Let’s talk about how fast things can move when there’s no effective political opposition to governing power, and a population that’s too fearful of the alternative to hold power accountable. As has been said many times, things seem quite normal - until they aren’t. /1
30th January, 1933 - Adolf Hitler is made Chancellor of Germany by President Hindenburg, following the 1932 Reichstag elections, in which the Nazi Party become the largest party. They secured 37% of the vote - other parties couldn’t or wouldn’t form a governing coalition. /2
27th February, 1933 - The Reichstag burns. To this day, there isn’t 100%. Consensus on who is ultimately responsible, but Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch communist is arrested. The next day, the the Weimar constitution is used to suppress the KPD - the German communist party. /3
5th of March - In a fresh election, the Nazi Party raises their percentage of the vote to almost 44%. Communists who managed to win seats are prevented from taking office and are arrested by stormtroopers. The KPD, effectively, is banned as an electoral force. /4
22nd of March - Dachau, near Munich, is opened as the first Konzentrationslager/KZ or ‘Concentration Camp’. This is where many communists and other political dissidents become the first to be brutalized and murdered by the Third Reich. /5
7th of April, 1933 -The Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service comes into effect. Jews and political dissidents can be removed from their government posts without any recourse. Overnight, thousands of Jews find themselves unemployed - and unemployable. /7
25th of April, 1933 - Laws come into effect that impose strict controls on the number of Jewish children permitted in Germany’s public schools. Thousands of children now have to be taught at home, or sent to private schools. /8
July 14th, 1933 - The Law for the Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases is introduced, that permits sterilization of the disabled, mentally ill and others desired ‘undesirables’. This is a precursor to ‘Aktion T4’ - the state murder of the disabled and mentally ill. /8
October 4th, 1933 - The Editor’s Law bans Jews, communists and other opponents of the regime from working in newspapers, and across the German media landscape. The laws also serve to turn all newspapers into effective propaganda organs, in fear of greater sanctions./10
November 4th, 1933 - New laws allow criminals to be detained indefinitely, giving a firmer basis for the use of concentration camps that are now about to spread across the country, holding various opponents of the regime, including many Jews. /11
This all occurred in the space of a year. Months before, many Germans thought that the Nazis didn’t have a hope in hell of governing. Over the next few years, laws would be passed banning Jewish-owned businesses, inter-marriage and would even forced name changes. /12
This also doesn’t take into account the sudden presence of the regime’s stormtroopers, given almost free rein to brutalize and attack their opponents. Any opposition that could have formed against the Nazi state would be vastly outnumbered and soon overwhelmed. /13
Never think that you can’t have your essential rights taken away by zealots, opportunists and those who seek power above all else. Never think that decency will hold them back because it won’t. The only thing that safeguards democracy is a vibrant spectrum of representation. /14
Get out there. Protest. Make some noise. Raise hell. Don’t take your voice for granted, as you’ll soon find it taken away. Reject inertia, hate and fear. History shows the easy path leads to a grim and hopeless place. Most of all, remember this - all in the space of a year. /FIN
You can follow @MikeStuchbery_.
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