One year later
The Beer Hall Putsch and The Jan 6 Insurrection
If Theodore Roosevelt were alive today, he would want to take back his famous quote.
“The more you know about the past, the better prepared you are for the future.”
Or at least, he would want to add a disclaimer/addendum to the quote.
You see..if we really knew enough about our past, we wouldn’t be here a year later.
A year later, we wouldn’t let those who attempted to overthrow our democratic government, erase what happened during the days leading up to the coup on Jan 6, 2021, and change the narrative of what actually happened on that dreadful day.
A year later, we would not let them walk away free without facing any consequences, thereby providing a safe pathway for repeating what they did, in future — this time, a bit more effectively.
A year after an attempted coup to overthrow a democratically elected government, America is much closer to a fascist takeover than most Americans realize. Much closer than Germany was, a year after its own attempted failed coup — aka The Beer Hall Putsch, that happened on November 8–9, 1923, in Munich.
And I am not making this comparison loosely at all.
On November 8, 1923, hearing that Gustav von Kahr, the state commissioner of Bavaria was scheduled to address a large crowd in the Bürgerbräukeller, one of the largest beer halls in Munich, Hitler took hundreds of his followers and surrounded the hall that evening in an attempt to seize the power of the Bavarian government. He and about 20 of his associates burst into the hall, and Hitler fired a shot into the ceiling and declared a “national revolution.”
Eventually, the military units across the city foiled Hitler’s and the Nazi party’s attempt to overthrow the government. The putsch fizzled but Ludendorff, the WWI general, whom Hitler had assigned the responsibility to lead, attempted to salvage the situation by calling on for a spontaneous march on the city center the next day (November 9, 1923). About 2,500–3,000 supporters marched towards the Bavarian Defense Ministry. The marchers were met by a group of state police officers. Fights broke and gun fires were exchanged, resulting in four police officers along with 16 Nazis being killed. Hitler himself suffered a dislocated shoulder when he fell to the ground. Hitler then fled to the nearby house of a friend, Ernst Hanfstaengl, where he was reportedly talked out of committing suicide. He hid in the attic for two days but was arrested on November 11, 1923.
Even though Hitler was tried for high treason and sentenced to 5 years in prison, in hindsight, the aftermath of the putsch and the messy handling of the German government perhaps led to the rising popularity of Hitler and his Nazi party. He spent only a year in prison and went onto become the chancellor of the country in about 10 years’ time.
There is certainly an uncanny resemblance between The Beer Hall Putsch and The Jan 6 Insurrection.
But what about the aftermath? How do America and Germany compare in the aftermath of these failed coup attempts?
Hitler was only 34 when he attempted the coup. So he had his entire political career ahead of him. Trump was 74. But don’t let that comfort you, because whether it’s Trump or someone else, all indications are that the current Republican party is ready to replay the same tactics they played on Jan 6, 2021, to claim power by overthrowing democratic election results, if needed.
The German institutions successfully sidelined Hitler for nearly 10 years after the putsch, and might have kept him out of the mainstream longer if not for a worldwide economic depression that amplified popular disaffection. In contrast, what should really worry us Americans though is that Trump has raced ahead of Hitler’s timetable when it comes to recovering from an attempted coup.
In their immediate post-coup lives, Hitler had a much more difficult time than Trump. The then German democratic government aggressively prosecuted Hitler and nine of his associates for treason within months of the 1923 coup attempt. Hitler was sent to prison the next year, serving nine months before getting himself paroled. A key condition of Hitler’s parole was that he refrain from speaking in public for two years.
In comparison, a year after the insurrection, Trump has yet to pay a serious political or personal price for leading the first known coup attempt in nearly 250 years of American democratic history (Hitler at this point was in prison, with his Nazi Party in shambles). What’s worse is that Trump is roaming around the country giving speeches, and raising vast amounts of money while his Republican Party is well positioned to gain the majority in Congress in November, 2022. And what’s even worse is that Trump still has a significant political following compared to what Hitler had a year after his coup.
And finally, what’s worst is that, Trump and the Republicans are way ahead of Hitler and the Nazis when it comes to intimidating opponents and sabotaging democratic institutions. While the Nazis had to focus on building an organization ground up, bringing youth in, radicalizing them, etc., Trump and the Republicans, already have a 150 year old party establishment to ride on. They have taken their intimidation tactics to new levels in the past year or so.
Their initimidation tactics range from having their sympathizers harass local election officials, to force independent election members, to resign and replace them with their loyalists, as part of a larger effort to undermine election results. They also have worked at the local level very effectively by fueling far-right agenda and using them to disrupt local school committee meetings to oppose mask mandates, to promote white sympathy (and stop teaching America’s racist past and the history of slavery), and in general to undermine public education.
As if all of this is not enough, the use of violence in mainstream demonstrations and protests is now only a matter of time because Republican party leaders at many events recently have continuously and openly called for some form of violence.
In Idaho, a supporter asked Turning Point USA’s Charlie Kirk this question: “When do we get to use the guns?… That’s not a joke…. I mean, literally, where’s the line? How many elections are they going to steal before we kill these people?”
Where does this leave us — those of us who care about protecting our democracy?
We can’t just give up and we will have to do our bit. That bit starts with remembering the 147 GOP members who voted to overturn the democratic elections even after the coup on Jan 6, 2021. In addition, we will have to remember that there are senators like Hawley and Cruz who took an active part in planning this coup by providing their consulting services to the Trump administration and by amplifying the “Big Lie” for months after the inauguration. Not to mention, we will have to remember every single cowardly Republican, including McConnell, Graham, and even Romney, who have continued to sit on the sidelines quietly because they have decided that it’s not worth sacrificing their political future as US senators.
Remember, Republicans will continue to make light of Jan 6. They will continue to gaslight the committee findings. They will claim that Jan 6 never happened. They will say it was all “antifa”. They will call it a “peaceful protest”. They will say things like “stop making a big deal out of a handful of passionate party workers just having some fun in DC”. They will blame the media for blowing it out of proportion. They will say “Democrats don’t want free and fair election”.
Do not forget.
Do not let them gaslight.
Do not forget that Jan 6 Insurrection was an attempted coup to overthrow a democratically elected government.
Do not forget.
Because if we forget the significance of Jan 6 and don’t turn up to vote these people out with passion, with gerrymandered congressional districts favoring a disproportional Republican swing and voter suppression laws meant to discourage minority voters from voting set in stone in many Republican controlled states, every pundit predicts a Republican controlled US Congress from Jan, 2023. If that anti-democracy party somehow takes “real control” (i.e. even without Manchinema) of the senate as well, then the country will start entering a dark phase leading up to the 2024 elections.
So, unless there is a successful legal prosecution (or a highly unlikely political censure of the kind we have never seen before in this country) by which Trump is made to pay the price for instigating his followers, and masterminding & leading a coup to overthrow a democratic government, all cards have been dealt for Trump addressing from the oval office again, making a mockery of our democratic institutions and how easy it is to destroy them, and take over the United States Government.
Should that happen in Jan 2025, then as an American, I will have to make the most difficult decision of seriously considering my future residency in this country.