It is a horrific sign of what was to come.
In New York today, the Simon Wiesenthal Center will reveal what it believes is the original copy of Adolf Hitler's first known writing about his anti-Semitic view of the world.
Known as the "Gemlich letter" for the name of the man to whom it was sent in 1919, the general contents of the discourse have been known for years and a copy, as The New York Times reported last week, has been in the archives of a Munich museum.
Now, the center says it has obtained the original, for $150,000, from a dealer. More research needs to be done to be sure it is the real thing, the Times says, but the Wiesenthal Center says it has documentation verifying the signature as being Hitler's.
Michigan State University has an English translation of the text that's been taken from the letter on file in Germany. A few excerpts follow. Fair warning; as you might imagine, these words are offensive:
-- "Jews in general have maintained their race and their peculiarities far more distinctly than many of the peoples among whom they have lived. And thus comes the fact that there lives amongst us a non- German, alien race which neither wishes nor is able to sacrifice its racial character or to deny its feeling, thinking, and striving."
-- "This thinking and striving after money and power, and the feelings that go along with it, serve the purposes of the Jew who is unscrupulous in the choice of methods and pitiless in their employment."
-- "His power is the power of money, which multiplies in his hands effortlessly and endlessly through interest, and which forces peoples under the most dangerous of yokes."
-- "The deduction from all this is the following: an antisemitism based on purely emotional grounds will find its ultimate expression in the form of the pogrom. An antisemitism based on reason, however, must lead to systematic legal combatting and elimination of the privileges of the Jews, that which distinguishes the Jews from the other aliens who live among us (an Aliens Law). The ultimate objective [of such legislation] must, however, be the irrevocable removal of the Jews in general."