Any resemblance to people living or dead is purely coincidental
July 23, 2016 3:49 PM   Subscribe

How did Hitler rise to power? SLYT. A basic explainer with beautiful animation.
posted by AFABulous (45 comments total) 25 users marked this as a favorite
 
Tomorrow Belongs To Me.
posted by ChuraChura at 4:00 PM on July 23, 2016 [9 favorites]


I did expect Trump supporters to come to his aid in the comments, the antisemitism and pro nazism - not so much. There are comments deriding the animation for being biased and one-sided...

.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 4:08 PM on July 23, 2016


TLDR: Democratic institutions are fragile in the face of angry crowds.
posted by pfh at 4:08 PM on July 23, 2016 [8 favorites]


"It can not be stressed enough that (Hitler's) conspiracy theories were born out of fear, anger and bigotry, not fact."
"...offering convenient scapegoats and a promise to restore Germany's former greatness"
"..and argued only he could restore law and order"

But Hitler never actually won a popular election. The best he ever did was 35%. Though that also sounds familiar..........
posted by Frayed Knot at 4:10 PM on July 23, 2016 [17 favorites]


This video let me to one about narcissism from the same series, which has a not-so-subtle topical visual gag about a minute and a half in.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:34 PM on July 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


Last night, I watched Look Who's Back (Er ist wieder da), a mockumentary about Hitler re-appearing in modern day Germany. Some of it is unscripted, featuring footage of non-actors interacting with the Adolf character. Frankly, the people who spouted overt bigotry were less frightening than those who responded casually (taking selfies, having their portraits drawn by him).

It's a new sentiment for me, but I've even found myself upset by people (Jewish, like me, and especially non-Jews) "taking back" the Twitter echoes from anti-semites. I have no desire to censor others and understand how it may be empowering to some, but lately I've found myself upset by *anything* that normalizes such symbols or rhetoric. I want to laugh at it, but I just can't.
posted by cichlid ceilidh at 4:34 PM on July 23, 2016 [12 favorites]


Look Who's Back blew my damn mind. I don't know what I was expecting when I selected it, but it wasn't what I got.
posted by unknownmosquito at 4:36 PM on July 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


Look Who's Back was...weird. I'm not sure whether it was a good movie or a bad movie. But it was definitely a movie.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 4:37 PM on July 23, 2016 [3 favorites]


But Hitler never actually won a popular election. The best he ever did was 35%. Though that also sounds familiar..........

People saying "Hitler was democratically elected donchyaknow" is a really useful tell that they actually don't know much about history.
posted by thelonius at 4:43 PM on July 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


Look Who's Back was...weird.

It was a book first. I read it just as Trump's campaign was starting and it was .....very uncomfortable.
posted by srboisvert at 4:46 PM on July 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


"They assured themselves and each other that his more extreme rhetoric was for show"
Well, there it is.
posted by Talez at 4:47 PM on July 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Ok so I have this time machine and I am going to go back...

... under the alias of August Kubizek and see if I can just ...

... persuade a young Adolf to take up an interest in art...

...wish me luck!
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 5:34 PM on July 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Welp Talez, time to shut down the world.

Alt-right are not *really* neo-nazis, they're just top kek. Insert Rare Pepe. Dank memes.
posted by Yowser at 5:34 PM on July 23, 2016


But Hitler never actually won a popular election.

It's damning enough that he was allowed to stand for public office at all after his release from prison for the Beer Hall Putsch.
posted by Doktor Zed at 6:19 PM on July 23, 2016 [5 favorites]



But Hitler never actually won a popular election. The best he ever did was 35%. Though that also sounds familiar..........

People saying "Hitler was democratically elected donchyaknow" is a really useful tell that they actually don't know much about history.


