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New book looks at Hitler’s use of gun control to disarm Jews .. Jamie Weinstein

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Stephen Halbrook’s new book could earn him a contentious evening on Piers Morgan’s CNN show.

In his recently released “Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and ‘Enemies of the State‘,” the famed Second Amendment attorney attempts to take a scholarly look at gun control in Germany before-and-after Hitler took power. But Halbrook doesn’t shy away from pointing out what he sees as parallels, if not comparisons, between what happened then with what is happening in America now.

“Actually, there are parallels between the firearm bans and registration requirements enacted by the Weimar Republic and those proposed by President Obama,” Halbrook, a Research Fellow at the Independent Institute, told The Daily Caller when asked what he would say to those who will argue making such a comparison sounds a bit hysterical. “Only law-abiding persons obeyed those laws. Weimar authorities warned that the lists of gun owners must not fall into the hands of ‘radical elements.’ The lists fell right into the hands of the Nazis when they assumed power. Gun owner data can be misused by the government today just as it did in the IRS scandal, and it can be hacked for nefarious purposes.”

“That said,” he added, “comparisons to Nazi Germany are unjustified in a society where a free press and free elections remain, and no one is being herded into death camps.”

Halbrook, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy in addition to his law degree, has a 4-0 record arguing before the Supreme Court and serves as outside counsel to the National Rifle Association. He is critical of historians who fail to focus on what he sees as this important aspect of the Holocaust narrative.

“What historians deem ‘significant’ reflects both their value judgments and what information is available,” he said. “The disarming of the Jews and other ‘enemies of the state’ was widely reported when it occurred. Historians failed to pursue the topic or the rich history I located in the German archives. By contrast, numerous histories of resistance movements in the occupied countries reflect the desperate need for arms. First-hand accounts of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising are an inspiring tribute of how armed Jewish resisters fought the Nazis.”

Pressed on whether allowing Jews to keep firearms would have made much of a difference in the end, given how well-armed the Nazi regime was, Halbrook said it may have made a difference in individual  cases.

“Had the Jews not been disarmed, they would have had a better chance  to resist and survive, even if only in individual cases or in groups,”  he argued. “The broader question is whether anything would have been different if Germany had constitutional traditions similar to the American Bill of Rights and the engagement of the population in  exercising these rights, such as a free press and having arms. Even aside from the initial disarming of democratic elements before the general disarming of the Jews, the fanatical disarming of the Jews alone demonstrated that the Nazi regime considered them a threat. Armed Jews and political opponents may have been able to resist arrest and deportation in some cases.”

See below TheDC’s full interview with Halbrook:

Why did you write the book?

Hitler disarmed the Jews and “enemies of the state” — political opponents — in order to consolidate his dictatorship and preempt opposition to his ruthless policies. My previous books concern how  oppressive governments sought to disarm populaces in order to oppress them. The British attempted to do so to the Americans who fought back with an armed Revolution, which was the impetus for the Second Amendment. After the Civil War, the Southern States sought to continue         the slave code provisions prohibiting gun possession by blacks, which became a major issue in the civil rights struggle during Reconstruction.  My new book focuses on this universal phenomena during one of the most brutal periods of history.

What were gun laws in Germany like pre-Hitler?

After World War I, the political violence sparked by the Communists and the Nazis led to gun control debates similar to those of today, with proponents proposing to register and prohibit firearms, and opponents responding that only the law-abiding would obey. The Weimar Republic enacted a law giving police discretion to deny permits to acquire firearms based on their subjective view of “public safety.” It also authorized gun registration, but warned officials not to allow the records to fall into the hands of extremist elements. That happened when Hitler took power in 1933.

You claim that registration records played a role in Hitler’s war against the Jews. How so?

When Hitler became Chancellor, police were ordered to revoke the gun permits of all who were “politically unreliable,” meaning Social Democrats and other opponents, including many Jews. In 1935, the Gestapo decreed that gun permits should not be issued to Jews. By 1938, in the weeks before the pogrom known as the Night of the Broken Glass or Kristallnacht, the registration records and house searches were used to disarm Jews in Berlin and throughout Germany. The onslaught could then occur without fear of opposition.

