Comparisons of Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler are a dime a dozen, but this one really hit home.
A “letter” signed by the “people of Germany” on Friday quickly went viral thanks to retweets by celebrities like J.K. Rowling and other high-profile Twitter users.
But this wasn’t actually a letter from the people of Germany. It was created by Johan Franklin, a Germany native living in California. A couple of days later, Franklin clarified the context of the letter and revealed what happened to him after he posted it.
“Not all Germans think that way,” he wrote. “But from what I hear from friends and family back home, what I read on German news sites and social media, many Germans are just scared shitless that an obvious demagogue and outright liar can gather so many people behind him.”
Critics of the Republican nominee have charged that Trump’s nationalist, anti-immigrant rhetoric and promises of strong-arm policies point to fascist tendencies that are uncomfortably close to the kinds of fears and instincts that percolated amid Hitler’s rise to power. This is exacerbated by some of his supporters promoting outright anti-Semitic ideas—ideas that some believe even the Trump campaign has embraced.
So, do Germans really think the Trump–Hitler comparisons are fair or even accurate? As the Washington Post reports, “yes and no.”
“Hitler comparisons are far less frequent in German public life than they are elsewhere in Europe, the U.S., or Israel,” Thomas Weber, a German historian, told the Post. He added that for Germans, Hitler is the embodiment of evil that is not simply replicated because of controversial statements or endorsements by the Ku Klux Klan.
“Nobody can ever be as evil as Hitler was.”
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