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Money, Power, and Election Spending 1933 and Today

    Hitler With German Industrialists 

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

Lord Acton noted:

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority; still more when you superadd the tendency of the certainty of corruption by authority.”

Less than a month after his appointment as Chancellor by President Hindenburg and before the Reichstag Fire, Adolf Hitler met with German industrialists at Hermann Goering’s Estate on February 20th 1933. The purpose of the meeting was to secure financial support for the Nazi Party in the upcoming Reichstag election, an election that would be the last in Hitler’s Germany.

The invitees were a “who’s who” of German industrialists and by the end of the day they had pledged over Two Million Reichsmarks to the Nazi cause.

It wasn’t hard for Hitler to win them over. They feared a Communist counter revolution against the Nazis and they were still unsure of the economic plans of the Nazis, as the Nazis did have a Wing that believed in a more socialist vision. Their leaders included Ernst Röhm leader of the Brownshirt SA, or Stürmabteilung which numbered over three million members and eyed itself as a people’s army to replace the 100,000 man Reichswehr. Likewise, the Stasser brothers, Otto and Gregor, attempted to wrest leadership and policy of the NSDAP from Hitler, who they believed was to friendly with the industrialists. Röhm even openly talked of a second revolution. But the industrialists had nothing to fear, by the next summer Röhm most of the SA senior leadership  was dead, as was Gregor Strasser, murdered during the Night of the Long Knives, while Otto Strasser fled the country.  The threat of a second revolution was over, and the German conservative establishment was safe.

Knowing the industrialists better than they knew themselves, Hitler played to their worst fears as William Shier recorded in his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:

Hitler began a long speech with a sop to the industrialists. “Private enterprise,” he said, “cannot be maintained in the age of democracy; it is conceivable only if the people have a sound idea of authority and personality… All the worldly goods we possess we owe to the struggle of the chosen… We must not forget that all the benefits of culture must be introduced more or less with an iron fist.” He promised the businessmen that he would “eliminate” the Marxists and restore the Wehrmacht (the latter was of special interest to such industries as Krupp, United Steel and I. G. Farben, which stood to gain the most from rearmament). “Now we stand before the last election,” Hitler concluded, and he promised his listeners that “regardless of the outcome, there will be no retreat.” If he did not win, he would stay in power “by other means… with other weapons.” Goering, talking more to the immediate point, stressed the necessity of “financial sacrifices” which “surely would be much easier for industry to bear if it realized that the election of March fifth will surely be the last one for the next ten years, probably even for the next hundred years.”

Money and power, the sacrifice of hard earned freedoms, the selling out of political openness, workers, and Jews were irrelevant in the end. What mattered was profit and the protection of it and their status by an authoritarian state in perpetuity. As such the German industrialists, championed by Hjalmar Schachtsold their souls and their nation to Hitler. They included the head of Krupp Industries, Gustav Krupp, the head of Opel, Fritz von Opel, as well as the leaders of the electronics powerhouse Siemens, chemical and pharmacy giant IG Farben, one of the leading German insurance agencies Allianz, and numerous others. Hitler’s goal for the meeting was basically a shakedown of the industrialist leaders to raise enough money to ensure a two-thirds majority in the Reichstag to pass his Enabling Act which would enable Hitler to rule by decree, in effect, to establish a dictatorship, by parliamentary means. Historian Adam Tooze, the author of The Wages of Destruction wrote:

The meeting of 20 February and its aftermath are the most notorious instances of the willingness of German big business to assist Hitler in establishing his dictatorial regime. The evidence cannot be dodged.

Between the meeting and the election the Reichstag, scheduled for March 5th, the Reichstag was burned, and the Reichstag Fire Decree enacted. In the elections that followed the Nazis still not achieve a majority in the Reichstag, much less a two-thirds majority. Even so, with the surrender and acquiescence of every remaining party but the Socialists, the Nazis passed the Enabling Act. The leaders of the German economic and banking establishment, Nazi or not, were pleased, their mortal enemies could now be persecuted. By June, all opposition parties were liquidated, mostly by themselves, or outlawed, as was the SPD. All independent labor unions were dissolved and forcibly incorporated into Robert Ley´s German Labor Front, which ironically occurred the day after Hitler declared May 1st as a National Holiday to honor German Workers.

