hobie1616

1918 Germany Has a Warning for America

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Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign recalls one of the most disastrous political lies of the 20th century.

 

HAMBURG, Germany — It may well be that Germans have a special inclination to panic at specters from the past, and I admit that this alarmism annoys me at times. Yet watching President Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign since Election Day, I can’t help but see a parallel to one of the most dreadful episodes from Germany’s history.

One hundred years ago, amid the implosions of Imperial Germany, powerful conservatives who led the country into war refused to accept that they had lost. Their denial gave birth to arguably the most potent and disastrous political lie of the 20th century — the Dolchstosslegende, or stab-in-the-back myth.

Its core claim was that Imperial Germany never lost World War I. Defeat, its proponents said, was declared but not warranted. It was a conspiracy, a con, a capitulation — a grave betrayal that forever stained the nation. That the claim was palpably false didn’t matter. Among a sizable number of Germans, it stirred resentment, humiliation and anger. And the one figure who knew best how to exploit their frustration was Adolf Hitler.

Don’t get me wrong: This is not about comparing Mr. Trump to Hitler, which would be absurd. But the Dolchstosslegende provides a warning. It’s tempting to dismiss Mr. Trump’s irrational claim that the election was “rigged” as a laughable last convulsion of his reign or a cynical bid to heighten the market value for the TV personality he might once again intend to become, especially as he appears to be giving up on his effort to overturn the election result.

But that would be a grave error. Instead, the campaign should be seen as what it is: an attempt to elevate “They stole it” to the level of legend, perhaps seeding for the future social polarization and division on a scale America has never seen.

In 1918, Germany was staring at defeat. The entry of the United States into the war the year before, and a sequence of successful counterattacks by British and French forces, left German forces demoralized. Navy sailors went on strike. They had no appetite to be butchered in the hopeless yet supposedly holy mission of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the loyal aristocrats who made up the Supreme Army Command.

A starving population joined the strikes and demands for a republic grew. On Nov. 9, 1918, Wilhelm abdicated, and two days later the army leaders signed the armistice. It was too much to bear for many: Military officers, monarchists and right-wingers spread the myth that if it had not been for political sabotage by Social Democrats and Jews back home, the army would never have had to give in.

The deceit found willing supporters. “Im Felde unbesiegt” — “undefeated on the battlefield” — was the slogan with which returning soldiers were greeted. Newspapers and postcards depicted German soldiers being stabbed in the back by either evil figures carrying the red flag of socialism or grossly caricatured Jews.

By the time of the Treaty of Versailles the following year, the myth was already well established. The harsh conditions imposed by the Allies, including painful reparation payments, burnished the sense of betrayal. It was especially incomprehensible that Germany, in just a couple of years, had gone from one of the world’s most respected nations to its biggest loser.

The startling aspect about the Dolchstosslegende is this: It did not grow weaker after 1918 but stronger. In the face of humiliation and unable or unwilling to cope with the truth, many Germans embarked on a disastrous self-delusion: The nation had been betrayed, but its honor and greatness could never be lost. And those without a sense of national duty and righteousness — the left and even the elected government of the new republic — could never be legitimate custodians of the country.

In this way, the myth was not just the sharp wedge that drove the Weimar Republic apart. It was also at the heart of Nazi propaganda, and instrumental in justifying violence against opponents. The key to Hitler’s success was that, by 1933, a considerable part of the German electorate had put the ideas embodied in the myth — honor, greatness, national pride — above democracy.

The Germans were so worn down by the lost war, unemployment and international humiliation that they fell prey to the promises of a “Führer” who cracked down hard on anyone perceived as “traitors,” leftists and Jews above all. The stab-in-the-back myth was central to it all. When Hitler became chancellor on Jan. 30, 1933, the Nazi newspaper Völkischer Beobachter wrote that “irrepressible pride goes through the millions” who fought so long to “undo the shame of 9 November 1918.”

Germany’s first democracy fell. Without a basic consensus built on a shared reality, society split into groups of ardent, uncompromising partisans. And in an atmosphere of mistrust and paranoia, the notion that dissenters were threats to the nation steadily took hold.

