Seventy-four years ago this week, on 11/9/38, the horrifying event occurred that the Nazi Party called Krystallnacht. It could be said that the events of that night represented the official start of Adolf Hitler’s “endless war” against the Jews, but the methods used to justify that war were not an aberration.

Rather, the Night of the Shattering Glass, which saw the plate glass windows of a thousand Jewish businesses shattered (with most German synagogues going up in flames and the first batch of 26,000 Jewish men heading for the concentration camps) was simply another example of an all-too-common historical reality that has been going on ever since the first tyrant orchestrated the first false flag operation that gave him a reason to declare, with flags waving behind, the first “retaliatory” war against a feared or hated scapegoat/enemy. And then, through cunning propaganda tactics, that tyrant plausibly denied responsibility for the coming violence because the enemy was, after all, the one who drew “first blood.”

Because of the assassination of a single mid-level Nazi party bureaucrat in Paris (by a justifiably angry young Polish Jew) two days earlier, many patriotic Germans back in the homeland, knowing absolutely nothing about the details of the assassination, were inflamed by Germany’s right-wing radio and the mainstream media propaganda machine of Dr. Joseph Goebbels.
We had to do
something, didn’t we?

Many of the armed thugs who went on the rampage on 11/9/38  were psychologically traumatized war veterans who had been street fighters for Hitler’s cause for years. They justified their anti-Semitic outburst of violence by saying: “We had to do something, didn’t we?”

Likewise, soon after 9/11/01, in the high-energy confusion after the obviously controlled demolitions of the three World Trade Center towers (towers 1, 2 and 7 – see,,, or for more on that issue), it was an easy job for propaganda artists to generate similar impulses in patriotic Americans who trusted their leaders to “do something,” including enlisting in the military or performing some act of blind retaliation against whomever was accused. None of the counter-balancing evidence that could have easily refuted the official conspiracy theories was allowed to be heard, and so the angry citizenry, who knew nothing about real facts or the real agenda of the true, well-hidden perpetrators, also said, “We had to do something, didn’t we?”

In retrospect, however, the events of 11/9/38 and 9/11/01 have the irrefutable marks of false flag operations, where pre-planned actions, intended to provoke a conflict, are carried out by the aggressor to make it look like the accused is the perpetrator of the deed.  Indeed, the events of 9/11/01 fulfilled the criteria for an expressly desired “New Pearl Harbor” (so labeled by the neo-conservative think tank the Project for the New American Century).

With both 11/9 and 9/11, the wars that resulted were a direct violation of the Just War principles—even if the declarations of war had been legitimate, which they were not. And in both cases, the dogs of war were unleashed, never to be reined in until it was too late to save the crumbling empires involved in the homicidal and suicidal violence that resulted.

War profiteers, corporate
tyrants, billionaires,
andother assorted
and powers”

Brutal tyrants and their hidden, well-heeled supporters, which include the war-profiteering corporations and billionaires that want to rule the world (referred to in the bible as the “principalities and powers”), have been behind every aggressive war in recent history, with, ironically, the baptized and confirmed sons and daughters of Christian churches doing much of the killing and dying.  

The realities of Krystallnacht invite examination by patriotic Americans, for there are many commonalities between 11/9 and 9/11. Both events offer important lessons that need to be learned if people of good will, whether German, American, British, Japanese, South African, Israeli, or of another nationality,  are going to be able to stop the organized, serial mass slaughter that is euphemistically called “war.” Wars are disasters that end empires, that kill and wound people on either side of the battle lines (both guilty armed soldiers and innocent unarmed civilians). And wars are always disastrous for the planet and its creatures.

In 1955, the pacifist author Milton Mayer wrote a book about post-war Germany that he titled “They Thought They Were Free.” The book chronicled the lives of ten patriotic men, all German Christians from a small Nazified town in Germany. Each of the ten considered themselves citizen-patriots, but each of them were involved, to various degrees, in acts of arson and/or terrorism against their town’s Jewish synagogue and small Jewish businesses on the night of Nov. 9, 1938.

Economic growth,
prosperity, and jobs,
jobs, jobs from the
of lethal weapons

Each of the men interviewed for the book had innocently joined the Nazi party while Hitler was gaining power. At Hitler’s insistence, Germany had left the League of Nations, rejecting the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, and Germany’s military/industrial complex was again manufacturing lethal weapons in preparation for the war to come.

Because of this huge boost in manufacturing jobs, Germany’s unemployment rate had dropped to virtually zero and Germany (and much of the rest of the world, including many anti-FDR corporate executives in America) proclaimed Hitler to be a political genius.

When Mayer interviewed the group eight years after the Nazi leaders had committed suicide and the German empire had ended up in ashes, they all somehow still felt that what Hitler had done for Germany proved to them that, by performing such an economic miracle, the Fuhrer was truly the savior of Germany.

