Lots of Irish people admire Hitler

According to The Journal in Ireland, a man from Kilkenny, Larry Brennan, celebrated his 79th birthday with a cake featuring a picture of Adolf Hitler. Here’s Brennan, his daughter, and his Nazi cake as shown on the  KCLR 96fm website, a radio station on which he was later interviewed.

cake1-1 cake

Brennan was then dumb enough to go on the radio (KCLR) to talk about his Hitler cake and his feelings about der Führer; you can hear the interview here. It’s summaried on the Journal website as well:

The interview starts with chat about Brennan’s local connections but when asked by Nunn why he had a picture of Hitler on his birthday cake, he replied:

“Well, I have great admiration for Hitler’s army, the way he dressed, his immaculate uniforms and his equipment.”

He said that equipment and clothing belonging to the German army during Hitler’s reign were highly sought after by many collectors. “It commands a very high price, unfortunately, today,” he said, pointing out that even English collectors were very interested in these items.

Presenter Nunn suggested that the strongest association most people would have with Hitler was one of “absolute mayhem, the torture and death of millions of people”. Brennan insisted that he himself was “not political”.

This is a transcript of what came next:

Brennan: “With politicians, it’s like a race; there’s always somebody trying to get out there, the jockey trying to get out in front to win. To me, politicians are like that, they say, ‘Forget about the truth, make it interesting, that sort of thing. That doesn’t tie with me, honestly, … and I’m afraid I part company with politics in that respect.”
Nunn: “But are you saying you admire Hitler, Lar?”
Brennan: “I admire Hitler because his army was so disciplined and he had great command over the people, and he fought for the people of his country. He was behind them, like, and they were behind him. It took three nations to beat him, like, and you know, he must have had some power.”
Nunn: “And all the people that he burned and…?”
Brennan: “Yes, well, that was the sinister thing about him. Behind that as well – and I don’t want to go into politics – but apparently there are two sides to every story and I heard that the other side of the story, the people that he, am, ah, put to death were spoiling the economy of his country by devaluing the deutschmark.”
Nunn: “Oh holy God. I can’t even let you say that, Larry, because I think that is just so offensive to people, you know. I mean…”
Brennan: “That’s what I heard.”
Nunn: “It’s been proven again and again and again and again … And why did the kids get, why did your daughter get the cake for you then, Larry? Was it a surprise?”
Brennan: “It was a surprise because she knew I collected all sorts of stuff like that. I collect motorbikes – well, I’m not saying I have masses of motorbikes, I have an interest and have a few motorbikes – and guns, swords, anything that’s old and antique-ish. I’ve a great interest in history, like, you know.”
Nunn: “And do you have Hitler memorabilia?”
Brennan: “I do, yeah. I have some of the Luftwaffe helmets which is very, very rare. It was the ground force of the Luftwaffe. As you know, the Luftwaffe was the air force, the German air force. They also had a ground command as well and I have one of them in mint condition which is rare to have and I have a very early Nazi dagger, which I treasure. And ah, Hitler didn’t have a lot of memorabilia because it is very, very expensive and very hard to get.”Nunn: “And are you part of a kind of a group of people, are you an enthusiast with others then for Hitler and Hitler memorabilia.”

Brennan: “Well, I have an interest in all kinds of people, an interest not only in Hitler but Irish – Irish are very hard to get hold of, early Irish swords make a lot of money when they come to auction and sometimes it would go beyond my means to bargain. I would like to have them but they are very scarce. I do have a 1798 sword from the Battle of Vinegar Hill and I have contacts of people who collect all sorts of things and if they have something I like, I’ll probably swop.”

Nunn: “And what kind of people are into the Hitler memorabilia.”

Brennan: “Well, like me, they’re into quality, the quality is amazing and ah, they last much longer. They tried to make reproductions but they are nothing like the real thing.”

Well, that’s pretty distressing: “two sides to every story”. Yes, ten million innocent people killed, including six million Jews, and that’s balanced by the devaluation of the Deutschmark!  Yes, he collects Nazi memorabilia, too: a gruesome hobby, but not nearly as bad as saying there’s a good side of Nazism that balances its bad. You can read more about Brennan’s statements on the Journal site.

To their credit, many listeners called in and expressed disgust with his sentiments; you can hear their comments here.  But what distresses me is a pretty big selection of pro-Hitler comments on the Journal website; reader Grania provided a selection (and these links) below; you can see more written comments here.

Picture 2 Picture 5 Picture 6Picture 7 Picture 2 Picture 5Picture 2 Picture 5 Picture 6Picture 7 Picture 2 Picture 5

In response to this, I’ll post just two pictures—photos I took when I visited Auschwitz. They’re from a room full of suitcases confiscated from Jews who were transported to the camp. They were told to put their names on the suitcases so they could reclaim them after they had their “showers.”  They were never reclaimed.

The showers, of course, were fake: the “shower” nozzles were props, and, once everyone was locked in the chambers, vents expelled cyanide gas, killing hundreds of men, women, and children within 20 minutes.  While the bodies were burned in crematoria next door, the suitcases were plundered by Sonderkommando inmates who put the good stuff in warehouses to be sent to Germany. There are also rooms full of eyeglasses, children’s toys, shaving brushes, pots, and hair shaved from the women (the hair is the one thing you’re not allowed to photograph).

Every owner of these suitcases was gassed. The names and addresses are poignant, and you can’t help being deeply moved when you read the names. These were people.

And this is what, according to Brennan (and apparently some Irish people), was balanced by Hitler’s devaluation of the Deutschmark.




  1. Charles
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 5:51 am | Permalink

    I thinks there is a strong element of “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” in this. Newly independent, neutral Republic of Ireland with IRA still strong sees Germany, as UK’s enemy, as a natural ally.

    • eric
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:13 am | Permalink

      That’s a completely understandable position….for 1939. In 2013 or even 1944, when Germany’s actions towards the Jews (and gays, and handicapped, and Roma, and…) were known, not so much.

    • Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:14 am | Permalink

      Yeah, a lot of people don’t realize that Ireland was neutral during WWII and they hated the British.

      Still, I wonder what the percentage of people who like Hitler is; my (hopeful) guess is that it is small.

      • John Hamill
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:18 am | Permalink

        It’s so tiny that the title of this piece is a little unfair. There is no Golden Dawn in Ireland.

      • kevinj
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:47 am | Permalink

        Some hated the English.
        Whilst the figures are vague a lot of Irish citizens went over the border and signed up.

    • Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      I’ve studied in Ireland for one year. During that year it happened once (and I mean: once only) that some elderly Irish guy who learned that I’m German, said something like Hitler being a great guy, and if I didn’t think so, too. When I asked my Irish roommates about it, they told me pretty much what Charles suspected. Luckily, they didn’t share that notion.

  2. gbjames
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 5:54 am | Permalink

    “I don’t want to go into politics”

    Jesus H Christ on a crutch.

    Take some comfort in the final sentence of the story you linked to:

    “Furious listeners called the show to express their outrage at the sentiments expressed by Mr Brennan.”

  3. John Hamill
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 5:55 am | Permalink

    I’m an Irish person, and deeply embarrassed that my compatriots would express such views. Charles is also correct though. The rebellion that saw Ireland eventually win independence from Britain took place during the First World War and the rebels took arms from the Germans. An element of pro-German views in Ireland is really anti-British. It’s a weird sympathy but true … especially since the Germans have done us no favours during the current financial crisis!

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:34 pm | Permalink

      “The enemy of my enemy is my friend”…

      A common human reaction but you can end up with some pretty dodgy friends.

  4. Posted October 25, 2013 at 5:57 am | Permalink

    The murder of millions of people, can’t be compensated by the autobahn network or the Volkswagen. And saying that Hitler wasn’t so bad because Stalin killed more people, is simply sick. Does it actually matter who killed most? Both tyrants were evil.

