bureaucracybusters

THE REPUBLICANS’ HORST WESSEL

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on August 11, 2021 at 12:12 am

Republicans—including those who pursue a Fascistic agenda—are quick to accuse their opponents of being “Nazis.”

Yet similarities abound between the tactics—and often the goals—between yesterday’s Nazis and today’s Republicans.

One of these is the need for martyrs by both parties. 

The Nazis found theirs in Horst Wessel.

As a teenager growing up in the Weimar Republic of Germany, he joined the Viking Liga (“Viking League”), a Right-wing paramilitary group. Its goal, wrote Wessel, was “the “establishment of a national dictatorship.”

He soon became a local leader, engaging in street battles with rival Leftist groups such as the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Communist Party (KPD). In 1926, he joined the paramilitary Sturmabteilung (“Storm Detachment” or SA) of Adolf Hitler’s National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi Party).

Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1978-043-14, Horst Wessel.jpg

Horst Wessel

Bundesarchiv, Bild 146-1978-043-14 / Heinrich Hoffmann / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 DE <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en&gt;, via Wikimedia Commons

His unit had a reputation as “a band of thugs, a brutal squad.” One of his men described the way they fought against the Communists: “Horst made Adolf Hitler’s principle his own: Terror can be destroyed only by counterterror.”

In September 1929, Wessel met Erna Jänicke, a 23-year-old ex-prostitute, in a tavern. Some sources claim Wessel acted as Jänicke’s pimp. She soon moved into his room. 

Wessel’s landlady, Elisabeth Salm, wanted Jänicke to leave. But Jänicke refused to do so.

Salm appealed to Communist friends of her late husband to evict Jänicke, They agreed to beat Wessel up and evict him from Salm’s flat. They recruited Albrecht Höhler, an armed pimp, perjurer and petty criminal, to handle the evicting.

On February 23, 1930, Höhler knocked at the front door of the room where Wessel and Jänicke lived. When Wessel opened the door, Höhler shot him at point-blank range.

He was 22 when he died.

Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels quickly turned Wessel into a Nazi martyr. Wessel had written the lyrics for a new Nazi fight song: “The Unknown SA-Man.” It later became known as “Raise the Flag” and finally the “Horst Wessel Lied.” 

Its opening stanza.

Raise the flag! The ranks tightly closed!
The SA marches with calm, steady step.
Comrades shot by the Red Front and reactionaries
March in spirit within our ranks.

“The Horst Wessel Lied” became the official anthem of the Nazi Party from 1930 to 1945.

Fast forward to January 6, 2021—when the Republican Party got its own martyr: Ashli Babbitt.

A veteran of the United States Air Force, she served two tours in Afghanistan and Iraq before later deploying with the National Guard to Kuwait and Qatar.

Originally from San Diego, California, by 2020 she had recently remarried and was working at a pool service company. 

On social media, she described herself as a libertarian and a patriot. She often expressed ardent support for President Donald Trump.

On November 3, 2020, Trump lost the Presidential election to former Vice President Joseph Biden. 

Biden won the popular vote—81,268,924 to 74,216,154 for Trump—and, more importantly, in the Electoral College: 306 to 232.

But Babbitt accepted wholesale Trump’s lie that the election had been stolen from him by massive voter fraud.

On January 6, 2021, members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives would meet in the United States Capitol Building. They would count the Electoral College votes received by Trump and Biden—and pronounce Biden the President-elect.

Babbitt was determined to “Stop the Steal” by assaulting the Capitol Building on January 6. 

Inside right-wing efforts to make Ashli Babbitt into a martyr | wusa9.com

Ashli Babbitt

On January 5, she posted on social media: “Nothing will stop us. They can try and try and try but the storm is here and it is descending upon DC in less than 24 hours.”

On January 6, she was among hundreds of Right-wing men and women who breached the Capitol. She was also the mob’s only casualty.

As lawmakers were being evacuated by Capitol Police, Babbitt tried to climb through a shattered window in a barricaded door. She was warned to back off several times by a policeman standing on the other side.

Babbitt defied the orders—and was shot in the neck/shoulder. She died of the wound—at age 35,

The shooting was later ruled justified by the Justice Department. 

Almost a century ago Nazis extolled Horst Wessel as a virtuous martyr. Today, members of Right-wing groups—and even Congressional Republicans—portray Ashli Babbitt as a fallen Joan of Arc.

During a hearing with former acting Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen in April, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ.) claimed Babbitt was “executed.” 

Fox News host Tucker Carlson has made the same charge.

And, not to be outdone, so has Donald Trump himself.

“Who was the person who shot an innocent, wonderful, incredible woman?” Trump asked Fox Business anchor Maria Bartiromo  on July 11. “I will tell you, they know who shot Ashley Babbitt. They’re protecting that person. I’ve heard also that it was the head of security for a certain high official—a Democrat.”

The Nazis found in Horst Wessel a hero to inspire their followers. So, too, have Republicans generally and Trump enthusiasts specifically found the same in Ashli Babbitt.

The only question remaining to be answered: Will an “Ashli Babbitt Lied” culminate in a similar tyranny for the United States?

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