History Holocaust Politics Skepticism/critical thinking World War II

Hey, it worked for Hitler

Immigration has been on a lot of people’s minds lately with the nomination of Donald Trump for President by the Republican Party. In that spirit, I’ve resurrected a ten year old post that shows just how old and horrible Trump’s promise to deport 11-12 million immigrants in this country illegally—also, just how ridiculously impractical it would be and how much it would require an authoritarian state.

NOTE (7/27/2016): People have been telling me, based on this post written over ten years ago, how Donald Trump sounds just like Vox Day. It’s true. He does. It’s also true that the thought of exporting 11-12 million people in 4-8 years is just as ridiculous now as it was ten years ago. I weep that so many in the Republican Party not only take this nonsense seriously but voted for Donald Trump based on a promise very much like what Vox Day described, so many that Donald Trump is now the Republican Party nominee for President. So I added this note. I also note that some of the links are dead and I haven’t had a chance to update them. In the meantime, the Almighty Wayback Machine at is you friend.

Immigration has been on a lot of people’s minds lately, particularly with our President’s speech tonight in which he proposed sending thousands of National Guard troops to the border to reinforce the Border Patrol. Indeed, the subject of immigration all too often brings out the looniness in the right, and this time was no exception.

Enter Vox Day, our “favorite” Libertarian Christian commentator at WorldNet Daily, who never fails to disappoint with sheer unbridled wingnuttery. This time around, forwarded to me by a fellow member of The Holocaust History Project, comes this little gem from Vox:

Dear Jorge plans to address the nation tonight, a speech wherein he will almost surely attempt to deceive citizens into believing that he does not wish the mass migration from Mexico to continue unabated. He will likely offer some negligible resources for law enforcement and border security – resources which will never materialize – in return for an amnesty program that will grant American citizenship to the Mexican nationals who have helped lower America’s wage rates by 16 percent over the last 32 years.

And he will be lying, again, just as he lied when he said: “Massive deportation of the people here is unrealistic – it’s just not going to work.”

Not only will it work, but one can easily estimate how long it would take. If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn’t possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don’t speak English and are not integrated into American society.

Ooh boy. I was momentarily tempted to sic the Hitler Zombie on Vox again, but decided against it simply because he wasn’t using bad Hitler or Holocaust analyses to smear a political opponent, which is usually the best indication of a Hitler Zombie attack. In fact, he seemed to be iimplicitly comparing the anti-immigration movement to the Nazis, thus shooting himself in the foot. (Of course, much of what Vox writes does make me suspect that something has been munching on his cerebrum, whether it be the Hitler Zombie or something else. In any case, I didn’t have time to write a post that would truly do justice to the Undead Führer, who, sadly, still awaits the appearance of a suitable incident to make his debut on ScienceBlogs.) Believe it or not, Bush was not “lying” this time around. He was actually demonstrating a rare (for him) bit of insight when he asserted that the mass deportation of 12 million illegal immigrants is unrealistic. But let’s accept for the moment Vox’s explanation that he wasn’t advocating another Holocaust (that’s not what makes his analogy so bad, anyway):

For the Nth time, I could not care less what illiterates and cretins such as the sort popping up today think about me or anything else. I suspect WND is similarly indifferent. The idea that anyone should apologize for the mere mention of the Holocaust is absurd. I mean, even those Jews who were previously so quick to get their panties in a bunch over my postulating that perhaps medieval anti-semitism was not merely the result of chance took no umbrage over today’s column, presumably because they are capable of reading at a functional level.

The point is simple. President Bush states that something is not possible. There is a very well-known historical example which proves otherwise. Whether one is sexually stimulated by that historical example or enjoys moral preening by condemning it more often and more loudly than his neighbor, it does not change the fact that Dear Jorge is completely wrong.

No, I don’t take umbrage over your “mention of the Holocaust,” Vox. I take umbrage at the astounding lack of historical insight your analogy demonstrates. First off, let’s look at this assertion by Vox again:

If it took the Germans less than four years to rid themselves of 6 million Jews, many of whom spoke German and were fully integrated into German society, it couldn’t possibly take more than eight years to deport 12 million illegal aliens, many of whom don’t speak English and are not integrated into American society.

