The Rise of the Nazis – some parallels today?

Anyone who has flicked around cable TV channels will know that somewhere in the world you can always watch: (1) Friends and (2) Lots of Nazis goose-stepping backwards and forwards on history channels.

So, it was with some trepidation that I saw that the BBC were to air “The Rise of the Nazis”.

I expected yet another compilation of black and white clips of goose-stepping soldiers.

However, I was pleasantly surprised.

The Rise of the Nazis is an excellent documentary series, based on interviews with expert historians and dramatic reconstructions.

It intelligently tells a story which is often overlooked – how Hitler managed to come to power as Chancellor and then seize total power.

The documentary brilliantly tells this story.

It is much recommended. You can watch it on BBC iPlayer here.

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.

Of course, this whole episode has chilling parallels today in the UK, the USA and around the world.

Dictators wheedle their way in using subtle methods. We need to be constantly on our guard.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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54 Comments

  • The recent protests by school children about climate change put me in mind of the politicisation of young people during both the Nazi and Communist regimes, and with the full “encouragement” of teachers (who present only one side of the argument – just like totalitarian regimes). How long before the young report their parents to the authorities??

  • nigel hunter 25th Sep '19 - 5:09pm

    History is not taught in schools as much as it was in my day (going back some) Kings and Queens, Roman Empire etc. The ‘errors’ of the past may not appear today in schools so the mistakes of the past are not highlighted. Along with this Social History should come to the fore. For example what led up to the Corn Laws ,the struggle for better health. A host of human advancement things These things do come up with us ‘politico’s or in PPE degree courses but not in school Human development could be advanced from the young knowing about the past and innovating for their futures

  • Barry Lofty 25th Sep '19 - 5:38pm

    I too watched this series and was also struck by the similarities with today’s rise of the right-wing nationalistic politicians, being of the post war generation it is very alarming and I can only hope that the younger generations do not fall for their false promises and lies?

  • Never forget that the rise of the 1930s dictators took place when Liberals were weak. When the signs start appearing in our own politics the need for a vibrant liberalism is very very clear.

  • Hidetomo (Tom) Kaneko 25th Sep '19 - 6:29pm

    I too watched the series and was astonished at how fragile the institutions of democracy can be (The Nazis dismantled democracy in 6 months, without even a majority in the reichstag).

    I also worry about the parallels with today. Today’s Parliament was full of hatred boiling over. Then there’s Boris Johnson portraying parliament being against the people, when they are the only institution who are accountable to the people.

    Scary times. The story of the Nazi’s must be told and retold to every generation. It is a needed warning story for every age.

  • John Marriott 25th Sep '19 - 6:35pm

    Could it have happened here? Could it happen here in the future? The answer to the first question is probably yes; the answer to the second is more nuanced. However, if we were ever to elect our parliamentarians by social media, to which many people appear to turn for their information, the chances might be 50/50.

    Back in the 1930s democracy was definitely on trial. Many people found much in communism to like, while, at the other end of the political spectrum, support for Sir Oswald Mosley’s Blackshirts was strong. It’s interesting that many state papers from the period have still not been released because, it was speculated, that they might well implement the ancestors of several well connected families. Certainly some ennobled newspaper owners were prepared to cosy up to fascism. Even politicians like David Lloyd George briefly succumbed to the blandishments of Hitler and co. And as for the ex King Edward VIII.

    Indeed, had the BEF been left stranded in the Pas de Calais and the Battle of Britain had been lost, there would have been plenty of volunteers amongst our population to man the gas ovens if Operation Sea lion had been successful and Hitler had failed to declare war on the USA following Pearl Harbour.

    Let’s not think that we are any more worthy than any other country. What we have in terms of democratic control, while clearly lacking in many ways, still manages to keep us generally on track. OK, we don’t walk for miles or queue for hours to vote – in fact it might be nice if a few more of us were prepared to exercise our right, which wasn’t handed to us on a plate. It could be so much worse, in spite of what some people may say. As Joni Mitchell sang in ‘Big Yellow Taxi’ “You don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone”.

  • I think these things depend which angle you look at it from. For example the Germans see the lessons to be learned from the 1930s and 1940s as the threat from populism and nationalism and see the EU as a counterweight to that, the Poles perceive more acutely the lesson as being the danger from attempts to build a superstate with the Germans attempting to have a say on what happens outside their borders, and they see EU integration as part of the problem and national independence as the counterweight, the Spanish see the EU as a way to rein in their own right wingers, and so on.

