From “On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century” by Timothy Snyder
On February 2, 1933, for example, a leading newspaper for German Jews published an editorial expressing this mislaid trust:
We do not subscribe to the view that Mr. Hitler and his friends, now finally in possession of the power they have so long desired, will implement the proposals circulating in [Nazi newspapers]; they will not suddenly deprive German Jews of their constitutional rights, nor enclose them in ghettos, nor subject them to the jealous and murderous impulses of the mob. They cannot do this because a number of crucial factors hold powers in check…and they clearly do not want to go down that road. When one acts as a European power, the whole atmosphere tends toward ethical reflection upon one’s better self and away from revisiting one’s earlier oppositional posture.
Such was the view of many reasonable people in 1933, just as it is the view of many reasonable people now. The mistake is to assume that rulers who came to power through institutions cannot change or destroy those very institutions – even when that is exactly what they have announced that they will do.