The City of Dresden, Germany in the Spring of 1945
I do not claim to be omniscient, only God is omniscient, knowing all things. I do not claim to be prescient, knowing what is going to happen in the future, only God is truly prescient, for whom there is no ‘future’ only an eternal now. I can claim to have a brain and the intelligence that God gave me when he created me. I have learned to anticipate my own future in time by analyzing my past. I learned long ago that the familiar quotation, “Those who ignore history are bound (or doomed) to repeat it” is actually a misquotation of the original text written by George Santayana (1863-1952). Santayana wrote in his Reason in Common Sense, The Life of Reason, Vol.1, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” Santayana’s quotation, in turn, was probably based on his recollection of an Edmund Burke (1729-1797) statement, “Those who don’t know history are destined to repeat it.”
I am prompted to write the above disclaimer because, as we both draw closer to the end of the ‘reign’ of Barack Hussein Obama as our President and the possibility (some would say the inevitability) of the election of Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as the next President of the United States, I cannot stop thinking about the many posts I posted on this Abyssum Blog throughout the year 2008 leading up to the presidential election in that year, pleading with the readers of this Blog to recognize the dangers posed for themselves, their children and America, in an Obama presidency.
I recall two incidents I experienced during those many months in 2008 as the candidacy of Obama gathered strength. First, I had compared Obama to Grimm’s story of the Pied Piper of Hamlin, pointing out that even if he succeeded in solving some of America’s social and economic problems he would exact payment from America by subverting America’s moral and ethical societal values in an way that would be analogous to the killing of the children of Hamlin after the Piper’s demanded payment from the leaders of Hamlin for having rid the city of rats and was denied that payment. Google removed my comparison of Obama to the Pied Piper from my posts on my Huffington Riposte Blog.
Second, I had posted a cartoon on the same Blog showing Obama as a puppet being manipulated by the puppet-master George Soros. Again Google removed that post from the Huffington Riposte Blog site, and I have never been able to recover it.
It was hard for me to make my warnings heard with such powerful interests able to control the media.
I derived a small measure of satisfaction from the fact that on January 20, 2009, the day Obama was inaugurated as President, 20,000 people read my post on the Huffington Riposte Blog that day. My post was simply the text in Latin and English of the Hymn, DIES IRAE, which traditionally was sung in Catholic churches at funerals. I suppose that Google let it remain on my Huffington Riposte website because few if any of the nerds working at Google could read and understand Latin. I say “small measure of satisfaction” because of course by then it was too late. The eight years of the destruction of America had commenced.
I write this post today with a certain amount of fatalistic resignation. Throughout 2015 and 2016 as I watched the candidacies of Hilary Rodham Clinton and Donal Trump gather strength I have published many posts on both Abyssum and Huffington Riposte pointing out the dangers to America if either of these to persons were to be elected to the presidency of our Nation. Now, on the eve of the two national conventions I am writing this post in the hope of influencing the few people who have not committed themselves to either Hillary or Trump urging them to not do so and, instead, either to write in the name of a morally outstanding person or to abstain altogether from casting a vote for the office of the presidency. One does not have to choose between two evils in the absence of necessity and it your vote for the presidency in 2016 clearly is not necessary, the odds indicate that.
In many posts during these past months I have drawn a comparison of the situation in Germany in the 1920’s and 30′ which produced the Third Reich. In some ways the situation in the United States at the present time resembles the situation in the Weimar Republic of that time. The economic conditions of the U.S. bear little resemble the economic situation of the Weimar Republic, but the chaotic structure of the democratic government of the United States does bear some similarity to the chaotic structure of the Weimar Republic.
The appearance on the political scene of Germany of a strong man, Adolph Hitler, caused many Germans to place their trust in someone who promised to straighten out the mess, just as the appearance on the political scene of America of Donald Trump who promises to straighten out our mess has lured many people to jump on his bandwagon. The fact that so many Catholics have jumped on the Trump bandwagon just as so many German Catholics jumped on the Hitler bandwagon fills me with sadness and concern for the future of America and freedom of religion. I will not be around to write a Mit Brennender Sorge post on Abyssum, but I am still entitled to be filled with sadness for the Country I love and have defended in the Second World War.
