Deathly Hallows Discussion Point #15: Nazi History Echoes

Beside the Orwellian 1984 hat-tips in the “Magic is Might” statue and policies of the Voldemort directed Ministry of Magic, I was struck by two different Deathly Hallows plot points that seemed conscious signs connecting the Dark Lord and the German National Socialists of the ’30’s and ’40’s. The first was the symbol that Xenophilius Lovegood wears to the wedding which so offends Viktor Krum. The swastika similarly is an ancient spiritual symbol that cannot be shown anywhere without drama (it is illegal in Germany, for instance) because of its use by the Nazis, albeit an inverted swastika. Voldemort’s desire to find the Elder Wand or “Wand of Destiny,” too, points to Hitler’s desire to find and use the so-called “Spear of Destiny” in building the Third Reich. Ms. Rowling even has Dumbledore as a young man fall to this temptation of overlooking individual rights and freedom “for the greater good,” a signature quality of totalitarian regimes. Did you find these Nazi references or pointers disturbing? Effective? What was Ms. Rowling driving at? Bad-Guy points no one in the UK could miss (“he’s like Hitler!”) or effective criticism by association?

Comments

  1. I thought the Nazi parallels were pretty hard to miss. The most obvious one that you haven’t mentioned being that, for all his banging on about Aryans (sorry, purebloods) being the Master Race, Voldemort is conspicuously lacking in the blond hair and blue eyes department.

    As for Dumbledore’s time in the Hitler Youth, I know plenty of full grown liberals who spent at least some of their youth as metaphorical members of the young fascist’s league. He said, looking in the mirror.

  2. mgarbowski says:

    I noticed another WWII parallel as I was thinking about the goblins. It was surprising that they mostly sat this war out, as the entire History of Magic seemed to be the history of goblin uprisings. It’s Vold War II, and the goblins remain neutral, and spend the war running a bank where they safeguard everyone’s treasures for a handsome fee.

    The goblins are the Swiss.

    And the Swiss don’t come out of it looking too good. This was clearly a time to take sides, and choose for good or evil. If anything, the goblins have more of an excuse due to the centuries of mistrust and mistreatment by humans. The Swiss had no such excuse. Finally, I don’t buy the idea that Griphook had any role in the Sword of Gryffindor appearing in the Sorting Hat to help Neville. I can’t imagine that the spirit if Gryffindor (or whatever agency it is that makes the sword appear in the Hat) stopped to ask Griphook’s permission before delivering the Sword to Neville. If Griphook said no, would the Hat have come up empty? I don’t think so, and so I don’t think Griphook was responsible.

  3. What about all the rounding up of Half-Bloods, Mudbloods and Blood Traitors? Does this not echo the rounding up of the Jews during the Holocaust? Interestingly, Voldemort, the leader of the movement against those who are not purebloods, is not a pureblood himself. He carefully guards that secret from his followers as Hitler jealously guarded the secret of Jewish blood in his family tree. Even Regulus Black does not seem to know about LV’s ancestry. His note now seems to refer to the secret regarding the making of horcruxes. His actions are reminiscent of those within Hitler’s circle who ultimately tried to asassinate him. I wonder what the pureblood deatheaters (particularly Bellatrix Lestrange) would have done if they had found out about LV’s blood status.

  4. penbrynisa says:

    Dumbledore defeating Grindelwald (which sounds German to my ears) in 1945 has always struck me as a reference/parallel to the defeat of the Nazi regime. And Nurmengard, the prison where Grindelwald ended up, suggests Nuremburg, where the Nazi war crimes trials were held.

  5. Of course the time period in which Grindlewald rose to power (presumably in Germany) is in seemingly direct correspondence with the second world war. His defeat coming at the end of the war…whether this was meant as a direct reference or not I am unsure but I would dare to say it is no simple coincidence.

  6. Last month I stopped reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich to immerse myself in HP and prepare for Deathly Hallows. However, Shirer’s classic prepared me too! The laws of the Voldemort regime were reminiscent of the Nuremberg Laws. The Resistance was encouraged by clandestine wireless broadcasts. Also a major emphasis of the Nazi’s was a takeover of the education system to prune the “unworthy” teachers and students and turn all “pureblood” young students into perfect Aryans.

  7. korg20000bc says:

    Grindlewald only operated in Europe and never in Britain- just like Hitler.