    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:26 am | Permalink

      There is also something fundamentally more disturbing and creepy about Hitler’s methods and motives regardless of numbers involved. It’s why serial killers like Jack the Ripper, Son of Sam, and Charles Manson disturb us. Vincent Bugliosi has made a convincing case for the similarity of Manson’s personality and Hitler in the final chapter of his book “Helter Skelter”. Why should the numbers even be an issue???

      • Adam M.
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:48 pm | Permalink

        I suppose the exact number of millions doesn’t matter, but what people are probably getting at is that it’s curious how people have a much stronger dislike of Hitler than they do of other dictators whose crimes were worse, by pretty much any metric you wish to apply.

        What makes Hitler so unique? What causes him to arouse greater repugnance than Stalin? Does anyone care that the British killed far more Indians over a shorter period of time and put them into much harsher concentration/death camps than the German ones? (Ex: http://adamcadre.ac/calendar/13/13432b.jpg http://img607.imageshack.us/img607/3828/kg8q.jpg)

        Perhaps, as somebody below mentions, Hitler is more recent, although Stalin was also recent. Perhaps, as somebody else mentions, people are less likely to be ignorant of Hitler. But if so, that’s because society emphasizes Hitler and the Holocaust over the rest. (And when you make them aware of worse genocides, they don’t really seem to care much.)

        Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that Germany was the enemy while England and Russia were allies. Perhaps it’s because Hitler focused on a specific ethnic group, Jews, rather than the more general nebulous dissidents killed by Stalin or the poor Indians killed by English rulers, and we find hatred based on ethnicity to be somehow worse than hatred based on social position or political ideology. Perhaps Hitler is just a convenient synonym for evil that’s taken on a life of its own. I don’t know.

        But the difference in the way people feel about these atrocities seems to demand an explanation. I understand if Jerry feels more strongly about the Holocaust given that it happened to ‘his’ people. But why would random non-Jews also have the greatest reaction to the Holocaust?

  5. Diana MacPherson
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    The comments asking one to put things into perspective are terrible. As if there is a genocide contest and if you find that there were more people killed by Stalin then you’re supposed to feel a bit better about those killed by the Third Reich. The only perspective that gives me is that those were horrible, barbarous times for the West!

    Here is a link to the Auschwitz museum site. They are working on getting the data for those interned there as the Nazis kept meticulous records but many were destroyed at the end of the war when things were going south for them. We found the name of the grandparents of close family friends from Holland. I remember seeing pictures of them with a star on their winter coats. One day, they just disappeared.

    You probably can’t take a picture of the hair because it is fading. You can see a picture on the museum site….it is truly ghastly! When you see these things it is so shocking that people could be so cruel.

    • Jesper Both Pedersen
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:19 am | Permalink

      Visiting Auschwitz still stands as one of the defining moments of my youth.

      History became reality in a very abrupt way.

    • Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

      I checked the site and found records for 3 Bavarian Muths. (2 Catholic…)

      Now am wondering how easy it would be for me to research the family on my father’s side, just to see if there’s any Jewish roots there.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

        Luckily, for my existence my German Jewish ancestors got the heck out of Germany & moved to New Zealand after WWI.

    • Larry Gay
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      I don’t quite understand the statement that those were “horrible, barbarous times for the West”. Stalin and Hitler were hardly western, in the sense of being descendants of the Enlightenment of France, England, Scotland, America. It took until after WWII for Germany to become firmly integrated into the West. (Even eaves=dropping on Angela Merkel will probably not change this.) See Heinrich August Winkler, Der Lange Weg nach Westen, published around 2000.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Permalink

        By all means then, let me clarify. When I say “west” I mean not east (half of turkey onward to the middle east, far east, etc.). More or less a map that looks like this which includes Russia before the Soviet empire expanded even further. By extension, the West can include colonies of their former empires (America, Australia, Canada, New Zealand & so forth).

  6. David Duncan
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:03 am | Permalink

    I never cease to be amazed and disgusted by people like Larry Brennan and Tom Rooney, neo-Nazis and admirers of Mao and Stalin. Don’t these people know anything about history?

    • Dave
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      Yes, they do. Which makes them unpardonable.

  7. JBlilie
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:04 am | Permalink

    Seriously disgusting beyond words. Really? There’s “another side” to the Holocaust? Mechanized, industrialized genocide, and there’s “another side”?!!!!

    Admire the Soviet Red Army (in spite of all the bad things Stalin did) for their tenacity and kicking Hitler’s army’s ass while ill-fed, ill-lead (in many cases), and ill-supplied.

    But I guess they didn’t have spiffy uniforms. Holy hoppin’ Hank!

    I have, however, from time to time, detected a certain sympathy for Nazi Germany (not the Holocaust — this is the first time for that!) — where the Nazis were beating up on the long time foe of Ireland: The UK.

    • JBlilie
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:11 am | Permalink

      … for Nazi Germany among some of the Irish … I should have said.

    • JT
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      Yeah, but the Red Army was also pretty tenacious in their raping and pillaging when they reached German soil so I’m not sure we should admire them either. I’ve read a lot of books on Ww2 combat and it seems that many historians admit to a certain admiration for the German Wehrmacht——at least in terms of its fighting abilities and efficiency. That’s very different from expressing admiration for Hitler, though.

      • JBlilie
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        Agreed. They certainly had good organization and training and esprit de corps.

        Much the way it’s easy to admire Caesar and his legions for the same kind of reasons.

  8. John Hamill
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:05 am | Permalink

    Also, one person is one too many … but a proposition that ‘lots’ of Irish people admire Hitler may be over-stating things. Neo-nazi far right groups are a problem in several European countries but I don’t think Ireland would be counted among their number.

  9. frothingslosh
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:14 am | Permalink

    What appalls me nearly as much as all the pro-Hitler commentary is noticing that all the pro-Hitler comments are apparently far more popular with the commentors than the ‘Hitler was a bastard, full stop’ ones.

  10. frothingslosh
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:16 am | Permalink

    What really pisses me off about this article is how the ‘Hitler wasn’t really so bad’ comments are apparently way more popular than the ‘Hitlar was a bastard, full stop’ ones. Apparently among the readers of that site, there are more neo-nazis and sympathizers than not.

    • Kieran
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:15 am | Permalink

      I wouldn’t be too worried, the journal has issues with the thumbs up vs thumbs down, vote bots etc. Also on their mobile phone app you can thumb down by accident quite easily.

      The give away is the very large numbers, even on articles about issues of national importance there are rarely more than 50 to hundred up or down votes. So the numbers are just really weird.

  11. JBlilie
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    I strongly recommend that everyone read, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, by Daniel Goldhagen.

    One of the things you will learn there is that there were 10,000 (approximately) concentration camps in Germany itself. Everyone in Germany knew of the camps and knew, if not in detail, then in general outline, what was going on there. Everyone knew.

    And, for the most part, the Nazis had no trouble at all finding willing recruits for their nefarious plans. And they also found ready recruits among the anti-semites and right-wing authoritarian types in every country the occupied (and many they didn’t, such as the US, UK, and Ireland).

    I have no doubt that there are plenty among the tea-bagger crowd who would happily join in bonfires of atheists, gays, blacks, Jews, Muslims, and anyone else they don’t like, were they given a chance.

    On my first trip to Germany, I was in a book store in Munich, buying a few classic books in German (Hesse, Remarke, Goethe) in order to work on my German language skills. I also wanted to buy a copy of Mein Kampf in the original — just to lear about what Hitler had actually written. The store manager took me aside and lectured me on how no one should want to read that book. She questioned me pretty closely (in English) to determine if I were actaully some kind of Neo-Nazi type from the US. I satisfied her that I was not. She also explained that it was not allowed to be printed or sold in Germany (which did surprise me!)

    • David Duncan
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:36 am | Permalink

      Also worth reading is the following by Pulitzer Prize winning author Richard Rhodes:


      I couldn’t believe the things these beasts did. Some Wehrmacht members were indifferent or helped, some tried to save Jews.

