Sunday, May 29, 2005

Something to cause mirth in the aftermath:

Entirely unrelated to the French vote, but too stupid not to make a note.

Oliver Kamm: "Gerhard Schröder has proved the most feckless and unprincipled Chancellor in the history of democratic Germany."

Erm... At the risk of sounding like every internet spat about democracy ever - Hitler was elected...



Blogger Garry said...

I can sort of understand how that might get posted on a blog but don't the Times have, like, editors or something?

5/30/2005 03:02:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although, I agree with your sentiment, I must debase your facts. Hitler was not elected. He was appointed Chancellor by the German president Paul Hindenburg. The NSDAP (Nazi party) had the largest number seats in the Reichstag and by "right" should have been offered the opportunity to form a government but Hindenburg felt queasy about Hitler and delayed as long as he could.

5/30/2005 05:18:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


5/30/2005 05:23:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't wonder you sign yourself off as a fool. Hitler was not elected Chancellor, and on taking that position he almost immediately secured the Enabling Act passed by the Reichstag on 23rd March 1933 - in effect abolishing constitutional government. To count Hitler as a Chancellor in 'democratic Germany' is repulsive and stupid.

5/30/2005 10:23:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Frank / Anonymous - Hitler was elected Chancellor in precisely the same way as Tony Blair was elected Prime Minister earlier this month. There were democratic elections. His party won. As leader of his party, he won the office in question.

You know precisely what I mean, so stop being idiotic.

5/30/2005 10:50:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you have no sense of shame to write stuff as clueless as this? Your analogy with Blair ('precisely the same way' - for God's sake) is about as ignorant as you can get. Tony Blair won a parliamentary majority (not a majority of the vote, but that's irrelevant to the analogy); the reason Hindenburg demurred from agreeing to Hitler becoming Chancellor was that Hitler did NOT command a majority in the Reichstag, and therefore Hindenburg did not see any compelling reason for replacing Papen, i.e. in either case there would be a President governing by the emergency powers of a presidential cabinet. Hitler became Chancellor because it was assumed he would abide by constitutional protocol that he then immediately tore up.

5/30/2005 11:08:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For 'President' read Chancellor. I can correct a typo but you're still a dickhead.

5/30/2005 11:13:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

At least I haven't restorted to calling you a dickhead yet...

You are vaguely, in the specifics, correct:

On July 31st 1932, the Nazis polled around half a million more than their closest rivals (they got 13,732,779 votes, if you want specifics).

This did not mean Hitler, as the leader of the Nazi party, automatically became Chancellor. It did, however, make him the leader of the biggest popular party in Germany, and so the man with the best claim.

On January 30th 1933 Hitler went to see President Hindenberg, the person with the sole right to appoint the Chancellor. Hindenberg duly appointed him Chancellor as not to do so would result in chaos thanks to the effecteve disenfranchising of the largest popularly elected party.

On May 5th 2005 the Labour Party polled around 800,000 more than their nearest rivals (they got 9,556,183 votes, if you want specifics).

This did not mean Blair, as leader of the Labour party, automatically became Prime Minister. It did, however, make him the leader of the biggest popular party in Britain, and so the man with the best claim.

On the morning of 6th May, Tony Blair went to see the Queen, the person with the sole right to appoint the Prime Minister. The Queen duly appointed him Prime Minister as not to do so would result in chaos thanks to the effecteve disenfranchising of the largest popularly elected party.

Yep, it wasn't precisely the same, you are entirely right. There was indeed more of a delay and a little more reluctance in Hitler's case. But it was, nonetheless, near as damnit, and Hitler got the Chancellorship because the Nazi party won the democratic elections.

But - ignoring all that nonsense - Kamm claimed "in the history of democratic Germany" - hence my pedantry. If he had said "in the history of democratic Germany since WWII" or "the history of democractic Germany bar the Weimar Republic" I'd have had no cause for complaint. He didn't. He was wrong. And therefore a fool.

5/30/2005 11:37:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

And yes, due to cutting and pasting, I have indeed spelled "effective" incorrectly twice in that previous comment.

5/30/2005 11:38:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It takes gall to have been caught out twice making grossly ignorant statements and then claim that you're guilty of 'pedantry'. You must think your readers are as dense as you are.

