When you hear the word "Nazi," what comes to mind?
For me, personally, I envision a man - one touting dull grey military attire, bright red arm bands emblazoned with black swastikas, and a pale greenish hard hat. Okay, it might be a helmet. He's also either standing in a one-armed salute and saying, "Heil, Hitlah!" in a satirically "old world German" accent or he is marching down the street with a bayonet on his rifle. I admit, I am a huge WWII buff and while I can picture it in my head, some of the details are a little fuzzy. One thing that is consistent is that the mental image is always in black and white save the red armband, which is always in color for dramatic effect. It's as if my mind cannot seem to drag that piece of the past into 2022. Nazzies, as I affectionately call the pieces of shit who have no regard for human life and are preoccupied with political gain more that committing atrocities, are just not a part of our current reality.
But, aren't they? I have seen the comparison between Nazzies, Hitler, and the Holocaust play out multiple times across differing opinions in online spaces. It's a wholly inappropriate metaphor in almost all instances - trust me. Sometimes it makes me wonder if people realize the entire scope of the Nazzy agenda at all.
I don't get a chance to unload my WWII thoughts and opinions on innocent bystanders very often. Have you ever tried to work that kind of thing into a conversation organically?
"How is the husband?" "He's doing good. Just been super busy." " Oh I am sure! And how about the kiddos?" "They are good too!" "I'm glad to hear that... did you guys start homeschool yet?" "We started last Friday... and I can't wait to teach them about WWII! Did you know that Hitler's nephew was actually a hospital corpsman in the U.S. Navy? This was after he penned the "Why I Hate My Uncle" article..." It doesn't work out often, although I have been known to go on quite a tirade at my spouse whenever I can corner him long enough to infodump. You see, WWII is one of my special interests. That means that I have absorbed an unnecessary amount of information about it, and I have formed an unnecessary-er amount of speculation surrounding the people and their actions. I take great joy in sharing those factoids and speculation with (ambushing) unsuspecting individuals.
I started to notice early on that when I would talk about WWII, a shocking number of people would say strangely ignorant things that lead me to believe they were unfamiliar with some of the most pertinent details of the historical record. I can't even tell you how many times I have heard, "Hitler was the absolute worst," or "civilians were complacent, that was their problem. People today would definitely help the Jews and not be complacent!"
These statements are problematic for so many reasons. Don't worry, though - I will be your daddy of knowledge and explain. The short version of the holocaust goes something like this; This evil German man, Hitler, hated Jews so much that he formed a vast army, rounded up all the Jews, and sent them to live in various "camps" - where many of them were just killed anyways. Not even fucking close. Let's explore, shall we?
It began with the Wannsee Conference. But it also, like, didn't begin there.
In 1941, a big meeting was held and everyone decided that they wanted to do the Nazzy thing. What most people genuinely seem clueless about is that this particular meeting wasn't really a meeting. The Wannsee Conference was actually a bureaucratic deliberation. There were many high-ranking officials present, representing Germany's government and military. The purpose of their convening was not to deliberate whether they should do something, but rather how they were going to do something. They were commissioned by President Hitler to find a solution - or as it would come to be known, "the final solution to the Jewish problem."
Yikes. I don't care who you are, it ought to give you chills to hear those words. The idea of singling out any marginalized group of people and then persecuting them even as far as genocide is something that we can all agree is abominable. No matter where you sit religiously, politically, economically... we all agree on this one.
And yet, Hitler didn't act alone by any means. As I said, it wasn't Hitler sitting there in his office writing his own note saying, "here's what I must do about these Jew types..." The government came together as governments do and established very formal guidelines for how to get rid of the Jews. The meeting minutes were recorded and transcripts were made. There was a need to hash out the whole plan in gruesome detail. How much was it going to cost? What was the level of urgency, after the previous years' attempts to simply coerce Jews to emigrate out of the country obviously hadn't worked? And what, exactly, is the most efficient way to enlist the military to carry out the elimination of millions of people? Do you have any idea the level of organization and practicality that must be considered? Not to mention, who exactly was included in "Jews?" Wait. Did you say, "President Hitler?" Wasn't he called the fuhrer?
