Seattle Times Editor Edits ‘Hitler Not Unreasonable’ Post

• Views: 2,852

Seattle Times editorial writer Bruce Ramsey, the mind behind that ludicrous “blog” piece saying, “Hitler’s demands were not unreasonable,” has been doing a little on-the-sly editing: Bush, and His Use of ‘Appeasement’ | Seattle Times Newspaper Blog.

Ramsey got smacked around pretty badly in the comments for his piece, and rarely have I seen someone deserve it more. We saved his original first three paragraphs: Seattle Times Editor: ‘Hitler’s Demands Were Not Unreasonable’.

Democrats are rebuking President Bush for saying in his speech to the Knesset, here, that to “negotiate with terrorists and radicals” is “appeasement.” The Democrats took it as a slap at Barack Obama. What bothers me is the continual reference to Hitler and his National Socialists, particularly the British and French accommodation at the Munich Conference of 1938.

What Hitler was demanding was not unreasonable. He wanted the German-speaking areas of Europe under German authority. He had just annexed Austria, which was German-speaking, without bloodshed. There were two more small pieces of Germanic territory: the free city of Danzig and the Sudetenland, a border area of what is now the Czech Republic.

We live in an era when you do not change national borders for these sorts of reasons. But in 1938 it was different. Germany’s eastern and western borders had been redrawn 19 years before—and not to its benefit. In the democracies there was some sense of guilt with how Germany had been treated after World War I. Certainly there was a memory of the “Great War.” In 2008, we have entirely forgotten World War I, and how utterly unlike any conception of “The Good War” it was. When the British let Hitler have a slice of Czechoslovakia, they were following their historical wisdom: avoid war. War produces results far more horrible than you expected. War is a bad investment. It is not glorious. Don’t give anyone an excuse to start one.

Here’s what it looks like now; guess what ended up in the bit bucket?

Democrats are rebuking President Bush for saying in his speech to the Knesset, here, that to “negotiate with terrorists and radicals” is “appeasement.” The Democrats took it as a slap at Barack Obama. What bothers me is the continual reference to Hitler and his National Socialists, particularly the British and French accommodation at the Munich Conference of 1938.

The narrative we’re given about Munich is entirely in hindsight. We know what kind of man Hitler was, and that he started World War II in Europe. But in 1938 people knew a lot less. What Hitler was demanding at Munich was not unreasonable as a national claim (though he was making it in a last-minute, unreasonable way.) Germany’s claim was that the areas of Europe that spoke German and thought of themselves as German be under German authority. In September 1938 the principal remaining area was the Sudetenland.

So the British and French let him have it. Their thought was: “Now you have your Greater Germany.” They didn’t want a war. They were not superpowers like the United States is now. They remembered the 1914-1918 war and how they almost lost it.

In a few months, in early 1939, Hitler ordered the invasion of what is now the Czech Republic—that is, territory that was not German. Then it was obvious that a deal with him was worthless—and the British and French did not appease Hitler any more. Thus the lesson of Munich: don’t appease Hitlers.

Down the memory hole!

I’m afraid Ramsey may not be cut out for this blogging thing.

(Hat tip: Ace of Spades.)

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