Look. You're not guilty of pedantry, which would imply having some familiarity with the facts of the case. You're guilty of stupidity. You've now had to withdraw two of the dumbest comments I've come across in this subject, firstly that "Hitler was elected" and secondly that Hitler became Chancellor "in precisely the same way as Tony Blair" - and you don't even have the decency to apologize for talking horseshit. And you STILL don't get it. You now claim that "the Nazi party won democratic elections", as opposed to the much more limited truth that it was still the largest party (having dropped 2 million votes) in the popular vote but had no Reichstag majority. And you haven't once acknowledged the fact - your third gross idiocy - that Hitler immediately, without waiting for the Enabling Law, set about destroying the constitution that he had sworn to uphold. Some 'democratic Germany' that was.

The idea that you can call someone else - ANYONE else - a fool is a joke. I see from your biography that you claim some expertise in politics. The only way I'd acquit you of being a complete dunce in politics is if you were intent on painting the rosiest possible picture of Nazi Germany - and I prefer the explanation that you're a dickhead.

5/31/2005 12:44:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's no argument involved in this one, matey, nor is stupidity on the scale of this blogger's comments at all funny. 'Nosemonkey' thought he'd make a superior comment pointing to his own intelligence and ended up with something close to blasphemy. Note how he's now trying to deflect attention away from his twice-debunked and desperate remarks. The most you could possibly say about Hitler's relation with democracy is that he used the constitutional devices of the Weimar republic to gain power, and then immediately set about destroying democracy, which is completely consistent with the argument that was supposedly - according to this dimmest of bloggers - the epitome of stupidity. What is in fact the epitome of stupidity is claiming that Hitler was elected Chancellor, that he became Chancellor in precisely the same way as Tony Blair became PM, and that Hitler was Chancellor in 'democratic Germany'.

What a dickhead.

5/31/2005 01:24:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Silence would be a good policy - at least from 'Nosemonkey'. He thought he was making a clever-clever comment when he was actually saying something so ignorant that it's normally only found on Usenet.

Apparently "Nosemonkey’s day job is as a staff writer / assistant editor on a glossy magazine devoted to British history, aimed largely at the American tourist market."

Yeah, that figures. What a dickhead.

5/31/2005 09:04:00 am  
Blogger Justin said...

Calling people dickhead behind anonymity?

Jesus, what balls!

5/31/2005 09:46:00 am  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Regular charmer, aren't you, delightful anonymous person?

Could you tell me, precisely, how the Weimar Republic was not democractic? Could you also tell me, precisely, whether or not Hitler is considered the last Chancellor of the Weimar Republic?

As far as I am aware, and I'm pretty certain the majority of historians are with me on this, the Weimar Republic was indeed considered democratic, and Hitler was indeed raised to the post of Chancellor while the Republic still stood. The fact that he soon after demolished the system doesn't alter the initial - fairly simple - point that he was Chancellor in a democratic Germany.

5/31/2005 09:49:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh god, he's off again. What can you say about somneone this dumb? I'll take it slowly.

The 'initial point' changes so rapidly on this blog that finding it is like trying to pin down a blob of mercury. But unfortunately for Nosegay I can go back and reconstruct it. If I look to the top of this page I seem to see that the 'initial point' was his claim - which I'll put down to his stupendous ignorance rather than anything more sinister - that Hitler was elected to the post of Chancellor. I don't recall having seen this monumentally crass comment outside Usenet before. His point then rapdily changed to the claim that, well, maybe Hitler wasn't elected Chancellor, but he took that post in 'precisely the same way' (ye gods!) as Tony Blair became Prime Minister.

Instead of having the honesty to admit he was talking balls in both cases, Nosegay now runs away to some other claim hoping his minute band of readers won't notice what he's doing. So the 'initial point' becomes something else again - which, helpfully for his attempted bail-out from the original stupidities - is something no one disputed in the first place.

Weimar was a democracy up to 1933, but that does not mean Hitler was a Chancellor of a democratic Germany. No historian decsribes him that way. You just dive deeper into the cesspool by coming out with such a stupid remark. Technically the Weimar Constitution remained in force till after WWII, but in normal speech it collapsed when Hitler abolished the mechanisms of constitutional government. And he didn't 'soon after demolish the system' - he used the executive powers of Weimar immediately, seven weeks before the Enabling Act formally granted him dictatorial powers. As your historical knowledge (despite your ludicrous citation of a majority of historians, not a single one of whom would subscribe to the thesis you base this post on) is so pathetic, you won't be aware of this, but e.g., Alan Bullock's Hitler & Stalin has the info.

