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Posts Tagged ‘STORMTROOPERS’

AMERICA’S FUHRER AS “YOUR LAW AND ORDER PRESIDENT”: PART TWO (END)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 9, 2020 at 12:03 am

Eighty-six years after Adolf Hitler declared himself “the Supreme Judge of the German people,” the United States faces the same fate under President Donald J. Trump.

On September 2, Trump sent a memo to Russell T. Vought, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Attorney General William P. Barr. Its message: Find ways to cut funding to several cities controlled by Democrats.

Trump singled out four cities for defunding: Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; Seattle, Washington; and New York City.

Trump gave his official reason for this move: “Anarchy has recently beset some of our states and cities. My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones.”

He blames rising crime rates on Black Lives Matter protesters and blacks who have looted and burned stores during nationwide protests against police brutality. And he claims that only he can save America from a civil war ignited by such protesters.

Do Black Lives Matter | Racism | Police Brutality | USA

At the same time, he has totally ignored—or  defended—armed white militias who have faced off with Black Lives Matter protesters.

The memo seemed especially aimed at New York City, where Mayor Bill de Blasio and the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, have been highly critical of Trump’s failure to stem the Coronavirus pandemic.

On Twitter, Cuomo accused Trump of trying to strip funding that cities and states need to recover from Coronavirus: “He is not a king. He cannot ‘defund’ NYC. It’s an illegal stunt.” 

Andrew Cuomo 2017.jpg

Andrew Cuomo

Bill Neidhardt, a spokesman for de Blasio, tweeted: “As much as Donald Trump wants New York City to drop dead, we will never let this stand. This has nothing to do with ‘law and order’. This is a racist campaign stunt out of the Oval Office to attack millions of people of color.”

Trump’s directive “intrudes on Congress’ power of the purse, would never stand up in court and is nothing more than a distraction from the fact that Americans are less safe under the Trump administration,” said Evan Hollander, a spokesman for the Democratic majority of the House Appropriations Committee.

“It seems the only place where there is no respect for the rule of law is the White House,” Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said.

She attacked Trump’s move as a tactic to further divide Americans when the Coronavirus pandemic demanded leadership and unity. 

Trump “continues to believe that disenfranchising people living in this country to advance his petty grudges is an effective political strategy,” tweeted Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler.

On June 1, Trump declared: ”I am your President of law and order, and an ally of all peaceful protesters.” 

But on that same evening, Trump ordered police, Secret Service agents and National Guard troops to violently remove peaceful protesters from Lafayette Square, which borders St. John’s Church near the White House.

They were protesting the murder of George Floyd, a black unemployed restaurant security guard, by a white Minneapolis police officer on May 25.

The purpose of the removal: To allow Trump to have a photo op outside the church.  

Why Violent Protests Work

Donald Trump at St. John’s Church

As for his claim of being “your President of law and order.”

Trump is only the third United States President—after Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton—to be impeached. Charged with obstruction of Congress and abuse of power by a Democratic House of Representatives, he was acquitted by the Republican-majority Senate on February 5.  

In addition, Trump has waged all-out war on the following legal institutions:

  • The FBI: When FBI Director James Comey dared to pursue a probe into Russia’s subversion of the 2016 Presidential election on Trump’s behalf, Trump fired him without warning on May 9, 2017. 
  • The Justice Department: Trump repeatedly attacked his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for not “protecting” him from agents pursuing the Russia investigation. On November 7, 2018, the day after Democrats won a majority of House seats, Trump fired Sessions.
  • The Special Counsel: He tried to fire Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, the man appointed to investigate the Russian government’s interference in the 2016 Presidential election.
  • The Judiciary: On October 20, 2018, Trump attacked U.S. District Judge Jon S. Tigar as an “Obama judge.” Tigar had ruled that the administration must consider asylum claims no matter where migrants cross the U.S. border. 
  • The Electoral Process: On September 2, Trump urged residents in the critical political battleground of North Carolina to try to vote twice in the Nov. 3 election, once by mail and once in person—a totally illegal act..

On the private-sector front: 

  • On December 10, 2019, Trump paid $2 million to eight charities as part of a settlement where he admitted to misusing funds raised by the Donald J. Trump Foundation. These had been used to promote his presidential bid and pay off business debts. He was forced to close the charity as a result.
  • Legal action also forced Trump to shut down his unaccredited Trump University, which the conservative magazine National Review described as a “massive scam.” Although he boasted that he never settled lawsuits, he settled this one in November, 2016, for a reported $25 million rather than go to trial. 

When Donald Trump calls himself a “law and order President,” he means: “My order is your law.”

