German Ambassador Holger Seubert has warned Sri Lanka against wishing for a ‘Hitler’ after a minister expressed a wish for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa to act more like Hitler, on top of a similar call by a Buddhist monk earlier.
“I‘m hearing claims that “a Hitler” could be beneficial to Sri Lanka today,” Seubert said in a twitter.com message.
“Let me remind those voices that Adolf Hitler was responsible for human suffering and despair beyond imagination, with millions of deaths. Definitely no role model for any politician!”
Hitler came to power in the wake of money printing, hyperinflation and socialist policy confusion of the post-World War I World War I Germany’s Weimar Republic and later stabilization efforts by the Heinrich Brüning administration which increased unemployment on top of a depression triggered by the US Federal Reserve.
The illiberal socialist policy confusion of the Weimar Republic led to the call of a ‘strong man’ to come to power.
State Minister Dilum Amunugama claimed that people expected President Rajapaksa to run a dictatorship to some extent (yum tharamakerter).
“The Buddhist clergy also said it is ok to be a Hitler, that is good,” Minister Amunugama said. “Now criticism of the government is due to not being a Hitler. I also accept that.
“I do not think the President has a liking to become a Hitler immediately. If he is pushed to towards that, he will become a Hitler and the people will stop blaming him. Things will then happen well.”
Hitler rode to power on the strongly nationalist, anti-minority platform of the National Socialist (Nazi) party which killed and incarcerated millions of Jews, gypsies, homosexuals and later took land from Slavs in East Asia and Russia.
He had support from sections of the Lutheran church and banned all NGOs except some churches.
However Hitler also printed money, primarily through Mefo bills, a mechanism to circumvent a ban on money printing by Reichsbank, Germany’s then central bank cooked up by economy minister Hjalmar Schacht by discounting contractor bills through a third party agency.
Schacht had been at the Reichsbank during the Weimar Republic.
Sri Lanka’s central bank in addition to printing money indirectly by discounting contractor bills has engaged in the biggest outright money printing exercise in the history of modern Sri Lanka.
The Mefo bills discounting led to forex shortages in Germany as early as 1934 and Hitler promoted a Nazi autarky (autarchy) or what is now known as ‘self-sufficiency’ amid widespread import controls under his Wehrwirtschaft economic policy.
Self-sufficiency was also driven by the Allied naval blockade during World War I.
Hitler engaged in ‘import substitution’ long before the term became popular among Latin American nations which printed money through Argentina-style central banks and ran out of forex.
The Germany industrial complex went so far as to produce synthetic fuel, cellulose fibres and synthetic rubber, as forex shortages intensified.
Hitler also made a famous ‘Export or Die’ speech, a slogan used by Sri Lanka’s leaders during the 1980s money printing and currency depreciation.
After Hitler was defeated by the Allies and which include the Soviet Union at the time, liberals came back to power.
Germany became a global economic power under the Ordoliberals who started their economic program by setting up a new central bank, the Deutsche Bundesbank, which laid the foundation for the German Economic Miracle (Wirtschaftswunder) defying the Keynesian ideology of depreciation and state spending.
Germany rapidly outpaced Britain, which won World War II but continued to print money under Keynesian ‘stimulus’ and only ended foreign exchange controls 40 years later after Margarat Thatcher came to power applying Austrian economic principles.