On Saturday evening we returned from 3 days in beautiful Sanya, China where we visited along with my old friend Mark who currently lives in Shanghai. Sanya is definitely a beautiful tropical place and I’ll post some pictures after I return to Canada. But for now the current topic on my mind is how Adolf Hitler was able to rise to power in the 1930’s and achieve complete control over Germany before starting World War II.
Like other dictators before him and after him, Hitler silenced his opponents and anyone who spoke against him by either killing them or placing them in concentration camps to work them basically to death. In the case of Pakistan, President Musharraf has effectively muzzled his opponents by arresting them and dissolving the constitution. Thankfully he has committed to holding elections in January, but I think it is up to the world to closely monitor the elections to ensure a fair process is undertaken.
The US is in an awkward situation because of the US double standard of preaching democracy when it’s in the United States’ best interests, but betraying democracy when those in power are against US interests. In current affairs, President Musharraf is an important ally that the United States can’t afford to lose. The goal of the United States will be to uphold “democracy” from the world’s perspective but also to ensure a pro-US leader wins. This isn’t an easy task, but you can be sure the CIA has explored its options; the US Middle East wars depend on it.
During the 1920’s Hitler was very influenced by Henry Ford. In 1919 Ford purchased a newspaper, the Dearborn Independent in which he published a series of articles detailing a Jewish conspiracy to rule the world. The editor of the newspaper refused to publish the articles but they were later published starting in May 1920 under the title “The International Jew: The World’s Problem”. These articles were later published as a book and are available online. Hitler had read these articles and this had in some degree likely enhanced Hitler’s resentment toward the Jews. Ford was also a Freemason, but I have been unable to draw any sort of link between Freemasons and anti-Semitism.
Hitler was a master at feeding on the emotions of his people and igniting hatred and passion in people. His election platform changed depending on where he was speaking. He made election promises that were dear to the audience he was speaking to. If he was speaking to blue-collar workers, he would talk about how he plans to redistribute wealth to the working class. He issued a memo to the rich German industrialists telling them that if elected he wouldn’t share their wealth or redistribute income in order to gain their support. He removed his anti-Jewish statements from his election speeches so that he would be able to secure campaign donations from hesitant businessmen. He even received campaign money from Jewish businessmen after making the move to remove his anti-Jewish remarks.
In his autobiography, Mein Kamph (1925), Hitler detailed his strategy as an orator to capture his audience when he wrote the following:
“The masses find it difficult to understand politics, their intelligence is small. Therefore all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points. The masses will only remember only the simplest ideas repeated a thousand times over. If I approach the masses with reasoned arguments, they will not understand me. In the mass meeting, their reasoning power is paralyzed. What I say is like an order given under hypnosis.”
After he was voted into the government he silenced his opponents and forced his way into full dictatorship. In a New York Times article on August 19th, 1934, Frederick T. Birchall writes about Hitler’s power:
“The endorsement gives Chancellor Hitler, who four years ago was not even a German citizen, dictatorial powers unequaled in any other country, and probably unequaled in history since the days of Genghis Khan. He has more power than Joseph Stalin in Russia, who has a party machine to reckon with; more power than Premier Mussolini of Italy who shares his prerogative with the titular ruler; more than any American President ever dreamed of.
No other ruler has so widespread power nor so obedient and compliant subordinates. The question that interests the outside world now is what Chancellor Hitler will do with such unprecedented authority.”
In 1935, Hitler passed the “Nuremburg Laws on Citizenship and Race” in which he banned Jewish people from becoming German citizens and banned them from marrying Aryans. He then initiated a series of measures that were intended to drive Jewish people out of Germany. On November 9th and 10th, 1935, “Crystal Night” took place where over 7500 Jewish shops were destroyed, 400 synagogues burnt down, 91 Jews were killed and an estimated 20,000 were sent to concentration camps.
Another interesting point about Hitler is that his only surviving relative after the war was Hitler’s long lost nephew, British born William Patrick Hitler, who had subsequently changed his name and eventually settled in the United States. After an extensive search for the William Patrick Hitler, author David Gardner determined that Hitler had since passed away but he had 4 sons. Amazingly, these 4 sons had a pact between each other to never have kids so that the Hitler genes will die off with them. You can read more about this topic in Gardner’s book entitled “The Last of the Hitlers“.
The lesson I think we have learned from this is that we need to be careful about how much power a single person is able to attain; especially when this person had so blatantly laid out his grandiose plans long before the war officially started in 1939. Many neo-con media outlets have compared Iran’s Mohammad Ahmadinejad to Hitler because of his comments about “Wiping Israel off the map”. I think his comments have been taken out of context by those who are hungry for war against Iran. I think he has made controversial comments in order to gain negotiating power with the world. It’s amazing how much negotiating power a country can gain by presenting themselves as a threat. Kim Jong Il can attest to this.
But this is today’s world in the post Cold War era where bigger weapons equate to thicker wallets and the weapons industry is booming in the United States.
Very interesting post….I agree about nations seen as possible threats having a distorted influence on the political landscape