AMERICA’S FUHRER AS “YOUR LAW AND ORDER PRESIDENT” PART ONE (OF TWO)

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Politics, Social commentary on September 8, 2020 at 12:06 am

On June 30, 1934, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler ordered a massive purge of his private army, the S.A., or Brownshirts. It was carried out by Hitler’s elite army-within-an-army, the Schutzstaffel, or Protective Squads, better known as the SS.

The Brownshirts (also known as “Stiormtroopers”) had been instrumental in securing Hitler’s rise to Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. They had intimidated political opponents (especially Communists) and organized mass rallies for the Nazi Party.

But after Hitler reached the pinnacle of power, they became a liability.

Ernst Rohm, their commander, had served as a tough army officer during World War 1. He was one of the few men allowed to use “du,” the personal form of “you” in German, when addressing Hitler.

Rohm urged Hitler to disband the regular German army, the Reichswehr, and replace it with his own undisciplined paramilitary legions as the nation’s defense force.

Ernst Rohm

Frightened by Rohm’s ambitions, the generals of the Reichswehr gave Hitler an ultimatum: Get rid of Rohm—or they would get rid of him.

Hitler didn’t hesitate. Backed by armed thugs, he stormed into Rohm’s apartment, catching him in bed with a young S.A. Stormtrooper.

Accusing his onetime friend of treasonously plotting to overthrow him, Hitler screamed: “You’re going to be shot!”

Rohm was not plotting a coup. But the generals had the whip hand—and, for Hitler, that was enough to literally sign Rohm’s death warrant.

Hours later, sitting in a prison cell, Rohm was offered a pistol with a single bullet.

“Adolf himself should do the dirty work,” said Rohm, adding: “All revolutions devour their own children.”

One hour later, Rohm died in a hail of SS bullets.

Earlier throughout that day, so had several hundred of his longtime S.A. cronies. Many of them yelled “Heil Hitler!” as they stood against barracks walls waiting to be shot.

SS firing squad

Thirteen days later, addressing the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament, Hitler justified his purge in a nationally broadcast speech:  “If anyone reproaches me and asks why I did not  resort  to the  regular courts of justice, then all  I can say is this: In this hour I was responsible for the fate of the German people, and thereby I became the Supreme Judge of the German people! 

“I gave the order to shoot the ringleaders in this treason, and I further gave the order to cauterize down to the raw flesh the ulcers of this poisoning of the wells in our domestic life.

“Let the nation know that its existence—which depends on its internal order and security—cannot be threatened with impunity by anyone! And let it be known for all time to come that if anyone raises his hand to strike the State, then certain death is his lot.”

On This Day: Nazi Germany Invades Poland, Starting World War II

Adolf Hitler addressing parliament

Eighty-six years after Adolf Hitler declared himself “the Supreme Judge of the German people,” the United States faces the same fate under President Donald J. Trump.

On September 2, Trump sent a memo to Russell T. Vought, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Attorney General William P. Barr. Its title: “Reviewing Funding to State and Local Government Recipients That Are Permitting Anarchy, Violence and Destruction in American Cities.” 

Both officials were ordered to find ways to cut funding to several cities controlled by Democrats.

Related image

Donald Trump

Accusing local and state officials of abdicating their duties, Trump wrote: “Anarchy has recently beset some of our states and cities. My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones.” 

In his memo, Trump ordered Vought to issue guidance in 30 days “to the heads of agencies on restricting eligibility of or otherwise disfavoring, to the maximum extent permitted by law, anarchist jurisdictions in the receipt of Federal grants.”

And he gave Barr 14 days to identify “anarchist jurisdictions” that “permitted violence and the destruction of property to persist and have refused to undertake reasonable measures” to restore order.

Trump singled out four cities for defunding: Portland, Oregon; Washington, D.C.; Seattle, Washington; and New York City.

The move threatens billions of dollars for many of the country’s largest urban cities.

But protecting American citizens from crime is not the real reason for this effort.

Polls show Trump trailing his Democratic rival, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. As a result, Trump is resorting to the classic Republican tactics of smear and fear.

He wants to shift public attention from his failure to halt the escalating Coronavirus pandemic—which has already killed more than 189,000 Americans and left 25 million unemployed.

He also wants to turn Black Lives Matter protests against police brutality into white counter-protest at the ballot box.

Trump has long relied on divide-and-rule tactics to gain and hold power. He hopes to persuade suburban whites that he is the only thing standing between them and a black crime wave about to engulf them.

The hatred that millions of older whites—especially rural ones—felt for most of their fellow Americans gave Trump the White House in 2016. Trump hopes that such hatred—combined with fear—will do it again in 2020.

