Vladimir Putin’s “forced” annexation of the Crimea invites memories of Adolph Hitler’s annexation of Austria. Both absorbed their weaker neighbor with over 96 percent of their vote.
With unemployment and interest rates at 25 percent in 1938, Austria was in deep depression and “people were going from house to house begging for food.” Kitty Werthmann, whose story I summarize, remembers her mother cooking a big kettle of soup and baking bread to feed her staving neighbors, about “30 daily.” The Communist Party and the National Socialist Party, two conflicting varieties of socialism, were fighting each other. The Germans, under Adolf Hitler, promised an environment of no crime, full employment, a high standard of living and happiness.
Austrians “became desperate and petitioned the government to let them decide what kind of government they wanted.” The Austrian government could not deliver these conditions, so 98 percent of the population, believing the lies, “voted to annex Austria to Germany and have Hitler for our ruler.” When this happened, the people danced for joy in the streets for three days.
Almost immediately law and order returned and “everyone was employed” in government-created jobs, but what followed under fascist socialism was pure hell. In return for believing the empty promises, education was nationalized and freedom of religion in public education ended. Crosses in the predominantly Catholic schools were “replaced with Hitler’s picture hanging next to a Nazi flag” and prayer, replaced with singing praises of Germany.
“Sunday became National Youth Day with compulsory attendance.” If their children were not present, parents were threatened first with “a stiff letter of warning,” then with a $300 fine, and then with jail. The day consisted of two hours of political indoctrination followed by sports and fun. The children loved it but “lived without religion.” Having no moral compass, illegitimacy flourished. “Unwed mothers were glorified for having a baby for Hitler.”
Men and women had equal rights under Hitler. They found out what that meant when workloads were equal, making no distinction on the basis of sex. When the war came in 1939, the draft was compulsory for both sexes and women served on the front lines as well. Many became “emotional cripples because they just were not equipped to handle the horrors of combat.”
Kitty Werthmann continues, “When the mothers had to go out into the work force, the government immediately established child care centers. You could take your children, ages 4 weeks to school age, and leave them there around-the-clock, seven days a week, under the total care of the government. The state raised a whole generation of children. There were no motherly women to take care of the children, just people highly trained in child psychology. By this time, no one talked about equal rights. We knew we had been had.”
Under Hitler’s socialism everyone was entitled to free handouts, such as food stamps, clothing and housing. Healthcare was socialized as well, free to everyone.
“Doctors were salaried by the government. The problem was, since it was free, the people were going to the doctors for everything. When the good doctor arrived at his office at 8 a.m., 40 people were already waiting and, at the same time, the hospitals were full. If you needed elective surgery, you had to wait a year or two for your turn. There was no money for research as it was poured into socialized medicine. Research at the medical schools literally stopped, so the best doctors left Austria and emigrated to other countries.”
Of course, to pay for this benefit for the less productive, “the tax rate had to be raised to 80 percent of our income.”
When the war started, a food bank was established.
“All food was rationed and could only be purchased using food stamps. At the same time, a full-employment law was passed which meant if you didn’t work, you didn’t get a ration card, and if you didn’t have a card, you starved to death.”
Socialism now controlled life and death by controlling who ate.
Small businesses were intentionally over-regulated out of business leaving the government-owned large businesses the only ones existing.
“We had consumer protection. We were told how to shop and what to buy. Free enterprise was essentially abolished.” Moreover, “farmers were told what to produce, and how to produce it.”
To prevent the population from revolting, guns had long since been registered, then outlawed, and freedom of speech ended as well.
“Anyone who said something against the government was taken away.”
Hopefully, the Crimean’s who recently “voted” for Russian annexation will fair much better than the Austrians did in 1938, as Hitler was a tyrant. Unfortunately some say Putin is as well.
Dr. Harold Pease teaches history and political science from this perspective for more than 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, visit www.LibertyUnderFire.org.