    • Marta
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:37 am | Permalink

      Second that recommendation. Outstanding but very painful read.

      Mein Kampf is available in German at Amazon, which you probably know already.

      I’m not sure I would have had the courage to ask about it in a German bookstore in Germany. Did you have any awareness prior that there was some political sensitivity about asking for the book?

      • JBlilie
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:49 am | Permalink

        Not really — I was pretty naive at the time about the issue. I was surprised that book was banned. (Apprently the only one banned in Germany.)

        The Germans were very sensitive about it and I should have been.

        • Marta
          Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:16 am | Permalink

          You don’t say when you were in Germany, but if you’re American, it’s perfectly understandable that you’d be unaware about the sensitivity of the book or its banning.

          • JBlilie
            Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:32 am | Permalink

            1992, and I was not aware it was banned.

      • Hempenstein
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:49 am | Permalink

        Haven’t read this one, but on a parallel track, I highly recommend IBM and the Holocaust. Has anyone else here read it?

        • Marta
          Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:13 am | Permalink

          I read it right after it was published. That’s been some time ago, but as I recall, it was quite good.

          At the time I read it, I was still capable of being naively shocked by the degree to which several big brand corporations cooperated or collaborated with Nazis. More surprising still were the numbers who did so for ideological reasons, in addition to reasons of profit.

          • Hempenstein
            Posted October 26, 2013 at 9:00 am | Permalink

            Also astonishing, as I recall from the book the president of IBM at that time was also the head of the Carnegie Institute for Peace.

        • steve oberski
          Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:18 am | Permalink

          I read IBM and the Holocaust by Edwin Black a number of years ago.

          As the web site puts it: IBM technology was used to organize nearly everything in Germany and then Nazi Europe, from the identification of the Jews in censuses, registrations, and ancestral tracing programs to the running of railroads and organizing of concentration camp slave labor

          This book was a massive undertaking and it is fully backed up by meticulous research with extensive reference to primary sources.

          Here in Canada, before the census program was gutted*, David Suzuki used to appear in commercials urging Canadians to participate in the census, which I thought the height of irony as census data was used in the US and Canada during the 2nd world war to identify and intern those of Japanese descent and in fact David Suzuki and his family spent time in Canadian internment camps and had their property confiscated.

          * As a planning tool I think that the census provides valuable data for social policy implementation but there is absolutely no reason why the data should not be anonymised at source and given the recent revelations by Edward Snowden any one who harboured any illusions that government is the sole custodian of protection of privacy should hopefully be disabused of those.

          • Diana MacPherson
            Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

            I read that book as well. It is very interesting and you can see why now that Germans are very touchy about privacy and data to the point now that free trade with the US is threatened because of the whole listening to the Germans issue.

            • Nick Evans
              Posted October 28, 2013 at 7:33 am | Permalink

              Although you don’t have to have had Germany’s history to take umbrage to being spied on by your allies!

              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted October 28, 2013 at 7:35 am | Permalink

                Of course, however Germany has very strict privacy laws. If you’ve ever had to work with storing data, etc. you learn this right away. They specifically do not allow their citizens’ information to be stored on foreign servers.

    • Dominic
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      The Bavarian government holds the copyright still. Wikipedia says
      “In 2008, Stephan Kramer, secretary-general of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, not only recommended lifting the ban, but volunteered the help of his organisation in editing and annotating the text, saying that it is time for the book to be made available to all online”

      • JBlilie
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:50 am | Permalink

        Good on the CCJG! It seems to me that people reading it today is more likely to prevent admiration for Hitler than otherwise.

        • Jesper Both Pedersen
          Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:59 am | Permalink

          Ditto’ed. Banning books and censorship only adds to the mysticism.

          But I don’t blame the Germans for being scared of themselves.

          • Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:55 am | Permalink

            If I’m not mistaken, WE (meaning the Allies) were the ones who forced the banning (illegality) of the Nazi Party, along with all their propaganda, etc. at the point of a gun. It was part of the terms of surrender. We said free speech was OK for us… for them, not so much, understandably. The indefinite continuation of the ban would have been a natural outgrowth of the events of 1945… it just became the new normal.

            • Jesper Both Pedersen
              Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:59 am | Permalink

              Well, screw us then. 🙂

        • Linda Grilli Calhoun
          Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:00 am | Permalink

          Maybe it would mitigate the “Hitler was an atheist” nonsense, too. L

    • Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:01 am | Permalink

      What is appalling to me, and unknown to most USAmericans, is the extent that our industrialists were playing both sides of the conflict. Steve Oberski mentions the IBM connection… we also had GM (whose CEO was awarded the Order of the German Eagle for his bravery) and Ford (who had a portrait of Adolf in his office behind his desk, received the German Eagle, never returning it after the war despite public outcry) factories on German soil using forced labor during the war. — even after the Trading with the Enemy Act went into effect. Our banksters (as well as those of supposedly neutral Sweden and SwitzerlandVatican City) kept the cash flow going, and even helped squirrel lots of remaining wealth off to Argentina (who was all-too-happy to harbor loads of war criminals). Speaking of war criminals, a certain patriarch of the Bush family, old man Prescott, could be aptly described as such.

      One of the previous decades’ biggest USA celebrities, Charles Lindbergh, was a notorious anti-Semite and pro-Hitler dude. And we get a nice performance by a kindly Jimmy Stewart to whitewash his legacy and chomp popcorn by. Hearst was active in the years before the war, receiving 200,000 a year to promote nicey-nicey German Reich stories in such publications as Reader’s Digest and Better Homes and Gardens.

      I wonder when, if ever, such history will be taught in Merkin pubic schools.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:27 am | Permalink

        Don’t forget Disney! He was a ginormous anti semite. I loved an episode of The Family Guy where Brian and Stewie are jumping through various universes somewhat like in Quantum Leap & they come across a Disney world. Everything is so perfect there that they decide to stay until Mort shows up at the door and all the lovely Disney drawn family characters yell “Jew!” and bludgeon him. They remark, “oh yeah this is Disney” or something & get the heck out of there!

        If history doesn’t teach it, you can bet someone will parody it though it is true that in US schools they seem not to teach about the trading etc. in WWII however the rest of us remember and there was I think some joke in an animated movie some years ago (I want to say Wallace & Grommit) where someone remarks, “Oh Americans, they’re always showing up late for wars”. 🙂

        • John Perkins
          Posted October 25, 2013 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

          And let’s not forget Joseph Kennedy Sr., the father of JFK and Ted, who was fired from his job as US Ambassador to Britain by FDR for being a Hitler “accommodationist” in 1940.

    • RGBowman
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      In Germany, it even goes further than that. Although it is legal for German citizens to have Nazi memorabilia and militaria, it is illegal for a German citizen to purchase said items. If they choose to sell them, they have to be sold to a German militaria dealer, who will then sell them to collectors/museums outside of Germany. This includes the superb Allach (Waffen SS) porcelain.

    • js
      Posted October 26, 2013 at 12:21 am | Permalink

      Mein Kampf is a very good retort to anyone that says that Hitler was an atheist.
      No where in the book is the word ‘atheist’ mentioned.
      The word ‘god’ is mentioned throughout, and the one sentence that clinches it, is where he says that ‘killing the Jews was doing gods work’.
      It was a very difficult book to read I must say.
      It was just a collection of insane rambling rants that you might read in tabloid newspapers.

      • Willard Bolinger
        Posted October 26, 2013 at 11:40 am | Permalink

        the claimed quote about killing the Jews could not be in “Mein Kampf” becuase it was written beore WWII. Hitler does say he was a Catholic and that he would always consider himself a Cathoic. He was also very anti-organized labor and seemed much more in league with the business elements!

        • js
          Posted October 26, 2013 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

          The exact quote is –
          “Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord”.

