Hitler the Politician

In modern society the name Adolf Hitler is synonymous for evil. As the perpetrator of the greatest crime of this century and its most destructive war, Mr. Hitler well deserves this reputation.

Yet too often in speaking of Adolf Hitler people forget the man and see only the legend he has become. Hitler, after all, gained power as a politician in a democratic Germany. He played the game of compromises, elections, and leverage that all politicians play. Indeed, Hitler was quite adept at politics; without his skill the National Socialists would have remained a fringe party like so many others

Take the Enabling Act of 1933, the law which effectively turned a semi-democratic Germany into a one-party dictatorship. It essentially shifted all power – the ability to make laws, most importantly – from the legislative Reichstag (Germany’s parliament) to Germany’s executive government (Hitler, in other words). One clause, for instance, read:

Treaties of the Reich with foreign states which affect matters of Reich legislation shall not require the approval of the bodies of the legislature. The government of the Reich shall issue the regulations required for the execution of such treaties.

In getting this law passed Hitler could not merely declare his will and have all Germany follow; there were still checks against his power at that time. Because the Enabling Act modified the Germany’s constitution, it required a two-thirds majority in parliament. At the time the Nazis only controlled 288 out of 647 seats (under semi-free elections taken during the same month of March). Moreover, the Social Democrats and Communists – which together held almost one-third of parliament’s seats – were adamantly opposed to the Enabling Act. If Hitler was to pass his law, he would have to tread a very fine needle.

Events, however, had provided a useful tool for Hitler to wipe out his political opposition. A month before, in February 1933, unidentified arsonists set fire to the Reichstag, Germany’s parliament (today many suspect the Nazis themselves as culpable). Placing blame on the Communist Party, Hitler had passed an emergency decree eliminating civil liberties. Communist representatives in parliament were summarily jailed, prevented from voting against the Enabling Act.

Several other factors helped Hitler. The influential Catholic Centre Party agreed to support the Enabling Act; in return Hitler promised to protect the Catholic Church. Intimation was present: on the day of the vote Nazi Brown-shirts surrounded the legislature, chanting “Give us the Enabling Act or there will be another fire!” A number were present inside the building, armed and in full uniform, as voting proceeded.

In the end, the vote was 441 in favor, 94 against. On March 23rd, 1933 the Reichstag voted itself out of existence.

All in all, the Hitler portrayed here is quite different from the evil caricature. One sees a clever and ruthless politician, not a madman. Watching Hitler the politician makes the myth more mundane, but it also paints a more accurate picture of events as they were.

--Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/



Linking Up with the World

Here is the Friday, January 1st, 2010 edition of what's making news and interesting reads from around the world.

Iceland Votes to Repay Billions
Iceland's parliament narrowly approved by 33 to 30 vote a repayment scheme to pay back 3.4 billion pounds ($5 billion USD) to Britain and the Netherlands after the Icesave bank collapsed in late 2008 in the wake of the global financial crisis. The money will reimburse the British and Dutch governments which stepped in to compensate depositors with Icesave after its parent bank Landsbanki failed last year. The bank's collapse affected more than 320,000 savers. There has been strong opposition to the measure in Iceland, amid fears the country would not be able to afford repayments. But the leftist government of Prime Minister Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir hopes the move will help boost the country's bid to join the European Union and repair its battered economy.

Charges Against Five Blackwater Employees Dismissed
A federal judge has dismissed all charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards charged in a deadly Baghdad shooting. More from the New York Times. In Iraq, the news was received with disbelief, anger and bitter resignation.

US Drone Strike in North Waziristan
The second US drone strike in as many days has killed three militants in North Waziristan, part of the Tribal areas of Pakistan. The unmanned US predator drone fired two missiles against a suspected militant hideout in Ghundikala village, 15 kilometres east of Miramshah, the main town of North Waziristan and close to the Afghan border. The story in Pakistan's Dawn newspaper.

Israeli Settlement Construction Continues Unabated
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reports that despite a temporary ban on construction in Israeli settlements in the West Bank, hundreds of housing units remain under construction in isolated settlements.

Germany Inc. - A Radical Restructuring Needed
The German news magazine Der Spiegel finds that German economy performed "astonishingly well" against the backdrop of the global financial crisis in 2009. Still the staff writers of Der Spiegel believe that Germany "will need to lay the foundations for a radical restructuring" in 2010 if the country is to " fend off powerful new competitors from China and India." They ask if Germany needs a new business model. It's a question we might ask here in the United States.

DPRK Calls for an End to "The Hostile Relationship"
The New York Times reports that  North Korea called for an end to “the hostile relationship” with the United States, issuing a New Year’s message that highlighted the reclusive country’s attempt to readjust the focus of six-party nuclear disarmament talks.

