Tag Archives: Adolf Hitler

How does Ukraine persist?

When the Russians invaded Ukraine I was skeptical that the Ukrainians would be able to declare victory on the battlefield. The Russian army was numerically and technically superior to Ukraine.

Then the Russians discovered something in real time on the field of battle. The first thing, apparently, was that they weren’t as fearsome a fighting force as they — or many of the rest of us — thought they were. The second thing is that they likely underestimated the Ukrainians’ will to fight to protect their homeland against a foreign invader.

What astounds me is that the Russians’ misjudgment of Ukraine’s will to fight would exist at all, given their own country’s military history.

In June 1941, Adolf Hitler launched the invasion of the Soviet Union. He likely didn’t think the Russians would fight to the death in the manner that they did. The Red Army then turned the tide against Hitler’s forces in a city once known as Stalingrad. Let us not forget that Ukrainians were fighting alongside Russians in their struggle against the Nazi invaders. Oh … the irony.

This is what happens when a nation invades another sovereign state. They learn that their adversary is committed to the struggle to survive and their commitment well could carry them forward against a supposedly superior military force.

We hear now several things are going badly for the Russians. They have lost several field generals in the battle; the Russian troops are suffering from low morale; Russian soldiers aren’t obeying officers’ orders; Ukraine is getting plenty of help from allied nations — such as the United States; the Ukrainians are putting their military hardware to good use.

Don’t get me wrong here. I am not about to declare that Ukraine will declare victory and that Russia is going to skulk off the battlefield. There likely will be much more struggle to take place.

It does make me wonder how much more humiliation Russian despot Vladimir Putin can take. Moreover, I will stand on my belief that Putin is not stupid enough to launch a nuclear strike, given his knowledge of how “mutually assured destruction” would play out.

If there is an exit to be found, my strongest hope is that Putin can look for it and get the hell out of Ukraine. I wouldn’t even mind if he decides to declare victory. Let him crow all he wants. The world will know better.


‘Congratulations,’ Poland … on being invaded and brutalized?

Donald Trump’s lack of historical perspective is astonishing in the extreme, such as what he displayed today when given a chance to comment on the 80th year since the start of World War II.

A reporter asked the president if he had any words to offer to Poland, where he was scheduled to visit this week to commemorate the launch of that massive and bloody conflict. He stayed home to “monitor” the progress of Hurricane Dorian.

Trump mentioned that the vice president, Mike Pence, was going to “represent me” and the United States at event in Poland marking the event.

And then ā€¦ he offered a word of “congratulations” to Poland. Yes, congratulations. For what? For being invaded and brutalized by the 20th century’s most despicable tyrant, Adolf Hitler? Or, for being attacked as well from the east by the Red Army, which operated under a non-aggression pact signed by Hitler and Soviet tyrant Josef Stalin?

Trump then offered his customary ignorant platitudes about Poland being a “great country” with “great people,” compliments he could apply to virtually any country on Earth — with the exception of the “sh**hole” nations that produce all those immigrants who seek entry into the United States.

The president’s lack of knowledge of — or empathy for — the suffering of others is manifestly evident to me when he makes observations such as what he offered today.


Mo Brooks cites ‘Mein Kampf’? What the . . . ?

Of all the works that a member of the U.S. House of Representatives wanted to use to illustrate a point, he chooses to stand on the floor of the People’s House and invoke the words of the 20th century’s most despicable tyrant.

Wow! How do you process that one?

Mo Brooks, an Alabama Republican, sought to defend Donald Trump against Democrats’ attacks on him over the course of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into The Russia Thing. By now you know how that turned out: Mueller found no credible evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian goons who attacked our electoral system.

Why in the name of ethnic genocide does Brooks choose to reference passages to “Mein Kampf,” written in 1925 by the future chancellor of Germany, Adolf Hitler? Brooks cited a passage that Hitler used to talk about “the big lie,” which was a screed that sought to foment his upcoming campaign to launch the Holocaust against Jews.Ā Brooks sought to label Hitler and the Nazis as “socialists.” They were not. The National Socialist Party of Germany was a fascist organization bent on world conquest.

