Letter: A Serbian Hitler?
Friday 23 April 1999
Sir: Ken Livingstone ("Why we are not wrong to compare Milosevic to Hitler", 21 April) declares: "It is simply not the case that the extermination of the Jews was the primary war aim of Hitler."
What a historian has called the "twisted path" to Auschwitz is a matter of great scholarly controversy, but Hitler did tell the Reichstag in January 1939 that the next world war would lead to the extermination of European Jewry. The Nazi leaders called their long-planned invasion of the USSR in June 1941 a "war of extermination" and seized the opportunity it offered to murder the Jews.
World war and racial struggle were central features of National Socialist ideology from the start.
Livingstone, however, denies the singularity of the Holocaust. It is not "a unique evil surpassing anything before or since in human history", but rather a routine massacre among the many the 20th century has seen.
In thus trivializing the Holocaust Livingstone exposes the logic of those who seek to justify the present war against Serbia by portraying Milosevic as Hitler and the atrocities his forces have committed against the Kosovars as genocide (as Clare Short did in her contemptible attack on opponents of the war as appeasers).
Defending the bloody mess created by Nato's air campaign apparently requires an overheated rhetoric which can no longer acknowledge the difference between what are undeniably wicked and barbarous measures unleashed by an arch-opportunist to drive people from their homes and the deliberate, ideologically rationalised, scientifically organised attempt to wipe an entire people from the earth.
The capacity to draw moral distinctions and make historical judgements must thus be counted among the many casualties of this futile and foolish war.
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