Hitler’s economic supporters included corporate and banking leaders from other countries, including Henry Ford of the United States, whose German factories as well as GM‘s German subsidiary Opel, produced much of Germany’s war materials.

The curious thing is that in many countries, including the United States, leaders of great corporations, the banking industry, builders, manufacturers are little different than their predecessors in Nazi Germany and so many other democracies that succumbed to dictatorship. Money needs power, and those that desire power need money, and are willing to spend it to their advantage, regardless of which candidate or party they donate.

Let’s take that as a warning for every politician who seeks the money of corporate lobbyists, and corporate leaders who seek political power, regardless of what ideology or party they represent, especially the religious, “patriotic,” or nationalist ones.

This is a lesson we all need to learn today. In 2016, some 6.5 Billion dollars was spent on Presidential and Congressional elections by all parties. Recent studies indicate that over 10 billion dollars, over 6 billion on traditional television and radio, media, as well as internet and social media advertising will be spent in the 2020 primary campaigns and general elections, the latter often manipulated by Russia, as it was in 2016. Regardless of the outcome in November, that cannot be a good thing.

Think about it, let it sink in.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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The Führerprinzip: Trump, the GOP, and 2019

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

If you had asked me between 1976 and 2008 when I was a loyal member of the Republican Party if I could have ever imagined saying what I am about to say in this short article I would have scoffed at you. I never believed, even after I left the GOP in 2008 that I could imagine that the Grand Old Party would become a proto-Fascist Party devoted to the preservation of its leader, a man who until he ran for President repudiated nearly everything that the GOP, and its Evangelical Christian base allegedly represented. Financial malfeasance, bankruptcies, multi-times divorced, adulterous, draft dodging, a man who openly mocked Veterans, somehow became the Party nominee, defeating a host of traditional Republicans, in the process mocking them and everything the party stood for, and they fell in line behind him.

He became the Leader, the Führer, and despite all the things his GOP critics, including Lindsey Graham, Ted Cruz, Mitch McConnell, and countless others said about him they fell in line with him. Any American institution that opposed Trump became their enemy as well; the FBI, the Justice Department, the Federal Courts, the CIA, and the Director Of National Intelligence became their targets. Despite obvious connections between the Trump Campaign and Russian Intelligence all rose to his defense. Despite continued threats to the democratic foundations of our Republic they have not only defended the President, but defended foreign enemies devoted to the elimination of the United States as an enemy or competitor.

In the wake of the partial release of the Mueller Report the GOP Leadership, the President, and leading members of his Administration have done all they can to stifle further investigations by the Justice Department and the Congress. The political allies, the cabinet members, and their media allies have done everything they can to follow the underlying tenant of the Führerprinzip “the Führer’s word is above all written law” and that governmental policies, decisions, and offices ought to work toward the realization of this end.”

There is no other explanation of the GOP Leadership’s defense of the President. certainly Barry Goldwater, John Tower, Dwight Eisenhower, and a hoot of past Republican Presidents or Congressional leaders would have endured such shameful abuse by the President. He has attacked and insulted almost every one of them, often worse than he has the Democratic Party opposition.

The fact is that the GOP, a party that I devoted 32 years of my life to promote and advocate for, has now adopted the Führerprinzip in regard to the President’s actions and lies as their baseline. With the exception of Representative Jason Amash of Michigan most seem to be willing to defend the President regardless of where the truth resides.

I just finished the book Hitler’s American Friends by Bradley Hart. It is a chilling read. It deals with the American Fascist movements in the 1930s including the Silver Shirts and the German-American Bund, the cooperation of business leaders and corporations, including Henry and Edsel Ford, leaders of General Motors, Standard Oil, University and Student organizations at major U.S. Colleges and Universities, and members of Congress and the Senate to Support Nazi Germany, promote anti-Semitism, and keep the United States out of the war. The America First Movement was the final stage of this attempted Nazi takeover of the United States. If you haven’t read it you need to if you want to understand what is happening today.

Mark Twain quipped that “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes.” Those are wise words. The fact is with very few exceptions the political party that was the GOP is dead. It is now the party of Trump, and nothing will change than until Trump, the GOP, and maybe our country end up on the ash heap of history.

I am sure that I will have more to write about this, especially if Trump patrons convicted or charged American war criminals this coming weekend.

