By contrast, Hitler was happy to spend a little time in Jail. He wrote quite a useful book which shifted war-guilt onto the Hapsburgs, while making himself out to be a simple country lad who had seen the seamy side of life in the cities. He was actually slightly less crazy and repellent than some of his associates. Hindenburg had become President, but Ludendorff, his old colleague, was too batshit crazy to hold office. General Schleicher, who had the same agenda as Hitler, had fallen out with General Blomberg. Thus once Hitler slaughtered his own radical fringe and also killed Schleicher and his wife, Blomberg was happy to get the Army to take the oath of loyalty to Hitler. However, Hitler later used the excuse of his marriage to an ex-prostitute to get rid of him. Still, the Army was firmly on side- their maximal program was being pursued by a popular leader of great ruthlessness.
This begs the question, why did the Army allow the Weimar Republic, and its pretense of Democracy, to exist for a short period? The answer was that Germany was dependent on foreign loans- which is why it was pretending to pay reparations. Once the net inflow of foreign cash stopped, there was Presidential rule with the Army running things behind the scenes.
What does this story remind you off? India under Modi? No. The Army has zero role. Pakistan under Imran Khan Niazi? Bingo. That's an army with a country, not a country with an army. Because it is deeply in debt, it pretends to be a Democracy under the Rule of Law. Once the IMF stops bailing it out, it will dispense with any such hypocrisy. It has already mastered ethnic cleansing and genocide and pursued WMD and exported craziness. Im the Dim may have been elevated by the army- but he has the same vision, or lack of one. He has married a crazy clairvoyant and believes her prophesies. Hitler, too, thought he was a 'Man of Destiny'.
Like Bhutto, whom Historians like John Keay blame for starting the '65 war as well as the genocide against the Bengalis, Imran is an Brown Sahib more at ease in Mayfair than the Madrasa. He may yet precipitate Pakistan's final war if his crazy rhetoric at the UN is anything to go by.
Karan Thapar, who- like Im the Dim- has an Oxbridge degree- takes a different view. He writes in the Hindustan Times-
Look out for the BBC’s three-part serial “Rise of the Nazis”. It concluded last Friday in London. It reveals how easily Adolf Hitler came to power, and the extent to which the German establishment facilitated his rise. And running through it is the call of nationalism.There was zero Communist threat. Thalman, a committed Stalinist, had worked with Hitler against the Social Democrats. He created the first 'Antifa', but it spent its time attacking the SDs who, according to the Comintern orthodoxy of the time were 'Social Fascists'. After Hitler took a Stalinist line, the Communist rank and file quickly became enthusiastic Nazis. Why? Everybody could see what had happened to Russia. They weren't crazy enough to want to slit their own throats. The Communists felt their true enemy was the Social Democrats which the Army and Catholics like Von Papen had always hated. But the Depression- which meant the drying up of foreign funding- had pulled the rug from under the feet of the Weimar Republic in any case. The death of the Republic was a foregone conclusion.
Hindenburg was president, and von Schleicher and von Pappen, the immediately preceding chancellors. They knew the Nazis could destroy the Weimar Republic but naively thought they could use Hitler to tackle what they considered a greater threat, the communists.
Alas, they had no idea of Hitler’s appeal.Nonsense! Everybody knew the appeal of Hitler's oratory. What they had no idea of was his superior tactical skill and greater ruthlessness.
His promise to make Germany great again and fix its broken economy made him look like the saviour of the German people. Meanwhile his Stormtroopers ruthlessly dealt with dissent.Hitler massacred his own S.A nutters in the night of the long knives. The reason he prevailed was that he had no rivals within his own fold.
In January 1933, Hitler became chancellor after von Papen stepped down and agreed to be his deputy. In the next six months, Germany changed rapidly.But it had changed more fundamentally three years earlier when the S.Ds gave Hindenberg the right to rule by decree. At the time, the Army did not think Hitler's outfit could amount to very much.
First, in February, Hindenburg agreed to Hitler’s Reichstag Decree, giving the Nazis emergency powers to arrest and imprison without charge, and restrict civil liberties. In weeks, 25,000 were arrested.So, the fundamental change was that Hindenburg had given himself power to do whatever he liked. General Schleicher could have been the guy doing this stuff but he'd made enemies within the Army. Hitler had outclassed the Generals and was proceeding to fulfill their maximal vision. That is why Blomberg could get the rank and file of the army to swear personal loyalty to Hitler even though President Hindenburg was still alive.
Then, on the March 23, the Reichstag passed the Enabling Act. Democracy was suspended and Hitler could govern without Parliament’s approval. Yet, all the while, Hindenburg, von Schleicher and von Pappen thought Hitler was their man and willing to do their bidding!They knew Hitler was not doing their bidding because he had out-maneuvered each and every one of them.
Tucked away in Bavaria, was Heinrich Himmler, the head of the Schutzstaffel (SS). His organization saw itself as Hitler’s most loyal soldiers. They were anti-Semitic, anti-Left, anti-democratic.& Goring wasn't?
They invented the concept of “protective policy custody” to arrest opponents of the Nazis.Really? Did Mussolini learn this from the Nazis by going 'back to the future' in a De Lorean?