Adolph Hitler did not become the absolute dictator of Germany overnight. His acquisition of power was slow and accomplished through the mistakes of many who did not foresee the danger. I present the article below by Robert Wilde in the hope that you will understand that the danger to America does not lie in the overnight seizing of power by Donald Trump or the steady corruption of all branches of government by the criminal activity of a President Hillary Clinton. The process of the collapse of our Constitutional Republic will be slow by steady under either Trump or Hillary, just as it was in the Weimar Republic.
Gleischaltung: the Nazi Governance of Germany
This was called Gleischaltung, an integration or co-ordination which was forced through to give Hitler control of his new state. The term was from electricity, for all switches being on the same circuit and operated by a master switch. Hitler was the latter.
However, although the Nazis made great changes to their state, it’s a mistake to think of Nazi Germany as a clearly defined authoritarian system all working together.
Hitler’s expansion of control was fast, but it was also conflicting, leaving many people with authority over the same area, forcing them to compete against each other to survive. Couple that with a man in Hitler who let people fight it out and gave only vague statements of action, and you have a state that, while Nazi and firmly in control, was not ordered or efficient. Instead there was just loyalty to Hitler and a whole host of individual bodies fighting for their own power. This has been called ‘authoritarian anarchy’.
The Shell of Weimar
While the Weimar constitution was democratic, it contained clause 48, which allowed a President to take action that cut across traditional ideas of democracy in order to act in the best interests of a threatened nation.
Its use in the early 1920s was arguably in line with the thinking of the constitution’s creators, but by the 1930s an element of authoritarian government had crept in, as Bruning and Hindenburg ruled through multiple uses of the clause. However, this was all within the limits of the constitution as the Reichstag could stop it.
Hitler’s Germany was to create a dictatorship which was far outside the realm envisaged by the creators of Weimar. Nevertheless, in the strict sense Hitler left the Weimar Constitution in force, even though it was entirely ignored. While Russia enacted a brand new constitution, Hitler allowed Weimar’s to hang in the background to give the impression that he and his party had acted legally, to preserve a veneer of honesty which helped many in the army, bureaucracy, judiciary and former electorate believe what was happening was just. The Decree for the Protection of People and State, and the Enabling Act were the conduits through which Hitler drew on ‘legitimate’ power through Weimar (see more here). It’s open to debate how many were fooled. This has led some historians to conclude there was no Nazi ‘revolution’, just an accumulation of power.
The fact Hitler left parts of Weimar to rot, and didn’t enact a Russian clean sweep, betrays the way the Nazi system slowly corrupted what it inherited in Germany. Hitler’s first cabinet seemed to be one of continuity with the past, containing a number of non-Nazis who’d served in the Cabinet of Barons and elsewhere, and only three members of the Nazi Party: Hitler, Frick and Goering; it looked like Hitler was merging into the existing system. Instead Hitler seized German government and made it his own.
For instance, the Reichstag, the burning of whose building did so much to aid the Nazi rise to power, was allowed to technically remain, even though the Enabling Act in 1933 took away all legislative powers, and a Rule Against the Formation of New Parties that same year helped leave just Nazi Party members in the body. The Reichstag couldn’t make laws without Hitler’s permission, and there were no more elections. Instead Hitler used the Reichstag to continue his veneer by getting it to approve – and it could do nothing else – decisions already passed by Hitler, such as leaving the League of Nations, and the Anschluss with Austria.
The power to make laws and take action under Clause 48 was transferred to Hitler with the Enabling Act, but in theory he still had a President above him. It just so happened that Hindenburg was aging and died in 1934, so Hitler passed a law which merged his role as Chancellor with the Presidency, creating a Führer in charge with all power. Pre-Nazi Germany had been a federal system, with local parliaments, politicians and powers. Hitler’s aim was to remove these potential threats to his personal power, and in the early years of his rule state governments and parliaments were faded out, replaced with a centralised system of Nazi officials, creating a dual structure. The initial switch came when the Nazi paramilitaries were told to cause trouble in local regions, allowing the Nazis to declare the current organs of government failing and put in charge their own party officials. But unlike Russia, the people in the aristocracy, big business, and the military were left and bought on board the Nazi system.
