Now (regretfully) I Know

Exhausted by the 2016 election, and knowing that undecided voters are few and are unlikely to be persuaded by anything I might say, I nevertheless decided to speak up one last time here. There’s a knot in my stomach. Silence only makes it worse. Silence – even for a day – would contribute to evils I’ve long deplored.

From the time I became conscious of the world, I have asked how Hitler could rise to power.

Now I know.

A child of World War II, I have learned that the questions are more important than the answers, and that sometimes the answers don’t come. Yet, as I look back on my life story, the question was not about Hitler. It was about the German people who elected him.

It still is. But this year, it’s not about the Germans. It’s about us, the Americans.

I’ve spent a lifetime living in the shadow of Adolf Hitler and the societal madness that elected him, determined from very early in life to oppose the darkness, the terror, the long shadow of Dachau, Buchenwald, and Auschwitz. Of nationalism, militarism, Arian racial superiority, global imperialism, and the startling echoes that still ring out from the gas chambers and gallows of the same society that bequeathed the world with the high culture of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Schopenhauer, Hegel, and Thomas Mann. How, I have asked myself forever, could this have happened? I’ve looked inside myself and wondered what I might have felt and done during the rise of the German Third Reich.

Now I know.

The question is no longer hypothetical. No longer abstract. No longer just philosophical, psychological, or sociological. It’s immediate and practical. It’s staring me in the face every day as I watch the crowds clapping for a presidential candidate whose name is on everything he’s ever touched as a businessman and who has made it his business to put his hands where they have not been welcome.

The crowds that support Donald Trump are drawn by an irresistible force to make America great again. In Germany it was the same. It’s a page out of Hitler’s playbook, but the differences between the United States in 2016 and Germany in 1930s are strikingly different. Germany had been defeated in World War I. America was victorious. Its economy was in shambles. Ours is the envy of the world. Germany’s post-war sovereignty was limited.Ours is not. The German people perceived the Weimar Republic as weak, powerless, and ineffective, a refrain echoed in the American far right’s cacophonous contradictions that charge the Obama Administration with too much power in domestic policies, on the one hand, and weakness against international terrorism.

During the 1920s and early ‘30s, the people of Bach, Beethoven, Mozart and Hegel felt humiliated, their national pride had been assaulted. But. . . assaulted by whom?

Jews, gypsies, and homosexuals became the scapegoats against which the pure Germans could define themselves and make Germany great again. Today in America Muslims, Mexicans, and LGBTQ have become the equivalent scapegoats of the Donald Trump campaign, and a copy of Hitler’s speeches is in the Trump master bedroom.

If the German people were drawn like iron to a magnet by a charismatic personality who gave singular voice to their grief and anger, it was not the last time a nation would go down that road to fascist madness. It begins as a kind of love affair. Looking into the human psyche, Schopenhauer (1788 – 1860) wrote:

The ultimate aim of all love affairs … is more important than all other aims in man’s life; and therefore it is quite worthy of the profound seriousness with which everyone pursues it. What is decided by it is nothing less than the composition of the next generation …. (The World as Will and Representation, Supplements to the Fourth Book).

The next generation and generations to come are at stake in the U.S.A. on November 8, 2016.

As every American president has said, “May God bless the United States of America.” I add, and may God save us all from the worst in ourselves.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, November 5, 2016

The Answer to “Who said it?”

All the quotations in “Who said it?” (yesterday’s post) are from Adolf Hitler. According to Ivana Trump, Donald Trump’s first wife, Trump kept a collection of Hitler’s speeches in a cabinet by his bedside.

The quotes we cited in “Who said it?” also could have come from the likes of Italian strong man Benito Mussolini:

  • “I want to make my own life a masterpiece.”
  • “I don’t like the look of him.” (referring to his ally, Hitler)
  • “Better to live a day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.”
  • “We do not argue with those who disagree with us, we destroy them.”

Or the quotes could have come from Heinrich Himmler, head of the SS and second in command in the German Third Reich, who later declared in a “60-Minutes” interview with Lesley Stahl,

“I still lack to a considerable degree that naturally superior kind of manner that I would dearly like to possess.”

 

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, August 2, 2016.

