Skip to comments.Hitlerís Control-The lessons of Nazi history
Posted on 05/23/2003 6:02:42 AM PDT by SJackson
This week's CBS miniseries Hitler: The Rise of Evil tries to explain the conditions that enabled a manifestly evil and abnormal individual to gain total power and to commit mass murder. The CBS series looks at some of the people whose flawed decisions paved the way for Hitler's psychopathic dictatorship: Hitler's mother who refused to recognize that her child was extremely disturbed and anti-social; the judge who gave Hitler a ludicrously short prison sentence after he committed high treason at the Beer Hall Putsch; President Hindenburg and the Reichstag delegates who (except for the Social Democrats) who acceded to Hitler's dictatorial Enabling Act rather than forcing a crisis (which, no matter how bad the outcome, would have been far better than Hitler being able to claim legitimate power and lead Germany toward world war).
Acquainting a new generation of television viewers with the monstrosity of Hitler is a commendable public service by CBS, for if we are serious about ;Never again,; then we must be serious about remembering how and why Hitler was able to accomplish what he did. Political scientist R. J. Rummel, the world's foremost scholar of the mass murders of the 20th century, estimates that the Nazis killed about 21 million people, not including war casualties. With modern technology, a modern Hitler might be able to kill even more people even more rapidly.
Indeed, right now in Zimbabwe, the Robert Mugabe tyranny is perpetrating a genocide by starvation aimed at liquidating about six million people. Mugabe is great admirer of Adolf Hitler. Mugabe's number-two man (who died last year) was Chenjerai Hunzvi, the head of Mugabe's terrorist gangs, who nicknamed himself ;Hitler.; One of the things that Robert Mugabe, ;Hitler; Hunzvi, and Adolf Hitler all have in common is their strong and effective programs of gun control.
Simply put, if not for gun control, Hitler would not have been able to murder 21 million people. Nor would Mugabe be able to carry out his current terror program.
Writing in The Arizona Journal of International & Comparative Law Stephen Halbrook demonstrates that German Jews and other German opponents of Hitler were not destined to be helpless and passive victims. (A magazine article by Halbrook offers a shorter version of the story, along with numerous photographs. Halbrook's Arizona article is also available as a chapter in the book Death by Gun Control, published by Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership.) Halbrook details how, upon assuming power, the Nazis relentlessly and ruthlessly disarmed their German opponents. The Nazis feared the Jews many of whom were front-line veterans of World War One so much that Jews were even disarmed of knives and old sabers.
The Nazis did not create any new firearms laws until 1938. Before then, they were able to use the Weimar Republic's gun controls to ensure that there would be no internal resistance to the Hitler regime.
In 1919, facing political and economic chaos and possible Communist revolution after Germany's defeat in the First World War, the Weimar Republic enacted the Regulation of the Council of the People's Delegates on Weapons Possession. The new law banned the civilian possession of all firearms and ammunition, and demanded their surrender ;immediately.;
Once the political and economic situation stabilized, the Weimar Republic created a less draconian gun-control law. The law was similar to, although somewhat milder than, the gun laws currently demanded by the American gun-control lobby.
The Weimar Law on Firearms and Ammunition required a license to engage in any type of firearm business. A special license from the police was needed to either purchase or carry a firearm. The German police were granted complete discretion to deny licenses to criminals or individuals the police deemed untrustworthy. Unlimited police discretion over citizen gun acquisition is the foundation of the ;Brady II; proposal introduced by Handgun Control, Inc., (now called the Brady Campaign) in 1994.
Under the Weimar law, no license was needed to possess a firearm in the home unless the citizen owned more than five guns of a particular type or stored more than 100 cartridges. The law's requirements were more relaxed for firearms of a ;hunting; or ;sporting; type. Indeed, the Weimar statute was the world's first gun law to create a formal distinction between sporting and non-sporting firearms. On the issues of home gun possession and sporting guns, the Weimar law was not as stringent as the current Massachusetts gun law, or some of modern proposals supported by American gun-control lobbyists.
Significantly, the Weimar law required the registration of most lawfully owned firearms, as do the laws of some American states. In Germany, the Weimar registration program law provided the information which the Nazis needed to disarm the Jews and others considered untrustworthy.
The Nazi disarmament campaign that began as soon as Hitler assumed power in 1933. While some genocidal governments (such as the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia) dispensed with lawmaking, the Nazi government followed the German predilection for the creation of large volumes of written rules and regulations. Yet it was not until March 1938 (the same month that Hitler annexed Austria in the Anschluss) that the Nazis created their own Weapons Law. The new law formalized what had been the policy imposed by Hitler using the Weimar Law: Jews were prohibited from any involvement in any firearm business.
On November 9, 1938, the Nazis launched the Kristallnacht, pogrom, and unarmed Jews all over Germany were attacked by government-sponsored mobs. In conjunction with Kristallnacht, the government used the administrative authority of the 1938 Weapons Law to require immediate Jewish surrender of all firearms and edged weapons, and to mandate a sentence of death or 20 years in a concentration camp for any violation.