    As for the UK, the language used in parliament is a proportionate way to describe any person who stood on a manifesto of respecting the result of the referendum, voted for article 50 but has rejected a deal, has rejected no deal, has failed to come up with anyone better than Boris Johnson to negotiate with the EU, has prevented him from having a free hand in those negotiations and is now preventing a new parliament from being elected to break the deadlock. Most of the above doesn’t apply to the Lib Dems (and the SNP) though, who have presented a clear line to the public, stuck to it and deserve to be rewarded for it at the next election.

  • Even a few days ago I would’ve poo-poo’d any idea of a facist take-over of the UK.
    However, after listening to Boris Johnson’s deliberate use of inflamatory (to put it midly) language I’m no longer as certain.
    Well within my voting life a right wing coup was in motion to remove Harold Wilson; it was detailed, well resourced and even had a ‘dummy run’ in closing Heathrow airport; an action the PM was not even aware of.
    Boris Johnson has (echoed by Jo Swinson) declared Jeremy Corbyn unfit to be PM; from there it is a short step to accusing any Corbyn led election victory as a threat to this country and taking ‘appropriate steps’.
    After years of media vilification of Corbyn would the UK electorate rise up to fight the coup; I doubt it.

  • John Marriott, you raise the worrying effect of social media. It is full at the moment, in my area, of propaganda against the EU; the leave campaigners have been hard at work for several months on social media, with their lies. We need remainers to counter this on social media and fast.
    Also, where is our national party in the effort to tell people why we should remain ?

  • Peter Martin 25th Sep '19 - 11:35pm

    I’d question if the program took sufficient consideration of the appalling economic state of Germany in the early 30s. The often mentioned hyperinflation in Weimar Germany took place in the early 20s, yet the Nazi party only received 2.8% of the vote in the 1928 German federal elections. A similar proportion to what we would expect the far right to poll in the UK too in recent times.

    We can reasonably conclude that the hyperinflation played only a small part in the rise of Nazism in Germany.

    That all changed in the years to follow as the effects of the 1929 Wall St crisis hit and the German economy collapsed. In large part, this was due to the application of austerity economics. Instead of increasing their spending to keep the wheels turning the German government cut back to try to ‘balance the books’.

    The result was getting on for 30% unemployment. This created the conditions for the rise of the far right just as the application of austerity economics in the EU, now creates the same conditions.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1928_German_federal_election

  • You guys should really listen to yourselves. What have Trump or Johnson ever done that you compare them to Hitler? The unseemly behaviour in Parliament today came overwhelmingly from the opposition benches – cries of “liar” and “put him in jail” were the norm. I doubt there are any politicians alive who get more threats and abuse than Trump and Johnson (perhaps Farage) . As for destroying democracy – isn’t it the LibDems who are refusing to accept the democratic referendum result and are avoiding a GE. Just because some people don’t agree with LibDem or Labour Party views doesn’t make them Nazi’s.

  • Fascism and Communism did not respect national borders. One was based on the idea of militarised expansion and the other on the idea internationalism, workers of the world uniting and all that malarkey. Both tended to favour European high culture over American pop culture; ballet, opera and art above dance, jazz and movies. In this respect both, despite the modernist trappings, were paternalistic in that they were concerned with the allegedly corrupting influence of new information/entertainment technologies on the masses and the idea of controlling them. Both were also radical and made claims on being the future through big ideas about historical determinism. Personally, I don’t see the parallels with now because the backdrop is different. Apart from anything else, back then universal suffrage was still relatively novel. I think what has happened is that post-Soviet Union overconfidence in a big idea about the future, “the end of history”, has collapsed and has created sense of despair in some intellectual circles . In other words I think you are seeing the collapse of revolutionary verve rather than the beginning of it.

  • William Fowler 26th Sep '19 - 7:40am

    Much more likely to come from our Marxists friends than the right, at worst Boris et al are going to fill the pockets of the rich with lotsa dosh (at best, they will do the same for those on median incomes) but the extreme left will move with speed to restructure the country in a way that makes almost everyone dependent on the State so that voting for alternatives becomes impossible.

  • Dilettante Eye 26th Sep '19 - 7:53am

    expats

    These comment threads have used many inappropriate words to describe the heated divisions over Brexit. Indeed dictator is one used constantly about Boris Johnson.

    Apart from being very offensive, how can he be a dictator, when Jo Swinson has the opportunity to call a vote of no confidence and oust him in a General Election?.
    We need Brexit completed and a GE soon, to let voters decide who should be on those green benches.