The Nazis were determined to make the bureaucracy loyal, and break a previous continuity that had taken it from Reich to Republic. This was important because the civil service was a proud body which had done much to carry Germany through upheavals. A law expelled anyone not considered Aryan, and anyone who didn’t buy into the Nazi regime, and this was bolstered later by requiring all civil servants to join the Nazi party. The Nazis also worked to bypass the civil service by expanding their own SS and other party bodies, creating a second state within the state. The numbers of people wanting to join the civil service fell as they went into more obviously Nazi structures.
The legal system was also targeted. While the Weimar judges had leant to the right wing anyway – for example giving Hitler a small sentence after the Beer Hall Putsch – they were given new guidelines, and even new levels of courts, to tie them closely to the Nazi system. Hitler also bypassed it, with a new secret police – the Gestapo – sending people to concentration camps without resource to a court; of the Germans sent to camps before World War 2, half were political prisoners. As time went on more and more crimes put you in camps, and the death penalty was greatly extended.
Worker’s groups were also targeted, with the trade unions that had proved problematic for the socialist SDP years before dissolved and replaced by a loyal German Labour Front that did exactly what it was told. In fact all existing worker’s groups, such as teacher’s associations, were replaced with loyal Nazi ones: teachers found themselves in the National Socialist Teachers’ League (or thrown out and unable to work). Every level of government was bought into line with either new bodies, the expansion of Nazi Party bodies set up pre-power to attract support, or the purging of old ones, from hospitals to village councils. Universities were state funded, and a wave of experts left the country, damaging German achievement; among those who were sacked or quit the nation were Einstein and Schrodinger. Every facet of life was Nazified, every club and society, with the exception of the churches. Even the army, who felt they had independence, were slowly colonised by loyal Nazis, and leading doubters of Hitler were carefully removed. Sometimes this Nazification was forced on people, but many others they happily self-Nazified to further their careers.
Deliberate Chaos or Incompetence?
None of this should give the idea that Hitler created a clear pyramid structure in Germany, because the truth was he created overlapping layers of government which, as Germany developed and was wracked by war, competed with each other. The SS became a state within the state ruling Germany, and the same happened with less infamous bodies, with numerous clashes of authority, and Hitler steadfastly refused to send down many orders from the top. It’s been said there were dozens of Nazis governments and parties, not one. Even the distinction between Nazi Party appointments and Nazi State appointments broke down as people hunted new offices. What tied these separate bodies together was Hitler: he was portrayed (by Goebbels as a new Ministry of Propaganda) as a mythical figure, and everyone below him acted in his name. People took oaths to Hitler, not Germany. The Nazi Party did not have a clear ideology, it had Hitler, and whatever he wanted at that time. He was the glue which bound together a system of infighting.
However, in practice Hitler often allowed these groups acting in his name to drift without the micromanaging control the system had been built to help, and an element of chaos and rivalry developed. This is perhaps the inevitable result of trying to corrupt an existing system rather than impose a new one, but it led to economic waste, competition and as the rivals appealed to Hitler – to sort out who was doing what – he had a tendency to try and stay aloof, and this had a tendency to cause his subordinates to freeze and not act. Whether Hitler believed playing people off against each other strengthened his state around him (making sure he was the final arbiter and no one could ever rival him), whether he did it to fit his views on Social Darwinism (which would ensure whichever subordinate won was the natural selection), whether this was the result of an egotism created in Germany a government incompetence modelled on him, or even whether that Hitler was trapped in the system doing what he could, is debated. Hitler has even been called a ‘weak dictator’, unable to act decisively in a system which was increasingly beyond his control as it fought against itself and radicalised to reach him; however many still argue Hitler was the driving force at the top and everyone fought underneath him, allowing Hitler to seem above mistakes and unpopular actions.
A combination of both seems likely, but the result was, as Agriculture secretary Werner Willikens memorably asked, that people should “work towards the Führer.” This meant that, as people rarely had written orders from Hitler, or even a direct verbal one, they would do what they thought Hitler wanted, and as promotion in the Nazi state was dependant more on personal loyalty to the paranoid Hitler than actual ability, working towards meant doing what pleased Hitler to get yourself promoted, and you’d be fighting against other Nazis to secure your place instead of them. Yet this chaotic system, with so many wasted resources and bitter rivals undercutting each other, took years of war to destroy.