November 9, 1938, is known today as “Kristallnacht,” or “The Night of Broken Glass,” the night that German Nazis terrorized Jews in Austria and Germany by destroying their homes and businesses. Seventy-eight years later, November 9, 2016, marks the day Donald Trump became President-elect of the United States. After a contentious and controversial campaign in which Donald Trump has drawn innumerable parallels to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler, the unlikely Republican candidate has won the electoral college.
As the Huffington Post reports, just days ago, Donald Trump became the target of a viral letter from “The People of Germany,” a letter that warned of Trump’s similarities to an unnamed German leader. The implication was clear.
“Go ahead, vote for the guy with the loud voice who hates minorities, threatens to imprison his opponents, doesn’t give a f**k about democracy and claims that he can fix everything. What could possibly go wrong? Good luck. -The people of Germany”
In fact, the parallels between Donald Trump and Hitler have been pointed out so frequently during his campaign, reports Mediate, that his supporters were fooled in a social experiment caught on tape. In that experiment, Hitler quotes were attributed to Donald Trump, and his supporters were asked if they agreed with them. By and large, they did, only to later be told that they were responding positively to Hitler quotes and thought that those quotes had come from Trump.
Donald Trump’s victory speech (perhaps ironically, perhaps forebodingly) came on November 9, 78 years after Kristallnacht shattered the safety and security of the Jewish population in pre-WWII Europe.
If you are unfamiliar with Kristallnacht, it went down in history as among the most iconic of turning points to foreshadow the Holocaust. After all, hindsight is 20/20. As History.com reports, Kristallnacht began late at night on November 9, 1938, and carried over until November 10. During the dark of that terrifying night, Nazis conducted a preemptive strike on the unsuspecting German and Austrian Jewish communities.
German Nazis terrorized Jewish businesses and homes on Kristallnacht. Windows were smashed out, hence the night’s name. Properties were destroyed, people were abused and murdered, and roughly 100 Jews were killed.
An estimated 7,500 Jewish businesses — plus hundreds of schools, homes, synagogues, and even Jewish cemeteries — were destroyed on Kristallnacht. Tens of thousands of Jewish males found themselves under arrest, for no reason other than their faith, as Kristallnacht wore on. Many were sent without trial to concentration camps for months, only to be forced to leave Germany upon their release.
While Adolf Hilter’s reign as chancellor had begun half a decade before Kristallnacht, built on his promises to “rid” Germany of Jewish residents, Kristallnacht marked a pronounced change in Nazi tactic. It was really the turning point at which Hitler transitioned from rhetoric to widespread, unapologetic violence.
Fast forward 78 years from Kristallnacht to the early morning hours that followed election night in the United States. After months of promising to “rid” the United States of undocumented Mexican immigrants, potential Muslim visitors and immigrants and “thugs,” swearing to build a divisive wall along the U.S.’s southern border, repeal reproductive rights, and restrict international trade, Donald Trump was treated to the opportunity of giving a victory speech. The speech that took place under the cover of darkness in the pre-dawn hours of November 9, with Donald Trump’s official victory falling on the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht.
As Mother Jones reports, Donald Trump has vowed to carry out many of his campaign plans on his first day in office.
As Fox13Now reports, Donald Trump’s Kristallnacht anniversary victory speech struck a very different tone than anything America has heard from him during his presidential campaign. On the 78th anniversary of Kristallnacht, Donald Trump said (in part) that he wants to “be a President for all Americans.”
“Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division, have to get together. To all Republicans and Democrats and independents across this nation, I say it is time for us to come together as one united people.
“It is time. I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be President for all of Americans, and this is so important to me. For those who have chosen not to support me in the past, of which there were a few people, I’m reaching out to you for your guidance and your help so that we can work together and unify our great country.”
With the history of Nazi Germany resounding so prominently in people’s minds today, on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, one can only hope that the Donald Trump we saw claiming victory in the early morning hour was the genuine Donald Trump who will be leading this nation in only two short months.
Because a president for all Americans doesn’t separate families by building walls. A president for all Americans doesn’t call African-American youth “thugs” or make it legal for them to be shot on sight by law enforcement officers who hold themselves above the law. A president for all Americans doesn’t relegate the LGBT community to having a social status lessor than that enjoyed by the straight community. A president for all Americans doesn’t take his cues from the Nazi playbook and threaten to make individuals from a certain religion “register,” as Jews were forced to do in 1938 Germany, leading up to Kristallnacht.
And, as the New York Times reports, Donald Trump refused to rule out doing just that only a year ago. In fact, when asked by a reporter if he would, as POTUS, create a database to “track” Muslims, Trump responded in the affirmative.
“I would certainly implement that. Absolutely.”
African Americans are Americans, President-elect Donald Trump. Muslim Americans are Americans. LGBT Americans are Americans. Mexican Americans are Americans. Female Americans are Americans. Native Americans are Americans. Impoverished Americans are Americans. Non-English speaking Americans are Americans. Children born in America of immigrant (even illegal immigrant) parents are Americans.
Will Donald Trump be a president for all Americans? It’s tough to say. If he is to do so, Trump will have to abandon 90 percent of his campaign rhetoric. If he is unwilling to do so, 78 years from now, Americans may be looking back at Donald Trump’s victory speech as our nation’s version of Kristallnacht.
[Featured Image by Everett Historical/Shutterstock]