  • jayne mansfield 26th Sep '19 - 8:44am

    @ Dilettante Eye,
    If one was ever in doubt about Johnson’s character, those doubts must now have evaporated.

    Mr Johnson’s facility with language means that there can be no excuse for the cruelty, the disregard for the safety of our elected representatives. In a so called civilised society, he stokes the fire of extremist that causes our elected representatives of all parties to fear for their lives and also that of their families.

    If you don’t understand and recognise the effect that his inflammatory language and behaviour has the potential to unleash on the mentally unhinged, you show a naivety that is incomprehensible .

    As someone who is a pluralist, in my opinion, any support given to him by members of the Conservative party, a party that once upon a time had the ethical values and integrity to get rid of such a man, demonstrates the level to which the party has sunk in its historical and ongoing internal conflict over the EU.

  • Dilettante Eye 26th Sep '19 - 9:02am

    jayne mansfield

    I’m simply pointing out that remainers are not so squeaky-clean when it comes to offensive language.

    I suggest you dig out Vince Cables ‘pink, white and blue’ speech and re-read it. It was deeply offensive to a lot of leave voters, but guffawing remainers at the time didn’t think so.
    In truth, this heated craziness has gone too far now. The British just don’t want to be some ‘branch’ of an EU Empire, and the only way is to get Brexit done and re-calibrate parliament with a GE soon.

  • Daniel Walker 26th Sep '19 - 10:04am

    @ “The British just don’t want to be some ‘branch’ of an EU Empire”

    Oh, I see where the confusion has arisen. The EU isn’t an empire, it’s somewhere between a Confederation and a Federation. The member states retain sovereignty, and ultimately the unilateral right to leave, and have democratic representation on the lawmaking bodies, none of which are notable features of empires.

  • Bill le Breton 26th Sep '19 - 10:11am

    Peter Martin, yes fascism was a product of deflation not inflation – which was why 2008 was such a worrying moment. We escaped then by a whisker. Thanks to massive monetary intervention.

    But deflation remains a threat. Markets believe that the US interest rate in 2029 will be 1.6% … the German rate -.5%

  • Dilettante Eye 26th Sep '19 - 10:39am

    Daniel Walker

    “Oh, I see where the confusion has arisen. The EU isn’t an empire,..”

    Do you have such a short memory that you can’t remember your recent Conference?

    Guy Verhofstadt ~ “The world of tomorrow is a world of empires, in which we Europeans and you British can only defend your interests, your way of life by doing it together in a European framework and a European Union. A European empire is the only way to defend Britain’s “way of life” in the 21st century.”

    Lib Dem Conference ~ *** standing ovation ***

    Fortunately, the British are far more sensible than Verhofstadt and want no part of his [and Lib Dem Conference] desire for an EU Empire.

  • Dilettante Eye: Jo can’t call a motion of no confidence. Only the leader of the official opposition can do that. In any case, the priority is to get ‘No Deal’ Brexit off the table. Once that is assured then a GE is the right way forward, but not before.

  • NOC success would require the Con MP’s who have lost the whip to either vote in favour or abstain. That would seem to be the No 10 strategy to try and force an election, but surely it would be counter productive and simply produce an alternative government led by ” I do not know who I would vote for yet” Ken Clarke.

  • Peter Martin 26th Sep '19 - 11:08am

    @ Daniel Walker,

    ” The EU isn’t an empire”

    It is according to the recent speech made by Guy Verhofstadt at the Lib Dem conference. Just Google {Guy Verhofstadt EU Empire}

    He really wants the EU to become the USE. Which is slightly more than a Confederation. I’d personally be OK with a confederation along the lines of what we had in EEC days.

    https://www.goodreads.com/en/book/show/280574.The_United_States_of_Europe

  • Peter Martin 26th Sep '19 - 11:13am

    @ Mick Taylor,

    “In any case, the priority is to get ‘No Deal’ Brexit off the table. Once that is assured then a GE is the right way forward, but not before.”

    So what’s wrong with having an election then the new Govt can decide the “right way forward”.

    If we have a remain Govt, we can ask for an extension, call a new referendum or even revoke Art50 altogether.

    What’s the problem?

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Sep '19 - 11:14am

    @ Dilettante Eye,

    I object to dangerous hyperbole from whatever source. My objection to Emily Thornberry’s use of the term Taliban in a post was not published.

    Your pitiful attempt at whataboutery leads me to assume that you and Boris Johnson are cut from the same cloth. Dominic Grieve was quite clear about what was fostering the death threats that he receives.

