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A recent Facebook post appears to forebode a dark future for the United States if it tightens gun laws by quoting Adolf Hitler on gun control in Germany.
"This year will go down in history," begins the Aug. 8 post. "For the first time, a civilized nation has full gun registration! Our streets will be safer, our police more efficient, and the world will follow our lead into the future!"
The post attributes the statement to "Adolph Hitler," misspelling the Nazi Party leader’s name before noting that he was remarking on the "passing of the German Weapons Act 1935."
This post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
When we reached out to several historians to find out if Hitler actually said this, they couldn’t tell us conclusively that he didn’t. But they were skeptical that the quote is authentic.
Richard Breitman, an American University professor emeritus who has written extensively on German history and the Holocaust, said he was "unaware of any such statement by Hitler." He also noted that in addition to Hitler’s misspelled name in the Facebook post, the basic Nazi law on weapons was issued in 1938, not 1935, as the post says.
Peter Hayes, a Northwestern University professor who specializes in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, offered a quick history lesson:
A 1928 law that pre-dated the Nazi regime required people to seek state permission to buy or own a weapon and local police could revoke that permission at any time.
In 1931, the law was amended to require people seeking that permission to prove they needed a weapon.
In 1938, during Nazi rule, the law was changed so it was harder for Roma to have guns and easier for Nazis to carry them.
A separate decree in 1938 forbade Jews from having guns.
Maybe, Hayes said, the Facebook posts refers to another such a decree issued in 1935 but, "I haven’t heard of it."
He was also suspicious of the language used in the Facebook quote. "Registration" isn’t a typical term in German gun laws, he said.
Jeffrey Herf, a history professor at the University of Maryland, told us: "My very strong suspicion is that this is a hoax."
Christopher Browning, a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill professor emeritus who has researched and written extensively about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, concurred. "This sounds like a complete and total fabrication to me, invented for obvious reasons," he said.
A 2004 Fordham Law Review article called "On Gun Registration, the NRA, Adolf Hitler, and Nazi Gun Laws: Exploding the Gun Culture Wars (A Call to Historians)" notes that the "infamous statement" attributed to Hitler has been published more than 100 times in papers across the country and lawmakers have argued against gun registration in part because it supposedly enabled Hitler to leave people vulnerable to the Nazis. (We’ve fact-checked whether gun control regulations in Nazi Germany helped advance the Holocaust and rated that False.)
But, author Bernard Harcourt says in the paper, the quote "is probably a fraud and was likely never uttered."
"The citation reference is a jumbled and incomprehensible mess that has never been properly identified or authenticated, and no one has been able to produce a document corresponding to the quote," he wrote. "It has been the subject of much research, all of it fruitless, and has now entered the annals of urban legends."
We rate this Facebook post False.
Facebook post, Aug. 8, 2019
PolitiFact, "No, gun control regulation in Nazi Germany did not help advance the Holocaust," April 8, 2019
Email interview with Christopher Browning, history professor emeritus, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Aug. 12, 2019
Email interview with Laurie Marhoefer, history associate professor, University of Washington, Aug. 12, 2019
Email interview with Richard Breitman, history professor emeritus, American University, Aug. 12, 2019
Email interview with Peter Hayes, professor of history and German, Theodore Zev Weiss Holocaust Educational Foundation Professor of Holocaust Studies Emeritus, Aug. 12, 2019
Email interview with Jeffrey Herf, distinguished university professor, Department of History, University of Maryland, Aug. 12, 2019
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