New York Fed Paper Finds Pandemic a Century Ago Fueled Nazi Rise

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Nazis rose to power in Germany in part because of dislocations caused by a mass-death pandemic a century ago, research published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Monday said.

The paper, written by bank economist Kristian Blickle, examined how the German political system reacted to the influenza pandemic that struck the world between 1918 and 1920.

Those events have been back in the world’s consciousness as nations attempt to navigate the coronavirus crisis. The current crisis has resulted in large death tolls, profound economic dislocations and great political uncertainty, at a time when many nations have seen the rise of nationalist political movements that seek to reverse decades of economic and political international linkages.

A century ago, “influenza deaths themselves had a strong effect on the share of votes won by extremists, specifically the extremist national socialist party,” the paper said in reference to the Nazi party, led by Adolf Hitler, who became chancellor of Germany in 1933.


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