“ALL REVOLUTIONS DEVOUR THEIR OWN CHILDREN”

In Bureaucracy, History, Medical, Politics, Social commentary on July 27, 2020 at 12:19 am

“All revolutions,” said Ernst Rohm, leader of Adolf Hitler’s brown-shirted thugs, the S.A., “devour their own children.”

Fittingly, he said this as he sat inside a prison cell awaiting his own execution.

Ernst Rohm

On June 30, 1934, Hitler had ordered a massive purge of his private army, the S.A., or Stormtroopers. The purge was carried out by Hitler’s elite army-within-an-army, the Schutzstaffel, or Protective Squads, better known as the SS.

The S.A. Brownshirts had been instrumental in securing Hitler’s rise to Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. They had intimidated political opponents and organized mass rallies for the Nazi Party.

But after Hitler reached the pinnacle of power, they became a liability.

Ernst Rohm, their commander, urged Hitler to disband the regular German army, the Reichswehr, and replace it with his own legions as the nation’s defense force.

Frightened by Rohm’s ambitions, the generals of the Reichswehr gave Hitler an ultimatum: Get rid of Rohm—or they would get rid of him.

So Rohm died in a hail of SS bullets—as did several hundred of his longtime S.A. cronies.

SS firing squad

Eighty-six years later, even the most Right-wing Republicans are learning there’s a price to pay for disagreeing with The Leader.

Case in point: Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) the House Republican Conference Chair—and the only female member of the House GOP leadership. 

On July 21, she became the target of members of her own party. 

Liz Cheney

Her GOP Freedom Caucus attackers included

  • Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio)
  • Matt Gaetz (R-Florida)
  • Thomas Massie (R-Kentucky)
  • Chip Roy (R-Texas)
  • Andy Biggs (R-Arizona)
  • Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) and
  • Ralph Norman (R-South Carolina).

Jordan, the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee, praised Cheney for defending President Donald Trump during the impeachment trial in February. But he attacked her for publicly disagreeing with Trump’s intention to remove troops from Germany and Afghanistan. 

He also assailed Cheney for her recent rebukes of Trump—for his mishandling of the Coronavirus and his Twitter rants.

Cheney remembered that Jordan’s Right-wing Freedom Caucus had caused problems for the GOP’s leadership when the party held the majority in the House. 

“I look forward to hearing your comments about being a team player when we’re back in the majority,” replied Cheney. 

Representative Roy (Texas) assailed Cheney for supporting Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, and complained that his Democratic opponent has retweeted some of Cheney’s tweets. 

Cheney defended Fauci, who has served under Republican and Democratic Presidents as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984. 

“At this moment when we’re trying to find every way we can to defeat the virus, when we’re trying to find therapeutics and vaccines, we need all hands on deck, and I can’t imagine anybody better than Dr. Fauci to continue to play that role,” Cheney told reporters after the meeting. 

Trump is jealous of Fauci’s popularity for speaking the hard truth about Coronavirus—and the Federal Government’s failure to combat it.

Green Bay Packers: While Dr. Anthony Fauci expresses concerns, NFL ...

Anthony Fauci

Trump also resents that his own popularity is steadily falling as COVID cases and deaths rise—and he offers only rosy predictions that “one day it will be gone.”

Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona, the head of the Freedom Caucus, said that if someone has a problem with Trump, they should keep it to themselves. He said Cheney undermined the GOP’s ability to win back the House, which Democrats won in November, 2018.

Matt Gaetz, who once split with Trump over a war powers resolution, later tweeted: “Liz Cheney has worked behind the scenes (and now in public) against @realDonaldTrump and his agenda. House Republicans deserve better as our Conference Chair.”

Gaetz’ tweet was quickly backed by such major Republicans as Senator Rand Paul (Kentucky) and Trump’s son, Donald, Jr. 

Republicans, tweeted Trump,Jr., “already have one Mitt Romney, we don’t need another.”

Senator Mitt Romney (R-Utah) was the only Republican to vote to convict Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress during February’s impeachment effort.

“Donald Trump Jr. Is not a member of the House Republican Conference,” Cheney dismissed the attack later.

During the conference meeting, Gaetz and Massie complained that Cheney was supporting a primary challenge to Massie.

Cheney told Gaetz that she looked forward to seeing an upcoming HBO documentary, “The Swamp,” about him, Massie and a third Republican congressman, Ken Buck of Colorado.

Cheney told Massie that his issue was with Trump, not her. Trump had called Massie “a third rate grandstander” and said he wanted Massie ousted from the Republican party. Despite this, Massie had beaten Todd McMurtry, a primary challenger.

Cheney had donated to McMurtry, but later asked that the money be returned after his past racist social media posts  became public.

