That Donald Trump managed to win the election has incensed some, delighted others, and has spawned comparisons to Adolf Hitler.
And while the latter suggestion previously drew scorn and caused eyes to roll — as if Godwin’s law that arguments online inevitably devolve into someone accusing someone else of being a Nazi — a World War II survivor has come forward with a warning the similarities shouldn’t be blithely dismissed.
It is also important to note that this path to despotism was paved by the likes of George Bush and Barack Obama. Between the two of them and their attacks on the constitution, they left a virtual dictatorship up for grabs that would have been assumed and abused by Hilary Clinton or Donald Trump.
NV, an 88-year-old woman who experienced the horrors of Nazi rule, believes Trump summons the specter of the fascist dictator far too clearly for the resemblance to be ignored as hyperbole.
One day in 1940, NV’s life in Antwerp, Belgium, changed forever:
“In early 1940 my mother, grandmother and I lived across the street from an army barracks. In the early morning of May the 10th, we were woken up by the sounds of sirens, heavy artillery, and explosions. We quickly went to the cellar to hide and waited until the bombing had subsided. When we left the house, an unexploded bomb was laying below our living room window.
“When we rounded the corner the most horrible scene presented itself: Almost four complete city blocks had been destroyed, body parts were scattered all over. One scene I will never forget is when I managed to get to where my favorite candy store used to be, there was a severed leg stuck against a remaining wall.”
Often, the passage of time, like water, smooths collective memory to the point atrocities become less tangible — or appear so egregious, we foolishly surmise ‘that could never happen again.’
But history proves otherwise, and that ‘it’ — fascism spawned from failed attempts at loosely democratic systems — can, indeed, happen again is precisely why NV chose to bring her experience to light.
While Trump isn’t literally Hitler, as some people oddly insist, the president keeps company with rumored white nationalists, imposed a suffocating ban on refugees and restrictions on travel, and rearranged his National Security Council in an astonishing manner — downgrading the status of the Director of National Intelligence and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff — reminiscent of a fascistic power play.
Considering the United States has yet to experience severely concentrated power of the Hitler or Mussolini variety, drastic changes in policy and procedure are viewed by many without the lens of future abuse — but that could be a critical error.
NV, who is Jewish, recalled struggling simply to live under the punishing thumb of Nazi rule:
“We sometimes stood in lines all night just to get a loaf of bread that was made with something other than flour. It was black, looked like uncooked dough, smelled bad, and grew mold within a few hours. We didn’t get sugar, we got saccharine to sweeten; there was no coffee, instead we got some kind of roasted grain the Germans called Kneipp; we didn’t get milk or butter, we got some type of margarine that came with a coloring capsule that had to be kneaded into the margarine to give it color. I went hungry, I was always starving. Once in a while we would get some figs at school or bananas which I would save and take home to share with my mother and grandmother, sometimes I was too hungry and ate them on the way home from school.”
As the Nazi leader rose to power with all the ‘charm’ of a megalomaniac, NV recalled, “we heard Hitler speak on the radio, we also saw him in newsreels before the movies. I can remember seeing him rant and rave, his face becoming contorted with rage.”
NV, who literally endured life under Hitler, asserted,
“Donald Trump emulates Hitler to a T. His actions, speeches and ranting remind me exactly of Hitler. I am afraid that if he is not stopped, he will lead this country into another world war.”
Indeed, Trump’s bluster and belligerence in addressing China led Beijing to prepare for military action under threat of a possible trade war with the U.S. Even more telling, U.S. officials will assess the ‘survivability’ of the governments of China and Russia in the event of a nuclear war — starkly suggestive the potential for world war to turn catastrophic isn’t an outside possibility.
“Unfortunately,” NV continued, “this war will not be waged with conventional weapons, and very few people will survive. And if they do, there will be nothing left to be worth living for!!”
Warnings of the similarities between Trump and Hitler could be facilely rejected when coming from the mouths of millennials — but for a survivor of World War II to sound this alarm holds infinite weight.
It might behoove Americans to consider the admonition and not be led like mice by a seemingly charismatic pied piper straight into nuclear war.