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The Connection Between Gun Control and the Holocaust

A review of Stephen Halbrook’s new book on the Third Reich's plots to disarm the Jews and other “Enemies of the State."

Clayton E. Cramer


February 24, 2014 - 1:00 pm
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Over the last twenty years, I have watched Stephen P. Halbrook’s scholarly work on gun control become more polished, more nuanced, and more methodical. His latest book, Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State” is an astonishing piece of scholarship: complete; careful; thoughtful.

For a very long time, Americans opposed to gun control have used the example of Nazi Germany’s gun control laws as a warning of what might happen here.  Regrettably, not everyone has been careful enough. There is a quote purportedly from Hitler about gun control that starts out “1935 will go down in history” that used to float around the Internet.  It does not appear so often anymore because a number of people, including me, demonstrated its falsity.

Part of what allowed bogus quotes like this to survive was that few historians have bothered to research the real history of the Nazis and gun control.  Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership did a nice job of obtaining and translating the 1928 and 1931 Weimar Republic gun control laws, and the 1938 Nazi gun control law some years ago, but as useful as these were, they simply do not compare to what Halbrook has done with this new book.

Halbrook traces the development of German gun control law from the collapse of the Kaiser’s government in 1918, through the post-war chaos, the Weimar Republic’s efforts to prevent the violence of the Nazis and the Communists in the 1920s and early 1930s, and then the ways in which the Nazis used those laws to disarm anyone who they regarded as “enemies of the state” (which of course included all Jews).  In doing so, Halbrook makes use of an astonishing set of sources.  His secondary sources are impressive: scholarly histories of the period, such as The Berlin Police Force in the Weimar Republic, and specialized works that you might not even expect to exist, such as Der Weg des Sports in die nationalsozialistische Diktatur (The Way of Sport in the National Socialist Dictatorship).  Halbrook goes far beyond that, however, with an impressive collection of primary sources, including diaries by people who lived through the time, surviving police records, internal government memos, and court decisions.  Part of what makes a book like this possible is part of what made it so easy to convict Nazis war criminals: the German penchant for documenting everything – and the difficulty in making those documents disappear, when it became apparent that the war was lost. 

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All Comments   (4)
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Yeah, I pretty much agree. Gun Control most likely, if not inevitably, leads to mass death and destruction, as Nazi Germany and the USSR, heck, even China proved. Disarming civilians. Probably the only exception to gun control being a leadup to mass deaths is during the French Revolution, in which case, it was so violent and led to such a huge scale of mass deaths despite not even having a gun control measure, or any controls for that matter (remember, France during that time was anarchy unleashed).
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
My friends that are "concealed cary" legal tell me that the government lists recording people with a concealed carry permit are held confidential by the state government here in Oregon. I argue that a concealed carry list will be used to confiscate their weapons. They argue that the government knows who has waepons anyway by other lists, such as hunting liscenses or NRA menberships. I suspect they're right.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
"This is not to say that gun control advocates in America today are planning a police state, concentration camps, and mass extermination. As Halbrook points out, when the Weimar Republic pursued its campaign of strict licensing and registration, they were genuinely trying to deal with a serious violence problem."

The trouble for leftists today is that they have no such excuse, and they have bad examples such as these to learn from. The fact that they still try means they are either ignorant - i.e. unaware of these examples - or evil - they are aware, and know what they're doing.

There is no third way, unless you consider "both" to be one.

(Before someone suggests it - "aware of history, but think 'It'll be DIFFERENT this time!'" is simply a different flavor of ignorance.)
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
I have to say that it will be different because the people who are doing it now are simply better people than those of the past. Their hearts are pure, intentions benevolent and they are really really smart, likely Ivy League smart. So I trust them without reservation.
48 weeks ago
48 weeks ago Link To Comment
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