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"Hitler Was A Great Man"

Don't be alarmed, this story will not convince you Hitler was a great man, that's what my grandmother tried to do.
Are you an American Fascist?
Are you an American Fascist?
I grew up amongst people that were called "fascisti", these people were led by a man named Benito Mussolini at their inception. When I came to America, I had never seen or known anything else. I was in America and noticed the differen't people who all came together to live. I was told America had a nickname, "the melting pot". I understood that to mean that I too was part of this melting pot. A melting pot of ideas, beliefs, and people.

When I became a teen, I returned to the fascisti, I had no choice really, because that's what part of my family was. They were fascisti. Having received some of my education in the United States, I learned more about the fascisti and their ways, the nationalism and the corporate government philosophy.

I did not make a decision that the fascisti were bad people from what I learned in America, I only learned about them more. When I returned to the nest, sort of speak, I began to ask my grandmother, in a non-confrontational way, all about Mussolini and the fascisti. She would tell me stories about the glory days, the height of the fascisti. She would tell me about all the wonderfull things Benito had done for the Italian people. He built schools, roads, hospitals, he was a hero and the movement would return and I would be part of this. I asked her what happened to this movement. She told me that people were not ready to become part of such a great philosophy and it was not the time. She mentioned that although Benito said the 20th century would be the century of fascism and Italian strength, she said the forces against him were too great because people feared his vision.

I asked her how Hitler played a part in this, she said, with a tear rolling down her face and pausing for a moment, "Hitler was a great man". This shocked me a little, I had always known her to love Mussolini, she had a picture of him up on the wall that I remember looking at every day I came home from school. The photo was like a family member's picture. It was just there, amongst other pictures, sort of like that uncle you see once in awhile. Next to his picture, was a picture of my grandfather, dressed in all black, "black shirts" as they were called in those days. There were also the pictures of my uncles, all in blackshirts. This gave me a sense of pride that I was included amongst such great "men". In fact, looking through some of my father's old clothes one day, I found his black shirt that he wore as a youth...indeed I put it on and my grandmother took a picture. When she took my picture, she was crying. I didn't understand this and I asked her why she was crying. She just hugged me and that was that.

My grandmother told me that Hitler was the strength, but Mussolini was the vision. She started to wheep and this was another moment that I asked her why. She told me what made Hitler a great man. He, actually his troops, would come to town and my grandmother would feed them, give them shelter, and wash their clothes. "Why did you do this?", I asked in a naive way. "It was my duty", she proclaimed, "this is what makes the fascisti so strong, we are loyal to each other against all enemies", her tears were drying up and I saw in her eyes something I had never seen before that time. It was confusing, but what I saw in her eyes, that were no longer filled with sorrow, was rage.

Immediately she told me more about the "gifts" they would bring to her, the gifts that helped her and our family. These gifts ranged from food, to clothing, to trinkets like jewelry and silverware. "Where did they get these things", I asked. She told me that this was property justly taken from the evil that the fascisti wanted to rid the world of. She said these were not "spoils of war" as the communist would have you believe, but property that was stolen from the rightfull owners and that the fascisti were just giving it back to the people it was stolen from in the first place. I said, "but silverware was not yours, was it?". She explained that indeed the actual fork was not, but the silver was, as well as the gold, it belonged to the people. The food and clothes were not stolen property she explained, but taken from the enemy, to feed the good people.(the fascisti)

During this conversation, she got angry, very angry...this surprised me having seen her crying minutes before. I asked her why she was upset. "THEY KILLED HIM!", she yelled, as she pointed to the picture of Benito on the wall. "Who killed him?" I said, "The communist scum and the american trash, they drug his body through the streets like animals". Again, this shocked me, I said, "but grandma, I am American"...she said, very angry and loud, "NO, YOU ARE NOT, YOU ARE FASCISTI! YOU WILL ALWAYS BE FASCISTI!". She said that my father was a traitor, that he turned his back on her and he denounced his heritage and that I shouldn't fall into this liberal trap of individualism.

