TIMELINES: What vilified European leader was born on April 20, 1889?

April 20, 2012 Updated: September 29, 2015

Friday, April 20, 2012

THEN

When Klara Poelzl gave birth to her son on April 20, 1889, in the town of Ranshofen, Austria, she could not have known the brutality he would one day unleash, though the signs were soon there. He was a resentful and discontented child—moody, lazy, and of unstable temperament. According to some accounts, he was deeply resentful toward his authoritarian father while strongly attached to his indulgent mother. In his mid-20s, he developed a pathological hatred of Jews, a hatred that subsequently gave birth to the Holocaust of World War II. This man was Adolf Hitler.

NOW

Today, Hitler’s name and the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, or Nazi Party, he led are so vilified that even invoking their names to criticize someone can cause great controversy. West Virginia candidate for U.S. Senate John Raese discovered that last week, when a video of him equating anti-smoking laws with the yellow star that Jews had been forced to wear during the Holocaust was circulated. The Morgantown Republican said his county’s requirement that buildings have stickers declaring them smoke-free was similar to how “Hitler used to put a Star of David on everybody’s lapel.” The remarks sparked ire from the Jewish community as reflecting a callous ignorance of the horrors of the Holocaust.