    Grindlewald’s symbol is recognised and hated by Eastern Europeans – Krum. Like the Swastika

    Grindlewald imprisoned in Nurmengard so similar to Nuremburg.

    Grindlewald’s search for the Deathstick like Hitler getting the Spear of Destiny?

    The Dark Mark so like the SS Death’s Head

    Bound to be so much more

    Matthew

  8. One of the finest elements of the novel is the long isolation in the wilderness that Harry, Ron and Hermione suffer. When they hear the voice of Lee Jordan on the radio, they are overwhelmed with joy to realize that others are fighting too.

    This reminds me not just of Nazi Germany but of Soviet occupied Europe, where the people would listen to Reagan on the Voice of America and be cheered.

  9. Laura-lu says:

    The arm motion Snape and Yaxley use to enter the grounds at Malfoy Manor seemed qutie similar in cation to the Nazi “salute.” Maybe JKR uses this for folk like me who aren’t quite so analytical…kind of like being banged on the head with a cast iron skillet 🙂

  10. More Nazi and War on Fascism echoes?

    * Grindelwald being defeated in 1945, the end of WWII, and being placed in a prison that sounds very much like “Nuremburg,” the city in which Nazi war criminals were tried.

    * The rounding up of dissidents by “Snatchers” is reminiscent of the vigilantes who gathered Jews and “undesirables” during the Nazi Final Solution.

    * “For the Greater Good” reminded me that fascism is a disease of the political left (Nazi is an abbreviated way of saying “National Socialist”).

    *King’s Cross Station is where Rowling’s parents met, both on their way to enlist in the Royal Navy (fact-check me here, please!); Jo Rowling is a child of the traditional British impulse to arms against fascism and pro Brittania.

    * The Potter underground radio broadcast and the peripatetic existence of Harry, Ron, and Hermione calls up images of the French Resistance to the occupying Nazis (Ms. Rowling no doubt grew up hearing these stories and then read about them in her French studies).

    * The Mudblood/PureBlood distinction screams Aryan racist nonsense about the Master Race.

    * Harry’s being sorted as “Undesirable Number One” is another pointer to the “other” created by the metanarrative of National Socialism and all millenialist totalitarian regimes.

    *The rising up of the house-elves, Centaurs, and the students of Hogwarts in the final battle had an echo of the Warsaw ghetto uprising or Treblinka more than the great battles at the end of the Hobbit, LOTR, and Narnia’s finish.

    * Anybody think the Voldemort-Hitler equation is silly? Ms. Rowling grew up in a country scarred by war with the German fascists, a country that believed that Hitler had Jewish ancestry and still persecuted Jews.

    I am NOT saying that Harry Potter is a WWII allegory. I am saying that Ms. Rowling’s postmodern beliefs about the world and the constitutive “other” are tempered by her modern beliefs shaped by the Rowling parents who were born during or just after the Blitz. There is evil in the world and individuals need to sacrifice themselves to combat it.

    I think we'[ve established a background of “resistance to totalitarianism” in Deathly Hallows. What do you think is different in Rowling’s treatment of this theme than Lewis’ in That Hideous Strength and Tolkien’s in LOTR?

  11. Manning67 says:

    I agree with everything that has been written so far in this post. The details, similarities are overwhelming.

    I think it’s a fascinating study of how the “climate” evolved throughout the six previous books to allow Voldermort triumphant return to power.

    * For years, the Wizard community WANTED to believe they were safe and the threat had been resolved once and for all. (As people wanted to believe after WWI.) Harry was called a liar for daring to warn people. Nobody wanted “unrest.”

    * Even after the proof that Voldermort was back in GoF, the ministry continues its campaign to resist this truth. Amazing.

    * There had to be many flavors of evil in the world for Voldy to flourish: Doloros Umbridge kind of evil, sneering and small Malfoy/Goyle/Crabbe kind of evil (which grew into something greater), Rita Skeeter irresponsible-journalism-evil, etc.

    * There’s Dumbledore’s greed for power (despite generally being a good man).

    * “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing” (often attributed to Edmund Burke) is also present throughout the book.

    The fact that most every wizard ignores the plight of house elves, well, doesn’t that say something about the willingness of the wizarding community to “look the other way” about a race that they see as less-than-equal?

    Wow…I’ve really made quite a disappinting and negative case against everyone in Harry’s world.