You know, I kinda swing the other way on this one: I'm yet to read a historian that argues he didn't have popular support and wouldn't have won a popular election. I feel like it's often used as an excuse to dodge responsibility and/or the banal horror that ordinary people (like us) liked and supported Hitler on the whole.
posted by smoke at 6:20 PM on July 23, 2016 [31 favorites]


This makes me wanna watch a more detailed history now.
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:24 PM on July 23, 2016


From the video: "Mainstream parties proved unable to handle the crisis, while left-wing opposition was too fragmented by internal squabbles."

A bit more on that, with resonance and takeaways for our current left: Hitler Wasn't Inevitable (Jacobin)
posted by naju at 6:31 PM on July 23, 2016 [4 favorites]


Am I the only one who watched the opening and thought "Germany didn't have that shape in the 1920s"?
posted by Slothrup at 6:32 PM on July 23, 2016 [9 favorites]


Uhh Frayed Knot, and thelonius ...

The Nazi's won the July 1932, November 1932, March 1933, elections. The reason why people say "Hitler was democratically elected", is because it's true.
posted by robotmonkeys at 6:47 PM on July 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


From Naju's link, this is interesting to me:

"Indeed, the KPD leadership considered all other parliamentary parties to be variants of fascism, telling its members that “fighting fascism means fighting the SPD just as much as it means fighting Hitler and the parties of Brüning.”
posted by Annika Cicada at 6:47 PM on July 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


Slothrup, I wondered about that.
posted by Bee'sWing at 6:48 PM on July 23, 2016


I'd rather be remembered as the shape I was in my 20s. The 30s got ugly.
posted by adept256 at 6:52 PM on July 23, 2016 [8 favorites]


"Indeed, the KPD leadership considered all other parliamentary parties to be variants of fascism, telling its members that “fighting fascism means fighting the SPD just as much as it means fighting Hitler and the parties of Brüning.”

Yeah, that stood out to me too.

A bit more reading, if anyone's up for it:
The theory of social fascism dictated that Nazis and Social Democrats were essentially two sides of the same coin. The primary enemy of the Communists was supposedly the Social Democrats, who protected capitalism from a workers’ revolution by deceiving the class with pseudo-socialist rhetoric. The worst of them all were the left wing Social Democrats, whose rhetoric was particularly deceptive. According to the theory, it was impossible to fight side by side with the SPD against the Nazis under such conditions. Indeed, the KPD declared that defeating the social fascists was the “prerequisite to smashing fascism”. By 1932 the KPD began engaging in isolated attempts to initiate broader anti-fascist fronts, most importantly the Antifascischistsche Aktion, but these were formulated as “united fronts from below”—ie without the leadership of the SPD. Turning the logic of the united front on its head, SPD supporters were expected to give up their party allegiance before joining, as opposed to the united front being a first practical step towards the Communist Party. Throughout this period the leaderships of both the SPD and the KPD never came to a formal agreement regarding the fight against Nazism.

Another fatal consequence of the KPD’s ultra-leftism was that the term “fascism” was used irresponsibly to describe any and all opponents to the right of the party. The SPD-led government that ruled Germany until 1930 was considered “social fascist”. When Brüning formed a new right-wing government by decree without a parliamentary majority in 1930, the KPD declared that fascism had taken power. This went hand in hand with a deadly underestimation of the Nazi danger. Thus Thälmann could declare in 1932: “Nothing could be more fatal for us than to opportunistically overestimate the danger posed by Hitler-fascism”.3 The KPD’s seeming inability to distinguish between democratic, authoritarian and fascist expressions of capitalist rule proved to be its undoing. An organisation that continually vilified bourgeois democratic governments as fascist was unable to understand the true meaning of Hitler’s ascension to power on 30 January 1933, the day the KPD infamously (and ominously) declared: “After Hitler, we will take over!”
posted by naju at 6:57 PM on July 23, 2016 [14 favorites]


The Nazi's won the July 1932, November 1932, March 1933, elections. The reason why people say "Hitler was democratically elected", is because it's true.

