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. They were his servile accomplices, his willing victims….
“If he answered their suppressed desires, it was not because he shared them, but because he could make use of them. He despised the German people, for they were merely the instruments of his will.”
On November 8, millions of ignorant, hate-filled, Right-wing Americans elected Donald Trump–a man reflecting their own hate and ignorance–to the Presidency.
Yet, in some ways, Americans have fewer excuses for turning to a Fascistic style of government than the Germans did.
Adolf Hitler, joined the National Socialist German Workers (Nazi) Party in 1919–the year after World War 1 ended.
It took him 14 years to win appointment to Chancellor (the equivalent of Attorney General) of Germany in 1933.
In 1923, he staged a coup attempt in Bavaria–which was quickly and brutally put down by police. He was arrested and sentenced to less than a year in prison.
After that, Hitler decided that winning power through violence was no longer an option. He must win it through election–or appointment.
He repeatedly ran for the highest office in Germany–President–but never got a clear majority in a free election.
When the 1929 Depression struck Germany, the fortunes of Hitler’s Nazi party rose as the life savings of ordinary Germans fell. Streets echoed with bloody clashes between members of Hitler’s Nazi Stormtroopers and those of the German Communist Party.
Germany seemed on the verge of collapsing.
Germans desperately looked for a leader–a Fuhrer–who could somehow deliver them from the threat of financial ruin and Communist takeover.
In early 1933, members of his own cabinet persuaded aging German president, Paul von Hindenburg, that only Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor could do this.
Paul von Hindenburg
Hindenburg was reluctant to do so. He considered Hitler a dangerous radical. But he allowed himself to be convinced that, by putting Hitler in the Cabinet, he could be “boxed in” and thus controlled.
So, on January 30, 1933, he appointed Adolf Hitler Chancellor of Germany.
On August 2, 1934, Hindenberg died, and Hitler immediately assumed the titles–and duties–of the offices of Chancellor and President. His rise to total power was now complete.
It had taken him 15 years to do so.
In 2015, Donald Trump declared his candidacy for President.
Now, consider this:
- The country was technically at war in the Middle East–but the fate of the United States was not truly threatened, as it had been during the Civil War.
- There was no draft; if you didn’t know someone in the military, you didn’t care about the casualties taking place.
- Nor were these conflicts–in Iraq and Afghanistan–imposing domestic shortages on Americans, as World War II had.
- Thanks to government loans from President Barack Obama, American capitalism had been saved from its own excesses during the George W. Bush administration.
- Employment was up. CEOs were doing extremely well.
- In contrast to the corruption that had plagued the administration of Ronald Reagan, whom Republicans idolize, there had been no such scandals during the Obama Presidency.
- Nor had there been any large-scale terrorist attacks on American soil–as there had on 9/11 under President George W. Bush.
Yet–not 17 months after announcing his candidacy for President–enough Americans fervently embraced Donald Trump to give him the most powerful position in the country and the world.
The message of Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign had been one of hope–“Yes We Can!”
That of Donald Trump’s campaign was one of hatred toward everyone who was not an avid Trump supporter.
Whites comprised the overwhelming majority of the audiences at Trump rallies. Not all were racists, but many of those who were advertised it on T-shirts: “MAKE AMERICA WHITE AGAIN.”
They knew that demographics were steadily working against them. Birthrates among non-whites were rising. By 2045, whites would make up less than 50 percent of the American population.
The 2008 election of the first black President had shocked whites. His 2012 re-election had deprived them of the hope that 2008 had been an accident.
Then came 2016–and the possibility that a black President might actually be followed by a woman: Hillary Clinton.
And the idea of a woman dictating to men was strictly too much to bear.
Since Trump’s election, educators have reported a surge in bullying among students of all ages, from elementary- to high-school. Those doing the bullying are mostly whites, and the victims are mostly blacks, Muslims, Jews, Hispanics, Asians.
It even has a name: “The Trump Effect.”
And this is where matters stand more than two months before Trump takes the oath as President.
All of this should be remembered the next time an American blames Germans for their embrace of Adolf Hitler.