 

A New Government of National Concentration

Video

Adolf Hitler rose to power by playing to the fears, anxieties, and anger of the German people. His strategy was to play the strongman who would fix it, make Germany great again. A nation that had regarded itself as exceptional had lost its way, humiliated by defeat in World War I. Hitler focused that anger at the weakness of the post-World War I Weimar Republic whose inept Chancellor and Reichstag (i.e. Congress) he blamed for the nation’s drift. He blames Marxist thinking and Communists. He declares Christianity to be the religion of the German state. By narrowing and scapegoating, he focuses the people’s fears and anxieties on visible targets. It was only a matter of time before Jews, homosexuals, and gypsies joined the ranks of those to be eliminated in a purified Aryan state.

Notice how quietly, how slowly this speech begins. He waits for the crowd to be quiet before he continues to speak. He is taming them. Mesmerizing them. Training them for Fascism. And when he has brought them to heel, he unleashes a tirade that taps into the people’s volcanic desire for a return to national exceptionalism.

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” – George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, Jan. 11, 2016.

Adolf Hitler’s Appeal to the German People

Radio broadcast, January 31, 1933

Over fourteen years have passed since that unhappy day when the German people, blinded by promises made by those at home and abroad, forgot the highest values of our past, of the Reich, of its honor and its freedom, and thereby lost everything. Since those days of treason, the Almighty has withdrawn his blessing from our nation. Discord and hatred have moved in. Filled with the deepest distress, millions of the best German men and women from all walks of life see the unity of the nation disintegrating in a welter of egoistical political opinions, economic interests, and ideological conflicts.

As so often in our history, Germany, since the day the revolution broke out, presents a picture of heartbreaking disunity. We did not receive the equality and fraternity which was promised us; instead we lost our freedom. The breakdown of the unity of mind and will of our nation at home was followed by the collapse of its political position abroad.

We have a burning conviction that the German people in 1914 went into the great battle without any thought of personal guilt and weighed down only by the burden of having to defend the Reich from attack, to defend the freedom and material existence of the German people. In the appalling fate that has dogged us since November 1918 we see only the consequence of our inward collapse. But the rest of the world is no less shaken by great crises. The historical balance of power, which at one time contributed not a little to the understanding of the necessity for solidarity among the nations, with all the economic advantages resulting therefrom, has been destroyed.

The delusion that some are the conquerors and others the conquered destroys the trust between nations and thereby also destroys the world economy. But the misery of our people is terrible! The starving industrial proletariat have become unemployed in their millions, while the whole middle and artisan class have been made paupers. If the German farmer also is involved in this collapse we shall be faced with a catastrophe of vast proportions. For in that case, there will collapse not only a Reich, but also a 2000-year-old inheritance of the highest works of human culture and civilization.

All around us are symptoms portending this breakdown. With an unparalleled effort of will and of brute force the Communist method of madness is trying as a last resort to poison and undermine an inwardly shaken and uprooted nation. They seek to drive it towards an epoch which would correspond even less to the promises of the Communist speakers of today than did the epoch now drawing to a close to the promises of the same emissaries in November 1918.

Starting with the family, and including all notions of honor and loyalty, nation and fatherland, culture and economy, even the eternal foundations of our morals and our faith—nothing is spared by this negative, totally destructive ideology. Fourteen years of Marxism have undermined Germany. One year of Bolshevism would destroy Germany. The richest and most beautiful areas of world civilization would be transformed into chaos and a heap of ruins. Even the misery of the past decade and a half could not be compared with the affliction of a Europe in whose heart the red flag of destruction had been planted. The thousands of injured, the countless dead which this battle has already cost Germany may stand as a presage of the disaster.

In these hours of overwhelming concern for the existence and the future of the German nation, the venerable World War leader [Hindenburg] appealed to us men of the nationalist parties and associations to fight under him again as once we did at the front, but now loyally united for the salvation of the Reich at home. The revered President of the Reich having with such generosity joined hands with us in a common pledge, we nationalist leaders would vow before God, our conscience and our people that we shall doggedly and with determination fulfill the mission entrusted to us as the National Government.

It is an appalling inheritance which we are taking over.

The task before us is the most difficult which has faced German statesmen in living memory. But we all have unbounded confidence, for we believe in our nation and in its eternal values. Farmers, workers, and the middle class must unite to contribute the bricks wherewith to build the new Reich.