Point one: The vast majority of the Jews that the Nazis “rid themselves of” were not German and did not live in Germany. Rather, they were residents of territories conquered during the war in the East, particularly Poland and the Soviet Union. Indeed, there were nowhere near six million Jews in Germany. There were slightly over 500,000 in Germany at the time Hitler took power in 1933. Most of them were indeed well-integrated into German society, but they made up only 0.75% of the population (not the 4% of the U.S. population that the figure of 12 million illegal immigrants, if accurate, represents). Vox also does not appear to know that 80% of these German Jews held German citizenship, and the vast majority of those who did not were in the country legally, the latter group being mostly made up of Polish Jews who had been born in Germany and thus were permanent residents. Vox is comparing apples to oranges. (So what else is new?)

You’d think a Mensa member like Vox could at least get the above basic historical facts right. You’d be wrong. Heck, these facts are easily available from many sources on the Internet. Vox wouldn’t even have to crack a history book to find them. Vox is clearly mixing up the mass killings in the East with the deportation and murder of the considerably smaller number of Jews in Germany itself.

Point two: Vox seems not to realize that getting rid of all these Jews caused many difficulties, even for a totalitarian regime. It took far longer than four years for Germany to “rid itself” of its Jews. In Germany proper, during the six and a half years from his assumption of power to the invasion of Poland, Hitler ratcheted up the pressure and discrimination, with laws that stripped German Jews of the right to hold civil service jobs to the Nuremberg Laws, which deprived Jews of full German citizenship and outlawed intermarriage between Jews and non-Jewish Germans. Over that time, because of the steadily worsening conditions, approximately 300,000 Jews emigrated to other countries to escape. Beginning in 1941, German Jews were systematically “relocated” to the East, as described here:

Systematic deportations of Jews from Germany began in late September 1941, even before the extermination camps were established in occupied Poland. Between October and December 1941, nearly 50,000 Jews were deported from Germany, mostly to ghettos in Lodz, Warsaw, Minsk, Kovno, and Riga. German Jews sent to Lodz and Warsaw were later deported along with Polish Jews to the extermination camps at Chelmno and Treblinka, and Auschwitz.

Some Jews deported from the German Reich (including Jews from Austria and the annexed Czech lands of Bohemia and Moravia) to ghettos in the Baltic states and Belorussia were shot shortly after arrival, by Einsatzgruppen (mobile killing units). Jews surviving the initial slaughter were enclosed in special “German sections” of eastern ghettos, where they were segregated from local Jews. Such sections were established, for example, in Riga and Minsk. Most of the Jews from Germany were killed during the destruction of these ghettos. In 1942 and 1943, the majority of Jews remaining in Germany were deported directly to the extermination camps, mainly Auschwitz-Birkenau.

So, if Vox wants to be accurate, he would have to acknowledge that it took Germany over 10 years to “rid itself” of less than 500,000 Jews, approximately 40% of whom ended up being murdered in the process (in actuality over 90% of the Jews who didn’t get while the getting was good were murdered). Even with Hitler’s “best” efforts, several thousand Jews remained in Germany at the end of World War II. Indeed, Victor Klemperer, whose famous diary I Will Bear Witness, was one of them. He even survived the bombing of Dresden. Most of those that survived were, like Klemperer, usually Jews by racial definition, who were protected by non-Jewish spouses, although a few managed to stay in hiding. The vast majority of the 6 million to which Vox referred were residents of conquered nations under military occupation.

Point three: Besides apparently not knowing that German Jews made up a relatively small proportion of the Jews “gotten rid of” by the Germans, Vox seems intentionally to neglect to mention how the Germans “rid themselves” of 6 million Jews in less than four years. it was mainly by murder, either through intentional overwork and starvation, shooting, hanging, or gas chambers. It began in conquered Poland in late 1939, when the Germans started rounding up Jews and restricting them to ghettos, where they lived in appalling conditions, looting their property and murdering many. Disease and starvation ran rampant, and eventually the Germans decided to “liquidate” the ghettos in 1943. Meanwhile, after the invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, Einsatzgruppen mobile killing units roamed the countryside, rounding up and shooting Jews and perceived political enemies by the thousands, adding approximately 1 million to the death toll of the Holocaust. In 1942, the killing accelerated, with the construction of dedicated death camps and concentration camps that also had a components that served as death camps. Eventually, the Germans turned their attention to rounding up the Jews in the rest of Europe, including Italy, France, Hungary, Denmark, and other nations, and sending them to the East for extermination.

