Author's Note: If you read this and notice any glaring omissions please let me know in the comments or with an email. I'd like it to be as comprehensive as possible.
peace, love and chai lattes!
I recently watched the excellent documentary: The Nazis: A Warning From History. From the beginning I was struck by the many similarities between the formations of the Nazi party and today’s Tea party. I did some research, and the more I read and watched the more striking parallels I discovered.
Both parties were spawned by the extreme right wing’s virulent reaction to a new leftist government, and in both cases the shift in the national direction was dramatic—whether Germany abandoning its presence in World War I, or America inaugurating its first black president.
First, some necessary historical background. At the advent of World War I, Germany was under the imperial rule of Kaiser Wilhelm II. His government was becoming increasingly more difficult to control because of the growing presence of Social Democrats, pacifism and other movements on the left.
At the time, Europe seemed incapable of surviving a long war, as a long war was seen only as ending in chaos followed by a socialist revolution. But on 28 June 1914 the Austrian heir apparent, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated in Sarajevo, the capital of the province Bosnia-Hercegovina, then occupied by Austria. Suspicions were that the Serbian government was involved with the terrorist group responsible for the assassination. The German government of Wilhelm II and his chancellor encouraged Vienna to take punitive action against Serbia. The Germans were also clear that they would stand by Austria-Hungary even if an attack on Serbia provoked Russia, Serbia's ally, to declare war on Austria-Hungary.
Austria-Hungary was unwilling to compromise and declared war on Serbia on 28 July. Russia mobilized first on its borders with Austria, but quickly ordered general mobilization. Germany ordered Russia to halt. Russia ignored Germany. Germany declared war on Russia on August 1. What the Germans feared in Russia was that a population explosion coupled with industrial growth would transform their eastern neighbor into a superpower that would threaten and eventually crush Germany.
One day later the Germans, who knew that the French would not stand by in a German-Russian war, also declared war on France. The Germans then sent an ultimatum to Belgium. Belgium rejected it and Germany invaded. Britain demanded a German withdrawal from Belgium. That condition was not met, and Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August. World War I was begun.
In March 1917 a bourgeois revolution overthrew the Tsar of Russia. The new government declared it would democratize Russia and, to the dismay of the Germans, stay in the war. Hoping to destabilize Russia further, German generals Hindenburg and Ludendorff offered Vladimir Lenin passage to Russia. Lenin was the most radical and able leader of the revolutionary socialist faction, the Bolsheviks.
On 7 November 1917, the Bolsheviks overthrew the democratic government and took power in Russia. Lenin was inclined toward peace with Germany because he expected that socialist revolution would spread there and elsewhere.
Toward the end of the war the German political landscape painted a peculiar picture. On the one side it looked as if the military had established a dictatorship. This triggered wild resistance from the Right, which saw its parliamentary majority in Prussia and its strong influence on German politics threatened by the reform.
On the other side the more centrist Reichstag parliament continued to push for reform, and together with the left liberals and the moderate Social Democrats, the Center formed a loose alignment called the Reichstag Majority. They managed to secure more parliamentary control and demanded a peace without major annexations and reparations. In June 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed and the conflicts ended.
The German troops were surprised and angry when the war stopped. They wanted to continue the fight. They felt betrayed by the Marxists and the Jews that had fomented the dissent back in Germany that led to surrender. They returned home embittered, which bitterness fertilized the seeds of the Nazi party. Their resentment of the Jews, whom they blamed for the unfair terms of Versailles, continued to simmer.
After the war, politics in Germany were highly polarized between Conservatives and Socialists; and the Weimar Republic, a democracy, was established as the new government.
In 1919 the left wing group Raterrepublik took Munich by force, which led quickly to the Munich Soviet Republic, an attempt to create a Soviet style government in Munich, inspired by the Bolsheviks’ very recent victory in the Soviet Union. Fearful of communist revolutionaries fanning throughout Germany, government troops went into the city and suppressed the rebellion. They were supported by the Freikorps, right wing mercenaries hired by the government. The anti-Semitic prejudice of the right was fueled by the fact that most of the leaders of the Raterrepublik were Jewish, and there are documented cases of Freikorps soldiers killing Jews for sport.