    ((I would like to point out that there are dozens of shades of good as well – from Harry’s Christ-like sacrifices, Snape’s outward demeanor vs. heart of love, Draco’s inability to commit the murder of Dumbledore). So it’s not a one-sided world. I do think Rowling paints the world as just as half-full as it is half-empty.))

    I didn’t mean to be quite so dark. What I intended to point out is how subtle and insideous the ‘evil’ is in the Harry Potter books. There’s big evil like Voldermort, and all kinds of shades of lesser crimes, all allowing for and contributing to the possibility of Lord V’s return.

    Many books are written about pre-WWII and how the conditions were *just right* for Hitler to step into popular power. I have been thinking about the parallels with the Wizarding world.

  12. korg20000bc says:

    John,
    For myself I think that Grindlewald = Hitler is a better fit than Voldemort = Hitler.

    Grindlewald would have been the worst dark wizard in history if Voldemort hadn’t come along. I think Rowling is giving us a bit of a cautionary tale- there’s always someone worse who can come along if the forces of good are not vigilant.

    Tolkien didn’t want to be allegorical or topical at all but was happy with being applicable and explains his reasons for this in the foreword of LOTR. Lewis, and his great fan Rowling, seem to be deliberately allegorical but no less applicable.

    Matthew

  13. Maybe Rowling tries to point to the fact that there can come “another Hitler.” Many people believe that we “have learned” from WWII, and that might be correct, but that hasn’t stopped Hussein or Salazar (name sounds familiar?)

    As Mad-Eye would say it, constant vigilance!

  14. Jayne1955 says:

    The Hallows symbol is like the swastika- an ancient symbol with one meaning turned into something else. And Hitler had his own Hallows that he was searching for. But what’s odd to me is that Dumbledore was supposed to be about 150, so he left school in- what? The 1850’s? 1860’s ?Then got together with and broke with Grindlewald right after that. I find it appalling that their paths never crossed until the 1940’s. The idea that a worried and repentant Dumbledore let Grindlewald go on for fifty or sixty years is stretching it for me.

  15. crookshanks says:

    I think the parallels in HPDH to the rise of Fascism in Germany are many and obvious. Indeed, I think this is one aspect of the book in which Rowling was a bit heavy-handed and hardly subtle. However, I think the application she is making is beyond just Nazism and more broadly to any totalitarian or fascist system (be it Left or Right) that uses fear, deceit, demonization of various groups (“outsiders,” “subversives”) and oppression to obtain and maintain power. Also, how people who are not in and of themselves “bad” are coopted by the Forces of Evil and facilitate it by keeping their heads down and silently going along with it.

  16. I don’t just see nazi echoes. There’s communist too. Remember that the Muggles are deemed to have stolen magic. Stealing wasn’t a nazi obsession but a communist one: the bourgeoisie, kulaks, etc were regarded as thieves of the proletariat

    xavier

  17. Arabella Figg says:

    All of this is fascinating and, while I think the Nazi theme is the most compelling in terms its specifics and DH, I agree it applies to any genocidal effort. I mean, think about intertribal slaughter in Iraq right now.

    I also agree about Griphook. Greed wasn’t going to triumph over righteousness. There was a deeper magic here.

    Kathy asks: I wonder what the pureblood deatheaters (particularly Bellatrix Lestrange) would have done if they had found out about LV’s blood status.

    They did know. Harry told them in the Hall of Prophecy in OotP. I continued to wonder at how they could continue to follow him, but he was sure a handy tool for enforcing their twisted beliefs, plus they were all scared to death of him. Also, I think Harry told this to Draco, while baiting him in HBP.

    Oops, little Flako is being chased by Thudders again…

  18. korg20000bc says:

    I wonder if the Deathly Hallows symbol should be taken more like the pentalce or pentagram is taken today. Today, most people would think of the pentacle to indicate satanism or witchcraft whereas, originally it was taken to be something completely different. Sir Gawain had a pentacle on his shield to indicate his 5 virtues.

    Matthew

  19. The problem with symbols is that they can have a change of meaning over time, many of our modern day ‘Christian’ symbols have pagan roots. Over time Christianity has adopted many pagan rituals and symbols and adapted them to give a Christian slant. When the first evangelists encountered pagan peoples it would have made sense to use already existing symbols and rituals which were familiar to the people but alter the focus away from the pagan gods. The Fish, Anchor and Dove are the symbols most associated with the early Christians and although we recognise them as such there are now new symbols which have taken a more leading role shall we say, the cross being probably the best example. Funny thing symbolism, maybe sometimes it distracts us from what we should really be focusing on and yet again as the saying goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’.