          I don’t think it would be remiss to replace ‘defending myself’ with ‘killing’ as what else would it mean.

  12. Jonathan Dore
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Sorry, I can’t resist:

    • Dominic
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:39 am | Permalink

      It is brilliantly funny that whole episode!

      • Gavin
        Posted March 1, 2014 at 5:22 pm | Permalink

        No better sitcom episode has ever been filmed! This was the first Ted I saw, and I never thought I could laugh so hard at TV.

    • Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:52 am | Permalink

      You beat me to it!


    • JonLynnHarvey
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

      Well, if we’re posting funny videos on this, here’s a Hitler “admirer” I could get behind…Al Franken

      • JBlilie
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:50 am | Permalink

        That’s my Senator!

        • Dave
          Posted October 25, 2013 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

          Mine too and I’ll put him up against the likes of Ted F-Wit Cruz or Michele F-Wit Bachmann any day.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

        Ha ha! Good ol’ Franken! He has perfect comic timing and the line he finishes on is great.

      • Marella
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

        I’d be Napoleon, so I could not invade Russia, Europe could be united and a lot of wars avoided.

        • gbjames
          Posted October 26, 2013 at 6:54 am | Permalink

          I’d be Jesus so I could get my mom to convince people that I was just a very naughty boy and save us all from two thousand years of Christianity.

          Hey! As long as we’re playing make-believe, why not?

  13. Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    Silly old man, he’s probably had enough publicity now.

  14. Marta
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    I strongly recommend against reading the comments at the Journal link. They’re supportive of Brennan and dismissive of his critics by a very large margin. Considering this is an article published in Ireland, and not Iran, I’m astonished.

  15. Dermot C
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:26 am | Permalink

    The spirit of de Valera lives on. Tim Pat Coogan spotted this “my enemy’s enemy is my friend” idea in his history of Ireland, re The Long Man’s attitude to WWII. And outlined the dreadful moral consequences; the Dev as a sort of North European Cardinal Pacelli. Except EdV saw everything through the lens of anti-Englishism.

    The fault-line seems to run even through Irish families. My Paddy great uncle is buried in Gallipoli, fighting for the allies in WWI; his brother, a future TD, fought with De Valera against Collins and the 1922 settlement.

    De Valera sent condolences to Germany for Hitler’s death; he refused to attend the funeral of his friend, my TD grandfather, because it took place on British soil in Derry.

    With leaders like that it’s no wonder some of today’s Irishmen like Larry Brennan believe such rot. I wonder if Larry’s a Catholic.

    • JBlilie
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:33 am | Permalink

      “EdV saw everything through the lens of anti-Englishi”

      Yes. This is the thing (as I see it too.)

    • Marta
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:41 am | Permalink

      Forgive me, what does the abbreviation “TD” mean?

  16. Joseph McClain
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    It would be very, very generous to call Irish admiration of Hitler as “misplaced.” It’s really stark lunacy, but as other posters have said, no doubt stems from nationalist elements who wanted to throw in with Germany during “the Emergency,” as the Irish called the years during WWII. There were significant Irish factions who wanted to do the same thing with the proto-Hitler Napoleon back in the day.
    The motive was the same, to do the English one in the eye. On a personal note, it pains me that the fellow with the Hitler cake is from Kilkenny, which is my favorite city in Ireland. More generally, it is ironic that even some Irish wanted to ally with the Germans against the English, whom the Irish (and Scots, too) call “Sassenach,” a Gaelic word that literally means “Saxon.”

    • JBlilie
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:53 am | Permalink

      “There were significant Irish factions who wanted to do the same thing with the proto-Hitler Napoleon back in the day”

      Yes, planned and failed.

      I can understand siding with Boney; but with Hitler? And after 1945? Wow!

      • Dominic
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:45 am | Permalink

        If we are to make comparisons, see Scott at 20. below, Napoleon & Hitler are much closer as Joseph says.

  17. Dominic
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    It was only this year that Irishmen who fought for the British against Hitler were given ‘pardons’ by the Irsih government –

    Eamon de Valera signed a book of condolence at the German Embassy when Hitler killed himself.

    • JBlilie
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink

      “It was only this year that Irishmen who fought for the British against Hitler were given ‘pardons’ by the Irsih government”

      Holy crap!

      • John Hamill
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:48 am | Permalink

        For the Irish military to discourage defection of their soldiers to foreign armies is not unreasonable and certainly does not imply that the Irish military was sympathetic to Hitler. I don’t want to be critical of Irish soldiers who fought in the British Army or of their pardons … but it is not fair or reasonable to conflate the barking mad Mr Brennan with an Irish Army Officer who thinks that his soldiers going AWOL is not to be encouraged.

      • kevinj
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:53 am | Permalink

        You need to read the article for the full context.
        That only applied to those who deserted from the Irish army to join the British.
        Given that desertion is frowned upon regardless of reason and the relationship between Britain and Ireland its not unexpected it would be an issue.
        The majority of those who fought werent affected by this.

        • John Hamill
          Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:05 am | Permalink

          I did read the article. It specifically states that the pardon was for those soldiers who deserted and went absent without leave. To associated those who sought to apply a sanction for desertion, with a nutcase space cadet like Mr Brennan, is wrong. By placing the pardon story in this thread, there is an implication that sanctions for desertion were due to a sympathy for Hitler … and that is also wrong.

          • darrelle
            Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:28 am | Permalink

            I think if you reread KevinJ’s comment you will realize, by context alone, that he was not talking to you.

            His comment is nearly identical to your first one. Except that he was thoughtful enough to explain to JBlilie that the original comment by Dominic did not include a very relevant bit of information.

            • John Hamill
              Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:07 am | Permalink

              So we’re all agreed then (aside perhaps from Dominic) and I can consider my wrist soundly slapped.

    • Dominic
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:38 am | Permalink

      Irsih ??? Pardon me.

      Looking at those comments makes me angry – the idea that Hitler was anything but a uselss manipulative incompetent who railed against the German people for having failed him. I am also unsympathetic to those who compare dictators on the basis of how many people they are responsible for getting killed or murdered, least of all compared with elected leaders.

      • JBlilie
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:54 am | Permalink

        “Hitler was anything but a uselss manipulative incompetent”

        Not sure if I understand you; but Hitler was most definitely more than a manipulative incompetent. He had political genius and a powerful vision. It was all evil and it was crap and all that; but he was not an incompetent.

        • Dominic
          Posted October 28, 2013 at 3:58 am | Permalink

          I agree that he was a master at getting into power, but he was deliberately divisive in his regime, setting one person against another, & effectively he dismantled the political system having bullied his way to the top. He was able to manipulate people but he was lazy. He finally led the German people into disaster – I do not accept that he was a genius at anything but manipulation.

          • lisa parker
            Posted October 28, 2013 at 1:41 pm | Permalink

            @ Dominic

            Sadly, that’s all he needed to be.

  18. Kieran
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    The guy with the cake just reminded me of a character from Father Ted. The priest who was only interested in nazi memorabilia

  19. Hempenstein
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    I note that the Hitler on the cake has a clown hat on. This guy could easily have de-fused things by noting that, had his head been in another direction.

    And similar to this whole account, at the U Pitt med school I had a colleague/collaborator at least a couple decades my senior, whose wife was a Holocaust survivor. He post-doc’d in Israel in 1957, in what he called the Glorious Period (before, in his opinion, the fundamentalists started working the place over). Anyway, he was fluent enough in at least six other languages to request that whenever an applicant to the med school claimed proficiency in one of those languages and would be scheduled for an interview, the admissions office would send them to him. He would then greet them in that language, which quickly culled those padding their resume.

    So one day a guy arrives who claimed proficiency in German. He passed the entryway test, and I suppose they must have continued a bit in German, so my colleague inquired how he had become proficient. Oh, it was when he was in the US military, stationed in Germany. Whenever he had the opportunity, he liked to go off base and talk to German people. Before long the guy’s telling him how WWII was all the fault of the Jews, etc.