And think for a moment about the juxtaposition of where he did and who he was quoting.

It was in that very chamber where President Franklin Delano Roosevelt asked Congress to declare a “state of war” between the United States and Japan after the “dastardly attack” that had occurred the prior day, Dec. 7, 1941, “a date which will live in infamy.”

The next day, Germany declared war on the United States. The fight was on and the rest, as they say, was history.

And so Rep. Brooks chose to defend the current president of the United States with rhetoric penned by the monster who sought to eradicate Jews from Europe? He sought to conquer the world. He said the Third Reich would last a thousand years; he missed his goal by 988 years.

That a member of Congress would quote from such a monster on the floor of the nation’s Congress is a shameful act.

Not everything was saved in The Netherlands


ROTTERDAM, The Netherlands — Our friends in The Netherlands took great pains to show us communities that were spared the ravages of world war.

Indeed, the nation is a gorgeous collection of Renaissance architecture. Its neighborhoods charm the socks of those who see them for the first time.

Amsterdam is mostly water and a canal cruise is an absolute must for any visitor. My wife and I took one on a warm sunny day in that beautiful city.

Rotterdam is aĀ magnificent city, too. But for a different reason.

It was essentially rebuilt after World War II. Rotterdam was not spared the savage consequences of armed conflict.

The Nazi air force, the Luftwaffe, bombed central Rotterdam into oblivion as it fought to conquer The Netherlands. Adolf Hitler’s high command expected the conquest to take 24 hours; it took the Nazis five days to subdue the Dutch, who put up extraordinary resistance against the invaders.

What emerged from the rubble is a city of gleaming skyscrapers ringing one of the world’s largest and busiest harbors.

The picture attached to this brief post is of one of those modern marvels. My wife and I, along with our friend Coen, took a high-speed tour of the harbor. We saw hundreds of ships in port, anchored in the harbor waiting to dock and we saw one ship that had been hoisted out of the water, sitting in a drydock.


Yes, some neighborhoods survived the aerial onslaught that devastated Rotterdam. Our journey to Europe that enabled us to see Old World charm also exposed to us a country that wasĀ able to rebuild a great city.

The Dutch did that in Rotterdam.

Ex-SS guard gets five years for atrocities … enough?


This one is giving me fits and I’m likely to ask for some guidance on what to think about it.

A court in Germany has just sentenced a 94-year-old former SS guard to five years in prison for complicity in the atrocities that occurred at Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi death camp where many thousands of people were sent to their death.

Reinhold Hanning accepted the sentence apparently without emotion.

My questions are many:

Is the sentence long enough for a man nearing 100 years of age? Is it tantamount to life in prison? What has this man done with his life since the end of World War II? Would any contribution to society be enough to erase what he was accused of doing? Has he sought spiritual salvation for what he did?

“This trial is the very least that society can do to give… at least a semblance of justice, even 70 years after and even with a 94-year-old defendant,” chief judge Anke Grudda said.

“The entire complex Auschwitz was like a factory designed to kill people at an industrial level… You were one of those cogs” in the Nazi killing machine, she told the accused on convicting him as an accessory to murder in 170,000 cases.”



As the son of a World War II veteran who saw intense combat against Hitler’s war machine, I grew up believing that the men who carried out the madman’s orders bore a large measure ofĀ responsibility in the crimes against humanity they committed in Fuehrer’s name.

My hatred forĀ Hitler over what he did in committing the atrocities hasn’t wavered.

I’m struggling, though, with the punishment being handed out so many decades later to those who were following orders. Did they understand fully — in the moment — that they were committing unspeakable atrocities?

Just seven years ago I had the honor of touring the Yad Vashem memorial and museum near Jerusalem, which chronicles the story of the Holocaust from its victims’ point of view. One cannot come away from seeing thatĀ exhibit without feeling the combined sense of horror and shame over what human beings are capable of doing to other human beings.

Therein lies the crux of my conflict.

