Dear Commons Community,
I have just finished reading Benjamin Carter Hett’s book, The Death of Democracy: Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic. Hett is a professor of history here at CUNY at Hunter College. He approaches the subject as an historian and digs deeply into the lives of the people who were involved with the end of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party in post-World War I Germany. He never once mentions Donald Trump in this book but there are a number of similarities in the rise of Hitler and Trump. For instance:
In describing Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s front-man: “When Goebbels arrived in Berlin, hardly anyone took the Nazis seriously…however, he knew how to use the media, and understood that all publicity was good publicity…”
The Nazi Party developed and deployed an extensive “propaganda machine” that blamed others such as the Communists and the Jews for all that was wrong in Germany.
“The cynical dishonesty of Nazi propaganda received a significant boost from the cult of irrationality that drove their followers.”
“Hitler pulled all this together – the deliberate dishonesty, the concern with public irrationality, and yet also the desire to revel in this irrationality.”
In a New York Times review, the point was made that:
“In Hett’s account, the electoral rise of the Nazis in the late 1920s and early 1930s had less to do with his particular ideas and more to do with an opening on the political spectrum. The Nazis filled a void between the Catholic electorate of the Center Party and a working class that voted Socialist or Communist. Their core constituents, Hett indicates, were Protestants from the countryside or small towns who felt themselves to be the victims of globalization.
To quote George Santayana:
“Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”