    So in his writeup of the interview, my colleague recounts all of this, noting that he supposed everyone has a right to his opinion, but that he would certainly not advise admitting anyone to medical school who was stupid enough to relate these views to someone named Feingold.

    • darrelle
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:35 am | Permalink

      He does have a point!

    • Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      Thank you, that marvelous anecdote relieves the pain a bit. Hope it goes without saying the guy was sent home…

    • JBlilie
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:16 am | Permalink

      Holy crap! What a story!

  20. Scott Reilly
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Well, just remember that in the US you have a National Holiday that celebrates Columbus. I wonder how many Americans, educated or otherwise, admire him. I’m not saying he was as bad as Hitler, but not a million miles away either.

    • Dominic
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:41 am | Permalink

      I agree that Colombus brought a world of pain & destruction to the Americas, but really, to equate him with Hitler? That is not a sensible comparison. If you are going to assert something like that, at least produce some evidence that they are comparable.

      • Dominic
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:42 am | Permalink

        Sorry, Columbus… sigh

        • Scott Reilly
          Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:56 am | Permalink

          I did say that I wasn’t claiming that Hitler was as bad. Although we do it all the time when discussing genocidal despots. Stalin oversaw the murder of far many more people than Hitler, and Chairman Mao many times more than him (60 million or so). Yet I think we can speak of Mao and Hitler in the same breath. And so we can of Columbus as well.

          My point was really to point out the absurdity of Coyne decrying the casual stupidity of a few people as noteworthy enough to mention on his blog, while a national holiday has just past in the US which lionises a man also guilty of genocide.

          A fair point, no?

        • Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:45 am | Permalink

          Or (Cristoforo) Colombo.


          • JBlilie
            Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:17 am | Permalink

            Or Cristobal Colon …

      • Grania Spingies
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:45 am | Permalink


        • Dominic
          Posted October 28, 2013 at 4:10 am | Permalink

          I totally agree that Columbus was out for gold etc, also that he was not the first European in North America BUT he was nothing like Hitler – different times, different motives. As it is, had he not made the voyage someone else would have & the results would have been similar.

    • Grania Spingies
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:44 am | Permalink

      True. However, I imagine the average Joe Soap knows exactly one (slightly incorrect) thing about Columbus: that he “discovered” America.
      While their ignorance of the other facts is not excusable, you can see how someone who knows no better than this can think that Columbus is an uncontroversial figure in US history.

      Conversely, you would have to be born under a rock at the bottom of a cave on Mars with fingers in both ears singing la-la-la-la to not have any inkling at all that Hitler was despotic lunatic with the blood of millions of civilians on his hands. I don’t think anyone can claim they “didn’t know” any better.

      • JBlilie
        Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:20 am | Permalink


        Have to ask. I work with a woman named Grainne, which is pronounced very much like I would pronounce your name (as written, English speaker). Same name, no?


        • Grania Spingies
          Posted October 25, 2013 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

          Yes, exactly the same name, British rather than Irish spelling (my mum’s a Brit).

    • Marta
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

      That was 500 years ago. Americans who “admire” Columbus, if there are any, are likely as uninformed about their own History as they are about anyone else’s–their understanding being limited to some sort of filmy memory of a primary school rhyme linking Columbus, “ocean blue” and 1492. (I’m not intending to sound apologetic, just that a lot of us are dopes.) Additionally, it’s not much of a holiday, especially as you move west of Boston. Federal offices close, but the rest of us mostly go to work. And shop.

      But also, Columbus was 500 years ago. Hitler is a modern beast. So I’m going to disagree with you and say that it WAS a million miles away.

  21. Mattapult
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    This guy sounds like a character from the Phil Hendrie show. Sadly, reality can still beat Phil’s over-the-top “guests.”

  22. Paul Lurquin
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    And let’s not forget the 20 million Soviet citizens, half of them civilians, killed by the Germans. It’s not just about Jews. Slavs were also tagged as “untermenschen.”

  23. Greg Esres
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    I think that people haven’t gone beyond racism as much as we think; people can’t express it as freely as they could 50 years go, but it’s not far beneath the skin.

    I live in the southern US and I suspect if white citizens thought it were possible to move us back in time to before the Civil Rights era, they would be in favor of it.

    • JBlilie
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:21 am | Permalink

      Some would, I’m sure; but I’d bet (using Pinker’s thesis) that majority wouldn’t and in another generation many fewer still.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 26, 2013 at 1:21 am | Permalink

      I’d bet the US has more Nazi skinheads (& I mean per capita) than Ireland has similar.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted October 26, 2013 at 6:24 am | Permalink

        It made me giggle that you mentioned skin head and capita in the same sentence. 🙂

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 26, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink


  24. Aj
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:53 am | Permalink

    I’d be rather curious to hear Mr Brennan’s views about Oliver Cromwell, given the qualities he finds so admirable in Hitler.

    Though I suppose it would be a bit much to expect idiocy to be consistent.

    • Joseph McClain
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:08 am | Permalink

      Excellent point. I wonder what the general Hitler consensus is among the Irish in Drogheda.

    • lisa parker
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 6:31 pm | Permalink

      I don’t think any of our ears could take what the fellow would have to say about Cromwell.

  25. M'thew
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

    Unfortunately Mr. Brennan’s point of view is held by many others across the globe. I remember the admiration some older Portuguese people showed for him, and the books about Hitler I saw in bookshops in the PRC – none too critical of him, IIRC.

    • M'thew
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      “for him” – for Hitler, of course.

  26. Brygida Berse
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:50 am | Permalink

    This Brennan person is obviously a complete moron and can’t be taken seriously, but the whole thing still makes me sick.

  27. Posted October 25, 2013 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    The accommodationist and even sympathetic comments were very disheartening, but the pictures of the suitcases literally brought tears to my eyes. As an American male in my mid 20’s, you won’t hear that phrase uttered too often by my ilk for fear of not being “tough” or “manly”, but there are some things that are too emotionally powerful to suppress, or want to suppress, due to some ridiculous societal construct. The posts from your travels this summer had the same effect on me, and I commend you for your strength to visit the camps while in Europe. I am not Jewish, but I have always wanted (and dreaded) a visit to those camps. Keep up the sharing.

    • Marta
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:34 am | Permalink

      Not the sort of thing I define for other people, but you’re seventeen kinds of manly. If you ask me.

    • js
      Posted October 26, 2013 at 12:49 am | Permalink

      Completely agree with you there.
      I would like to see Auschwitz because I think it needs to be talked about to try to ensure such a thing doesn’t happen again.
      My problem is that I think I would end up as an emotional wreck seeing it.
      I have read somewhat of what happened which normally causes intense grief.
      I have even screamed abuse at some fool that told me the Holocaust was all a ruse by Jews that run the world.
      I wouldn’t do such a thing now though.
      My own views on free will mirror those of Dr Coyne so I try not to judge people now.
      The best thing is to use reason to combat such ignorance.

    • Diane G.
      Posted October 26, 2013 at 1:23 am | Permalink

      Those pictures are ineffably sad.

  28. MNb
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:17 am | Permalink

    You are too reticent. This is what we are talking about (warning: not for a weak stomach):









    There are “critics” of islam (because you once wrote that there is no such thing as islamophobia) who wouldn’t mind to repeat this with muslims. A nice overview in Dutch:


    Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose.

    • MNb
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:20 am | Permalink

      Just one quote translated:

      “Standaard moslim reactie, donder toch op. Hitler had jullie net zo goed opgehangen, jammer dat wij als nederlanders dat moeten doen.”

      “Stereotypal reaction of muslims, f**k off. Hitler would have hanged you as well, it’s a pity we Dutchmen have to do it.”

  29. Jeffrey
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    There’s nothing wrong with Mr. Brennan that a few ounces of lead behind his ear wouldn’t cure.

