Calgary MP's Hitler blunder in WWI column 'embarrassing,' says historian

In the article, titled Lest We Forget, Calgary Confederation MP Len Webber wrote about the upcoming 100th anniversary of the official end of World War I, but mistakenly suggested Adolf Hitler was Germany's leader during the Great War.

Column by Calgary Confederation MP Len Webber suggests Adolf Hitler was Germany's leader during the Great War

Calgary Confederation MP Len Webber penned a column commemorating the upcoming 100th anniversary of the end of World War I in which he mistakenly suggests Adolf Hitler was Germany's leader during that time. (Bill Graveland/Canadian Press)

A Member of Parliament's historical blunder in a recent column sent to hundreds of Calgary homes is raising eyebrows.

In the article, titled Lest We Forget, Calgary Confederation MP Len Webber wrote about the upcoming 100th anniversary of the official end of the First World War, but mistakenly suggested Adolf Hitler was Germany's leader during the Great War.

Webber wrote that as Remembrance Day nears, it's important to honour milestones and remember why soldiers fought.

"Through October 1918, it became clear the Allies were in a position to defeat Hitler and the German forces, and discussions to end the Great War intensified. On November 11th, 1918 an armistice ended the majority of the fighting," the column read.


Terence Scheltema, Webber's executive assistant, says the error was his and calls it "inexcusable." (Mount Pleasant Pulse/Screengrab)

"It seems clear that Mr. Webber either has his facts wrong, had someone else who does not know history write this column for him, or he was simply totally confused by the facts," said resident Daniel MacGregor in an email to CBC News.

University of Calgary history professor Tim Stapleton noted that while Hitler was in the army in WWI, he was merely a corporal, and didn't rise to power in Germany until the 1930s.

"I think if we're going to commemorate Canada's war dead, we should know what those people died for and be able to distinguish those conflicts and what they were about," Stapleton said. 

"So confusing World War I and World War II, it's kind of embarrassing."

'An inexcusable error'

Terence Scheltema, Webber's executive assistant, said the error was his, and they made moves to correct it as soon as they were made aware of the issue.

"I don't know how that reference got in there, because I know my history better than that," Scheltema said.

"It was an inexcusable error on my part."

Scheltema said calls to the publishers went unreturned but the online version on Webber's official website has been corrected.

The Conservative MP's monthly column is sent out to neighbourhood associations in the Calgary Confederation riding, but Scheltema said not every community opts to publish the note in their newsletters.

With files from Lucie Edwardson.