I am inclined to believe the sentence was as just as one can expect, given the defendant’s age. I also am inclined to hope that his time in prison is made as miserable as is humanly possible. I know, of course, that the German prison system must not inflict on Hanning the same horrors he’s been convicted of inflicting on his victims at Auschwitz.

Your thoughts on this?

Win or lose, Trump’s impact has been ‘y-u-u-u-u-ge!’


Americans ought to perhaps prepare themselves for a major shock at the end of this year.

I’m talking about Donald J. Trump’s presidential campaign.

No, I do not mean to suggest that Trump is going to win the election and start preparing himself to settle into the chair behind that big ol’ desk in the Oval Office. He won’t ever get to do that — in my humble view.

What I mean is that Trump’s presence on the campaign scene has had an impact far, far beyond anyone’s expectations when he entered it this past summer.

Yes, America, this man well could become Time magazine’s Person of the Year for 2016.

I don’t know how the Time editors are going to process this election. The winner of the campaign assuredly should be the logical choice for the esteemed honor. If it turns out to be Hillary Rodham Clinton, well, she will have made history as the first woman ever elected, just as Barack Hussein Obama made history by becoming the first African-American ever elected president.

Trump’s influence on this election, though, has been overarching.

He has redefined how the media cover these events.

Think of it: The guy has no government experience of any kind whatsoever. He is known as a reality TV celebrity and real estate mogul. He has lived a life of excess — and boasts about his extramarital sexual conquests. HeĀ begins his campaign by insulting Mexican immigrants who come here illegally by lumping all of them together as rapists, murderers and drug dealers.

Then it got worse.

Still, the man remains the frontrunner for the Republican Party presidential nomination. The media cannot stop reporting on his utterances. Why is that? Because the public is infatuated with them. Even those of us who cannot stomach the sight of him or the sound of his voice can’t stop writing about him.

Trust me on this: If there wasn’t a public appetite for this guy, the media wouldn’t report on him. The media respond to what the public demands.

The Time editors have made much of the criteria they use for these selections. The person they put on the magazine’s cover are there because of what they contributed for “good or ill.” The publication has put some pretty hideous characters on its cover: Adolf Hitler, Josef Stalin and the Ayatollah Khomeini come to mind immediately.

Donald J. Trump ain’t in their league.

However, he’s had a gigantic impact on theĀ political process that selects the person who becomes president of the United States.

Hitler is dead already! Let’s keep him that way!

1933:  Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945), chancellor of Germany, is welcomed by supporters at Nuremberg.  (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

Adolf Hitler is dead.

What passes for his spirit remains very much alive in the guise of contemporary political debate … although I hesitate to use such soaring terminology to identify much of the back-and-forth that’s been occurring these days.

The latest object of the Hitler comparison is Donald J. Trump, the leading Republican Party candidate for president of the United States.

Do not misunderstand me on this point: I find Trump to be among the most repulsive major U.S. political figures of my lifetime. With every idiotic utterance that flies out of his pie hole, he moves closer to the very top (or bottom) of my unofficial list of despicable American political leaders.

I am weary to the max, however, of the Hitler references.

Of all the beasts who have passed themselves off as human beings, Hitler stands alone. The Holocaust defies any human being’s ability to comprehend such a dastardly act. The murderous regime he led for a dozen years and the war he started in Europe produced a bloodbath beyond all reckoning.

Hitler is without question the 20th century’s most hideous tyrant.

Trump’s world view — such as it is — deserves to be critiqued on its own. That said, I do not care to see these Hitler references attached to anything Trump has to say.

To be sure, the current president of the United States has been demonized in this manner as well, as haveĀ have previous presidents of both major political parties.

Many politicians provide ample grist for criticism. Is it really necessary to invoke Hitler’s name whenever we disagree with what a contemporary U.S. politician has to say?

To my ears, doing so seems to fall into the category of foul-mouth comedians. Someone once said that comics who depend onĀ verbal filthĀ usually have run out of clever things to say.

Politicians and pundits who invoke Hitler’s nameĀ to offer criticism, then, might be falling into the same category.