Even after 1938, the German gun laws were not prohibitory. They simply gave the government enough information and enough discretion to ensure that victims inside Germany would not be able to fight back.
Under the Hitler regime, the Germans had created a superbly trained and very large military the most powerful military the world had ever seen until then. Man-for-man, the Nazis had greater combat effectiveness than every other army in World War II, and were finally defeated because of the overwhelming size of the Allied armies and the immensely larger economic resources of the Allies.
Despite having an extremely powerful army, the Nazis still feared the civilian possession of firearms by hostile civilians. Events in 1943 proved that the fear was not mere paranoia. As knowledge of the death camps leaked out, determined Jews rose up in arms in Tuchin, Warsaw, Bialystok, Vilna, and elsewhere. Jews also joined partisan armies in Eastern Europe in large numbers, and amazingly, even organized escapes and revolts in the killing centers of Treblinka and Auschwitz. There are many books which recount these heroic stories of resistance. Yuri Suhl's They Fought Back (1967) is a good summary showing that hundreds of thousands of Jews did fight. The book Escape from Sobibor and the eponymous movie (1987) tell the amazing story how Russian Jewish prisoners of war organized a revolt that permanently destroyed one of the main death camps.
It took the Nazis months to destroy the Jews who rose up in the Warsaw ghetto, who at first were armed with only a few firearms that had been purchased on the black market, stolen or obtained from the Polish underground.
Halbrook contends that the history of Germany might have been changed if more of its citizens had been armed, and if the right to bear arms had been enshrined it Germany's culture and constitution. Halbrook points out that while resistance took place in many parts of occupied Europe, there was almost no resistance in Germany itself, because the Nazis had enjoyed years in which they could enforce the gun laws to ensure that no potential opponent of the regime had the means to resist.
No one can foresee with certainty which countries will succumb to genocidal dictatorship. Germany under the Weimar Republic was a democracy in a nation with a very long history of much greater tolerance for Jews than existed in France, England, or Russia, or almost anywhere else. Zimbabwe's current gun laws were created when the nation was the British colony of Rhodesia, and the authors of those laws did not know that the laws would one day be enforced by an African Hitler bent on mass extermination.
One never knows if one will need a fire extinguisher. Many people go their whole lives without needing to use a fire extinguisher, and most people never need firearms to resist genocide. But if you don't prepare to have a life-saving tool on hand during an unexpected emergency, then you and your family may not survive.
In the book Children of the Flames, Auschwitz survivor Menashe Lorinczi recounts what happened when the Soviet army liberated the camp: the Russians disarmed the SS guards. Then, two emaciated Jewish inmates, now armed with guns taken from the SS, systematically exacted their revenge on a large formation of SS men. The disarmed SS passively accepted their fate. After Lorinczi moved to Israel, he was often asked by other Israelis why the Jews had not fought back against the Germans. He replied that many Jews did fight. He then recalled the sudden change in the behavior of the Jews and the Germans at Auschwitz, once the Russian army's new ;gun control; policy changed who had the guns there: ;And today, when I am asked that question, I tell people it doesn't matter whether you're Hungarian, Polish, Jewish, or German: If you don't have a gun, you have nothing.;
Richard Griffiths is a doctor of psychology with research interest in gun issues. Dave Kopel is a NRO contributing editor.
I'll be interested to read Halbrook's book, then. In our zeal to blame the Nazis, it is worth remembering that at the very least, the FOUNDATIONS for gun control were laid in the DEMOCRATIC WEIMAR REPUBLIC.
Second, and equally important "lesson" that the author doesn't address or appears to gloss over is that the way Hitler gained power was through threatening to shut down the German government. (Where have we seen this threat before? Maybe 1995?)
My point to students when I teach this is that whenever your government gets so big that you can't live without it (save for national security-type issues), you are already in trouble. Yes, Hindenberg and the others let Hitler in, but the fate of Germany was sealed the moment that, in response to a threat to "shut down the government," the German people could not say, "Go Ahead! Be MY GUEST!"
You might get an argument on the female part.
And why in the world
didn't Germany invade
Britain when they could?!
(Did Hitler himself
hold back because he believed
Brits were "saxon" kins?)
Not "possible", actual. Communists did, briefly, take over a part of Germany. From Lenin's 1919 "Message of Greetings To The Bavarian Soviet Republic":
(We) heartedly greet the Soviet Republic of Bavaria. We ask you insistently to give us more frequent, definite information on the following. What measures have you taken to fight the bourgeois executioners . . . have councils of workers and servants been formed in the different sections of the city; have the workers been armed; have the bourgeoisie been disarmed . . have you taken over all the banks; have you taken hostages from the ranks of the bourgeoisie . . .full text
It's an example,
too, of what politicians
do to extremists
once the extremists
have served their purpose helping
to achieve power...
Thanks for the update.
This has always seemed to me
the war's strangest thing.
Miniature Dogs Chase Off Flasher
BERLIN (Reuters) - A German flasher exposing himself to a woman in a forest was forced to run for cover when she set her three small pug dogs on him, police said on Friday.
Police in the southern town of Straubing said the man, who was about 30, was naked when he surprised the 55-year-old woman with the dogs.