    Johnson’s ‘yes but no but’ attitude to the law, his dog whistle to Brexiteers who might think that verbal aggression and violence to those who in all conscience ,have a different view to them, can be explained away as a manifestation of individual frustration with Brexit, and that brexit will turn them into decent , normal people is nonsense. Let me tell you something. Offer excuses for thugs to threaten and frighten our elected representatives over Brexit and you feed their belief that such behaviour is effective and in some contorted way, understandable.

    For goodness sake man, Johnson is the leader of a major political party and the Prime Minister of this country.

  • Peter Martin 26th Sep '19 - 11:38am

    @ Jayne,

    The strong language does reflect the schism that we have in our society. There were mutterings of civil war in my local pub yesterday. With most of the anger directed towards the opposition benches by what would in normal circumstances be Labour voters.

    It’s not just Leavers who need to be careful in their language. At the risk of being accused of ‘whataboutery’ I’d just draw you attention to the banner shown in the article below. The clear implication is that Boris should be beheaded!

    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-09-12/will-brexit-trigger-england-s-second-civil-war

  • Daniel Walker 26th Sep '19 - 12:02pm

    @Peter Martin, @Dilettante Eye

    A European empire is the only way to defend Britain’s “way of life” in the 21st century

    He didn’t say that. see here, 9m19: The world of tomorrow is a world of empires in which we Europeans, and you British, can only defend your interests, your way of life, by doing it together, in a European framework and in the European Union.’

    I await you retractions.

    And even if he had, he would have been wrong, and it would not be within his gift to make it so.

  • Dilettante Eye 26th Sep '19 - 12:15pm

    jayne mansfield

    So remainers using aggressive and dangerous language and wishing elderly leave voters would ‘just die’, is ok by you?

    Ed Davey “I want to decapitate Boris”
    David Lammy “ Leavers are behaving like Nazis….”
    John McDonnell “Lynch the b.tch” referring to Esther McVey

    I suggest it’s time for abusive and threatening remainers to do some growing up and to look themselves in the mirror?

  • Peter Martin 26th Sep '19 - 12:25pm

    @ Bill,

    Yes I share your concerns re deflation even if we don’t quite have the same view on Economics generally.

    I am aware that most people tend to yawn and think “Oh no here he goes again. Off on his hobby horse” when I tried to highlight the economic mistakes made by governments. But it’s quite clear that the course of world history in the 20th century only followed the course it did because of failings in economic policy in 1930s Germany. No deflation would have meant the Nazis wouldn’t have risen to power. There would have been no WW2. 60 million people who were killed in the conflict wouldn’t have been. There would have been no Cold war and probably no nuclear arms race.

    So it’s slightly more than a matter of minor importance.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Sep '19 - 12:44pm

    @ Peter Martin,

    What is is about my statement ‘ I object to dangerous hyperbole from whatever source’ do you not understand?

    Boris Johnson is the leader of a once great political party, and our Prime MInister. I think we have the right to expect a more responsible approach to political conflict than from someone in his exalted position. The death threats our elected representatives are receiving are not ‘humbug’.

    When are your civil war pub goers expecting this war to take place? Did you manage, or even try to persuade them to enter into a sensible discussion of how best we can heal the serious divide of political opinion that has opened up in our society? A divide that is fostered by the notion of our elected parliamentarians versus the people, a divide that deliberately undermines our national sovereignty by those who claim to want our country to take back control, a divide that works for no- one except those who are actually seeking to promote chaos as the necessary precondition of an extreme left or right wing take over.

    Well, did you Peter? Or did you just agree?

    Your pub acquaintances appear to be suggesting that if Brexit is not enacted, civil war will ensue, yet another apocalyptic threat when there is still time to find a compromise through discussion. Labour have offered a referendum with the leave with a better deal or remain on the ballot paper. Unless they are no-dealers, why do they object to that?

  • Peter Martin 26th Sep '19 - 12:49pm

    @ Daniel Walker,

    The quote you included in your last comment isn’t mine so I can’t vouch for its ‘to the letter’ accuracy.

    Nevertheless this is exactly what Guy Verhofstadt was meaning. At the 9.00 mark on the FB video link you provided, he says that “The USA is also an Empire”, having previously said China, Russia and India were empires too. In the link I provided in my comment of 11.08 am we have the same GV saying he wants a United States of Europe.

    So if the USA is an Empire, why wouldn’t the USE be an Empire too?

