It’s fashionable to write political books and articles about “the death of democracy,“ usually claiming that this or that president is destroying democracy and replacing it with fascism or communism or whatnot, when in fact it’s just really about all the things the writers dislikes about this or that politician.
But democracies really can die, and there is one – and only one – example in history of a democracy that was destroyed: The German democracy that Hitler turned into a dictatorship in 1933.
If you are worried, as you always should be in general, about the future of America’s democracy – or about the democracy in the world – it is worthwhile to take a look at how it happened in Germany, and ask yourself: Is the same thing happening today to us?
How did he do it?
The little book I am currently writing, Ten Lessons from Hitler, as well as the accompanying video series I am producing, explore how Hitler did it and how that applies to us.
And let me give you a hint: he didn’t do it alone. He rode a wave of anti-democratic populism on the left and on the right that is very similar to the populism on both the left and right we can see in American and in the western world today. Once that wave grew strong enough, it was easy for him to get a majority of Germans to vote against democracy – that’s right, in 1933 Germany voted democratically to disband democracy.
If you want to know how democracies die, that’s you answer – democracies choose to die.
I’m not historian, but as an American journalist in Berlin I have been observing German society and researching German history for the last 30 years. the more I learn about how thew worst political disaster of thew 20th century occurred, the more I realize how important it is to know how it happened and to to be aware or similar tendencies today. I wrote this little book, Ten lessons From Hitler, not as a scholar, but as a journalist and observer who is concerned that if we do not understand history, we may be doomed to repeat it.
Ten Lessons I Learned from Hitler is a work in progress – the videos will be completed one after the other, only then will I complete the book – in the meantime, enjoy my videos on the subject on YouTube.