One of the USA's greatest historical achievements was sending Captain America to punch Adolf Hitler square in the jaw. But what you may not know is that, prior to the U.S. tossing its military might in against the Axis powers, Hitler had a well-known obsession with all things American, from Coca-Cola to Mickey Mouse.
And although we tend to think of Nazi Germany as the very antithesis of truth, justice, and the American way, it turns out that some of the shittiest ideas lurking within the darkest corners of Hitler's shitty evil brain were directly inspired by things he learned from relentlessly studying American culture. Basically, if Hitler is the Joker, America is the Batman who dropped him in a vat of ooze.
We're not saying America was just as bad as the Nazis, or that Americans secretly caused the Holocaust. What we are saying is ...
The Nazi Propaganda Machine Was Borrowed From Various American Sources
Orlando/Hulton Archive/Getty Images
During the very earliest days of his rise to power, one of Hitler's closest pals was Ernst "Putzi" Hanfstaengl. And we don't mean "close" like "Hitler used to borrow Putzi's lawnmower" close. We mean "close" like "Putzi once made fun of Hitler's mustache" close, or "Putzi helped him edit Mein Kampf" close. Hell, they were "Putzi didn't complain when Hitler wanted to bang his wife" close. That's a better relationship than most of us have with anyone.
Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-R41953 / CC-BY-SA 3.0
"Take mein wife ... please!"
Putzi was a Harvard grad who spent his college years pounding out fight songs on an upright piano at football pep rallies. Indeed, it was this ability to rile up a crowd via music that first ingratiated him with the future Fuehrer in 1923, when Putzi banged out some of his old football marches and sent Hitler prancing about his rundown Munich apartment in an awkward goosestep-dance . Once he calmed down, Hitler demanded that Putzi duplicate the style in penning the Third Reich's official march tunes.
Compare the intros of these two songs. The first is the Harvard fight song; the second is a Nazi youth march written by Putzi:
Suddenly, the Harvard-Yale rivalry doesn't seem so significant.