    This is what scares the UK electorate. I just don’t know if the Lib Dems quite get it. Yes, on the whole, we want a trading confederation of individual sovereign nations. No, we don’t want to be a part of an empire known as the United States of Europe.

  • I was immediately reminded of this party’s recent policies on Brexit.

  • Jayne Mansfield 26th Sep '19 - 1:02pm

    @ Dilettante Eye,

    I have written numerous posts regarding the disgraceful comments about the demographics of voters changing in ways that strengthen the remain vote.

    As a septuagenarian, I have not only criticised those who seemed gleeful at the prospect of old people dying out, but have also made a determined effort to stay alive for longer than I might otherwise have done.

    I don’t expect readers on here to read my posts, they can scroll past them to their heart’s content, ( it won’t stop me writing them), but if you wish to challenge me on inconsistency, double standards, or hypocrisy, I suggest you find one iota of evidence that I have ever done other than challenge extremist , contemptible language.

    Language matters. At the risk of sounding smug, I matured a long time ago and have no problem looking myself in the mirror ( in a nod to vanity and age, preferably with the light behind me).

    It is you my good fellow who seems to be able to excuse the dangerous language of those whose politics you agree with, not I.

  • Peter Martin 26th Sep '19 - 1:06pm

    @ Jayne Mansfield,

    The regulars at the pub know my views. I didn’t argue with them about the possibility of civil war because they may just be right! The Bloomberg article I gave recognises it as a possibility too. I’d say it was unlikely that it will go that far, but I have to admit that it’s possible.

    “Labour have offered a referendum with the leave with a better deal or remain on the ballot paper. Unless they are no-dealers, why do they object to that?”

    Because they aren’t stupid! They know that any ‘choice’ in a referendum will be between a very bad deal negotiated (if that is the right word for it) by a UK team who don’t want to leave the EU in any case, and Remain.

    The bad leave deal will naturally be rejected by Leavers, who’ll almost certainly boycott the poll, and Remainers alike. It won’t solve anything.

  • Daniel Walker 26th Sep '19 - 1:40pm

    @Peter Martin “The quote you included in your last comment isn’t mine so I can’t vouch for its ‘to the letter’ accuracy.”

    Indeed you didn’t, it was Dilettante Eye, and having now listened to the speech you can presumably vouch for the exact opposite!

    “So if the USA is an Empire, why wouldn’t the USE be an Empire too?”

    The EU does not have a series of unincorporated territories with limited right to self-governance for a start.

    The EU is not an Empire. It is a confederation-shading-to-federation of Member States in voluntary union. (I don’t think India is an Empire either, so I disagree with Guy on that)

    As long as the member states of the EU a) send freely-elected representatives to a Parliament and Council to enact the laws in a democratic way, and b) maintain the unilateral right of withdrawal (i.e. they maintain ultimate sovereignty) it is not an Empire by any reasonable definition, and, again, it is not in GV’s gift to make it so.

  • Peter Martin 26th Sep ’19 – 1:06pm………………Because they aren’t stupid! They know that any ‘choice’ in a referendum will be between a very bad deal negotiated (if that is the right word for it) by a UK team who don’t want to leave the EU in any case, and Remain…………The bad leave deal will naturally be rejected by Leavers, who’ll almost certainly boycott the poll, and Remainers alike. It won’t solve anything……………..

    A large number of those Tory MPs supporting ‘Leave’ state that originally they voted ‘Remain’ (I haven’t heard any Tory saying they have gone from Leave to Remain; but maybe there are some)…If they can change their minds over the three years why not accept that there are those in the wider electorate who, too, have changed their view and put it to a vote?

    Why should a deal be ‘bad’? Initially we were told ‘OUT’ meant whatever you thought it meant….International Trade Secretary Liam Fox….”No Brexit deal ‘would be bad’ for UK”…..Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson….”Leaving the EU without a deal on Brexit would be ‘perfectly OK’…Brexit secretary David Davis…”MPs must choose between May’s deal and crashing out of EU”….Theresa May…”Brexit means Brexit means the best possible deal…. Take your pick?

    Now it seems the only acceptable exit is on WTO terms; is that what you want for this country?

    When around a third of the UK electorate didn’t vote in the referendum, and so only around a third of eligible voters were pro-leave, we were told by leavers that not taking part was their fault; now it seems ‘not taking part’ is a virtue.

  • Dilettante Eye 26th Sep '19 - 2:23pm

    Daniel Walker

    “it is not in GV’s gift to make it so.”