How did gun laws change after Hitler took power?

Hitler had no need to change the laws — law-abiding people had registered their guns, making them easy to confiscate, and police could deny permits for “public safety” under the preexisting Weimar laws. By 1938, when National Socialism had cleansed society of enemies of the state, the laws were tweaked mostly to benefit Nazi Party members and to ban .22 caliber hollow point ammunition.

What do you hope readers draw from the book?

Readers will hopefully be informed of a complete history never before documented of how the Third Reich used gun control laws to force society into line and prevent any armed opposition. That is straight history, is beyond denial, and needs no further justification. Of course, history can repeat itself, and while it does not always do so, the public needs to be aware of the worst case scenarios.

How do you think, if at all, the Holocaust would have played out had Jews not been disarmed? Wouldn’t the well-armed Nazi regime still have been able to overcome whatever armed resistance Jews and others  could have mustered?

Had the Jews not been disarmed, they would have had a better chance  to resist and survive, even if only in individual cases or in groups.    The broader question is whether anything would have been different if Germany had constitutional traditions similar to the American Bill of Rights and the engagement of the population in exercising these rights,  such as a free press and having arms. Even aside from the initial disarming of democratic elements before the general disarming of the Jews, the fanatical disarming of the Jews alone demonstrated that the Nazi regime considered them a threat. Armed Jews and political opponents may have been able to resist arrest and deportation in some cases.

Your book jacket says that this book serves as a “caution” to our current gun control debates. Do you believe there are parallels between what happened in Nazi Germany and the type of gun control being pushed  by President Obama? What do you say to those who would call such a comparison a bit hysterical?

Actually, there are parallels between the firearm bans and registration requirements enacted by the Weimar Republic and those proposed by President Obama. Only law-abiding persons obeyed those laws.     Weimar authorities warned that the lists of gun owners must not fall into the hands of “radical elements.” The lists fell right into the hands of the Nazis when they assumed power. Gun owner data can be misused by the government today just as it did in the IRS scandal, and it can be hacked for nefarious purposes. That said, comparisons to Nazi Germany are unjustified in a society where a free press and free         elections remain, and no one is being herded into death camps.

You write that histories of Hitler’s tyranny often fail to mention Hitler’s gun policies. Why do you think that is? Is it possible that historians just don’t find them that significant?

What historians deem “significant” reflects both their value judgments and what information is available. The disarming of the Jews and other “enemies of the state” was widely reported when it occurred.    Historians failed to pursue the topic or the rich history I located in the German archives. By contrast, numerous histories of resistance movements in the occupied countries reflect the desperate need for arms.    First-hand accounts of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising are an inspiring tribute of how armed Jewish resisters fought the Nazis.

What is the most interesting anecdote or fact you discovered researching the book?

I found an arrest report for Alfred Flatow and others weeks before the Night of the Broken Glass for the legal act of being a Jew in  possession of firearms. It confirmed that he registered his guns during the Weimar period, stated the “crime scene” as the police station address where Jews were turning in their firearms, and that he was turned over to the Gestapo.  My research confirmed that he was one and the same Alred Flatow who won gold medals for Germany in the 1896 Olympics and who would be deported to die in a concentration camp in 1942.

What type of gun control measures do you personally support, if any?

Criminals who misuse firearms in murder, robbery, and other violent crimes should be severely punished.  Law-abiding citizens should not be  subjected to criminal penalties for victimless “crimes,” such as possessing guns not registered with the government.

Final question: What type of reaction are you expecting to the release of your book from your colleagues and from the public at  large?

The book should be well received by the academic community as well as  general members of the public interested in Nazi Germany and the  Holocaust as well as the Second Amendment and gun control. There are  countless books on this period of history, but this one treads new territory. The book may be criticized by those whose belief in firearms prohibition influences their interpretation of history, but denial of what actually happened is not an option.

 

 

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Read  more at The Daily Caller…

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