Anyone in Nazi Germany could be accused of disloyalty to Adolf Hitler. Now anyone in the Republican party can be accused of disloyalty to Donald Trump.

“Fanatics can justify practically any atrocity to themselves,” wrote the author Mercedes Lackey. “The more untenable their position becomes, the harder they hold to it, and the worse the things they are willing to do to support it.”

FIGHTING FASCISM: A VETERAN SPEAKS

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Military, Politics, Social commentary on January 25, 2019 at 12:08 am

“We must not make the error of thinking that all those who eat the bread of dictatorship are evil from the first, but they must necessarily become evil….One of the vital lessons we must learn from the German disaster is the ease with which a people can be sucked down into the morass of inaction.”

Thus warns Hans Bernd Gisevius—one of the few survivors of the July 20, 1944 bomb attempt on Adolf Hitler.

A covert opponent of the Nazi regime, he served as a liaison in Zurich between the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and German resistance forces in Germany. 

In 1946, he published his autobiography, To the Bitter End, sharply indicting the Reich and its leaders—many of whom Gisevius had known personally. He also condemned the German people, charging that they pretended ignorance of the atrocities being committed.

Hans Bernd Gisevius at Nuremberg

In his introduction, Gisevius notes: “This book is not intended as a history of the Third Reich. The author has selected a few prominent incidents out of the confusion of contemporaneous events and has attempted to use these as points through which to trace the broad curves of the historical process.”

Almost 75 years after the fall of the Third Reich, Gisevius offers invaluable insights into America’s own foray into Fascistic government under President Donald J. Trump.

Related image

Donald Trump

Even more important, he offers concrete suggestions for successfully resisting a Fascist regime.

Ability to Retain Support:  “We have learned that in the political realm abuses are all ultimately punished. But it takes extraordinarily long for the breach to become apparent. As long as dictatorships can produce ‘successes’ and conceal abuses they remain armored against opposition. The masses will not desert them.” 

Attractiveness of Simplicity: “A favorite name for Hitler was ‘the great simplifier.’ This was apt; in spite of the verbosity and clumsiness of his language, he really possessed an astonishing flair for summarizing complicated matters into brief formulas.” 

Corruption of Spirituality: “The Nazis wanted to lock Christianity into a ghetto, and many Christians believed it was their duty to accept this isolation gladly. [Pastor Martin] Niemoeller knew that it must not be accepted.”

Inefficiency a Hallmark of Dictatorships: “Incredible as it sounds, even the chief of the Wehrmacht was not aware of all the contracts that had been let. He obtained virtually no information from the air force or the navy, and the army provided him with only fragmentary information….

“Hitler approved of this procedure. He did not want any coordinating authority to be able to survey the total situation. He preferred conflicts and rivalries because he thought they would speed the tempo of rearmament.”

Responsibility of the Military: “Undoubtedly a small group of generals were at heart earnestly troubled. These men were conscious of a tremendous responsibility: they felt that no command from above, however unequivocal, could erase their responsibility. In fact there was only a minute group of army officers who were, ‘in principle,’ co-conspirators to the Nazi Terror. Most of the officer corps remained ‘neutral,’ both inwardly and outwardly.

“They were part of that irresponsible group of human beings who always seek a secure life without cares and are allured by the prospect of a career. By their excess of passivity our generals, willy-nilly, consciously or unconsciously, became profiteering participants in the Nazi Revolution.”

Related image

Soldiers saluting Adolf Hitler

The Danger of Accommodating Evil: “Let…individuals fall prey to over-cleverness, opportunism or cowardice and they are irrevokably lost. Passive acceptance, intellectual subservience, or, in religious terms, failure to pray against the evil, may constitute a kind of silent support for authoritarian rule.”

Corruptions of Power: “Within a few weeks, the Party leaders and sub-leaders found themselves in positions of power beyond their wildest dreams….They had no professional training. They knew nothing about law. They did not trust the professional officialdom who worked under them. What could they do but extemporize? They simply dictated, in the firm conviction that their subjects would obey.”

Collective Responsibility: “Once that system [of authoritarian rule] has been installed….there is only one course remaining to each individual and to all individuals collectively: To fight the terrorists with the same courage and tenacity, with the same willingness to take risks, that they employ in wartime under ‘orders’ when they fight the ‘enemy.'” 

* * * * * 

In the classic 1969 Western, The Wild Bunch, there’s a scene where Pike Bishop, the leader of the outlaw gang, and his close friend, Dutch Engstrom, face off.

They’re being chased by a posse led by Deke Thornton, a former gang member—who’s threatened with prison if he doesn’t kill them all. 

“Damn that Deke Thornton to Hell!” shouts Engstrom. 

“What would you do in his place?” replies Bishop. “He gave his word!”