In an editorial carried by its major state media outlets, North Korea said that its consistent stand was “to establish a lasting peace system on the Korean peninsula and make it nuclear-free through dialogue and negotiations.” The editorial added that “the fundamental task for ensuring peace and stability” was “to put an end to the hostile relationship” with the United States.

The sequence of easing tension with Washington, establishing a peace regime and then denuclearizing the Korean peninsula has been shaping up as the North’s policy approach before it re-engages in talks about giving up its nuclear weapons, according to officials and analysts in Seoul.

However, the Korea Times reports that a South Korean think tank published a paper arguing that North Korea may detonate a third nuclear device and provoke border clashes to escalate tension on the Korean Peninsula next year. The Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) reported that through a third nuclear test, Pyongyang could show the world that it has no plans to scrap its atomic weapons program. On Thursday, President Lee Myung-bak noted that although there was little progress in inter-Korean relations in 2009, he believe that his government has laid the groundwork for developing relations in a positive direction.


Twenty Years Later

NBC News is commemorating the fall of the Berlin Wall by sending Tom Brokaw back to Berlin and posting his entire broadcast from November 9, 1989, as well as some documentary clips, on its website. Here is the first of twelve clips from and about that astonishing night.

A very interesting Washington Postpiece from USC Prof. Mary Elise Sarotte last month suggested that the whole event was a complete accident. What happened, in short, is that a bureaucrat misinterpreted his notes at the end of a long and boring press conference and unwittingly said the Wall was open; journalists jumped on it and reported the story; and East Germans flooded the checkpoints before Soviet officials had the chance to wake up and correct the situation. By the time the official apparatus was apprised, it was too late to change the flow of society.

At the Bornholmer Street border-crossing station in East Berlin, guard Harald Jäger, on the job since 1964, had watched Schabowski on television. Dumbfounded by the remarks, he told his fellow guards that the official's words were "deranged," and he started calling around. His superiors assured him that travel remained blocked, and he and his colleagues were armed as always.

But soon Jäger and his team were busy waving back some would-be crossers who had heard the western reports... Before long, the guards at Bornholmer Street were outnumbered by thousands of people; the same thing was happening at several other checkpoints. Overwhelmed and worried for their own safety, Jäger and his fellow guards reasoned that the use of violence might quickly escalate and become uncontrollable. They decided instead at around 9 p.m. to let a trickle of people cross the border, hoping to ease the pressure and calm the crowd. The guards would check each person individually, take notes and penalize the rowdiest by refusing them reentry. They managed to do this for a while, but after a couple of hours the enormous crowd was chanting, "Open the gate, open the gate!"

This is where we were just twenty years ago. It is truly amazing how fast politics and life can change.

There's more...

Carolina on my mind - I'll be home for Christmas!

I was transferred to Germany last June and I still have 20 months left before I will be back home. In the meantime, my NC plate is proudly displayed in my rear window and my Obama sticker decorates the trunk of my car.

Moveon.org was kind enough to provide me with an Obama 08 sticker during the primaries. It has been proudly displayed on my car right above my German license plate ever since. (Still waiting for my Obama/Biden sticker but hey...). I never doubted for one minute that he would be our guy. He so inspired me at times I had tears in my eyes. And I am generally pretty pragmatic and not easily rattled.

I gladly stay up until 2 am to catch one of his rallies, have my DVR set to catch all the speeches and even put in for a vacation day on Nov. 5th.

I just know I won't want to miss a minute of the returns as they come in. Coffee and champagne are on standby!

My NC plate is propped up in my back window. I have a homemade Obama 08 flyer in my window, right next to old Glory.

and here

Everyone in this neighborhood knows where the American lives. Our windows were egged once (gang of crazed Turkish kids late at night) - but this was over a year ago. The Bush hating chants have stopped and everyone is respectful and sometimes downright gleeful!

We get free shots for desert at our local steakhouse, everyone wants to talk about Obama and I've had my share of drive-by honks and thumbs-up a plenty. People are excited about the change in the air and I am so glad to be part of it! I tired of having to state over and over again that no, I did not vote for Bush.

Damn proud to support Obama!

North Carolina, I miss you! I wish I were home to canvass with you, phonebank with you and go to rallies with you. Know that I am glued to every second of this fight. Know that I am at the edge of my seat watching those poll numbers out of NC going up and up and up. Do me proud and I'll be home for Christmas to celebrate with you!

There's more...

This Week With 'The Presumptive Democratic Nominee' Barack Obama, July 20-26, 2008

I would post this here, but the diary is too engrossed with slideshows and it is not easy to post this stuff here.

I attempted but got confused on the slideshows.  It would be helpful if this site is updated for current html coding and tagging.

So here is the link. Enjoy.

There's more...


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