Republished with permission from Lucian K. Truscott IV
The first guy waited until he became Chancellor of Germany and used the Reichstag fire as a pretext to start rounding up enemies and building concentration camps. A front-page story in the New York Times this morning tells us that our own Chancellor-in-Waiting, Donald J. Trump, isn’t waiting to be elected, or for a pretext.
He has an SS team in place that is are already making plans to round up tens of millions of immigrants and house them in camps they plan on building “on open land in Texas near the border,” according to Stephen Miller, who Trump has appointed to be his own personal Heinrich Himmler to handle the matter of immigration if he is elected president next year.
I’ll get into the details of their plans in a minute, but what is remarkable about Trump’s blueprint for illegally rounding up immigrants and imprisoning them in concentration camps is that Stephen Miller and other close associates of Trump’s consented to be interviewed by the New York Times about the plans, Trump has apparently made a calculation that undocumented immigrants are sufficiently unpopular that he is running on this suff.
The use of concentration camps to intern undesirables and enemies of the state has a long and ugly history in the 20th Century. They were built by the German Empire in Southwest Africa during the Herero and Namaqua tribal genocide in 1904 to 1907. The German camps had a death rate of about 50 percent during that genocide. In 1915, Turkey used forced marches and concentration camps to kill more than a million Armenians who were considered an existential threat to the Ottoman Empire.
Hitler didn’t begin to build concentration camps until he became chancellor. In 1933, Hitler, feeling threatened by his political enemies, appointed Himmler to enact mass arrests and incarcerations of his political opponents in the German Communist and Social Democratic Parties. The first camp built on Himmler’s orders was Dachau, outside of Munich. From there, camps were built in Sachsenhausen and Buchenwald in 1936 and 1937. In 1938, new camps were constructed in Flossenburg, Ravensbruck, and Mauthausen. Himmler announced a roundup of nomadic Roma, the mentally ill, university professors, homosexuals, intellectuals, the homeless and unemployed, criminals, Freemasons, Jews, and what Himmler termed “asocials and organized elements of sub-humanity.” Czech and Austrian anti-Nazis were included after their countries were annexed by Nazi Germany.
You will no doubt note that Hitler and Himmler began their round ups with unpopular elements of German society and expanded from there. One group after another became a target of Hitler’s plan to “cleanse” Germany of “vermin and undesirables.”
Trump got started in September, when he told a crowd at one of his rallies in Dubuque, Iowa, that if elected, he would “invoke immediately the Alien Enemies Act to remove all known or suspected gang members, the drug dealers, the cartel members from the United States, ending the scourge of illegal alien gang violence once and for all.” He also announced that he would “deny entry to all communists and Marxists to the United States.” He promised to expand his travel ban on citizens from Muslim countries to include other “undesirable” countries. He also promised to use a “massive shift” of law enforcement authorities from the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms and Explosives to help with immigration enforcement.
Gangs, criminals, drug dealers, illegal aliens…sound familiar?
Trump then gave an interview to Univision, the Spanish-language TV network, in which he promised to weaponize the FBI and Department of Justice against his political opponents. Referring to the Biden administration, Trump said, “What they’ve done is they’ve released the genie out of the box.” Switching quickly and referring to himself, Trump continued, “You know, when you’re president and you’ve done a good job and you’re popular, you don’t go after them so you can win an election.” Switching yet again to refer to his opponents, “They have done something that allows the next party … if I happen to be president and I see somebody who’s doing well and beating me very badly, I say, ‘Go down and indict them.’ They’d be out of business. They’d be out of the election.”
I know, his verbiage is confusing, but the Washington Post reported last week that Trump has told aides that if elected, he will appoint a special prosecutor to “go after” Biden and his family, and he will order the Department of Justice to investigate others he considers traitors, such as his former Chief of Staff, John Kelly, and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mark Milley, and former Attorney General William Barr. Trump also told Univision that he is considering the re-implementation the policy used early in his administration that separated immigrant parents from their children at the border. Stephen Miller, in his interview with the New York Times, also implied that a new Trump administration will separate families at the border.