“He gave his word to a railroad!”

“It’s his word!”

“That ain’t what counts,” says Engstrom. “It’s who you give it to!”   

“It’s who you give it to.” Those words must constantly be remembered when making a commitment. The person/cause you serve must be worthy of that service.

Otherwise, such virtues as loyalty and courage become meaningless perversions in service to evil.

BECOMING A FASCIST NATION—ONE STEP AT A TIME

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on January 14, 2019 at 12:03 am

Hans Bernd Gisevius holds a unique position in the history of the Third Reich.

He was one of the few plotters of the July 20, 1944 bomb attack on Adolf Hitler to survive the wave of arrests that followed.

A covert opponent of the Nazi regime, he served as a liaison in Zurich between the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and German resistance forces in Germany.

Not only did he outlive the Reich, he took revenge on it at the Nuremberg trials. In April, 1946, for three days he gave damning evidence against former Reichsmarshall Hermann Goring and his accomplices.

Hans Bernd Gisevius at Nuremberg

In 1946, he published his autobiography, To the Bitter End, sharply indicting the Reich and its leaders—many of whom Gisevius had known personally. He also condemned the German people, charging that they pretended ignorance of the atrocities being committed.

In his introduction, Gisevius notes: “This book is not intended as a history of the Third Reich. The author has selected a few prominent incidents out of the confusion of contemporaneous events and has attempted to use these as points through which to trace the broad curves of the historical process.”

To the Bitter End opens with the February 27, 1933 arson attack on the Reichstag building, home of the German parliament. By the time the fire was put out, most of the building was gutted. 

On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler had been appointed Chancellor of Germany. Now he used the fire to gain unprecedented control over the country. 

Reichstagsbrand.jpg

Reichstag fire

The next day, at Hitler’s request, President Paul von Hindenburg signed the Reichstag Fire Decree into law. This suspended most civil liberties in Germany, including:

  • Freedom of speech, press, association and public assembly
  • Habeas corpus and
  • Secrecy of the mails and telephone.

The next major event Gisevius chronicled has since become known as “The Night of the Long Knives.”

On June 30, 1934, Hitler ordered a massive purge of his private army, the S.A., or Stormtroopers. This was carried out by Hitler’s elite army-within-an-army, the Schutzstaffel, or Protective Squads, better known as the SS.

The S.A. Brownshirts had been instrumental in securing Hitler’s rise to Chancellor of Germany. They had intimidated political opponents and organized mass rallies for the Nazi Party.

Ernst Rohem, their commander, urged Hitler to disband the regular German army, the Reichswehr, and replace it with his own legions as the nation’s defense force.

Frightened by Rohem’s ambitions, the generals of the Reichswehr warned Hitler: Get rid of Rohem—or we’ll get rid of you.

So Rohem died in a hail of SS bullets—along with several hundred of his longtime S.A. cronies.

SS firing squad

A third crisis that paved the way for Hitler’s assuming supremacy over the German armed forces came in early 1938.

Hitler had been wanting to replace two high-ranking military officials: General Werner von Fritsch and Colonel General Werner von Blomberg. He intended to go to war—and despised their hesitation to do so. 

On January 12, 1938, Blomberg married Erna Gruhn, with Hitler and Reichsmarshall Hermann Goring attending as witnesses. Soon afterward, Berlin police discovered that Gruhn had a criminal record as a prostitute and had posed for pornographic photographs.

Marrying a woman with such a background violated the standard of conduct expected of officers. Hitler was infuriated at having served as a witness, but he also saw the scandal as an opportunity to dispose of Blomberg.

Shortly after Blomberg was forced to resign in disgrace, the SS presented Hitler with a file that falsely accused Werner von Fritsch of homosexuality. Fritsch angrily denied the accusation but resigned on February 4, 1938.

From that point on, Hitler was in de facto command of the German Armed Services.

To the Bitter End vividly depicts how, step by step, Hitler gained total control of Germany—and plunged it headlong into World War II.

None of these steps, by itself, was fatal. But, taken together, they led to the deaths of 60 million men, women and children, the utter destruction of Germany and the domination of Eastern Europe (including East Germany) for 44 years after the Reich collapsed.

Since Donald Trump took office as the 45th President of the United States, Americans have seen him move, step by step, toward his goal of absolute power. Among these moves:

  • Firing FBI Director James Comey for pursuing an investigation into Russian subversion of the 2016 election.
  • Repeatedly attacking his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for not “protecting” him from investigators pursuing the Russia investigation.
  • Firing Sessions and replacing him with Matthew Whittaker, who had loudly criticized the probe led by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller.
  • Relentlessly attacking the free press as “the enemy of the American people.”
  • Brutally attacking Federal judges whose rulings displease him.
  • On multiple occasions, urging Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to vengefully prosecute Hillary Clinton, his 2016 rival for the Presidency.