Okay, back up a bit. Yes, Hitler was a dictator, and he was called the fuhrer. It's weird, too, because there was no such title before he assumed that role. How the hell did a psychopath, hellbent on genocide, take on a made-up title as a political figure in Germany?
Well, he was just a regular person at one time (as far as anyone knows). I know it's easier to imagine that he was born with some distinct seed of evil brewing in his heart, but that is quite honestly absurd.
Hitler was a regular child growing up in the early 1900s. He probably did super normal things that kids at that time did, and he probably didn't have a lot of understanding of the national landscape at that age.
William II was the current Emperor of Germany and King of Prussia. The latter half of the 1800s saw a surge of German nationalism, focused heavily on culture, language, power and race. They were huge proponents of patriotism and strong government leaders. Despite claiming some progressive social policies, Germany was strongly shaped by militarism, nationalism and government authoritarianism.
Meanwhile, Hitler was struggling a bit in school and hoping to become an artist, despite his father's insistence to the contrary.
Hitler's father was a state customs official who died when the boy was only thirteen, and his mother died only five years later. He was understandably devastated. As he put it, "I respected my father, but I loved my mother." Following her death, he found himself in dire straits. He was orphaned and impoverished, having depleted all of their resources in the care of his ailing mother. It added insult to injury and he realized he would have to find a way to support himself.
Hitler poured himself into books - and politics, understandably. When WWI broke out, he joined the military and fought honorably (again, as far as anyone knows). He was a decorated hero who was wounded in combat, and unfortunately received the news that they had lost the war while he was laying in a hospital bed recovering from his injuries.
Then things get a little weird.
Postwar Germany was a country of harsh economic conditions, volatile social and political climates, and high unemployment rates. Tensions were high and the masses were desperately churning for some degree of political revolution.
Let's brush up on the political scene real quick: There were political affiliations running amok. In 1918, just as the war was crushing the nation, Kaiser Wilhelm II (that emperor guy) abdicated as emperor. What does abdicated mean? I don't know really, but I am assuming he tossed his crown and shouted, "fuck ya later!" as he ran from court. The chancellor, who is essentially the second-in-command by title, but acts like the first in command by deed, also hopped the fuck-off train on the SAME day. Chancellor Maximilian passed the torch to Friedrich Ebert, the leader of the Social Democratic Party. As Ebert is accepting his responsibilities, outside the capitol there appears to be dissention. Members of the offshoot from the Social Democratic Party staged an uprising as a communist party, but were quickly shut down (and they were murdered without trial). The right-wing Social Democratic Party had support of both conservatives and liberals to crush the rebellion. Over the next year, the SDP failed to hold onto that support and many switched allegiance to the conservative party - then, eventually, the Nazzy party. This was inflated by the ideology from the military that the worst possible scenario was a communist movement.
Now, don't conflate these terms too heavily to modern-day government in the U.S. Their ideals and political opinions were very different that the ones associated with those parties we know today. And after drafting a new constitution that was very similar to our own - the new government wasn't even socialist. It was very much a democratic republic, and the position of President had been instated. The president would hold veto power over the chancellor and the people, able to essentially take control of any part of the government and, in an emergency, he could even take away civil liberties to restore public safety and order. So that is what was going on when Hitler joined a political party of his own - the German Worker Party, whose purpose was to find middle ground between the working class and the intense ideology of the nationalists.
Where were we? Oh! So Germany was ripe for revolution, but not a communist revolution - the general consensus was "ew, we don't like those guys." The counter-strike against the Marxists was strong and efficient; they saw the rise of cells of radically conservative nationalists that even went so far as to form an independent regime that operated through a kind of vigilante justice. These were civilians who rose up and did what they believed was the right thing to keep the "commies" at bay - even when that included the assassination of foreign dignitaries. They were later utilized by the reformed German government and became a powerful contingent of the Nazzy army.
Hitler, being very intelligent and opinionated, managed to climb the ranks of the working-class political party until he was running the show. He was very skilled at creating appealing propaganda for his cause, and though I often see him credited as being "so charismatic he convinced the nation of his supremacy," the truth is that Germany was in turmoil and the citizens were vulnerable. Much of the material that Hitler and his fellow nationalists created were rooted in staunch anti-Semitism of that time. In the early 1920s, Hitler’s Nazi Party consisted of resentful Germans who sympathized with the party’s bitter hatred of the democratic government, leftist politics, and Jews.
