Adolf Hitler declared Franklin D. Roosevelt the “number one enemy” and blamed both world wars on the Jewish people in his annual address to the people of Germany last night.
President Roosevelt celebrated his 60th birthday the same way he’s celebrated it for nine years, since Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany. Every year, on the day that the United States president enjoys festivities (or at least cake) in his honor, Hitler offers what seems like the same speech to the people of his nation. While the responding American citizens now expect outrageous baseless comments, antagonism, and egotism, last night’s speech featured alarmingly sharp and brand new accusations.
Roosevelt and Hitler have been in political contention ever since they each assumed power in 1933. During last night’s speech, however, Hitler alleged that Roosevelt had been plotting the downfall of the German people from before his time in office.
Hitler dramatically asserted that the “grand colonial power” of Germany received unwarranted attacks in the first world war, this time blaming Roosevelt specifically for every grievance to affect German citizens since 1918. Obviously, that accusation is out of date, as Roosevelt hadn’t been in a direct position of power, but rather the Assistant Secretary of the Navy during the Great War. It must have surprised the president to hear that he should assume the weight of Woodrow Wilson’s decisions as president. Second, Germany initiated the war by invading Belgium in 1914, as it would do again in 1940.
Despite the factual inaccuracies, Hitler (and by default his minister of propaganda, Josef Goebbels) pursued a narrative of anti-Americanism, targeting Roosevelt as the purveyor of the “evils” that befall Hitler’s constituents.
“We shall see who wins this war,” Hitler said last night. “Those who have nothing to lose and everything to gain, or those who have everything to lose and nothing to gain.” Understanding the strategic framing of this war from the German perspective by Hitler and Goebbels is crucial to realizing the weight that the cultural controversies have. This war is not about land so much as it is about ideology. Americans side with equal and fair democracy, and Germany stands with outlandish egotism and unrelenting dictatorship.
Hitler sugarcoated the allegations of Roosevelt with the evidently more digestible notion that Jews had been the sole “but for cause” in both wars. Had the Jews not been part of the equation, Hitler argued, the wars wouldn’t have taken place. This was a predictable theme. Since the late 30s, the Nazi regime has slowly closed in on German Jews, ensuring an exclusionary existence. Those familiar with Hitler’s work “Mein Kampf” could see this coming. However, the implications of this accusation, while mild in comparison to his accusations against the U.S. and its allies, could be large and grave.
Citizens of the U.S. often question the intentions of the German people and wonder at their apparent ignorance when they willingly accept the accusations that Hitler tosses at them. How can people accept his word as fact, when he has contradicted himself and his messaging is inconsistent? How can they trust a man with such ludicrous allegations?
James Ferguson, a BBC analyst, begins to address these questions: “German morale is deteriorating but not German tenacity. That tenacity is no longer based on a feeling of confidence, but on a feeling of fear – a sense of danger… The German people today are tough but they are not confident. They are strong but they know they are no longer attacking but being attacked.”
McCormick, Anne. “Hitler’s Birthday Greeting To The President.” New York Times. Jan, 31, 1942, p. 16.
“HITLER TO HIS PEOPLE.” New York Times. Jan 31, 1942, p. 16
James, Edwin L. “Again Hitler Rewrites Vital Page of History: Fuehrer Gives Roosevelt 1918 Role he Did Not Have and gets Mixed Up About British Empire.” New York Times. Feb 1, 1942.
Harris, George. “IF HITLER WINS THE WAR: How Would Colored Americans Fare Under Hitler-Ruled U. S. A.” New York Amsterdam Star-News. Feb 7, 1942; pg. 12.