bureaucracybusters

PRE-EMPTING DISASTER: PART THREE (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on March 2, 2016 at 12:02 am

On July 20, 1944, Colonel  Claus Schenk von Stuaffenberg failed to assassinate Adolf Hitler with a bomb hidden in a briefcase.  

He had carefully placed his briefcase near Hitler, who was standing next to a heavy oaken support of the conference table. 

But after Stauffenberg left the room, Colonel Heinz Brandt, who stood next to Hitler, found the briefcase blocking his legs. 

Hitler shows off the site of the explosion

So he moved it–to the other side of the heavy oaken support. When the bomb exploded, Hitler was partially shielded from its full blast. Brandt died, as did two other officers and a stenographer.  

Not only did Hitler survive, but the plotters failed to seize the key broadcast facilities of the Reich.  

This allowed Hitler to make a late-night speech to the nation, revealing the failed plot and assuring Germans that he was alive. And he swore to flush out the “traitorous swine” who had tried to kill him. 

Among the first victims was the conspiracy’s leader, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg. Standing before a makeshift firing squad at midnight, he cried: “Long live our sacred Germany!”

At least 7,000 persons were arrested by the Gestapo. According to records of the Fuehrer Conferences on Naval Affairs, 4,980 were executed.

If the conspiracy had succeeded and Germany had surrendered in July or August, 1944, World War II would have ended eight to nine months earlier. This would have meant:  

  • The Russians–who didn’t reach Germany until April, 1945–could not have occupied the Eastern part of the country.
  • Millions of East Germans would have been spared the misery of living under Communist rule for 44 years.
  • Many of the future conflicts between the United States and the Soviet Union over access to West Berlin and/or West Germany would have been prevented.
  • Untold numbers of Holocaust victims would have survived because the concentration camps would have been shut down far earlier.

Thus, history can be altered by the appearance–or disappearance–of a single individual.  

Which brings us back to Donald Trump. 

Donald August 19 (cropped).jpg

Donald Trump

Since declaring his candidacy for the Presidency on June 16, 2015, Trump has been the first choice among the Republican base.

At first, he was dismissed as a bad joke–by Republican Presidential candidates as well as Democrats. Surely voters would reject an egotistical, thrice-married, “reality show” host who had filed for corporate bankruptcy four times.

Yet from the outset Trump dominated the field–and a series of Republican debates. His fellow Republican candidates enviously watched him–and desperately tried to steal some of his limelight.

Making made one inflammatory statement after another, he offended one group of potential voters after another: 

  • Mexicans: “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” He’s also promised to “build a great, great wall on our southern border and I will have Mexico pay for that wall.”
  • Blacks: Trump retweeted an image of a masked, dark-skinned man with a handgun and a series of alleged crime statistics, including: “Blacks killed by whites – 2%”; “Whites killed by blacks – 81%.” The image cites the “Crime Statistics Bureau – San Francisco”–an agency that doesn’t exist.
  • Illegal Aliens: Trump has threatened to forcibly deport millions of mostly Mexican and Central American residents.
  • Muslims: Trump has boasted he would ban them from entering the United States–and revive waterboarding of terrorist suspects. He would require Muslims to register with the Federal Government. And he would close “some mosques” if he felt they were being used by Islamic terrorists.
  • POWs: Speaking of Arizona U.S. Senator John McCain: “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.”

Niccolo Machiavelli, the father of modern politics, warned against hurling threats and insults: “For neither the one nor the other diminishes the strength of the enemy.  

Niccolo Machiavelli

“[Threats make] him more cautious, and [insults increase] his hatred of you, and [make] him more persevering in his efforts to injure you.” 

But Trump revels in insulting anyone who dares to challenge him.  He gleefully warns of the damage he will soon inflict on those who dare to oppose–or even criticize–him.

At the same time, he publicly exposes himself to a potential assassin virtually every day. And the mere presence of bodyguards is no guarantee against assassination.  

Presidential candidate George C. Wallace was shot and paralyzed by a gunman while mingling with supporters in a Maryland shopping center in 1972. And President Ronald Reagan was shot and almost killed in 1981 while walking to his bulletproof limousine in Washington, D.C.  

Both men were under protection by the U.S. Secret Service at the time.  

* * * * *

In his bestselling 1973 biography, The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler, British historian Robert Payne harshly condemned the German people for the rise of the Nazi dictator:

“[They] allowed themselves to be seduced by him and came to enjoy the experience….[They] followed him with joy and enthusiasm because he gave them license to pillage and murder to their hearts’ content.” 

There is a very real danger that millions of ignorant, hate-filled, Right-wing Americans will catapult Donald Trump–a man with an “odd psychology unleavened by kindness and charity”–into the Presidency.

And that this man–“who received no love, can give no love”–will assume all the awesome power that goes with that office.

If that happens, future historians–if there are any–may similarly condemn those Americans who stood by like “good Germans” and allowed their country to fall into the hands of a ruthless tyrant.

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