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It’s A Myth That Hitler Came To Power Because Of Inflation

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Should Democrats take heavy losses in the upcoming midterms, conventional wisdom will likely say it was due to inflation, and only inflation. The left already argues that price spikes are beyond the control of Joe Biden, who did nothing wrong helping pump trillions into a hot economy to fund progressive hobby horses.

But I’ve also noticed in the past few weeks that “inflation” has given the “save democracy” hysterics another word to latch onto when spinning their insipid, one-note Nazi analogies. Here, for example, is ABC’s resident alarmist Matthew Dowd leaning in on the Reductio ad Hitlerum:

Weimar-era hyperinflation peaked in 1923, the year of the Beer Hall Putsch and a decade before the Nazis rose to power. Adolf Hitler was still a fringe figure sitting in a jail when the incompetent leaders of Germany finally started getting a handle on the crisis that had compelled citizens to fill wheelbarrows with reichsmarks to buy bread. As numerous studies have shown, by 1932, Germany was suffering from deflation and stagnation. In 1932, prices fell. In contemporaneous accounts of the war — William Shirer’s books are useful on this front — there is barely any talk of inflation in the 1932 campaign. Hitler’s major speeches during that time make no mention of inflation.

By “getting a third of the vote,” one assumes Dowd is taking a shot at federalism or the Electoral College or the existence of states or whatever constitutional norm is now in the left’s crosshairs. (It is likely Republicans will win more national votes this November, not that it matters.) But since we’re on the topic, Hitler consolidated his power in a 1934 plebiscite, a direct national election, combining the chancellorship and presidency. From 1932 to ’34, German unemployment had fallen from 34 to 13.4 percent. 

Sometimes it seems to me that “inflation” is a way people like to rationalize the rise of Hitler. The economy was so bad that Germans had been tricked into supporting planned economies and fascistic solutions. Considering the rise of Mussolini, Hitler, and FDR, many people certainly warmed to those ideas. But maybe, just maybe, Germans were a traditionally martial society and, angered by their devastating loss in 1918 and the ineptitude of post-war elites, they were also perfectly happy living in a dictatorship.

Whatever the case, if you’re going to pin all your fearmongering on a single historical era, you should really do a better job of learning what happened.


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