Alarmingly, that seems to be exactly what is happening in the United States today. According to the Pew Research Center, 89 percent of Trump supporters believe that a Joe Biden presidency would do “lasting harm to the U.S.,” while 90 percent of Biden supporters think the reverse. And while the question of which news media to trust has long split America, now even the largely unmoderated Twitter is regarded as partisan. Since the election, millions of Trump supporters have installed the alternative social media app Parler. Filter bubbles are turning into filter networks.

In such a landscape of social fragmentation, Mr. Trump’s baseless accusations about electoral fraud could do serious harm. A staggering 88 percent of Trump voters believe that the election result is illegitimate, according to a YouGov poll. A myth of betrayal and injustice is well underway.

It took another war and decades of reappraisal for the Dolchstosslegende to be exposed as a disastrous, fatal fallacy. If it has any worth today, it is in the lessons it can teach other nations. First among them: Beware the beginnings.

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And it should be noted as well that Germany in 1918 

was the world's most educated country, most scientifically advanced, most cultured (arguably) . . 

And y'all think it cannot happen here ?  

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10 minutes ago, AJ Oliver said:

And it should be noted as well that Germany in 1918 

was the world's most educated country, most scientifically advanced, most cultured (arguably) . . 

And y'all think it cannot happen here ?  

Bullshit.  They had just lost WW I.  The Weimar Republic was an economic disaster.

That development came about to build a war machine in the following 20 years.

Here, learn yourself sumthin'

https://alphahistory.com/weimarrepublic/why-the-weimar-republic-failed/

Hyperinflation didn't help a lot.

330px-Germany_Hyperinflation.svg.png

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20 minutes ago, Saorsa said:

Bullshit

I wrote "1918" and stand by that. The failures of Weimar are another tale. 

Why am I responding respectfully to you? You totally do not deserve it. 

the German Empire was an industrial, technological, and scientific giant, gaining more Nobel Prizes in science than any other country

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Never heard of Parler.
Don't have Twitter
Don't have FB anymore
Never had instagram
I'm sure there are many others like these forums which are becoming almost boring at best. Lots of blathering.

They were right in writing that no one knows who to trust in the news. Journalism is dead,  Stardom, Book deals and Political favors are the goal.

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2 hours ago, hobie1616 said:


Donald Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign recalls one of the most disastrous political lies of the 20th century.

 

HAMBURG, Germany — It may well be that Germans have a special inclination to panic at specters from the past, and I admit that this alarmism annoys me at times. Yet watching President Trump’s “Stop the Steal” campaign since Election Day, I can’t help but see a parallel to one of the most dreadful episodes from Germany’s history.

One hundred years ago, amid the implosions of Imperial Germany, powerful conservatives who led the country into war refused to accept that they had lost. Their denial gave birth to arguably the most potent and disastrous political lie of the 20th century — the Dolchstosslegende, or stab-in-the-back myth.

Its core claim was that Imperial Germany never lost World War I. Defeat, its proponents said, was declared but not warranted. It was a conspiracy, a con, a capitulation — a grave betrayal that forever stained the nation. That the claim was palpably false didn’t matter. Among a sizable number of Germans, it stirred resentment, humiliation and anger. And the one figure who knew best how to exploit their frustration was Adolf Hitler.

Don’t get me wrong: This is not about comparing Mr. Trump to Hitler, which would be absurd. But the Dolchstosslegende provides a warning. It’s tempting to dismiss Mr. Trump’s irrational claim that the election was “rigged” as a laughable last convulsion of his reign or a cynical bid to heighten the market value for the TV personality he might once again intend to become, especially as he appears to be giving up on his effort to overturn the election result.

But that would be a grave error. Instead, the campaign should be seen as what it is: an attempt to elevate “They stole it” to the level of legend, perhaps seeding for the future social polarization and division on a scale America has never seen.

In 1918, Germany was staring at defeat. The entry of the United States into the war the year before, and a sequence of successful counterattacks by British and French forces, left German forces demoralized. Navy sailors went on strike. They had no appetite to be butchered in the hopeless yet supposedly holy mission of Kaiser Wilhelm II and the loyal aristocrats who made up the Supreme Army Command.

A starving population joined the strikes and demands for a republic grew. On Nov. 9, 1918, Wilhelm abdicated, and two days later the army leaders signed the armistice. It was too much to bear for many: Military officers, monarchists and right-wingers spread the myth that if it had not been for political sabotage by Social Democrats and Jews back home, the army would never have had to give in.