    In his gift or not, he clearly speaks for the cohort mentality of the EU, and by all accounts given his standing ovation at conference, the Lib Dems agree with the inevitable formation of an EU Empire.

    Unfortunately for Lib Dems, British voters don’t agree.

    Do you also agree with this tweet from GV.
    “For 70 years, Nato has been a cornerstone of our security. Now it is vital we strengthen @Nato by building its European pillar, based on a European defence community and a European Army, so that Europeans can take their future into their own hands.”

    Remember when Clegg looked into the camera and told Farage and the rest of us that that was a lie?

    No matter.
    The fact is that the British have had a belly-full of this anti Brexit stalling, and what is important now is that we finally get out of this despicable EU mess for good; followed by a new democratic clean-sweep GE.
    Bring it on.

  • Dilettante Eye 26th Sep ’19 – 7:53am………….expats………These comment threads have used many inappropriate words to describe the heated divisions over Brexit. Indeed dictator is one used constantly about Boris Johnson…………

    I have never, to my knowledge used that word. However, his unlawful prorogation of parliament, and his subsequent describing of the S.C. verdict as ‘Wrong’, can leave no-one in any doubt that he views a ‘democratic parliamentary system’ as a hindrance to his ambitions.
    Could I see him leading a coup against what he (and many on here) describe as Marxist, Stalinist, Cobyn led government? Yes I could. He of course would lable it as saving the country and many in his own party (and, sadly, many on here would agree with him).

    William Fowler (26th Sep ’19 – 7:40am) post seems to more than just suggest that Johnson would get his backing.

  • Dennis Wake 26th Sep '19 - 2:53pm

    Peter Martin; German Governments were not keen on raising taxes. During WWI they tried issuing bonds which were to be repaid from the reparations Germany expected to receive from the defeated British and French but not enough were sold and so they resorted to printing money which caused inflation and great hardship for working people. When it reached astronomical levels after the war and it was Germany who had to pay reparations many middle class people were ruined. From 1929 they transferred their support to the Nazis who promised to give them jobs which were being done by Jews. Not surprisingly middle class Germans did not support money printing or borrowing to pay for Government expenditure after their experience of its effects. Interestingly the German arm of Thomas Cook was recently bailed out by their Government so as not to upset their middle class employees.
    Because of the high level of education in Germany many people with qualifications found it very hard to find work that they considered appropriate, just like in Britain where large numbers of graduates are doing jobs which do not require degrees and resent the fact. This will cause similar problems if it is not doing so already.
    The German working class continued to support the Social Democrats, and the Communists who were gradually gaining from a drop in Social Democrat support although total left wing support remained only slightly down. It was the right wing parties whose support collapsed although the Centre did mostly retain its voters.

    During Nazi rule militarisation eliminated unemployment but the German economy, which was not very competitive as it relied on monopolistic practices and Government support, bribes etc remained in a poor state and during the war had to rely on slaves while skilled Germans were being slaughtered in war. West Germany began to be a major economic power only after the free market reforms instituted by Dr. Erhard after the war. Eastern Germany was forced to pay reparations to the Russians but there had always been support for the Communists which still continues.

  • Dennis Wake 26th Sep '19 - 3:06pm

    Daniel Walker: Yes the EU is all about defending the unique culture and political system of Western Europe and all sane people should be willing to make some sacrifices to do that. We and the other Western countries do not have the Empires that conferred power in the past but our competitors do still have them and use every means, political economic and military, including attempts to undermine us, to maintain them. We must not give away our unique way of life to them any more than we gave it away to the Nazis and Stalinists of the past. I am puzzled why so many cannot see or do not wish to see that, although I accept there may be a protest vote whipped up by years of self interested false propaganda in the media owned by rich people who hope to benefit from the undermining of employment protection laws if we leave with no deal which is what Boris Johnson wants in order to appease the Brexit “Party”

  • Peter Martin 26th Sep '19 - 6:28pm

    @ Daniel Walker,

    I agree with you that Guy Verhofstadt was using the word ‘Empire’ in a questionable manner. But that was his choice and no-one else’s. So maybe I can just ask if he thinks India is an Empire why wouldn’t he think the U.S.E. would be any different?

    @ Denis Wake,

    The big hyperinflations in history have always been just after military conflict which has devasted the productive capacity of the country involved. The lack of value of the currency is simply because there isn’t much to buy with it rather than from simply “money printing”.

