“Dictatorship, even the most progressive, remains dictatorship and ends in catastrophe. The abuse of power bears the same fatal countenance everywhere.” – Heinrich Mann
Foreshadowing, perhaps? During Mann’s speech in 1918, he touches on an important theme – abuses of power across platforms share certain elements that result in the downfall of a nation. Speaking in 1918, he had no way to know what was to come in regard to the Nazi Party and World War II, but his insight nonetheless offers a deeper view into the minds of German intellectuals at the conclusion of World War I. The abuses by the kaiser and the undemocratic state that ran Germany into the ground during WWII inspired Germans to attempt a more democratic state, but not 20 years later a new type of dictatorship had swept the nation. Intellectuals like Heinrich Mann could see the vulnerability of the German people and see what needed to be done for the nation, but only so much could be said. The time for action was nearing.