The storming of America’s Capitol marked a clear violation of the oath that Donald Trump and millions of us war veterans took when we swore to defend the Constitution of the United States and to protect our country against all enemies.
In a recent commentary, I reviewed Alaska’s history of bipartisanship and urged Alaskans to pursue that course. I am personally delighted to learn that Sen. Lisa Murkowski has spoken out on that subject. May others also learn from the attack on the nation’s Capitol that we must work together and abandon divisiveness.
I want to take a step back in history and lay out the horrific path that our country might have followed if Trump’s invitation to the mob to take over the nation’s Capitol had succeeded and nullified the November election.
Sadly, such a disaster befell the world during the last century. It brought on a world war that destroyed nations and left millions dead and wounded around the world, including hundreds of thousands of American warriors. And I remember well what brought it on.
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I was 8 years old when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany in 1933, my brother a year older. My father Louis, an American foreign correspondent, and our mother, Markoosha, a Russian translator, had decided in 1930 that lack of food and crowded living conditions in Moscow had been too horrific, and sent my brother and me off to Berlin to live with their friends, Paul and Hede.
While the living conditions were better, the economic chaos and social despair imposed upon Germany by the victors of World War I created an atmosphere in which extremists could win supporters for their side in elections. The currency became worthless and a new leader promised a better Germany.
Big business funded the Nazis to beat back labor unions and strengthen capitalism. The industrialists foolishly believed they would always be able to control Hitler. Fear of the communism helped drive the German middle class toward the Nazis.
Two rounds of elections in 1932 brought Berlin to a frenzy of marches and demonstrations. I well remember the hope that the adults expressed that the left would make advances while fearful that a Nazi victory would bring our annihilation. Scores of Germans on both sides died in election violence.
The fascists did well in the voting. After a period of stalemate and uncertainty, President Paul von Hindenburg named Hitler as Germany’s chancellor on January 30, 1933.
In his book “Men and Politics,” my father documented the meeting with the industrialists when Hitler won Hindenburg’s support. Hitler’s mediocrity and extremism convinced them he could be handled as a puppet.
Four weeks later, on the night of Feb. 27, 1933, explosive news came that the Reichstag – the home of the German parliament – had been set on fire. Only a shell was left of the grand stone building. The government accused a deranged leftist of setting the fire. Using this as a pretext, Hitler declared a state of emergency and suspended civil rights, outlawing communists, and making massive arrests. Within a month, he had taken total control of Germany.
That’s how Hitler, the most prominent megalomaniac of the 20th century, began to set the world on fire.
By August 1933, Hitler had negotiated a non-aggression pact with Russia’s dictator, Josef Stalin. In September, their troops overran Poland and World War II was underway. Austria was absorbed by Germany. Czechoslovakia, France and other countries were occupied, and Britain was under attack.
In June 1941, Hitler’s troops massively invaded Russia. And on Dec. 7 of that year, Japan, Germany’s partner in Asia, bombed the U.S. Naval Base in Pearl Harbor, bringing America into the war.
I graduated from high school in 1942 and enrolled at the University of Wisconsin that fall. By November of that year, I decided to enlist in the Army to help win the war against fascism. I served in France, Germany and the Philippines, returning to the U.S. in 1946.
So, now, let’s turn to the ultimate American megalomaniac of our time: Donald Trump.
We’ve had some great presidents, and some pretty lousy ones. But none has ever been in the Trump category.
From the beginning, Trump has cheated and lied his way through life, undercut business associates, trampled those who were defenseless, proud of every deal that brought him visibility, admiration and wealth.
Trump has used the U.S. presidency as a personal fiefdom. Everything has revolved around his ego. He has shamelessly dumped competent experts and supporters who were effectively serving him and the U.S government.
It’s hard to imagine that Trump knows enough history to see the parallel between Hitler’s takeover after the Reichstag in 1933 and his own invitation for the mob to descend on the U.S. Capitol.
To me, Trump is a Hitler at heart — a fascist if there ever was one. He is the ultimate megalomaniac of our era. Let us remember him, and never fall for such a one again.
Lastly, my personal thanks to all the people who defended America’s Capitol. May nothing like what they faced ever threaten America again.
Vic Fischer, 96, is the only surviving delegate to the Alaska Constitutional Convention of 1955-56. He served in the last Alaska Territorial House of Representatives from 1957-1958 and the Alaska State Senate from 1981-1986. He was the founding director of the University of Alaska’s Institute of Social and Economic Research.
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