Wednesday 07 July 2021
“You must never say that”
Trump is said to have praised Hitler
On a visit to Europe, Donald Trump called his own soldiers “losers” and “idiots”, and now a well-known journalist claims: In a discussion, the then US President repeatedly praised Hitler. His chief of staff could only order Trump to remain silent.
Not firmly established in the facts and yet not at a loss for a contentious view – this is how many former employees describe ex-President Donald Trump. You could also say: ignorant. A new book about him will be published in the coming week. Michael Bender, reporter for the “Wall Street Journal” in the White House, describes an incredible scene behind the scenes, not only from a German perspective.
Trump was on his way to Europe in 2018 with his Chief of Staff John F. Kelly for the centenary of the end of the First World War in Great Britain. “Well, Hitler did some good things,” the then US president is said to have said to Kelly. When the perplexed Kelly, a former general, pointed out what this meant, Trump did not let himself be put off.
Kelly had therefore just explained to Trump which countries fought on which side in World War I and “drew the links between World War I and World War II and Hitler’s atrocities,” the Guardian quotes from the book “Frankly, We Did Win This Election”. The US magazine “The Atlantic” described a similar scene last year: “Who were the good guys in this war?” Trump is said to have asked his fellow travelers. So he did not understand why the United States had entered the war as part of the Allies.
Bender interviewed Trump for the book, but a spokeswoman denied the discussion about Hitler. “That’s completely wrong. President Trump never said that. It’s made up, possibly by a general who was incapacitated and got fired.”
“That simply does not work”
Kelly was the White House Chief of Staff from mid-2017 to early 2019. Since his release, he has repeatedly expressed criticism of Trump. The author of the book does not refer to Kelly, however, but to other sources. Accordingly, Trump remained stubborn in a discussion with Kelly and underlined Germany’s economic recovery under Hitler in the 1930s.
Kelly is reported to have said that it would have been better for the Germans to be poor than to have been subjected to the Nazis’ genocide. The chief of staff told Trump that even if his assertion about the German economy were correct, “you must never say anything positive about Hitler. That just doesn’t work.”
The trip to the centenary had further consequences for Trump, especially veterans harbored more and more doubts about the Commander in Chief afterwards. The President did not visit an American military cemetery near Paris as planned. Trump feared that the rain could damage his hairstyle and considered the appointment unnecessary. “Why should I go to this cemetery? It’s full of losers,” he said.
Trump also referred to the soldiers elsewhere as “idiots” because they had died in combat. More than 1,800 Americans who helped stop the German offensive towards Paris in the spring of 1918 at the Battle of Belleau Wood are buried in the cemetery.