Everything that was important to know about him was laid out in his memoir/manifesto: his virulent racism; his contempt for Christianity, democracy and all things Western; his murderous hatred of the Jews.
Adolf Hitler dictated "Mein Kampf" ("My Fight") to Rudolph Hess while in Landsberg prison in 1923. After Hitler became chancellor (prime minister) in 1933, a second edition, published in English and French as well as German, sold more than a million copies.
Within a month of assuming office, Hitler began converting Germany into a dictatorship -- just as he'd said he would in "Mein Kampf."
He would seize land for lebensraum (living space) in the Slavic countries to the east, Russia especially, Hitler said in his manifesto. But when British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and French Premier Edouard Daladier met with Hitler in Munich in September 1938, they chose to believe the Sudetenland represented the end of his territorial ambitions. By sacrificing their ally Czechoslovakia, they hoped to secure "peace in our time."
Chamberlain and Daladier chose to believe this because it would have been uncomfortable politically for them to acknowledge the truth. Liberals today delude themselves about the Muslim Brotherhood, for, I suppose, the same reason. But pretending a man-eating tiger is a pussycat doesn't make it so.
The Muslim Brotherhood (Ikhwan) was founded in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, an Egyptian schoolteacher. He sought a world wide caliphate governed by Islamic law (Sharia). "Allah is our objective," says the Ikhwan's motto. "The Prophet is our leader. Jihad is our way. Dying in the way of Allah is our greatest hope."
Al Banna admired Hitler. He had "Mein Kampf" translated into Arabic. The Nazis subsidized the Muslim Brotherhood. The ranks of the SS Handjar Division were filled mostly by the Ikhwan.
The Muslim Brotherhood is today the world's largest and best financed Islamist organization. It's in 70 countries, including ours.
The Ikhwan's goals haven't changed, the current supreme leader said Dec. 29.
"The Brotherhood is getting closer to achieving its greatest goal as envisioned by its founder, Imam Hassan al-Banna," said Dr. Muhammad Badi. "A government evolving into a rightly guided caliphate and mastership of the world."
"Mein Kampf" is still, after the Koran, the Ikhwan's favorite book. "This stuff we now see in the Islamic world looks like Nazism because it comes from the Nazis," wrote journalist Claire Berlinski on her blog Ricochet.
In a 2009 sermon, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood's leading jurist, said: "Thoughout history, Allah has imposed upon (the Jews) people who would punish them for their corruption. The last punishment was carried out by Adolf Hitler. ... Oh Allah, count their numbers and kill them, down to the very last one."
The Muslim Brotherhood supports terrorism against Israel, Americans, the Shiites in Iraq. But because it plans to get power the way Hitler did, many liberals view the Ikhwan as benign. President Barack Obama even chose Mr. Qaradawi to mediate peace talks with the Taliban.
In elections Jan. 8, the Muslim Brotherhood won the most seats in the lower house of the Egyptian parliament. Islamist parties won nearly two thirds of the seats. The new speaker they chose is a member of the Ikhwan.
Elections for the upper house begin in late January. The presidential elections are in June. If the Muslim Brotherhood wins control of the government, it eventually will try to impose Sharia and hold a referendum to abrogate the peace treaty with Israel.
The Ikhwan are likely also to dominate the new government in Libya, where the regime of secular dictator Moammar Gadhafi was felled by NATO bombs, and in Syria, should secular dictator Bashar al-Assad fall there.
Against all evidence, President Jimmy Carter in 1970 told himself the mullahs in Iran were moderate reformers. Against even more evidence, Mr. Obama regards the Muslim Brotherhood pretty much the same way. We're paying still a heavy price for Mr. Carter's egregious misjudgment. A greater miscalculation, with more profound consequences, looms.
Jack Kelly is a columnist for the Post-Gazette and The Blade of Toledo, Ohio ( firstname.lastname@example.org , 412 263-1476).