Hundreds of thousands were locked up without access to courts and the first concentration camp to “re-educate prisoners” set up in Dachau. Himmler brought every state in Germany under SS control, making it one of the most powerful institutions of the Nazi State. He also knew how to read Hitler’s personality, and played on Hitler’s dislike of judicial and bureaucratic constraints and his fear of assassination.By contrast Mussolini and Stalin loved judicial and bureaucratic constraints. Hitler was a very unusual man who- unlike normal people- feared being assassinated. The wily Himmler somehow discovered this secret and used it to gain influence over Hitler. What a great historian Karan Thapar is, to be sure! It must be genetic. His cousin is Romila Thapar.
No. Power had been concentrated in the hands of the President. But Hindenburg was very very old. His son, and 'gatekeeper', dreamed off vast estates in Poland which the new Reich would give him. Thus, there was zero chance to reverse what was happening. Why? The country endorsed the General Staff's crazy dream of conquest.
The German system had many opportunities to reverse what was happening.
But the establishment failed to respond.What fucking establishment? The country was impoverished. Foreign loans had dried up. People thought the Army could grab territory in the East and thus restore prosperity through loot and plunder.
Hans Litten, a lawyer, petitioned the courts against the thuggish Stormtroopers but they would not support him. Josef Hartinger, then deputy national prosecutor, discovered the truth about Dachau but his bosses would not listen. At every turn, the system gave Hitler the benefit of the doubt or looked the other way.This is sheer stupidity. We know that the great intellectuals of the period- Carl Schmitt- the jurist- Heidegger & even Frege- the philosophers- most Historians and even Economists, everybody- except Jews and 'ordoliberals' thought the Army knew what it was doing. True, after Germany lost, everybody pretended to have been duped but what else could they say?
So, in 180 days, Hitler decimated the opposition, subverted the legal system, created the Gestapo, expanded the SS, opened Dachau, and beguiled the German people with Nazi nationalism. Hindenburg, as president, was the only man with the power to sack him. Instead, he fell victim to Hitler’s charms.Thapar, idiot that he is, does not say Hindbenburg was the only person who could put Hitler in power. He couldn't sack him once he did so. Why? Hitler was popular enough to defeat him in the next ballot- if he lived that long- and so he was already a 'lame duck' President.
By 1934, he was dead and von Schleicher and von Pappen killed.Von Papen wasn't killed. He died in 1969.
Hitler celebrated the Night of the Long Knives by inviting his Cabinet and their wives to a party. Champagne was served and everyone behaved as if nothing had happened the day before. Hitler now had supreme control. He had cajoled, coerced and manipulated his way to dictatorship whilst those who could have stopped him helplessly watched.By whom? Once Hindenburg concentrated power in his own hands it was inevitable that some Army guy would carry out the maximal program. Hindenburg didn't want it to be an 'Austrian Corporal', but the Corporal had already shown himself to be less crazy than Ludendorff. He subsequently showed he was a better tactician than Schleicher. When the Social Democrats tried to get Hindenburg to see sense, he berated them for the 'stab in the back'. In other words, that senile fool had always been a true believer in the General Staff's maximal plan- which Hitler put into action.
I guess the BBC’s intention is to show how easily the rise of the Nazis happened and, perhaps, prevent it from occurring again. It was not inevitable and it could have been checked.
There were several warning signs. They just weren’t heeded. This is, therefore, a story worth retelling. Democracy is fragile. In order to be open and inclusive, it leaves itself vulnerable to being taken over by anti-democratic forces. This is why democracy should never be taken for granted. It needs vigorous defence.It will happen to Pakistan. Why? Like Weimar Germany, Pakistani's Democracy is very fragile and only about ten years old. Opposition leaders are in jail- no doubt because they genuinely are corrupt, but then so are the incumbents. Everyone knows it is the Army that is calling the shots. It has some crazy plan which is based on a Nazi type ideology. The Pak Army committed genocide against Bengali Pakistanis because they thought they were slightly fairer skinned. Like Weimar Germany, Pakistan is bankrupt. Imran Khan, like Hitler, has a crazy belief in himself as a 'Man of Destiny'. Now he is talking off launching a nuclear war. Sooner or later, this ex coke-head will go off the rails. Then the Army will have to step in. Recall that the Army brought in Bhutto, then hanged him. They brought in Navaz Sharif, then turned against him. Imran Khan's turn will come soon enough. Either his country will go up in flames along with him or else the Army, which unlike most Pakistanis, has something to lose, will put the fellow in a strait jacket.
At the end of the third episode, when the screen turns to black and the credits roll, there was only one thought in my mind. If it could happen so easily to Germany……
Can anything similar happen in India? No. Why? Because it is a mainly Hindu country. Hindus don't think they can grow rich by conquering other countries. Muslims may do so. There is a material incentive to join a jihad because you get to keep a portion of the loot. Anyway, if you are killed, you get a one way ticket to a paradise stocked with lovely virgins. Hinduism can offer no similar perk. What you do in this life determines what reward or punishment you will get in the next. This is dis-spiriting- but it does keep us safe.