Commentary Magazine


Hitler

To the Editor:

I found it very painful to read Francis Golffing’s article on Hitler (“What Manner of Man Was Hitler?” February 1953). Here was a detached, objective study of the Butcher of Berchtesgaden, a study from which the depraved beast emerges absolved of many a failing imputed to him and cleansed of many a stigma. We learn, for example, that he was by no means “a semi-literate fool” but that, on the contrary, he “was certainly intelligent” and that “his mind was well, and not at all oddly, endowed.” Nor was he even a “bluff,” as many had supposed. Nowhere in the essay are we told that he was, in the final analysis, a subhuman global gangster. . . .

Let the Germans who only yesterday yelped demoniacally their frenzied heils to Hitler—let them re-evaluate dispassionately and objectively the nightmare of Nazism and the demon that spawned it. To us they are anathema, utterly muktzah, unmentionable! . . .

Whatever the religious policy of a Yiddish newspaper may be, it will not dare print on its women’s page recipes for pig’s knuckles or pâté de pore. No more do we expect a Jewish publication to treat us to a dispassionate analysis of the “personality” of the brown-shirted dovor acher. No, not until we have first forgiven Amalek and whitewashed Torquemada, Pobiedonostzev, and Petlura.

Isidore Goldstick
London, Canada

 

To the Editor:

Unlike Mr. Goldstick, who seems at no loss for words, I hardly know what to say. No doubt my essay is vulnerable in many respects, as well as incomplete, but to read it as a thinly disguised apologia for Hitler betrays a rare degree of insensitiveness.

In a section of my article omitted from the printed version I claimed that men who, for better or worse, have made history are liable to a special kind of consideration usually denied public figures of less consequence. That consideration must be surgically cold, freezing the whole area of passion that would naturally surround such a subject. Hitler’s ghastliness was not the issue here (though I believe I managed to convey an adequate sense of horror) but his mind, his beliefs, his probable motives. I am ready to be controverted on any of these heads. To write yet another piece of horrified rant would simply have added to the aura of taboo around Hitler which Mr. Goldstick, on his own showing, wishes to thicken and—to the detriment of understanding—perpetuate.

Francis Golffing
Bennington, Vermont

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