Judy Mandelbaum

Judy Mandelbaum
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MARCH 5, 2010 8:48AM

Poland's new pro-life poster child: Adolf Hitler

Rate: 9 Flag

  Poster Poznan
"Abortion was introduced for Polish women
by Hitler on March 9, 1943" (Source: Bild)

A familiar face is once more casting its sinister shadow upon the streets of Poznan, Poland. In the runup to International Women's Day next Monday, none other than Adolf Hitler personally has been drafted from beyond the grave as a Polish anti-abortion campaign's new poster child.

The 200 square meter poster, which has so far appeared only in this western Polish city of half a million residents, depicts the Führer's brooding countenance and clipped mustache alongside graphic photos of aborted fetuses. "Abortion was introduced for Polish women by Hitler on March 9, 1943," it reads.

The poster is the brainchild of the Polish anti-abortion group Fundacja Pro. In a statement to Reuters, campaign organiser Mariusz Dzierzawski said: "It is our duty to fight for the rights of murdered children. Abortion is a crime and drawing such a parallel is absolutely justified." He plans to hang his Hitler posters in thirty other Polish towns over the coming days and weeks.

In this traditionally Catholic country where opinions are divided more or less evenly about amending Poland's strict anti-abortion laws, not everyone appreciates the campaign. Many Poles are upset at seeing Hitler's face on the streets of a city that suffered immense losses in World War II (Heinrich Himmler delivered his infamous speech on the Final Solution at the Poznan Castle). Many are also troubled by the hypocrisy of the campaign itself. While Hitler did encourage Polish and other "non-Aryan" women to abort their children, he was anything but a champion of abortion rights in his own society and actually handed out medals to German women who gave birth to four or more children. "This is sick... Fascism, Stalinism... prohibited abortion, often on pain of death, so bans on abortion are strongly linked to totalitarianism," Magdalena Sroda, a professor of ethics, told the Polish daily paper Gazeta Wyborcza. Adam Boniecki, a Catholic cleric and chief editor of the Tygodnik Powszechny in Cracow, expressed his disgust at Dzerzawski's Hitler comparison and the campaign poster, saying that "a line has been crossed."

Will the poster change many Poles' minds? We shouldn't underestimate the factor of basic common sense. Hitler simply doesn't fly as a "pro-life" spokesman - ironic or otherwise - in a country that was the site of the Auschwitz-Birkenau, Treblinka, and Sobibor extermination camps. Nazi plans called for the enslavement and gradual annihilation of the Polish people. From 1939 to 1945 Hitler and his henchmen murdered close to six million Poles (nearly a fifth of the  pre-war population), divided into roughly equal measure between Catholics and Jews.

But Dzierzawski has bigger concerns than a sense of historical proportion. He recently told the Gazeta Wyborcza  that previous "soft campaigns" against abortion had so far had little impact on opponents of existing laws, which prohibit all abortions except in certain cases of rape and incest, severe birth defects, and danger to the life of the mother. Polish feminist and pro-choice organisations traditionally use International Women's Day as an occasion to get their message across, and his organization now needs to reach for stronger measures to maintain the status quo. "We as abortion opponents have no choice," Dzierzawski said.

Mariusz Dzierzawski 
"We have no choice":
Right-wing anti-abortionist Mariusz Dzierzawski

But Dzierzawski really doesn't have much to complain about. In fact, he can be deeply satisfied that, thanks to his campaign and the moral authority of the Catholic Church, Poland has one of the lowest official abortion rates in all of Europe, counting fewer than 300 procedures in 2009.

It all depends on how you count, though. Polish women's groups estimate the number of illegal backstreet abortions at over 180,000 per year.

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This has crossed the line. It is disgusting and a twist of history for the benefit of some specific political agenda. I feel for those women who must hide, sneak around, take chances with their own health, who succumb to death because it is abortion is a back street procedure. In this life, why must women continue to be treated like they don't know their own minds. Trust Women, said Dr. Tiller, and I do.
This is so wrong on so many levels. Whatever stance I take on anything, I don't want to be on the same side of any argument as Adolf Hitler. One woman getting an abortion cannot and should never be compared to the most notorious genocidal maniac in history.

That campaign is truly revolting, but good article.
I remember an old Paul Harvey report I read when I was a kid, which said that Hitler's mom was destitute, and sought an abortion. She decided to keep the baby on the advice of her physician. If she'd had a different doctor, the world might not have had the Third Reich, the Holocaust, atomic weapons ...

Leonardo DaVinci's mother was in the same situation, and also decided against abortion ultimately (on someone else's counsel).

Life is strange.

~R!~
You might find my post I am not Pro-Slavery. Are you? to be a useful complement to this discussion. I wrote it because the rhetoric on abortion has been escalated on the pro-Life side in various ways (now this issue you raise among them), and it makes it appear (wrongly) as if there is no justification for strong passion on the pro-Choice side.
The beauty of using arguments like this is that a rational person has a hard time responding. It hurts our heads.

Despite the headache, thank you for the post and the information.
Indiana_Joe
Yes, arguments like those and the eugenic dream of shaping the future by centrally monkeying around with human choices in the present help convince me that decisions on abortion should be left to the women themselves.

Kent Pitman
Thanks, great article!

Wildmajoram,
I agree, this sort of argument kills intelligent debate, which seems to be the whole point.
Very interesting article. How long before U.S. abortion opponents adopt this tactic? Or has the Tea Party already done it?
I don't agree with the anti-abortion crowd but I'll respect their right to argue the issue. But in an effort to convert others to their line of thinking, this group really screwed up in adopting Hitler to get their point across. It makes me wonder just how many people they'll manage to convince with such a strategy.
THE MYTH that "Hitler was a vegetarian" is far more damaging!