  20. meredith says:

    One more parallel:

    The Howarts motto “Never tickle a sleeping dragon” has been compared to the “waking a sleeping giant” result of the Pearl Harbor attacks.

    I think we saw the pay-off of this comparison when LV took the battle to Hogwarts and awoke a dragon he never anticipated (both the resistance of the people at Hogwarts as well as a literal response from the school itself with the desks and suits of armor getting in on the action.)

  21. The most obvious parallel to me (well, other than the pureblood business) was how similar Cornelius Fudge was to Neville Chamberlain. The films played this up more, ditching the lime green bowler for a somber black one, and the Order of the Phoenix film’s looming Fudge banner in the Ministry was kind of a cast iron skillet to the head, but I always liked the way she played with Fudge as a Chamberlain/Wilson type figure. I half-expected ‘a return to normalcy’ to be his election slogan.

  22. Another obvious Nazi parallel (or obvious to me as a homeschooling mother in Germany) is the mention on page 173 of school attendance becoming compulsory, except for mudbloods, who were not allowed to attend school. This parallels the Reichsschulgesetz, which was enacted in 1938 in Germany. I have written about it on my blog http://gfoh.blogspot.com/ .

  23. Oh, the Nazi parallels were glaringly obvious to me, so much so that they verged on being offensive. In fact, a Jewish (I think) livejournaller I came across who lost family members in WWII did find them offensive. Because Rowling really does not get at the absolute horror of living under a totalitarian regime. Thus (this person felt) she minimizes the horrors tens of millions throughout Europe endured. I can actually see where that commentator is coming from.

    There’s this, too. We live in a world where one genocide and (arguably)at least two near-genocides are occuring as we write and read. Neither one of them bears any similarity to the Nazi genocide, really. Two more major genocides took place in very recent history, and these, too, did not especially resemble the Nazi Genocide. Genocide is an enormous evil, and it looks *different* every time it happens. It would be all to easy to recognize and fight this evil if it always looked the same, but it doesn’t. The commonality – extreme racism – *does* look the same, I would say, but, here again, I have a problem with Rowling’s picture. Because, as far as I can see, in spite of the sappy epilogue, her Wizarding World remains racist and fear-driven. As little Albus Severus got on the train, I was picturing him having to fight his father’s battles all over again, because a new Dark Lord was due to emerge any moment – undoubtedly from Slytherin house.

    So the Nazi parallels were disturbing to me on several levels. But they are certainly there in the text.

  24. Mary, there clearly are parallels to Nazi Germany, but Rowling didn’t recreate that regime, so she didn’t minimize the sufferings of the victims. This is a very serious allegation that you are making. But if we take that historic example, we must keep in mind that after the Nazis came to power it still took 6 years until the horrors of the Second World War. It didn’t happen overnight.

    Deathly Hallows just covers a few weeks and months after the Death Eaters took over the ministry and naturally it started out relatively “harmless”. In time, it would have become much worse and probably would have ended in a genocide. The defeat of Voldemort prevented that. But of course there still would be racism and fear within the society, because it can’t just be eradicated by killing the Dark Lord. Personally I find Rowling’s description very appropriate.

  25. Well, I wasn’t the one who was making the allegations. But it does bother me that Rwoling would still be using the Nazis as the pattern for evil when *several* other genocides are more recent (Stalin, Pol Pot, Bosnia, Rwanda, to name the most obvious). It’s a little too easy to be harking back to WW2 when the evil of racism and genocide is very much present in our world today. That’s what bothers me about the Nazi parallels – they are too specific and too exact, so that it feels almost like a point-to-point allegory. This, in turn, makes it easy for us to say, “Well, we’re not like the Nazis. We would never do things like that!” No, I would hope we wouldn’t. But – do we recognize the evils we *do* allow? Does Harry? Perhaps not always.

    Because it is true that, from what we see in the books, the Wizarding World remains a place where (1) prejudice is acceptable and common (2) strict separation of the ‘races’ (wizard and muggle) is seen as desirable (3) slavery is an accepted institution – and so on. I really don’t like Rowling’s Wizarding World. It doesn’t strike me as a good or healthy place. But, of course, I’m an adult reader, and I’m probably taking these books too seriously.

