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So, all the historians out there - are there any parallels with 1930's Germany?

(39 Posts)
whataterriblefuss Fri 24-Jun-16 10:54:18

Have heard this bandied about, but not clear of the parallels. Anyone?

Following as I'd like to know too.

lljkk Fri 24-Jun-16 13:53:08

DD said so, she is doing GCSE history.

When BoJo said that only madmen tried to unite Europe (like Hitler), DD just piped up "No No, that's wrong. Hitler didn't want unity, international cooperation or compromise or consensus politics. He insisted that Germany could go it alone which is why Hitler pulled Germany out of the League of Nations." These words just tumbled fast out of her mouth when the news came on about BoJo's Hitler comment. It's what she's been taught in her GCSE programme.

knottedwood Fri 24-Jun-16 13:55:42

Isn't the concern not with this referendum, but with the way in which the whole of political discussion - the weight of general political opinion - is moving to the right? There's a bit by Michael Rosen about it somewhere, I'll find it.

knottedwood Fri 24-Jun-16 13:56:26

Yes, here it is, a poem by Michael Rosen:

Fascism: I sometimes fear...
"I sometimes fear that
people think that fascism arrives in fancy dress
worn by grotesques and monsters
as played out in endless re-runs of the Nazis.

Fascism arrives as your friend.
It will restore your honour,
make you feel proud,
protect your house,
give you a job,
clean up the neighbourhood,
remind you of how great you once were,
clear out the venal and the corrupt,
remove anything you feel is unlike you...

It doesn't walk in saying,
"Our programme means militias, mass imprisonments, transportations, war and persecution."

Paperkins Fri 24-Jun-16 14:01:48

Trumps rise in the US has oft reminded me of my GCSE history lessons about Hitler's rise.

RedToothBrush Fri 24-Jun-16 14:20:03

"If you tell a big enough lie and tell it frequently enough, it will be believed.”
Adolf Hitler

"We are against the political bourgeoisie, and for genuine nationalism! We are against Marxism, but for true socialism! We are for the first German national state of a socialist nature! We are for the National Socialist German Workers’ Party!"
Joseph Goebbels

Naturally the common people don't want war: Neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
Hermann Goering

lisaneedsarest Fri 24-Jun-16 14:27:37

I think there are many,
Leave won because people wanted change, they are unhappy with austerity, immigration or population increases have affected many people in very real ways (not just in the scare stories that Tabloids put up). We have seen the rise of food banks and poverty in our supposedly rich country and times are tough for many.
Same reason Trump is so popular and so are many right wing groups in Europe.
It might not be to the extent as was seen in 1930s Germany but it is very similar. Hopefully we don't see a similar outcome and this just the catalyst the UK/Europe/the world needs to bring about good changes.

SwedishEdith Fri 24-Jun-16 14:31:10

It's like grooming - it's just struck me. Isolate people from their allies, praise them etc and then you can manipulate them. Simplistic, maybe.

TheOddity Fri 24-Jun-16 14:31:54

Obvious parallels:

Rise in political movements with sketchy manifestos (looking at you bnp)
Rise globally in politically aggresive youth movements, similar to the group Hitler was involved in called the Black Hand (not thinking of uk youth movements, but the trend for vigilantism, and small scale terrorism)
Promises of greater sovereignty and restoration of dignity.
Feeling that the deal isn't fair, that we are being trodden over, so only way out is to reject the government and go to the right.
'Othering' specific minorities, Poles instead of Jews and accusing them of taking all the money and jobs.
Lies to achieve power by convincing, articulate demagogues.
Something about the Weimar Republic reminds me of the EU too but I can't quite put my finger on it.
Belief that the original country was better, harking back to a bygone era without 'foreigners' and allusion to us being a great nation.
Rise in the right in one country goading other countries sad

shovetheholly Fri 24-Jun-16 14:37:45

I think it's more like Vienna at the turn of the C20 than Germany in 1933. This is the period when Hitler was a failed art student listening enraptured to Karl Lueger with his anti-semitism. But we are definitely on a dangerous path. I joined Unite Against Fascism today as a very direct result of the campaign and referendum result. It is not that I think Leavers are neo-Nazis who privately wear armbands and goosestep around. It's that I think there is a climate, and a rhetoric, amongst around 60% of them that is worryingly xenophobic and nationalist, but in a disorganised and emotional kind of way, rather than a programmatic and party political one. But it doesn't take much for these movements to get organised when that already exists. I am going to do what I can now to try to make sure that doesn't happen.

