Mixed Messages on Terror

While Germany continues to present itself as a key partner in the “War on Terror” and waxes judgmental about factions within NATO-occupied Afghanistan that launch terrorist attacks that kill civilians, they seem to be operating at cross-purposes, having dedicated a new “monument” to Georg Elser, celebrating a 1939 terrorist attack he carried out.

Elser, a communist watch factory worker, heard that Hitler was going to be at a bar in Munich one evening. Not being a fan of Hitler’s (a reasonable thing) he decided it’d be great if Hitler was dead so (and here comes the unreasonable part) he built a big time bomb and hid it in the bar.

Now, if Elser had succeeded in assassinating Hitler in 1939, he might well be remembered fondly (certainly in Poland, which was in the process of being invaded by Germany and the Soviet Union at the time). But he didn’t. Hitler was at the bar (which actually turned out to be a surprise as he had cancelled the visit beforehand and then decided to go anyhow), but he and his entourage left well before the bomb went off. Instead, Elser killed eight random bar patrons and wounded 63 others.

Suppose that happened today, some guy built a big bomb and put it in a public place in some Western nation because he hoped to assassinate some reprehensible public figure and instead ended up killing a bunch of bystanders. Does anyone think he’d be getting a statue?

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