    Say we all emerged from our bunkers after a nuclear exchange. The Government wouldn’t have printed a single extra £5 note. They wouldn’t have been able to. Yet when we called in to our local Tesco, if indeed it was still functioning, we’d find that any £5 note in our possession wouldn’t buy very much at all! When the economy did resume we’d either have to start a new currency or render the old one worthless by multiplying everything by a million.

    Germany bit off more than it could reasonably chew in WW2. They started with a huge head start in armament production which brought initial success but once that was used up they were never going to win. They did pretty much everything right in the period 1933 – 39 and the quantity and quality of their military equipment was, generally, better than the Allies had at the time.

    However once the conflict started they were soon outproduced by the Allies. They failed to appreciate that the USSR wasn’t quite the rotten barn they imagined. It wasn’t going to collapse when they kicked the door down. US “Jewish” capitalism wasn’t quite the basket case they had imagined it to be.

    Also they failed to realise that half starved slave workers were never going to be reliable workers. They’ll naturally sabotage their own work at every opportunity.

  • Dennis Wake 26th Sep '19 - 9:45pm

    Peter Martin: What evidence do you have that German industry was utterly destroyed after the First World War ? There was inflation caused by the increase in the supply of money which made things too expensive for poorer people to buy and this was ramped up by the authorities to make the massive war debts easier to pay off. Those who were ruined did not forget easily. Until Dr Erhard implemented reforms in the post Second World War period there was little competition in the German economy. Then it boomed as the quality of goods increased.

  • Sean Hyland 26th Sep '19 - 9:58pm

    i think if we were to look back in a large number of MP’s speeches, twitter etc we will find many uses of words and language they condemn their opposition for using. However to me it is they way it is being said by some with such bile, venom, and aggression at the moment which increasingly worries me.

    It doesn’t matter if Guy Verhofstadt used the word empire or not in relation to the EU. It is certain from his past speeches and writings that he believes in an ever closer political union, as to if he actually wants a US of E it is open to interpretation. It would certainly require major treaty changes as far as I understand. I’m not sure if particular some countries would be willing to give up that much of their history/heritage/culture never mind political control.

    In discussing the rise of the Nazi regime and the economic conditions of the time I have to say the amongst the best books I have read on this period are “The Lords of Finance” by Liaquat Ahamed , ” The Wages of Destruction” by Adam Tooze, and “1931: Debt,Crisis, and the Rise of Hitler” by Tobias Straumann

  • Peter Martin 27th Sep '19 - 7:10am

    @ Mark V @ Dennis W,

    We’re getting slightly off the point. With regard to the rise of the Nazis the timeline shows it was caused by economic depression rather than the inflation of the early 20s.

    However, if we are to look at that, we can note the record for inflation is held by Hungary. 41,900,000,000,000,000% (4.19 × 1016% or 41.9 quadrillion percent) for July 1946, amounting to prices doubling every 15.3 hours. According to Wiki!

    It is theoretically possible to have a hyperinflation that wasn’t caused by war. The Zimbabwean hyperinflation was caused less by their war and more, regardless of the rights and wrongs of it, by the handing over of land to those who didn’t know how to farm it and taking it away from those who did. It severely affected the productive capacity of the country.

    Neither does the productive capacity of the country have to be “utterly destroyed”. Say the Yellowstone volcano erupted in the USA and caused the halving of US GDP. A simple minded view might be that prices would double. It would be much worse than that. In the expectation that prices would rise significantly many people would increase their spending and scramble to convert their $$ into tins of soup, bars of gold, guns and ammunition etc. Anything that had a tangible value. This would trigger off a hyperinflation without the Gov printing a single extra $ bill. They’d probably have to replace $100 bills with $1000 bils or even $1,000,000 bills. This might seem that the US government was creating the inflation by “printing money”, whereas they would be simply reacting to it.

  • Peter Martin,

    “The big hyperinflations in history have always been just after military conflict which has devasted the productive capacity of the country involved.”

    Yes, except, as you say in a later comment, self-inflicted destruction of the economy leads to the same result as in Zimbabwe.

    But one other ingredient is required for hyperinflation to take off. In Weimar Germany that was the attempt to print money to convert into foreign exchange to pay war reparations imposed by the victorious allies. Absent the missing productive capacity, that new money had nothing backing it – no realistic hope of it being redeemable by the allies for anything valuable because there simply wasn’t enough remaining capacity to make valuable stuff for export. So, as the amount of money increased its unit value decreased.