  30. Lianne Byram
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    Very depressing post. Don’t know what else to say about it.

  31. bonetired
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    Ireland in WW2 had a almost split personality: at one, official level, strict neutrality which reached its zenith with the official condolences given to the German envoy (Hempel) following the death of Hitler. De Valera was urged not to go from a number of his colleagues but still insisted saying that he was merely following correct diplomatic protocol “[it] would have been an act of unpardonable discourtesy to the German nation and to Dr Hempel himself”. Hardly surprising, it went down like a cup of cold sick with the Allies who had been uncovering the evidence of the horrors of the Third Reich but de Valera was (wrongly in my view) trying to keep Ireland’s independence and not to be seen jumping on to the Allied band-wagon.

    On the other hand, there was very close co-operation between UK and Irish government agencies, such as when Belfast was bombed in April 1941 when the Irish supplied a fair chunk of their fire service to help fight the fires; Allied airman who landed in the Republic were driven across the border, whereas Germans were interned; there was a corridor allowed for Allied aircraft to fly across Irish Donegal out into the Atlantic on convoy protection patrols.

    Also (as has been mentioned before) something like 50,000 Irishmen joined the British Army, more in fact than joined from N. Ireland where there was no conscription (plus a large number of others who came to the UK on war work).

    There was a joke doing the rounds during the war: Two Irish Guardsmen were sheltering in a North African foxhole, with all hell breaking loose around them, and they were, inevitably, arguing about politics. One says to the other: “You can say what you like about de Valera, but he kept us out of THIS war” …

  32. jeffery
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    So- the killing and burning of innocents is in the realm of “politics” (which we can, of course, choose to “stay away from”), not ethics? Our current administration will be glad to hear that, with all of the recent flack about our “sanitary” little drone program.
    And, by the way, there already IS a dictator “thriving” in Ireland: it’s called the Catholic Church.

  33. Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I know I am not the only (half-) bosh around here. But I am pretty certain the others have their hands busy, trying to keep their heads from falling anywhere underneath their knees… And so none of them feels up to rectifying obvious mistakes.

    Mr. Brennan is right about one thing. He shouldn’t talk about politics. He should also not talk about anything to do with economy. In fact, there is almost nothing that he should not just S.T.F.U. about, it seems…

    “…spoiling the economy of his country by devaluing the deutschmark. …”

    There was no Deutschmark at the time. The currency of those days was called the Reichsmark.

    Anyone who grew up in Germany in the 20th century will tell you that. (This could also be anyone who went to school in Germany for a short period of time, since our history lessons rarely miss talking about that period on a regular basis, and rightly so!).

    Now, since Mr. Brennan is so keen on this period of German history, I wonder if he would feel insulted by a bit of German banter? … “Sie sollten doch einfach ihre dreckige Klappe halten, anstatt von Dingen so zu reden, als ob Sie davon die geringste Ahnung hätten…” (hope me don’t get banned now)


  34. Posted October 25, 2013 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    There is a woman in my Dutch course who is originally from Poland. Recently, we were discussing the exploits of the bling-bling bishop of Limburg. Since Poland is known as a rather Catholic country, the teacher politely asked her if she was Catholic. She replied that she had been brought up Catholic as a child, but resigned from the church as a teenager. Her quick answer when asked why was “I grew up in Auschwitz”. (In case it’s not clear, the reasoning is that no sensible God could have let such a tragedy happen.)

    She has lived most of her life in Germany and, while married to a Dutchman in the past, is now married to a German. No bad feelings of any kind against Germans or Germany. Unfortunately, many people aren’t able to make such distinctions; the Germany of today is not that of 7 years ago and most Germans today were not even alive then. Unless one believes in some sort of inherited guilt (something like Original Sin, I suppose), collective guilt, racial guilt etc—all ideas the Nazis had about the Jews, incidentally—then her position is completely sensible.

    • JBlilie
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

      70 years ago …

      I have spent a bit of time in Germany. I have found no Nazi symapthizers there.

  35. TnkAgn
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    There were certainly German sympathizers among the Irish during WWI. Successive “Home Rule” bills from Parliament and other perceived acts of English oppression resulted in the “Easter Rising” of 1916, and some collaboration between the “Irish Volunteers” (which became the IRA in 1922) and the Kaiser Wilhelm’s agents. I would be saddened but surprised that there was holdover to WWII. But there it is.

  36. lisa parker
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

    First, let’s make it abundantly clear; Hitler was NOT a nice man. Even worse, he put a lot of power into the hands of men who were even LESS nice. They all did terrible things They were in pretty good (or bad) company in that time period, Stalin and his Bolsheviks, the Imperial Japanese military (whose atrocities horrified even the Nazis) and a bunch of lesser monsters that took advantage of the times and situation. However, Hitler did turn the German economy, infrastructure and military from nonexistent to the best in the world in 5 years. He did manage that by being ruthless and finding an unpopular scapegoat, but it was still a notable, if not laudable accomplishment. And nobody who knows anything about the subject will argue that German engineering was (and is) world class or that German WWII ‘memorabilia’ are valuable collectables. And their uniforms were very snappy!
    You might also keep in mind that many Irish, especially the older ones, really, really, really hate the British and it can get to be one of those ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ deals.
    There is something I don’t understand, though. Why were the Jews so very unpopular (I’m not talking about the current Israelis, but the Jewish people?) You can’t use that old ‘Christ-killer’ excuse (which isn’t valid anyway) because nobody liked the Jews long before Jesus was supposed to be born. The Egyptians didn’t like the Jews, the Canaanites didn’t like them (which might have had some justification), the Philistines, the Babylonians, the Romans, the Hittites, and a few other of the Semitic peoples just really didn’t like them. Why not? They were exceptional warriors, which could have made some people mad, but a whole lot of the afore mentioned were good at that kind of thing, too. I have never found anything in the history of the area that accounts for it. Did I miss something?

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:59 pm | Permalink

      Maybe because their religion made them out to be ‘the chosen race’? Nobody likes a group who think they’re superior to everybody else. It would also have made them (in many countries) an identifiable minority who didn’t integrate with the local people, and also in many cases they controlled the money supply – which is a guaranteed way to incur enmity (who loves a banker?)

      So, ideal scapegoats.

      (I’m just speculating there).

      • natalie
        Posted October 26, 2013 at 2:45 am | Permalink

        Whatever undoubtedly complex reasons lead to antisemitism in the course of history is probably being investigated by many professional people. Probably there are some good books out there about that subject…

        But what we can all have a useful guess at is what shape antisemitism takes in our present time, in the places we live in. And we can ponder what we can do about that!

        Where I live in Europe (Germany/France), I don’t encounter it every day, but it is present. Just recently I found out that the partner of a close friend of mine harbours antisemitic thoughts, simply because his parents brought him up to believe that “the Jews have a lot to answer for”. That person is oblivious to how out of touch with reality his views are and how deeply embarrassing his point of view. That’s just the most recent example. Sometimes people ask me about a friend “is so and so Jewish, by the way?”, and I hear in the tone of voice why they ask.

        There seems to be a “tradition” of murky, shallow prejudice. And that prejudice is being nurtured by an erroneous conception of “us and them”. The notion of “them” can be as made up as Father Christmas, if only it is talked about enough, then it becomes reality. The Jewish people persecuted in Nazi Germany for example were just as German as anybody else living in the country. But they were successfully made into “them” by the Nazi propaganda.

        It would be so desirable if we could teach our contemporaries to stop dividing people they meet into “us and them”. In our daily lives, we deal with individuals rather than groups, do we not? So that change of attitude should not be impossible. In future I mean. After all, we are all African apes.

      • lisa parker
        Posted October 26, 2013 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        As good an answer as I’ve heard. But thought they were strategically placed, they never controlled any major trade routes, so the money issue might not be any part of it.