Miller also told the Times that a new Trump administration would attempt to overturn the Flores settlement, which set standards for the treatment, placement and release of unaccompanied minors who are applying for legal status as asylum seekers. Miller said Trump will go after “Dreamers” and will seek to make deportations of any immigrants living within the borders of the U.S. “radically more quick and efficient,” by using what he called, “the right kinds of attorneys and the right kinds of policy thinkers” to accomplish their goals. Miller said Trump will build “vast holding facilities” where immigrants will be held while awaiting deportation.
Miller bragged that the camps would be built using Homeland Security and Department of Defense money so that a new Trump administration will not have to go through the normal route of getting the Congress to appropriate money to cover their cost. Trump used a similar scam to get around the Congress when he took money intended for the military and built portions of his wall when he took office in 2017. Miller said that Trump will order that enforcement officials from agencies other than ICE will be used to implement the planned round-ups of immigrants, including deputizing National Guard soldiers supplied by Republican states friendly to Trump and his aims. The Guard troops would be deputized under the Insurrection Act, which allows for “temporary” suspension of the Posse Comitatus Act that makes it illegal for U.S. military personnel to be used for law enforcement purposes within the United States. In this scenario, active duty U.S. soldiers would be used to arrest and detain immigrants in broad round-ups at workplaces, gathering places, and within businesses established by immigrant families.
The way Stephen Miller described the plans, according to the Times, “Bottom line, President Trump will do whatever it takes.”
It is incredible to contemplate that Donald Trump has put his political finger in the wind and made a determination that the plans outlined by Reichsfuhrer Miller are a winning issue for him in 2024. Even his decision to go on Univision to talk about elements of his plans is astounding. Apparently, Trump has made a calculation that he can split the Latin vote in the next election by separating Latino voters into haves and have-nots and going after the “have” vote.
But to me, the most incredible thing of all are Trump’s plans for concentration camps. In Germany in the mid 1950’s, my family was stationed about 50 miles from Dachau. Patton’s Third Army liberated Dachau at the end of the war in 1945, and after my grandfather relieved Patton of command of the Third Army, General Eisenhower put him in charge of caring for the Holocaust victims of Dachau and other camps who made their way to Bavaria to be housed in displaced persons camps grandpa established at former German military bases.
As a boy, I grew up with the history of Hitler’s concentration camps all around me. Grandpa had a huge photo album that was given to him by the Third Army at the conclusion of his command in 1946. It was full of photographs of what the Third Army had encountered when they liberated Dachau. Grandpa ordered the publication of a book called “Dachau Diary,” based on the writings of a Holocaust victim that were discovered scrawled on scraps of paper when Dachau was liberated.
The diaries were translated into English and the book contained photos of the horrors of Dachau taken by the SS administration before the camp was liberated. Grandpa also ordered that the book be published in German so it could be distributed to German libraries and schools as a record of what the Nazis had done in the name of the German people.
Grandpa never talked about Dachau. He didn’t have to. We visited the camp near Munich, with its buildings and fences still standing. It wasn’t yet the monument to the horror of the Holocaust that it is today, but rather a living relic of Hitler’s aim to rid the German nation of Jews and anyone he declared an enemy or an undesirable. The Alien Enemies act of 1798, which Stephen Miller said Trump will invoke on the day he takes office, allows the deportation of anyone from a country with which the United States is at war. Miller told the Times the act will be used to deport “suspected members of drug cartels and criminal gangs without due process.”
When I read sentences like that in the New York Times, uttered by people who are known to be speaking for Donald Trump, I see in my mind’s eye the images of concentration camps I grew up learning about, and I see the expansion of Hitler’s list of enemies to include people considered to be mentally ill, the unemployed, the homeless, members of opposing political parties, university professors, journalists, intellectuals, homosexuals, Jews,
I see the list of Donald Trump’ enemies.
I see you and me and our loved ones.
Lucian K. Truscott IV
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives in rural Pennsylvania and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better.