This is going be an angry thread. It’s angry, because of what I see, compared to what I’ve been spending the last few days researching. Let me tell you about what happened shortly after the Nazis were voted into office, & how your both-sides-bad inertia is criminally naive. /1
As early as 1921, Adolf Hitler had talked about the need to contain the ‘bacilli’ of Germany's enemies such as Bolsheviks, other left-wing agitators and, of course, the Jews. Even then, his solution was to be a series of camps that would contain them, modelled on POW camps. /2
In the spring of 1933, following Nazi rise to power, the SA (the party’s early paramilitary) & police arrested thousands - partly in retribution, partly to remove any opposition. These arrests were called ‘Schutzhalt’, or ‘Protective Custody’. /3 https://www.dhm.de/lemo/kapitel/ns-regime/etablierung-der-ns-herrschaft/schutzhaft.html …
‘Protective Custody’, of course, was a euphemism. Nobody was being bloody protected. They were taken to one of hundreds of locations across Germany that were used as makeshift concentration camps - prisons, children’s camps, even former SA clubs, with no judicial involvement. /4
To begin, these ‘camps’ were bounced between a number of agencies. The SA controlled some, the police, & others the SS. How you fared depended wildly on who was in control. Police custody could be no worse than normal prison. SA facilities, with untrained guards, was hell. /5
Did people know what was happening? Of course they did - they may have seen some of the prisoners being paraded by SA units to their nearest place of incarceration, or heard the cries of prisoners, especially in some urban locations. This was no secret. /6 https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2001/feb/17/johnezard …
However, people had been told for years via Nazi campaigning that those arrested were the enemies of Germany, & had to be pre-emptively detained for their own good. By the time that the population began to understand what they’d enabled, they were often too scared to protest. /7
Early on, being sent to one of the camps wasn’t permanent. Men were released after a couple of months to bear the scars of their ordeal. In a way, this was a deterrent to those considering criticizing the regime. Many knew of a broken man who had returned from a camp. /8
Dachau would be the model for what was coming. Near Augsburg, it opened on the 22/3, 1933, & primarly took political opponents of the Nazis. At first, things weren’t too bad, later descended into a lawless state. The murder of several forced Himmler, SS head, to step in. /9
Theodor Eicke, a fanatical Nazi, was placed as SS commandant of Dachau in 1934. He regulated the use of violence & punishments. No longer would conditions be changing - from this point, prisoners knew to expect prolonged suffering & humiliation. /10 http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/othercamps/eicke.html …
Eicke would later become inspector of camps, and move around the country closing the smaller camps and managing the transition of prisoners to the larger ones, until the outbreak of war, when he was made the head of an SS combat division. He died in 1943. /11
Over time, the SS ‘Totenkopfverbände’ (‘Death’s Head Guards’) were placed in control of all ‘concentration camps’ in Germany. Detailed regulations were drawn up for guards, & plans for standardised layouts and facilities. All this occurred in less than 10 years. /12
Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen, Bergen-Belsen, Ravensbruck, Flossenburg and Lichtenburg were all built and populated before the outbreak of the Second World War. All had thousands of German opponents of the regime pass through them, before Jews arrived following 'Kristallnacht'. /13
The Nazis would continue building camps in the occupied territories. Each owed their structure and organization to the work that had been done throughout the 1930s by Eicke and Himmler, learning from mistakes and challenges that they’d been confronted with along the way. /14
It’s important to understand that these camps were not designed to kill at first. Extermination camps would follow as a result of the 'Final Solution', agreed in 1942. While concentration camps saw many deaths, they were not their purpose - only incarceration and punishment. /15
It’s also very important to note that the world knew about the Nazi concentration camps long before 1945. Very few prisoners had escaped, but a few that had written accounts & lobbied foreign powers to press the Nazis. There were a few inquiries, but they were toothless. /16
Even when pressed, the Nazi regime had their answers prepared - their usual line that the camps that they had created were no better or worse than the ones the British had used in South Africa, or French POW camps of WW1. ‘Whataboutism’ was the standard defence. /17
My point is this - long before the ‘industrialization’ of killing, that we now call the Holocaust, the Nazis were perfecting techniques on those it considered the enemies of the state within. For much of that time, it did not have the appearance of what it would become. /18
Things didn’t get worse along some sort of predictable trajectory. Conditions in camps and on the streets seemed to improve to many, and outwardly, it might have seemed like ‘schutzhaft’ was a necessary step to many Germans - especially after 1934. /19
Germans were not confronted with industrial killing floors in their backyard - not at first, at least. They simply thought that the camps were places where a threat was being contained, not eliminated. Reasonable enough, right? /20
So when you hear stories about ‘tent cities’ on the US border, or militias and ICE working together, think of those first few months of 1933. When someone calls for ‘Antifa’ crackdowns, think about what happened only weeks after the Nazi’s rise to power. /21
Europeans, when some pissant demagogue in a suit starts railing against the enemies of your less-than-200-year-old nation, understand exactly what the endgame of that bullshit is - mindless violence, transforming into a machinery of death. /22
No one is your fucking enemy. No one is out to get you. The enemies of freedom are every jumped-up shit that parrots the same lines about ‘invasion’ or ‘purity’ that the Nazis were using when they paraded bewildered men through city streets towards beatings and floggings. /23
Educate yourself. Understand that the Nazi state didn’t spring into existence suddenly. There had to be agreement that some people, purely because of what they believed, needed to be placed in extra-judicial prisons. Read this book, for instance. /24 https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/0349118663/ref=asc_df_034911866356813238/?tag=googshopuk-21&creative=22110&creativeASIN=0349118663&linkCode=df0&hvadid=311004790924&hvpos=1o1&hvnetw=g&hvrand=14179344621971296897&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=1006687&hvtargid=pla-454375196603&th=1&psc=1 …
And before anybody starts in on communists, or gulags, or any of that utter tripe, I don’t see any fucking Stalinists about, do you? So quit with that absolute garbage. The Far Right is on the march, the Far Left is having trouble putting its boots on. /25
Turn off the proponents of division. Stop making excuses for those among you that call for others to be removed, silenced or worse. Stop being so goddamned scared. Fear is what gave us the horrors of Dachau. /26
Fear is what will kill millions more, if we’re not careful. /FIN https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W54yobepKG4 …
PS. So that's why every single idiot child in this photograph throwing a Hitler salute should be made to tour @AuschwitzMuseum if they think they're going to college.
You know what really fucks me up though? That some adult thought if was appropriate to take a staged, professional photo for sale. http://wheelmemories.com/bhs-prom-pics/
You can follow @MikeStuchbery_.
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