The United States may yet fall victim to a nuclear war triggered by an insult-happy Trump, or a dictatorship where he turns the Justice Department into his personal SS. 

If so, a future American chronicler may, like Hans Bernd Gisevius, leave behind a record of a nation betrayed by lost opportunities and a brutal tyrant.

NAZI GERMANY’S PAST MAY BE AMERICA’S FUTURE

In Bureaucracy, History, Law, Law Enforcement, Military, Politics, Social commentary on November 27, 2018 at 12:01 am

Hans Bernd Gisevius holds a unique position in the history of the Third Reich.

He was one of the few plotters of the July 20, 1944 bomb attack on Adolf Hitler to survive the wave of arrests that followed.

A covert opponent of the Nazi regime, he served as a liaison in Zurich between the American Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and German resistance forces in Germany.

Not only did he outlive the Reich, he took revenge on it at the Nuremberg trials. In April, 1946, for three days he gave damning evidence against former Reichsmarshall Hermann Goring and his accomplices.

Hans Bernd Gisevius at Nuremberg

In 1946, he published his autobiography, To the Bitter End, sharply indicting the Reich and its leaders—many of whom Gisevius had known personally. He also condemned the German people, charging that they pretended ignorance of the atrocities being committed.

In his introduction, Gisevius notes: “This book is not intended as a history of the Third Reich. The author has selected a few prominent incidents out of the confusion of contemporaneous events and has attempted to use these as points through which to trace the broad curves of the historical process.”

To the Bitter End opens with the February 27, 1933 arson attack on the Reichstag building, home of the German parliament. By the time the fire was put out, most of the building was gutted. 

On January 30, 1933, Adolf Hitler had been appointed Chancellor of Germany. Now he used the fire to gain unprecedented control over the country. 

Reichstagsbrand.jpg

Reichstag fire

The next day, at Hitler’s request, President Paul von Hindenburg signed the Reichstag Fire Decree into law. This suspended most civil liberties in Germany, including:

  • Freedom of speech, press, association and public assembly
  • Habeas corpus and
  • Secrecy of the mails and telephone.

The next major event Gisevius chronicled has since become known as “The Night of the Long Knives.”

On June 30, 1934, Hitler ordered a massive purge of his private army, the S.A., or Stormtroopers. This was carried out by Hitler’s elite army-within-an-army, the Schutzstaffel, or Protective Squads, better known as the SS.

The S.A. Brownshirts had been instrumental in securing Hitler’s rise to Chancellor of Germany. They had intimidated political opponents and organized mass rallies for the Nazi Party.

Ernst Rohem, their commander, urged Hitler to disband the regular German army, the Reichswehr, and replace it with his own legions as the nation’s defense force.

Frightened by Rohem’s ambitions, the generals of the Reichswehr warned Hitler: Get rid of Rohem—or we’ll get rid of you.

So Rohem died in a hail of SS bullets—along with several hundred of his longtime S.A. cronies.

SS firing squad

A third crisis that paved the way for Hitler’s assuming supremacy over the German armed forces came in early 1938.

Hitler had been wanting to replace two high-ranking military officials: General Werner von Fritsch and Colonel General Werner von Blomberg. He intended to go to war—and despised their hesitation to do so. 

On January 12, 1938, Blomberg married Erna Gruhn, with Hitler and Reichsmarshall Hermann Goring attending as witnesses. Soon afterward, Berlin police discovered that Gruhn had a criminal record as a prostitute and had posed for pornographic photographs.

Marrying a woman with such a background violated the standard of conduct expected of officers. Hitler was infuriated at having served as a witness, but he also saw the scandal as an opportunity to dispose of Blomberg.

Shortly after Blomberg was forced to resign in disgrace, the SS presented Hitler with a file that falsely accused Werner von Fritsch of homosexuality. Fritsch angrily denied the accusation but resigned on February 4, 1938.

From that point on, Hitler was in de facto command of the German Armed Services.

To the Bitter End vividly depicts how, step by step, Hitler gained total control of Germany—and plunged it headlong into World War II.

None of these steps, by itself, was fatal. But, taken together, they led to the deaths of 60 million men, women and children, the utter destruction of Germany and the domination of Eastern Europe (including East Germany) for 44 years after the Reich collapsed.

