Gareth Jones

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Herr Hitler’s Breakaway

- As the German Sees It

Storm That has been Brewing for 14 years 


The storm which broke on Saturday, when Germany left the League of Nations, has been brewing for fourteen years. 

Let us try to put ourselves in the place of an average German and interpret his feelings.  Ever since the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 stamped the Germans as a pariah race they have nurtured feelings of deep humiliation.  They have stored in their memories every little insult to their nation, every attack on their honour, every slight upon their good name, until their supersensitiveness has produced the haughty, clumsy declaration breaking the bonds between them and the Western world.  Germans writhe when they think of their history since 1919. 


There was first the War Guilt Clause.  Nothing arouses the passion of the German so violently as to be accused of the sole guilt in the war.  The Germans consider that: the Great War was one of defence by a Germany encircled by powerful enemies; and to be branded as a criminal before the whole world dealt blow to the German’s pride which rankles more to-day than ever.  For the gesture against world co operation by Germany on Saturday the accusation of War Guilt bears no little responsibility.  But that was not all.  Troops poured into the Rhineland and the sacred river of Germany’s legend and song resounded to the bugles and the tramp of the enemy.  Imagine how the Germans felt when black troops marched through their country lanes and peaceful villages. 

I remember how the eyes of patriotic Rhinelanders blazed with fury when they told of negroes insulting their Countrymen.  In the inns of the Rhineland tonight vile stories of black troops will be repeated and Hitler will be praised for having cut adrift from politicians who allowed such insults to Germany to remain unavenged. 

By the presence of foreign troops each German felt his own prestige lowered; but still greater was the humiliation of those Germans who had been placed under the rule of nations which they despised.  Millions were made into Polish or Czech subjects, and they prayed for the day when revenge would come. 


Last Saturday brought revenge, foolish, childish, unthinking, but a revenge which-few Germans will regret.  The blow to the League which it entails will raise many a contented cheer in Germany, where the League has always been mistrusted and hated. 

In 1919 Germany was considered too despicable a nation to become a member, and it was only after many rebuffs that she was allowed to enter in 1928.  The feelings of a German can well be summed up in the words, “You did not think us worthy of joining your League in 1919.  Very well, in 1933 we rejoice in being able to smash that pro-French weapon of oppression,” 

The League of Nations is synonymous in the German mind with surrender, compromise, and disgrace.

Above all, however, the failure of the League of Nations to further disarmament is the main cause for Germany’s outburst.  Germany feels fooled by the promise of the Allies at Versailles to disarm and resents the position of inferiority to which she is condemned by her inequality in armaments. 


It is more than national resentment, however, which has caused Herr Hitler to break away from the League of Nations.  The personal reasons were very powerful, as they always are in great political decisions.  Hitler will never forgive the Assembly of the League for the magnificent applause which greeted his enemy Dollfuss, nor will Dr. Goebbels forget the cold shoulders which showed him clearly how Hitlerism is hated.  And it was in Geneva that Mr. Ormsby-Gore gave one of the most resounding slaps in the face which Hitler has ever had in a speech condemning the persecution of the Jews. 

However great may be these external reasons, the most important is probably the internal situation of Germany.  Hitler has brought excitement, brown shirts, banners, bands, processions, but he has not brought bread. 

He claims, wonderful success in fighting unemployment, but his statistics are as phantomlike as those of Soviet Russia.  The suffering and hunger in Germany are intense and the spectre of disillusionment is shaking an icy finger at the Chancellor. 

He needs some triumph, some circus, to maintain his popularity.  The Reichstag Trial has failed to do this.  He, therefore, stages what be imagines will be a dramatic foreign victory to keep minds of his desperate people from their empty cupboards and their tattered clothes. 


Will this gesture of scorn in the face of Europe lead to war?  I do not think so. Germany, isolated, still torn by internal dissensions, could never risk an attack.  All her former friends, Italy, Russia, Austria, are deserting her and she stands a lonely, tragic figure, hysterically defying the powerful steel claws of France, Czechoslovakia, and Poland.  The more she defies, the tighter the claws gather round her and the lonelier she becomes. 

By leaving Geneva she has formed another League of Nations, the league of all nations determined and united to prevent her from re-arming. 








Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Germany.


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