Unlike Americans, Germans had no legal right to keep and bear arms and the liberal Weimar Republic sought to register, regulate and prohibit firearms. When Hitler’s National Socialist (Nazi) Party took power, they used those records to disarm and oppress the people, and that is why there was no armed resistance movement in Germany.
That is the story of Stephen Halbrook’s masterful 2013 Gun Control in the Third Reich: Disarming the Jews and “Enemies of the State.” Halbrook’s new book, Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France: Tyranny and Resistance, charts the same process in occupied France. As he notes, of the many books on the occupation, “not one focuses on the repression of gun owners.” So Halbrook, who earned his JD at Georgetown and taught political philosophy at George Mason University, wrote the first authoritative account.
Pierre Laval, prime minister in 1935, decreed the registration of firearms for the first time in modern French history. The registration was “aimed at firearms owners at large and did not focus on those responsible for fomenting political violence.” Halbrook shows how it worked in great detail but the main effect “was to enhance the power of government over the citizens.”
Little did anyone anticipate that “just five years later, France would be conquered by Nazi Germany,” and the author provides the back story to that as well.
When the Nazi forces attacked France in May of 1940, the Stalin-Hitler Pact was in force. The powerful French Communist party, controlled by Stalin, opposed the war against Hitler and “encouraged friendship with Germans when they occupied Paris.” So contrary to leftist lore, the Communist were major collaborators with the Nazis until June, 1941, when Hitler attacked his ally.
In June of 1940, Pierre Laval was deputy prime minister in the government collaborating fully with the Nazis. The previous month they issued a decree demanding the surrender of firearms and radio transmitters, on penalty of death. The French were also subject to the death penalty for failing to denounce someone who possessed guns.
As Halbrook shows, few French supported the resistance before the roundups of Jews in July 1942 and the obligatory service declaration in February 1943. After that, support increased and the allies parachuted arms to the Maquis, who still lacked firepower. The photo section of Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France shows Maquis resistance fighters training teens to shoot, and French civilians battling Nazis in Paris with such rifles and pistols as they could find.
One French fighter shot a pistol through his pocket and took out two German sentries. Jewish partisans ambushed a German train shouting “Wir sind Juden! Wir sind Juden!” As Maurice Bernsohn explained, “We pounced on them, I tearing a revolver from the belt of a German major,” and he kept the gun “to this day.”
Halbrook also tells the story of Hélène, a young Jewish woman who helped others escape the firing squads. “She was arrested in March 1944 and deported to Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, where she would die just days before the camp was liberated in 1945.” Many others perished in the struggle to liberate Paris.
As the end of this account, the author warns, “be careful what you wish for.” Pierre Laval’s crusade to control guns wound up aiding murderous Nazi tyranny. That is hardly the only lesson of this thoroughly researched and long overdue book. As the record shows, it is the totalitarian mindset that seeks to disarm the people, and gun registration is the first step toward gun confiscation.
The European Union requires states to register firearms. Germany was first to comply in 2013, on the 80th anniversary of Hitler coming to power. Rabbi Menachem Margolin pleaded with the EU states to allow Jews to have guns to protect institutions. As Halbrook notes, “His call went unheeded.”
Following Pearl Harbor, the author recalls, the US Congress enacted a law to prohibit the registration of firearms possessed by any individual for his personal protection or sport. That is a far cry from today when leftist Democrats target the Second Amendment and use every case of “gun violence” by criminals as a pretext to limit the rights of law abiding citizens.
These are the collaborators of a deep state, powerful, pervasive and hostile to the people. As we now understand, the deep state deploys mass surveillance against the public, spies on political campaigns, and seeks to determine the winners and losers of presidential elections.
Deep state operatives, like their leftist Democrat and media collaborators, can’t tell the difference between their hatred of a duly elected president and brave resistance to actual tyranny. Witness the witless, linguistically challenged Lisa Page texting “viva le resistance” to loverboy Peter Strzok, the FBI counterintelligence boss who helped clear candidate Hillary Clinton and sought to “stop” candidate Trump.
As arrests, midnight raids, and bogus investigations confirm, this fight is far from over. If the deep state coup succeeds, things could get very exciting. In the meantime, Gun Control in Nazi-Occupied France should be required reading for every American. Readers will understand why, in their national anthem, the French sing “aux armes, citoyens.”