What with the impatience and/or raging despair many people have expressed over prosecutions for the inciters of the January 6 assault on the Capitol and attempt to overturn the election, it’s sort of understandable why our day of domestic terrorism would be compared to Hitler’s initial 1923 attempt to bring down the Weimar Republic.
The central cry is that treasonous people are not being prosecuted and punished. Following that, I’ve read repeatedly that it’s dangerously comparable to the 1923 Weimar Republic and Hitler’s failed “Beer Hall” Putsch — because when such sedition isn’t prosecuted and punished, well, look what happened in Germany?
This criticism has been nagging at me for a while. Years ago, I read widely in the history of the Third Reich, including a number of biographies of Hitler. In my memory bank, I had retained a bit of datum: Hitler had been punished.
So the other night, I pulled off the shelves one major biography of Hitler, Alan Bullock’s Hitler: A Study in Tyranny, which had impressed me mightily decades ago.
Turns out, it still does. But primarily, I looked into the Putsch and the claim Hitler hadn’t been punished. He was. Although he escaped the initial bloody confrontation — he ran away and hid in a cowardly manner — he was arrested a few days later and imprisoned, charged with treason.
He was put on trial. Although he made what was described as a stunning, rabble-rousing speech in his own defense, he was found guilty and sentenced to five years’ imprisonment.
So Hitler did not evade justice. True, he was released from prison in five months but he never again attempted mob violence as a means of overthrowing the government.
Moreover, the Weimar Republic of the 1920s was nothing like the United States in 2021. But digging around for facts led to this revelation: the false narrative currently being broadcast, that rabid inflation is causing great harm to middle and lower class families, was ripped right out of the 1923 Weimar Republic headlines, probably by a Steve Bannon sort. Because (look at the Weimar link up above) inflation was horrendous in Germany then, mostly due to heavy war reparations demanded by the Allies, leading to all sorts of deprivations and consequent unrest.
So the GOP Reich is trying out the same panic-causing Nazi propaganda here. But, since not only is there not massive inflation and empty shelves — I just came back from shopping, so I know this for a fact — the families who are said to be most grievously affected by it are, thanks to the Democrats in Congress and Joe Biden, getting $300 per child checks every month.
Unlike the citizens of the Weimar Republic.
Oh and P.S. When Trump and his half-dopey, half-crazy cabal are indicted, prosecuted and convicted, they will not be receiving a Get Out Of Jail In Five Months card. Hitler was a paranoid psychotic but he had some sort of organizational intelligence. Not so Trump.