        • Diane G.
          Posted October 26, 2013 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

          Sometimes there seems to be simply no reason for scapegoating; it happens, and then it’s very difficult to make it unhappen, human society being the way it is. Prejudice is culturally heritable.

          • lisa parker
            Posted October 26, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

            It just strikes me as weird. I can’t think of any other group persecuted for so long across so much time and geographic area so viciously for no reason I have ever found.

            • Diane G.
              Posted October 26, 2013 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

              What always interests me is how successful Jews have always been at such low population numbers. It seems to be the one religion with no ‘go forth and procreate’ mandate.

              Perhaps the answer is simply in numbers. (Perennially more “we,” fewer “they.”) Even dumb people can be powerful en masse. Esp. dumb people…

            • Posted October 28, 2013 at 4:25 am | Permalink

              Well, we all know that religion breeds hatred, and for a long time the Jews were the only religious minority in Europe. That’s explanation enough. Also, the fact that they don’t try to convert others meant that essentially all Jews were Jews out of tradition, which led to a more closely knit community, which aroused more suspicion. Since some Christian ethics prevented charging interest, the Jews established themselves in banking and thus held much more economic power than their numbers would suggest.

              Hate is often not rational.

              Note that the European Jews were (and are), compared to many other ethnic and/or religious minorities, quite well integrated into society.

    • Dermot C
      Posted October 26, 2013 at 3:23 am | Permalink

      @ Lisa Parker

      I’d be a bit more circumspect re: foreigners’ views of the Jews over time.

      Re: Egyptians, remember there is no historical evidence for the Exodus. Re: Canaanites, the Israelites were trying to conquer their territory. Re: Philistines, who were possibly part of The Sea Peoples and who invaded (effectively) the Gaza Strip a generation or two before the Israelites arrived in Transjordan, ditto. Re: Babylonians, it was their policy to transport conquered peoples to other parts of their Empire – the Israelites were no exception. Re: Romans the two big revolts, from a Roman point of view, were more about quashing a rebellious colony, pour décourager les autres, rather than Anti-Semitism or anti-Judaism per se.

      Plus Israel’s unfortunate strategic location squeezed by what became 6 Mediterranean empires: Babylonian, Egyptian, Assyrian, Hittite, Roman, Greek. Unlucky.

      I’m not clear whether the Jews were viewed as great warriors – fearless, suicidal yes, in the sense of being the inventors of martyrdom in the second century BCE – but Jews were exempted from service in the Roman Army, due to the prohibitions of the Sabbath.

      Note form, because I’m in a rush.


      • lisa parker
        Posted October 26, 2013 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        While there is not much historical evidence for the Exodus, there is for the Egyptians enslaving the Jews (or I suppose Israelites is the more proper name at this point in history.) In the beginning of their ‘association’, the Egyptians were happy with having a strong military presence between them and the Hittites. Some time later the Egyptian government decided they had become too great a military presence and began to question their allegiance, hence the enslavement. As for as the Romans, they were very thorough in their squashing, more so that in most parts of their empire. Of course, the Jews were a bit more rebellious than most. And they did persecute the Jews before and after the beginning of the Common Era. The persecution of Christians began because most of the first of them were Jews. And by then most of the Roman Emperors were so sick and twisted they weren’t all that particular who they used for their blood sports as long as they were not Roman citizens.

        • Dermot C
          Posted October 27, 2013 at 10:42 am | Permalink

          Yes, Lisa, there’s plenty of evidence in the second half of the second millennium BCE for the Egyptians enslaving ‘Asiatics’, inhabitants of Syria-Palestine; in fact the word ‘amw became synonymous in some contexts with ‘slave’. But I don’t see how you can necessarily say that those people were Israelites or proto-Israelites because we don’t really know who, of all the peoples around at that time, the proto-Israelites really were, Shasu, Apiru, Hyksos etc.

          Surely, the emergence of a group we can identify as Israelites post-dates the fall of the Hittite Empire? And therefore we can’t say that the Israelites were used as a buffer by Egypt against the Hattusa? The sojourn in Egypt tale is also notoriously thin, unhelpful and inappropriate regarding local colour, and anachronistic, rather like Homer’s military dress in The Iliad. My comprehension of the pre-Exodus story is that you can’t confirm it, historically or archaeologically.

          Am I out of date in my understanding? Have I missed some new research?


    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted October 26, 2013 at 6:38 am | Permalink

      Perhaps the answer is a simple one. No one likes the “other” and in many places the Jews were in they were indeed the only recognizable “other”. If you’re separate from someone, it is easy to demonize them. If they become successful, it’s easy to become jealous.

      There are exceptions of course – one that I can think of is the Chinese who were quite accepting of Jewish immigrants. A friend of mine whose family is recently from Australia, came to Australia via China from Russia. The only reason they left China is because WWII happened and the Japanese made things “uncomfortable” in China.

      An astute family friend has often observed, as a Jew, that where Jews are not persecuted, they tend to lose their identity over time and meld into the population. Where they are persecuted, the opposite occurs. This could probably be applied to any minority group because persecution tends to do as I described above: isolate and dehumanize.

      Just my thoughts…..I could be full of crap. 🙂

      • Nick Evans
        Posted October 28, 2013 at 7:46 am | Permalink

        Is it not simply the case that, because Jews are still a recognisable group, it’s possible to trace back their history to BCE times, but we can’t do that with comparable people? For instance, nobody really knows how the Hittites have got on with their neighbours in the last 2,000 years, and it’s not really clear how the Lebanese were seen 3,000 years ago. We don’t have the information to compare historic perceptions of the Jews with the historic perceptions of other peoples in the area. The closest you can get is to assume that the Philistines and the Palestinians are the same people, and conclude that they don’t seem to have been especially popular either.

        • lisa parker
          Posted October 28, 2013 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps the lack of the historical records you speak of is caused by the lack of much to record. The Hittite empire gave way to the Persian and then Macedonian empires and eventually to Ottomans. Also, most of of the other Semitic peoples were absorbed into the culture and religions of who ever ‘owned’ them at the time. The Jews kept their religion and portions of their culture wherever they went, although after 2000 years, I imagine most of them considered themselves to be citizens of the country where they settled. (Considering how they were treated throughout Europe, I’m not sure why.) This separateness was most likely the cause of some of their persecution after Christianity overtook most of what we call the Western world, but I can’t see it as the real root cause of their being so very demonized. And it could not have been that great a factor before Christianity became so powerful.

          • Dermot C
            Posted October 29, 2013 at 4:16 am | Permalink

            @ Lisa,

            There are only about 30 Roman references, most of them in passing, to the Jews around the year 0. I can find no reference to the Romans ‘demonising’ the Jews;, except through later Christian lenses which report Roman dismissal of Jewish religious practices, obviously influenced by Seleucid attitudes.

            The most frequently attested intellectual Roman view of Jews is bemusement – of the Sabbath (observance of which suicidally undermined the Jews’ defence of the Temple in the 66-70 CE revolt) – of circumcision and bizarre food taboos (Emperor Gaius Caligula’s mocking, as reported by Philo). Don’t forget that in this period, relations between the Roman and Jewish ruling classes were the closest they ever were. Claudius’ mother actually loaned Herod Agrippa a fortune and relaunched his career. And the Herodian dynasty, with good reason, was suspected by many Jews of being crypto-Hellenists. Josephus actually claims that it was Herod Agrippa who persuaded the republican-inclined Senate to install Claudius as Emperor in the turmoil following Caligula’s assassination.

            The peculiar anti-Judaistic poison can be traced in the development of Christian theology: the increasing anti-Jewish sentiments in the Gospels; the anti-Judaistic rant of the non-canonical Epistle of Barnabas; Marcion’s implicit anti-Judaism in his interpretation of Paul’s mission to the Gentiles (which tended to sideline Jewish food rites and circumcision); the displacement of the Jerusalem Jews by Helena, Constantine’s mother, when the Holy City was reinvented as an object of pilgrimage.

