The president of a Chicago area bank stepped down last week after a furor erupted over his comments praising Hitler’s economic policies.
In a 1,500-word article in the July issue of Outlook, the online newsletter of the Glenview State Bank, which serves thousands of customers in the north and northwest suburbs of Chicago, President David Raub positively portrayed the Depression-era German economy under Hitler.
“The Great Depression of the 1930s saw falling prices, staggering unemployment and shattered stock markets all over the world, and the world’s leading statesmen seemed helpless to defeat it,” wrote Raub. “Except for one. His name was Adolph Hitler.” Raub went on to argue that Hitler infused confidence in the German public, which “led German workers to work harder than anyone else.”
On August 5, Raub was demoted from president to senior executive vice president of the trust department. The newsletter, which has been edited by Raub for 15 years will be put on hold temporarily.
Raub’s remarks caused outrage in the Chicago Jewish community and impelled the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, Richard Hirschhaut, to write a letter to the bank expressing concern over the portrayal of Hitler’s economy taken out of the context of the Holocaust.
“We reached out to the bank that they should dismiss Raub,” said Shoshana Buchholz-Miller, associate director of the ADL in Chicago. “We respect their decision and we look forward to working with the bank to make a teachable moment out of this whole incident.”
In an interview last week with a Chicago newspaper, Raub said last week that he has an interest in economic history and how it pertains to today’s markets.
But others dismissed Raub’s professions of mere intellectual curiosity. “The risk of [what Raub wrote] in the bank’s newsletter was that the uninformed would read it and conclude that Hitler was a ‘good guy’ for the economy and forget what he really stood for,” said Cheryl Banks, director of The Joseph and Mae Gray Cultural and Learning Center of North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park, Ill.
This week, Holocaust survivor Sam Harris, who is scheduled to address Glenview State Bank employees, bristled at Raub’s comments and told the Arlington Heights Daily Herald that his “parents’ gold teeth aided Hitler’s economy.”
The bank has published an apology to the Jewish community on its Web site. “We did not intend to offend anyone,” read the statement, which was signed by Raub and bank co-chairmen John Jones and Paul Jones. “Hitler’s economic policies cannot be divorced from the broader consequences of his monstrous rule.”