The Weimar Republic’s well-intentioned gun registry became a tool for evil.
Stephen P. Halbrook writes: The perennial gun-control debate in America did not begin here. The same arguments for and against were made in the 1920s in the chaos of Germany’s Weimar Republic, which opted for gun registration. Law-abiding persons complied with the law, but the Communists and Nazis committing acts of political violence did not.
In 1931, Weimar authorities discovered plans for a Nazi takeover in which Jews would be denied food and persons refusing to surrender their guns within 24 hours would be executed. They were written by Werner Best, a future Gestapo official. In reaction to such threats, the government authorized the registration of all firearms and the confiscation thereof, if required for “public safety.” The interior minister warned that the records must not fall into the hands of any extremist group.
In 1933, the ultimate extremist group led by Adolf Hitler seized power and used the records to identify, disarm, and attack political opponents and Jews. Constitutional rights were suspended, and mass searches for and seizures of guns and dissident publications ensued. Police revoked gun licenses of Social Democrats and others who were not “politically reliable.”
During the five years of repression that followed, society was “cleansed” by the National Socialist regime. Undesirables were placed in camps where labor made them “free,” and normal rights of citizenship were taken from Jews. The Gestapo banned independent gun clubs and arrested their leaders. Gestapo counsel Werner Best issued a directive to the police forbidding issuance of firearm permits to Jews. Read the rest of this entry »
Cathy Young writes: Is hostility toward Israel linked to hostility toward Jews? A report on anti-Semitism in Europe, released on November 8—the day before the anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom that marked the start of the Nazi war on Jews 75 years ago—addresses this contentious question. While Israel’s supporters have long warned of a new strain of anti-Semitism camouflaged in pro-Palestinian advocacy and opposition to Israeli policies, Israel’s critics complain that charges of anti-Jewish bigotry are used to silence dissent. Yet the latest study, “Discrimination and Hate Crime Against Jews in EU Member States,” strongly suggests that “the new anti-Semitism” is not a propagandist myth but a depressing reality. Read the rest of this entry »
Stephen P. Halbrook writes: This week marks the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht, or the Night of the Broken Glass, the Nazi pogrom against Germany’s Jews on Nov. 9-10, 1938. Historians have documented most everything about it except what made it so easy to attack the defenseless Jews without fear of resistance. Their guns were registered and thus easily confiscated.
To illustrate, turn the clock back further and focus on just one victim, a renowned German athlete. Alfred Flatow won first place in gymnastics at the 1896 Olympics. In 1932, he dutifully registered three handguns, as required by a decree of the liberal Weimar Republic. The decree also provided that in times of unrest, the guns could be confiscated. The government gullibly neglected to consider that only law-abiding citizens would register, while political extremists and criminals would not. However, it did warn that the gun-registration records must be carefully stored so they would not fall into the hands of extremists.