We are about to descend into madness, and I blame some putative “conservatives” for the rapid acceleration.
Despite Hag Coulter’s scorn, there are alarming parallels between the rise of the recent Trump fevers, and the embryonic movements of Adolf Hitler in 1922 Bavaria.
I won’t go into the too-obvious appeals to an amorphous Nationalism. Or the singling out of entire ethnic groups as enemies of the state. Or encouraging violence among his followers– and seeing it come to fruition.
No, these are, as I say, too obvious.
Wiemar Germany and the German Republic during the early 1920’s was a boiling cauldron and the fizzling out of ancient empires, petty princedoms and externally imposed fault-lines. Communists battled Nationalist who in their turn battled Democratic Socialists who battled Republicans, who battled the Communists, who battled the Nationalists… and so on…
After the Great War, the victorious Allies imposed a “Republic” which had recently been instituted at Weimar, Germany. It was a generally loathed affair.
Germans were used to being ruled by benign royals of various stripes, each intermarrying the other, and the upper crusts verily loathed the thought that the unwashed mass –who had just fought and died for Kaiser and Kountry– should have any say in their government. That the unwashed mass tended to agree was strange to those in Western Democracies like Woodrow Wilson, so the Republic was declared, and it was instantly undermined and hated.
The German aristocracy, the Reichswehr Officer Corps, the Hohenzollerns warrior class, to a certain extent, encouraged this building unrest, in the forlorn hope that they might be asked by the Allied powers (who had quickly been losing all interest in Europes troubles and solving them after January 1919) to swoop in and restore order. They played footsie with many of the agitators roaming the land, fomenting the mob.
Much like the leading poobahs that are currently propping up Donald Trump, there were various celebrity hangers-on of various stripes, gnawing the old wounds and jealousies, hoping to find some limelight in which to bask.
One was General Erich Ludendorf, the leader of the German High Command in the Crown Council of Wilhelm II, and who had in the years after the Great War been spreading the brazen lie that the German Army had been “stabbed in the back” by the shadowy “Jewish Conspirators” to deliver the Fatherland to the marauding Allies.
Actually, both Ludendorf and Hindenburg had sued for peace because the German army was in total collapse, but– no matter. Cultural legends are hard to extinguish once they are formed in the organic mind.
Ludendorf was but one German national hero among countless others who were trying to redound to themselves lengthened notoriety after ignominious defeat, and somehow purloin for themselves a new sense of honor in the process. They grabbed headlines, they roused the rabble.
For fascinating reading about this time and place, I offer two fabulous volumes: William L. Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich” and Margaret MacMillan’s “Paris 1919“.
Shirer describes the scene at a particularly poignant moment:
At the Nuremberg (September 2, 1922) Nazi rally, Hitler had stood in the reviewing stand next to General Ludendorf during a parade of the demonstrators. This was not an accident. For some time the young Nazi chief had been cultivating the war hero, who had lent his famous name to the makers of the Kapp putsch in Berlin and who, since he continued to encourage counterrevolution from the right, might be tempted to back the action which was beginning to germinate in Hitler’s mind. The old General had no political sense… this Hitler knew, but it suited his purpose.
Ludendorf played well to the crowd– he had the Cred. Hitler would, over the length of his stratospheric rise in the German nationalist movement, use many German celebrities like Ludendorf. Eventually, the Grand Old General himself, Hidenburg, would bow his knee before the detestable Hitler, whom he always referred to as that “silly Austrian corporal with the Charlie Chaplain mustache”
But, that was years in the future.
…in 1922 Bavaria, though, when the National Socialist German Workers Party (Sound familiar? Anyone?) was first metastasizing, Hitler would have gotten nowhere without –well, without his new-found homeys, without his endorsements.
Hitler got his endorsements with promises of plumb assignments –a future ministry here, a field marshall’s baton there– and public flattery. These were worth a lot more at the time, by the way, than German Marks.
And now, nearly one hundred years later, and an ocean apart, we have the specter of Donald Trump, going on endlessly about how he’s curried favor (–at the very least, if not outright quid-pro-quot) by lining the pockets of politician for forty years. It’s what you do when you’re successful in business*.
–But, now Donald Trump is in politics. And, all of a sudden, I’m supposed to believe that he’s stopped buying –or at least renting— politicians? Really?
Uh-huh. Sure. And there’s a Tower somewhere I’d like to sell you…
*I’ve been in business for nearly four decades, and I’ve never sent a donation to a politician– because it’s what I hafta do to curry favor. Never. And, I think I’ve been fairly successful in spite of avoiding the abhorrent practice…