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In 1933, Adolf Hitler was named the most powerful person in German government even though the Nazis had won only a plurality of 33 percent of the voters in the 1932 elections to the German parliament.

Hitler was a powerful speaker who attracted a wide following of Germans desperate for change. He promised a better life and a new and glorious Germany.

Once in power, Hitler moved quickly to end German democracy. He suspended individual freedoms of press, speech and assembly. He created special security forces including the Gestapo, the Storm Troopers and the SS for eliminating opposition political parties.

Also, in 1933, Hitler began to put into practice his racial ideology. He believed Germans were “racially superior” and groups of people including Jews, gypsies, blacks, homosexuals, and the physically and mentally handicapped were a serious biological threat along with 25,000 Jehovah’s Witnesses. Many children of Witnesses were taken and sent to juvenile detention homes and orphanages.

Between 1933 and 1939, thousands of people, mostly political prisoners – the enemy, were imprisoned in concentration camps. This was just the beginning of Hitler’s reign of fascism terror.

In the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Gift Shop, there was a poster for sale created in 2003 by Laurence Britt detailing 14 “early warning signs of fascism.” Upon emailing the museum, I found out that the museum no longer carries the poster.

The 14 “warning signs” are: “powerful and continuing nationalism; disdain for human rights; identification of enemies as a unifying cause; supremacy of the military; rampant sexism; controlled mass media; obsession with national security; religion and government intertwined; corporate power protected; labor power suppressed; disdain for intellectuals and the arts; obsession with crime and punishment; rampant cronyism and corruption; and fraudulent elections.”

Is history repeating itself?

Henry Lebak, Bismarck

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