It's still amazing that someone this ignorant thought he was making a clever comment. Back to the glossy mag, dickhead.

5/31/2005 11:28:00 am  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Haven't you got bored yet? I know I have...

July 1932 elections - Nazi party (prop. A. Hitler) become biggest in Reichstag

Nov 1932 elections - Nazi party (prop. A. Hitler) remain biggest, despite drop in votes

30 January 1933 - Hitler becomes Chancellor

27 February 1933 - Reichstag Fire, Civil Liberties suspended (by Hindenberg), Weimar Republic remains in force

March 1933 elections - Nazi party (prop. A. Hitler) wins 43.9% of the vote - again making them the biggest (it was a PR system, so an outright majority was very hard to achieve, and they only managed it after forming a coalition)

23 March 1933 - Enabling Act effectively gives Hitler dictatorial powers and ends democracy in Germany

So, for nearly two months, Hitler was Chancellor of a Germany which was technically democratic. He became Chancellor by dint of his influence as leader of the Nazi party, which won the biggest share of the vote of any party in three elections in less than a year.

Hitler wasn't technically elected as Chancellor, true. But Blair wasn't technically elected as Prime Minister either, just as MP for Sedgefield. Both got their positions thanks to being given them by the respective heads of state, who appointed them as Chancellor/Prime Minister because the parties of which they were leader won the largest share of the vote of any party.

But again, that's irrelevant, because for two months Hitler was Chancellor in a democratic Germany. Which is, was and always has been - fairly evidently - the point.

Now run along, dear. It's sunny outside - go play somewhere else, there's a good fellow.

5/31/2005 12:02:00 pm  
Blogger Tim Worstall said...

Quick question.
The methods by which Hitler was "elected" and Schroeder was " elected" are different in what way?

5/31/2005 12:15:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Incredible.... I realized from the outset that Nosepeg was a vacant space but I had no idea he was this stupid. No, your point was that Hitler was 'elected', and then you claimed that perhaps he wasn't, but he took power in 'precisely the same way' as Tony Blair. Your readers are not as stupid as you are: we can see what you write in the first place and are now trying to hide.

Even so, and amazingly, he's zig-zagged back again. He's backtracked from his initial stupid comment that Hitler was 'elected' Chancellor, but again maintains that Hitler's 'election' was no different from Blair's - not knowing that Hitler lacked majority support in the Reichstag (that incidentally is a fundamental difference from Schroeder). I've pointed this out already, and it's not pretty watching someone pretending he hasn't been rumbled.

He's now reduced to claiming that Hitler was Chancellor of democratic Germany for two months. This is garbage too. Nosepick evidently started this not realizing that technically Weimar's constitution was in force throughout the Nazi period, and that there is no formal cut-off point. But we can say - see Bullock's biography that I've already pointed to: do you want me to quote you chapter and verse, or will you do your own research for once? - that Hitler immediately invoked executive powers inherent in Weimar that were then formalized in the Enabling Act.

You're liable to be on that glossy mag for a long time, dickhead, so get used to it. The Times won't be making the call.

5/31/2005 12:39:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

So the fact that there were democratic elections AFTER Hitler became Chancellor means that Germany wasn't democratic?


Actually no - wait... No it's not. It's tedious.

5/31/2005 12:43:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure is tedious watching a dickhead in action. You claimed Hitler was elected Chancellor - balls. You claimed Hitler took office in 'precisely the same way as Tony Blair' - balls. You ran away to a third position that no one had ever disputed, and then zig-zagged back to your second one hoping no one would notice - balls. You're now reduced to ignoring serious historians you haven't read and have never heard of, all in a suicidally stupid attempt to make out you're superior, obviously out of some complex because you write for a travel brochure instead of a newspaper.

Next time you want to comment on a historical question, read a book first. It takes time, but it's worth the effort.

5/31/2005 12:54:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

Christ you're tedious.

