Is Hitler over-emphasized in the teaching of 20th Century history?

While the Holocaust may be under-emphasized in schools I don’t believe you can over-emphasize Hitler the man. The whole man. His story embodies many things, a rag to riches story, a savior of his people, a menace to mankind, how absolute power corrupts absolutely and even the effect of syphilis in the later stages.

According to the Spanish poet, Santayana, “Those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.” People need examples from history to understand the present and make contemporary decisions. Without them we are flying blind. There will always be emulators but the answer is not to censor people but to let history serve as an example, in this case, a mostly bad example.

There were many who killed more; Stalin for example. But few accomplished so much, good and bad, so recently or so well documented. It’s easy to separate ourselves from the Romans since it happened so long ago to ancient people. But Hitler is modern and therefore much closer to home. What the Romans did is not likely to repeat itself but what Hitler did certainly can and unless we are intimate with the details it certainly will.

While Hitler proved to be evil most people aren’t aware or refuse to acknowledge the good he did. There’s something to be learned here too. He took a nation that was on its knees and brought it back to life. Making it a world economic power once again and all but ending poverty among its people. He popularized things such as the VW Bug, his V-2 missile program was the basis for modern day space exploration, and so on.

Ironically, Hitler is only considered a villain by history because he lost the war. Had Washington lost our fight for Independence he would have been recorded as a traitor. The brilliant General Benedict Arnold is a perfect example that the victors in any conflict are the ones that write the history books. And in any conflict people die. Do some research on the American Indian sometime; the Cherokee trail of tears, Nez Perce Chief Joseph. It’s not pretty but every 4th of July the fireworks go off and the people cheer.

I believe that Hitler in his entirety should be a required study at all High Schools and emphasis should be placed on both the good and the bad. It is only through detailed knowledge of the past that we can decide our future.