    Contrast that with deficit spending by FDR in the Depression. That went into and circulated within the domestic economy mopping up spare resources. It helped that the US was so big (and international trade so small back then) that almost none of that deficit spending ‘leaked’ out of the US. For that reason, I’m not convinced that deficit spending would work too well in the UK long term as it would mainly flow to major exporters – Germany & China etc – although in the short to medium term it could cause a ‘fake’ upturn that would end when the debt became unsustainable.

    Similarly, bailing out the banks over the last decade was done in such a way that most newly minted money went to them and those close to them, so it went into the stock market and property in large part. These are such large, deep markets (especially property) that the new money was a small proportion of the existing investment. We got huge house price inflation (that’s steadily leaking into the wider economy) but not hyperinflation.

    So, one of my worries about Brexit is that it will destroy large parts of the productive economy by ripping apart supply chains. New ones will eventually form but how many firms will go bust before that? And who might replace the big exporters like the car makers that look certain to go?

    I don’t see any candidates, so I see a high probability of hyperinflation over the next few years and/or stringent exchange controls.

  • Peter Martin 27th Sep '19 - 8:38pm

    @ Gordon

    “In Weimar Germany that was the attempt to print money to convert into foreign exchange to pay war reparations imposed by the victorious allies”

    That’s not true. For the simple reason the reparations were required to be paid in gold.

  • The term gold marks was a technical term., Peter. Germany abandoned the gold standard in 1914. The 1921 London agreement demanded 132 billion gold marks. In the event only about a seventh of this was ever paid by 1931. French occupation triggered the hyperinflation.

  • Gold marks was the term for the pre-War gold-backed currency distinguished from the later paper marks. The allies naturally wanted hard currency, not paper marks. Germany borowed some foreign currency and printed its own bank notes to buy more. The French occupation was the final straw for an already deteriorating situation.

  • Bill le Breton 28th Sep '19 - 8:51am

    The time to be obsessed with inflation was the 1970s. Now the enemy on the doorstep is deflation.

    The Great Deflation was caused by gold hording, first by the French and then the Americans. If prices are measured in gold and gold hording causes the price of gold to rise ceteris paribus the prices of everything else will fall.

    Wages don’t fall as quickly and therefore profits and then investment tumbles. And unemployment rises.

    These days it is the interaction of the supply of money and the demand for money to hold that can do the damage. If your money is going to buy more things tomorrow that today you postpone purchases. ie the demand for money to hold rises. If that does not change and if there is no change in the supply of money prices will fall and with wages ‘sticky’ unemployment will rise.

    This is the great problem that may very well face Liberal Democrats in a future government. We need to be prepared with policies to counter this.

    Roosevelt in 1933 was able to force the population to hand over their gold (on a Saturday) and reduce its price on the Sunday. Thus increasing prices on the Monday.

    We do not have that straightforward mechanism available to us.

  • Peter Martin 28th Sep '19 - 9:44am

    @ Bill,

    “If prices are measured in gold and gold hording causes the price of gold to rise ceteris paribus the prices of everything else will fall. Wages don’t fall as quickly and therefore profits and then investment tumbles. And unemployment rises.”

    Wages aren’t the problem. Workers’ wages need to be sufficiently high to create sufficient demand to enable the capitalists to sell what they produce. Fewer sales means fewer profits.

    Debts are much more the problem. Whatever else happen to prices and wages they will always stay the same in nominal terms and will actually rise in real terms if prices and wages fall.

    “We do not have that straightforward mechanism available to us”

    We don’t need it because there’s no link between currencies and gold any longer. Its so much easier to regulate an economy when currencies are free floating.

  • Richard Underhill. 6th Oct '19 - 5:54pm

    I recorded it and watched it, which allows me to stop the play and consider.
    https://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/de-back-stab.htm
    President Hindenburg is considered a WW1 war hero for the Axis powers, but was he really? Frontline troops were weakened by lack of proper food and shortages of ammunition. Large numbers of US soldiers had made a crucial difference, as well as the increased use of tanks by the UK.

  • There is the argument that the EU is basically a secular reinvention of the Holy Roman Empire based on the borders of what was once Christendom and the idea that “shared history” means Europe has a distinct unified culture. But the bits the countries involved in the project have in common are shared by countries not Europe, whilst the national European cultures are really quite different, in terms of language, political systems, economics and so on. To me the EU always seems like a vision of idealised high culture reflecting the assumed certainty of European intellectual superiority. A world where citizens are reading Proust rhapsodising about mashed potatoes, when really they’re watching the MCU on Netflix dubbed.

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