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ES NEWS, Thursday June 8th 1933
Hitler - Fourth Article)
Worship of the Soldier Under the Nazi Regime
Hitler’s Policy “Towards the East"
By GARETH JONES
If you listen to
the wireless in Germany today, you will hear in the intervals four notes being
played time and again, and you find that it is the tune, “People to Arms!
People to Arms!” which is being drummed into the ears and the minds of
If you walk down
a main street or enter a café you will be surprised at the number of people
who have dug out their Iron Crosses from their store-places and now wear them
If you go to a
cinema there is a good chance of your seeing a film depicting U-boat heroes
setting forth to sink British vessels during the war or showing Frederick the
Great, King of Prussia, scattering his enemies in the eighteenth century.
Another film you may see lauds brave Austrian mountaineers who hurl tons of
rocks and stones from the hills upon the beads of Napoleonic invaders below.
If you go to a
theatre there is every likelihood of your seeing a row of French troops pointing
their rifles at a German officer condemned to death in 1923, and of your hearing
the German hero cry out, “Germany, awake!” before the French commander bids
him go on his knees and the rifles spit out fire at their victim.
officer, Schlageter, who was shot by the French ten years ago for blowing up a
bridge in the Ruhr, has become the symbol of Germany’s National Revolution,
and the play, based upon his life, which ends in his being shot as he bends on
his knees, rouses the most passionate of nationalist feelings in the young
Germans who see it, and makes them feel that they also would willingly lay down
their lives as soldiers in the national cause.
Urge for Army
The worship of
the soldier is again being implanted in the minds of young Germans, and no
nobler death is presented to them than death on the battlefield. There is
an urge, shared by almost all Germans, even by Socialists, to have a powerful
army again, and this reverence for an army is typically described by Hitler in
his autobiography when he writes: “What the German people owes to the Army can
be summed -up in one word, namely, Everything,”
The supremacy of
the military, the sight of thousands of uniforms, the drilling of the Brown
Shirts, the resounding marches the fiery military songs which mainly spring from
the victorious German War of Liberation against Napoleon, the cult of discipline
rather than of freedom, all these features have led British people to say:
“This is a mere return to pre-war Prussianism. It is the Kaiser back in
Nothing could be
further from the truth. In Germany a real revolution has set up a State
differing fundamentally from the Imperial Germany which went to its doom in
1918. Some points are, of course, similar, and the love of leadership and
the respect for the authority of the leading figure are reminiscent of the
Germany of the Kaiser; but the differences between the two systems are striking
and they are being brought to light by the quarrels between the Nazis and the
German Nationalists, who are the adherents of Imperialism and Monarchy.
How does the Nazi
régime differ from the old Prussianism of pre-war days? It is above all a
revolutionary régime depending mainly on youth, whereas the pre-war régime was
an old man’s régime, where the colonel of sixty years of age was respected
for his age and rank rather than for his brains, and where young people had
little chance of promotion on account of the prevailing respect for years.
To-day youth is
in the saddle and the older men are in the background. Typical of this is the
way in which Hitler, who is in the forties, has put the octogenarian Hindenburg
completely in the shade.
revolutionary régime is bitterly opposed to the class differences of pre-war
Germany, where peasants and nobles, workers and industrialists, soldier and
Royal families built up the pyramid of a semi-feudal State.
The Nazis-in a
rather vague way appeal for the abolition of class differences and the breaking
down of the barriers of snobbishness. Their slogan is “the spirit of the
front-line trenches,” where they claim the differences between officers and
men made place for a comradeship based on patriotism. Thus, in the Brown
Shirt Army the sons of the Kaiser are in principle on the same footing as the
raw peasant recruit.
Over the Monarchy
the Nazis have a quarrel with the German Nationalists, and thus are poles apart
from pre-war Prussianism. The Steel Helmets (the army of the Nationalists)
wish to bring in the Monarchy, but Hitler says that that question is not of
importance at the minute and would rather let sleeping dogs lie. The truth
is that in the ranks of the Nazis there is great antagonism to Monarchy and
certainly no love for the “old man of Doom.”
Even in the
treatment of the Jews Hitler differs from the Kaiser, for Wilhelm II. was a
friend of Jews and made use of their brains for the benefit of Germany.
The supporters of the pre-war policy, the German Nationalists, are opposed to
Hitler’s persecution of the Jews and believe that it is doing immense harm to
Germany. Two German Nationalists with whom I traveled on a short journey
pointed out to me: “It was a disgrace to have dismissed Einstein and some of
the greatest Jewish doctors whose discoveries have saved thousands of lives.”
Even in foreign
policy Hitler has entirely opposite aims from the Kaiser. The Kaiser said
“Our future lies on the water.” Hitler proclaims: “Our future lies
in the East of Europe.” The Kaiser’s policy was a’ world policy and
aimed at the extension of colonies, of export trade, of international banking,
and at domination of the high seas.
Hitler aims at
the very reverse. He does not want to extend Germany’s power throughout
the world, does not want a large Atlantic Navy, which would immediately
antagonise England, neither does he want a large export trade.
He wants Germany
to be a self-contained State extending towards the East at the expense’ of
Poland. He wishes to make Germany as independent of the world as possible.
Towards the East!
That is his policy, and to carry out that policy, which means in the long run a
war with Poland, he is determined to have~ a powerful army, a strong air force,
and a modern Baltic fleet. Germany must expand and carry out the policy of
conquering Eastern Europe, which was the Prussian policy of six centuries ago.
Hitler now desires peace, there is in the combination of his Eastern
expansionist policy with his militarist training of youth, a profound danger to
the peace of Europe in years to come.
In home policy
Hitler is a great contrast to the Kaiser. Under the Kaiser Bavaria,
Saxony, and the other parts of the Empire were kingdoms or duchies, enjoying
considerable independence. But Germans always longed for unity and looked
with envious eyes upon Britain, which had been a united nation for centuries.
through the National Revolution welded Germany into a unified structure and put
an end to the measure of Home Rule enjoyed by the various States of Germany.
A Saxon said to me:
He has made Germany one; and at last I can really say that I am a German first
and foremost and not a Saxon.”
difference between Hitler’s policy and the Kaiser’s policy lies, however, in
the attitude of the Nazis towards capitalism. It is here that the most
striking developments can be expected, for the Nazi party is by no means united
on economic lines.
There is the
national wing and there is also a wing which wants to go rapidly towards
Socialism. Will there be a quarrel between the two wings? Will the
Nazis take openly anti-capitalistic measures?
questions which can only be answered in the future, but already observers scent
signs of National Bolshevism in Germany.
Nazi cells have
been set up in every factory and every office, and many of these cells have made
their influence felt over the management and interfered with production.
Will these cells
take over production? And will Germany thus become a National Bolshevist
State? One cannot yet say, but the formation of party cells and their
interference in economic life are already mother proof of the gulf which
separates the Germany of Hitler from the Germany of the Kaiser.