Friday, April 21, 2006
June 5th 1933 ----
GERMANY UNDER THE RULE OF HITLER
DEATH BLOW TO DEMOCRACY
By GARETH JONES
REVOLUTION WHICH SPRANG FROM POVERTY
The Brown Shirts are now masters of Germany. Every day in Berlin they march through streets bedecked with red, black, and white Nazi flags to the sound of those military marches which are rousing young Germany to a passionate militant love of their Fatherland. Eager crowds line the streets for each parade and, stretching out their right hands, call with ecstatic enthusiasm, “Heil, Hitler!”
The leader of the National-Sosialists (to give the full name for Nazi), Adolf Hitler, who flies one day to inspect the fleet at Kiel and next day to speak, perhaps, at Munich, commands among millions of people a feeling which can only be described as that of religious worship.
I have for my leader;” said one leading Nazi to me, “a love which is as deep as my love for my country, and I have in him a faith than which no faith, even faith in religion, could be deeper. Hitler can never be wrong, and his orders I shall carry out to the death.”
Imbued with such devotion to Hitler, the Nazi Brown Shirts have, under his command, carried out a revolution which can be ranked with the Bolshevik and the Fascist Revolutions.
The German National Revolution, although possessing a far narrower economic and philosophical foundation than that brought about by Lenin, has certainly been more rapid than its Russian counterpart. The Brown Shirts in three months have been able to gain power and dig themselves well in without the ravages of a civil war and without the delay of several years, which elapsed in Italy before Mussolini took over full power. The lightning pace of the National-Socialist triumph makes the French Revolution appear almost like prolonged slow motion.
DEATH-BLOW TO DEMOCRACY
What have the Brown Shirts done since Hitler became Chancellor on January 30?
They have dealt a deathblow to democracy in Germany, and have made Parliament into a despised relic of the past.
They have put one party, and one party only, into control, and that is the National-Socialist party, which has become as all-powerful as the Communists in Russia and the Fascists in Italy. The Nazis (pronounced Natsi-s) have put themselves into the position of leaders in the universities, in all committees, in factories, on boards of directors, in schools, in public offices. Most positions of trust are now held by members of the party.
They have started a ruthless campaign against the Jews, whom they have deprived of rights, whom they have persecuted both economically and morally, and whom they have treated as if they were “inferior men,” as they call them. Distinguished scholars and great men, whom we in Britain would be honoured to consider as our citizens, are not allowed to enrich German scholarship or law courts or hospitals.
They have abolished two powerful parties, the Social Democrats, who numbered about 8,000,000 voters and the Communists, who numbered almost 6,000,000, and have seized their funds, the private property of those parties.
They have imprisoned many tens of thousands of men and women for their political views, and hold them now captive in prisons and concentration camps.
They have swept away the liberty of the press, and they come down with a heavy hand upon any editor who dares criticise the leader or his policy.
They have created a secret police, which will make still more nebulous any freedom of expression which may remain.
A DREAM COMES TRUE
In the space of a few weeks they have made the old Bavarian, the old Saxony, and all the various States which formed Germany a thing of the past, and the scattered, straggling Germany of yesterday has now become a centralised, unified nation. The dream of generations- namely, a united Germany, where men would not be Saxons or Bavarians or Wurttembergers, but real Germans has in a flash come true.
They have attempted a moral cleansing of life in the big towns and have courageously attacked social evils.
They have revealed and condemned much corruption in public life and have placed before public servants a high ideal of service for the nation’s sake and not for private gain.
They have re-organised education on lines of narrow nationalism and intolerance. They have had midnight bonfires of some of Germany’s most valuable Socialistic books.
Such have been the main lines of the national revolution. The Nazis’ actions combine a powerful idealism with a mediæval intolerance and unselfish devotion to an aim and a leader with a brutal disregard of justice and fairplay to the individual. Liberal-minded people have been shocked by the similarity which Nazi decrees have with former reactionary measures, and the treatment of the Jews has caused a revulsion of feeling which is shared by millions of Germans within the borders of Germany.
CAUSE OF THE REVOLUTION
Why has Germany suddenly become so ruthless, so nationalistic, and so thorough in sweeping away the democratic Republic formed after her defeat in 1918?
The revolution is, firstly, the revolt of young Germany against years of unemployment, against the boredom of walking the streets without work, against a meagre unemployment benefit, which is, as one man put it, “enough to breathe on, but not enough to live on.” Young Germans learned to hate capitalism and to long for a new system where things would be different. A young worker who only received 4s. 6d. per week was not likely to be fond of the system under which existed, and he longed for any programme which offered hope. Most young workers streamed into the Communist camp, while the unemployed who had middle-class connections usually became Nazi storm troops.
Even when Germany enjoyed a period of sham prosperity on borrowed money, from 1925 to 1929, there were a steady million or two out of work, but when the cloud of depression broke over the world the figure sprang upwards with a speed which terrified politician and workman alike, and reached six millions. Many families had not enough bread, and the fathers and mothers blamed the system under which their children went hungry. Revolutionaries grew in number until most of Germany became revolutionary. At one time the future seemed like a race. Which would win-Bolshevism or Fascism?
SAVINGS MELT AWAY
Not only the working class, but the middle class was impoverished. In 1923 the savings of the whole country melted away in a few months, when the mark became of infinitesimal value. In 1923 one could buy for a £, millions of marks and later even billions. I remember travelling in that year from Saxony to South Poland, a distance of 350 miles. For 1,750,000 marks, which was equivalent to 1s. 10½d., I obtained a first-class ticket, and I paid the equivalent of fivepence for a five course meal on the train. This inflation a meant the disappearance of the savings of millions of families, and the, ruin of the middle class has been the most fertile breeding ground of the national revolution.
On the surface in Germany the streets still look prosperous. Men and women look well dressed, for the Germans have a pride of appearance and a regard for cleanliness which fill one with admiration. But beneath a spotless suit of clothes and a white collar there is often abject poverty crying out for retribution.
This poverty is one of the forces which has made Hitler the dictator of Germany.