Note: I am neither able nor willing to verify these claims for myself. I do, however, find them very likely. I can also say that guns were more easily available in Communist Czechoslovakia than they are in modern England. We need the right to own and use guns to protect ourselves from criminals. We also need them because owning a gun is rather like being rich – it gives you the confidence to tell people to get stuffed long before any need for escalation. But the idea that having a handgun at home will stop a seriously oppressive government is a joke. In America, it simply means that the police have turned into heavily militarised gangs. They get their way by outgunning their victims. SIG
Have a cause you really hate? Want to discredit it? Well, fortunately for you, there’s History’s Worst Dictators™. Whether it’s banking, corporations, evolution, abortion, gun control, gun rights, atheism, or vegetarianism, these villains can be dredged up whenever you need cast the specter of mass murder on your opponents’ intentions. Just make up a quote, make up a date, attach one of their names to it, and post it anywhere online. Your particular community’s echo chamber of self-confirmation, self-reinforcement, and self-congratulation will take it from there.
Although the internet has spawned epidemics of this kind of egregious dishonesty, telling bold-faced lies to score cheap political points has a long and storied past. Here we critically examine two famous quotes attributed to Adolf Hitler about gun registration and confiscation: one almost true and one totally bogus.
This year will go down in history. For the first time a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!
— Adolf Hitler, 1935
This quote actually has quite a history, appearing over 100 times, in various forms, in different print sources. Its message is not subtle: gun registration leads to gun confiscation which leads to Auschwitz. And in case you weren’t clear about the connection between Nazis and contemporary gun control advocates, the last sentence spells it out: people in “the future” (i.e., the present) who advocate registration are literally “following Hitler’s lead.” That sound you hear is civilization being throttled by the hands of limousine liberal legislators.
Only two problems: one, there’s not a shred of historical evidence that Hitler ever said this, and two, it wouldn’t have made any sense even if he had.
First, no source for this quote (if people bother citing any) checks out. It is generally sourced to an address from Hitler to the Reichstag: Adolph Hitler, ‘Abschied vom Hessenland!’ [‘Farewell to Hessia!’], [‘Berlin Daily’ (loose English translation)], Apr. 15, 1935, page 3, Einleitung Von Eberhard Beckmann [Introduction by Eberhard Beckmann].
Bernard Harcout, political science chair at the University of Chicago, writes of it that, “[This] infamous quote is probably a fraud and was likely never uttered. The citation reference is a jumbled and incomprehensible mess that has never been properly identified or authenticated, and no one has been able to produce a document corresponding to the quote. It has been the subject of much research, all of it fruitless, and has now entered the annals of urban legend.”
That alone should be enough to bury this quote, but, as the promoters of things for which there is absolutely no evidence continuously remind us, “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” Although I don’t buy this burden-shifting maneuver, there are a few other reasons to think this quote is probably fake.
First, there was no Nazi gun registration measure enacted in 1935: major reforms were passed in 1919, 1920, 1928, 1931, and 1938. Second, Hitler wouldn’t even have needed such a measure because of strict licensing laws that had already been passed under the Weimar Republic–ironically, designed to disarm the Nazis and Communists who were shooting each other in the streets, and prevent an armed coup d’état such as Hitler’s 1923 “Beer Hall Putsch.”
In fact, private gun ownership was almost completely banned by the Weimar regime following the end of World War I and the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. In January 1919 and August 1920, measures were passed requiring citizens to surrender all firearms to the government, in compliance with rules imposed by the Allies in Versailles. It wasn’t until 1928 that the prohibition was lifted and a strict registration program imposed–all prior to the Nazi takeover.
The 1938 law, which did take place under the Nazi government, prohibited Jews from owning guns, but simultaneously liberalized gun restrictions for most everyone else. The law totally deregulated the sale of rifles, shotguns, and ammunition, as well as expanded the number of people exempt from permit requirements. It also lowered the age requirement for purchase and carry permits from 20 to 18, and extended the period permits were valid from 1 to 3 years.
It’s utterly implausible that Hitler would have been praising laws passed by the previous administration to disarm his Brown Shirts and counter his revolutionary ambitions. The equally implausible narrative of Germany as a free gun-owning paradise until “liberal fascists” took over and imposed gun registration in 1935 is complete fantasy. This quote has Hitler claiming that “for the first time ever” a civilized country had gun registration–are we to suppose that he forgot the previous 15 years of his own country’s gun laws?
Conquest and Disarmament
To conquer a nation, first disarm its citizens.
