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 Labouring to Acknowledge Hitler, By Owei Lakemfa

BALTIMORE, MD (AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Turkish leader, Tayyip Erdogan   decided to change  his country’s ceremonial Presidency to an executive one. So he told his countrymen “There are already examples in the world. You can see it when you look at Hitler’s Germany. There are later examples in various other countries” But he came under international criticism for allegedly casting Adolf Hitler in a favourable light. He immediately began a series of summersaults saying the governance system in Hitler’s Germany was not an  effective one  and that  “if the system is abused, it may lead to bad management resulting in disasters as in Hitler’s Germany”

But was the German governance system really ineffective? The mere mention of Hitler, if not followed by condemnation,  immediately invokes international    attacks. Famous Nigerian musician, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti sang “Teacher, don’t teach me nonsense” The victors of the Second World War should stop teaching us nonsense about  that war amongst greedy Europeans and their allies.

Hitler was a product of Western democracy; he  democratically ascended the German Chancellorship  and was re-elected in the March 5, 1933 German federal elections by wider margins. In that election, his Nazi party, NSDAP, won 288 seats in the 647-seat Reichstag parliament, or  43.91 percent of the votes  while their main rivals, the Social Democrats won 120 or 18.25 percent.

Hitler, a decorated World War I soldier, was primarily the product of European greed for colonies, money and vendetta. After that war, rather than work for global peace and development, the victorious allies decided  on the path of greed and revenge; in June 1919 they  imposed on defeated Germany, the Treaty of Versailles. It was so bad that the then German government   of Philipp Schedman  rather than sign, resigned. But the allies gave hapless Germany a twenty four-hour ultimatum either to sign the bloody treaty or be invaded. The new government of Gustav Baur   had to sign.

Under the treaty, Germany was forced to admit guilt for World War I and disarm. It was to  have no more than 100,000 troops and undertake not to produce armaments like armored cars and  tanks. Already experiencing starvation, it was forced to pay for  the war costs of the victors by being fined $31.4 Billion ($442 Billion by 2016 estimates) Germany’s  inability to pay all the money led to French and Belgian troops occupying  and exploiting parts of German territory as colonies. Germany and Austria were forbidden to merge without the victors approval,  and 65,000 square kilometres of German territory were seized and shared to countries like Poland and France. The German city of Danzig was seized as a collective war booty. German coal at Saar was seized and given to France as compensation for its coal loss during the war.

Europe had developed mainly by colonizing and exploiting parts of the world; the colonies resources were looted, their  people forced to produce raw materials and provide market for European goods. The victors decided to deprive defeated Germany of its  colonies by sharing them as war booty. So Togo and Cameroun were given to  France and Britain; Namibia  to South Africa; Rwanda and Burundi to Belgium, Tangayika (nowTanzania) to Britain and Northern Mozambique to Portugal. In Asia, Shandong in China and the Pacific North went to Japan, and the German territories in the South Equator  to Australia.

Hitler’s rise  was primarily his rejection of this  treaty, and campaign to restore the German economy, pride, military, and, retake its territories and colonies. He restored the Germans pride and belief in themselves by telling them that they, the Aryans are the chosen race and are superior to all other people including fellow Europeans. In March 1935, he violated the treaty by rebuilding the armed forces. One year later, he retook the demilitarized zone  in the Rhine, and in March 1938, the Austrian-born Hitler  sent his troops into the welcoming hands of Austrians and reunified both countries contrary to the dictates of the  treaty. Next, he marched into Poland and Czechoslovakia retaking seized German territories. At this point, Britain declared war and the Second World War commenced.

The colonized peoples of the world had no choice in that war; they were forced to fight on both sides. They were conscripted to fight in far away places like Burma, forced to offer free labour and pay taxes towards so called war efforts.  Emergency regulations were imposed on them including detention without trial. For at least three years, African countries like Egypt, Libya, Algeria, Morocco,  Tunisia, Kenya, Somalia, Eritrea and Ethiopia, were devastating theatres of  that war. Some of the most infamous battles of that war like the  Battle of El Alamein were fought in Africa while the famous German war general, Erwin Rommel got his sobriquet “The Desert fox” in the North Africa campaign. Interestingly, when that war’s casualties are compiled, Africans are usually lumped  under European figures and vaguely referred to; such as “commonwealth” casualties and losses.  Little mention is made of African civilians who died, were maimed or turned into internally displaced persons or refugees. The colonized people were simply, expendable shells.

The Second World War was a conflict either side could have won. Had Germany won, the post-war narration  would have been different; Hitler might  have been a war hero not the villain. Doubtlessly, Hitler was a racist, but which of his European cousins was not?

From the perspective of an African; what is the difference between the  bloody German colonization of Namibia which witnessed the first genocide in the Twentieth Century, and the Belgian colonization of the Congo which saw greater atrocity?  What differentiated Hitlerite Germany from the French colonization of Algeria which turned that country into rivers of blood? How was the holocaust fundamentally different or worse  than the British genocide against the Aborigines in Australia? The later was actually worse.

The  colonized people were victims of the Second World War; the colonialists  on both sides, chose our enemies for us and showed us our friends. We had no say in the matter. The colonialists were both sides of the same coin, therefore, the colonized or marginalized should not labour under the yoke of condemning everything about Hitler.


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