"He had Bermuda shorts and a T-shirt in one hand and his private parts in the other," said police spokesman Klaus Pickel.
The woman spurred the lap dogs into action, one of which bit the man on the calf before he fled through the trees.
"The dog was too small to bite him anywhere else," said Pickel. The man is still on the loose.
The real key -- which Kopel ignores in his rush to confront the wrong issue -- is found in this little nugget:
the judge who gave Hitler a ludicrously short prison sentence after he committed high treason at the Beer Hall Putsch.
Kopel apparently does not consider the possibility that Hitler's short prison term (of which he served only about half) was no mistake. The judge agreed with Hitler. The German people gave agreed with him. They liked what he stood for, gave him dictatorial powers, and were willing to fight and die in large numbers on his behalf.
Gun rights are swell -- but they're pointless if the gun-owners agree with the dictator.
Kopel had better pull his head out and realize that.
Hitler -- and NAZI
power in general -- got
from lots of strange "friends."
That probably was out of bounds
for a TV film.
In fact, it may be that democracy is at an end. The basic premise of democracy is that by counting heads you can more or less approximate the outcome of an armed conflict. For the past couple centuries, the amount of manpower on the battle field was a rough determinant of success.
It now appears that highly skilled, very well trained, and very expensively equipped manpower determine the outcome of battle. This returns us to the situation which prevailed when the armored knight ruled the battlefield.
Therefore, I would expect democracy to decline and something more similar to feudalism to flourish.
Well, in this case, friends will gladly lend you some to tide you over.
Very ineresting reply, worthy of its own thread some day. I only highlighted one key line among many. Some thoughts:
The disorganized part is the key to the effectiveness (at least initially) of any hypothetical resistance movement in this era. Attempts to coordinate efforts will only lead to everyone involved being rounded up.
"Rabble" is an interesting word. If you include doctors, scientists, writers, military officers, engineers etc, it may prove to be quite a talented "rabble."
The aim of such resistance would not be to overcome the "occupational" army by force of arms. Remember, in this country, on our home turf, the "rabble" can wear the same suit or uniform as the oppressor and infiltrate almost any area with an appropriate weapon, from a pistol to a long range rifle. The oppressor will not be able to live a normal life, they will be forced to live on closed bases etc.
The point of such resistance would be to make the price so high and painful to themselves personally that they would be deterred from crossing any final red lines, such as civilian disarmament.
An armed American citizenry, as called for in the 2nd Amd, is every bit a deterrent to tyranny as our nukes were to the Soviet Union. Sure, the "rabble" might no be able to overcome a modern military, but the tyrants will be unable to enjoy the fruits of their oppression while running from armored limosine to bunker, feeling the touch of the crosshair on their necks every time they step out into the light of day.
Add to that the fact some of those 'rabble' understand that firearms are not the only means by which lessons can be taught and means can be achieved. There are als omany lessons, and many ways in which they may be 'taught'. To paraphrase one of William Gibson's characters - "When they're expecting high tech, hit 'em with low tech." And vice versa. Sun Tzu, Sun Pin and Martin van Creveld make for interesting reading.
A few years ago a "jumper" sat on a high railing all day, and they shut the bridge down in both directions for about 6 hours.
It caused all of DC to crunch to a halt, all the way around the beltway and every street inside. Newspaper articles refered to it as "the mother of all gridlock". They changed the policy to virtually encouraging jumpers to jump, as long as the traffic kept moving.
In addition to that, we were able to establish clear and protected logistic lines, mostly without harrassment, extending over thousands of miles to the battle front.
In an environment where the second amendment had to come into play in America, these principle issues would not apply at all in the way they did in Iraq.
1st, people would fight if they thought their liberties were being threatened. They would do so, not out of fear of a tyrant behind them, but out of love for their own freedoms and that of their families. A much different motivation that would lead to much more bitter and spirited resistance.
Second, there would be no front lines. Members of the very force being used to try and supress the population (if it were our own forces called upon to do so) would turn. Similar to the days before the civil war, when military units broke down and each went their way to fight on one side or the other, unit cohesion would break down resulting in many of the trained "professionals" and their equipment siding with the "rabble".
Finally, when there are ten million long-range hunting rifles involved against the organized forces who have to be surrounded by those rifles all the time ... there would be no front lines. Logistical lines would become next to impossible to maintain and the organized forces, as Travis McGee said, would find themselves under a constant state of siege. Certainly able to win any set engagement with an agressor force, but unable to so much as come out of their tank or base to take a leak without fear of death hanging over them ... also unable to refuel, maintain equipment, sleep, etc. without fear of the same.
For these reasons, the comaprison to the marvelous job our forces did in Iraq is not an accurate one when contemplating such warfare here where 80+ million potential "rabble" are already well armed. Such numbers would swallow up a force like what we have sent into Iraq ... not without significant cost certainly, but swallow up just the same.
They would need a well provisioned force of many millions, who practiced a Sherman type mentality, razing the land in their wake, to be able to effectively fight it. Our own people will not do this ... and if they brought in foreign forces to do so ... our own people (all that high tech) would fight against it and have the support of the 80+ million while so doing.