While the Nazi's won a plurality in the Reichstag in those three elections, those are different than the Presidential elections. Hitler lost the Presidential election in March of '32, which I think was the only time he ran. He got appointed to Chancellor (head of the Reichstag), and then in 1933 the Reichstag gave him "emergency powers" which allowed him to unilaterally pass laws, and he seized control of the government.

At no time did a majority or a plurality of German citizens directly elect Hitler. Nor did the Nazis ever get a majority of votes or seats in the Reichstag, though they came damn close at about 45%.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:53 PM on July 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


I highly recommend "The Meaning of Hitler." At 176 pages it is a concise and excellent analysis of Hitler and the causes of his rise to power. The author, Sebastian Haffner (real name Raimund Pretzel), was born in Germany and grew up during the interwar years. He fled Germany in 1938 to England with his Jewish bride-to-be. His memoir, published posthumously, "Defying Hitler: A Memoir" is an excellent read as well.

Note: Haffner did not like the title "The Meaning of Hitler." That was the title his publisher gave the work. Haffner preferred the title "Notes on Hitler."
posted by cwest at 8:08 PM on July 23, 2016 [6 favorites]


One detail left out of the video was the Staatsstreich gegen Preußen or "Prussian Coup" of July 1932.

Prussia in 1932 was a relic of the original German unification, the descendant of the original Kingdom of Prussia that was incorporated into the German Empire in the 1870s. It was a local government unit, comparable to a state in the USA, but consisted of over half the country by both area and population, and included Berlin and several other major urban areas in the northern half of Germany.

In the midst of street battles between party-based paramilitary units, the central government dissolved the government of Prussia by emergency decree (note that this was Hindenburg, not yet Hitler). As a result, over half the country came under direct central government emergency control at a time when the Nazis were taking power at the national level, step by step. Notably, this included control of the police throughout the state of Prussia.

By the time Prussia got its local government powers back the following year, the Nazis were powerful enough to install Göring as the head of the Prussian government anyway, and the issue of Prussia's local government became basically moot.
posted by gimonca at 8:42 PM on July 23, 2016 [2 favorites]


The visuals are amazing. The history is adequate. The script is intense. It just needs to be read by Christoph Walz. Or Tilda Swinton. Or Charlie Sheen. Or someone who does not sound like a Youtuber unboxing a grey market Android device.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:49 PM on July 23, 2016 [9 favorites]


They only had one sentence about the bankers and investors pressuring Hindenberg to appoint Hitler chancellor which is not adequate. They did not mention that some of these people were American and English and French and Dutch for example.
posted by bukvich at 10:29 PM on July 23, 2016 [2 favorites]



People saying "Hitler was democratically elected donchyaknow" is a really useful tell that they actually don't know much about history.

People saying "saying that Hitler was democratically elected is a really useful tell that they actually don't know much about history" is a really useful tell that they actually don't know much about how parliamentary democracy works.
It totally disregards the fact that 35-45% of germans did vote for Hitler's party and that Hitler's party DID get the majority of votes in elections. That's the definition of "democratically elected" in many countries. It would be ridiculous to argue that Rutte (my country's PM) was not democratically elected because technically we elected his party (the VVD) and they only got 26% of the vote.
If you say that Hitler wasn't democratically elected without qualifying that with the fact that his party did get the majority of votes in elections, you risk the fact that people actually think that just about nobody voted for him, that it was "just" a dictator who grabbed power and that therefore we don't have to worry about history because what is there to learn, there are no parallels with fascist populists now at all.
posted by blub at 12:56 AM on July 24, 2016 [26 favorites]


The video certainly presents one perspective. However, for me, it focuses too much on Hitler as a singular actor. It sounds a bit like: everything was fragile, so one guy took up the opportunity to make everything bad and oh, look, he didn't even have *that* much of popular support.

