May 6, 1933 - Article - Back to Blood and Iron: Germany Goes German Again, by Dorothy Thompson
On April 2, 1917, Woodrow Wilson asked Congress for a declaration of war against Germany in a speech containing the following historic words:
"We have no quarrel with the German people. We have no feeling toward them but one of sympathy and friendship. It was not upon their impulse that their government acted in entering this war. It was not with their previous knowledge or approval. It was a war determined upon us as wars used to be determined upon in the old, unhappy days when peoples were nowhere consulted by their rulers...... We are glad to fight thus for the ultimate peace of the world and for the liberation of its peoples, the German peoples included; for the right of nations great and small and the privilege of men everywhere to choose their way of life...... The world must be made safe for democracy."
The change of regime which has taken place in Germany in the last weeks presents certain unique aspects, both as to content and as to technic...... A coup d'état is accomplished by a strongly organized minority assisted by a special set of circumstances which eases their ascension to power.
But what actually happened is unique in that dictatorship was accomplished by popular will. The German people have not had Mr. Hitler thrust upon them. He recommended himself to them and they bought him. More than 50% of all Germans politically minded enough to exercise the right of suffrage - and nearly 89% of them went to the polls - deliberately gave away all their civil rights, all their chances of popular control, all their opportunities for representation.
But they repudiated quite clearly and definitely two things - internationalism and pacifism. Germany had gone German and Germany had gone militant. (pg. 3)
In a country and in a movement which puts emphasis on manliness, his hold over his followers is not that of a man more manly than they, but of one set apart, to be loved with fanaticism and emotional abandon. It is, for instance, impossible to conceive of anyone addressing to Mussolini such a lyrical outburst as the following, which appeared in the Nazi Angriff on the day before the elections:
He came out of the darkness, and none knew him. None knew the path he would take. He turned the torch of God upon the hearts of the Germans. He preached, he believed, he hated, he loved. And he fought like a hero..... A wave rose to swallow him. But he trod hatred and indignation, rage and persecution under his feet. But those about him were his refuge and his protection; he was the torch bearer, preacher, evangelist. They followed him. They chose his way..... even to the cross. His followers become an army, the army became the folk. Out of the folk stormed their savior. He came to us unknown. He grew from the temporal to the eternal..... He became for Germany, symbol and destiny..... His life is our life. We have followed him with frenzied love. He is our lodestar, the sense and faith of our broken people. Hitler is our longing, our hope, our nation! He is all that we mean in the great word: LEADER!
Hitler gives evidence of a vast amount of reading, much of it ill-digested. He begins a speech with a quotation from the Bible, attributing it to Jesus. The quotation is, however, from Saint Paul, but new additions of the book appear with the original uncorrected.
Hitler, who makes the same claim as Mussolini to be a restorer of order, has no such outward circumstances to justify him. Until the vast depression, which caught every nation, whatever its political system might be, economic life in Germany was functioning not only well but phenomenally.
It is important to realize the actual condition of Germany before Hitler became chancellor in January, 1933, because the great weight of the prodigious propaganda of the National Socialists has been directed at building up the myth of the so-called "Truemmerhaufen" - the scrapheap - which postwar Republican Germany is supposed to have been.
On this subject an outside observer, Prof. James W. Angell, wrote in his book, The Recovery of Germany, after a year's study in Germany:
"Six years after its total collapse, Germany belongs to the great economic powers. Its iron and steel production is still, to be sure, somewhat less than before the war, but is much higher than that of England; its electrotechnical and chemical production exceeds that of every other European country; only the English machine industry can compare with Germany's. Its textile production has reached that of 1913; its coal production and its foreign trade do not lag far behind; Germany's industrial superiority on the Continent has been reestablished beyond controversy. Its power grows steadily. Despite enormous losses through war and inflation, despite reparations payments of incomparable magnitude, despite heavy taxes, which are among the hardest in the world, the real income of the German people and their standard of life are at least as high as in 1913. The conditions for the manual workers are, indeed, somewhat better than they were then. From the deepest humiliation and desperation in the six short years since the end of the inflation, Germany has risen to an assured place of leadership in the world. It presents the drama of a reconstruction which has no rival in the world's economic history."