So until tomorrow,

Peace,

Padre Steve+

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Filed under History, leadership, Loose thoughts and musings, national security, nazi germany, News and current events, Political Commentary

The Refugees: 1939 & 2015

Jewish-Refugees-from-Germany

A Syrian refugee carries a baby over the broken border fence into Turkey after breaking the border fence and crossing from Syria in Akcakale, Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey, Sunday, June 14, 2015. The mass displacement of Syrians across the border into Turkey comes as Kurdish fighters and Islamic extremists clashed in nearby city of Tal Abyad. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

Friends of Padre Steve’s World,

There are times that I wish I had never become a historian, as then I could simply ignore history and its relationship to current events. Likewise I know that there are many people in this country who will call me all sorts of names for writing this post, but I can do no other. Thankfully, the U.S. Holocaust Museum which is committed to the truth about the Holocaust and genocide, agrees with me regarding the Syrian refugees. 

When I see the way that many in the United States and Europe are reacting to the Syrian refugees, I am reminded just how we turned our back on another group of victims of state sanctioned murder and discrimination in the 1930s. When I see politicians, preachers, and pundits railing against the immigration of these current victims of war and terror, I can see in them the faces of the Jews who attempted to flee the Nazis, but were rebuffed by so many nations, including the United States.

In 1939 the United States and the world turned their backs on what most euphemistically described as the Jewish Question, or the Jewish Problem. It was not hard for them to did, their hearts had been prepared for decades not to do anything by the same kind of anti-Jewish propaganda, and race hatred that the Nazis promoted in Germany. Leading American industrialists like Henry Ford wrote article after article promoting the idea that Jews were behind manipulations of the world financial markets that the Jews controlled the banks, that the Jews were behind radical political movements, and that Jews used diplomacy to bring about wars that Christian fought in order that they might profit. Ford’s articles were published in his newspaper, the Dearborn Independent and collectively were known as The International Jew: The World’s Foremost Problem. The articles were later published in a variety of languages and disseminated widely in the United States and abroad. They are still in the public domain and be found on the websites of many neo-Nazi and White Supremacy groups. Ford and his paper promoted the falsehoods of the anti-Jewish forgery called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Through them, millions of Americans had their minds poisoned and believed that the Jews were both sub-human and an enemy.

Despite the support of President Franking Roosevelt for increased immigration quotas for Jews the vast majority of Americans wanted nothing to do with them. The country was still trying to pull itself out of the great Depression, jobs were scarce, isolationism was in vogue, and polls showed that 83% of Americans opposed relaxing immigration restrictions. Even allowing Jewish children into the country was opposed. A proposal to allow 10,000 Jewish children into the country was opposed by 61% of respondents in a Gallup poll released on January 20th 1939, months after the events of Kristallnacht. In June of 1939, over 900 Jewish refugees aboard the SS St. Louis were denied entrance into the country and sent back to Europe.

Of those who succeeded in getting out many faced prejudice and hatred in the nations that they fled. Most had nothing more than the clothes on their back and were faced with discrimination in terms of employment, housing, and civil liberties. The British government limited immigration not only to Britain but Palastine, many of the refugees were placed in British detention camps, where most remained throughout the war. Because they were German Jews they were considered potential enemies. 

When war came in September 1939 immigration became immensely more difficult, and after the United States entered the war, virtually impossible. As a result nearly six million Jews were exterminated by the Nazis. I wonder how many more innocent people will die this time because the west turns its back on them just as it did in 1939.

For years there have been Americans and others who have been demonizing all Moslems as if they were terrorists. Major political figures, prominent preachers, and nationally syndicated, radio, television, internet, and print pundits have created a narrative that makes all Moslems the enemy, and blames them for the acts of terrorists

It is actually a brilliant plan that DAESH has concocted. Commit acts of terror, like that in Paris, which the American and other western politicians, pundits and preachers can use to further alienate Moslems, and use to reject the refugees, and to roll back the civil liberties of Moslem citizens. Donald Trump and many others are already suggesting such actions. Our history shows that we will do this, just remember what we did to Japanese Americans in World War Two.

Of course, once another major terror attack happens in the United States you can bet that these cries will become louder and that some people will commit acts of violence against innocents Moslems, their businesses, and their places of worship.

I fear that day as much as any terrorist attack.

Peace

Padre Steve+

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