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Why Hitler's poisonous anti-Semitic legacy lives on across Europe

By Lindy McDowell

Published 22/07/2015

Warning signs: the Duke and Duchess of Windsor meeting Adolf Hitler in 1933
Warning signs: the Duke and Duchess of Windsor meeting Adolf Hitler in 1933

Adolf Hitler is making a bit of a comeback, is he not? All these decades after we thought him dead and gone and comprehensively combusted, his vile bake is once again all over the news pages. This week's Nazi news centres on the discovery of a piece of archive film showing the then seven-year-old Princess Elizabeth larking around in the garden with family members aping a "Heil Hitler!" salute.

She was seven. We can safely say, hardly evidence there of latent fascism.

The story is a valid one, though, because also in the picture is Uncle David, the man who went on to be the idiot King Edward VIII (post-abdication, Duke of Windsor), a self-confessed big fan of Hitler.

And saluting beside him, no less unenthusiastically, the woman who would later become the Queen Mother. Plus it is safe to assume, her husband, the future George VI was, in that pre-selfie age, the cameraman filming the scene.

As we know from history, George and his queen went on to acquit themselves with real heroism during the war against Hitler.

Edward's subsequent despicable toadying to the monstrous Nazi regime was, however, an indication that he took the daft saluting a whole lot more seriously than the rest of his video co-stars.

The film was made back in 1933. Not only was the Queen not queen by that stage, it would be fair to say Hitler still wasn't Hitler.

Although viewed by many in Europe and beyond as a harmless buffoon, in Germany he was already a powerful and popular politician. But the full, unspeakable horror of the Holocaust was yet to come. The warning signs were already there, though. The vile anti-Semitism, the twisted "patriotism", the war-mongering, the deliberate targeting of easily-influenced youth, the whole posturing, poisonous cult with the uniforms, the symbolism ...

And in particular that same sick symbol - the Nazi swastika - that was recently hoisted in Carrickfergus, of all places, by a gang of morons apparently oblivious to the fact that this was the very flag brave men and women from both sides of our community here fought against in the Second World War.

The resurgence of Hitler in the headlines is not just limited to the Queen and Carrick, however.

Hardly a week now passes when we don't learn of some artefact connected to Adolf being flogged off for megabucks to "collectors".

It is absolutely valid for museums to acquire and display the trappings of the Third Reich. But this strange, squalid cult of "collecting" Hitler memorabilia as if it's nothing more innocuous than old Star Wars stuff is revolting.

Adolf Hitler presided over a regime that systematically murdered six million human beings.

He's not the sort of creature whose art school efforts anybody with a heart or conscience would want hanging on their wall.

In a way he's almost being turned into a sort of comic book baddie. People bandy his name around with unthinking abandon. So-and-so's a little Hitler. And everything's compared to the Nazis these days. A bit of bad service from officialdom and we're talking in terms of them being "even worse than the Nazis".

It trivialises and demeans the utter barbarity of that monster and his regime.

And meanwhile throughout Europe virulent anti-Semitism - cleverly repackaged for a new generation - is once again on the rise.

So, no. It's not that playful hand salute of a child in a grainy old film from 1933 we should be getting worked up about.

For a more accurate pointer to the hatred that nurtured and helped the madman Adolf Hitler to prominence, shamefully we have only to look around Europe 2015.

We are eating away at sense of humour

Skinny people are easier to kidnap. Stay safe. Eat cake. I saw that sign outside a cafe this week and it says something about the times we live in that my first reaction was not just to smile but to wonder how many special interest groups would be offended by that one.

Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and the government's campaign against sugar consumption to name but two.

A light-hearted joke is not always greeted light-heartedly in these PC times. Take the fire officers who tweeted after fighting a fire in a fashionable London eatery that "fortunately no hipsters were harmed." They've had to apologise. No hipsters harmed. But a sense of humour pretty much extinguished.

Real fight is to curb bane of social media

Carl Frampton's wasn't the only local boxing match attracting big local interest at the weekend.

A couple of hundred teenagers turned out to watch two teenage girls fist fight in central Belfast. Horrible stuff.

Who to blame, though? The parents, say some. But anyone who's ever had a teenager will know it's really not that easy to keep tabs on what they're up to and what they're planning. Especially on social media that most dangerous tool in the hands of the youthful and witless. How this can be policed I'm not sure but we should be giving it some attention. Sunday's bout was bad. But it could have ended much more tragically.

Belfast Telegraph

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