5/31/2005 01:08:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's your problem. If you don't want to have your stupidity remarked on, then don't expose it in public. If you're determined to claim, in the absence of any sense or intelligence in your first, second and third assertions, that Hitler was Chancellor of democratic Germany then you'll end up making ignorant remarks such as that "So the fact that there were democratic elections AFTER Hitler became Chancellor means that Germany wasn't democratic?" Stupefying. Well of course the elections were NOT DEMOCRATIC, you dickhead. You've never heard of the Papen coup of 1932, have you? Hitler was the beneficiary, and made sure that the election was held against emergency decrees and terror. You've never heard either of the Decree of the President for the Protection of the People and the State, have you? How can there be democratic elections when the prussian police have the legal power to shoot the Nazis' opponents? You're driven by your gross ignorance and well-deserved inferiority complex to deny the oppression of Hitler's rule. Again, because I'm kind and generous and want to think the best of people, I'll simply say you're a buffoon - be grateful.

5/31/2005 01:54:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to say that, while I kind of agree with Anonymous here, I don't think that Nosemonkey is guilty of any buffoonery, nor any major mistakes. The whole issue is an incredibly sticky one, where views on both sides of the line are both valid.

I would, in some ways, compare Hitler's Chancellorship more to the "democratic" elections of Zimbabwe than the UK, as they were obviously from an outsider's point of view highly flawed and biased elections. However, they were still under the banner of democracy (even though they weren't) and therefore count as democratic elections (even though they aren't).

I'll admit that I know little about the exact history of Nazi Germany as my background is more in socio-economic trends than historical facts. However, my geographical knowledge along with the details of the thread (which I've quickly read up on Wikipedia) suggests to me that both Anonymous and Nosemonkey are right - they were democratic elections in principle, but they were certainly undemocratic in practice.

5/31/2005 02:07:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, I'd suggest not an online encyclopaedia but a good popular but scholarly book like Richard Evans's The Coming of the Third Reich or Robert Burleigh's The Third Reich. Burleigh's book on pages 150 onwards lays out the legally-instituted terror that the Nazis unleashed as soon as Hitler took office. Astoundingly Nosedrop is committed to the view that this didn't matter because the elections took place after all. No one other than an ignorant buffoon or a neo-Nazi would write that, so I'm being generous to him. And you're being much too kind when you say he hasn't made major mistakes. He's made three gross ones: that one's just the last.

And to make it even stupider he thought he was making a point about his superiority. He's certainly a superior dickhead.

5/31/2005 04:02:00 pm  
Blogger Oliver said...

Let me, as the target of this post, try to put this one to sleep. I do consider that certain of the comments in this thread - notably "Hitler was elected Chancellor in precisely the same way as Tony Blair was elected Prime Minister" and "'Legally-instituted terror' has no bearing or relevance to the presence or absence of democracy" - are foolish and disgraceful, and I won't be responding to them beyond this comment, or at least not with these interlocutors. But I am precise in my use of language, know German political history well, and chose the description carefully.

I described Chancellor Schroeder in an earlier post about German politics as "unquestionably the worst of all post-war German Chancellors", but used a different phrase in my Times article. I am aware of its possible interpretations. The phrase "most feckless and unprincipled Chancellor in the history of democratic Germany" strictly speaking cannot embrace Weimar after 1932, but even if you accept this blogger's premise (which is ill-informed - being purely Google-based - and badly-argued, but arguable nonetheless) that it does, the point still holds. Hitler after all did not want for political ideals, and he was not feckless (which means 'ineffective'): he sought the complete destruction of European Jewry, and achieved the deaths of 70% of them. This post is based on a complete misunderstanding of the point at issue. These things tend to happen when you have little to write except personal abuse, which is one reason (a gentle word of advice to the author of this piece) blog wars are well worth avoiding.

5/31/2005 06:27:00 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's interesting that OK picks the bit of Hitler's game-plan that largely came off (killing European Jews) rather than those bits that failed to pan out: invading Russia, wiping out Bolshevism, enslaving the Slavs,restoring German military might, leaving Berlin standing, challenging the United States for world domination, not being completely defeated . . . that kind of thing. By 1944, large chunks of the German political class had certainly come to the conclusion that Hitler was out of feck.

And Oliver, if Germany wasn't democractic in late 1932, what was it exactly? Take your time - no pressure.

5/31/2005 09:23:00 pm  
Blogger Nosemonkey said...