The National Government will therefore regard it as its first and supreme task to restore to the German people unity of mind and will. It will preserve and defend the foundations on which the strength of our nation rests. It will take under its firm protection Christianity as the basis of our morality, and the family as the nucleus of our nation and our state. Standing above estates and classes, it will bring back to our people the consciousness of its racial and political unity and the obligations arising therefrom. It wishes to base the education of German youth on respect for our great past and pride in our old traditions. It will therefore declare merciless war on spiritual, political and cultural nihilism. Germany must not and will not sink into Communist anarchy.

In place of our turbulent instincts, it will make national discipline govern our life. In the process it will take into account all the institutions which are the true safeguards of the strength and power of our nation.

The National Government will carry out the great task of reorganizing our national economy with two big Four-Year Plans:

Saving the German farmer so that the nation’s food supply and thus the life of the nation shall be secured.

Saving the German worker by a massive and comprehensive attack on unemployment.

In fourteen years the November parties have ruined the German farmer.

In fourteen years they created an army of millions of unemployed.

The National Government will carry out the following plan with iron resolution and dogged perseverance.

Within four years the German farmer must be saved from pauperism.

Within four years unemployment must be completely overcome.

Parallel with this, there emerge the prerequisites for the recovery of the economy.

The National Government will combine this gigantic project of restoring our economy with the task of putting the administration and the finances of the Reich, the states, and the communes on a sound basis.

Only by doing this can the idea of preserving the Reich as a federation acquire flesh and blood.

The idea of labor service and of settlement policy are among the main pillars of this program.

Our concern to provide daily bread will be equally a concern for the fulfillment of the responsibilities of society to those who are old and sick.

The best safeguard against any experiment which might endanger the currency lies in economical administration, the promotion of work, and the preservation of agriculture, as well as in the use of individual initiative.

In foreign policy, the National Government will see its highest mission in the preservation of our people’s right to an independent life and in the regaining thereby of their freedom. The determination of this Government to put an end to the chaotic conditions in Germany is a step towards the integration into the community of nations of a state having equal status and therefore equal rights with the rest. In so doing, the Government is aware of its great obligation to support, as the Government of a free and equal nation, that maintenance and consolidation of peace which the world needs today more than ever before.

May all others understand our position and so help to ensure that this sincere desire for the welfare of Europe and of the whole world shall find fulfillment.

Despite our love for our Army as the bearer of our arms and the symbol of our great past, we should be happy if the world, by restricting its armaments, made unnecessary any increase in our own weapons.

But if Germany is to experience this political and economic revival and conscientiously to fulfill its duties towards other nations, a decisive act is required: We must overcome the demoralization of Germany by the Communists.

We, men of this Government, feel responsible to German history for the reconstitution of a proper national body so that we may finally overcome the insanity of class and class warfare. We do not recognize classes, but only the German people, its millions of farmers, citizens and workers who together will either overcome this time of distress or succumb to it.

With resolution and fidelity to our oath, seeing the powerlessness of the present Reichstag to shoulder the task we advocate, we wish to commit it to the whole German people.

We therefore appeal now to the German people to sign this act of mutual reconciliation.

The Government of the National Uprising wishes to set to work, and it will work.

It has not for fourteen years brought ruin to the German nation; it wants to lead it to the summit.

It is determined to make amends in four years for the liabilities of fourteen years.

But it cannot subject the work of reconstruction to the will of those who were responsible for the breakdown.

The Marxist parties and their followers had fourteen years to prove their abilities.

The result is a heap of ruins.

Now, German people, give us four years and then judge us.

Let us begin, loyal to the command of the Field-Marshal. May Almighty God favor our work, shape our will in the right way, bless our vision and bless us with the trust of our people. We have no desire to fight for ourselves; only for Germany.

Source of English translation: Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham, eds., Nazism 1919-1945, Vol. 1, The Rise to Power 1919-1934. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1998, pp. 131-34.

Source of original German text: “Aufruf der Reichsregierung vom 31. Januar 1933,” reprinted in Hans-Adolf Jacobsen and Werner Jochmann, eds., Ausgewählte Dokumente zur Geschichte des Nationalsozialismus, 1933-1945. Vol. 2, Bielefeld, 1961, no page number (Document 31. I. 1933).