Since Donald Trump took office as the 45th President of the United States, Americans have seen him move, step by step, toward his goal of absolute power. Among these moves:

  • Firing FBI Director James Comey for pursuing an investigation into Russian subversion of the 2016 election.
  • Repeatedly attacking his own Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, for not “protecting” him from investigators pursuing the Russia investigation.
  • Firing Sessions and replacing him with Matthew Whittaker, who had loudly criticized the probe led by Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller.
  • Relentlessly attacking the free press as “the enemy of the American people.”
  • Brutally attacking Federal judges whose rulings displease him.
  • On multiple occasions, urging Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to vengefully prosecute Hillary Clinton, his 2016 rival for the Presidency.

The United States may yet fall victim to a nuclear war triggered by an insult-happy Trump, or a dictatorship where he turns the Justice Department into his personal SS. 

If so, a future American chronicler may, like Hans Bernd Gisevius, leave behind a record of a nation betrayed by lost opportunities and a brutal tyrant.

TRUMP: SPITTING ON THE GRAVES AT ARLINGTON

In Bureaucracy, History, Military, Politics, Social commentary on August 21, 2017 at 12:08 am

The ancient historian, Plutarch, warned: “And the most glorious episodes do not always furnish us with the clearest discoveries of virtue or vice in men.

Sometimes a matter of less moment, an expression or a jest, informs us better of their characters and inclinations than the most famous sieges, the greatest armaments, or the bloodiest battles.”

On August 15, President Donald Trump gave just such an example.

He did so by equating Nazis, Ku Klux Klamsmen and other white supremacists with those who protested against them in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend of August 12-13.

Donald Trump

“I think there is blame on both sides,” said Trump in an impromptu press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower, in Manhattan, New York.

“I will tell you something. I watched those very closely, much more closely than you people [news media] watched it. And you had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that. But I’ll say it right now.

“You had a group on the other side [those opposing the white supremacists] that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent….

“Well, I do think there’s blame. Yes, I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both sides. And I have no doubt about it. And you [news media] don’t have doubt about it either.”

Apparently, some of Trump’s fellow Republicans do doubt there was blame on both sides.

“There’s no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate& bigotry. The President of the United States should say so,” tweeted Arizona Senator John McCain.

“Through his statements yesterday,” said South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham, “President Trump took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer. I, along with many others, do not endorse this moral equivalency.”

Heather Heyer was the 32-year-old paralegal who was killed on August 13 when a car plowed into a crowd protesting a white supremacist “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville. Nineteen others were injured in the incident.

“Mr. President, you can’t allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain,” Florida’s Senator Marco Rubio tweeted.

And Arizona’s other Senator, Jeff Flake, tweeted: “We can’t accept excuses for white supremacy & acts of domestic terrorism. We must condemn. Period.”

Ohio Governor John Kasich, who had opposed Trump as a Presidential candidate in 2016, said on NBC’s “Today Show”:

“This is terrible. The President of the United States needs to condemn these kinds of hate groups. The President has to totally condemn this. It’s not about winning an argument.”

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John Kasich

During the Presidential primaries, Kasich had run an ad comparing Trump to Germany’s Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler:

“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 if 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.”

That point was forcibly driven home on the night of August 11.

That was when hundreds of torch-bearing Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen and other white supremacists marched on the University of Virginia campus.

Their faces twisted with hatred, they repeatedly shouted:

“You will not replace us!”

“Jews will not replace us!”

“Blood and soil!”

“Whose streets?  Our streets!”

For the vast majority of Americans, such scenes had existed only in newsreel footage of torch-bearing columns of Nazi stormtroopers flooding the streets of Hitler’s Germany.

The fall of Nazi Germany came 72 years ago—on May 7, 1945.  Today, veterans of World War II are rapidly dying off.

But their sons and daughters are still alive to pass on, secondhand, the necessary for standing up to such barbarism.

And so can films like “Saving Private Ryan” and “Schindler’s List.”

At the end of “Saving Private Ryan,” a dying Captain John H. Miller (Tom Hanks) tells Private James Ryan (Matt Damon) whose life he has saved: “Earn this.”

Image result for Images of Saving Private Ryan

A dying Captain Miller tells Ryan: “Earn this.”

Returning to Miller’s burial site in France decades later, an elderly Ryan speaks reverently to the white cross over Miller’s grave:

“Every day I think about what you said to me that day on the bridge. I tried to live my life the best that I could. I hope that was enough. I hope that, at least in your eyes, I’ve earned what all of you have done for me.”

Those are sentiments wasted on those who mounted the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville.

And they are equally wasted on a President who condemns those who stand up to Fascism.

BROWNSHIRTS WITHOUT UNIFORMS

In Bureaucracy, Business, History, Politics, Social commentary on November 23, 2016 at 12:09 am

Supporters of President-elect Donald Trump are furious at Starbucks.

