Neo-Nazis aren’t just people with mildly reprehensible social theories, Neo-Nazis fully support the actions of the original Nazis and seek to emulate them. In case you missed class that week back in high school, the Nazis were violent, murderous authoritarians who were directly responsible for the deaths of millions of people. They took power through a combination of manipulated elections and violence, then they insinuated the party into every aspect of German lives until its people were completely absorbed. There’s a reason Nazis are hated by rational, thinking people to this day. Neo-Nazis actively seek to keep alive or revive ultra-nationalism, racism, homophobia, discrimination against the disabled, xenophobia and antisemitism. Their goal is to bring about a Fourth Reich.
The group calling themselves Alt-Right is just a re-branding of the Neo-Nazi and skinhead movements. They believe in a Master race and Slave races and this master race is free to determine the fate of the slave races without any legal recriminations for their deeds. Alt-right proponents of course believe they are part of the master race. The slave races are anyone who disagrees with them and folks with a little more melanin in their skin. The alt-right has even put forth the idea that people who are not of the master race may not be fully human.
The Nazis were in power from 1933 to 1945. In that time the German people lived in fear and destitution except for the elite few who were having a great time. Here’s what happened directly after the Nazis took power.
When Hitler was named Chancellor of Germany in January of 1933, he immediately banned protests and demonstrations.
In February 1933, just ahead of federal elections for seats in the Reichstag, Joseph Goebbels ordered that the parliamentary building be burned. The Nazis claimed that the Communists had done it and Communists, according to the Nazis, were seeking the downfall of existing German government. Hitler convinced the elderly President von Hindenburg to issue an emergency decree that suspended all civil rights. This gave Nazis the power to arrest and execute anyone they saw fit to target.
In March, Joseph Goebbels was named the Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. He was given total control of all existing media, newspapers, radio, books, magazines and films. Goebbels banned democratic literature and he blacklisted authors and their works. Social Democrats and Communist party members were arrested and many of them were sent to the first concentration camp at Dachau.
In April, a boycott of Jewish businesses was established, and the secret police, the Gestapo, was formed.
In May of 1933, Nazi Youth were sent into libraries to collect blacklisted books. Over 25,000 books were burned publicly across Germany. Banned authors included Einstein, Freud, Hemingway, and Helen Keller. The free press was banned. The only press allowed to publish news was the Nazi sanctioned press.
The arrests of regular citizens continued throughout Nazi rule. Socialists, liberals, communists, trade unionists, and anyone the Nazis considered left-wing, were arrested by the thousands. They were imprisoned not only in jails, but in abandoned warehouses and factory basements. They were also placed in concentration camps. Many were beaten, many were tortured to death.
Hitler abolished every political party except the Nazi Party. He dissolved the trade unions and their headquarters. He took their money and jailed the leaders. The National Labor Front replaced trade unions and they had complete control over workers and their jobs. Profits for businesses went up and wages for the workers went down. Workers no longer had the right to bargain or strike. Hitler did end unemployment with his rearmament and public works programs, but everyone was working for next to nothing. Young people were drafted into the military. German workers truly were wage slaves.
All the financial institutions and banks were taken over by the Nazis and the country’s industry was forced to focus on rearmament and military causes.
Hitler used the Gestapo to murder his personal and political enemies. In June of 1934, over a thousand people were targeted for execution. This included people within the Nazi party who were suspected of plotting against Hitler. Even if you were a party member, if you didn’t openly, wildly approve of Hitler and his actions, you could be subject to punishment that was possibly fatal. This blood purge was known as the Night of the Long Knives. The Nazis claimed only those guilty of treason were targeted.
This was just the start of Nazi control in Germany. The Holocaust isn’t even addressed here. What is addressed is an idea of how the “master race” treated other so-called Aryans in their country. Nazi atrocities escalated during the 12 years they were in power. From 1933 to 1945, 29 million people died due to Nazi aggression. This includes casualties from WWII. What sane or reasonable person could possibly promote this kind of leadership?
Now you’re free to make your own comparisons to the actions taken by the Nazi party to those of the government we have in Washington D.C. today, and if you’ve been paying attention to the news at all, you’ll see there are certainly some parallels that can be drawn. If you haven’t been paying attention to the news and you’re just sort of hanging around hoping for the best, know that the far right wing in this country, i.e., the alt-right, enthusiastically supports Donald Trump and his administration. Though Donald Trump has not openly declared himself a white supremacist, his actions certainly back that idea. During his presidential campaign, he refused to disavow the white supremacists who openly and gladly supported him.
Trump’s cabinet picks read like a who’s who of persons most likely to violate your civil rights through either malice or ineptitude. Every single choice Donald Trump has made for his cabinet has a questionable history. It’s beyond the scope of this piece to write about all them, but they’re easy to Google. Two of his most heinous choices however, are Steven Kevin Bannon and Jeffery Beauregard Sessions.
Donald Trump appointed Steve Bannon as the CEO of his presidential campaign and later Trump named Bannon as his Chief Strategist and Senior Counselor. Bannon has never held a public office. He’s the former executive chairman of Breitbart News. Breitbart is a well-known alt-right website that promotes a racist, white nationalist worldview of the news. Bannon himself described Breitbart as alt-right.
Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, was rejected for a federal judgeship back in 1986 because he targeted civil rights workers who were registering African Americans to vote and he was known for racially insensitive remarks. Coretta Scott King, wife of slain civil rights icon, Martin Luther King, Jr. was a vocal opponent of Jeff Sessions’ appointment because of his racist history. In a revolting example of doublespeak, Sessions has recently been touted as a civil rights champion by Trump’s people.
Since entering office, Donald Trump has attempted to implement his plan to ban Muslims from entering the country (though as of this writing Trump’s Muslim ban has been blocked by the courts), and insists he will make good on his campaign promise to build a wall between the United States and Mexico with the intent of keeping Mexican people from entering the US illegally. His ambassador to the UN, Niki Halley, on her first day of the job announced “For those who don’t have our backs, we’re taking names, and we will make points to respond to that accordingly.” Mike Pompeo, newly appointed Director of the CIA has promised to crackdown on whistleblowers within the government while Trump has declared that waterboarding isn’t torture and he would consider reauthorizing that banned means of interrogation.
During his presidential campaign, Donald Trump maintained his own private security force even though he had protection from the Secret Service. After the election, he said he planned to keep this private force after he assumed office.
Trump has sought to discredit the free press throughout his campaign and into his presidency. It’s so extensive that Media Matters has written a guide to Trump’s verbal attacks on members of the press. Long time Republican talking head and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich called the White House Press Corp “Left wing propagandists” and proposed kicking them out and filling their seats with common citizens during an interview on Fox News.
Fortunately Donald Trump does not yet have the same power as the dictator Adolph Hitler, but he is establishing a culture of fear, discrimination, and alt-right elitism in this country. Unless we are vigilant, our very way of life may soon be under assault.
Many people are of the mindset that what happened in pre-World War II Germany couldn’t happen here in the USA, but I believe that if it happened once in the world, it can happen again. Certainly by attempting to discredit the press, quieting government whistleblowers, promoting torture, establishing a private police force, and threatening other countries, enemies and allies alike, our government is not paving the way for a healthy, thriving republic that benefits all of its citizens. Clearly Donald Trump and his administration don’t respect our system of government and they plan to change it. God help us all.
Meltzer, M. (1976). Never to Forget: The Jews of the Holocaust. NYC: Dell.