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Springing To Hitler's Defense

WATCH: The bizarre citation comes around the 1:20 mark.

Outrageous Insult. Shocking Ignorance. Vulgar Propaganda.

Those are some of the things people have been saying about the fact that in July 2008, just a couple of weeks before the Russia-Georgia war, Sakartvelo TV, affiliated with the Georgian Defense Ministry, quoted Adolf Hitler.

The quote was used in a documentary promoting service in the reserve troops. A man's voice solemnly read: "'It must be thoroughly understood that the lost land will never be won back by solemn prayers, nor by hopes in any League of Nations, but only by the force of arms.' Adolf Hitler, 1932.'"

At the time, perhaps because there were few viewers, the quotation didn't attract much attention.

But recently, after a Tbilisi-based human rights organization reported on it, the issue reemerged on Internet forums.

The renewed discussions prompted Georgia's Defense Ministry to release a statement on January 19 distancing itself from the documentary and the quotation, calling it "a personal initiative and the vision of the authors."

RFE/RL's Georgian Service interviewed the people responsible of the film. The author, Giorgi Gabrichidze, deeply regretted using the quote, condemning Hitler and his ideology and stressing that it was just one of several citations he had used.

"At that time, I agreed with this particular statement about regaining territories by force -- and it didn't matter who the author might be, Hitler, Stalin, or equally blood-thirsty Napoleon," he said.

The film's producer, Giorgi Tskvitava, said the quote had been removed as soon as it was aired only once. Using the quote was a "big mistake" that the author of the film had made, the producer stressed.

But analysts interviewed by RFE/RL didn't quite agree that any one person was to blame for the incident.

Anthropologist Mikheil Svanidze remembered that at that time, the dream of restoring Georgia's territorial integrity by all possible means -- not excluding force -- frequently manifested itself in politicians' rhetoric, and was shared by many in the society. Quoting Hitler, Svanidze says, was an indirect, insensitive, and severely exaggerated consequence of such moods.

This -- the analyst stressed -- doesn't mean that the ideas of the fascist Third Reich resonated with the Georgian context. Rather, the unfortunate mistake of quoting one of the biggest criminals of the 20th century should be seen as yet another reminder that intensified nationalism and populism often lead to such vulgar and excessive gaffes.

-- Salome Asatiani

About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at

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