Gareth Jones

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“Priest surrounded by Greek Chorus” 

People’s Weakening Faith


By Gareth Jones
MUNICH. Friday

A CRUEL, fleshy fist, ever moving, ever threatening fascinates me and I can hardly take my eyes away from it.

Sometimes clenched with the strength of a powerful man it shakes back and fro in a gesture of warning, sometimes it crashes down as if ascending ruthlessly upon a victim. It is a fist with personality, but a brutal, a nailed fist.  It is the fist of Goering. 

He stands elevated on a stage a few yards away from me before a mass of Brownshirts, of Hitler youths, and of German middle-class citizens.  He is the centre of the most magnificently staged drama I have seen. 

Behind him rise the lofty pillars of a classic temple, from which the red, black and white swastika banners are flowing.  Illuminated so that the red brilliance of the Nazi colour may stand out against the blackness of the sky and crowned with a dazzling swastika electric sign, this temple looks over a grassy square now filled with National-Socialists, who read between the centre pillars the slogan, “With Adolf Hitler for Germany.”        

Missing Faces 

Not long ago this crowd was waiting for Goering in the darkness.  Then, with a suddenness which made one’s eyes blink, searchlights flashed, a military band blared out a Nazi march and hundreds upon hundreds of banners were seen approaching from the distance down the avenue towards the temple.

The Storm Troopers, with their leaders, marched past. 

Thinking of the shootings of Roehm and his associates, I whispered to my neighbour: “There are some faces missing since your last Munich meeting.”  He replied: “They are unwept, unhonoured, and unsung.” 

There was silence for a few minutes while the crowd waited.  Then a faint cheer came, and rapidly down the avenue drove a car, with a fat man in a brown uniform standing up and giving the Fascist salute.  Goering had arrived to speak in the campaign for Hitler’s election on Sunday. 

Grim Expression 

The crowd stood with outstretched arms—I must have been the only one in that vast multitude whose right arm remained obstinately unraised. 

Like a priest surrounded by the chorus in Greek play, Goering stood motionless beneath the Ionic columns of the temple, while the Storm Troop flag bearers carried their brilliant banners with the silver crests glittering beneath the searchlights. 

His features, rendered hard by his high cheekbones and by the grim expression of his mouth, were deepened by the light which shone down upon him. 

His musical voice boomed out a greeting to the German people.  It had a touch of rich harmony about it, but soon I felt a note of hardness.

He had not spoken long before there rang out in those clipped tones of the German officer a jarring sound of, cruelty, impatience, and intolerance, which contrasted with the studied harmony and pleasing volume of the opening sentences. 

Hitler’s Influence 

The influence of Hitler upon his manner of speaking was striking, and my thoughts went to those Welsh members of Parliament whose voice and gestures are modeled upon, Mr. Lloyd George. 

There was in some high points of Goering’s speech the same note of hysteria and unbridled passion which I had heard in Hitler’s speeches, a note which inspires one with fear that the speaker will suddenly break down or lose absolute control of his mental powers. 

But that Goering is a tragic actor of the first rank there can be no doubt. 

Beyond the studied acquirements of a crystal-clear enunciation he has an instinctive knowledge of the place of light and shade in oratory and of the need of irony to follow a tragic or emotional passage. 

“Ghosts of Vanished Leaders” 

Ironic scorn about the lies of the world press followed a crescendo movement, which culminated in the shrieking claim: The German people have become the freest people of the world.  That freedom has come through Adolf Hitler. 

“Adolf Hitler” filled the speech, which was one long panegyric of the Leader, and one long demand that every man and woman should vote on August 19. 

But with all his gifts of oratory, with all the passion which had filled his purple patches, and with all his triumphs of stage management, Goering must have left the meeting a slightly saddened man. 

Where was the enthusiasm which filled the assembly 18 months ago?  Where was the spirit of religious fervour which once sent a shiver through the limbs and hearts of Germans.  And those dark shadows in the trees yonder.  Were they, perhaps, the ghosts of vanished Storm Troop leaders who not long ago had stood on that same temple, side by side with Goering, but whose ashes are now in some nearby graveyard. 

Forced to Listen-in 

Yes, they were lacking the old keenness which had impressed me so deeply in the first fine careless raptures of Hitler’s revolution. 

They are lacking in this whole election campaign by which Hitler will on Sunday be elected Leader, of the German people. 

Indifference is the keynote of the week. 

Families are forced to listen in to the speeches which are pouring through the wireless like an unceasing flood.  In many houses the caretaker visits each flat to inquire who listened in and who was out, and whether the person, who was out listened in or not! 

What the fate of the caretaker would be in a British house if he so dared to trespass upon the freedom of the citizen I hardly like to imagine. 

Damped Enthusiasm 

“Why waste the money on an election when there can be no other result than a victory for the one and only candidate?” critical men are asking, but in spite of their criticisms they will all go to the ballot-box on Sunday, for to vote is obligatory.  Many millions will go with enthusiasm, it is true, but it is a damped enthusiasm. 

I myself will on Sunday and on many days in the future be thinking not so much of the ballot-box and of the vote to be counted by 100 per cent. National Socialists but of something far more powerful—that iron fist of Goering which I saw clenched and threatening as the lights shone down upon it in temple at Munich. 








Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Germany.


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