Is that an anti-Ukrainian propaganda piece in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

The original text of this piece has been removed. I am not usually in the habit of sweeping my screw-ups under the carpet, but I didn’t want it to generate Google hits that would, once again, paint Ukraine as a country of evil barbarians. In the original piece, I was expressing outrage that Hitler toys are on sale in Ukraine. Well, apparently, they’re on sale in Britain as well, except that the BBC did not report on that in the video that they have mysteriously removed (without issuing a formal retraction or clarification). What was also misleading was the fact that the video made it seem as though Hitler toys are going mass-market in Ukraine, which is simply not the case.

Here is an essay on the matter. I’d like to add that Ukrainian channels such as STB were also reporting on the story, which made it seem balanced at the time.

I don’t know about the ethical issues of selling Hitler toys. Some people view them merely as collectible items for a niche market that do not, in and of themselves, promote Nazism. To be honest, they creep me out. I don’t doubt that Ukraine has problems with Nazism (like Russia and Germany), and they also creep me out (in fact, they terrify me).

You know what else creeps me out? Propaganda.

Thanks to the reader who alerted me to this situation.

6 thoughts on “Is that an anti-Ukrainian propaganda piece in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?

  1. When I was in Japan a few years ago, I saw goths wearing swastika armbands. Fun fun fun.

    I’m not sure if this is related to the Hitler doll in the Ukraine, but I’ve noticed that American hipsters seem to have this fascination with him (for example, I once knew a guy who wrote a comic strip about “Happy Hitler”). Are they just tickled by the depths of their own irony? Or are they venting tendencies they know aren’t PC?

  2. *scratching head*

    No idea. It could be just a person’s own individual way of dealing with the manifestation of evil. Who knows. Perhaps even this doll can be defended on those grounds. Though I personally could not defend it.

  3. I used to draw swastikas on things when I was in elementary school, a lot of us did things like that. It was just something we weren’t supposed to do, and didn’t fully understand, and it had much more in common with looking at a playboy this other kid snuck in one day than anything actually to do with Fascism. Maybe some people just never outgrow that?

    Ironic naziism/racism pisses me off because it’s just such a glib way for asshole hipsters to deal with the world.

  4. girldetective said: “… are they venting tendencies they know aren’t PC?”

    As far as the Ukrainian market for this “Hitler doll” is concerned, my guess is that this doll is targeted toward at least moderately affluent (by American standards) purchasers. Given current economic conditions in Ukraine, especially with Ukrainian inflation (including food prices?), it is unlikely that the Ukrainian middle classes could find the spare cash to buy something as frivolous as this doll unless they planned to sell it on the black market. So I speculate that this doll with its accurate-looking accessories is targeted toward foreign tourists (from which nation?) and/or toward wealthy Ukrainians. The BBC web site video report notes that the doll’s accessories seem to aim at historical accuracy and especially to illustrate the “historical evolution” of Hitler’s uniforms (the early brown uniform, the later German Army-style greatcoat, the leather greatcoat, etc.), so the doll seems targeted toward purchasers who are interested in Hitler as a historical figure. My guess is that such a market would not include very young people such as the Japanese “goths” wearing swastikas. And adults who don’t self-identify as fascists, but do study Hitler as part of German and European history, frankly don’t need dolls to help them understand Hitler.

    So my concern is that the targeted market for this Hitler doll are very affluent adults who either are so stupid and shallow that they don’t understand and don’t care what Hitler represents, or else somehow identify with Hitler and his movement.

    This latter category worries me. Ordinarily, in the U.S., very affluent adults who identify with Hitler are people who, despite their affluence, for some reason feel incredibly powerless, and so identify with Hitler as someone who succeeded in gaining control over people (which is what powerless people want). In Ukraine, I’m not sure why very affluent or wealthy Ukrainians would identify with Hitler, because wealthy Ukrainians are anything but powerless, or so I understand. But the possibility that affluent adults from any country might identify with Hitler is a scary phenomenon, and Ukrainian authorities need to pay attention to that.

  5. The source information on which your article is based is inaccurate
    anti-Ukrainian propaganda.

    The doll is manufactured in Taiwan, not Ukraine. They are not being
    “stocked in supermarkets”; *one* was found in a speciality shop. The
    saleswoman quoted in the article said nothing of the sort of things she
    was attributed with having said in your story. The idea of a further
    line of Nazi souvenirs was the imaginings of the original author of the
    story uncovering the doll’s existence in Ukraine, as in a horrific,
    “what next?” scenario (http://www.dt.ua/1000/1550/62775/ – Dzerkalo
    Tyzhdnia, in Ukrainian.)
    In fact, this exact same Taiwanese doll is for sale in the UK
    (http://www.modellersloft.co.uk/showitem.ihtml?id=22831) and in America
    (http://www.pzg.biz/figure_hitler.htm).

    There is detailed information about how this story came to be twisted
    into a slander against Ukraine, one posted by the Kharkiv Human Rights
    Protection Group (http://www.khpg.org/en/index.php?id=1209570049) and a
    more detailed analysis by the Ukrainian Archive
    (http://www.ukar.ca/shevchenko/buzyna/hitler.html).

    This “story” has already been retracted by the BBC, the Daily Telegraph
    and most recently by The Philadelphia Trumpet
    (http://thetrumpet.com/index.php?q=5109.3384.0.0).

    Please do the right thing and replace your current article with a
    similar apology, which you will note the Trumpet has placed on it’s
    front page (http://thetrumpet.com/).

  6. Hmmm, well at least I never said that it was *manufactured* in Ukraine – you’re right, it was manufactured in Taiwan (and STB reported that right away, from what I understand).

    But I’m glad to hear it was a propaganda piece (personally, I think that whole story with Kiev International students being “indoctrinated” into Nazism was a propaganda piece as well – but who listens to me?).

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by and letting me know. I just moved again and have been out of the loop as of late. I have updated the text of this piece and the URL.

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