The very foundations of the communist "Marxist" theory is arguably Jewish-influenced. Marxism essentially is very anti-religion in general, and evoked the concept of free, equal people; that aligns quite well with many secular tenants of modern Judaism. However, this seemed to ignite more opposition than any ideology at that time, leading one to believe that the distribution of wealth and the rights and liberties that were being unequally allotted to the people were infinitely more important than actual freedom or liberty. It was not some sort of epic bait-and-switch, up-close magic that pushed Germany over the edge. The primarily nationalist country would rather go to war and die there than give up control - even if "giving up control" was more about the capitalist society controlling the masses as opposed to individuals controlling themselves.
On the other hand, the Marxists weren't supporters of the Jewish people unequivocally. The stereotypical "capitalist" nature of the Jewish people ruffled feathers of the communist agenda, despite their attempt to denounce anti-Semitism. Again, it's all very reminiscent of Jewish thought - in lay man's terms, the communists could take issue with certain groups and their ways without the desire to effectively oppress them even if they wanted everyone to be free and equal and abolish capitalist society.
"We disagree with how you do things, but we will defend your right to do it."
Let me know when you start to sympathize with the communists.
The way the people saw it was not as simply self-governing; the rising Marxists weren't innocent bystanders who wanted freedom and equality. They were coming to enslave us all under their heavy-handed regime. Today, we harbor a very detrimental misunderstanding of communism (based on the anti-communism propaganda that our nationalist country subscribed to) but in 1900s Germany, this was not the case. Whether communism is favorable or unfavorable - I refuse to label any governmental system as "good" or "bad" when they all have positive and negative qualities - is completely irrelevant. The Nazzy dictatorship was founded on the principle that "communism is coming to get us"... even though it wasn't. That was the rhetoric that propelled Germany into a dictatorship as they were establishing a revamped form of government.
Here, have some propaganda:
This is a publication from an the anti-communist McCarthy Era. One college that was targeted was Sarah Lawrence; a worthy choice for New York Jewish students because of it's liberal policies. While the school was progressive and liberal, it also attempted to curb the enrollment of Jewish students in favor of non-Jewish ones. This was not at all an uncommon practice among liberal schools; Basically, the liberal stance of the school made it appealing to the outliers of our conservative, white society but simultaneously, the stigma of "too many Jews" still put a target on the backs of these institutions. The only exception was when Jewish families were silently funding the schools. Liberalism and Jewishness have always been deeply intertwined, yet the disdain for Jews is equally historical.
The Marxist movement may have been staunchly opposed to anti-Semitism, but they downplayed its significance in the political landscape. Throughout history, it has proven catastrophic to underestimate the role of prejudice in politics - and this particular scenario was no different.
The kicker was that the National Socialist party was not targeting Jews alone. They were opposed to any groups or people that threatened their foothold in society. Germany at this time was primarily christian; a whopping 90% of the people were affiliated with either Protestant or Catholic establishments. I know the knee-jerk reaction for most christians is to take offense to this and make excuses for the situation, but that is doing a major disservice to history. No, they weren't somehow different than the christians of today. It doesn't hold water to say that they "weren't real christians because real christians wouldn't do that." They were bible-believing, Jesus-worshipping christians, just as modern day christians in America. Their mode of thinking was the same as any christian today, supposing they know the answers and they have the truth. They believed it as much as anyone ever has believed it. The christian church's commitment to their own superiority, in and of itself, was not the problem. In fact, the anti-communism sentiment lent itself to a black and white "us or them" point of view. When coupled with the self-righteous beliefs of the christian nation, this was a recipe for disaster. It's no myth that christianity tends to take a totalitarian approach to politics. In practice, this is a perspective in which christians adhere strictly to their belief in their savior and can say without hesitation that christianity is, ultimately, best for everyone. An opponent of your christianity may, likewise, become your enemy.
