Note: the following is something I wrote about six months after Obama took office, during a previous flareup of Obama-Hitler baiting from the right. I think it's worth reprinting at this point.
This absolutely ludicrous assertion would, in a sane world, not receive a minute's credibility. Yet, it has been popping up over and over again in the wingnuttosphere, and apparently there is a pool of lunatics willing to accept it as true.
Now, although a lot of people know quite a bit about World War II, very few seem to have much concrete information about the early years of Nazi rule. This certainly helps conservatives in spreading their lies. I thought I would take a look at what the Nazis got up to in their first six months after Hitler became Reichschancellor, to see how much they really resembled the Obama administration.
Hitler took power, not by election, as many conservatives claim, but through right wing political manipulation, on January 30th, 1933. At that point, the Nazis had never held a majority in the legislature, the Reichstag. Almost immediately, Hitler forced the German government into dissolving the Reichstag and calling for new elections on March 5, 1933.
In the campaign, the Nazis received massive contributions from large industrialists, and were able to use the entire state apparatus as a campaign tool. In return for the money from the industrialists, Hitler promised them that he would destroy independent labor unions.
As William Shirer (who was there at the time) reports, by the beginning of February, all communist meetings had been banned, and the communist press had been shut down. Social Democratic rallies were forbidden or attacked by S.S. thugs. Socialist newspapers were continually "suspended." Even centrist leaders were beaten and threatened. Shirer counts 51 opposition leaders murdered by the Nazis during the campaign.
Hundreds of officials belonging to other parties were forced from their positions, and replaced by Nazis. Goehring, as minister of the interior for Prussia, and therefore head of the police of 60% of Germany, called for shooting down political opponents of the Nazi party. He appointed an "auxiliary" police force including 40,000 SS thugs and Steel Helmets (their close allies) to harass other political parties.
Still, the Nazis were unable to provoke the communists and the Social Democrats into the violent confrontation that they wanted, as an excuse to do away with them once and for all.
Then, on February 27, 1933, the Reichstag, the German parliament building burned down. In response to this, which Hitler of course blamed on the communists, he managed to get the senile President Hindenburg to agree to a declaration allowing Hitler to do away with German laws respecting free expression, freedom of the press, and rights of assembly, and also doing away with laws requiring government to honor privacy of all communications, or to have warrants for searches and orders for confiscation.
As horrible as this is, this decree also allowed Hitler to do something even more shocking- to take over the complete power of the states that made up Germany.
The election took place in an atmosphere of terror. Leftist parties were forbidden to campaign or circulate election material, and saw their rallies attacked by SS thugs. As many as 8,000 communist and Social Democrat leaders were detained before the election. On the other hand, all of Germany saw huge Nazi rallies, paid for by the government and industrialists.
Even with all of this, the Nazis failed in this election to achieve a majority, getting only 44% of the popular vote. The communists, despite all of the oppression, still polled 4.8 million votes, while the Social Democrats hardly dropped at all in their support.
Now came the next step. By the simple expedient of "arresting" a sufficient number of communist and Social Democratic legislators, Hitler managed to assemble a 2/3 "majority" of the Reichstag, to pass an act giving total power to Hitler- the so-called "enabling act," which bore the cynical name of "the Law for the Removing of the Distress of the People and the Reich." This granted power to Hitler to act in the place of the legislature for four years, and made the Reichstag totally powerless. It also gave him the right to enact laws that "might deviate from the constitution."
Germany under the Nazis never saw another real election.
The enabling act was passed with no one but Social Democrats voting against it (the communists were all gone.)
In one week in March, the governments of the German states were thrown out by Nazi thugs, and replaced by Nazis. On March 31, Hitler forcibly dissolved all of the state legislatures. On April 7, he appointed Nazis as the heads of every state, with the power to appoint and remove all state employees, including judges. (in January, 1934, Hitler officially transferred all powers of the states to the Reich, effectively dissolving them.)
On May 2, 1933, unions throughout Germany were destroyed, their money seized and their leaders thrown in jail. A few weeks later, Hitler eliminated the right of workers to collective bargaining. Hitler also excluded Jews from public service and all professions. On April 1, he declared a national boycott of Jewish businesses.
In June, 1933, the Nazis' biggest ally, the National party, was attacked, and went the way of all other parties, "agreeing" to "voluntarily" dissolve. Finally, on July 14, 1933, Hitler issued a proclamation making the Nazis the only political party in Germany.
Well, there you have it. This brings you up to about six months after Hitler took office...The result: no legislature, no states, no political parties, no constitution, no unions, no elections, no freedom of assembly, no freedom of the press, total warrantless police power, thousands arrested without cause, hundreds murdered by SS thugs.
Just like Obama, huh?
Note: I am very indebted to William Shirer and Richard J. Evans for the material above. A blog is not a scholarly paper, so I have not footnoted things, but I couldn't have written this without their work.
I have taken the liberty of illustrating this piece with a few illustrations that I found in about five minutes on the web. I must say, I particularly like the one where Obama is smoking. He looks like a cross between Hitler and Cab Calloway.