Did John F. Kennedy Admire Hitler?

'At first glance, one could get the impression that Kennedy endorsed fascism,' Spiegel Online writes, referring to a new book out in German.

U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Israeli Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion.
NY Daily News via Getty Images

John F. Kennedy admired Hitler as a young man and felt fascism was right for Germany, according to a new book in German that mines the future president's diaries.

According to Spiegel Online's article on the book, the 20-year-old Kennedy pondered on August 3, 1937: What are the evils of fascism compared to communism? On August 21 he added that the Germans had been ganged up on.

The book is "John F. Kennedy Unter Deutschen" ("John F. Kennedy Among the Germans") – featuring travel diaries and letters between 1937 and 1945. The work, edited by Oliver Lubrich, documents three visits by Kennedy to Germany – in 1937, 1939 and 1945. “At first glance, one could get the impression that Kennedy endorsed fascism and even admired Hitler,” Spiegel writes.


Parts of the book have come out in the German media a month before U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Berlin ahead of the 50th anniversary of Kennedy’s "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.

The book quotes Kennedy as saying that the Nordic peoples appeared superior to their southern neighbors. Meanwhile, he called Germany's highways, built by the Nazis, the best in the world.

Even after the war in Europe, Kennedy reportedly had positive things to say about Hitler. According to Spiegel, on August 1, 1945, he wrote that anyone visiting places like Hitler’s residence in the Bavarian Alps could imagine how Hitler would be recognized as one of the most important people who ever lived. Another time, he wrote that there was something mysterious about Hitler – that he was made of the stuff of legends.

Kennedy fought in World War II and was highly decorated while serving in the navy in the Pacific. His older brother Joseph Jr., a navy aviator, died while on a highly risky mission over Europe. According to Spiegel Online, John Kennedy's reports on the Germans "swing between attraction and repulsion …. He admired their technological achievements."