The tiny, distinct sects that chose not to align with this conviction were primarily the "Confessing Church" and the "German Faith Movement." The former was committed to "God and scripture" rather than the authority of a fuhrer. Their motivation was embedded in a desire to establish a distinction between Jews who had converted to christianity and just plain Jews; as long as the power was in the hands of a dictatorship, their christian clergy was being prosecuted for their Jewish heritage. The latter was an anti-faith movement based in a desire to convince the people to move away from a religion-based system, which allowed freedom to pursue more unorthodox beliefs. Over time, the German Faith Movement conceded that they could dissent in theory, but align in practice - becoming a small, confessing allegiance of atheists and pagans to the Nazzy regime. They were accepting of Jewish supporters in the very beginning, but adopted racialist ideology soon after, evicting Jewish membership across the board.
Now, the rise of Nazzy supremacy was not founded simply on a hatred of Jews, but rather the obstacle of the "others" residing under a government that valued christian unity. The notion that opponents to christianity were not passive, but active, fueled the citizens to pick a side in what they viewed as a blatant war against their very existence. To serve the objective of the Nazzy power, the expulsion and criminalization of all non-christian practices were put into place. Jehovah's Witnesses and the Baháʼí Faith were banned. The Salvation Army and the Seventh-day Adventist Church both disappeared from Germany, probably due to pressure that was being placed upon religious minority (to this day, I occasionally hear criticism from christians directed at the Salvation Army). Astrologers, healers, fortune tellers, and witchcraft were all banned, of course. Aside from the German Faith Movement, any deviation from the "approved" and "true" doctrine was considered heresy.
The aftermath of WWI, for Germany, begins to paint a picture of a metaphorical "stew" that would come together in a culmination of dangerous thinking.
One the one hand, you have nationalism - a rigid and innate belief in your country of origin being superior on the premise that it's yours.
On the other hand, you have christian theology, which usually includes the concept of "greater good" totalitarianism - i.e. "it's better for everyone in the long run for you to be forced into christianity than it is for me to be forced out of it."
The last big piece of the puzzle is propaganda, which played a more crucial role in the holocaust than most people realize.
Let's rewind, back to 1920. Hitler was really butt hurt about losing the war, and his response was to bury himself in his propaganda work for the National Socialist German Workers Party - those were the Nazzies.
Running confidently down the path paved by the anti-communism narrative in post-war Germany, Hitler and his colleagues published some of the most creative and frightening propaganda that would prove to facilitate tension and horror among the masses. There was already a misinformed view of the Russian Revolution (one that - surprise! still exists today! If your knee jerk reaction is "but the Soviets are bad," I highly recommend you do some more research), lending credence to the evils of communism. Ironically, the revolution that took place in Russia was in part a response to the annihilation of Jews and other minorities, much like the genocide that was about to befall Germany. Much, but not all, of this propaganda focused on the "problem" of Jews. They were child-eating, christian-murdering, Satanic lizard-people who would bring about hell on earth. They were out to breed evil and they would stop at nothing, so it was a fair choice to band together and annihilate them before their evil plans could come to fruition.
Obviously, none of those things were true. But, if it was that obvious, why did people buy into it at an alarming rate? German society was largely on board with fearing and hating Jews and Communists, but why did they subscribe to those beliefs?
The concept of propaganda is really quite silly, on the face of it. It seems like such an innocuous means of perpetuating an agenda. Looking back at the weaponization of words from the WWII time period, it's hard to really imagine that anyone would be swayed by such political cartoons. Offensive? Yes. Harmful? No. No one is dumb enough to believe these things:
That last one.
One tenant of the Nazzy scheme was to put exaggerated emphasis on the family structure, then show people how it was in jeopardy. "Young girls were educated to think in terms of marriage and children. Schools gave girls lessons about how to look after a baby, how to keep and maintain a good house etc." The idea that the strength of the nation was dependent on the morals and values of the family unit is something that is still taken very seriously today. In addition to the suggestion that Jews and communists were threatening the integrity of family, there was a lesser-known target that was being brought to the forefront. It appeared that Hitler's long-term goal included the euthanasia of disabled people.
Okay, wait. I still don't understand the "President Hitler" thing.