That‘s how Germany “rid itself” of six million Jews–by systematic deportation to places where they murdered the Jews expelled from their homes. Funny how Vox didn’t see fit even to mention in passing the part about murder. (He also neglected to mention that an addition 5 million or so non-Jews also were killed by the Nazis.)

I suppose on a strictly hypothetical basis, it is possible to round up 12 million illegal immigrants and deport them in a few years, but the example that Vox chose undermines his argument to the point of irrelevancy. The Nazis weren’t concerned with due process or civil rights. We are. In the beginning, they didn’t care how many Jews died as they were deported, and at the end they were intentionally killing them when they arrived at their destination. The vast majority of Jews deported and murdered were the subjects of conquered nations under military rule, and those who weren’t were subjects of a totalitarian dictatorship whose citizenship and civil rights had been intentionally stripped away by Hitler. I doubt that even the most dedicated enemy of the Bush administration seriously believes that the U.S. could descend into such depths of barbarism in a mere few years, barring an almost unthinkable catastrophe.

Point four: One has to wonder why Vox chose that particular example. In the comments some defended Vox (and Vox defends himself) by stating that he was only arguing that it can be done. OK, it can be done. So freakin’ what? Leaving aside the murders committed by the Nazis, though, let’s look at what it took them to achieve the feat of evicting millions of what they considered their racial enemies from their homes in the conquered territories of the Reich. It took a ruthless military occupation by millions of troops, a dictator holding a racialist ideology that viewed Jews as the implacable enemy of the German people, was dedicated to “cutting out the cancer,” and who happened to have the absolute control over his military forces necessary to carry out such a program–even at the expense of diverting desperately needed troops and rail transport away from the fighting and to the task of extermination as the Germans were being beaten back by the Red Army.

Presumably, if there were a historical example of a mass deportation or involuntary relocation of several million people accomplished in a few years that didn’t involve at the minimum brutality, bloodshed, and wholesale trampling of the most basic of human rights, I’m guessing that Vox would have used it instead. He couldn’t–or wouldn’t. By his choice of examples, though, by the implied threat behind his example, Vox joins so many others on the far right in using eliminationist rhetoric, this time with a “nudge, nudge, wink wink.” After all, Vox was only arguing that it’s “possible” to deport 12 million in eight years. The implication behind his example, however, is that it’s also “possible” to emulate the Nazis further and build a machinery of death waiting at the end of the deportations.

In reality, though, as PZ notes, being the good “Christian Libertarian” that he is who doesn’t want to see the unbridled state power that the mass deportation of 12 million illegal immigrants would require, Vox seems to have some bizarre fantasy idea that, if we just change the laws to strip illegals of their rights and impose immediate deportation upon discovery and put in place the apparatus to start the mass deportations, magically many would flee, and private citizens like the Minutemen would take care of the rest:

A fence is not necessary, for there are other means of efficiently resolving the problem without resorting to such an obviously dangerous measure. Instant deportation policies, employer fines and bounty programs combined with the denial of all social services to non-citizens would suffice to settle the matter without the need to imprison the American citizenry. As the Minutemen have proven, again, unleashing the power of motivated private citizens is far more efficient than relying on government bureaucrats.

Of course, Vox also neglects to mention that stirring up private citizens to act against the group a government wants to deport is also a page out of the Nazi playbook. To continue on Vox’s apparent desire to show that Nazi methods to deal with the immigration problem are “possible,” remember the Nuremberg Laws or Kristallnacht?

We all know how all that turned out, don’t we?

At least I do. I’m not so sure about Vox. There is, of course, the possibility that he’s just intentionally picking the most inflammatory example he can just to stir people up, bad historical analogy or not, in which case his choice of historical analogies says a lot about him. However, what scares me is the possibility that maybe Vox does know how that all turned out, and that’s the idea.

ADDENDUM: Even Captain Ed is getting on Vox’s case over this:

Vox likes to take controversial positions, but this is just reprehensible. The Germans “rid” themselves of six million Jews by annihilating them through industrialized mass murder. In fact, a great many of them weren’t German at all and never spoke German or were assimilated into German society. A great deal of them were Poles, Russians, French, and so on, an inconvenient fact that renders his point moot. And how exactly did the Germans accomplish this feat that Vox finds so exemplary? They transformed Europe into a racist police state from the Pyrenees to the Caucasus.

One also can’t help but notice that in 2016 Donald Trump is sounding just like Vox Day.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

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