            Christian anti-Judaism is of a completely different order to the occasional expulsions of sections of Jews from Rome which took place in the first century; for within years of those events, we always find Jews back where they were, and even in influential positions.

            Goodman: Rome and Jerusalem: The Clash of Ancient Civilisations is a good source.


            • lisa parker
              Posted October 29, 2013 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

              @ Dermot C
              I am afraid I didn’t make myself clear. I heartily agree with you as to the inhuman and incredibly cruel treatment of the Jews in Christian Europe, and its spread to most European colonies. The accusations of cannibalism, especially children, satanic rituals and the bizarre rumors of anatomical features that were considered as proof of Jewish demonism (tails, cloven hooves, etc) did not begin until Christianity became a source of political power. But it still just doesn’t make any sense to me. Even given the whole ‘Christ-killer’ nonsense, the usury, and financial success of many of the Jewish people, I cannot see how any of it warranted this extreme treatment. Even the Muslims, although considered heathens and/or heretics and generally reviled, were treated with some respect. (probably had more than a little to do with their military power) After discovery and colonization, the peoples in the Americas were considered subhuman or at best extremely primitive and, although robbed and decimated (to be fair the deaths were caused in a very large part by disease and the invasive animals (most notably pigs) introduced by the Europeans, never met with the kind of persecution inflicted on the Jewish people. The Sub-Saharan Africans and Indians, while enslaved and also considered and treated as subhuman, were better treated than the Jews.
              As for pre-Christian times, The Romans held them contempt and considered them as rebellious subjects and a pain in the bum. The appointed Roman overseers were not at all nice. The fact that Pontius Pilot was relieve of his position and recalled to Rome for his excessive cruelty could indicate that the Roman governors of Judea were less than kind. I think it was contempt, not bemusement that best describes their attitude. The ongoing rebellions had a hand in that, I’m sure. As for Herod, he was a verified nut case totally unconcerned with the subjects in his jurisdiction (or even his family.)
              I will grant you that none of the treatment by their various conquerors before the Christian era could ever hold a candle to what they were forced to endure afterwards, but it still seems that they were generally disliked. I still just don’t understand the frequent dislike BCE and I don’t understand the extreme and excessive rage and hatred visited upon them by “Christian” Europe and its colonies, nor it’s continuation in some places even to the present. The role they played in the crucifixion of Jesus in no way justifies their treatment. It sounds more like an excuse to me.

            • lisa parker
              Posted October 29, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

              I forgot to thank you for the book reference. I will look for it.

              • Dermot C
                Posted October 30, 2013 at 3:04 am | Permalink

                Goodman, Martin: Kindle, about £12. Shaky first 30 pages or so, but really motors along after that. Knows his stuff; and fascinating.


              • Diana MacPherson
                Posted October 31, 2013 at 8:48 am | Permalink

                Me too, I have added it to my list.

  37. Posted October 25, 2013 at 8:58 pm | Permalink

    I pity Larry Brennan. He sounds like he fell off of a turnip cart. And for that he has none of the luck of the Irish. Furthermore, I cannot wish him many happy returns.

    Some legacy he’s leaving his kids too. A-hole.

  38. gibsonsdad
    Posted October 25, 2013 at 10:35 pm | Permalink

    The enemy of my enemy is my friend. Ireland was a long time victim of England, and when England became a victim of Nazi Germany, Nazi Germany became a friend of Ireland. No big mystery. No big conspiracy. Just humans being the vile pieces of feces we are.

  39. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted October 26, 2013 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    One of the most disturbing books I’ve ever read was a memoir by Mengele’s pathology/ anatomy lab assistant. Whose name temporarily escapes me, but it was something jaw-breakingly Hungarian with far too few vowels to imprint into my memory. Shouldn’t be too har to track down. He actually survived the war and the “Death Marches” ahead of the liberating Russian armies (I bet that phrase goes down like a lead baloon at Polish parties, even if it is technically true), but suicided a few years after the war.
    Anyway, as a witness of what went on in auschwitz in general, and Mangele’s lunacies in particular, it was educational. And really unpleasent. But it also puts the activities of the Sonderkommando into a different light. The first task of a new Sonderkommando group was to execute their predecessors. So they knew what was going to happen to them. A despicable job, but I feel pity for the people forced to do it.
    Recommended book. Not nice. My copy fell apart several years ago, and I really ought to replace it.

  40. aljones909
    Posted October 26, 2013 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Many thousands of volunteers from from the Irish Republic fought with the British forces. Estimates have been put as high as 50,000. After the war the Irish government treated them with some hostility. Many Irish now regard this as shameful. There’s an article on the subject from an Irish journalist here: http://tinyurl.com/lprlubt

  41. Dawn Oz
    Posted October 26, 2013 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    If you try to estimate populations from one specific incidence, you will be wrong. All over the world, there are people with this fellow’s views; this one just happened to be in Ireland, and a great deal is being made of this. He is representative of a certain male viewpoint, where his values for crisp uniforms and a certain view of history, are devoid of any humanitarian context. What would be a more interesting study would be into the personality of people who hold these chilling views; indeed to examine their ability to cut themselves off from the suffering of others. For him, he is able to hold himself above the fray, and congratulate himself on being an….individual, not just a common schmuck like the rest of us.

  42. Stevebr
    Posted October 31, 2013 at 11:15 pm | Permalink

    This reminded me about the popularity of Mein Kampf in India. Apparently a lot of management students here say that their favourite book is Mein Kampf. They claim that although they dont approve of Hitler’s genocide they are inspired by his skills as a leader.I think that claim is a little dubious. Many Indians have always harbored sympathy for Nazi Germany. They were seen as enemies of enemies and many Indians feel that WW2 weakened Britain ultimately leading to their withdrawal from India(which is probably true). Also Hitler has always been admired by far right Hindu groups (i think the manifesto of the most prominent such group quotes Hitler and his desire to cleanse Germany of “undesirables” approvingly). Add to this the discontent with the current “secular” government, the belief that India can be rescued only by a “benevolent” dictator and lack of exposure to European history in schools (the textbook I read in high school made only a passing reference to the Holocaust and it portrayed Nazi Germany as a heroic nation which stood up to Britain, France and USA), one can easily understand the book’s popularity.
    Coming to the content of the book itself, I myself have read only portions of it, but others who have read it fully describe it varyingly- as a book filled with incoherent ramblings of an insane bigot and as a book which is undoubtedly bigoted and dangerous but nevertheless written by a brilliant leader.

  43. Gavin
    Posted March 1, 2014 at 5:42 pm | Permalink

    As the son of an Irish mother, and the grandson of a Kerry man who served in the British forces during WWII, taking part in the liberation of Belsen amongst other traumatic experiences, I find myself exceedingly annoyed by the title of this article. While it is true that de Valera sent messages of support to Hitler, including a congratulatory telegram after his survival on the 20th of July, and that the IRA were in contact with the Third Reich, including reconnoitring targets in Ulster, there was no meaningful support for the Nazis beyond the old saw that ‘England’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity’.

    The number of Irishmen who crossed the Irish sea to the colours is given here as 50000, but I have heard twice that spoken of. My father once asked my grandmother why her husband, alongside so many of his countrymen, joined the struggle against Hitler when he could have sat safely at home. ‘He was Antichrist’, she simply replied.

    The decency so widespread in Irish society implies a horror of the far right, underlined by the fact that Eire is one of only two European states, to my knowledge, without an organised extreme-right political grouping. Would that the US or UK were the same!

    The fact that one ignorant auld buffoon has a fondness for WWII historical memorabilia that rather outweighs his discretion, and has attracted some trolls, should not lead any rational person to the conclusion implied by this page’s clumsy and offensive title. India, or parts thereof, one could perhaps make the case, but to do so of Ireland is just ridiculous.

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