In an unusual 2013 article written by now-Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson and published on joemiller.us, Bronson claims that “Adolph Hitler was not always a tyrant. As he rose to political power his vision for a better Germany lifted his nation from the depths of a severe depression and the humiliation of defeat. But more importantly, he gave his countrymen hope for better future while he returned to them their pride in their homeland, the pride they so passionately desired.”
In fact, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party openly campaigned on a platform of Aryan racial supremacy, virulent anti-Semitism, military conquest of lands inhabited by alleged racial inferiors, and mass eugenic killing for years prior to Hitler’s initial assumption of political office in 1933. Once in office, Hitler and Nazi Party immediately began transforming Germany into a totalitarian fascist dictatorship, rescinding civil liberties and initiating long-planned programs to violently persecute political dissidents, religious, ethnic, and sexual minorities, and disabled people.
In a Friday afternoon e-mail, Corey Allen Young, the Communications Director for the Office of the Mayor, confirmed to the Landmine that Mayor Dave Bronson had written the article.
In the 2013 article, Bronson states that, while attending a dinner party, he asked an elderly German woman whether she saw any parallels between Nazi Germany and the United States (then under President Obama). The answer, Bronson writes, “prompted a swift, if not indelicate, kick under the table from the hostess, a dear friend.” The hostess and host explain to Bronson that their elderly dinner companion, in fact “adores Adolph Hitler.” The hostess and host explain that “many if not most Germans of her vintage do as well,” and tell Bronson:
“Hitler in the 1930’s, and even after his death, was extremely popular. He did many great and good things for a nation suffering terribly and needlessly under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. He built roads, bridges and hospitals. He put people back to work while he rebuilt the economy. In less than ten years he accomplished the miraculous … even while he began to commit the unspeakable.”
Bronson states that he viewed this interaction as a “teachable moment,” learning that “a tyrant so universally reviled for committing such horrific acts” can also create positive change by improving a country’s economy and bolstering nationalist pride. Bronson states that:
“Tyrants are not uniformly evil. They are capable of great good and small kindnesses. They smile, they laugh and they love their children. But eventually they embrace the evil which defines their tyranny, and then those who gave them their power begin to pay a terrible price.”
Bronson concludes by drawing parallels between the Nazi regime and the Obama Administration, writing “Now to the question before us. Do I believe President Obama has the capacity to be a tyrant? Most certainly.”
The article can be found here:
“The Tyranny Before Us,” by Dave Bronson
In the article, Bronson does not praise Hitler for actions taken after his early political career. Bronson includes Hitler in a list of tyrants that also includes Chairman Mao, Stalin, and Mussolini.
It is unclear why Bronson concludes that Hitler was “not always a tyrant.” Hitler penned the autobiography “Mein Kampf” in 1925, which states that Germany would have won WWI if “twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the nation had been subjected to poison gas,” calls for “extermination” of “international poisoners,” promotes racist expulsion of peoples from Central and Eastern Europe, and calls for the killing of allegedly inferior individuals. Mein Kampf became a bestseller in Germany, and was widely read both in Germany and abroad during Hitler’s rise to power. The Nazi Party explicitly campaigned on the priorities laid out in Mein Kampf, interweaving them with other domestic and international policies.
Adolf Hitler was appointed Chancellor of Germany–his first political office–on January 30, 1933. Following his appointment, Hitler and the Nazi party immediately began dismantling Germany’s democratic institutions and violently suppressing political opposition. On February 28, 1933, the Reichstag Fire Decree suspended most civil liberties in Germany, including freedom of association and freedom of speech. On March 21 and 24, 1933, the Nazi-controlled government passed a set of laws legalizing the arrest and extrajudicial imprisonment of any critics of the Nazi regime. Also on March 24, 1933–less than two months after Hitler had been appointed chancellor–the Nazi government announced the opening of its first concentration camp, in Dachau. Tens of thousands of Germans, including Communists, Social Democrats, other political opponents, and sexual minorities, were rounded up in subsequent months and sent into Germany’s growing network of prison camps, where many were killed.
On May 3, 1933, all German trade unions in were dissolved and key union leaders were sent to concentration camps. On July 14, 1933, all political parties other than the Nazi party were formally banned, putting Hitler and his allies in total control of the German state. From July 30 to July 2, 1934, Hitler orchestrated the mass killing of remaining political opponents in an event called “Operation Hummingbird,” or “The Night of the Long Knives.”
Beginning in July of 1933, the Nazi government began the mass sterilization of allegedly genetically inferior individuals. In 1939, Hitler authorized “Aktion T4,” a eugenics program that mandated the destruction of individuals with disabilities. Aktion T4, which purported to purify and strengthen the Aryan race, ultimately resulted in the deaths of between 70,000 and 300,000 disabled individuals in German-occupied territories.
Anti-Semitic beliefs and promotion of anti-Semitic conspiracy theories were highly visible features of Hitler’s ideology and Nazism from its earliest days. The first boycott of Jewish-owned shops occurred on April 1, 1933. On September 15, 1935, the Nazi party enacted the Nuremberg Race Laws, which banned intermarriage between Jews and non-Jews, invalidated the passports of all German Jews, limited the names that Jewish children could be given, and required Jews to wear yellow badges identifying them in public. The first major pogrom against Jewish citizens, Kristallnacht, occurred from November 9 to 10, 1938 and concluded with the destruction of thousands of Jewish businesses and the forced removal of hundreds of thousands of Jews to concentration camps.