Germany in 1933 and the U.S.A. in 2019 — Then and Now


In this short video Karl Barth addresses the question of how the German people were led to sacrifice a democratic constitutional republic for the dream of Adolf Hitler.

Karl Barth, theologian, professor, author, founder of the Confessing Church which refused to participate in the surrender of faith to the ideology of the Third Reich, and author of The Declaration of Barmen.


What we see in the U.S.A. in 2019 is chilling. During his visit to the U.S.–Mexican border the American President violated his oath of office “… to the best of my Ability, to serve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States of America.” (Article II, Section One, Clause 8, U.S. Constitution). If, during his recent visit to Calexico, the President advised U.S. Border Patrol officers to pay no attention to judges, as reported by CNN and Jake Tapper, the President committed an impeachable offense. He not only did not serve and protect the Constitution. He openly defied it. He put himself above the law.


It takes what Barth called “eye disease” not to see the systematic erosion of the rule of law by what Barth called “political absolutisms and lordless [i.e. unaccountable] powers” built around a charismatic madman’s dream. The parallels between then and now smack us in the face every day: requiring from cabinet members a sworn loyalty oath and breach of silence agreement; telling the U.S. border patrol to ignore the law and the courts and do what he says; ignoring the law and court orders upholding the legal and human rights of asylum-seekers; separating migrant children and their parents; declaring that his knowledge of world affairs superior to career State Department, Department of Defense, military, and intelligence professionals; ignoring wise advice and counsel; ridiculing past presidents as inferior to himself; assaulting freedom of the press guaranteed by the First Amendment; encouraging violence by refusing to criticize white supremacy, white nationalism, and white hate groups; replacing legitimate patriotism — love of one’s country — with national idolatry; putting personal and family wealth, power, and fame ahead of the checks and balances of the U.S. Constitution.


Wednesday’s (April 10) news further to the sense of a kind of coup d’état — the bloodless undermining of the rule of law in this constitutional republic by those sworn to uphold it. Attorney General William Barr’s refusal to answer questions posed by a Congressional committee re: his decisions about redaction and release of the Mueller Report, and Treasury Secretary Munchen’s deferral to the Department of Justice re: the Congressional demand from the IRS for the past six years of President Trump’s tax returns led me back to Barth.


“We do not know what we are doing when we pray ‘Thy Kingdom come,’ namely that, negatively at least, we are asking for the gracious unmasking, overcoming, and ultimate abolition of these absolutisms that rule us per neras [i.e. by wrong].” – Karl Barth, The Christian Life, p. 219.

— Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, April 12, 2019

13 thoughts on “Germany in 1933 and the U.S.A. in 2019 — Then and Now

  1. Gordon, also Re: boomrx exchange … you handled this ignoramus with grace and dignity, Gordon. This is an excellent post, for those of us who are non-Americans, it’s comforting to know that you’re not all mad like Trump and his wacko followers. Good job of diffusing boomrx and taking away his power …


  2. Gordon, re: above with boomrx, I have recently had a similar exchange with someone who was not able or willing to address what I had said, only what he assumed about me that I had not expressed. So frustrating. I really appreciate how you responded here. Thank you for your example! And I wish you both well.


    • Thank you. The further we get into this chapter of American history, the more I turn again to Willem Zuurdeeg’s Analytical Philosophy of Religion. He was clear that we humans are neither rational nor un-rational. At the core, we are non-rational. “All philosophy is born of a cry,” he said. Underneath it all, we are still infants crying “Help!” He argued before his death that “Come, Lord Jesus! Come!” — Thy Kingdom come — is the cry of faith that turns to a benevolent helper greater than our weakness.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Gordon, I have breakfast with about eight persons half of whom are Trumpsters. They are blind to the effect Trump’s actions will have in the future. They are still beating up on Hillary. Although I must say three of the six are now worried about the lasting effects. I pray that people such as these will remember come 2020. As well as the 52 % of the registered voters who chose not to vote in 2016.


  4. We are frighteningly close to the edge here. Many Republicans, especially those chosen as advisors by 45, seem to be using the Geobbels/Hitler/Rove playbook to push America into totalitarianism.


    • It is frightening, Carolyn. Equally disturbing is the ignorance or willful ignorance of well-meaning people who paint this moment of history as though it stands by itself. No fact or set of facts seems to disway his followers. The dream of which Barth spoke is mesmerizing when it comes from a charismatic figure whose wealth is the bastardization of the American Dream. This can’t end quickly enough. How that will happen when views such as the one I posted this morning are dismissed as partisanship, I don’t know. What I do know is that Barth, Bonhoeffer, and Tillich lived their faith with clarity and honor. They never drank the poison.


  5. Hitler! Yes. And Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot, all the megalomanical socialists of the last century who took their Utopian dreams to the extreme of creating alternate realities that crushed out the problematic whims of the human spirit. Sorry the Mueller report turned out to be nothing but a huge waste of money and a political assassination attempt designed to be, if nothing else, a mill stone around Trump’s neck. You talk about things being Constitutional? Ha ha. You’re beating Mueller’s dead horse, a cabal of Us and British spy master setting up a soft coup predicated on a MI6 fiction? Yeah. That’s constitutional. How long are you going to beat that dead horse, though? Kinda like the tired old cries of “Hitler! Hitler!” Bra, your tropes are threadbare. Polly want a cracker? The IRS has Trump’s taxes, they are the Federal Government last I checked. You’re just parroting the real God you worship, which happens to be the DNC. You’ve lost all sense of proportion. Take a step back and give yourself some room to breathe.


      • Please spare us the pain of the ‘I don’t know you … you don’t know me’ deflection. By your works shall you be known is an apt declaration here in blog world. We don’t have exchange Christmas cards.

        I will read opposition work that shows some originality and creativity but this is just a worn facsimile of the “Literally Hitler” meme.

        The Trump as Hitler trope has seen its day, and is about as edgy and original as the most overused beaten mutilated decomposing fly-covered dead horse in history lying next to the 2nd most beaten dead horse the Mueller Report that didn’t pan out for you, so now you want unredacted names and addresses of people who were exposed and harassed by an investigation predicated on a lie that had to admit there was no there there. You want the names and addresses of the targets of this sham investigation because that is the information that will correctly be redacted and that you are advocating be unreadacted? So yeah. Let’s publish the names and addresses of the people who have been targeted by this ridiculous and unreasonable government intrusion of privacy, thereby stamping on their 4th amendment, rights that you are advocating be forfeited for no other reason I can fathom other than so the activist MSM and Antifa thugs can further humiliate harass and harm them? How very Constitutional of you!


        • I invited you to engage in conversation about what I had written. You have chosen to do something else. I hope there may yet come a time when people can express their views without responses that impute motives that don’t exist. I wish you well.

          Liked by 3 people

          • Nonexistent motives do not matter if the result of what you’re advocating for will be unjust retaliation and mob violence. Unredacting the dox of people named in the Mueller report is a violation of those people’s 4th amendment rights, ie, unreasonable intrusion of privacy. When you want the unredacted report, the names of unindictable targets of the investigation is what you are going to get. Whether you’re cognizant of the harm you will ultimately be doing them is beside the point. Ignorance of the law was never a viable defense before James Comey stood before the American People and told them how HRC had violated several statutes but was too stupid to realize she had done any harm, so no reasonable prosecutor would prosecute these unintentional violations. Never has there been a more blatant example of “Let them eat cake” spat in the American’s faces than that. And all we can do is wish each other well. I guess it’s analogous to this, We are both living in Clown World, laughing at the Clown we know we are not.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s