Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Reichstag Fire

On page 191, I started to read about the Reichstag fire and the power that Hitler was able to fenagal after it. I am now on page 200 so this is a tidbit of what I have read so far:

That it was a crime, a Communist crime, they proclaimed at once on arrival at the fire. Goering, sweating and puffing and quite beside himself with excitement, was already there ahead of them declaiming to heaven, as Papen later recalled, that “this is a Communist crime against the new government.” To the Gestapo chief, Rudolf Diels, Goering shouted, “This is the beginning of the Communist revolution! We must not wait a minute. We will show no mercy. Every Communist official must be shot, where he is found. Every Communist deputy must this very night be strung up.”

At the same time a half witted Dutch Communist with a passion for arson, Marinus Van Der Lubbe, had made his way into the huge, darkened and to him unfamiliar building and set some small fires of his own. This feeble minded pyromaniac was a godsend for the Nazis. He had been picked up by the S.A. a few days before after having been overheard in a bar boasting that he had attempted to set fire to several buildings and that he was going to try the Reichstag next.

Van der Lubbe, it seems clear, was a dupe of the Nazis. He was encouraged to try to set the Reichstag on fire. But the main job was to be done- without his knowledge, of course-by the storm troopers. Indeed, it was established at the subsequent trial at Leipzig that the Dutch half-wit did not possess the means to set so vast a building on fire so quickly. Two and a half minutes after he entered, the great central hall was fiercely burning. He had only his shirt for tinder. The main fires, according to the testimonies of experts at the trial, had been set with considerable quantities of chemicals and gasoline. It was obvious that one man could not have carried them into the building, nor would it have been possible for him to start so many fires in so many scattered places in so short a time.

Van der Lubbe was found guilty and decapitated.

On the day following the fire, Feb. 28th, Hitler prevailed on President Hindenburg to sign a decree “for the Protection of the People and the State” suspending the seven sections of the constitution which guaranteed individual and civil liberties. Described as a “defensive measure against Communist acts of violence endangering the state,” the decree laid down that:
“Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications; and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed.”
In addition, the decree authorized the Reich government to take over complete power in the federal states when necessary and imposed the death sentence for a number of crimes, including “serious disturbances of the peace” by armed persons.

To me, in my opinion, this sounds a lot like what happened on 9-11 and the following days in which the Patriot Act I was passed with intimidation tactics. It is very easy to see, if you believe that this is possable, that if GW Bush (A stout historian) has studied this topic, he could use the same tactics on the American people. The amount of power he has attained since 9-11 is unprecidented in American history and I am sure will not likely bee seen again. Well...Hopefully at least.

Lets hear what you think.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Middle Class

Here we are on page 185. We are discussing how Hitler came to be granted the vice chancellorship without having a majority of the population behind him.

No class or group or party in Germany could escape its share of responsibility for the abandonment of the democratic Republic and the advent of Adolf Hitler. The cardinal error of the Germans who opposed Nazism was their failure to unite against it. At the crest of their popular strength, in July 1932, the National Socialists had attained but 37 percent of the vote. But the 63 percent of the German people who expressed their opposition to Hitler were much to divided and shortsighted to combine against a common danger which they must have known would overwhelm them unless they united, however temporarily, to stamp it out. The Communists, at the behest of Moscow, were committed to the last to the silly idea of first destroying the Social Democrats, the Socialist trade unions and what middle class democratic forces they were, on the dubious theory that although this would lead to a Nazi regime it would be only temporary and would bring inevitably the collapse of capitalism, after which the Communists would take over and establish the dictatorship of the proletariat.

It might be true, as some of the Socialists said, that fortune had not smiled upon them: the Communists, unscrupulous and undemocratic, had split the working class; the depression had further hurt the Social Democrats, weakening the trade unions and losing the party the support of millions of unemployed, who in their desperation turned either to the Communists or the Nazis.

Between the Left and the Right, Germany lacked a politically powerful middle class, which in other countries--in France, in England, in the United States--Had proved to be the backbone of democracy. In the first year of the Republic the middle-class parties, the Democrats, the People's Party, the Center, had polled a total of twelve million votes, only two million less then the two Socialist groups. But thereafter their strength had waned as their supporters gravitated toward Hitler and the Nationalists. In 1919, the Democrats had elected 74 members tot he Reichstag; by 1932 they held just 2 seats. The strength of the Peoples Party fell from 62 seats in 1920 to 11 in 1932. Only the Catholic Center retained its voting strength to the end. In the first republican elections in 1919 the Center had 71 deputies in the Reichstag; in 1932 it had 70. But even more than the Social Democrats, the Center Party since Bismark's time had been largely opportunist, supporting whatever government made concessions to its special interests.

To me this paints a very similar picture to what is happening in our beloved country here. Our middle class is being systematically dissected and destroyed. What used to count as middle class is now upper level poor. In today's society, you either make a ton of money or none at all. Here where I live, if your household doesn't make over 90-100 thousand a year, it is hard times at home. The inflation rate does not match our increase in salaries and therefore the families are falling behind. those who make the money don't care because they have the money to survive.

Also, re-read the part about the parties and the middle class's importance to keep them in check. I see allot of similarities to current political happenings. What about you?


Monday, May 5, 2008

Presidential Powers

I am reading again!!!

Here we are on page 173. There have been many events relating to the political structure of the German nation recently. There have been 4 elections held in one year, and the Nazi party has gained a majority in the Reichstag by numbers, although not an overall majority. The President is still Hindenburg and the Chancellor is now a man named Papen.

Papen had been blandly unaware of the intrigue which Schleicher was weaving behind his back. At the beginning of the meeting with the President on Dec. 1 he had confidently outlined his plans for the future. He should continue as Chancellor, rule by decree and let the Reichstag go hang for a while until he could "amend the constitution." In effect, Papen wanted "amendments" which would take the country back to the days of the empire and re-establish the rule of the conservative classes. At his Nuremberg trial and in his memoirs he admitted, as indeed he did to the Field Marshall, that his proposals involved "a breach of the present constitution by the President," but he assured Hindenburg that "he might be justified in placing the welfare of the nation above his oath to the constitution," as, he added, Bismark once had done "for the sake of the country."

This is a very interesting piece of history that I think we could be reliving again. President Bush has, at numerous occasions, acted outside of his authority granted by the US Constitution. Now, some may argue that he was doing it for the betterment of our country. To me that is a moot point, because he does not have those powers. The Patriot Act I was written in the days following 9-11 and an electronic copy was sent to Congress for approval. The Congress did not have a hard copy to review before the vote. They had to base a decision on what the White House told them was in the document. Also, they were pressured into a vote in a very short time. It was days, not weeks, that they had to decide, so a hard copy wouldn't work much anyway.

Now we see that the Patriot act is being used for non-terrorist type surveillance. Most recently is the Gov. of NY. He was caught using prostitutes by use of the Patriot act.

The bottom line is that the President of Germany was being tempted to go outside of his bounds for the "betterment of Germany". Luckily for them, at the time, He held to his oath. I fear that Bush has not fared so well with his integrity.