, they have to relearn history. Before they do that they have to get their nationalistic and emotional feelings under control.[/quote]
The thread on the death/assassination of the Duke of Kent (and his traveling party) is interesting. It will be even more interesting if it presents an argument that helps transform our accepted beliefs about the Second World War -- viz., allowing us to "relearn history" and get our "nationalistic and emotional feelings under control."

But if the argument fails to address the simple fact that in the past century a European government arose which was inspired by, devoted to, and intent on systematically enforcing a racist conception of human society, I think this argument will lack depth. And that's by far the best I could say for it.

Beyond that, I continue to be completely and utterly mystified by this willingness to lend one's good name to views which are transparently not in one's own best interests. Maybe someday -- somehow -- one will be able to recognize who one's real friends are.
[/quote]

Some good points, Daneil. Others I find unpersuasive.

Regarding these seemingly unexplained historical anomalies (e.g. Dunkirk), now more than 60 years in the past, there are, I suggest, two main reasons for continuing uncertainty.

First, the British and American archives have not been fully released. It is so long after the event, we are surely entitled to ask why (the hell) not?

Second, there has been a prevailing intellectual climate in which open, dispassionate debate about WW2, Hitler and the Nazis has simply not been possible. This has, if anything, grown more repressive with time (not less repressive, as one might expect).

You are correct, in a way, when you write:
[quote]Hitler's "considerable popularity with the German people" has been assessed, discussed, thought about, etc ad infinitum for seventy-five years. Who has refused to look at these things? Who has not recognized that the circumstances of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich in Germany are extraordinarily complex, confounding, troublesome?[/quote]However, I'll stand my ground on this; there has been lots of discussion, yes. Lots of book, documentaries and movies - sure. But the discussion has been straitjacketed. Views considered too 'pro-Hitler' are cast off to the margins. Who does the considering here? Well, there's a lot of self-censorship and pandering to conformism, but the self-appointed arbiter of last resort is usually the relevant Jewish peak body in the jurdisiction in question. It is they who have - on numerous occasions - helped destroy the careers of historians or other authors who step outside the magic circle of approved debate.

When I first came onto this forum, I recall being attacked quite fiercely for suggesting that Hitler didn't start the Second World War and didn't actually want it to happen - at least not a war against Britain and America. Operation Barbarossa, we now know, was a pre-emptive strike (Hitler was correct that the USSR was about to launch a major attack on Germany). Hence the evidence that Hitler was the principle aggressor in World War Two - fundamental to the official narrative and the centerpiece of the case against the accused at the Nuremberg Trials - is really rather weak.

If indeed it is possible to say that now on this forum without Len, Owen, Andy or someone else huffing and puffing and screaming 'neo-Nazi', it is a consequence of a quite recent shift in the dynamics of our discussions here. A very welcome shift, in my opinion.

I remember being assailed for suggesting that Nuremberg was anything less than the summit of western justice. In that case, I recall extricating myself from that tight corder by pointing out that JFK held a similar view. Phew! A close shave!

Overall, it seemed - at least until recently - that there was considerable pressure exercised on this forum to enforce belief in pure fantasy. I have experienced the same phenomenon elsewhere. From time to time I read in the media that X, Y or Z academic, commentator or journalist has been persecuted for expressing beliefs that., at the very least, deserve airing if we are really to enjoy open discussion on these contentious historical topics.

Your post concluded:

[quote]But if the argument fails to address the simple fact that in the past century a European government arose which was inspired by, devoted to, and intent on systematically enforcing a racist conception of human society, I think this argument will lack depth. And that's by far the best I could say for it.

Beyond that, I continue to be completely and utterly mystified by this willingness to lend one's good name to views which are transparently not in one's own best interests. Maybe someday -- somehow -- one will be able to recognize who one's real friends are.[/quote]

As you may know, I dislike the term 'racism'. I regard it as a relatively modern conceptual invention, designed to cause more confusion than anything else. It generates heat, but very little light. I have it in the same category as 'ethnic cleansing' (a much more recent invention) and 'Antisemitism' (rather older).

However, sizing up the term for what it's worth, I'd comment that the British Empire was "inspired by, devoted to, and intent on systematically enforcing a racist conception of human society". Do you disagree? In what way were German fantasies of constituting a 'Master Race' (where they were not the invention of Allied anti-German propaganda) qualitatively different from the smug fantasy of British 'racial' superiority? You may be able to demonstrate a clear difference - but it is not, IMO, so blatantly self-evident that this may be stated without supporting evidence.

As for your last paragraph... what on earth do you mean Daniel?

Edited by Sid Walker, 03 June 2007 - 05:50 AM.


#13 Sid Walker

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Posted 11 June 2007 - 05:50 AM

Some good points, Daniel. Others I find unpersuasive.

You are correct, in a way, when you write:

Hitler's "considerable popularity with the German people" has been assessed, discussed, thought about, etc ad infinitum for seventy-five years. Who has refused to look at these things? Who has not recognized that the circumstances of the rise of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich in Germany are extraordinarily complex, confounding, troublesome?


However, I'll stand my ground on this; there has been lots of discussion, yes. Lots of book, documentaries and movies - sure. But the discussion has been straitjacketed. Views considered too 'pro-Hitler' are cast off to the margins.


Which is where pro-Hitler views belong. Since it is conceded that there has been "lots" of discussion, books, documentaries, movies (and psychological, sociological, etc, etc, etc studies), the complaint would seem to come from the vicinity of those inclined to look favorably upon Hitler and the Nazi New Order. Appearing to argue for "balance" on these issues -- after all this time and "lots" of "discussion" -- is necessary to help obscure their real agenda


Firstly, what do you mean by ‘pro-Hitler’ views? Which people do you want “cast off to the margins”? Paid up members of the Nazi Party? Or folk of varying politicial persuasions who point out facts you don’t like and opinions you don’t like, facts and analyses that undermine the 100% negative view of Hitler and Nazi Germany you seem so dogmatically determined to promulgate?

Secondly, if ANY views are cast off to the margin, it is contorted logic indeed to then argue that those who hold them cannot complain about this – or point out that it’s happening – without having another, darker agenda (that you define).

Who are you to put words - and agendas - in other peoiple’s mouths, Daniel? Cheeky, that’s what you are.

I’ll try to find time to reply to the rest of your post soon. Sorry, today is busy.



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