by Ed Sawicki - January 13, 2019
There's a meme on social media that comes up from time to time that I'd like to address. It compares Hitler's actions leading to the removal of a functioning democratic government in Germany to Trump's actions today.
The timeline below shows the events that led up to Hitler taking power in Germany and beyond. There are also comments about actions that Trump has taken that you might consider comparable. Decide for yourself whether a comparison of Hitler and Trump is hyperbole.
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- 1932 Mar 13
- First round of the German presidential election. Hitler ran against incumbent President Paul von Hindenburg. Hitler lost.
- 1932 Apr 10
- Second (run-off) round of the presidential election. Hitler lost. Trump lost the popular vote but won the Electoral College. Germany had no equivalent to the Electoral College.
- 1933 Jan 30
- President Paul von Hindenburg appointed Hitler as Chancellor after a failure to establish a coalition government. The U.S. doesn't have coalition governments. It's a winner-take-all duopoly.
- 1933 Feb 27
- Reichstag fire - The Reichstag was gutted by a fire that was deliberately set. Hitler blamed Communists. The Reichstag is the equivalent of the U.S. Capital building.
- 1933 Feb 28
- Reichstag fire decree - The Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of People and State removed many civil liberties from German citizens such as habeas corpus, free speech, right to organize and assemble, and freedom of the press. The decree was issued one day after the fire. Do you think that the decree was written first, then the fire was started?
- 1933 Mar 23
- Enabling Act - The Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich changed the German Constitution. It gave Hitler the ability to create laws without involving the Reichstag (the German legislature - not the building). Trump's threat to bypass Congress by declaring a national emergency is the same kind of anti-democratic power grab.
- 1933 May 2
- Trade unions were banned and replaced with the state-run German Labour Force. Trump and the Republicans would love to get rid of trade unions. The Right-to-Work laws are proof of that.
- 1933 Jul 14
- The Nazi Party (NSDAP) was declared the only legal political party in Germany. If Trump was to eliminate a political party in the United States, which would it be?
- 1933 Oct 19
- Germany withdrew from the League of Nations. Donald Trump has criticized both the United Nations and NATO, refusing to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to NATO's Article 5 that ensures "Collective defense". If a NATO member country has conflict with Russia, which will the U.S. support?
- 1934 Jun 30
- Night of the Long Knives - Although it's referred to as a "night",
this lasted until July 2. Hitler had his political opponents and members of the Brownshirts murdered. The Brownshirts were the main
paramilitary wing of the Nazi party.
Although this has no current analog in the U.S., it does make me think of Trump vs. the FBI, CIA, and all the other intelligence agencies. It reminds me that Trump thinks he's smarter than the generals. When Trump appoints Erik Prince to be the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then worry.
- 1934 Aug 2
- President Paul von Hindenburg died. Hitler abolished the Presidency and merged its powers with the Chancellor. He made himself the sole leader of Germany.
- 1935 Sep 15
- Passage of the Nuremberg Laws deprived Jews of German citizenship. Which groups would Trump take citizenship away from if he could?
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