Compare with this statement a Nazi election pamphlet which says:
"After the revolt of 1918, the Social Democrats proclaimed the German People's State, the Free German Republic! Through four hard years the grey front of the German Defense had held back a world of enemies! A handful of traitors and Marxist Jews prepared the knife thrust of 1918! At the moment when the fight for victory or defeat, for the existence or nonexistence of the German nation was at the test, the November Criminals lit the torch of treasonable revolt. Friedrich Ebert loosed the munitions strike which cost thousands of soldiers a common grave. The Social Democrats brought down the old regime and took over sovereignty. They signed without resistance the Armistice. German arms were broken; the dreadful dictates of Versailles made of the German worker the coolie of the world! Through the fault of the Social Democrats, Entente Imperialism went ahead in brutal power. Where were the internationalists? Prussian imperialism was defeated. The tributes were not borne by yesterday's Lords but by Germany's workers! Fourteen years of fulfillment policy of the Social Democrats transferred untold amounts of the people's fortunes to foreign countries. Through the inflation, for which the Socialists were responsible, the whole German middle class was wiped out. The Social Democrats pressed the last drop out of German business and burdened the people with more and more taxes! They cut the pensions of soldiers, the social and unemployment insurances, the civil servants' wages! Prices rose continuously! Germany was disarmed! The world stood in weapons! Germany had no tanks! No U-Boats! No war airplanes! No universal military training! Its little army cannot protect its own borders! That is fourteen years of Social Democratic sovereignty! That is fourteen years of serfdom. Now comes the day of reckoning. On March 5th, the November criminals and the fulfillment politicians of the Social Democrats, the Separatists and the Traitors stand before the bar of justice! On Mach 5th, the German people will lay their fate in the hands of their leader: Adolf Hitler."
This propaganda represents an appeal to fear, hatred, envy and, above all, ignorance, unique even in election campaigns. That it should have such resonance in Germany that it brought about an actual revolution is enormously revealing of the state of the German mind in 1933. For Hitler was elected by virtue of a vast wish dream. (pp. 4, 67)
Psychologists say that it is a characteristic of an infantile or sick mind that it cannot deal with reality. Whatever else the Hitler revolution may or may not be, it is an enormous mass flight from reality. Hitler, whose only genius thus far displayed has been his power of mass suggestion, of making people believe - against reason, against facts - has told the German people what they would like to believe. He has not only promised them a better future; he has done something far more daring - he has calmly and by virtue of mere statement reversed the past. He has hypnotized his followers with a vast myth.
Germany lost the war [World War I] essentially not in the military but in the political and diplomatic field, through an unrivaled talent for making enemies. (pg. 67)
For the aim of the regime of Hitler seems to be single - to make Germany safe for war.
Something more than a year ago, I attempted an analysis of the economic and political program of the Hitler movement. I confessed that I could see no sense in it. The very name of the party - "National Socialist" - was a paradox. An economic plan which favored inflation while damning the inflationists of 1923; the war against the Jews, who have been a fraction of the population as long as there has been a German nation; the baits held out to labor while fighting the labor organizations; the repeated combination with the Communists against the bourgeois parties; the overtures made to the great industrialists combined with the program of economic self-sufficiency - autarkie - which is greatly against the interests of exporting producers; the insistence on anticapitalism with capitalist campaign funds - all this seems to be a tale told by an idiot.
It is easy to be wise after the facts. It is already clear that much of Hitler's program belonged merely to the tactic of getting into power.
The entire opposition press was muzzled, and for much of the time suppressed. The chancellor's private army, the S.A. troops and their picked division, the black-breeched S.S. men, broke up opposition meetings, terrorized the streets, staged rows, beat up Social Democratic deputies, and even assaulted leading Catholics. The radio was exclusively at the disposal of the government.
The Karl Liebknecht House, headquarters of the Communists, was raided. The Nazis announced that they had discovered, in underground catacombs and passages, plans for an imminent Communist revolution, which was to begin with the firing of public buildings. Immediately following this "revelation," the Reichstag fire broke out. The government announced that they had captured the chief criminal, that he had a Communist membership card on his person and papers showing him to be a Dutch citizen. He confessed, it was reported, and implicated not only German Communists but German Social Democrats.
The News drove the Nazi campaign to the pitch of frenzy. "What will Germany be without Hitler?" screamed the Nazi headlines. "A bonfire of incendiaries; a seething revolution!"
