Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Sharansky's appeasement

Did you know that there were elections in Nazi Germany?

I didn’t, and apparently neither does Sharansky. Even after much of the consolidation of Nazi power after the Reichstag fire and passage of the Enabling act in March 1933, Nazis still held elections to validate their power. Specifically, the position of Reichspräsident was elected to seven year terms (plus sixty days transition time) according to the Weimar constitution article 43, and was replaced by the Chancellor in the case of sudden vacancy. Given that the bastard assumed power after Hindenburg died August 2nd, and held an election on August 19th 1934, by Sharansky’s democracy criteria, Nazis could have made a plausible appeasement argument until Oct. 18, 1941.

Nazis themselves draw parallels between the changes in their own country and the changes of the New Deal:

By assuming the Presidency and Chancellorship Adolf Hitler has merely followed the example of the United States, the Presidents of which are also their own Prime Ministers, according to Baron von Freitag-Loringhoven, former Nationalist member of the Reichstag, Professor of International Law at the University of Breslau and member of the Permanent Court of International Justice.

The same situation, he says, exists in several other States created after the World War, so the charges that the union of the offices of President and Chancellor is contrary to the conception of a modern State are unjustified.
New York Times 8-19-1934 pg.8*

The point of all of this is that the Nazis didn't need to get rid of the facade of democracy in order to completely dominate the country and cause belligerence. Sharansky is not entirely wrong. We have an interest in the internal workings of our planetary neighbor’s societies, however that interest is not simply elections. Our interest is in preserving freedom of expression as measured by Sharansky’s public square test: if I can express my political views in the public square without fear of reprisal, the country has freedom of expression. This can happen because of the will of the demos or in spite of the will of the demos.

Somewhat more amazing to me is the cold professionalism exhibited by the WSJ in covering the bastard's plebiscite (8-21-1934 pg. 2 “Warning seen in hitler vote”). They remark analytically “German economy is more and more taking on a war-time shape, with all the inconveniences resulting from various control and prohibition measures,” noting that the possible solutions to the economic woes are inflation or lower salaries. Again with the exception of euphemistic quotation marks, no hint of humanity is given when introducing “Dr. Hjaimar Schnacht, the president of the Reichsbank, who recently was appointed Economic Dictator to replace Dr. Schmidt who is on six months ‘sick leave,’ is as staunchly as ever opposed to inflation, in contrast to his predecessor who was understood to have favored it.” The WSJ then ends their coverage with some warm fuzzy direct quotes from the bastard himself about how he plans to win over the twelve percent opposition, while in its coverage the NYT compares him to Genghis Khan.

*Yes, if you look at the article you notice that the German claims the plebiscite is not an election, but a referendum. This claim could easily have been converted if election rhetoric were more palatable then reform rhetoric.


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