To me that is neglecting groups of violent Nazis roaming the streets and causing fear and terror all over Germany (especially Berlin); it is neglecting all the people who helped create and build the system, the deeply convinced anti semites and nationalists and the ones who just went with their privilege and supported what looked like a good idea at the time. I could go on, but my main point is: A five minute video can only deliver so much.
posted by katta at 12:58 AM on July 24, 2016


Isn't it both? Hitler both had much popular support *and* resorted to subversion to gain and cement power?

Anyway, Look Who's Back the novel was absolutely hilarious. I haven't seen the movie yet.
posted by iffthen at 2:27 AM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


The visuals are amazing. The history is adequate. The script is intense. It just needs to be read by Christoph Walz. Or Tilda Swinton. Or Charlie Sheen. Or someone who does not sound like a Youtuber unboxing a grey market Android device.
Yeah, for full effect it needed to be ad libbed by Klaus Kinski and a roomful of hecklers.
posted by Sonny Jim at 2:58 AM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


But Hitler never actually won a popular election. The best he ever did was 35%. Though that also sounds familiar..........
He won 44% in the 1933 election (his nearest rival won 20%).
People saying "Hitler was democratically elected donchyaknow" is a really useful tell that they actually don't know much about history.
No, he won, decisively. Saying that he never won because he didn't win a super-majority is applying American 2 party/first-past-the-post standards where they don't belong. If only winning 44% disqualifies Hitler as the winner of a democratic election then a large proportion of leaders of the Western world were never democratically elected.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 5:59 AM on July 24, 2016 [9 favorites]


[One deleted. Despite the wink-wink in the title, this really isn't for discussing Trump, which folks can do in any of the election threads. There's was some getting off in the weeds a bit discussing Hitler / Weimar political factions and coalitions in the recent Dem VP announcement thread, so this is actually good place to redirect that discussion. ]
posted by taz (staff) at 6:47 AM on July 24, 2016


I can't believe I'm the weird position of sort of defending Hitler and 1930s Germans, so let be really clear: The German people, in the mid-30s, voted in very very large numbers for the Nazis, more than once. The Nazi party was, in a very real & concrete way, the choice of the people. No argument there, at all.

But I'm not the one misunderstanding the structure of the Wiemar Republic. It was NOT a Parliamentary system like we see today in most of Europe. It was a Semi-Presidental System, that is Parliamentary system with a separately elected President chosen in a single national race and that President wasn't a figure head. He had real powers, and one of those powers was appointing the Chancellor (a.k.a. the Prime Minister).

So, yes, applying the "first-past-the-post standard" to the Germany Presidential elections held in the 30s is correct, and it is that race that Hitler lost to Alfred Hugenberg. In fact, by modern standards Hugenberg trounced him, beating him by near 20% (53% to 36%).

Hugenberg then appointed Hitler to Chancellor, a couple of years later the Reichstag gave Hitler (and his cabinet) a wide range of "emergency powers", and Hitler gained control of both the Legislative and Executive branches of the Government without ever winning Executive Office by popular election, as the then-Constitution required.

In the end, if you want to say "Hitler never won an election, so neither will (insert politicians name here)", you're making a badly flawed analogy. But if you want to say "the people elected Hitler," you've got your facts wrong.
posted by Frayed Knot at 7:39 AM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I'm satisfied with a description of Germany in 1932-34 that just says "it's complicated".

For a slightly longer description, you could say "Democratically elected officials put Hitler in power. Those officials didn't have a strong commitment to democracy themselves. The process occurred in an atmosphere of increasing violence and intimidation, and during a period when the constitutional processes of Germany were frequently deadlocked."

Some very simplified descriptions:

Hitler ran for president once. He didn't win.

In July and November 1932, the Nazis got more votes than any other party, 37% and 33%, but were unable to form a ruling government either time. (Nor was any other party--things were too fragmented.)

In July 1932, the government of the State of Prussia (which covered over half the country at that time) was dissolved and put under central government emergency rule. This was a Hindenburg/Papen emergency decree. One of the unforeseen outcomes of this was that control of police forces in this area was effectively handed over to the Nazis by early 1933.

