Saturday, 18 May 2019

Blame it on Bismark, not on the Jews

I wrote about the octogenarian Dutchman who told me Churchill was responsible for the Second World War and that if the Jews had not tried to control the world, Hitler would not have had to kill them.
(As an aside, the Dutch Strasserist leaves the option open of some “good” Jews who did not try to control the world; sounds very modern.)
This is a form of extreme historical revisionism that tries to downplay the evil role of the Nazis, and is only voiced by right-wing and Muslim Jew-haters.

Unfortunately, there is other revisionist claptrap supported by more people.
One of the most popular delusions is the assertion that the (draconian) reparations Germany had to pay at the end of the First World War led to the election of Hitler and the Second World War.
Not in the sense of one of the contributing factors, but in the sense of a causal relationship.

On social media everybody is a historian and everything can be explained with a one-liner. In this case: it was the reparations.
The claim paints the German people as victims who chose Hitler because of the persecution of the allies and usually blames the Jews, who are said to have controlled the finances of the reparations system.
It is mainly voiced by historical revisionists. However, there are also stupid, naive people everywhere who lap it up.
I have just seen it presented as “fact” by Jews on a Dutch FB-friend’s site. I did not comment as I have nothing to say to them.

In the following paragraphs I will take a short, casual look at the revisionist claim: there was a causal relationship between the reparations, the election of Hitler and the Second World War.

Did the Germans actually elect Hitler during the democratic period of the Weimar Republic? No they did not.
In the last free elections of November 1932, his party received 33% of the vote. That was a drop of 4% from the previous election.
It was the fragmentation of the vote and the peculiar working of the system of proportional representation, not a majority of the German electorate, that helped him seize power.

What about the reparations then?
Yes the reparations were draconian, but 1933 was 15 years after the end of the First World War.
And, I would add, have you never heard of the Dawes plan and the economic "Golden Years"?

In April 1924, an American economist named Charles Dawes was recruited to help set a new, realistic, target for Germany’s reparations payments.
This was called the Dawes Plan. Besides reducing the reparations, his plan reorganized the German National Bank and called for a loan of 800 million gold marks (emphasis on gold) for Germany.
The loan, financed primarily by America, was given. 

These measures eased the economic pressure on Germany.
The economic improvement led to the years between 1924 and 1929 becoming known as the “Golden Years”.
In October 1929 the Wall Street Crash occurred and the German economy collapsed. 

There are libraries full of analyses of the factors that contributed to the rise of Hitler and the Second World War.
Some refer to political science theories, like the J-curve of frustrated “rising expectations”, to explain the growth of left-wing and right-wing extremism in Germany in the interbellum years.

Even I have tried my hand at analysis. I wrote a paper on the subject that was well–received by my peers. Unfortunately, my epistle was written many years ago and I can only remember the highlights.

I highlighted the fact that Germany had no democratic tradition.
Bismark had united Germany under Prussia through wars. He did not allow any real democracy. The tradition of militarism and autocracy was predominant.
The Weimar Republic created wonderful democratic institutions. However, they were not populated by democrats and were not a buffer to the rise of extremism.

So my one-liner would be: blame it on Bismark, not on the Jews

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