Hitler came away with 44% of the votes; 52% for the government coalition with the German Nationalists. But Hitler no longer needed the German Nationalists and Herr Von Papen. He promptly stuck all the Communist deputies he could lay his hands on into jail and threatened to arrest any others who would show up when the Reichstag met.
What was to have been a national front became a party dictatorship.
In a few days Hitler and his private army changed the whole form of political life in Germany. The Third Empire had been created. German particularism was dead.
What Hitler had done would be precisely paralleled if, after the last Democratic landside in the United States, President Roosevelt had forced, at the point of arms, the resignation of every state government with a Republican majority, on the ground that the nation had to have a unified policy.
And the Storm Troops of Hitler were in possession of the streets. (pg. 70)
Over the buildings, from balconies and windows, down every street, floated two flags - the black, white and red flag of the old regime; the black hooked cross in a white circle on a red ground of the third empire.
No whisper leaked out in the Berlin press of what was happening under the Third Empire. Hitler, still speaking night after night, talked of brotherly love and German unity to cheering masses. But his adjutant, Goering, master of Prussia's police, made no secrets of the government's intention to exterminate everyone who showed hostility to this regime. "I waste no sympathy over the eighty or hundred thousand traitors under arrest," he said in a speech - and the public learned for the first time the possible extent of the government's roundup.
No name and no fame is protection for people whose activities or whose attitude of mind cannot be harmonized with National Socialism. The roster of the men who have left Germany, or who, being abroad, fear to come back, reads like a German Who's Who...... The most brilliant of journalists, the most eminent of scientists - notably Einstein - all today are strangers to Germany. Even the Communists left Pavlov to perform his work in peace.
If Hitler's program is regarded not as a peace program but as a war program, then the whole curious hotchpotch suddenly makes sense. If one thinks of Germany, not as a relatively thriving industrial state in a world at peace, but as a country in a state of siege in world at war, then the Nazi program is perfectly understandable. Everything falls nicely into place.
Above all, the great masses of the people must be educated in the martial spirit. The Germans call it Wehrgeist. (pg. 71)
Germany is on the warpath. And Hitler's great victory does not mean that in this respect any fundamental change in German policy has taken place. The Hitler victory is a culmination of a tendency which has been clearly discernable ever since the death of Stresemann. For the past two years it has been impossible to get a conviction in any German court against persons guilty of illegal military activity.
Hitler's demand is "justice and freedom for Germany." Justice and freedom for Germany is, however, a vague phrase. Evidently it means more than no reparations, more than equality of treatment, more than the evacuation of foreign troops; for all these things were accomplished, in whole or in part, before Hitler came to power. It does not only mean the return of the colonies. Hitler himself has repeatedly stated that Germany's future does not lie in Africa but on the Continent of Europe. It means, to quote Hitler again, "that Germany shall have the place in Europe justified by her 65 millions of people and her industrial supremacy.
In the 65 millions he includes all the Germans now citizens of other states.
But what will win her that place? The return of the Polish Corridor? The return of the Silesian industrial areas? The Anschluss with an Austria which is also ripening into National Socialism? Between Germany and the achieving of these ends lies not only the Treaty of Versailles but a series of sovereign and highly armed states - Poland and Czechoslovakia, Jugo-Slavia and Rumania. (pg. 74)
Comments: As history shows, Poland and Czechoslovakia, Jugo-Slavia and Rumania, were all soon to be become part of the Third Empire, and their armies could not save them. Ms. Thompson was indeed correct when she saw that Germany was on the warpath. Hitler's political methods by which he gained enormous popularity with the majority of the German people are of especial interest, because we shall see that Franklin Roosevelt used similar methods to win the support of majority of the American people during this same period of history. Hitler was loved by millions, and so was Roosevelt. As a man named William Channing stated in his work entitled Remarks on the Life and Character of Napoleon Bonaparte (1827-28): "Nations have seemed to court aggression and bondage, by their stupid, insane admiration of successful tyrants;" and, "He saw that the time for usurpation had not yet come in France. To use his own language, the fruit was not yet ripe.'" The world depression made the fruit ripe for usurpation in many countries, including the United States, and a coup d'état was in progress at the time of this article.