In the immediate aftermath of the Trump-inspired insurrection of January 6, senior Republicans were nearly apoplectic in their outrage, with several endorsing expected in-depth investigations. Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), tweeted that the attack "was horrific & appalling... I agree w/Speaker Pelosi--a 911-type investigation is called for to help prevent this from happening again."
Yet Republicans, under clear pressure from Trump, have shifted to such an extent that they are now seeking to block an in-depth bipartisan investigation by Congress. Given the trend here, from outrage and condemnation to acceptance, we might do well to wonder: What comes next in positioning the January 6 events? Unbelievable as it might sound now, one logical next step would be to begin repositioning the Capitol insurrection into a day of glory and national celebration, perhaps even a national holiday.
We actually have a model of how that might come about in Adolph Hitler's November 9, 1923 "Beer Hall Putsch," which followed a script amazingly similar to Trump's January 6 Capitol insurrection. Just as Trump complained endlessly that the November 2020 election had been stolen from him, Hitler as an up-and-coming pol complained in rousing speeches before thousands during the summer and fall of 1923 that Germany's expected victory in World War I had been stolen by its defeatist politicians, the "November criminals" who surrendered in fall 1918.
And just as there was a pitched battle between insurrectionists and police resulting in deaths and injuries at the U.S. Capitol, a gun battle broke out on November 9, 1923, during a march by 2,000 Nazis to take over the Bavarian government; four police were killed, along with two dozen of Hitler's followers and militia members. Both countries attempted in their own way to punish the plotters. A German court sentenced Hitler to five years in prison for treason. America's version of prison was to cut Trump's Twitter and Facebook bullhorns.
While there were obvious and important differences between Hitler's circumstances in 1924 and Trump's in 2021 (their age, political experience, personal finances, for starters), Hitler's aggressive campaign to turn the failed insurrection of 1923 into his ascension to power in 1933 bears striking similarities to the path Trump is already well along on as he seeks a triumphant return to America's presidency:
Unlike American leaders, German authorities went after the 1923 coup ringleaders quickly and aggressively. Within a few days of the attempted putsch, German authorities had rounded up and jailed Hitler and at least nine of his associates. Hitler was charged with treason. The future looked very grim, according to the classic 1960 history by William Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: "The Nazi putsch had ended in a fiasco. The party was dissolved. National Socialism, to all appearances, was dead. Its dictatorial leader, who had run away at the first hail of bullets, seemed utterly discredited, his meteoric political career at an end."
But Hitler used his trial, which began less than four months after the failed coup before a special court in Munich, as a platform for his lies and agenda. "By the time (the trial) had ended twenty-four days later Hitler had transformed defeat into triumph," explained Shirer. Hitler "had impressed the German people with his eloquence and the fervor of his nationalism, and emblazoned his name on the front pages of the world."
Though he was sentenced to five years in prison for treason, Hitler would be treated as something of a celebrity criminal, allowed visitors at will. He wrote his political treatise, Mein Kampf, and was released after nine months for good behavior, free to leverage the failed coup. And leverage it he did. The failed insurrection became a rallying cry for the rest of Hitler's political career.
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