. I suggest that if you do believe there are parallels, then now is the time to start acting.

Pangurban1 Fri 24-Jun-16 14:38:05

Politicos of Westminster got off lightly and scapegoated many of the effects of their wrecking ball policies as being the fault of the EU. Their starving of public services are all blamed on the EU. IDS did many nasty things to the Welfare system. Maybe it need to be reformed, but that is not what he did. People in need were vilified. People with disabilities.

There is a real feeling of resentment out there and a lot of it being misdirected.

Penvelopesnightie Fri 24-Jun-16 14:44:17

"Believe that the original country was better". But our country was better , we fought fascism and nazism, saw them off and the war! People worry nowadays how we are going to protect ourselves against terrorism. France and Belgium have had a terrible year.

Leavetheblindsdown Fri 24-Jun-16 14:50:44

Disabled people are now spoken of as useless parasites. As in Nazi Germany. They now have their money and quality of life reduced. In Nazi times they were exterminated.

Muskey Fri 24-Jun-16 14:52:28

I actually think you need to look not at the 1930s where there were issues with fascism in Spain, Italy and Germany but the post war era when the EU was created. The EU was created to protect the French economy from German expansion tying the two countries both politically and economically together to prevent another war. The fact that De Gaul blocked GB from joining initially was because he did not believe that the UK would not help with the stability the EU had created because of the Common Wealth.the EU as a "common Market" imo worked well but as it grew it became more cumbersome and bureaucratic with a one size fits all approach. I don't see today's vote as a move to the far right I actually see the decision as a move towards people looking for a new way of self governance and I actually think that the UKs decision will probably mean other countries will take the plunge.

PaintedDrivesAndPolishedGrass Fri 24-Jun-16 14:56:37

Only in a thread on MN this morning where the Op thought all Leave voters should be made to wear a badge so others knew who had voted. Remind you of 1930s Germany?

ReallyTired Fri 24-Jun-16 14:57:12

I think that comparing those who voted leave to the Nazis or the EU is immature to say the least. What has happened is that roughly half the population has chosen a path that is different to being in the EU. They have chosen independence over the benefits of being part of a wider community.

We can still be friends with Euopean nations without being part of the EU project. No one is planning to go to war or gas disabled people.

There is a major disconnect between the electorate and the main political parties. None of the political leaders have been prepared to listen or suggest a solution to the nation's problems. I think that voting leave has been a way of people sticking two fingers up at the establishment.

RedToothBrush Fri 24-Jun-16 14:59:14

By mid-1930, amid the economic pressures of the Great Depression, the German democratic government was beginning to unravel.

The crisis of the Great Depression brought disunity to the political parties in the Reichstag. Instead of forging an alliance to enact desperately need legislation, they broke up into squabbling, uncompromising groups.

Adolf Hitler and the Nazis waged a modern whirlwind campaign in 1930 unlike anything ever seen in Germany. Hitler traveled the country delivering dozens of major speeches, attending meetings, shaking hands, signing autographs, posing for pictures, and even kissing babies.

Joseph Goebbels brilliantly organized thousands of meetings, torchlight parades, plastered posters everywhere and printed millions of special edition Nazi newspapers.

Germany was in the grip of the Great Depression with a population suffering from poverty, misery, and uncertainty, amid increasing political instability.

For Hitler, the master speech maker, the long awaited opportunity to let loose his talents on the German people had arrived. He would find in this downtrodden people, an audience very willing to listen. In his speeches, Hitler offered the Germans what they needed most, encouragement. He gave them heaps of vague promises while avoiding the details. He used simple catchphrases, repeated over and over.

His campaign appearances were carefully staged events. Audiences were always kept waiting, deliberately letting the tension increase, only to be broken by solemn processions of Brownshirts with golden banners, blaring military music, and finally the appearance of Hitler amid shouts of "Heil!" The effect in a closed in hall with theatrical style lighting and decorations of swastikas was overwhelming and very catching.

Hitler began each speech in low, hesitating tones, gradually raising the pitch and volume of his voice then exploding in a climax of frenzied indignation. He combined this with carefully rehearsed hand gestures for maximum effect. He skillfully played on the emotions of the audience bringing the level of excitement higher and higher until the people wound up a wide-eyed, screaming, frenzied mass that surrendered to his will and looked upon him with pseudo-religious adoration.