Carol Orsag, in Irving Wallace and David Wallechinsky’s The People’s Almanac (1975), writes that Adolf Hitler "became vegetarian because of stomach problems" rather than out of compassion for animals, and "was criticized for eating pig’s knuckles."

In a 1996 article, "Nazis and Animals: Debunking the Myths," Roberta Kalechofsky of Jews for Animal Rights states that Hitler "had a special fondness for sausages and caviar, and sometimes ham," as well as "liver dumplings." Kalechofsky states further that the Nazis experimented on animals as well as humans in the concentration camps:

"The evidence of Nazi experiments on animals is overwhelming. In The Dark Face of Science, author John Vyvyan summed it up correctly: ‘The experiments made on prisoners were many and diverse, but they had one thing in common: all were in continuation of, or complementary to, experiments on animals. In every instance, this antecedent scientific literature is mentioned in the evidence, and at Buchenwald and Auschwitz concentration camps, human and animal experiments were carried out simultaneously as parts of a single programme.’"

Regarding abortion:

Dr. Bernard Nathanson (co-founder of NARAL; a physician presiding over 60,000 abortions before changing sides on the issue), wrote in his 1979 book, Aborting America:

"Anti-abortion authors cannot restrain themselves from dragging Adolf Hitler out of the grave. A society that accepts abortion, we are told, is doing what the Nazis did when they killed off the handicapped, the retarded, the gypsies, and the Jews.

"The facts are these. The German Nazis had strict anti-abortion policies--for 'Aryans.' Jews were encouraged to abort, as part of Hitler's racial purity madness...Strange that Right-to-Lifers do not make more of the fact that the pioneer in liberal abortion was not Hitler but V.I. Lenin, in 1920. The Soviet Union is not exactly one's ideal of a humanitarian, life valuing state, either."

Pro-lifers and pro-choicers agree on everything except the timing; i.e., the time to decide when to have a child is before conception, not after. Abortion is not a confrontation between misogynistic oppressors of women and cold-blooded "baby killers," rather it is a rational, secular debate on when human rights should begin.

Unfortunately, both sides are engaged in a propaganda war. Dr. Bernard Nathanson wrote further:

"...the Right-to-Lifers are not in favor of all 'life' under all circumstances. They are not in the forefront of the save-the-seals crusade. They are not devotees of Albert Schweitzer's 'reverence for life,' or its equivalent in Eastern religions, in which the extinction of cows or flies somehow violates the sanctity of the cosmos.

"Turning to the human species, they do not necessarily oppose the taking of life via capital punishment. Where were they when Caryl Chessman was executed for a crime he likely did not commit--and a rape at that, not a murder?

"They were likely not notably in the opposition while the United States was sacrificing lives on both sides of a questionable war in Viet Nam.

"They are not 'pro-life'; they are simply anti-abortion. "

However, Dr. Nathanson goes on to say about those who prefer to call themselves "pro-choice" (rather than "pro-abortion"):

"This is the Madison Avenue euphemism of the other side. Who could possibly be opposed to something so benign as 'choice' ? The answer is: Almost anyone--depending. The diehard opposition to civil rights and public accommodations for blacks Americans in the '50s and '60s was 'pro-choice' with a vengeance. Some whites wanted the 'right' to serve hamburgers or rent hotel rooms to whomever they wished.

"Most of us now oppose the concept of 'choice' in such ugly claims. The true question is, 'What choice is being offered, and should society sanction that choice?' In any honest discussion we must focus upon what is being chosen, without hiding behind the slogan."

On the Democrats-For-Life e-list, Louis Shapiro once asked: Why do supporters of abortion rights, who prefer to call themselves "pro-choice" (instead of pro-abortion) object to "Choose Life" license plate frames as well, when the slogan capitulates to the other side by inferring "Choice" ?!

And women aren't out there getting "recreational" abortions, either. A Feminists For Life pamphlet, What Women Really Want, from the mid-1990s says:

"Since both sides of the abortion issue agree that no woman wants to have an abortion, it is a cruel hoax to call abortion a woman's 'choice.' No woman should be forced to choose between relinquishing life and career plans or suffering through a humiliating, invasive procedure and sacrificing her child. Abortion is a last resort, not a free choice."

We see pro-choicers opposing even reasonable restrictions on abortion. Our laws require parental notification or consent if minors want tattoos or pierced ears, why should abortion be exempt?

The decision to take a life is very grave, so why is it unreasonable to require a 24 hour waiting period, to give a new mother time to think things through, rather than make a decision in haste?

The pro-choice rhetoric that women are capable of deciding for themselves whether or not to carry a child to term means they ought to be able to make informed choices. The informed consent or "women's right to know" laws advocated by pro-lifers are consistent with pro-choice rhetoric.

Even many pro-choicers are uncomfortable with abortion during the later stages of pregnancy: yet they are often reluctant to support a ban on partial-birth abortions--a procedure which is never medically "necessary," and which former Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan likened to infanticide.

In Guerilla Apologetics for Life Issues, Paul Nowak points out that Planned Parenthood opposes even reasonable restrictions upon abortion, such as 24 hour waiting periods, parental notification, informed consent, etc. Nowak writes: "Planned Parenthood opposes clinic regulations, despite the fact that in many states there are more restrictions on veterinary clinics than self-regulated abortion facilities."

Since the goal of the pro-choice movement is to "keep abortion safe and legal," why does Planned Parenthood object to clinic regulations?

Again, both sides are engaged in a propaganda war.
Sheila, let's be realistic. When abortion is legalised nothing happens except the backstreet abortionists move into the shop fronts and charge more. The procedure stays the same, the danger remains and the murder occurs. Life begins at conception, there is no medical book which disputes that fact. How can we murder people just because we think they make our lives difficult?