“Behind Me are Millions”

A German warning to America from History

From my Writing Room

Copyright © 2021 by Uwe Bahr

It would be a mistake to assume that Donald Trump, the mob-president, depends on the Republican Party. Instead, it must be feared that the bulk of his 74 million voters will foolishly follow him, if not within the GOP, so in any other political movement – after all, idiocy is sufficiently established in this society to serve as the trailblazer. No law will be an issue anymore.

This man with limited intellectual faculties, stricken by pathological egotism and vindictiveness, will very likely be back in public “in one form or the other”, as he himself put it in his last hours in office. America’s democracy, including a shocking number of citizens, has failed in the most despicable manner, which will result in more consequences for this country.

Of course, Trump is not Hitler, who once boasted “Behind me are Millions.” Unfortunately, it was true. And yet, the situation is insofar comparable as Trump, still supported by millions, can play cat and mouse with the Republican Party, and, as the attack on the Capitol has proven, challenge the American democracy and its institutions to the core, virtually at will and without being punished. This fact will not have escaped his followers.

In 1932 and before, when Hitler did pretty much something very similar even before he became Chancellor in the following year, the illusory “Cabinet of the Barons”, the stirrup holders of the Austrian corporal, had degraded itself to powerlessness, because after all the assurances it was now too late to do something against Hitler – for millions were following him in ecstasy, spurred on with simple paroles against the establishment. Notice something?

To be sincere: If there had not been an American 1 June 2020 (when local law enforcement cleared peaceful demonstrators from Lafayette Square) and a 6 January 2021 (when the Capitol riot occurred), any comparisons with Hitler would not have even remotely entered my mind. As an historian, like so many Americans, I would have never thought such events possible as it happened in Washington D.C.

The darkest chapter in German history will certainly never repeat itself in an American way. For this, in retrospect, not least the foreign and domestic policy accents are as different as day and night, not to mention the historical and economic situation of both countries – Germany back then and the US today. But the danger that something more entirely atypical by American political standards could happen on a grand scale, can no longer be considered impossible. Much will certainly depend on the outcome of the next elections, and also if any of the various criminal investigations against Trump as a private individual will derail him.

It is much to be hoped that Nikki Haley, former Republican South Carolina governor and UN ambassador, who broke with Trump, is right about her prophecy: that Donald Trump will not return.*

But, how does she know that?

Note: *Nikki Haley, interview with “Politico”, 12 February 2021.

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