Flashback to Iran. Everyone is great. The most hospitable people I have met in my life. Unexpected invitations to people`s homes and peeks into their family lives are sometimes so overwhelming that we are at a loss for words.
But of course there is the one idiotic exception that leaves us speechless in a slightly different way.
“My son is a big fan of Hitler”, said our couchsufing host.
Antonio and I looked uncomfortably at each other, not quite sure we heard correctly.
“He likes history a lot. Especially everything about Germany. He is a big fan of Hitler.”
This little bomb was dropped casually during an otherwise amicable conversation about our lives and interests besides cycling and diving. History for me, of course.
Feeling this would not be a subject we would bond well over, I tried to quickly change the course of the conversation. No succes. Our host disappeared into his sons bedroom and came back with a small bronze colored bust of the man himself.
Awkward. I think I might have mumbled “Nice” in an attempt not to offend our host.
At this point I should probably mention that the son in question was 12 years old and cuddling in bed with his mother who was scheduled for surgery the next day. Our host was a friendly middle aged university professor who had taken us out for dinner the evening before, let us stay in his home and let us do laundry.
What do you say in a situation like that?!
Of course a twelve year old doesn`t become a big Hitler fan spontaneously all by himself, and he certainly wouldn`t have bought the statuette with his own pocket money. Some responsibility (blame?) can definitely be put on the father in this case, who by all accounts was such a friendly, polite, hospitable and educated man.
Should I have started a discussion? Get angry and offended and walk away? I feel bad about not saying anything, but what would you have done?
I seriously want to know because even six weeks later I am still not sure about what I should have done.
3 thoughts on ““My son is a big fan of Hitler”…wait, WHAT?!”
How are you?
As an Iranian, I get that a lot. Many people say that in Iran. In my Idea, there could be several reasons why people say so.
First, to understand why you have to know about history of Iran. In world war II, Iran was neutral, but Russia from north and the British from south invaded Iran, destroyed our air force and occupied the country. In that era (I am not sure exactly when), Germany gave Iran some factories, These factories are still working, of course not exactly them, but the base of the factories are those from Germany.
Before Iran was occupied, Reza Shah Pahlavi the first was the king of Iran, many people believe that he was a king always thinking about his people. And although Iran was neutral, This king was more in favor of the Germans. There was, and still there is, this belief that us and Germans are from the same ancestors, all of us are Arians. Even the city of Kerman in the center Iran was said to be a reason, it was said to be German at the beginning.
Second, as you said, the boy is 12. They see history through video games. Every year there are new games and movies the story of which happens during world war II. In these games, German weapons are most of the time better. In the movies, they do not see a killer, they see well organized clean German soldiers who march really beautifully. Children, even adults, while watching the movie are absorbed in this belief that Germans were something else, and all because of Hitler himself. They compare leaders of the world to Hitler, even compare their own leaders to Hitler and come to believe that even us need someone like him.
Third, Iran is a third world country. We are a developing country. Germany is a country in Europe, it is a rich country. Here if I say I like people of India, people may laugh at me and ask “Do you like Indian movies?” Maybe it is also the same in your country. But if I say I like Germany, it is a sign of class. For that father, his son speaking about Germany, about Hitler, is a sign of being modern. In his opinion, his son is different, even if it is with liking someone like Hitler.
Media has a lot to do with it.
War is cruel, but media makes it fun.
I hope this helped.
Say Hi to Antonio
Thank you for your reply – good to hear from an Iranian about this! I understand what you are saying and I definitely see your point about Germany being “idolized” as a modern prosperous country (not only Germany by the way, but most European countries and the US too) which makes perfect sense. Just the fact that it
is linked to Hitler is weird as it could be modern Germany too, but havent met an Iranian saying theyre fans of Angela Merkel 😀
We actually had a lot of conversations about this with other Iranians too and had to explain that Europe also has its problems 😉
But still, as someone whose country has been occupied by Nazi Germany in WW2, whose family has suffered through the war it comes as a surprise to hear someone openly supporting Hitler and it is hard to understand. Maybe a bit like saying Saddam Hussein was a great man to an Iranian? (although WW2 was much longer ago and you have to be very careful with comparisons like that of course).
Your sentence “War is cruel, but media makes it fun” is sad but true.
Take care and a big hug to Mahsa! Antonio
Rose, hoy 21 de Mayo creo que debes de estar muy cansada, pues ya han pasado 11 dias desde la ultima vez
que nos has contado tus experiencias por esos mundos de Dios.Si hace buen tiempo quedaros unos dias tran-
quilos en algun pueblo de la costa y ¡¡A LA PLAYA¡¡ Un abrazo