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German gun laws in a controversial exchange between Floridian politicians Allen West and Burt Aaronson
 
 
Palm Beach County Commssioner Burt Aaronson Palm Beach Post reader Guenter Langer
 in a letter to the Palm Beach Post on 13th July 2010

responds to Mr. Aaronson


Letter to the editor:

I am writing to express my deep concern about Republican congressional candidate Allen West's repeated comparisons of our country to Nazi Germany. While I respect the constitutional right to free speech and expressing differences in opinion, it is an offensive and unacceptable analogy. Whether or not Mr. West likes the direction of our country, there is nothing that is happening to warrant comparing the United States to Adolf Hitler and the Nazis.

I am troubled by Mr. West's comments, which have been viewed more than 22,000 times on YouTube and show him giving a speech in which he said, "In 1930 there was a gentleman in Germany who took away private gun ownership, and you know what happened to that population." Mr. West's use of the word gentleman in reference to Hitler is repulsive. It is unconscionable to call Hitler a gentleman, since he was responsible for the systematic persecution and annihilation of many groups at death camps. The genocide claimed the lives of Catholics and Protestants, 6 million Jews, up to 3.5 million non-Jewish Poles, 3.5 to 6 million other Slavic civilians, up to 1.5 million political dissidents, 500,000 Gypsies, more than 10,000 homosexuals, 2,000 Jehovah's Witnesses and people with disabilities. Following his comment about Hitler being a gentleman, Mr. West said, "You must be well-informed and well-armed because this government that we have now is a tyrannical government."

Unfortunately this was not a one-time occurrence, as evidenced by Mr. West's previous interviews and speeches. In a radio interview with Libertarian Politics Live in 2008, Mr. West said, "The last thing I want to see is for political rallies in the United States to start looking like the Nuremberg rallies back in the late 1930s."

Mr. West's linking our country to the Nazis not only diminishes the horror of the Holocaust but belittles the millions who suffered unfathomable horrors and even execution. By invoking our country in the same breath as a ruthless, murderous totalitarian state, Mr. West is drawing a dangerous comparison. This insensitive analogy also suggests Mr. West lacks respect for the Jewish people and all those who died in the Holocaust.

BURT AARONSON

West Palm Beach

Editor's note: Burt Aaronson is a Palm Beach County commissioner.

 http://www.palmbeachpost.com/opinion/letters/letters-wests-linking-of-u-s-to-nazi-798933.html

 

Ref.: Your Letter to the Editor of the Palm Beach Post, 07/13/2010

Dear Mr Aaronson,

You are completely right to refute Mr Allen West’s remarks comparing Nazi-Germany with the US. It is not only despicable in the general sense, but also false in its details. Please, let me explain:

Mr West mentions a “gentleman” in the year of 1930 who, he claims, took away the German citizens’ right to bear arms. Obviously he wanted the listener to associate this “gentleman” with Adolf Hitler. A short look into the history books could have taught him that Hitler was not yet in power at that date. First Herrmann Müller, a Social Democrat, and then Heinrich Brüning, a Christian Democrat of the Zentrum Party, were Chancellors during that year. Hitler achieved that post only in 1933.

The laws concerning guns in private hands took a completely different turn than Mr. West indicates. Up to WW1 there were only a few restrictions, mainly prohibiting concealed weapons. After the war the new democratic government under President Ebert tried to disarm the newly emerged antidemocratic elements of the dissolved imperial army, the basis of many later fascist groups. Non-military weapons were not regulated. This was only done after 1920 as a result of Allied demands at the Versailles Conference. Private ownership of any guns was prohibited. Only in 1928 this decision was reversed and private citizens could apply for a permit and purchase weapons again.

After the Nazis took over they had an ambivalent approach. They confiscated all weapons in the hands of Jews and political opponents by raiding their homes (Albert Einstein's home in Caputh near Potsdam included), they passed a special law in 1936 prohibiting Jews to have any weapons, and finally they liberalized the gun laws for “law abiding citizens” in 1938 by getting rid of the need to apply for permits before buying guns.

After WW2 the Allied Forces prohibited private ownership of any weapons...

In short we could say the more progressive parties tried to restrict the spread of weapons whereas the ultra-rightists and Nazis stood for “Guns For All”, at least as long as they were no Jews, Gypsies, or political opponents.

Sincerely,

Guenter Langer

Langer's unabridged letter was sent to us by the author.


Here is what the Palm Beach Post left of the "details" on 18th July 2010:
(Instead of publishing the whole text, they printed three letters defending West without refrences to any details. Worst, they erased Langer's detail of the Nazis' liberalizing of the gun laws in 1938.)

West's comparison errs on details

Re: Letter of Burt Aaronson regarding Allen West's comparison between Nazi-Germany and the U.S.

Mr. Aaronson is right to refute Allen West's remarks comparing Nazi Germany with the U.S. It is not only despicable in the general sense but also false in its details.

German laws concerning guns in private hands took a completely different turn than Mr. West indicates. Up to WW I, there were only a few restrictions, mainly prohibiting concealed weapons. After the war, the new democratic government under President Ebert tried to disarm the newly emerged anti-democratic elements of the dissolved imperial army, the basis of many later fascist groups. Non-military weapons were not regulated. After the Nazis took over, they had an ambivalent approach. They confiscated all weapons in the hands of Jews and political opponents by raiding their homes (Albert Einstein's home included) . After WWII, the Allied Forces prohibited private ownership of any weapons. In short, we could say the more progressive parties tried to restrict the spread of weapons, whereas the ultra-rightists and Nazis stood for "Guns For All," at least as long as they were not Jews, Gypsies or political opponents. Mr. West should be more careful with his references to historical events. Otherwise he will give the impression of being just another demagogue.

GUENTER LANGER

Royal Palm Beach

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/opinion/letters/letters-democrats-desperate-to-impugn-west-807583.html