Friday, September 24, 2010

Rand Paul fails history

While making the "we're slipping into tyrrany" claims so beloved of tea partiers, Rand Paul offered this bit of historical wisdom:
In 1923, when they destroyed the currency, they elected Hitler. And so they elected somebody who vilified one group of people, but he promised them, "I will give you security if you give me your liberty," and they voted him in.

Anyone with even a passing knowledge of the history of the interwar years knows that Hitler was elected chancellor in 1933, not 1923. The Thousand Year Reich lasted twelve years, not twenty-two.

The famous Weimar hyperinflation began in mid 1922, accelerated at the beginning of 1923, and lasted all year. In November of that year, the government introduced a new currency, the Rentenmark, at a value pegged to the pre-war price of gold. Initially, Reichsmarks could be exchanged for Rentenmarks at a rate of one billon to one. Even though the Rentenmark held stable, the conversion took some months to complete during which the Reichsmark continued to loose value. The hyperinflation was over by late 1924, over eight years before Hitler was appointed chancellor.

What was Hitler doing during this time? Hitler was a relative unknown during most of 1923. Though rapidly expanding, both in numbers and new chapters around the country, the Nazi Party was still a fairly small, mostly bavarian affair. In November, Hitler led an attempted coup against the government--usually called the Beerhall Putsch. It was a pathetic failure. Hitler was arrested, tried for treason and thrown in jail. The Nazi Party was temporarily banned.

In 1932, Hitler ran for President and was trounced by Paul von Hindenburg. When he came to power the following year, it was not because the German people voted for him personally; it was because they gave his party enough seats in parliament that Hindenburg allowed him to form a government--and only after the other parties had failed to form a stable coalition. During the elections of 1932, Hitler and the Nazis made many campaign promises; a vague law and order plank being only one part of their platform. The rest of Hilter's rise to dictatorship was achieved through deals with Pres. Hindenburg and with the other parliamentary parties, and not by a vote of the general electorate.

I'll leave it to someone else to examine Paul's conspiratorial hints that there was some sinster "they" who destroyed the German currency.

No comments: