A Press Report From Trump’s Washington, Sorry, Hitler’s Berlin, 1933

Popular comparisons between the presidency of Donald J Trump in the United States and the premiership of Adolf Hitler in Germany are, of course, somewhat overblown. The Manhattan real estate tycoon is no dictator or likely instigator of global war. He’s not even on the same level as that bellicose clown, Benito Mussolini. His nearest historical peer would be Italy’s preening populist, Silvio Berlusconi. The pussy-grabber and the bunga-bunga man have more in common than just bad hair. However, given Trump’s first thirty-four days in office, I thought this article from the archives of the New Statesman magazine in Britain might be of interest, dated March 1933.

At the moment I’m especially amused by the spectacle of Trump apologists in the US media claiming the president to be an ideological prisoner of Steve Bannon, the White House chief strategist, and that all the poor decisions of recent times can be attributed to the latter’s baleful influence. Which is what some contemporary reporters and commentators said about Hitler in the early 1930s, blaming the Nazi cabal around him, Goring and the rest, for his early dictatorial policies.

THE rapidity with which Fascism in its ugliest form has burst upon. Germany seems to have bewildered the country. Every day sees the perpetration of acts or the promulgation of decrees and edicts which a few weeks earlier would have been scouted as impossible.

The Press is in chains, liberty has disappeared, telephones are constantly tapped, letters may be intercepted, and nobody known to be interested in politics can consider himself safe.

A month ago the country was ruled by a military dictator who began as a suspect but who seemed to show signs of inspiring some confidence. Today …the most unpolitical of citizens look forward with something like panic to a future of apparent chaos.

…the National-Socialist Press continued to excite their fanatics against the Centre.

Since the election campaign started, Hitler’s lieutenant, Captain Goring, has grown to giant proportions. The manner in which he has already established the Fascist “State within the State” by assuming complete control…

The present circumstances, however, are so unprecedented that the most balanced observers expect the worst.

It is difficult to convey the state of tension prevailing in Berlin to-day, and still more the rapidity with which the realisation of insecurity has burst upon the ordinary citizen. Even the wholesale suppression of newspapers, which started during Hitler’s first week in office, did not convey full warning of what was to follow. Censorship has long been active in Germany, and the fact that mild Catholic and Democratic organs should fall under the ban caused little more than the wondering comment, “These people are mad.” But the appearance of Goring’s edict to the police at the beginning of last week proved a shock. This threatening of the police with disciplinary action…

Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda chief, announced for next Saturday “the long awaited Day of the Awakened Nation.” At dusk there should be bonfires on all the hills of Germany. Through every town and village torchlight processions of uniformed Nazis would take place. The apparently innocent order that all windows were to be left wide open itself struck a chill.

…”in every house in which true Germans dwell a light shall be set, and from the windows Swastika flags shall flutter.”

 

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