In January 1933, Hitler was appointed chancellor by Hindenburg and von Papen. The goal was to have some sort of stable government...somehow. This is the point in the process where the conservatives were thinking they could control him. Controlling Hitler? That goal didn't work out. Stable government? Unfortunately, that did kind of happen--this cabinet continued to run until Hitler's government fell in 1945.

In March 1933, the Nazis were again the number one party in the elections, but that was six days after the Reichstag fire, and the Nazis were using their power over the police to arrest Communists and others. So, not exactly a completely free election. The Nazis (43%) and DNVP (a conservative party with 8%) formed a working coalition. At this point, the Nazis have what you could call power over both executive and legislative branches of the government. (Plus, Göring is now head of the state of Prussia, and the Nazis had taken over a few smaller German states, so they were controlling several local governments as well.)

With control of the Reichstag, the Nazis passed the Enabling Act, which gave them the sweeping powers they wanted.

The Nazis set about getting rid of all other political parties (part of the Gleichschaltung process, here's another simplification):

Are you a Communist? Go directly to jail.
Are you a Social Democrat? Yeah, go to jail if you're an important one.
Are you a centrist? Go home to your family, stay out of politics, or else.
Are you a right-winger in the DNVP, DVP, etc.? Congratulations, you're a Nazi now! (Also, you have no other choice.)

In the elections in November 1933, the Nazis were the only party on the ballot.
posted by gimonca at 7:53 AM on July 24, 2016 [15 favorites]


The Enabling Act with a bit of further detail.
posted by gimonca at 8:08 AM on July 24, 2016


re: fascism. the SPD used paramilitaries to assassinate dis Luxembourg.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:51 AM on July 24, 2016


> From Naju's link, this is interesting to me:

"Indeed, the KPD leadership considered all other parliamentary parties to be variants of fascism, telling its members that “fighting fascism means fighting the SPD just as much as it means fighting Hitler and the parties of Brüning.”


That has to be supplemented with this vital bit from the same link: "The KPD took its position from Moscow..." The KPD, like the rest of the member parties of the Comintern, was not in any sense an independent actor; it took its line straight from Stalin, and as soon as he decided the "social fascism" thing was no longer productive, presto, all the CPs worldwide started promoting the "united front."

As far as Hitler's being "democratically elected," Frayed Knot is of course correct: he wasn't. (And I'm not quite sure why people are so determined to "prove" that actually, he was.)
posted by languagehat at 11:19 AM on July 24, 2016 [2 favorites]


I know its shallow but thumbs down on the voice talent. A larger quibble, (and maybe its inappropriate given the length of the video,) is that it seems like a just so story that gives an illusion of understanding something that in the end is not Nailable Downable to this simplistic degree. It might be a good starting point for someone who knows absolutely nothing about the subject otherwise it seems like a good outline to start some redfaced thanksgiving table arguments from.
posted by Pembquist at 11:45 AM on July 24, 2016


Hey languagehat I'll tell you why people are so desperate to prove Hitler was elected: its the feel good flipside to the other feel good side of the story. Basically do I want to see the Germans as guilty or as victims, "this could happen to me" vs "I would never do that."
posted by Pembquist at 11:59 AM on July 24, 2016


Is there a "Downfall" for the period when Hitler rose to power? (Dramatized but (afaik) accurate historical narrative, high production, human-scale?
posted by Chris4d at 3:03 PM on July 24, 2016


I'll tell you why people are so desperate to prove Hitler was elected: its the feel good flipside to the other feel good side of the story. Basically do I want to see the Germans as guilty or as victims, "this could happen to me" vs "I would never do that."

I see it more as people wanting to exclude the idea that WWII and the Holocaust were the cause of one man (or one small group) that swept into power in, well, a blitzkrieg and insta-brainwashed the good German people. It's about a recognition that democracy can be undercut, that democratic institutions can be corrupted or can be used as means of obfuscating the centralization and co-opting of power.