For starters, the company’s CEO, Howard Schultz, endorsed Hillary Clinton for President.

Then, Starbucks “declared war on Christmas” by issuing a “less-festive” holiday paper drinking cup.

Starbucks releases its traditional red holiday cup each November. Past designs have included imagery such as snowflakes, snowmen and Christmas trees.

But in 2015, the company issued a plain red cup minus imagery, triggering a backlash among image-obsessed Christians, who saw it as an “attack” on Christmas.

[The Bible doesn’t give even a generalized date for Jesus’ birth. Nor did Jesus command his followers to celebrate his birth. At the Last Supper, he did command them to honor his death by taking the sacrament.

[Most of the traditions now associated with Christmas can be traced directly to the ancient Roman festival, Saturnalia, which celebrated the deity Saturn. These included feasting, drinking, gift-giving, hanging wreaths and decorating trees—which were not brought indoors.]

When Trump—then running for President—learned of the change in Starbucks cups, he was outraged.

“Did you read about Starbucks?” Trump asked supporters during a rally in Springfield, Ill. “No more ‘Merry Christmas’ at Starbucks. No more. Maybe we should boycott Starbucks.

“If I become president, we’re all going to be saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again,” Trump told the crowd—as if, by becoming President, he could issue such an order. “That I can tell you. That I can tell you! Unbelievable.”

Donald Trump

Now that Trump is about to become President, his legions of Trumpsters aren’t waiting for an official order.

On November 17, a Trumpster using the screen name Baked Alaska came up with a new idea to intimidate Starbucks.

Going on Twitter, he advised fellow Trumpsters to proceed with “Operation #TrumpCup.”  All they had to do was:

  1. “Go to Starbucks & tell them your name is Trump
  2. “If they refuse take video
  3. “Pls share & spread the word”

One Trumpster subsequently posted on Twitter the following: “I got my Starbucks with Trump name. he yelled Trump get your drink 

Another one proudly tweeted: “@bakedalaska did this today. They didn’t want to, said it was too political. I reminded her the campaign was over & he’s our president now. pic.twitter.com/LHgi7Vqexh

This may seem wonderful to Trumpsters, but there are five serious flaws with it:

  1. By taking on the name of the man they idolize, they are obliterating their own identities.
  2. They are trying to impose their idol’s name on others, whether they admire him or not.
  3. This is exactly what the fanatical followers of all tyrants do.
  4. If there’s more than one Trumpster in a Starbucks, how will each one know which “Trump” is being summoned to get his drink?
  5. This is actually the opposite of a boycott. They’re making a “statement”—but they’re also putting money into Starbucks’ pocket while doing so.

Baked Alaska, however, intends to stick to his campaign. “We have a culture war to win,” he said in a Periscope video. He claimed that Twitter was suspending accounts of “alt-Right” [i.e., Fascist] users and that liberals were making whites—especially men—feel guilty.

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Baked Alaska with his Trump cup

Starbucks reacted by emailing the following statement: “Over the years, writing customer names on cups and calling out their names has been a fun ritual in our stores. Rarely has it been abused or taken advantage of. We hope and trust that our customers will continue to honor that tradition. We don’t require our partners to write or call out names.”

What’s past often turns out to be prologue.

Throughout the 2016 Presidential campaign, Donald Trump relied on threats and insults. He used them against Republicans in the primaries, and against Democrats in the general election.  

On March 16, he warned his fellow Republicans that if he didn’t win the GOP nomination at the convention in July, his supporters would literally riot: “I think you’d have riots. I think you would see problems like you’ve never seen before. I think bad things would happen.”

After Trump got the nomination, his surrogates continued to raise the specter of violence. Roger Stone, one of his advisers, told the Right-wing Breitbart News website:

“I think he’s [Trump] gotta put [Democrats] on notice that their inauguration will be a rhetorical and when I mean civil disobedience, not violence, but it will be a bloodbath….We will not stand for it.”

If Clinton had won, Trump’s followers would have remained—waiting for the next champion to voice their hatred and call on their votes. Meanwhile, they would have lost their energy as a social and political force.  

But Trump did win, and now they feel emboldened. And they will continue to draw encouragement from a steady stream of attacks by Trump and his surrogates.

During the general election, many Trump supporters openly threatened to wage armed rebellion against the government if Clinton won.  

What will they do after Trump becomes President—and starts blasting tweets at those who have offended his fragile ego?

Will they stand in front of Starbucks shops and refuse entry to customers–as Adolf Hitler’s brown-shirted Stormtroopers blocked customers from entering Jewish stores? 

And will intimidated local police stand by and allow it—as they did in Hitler’s Germany? 

“Operation TrumpCup” is only the beginning.

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