Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Does history repeat itself?

"Wait Calmly"

They argued he would grow more reasonable once in office and that his cabinet would tame him. A dictatorship? Out of the question! How journalists, politicians, writers and diplomats weighed in on Hitler's appointment as chancellor.

Von Volker Ullrich, Zeit Online

Is there reason to worry? No, thought Nikolaus Sieveking, an employee at Hamburg’s World Economy Archive. "I find the act of viewing Hitler’s chancellorship as a sensational event to be childish enough that I will leave that to his loyal followers," he wrote in his diary on Jan. 30, 1933.

Like Sieveking, many Germans didn’t initially recognize this date as a dramatic turning point. Few sensed what Hitler’s appointment as chancellor actually meant, and many reacted to the event with shocking indifference.

The chancellor of the presidential cabinet had changed twice in 1932 -- Heinrich Brüning was replaced in early June by Franz von Papen, who was replaced in early December by Kurt von Schleicher. People had almost gotten used to this tempo. Why should the Hitler government be anything more than just an episode? In the Wochenschau news programs shown in cinemas, the swearing-in of the new cabinet came last, after the major sporting events.

(Note: This is the first in a series of three short articles on Zeit Online. They are here.)

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