ⓘ Nazi analogies

Nazi analogies

ⓘ Nazi analogies

Nazi analogies or Nazi comparisons are any comparisons or parallels which are related to Nazism or Nazi Germany, and any comparisons or parallels which are often made in reference to Adolf Hitler, Joseph Goebbels, the SS, or The Holocaust. Despite criticism, such comparisons have been employed for a wide variety of reasons since Hitlers rise to power. Some Nazi comparisons are logical fallacies, such as reductio ad Hitlerum. Godwins law asserts that a Nazi analogy is increasingly likely the longer an internet discussion continues, though Mike Godwin also noted that not all Nazi comparisons are invalid.


1. Origins

During the Nazi era, Adolf Hitler was frequently compared to previous leaders including Napoleon, Philip of Macedon, and Nebuchadnezzar. The comparers wanted to make Hitler understandable to their audiences by comparing him to known leaders, but according to historian Gavriel Rosenfeld the comparisons obscured Hitlers radical evil. When Hitler became Chancellor of Germany on 30 January 1933, Hitler was compared to Napoleon by The Brooklyn Eagle and Middletown Times. The Night of Long Knives was compared at the time to such events as the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre, a 1572 massacre of French Huguenots by Catholics. The comparison between Hitler and Philip of Macedon was used by some American journalists who advocated the United Statess entry into World War II. Others felt that this did not go far enough and used other metaphors such as Nebuchadnezzar and Tamerlane: Harold Denny of The New York Times visited Buchenwald and later stated that "Tamerlane built his mountain of skulls. Hitler’s horrors … dwarf all previous crimes".

Nazism has come to be a metaphor for evil, according to academic Brian Johnson, leading to Nazi comparisons. The Anti-Defamation League suggested that the Nazi era had become the "most available historical event illustrating right versus wrong." Rosenfeld noted that Hitler "gained immortality as a historical analogy" and that he became:

. a hegemonic historical analogy. He did not so much join the ranks of earlier historical symbols of evil as render them unusable. Indeed, perhaps because Western observers became convinced that wartime analogies had underestimated the Nazi dictator’s radicalism, they began to employ Hitler as the baseline for evaluating all new threats.


2. Legal issues

According to the ACLU, calling someone a Nazi is protected free speech under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. In 2008, British radio presenter Jon Gaunt called a guest a Nazi, for which he was fired. An Ofcom complaint against TalkSport, his employer, was upheld by the United Kingdom High Court of Justice in 2010. In 2019, the Ukrainian S14 group won a defamation suit against Hromadske, a newspaper which had labeled them neo-Nazi, despite such a characterization having being used by Reuters and The Washington Post. In Israel, a law was proposed in 2014 that would make it illegal to call someone a Nazi or use symbols associated with the Holocaust such as striped clothing or yellow stars, in order to respect Holocaust survivors.


3. Fallacies

Reductio ad Hitlerum, first coined in 1951 by Leo Strauss, is a logical fallacy which discounts an idea because it was promoted by Hitler or Nazis. Godwins law, coined in 1990 by Mike Godwin, asserts that "as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1". A related convention is "Whoever mentions Hitler first, loses the argument." However, Godwin has said that not all Nazi comparisons are invalid.


4. List

Jim Crow

In his book Hitlers American Model, James Whitman argued that the Nuremberg Laws were inspired by the Jim Crow laws which enforced racial segregation in the United States.


The comparison between Nazi Germany and the State of Israel is considered inaccurate and antisemitic by the Anti-Defamation League and is part of the Working Definition of Antisemitism.


4.1. List Anti-smoking

Public health measures adopted since World War II in order to reduce smoking have been compared with anti-tobacco movement in Nazi Germany, which is considered by proponents of anti-smoking measures to be a fallacious reductio ad Hitlerum which often exaggerates how much the Nazis actually opposed smoking. Historian of science Robert N. Proctor speculates that Nazi associations "forestall the development of effective anti-tobacco measures by several decades".


4.2. List Bioethics

According to an editorial by Arthur Caplan in Science, bioethics questions including "stem cell research, end-of-life care, the conduct of clinical trials in poor nations, abortion, embryo research, animal experimentation, genetic testing, or human experimentation involving vulnerable populations" are often compared to Nazi eugenics and Nazi human experimentation. According to Caplan, the Nazi analogy has the potential to shut down debate and its capricious use is unethical. Similar arguments were made by Nat Hentoff in 1988, writing for The Hastings Center Report.


4.3. List Chinazi

Analogies between China and Nazi Germany have also been drawn by Australian politician Andrew Hastie. However China–Nazi comparisons are considered by Edward Luce to be a form of Sinophobia and potentially a self-fulfilling prophecy.


4.4. List European Union

Some Eurosceptic politicians, including UKIPs Gerard Batten and Finns Party MP Ville Tavio, have compared the European Union to Nazi Germany. In many Greek newspapers during the Greek government-debt crisis, caricatures appeared depicting the European troika and Angela Merkel as Nazis preparing to reenact the Axis occupation of Greece. Opponents argue that the Nazi empire was formed by conquest and that joining the EU is voluntary, among other differences.


4.5. List Jim Crow

In his book Hitlers American Model, James Whitman argued that the Nuremberg Laws were inspired by the Jim Crow laws which enforced racial segregation in the United States.


4.6. List Indian Wars

Nazi warfare on the Eastern Front has been compared to the United States Armys conduct in the Indian Wars. However, Native American demographic collapse was mostly caused by introduced disease, rather than warfare, and historians disagree as to whether the Indian Wars, or parts thereof, can be considered a form of genocide.


4.7. List Israel

The comparison between Nazi Germany and the State of Israel is considered inaccurate and antisemitic by the Anti-Defamation League and is part of the Working Definition of Antisemitism.


4.8. List LGBT issues

The AIDS–Holocaust metaphor, used by some activists, is controversial. Susan Sontag said that "It’s wrong to compare a situation in which there was real culpability to one in which there is none".

In 2017, Patriarch Kirill, the highest authority in the Russian Orthodox Church, compared same-sex marriage to Nazism because in his opinion both were a threat to traditional family. In 2019, Pope Francis criticized politicians who lash out at homosexuals, Romani people, and Jews, saying that it reminded him of Adolf Hitlers speeches in the 1930s.


4.9. List "Second Holocaust"

The term "second Holocaust" is used for perceived threats to the State of Israel, Jews, and Jewish life. In 2018, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said "Iran wants a second Holocaust" and to "destroy another six million plus Jews", after his Iranian counterpart described Israel as a "malignant cancerous tumor". In 2019, Israeli education minister Rafi Peretz compared Jewish intermarriage to a "second Holocaust".


5. Criticism

According to a press release of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, "Careless Holocaust analogies may demonize, demean, and intimidate their targets." Jonathan Greenblatt, director of the Anti-Defamation League, said that "misplaced comparisons trivialise this unique tragedy in human history. particularly when public figures invoke the Holocaust in an effort to score political points."

In 2017, the German journalist Pieke Biermann argued that Nazi comparisons were undergoing a process akin to inflation due to their increased and inappropriate use.

Amanda Moorghen, a researcher for the English Speaking Union, said that Nazi comparisons were not often persuasive: "Wielding accusations of fascism as an insult doesnt help to get your audience on side - instead, you raise the stakes of the debate, forcing a polarisation between good and evil into a discussion that may have reasonable positions on both sides." Instead, she recommended criticizing the opponents argument directly.

Users also searched: