I need your help.
Together, we can destroy the myth that Hitler was a vegetarian.
Seriously. I know it’s a funny thing to talk about and all — even Eddie Izzard gave it a go in the otherwise entirely brilliant Dress to Kill — but it’s not true. Hitler was no more vegetarian than I am, which is to say he was maybe a picky meat eater, but he definitely ate the flesh of dead animals. There is plenty of documentation of this fact (more on that in a bit). Please, everybody spread this idea far and wide, because I am entirely sick of hearing people snicker about the idea of a genocidal maniac who wouldn’t eat anything that involved killing animals.
I’m bringing this up now because today there’s been a little discussion on the Association for the Study of Food in Society email listserv about the vegetarian Matthew Scully, a speechwriter for, among others, the most famous caribou killer in U.S. political history, Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. How could the author of Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy also write Palin’s acceptance speech? I’ll give you a hint: The answer is not, “Well, Hitler was a vegetarian, so why not this guy?”
Let’s all say it together now: in this crazy modern world of ours, all kinds of people eat all kinds of things for all kinds of reasons, and you can’t necessarily predict a person’s politics by the contents of their dinner plate.
But back to the whole “Was Hitler a vegetarian?” question. The answer remains: no. If you’d like to read more about it, I highly recommend Rynn Berry’s Famous Vegetarians and Their Favorite Recipes: Lives and Lore from Buddha to the Beatles. Appendix 1 is “Why Hitler was Not a Vegetarian” and it is extensively researched, with footnotes and everything. Alternatively, Berry has a 92-page monograph devoted to just this subject, Hitler: Neither Vegetarian Nor Animal-Lover but I haven’t read that one and can’t vouch for it. If even that’s too many pages for your patience, at least consider scrolling through the New York Times review of Downfall, to see that the Grey Lady herself has at least once issued a correction to the vegetarian Hitler myth, repeated in the aforementioned film. That’s a pretty big deal, as this press release about the retraction would have you know.
So. Today’s take-away lesson borrows its phrasing from the aforementioned Eddie Izzard. Hitler: not a vegetarian, just a mass-murdering fuckhead.
Thank you for your time, and good night.