Sound familiar? Many members of today’s Tea Party are racists who hate Obama only because he’s negro. Whether directed at Jews or blacks, it’s the same racist hatred. And it would be plenty easy to find mercenaries for a Freikorps in America today. The number of extremist militia groups has exploded since 2009.
Through the spread of propaganda it gradually came to be believed in Germany that Bolshevism and Judaism were the same, which engendered widespread anti-Jewish attitudes.
Sound familiar? Today’s Tea Party machine feeds on false equivalencies and thrives on propaganda. They demonize liberals by equating them with Communist, Socialist, Fascist revolutionaries.
After the Freikorps suppressed the Raterrepublik, the Jews were abused like scapegoats, and were blamed for all the country’s ills.
Sound familiar? The Tea Party machine blames Obama for everything from 9/11 to the Lindbergh kidnapping.
The Freikorps had the support of right wing officers in the army, including Ernest Wearne, who said of himself: “Since I am an immature and wicked man, war and unrest appeal to me more than good bourgeois order. Brutality is respected. People need wholesome fear. They want to fear something.”
Sound familiar? Today’s Tea Party responds to fear as if it’s the only emotion they know. They also attract the more angry and mentally unstable element of society.
Wearne was involved in the violent politics of the extreme right. In 1919 he joined the German Workers Party, where he met Adolf Hitler, then a thirty year old World War I veteran. Among other commonalities, they shared a deep hatred of Communists and Jews.
In the early 1920’s inflation exploded and the German economy collapsed. There was famine and fatigue, and when democracy didn’t produce an immediate fix, the cries began to rise for a strong leader.
Sound familiar? Today’s Tea Party gave Obama roughly forty eight hours to repair the economic devastation left by the Bush administration before holding him accountable for it and complaining for a different course of action to be taken.
By 1921 Hitler had become leader of the small German Workers party, which was later renamed the National Socialist German Workers Party, or, the Nazis. It was only one of many right wing parties in Munich, who shared the common belief that the Treaty of Versailles was a crime, and that the Jews were behind it.
Sound familiar? Today’s Tea Party, which loosely bands together a multitude of militia groups, thirstily slurps up the lies, however outrageous, and wants no part with the truth. Among the many outrageous, they falsely regard Obama to be a Muslim, and to not have been born in America.
Hitler channeled his hatred and anger at the way the war had ended into powerful speeches. His charisma, and the uncompromising tone of his rhetoric, began to attract prominent Bavarians to the Nazi Party. In 1923 he led the failed Beer Hall Putsch in Munich, an attempt to take over the city, in which his followers also robbed a bank. He was arrested and tried and served nine months of a five year jail sentence.
One small political party, Wandervogel, longed for a return to a simpler way of life embracing old-fashioned values. Their lifestyle became the model for the Hitler Youth.
Sound familiar? However full of lies they are, today’s Tea Party loves to boast themselves the virtuous party of old-fashioned family values.
The Hitler Youth were nationalist patriots, and lived by the slogan: Germany First.
Sound familiar? Today’s Tea Party is passionately nationalistic—USA! USA!
In the mid 1920’s the Nazis were small but radical: their prospective agenda if coming to power included stripping German Jews of their German citizenship, and potential expulsion.
Sound familiar? Today’s Tea Party is obsessed with our borders, and wants stricter law regarding citizenship and deportation of illegals.
The Nazis started spreading propaganda lies that the Jews sought power and aspired to rule the world.
Sound familiar? Today’s Tea Party spreads propaganda that Obama wants to create a government takeover of every aspect of American life.
The phony Jewish world conquest conspiracy was spread openly by the Nazis, and believed by many.
Sound familiar? Today’s Tea Party fears a New World Order of one world government. They also believe that Obama’s diplomatic outreach to nations the Tea Party regards to be enemy is evidence that he is part of that conspiracy.