    Summing up: I think what I’m saying is that it’s very easy to criticize the Nazis. It’s a lot harder, and in the end a lot more valuable, to criticize ourselves. The Nazis, after all, were defeated 60 years ago, but facism survived in Europe for generations after that, and racism and oppression are alive and well throughout the world. Just my two cents!

  26. One point in favor of using the Nazis as a cautionary-tale parallel, IMO, is that it’s an evil that arose from within our own culture, Western culture. It makes it harder, if we’re honest, to say, “We could never do that. We’re not like those people.” We are those people.

  27. Mary, I see. I was just worried about the opinion that Rowling would minimize “the horrors tens of millions throughout Europe endured”. But I understand that you didn’t necessarily share that view of the Jewish livejournaller. While I sympathize with anyone who has lost family members under the Nazi regime, I don’t think it’s a fair criticism of Rowling’s work.

    It is indeed very easy to criticize the Nazis and not ourselves, but I’m not sure that Rowling did that. I think she’s aware that racism and slavery are still alive today, they’re not problems that belong to the past. Otherwise it would be pointless to write about it. It’s up to the reader to reflect on it and take these issues seriously.

  28. I see what you mean, Helen, and fascism certainly arose in Christian countries. But the problem I see here is that we’re inclined to think the Germans are *not* us; that they are different; that the evil they represent in our imaginations has been vanquished; that, no matter what happened in Germany, the same thing could *never* happen in America, or anywhere else – and so on. All of which is quite false. Every human being is capable of being racist, of hating, and of acting (or failing to act) out of fear. It’s also true, though, that when fear and hatred start ruling our actions, the govenrments we end up with may not *look* fascist. Especially not from the inside. And it really doesn’t make sense to me that the type of fear Voldemort represents would lead to a totalitarian government. I personally think he’d be going for a monarchy, myself.

    But, of course, that’s just my opinion. )

  29. Ah well. Maybe it’s because I’m German that I can’t think, “they’re not us”. But even here there are people, and even those who lived through that time, who seem to believe that it wasn’t them. It was an alien invasion.

    Rwanda is a Christian country, too, the majority is Roman Catholic. But we might still say, “they’re not us”, it didn’t happen in our Western culture. Rowling’s novels play in Great Britain, but we might say “it’s happening in the Wizarding World, it’s just a fantasy, it doesn’t happen in real life.”

    My point is that there will always be people who think that way and who don’t want to see the capacity of evil within themselves. It’s not Rowling’s fault, no matter how she would have described it, there would always be readers who don’t get the message.

  30. I see. But one of my main problems with the books, as a whole, is that Rowling herself seems to have a moral double standard. The Unforgivable Curses are evil and will damage your soul and should never, ever, be used by a good person – except when the good guys use them. Snape can never be redeemed or seen as a hero because he is a bully – but we never actually see him bullying *anyone* in DH, whereas both James and Sirius are cruel, unrepentant bullies, which is perfectly okay because they are bullying Snape, who deserves it. And on it goes.

    So, if the Death Eaters are compared to Nazis when they do these evil things, why aren’t the Order *also* compared to Nazis? If racism and discrimination is the worst evil in the world, why is it okay for everyone in the books, including the narrator, to condemn the Slytherins out of hand simply because they are Slytherins? Why is the greatest compliment Dumbledore can manage to give Snape “you should have been in Gryffindor, not in Slytherin”? You see what I mean? Racism is wrong; exploitation is wrong; torture and brainwashing are wrong – except when we, the good guys, are doing it. Then anything goes.

    It is this hypocrisy on Rowling’s part that, to me, makes all the Nazi analogies and condemnation of discrimination fall particularly flat. And that is why I, personally, found them simplistic and offensive.