Hitler offered something to everyone: work to the unemployed; prosperity to failed business people; profits to industry; expansion to the Army; social harmony and an end of class distinctions to idealistic young students; and restoration of German glory to those in despair. He promised to bring order amid chaos; a feeling of unity to all and the chance to belong. He would make Germany strong again; end payment of war reparations to the Allies; tear up the treaty of Versailles; stamp out corruption; keep down Marxism; and deal harshly with the Jews.

He appealed to all classes of Germans. The name of the Nazi Party itself was deliberately all inclusive – the National Socialist German Workers' Party.

All of the Nazis, from Hitler, down to the leader of the smallest city block, worked tirelessly, relentlessly, to pound their message into the minds of the Germans.

On election day September 14, 1930, the Nazis received 6,371,000 votes – over eighteen percent of the total – and were thus entitled to 107 seats in the German Reichstag. It was a stunning victory for Hitler. Overnight, the Nazi Party went from the smallest to the second largest political party in Germany.

It propelled Hitler to solid national and international prestige and aroused the curiosity of the world press. He was besieged with interview requests. Foreign journalists wanted to know – what did he mean – tear up the Treaty of Versailles and end war reparations? – and that Germany wasn't responsible for the First World War?

Gone was the Charlie Chaplin image of Hitler as the laughable fanatic behind the Beer Hall Putsch. The beer hall revolutionary had been replaced by the skilled manipulator of the masses.

On October 13, 1930, dressed in their brown shirts, the elected Nazi deputies marched in unison into the Reichstag and took their seats. When the roll-call was taken, each one shouted, "Present! Heil Hitler!"

They had no intention of cooperating with the democratic government, knowing it was to their advantage to let things get worse in Germany, thus increasing the appeal of Hitler to an ever more miserable people.

Nazi storm troopers dressed in civilian clothes celebrated their electoral victory by smashing the windows of Jewish shops, restaurants and department stores, an indication of things to come.

Now, for the floundering German democracy, the clock was ticking and time was on Hitler's side.

Money was flowing in from German industrialists who saw the Nazis as the wave of the future. They invested in Hitler in the hope of getting favors when he came to power. Their money was used to help pay the growing numbers of salaried Nazis and fuel Goebbels' propaganda machine.

The German General Staff was also investing support in Hitler, hoping he meant what he said about tearing up the Treaty of Versailles which limited their Army to 100,000 men and also prevented modernization. The generals had been encouraged by Hitler's performance as a witness during the trial of three young regular Army officers charged with spreading Nazi doctrines in the German Army

In April of 1932, Heinrich Bruening, Chancellor of Germany, invoked Article 48 of the constitution and issued a decree banning the SA and SS all across Germany. The Nazis were outraged and wanted Hitler to fight the ban. But Hitler, always a step ahead of them all, knew better. He agreed, knowing the republic was on its last legs and that opportunity would soon come along for him.

That opportunity came in the form of Kurt von Schleicher, a scheming, ambitious Army officer who had ideas of leading Germany himself. But he made the mistake (that would prove fatal) of underestimating Hitler. Schleicher was acquainted with Hitler and had been the one who arraigned for Hitler to meet Hindenburg, a meeting that went poorly for Hitler.

On May 8, 1932, Schleicher held a secret meeting with Hitler and offered a proposal. The ban on the SA and SS would be lifted, the Reichstag dissolved and new elections called, and Chancellor Bruening would be dumped, if Hitler would support him in a conservative nationalist government. Hitler agreed.

Heinrich Bruening was one of the last men in Germany who stood up to Hitler with the best interest of the people at heart. He was responsible for getting Hindenburg re-elected as president to keep out Hitler and preserve the republic. He was also hard at work on the international scene to help the German economy by seeking an end to war reparations. But his economic policies at home brought dismal results. As Germany's economic situation got worse, with nearly six million unemployed, Bruening was labeled "The Hunger Chancellor."

Bruening had also continued the dangerous precedent of ruling by decree. He invoked Article 48 of the German constitution several times to break the political stalemate in Berlin.

To Schleicher and Hitler, he was simply in the way and had to go. Schleicher went to work on him by undermining the support of Hindenburg. Bruening was already in trouble with Hindenburg, who blamed him for the political turmoil that had made it necessary to run for re-election at age 85 against the 'Bohemian Corporal' Adolf Hitler.

Bruening also made an error in proposing that the huge estates of bankrupt aristocrats be divided up and given to peasants, sounding like a Marxist. Those same aristocrats, along with big industrialists, had scraped together the money to buy Hindenburg an estate of his own. When Hindenburg took his Easter vacation there in mid-May, he had to listen to their complaints about Bruening. All the while, Schleicher was at work against Bruening as well.

