Jesse Owens wins gold in Nazi Germany, 1936. He was the most successful athlete at the games and, as a black man, was credited with “single-handedly crushing Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy”, although he “wasn’t invited to the White House to shake hands with the President, either.”
Today is a day of mourning and remembrance that you might not be aware of. April 24th marks Yom Hashoah - a Jewish day of remembrance for the Holocaust - and it is also the Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day. In the 1910’s, almost 1.5 million Armenians (about 98% of them Christian) were rounded up and slaughtered by the hands of the Ottoman Empire in the name of Islam and for absolute control. Then, in the 1930’s-1940’s, the Nazi party (helmed by the infamous Adolf Hitler) in an attempt to exercise complete control over Germany and Europe through “National Socialism,” captured and imprisoned and murdered upwards of six million Jews.
Seven and a half million people, systematically killed at the hands of an oppressive government in the name of power, within the past 100 years.
Let us remember them all and never forget that evil truly does exist in the world, and that “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” - Edmund Burke.
Look, I get why you think that. “National Socialism! It’s right in the name!” It’s easy to think that, but I’m here to tell you exactly why you’re wrong.
And it’s a matter of stipulative definitions. If you don’t know what they are:
If you want a clear example of how they’re used, one such example is the social justice definition of racism, dissected in the link.
They’re definitions that only apply to one very specific context, and Hitler’s usage of the term Socialism was clearly shown to be a stipulative one in a speech on November 16th, 1928.
“We have to strip the terms ‘Nationalism’ and ‘Socialism’ of their previous meaning. Only that man is a nationalist who stands by his people, and only that man is a socialist who stands up for the rights of his people both internally and externally.”
Standing up for the rights of Aryan Germans was, in Nazi Germany, the definition of a socialist in the phrase “National Socialist”. This was in connection to what he pushed as the “National Community” which was the Aryan version of American Exceptionalism (”we’re better than everyone, we have a right to expand and take what we need, etc.”). It wasn’t “Nationalism + Socialist”, a mixing of two ideologies. It was an entirely new ideology.
He would go on to explicitly say that National Socialism “did not lie in socialism as a universal panacea nor was it a nationalist variant of that idea.”
“But what about the economics of Germany?”
He explained the over-arching philosophy of Nazi Germany’s economy as well in a meeting in 1930 with Strauss in Munich. He was asked in reference to major German corporations like Krupp, ver-batim
“Would everything remain unchanged in terms of ownership, profits and management?”
“But of course. Do you think I’m mad enough to destroy the economy?”
He would only step in and seize control of corporations when they worked against what he determined to be “the national interest”.
Which is why, when you rub two brain cells together, Schindler had enough money to save all those Jewish people. He had political clout and wealth not from being a Party Member (like in soviet russia) but from being a rich businessman who didn’t work against the “national interest”.
Another thing to keep in mind was that Hitler didn’t call socialists “Socialists”. He labeled them and their movement as “simply marxist(m)”.
He even used socialists and communists as scapegoats and persecuted them. The Reichstag fire was famously blamed on communists. He had Goebbels actively prevent socialists from running articles and speeches promoting their ideas. Socialists were regularly arrested and sent to labor camps. The Night of Long Knives explicitly targeted Socialists and Communists for execution.
this day in 1933, the Reichstag building in Berlin, which
housed the German Parliament, was set on fire. The Nazi government of
Adolf Hitler then ordered a thorough hunt to track down the arsonist.
identified the perpetrator as Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch communist;
he and four other Communist leaders were arrested for their supposed
role in the blaze. The Nazis used the
event as evidence of a Communist plot in Germany, and Hitler urged
Hindenburg to pass an emergency decree to counter the Communist threat.
This Reichstag Fire Decree gave Hitler considerable powers, and is
considered a pivotal moment in Hitler’s consolidation of power into a
one-party dictatorship. Van der Lubbe was found guilty
and executed by guillotine on January 10th 1934. However, his role has
been questioned by historians with some even suggesting he was not
responsible and that the fire was ordered by the Nazis themselves.
this day in 19423 during the Second World War, German troops surrendered to the Soviet Red Army in Stalingrad, thus ending five months of fighting. The battle began in August 1942 during the Nazi invasion of Russia
- codenamed Operation Barbarossa - and Adolf Hitler ordered an attack
on the major city of Stalingrad. Stalingrad became a major playing field
of the war, as Soviet leader Stalin was determined to save the city
which bore his name. Under the leadership of General Paulus, German
bombing destroyed much of the city and troops captured areas through
hand-to-hand urban warfare. In November, Marshal Zhukov assembled six Russian armies
to surround Stalingrad and trap the Germans in the city, barring
provisions and troops from reaching them. Many German soldiers died of
starvation and frostbite following the onset of the harsh Russian
winter, with temperatures down to -30°C, but Hitler insisted they fight
until the last man. After five months, the Russian Red Army claimed
victory when the remaining German troops surrendered in February 1943. 91,000 Germans were taken prisoner, including twenty-two
generals; this was all that remained of the 330,000 strong German force
who arrived at Stalingrad. The Battle of Stalingrad is among the
bloodiest battles of the Second World War, causing nearly two million
casualties. The disaster depleted the
German army’s supply of men and equipment, allowing the Allies to gain
which enabled them to invade Germany and win the war.
“The God of war has gone over to the other side” - Adolf Hitler upon hearing of the German surrender at Stalingrad
this day in 1933, the German Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which
essentially secured Adolf Hitler’s position as dictator of Germany. The law gave
Chancellor Hitler legal powers to establish his dictatorship as it gave
the Cabinet the power to enact laws independently of the legislature - the Reichstag. Its formal name was ‘Law to Remedy the Distress of
People and Reich’. Hitler had been appointed Chancellor on January 30th
and just before the scheduled election, the Reichstag fire occurred. The
Nazis used the incident to suggest a Communist revolution was imminent
and passed the Reichstag Fire Decree which suspended civil liberties and
habeas corpus. The Nazis failed to gain an absolute majority in the
Reichstag, so Hitler drafted the Enabling Act to secure his position.
The Nazis pressured and threatened representatives of the Reichstag to
pass the bill, positioning SA men and Nazi swastikas in and around the
building. With the bill’s passing, Hitler’s dictatorship was assured,
and thus began a brutal regime which would last until 1945.
authority of the Führer has now been wholly established. Votes are no
longer taken. The Führer decides. All this is going much faster than we
had dared to hope” - Joseph Goebbels after the passage of the Act