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How JFK secretly ADMIRED Hitler: Explosive book reveals former President’s praise for the Nazis as he travelled through Germany before Second World War
- A new book reveals President Kennedy was a secret admirer of the Nazis
- Embarrassingly close to visit being paid to Berlin next month by Obama
- Comes one week before 50th anniversary commemorations of JFK's memorable 'Ich bin ein Berliner' speech pledging US solidarity with Europe
By Allan Hall
PUBLISHED:06:39 EST, 23 May 2013| UPDATED:10:24 EST, 23 May 2013
A new book out in Germany reveals how President Kennedy was a secret admirer of the Nazis.
The news comes embarrassingly close to a visit being paid to Berlin next month by President Obama - one week before 50th anniversary commemorations of JFK's memorable 'Ich bin ein Berliner' speech pledging US solidarity with Europe during the Cold War.
President Kennedy's travelogues and letters chronicling his wanderings through Germany before WWII, when Adolf Hitler was in power, have been unearthed and show him generally in favour of the movement that was to plunge the world into the greatest war in history
Secret: A new book out in Germany reveals how President Kennedy was a secret admirer of the Nazis
'Fascism?' wrote the youthful president-to-be in one. 'The right thing for Germany.'
In another; 'What are the evils of fascism compared to communism?'
And on August 21, 1937 - two years before the war that would claim 50 million lives broke out - he wrote: 'The Germans really are too good - therefore people have ganged up on them to protect themselves.'
And in a line which seems directly plugged into the racial superiority line plugged by the Third Reich he wrote after travelling through the Rhineland: 'The Nordic races certainly seem to be superior to the Romans.'
The future president's praise is now embarrassing in hindsight - a few years later he fought in War War Two against the Nazis and his elder brother Lt. Joseph Patrick 'Joe' Kennedy, Jr was killed.
Revealing: Presidential diaries and photographs are among more than 500 items from a collection of John F. Kennedy documents and artifacts
Tour: Kennedy recovers, right, from jaundice in a London hospital in 1937 and left juggles on a street in Amsterdam during a trip to Europe
Trip: Kennedy and one of his sisters ride camels in Egypt in 1939
'I CAN IMAGINE NO MORE REWARDING A CAREER': JOHN F KENNEDY'S MILITARY SERVICE
As a young man, the future president had desperately wanted to go into the Navy but was originally rejected - mainly due to a back injury he sustained playing football while attending Harvard.
In 1941, though, his politically connected father Joe P Kennedy used his influence to get him in to the service and he joined the Navy.
In 1942, Kennedy volunteered for PT (motorized torpedo) boat duty in the Pacific.
On 12 June 1944 he received the Navy's highest honor for gallantry for his heroic actions as a gunboat pilot during World War II.
The Navy Marine Corps Medal and the Purple Heart were presented to Lt. Kennedy for his heroics and injuries sustained in the rescue of the crew of PT 109 during on August 2, 1943 when the motor torpedo boat was struck by a Japanese destroyer.
His back was hurt during duty and Kennedy was released from all active duty and finally retired from the U.S. Naval Reserve on physical disability in March 1945.
'I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: I served in the United States Navy.'
John F Kennedy
Other musings concern how great the autobahns were - 'the best roads in the world' - and how, having visited Hitler's Bavarian holiday home in Berchtesgaden and the tea house built on top of the mountain for him.
He declared; 'Who has visited these two places can easily imagine how Hitler will emerge from the hatred currently surrounding him to emerge in a few years as one of the most important personalities that ever lived.'
Kennedy's admiration for Nazi Germany is revealed in a book entitled 'John F. Kennedy - Among the Germans. Travel diaries and letters 1937-1945.'
When World War II did arrive, the future president's father, Joe P Kennedy, strongly opposed going into battle with Germany and made several missteps that severely damaged his political career.
He adopted a defeatist, anti-war stance and tried to arrange a meeting with Adolf Hitler without the approval of the Department of State.
The reasons for this are unclear - some speculate he was eager to do anything to avoid war because he feared that American capitalism - which he profited from - would not survive the country’s entry into the conflict.
In his role as US ambassador to Britain he also opposed providing the UK with military and economic aid.
He said in an interview 'Democracy is finished in England. It may be here [in the US].
During the World War II, JFK's older brother Joe volunteered for a secret mission testing an experimental drone plane packed with explosives - a weapon the Allies hoped to use as a guided missile.
On the first test flight, the explosives detonated prematurely and the plane exploded - his body was never found.
Studies: The future American president sits at a typewriter, holding open his published thesis, 'Why England Slept'
March 1939, London, John F. Kennedy and his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, US Ambassador to Great Britain, board an Air France plane at Croydon Airport. He accompanied his father to Rome, where he will be representing President Roosevelt at the coronation of Pope Pius XII
Pals: Kennedy and Lem Billings, right, who was a classmate from the Choate School and Princeton University, outside a drugstore in the mid 1930s
Travel companion: Kennedy, Dunker the dog, and Lem Billings at the Hague, during their Europe trip
The youthful president carved his own place in history when he stood outside the West Berlin town hall of Schoeneberg on June 26 1963 to declare US solidarity with the city and the continent with the immortal words; 'Ich bin ein Berliner.'
The fact that, strictly speaking, he was referring to himself as a doughnut - a Berliner - did not diminish the wild enthusiasm for him.
But his praise of Hitler in a country still struggling to come to terms with his legacy may prove awkward for Obama who will visit Berlin for wide-ranging talks with Chancellor Merkel on June 18 and 19.
US President John F. Kennedy at the Schoeneberg Town Hall during his visit to Germany. The youthful president carved his own place in history when he stood outside the West Berlin town hall on June 26 1963 to declare US solidarity with the city and the continent with the immortal words; 'Ich bin ein Berliner'
Infamous: One of President Kennedy's speech cards carrying his famous remark 'Ich bin ein Berline', which he delivered in a speech that electrified an adoring crowd in Berlin
Fans: Thousands of citizens lined the main street in West Berlin as the president arrived flanked by police and bodyguards
Farewell: President John F. Kennedy waves goodbye as he leaves Berlin for Ireland
But his praise was not entirely without caveats.
'It is evident that the Germans were scary for him,' said Spiegel magazine in Berlin.
In the diaries of the three trips he made to prewar Germany he also recognised; 'Hitler seems to be as popular here as Mussolini in Germany, although propaganda is probably his most powerful weapon.'
Observers say his writings ranged between aversion and attraction for Germany.
The book also contains his impressions when walking through a shattered Berlin after the war: 'An overwhelming stench of bodies - sweet and nauseating'.
And of the recently deceased Fuehrer he said; 'His boundless ambition for his country made him a threat to peace in the world, but he had something mysterious about him. He was the stuff of legends.'
The book editor's believe that he was 'eerily fascinated' by fascism.
Bad timing: The news comes embarrassingly close to a visit being paid to Berlin next month by President Obama - one week before 50th anniversary commemorations of JFK's memorable 'Ich bin ein Berliner' speech pledging US solidarity with Europe during the Cold War