On May 29, 1932, Hindenburg called in Bruening and told him to resign. The next day, Heinrich Bruening handed in his resignation, effectively ending democracy in Germany.

The aristocratic Papen assembled a cabinet of men like himself. This ineffective cabinet of aristocrats and industrialists presided over a nation that would soon be on the verge of anarchy.

When Adolf Hitler was asked by President Hindenburg if he would support Papen as chancellor, he said yes. On June 4th, the Reichstag was dissolved and new elections were called for the end of July. On June 15, the ban on the SA and SS was lifted. The secret promises made to the Nazis by Schleicher had been fulfilled.

Murder and violence soon erupted on a scale never before seen in Germany. Roaming groups of Nazi Brownshirts walked the streets singing Nazi songs and looking for fights.

Schleicher was now in control. He chose as his puppet chancellor, an unknown socialite named Franz von Papen who had grave doubts about his own ability to function in such a high office. Hindenburg, however, took a liking to Papen and encouraged him to take the job.

PlayingGrownUp Fri 24-Jun-16 14:59:22

Off the top of my head I know part of the reason Germany don't hold referendums is because Hitler held 4 while consolidated his power base.

KeyserSophie Fri 24-Jun-16 15:01:31

There are some, but the situations are hugely different and I don't feel that the comparison is that helpful.

Germany during Hitler's rise to power was suffering the impact of the reparations from the FWW, and then the impact of the Wall St crash, which led to hyper inflation. The UK, for all its faults, is relatively economically strong. We are not even close to a disastrous economic situation.

I think if there are "lessons" it's about disenfranchisement and people voting for "anything that isn't this". Personally, I don't think 52% of the electorate are racist. If they were, society would have a lot more problems on a day to day basis. I think this is about people feeling that they don't have a stake in the status quo and sticking two fingers up to it.

Also, I find it odd that people are saying "but it's so illogical". Yes. Look at history. Grassroots political protests are usually quite disruptive and emotional rather than based on a summary someone read in the Economist (French revolution, Russian revolution?). That's how it works. Just be happy you've still got a head grin

shovetheholly Fri 24-Jun-16 15:04:25

Some people who voted Leave undoubtedly are just doing it as a protest. Others are racist xenophobes. I know, my Facebook wall is plastered with their stuff. We are in a far more dangerous place than most people realise, and when the economic downturn hits that is bound to result from this vote, it will solidify into something more organised and more ugly. That's my honest prediction.

GooseRocks Fri 24-Jun-16 15:19:45

Interesting that this should be happening as WW2 is, by and large, no longer within living memory. By that I mean that there are few left that actually fought. I think we're sleep walking into very dangerous times.

shovetheholly Fri 24-Jun-16 15:20:28

PausingFlatly Fri 24-Jun-16 16:07:31

I was thinking this long before the referendum was announced.

Over the last few years a whole host of little red lights have been going on, in my personal "will there be a war" warning board.

Lots of separate things, from the rhetoric used to get the public to accept previously unthinkable disability cuts, to the bank crashes, to the impact of idealogical austerity on the daily lives of many in Britain.

I wondered what would be the thing to bring the region up to boiling point: the crisis of population movement from the Syrian war has lit that red light.

I had Putin down as the rhetoric-driven megalomaniac with the personality cult, youth brigade, and track-record of military incursion and ultra-nationalist tub-thumping, and the military and industrial might to do real damage. But it's not reassuring that Trump is now thriving with a similar post-truth politics, in which the "feels" are all that matters.

So it's hard to know exactly what the kick-off will look like, or the path it will follow. But the ingredients are increasingly there.

The various rhetorics deployed around the referendum campaign are just more red lights.

And I don't just mean the xenophobic stuff (though that's a major example), but the continued drive to divide, divide, divide everyone. Your enemy are the lazy young, the entitled old, those with more education, those with less education, those with money, those without; her over there is sneering at you so cuddle up to me, I'm your best chum now. And so on.

All against the backdrop of many people having significantly less comfortable lives in a post-industrial, hour-glass-shaped economy barely struggling out of the last recession.

KeyserSophie Fri 24-Jun-16 16:11:29

I don't buy the "peace in Europe" thing though. The biggest threat by far is Russia (which isn't in the EU). If there was a major beef between 2 other countries I can't see that them being in the EU would stop it. By the time they'd discussed it for four years the war would be over.

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