  31. mary Says:

    August 10th, 2007 at 9:15 am
    I see. But one of my main problems with the books, as a whole, is that Rowling herself seems to have a moral double standard. The Unforgivable Curses are evil and will damage your soul and should never, ever, be used by a good person – except when the good guys use them. Snape can never be redeemed or seen as a hero because he is a bully – but we never actually see him bullying *anyone* in DH, whereas both James and Sirius are cruel, unrepentant bullies, which is perfectly okay because they are bullying Snape, who deserves it. And on it goes.
    __________________—–
    It’s not really so bad as that. All three Unforgivables are condemned by society (the same society, be it noted, that calls the other Magical races “brethren”– I’m becoming more and more inclined to see “Unforgivable” as a sample of Ministry of Magic hyperbole and hypocrisy) but only Avada Kedavra is specifically said to damage the soul. Interestingly, it is made very clear that even Avada Kedavra is not truly Unforgivable: the soul damage is healable and presumably forgiveness is attainable (albeit not, perhaps, from the MoM) on precisely the same grounds as any other wrong: repentance. Voldemort cannot be made whole because he has no remorse in him. As for James and Sirius as unrepentant “good guy” bullies, both Sirius and Lupin are depicted as regretful about the way they treated Snape in the conversation they have with Harry in OOtP after he sees Snape’s Worst Memory. We can at least hope that had James Potter lived, he would have thought better of his youthful cruelty as well.

    As for the depiction of the Slytherins, there is a little nuance there. Narcissa Malfoy at least loves her son, and lies to protect Harry in order to be able to go find Draco. Draco himself seems to be trying to avoid fighting with Voldemort at the end and he tries to keep his execrable cronies from harming Harry. Slughorn does fight with the defenders of Hogwarts in the end. Snape actually proves to be a hero. And the final word on the House of the Serpent is when Harry, in the epilogue, tells young Albus Severus that it’s okay with him if he winds up in Slytherin.

  32. also wanted to chime in with this, about the disappointment that the racism, slavery, etc will continue in the wizarding world after the end of the book. It’s true that Jo hasn’t resolved these things by the end of the story. However, I think it’s safe to say that LV’s control over the ministry and actions brought the injustice of those situations to the forefront of people’s minds. With Voldemort, who was the biggest of the evils, out of the way, wouldn’t it then be easier to tackle those issues and fix them? It would have been pretty much impossible to do it the other way around…

  33. Helen, thanks for your response, but I believe you are wrong. All the Unforgivables damage your soul, without exception, and that is why they are Unforgivable. John had a very interesting post about this a year or two ago. He (then) considered “Imperio” by far the worst of the three, and compared it to the sin against the Holy Spirit. Although one might question that comparison, there is no doubt that all three Unforgivables work in a similar way. All of them require the caster to objectify the person attacked – to see them as a thing, rather than a person, and a hateful thing at that – a creature undeserving of the most basic human rights. When we deliberately harm other people, we also harm ourselves. That’s just true! And it’s universally true. That the Ministry of Magic has been, itself, corrupt, racist and inefficient doesn’t make it wrong about the Unforgivables, IMHO.

  34. I have to say I love the discourse going on here. I’m rather new to all of this Harry Potter discussion but thought I should chime in here. I’m afraid Mary, that in fact you are wrong (literarily speaking). In Half Blood Prince, Slughorn makes it very clear that the way to split one’s soul is through murder; not even killing (as in matters of self defense or war), but murder. Following this in the Deathly Hallows, Hermione specifically mentions that one can repair his or her soul by remorse for one’s actions. While it is obviously morally repugnant to use such curses, the very fact that the ministry of magic “gave the aurors permission” to use the Unforgivable Curses when fighting Voldemort in the first war suggests that the term “Unforgivable” (within the context of the literary magical world) was a legal distinction made by the ministry regarding what to do with someone judicially if such an offense is committed. This is rather similar to police officers being allowed to carry and shoot a gun with permission to kill if a situation so called for it (though that would have to be determined in court as well). And as far as comparing the Order to the Nazis, you could say that the Allied forces were just as bad as the Nazis because they killed Nazis in order to stop the Nazis, but even the Church deems war and even killing necessary under such conditions. How else does one fight such an evil? With regard to the behavior of individuals in the story, I think Rowling showed very human characters in that they were not perfect. The hero was not the hero because he had no flaws. We all have flaws. We all lie, and have biased opinions, and have ill thoughts we’d rather not mention. Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore: they all lied, insulted, in some ways bullied others. This is not proper behavior. But those things in the end are the behaviors of flawed human beings just like us that eventually are purged, because what truly defines us as human beings are the choices we make in the face of true evil. I don’t think such behavior should be encouraged or even excused; it is wrong. But there is a difference between being an arrogant child who learns humility as he grows, and being an evil genocidal racist who will never learn remorse. We should always keep that difference in mind.

