Peggy Whiteneck, Freelance Writer

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Trying to Learn from the Holocaust

Ever since I was an adolescent, I have been haunted by the Holocaust. Maybe because I was so young when my consciousness was gripped by that history, I have imbibed its lessons perhaps more than the average American who, like me, wasn't a victim of it or whose family wasn't murdered by it. I wanted to know not only about the event itself but about what led up to it - and it is that latter study and learning that so chills me about the rise of Donald Trump.

What was it about Germany, a highly cultured country, that made Germans so inclined to adulate Hitler? What made so many millions of good and civilized people so susceptible to his demonic charms? For me, the great and evil mystery of the Holocaust starts with those questions. And once one starts asking them, one begins, without exaggeration or excessive drama, to see parallels between the Germany of the 1930s and the America of nearly a century later:

  • When Hitler came along with his messianic pretensions, Germany was a former imperial power that had fallen on hard times. As Trump's messianic pretensions step into the breach of American leadership, America is a modern super-power that feels itself losing its grip on the rest of the world.

  • Hitler believed Germany had been weakened and humiliated by other countries after World War I and told Germans he would restore Germany to its former glory. Trump believes other countries have weakened and taken advantage of the U.S, after the Cold War and promises to make America great again.

  • Hitler gathered into his chancellery henchmen who were infected by the same toxic nationalism he was. Trump now gathers their ideological descendents into the White House.

  • Hitler consolidated power by lying to his countrymen with such stunning regularity that his lies became their truth. Trump consolidates power by lying to the American people on a daily basis and by repeating the lies often enough that they begin to sound "close enough" to truth.

  • One of the rallying cries at Hitler's rallies was "LÜgenpresse!", the literal English translation of which is "lying press." At Trump's rallies, the same German word was chanted, and Donald Trump has widely and often used the synonym "dishonest media." The purpose in both Germany and contemporary America is the same: to discredit traditional news sources and to consolidate the national leader's control over what the public hears.

  • Hitler promised to keep Germany safe from (among others) Jews and Catholics - and initiated executive orders to ensure that goal. Trump promises to keep Americans safe from Muslims (among others) and initiates executive orders to ensure that goal.
  • This is how it starts. This is why "we, the people" must stop it...here and now...in America.

    More Peg's Blog Spot Posts

     · The Trouble with That Anonymous Trump-Circle Editorial
     · What "Telling It Like It Is" Really Means
     · Breaking News: We're All "Values Voters!"
     · Monuments Flap Is Not about the Monuments
     · Have We Always Been the Disunited States of America?
     · A Humble Defense of the Constitution
     · The Trump Presidency: Bigotry's Cause or Only Its Effect?
     · Race, Class, and Access to Women's Health Services
     · Trump's Angry White Folks
     · Whatever Happened to "Look It Up?"



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