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Nazis - Gopnik's Amendment

Adam Gopnik reflects on our continuing obsession with the Nazis, ponders the place of the Second World War in history and argues that we should never be afraid to mention the war.

Adam Gopnik reflects on our continuing obsession with the Nazis and ponders the place of the Second World War in our history.

He writes: "A German friend once complained to me that educated Westerners often know far more about the German government in those five years of war than they do about all German governments in the sixty years of subsequent peace".

Adam quotes a principle frequently used during internet discussions called "Godwin's Law". It states that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler gets greater". Godwin's conclusion - broadly speaking - is that we should not mention the war.

But Adam proposes what he calls "Gopnik's Amendment". "When we see the three serpents of militarism, nationalism and hatred of difference we should never be afraid to call them out, loudly, by name and remind ourselves and other people, even more loudly still, of exactly what they have made happen in the past".

We should, he says, "never be afraid to mention the war".

Producer:
Adele Armstrong.

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