  35. Not so much a Nazi echo but this seemed the most appropriate discussion for the matter…

    Earlier at a friend’s house we got talking about Caesar Nero and how he blamed Christians for Rome’s problems…

    It reminded me greatly of Lord Voldemort and his treatment of what he calls “Mudbloods” in Deathly Hallows.

  36. The Nazi allegory is 100% accurate. Especially the one that nobody has mentioned: EUGENICS!!! Voldemort slays a teacher in the very first scene that was a proponent of mixing wizards with muggles. This was paramount in Hitler’s vision on a pure German race. I also think the huge printed propaganda machine against muggles was a nod to anti-Semetic literature of the times.

  37. It’s kind of hard to miss the Nazi parallels…although I had one friend who firmly told me I was imagining it and it was “all in my head” even after viewing DH Part 1 at the cinema! (I personally think she was trying to cover her embarrassment at not noticing it)

    I just wanted to point out the different between racism etc and the treatment/opinion of Slytherin house is that Race is not something we choose…House choice at Hogwarts is. Isn’t it a continually running theme from the moment Harry hears about Slytherin to the epilogue of the final book, that the sorting hat takes your choice into account? Didn’t Harry always have the CHOICE to join slytherin but asked the hat to put him in Gryffindor?

    If we ignore the choice issue for a moment though, the sorting hat is supposed to look into the hearts and minds of the students and sort them accordingly. Hagrid makes the comment in the very first book that basically all the witches and wizards who went ‘bad’ were from Slytherin. This appears to be common knowledge, and yet the students placed in that house seem happy to be there nonetheless. This would imply a bit of moral ambiguity of the slytherin individuals. They also seem to have no issue with the fact that the founder of their house, Salazar Slyhterin, was opposed to muggle born and half blood wizards and witches being educated at Hogwarts. Our heritage and the conditions of our birth are not under our control this sort of intentional discrimination or ‘racism’ if you like is not only despicable, it is also downright unfair.

    Maybe the other houses do sometimes pick on slytherin hoouse a little too much, but the idea that they are inncocent vitims of griffyndor bullies? Well that’s just ridiculous. I do appreciate though, that the message is strong and clear that even if one does become a slytherin, it does not mean they cannot contribute positively to the world. Narcissa Malfoys love for her child, Snape’s love for Lily and his dedication to bringing down Voldermort…heck even good ol’ slughorn fighting in his dressing gown show that there is always the choice to do the right thing, not matter what has happened in the past.

    Just my two cents =)

  38. Alot of these ideas are really interesting and make alot of sense. I won’t repeat them but one interesting thing I noticed was Umbridges similarities to  goebbels. I mean neither was originally associated with Hitler/Voldy but upon their rise to power, both umbridge and goebbels became very supportive. Also both becamein charge of propoganda and creating a culture of fear. The pamphlets in the film were strikely similar to Goebbels productions( the film was a little to obvious in refernencing if you want my opinion. I mean SPOILER the suits with the red death eater armbands or carving MUDBLOOD into hermiones arm? Over kill mate.) lastly, and perhaps most humourously, their build. Short, tiny toad like people. Well, there you go.

  39. Luke Smith says:

    I noticed these parallells when I was reading Deathly Hallows. I don’t think, however, it’s useful to look for specific links, just the general feeling and values of Voldermort’s Britain seem to mirror Hitler’s Germany.

    The obsession with being ‘pure’ for example. Hitler saw the Aryans as the ‘master race’, just as Voldermort saw pure bloods as superior. Interestingly to note, Voldermort was not pure blood just as Hitler was not the typical blonde hair, blue eyes Aryan. The ‘Magic is Might’ statue seemed to be very Nazi Germany-esque. And of course, the rounding up of Mudbloods can no doubt be compared to the rounding up of Jews.

    Furthermore, the propaganda. All the ‘Undesirable Number One’ leaflets, and removing any anti-Voldermort teacher from Hogwarts mirrors the propaganda and censorship imposed by the Hitler Government.

    Finally, the general feeling of fear: many people knew what was going on was wrong, but were too afraid for their families to speak out. I think JK captured this concept very well indeed.

    I was interested to see that the film played up the Nazi Germany nature of Voldermort’s rule. For example, when they’re escaping from the Ministry all the guards seem very much to resemble Nazis; they even wear red arm bands!

    I very much liked this symbolism. JK has always been a critic of racism and extremism: as early as Book 4 the Death Eaters seem to resemble the KKK.

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