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The day the Holocaust began


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Saturday, Dec. 7, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

Stephen Halbrook is a research fellow with the Independent Institute, an Oakland, Calif., think tank. Halbrook spoke to the Trib regarding his new book, “Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and ‘Enemies of the State.'”

Q: What compelled you to craft a book on Nazi Germany gun control measures?

A: Nobody has ever researched it. I first heard about it when I was an undergraduate in college in 1968, and there were these gun registration bills proposed in Congress.

Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), who is still there, of course, argued that (World War II) had just ended 23 years ago and that this sounds like some of the same kind of stuff that existed in Nazi Germany.

The proponents of the bill challenged that and said they actually had commissioned a Library of Congress study saying there was no use of gun registration lists by the Nazis, either in Germany or in occupied countries, which was blatantly stupid.

When (the Nazis) took power in 1933, they immediately used the (gun registration) records to disarm political enemies.

Q: When did the effort to disarm Jewish people begin?

A: In October 1938, police agencies in Germany announced that all Jews had to turn in their guns (and) the authorities knew which Jews had guns because they were registered. Having disarmed the Jews, they were able to attack them.

In November 1938, there was the Night of Broken Glass, otherwise known as Kristallnacht. There was an unleashing of the so-called Brownshirt Nazi thugs, who went into Jewish homes and ransacked them under the pretext that they were searching for weapons, which was just that — a pretext.

I mean, they found some up in attics, rusting revolvers and bayonets left over from the war. Then they rounded up 20,000 Jewish men and put them in concentration camps and they had to pay to get out. That episode has been called the day the Holocaust began.

Q: So the book asserts that there is a definitive correlation between gun control efforts in Nazi Germany and the persecution and annihilation of millions of Jewish people?

A: That's correct.

Q: Do you believe your book is a cautionary tale indicating what we should be aware of and alert for here in America today regarding the gun control movement?

A: I would agree with that language, but I want to make it clear that I'm not saying that proponents of these restrictions are Nazis or anything like Nazis. I'm not saying we have conditions here that are anything like Nazi Germany. We have a right to free speech, we still vote in this country and we still have a pretty robust Second Amendment.

Q: Would you say your book would be relevant to anyone who wants a clearer understanding of some of the risks that gun control might pose?

A: Yes, and once again I'm not predicting that this is going to happen here and I'm not calling other people names. That's not productive.

But don't tell me that gun control is always progressive and that all good results come from it, and that governments of all kind should always be trusted, or that guns should only be in the hands of the police or military. All of those clichés, I think, are refuted by this history. I think it supports our traditional Second Amendment rights in the United States.

Eric Heyl is a staff writer for Trib Total Media (412-320-7857 or

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