This and no other is the root from which a tyrant springs; when he first appears he is a protector. — Plato

Our American economy is in trouble, and people are suffering; but let us not forget that when a nation is in turmoil, political-extremists rise to power.  Using rhetoric that appeals to the needs of the masses; tyrants acquire power. Leon Degrelle at the Institute for Historical Research provides some perspective.

“We have the power. Now our gigantic work begins.”

Those were Hitler’s words on the night of January 30, 1933, as cheering crowds surged past him, for five long hours, beneath the windows of the Chancellery in Berlin.

His political struggle had lasted 14 years. He himself was 43, that is, physically and intellectually at the peak of his powers. He had won over millions of Germans and organized them into Germany’s largest and most dynamic political party, a party girded by a human rampart of hundreds of thousands of storm troopers, three fourths of them members of the working class.

In the years leading up to Hitler’s reign, a series of weak democratic governments had devastated Germany’s industry and left 20% of the nation in abject poverty. Without hope, more than 224,000 people committed suicide during these turbulent years.

While the nation suffered, corrupt politicians enjoyed large salaries and accepted bribes from people seeking access to their power. It was in the midst of this suffering and political corruption that Hitler’s promise to heal the nation captured the hearts of the people. After he was democratically elected as Germany’s Chancellor, Hitler said,

“It will be the pride of my life if I can say at the end of my days that I won back the German worker and restored him to his rightful place in the Reich.”

In America, we forget that Hitler’s rise to power was rooted in his ability to win the votes of the people who saw him as their savior — the only hope of alleviating their suffering. Hitler’s power did not come from force or fear, but from the consent of the masses who put their faith in his government.

Hitler came to power in a democracy, he put people back to work, he increased workers wages, he fed the starving people and gave them hope when all seemed hopeless. Degrelle writes,

From the first months of 1933, his accomplishments were public fact, for all to see. Before end of the year, unemployment in Germany had fallen from more than 6,000,000 to 3,374,000. Thus, 2,627,000 jobs had been created since the previous February, when Hitler began his “gigantic task!” A simple question: Who in Europe ever achieved similar results in so short a time?

Hitler put people back to work and food on their tables. Hitler kept his promise to bring dignity and prosperity to the nation.  The people loved Hitler.

Hitler’s popularity took on some astonishing, indeed comical, aspects. “A brand of canned herring,” Joachim Fest relates, “was called ‘Good Adolf.’ Coin banks were made in the form of SA caps. Bicarbonate of soda was recommended with the advertising slogan ‘My Struggle (Mein Kampf) against flatulence’! Pictures of Hitler appeared on neckties, handkerchiefs, pocket mirrors, and the swastika decorated ash trays and beer mugs, or served as an advertisement for a brand of margarine.

Hitler did great works and helped many millions, and to that end the people justified the means.

  • To spread the wealth… Hitler eradicated 6 million Jews (roughly 2/3 of Europe’s Jewish population).
  • To solve crime… Hitler killed 250,000 Romanian Gypsies.
  • To prevent poverty… Hitler killed 1.5 million “unwanted” children
  • To keep the peace… Hitler killed 20 million Russians
  • To increase the quality of life… Hitler killed the disabled, the elderly, and the weak.
  • To preserve his power… Hitler targeted for death the homosexuals, communists, political dissidents, Slavs, blacks, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and both Protestant pastors and Catholic priests who opposed him.

The lesson of history is that faith in savior-politicians and a powerful centralized government does not end well. The more power you cede to government; the less power you will have over your own life.  The more faith you put in a politician; the less faith you put in God.

In every election election, men and women will encourage you to believe that only they can bring hope. Politicians will convince you that the sacrifice of freedom and the power of government is the only solution. Men of guile, will convince you that the greater good can only be accomplished when we diminish the voice of religion and accept the forced-sacrifice of the individual.

When election day comes… will you believe them?

Read more of my article on Faith & Politics @

Dr. J.R. Miller is a Professor of Applied Theology and Leadership & Dean of Online Learning at Southern California Seminary. Outside work, he is a church planter. Dr. Miller has a diverse educational background and authored multiple books on church history, biblical theology, and Leadership. Joe and his wife Suzanne enjoy the sun and surf with their 3 sons in San Diego, CA.

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