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OPINION | Bill O'Reilly: Trump's real failure is not understanding the evils of Nazism

Lost in the intense debate over Charlottesville is a very important lesson that all Americans should learn. It has nothing to do with American politics or ideology. It has everything to do with history.

I have written three books about World War II and am currently researching a fourth. I can tell you with certainty that most people on this planet have no clue as to how German Nazis went about their lethal business. And that includes President Trump and many other politicians both present and past.

Exceptions are the Jewish people who directly experienced genocide at the hands of the Third Reich. In most Jewish homes around the world, the gruesome German atrocities are discussed and children are taught what happened in detail.

But in many American public schools, World War II and Nazism is barely mentioned. Adolph Hitler has become a caricature of evil, a distant monster.

He should be as vivid as today's sunrise.

The historical context of the Charlottesville reaction is that mass murder was carried out by ordinary Germans while the vast majority of that population looked away out of self-interest and fear. And these folks weren't from another planet. Did you know that German Americans comprise the largest ethnic group in this country?

The crimes of Hitler's regime and the population that allowed it were so terrible that words cannot come close to description. Yet words are all we have.

So to hear and see Americans embrace Nazi hatred, even though their numbers are small, is catastrophic to people who understand Hitler's evil.

That's why no other discussion can take place when Nazis are being analyzed. They must stand alone in any vilification even though Stalin, Mao, Tojo and others also committed premeditated mass murder on a staggering scale.

President Trump did not understand that and it has hurt him. He was trying to make other points in the midst of the revulsion of white supremacists marching in Charlottesville.

Mr. Trump saw violence by some counter-protesters and pointed it out. But when a young woman is killed by an alleged Nazi sympathizer, that point must wait to be made.

The president also said that some who do not want the Charlottesville statue of Robert E. Lee removed are "good people." That's certainly true, but the proximity of white supremacists to the situation obscures the point, and makes Mr. Trump seem insensitive to the danger these loons pose, and to the horrors of slavery.

The result of the president's remarks has been to give his legions of enemies license to brand him, his staff, and his supporters "Nazi sympathizers."

That is not true, but truth is always the first casualty of hysteria.

If Donald Trump and millions of others had really studied the evil of the Third Reich, the Charlottesville political debacle might have been avoided in the sense that zero tolerance for the supremacists could have actually united the country.

Instead, we have our leadership under sustained, vicious attack and even more ideological strife on our hands.

But if Americans finally begin to learn about and truly understand the past, then something positive might emerge from this awful situation.

We can only hope.

Bill O'Reilly hosts a daily podcast on BillO'Reilly.com. His new book, "Killing England" will be released on September 19. He is also the former host of "The O'Reilly Factor" on Fox News. Follow him on Twitter @billoreilly.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.

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