“The fact that Hitler was able to destroy German democracy in only six months serves as a warning today of what can happen if the public is apathetic.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel this week said that the rise of Nazis was made possible because the elite of German society worked with them, but . . . and here is her more important message . . .”because most in Germany at least tolerated this rise.”
Merkel spoke at the opening of a new exhibit at the Topography of Terror memorial. The display documents Hitler’s election and his rise to power 80 years ago.
The museum is build around the ruins of buildings where the Gestapo secret police, the SS and the Reich Security main Office ran Hitler’s police state from l933 to l945.
Once chancellor, Hitler was able to use his position to consolidate absolute control over the country in the months that followed.
About a month after being appointed chancellor, Hitler used the torching of the Reichstag parliament building (blamed on a Dutch communist) to strengthen his grip on power. He suspended civil liberties and cracked down on opposition parties, paving the way for a police state.
“Human rights do not assert themselves on their own,” continued Merkel. “Freedom does not emerge on its own; and democracy does not succeed on its own. No, a dynamic society need people who have regard and respect for one another, who take responsibility for themselves and others, where people take courageous and open decisions and are prepared to accept criticism and opposition.”
The same day as the museum opened this exhibit, the German Parliament held a special session and paid tribute to those who died under Nazi dictatorship.
To determine the future, look to the past.