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How to Kill a Democracy. Lesson 1: Destroy the Free Press

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How Hitler did it: A Lesson for Trump

1925, From Mein Kampf: Hitler: “The Arbeiter-Zeitung [newspaper is a] concentrated solution of lies…The so-called press is artificial…a blemish upon liberal democracy…indecent…My revulsion of the…press became unlimited…It is of paramount interest to the state and the nation to prevent these newspaper scribblers…The state, therefore, has the duty of preventing any mischief. It must particularly exercise strict control over the press. With ruthless determination [the state] must place [the press] in the service of the state and the nation. The state must not forget that all means must serve an end; it must not let itself be confused by the drivel about so-called ‘freedom of the press’…”

Jan. 30, 1933: Hitler becomes Chancellor of Germany.

Feb. 4, 1933: German Parliament passes “Ordinance for the protection of the German people.” Gives Hitler power to ban newspapers of his political rivals. Violators subject to arrest and detainment without charge.

Feb. 8, 1933: “The purge began.” Jacques Delarue, “The History of the Gestapo,” 1962.

Feb. 27, 1933: Reichstag [German Parliament] fire. Nazis blame it on Communist terrorists.

Feb. 28, 1933: German Parliament passes Reichstag Fire Decree, in the name of combating Communist terror. Nazis immediately outlaw the Communist press. Article 1 of the Decree suspends the Weimar Constitution’s provisions for press freedom. Among newspapers banned: Vorwärts, run by the Social Democratic Party. (Hitler had sued Vorwärts in 1923 and won a libel case.)

Spring, 1933: Control of newspapers given to Joseph Goebbels, Minister of Propaganda and Enlightenment, Hitler’s Bannon. From the book “The Nazi Dictatorship” (1936): “Dr. Goebbels…had extensive experience in reviling the ‘gutter press.’…The editorial and news staffs of all papers were gleichgeshaltet [re-organized]…by the appointment of Nazis to responsible supervisory positions…local censors were appointed…The entire contents of every paper must be approved before it can go to press…Goebbels decided that the sensibilities of the public…must be protected.”

Oct. 4, 1933: Reich Press Law passed. Makes newspapers “servants of the state.” Jewish and liberal editors fired. Among papers shut down was the liberal publication, Vossische Zeitung—Germany’s equivalent of the New York Times—which had been founded in 1704. The only newspapers remaining in Germany are Nazi-owned or oriented, like Der Stürmer, which fomented hatred of Jews.

Jan. 4, 1934: Hitler promises to make Germany “great” again.

Oct. 16, 1946: Julius Streicher, founder and publisher of Der Stürmer, found guilty of Crimes Against Humanity, hung at Nuremberg.

Feb. 18, 2017: Donald J. Trump, at political rally in Florida: “[The media] just don’t want to report the truth. They’re part of the problem, part of the corrupt system. They have their own agenda, and their agenda is not your agenda. But despite all their lies, misrepresentations, and false stories, they could not defeat us in the primaries, and they could not defeat us in the general election, and we will continue to expose them for what they are, and most importantly, we will continue to win, win, win. ”

(This is me, Steve). Why does Trump want to kill the free press in America? His goal is obvious, as it was in Hitler’s time. In this particular case, Trump’s Russia connection is a ticking time bomb. The revelations, probably followed by indictments, are coming; you can bet on it. When they do, he wants to be able to tell his supporters–those gullible people wearing their little “Make America Great Again” caps–that it’s all lies.

TOMORROW: Trump’s Der Stürmer: the Wall Street Journal’s exaltation of Scott Pruitt

 

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