Thursday, April 19, 2012
Turning a blind eye
Av has been referring to Hitlerland, a new book by Andrew Nagorski, which captures Americans' views of Germany during the interwar period, in particular their reactions to Hitler's growing power,
The book’s best insights come not from Nagorski but from the would-be journalist Howard K. Smith, who arrived in Germany in 1936, fresh from university. Smith observed four stages of American reaction. The first was admiration: Americans saw neatness, efficiency, prosperity and cleanliness. New to the country, they credited these characteristics to Hitler, instead of realizing that they were essentially German. Stage two brought a recognition of militarism — uniforms, guns, marching and “Heil Hitler” salutes. But since military pageantry was quite exciting, many failed to appreciate the threat it symbolized.
The above picture shows Hitler with Thomas Watson, who later became CEO of IBM, among other American businessmen.