There's a joke I used to share with a couple of my old housemates. I can't remember exactly how it came about, probably I was watching some WW2 thing on TV and one of them came in, passed comment and I replied "Oh, I love Hitler!" Then, realising what I'd said, added "but not like that".
If you study history at any level you end up being swamped in twentieth century dictators. At least, you did in the 90s and I can't imagine things have changed that much. It's all World War Two, Hitler, Stalin, the odd smattering of Weimar and Bismarck and Lenin. If you're lucky you get a bit of medieval and Tudors chucked in, and if you're really unlucky you have to suffer the Industrial Revolution (for my money, the least interesting important thing ever to have happened). But not much of it. Presumably it's all the documentation that's available (particularly all the stuff that was coming out of Russia after the fall of communism), cos university students only get taught what their lecturers are being paid to research. Essentially, it always comes back to your megalomaniac fuckheads.
Last night I went to the Firestation Bookswap. The premise is, it's an informal author-chat night and everyone brings a book to swap. And during the swap, one woman held up her book and announced that she'd brought the account of the last days in the bunker by Hitler's secretary.
I knew immediately what this was. The cover says it's the inspiration behind Downfall, but back in my reviewing days I watched a documentary called Blind Spot, which is footage of Traudl Junge herself saying the things she says in the book. It's fascinating stuff, really insightful, of how perfectly normal people got sucked into the Nazi myth and how, at the time, she didn't see beyond the nice, jovial Hitler she knew and the mass-murdering bastard we're more familiar with.
Yes, I knew what it was. And I immediately shot my hand up in the air and yelled "Oo! Me! I want that! You said Hitler, that's all it takes!"
One of these days, I'm going to remember that some of the people* who are interested in Hitler are perhaps less intrigued by the societal aspects of forming and maintaining an insane dictatorship, and more interested in the white supremacist, killing aspects. I did eventually move my two, very thick, copies of Ian Kershaw's Hitler biographies (with "HITLER" in enormous letters down the spine) when a friend popped round to return a DVD he'd borrowed and, not quite remembering which was my flat, peered through the living room window, spotted the books and thought 'yep, this is the one'. Wouldn't want to give the neighbours / binmen / burglars the wrong impression.
So just to make it clear: I am not a neo-Nazi, I am just someone who is incredibly (perhaps even endearingly; oh, do say it's endearing) nerdish about history. If anyone fancies bringing along anything about medieval kings of England, or the French revolution, or something about the Tudors that doesn't involve Jonathan Rhys-Myers or David Starkey, to the November bookswap, I'll more than likely very excitedly attempt to take it off your hands as well. And possibly scare you a little into the bargain.
* Sorry, I meant of course to say right wing scum