The deceit found willing supporters. “Im Felde unbesiegt” — “undefeated on the battlefield” — was the slogan with which returning soldiers were greeted. Newspapers and postcards depicted German soldiers being stabbed in the back by either evil figures carrying the red flag of socialism or grossly caricatured Jews.

By the time of the Treaty of Versailles the following year, the myth was already well established. The harsh conditions imposed by the Allies, including painful reparation payments, burnished the sense of betrayal. It was especially incomprehensible that Germany, in just a couple of years, had gone from one of the world’s most respected nations to its biggest loser.

The startling aspect about the Dolchstosslegende is this: It did not grow weaker after 1918 but stronger. In the face of humiliation and unable or unwilling to cope with the truth, many Germans embarked on a disastrous self-delusion: The nation had been betrayed, but its honor and greatness could never be lost. And those without a sense of national duty and righteousness — the left and even the elected government of the new republic — could never be legitimate custodians of the country.

In this way, the myth was not just the sharp wedge that drove the Weimar Republic apart. It was also at the heart of Nazi propaganda, and instrumental in justifying violence against opponents. The key to Hitler’s success was that, by 1933, a considerable part of the German electorate had put the ideas embodied in the myth — honor, greatness, national pride — above democracy.

The Germans were so worn down by the lost war, unemployment and international humiliation that they fell prey to the promises of a “Führer” who cracked down hard on anyone perceived as “traitors,” leftists and Jews above all. The stab-in-the-back myth was central to it all. When Hitler became chancellor on Jan. 30, 1933, the Nazi newspaper Völkischer Beobachter wrote that “irrepressible pride goes through the millions” who fought so long to “undo the shame of 9 November 1918.”

Germany’s first democracy fell. Without a basic consensus built on a shared reality, society split into groups of ardent, uncompromising partisans. And in an atmosphere of mistrust and paranoia, the notion that dissenters were threats to the nation steadily took hold.

Alarmingly, that seems to be exactly what is happening in the United States today. According to the Pew Research Center, 89 percent of Trump supporters believe that a Joe Biden presidency would do “lasting harm to the U.S.,” while 90 percent of Biden supporters think the reverse. And while the question of which news media to trust has long split America, now even the largely unmoderated Twitter is regarded as partisan. Since the election, millions of Trump supporters have installed the alternative social media app Parler. Filter bubbles are turning into filter networks.

In such a landscape of social fragmentation, Mr. Trump’s baseless accusations about electoral fraud could do serious harm. A staggering 88 percent of Trump voters believe that the election result is illegitimate, according to a YouGov poll. A myth of betrayal and injustice is well underway.

It took another war and decades of reappraisal for the Dolchstosslegende to be exposed as a disastrous, fatal fallacy. If it has any worth today, it is in the lessons it can teach other nations. First among them: Beware the beginnings.

Might be nice to credit Jochen Bittner and the NYT for this piece.... Just sayin'...

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1 hour ago, Saorsa said:

Bullshit.  They had just lost WW I.  The Weimar Republic was an economic disaster.

That development came about to build a war machine in the following 20 years.

Here, learn yourself sumthin'

https://alphahistory.com/weimarrepublic/why-the-weimar-republic-failed/

Hyperinflation didn't help a lot.

330px-Germany_Hyperinflation.svg.png

Don't waste you time with Hoie1616, he is a copy and paste dive by poster.  Poor lad couldn't muster an original thought if his life depended on it.  You're better off with Bad Latitude and some would say they are one in the same.

 

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4 minutes ago, nacradriver said:

Don't waste you time with Hoie1616, he is a copy and paste dive by poster.  Poor lad couldn't muster an original thought if his life depended on it.  You're better off with Bad Latitude and some would say they are one in the same.

 

At least his sources can spell.

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Just now, Ishmael said:

At least his sources can spell.

Yeah about that, I admit I am hrooriuble... but if spelling counts... well you know the drill

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3 hours ago, Saorsa said:

Bullshit.  They had just lost WW I.  The Weimar Republic was an economic disaster.

That development came about to build a war machine in the following 20 years.

Here, learn yourself sumthin'

https://alphahistory.com/weimarrepublic/why-the-weimar-republic-failed/

Hyperinflation didn't help a lot.

330px-Germany_Hyperinflation.svg.png

After WWI they were a mess, really including the years up to WWII, the reparations just strangled them. (Thank heavens George Mashall was a student of history, btw.)

