Could the Internet have stopped Hitler?  If we all blogged about the Beer Hall Putsch — or if we revealed the precision of the train schedules and the suspicious smoke swirling from the Treblinka ovens — could we have stopped the killing of the Jews before the ghosts reached tragic proportions?  Nobel prizewinner Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio believes it possible:

The spread of information on the Internet has given the world a new tool to forestall conflicts, Nobel literature prize winner Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio said Sunday.

In his Nobel lecture to the Swedish Academy, the 68-year-old Frenchman said an earlier introduction of information technology could even have prevented World War II.

“Who knows, if the Internet had existed at the time, perhaps Hitler’s criminal plot would not have succeeded – ridicule might have prevented it from ever seeing the light of day,” he said.

What Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clezio fails to recognize is that technology is a product of its times.

We cannot apply our current knowledge of the Internet and place it backward into 1942 and World War II in Germany. 

Hitler still would have found a way to kill the Jews, Internet or not, just as the United States — in the midst of an Internet revolution — found a way to successfully torture people at the grave of Abu Ghraib.


  1. I tend to agree with you – it took a long time for people to believe what Hitler was doing. The internet might have sped up the time it took us to believe – because there would have been photographic evidence and that would have added credence to the claims.
    Having said that – we are seeing the evidence coming out of Dafour and Zimbabwe every day and nothing is being done.

  2. Nicola —
    Ah, but we’re pretending that Hitler wouldn’t know about being watched — so in order to stop the images, he’d take the whole thing underground: Bunker Ovens and filter out all the “ashes” to help heal the ozone and he’d sell the whole enterprise to the world as “truly cleansing the earth” and we wouldn’t know the how or the why of it until it was too late… again.
    Bad people use technology, too — probably better at exploiting its full potential than the do-gooders.
    People did not believe he was burning Jews. I know America really didn’t take it in full until the liberation of the camps and then the story was out as the G.I.s took pictures and saw it with their own eyes. Unfortunately, a lot of the most sick prisoners were killed when the soldiers, horrified, fed them everything they had on them: Chocolate, crackers, cheese, water, soup, chicken… and their starving bodies could not process the rich food and they died.
    You’re right we have Holocausts all around us and we fiddle away our time on the SuperBowl, blogging, football, laughing and going to the movies. What a condemnation of us!

  3. I remember learning as a child that the Nazis kept meticulous records of absolutely everything they did and built because they fully believed that they would succeed and would need a good history of the third reich, the thousand year reich. I would imagine that if the technology of the internet had been available, it would have been all up online for the world to see, with their own spin on what they were doing.

  4. That’s right, Gordon. The Germans were meticulous in wanting to preserve every moment of their historic time. If they hadn’t wandered into Russia, they just might have made it. They had the money, willpower and the people power to make such a reign happen. They certainly would’ve made the best use of current technology.

  5. I imagine they might have even had pages boasting of the efficiency of their manslaughter. A terrifying thought indeed.

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