TRUMP’S ELECTION has a lot of people very worried, with good reason. History repeats itself for those who will not learn from it.This is how Germany got in over its head about 83 years ago. It may serve as a warning.
When Hitler got the majority of the German electorate behind his policies, his actions up till then were not all that alarming. After all, he got there legitimately. Only in hindsight seemed his actions to have unavoidably lead to the mass extinction of the victims of this white supremacist, xenophobic dictator.
Except to his targets–the Jewish Germans–who knew very well by the day that his chancellorship started in February 1933 that their lives might be in danger. On April 1, 1933, Hitler implemented a national boycott of Jewish businesses, followed by the introduction of the ”Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service” of April 7, 1933, which was one of the first laws to persecute Jews by excluding them from state service.
YOU KNOW WHO
Only the smart ones left the country then, which wasn’t all that easy to do. In those days of economic depression and political turmoil, an exit permit and immigration approval from other nations were hard to come by. Borders were not as permeable as they currently are in the modern European Community. Many thought it wouldn’t be as bad and the hateful talk was just bluster.
The composer Kurt Weil had left the country, and Hannah Arendt, the strong feminist philosopher of fame (who wrote her controversial book about the trial of Albert Eichmann in Jerusalem), both were examples of those who saw the writing on the wall.
(Movie Margarethe von Trotta: Hannah Arend)
Margarethe von Trotta
Hitler promised his supporters economic prosperity, reminding the Germans of their history, when the once-great German Empire under the Habsburg dynasty ruled the world. He was going to make Germany great again, making sure that all Germans would get a share in the wealth. He was a nationalist: Germany first–then the rest of the world.
German nazis demonstrating.
Hitler called himself a socialist–all Germans would share in the nation’s wealth. But the socialist varnish soon disappeared, when he started blaming the communists (the Marxists=the Jews) for the troubles in Germany, and for losing World War I, calling them disloyal and a danger to the unity of the nation, thus marking the targets for his followers’ distrust and anger. An overwhelmingly Caucasian population ate it up. In a world full of white skin, the ideal Germanic Übermensch (according to Hitler) had blond hair, and bleu eyes, although Hitler fell short in that category himself.
Disappointment with the disastrous results of the lost war–only fifteen years prior– was fresh in people’s memory, its humiliating defeat still on everybody’s mind. Many fathers had become invalid, if not dead. The ‘common folk’ were sensitive to future losses. All Germans in 1933 desperately needed a win.
Wir Sind Die Schrittmacher — we are making strides (in Germany)
In the USA (and in other industrialized nations), many whites recently lost their job, as the economy became globalized. They see Trump as their hero, who promises to get back lost industries, although the largest section of Trump voters apparently were those with average income of $75,000. They have indeed something to lose, but maybe not what they think they will lose.
The war in Vietnam was a disaster, so was the Iraq initiative to depose Saddam Hussein, and now Afghanistan and in Syria against the IS rebels. The US army doesn’t seem able to win anymore. Trump says that Putin is a hero, he is a strong man, we like him, if only we had such a leader we could win. Those seem to be acceptable views, although short-sighted thoughts, and it does indicate what sort of a man Trump is: Violence demands violence, and take what you want.
In the thirties Americans were willing to take any job.
Hitler started a massive infrastructure rebuilding program, just like the new USA president-elect Trump announced he will start. With shared private-public funding of mass projects, Hitler indeed managed to give the economy a jolt.
Trump will undoubtedly favour his own corporations and friends’ businesses with massive tax breaks for working on those projects.
Hitler was not an educated politician, but a frustrated failed artist, rejected twice by the Art Academy, a labourer. He was an immigrant from Austria who was homeless for a while, until he joined the German army as an Austrian. He saw a bit of war, but was mostly stationed behind the front lines, although he obtained an iron cross for having been in WW1.
Working his way up rather quickly to a political appointment through his way of convincing and inspiring others, he became the German Chancellor. He then appointed a master of indoctrination and propaganda, Joseph Goebbels, who further administered the poison pill to the German Volk, to great effect, as we all know.
Hitler collected loyal followers around him who would blindly follow his orders and to make the laws needed to advance Hitler’s agenda.
Doesn’t this sound like Trump’s assignment of Stephen Bannon as his propaganda minister?
The masses were no problem for Hitler, and were already inspired by Hitler’s national pride-inciting speeches, delivered in rambling rants and raves that just hit the spot with listeners, to raise their blind admiration. Sounds familiar?
It was a politically restless time after WWI, when the German nation had become a republic; a few coups were attempted. After another attempted coup in August 1934, Hitler convinced the cabinet to enact a law abolishing the office of president, combining its powers with those of the chancellor. Hitler thus became head of state, as well as head of government and was formally named leader and chancellor.
As head of state, Hitler became supreme commander of the armed forces. Hitler disbanded the German parliament, when he was sure he could get away with it, effectively making Germany a dictatorship.
One would think that German citizens would protest, and that indeed happened to an extent, coming from the intellectuals on the left of the political spectrum, i.e. communists, socialists, educators and artists, and from Jewish circles, the latter often fitting more than one category. However, the protestors had been effectively made ineffective in their protest by the propaganda ministry; those that persisted, just got arrested.
Recent demonstrations in Germany against the rise of white supremacy.