But A.J.'s point is valid ... Germany was the global center of the more solid bits of culture and thought, the epicenter of science, art, psychology, literature and philosophy. And Germany was also progressive ... they accepted homosexuals, Africans, Jews and off-track religions in a way that the rest of the world was unable. But of course, simmering beneath that surface of accepting liberalism were the seeds of the Holocaust.

The moral is still there ... if it could happen in Germany, mighty, mighty Germany, then it can happen anywhere.

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4 hours ago, Meat Wad said:

Never heard of Parler.
Don't have Twitter
Don't have FB anymore
Never had instagram
I'm sure there are many others like these forums which are becoming almost boring at best. Lots of blathering.

They were right in writing that no one knows who to trust in the news. Journalism is dead,  Stardom, Book deals and Political favors are the goal.

I can give you a good clue about who to trust in the media....

When a particular speaker/announcer says "Don't trust the others, they are lying to you!" then don't trust him. He wants you to take his word blindly.

If there is a whole channel or medium which repeats this message often, stop going there. They are trying to brainwash you.

- DSK

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4 hours ago, Meat Wad said:

They were right in writing that no one knows who to trust in the news. Journalism is dead,  Stardom, Book deals and Political favors are the goal.

Bullshit.

Only morons don't know where to get truthful news reporting.

Only morons think that it doesn't exist

Only morons regard shit like Fox and its elk as "news".

In other words - you.

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2 hours ago, nacradriver said:

Yeah about that, I admit I am hrooriuble... but if spelling counts... well you know the drill

It counts if you want to appear like something other than an ignorant fool.

Which apparently none of you Trumpeters do.

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6 minutes ago, Steam Flyer said:

I can give you a good clue about who to trust in the media....

When a particular speaker/announcer says "Don't trust the others, they are lying to you!" then don't trust him. He wants you to take his word blindly.

If there is a whole channel or medium which repeats this message often, stop going there. They have succeeded in brainwashing you.

- DSK

FTFY

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5 hours ago, nacradriver said:

Don't waste you time with Hoie1616, he is a copy and paste dive by poster.  Poor lad couldn't muster an original thought if his life depended on it.  You're better off with Bad Latitude and some would say they are one in the same.

 

Hahahaha!! Do you still attend Amway conventions to get the latest QAnon updates?  How many of your Glenn Beck gold coins did you send to Trump’s "Election Defense Fund."

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I posted this elsewhere but Dolchstosslegende seems a lot like the South's Lost Cause. I don't know what if anything can be done to avoid it.

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7 hours ago, AJ Oliver said:

 

I wrote "1918" and stand by that. The failures of Weimar are another tale. 

Why am I responding respectfully to you? You totally do not deserve it. 

the German Empire was an industrial, technological, and scientific giant, gaining more Nobel Prizes in science than any other country

I'll still call it bullshit.

Any country that starts two world wars does not merit my admiration.

As to Nobel Prizes by 1918 you are praising past glories.

https://worldpopulationreview.com/country-rankings/nobel-prizes-by-country

Here are the 10 countries with the most Nobel Prize winners:

  1. United States (375)
  2. United Kingdom (131)
  3. Germany (108)
  4. France (69)
  5. Sweden (32)
  6. Russia (31)
  7. Japan (27)
  8. Canada (26)
  9. Switzerland (26)
  10. Netherlands (21)

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4 minutes ago, Saorsa said:

I'll still call it bullshit.

Any country that starts two world wars does not merit my admiration.

As to Nobel Prizes by 1918 you are praising past glories.

....

Hey dumbass, the point was about a public lie that was commonly accepted in Germany in the aftermath of WW1, and that public acceptance of this lie brought down a great country, one of the most advanced in the world with highly educated citizens.

It's not relevant who has gotten more Nobel Prizes since then, and this public lie was one of the reasons for WW2.

Try actually reading a little of the thread next time

- DSK

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44 minutes ago, Saorsa said:

Here are the 10 countries with the most Nobel Prize winners:

  1. United States (375)
  2. United Kingdom (131)
  3. Germany (108)
  4. France (69)
  5. Sweden (32)
  6. Russia (31)
  7. Japan (27)
  8. Canada (26)
  9. Switzerland (26)
  10. Netherlands (21)

so on a per capita basis, the USA really isn't that smart.

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... if you have made it to this post please read the OP again.

