Hitler, the Nazis, and Gun Control

The intensifying pandemic of gun violence and murder in the U.S. has prompted the usual, tired, and entirely false reaction from gun fanatics — “the first thing Hitler did was take away everyone’s guns.” Well, did Hitler disarm the German citizenry as a way to make it easy to control them? Were Jews and other minorities targeted for gun confiscation so that they could be exterminated? Professor Philip Nash explains this _very_ complicated issue, and busts many myths about Hitler and “gun control.” It’s tragic that this encore episode is necessary.

Buzzkill Bookshelf

Robert Gellately, Backing Hitler: Consent and Coercion in Nazi Germany

The Nazis never won a majority in free elections, but soon after Hitler took power most people turned away from democracy and backed the Nazi regime. Hitler won growing support even as he established the secret police (Gestapo) and concentration camps. What has been in dispute for over fifty years is what the Germans knew about these camps, and in what ways were they involved in the persecution of ‘race enemies’, slave workers, and social outsiders.

To answer these questions, and to explore the public sides of Nazi persecution, Robert Gellately has consulted an array of primary documents. He argues that the Nazis did not cloak their radical approaches to ‘law and order’ in utter secrecy, but played them up in the press and loudly proclaimed the superiority of their system over all others. They publicized their views by drawing on popular images, cherished German ideals, and long held phobias, and were able to win over converts to their cause. The author traces the story from 1933, and shows how war and especially the prospect of defeat radicalized Nazism. As the country spiralled toward defeat, Germans for the most part held on stubbornly. For anyone who contemplated surrender or resistance, terror became the order of the day.

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