Recently by Bob Bauman: Obama Repeals the 5th Amendment
Even though writing occupies much of each of my days, I also read a lot averaging one or two books a week.
Recently I bought a paperback edition of a book entitled: On Hitlers Mountain: Overcoming the Legacy of a Nazi Childhood by Irmgard A. Hunt.
Ms. Hunt, a self-identified political liberal and pacifist, is a former executive of various U.S. and international environmental organizations, who currently resides in Washington, D.C. Now a U.S. citizen, she was born in 1934 in Berchtesgaden, Bavaria, where Adolf Hitler set up his headquarters and his mountain retreat, the Eagles Nest.
In fact, in one of her most compelling stories, at the age of three, Hunt recalls sitting in Hitlers lap during a 1941 village visit, suspiciously studying his mustache, his slicked-back, oily hair while at the same time acutely seeing the importance of the moment. Her father was one of the first German soldiers drafted and one of the first to die. Hunt was only 11 when the war ended, but her eyewitness account does provide much personal insight into life under the Nazis.
Another German Lady Remembers
Last month I met an 83-year-old American lady and her husband, a veteran of World War II, both from Nevada. Because she spoke English with a German accent, we got to talking and I soon learned that at an early age she had been sent to the Sudetenland to a Hitler Youth Camp for girls.
When the war ended, in the mass confusion she had literally been turned loose from the camp, and with other girls, she became a refugee walking hundreds of miles in an effort to find her family. She recalled sleeping in the woods, starvation and scavenging garbage from the trash of American GIs, one of whom hit her in the back with a rifle butt, an injury from which she still suffers today. She eventually found her mother.
With all this in her past, this elderly lady is a proud American who loves her adopted country. When we discussed Hunts book about her childhood in Nazi German, I asked whether she thought that something akin to the Nazis and Hitler could happen in America. Without any hesitation she replied: Of course it could; it is what I fear most about America today.
Could It Happen in America?
Imgard Hunt also addressed this very question in her book when she was asked: Could a Hitler happen here in America? If you think so what would be the circumstances? Are there aspects of life in the United States that would prevent a Hitler from rising here?
Here is her disturbing response, and something to consider in the context of American politics:
I thought a great deal about that while I wrote my book.
Yes, an American version of a Hitler dictatorship is possible but not the Holocaust. A dictatorship in America would arrive largely unnoticed and insidiously, with the pretense of a free democracy intact. The prerequisites would be that the executive, legislative, and judicial functions would be in the hands of one party, headed by a man on a mission who surrounds himself only with the like-minded.
The media would be largely controlled by that party or by sympathetic owners. The military would be obedient and heed the leaders orders against their better judgment, while the moneyed interests would be well protected. A powerful, shrewd, and sophisticated propaganda machine ready to lie to people and manipulate their minds a propaganda machine like that of Dr. Goebbels would quickly increase the danger of voices of reason, diverse opinions, and criticism.
Suspending the Constitution
The trigger that could tip the scale dangerously in such a direction might be a monstrous economic disaster or more fear-inspiring terrorist attacks providing the excuse to suspend or ignore the Constitution and to declare emergency powers like Hitler did in 1933 after the fire in the Reichstag. There might be a group or groups that would be demonized and become an excuse for extreme measures. In Germany it was the Jews. Here it might be terrorists or Muslims.
And yes, I believe we are seeing danger signs all around us, from the Homeland Security Act that diminishes civil rights and increased surveillance to scare tactics that increase fear, acceptance of torture of prisoners, and acceptance of a war based on lies. Add to that litany the increasing political power of an intolerant, ideology-driven, fundamentalist right wing and we have a scenario that could spell the end of democracy as we know it.
There are of course enormous differences between the United States now and Germany then. For one, the ultra-fascist, violent Storm Troopers (S.A.) who staged the Kristallnacht and spread violence before and after Hitlers power grab do not now have an American equivalent. In addition, the extreme fear of an imminent Communist revolution that haunted the Germans in the twenties does not exist.
Most importantly, the American people, unless they become completely brainwashed by their government and their fundamentalist religious leaders, are used to living in a democracy, to questioning, speaking up, protesting, marching, blowing the whistle, and pointing the finger.
If we want to keep America free we must continue to do just that.
Something to ponder seriously, dear readers.
Reprinted with permission from The Sovereign Investor.
Robert E. Bauman is a former Member of the United States House of Representatives from Maryland, (19731981). He is also a former federal official and state legislator; Member, Washington, DC Bar; Graduate of the Georgetown University Law Center (1964) and the School of Foreign Service (1959), Washington, DC. Robert currently serves as legal counsel for the Sovereign Society.