As you can see from the 1932 photo montage above, not all Germans were fooled by Hitler. The caption reads, at the top, “The Meaning of the Hitler Salute,” and if you travel down the page, below the image representing big corporations handing Hitler “millions” it says, “Millions Stand Behind Me!” Below that, “Little man asks for big gifts.”
Well. We’re all familiar with that, aren’t we? We’re seeing it right now in the forming Trump administration. Hitler, like Trump, was the choice of his nation’s 1 Percent. Industrial magnate Fritz Thiessen (you may have ridden in his company’s elevators) was an early donor. So was Krupp, whose name is found in those same elevators (the companies merged in 1999).
It hardly matters that these 1 percenters thought to use Hitler, or that he ended up using them instead. The point is that Hitler, like Trump, used populism to gain power while being funded and supported by the corporate power structure that has for so long suppressed the little guy. It is no coincidence that Trump, like Hitler, dislikes labor unions.
Needless to say, the author of this photo was not popular with the Nazis. When Hitler seized power in 1933, John Heartfield (Helmut Herzfeld), as Wikipedia describes him, “a pioneer in the use of art as a political weapon,” had to flee.
Donald Trump is not very happy with the American press either, when they accurately cite his words, or show his double chins, or just generally don’t do what he wants them to do, even though they really did quite a lot for him in the 2016 election.
Probably, Trump would like to send a lot of journalists fleeing himself. He certainly has no respect for the First Amendment, and he has threatened to sue news outlets like The New York Times, and many other people who say things he finds less than congenial for the myth he has built up about himself.
If he hires Laura Ingraham as White House press secretary, he will have a full-fledged propaganda spokesperson to go along with his own propaganda network (given that Fox News is not always cooperative enough, allowing people like Megyn Kelly to express their opinions).
All the while, of course, Donald Trump is planning a major grift-taking, summoning all the lobbyists and others he promised to banish, while trying to force foreign diplomats to stay in Trump Tower, which will apparently function as Trump’s version of the White House, now that the US is about to become a wholly-owned Trump subsidiary.
Adolf Hitler held his hand out too, taking money from the powerful while making promises to the weak. Like Hitler, Trump tells his followers what they want to hear while he does what he wants to do and trusts they’ll be too stupid or besotted to notice.
Trump’s message, like Hitler’s, is emotional, not intellectual. It speaks not to facts, not to the world as it is, but to wishful thinking and the world as they want it to be. Like Kellyanne Conway tells us, griping about Trump’s corruption is just being “negative.”
Well, shame on us. We should just let that money pass hands and smile, and go on pretending Trump is doing it for us, that somehow, from his dark, looming shadow, a golden rain will trickle down on us.
Photo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Heartfield_Hitler_Salute.jpg#/media/File:Heartfield_Hitler_Salute.jpg Front page of the Arbeiter-Illustrierte-Zeitung (AIZ) with a photomontage by John Heartfield showing Adolf Hitler taking money from an exemplary industrialist. Title: “Der Sinn des Hitlergrusses: Kleiner Mann bittet um grosse Gaben. Motto: Millionen Stehen Hinter Mir!” (The Meaning of the Hitler Salute: Little man asks for big gifts. Motto: Millions Stand Behind Me!)