Monday, February 27, 2017

February 1933 - Setting The Stage for War

1933 Chronicles
In January 1933 Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor despite a minority vote, under the assumption that he could be controlled and would cause less trouble being in the government.  By February he was well on his way to becoming a dictator.

Feb 3rd 
With the approval of Germany's President Hindenburg, Adolf Hitler decreed the "Ordinance for the Protection of the German People", which allowed the police to ban any publications which were a threat to public order. Violators could be arrested and detained without a warrant for as long as three months.

Feb 4th
In a secret speech with Germany's senior Army and Navy commanders, Adolf Hitler outlined his plans to begin conscription, to rearm Germany in defiance of the Treaty of Versailles of 1919, and, eventually, to invade Eastern Europe to increase Germany's territory.

Feb 7th
The United States Senate voted 53-17 to fire its long-time sergeant at arms, David S. Barry, after he had written a magazine article that suggested that some of the Senators had taken bribes.

Feb 21st
Hermann Göring, the new Nazi leader of Germany's largest state, Prussia, published a decree in the Party newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, ordering the Prussian police to shoot any "enemies of the state", and providing for disciplinary action against any policeman who was "inappropriately considerate.”

Feb 22nd
Adolf Hitler authorized the formation of the first Nazi concentration camps (Konzentrationslager), where opponents of the regime would be kept in "protective custody" (Schutzhaft) until they could reform.

Feb 27th
Reichstag fire: Six days before the March 5 national parliamentary elections, the Reichstag building in Berlin, was set afire and was heavily damaged. The fire was discovered at 9:15 pm, and the first responders found more than 60 small fires set throughout the building, with the largest in the chamber where the legislators met. Marinus Van der Lubbe, a 25-year-old Dutchman with a Communist background, was arrested at the scene and made a confession after being questioned by his Nazi captors. A former bodyguard for Sturmabteilung (SA) founder Ernst Röhm, alleged later that the Berlin SA leader, Karl Ernst, had led a group of his troopers into the building through a connecting passage, brought in incendiaries, and then waited for Van der Lubbe to arrive.[76] "The whole truth about the Reichstag fire will probably never be known. Nearly all those who knew it are now dead, most of them slain by Hitler in the months that followed," historian William Shirer would write in 1960. Van der Lubbe was executed on January 10, 1934, while Ernst, Röhm, and many of the SA men were executed after Adolf Hitler ordered a purge of the Nazi party six months afterward. The fire would be the pretext for the emergency orders the next day granting Hitler the power to rule by decree.

Feb 28th

Reichstag Fire Decree: Hours after the Reichstag building had been set afire, Chancellor Adolf Hitler and his Cabinet of Ministers drew up an emergency decree for President Paul von Hindenburg to sign under Article 48 of the German constitution. "Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and State" took effect immediately upon the President's signature "as a defensive measure against Communist acts of violence endangering the state". Besides suspending guarantees of "personal liberty", "free expression of opinion", "freedom of the press", "the right of assembly" and "the right of association", the decree invoked the death penalty for a wider variety of crimes, including "serious disturbance of the peace" by an armed individual. Hitler's Stormtroopers across Germany conducted mass arrests, including taking members of Parliament into custody.

Monday, January 30, 2017

January 30, 1933 ........................ Hitler Appointed Chancellor

Today is January 30th, 2017, 84 years after Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany.  This is the first entry in a series that month by month documents the rise of the Third Reich that would end in the deaths of 50 million people in a world conflagration.  I will keep personal commentary to a minimum.  If there are factual parallels to today, such as losing the popular vote in November and being appointed leader in January anyway, I will mention them.  I will avoid drawing conclusions about the parallels that imply we in the US are on a similar glide path to Nazi Germany.  You can draw your own conclusions.

January 1933
Hitler did not win the popular vote in November of 1932.  He lost by about 2%.  But the government was stalemated and the only solution that seemed tenable was to go ahead and appoint Hitler as Chancellor and then keep a close eye on him.  The Wikipedia account follows.

“Hindenburg, intimidated by Hitler’s growing popularity and the thuggish nature of his cadre of supporters, the SA (or Brownshirts), initially refused to make him chancellor. Instead, he appointed General Kurt von Schleicher, who attempted to steal Hitler’s thunder by negotiating with a dissident Nazi faction led by Gregor Strasser. At the next round of elections in November, the Nazis lost ground—but the Communists gained it, a paradoxical effect of Schleicher’s efforts that made right-wing forces in Germany even more determined to get Hitler into power. In a series of complicated negotiations, ex-Chancellor Franz von Papen, backed by prominent German businessmen and the conservative German National People’s Party (DNVP), convinced Hindenburg to appoint Hitler as chancellor, with the understanding that von Papen as vice-chancellor and other non-Nazis in key government positions would contain and temper Hitler’s more brutal tendencies.

“Hitler’s emergence as chancellor on January 30, 1933, marked a crucial turning point for Germany and, ultimately, for the world. His plan, embraced by much of the German population, was to do away with politics and make Germany a powerful, unified one-party state. He began immediately, ordering a rapid expansion of the state police, the Gestapo, and putting Hermann Goering in charge of a new security force, composed entirely of Nazis and dedicated to stamping out whatever opposition to his party might arise. From that moment on, Nazi Germany was off and running, and there was little Hindenburg or von Papen—or anyone—could do to stop it.”

The checks and balances in place were not enough.  There was resistance early on but it was beaten back.