The Nazis were a scant minority in the 1928 elections, receiving just under 3 percent of the vote. After the stock market crash of 1929, Germany was the worst hit nation on earth. Germany’s five major banks crashed in 1931, and thousands of German businesses closed down. The middle class was suffering.
Meanwhile the industrialists stayed rich. They financed the Nazis when they seemed likely to win, and submitted to Nazi direction with little objection to policy.
Sound familiar? The Koch brothers and Karl Rove fronting election campaign donations for other billionaires.
In 1930, campaigning on the same slogans and issues--Jews are evil, Communists and Socialists must be destroyed, and Germany must be reborn through purification—the Nazis received almost 25 percent of the vote.
Sound familiar? In the 2010 midterms the right wing propaganda was rife with anti Socialist and Communist rhetoric, and the Tea Party went on to secure a small number of seats in congress.
But in 1930 elections the Communists gained in voter strength along with the Nazis, and the fledgling democracy was disintegrating as voters gravitated to the extremes. At the same time the Nazis began making public shows of might, staging marches and parades to display their military stormtroopers.
In 1932 Hitler challenged Hindenburg for the presidency. He promised to bring about economic recovery and to rid Germany of a failed democracy. He lost, though the Nazis were established as the biggest party in Germany, with 37 percent of the vote. Hitler demanded to be Chancellor. At first Hindenburg refused, but in January 1933 he succumbed to political pressure and appointed Hitler to the chancellorship.
One of the Nazi party’s first orders of business upon taking power was to round up political opponents, Communists and Socialists, and detain them in holding camps like Dachau. In February 1933 the infamous Reichstag fire destroyed the home of all political opposition, and the Nazis were left the only party in Germany.
In April 1933 they organized a one day boycott against the Jews, who they continued to blame for all of Germany’s problems, including the loss of World War I; and against whom the hatred was steadily intensifying. The Nazi stormtroopers also began to perpetrate random acts of violence against Jews.
Sound familiar? Until the Tuscon Massacre the right wing propaganda machine openly peppered their rhetoric with deadly metaphors, and committed a number of acts of domestic terrorism, while many more were thwarted.
The Nazis did not have detailed policies that they planned to enact once in power. Hitler was known for thinking that things usually sorted themselves out naturally.
Sound familiar? Today’s Tea Party has little agenda beyond the undoing of Obama; they are unified hatred of the opposition.
The Jews were systematically excluded from German life. The 1935 Nuremberg Laws outlawed marriage between Jews and other Germans, and stripped Jews of their German citizenship.
Sound familiar? The Tea Party wants to alter the constitution to deny citizenship to some babies born on US soil.
On May 2, 1933, Hitler abolished trade unions and arrested their leaders.
Sound familiar? Wisconsin.
On July 14, 1933, Hitler banned political parties—only the Nazi party was permitted.
Sound familiar? Right wingers still periodically express their longing for a ‘permanent majority.’
Shortly after World War II was begun, law was passed in Germany requiring all Jews to carry identification.
Sound familiar? Arizona.
Tea Party Propaganda Minister Glenn Beck once called Obama a racist. And a week before that he said that Obama’s entire agenda was based on one word: reparations. But Beck is projecting. He is the racist. Just last week he compared rabbis with islamic radicals. He later apologized, but nonetheless said it.
This is Glenn Beck dressed as a Nazi SS officer.
His followers think nothing of displaying Nazi signs at their rallies. They claim it's to point out the Nazism in the opposition, but they are only projecting: pointing out in others what truly resides in themselves.
They call themselves Christian, but as one myself, I wouldn't be caught dead bearing a Nazi insignia, so offensive to our Lord, who is King of the Jews.
The end result of the Nazi regime was chaos, mayhem and rivers of blood. The Hitler Youth came of age. Raised in hatred by bitter parents for twenty years, they were bred for war, which was why they were so heartless and merciless. As the Tea Party continues study to Nazi history, they claim to prevent America from repeating it, we need to be wary and watchful that they aren't truly seeking further inspiration.