1932 U.S. and German Elections: What Do They Tell Us about Voting in 2016?

In 1932 Europe and North America were in the depths of a worldwide depression. The optimism and confidence in technological advances that marked the beginning of the 20th century were all but destroyed by the unimaginable carnage of World War I. The fallout from the Great War resulted in widespread social and political upheaval, and the following years were marked by wild swings between economic prosperity and financial ruin. The relative calm that prevailed during the middle years of the 20s ended suddenly with the stock market crash of October 1929. Three years later, people throughout the United States and Europe, particularly Germany, were desperately seeking a way out of the morass. In the national elections of 1932, Germans succumbed to fear and rage paving the way for Hitler, while Americans elected FDR with hope for a better future. Although the election results were a product of the two countries’ cultural and political differences, they also provide topics for reflection as we approach our national election this year.

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