Oddly westerners are pretty good at calling out other countries' flawed institutions but when we get a despot or worse it is always about this brilliant evil person or clique and never about the "people" in general enabling them or looking away.
posted by tivalasvegas at 3:10 PM on July 24, 2016 [5 favorites]


It Can't Happen Here by Sinclair Lewis is a better example than Hitler’s rise to power.
And it is more cogent because unlike genuine history, fiction has to make some kind of sense.

But in 1933 no one was disenfranchised (and despite widespread anti-semitism, the Jews weren’t until after Nuremberg in ’35), they had fair elections, multiple parties, open discussion of bills in a bicameral legislature, and all that.

So people saying "saying that Hitler was democratically elected” are probably pointing to the failure of checks in electoral systems to stop dangerous but popularly supported social problems (anti-semitism there for example) and lack of genuinely equal representation as well as the success rate of fea-rmongering and the lies demanding “temporary” and “emergency” powers in leading to bloody dictatorships.

Because people know pedantry will get you ratted out and killed whether there’s active popular support or opposition is terrified into silence.

Actually, the movie Conspiracy with Kenneth Branagh is good on this point too. Bunch of lawyers in the room arguing some very practical points of law – and very clearly on board with their whole oppress the Jews agenda (if not entirely onboard with genocide), so clearly in parity with the Nazi party, absolutely on their side and, in fact, trying to help by pointing out, again, just practical flaws in execution of the Holocaust - and the response of Heydrich is essentially “shut up or I’ll have the gestapo kill you.”

The rule of law cannot be used to oppose naked force. Cicero knew this (Silent enim leges inter arma comes from partisan domestic conflict, not nation-state war)

It's like a guy pointing out the fallacy of the appeal to force while getting his ass kicked.

Caesar had a huge popular base, then he got killed. And then they killed Cicero. And Cato and Brutus committed suicide. And there was no more Republic anyway.

So matters of election, popular support, all that, don't necessarily enter into the "apparatus of government equation" one way or another.

It's a matter of Transformation - from one kind of society into another rather than a change in how political ruling operates.

The exact historical moment of this Fall, isn't often clear. Even, perhaps especially, to the people living in it.

...it's an older story than Germany, I guess is my point here.

That and people should relax more about these things. We're all going to die. Stop identifying with mass causes and thinking taking drastic measures in our lifetimes are going to somehow change things for all time.
We should focus on how to live well in the meantime. Eat some mangoes. Take a trip. Help some people out. Connect rather than preach. And build that into the system.

Then the psychopaths who jerk off over thousand year reigns stand out like tarantulas on a piece of angel food cake.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:52 PM on July 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I’m late to this thread, but I’d be remiss not to point out this bit of misinformation in the video:

In addition to losing over a tenth of its territory, and dismantling its army, Germany had to accept full responsibility for the war and pay reparations, debilitating its already weakened economy. All this was seen as a humiliation by many nationalists and veterans.

It is true that many Germans took the treaty’s terms as an insult, but it is not true that reparations wrecked the German economy. At least, not directly.

German leaders deliberately sabotaged their own economy, causing hyperinflation, in an attempt to get the reparations renegotiated in light of Germany’s “hardship”. They were successful in this, but not without collateral damage.

In the end, the amount Germany actually paid was quite small. As an example, Great War receipts for “legal” loot, from Belgium, alone, total more. The reparations were not some great iron ball holding them back.

By the latter half of 1920s, Germany was fine. Their economy was the strongest in Europe.

Then the Depression hit in late 1929, as it did for everyone. These are the economic troubles that gave the Nazis an opportunity, not the Treaty of Versailles—though it was a useful rhetorical scapegoat.

Sally Marks’ “The Myths of Reparations” (1978) is an influential work in the field if you want a jumping‐off point for more.
posted by Fongotskilernie at 2:01 AM on July 28, 2016 [2 favorites]


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