In an article recently printed in a pro-Kremlin newspaper, Andranik Migranyan, head of a pro-Russian organization in Manhattan, suggested that had Hitler stopped in 1939 he would be considered a “good Hitler.”
“One should distinguish the difference Hitler before 1939 and Hitler after 1939,” said Migranyan, who argues that if Hitler had stopped after the “bloodless” reunification of German lands “he would have gone down in the history of his country as a politician of the highest order.”
How Migranyan could make such a statement despite the fact that by this time Hitler had already organized Dachau (the first concentration camp), Kristallnacht/Pogromnacht, and carried out dozens of Nuremberg racial laws, is beyond me. My own grandfather, Max Schoenwalter, who lived with his family in Germany, received a letter from the Nazi Government informing him that his paint company was to be liquidated and Judenrein or “Jew free.” That letter was sent to him in January of 1938.
But an even deeper question arises: Why would a Russian, representing the current Russian government, make such a statement? The Soviet Union lost more than 20 million people fighting the Germans during the Second World War. Communists despise Fascists. How could Migranyan say this?
The reality is that until Germany attacked Russia, the Soviets were largely unaffected by what the Nazis were doing to Jews and other groups they deemed non-Aryan. It wasn’t until the Nazis invaded Russia that the Soviet Union was impacted by Fascism. And so, liquidating people’s businesses, implementing discriminatory laws, instigating pogroms, and sending Jews to concentration camps didn’t make Hitler a bad person. Only attacking Russia did.
The world becomes a very dangerous place when a leader’s morality is evaluated by how he or she treats one people, but not by the way they treat another. It may seem obvious, but a person can only be deemed ethical if he behaves civilly and fairly to all people. Hitler tried to demonstrate that only some people deserve to be treated with dignity, but the Jewish Biblical teaching of all people created in the Divine image demands that all humanity, irrespective of race, creed, or religion be treated with respect and kindness. And so there was never a “good” Hitler, not even before 1939.
By Rabbi Mark Wildes