bureaucracybusters

A PLEA FOR CONSCIENCE: PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on May 5, 2016 at 11:49 am

The ad opened 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 belonged to Tom Moe, a retired colonel in the U.S. Air Force–and a former Vietnam prisoner-of-war.

It was a video produced by the 2016 Presidential campaign for John Kasich, the governor of Ohio. He had been peddling a message of creating jobs, balancing the Federal budget and disdain for Washington, D.C.

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John Kasich

But he remained far behind in the polls. Meanwhile, Trump, the New York billionaire developer, was backed by increasingly large numbers of Republican primary voters.

So, with nothing to lose, Kasich decided to take off the gloves.

“You might not care if Donald Trump says Muslims must register with the government, because you’re not one,” continued 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.

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Donald Trump

“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.

Martin Niemöller (1952).jpg

Martin Niemoeller

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 it infuriated Trump, who threatened to sue Kasich if he found anything “not truthful” in the ad.

The Kasich ad was the darkest attack 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.

His reason: His disgust at the horrors he had seen committed by his fellow Wehrmacht soldiers upon defenseless POW’s and civilians in Russia.

Something must be done, he believed, to prove to the world that not all Germans–even members of the Wehrmacht–were criminals.

Stauffenberg wanted Hitler dead. A live Fuehrer might eventually be rescued by his Nazi colleagues. 

But–how to do it?

Hitler was a closely-guarded target. He was surrounded by fanatical bodyguards who were expert marksmen. He often wore a bulletproof vest and a cap lined with three pounds of laminated steel.  

Adolf Hitler

Several attempts had already been made on Hitler’s life–all of them with time-bombs. But one of the bombs–smuggled onto Hitler’s plane–hadn’t exploded. Another bomb had–45 minutes after Hitler left the beer hall where he had been making a speech.  

Stauffenberg decided to carry his bomb–hidden in a briefcase–into a “Hitler conference” packed with military officers.

But Stauffenberg didn’t intend to be a suicide bomber. He intended to direct the government that would replace that of the Nazis. He would plant his time-bomb in the conference room–and find an excuse to leave.

Then, the coup–“Operation Valkyrie”–would be on.

Anti-Nazi conspirators would seize control of key posts of the government. The British and Americans would then be informed of Germany’s willingness to surrender. 

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