For the benefit of Mr Kamm: no blog war was intended - it was an off-the-cuff post made late at night while somewhat pissed that long ago descended to farce.

While we're at it, the last anonymous commentor was not me; nor was my "research" internet-based. No research was initially necessary, the latter parts (Nazi vote figures etc.) came from John Toland's biography of the guy. Just before we descend to more mindless silliness.

I know the point you were trying to make, I merely don't think you did it very well (although somewhat better than the charming anonymous person who was hanging around here earlier). But for future reference "feckless" has more than one definition - and all the definitions can be applied to Hitler quite easily. Whether he was unprincipled or not depends, I suppose, on your point of view.

I have to say, though, until today I had assumed it was a near-universally accepted fact that Hitler had come to power using the democratic framework of the Weimar Republic. Ho-hum. Live and learn, eh?

And thus ends the most boring comments thread on the most pointless post yet to appear on this blog. Hurrah!

5/31/2005 10:27:00 pm  
Blogger Oliver said...

1. In late 1932, Germany was a lot more authoritarian than the author of the original post supposed. The Chancellor Franz von Papen had already by that time taken over the Prussian state government and its police force, which was the last Social Democratic bastion. If you simply declare Weimar a democracy without referring to these developments, then you're missing something significant.

2. Hitler's antisemitism was not merely one component of his aims: it was the prism through which everything else was judged (e.g. he was not merely anti-Communist: he saw Communism as 'Jewish Bolshevism', and successive post-war Nazis have been quite sympathetic to the Soviet Union after Stalin's anti-Jewish purges). As the original poster has John Toland's biography of Hitler to hand, he can turn to page 157 to get an indication of the centrality of antisemitism in Hitler's aims, to which everything else was subordinate.

That's all.

6/01/2005 05:03:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is actually a good thread Nosemonkey - next time I find myself see the 'Democracy is just tyrrany of the masses, Hitler was democratically elected' arguments being invoked by a member of the Wadical Wibertarian Fwunt, at least I know where to point them!

6/01/2005 09:24:00 am  
Blogger Squander Two said...

I'd just like to say that Mr Anonymous almost succeeded in changing my mind there. On the facts of the matter, I agree with Oliver, but Mr Anonymous is such an utter, utter tosser that I find myself wanting to disagree with him regardless of how correct he may be. There's probably a moral there.

6/01/2005 10:00:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

[I am the mysterious anonymous #2 of 'feck' post.]

Anti-semitism was certainly an essential part of Hitler's world-view, but it was not the _only_ essential part: he had a pathological hatred of Czechs and other slavs, for example. And his strategic vision for Germany was not that of Judenrein state among equals, but as the hegemon of continental Eurasia. Although the war enabled the Holocaust, he didn't go to war in order to kill the Jews: he went to war in order to expand the power and influence of the German state.

I appreciate that by the spring of 1933 Weimar as a whole was less 'democratic' than it had been in 1928. But had it (at the all-important federal level) left the category of state systems that can reasonably be identified as 'democratic'? I don't think so.

Chris Williams

6/01/2005 11:41:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hitler was not democratically elected, but he was appointed Chancellor at a time when Germany was a functioning democracy. By this I mean that Hindenburg had, as President and in the absence of any one party or coalition having a majority in the Reichstag, a democratic mandate to appoint whomever he chose as Chancellor. Hitler - like Papen, Schleicher and Bruning before him - was appointed, and ruled, by Presidential decree, as nobody could command a majority in the Reichstag.

What Hitler achieved, which Schleicher and Papen could not, was a unification of the parties of the right (the Nazis, the DVP, etc.). This still didn't give him a majority in the Reichstag until he outlawed the Communists (since Communist parties have been illegal in other countries we consider democratic, it's possible to contend that Germany was still democratic at this point, which means Hitler did become a democratic Chancellor, albeit very briefly). Democracy was still functioning to the extent that Hindenburg, had he wished to, could have stopped Hitler, and that until the ban on Communists, Hitler could also have been stopped by the formation of a coalition between the Communists and the Socialists, who had between them a majority in the Reichstag (neither party was willing to countenance such an alliance, even to block the Nazis).

The rise of Hitler was not due to the absence, or even the failure, of democracy in the Weimar Republic - it was due to the stupidity of his opponents, both on the left and on the non-Nazi right.

6/02/2005 01:29:00 am  

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