GOP = Iranian anti-U.S. chants? Please, Mr. President

Just as Adolf Hitler’s name shouldn’t be uttered aloud in discussions about contemporary U.S. policy, how about declaring a similar moratorium on using “death to America” chants by Iranian protesters?

President Obama made a startling comparison this week in a speech at American University in which he said that those who yell “Death to America” have “common cause with Republicans” who oppose the nuclear deal that seeks to block Iran from developing an atomic bomb.


I get that the president feels frustrated because the “loyal opposition” keeps resisting all of his policies — both foreign and domestic.

However, the “death to America” chants we hear from street demonstrations in Tehran have no bearing on domestic opposition to the issue at hand.Ā Obama said the Iranians who oppose the nuclear deal are those who utter the frightening chant.

The president drew a lot of laughs from the crowd that heard his crack about GOP kinship with the anti-American demonstrators.

Please, Mr. President, spare us the laugh lines and stay away from the demagoguery.

‘Huck’ tries to out-Trump The Donald

Donald Trump makes light of John McCain’s heroism during the Vietnam War and refuses to apologize for it.

His payoff? A surge in the Republican Party presidential primary polls.

Now comes Mike Huckabee to say the Iran nuclear deal brokered by President Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and five other world powers will lead “Israel to the door of the oven.”

It’s an obvious and hideous reference to the Holocaust and has enraged some Jewish leaders for its insensitivity to the suffering that families of Holocaust victims feel to this very day.

Is Huck backing off? Oh, no. He’s keeping up the fiery rhetoric.


This, I fear, is what Donald Trump has introduced into the GOP primary contest. He has set a new standard for the level of commentary that voters will accept.

Huckabee has seized upon it and has now added a new twist: invoking the ghastly memory of Adolf Hitler and Neville “Peace in Our Time” Chamberlain to criticize the deal that seeks to end Iran’s nuclear program. You know about Hitler. Chamberlain was the British prime minister who met with Hitler in 1938 as the Nazi tyrant was about to launch World War II and said he was confident thatĀ the worldĀ could achieve “peace in our time” in Europe. Well, it didn’t work out that way.

Huckabee’s reference is as the National Jewish Democratic Council described it:Ā The councilĀ called the remark ā€œnot only disgustingly offensive to the President and the White House, but shows utter, callous disregard for the millions of lives lost in the Shoah and to the pain still felt by their descendants today.ā€

But what the heck. A candidate’s got to do what he’s got to do to get on that debate stage with those who are atop the polls.

As Trump has shown, outrageousness sells these days.

‘No’ means no, in Greece

In Greece, they celebrate something called “Oxhi Day.”

“Oxhi” — and this is the rough spelling of the word, given that the Greek alphabet looks nothing like ours — is the Greek word for “no.”

It’s meant to mark then-Greek Prime Minister John Metaxas’s refusal to let Italian troops use Greek ports during the early years of World War II. Metaxas told Italian dictator Benito Mussolini “oxhi!” to his ultimatum; Mussolini then invaded Greece on Oct. 28, 1940 — and promptly had his troops slaughtered by the Greek army as they sought to advanceĀ south from Albania.

The Italian invasion stalled in the face of the ferocious Greek resistance. Adolf Hitler’s Nazi troops came in to rescue Mussolini from further humiliation — and conquered Greece.

Oxhi Day has been a big deal for Greece.


Now the word takes on a fresh meaning. The Greeks have said “oxhi” to demands for more austerity, which was a condition of more bailout money from the European Union.

The result might be that Greece leaves the EU, becoming — in the words of some observers — a “fringe nation” in Europe.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras vows to renegotiate a better deal for Greece. His left-wing government has grown weary of the austerity demands that others have placed on his country.

But to be candid, the Greeks seem to need some more austerity to help them curb their spendthrift habits. They have spent themselves into a tremendous debt crisis that they cannot solve — seemingly — by themselves.

I wish my the people who live in the country of my ancestors had voted the other way. The future of a once-vibrant nation now appears at best to be murky.

Just saying “oxhi!” might not be enough to save this proud country from ruin.