— Adolph Hitler, 1933
This pithy fabrication, repeated thousands of times, is at least based on something. There’s no evidence he ever said these words, but it looks like a bad paraphrasing of Hitler’s opinion that disarming occupied nations was imperative to maintaining control of them.
In “Hitler’s Table Talk,” we find the Führer making this statement in 1942, regarding the colonization and denationalization of conquered territories: “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing. Indeed, I would go so far as to say that the supply of arms to the underdogs is a sine qua non for the overthrow of any sovereignty. So let’s not have any native militia or native police. German troops alone will bear the sole responsibility for the maintenance of law and order throughout the occupied Russian territories.”
While this is clearly a gun control argument, and even sounds vaguely similar to the made up quote, there are a few points to be noted about it. First, it would not make any sense to claim (as the quote does) that one must disarm a nation prior to conquering it, because in order to seize their guns it would have to already be conquered …thus kind of proving its guns to be ineffective as means of preventing conquest. This shows the confusion of the fabricator.
Second, Hitler is making a point about occupied Eastern Europe, fighting for liberation, not Germany. He didn’t consider himself a “conqueror” of Germany, and he wasn’t claiming that gun confiscation was the key to his seizing power or maintaining it. This brings up an uncomfortable point we generally ignore about the citizens of the Third Reich: they thought they were free. Hitler was paranoid about assassinations, Communists, and even internal coups, but the Nazis were popular with the German people, and it’s not clear that they ever seriously threatened by the idea of an armed populist revolution.
Hitler did think that disarming conquered peoples was key to maintaining control of that territory, but that case aside, he did not claim disarming Germans was a key part of the Nazi program.
The Moral of the Story Is…
There’s plenty of good arguments against gun control, but invoking the Nazis every time you need a trump card is lazy and dishonest. The Hitler card is worn out. If you’re worried about a fascist dictator arising in America, you should be looking for hawkish, ultra right-wing, hyper-nationalist, xenophobic, racist, authoritarian, war-mongering populists with major public support. Those kinds of people don’t need to seize everyone’s firearms to create a totalitarian regime, and they didn’t. If the Third Reich had been so unstable it had to worry about disarming every German, it never would have been in a position to carry out its wars and atrocities with such ruthless efficiency. It relied upon wide public support for both.
The reality is that Adolf Hitler was not a poster child for gun control, and making up quotes to suggest otherwise does nothing but discredit the Second Amendment activists who recite them. The moral of the story is quite simple: don’t lie.
- Gun Control and the Holocaust, by Michael Moynihan
- The Hitler gun control lie, by Alex Seitz-Wald
- On Gun Registration, the NRA, Adolf Hitler, and Nazi Gun Laws, by Bernard E. Harcourt
“In America, it simply means that the police have turned into heavily militarised gangs. They get their way by outgunning their victims.”
They ‘get their way’ by force of authority in the face of domestic complacency. US police militarization is a fact, whose unintended consequence is reinforcement of the opinion that the citizenry must be armed on par with the standing army (which we were at one time proscribed from having), the organized militia (which at one time was not federalized), and the unorganized militia (i.e. the mass of citizens who must protect themselves against not just individual crime but government oppression).
Don ‘t think the cops are going to win in the US Sean. Too many people–too many guns–and the obvious sign that trying to take the guns =tyranny on. Yes America is now full of useless welfare claimaints but they won’t be part of the battle. Guns in the house are of great use when they come to put you in the cattle trucks. No one other than a fool would allow FEMA to take them to a camp. The soviet victims of the 30s and the Jews of the 40s had never faced such a thing and didn’t want to believe death was their destination. The fact is we are all going die anyway and no one with brains or balls should stand by while they and their family are rounded up. Would you prefer that your family died in the house with you (along with say2 or 4 or 6 govt thugs) or would like to put in one cattle car while your family are herded to another?. If every adult Jew had killed just 1 Nazi that would have exceeded Hitler’s entire fighting strength.
So far as I can tell, all quotes are fake. I have yet to see one useful pithy quote that turns out to be actually historically verifiable and/or ascribed to the correct person.
Agreed. Famous quotations are most often a case of projection. People will twist the words of a famous person to suit their own agenda, or fabricate them entirely.
I have to laugh at the apocalyptic warnings of politicians in Britain when anyone suggests people should have the right to own guns. “We’ll end up like America”, is one of their clichés. No, they won’t end up like America (which has 20 000 gun control laws), they’ll end up like England before 1920, when the first real gun control law was passed.
Actually, I’ve just looked up that 20 000 figure and it turns out to be yet another apocryphal statistic used by participants in this debate. The real number seems to be around 300.