It's important and almost 100 years after what happened in almost ancient Germany, as in without free press or internet or 24/7 access to well informed independent media, even the more concerning.

Read it. Again.

 

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17 hours ago, Olsonist said:

I posted this elsewhere but Dolchstosslegende seems a lot like the South's Lost Cause. I don't know what if anything can be done to avoid it.

Well, funny you should mention that . . 

In fact, it is a very common characteristic of authoritarian regimes to play the "Victim" card. 

The Argentine generals were masters of the genre 

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On 11/30/2020 at 8:55 PM, Saorsa said:

I'll still call it bullshit.

Any country that starts two world wars does not merit my admiration.

Good point. Screw 'em.

 

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On 11/30/2020 at 8:55 PM, Saorsa said:

Here are the 10 countries with the most Nobel Prize winners:

  1. United States (375)
  2. United Kingdom (131)
  3. Germany (108)
  4. France (69)
  5. Sweden (32)
  6. Russia (31)
  7. Japan (27)
  8. Canada (26)
  9. Switzerland (26)
  10. Netherlands (21)

What's kind of amazing about that list is how far the USA has come in science in such a short time. Before WWII we only had less than 10 Nobel Prizes in science and medicine. Most of our progress came after the war. That's less than a hundred years to have essentially built up world-class research institutions from little more than land grants and a few endowments. The European institutions had hundreds of years of continuous development to build those research programs.

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1 minute ago, mikewof said:

What's kind of amazing about that list is how far the USA has come in science in such a short time. Before WWII we only had less than 10 Nobel Prizes in science and medicine. Most of our progress came during and after the war. That's less than a hundred years to have essentially built up world-class research institutions from little more than land grants and a few endowments.

I don't count govt funding either. Too small to consider.

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6 minutes ago, Chris in Santa Cruz, CA said:

I don't count govt funding either. Too small to consider.

The original government funding was tied to the state land grants. But yes, compared to other countries, we have light government investment.

Of course, the point about the Nobel Prizes is that the research has to be fundamentally peaceful. The U.S. Government had very little peaceful investment in research until after the Cold War.

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7 hours ago, mikewof said:

What's kind of amazing about that list is how far the USA has come in science in such a short time. Before WWII we only had less than 10 Nobel Prizes in science and medicine. Most of our progress came after the war. That's less than a hundred years to have essentially built up world-class research institutions from little more than land grants and a few endowments. The European institutions had hundreds of years of continuous development to build those research programs.

I don't think we were ever that bad.  Our industrial output was already exceeding Europe before WW I.

  The Nobel prizes were a European invention and nothing American wasn't recognized much prior to WW I.

Measuring your worth by prizes awarded by others isn't really a fulfilling life.

 

 

 

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11 minutes ago, Saorsa said:

...

Measuring your worth by prizes awarded by others isn't really a fulfilling life.

 

Good thing you can award yourself your own prizes. Very fulfilling, I'm sure

- DSK

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1 hour ago, Saorsa said:

Measuring your worth by prizes awarded by others isn't really a fulfilling life.

You were the one who measured by including that ranking list.

Anyway, the Nobel Prizes in science (the other Nobel Prizes are more of a popularity contest) are kind of like a Stanley Cup; they aren't necessarily a definitive indication of excellence, but you're unlikely to get one without a lot of back-office work.

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3 hours ago, mikewof said:

You were the one who measured by including that ranking list.

Anyway, the Nobel Prizes in science (the other Nobel Prizes are more of a popularity contest) are kind of like a Stanley Cup; they aren't necessarily a definitive indication of excellence, but you're unlikely to get one without a lot of back-office work.

Nope, the idea that they were a ranking raised by someone else as though they were significant.

It just sounded too much like the "master race" bullshit that got us WW II.

Science is basically figuring out what engineers are doing.  Ogg didn't know shit about thermodynamics when he figure out how to keep and start fire.

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8 hours ago, Saorsa said:

Science is basically figuring out what engineers are doing.  Ogg didn't know shit about thermodynamics when he figure out how to keep and start fire.

Sometimes that's science. More often it's not.

A million engineers tinkering with all the materials available to them would not find out how to make repeatable, engraveable transistors. A million physicians tinkering with all the materials available to them would not find out how to make a radiation source sufficiently diverse and directed to kill cancer cells without damaging healthy cells.

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