In 1923, Hitler had rose to so much prominence in his propaganda efforts that he felt confident in declaring a revolution. Long story short, he was involved in a mini-insurrection at a beer hall in which the right-wing proponents had a gun fight with the police. They went to jail, but with Hitler leading the charge, he was catapulted into the public eye as a heroic symbol of change. As of now, he has done nothing to warrant hatred of the masses. He has made some propaganda posters and acted politically. That's it.
He was sentenced to five years in prison for treason, and served only 9 months. He was lauded a role model for his bravery to fight back against the treacheries that threatened the nation.
While in prison, he wrote Mein Kampf, which means, "My Struggle."
It was a huge success because, despite the preconceived notions we have today, it wasn't a manifesto that said "Kill all Jews. Smash them. Smashy smashy. I love murder. Don't you? Let's murder people in cold blood."
On the contrary, it translates very well into an -icky feelings have I- exquisite and sensible memoir, for the most part.
"Only very few of the Germans in the realm itself had an idea of the bitter struggle which those Eastern Germans had to carry on daily for the preservation of their German language, their German schools and
their German character. Only today, when a tragic fate has torn several millions of our kinsfolk away from the realm and has forced them to live under the rule of the stranger, dreaming of that common fatherland towards which all their yearnings are directed and struggling to uphold at least the sacred right of using their mother tongue- -only now have the wider circles of the German population come to realize what it means to have to fight for the traditions of one's race. And so at last perhaps there are people here and there who can assess the greatness of that German spirit which animated the old East Mark and enabled those people, left entirely dependent on their own resources, to defend the Empire against the Orient for several centuries and subsequently to hold fast the frontiers of the German language through a guerilla warfare of attrition, at a time when the German Empire was sedulously cultivating an interest for colonies but not for its own flesh and blood before the threshold of its own door. "
Let's be completely honest, if you switched out the word, "race" with the word, "country" in that excerpt, it would aptly describe a fairly common attitude seen in the U.S. today. The adherence to pride in your mother land is not inherently a bad thing.
This stunning literary work Hitler penned is almost real and relatable enough to make you, even in this year 2022, forget what you are reading. It feels like riding a surreal wave of empathy that transports you back to a time and place when a man, so broken and despondent, put all of his heart on paper in a more vulnerable way than anyone had ever experienced up until that point.
He describes his time in Vienna, watching the people around him struggle in poverty. There are several passages which allude to the idea that it is up to the individual to climb the social class ladder, and even when you are thrown back down, there is always opportunity to pull yourself back up.
There's an interesting portrayal of men struggling with the selfishness, the wife nagging him to stay home, their subsequent inability to pay their bills, the resulting alcoholism, and general discord that breeds evil in the home. He expressed a strange form of sympathy for these people that just couldn't seem to get their shit together.
"I have had actual experience of all this in hundreds of cases. At first I was disgusted and indignant; but later on I came to recognize the whole tragedy of their misfortune and to understand the profound causes of it. They were the unhappy victims of evil circumstances."
I don't know what the evil circumstance is, but somehow, I know it's Jews. Cause... context.
The punchline eludes you for a while, but he goes on and on about how the world is currently crap, and everything in it is crap. Poor people stay poor, these people are broken, everything makes me sad and no one has the answers. He then makes a controversial declaration - to fix what is broken in our society, we have to re-establish a pride in our country and return to classic values. You know, get back to the good ol days before these commies came along. And as a follow up, he adds that we have to do away with the variables that are dragging our country backward.
"They protest sternly against such a lack of 'national pride' and strongly express their horror at such sentiments."
This admission is described in such an all-encompassing way. He says that the German people are not only omitting the truths of of their history and culture in order to pacify the masses, but they are actively poisoning what little bit of historical knowledge and national pride they have left. The next portion is one that chills me to my absolute core.
