The ad opens with ominous music–and the face of a snarling Donald Trump.
“I would like anyone who is listening to consider some thoughts that I’ve paraphrased from the words of German pastor Martin Niemoeller.”
The voice belongs to Tom Moe, a retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force–and a former Vietnam prisoner-of-war.
It’s a video produced by the 2016 Presidential campaign for John Kasich. Kasich, the governor of Ohio, has been peddling a message of creating jobs, balancing the Federal budget and disdain for Washington, D.C.
But he remains far behind in the polls, dropping 50% in support in just one month–from September to October. Meanwhile, Trump, the New York billionaire developer, is backed by 25% of Republican primary voters.
So, with nothing to lose, Kasich has decided to take off the gloves. He’s invoked the “N” word for Republicans: Nazi.
“You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims must register with the government, because you’re not one,” continues Moe.
“And you might not care if Donald Trump says he’s going to round up all the Hispanic immigrants, because you’re not one.
“And you might not care if Donald Trump says it’s OK to rough up black protesters, because you’re not one.
“And you might not care of Donald Trump wants to suppress journalists, because you’re not one.
“But think about this:
“If he keeps going, and he actually becomes President, he might just get around to you. And you’d better hope that there’s someone left to help you.”
The above is indeed a paraphrase of a famous quote by Martin Niemoeller (1892–1984), a prominent Protestant pastor. Although he had been a U-boat commander during World War 1, he became a bitter public foe of Adolf Hitler.
A staunch anti-Communist, he had initially supported the Nazis as Germany’s only hope of salvation against the Soviet Union. But when the Nazis made the church subordinate to State authority, Niemoeller created the Pastors’ Emergency League to defend religious freedom.
For his opposition to the Third Reich, Niemoeller spent seven years in concentration camps. With the collapse of the Reich in 1945, he was freed–and elected President of the Protestant church in Hesse and Nassau in 1947.
During the 1960s, he was a president of the World Council of Churches.
He is best remembered for his powerful condemnation of the failure of Germans to protest the increasing oppression of the Nazis:
First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist, so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Socialists, but I was not a Socialist, so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the trade unionists, but I was not a trade unionist, so I did not speak out.
Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew, so I did not speak out.
And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me.
Neither “Adolf Hitler” nor “Nazi Party” was mentioned during the one-minute Kassich video. But Trump is furious.
“I will sue him [Kasich] just for fun,” said Trump, if he can find anything “not truthful” within the ad.
So says the man who has called Mexican immigrants “rapists” and accused President Barack Obama of being a Muslim and born outside the United States.
The Kasich ad is by far the darkest attack so far made against Trump by any candidate–Republican or Democrat. And it raises a disturbing question:
If Donald Trump is America’s Adolf Hitler, who will be its Claus Von Stauffenberg?
Colonel Claus Schenk von Stuaffenberg was the German army officer who, on July 20, 1944, tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
He had served with the Wehrmacht in Poland (1939), France (1940) and the Soviet Union (1941).
While serving in Tunisa, he was seriously wounded on April 7, 1943 when Allied fighters strafed his vehicle. He lost his left eye, right hand and two fingers of his left hand after surgery.
Colonel Claus Schenk von Stuaffenberg
Nevertheless, he now acted as the prime mover for the conspiracy among a growing number of German high command officers to arrest or assassinate Germany’s Fuehrer.
For most of these officers, the motive was craven: Germany was losing the war it had launched on the world–and they feared the worst. This was especially true now that the numerically superior forces of the Soviet Union had gone onto the offensive.
For Stauffenberg, there was another reason: His disgust at the horrors he had seen committed by his fellow Wehrmacht soldiers upon defenseless POW’s and civilians in Russia.
Thus, Stauffenberg–more than many Germans–knew firsthand the vengeance his country could expect if the “1,000 year Reich” fell.
Something must be done, he believed, to prove to the world that not all Germans–even members of the Wehrmacht–were criminals.
Most of the conspirators wanted to arrest Hitler and surrender to British and American forces–well before the much-feared Russians gained a toehold in Germany.
For Stauffenberg, arresting Hitler wasn’t enough.
Stauffenberg wanted him dead. A live Hitler might eventually be rescued by his Nazi colleagues.
But–how to do it?