I was a little scared at this point, I had never seen my grandmother like this. I wanted to know so badly about her experience that I could not help to ask her about the other stuff Hitler had done. I asked her, "but what about all the jews he killed?". She says, "you are young, you have lived in America, you have been lied to by the liberals who think all people can live together as one, you cannot live with animals or you will become one". She pleaded with me to not be fooled by the Americans, the communists, or anyone who was not fascisti. She said that America was poisoning my mind, that the American people did not have culture or a history to be proud of, she told me America was built on lies. Why else would white people mix with black people if they were not animals, why else would gay people be allowed to kiss in public, why else would jews be held in high status in America if it wasn't built on liberal lies.

I told her that I did not know any communists or jews, she said, "you live in America, they are all communists". Finally I got the courage and said, "they are not all communists and they are not all jews", she said, "you see how they have poisoned you, the liberals will take over your country like they did Germany and Italy, but don't worry, the fascisti will rise again and you are fascisti".

Many of these conversations took place over the years, as I grew older and would visit her, the stories became repetitive, more transparent, and less descriptive. The bad people were out to get her(and the fascisti) and the world was filled with liars that tried to ruin a great man's name.

My grandmother passed away recently and I had a chance to speak to her once again before she died. I said, "grandma, I love you, I have always loved you, and always will", I did not need to hear about the communists or fascisti anymore, those days were long gone. During this last visit, she said something that I did not expect, even as I held her hand and professed my love to her, she still had one thing in her mind, we were, in her eyes, fascisti after all. "You remember all the things I have taught you, the things your father does not understand anymore because the communists have blinded him", I could only nod in agreement as she layed in what would be her death bed.

"I see great things in your country, the American people understand how the individual has hurt them, they understand now why the philosophy of Mussolini is needed and what the liberals and communists are trying to do. I told you the fascisti would rise again, I told you that you would always be fascisti, your president has the vision of our great Mussolini, he has the power he needs without Hitler by his side. I know I will die soon, but I will die knowing you will know everything I have taught you was true, you will rise because your are fascisti. Your president is a great man."

I don't think I will ever understand how she went from warning me about Americans, to telling me the Americans are good people. I am still trying to understand how for so many years, even after the fall of the fascisti, the nazis, and the fall of communism in eastern Europe, she died thinking, "Hitler was a great man". Maybe one day I will come to know how someone could live their life with so much hate, yet be filled with so much love, and believe something so dearly, when there was evidence to the contrary.

Perhaps she was right...Hitler, Mussolini, and our president are indeed great men.

add a comment on this article

Worth Pondering 25.Feb.2005 12:12

---

Thanks for writing this. As a second generation Nazi Holocaust survivor, I am very interested in what could compel people to behave as they did (and continue to behave). I have talked with others whose grandparents supported the Nazi vision. I have also read many books about the few who could see beyond it, even though it was all around them, and wonder what made these people different. Interestingly, this group is small but eclectic. At a time when even many Jews were rushing to turn each other in to save themselves (some individuals turned in hundreds of people to prolong their own lives), those who risked their lives to save Jews included Poles, Catholics, and even Nazis.

As I dig deeper into the reality of the situation, the facts become increasingly oxymoronic. The questions of who has vision and how it occurs fascinate me, as does the question of how to break out of our own blindness.

bene 25.Feb.2005 12:23

napolitano

Thanks, this was an interesting peek into how such memes are transferred form generation to generation. My own Italian immigrant grandfather was heart broken when Mussolini was killed but any loyalty ended not long after that. I always assumed the nationalism was due to Italy's relative newness as a nation at the time. My grandfather's generation was the first to experience a unified Italy.

Same Excrement, Different Anuses 25.Feb.2005 12:40

billy ray

At North Block Park on Jan. 22 my favorite sign was a picture of Bush with Hitler and Mussolini on each side with caption, "Same shit, different asshole" and that seem to say a lot.

Typo 25.Feb.2005 12:50

billy ray

I must remember I can only type numbers by sight. 2/20 not 22 J20

Re: Same Excrement, Different Anuses 25.Feb.2005 13:30

cl

I saw the same thing, but on a sweatshirt.