They had never known such economic growth and prosperity, nor had they experienced such feelings of communal warmth, security, and pride in their country, a patriotism that increasingly united the nation whenever there were any threats from anti-fascists (such as left-wing Jews, pacifists, social democrats, and communists), whether the anti-fascists came from within Germany’s borders or were freedom fighters trying to get rid of the Nazis in the occupied territories. The feeling that the right-wing Nazi party cared for all true Germans was genuinely felt.

Here is an excerpt from Mayer’s book that should give all post-9/11 Americans pause:

“What no one seemed to notice was the ever-widening gap between the government and the people. And it became always wider. The whole process of its coming into being, was above all diverting, it provided an excuse not to think for people who did not want to think anyway ... [It] gave us some dreadful, fundamental things to think about ... and kept us so busy with continuous changes and ‘crises,’ and so fascinated by the machinations of the ‘national enemies’ without and within, that we had no time to think about these dreadful things that were growing, little by little, all around us.

“Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. Each act is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next, and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join you in resisting somehow.

“You don’t want to act, or even talk, alone. You don’t want to ‘go out of your way to make trouble.’ But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That’s the difficulty. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves, when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. You have accepted things you would not have accepted five years ago, a year ago ... things your father could never have imagined.”

Mayer’s sobering book offers deep insights into fascism that should help the reader understand why ordinary middle-class church-goers could embrace an ideology as diabolical as fascism. The following list of fascist traits includes a number of items that are in the not-so-hidden platforms or doctrinal statements of some increasingly right-wing political parties and religious-right groups:

1) “My country right or wrong” nationalism (= blind patriotism); 2) Lack of concern for human rights issues; 3) Willingness to demonize scapegoats; 4) Willingness to use military violence, terror, or torture in pursuit of what are considered to be national interests; 5) Sexism and racism; 6) Press censorship of unwelcome truths; 7) Desire for a strong security state; 8) A blurring of the separation of church and state; 9) Support for corporate agendas; 10) Suppression of trade unions; 11) Anti-science/anti-intellectualism; 12) Obsession with law and order; 14) Corrupt crony capitalism; 14) Fraudulent elections; 15) Xenophobia (fear of foreigners); and 16) Homophobia/heterosexism. This list is largely borrowed from a powerful article published in the 2003 spring issue of Free Inquiry magazine (volume 23, number 2) entitled “Fascism Anyone?” authored by Lawrence W. Britt, PhD.

The perceived need to expand the empire and grow the economy, combined with the willingness to invade, occupy, and then plunder the resources of a conquered and colonized country, are common realities in the business of war-making. It is not hard to understand. History tells us that when Big Business influences national policies or actually infiltrates government, trouble is ahead. Mussolini famously said that “fascism should rightly be called corporatism as it is a merger of state and corporate power.”

So what are the lessons we could learn from Mayer and Britt and other observers of history? Obviously, if we refuse to study the demise of empires through the lens of unbiased history, and if we refuse to listen to the billions of suffering victims of the foreign and domestic policies of our own American empire (established and sustained by ruthless economic and military domination), we will not be able to figure out the cures for our maladies, much less come up with strategies for preventing future mistakes, ones that have caused the world’s other militarism-dependent empires to crash and burn.

What the world needs now is more resisters who are willing to speak out against bullies and tyrants. The whistle-blowers and people of conscience, who are regularly harassed and imprisoned, even in so-called democracies like ours, seem to be the ones willing to speak out, even if it means jail time. Prophets such as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Jesus also preached against the tyranny of unjust governments and were willing to risk suffering for the cause. The people of conscience who have been truly inspired and strengthened by those prophets are doing the work for those of us silent or apathetic ones that Mayer wrote about.  The rest of us need to join them and go to the streets in protest before it is too late.

If America continues to spiral downwards, unrestrained, from the covert fascism of the present to a more overt kind in the future, we will surely lament our decision not to have resisted earlier.

If you see injustice
and do nothing, you
have taken the side
of the oppressor

Encouragingly, courageous prophetic voices have arisen who have been willing to cry out the warning. People in nonviolent faith communities, in particular, who have heard the pleas of the prophets to resist evil and work nonviolently for true peace and true justice, must be among the ones to lead the struggle. To understand their courage and motivation, one only needs to recall what many of the heroes of international peace movements have proclaimed: “If you see injustice and do nothing, you have taken the side of the oppressor.”

False flag operations like those of 11/9/38 and 9/11/01 should allow us to see through the propaganda machinery that obscures the truth. Being able to read between the lines takes time and effort, but it is an essential first step in the process of changing America so that it will get on the right side of history and reverse the gradual decline into oblivion that all empires go through.

May we learn the lessons of history before it’s too late. If we drag our feet or kick the can down the road some more, we may at some time in the near future wonder how it was that at one time, we thought that we had been free.