Why did the Free Speech Congress meet an unhappy end at the beginning of the new administration?
Was it a group on Parler, the free speech social media app that was deplatformed by Google, Amazon, and Apple in January? Or was it the conservative news outlet, Epoch Times, which was demonetized by YouTube or one of the thousands, such as Gateway Pundit, canceled by Twitter? Or was it the recommendation for a truth commission proposed by U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.)?
Though it may sound as though that question is about the political realities of 2021 or something out of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, the Free Speech Congress met its demise in the year 1933 at the beginning of Hitler’s Third Reich. This new administration sought to shut down its political opposition by suppressing freedom of speech and freedom of the press, which had been guaranteed by the German Constitution.
“The Free Speech Congress, the annual meeting of German intellectuals, met an unhappy end at the hands of Berlin Police, when they decided that the proceedings were in violation of ordinances to safeguard the public peace. It was regarded as purely accidental that the police order to end the session came in the midst of the speech by Dr. Wolfgang Heine, former Minister of Justice,” the Jewish Chronicle of Newark, New Jersey, reported on February 24, 1933.
Not only did Hitler and his allies strike a blow to freedom of speech by shutting down this conference led by his political opposition, but they also simultaneously smeared, lied, censored, blacklisted, boycotted, and trapped Jews in Germany.
“The conflict is between the right and the left in Germany. Jews are suffering and will suffer in the struggle. I do not want to believe that Jewish life is in grave danger,” Lion Feuchtwanger, the well-known German Jewish novelist wrote in a separate article in the same edition of the Jewish Chronicle. Despite this hope, his life had already been targeted. “Twice this past year leading nationalist papers in Germany advised their readers to assassinate me.”
This same newspaper also printed Joseph Goebbels’ latest propaganda piece “Our War Against the Jews.” Goebbels led Hitler’s Ministry of Enlightenment and Propaganda.
“We fight the Jews because we see them as the originators of disaster,” Goebbels declared, blaming Jews for everything from class warfare to Germany’s economic decline. “The political and economic development of Germany since 1918 represents one long indictment of the Jews.”
Goebbels signaled how the National-Socialists would first go after the Jews through their freedom of speech and freedom of the press.
“Unscrupulous gutter journalists who play the dominating role in the Jewish-controlled press of Germany, are to a great extent responsible for this internal discord. We know only too well the secret corridor, which leads from the editorial offices of the liberal press to those of the Bolsheviks’ newspapers,” Goebbels wrote.
Within weeks, Hitler convinced the German parliament to give him free rein to make executive orders. Goebbels censored newspapers. Goebbels and Nazi stormtroopers led a boycott of Jewish businesses on April 1 that shut down the ability of thousands to earn a living. They smeared the Star of David and the German word for “Jew” on storefronts.
A few weeks later, on May 10, thousands of books were burned at German universities, including books by Feuchtwanger, who fled to France. The Third Reich revoked the citizenship of Jews while also refusing to let them leave Germany. Jews were trapped.
Six million Jews and five million non-Jews were killed in the Holocaust.
While the censorship in America today is not on par with a mass casualty event like the Holocaust, we owe it to the Holocaust’s victims to call out the tactics that were first used against them, namely censorship and blacklisting.
“Nazi censors removed some textbooks from classrooms. New textbooks taught students to obey the Nazi Party, love Hitler, and hate Jews,” the Holocaust Museum explains. Today cultural Marxists are seeking to implement the “1619 Project” in public schools, which falsely claims that America began in 1619 and not in 1776, and contends that Americans fought the Revolution to preserve slavery.
The main culprits attacking freedom of speech and the press in America are Joe Biden’s political allies in Big Tech, especially Twitter and Facebook.
Fortunately, America’s founders created a complicated multitiered government system. Not only is the federal government divided into three branches—two of which are controlled by one political party today. But state and local governments also have a role.
On February 2, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis held a press conference with Republican state legislators about new legislation to address Big Tech abuses. State Rep. Blaise Ingoglia, one of the bill’s cosponsors, shared his concerns about censorship.
“The one thing that got me really fired up is when Twitter took down the article for the New York Post regarding the Hunter Biden story. If they can do this to a reputable news source such as the New York Post they can do this to everyone,” Ingoglia said. “You can not win on the battlefield of ideas if Big Tech takes away the battlefield.”
“Big Tech should not be allowed to discriminate based on content and ban individuals just because they do not agree with their viewpoint,” State Senator Danny Burgess added.
“Regardless of a person’s background, political history, religion, race, gender, or any other identifying measure, Twitter and Facebook and others cannot be the sole judge, jury, and executioner of Americans’ First Amendment rights,” Burgess said.
Other state governments would do well to follow suit. Americans must unite to fight censorship.