"There is a lodging in a cellar and this lodging consists of two damp rooms. In these rooms a workman and his family live--seven people in all. Let us assume that one of the children is a boy of three years. That is the age at which children first become conscious of the impressions which they receive. In the case of highly gifted people traces of the impressions received in those early years last in the memory up to an advanced age. Now the narrowness and congestion of those living quarters do not conduce to pleasant inter-relations. Thus quarrels and fits of mutual anger arise. These people can hardly be said to live with one another, but rather down on top of one another. The small misunderstandings which disappear of themselves in a home where there is enough space for people to go apart from one another for a while, here become the source of chronic disputes. As far as the children are concerned the situation is tolerable from this point of view. In such conditions they are constantly quarrelling with one another, but the quarrels are quickly and entirely forgotten. But when the parents fall out with one another these daily bickerings often descend to rudeness such as cannot be adequately imagined. The results of such experiences must become apparent later on in the children. One must have practical experience of such a MILIEU so as to be able to picture the state of affairs that arises from these mutual recriminations when the father physically assaults the mother and maltreats her in a fit of drunken rage. At the age of six the child can no longer ignore those sordid details which even an adult would find revolting. Infected with moral poison, bodily undernourished, and the poor little head filled with vermin, the young 'citizen' goes to the primary school. With difficulty he barely learns to read and write. There is no possibility of learning any lessons at home. Quite the contrary. The father and mother themselves talk before the children in the most disparaging way about the teacher and the school and they are much more inclined to insult the teachers than to put their offspring across the knee and knock sound reason into him. What the little fellow hears at home does not tend to increase respect for his human surroundings. Here nothing good is said of human nature as a whole and every institution, from the school to the government, is reviled. Whether religion and morals are concerned or the State and the social order, it is all the same; they are all scoffed at. When the young lad leaves school, at the age of fourteen, it would be difficult to say what are the most striking features of his character, incredible ignorance in so far as real knowledge is concerned or cynical impudence combined with an attitude towards morality which is really startling at so young an age. What station in life can such a person fill, to whom nothing is sacred, who has never experienced anything noble but, on the contrary, has been intimately acquainted with the lowest kind of human existence? This child of three has got into the habit of reviling all authority by the time he is fifteen. He has been acquainted only with moral filth and vileness, everything being excluded that might stimulate his thought towards higher things. And now this young specimen of humanity enters the school of life. He leads the same kind of life which was exemplified for him by his father during his childhood. He loiters about and comes home at all hours. He now even black-guards that broken-hearted being who gave him birth. He curses God and the world and finally ends up in a House of Correction for young people. There he gets the final polish. And his bourgeois contemporaries are astonished at the lack of 'patriotic enthusiasm' which this young 'citizen' manifests. Day after day the bourgeois world are witnesses to the phenomenon of spreading poison among the people through the instrumentality of the theatre and the cinema, gutter journalism and obscene books; and yet they are astonished at the deplorable 'moral standards' and 'national indifference' of the masses. As if the cinema bilge and the gutter press and suchlike could inculcate knowledge of the greatness of one's country, apart entirely from the earlier education of the individual. "
Without the context of this passage, not knowing that it was written by Hitler in his manifesto describing the reason and motivation to commit a devastating level of genocide, I honestly believe that it would circulate on social media. I'm disturbed at the similarity between the words found in Mein Kampf and the ones I see on social media today. I'll even go so far as to say, seeing the words "bourgeoise" and an opinion described as "base" was equally alarming, but I digress. The punchline of the 500 page rant is not only articulate, but thorough. It's not a psychotic tirade of madness beyond being steeped in unfounded conspiracy. Essentially, the moral decay that causes the social decay can be traced back to a single source; one ancient evil is infiltrating the media, indoctrinating the citizens through movies, music, television and any number of metaphorical vehicles. And the worst part is, you'll never be able to convince them of the darkness lurking behind their seemingly human demeanor. They are willful, stubborn, strong-willed, and you can talk to them until you are blue in the face but they are so convinced of their own awareness.
"And so I believe to-day that my conduct is in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator. In standing guard against [it] I am defending the handiwork of the Lord."
Thus the rhetoric I hear spouted at many marginalized communities on a daily basis by well-meaning conservative friends was used historically to convince an entire country to commit genocide.
By 1932, Hitler had rallied many enthusiastic followers. It's hard to say what the modern equivalent we can compare that to. It's not like he had an Instagram and we could say, "well, he had 75k followers but most of them are just there to troll him." He had garnered enough political traction that he ran for President - and he lost to Paul Hindenburg.
But then, after three failed chancellors, Hindenburg named Hitler chancellor. Thanks for that, Hindenburg, you asshole. All it took was a fire set to the parliament building and Hitler was granted the German equivalent of Martial Law. Within a year, Hindenburg died (wow...shocker) and Hitler petitioned to merge the position of President and Chancellor, which was granted.