Rob, perhaps I can help you with the “20,000 Gun Control Laws” figure. I have a Juris Doctor degree which gives me some background for researching statutes and codes. I am quite involved with the American 2nd Amendment and firearms owner movement, and I have been studying this topic for more than 20 years.
To give you some idea of the size and complexity of the vast network of firearms laws in the U.S., let me point out that just the California state laws on CARRYING or TRANSPORTING firearms, loaded or unloaded, handguns or long guns, spans more than 100 code sections, not even counting the multiple subdivisions of some sections which essentially deal with separate subjects and should therefore be counted as separate statutes. I can assure you that California, all by itself, has far more than the 300 gun control laws you mention. Not having counted them individually, I would estimate California has at least 2,000 statutes dealing with gun control….and possibly far more if we were to dissect the “sections” to count each subsection that deals with a somewhat different topic or person.
Therefore, I don’t think it technically accurate or proper to claim that the “20,000 Gun Control Laws” is some sort of myth or lie.
It is quite true that Weimar gave Hitler and his National Socialists much of what they needed.
For example the end of trial by jury (the Keiser [and co] had wanted to get rid of this English importation – and everything of his mother’s country, but he had NOT done so before 1914, it was “intellectual experts” of Weimar who actually did it). The destruction of strong entities such as the Kingdom of Bavaria was also the work of Weimar – the Royal family of Bavaria heroically resisted the Nazis (some of the family ended up in an extermination camp) , but there was little they could do as private individuals (nor could the Hapsburgs of Austria who also engaged in anti Nazi activity – and where friends of a man who had been an artillery officer in their army, a man by the name of Ludwig Von Mises).
Weimar also gave Gemany the Gestapo (although its roots go back before Weimar – to Imperial Germany) and, yes, “gun control” (although the Nazis made it much worse).
The Nazi position was similar to that of the KKK in the United States (also a modern Progressive anti “big business” organisation in the 1920s – not just the Southern hicks of Hollywood films), they were not unhappy with people from the group they favoured owning firearms – but the group they did not favour (Jews – in the case of the KKK it was blacks, and they had reason, or example Condi Rice’s father drove off a KKK attack on his family home with his rifle – as recently as the 1960s) owning firearms.
By the way – Sean Gabb is quite mistaken (and knows what he is saying is not true – as I have pointed it out before on this site).
Firearms have successfully been used against local government in the United States. Local government is the “SWAT teams” and so on.
Not just in individual cases (such as the father of Condi Rice driving off the KKK from an attack on the family home – “he could have called the police” who do people think the police were in Alabama in the 1960s?) but also on a larger scale.
For example, as I have pointed out before, the corrupt vote rigging government of Athens Tennessee was overthrown in the late 1940s – by people with firearms and explosives.
Hat tip to Julie (quite some time ago) for this example.
[…] Note: I am neither able nor willing to verify these claims for myself. I do, however, find them very likely. I can also say that guns were more easily available in Communist Czechoslovakia than they are in modern England. We need the right to own and use guns to protect ourselves from criminals. We also need them because owning a gun is rather like being rich – it gives you the confidence to tell people to get stuffed long before any need for escalation. But the idea that having a handgun at home will stop a seriously oppressive government is a joke. In America, it simply means that the police have turned into heavily militarised gangs. They get their way by outgunning their victims. SIG Read full article […]
The notion that Hitler would have wanted to make the streets safer for ‘his’ people by banning guns is bizarre.
As soon as I got US residence the first thing I did was join the National Rifle Association. The second thing I did was buy a gun – a 9mm Beretta – bought it quite legally from a neighbour – no paperwork, nothing. I need a permit if I want to carry it on my person, but that is mine by right so long as I am not a convicted felon or insane. I can carry my gun in my car as long as it is in a ‘closed container’. This can be as little as a paper bag, as long as the bag is not open!
This is Florida law. Other States are different, but most contain the words “The citizens’ Second Amendment rights shall not be infringed”.
In my view the Second Amendment underpins all of our Constitutional rights – it determines whether the country belongs to the politicians or to ‘We the people’.
Germans (including National Socialists) wanted orderly administration.
Fighting it out with people whom wanted to arrest was not their way – too messy (too much noise – the neighbours would get upset). They liked for people to passively cooperate in their own extermination – in an orderly way.
Even the extermination squads always ran away if they thought the Jews were armed (which in some rare cases in Eastern Europe they actually were) – the extermination squads (in such circumstances) always called in the army (rather than risk their own precious hides – not being particularly brave people).
