Some Republicans are expressing outrage today, claiming that Vice President Joe Biden suggested they were Nazis in a recent fundraising letter. Given Biden’s well-known tendency toward gaffes, I was not particularly surprised but it turns out to be entirely manufactured. Biden sent out a fundraising letter warning that the GOP will mount a “blitzkrieg” against Democrats in the fall. Since the Germans used the “blitzkrieg” in World War II and many Germans were Nazis, Biden is accused of calling Republicans Nazis.
Bidens message sent by the DCCC said “As things heat up, you can expect House Democrats will be hit with a GOP blitzkrieg of vicious Swift-Boat-style attack ads, Karl Rove-inspired knockout tactics, thinly veiled attempts at character assassination and tea party disruptions.”
Kevin Smith, spokesman for Minority Leader John Boehner, objected “When will Democrats learn that invoking the Nazis’ crimes against humanity in a political debate is simply inappropriate?”
As a military history nut, I have to object. The blitzkrieg (or lightning war) was simply a military tactic using mechanized forces to move quickly into enemy territory. By the way, the term predates World War II in military articles from the 1930s. Indeed, one reference is found in a book by Fritz Sternberg, a Jewish Marxist political economist from 1939: Die Deutsche Kriegsstärke (German War Strength). Sternberg believed that Germany would have to carry out a Lightning War because of its inability to sustain a long-term worldwide conflict. The tactics were contained in an influential book Achtung – Panzer! by Heinz Guderian and was ultimately incorporated into training for the command for armored forces of the Wehrmacht known as the Panzerwaffe. Hitler later saw a demonstration of the existing blitzkrieg tactics and adopted them for his forces. So at most (even if one puts aside the common usage of blitzkrieg, the GOP could charge that Biden suggested that they were Guderians.
By the way, according to this claim, Nazis are running amok in sports (including basketball, football, and other sports), ad campaigns, and yes politics. Indeed, the word “blitz” is the shorter version of the original terms used to mean “an intense campaign” as in a heavy use of advertisements. In football, it is another term for a “red dog” or the “sudden charge upon the quarterback by one or more of the linebackers or defensive backs when the ball is snapped.” That’s a lot of Nazis.
Indeed, Boehner himself has used the term as in this interview:
Indeed, we’ve been here before. Shortly after Labor Day, the president gave an address to Congress designed to resuscitate his proposed government takeover of health care. That speech was followed by an all-out media blitz.
Before we order a new denazification program, we may want to reconsider the historical and linguistic basis for this latest controversy.
Source: NY Daily News