Now we are looking at a this time frame of less than ten years in which a seemingly normal guy who has done nothing but express some controversial viewpoints has miraculously gone from being in prison to being literally a whole dictator with total control over his country and a military who is willing to do anything for him.
On June 29, 1934, Hitler ordered the execution of a plan that would effectively murder potentially one thousand politicians and people of interest that were implicated as a potential threat.
On September 15, 1935, the Nuremberg laws were passed, effectively stripping Jews of citizenship and civil rights. By this point, the conspiracy theories about Jews pulling the strings and trying to usher in a "New World Order" had taken astronomical root in the minds of the German people. Hitler's stance was a religious one; even though historians claim that Hitler himself was possibly pagan, or more likely atheist, he embraced the device of religious dogma and apocalyptic prophecy to appeal to christian citizens. His angle was not much different than the one motivating many christian radicalists today. The fear of the end times, and the antichrist, and the connection with an evil force at work as part of the indoctrinating enemy. The consuming of propaganda effectively sowed feelings of paranoia, directed at the Jews and communists. Eventually, they were dehumanized. If you think someone is trying to inflict their satanic regime on the world, you are going to have a much easier time letting the military quietly murder them.
The evangelicals whose works I analyze vary in their attitudes to Trump, from ardent advocates to reluctant supporters. Yet even the reluctant supporters interpret his presidency in terms of spiritual warfare, framing Trump’s victory as a divine intervention against a demonic status quo.
Trump’s alleged battle against the “deep state” here adopts cosmic meaning, as not only the US government but undocumented immigrants and Black and LGBTQ people are cast as agents of demonic forces.
But it wasn't just the Jews, leftists, gays, and Romani that were facing Hitler's necessary retribution for an ethnic cleansing.
In 1939, Hitler authorizes a special governmental program called T-4. This was an early phase of "The Final Solution." Germans mostly looked the other way while the Euthanasia Program swept through the nation, combing mental hospitals and institutions and serving to eliminate genetic inferiority from German blood. In the first mock-up trials for the gas chambers, many patients were subjected to the cruel fate that would befall Jews in concentration camps later. This continued despite "public protests" - or as I like to more accurately call it, bad publicity. The operation claimed the lives of over 200,000 disabled people. This could not have been completed in secret. Propaganda reasonably had a hand in the citizen's choice to essentially look the other way.
We more or less know the rest of the story, but all of this set the precedence for Hitler to convene the Wannsee Conference. German officials, including representatives from the SS, the Einsatzgruppen, the Justice Ministry, the Office of the Governor General of Poland, the head of the Department for Jewish Affairs, and the Foreign Office, met in a lakeside neighborhood of Berlin called Wannsee. Himmler’s deputy, Reinhard Heydrich, led the meeting. They used the data they had accumulated in the previous years of terrorizing and killing minorities, and they sat down and actually did all the math involved in putting a price tag on destroying millions of lives. It was no easy task.
"These genocides cost the lives of probably 16,315,000 people. Most likely the Nazis wiped out 5,291,000 Jews, 258,000 Gypsies, 10,547,000 Slavs, and 220,000 homosexuals. They also "euthanized" 173,500 handicapped Germans. Then in repression, terrorism, reprisals, and other cold-blooded killings done to impose and maintain their rule throughout Europe, the Nazis murdered more millions including French, Dutch, Serbs, Slovenes, Czechs, and others. In total, they likely annihilated 20,946,000 human beings."
It has to be noted, this was not a spur-of-the-moment act of aggression. This was the systematic destruction of not just Jews, but many prominent factions of minorities that overwhelmingly intersect with the Jewish community. The way that Hitler was propelled into power with little warning leads many experts to believe that he was being utilized as an icon - a face for a revolution that began long before. The hatred of the Jewish people, and by extension, gays, queer folx, autistics, disabled persons, and ethnic minorities, has been a theme throughout history. The only thing that has changed is that instead of propaganda, we call it a "meme."
"The same tactics are repeated again and again, until fear of these mad dogs exercises, through suggestion, a paralyzing effect on their Victims." - Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf