Sunday, November 20, 2016

Forewarned is Forearmed

I was in the process of writing about an American historical figure when the enormity of my country’s recent decision finally hit me full force.  The reason is simple: my parents had to leave Germany right after Adolf Hitler became Chancellor in 1933.  There was no war, no proven violence, yet, suddenly the country that was suffering from their loss in the first world war had democratically elected the party of a crazed despot in the making.

Then I was sent an article about a California teacher who was suspended for comparing Trump to Hitler in his 9th grade class.   He was a history teacher and holocaust scholar.

I have been speaking about this to friends for some time.  I was taught by my father that, “It can happen here, it can happen anywhere”.  Now we have seen a beginning that we may not believe or wish to believe and pray cannot happen but…   forewarned is forearmed!

No question Germany lost World War I and was under the punitive yolk of the Versailles Treaty.  Article 231 of the Treaty forced Germany to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions, and pay reparations to certain countries that had formed the Entente Alliance.  In 1921 the total cost of these reparations was assessed at 132 billion Marks roughly US $31.4 billion.  Not only couldn’t Germany afford it they found it a national humiliation.

Then came the hyperinflation whereby there were 90 German marks to the dollar at the beginning of 1921 and by the end of 1923 there were 4.2 trillion German marks to the dollar,  a staggering figure.   It finally normalized with a new finance minister in November of that year. There were some high times in Germany for a short while and then there was the Depression by the end of the decade!

The reaction from the people in Germany was not dissimilar to the disenfranchisement that people felt in the U.S. after 2008/2009 Great Recession.  In the people’s opinion obviously their government had forsaken them and left them in a continuous state of suffering, no jobs or financial stability.   Along came a strong man who was charismatic and promised to make Germany great again.

“Early on, Hitler had a central insight: ”All epoch-making revolutionary events have been produced not by the written but by the spoken word.” He concentrated on an inflammatory speaking style flashing with dramatic gestures and catch phrases: ”Germany, awake!”
Time Magazine, February 24, 1920.

There were warnings in the New York Times as well on November 20, 1922 but with this coda.  ”But several reliable, well-informed source confirmed the idea that Hitler’s anti-semitism was not so genuine or violent as it sounded, and that he was merely using anti-semitic propaganda as a bait to catch masses of follower and keep them aroused…”

From, This Day in History, January 30, 1933:  “The year 1932 had seen Hitler’s meteoric rise to prominence in Germany, spurred largely by the German people’s frustration with dismal economic conditions and the still-festering wounds inflicted by defeat in the Great War and the harsh peace terms of the Versailles treaty. A charismatic speaker, Hitler channeled popular discontent with the post-war Weimar government into support for his fledgling Nazi party (formerly the German Worker’s Party). In an election held in July 1932, the Nazis won 230 governmental seats”

No, I do not think that Donald Trump is Hitler but he has released a culture of hate against, Muslims, Blacks and Jews, which truly scares me on a personal level.  We have heard more moderate language to a degree but can he put the genie back in the bottle?

My good friend a lawyer and expert on Constitutional law believes our Constitution and division of powers will protect us and I want, badly, to believe he is correct.   We will, however, have all the elements of a perfect storm in place with all powers of government, President, House, Senate and most probably The Supreme  Court in the same camp.  I hope they show more strength and fortitude to vote their own minds and not follow the herd as they have for the past 8 years.  Without that I am afraid this country is going to continue on its trip down from the super power it thought it was.

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