Of course all the above assumes that German Jews would have actually have used firearms if they had them.
According to my father (who visited Germany in the 1930s – for a fur cutters convention) German Jews were hopelessly soft. Of course according to Harry Marks anyone this side of a killer whale with rabies was hopelessly soft (my father even put a truck driver in hospital when he, Harry Marks, was in his 70s and had one lung, – the truck driver had insulted him, or he thought he had).
Given the number of German Jews who won the Iron Cross in the First World War, I doubt they were all as hopelessly soft as he thought they were.
Perhaps it would be closer to the truth to say that German Jews were too cultured and orderly (basically TOO GERMAN).
The violent culture of the East End of London was totally alien to German Jews.
I am going to make a couple of controversial statements now.
I suspect (but I can not prove) that the Jews of the East End of London were influenced by Irish culture (by the violent Irishmen who lived near them – although the Anglo Saxon English who lived near them were also very violent people – who responded to any insult with violence) and in New York by the Irish and by the Italians (especially those from Sicily) who lived near them.
I repeat I can not prove any of that – but I suspect it.
The idea that it is better to die fighting (against impossible odds) than to submit to an insult – was certainly not part of the mainstream of Continental European Jewish culture (this cultural idea has to have come from somewhere).
Although, yes, some people in (for example) in the Warsaw Ghetto seem to have come up with such ideas – by referring back into Jewish history.
There may be another cultural artifact that had complementary effects on Jewish armed resistance, or lack thereof.
Although I am not Jewish and I do not have great personal expertise on Jewish culture or practices, one of my 2nd Amendment activist friends noted that Jews are not allowed to eat meat that has not been killed in proper kosher manner…and hunting does not meet that requirement, so few Jews hunt for food. That lack of a hunting tradition would lead to two follow-on results; Jews would be less likely to own guns (compared to non-Jews of similar economic background) since firearms ownership had less practical usefulness, AND Jews would have less psychological training to become accustomed to killing a living entity. Some of you may have heard of the phenomenon of “buck fever”, wherein the relatively inexperienced hunter is so nervous about finally getting to shoot a deer for food, that he/she can’t hold the gun steady or pull the trigger smoothly, hence leading to a miss.
Paul, very interesting snippets of personal and cultural history. Thank you.
ditto. I don’t really get the concept of an insult. Most people who hurl insults are just idiots, and that’s their problem not mine.
Question. I thought the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was specifically defensive — not because of the insults, though I imagine there was also an element of that, but because the Jews knew by then that they faced mortal danger. ??
Yes Julie – but no one in the Ghetto seriously expected to win against the German armed forces.
It was not a question of living or dying – it was a question of HOW one died. Avoiding the humiliation (the insult).
And (to Hugo’s point) – scum are scum.
For example those who deliberatly gas children are scum – and should be declared as such.
For how honourable men should act – see the start of the film “The Eagle Has Landed”.
It’s a question of perspective. Many if not most of the Nazi ‘scum’ believed they were doing good by gassing Jews. Jews were just like sewer rats and needed to be exterminated. This is what the Fuhrer said, and he was clearly a genius who had been right about everything else. Of course the Germans love obeying orders unquestioningly, so those involved believed they were doing a service to their country.
So, ‘Scum’, or loyal patriots?
It’s all a question of perspective.
No it is not a question of perspective – because the laws of reason, and the laws of good and evil are universal.
As Edmund Burke there is no “geographical morality” (just as the laws of economics are NOT determined by the “historical period” as the German historicists claimed).
“But Paul what does one do with people who reject the idea of universal principles of right and wrong?”
Well if they do not act on their false ideas one ignores them.
And if they do act on their false ideas (if they commit terrible crimes – claiming to be “above” good and evil, or that universal right and wrong do not exist) then one hangs them Hugo.
Yes, I can see that, Paul. Good point.
“…….But Paul what does one do with people who reject the idea of universal principles of right and wrong?………”
That’s just it Paul – if these principles are truly ‘universal’, they will be embraced by all and rejected by no-one.
Although it has (thankfully) gone out of fashion today, I wouldn’t mind betting that the majority view in Nazi Germany was that the Jews were a pest that needed to be eradicated. That was the ‘right’ thing to do. Most ordinary Germans weren’t psychopaths who deliberately did the ‘wrong’ thing – they actually believed they were doing the ‘right’ thing.
We all make mistakes.
On the contrary Hugo – that people do not accept the existence of universal right and wrong (good and evil) does not prove that these standards do not exist. It just proves that there are evil people in the world.
As for the idea that murdering millions of civilians is a “mistake” – that goes back to the idea that evil is a “lack of knowledge”.