Why did the Jewish generate such hate? What was that about? Many non-Europeans might not know how the Jewish in Europe got their ‘special’ position of outliers in the community. History is conveniently forgotten. Many private citizens, church officials and governments have played a role that wasn’t always nice. It also took a long while before the Jewish themselves believed, no–hoped–it wouldn’t come to this, counting on the presence of rational thinking in others.
It’s a long story, that needs to be explored, but the short version: During the advance of Christianity all over Europe, the Christian religious leadership pointed to the Jewish as the original murderers of Christ. Religion is what ruled the masses, with the priests as the puppet masters. Blindly following religious leaders is not a recent invention.
We all know the story of Christ, who was a Jewish pacifist born in the old territory on the Mediterranean Sea (later called Palestine) that was occupied by the Roman Empire. Jesus Christ, exposed the religious leadership of being in cahoots with the Roman oppressors-occupiers of the Palestinian-Judean lands. Christ paid for his rebellion with his life. After his religious leadership turned him over to the occupying force, he was crucified by the Romans. He became the martyr for the Christian rebel movement that later got established as the main religion in Europe.
As we all know, governing authorities seem to more easily ‘manage’ the masses when providing them with a target and a focus for hate, gladly stirring up emotions, to distract the attention away from the real issues that the leadership doesn’t want to be scrutinized on.
After the start of Christianity, the believers of the Jewish religion (including those non-practicing), were officially banned from all official trade unions (guilds) in the cities of Europe; they could not attend universities, were not eligible for charity, and so on. They were relegated to the edges of European society.
But the the Jewish Diaspora in Europe successfully survived by reinventing themselves, specializing in trades outside of the established trade organizations (e.g. in the arts, as diamond cutters, in commerce, money lending, etc.), forming their own organizations and charities, favouring their own from within their community, once established. Their successes for instance in banking and the arts irked many non-Jewish, then and now. Anti-Semitism among the non-Jewish has continued over the centuries to this day, and not only in Europe.
After World War 1, the Allied had regained the Palestine territory from the Syrian Ottoman empire and it came under mandate of the British through the League of Nations (forerunner of the UN).
After WW2, Palestine became the place Jewish Europeans, who had survived the extermination camps, settled. They still held Palestine in their memory as their original homeland from many centuries ago. The Europeans had demonstrated they didn’t care for the Jewish citizens, so not much attachment to that place lingered, so many survivors elected to move to the land that was historically promised according to their religion. Others immigrated to America, Canada and Australia.
The battle for legitimacy as a Jewish nation then started in Palestine. The Allied conveniently had disregarded Palestine’s then-population, an Arab tribe (originally related to the Jewish brethren that had left the territory centuries earlier). Like the other Arab tribes of the Middle East, they had turned to Islam at the time the Europeans turned to Christianity.
Back to 1934.
Besides the Jewish German intellectuals, the non-Jewish intellectuals also read the writing on the wall, and soon withdrew from all criticism on the Hitler government. Fit was made clear that one had to choose, for or against the Nazis: there was no middle ground. Most intellectuals had abandoned their Jewish friends and colleagues already by 1934.
Hitler made all kinds of laws with the help of his gang of administrators. Human principles or international laws didn’t count anymore. Hitler started early on with excluding certain segments of the population, with the acceptance of the general population. He pushed the buttons of fear and loathing in the population that were so well developed in his speeches: against criminals, anti-German elements, those that only misuse the national resources and have no right to those benefits, traitors to the national cause.
Trump calls them Mexicans, criminals, terrorists, and Muslims. Media reports told of how he also used coded words for Jewish Americans, raising the acceptance of anti-Semitism in the USA. He figured about 3 million criminal Mexicans are in the US. What was their crime?
Being Mexican and working for decades, paying taxes and having children cannot be a crime. How come not any of the previous elected governments didn’t address the undocumented issue earlier in the game, when it was known where they lived without a permit to stay, as they were already paying taxes to the tune of billions of dollars? The US governments didn’t want to miss out on those and needed the labourers. It’s as easy as that. Ans that the Mexicans and others from Central and South America take the jobs at a lesser pay that the local Americans don’t want to do, just like the European Jewish took the niche markets, and made a success of themselves.
Envy is the green eyed monster that destroys.
Hitler’s National-Socialists were nationalist first. As the national anthem states: Germany over the World (Deutschland über Alles in der Welt).
Trump defies a category; he acts under the Republican banner, but what is he really? He found a good banner to fly under, and the Republican leadership hastily accepted him as their ticket to staying in power. Trump certainly is a nationalist, “making America great again”, the greatest country in the world, many Americans believe right now.
Hitler’s ‘socialist’ identity only pertained to the white supremacists themselves, who shared in the wealth–for a while at least, when the economic miracle lasted. When he started deporting the Jewish Germans, the invalids, the Roma, gays and the mentally ill, it was too late.
He first annexed various territories to his Reich, followed by the invasion of many other nations, with disastrous results for all of Europe and the world. Hitler started his march through eastern Europe in 1939 with the invasion of Poland, six years after his appointment as Chancellor (=Prime Minister equivalent). Another six years later, in 1945 all of Europe was in shambles.
Will the world have to look forward to a similar fate with Trump’s election? Will he act with bluster and actual military interventions to international upsets (the middle east, and the Baltic nations come to mind) and thus invite retaliation, plunging the world into another global military conflict? Will he set back the US democracy and cause the undoing of the American Constitution?
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