 

 

2017 Inaugural Address – Imagine

Donald Trump: "Make America Great Again"

Donald Trump: “Make America Great Again

CLARIFICATION: This post is NOT in support of Donald Trump. To the contrary, it places on Trump’s lips the speech of Adolf Hitler after Hitler’s election in order to demonstrate the language and tactics of demagoguery. Scroll to the end to read explanatory notes on Hitler’s speech and playbook.

Imaginary Presidential Inauguration, Washington, D.C, January 20, 2017. [Please read to the end, including explanatory note.]

Eight years have passed since that unhappy day when the American people, blinded by promises made, forgot the highest values of our past, of American exceptionalism, of its honor and its freedom, and lost everything.

Since those days of treason, when a foreign-born citizen was sworn into this office, the Almighty has withdrawn his blessing from our nation. Discord and hatred have moved in. Filled with the deepest distress, millions of the best American men and women from all walks of life see the unity of the nation disintegrating in a welter of egoistical political opinions, economic interests, and ideological conflicts.

As so often in our history, America today presents a picture of heartbreaking disunity. We did not receive the equality and fraternity which was promised us; instead we lost our freedom. The breakdown of the unity of mind and will of our nation at home was followed by the collapse of its political position abroad.

In the appalling fate that has dogged us since 9/11 and has been made worse by the weakness of both the my predecessor’s administration and the Congress, we see only the consequence of our inward collapse. But the rest of the world is no less shaken by great crises. The historical balance of power, which at one time contributed not a little to the understanding of the necessity for solidarity among the nations, with all the economic advantages resulting therefrom, has been destroyed.

The misery of our people is terrible! Our industrial workers have become unemployed in the millions, while the whole middle and working class have been made paupers. If the American farmer also is involved in this collapse we will be faced with a catastrophe of vast proportions. For in that case, there will collapse not only a nation, but also a 2000-year-old inheritance of the highest works of human culture and civilization.

All around us are symptoms portending this breakdown. With an unparalleled effort of will and of brute force the Liberal method of madness is trying as a last resort to poison and undermine an inwardly shaken and uprooted nation.

Starting with the family, and including all notions of honor and loyalty, nation and fatherland, culture and economy, even the eternal foundations of our morals and our faith—nothing is spared by this negative, totally destructive ideology. The last eight years of so called Progressive ideology have undermined the United States of America.

One more year of terrorism would destroy America. The richest and most beautiful areas of world civilization would be transformed into chaos and a heap of ruins. Even the misery of the past decade could not be compared with the affliction of what might have happened without change. The thousands of injured, the countless dead which this battle has already cost America may stand as a presage of the disaster.

It is an appalling inheritance which this Administration is taking over.

The task before us is the most difficult which has faced American statesmen in living memory. But we all have unbounded confidence, for we believe in our nation and in its eternal values. Farmers, workers, and the middle class must unite to contribute the bricks to build the new Nation.

The National Government will therefore regard it as its first and supreme task to restore to the American people unity of mind and will. It will preserve and defend the foundations on which the strength of our nation rests. It will take under its firm protection Christianity as the basis of our morality, and the family as the nucleus of our nation and our state.

Standing above estates and classes, it will bring back to our people the consciousness of its racial and political unity and the obligations arising from them. It wishes to base the education of American youth on respect for our great past and pride in our old traditions. It will therefore declare merciless war on spiritual, political and cultural nihilism. The United States of America  must not and will not sink further into anarchy.

In place of our turbulent instincts, it will make national discipline govern our life. In the process it will take into account all the institutions which are the true safeguards of the strength and power of our nation….

NOTE: This speech is a re-rendering of Adolf Hitler’s radio “Appeal to the Nation” in January, 1933, the turning of Germany from the democratic Weimar Republic to the fascist Third Reich.Except for substitutions of ‘American’, ‘America’, and ‘the United States of America’ for the original script’s ‘German’ and ‘Germany’, and several deletions and additions to move the speech to the U.S.A in the year 2017, the speech is a word-for-word English translation of Hitler’s address.

Click HERE for the original speech to the German people.

The Nazi emphasis on family, Christianity, and national unity as the essentials of the new nation sounds familiar in the current campaigns for the Presidential nomination. But behind it all, there was another essential: that the nation place its trust in the Leader (the Fuhrer) to make the nation great again.

  • Gordon C. Stewart, Chaska, MN, December 16, 2015