Firstly that does NOT mean that universal principles (on the contrary Aristotle and the others clearly said that there were) – it just means that some people “lack the knowledge” of them.
However, I reject even that.
Like Harold Prichard (see his “Is Moral Philosophy Based Upon a Mistake?” – Mind, 1912) I think that people can have all the information (for example know that Jews are not demons, who just happen to look human, who control the economy and are plotting to exterminate Germans) and still CHOOSE to do evil things (KNOWING they are evil)..
Evil may sometimes be a “lack of knowledge” (especially self knowledge – knowledge of one’s self “know thy self”), but people can (and have) choose to do evil – knowing it is evil.
Look into the eyes of the school bully – he KNOWS what he is doing is wrong (indeed THAT IS WHY HE IS DOING IT – for the thrill of wickedness).
This desire to do evil (for the thrill of doing evil – to take pleasure in the suffering and death and HUMILIATION of others.
“You are saying that some of the people involved in the extermination were sadists”.
Yes (for I do not accept the “banality of evil” argument – after all someone put on trial could hardly say “I did this stuff because I enjoyed doing it”), I am saying that we all have this streak (this capacity) for evil within us – which we have to fight against.
This dark side of our nature (this CAPACITY to do evil knowing it is evil) I understand as Original Sin.
“…..Firstly that does NOT mean that universal principles [do not exist] – it just means that some people “lack the knowledge” of them……”
This sounds a bit like the “climate change denier” argument – Climate Change is universally accepted, yet you choose to deny it.
Yes of course some Nazis were sadists, but the majority of ordinary Germans were not. The sadists enjoyed torturing and killing innocent people, ‘because they could’. The ordinary folk believed they were helping rid their country of a parasite by, say, informing on a Jewish family. They believed they were doing a good thing. That’s what the Fuhrer said, and he was clearly a great man, a super-human in fact. He had been proved right in everything he had said and done.
I often amuse myself by imagining what would have happened if Hitler had been run over by a bus in, say, 1938. History’s perspective would have been very different indeed.
It’s that word, perspective, again!
I repeat what I have already said.
The premeditated murder of millions of human beings is not a “mistake” – it is a crime (I hope I do not have to explain that what is a crime is not dependent on the arbitrary ravings of government statutes – Legal “Positivism” is absurd).
This is not a problem of “knowledge” – as the murderers knew what they were doing was wrong.
Therefore “perspective” is irrelevant.
Should the murderers deny that they knew what they were doing was wrong, they are adding perjury to the crime of murder.
Unfortunately (as Eric Brown, one of the first British servicemen into Belson, explained at a talk I attended a couple of weeks ago) it is difficult to punish men (and women) for their lies, when one already intends to execute them for their mass murder and other bestial activities (mutilations, savage sadistic abuse – and so on).
I had never thought of that Randy.
But it would indeed seem that an animal that has been shot dead is not “kosher” as regards food.
I repeat that the thought had never occurred to me. So perhaps there is a way round it.
Hang on ……
What about fish?
They are not bleed to death.
I am now confused – and my aunt is not around any more to ask.
Paul, as I noted initially, I am not an expert on all the complexities of Jewish dietary law, so I did not think to ask my Jewish friend about other possible types of food and the proper handling of fish, et al. Perhaps fish are considered to be in an entirely different category and have different rules, since they are not mammals.
My conversation with my friend was in regard to the reasons that fewer Jews hunt or acquire firearms, thus leaving them unprepared in the event of a breakdown of social order. Of course, firearms are commonly used in fishing, so that topic never entered our conversation. (Though solely as a humorous but real sidelight, I should note that 1 or 2 American states do have a “fish-shooting season” wherein it is legal to shoot fish just below the surface of the water, so long as the shooter is not in the water but firing from the shore or an overhanging tree. No accounting for taste.)
Correction: I incorrectly wrote “Of course, firearms are commonly used in fishing, so that topic never entered our conversation.”
I meant to say “Of course, firearms are NOT commonly used in fishing, so that topic never entered our conversation.”
Well, but Randy, shooting fish in a barrel is sometimes mildly diverting, until one gets to being bored by the lack of challenge.
I speak from some experience. :>)
Shooting fish during the Great Alewife Invasion of Lake Michigan back in the ’70’s (I think it was) would have been a Public Service of course, except that the stink was bad enough when they washed up on the beaches even when they died of natural causes ….
I am going to have to look into this. Some Jews hunt (including Orthodox Jews) can they or can they not eat what they shoot?
I just do not know.