The man who reported on the Third Reich for CBS finds some disturbing parallels between the Nixon administration and the Nazi government.
Mr. Shirer, a foreign correspondent in Europe and Asia for two decades, was reporting from Berlin during the time he recalls in the following article. The most celebrated and intluenttal of his many books are Berlin Diary and The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
Though Richard Nixon does not have the dictatorial power of Adolf Hitler–at least, not yet–he has shown in Vietnam that he has the awesome means, unrestrained by any hand, and the disposition to be just as savage in his determination to massacre and destroy the innocent people of any small nation which refuses to bow to his dictates and which is powerless to retaliate.
And apparently the majority of the American people, like the Germans under Hitler, couldn’t care less. While Nixon was celebrating the festivities of the Prince of Peace by his reckless, bloody, paranoiac bombing of Hanoi, our God-fearing citizens were preoccupied with the Washington Redskins and the Miami Dolphins fighting their way to the Super Bowl, and seemed unmoved by the barbarism of their President and its horrible consequences for his victims.
I lived through a similar barbarism in Germany, when Hitler unleashed his terror bombing to force certain foreign peoples to do his bidding. I never thought it could happen here at home–even under a Nixon. No one of any consequence in Nazi Germany publicly protested, but at least the Germans had some excuse. To have spoken out might have cost a man his head–or at the very least the horrors of a concentration camp. But no American, watching the results of this President’s violence over the Christmas holidays, viewing on his TV tube the shattered hospital in Hanoi, reading in his newspaper of the devastation Nixon was unleashing on the homes and streets of peaceful citizens, could have been restrained by such fears.
Yet, who, at no personal risk, denounced the monstrous crime? Not a single official in government, very few in the Congress, a few from labor and no one from big business, and not one notable churchman, Protestant or Catholic. There was not a peep from the President’s friends among the clergy: no sound from the Rev. Billy Graham, the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, or Cardinal Cooke (not even after the Pope had raised his voice against the bombing).
Perhaps this unconcern is due in part to the peculiar luck of Americans. Unlike the inhabitants of every other major country and scores of small ones, we have never been bombed, and hence cannot feel in our own flesh and minds the sufferings of those on whom our President wreaks his vengeance. As one who experienced to some extent in Germany the bombing by the British, and later in England the bombing by the Germans– it was minor, compared to what we have done in Indochina–I rejoiced that Americans had been spared that ordeal.
But no longer. It now occurs to me that, until we go through it ourselves, until our people cower in the shelters of New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles and elsewhere while the buildings collapse overhead and burst into flames, and dead bodies hurtle about and, when it is over for the day or the night, emerge in the rubble to find some of their dear ones mangled, their homes gone, their hospitals, churches, schools demolished–only after that gruesome experience will we realize what we are inflicting on the people of Indochina and especially what we did over Christmas week to the common people of Hanoi.