I recently finished a WWII novel, and I’m still researching the era for another, very different novel set during the same time period. Since one of my closest friends is a Bavarian woman whom I know to be a person of integrity, heart, courage, compassion, and grace, I was curious: how did the NSDAP come to control Germany so completely that its citizens would commit atrocities? So that atrocities would be legalized?

Part of the answer lies in the fact that the NSDAP under Adolf Hitler legalized the illegal. They made laws to force their citizens to participate in the killing of Jews, Poles, the Romany, Socialists, Communists, and anyone who disagreed with the Nazi party. They made laws to enforce the killing and sterilization of children and adults with physical “imperfections” such as mental retardation.

So the Nazi party in Germany created a legal system based on hatred and killing. To enforce this legal system, they instituted a series of Party overseers, one in every community, to make sure that people remained “Loyal” to the party. This was the state police, the Gestapo. The Gestapo surveilled every German citizen, collecting vast files of information about German individuals. There was no “privacy” because the German State was everything.

Every dictatorship surveilles its population as a method of controlling its subjects. This is pointed out in CITIZENFOUR, Laura Poitras’ film about Ed Snowden.

Admittedly, from the beginning, I have considered Snowden a hero. There is no justification for the massive, George-Orwell-1984-Big-Brother spying on citizens in which the United States intelligence services participate. It is an outright breach and invasion of privacy, ethics, and all things good and true.

Our government, the United States government under Barack Obama, is participating in–perhaps perfecting–the exact same tactics employed by Hitler and the Nazi party: Watch every citizen. Scrutinize every private individual. Know what every single person in the State is thinking, saying, and doing. It’s all about information linking, you see.

I know this because I have been researching the Gestapo.

I happened to be at a showing of Citizenfour at Lincoln Plaza after which Poitras appeared for a Q & A. No, she doesn’t know if she’s been followed, but she expects that the US Government would use skilled personnel to follow her. She has been told that all her electronic communication “lights up like a Christmas tree” in the offices where electronic communication is collected and followed.

Poitras was composed, articulate, and expressive. She said that Snowden was exactly as portrayed in the movie: articulate and collected, trying to teach her, Glenn, and Ewan what was most important in the information he gave them.

Some people consider Snowden a traitor. Consider the White Rose in Germany, which consisted of students at the University of Munich and their professor. They had an anonymous leaflet and graffiti campaign to inform the German public of what was actually being done to Jews and to call the Nazi government to question.

Here is what Wikipedia says of them:

White Rose survivor Jürgen Wittenstein described what it was like to live in Hitler’s Germany: “The government – or rather, the party – controlled everything: the news media, arms, police, the armed forces, the judiciary system, communications, travel, all levels of education from kindergarten to universities, all cultural and religious institutions. Political indoctrination started at a very early age, and continued by means of the Hitler Youth with the ultimate goal of complete mind control. Children were exhorted in school to denounce even their own parents for derogatory remarks about Hitler or Nazi ideology.”

The White Rose was considered traitorous, too. So they were executed.

And “Ultimate goal of mind control” can only be the reason for the NSA’s total surveillance of the American population, including hundreds of millions of completely loyal American citizens.

How long before the US government insists on the same kind of control? All in the name of “protecting” American citizens from terrorists?

Just as the Gestapo was protecting German citizens from Judeo-Bolshevik enemies.

The most important concept in the movie was one that Snowden articulated: that the NSA’s actions change the balance of power so that it’s not elected-officials and electorate, it’s now rulers and those who are ruled.

See the movie. Think about the United States government, which is acting like a bully and a dictatorship.

Citizenfour

 

 


Traci L. Slatton

Author Traci L. Slatton is a graduate of Yale and Columbia, and the award-winning, internationally published author of a dozen books of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction.

2 Comments

Geoffrey Knauth · October 26, 2014 at 3:49 pm

Having just finished “In the Garden of the Beasts,” and this morning “Journey to the Golden Door” by Jay Sommer, I plan to see the movie the next time I get to a big city.

    Jack Bodger · October 30, 2014 at 6:43 pm

    There was an excellent interview with Snowdon in Wired Magazine in August. It is also available at Wired online. No doubt we are living in times when the dark side of technology is emerging…

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