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Friday, September 12, 2008

Smokey Briggs

Sage Views

By Smokey Briggs

One little step from
normal to evil

Have you ever wondered what happened to the Greatest Generation of Germany?

Our Greatest Generation, our fathers and grandfathers, survived the Great Depression and then destroyed Hitler’s Germany and their Jap allies before settling down to raise families.

Even though these same men and women parented the Baby Boomers, we still think a lot of them.

But what happened to the Germans?

How did they transform from a seemingly normal country into some of history’s nastiest bad guys.

In the 1920s they looked a lot like us – like America.

Fifteen years later Germany was an absolute dictatorship, the Nazi flag was flying over most of Europe and Northern Africa, and millions of people were dying in extermination camps, or simply being worked to death in labor camps.

So what happened to the Anti-Greatest Generation? What transformed them from a fairly normal bunch of Europeans into the world’s perfect villains?

This question has always fascinated me.

And, the more I’ve studied it, the more the answer has frightened me.

The answer is, it did not take much.

From what I have read, Germans are not inherently evil people. Historically they seem no less inclined to enslave and butcher and murder than any other culture.

So, what happened?

What happened is, the reins of government power got into the wrong hands.

It took one election to create an avalanche of evil that sent millions and millions of people to their graves.

The German people were not evil, and they did not drink a magic potion that transformed them into evil Nazis – but once Hitler’s National Socialists were elected, evil held the reins of state power. That was all it took.

Hitler did not come to power with promises of world domination, war, slavery and death camps for Jews, gypsies, Jehovah’s Witnesses, communists, dissenters and other politically weak groups of Germans.

Hitler got elected with the simple promises of fixing the German economy, providing jobs, and making Germany equal to other nations.

How many times have you heard politicians promise to fix the economy, make sure everybody had a job, and keep America strong?

The point is, the German people did not elect Hitler and company with visions of mass murder and war in their heads.

They were promised, and were hoping for, the same things our politicians promise us, and that we hope for — an economy that provides a little opportunity, a job that puts food on the table and a little money in the savings account, and security that would keep the bad guys from rolling across the border.

That may be what they voted for, but it was not what they got.

It was a mistake.

A democratically elected, lawfully created, mistake.

Of course, once he had the reins of government power in hand, Hitler did as he pleased. You can do that when you have the power of a national government at your service.

History books speak somewhat condescendingly of the German people allowing Hitler to come to power, and then looking the other way when he set about making war on half the world, while enslaving or exterminating a good number of his fellow citizens.

But, what were the German people supposed to do?

The average German was not allowed to own a gun – a holdover from the Weimar government that followed World War I.

Should they have held peace rallies? Protested? Voted? Stand un-armed in the face of armed government thugs?

The idea of driving a Hitler from office with an unarmed protest and an election is laughable. Politicians like Hitler do not leave peacefully.

More than once in my life I have been laughed at for my views on gun ownership.

I believe that every man and woman should own a weapon designed specifically to kill human beings, and should be skilled in its use.

And, the number one reason I hold to this belief is so we could resist a Hitler, should he ever sneak into power.

The laughers always have two arguments: First, they claim that a Hitler could never happen in America. Apparently, Americans are simply more politically savvy, nicer, smarter, more something, than those stupid, savage Germans in the 1930s.

But it took one mistake by the German people — one bad election. I have never been able to convince myself that Americans could never make one bad mistake.

Second, the laughers scoff that I give myself too much credit for guts, and that even if I had the guts and the ability, one man with a rifle is no match for the firepower at a government’s disposal. In essence, that I probably would not have the fortitude to resist, and it would not matter if I did, since resistance would be futile.

Would I have the courage to try?

I do not know.

I do know, however, that in my veins runs the blood of several generations of men and women who did have that kind of courage.

Maybe I do not have what it takes. But I am not the only child of these men and women with grit.

If my blood has somehow been corrupted, then maybe that of my brother and sister has not, or maybe my cousins’ veins still pulse with the strong stuff that built this country.

Surely there is strong blood left in some of the 300 million citizens of America.

Such people do not disappear in the space of one generation.

While one strong man with a rifle might not be able to do a lot, if one percent of our population answered the call, the resistance would number 3 million armed men and women. That is a force to be reckoned with.

It took one electoral mistake to transform Germany from a nation hardly indistinguishable from our own, into a nation now known for some of the most horrible state-sponsored atrocities of all time.

America is not perfect. We could make that mistake.

If the Germans could have effectively resisted their new masters, what might the world have avoided?

Maybe nothing. I do not have a crystal ball. But maybe a homicidal maniac would have been executed at the culmination of a German Revolution, our Greatest Generation would not have needed to be so great, and many more of them would have still been alive in 1946.

So, I think I will cling to my guns, and my religion, no matter what my would-be leaders on either side of the political isle decide.

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