Saturday, January 28, 2017

This Hitler to Power Topic

Over the past week, I've noticed a couple of journalists who've tried to write a piece and note how Hitler and the Nazis came to power in Germany, and how today's environment be repeated with the Trump administration.

I'm always amazed at the limited scope of these written pieces and wonder if the journalists actually sat in any high school or university history classes, or if someone just handed them forty lines of material and they pasted it into their article.

So, this is the simplified version of Hitler and the Nazi walk into Germany's history.  Rather than start the story in 1930, which is the typical journalistic slant, or the lesser choice of starting the story in 1919.....I'd rather go back to 1789.  Don't worry.....I won't make this a 20,000 word essay.

In the late 1780s....France underwent a serious challenge to authority, and the king ended up being deposed (both he and the queen were executed in the end).  From 1789 to 1799....France was mostly run by a club of "thugs", intellectuals, and crazed-nuts.  In 1799....a brief window of opportunity opened for Napoleon Bonaparte.  A failed campaign in Egypt didn't really matter....a hero's welcome in France brought this chance for a change in leadership.  A draft or two, and in a matter of weeks....the Constitution had changed to what you would call a fake republic....which Napoleon would officially run (dictatorship would be a fine word to use, but after 11 years of the thugs running things, Napoleon wasn't such a bad deal).

So from 1799 to 1813.....Napoleon led France.  Over the final five years of this period, France was engaged in active warfare against most of Europe.  In 1813, the war basically ends.  It took various countries in a unified effort to bring this to a conclusion.

At this point, if you gaze at a normal map of what is Germany will notice what is roughly 200 different countries, empires, kingdoms, city-states, etc. All Germanic in nature but NOT unified. Prussia is the largest of these.

The Prussians recognize that they need a device to counter future aggression (by anyone), so there is this strategy.  You take the 200-odd Germanic regions and invite them into Prussia.  The chief selling point?  A constitution and rights.  Course, the fact that the Kaiser heads up the government and can override rights wasn't really discussed in full detail.

So over the next fifty years, this dynamic growth of Prussia occurs. By early 1860s....there is some peak to the voluntary nature of the Prussian invitation.  So, the Prussians look at the final three areas which will need some physical method (war) to wrap up the job.  In the case of Schlesweg-Holstein, a brief war (nine months in 1864) was necessary with Denmark.  In 1868, the Province of Hesse-Nassau (today Hessen) was pushed out of a relationship with Austria, as were the Bavarians....into a part of Prussia.

You can safely say that from 1813 to 1919, this was more of a federation of Germanic states which were directed from the Kaiser's view.  They retained their own individual character and traits.

As the WW I closed out, two major dynamics fell into place with the Hitler/Nazi Party growth.  The treaty established at the close of the war....demanded reparations be paid, and the amount created a frustrating environment for the common German citizen (not really the culprit of the war starting, just a participant). The second dynamic was the position of the Bundestag now being the center of power, instead of the Kaiser.

The Weimar Republic, which rose out of the ashes of WW I.....was created with good intentions but was crafted around a very fragile and delicate idea of a republic.  It would last fourteen years.

The chief worry in the first couple of years?  Oddly, it was that chaos and communism (seen in a very negative light in the Soviet Union) could arrive on the doorstep of the Weimar Repubic on any given day.  Adding to this....the fear of all these weapons which were brought home by frustrated solders after the war.....that they might be used to overthrow the Weimar Republic.  Toss in the economic mess, and they simply weren't up to the job.

A frustrated Hitler returns to Munich in 1919 and catches up with old associates to get a job.  What he is offered?  The Bavarian secret police (as humorous as it sounds) were hiring a few folks to work their way into some political groups operating in Munich.  For a normal guy, it would have just meant attending weekly meetings....writing a few reports each month....and collecting on a pretty easy and marginal pay situation.  All he had to was hang out and pay attention.

Oddly, Hitler goes to the meetings....engages in the conversations....and makes a speech or two.  Up until this point, the Nationalists Socialists were a minor league operation and going nowhere.  Hitler made a couple of speeches and suddenly they were keyed onto the Hitler jargon and enthusiasm.

Face it.....Germany was made up of a lot of angry ex-military guys who felt cheated by the Kaiser, and were in an economic downfall which didn't show much recovery.  Toss in the weak Weimar Republic, and state-by-state differences that existed within Germany....there you had fertile ground for the Nazis.

When the Nazi Party reaches the 1930s....they've got the perfect platform.  They promise a significant number of socialist related benefits.  You can go back and read the whole list, but it's the type of list that if you stood up in the US today and detailed the same list in 2017....probably half of the American public would easily identify and agree on this type of platform (something for nothing mentality).

Because of the weak nature of the Weimar dissolves mostly into nothing, and the Nazis consume whatever is leftover.  You can make hundreds of excuses, but Germany and it's various states wasn't prepared for this type of political apparatus.

In today's world.....when people hype some Hitler or Nazi threat....the thing you have to watch for is the idea or the hyper crowd anti-fascist or fascist in nature?

Typically, being a fascist means that you have a political philosophy or movement, that exhibits nationalism or special-interest group mentality that arise above the individual.  To achieve their goals, they have to have things run by the central government with economic and social change actions directed at the general public....against the opposition.  The problem in this case....have we wrapped up eight years of fascist-behavior or just started eight years of fascist-behavior?

You could sit for hours pondering this remarkable question.  Who wears the white hats, and are they the anti-fascists or the fascists?  In reality, back in the 1919 to 1932 period of Germany.....could one even say that the Nazis were the fascists?  With the economic downfall after WW I and after the 1929 Wall Street crash....who was going to effect the rescue of the general German public?  If you were the German might find some logic in play to pick the least of the worst choices, and that might be the whole story to the Hitler hike to power.

So when you see some idiot journalist write some 80 line piece how Trumpism relates to Nazi takeover in might want to look a lot deeper into the topic than the reporter did.

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