Nice people finish last, and winners write the history books. The wretched fact is both are correct. It is 11 days post-election and I am still learning from what happened. Throughout my childhood and my adult life, my mom often told stories of the Hitler reign in which she was raised. Imagine being liberal and German during the Furor’s tyranny. Her father, Alfred, listened to “free” radio back then. This was the only way he obtained news on what was happening in the Free World. That “offense”, in itself, put him and his family at risk. Listening to any transmission outside of Goebbels’ propaganda radio transmissions was considered treason. Many Germans were sentenced to concentration camps for doing so. One of her memories was that of her father hiding a Jewish family under a trap door in their cellar. Fortunately, when the soldiers came to their door, a rug and a table covered the trap door. Had the soldiers discovered the hidden family, all would have certainly met with a much worse fate.
As I matured, I learned more about Hitler, the Third Reich, his “homeland”, and I viewed historical documentaries. I could not understand how such an evil dictator could rise to such great power and fame, and gain such mass support in so short time. For years, I struggled with the reasoning. What sane person would revere such a man? Who could have such an affinity for a man filled with so much hatred? How could anyone respect that? For the longest time, I thought perhaps some of it was fear-based, but most of it certainly had to be brainwashing. Still, that did not make sense. My grandfather did not buy into Hitler’s propaganda. He knew the man was inherently wicked. He knew he had to listen to outside sources to obtain the truth. He understood what Hitler was doing and the crimes he was committing in the name of “patriotism” and “national pride”. A great majority of Germans continued to worship this monster, embracing their national pride and patriotism. These same prideful, feverish citizens eagerly disregarded (and even participated in) the maiming and murder of Jewish families. Why? How?
Fast forward to 2016
Those of us, who have studied history and who have watched factual documentaries, learned from the past and understand the consequences of elections; still listen to the echoes of those lost to the hands of brutality. We understand the looming threat of oppression, and that we must recognize the traits of a dictator. We have learned that if we are unaware of our history, we are doomed to repeat it. That is a fact. Willful ignorance and intolerance of what is “different”; and deeming those who are different as unacceptable is equally vanity and tyranny.
Today’s parallels are indisputable. A country plagued by economic issues, which have forced jobs overseas, or those jobs which have been completely annihilated due to technological advancements. The same holds true in early 1930’s Germany, where the Depression had hit particularly hard. It was then that a growing party of nationalists had their sights set on overtaking the government; and they did. Other stark correlations of the sign of the times were a leader who developed anti-disability policies and a nationalist following, (targeting children with developmental and physical disabilities). He was also homophobic; considering those to be both diseased and criminal. Among all of his psychotic traits, his worst was his Antisemitism and xenophobia. Adolf Hitler was named Time’s “Man of the Year” in 1938 — and made a major mark in history by pulling out of the “League of Nations” – today’s equivalent to NATO.
Today, maybe few will see the signs — maybe even most. If we do not, the future holds a mirror image of the past. Food for thought
By C. Bailey-Lloyd