Thank you, fascisti grandson! 25.Feb.2005 18:00

The Grand Narrator

A beautiful story, very touching but also expressive of deep truths.

illusions 26.Feb.2005 01:16

_ _ _

Re;"---" comments. Your thoughts refer to an ongoing conundrum. How could generally rational, compassionate, intelligent people transform their morals and ethics into a device with they could viciously exterminate fellow human beings using extremely methodical, impersonal means?
Because of his recent passing, an old segment of an interview with Arthur Miller on the Charlie Rose show was run. In it, he related how he had pondered that very question himself, not coming up with any real answer. He mentioned how, in thinking about it, he recognized their achievement in the realm of human accomplishment; that they were among the most advanced nations in terms of education, social and philosophical sohistication, were people of highly refined bearing and manners, and yet in a very short period of time, in the form of responsibility as a country, were burning people. Miller's statement was short, but he closed using the word "warning", which I interpreted to mean that this episode in the timeline of humanity is a warning to all of us, that the fate of being such perpetrators of evil may not be confined to one seemingly defective segment of the world population. Maybe it could happen to any of us.
As conversations about hitler, mussolini routinely come up I've thought about the whole situation. Once, when hitler, and his identity as the personification of evil was introduced as a topic, I commented. I said, well, hitler was a buffoon...a crazy madman. In any other than extraordinary times, rational people would dismiss the ideas of hitler as ridiculous. By himself, hitler was nothing but a raving lunatic. Ironically, a nation of high culture went along him, lending force to his lunatic ideas, as a nation, effectively going crazy. His ability to be the catalyst for a development on such a massive scale, does, I suppose some might imagine, make him a great man.
How could it do that? How could so many highly educated, high cultured, intelligent and compassionate individuals transform themselves to lend force to the monstrosity that became nazi germany? Voluntary psychosis.
That's the way I explain it to myself. I don't know that it makes enough sense, but it does some.
It takes work and risk to sustain rational ideas forming the underpinnings of fairness and justice in the face of personal and public deprivation coupled with threats of bodily harm. To this formula, add intence pressure represented by the seductive lure of a wildfire embraced social political rhetoric promising to deliver righteous eminence to one's convinced they've been severely slighted.
People, with extraordinary exceptions, under the proper conditions, will give up their humanity.

They Thought They Were Free 26.Feb.2005 06:59

.

worth reading, a book:

They Thought They Were Free:
They Thought They Were Free : The Germans, 1933-45 -- by Milton Mayer; Paperback
 http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0226511928/
qid=1109429707/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/102-2617314-8848149

13 of 21 people found the following review helpful:
Chilling Look at Nazism from the German Perspective, September 11, 2001
Reviewer: Severin Olson (Hyattsville, Maryland United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)
Mayer gives us a chilling look at Nazi Germany through conversations and interviews with ten self described 'little men', who were all members of the party. The men tell of their beliefs and experiences during the years of the Third Reich. In some ways the scariest aspect of the book is how normal the men seem to be. Their Nazi beliefs are somehow more frightning as they do not come from high ranking officials like Himmler and Goebbles, but rather from ordinary civilians.

Mayer lived in Germany for several years after the Second World War and learned quite a bit about Germany. His book gives us a fascinating look at the Germans and why they behave as they do. We learn a great deal about why they supported Hitler, their love for law and order, and their general outlook.

The one weakness here is that his material is out of date. His statements may accurately reflect on the Germany of the 40's and 50's, but most likely do not apply to that country in the Twenty-First Century. The Germany of today is largely free of the hatred and fear that existed in earlier times.

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30 of 35 people found the following review helpful:
Chilling parallels with today's society, June 6, 1999
Reviewer: Christine Weingarten "isher2" (Dallas, Texas) - See all my reviews

Shortly after World War II, Milton Sanford Mayer traveled to Germany to find out the mind set of ordinary Germans who were "little men" in the Nazi Party. They did not know that he was an American Jew, although he did not lie to them. To a man, they declared that their days under Hitler were the best in their lives. I found the parallels with current day America to be much to close for comfort, if you substitute white rural culture for Jews in Germany. This book will open your eyes as to how totalitarianism is welcomed by the mass of people if the media support it, and the economy is good.

... 26.Feb.2005 14:14

this thing here

put a t.v., radio, newspaper, or a computer in every home, get a corrupted press and mass media that doesn't question the government, pump the media full of very clever propaganda about some "terrible, hidden, lurking threat that could kill and destroy you and your children and your nation without any warning"...

... and after a few months or years, out of the oven comes a very fucked up, mentally sick, brainwashed people.

how do you get fascists out of formerly reasonable, tolerant people? you fuck with their heads by manipulating fear...

"works the same in any country". and boy, does it ever...

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