--Donald J. Trump, Veterans Day Speech, 2023
“This vermin must be destroyed. The Jews are our sworn enemies,….”
--Adolf Hitler, 1939
“Nature is cruel; therefore we are also entitled to be cruel. When I send the flower of German youth into the steel hail of the next war without feeling the slightest regret over the precious German blood that is being spilled, should I not also have the right to eliminate millions of an inferior race that multiplies like vermin?”
--Adolf Hitler, 1942
Veterans Day 2023 saw all-time military-and-veteran-despiser Donald J. Trump go full-out Nazi, referring to his innumerable enemies as “vermin,” a favorite term invoked often by Adolf Hitler to dehumanize Jews and other “untermenschen.” Nazi documentaries labeled Jews the “vermin of mankind.” Small wonder that Trump would adopt a term so dear to the black heart of his fascist role model, given that, according to his first wife, he kept a copy of Hitler’s Mein Kampf on his bedside table. Could it be likely the only book this man ever read, a Cliff Notes version being unavailable?
Trump’s Veterans Day remarks resorted to Nazi terminology more than once. He claimed that U.S. veterans had been “backstabbed and betrayed.” This too comes directly out of Hitler’s playbook. He frequently said that Germany had lost World War I because the military had been “stabbed in the back” by the “Jewish Bolsheviks” in Berlin.
If you think that comparisons to Hitler go too far, think again. Early on, Trump began holding rallies reminiscent of the annual Nuremberg gatherings at which Hitler harangued his followers. Trump’s plans for a second term also follow the Hitler playbook. He seeks retribution against his perceived enemies, intends to purge the civil service of career bureaucrats and replace them with Trump loyalists, invoke the Insurrection Act in pursuit of a power-grab, deploy the military to blue cities, and even suspend the Constitution. His announced plans for his re-coronation include establishing concentration camps to corral “undesirable” immigrants and foreigners he intends to deport. Like his role model, he wants to employ the agencies of government to go after his enemies. And like Hitler, he offers simple “solutions” to the most complex problems. The MAGAverse eats it all up.
We have been spared this kind of incendiary language for almost 80 years since the demise of Hitler and his toxic, murderous ideology. Now Trump is bringing it back. Someone who speaks straight-up Nazi talk has no business being anywhere near the seat of power.
In another example of his adoption of the language of the Third Reich, Trump last month said that undocumented migrants are “poisoning the blood of our country.” This trash talk is textbook Mein Kampf, wherein Hitler several times describes the “influx of foreign blood” as “poison.”
To continue: “Well, Hitler did a lot of good things,” Trump allegedly told former White House Chief of Staff John Kelly in 2018, according to New York Times reporter Michael C. Bender’s 2021 book, Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost.
And that’s not all: “You f*cking generals, why can’t you be like the German generals…in World War II?,” Trump also told John Kelly, according to the book, The Divider: Trump in the White House by New York Times journalist Peter Baker and New Yorker staff writer Susan Glasser, to be released in December. Unlike Trump, John Kelly has no reason to lie.
What makes all of this more menacing is that Veterans Day week was the centennial anniversary of Hitler’s failed “Beer Hall Putsch,” the Hitlerian attempt to overthrow Bavaria’s democratic government. The similarities between Hitler and Trump are even more striking in that both insurrectionists went on trial following their attempted coups, and both turned their courtroom sessions into circuses from which they profited politically. Both Hitler and Trump referred to the dead from their respective insurrections as “martyrs” and jailed insurrectionists as “patriotic heroes.” Hitler said the Bavarian government leaders who put him on trial should themselves be tried for treason. Trump vows: “IF YOU GO AFTER ME, I’M COMING AFTER YOU!”
Moreover, Trump’s “vermin” speech fell just days after the 85th anniversary of “Kristallnacht,” the “Night of Broken Glass” during which over 1,000 German and Austrian synagogues were torched, 30,000 Jews were arrested and shipped off to concentration camps, thousands of Jewish-owned businesses were looted and destroyed, and hundreds of Jews were murdered. It is no coincidence that Trump used this occasion to go full Third Reich. The parallels are ominous.
And then there is the Big Lie. Trump’s ridiculous claim that the 2020 election was rigged and that Joe Biden is an illegitimate president is nothing more than the 21st century version of Hitler’s Big Lie, that World War I was lost due to the “stab in the back.”
ABC’s Jonathan Karl, in his just-released book, Tired of Winning, quotes a former senior official in Donald Trump’s White House thusly: “He lacks any shred of human decency, humility or caring. He is morally bankrupt, breathtakingly dishonest, lethally incompetent, and stunningly ignorant of virtually anything related to governing, history, geography, human events or world affairs. He is a traitor and a malignancy in our nation and represents a clear and present danger to our democracy and the rule of law.” Karl said that the former official hasn’t gone public because he fears “retribution” from Trump against him and his family.
Trump’s admiration for and envy of autocrats is well-known. He thinks Vladimir Putin is a “genius” for having invaded Ukraine and constantly praises Xi Jinping for ruling China with an “iron hand.” If only I could be like them, he fantasizes.
Despite his historical illiteracy and limited vocabulary, Trump knows exactly what he is doing when and where he demagogues using such language. He is clearly borrowing from Hitler’s playbook. Subtlety is not his strong suit.
The great American experiment is in peril. We are only one election away from a fascist takeover of American democracy. We must avoid this at all costs.
Democratic leaders and operatives should be out in public every day proclaiming the existential danger represented by Donald Trump. They should be explaining why his election would threaten American democracy, the rule of law, our culture, our economy, in sum the entire American way of life. Silence is not an option. Hoping that somehow Trump will fade away is not an option.
To paraphrase Cato the Elder, who ended every one of his Roman Senate speeches with…”Carthage must be destroyed:” Trump delenda est.
November 26, 2023