Gareth Jones

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(Germany Under Hitler - Sixth Article)


Striking Similarities of Three Movements


I had not been many hours in Germany at the end of May before I felt that much of what I saw and heard was strangely familiar.  Where had I experienced before a similar atmosphere of idealism combined with fear, of unbounded hope on one side and of whispered despair on the other? 

Then I realised that it was in Soviet Russia and in Fascist Italy that the same atmosphere had encircled me.  When I added up in my mind the points of similarity between Berlin, Moscow and Rome I was astounded, for they clearly showed that the methods of the Nazis and of the Fascists are the same as those of the Bolsheviks, however much their aims may differ. 

The first point of contact was the idealism of many of the leaders. 

The Hitlerites expect a new heaven on earth, just as the Bolsheviks are convinced that they will build up in Russia a paradise.  This idealism has led to an admirable feeling of self-sacrifice, courage, and selflessness, and the Brown Shirt who in Germany is willing to lay down his life for his leader has his counterpart in the Russian Young Communist who will work twenty hours voluntarily for the sake of the Five Year Plan. 

The Dark Side 

But the idealism of the Nazis and of the Bolsheviks has its dark side of intolerance and their faith is that of the fanatic who, driven by deep emotion, keeps his mind completely closed to another point of view. 

You cannot argue with a Nazi, nor with a Bolshevik, any more than you could convince a fundamentalist believer in the Bible of the validity of Darwin’s theories. “Germany” ‘has become a religion for the followers of Hitler, in the same way as Communism has become a religion for Bolsheviks. 

The ‘Nazi Party has almost as complete control' of the State in Germany as the Bolsheviks have in Russia or the Fascists in Italy; and their method of keeping power is very similar to that of the Bolsheviks and the Fascists.  They have captured the whole life of the country; they have put Nazis in control of offices, of factories, of newspapers, of debating clubs, of boards of directors, of every little organisation.  Nazis have been made, Commissars of Bavaria, of Saxony, of Wurttemberg.  They have been put in the key positions in the police force.  Thus, within a few months, the Nazis have entrenched themselves in so skilful a manner that only a civil war could drive them out. 

Army of Secret Police 

To dig themselves still further in power the Nazis have formed a secret police of many thousand members, with rights of search which almost make them counterpart of the Soviet O.G.P.U.  As in Russia and Italy, letters are opened and there are house searchings for counter revolutionary propaganda and for weapons.  To British people this intrusion into the sanctity of the home seems preposterous but it must be remembered that for two or three years Germany has almost been on the verge of civil war and that Bolshevism was seriously feared. 

Not only the police but the law courts have come strongly under Nazi influence and justice can be said to have become- as in Soviet Russia-a weapon of politics

An incident in a South German town a few days ago illustrates this well.  A bank clerk did not hold out his hand for the Hitler salute as a crowd was singing the Nazi anthem, and for this he was seized by the police and put into gaol for seven days.  When he appealed against this imprisonment the court of justice condemned him for “serious misbehaviour” to another two days imprisonment and ordered him to pay the costs of the trial.  When a court of justice condemns a man to imprisonment for not giving the Hitler salute it can certainly be called a weapon of politics. 

The Arts Conscripted 

Justice is not, however the only weapon to be seized by the Nazis, for they have conquered almost every branch of national life. 

As in Soviet Russia and in Fascist Italy, art is to become a tool of the Government.  The theatre has been put under the guidance of Nazis, who are turning it into a propaganda machine for the Nazification of Germany.  The cinema is to be a weapon of the Government to make Germany into a Nazi paradise, and the result of this policy can already be seen in the nationalistic and military films which are now the vogue. 

Literature and painting are to be judged-as in Soviet Russia-on a political criterion, and already one notices a serious decline in the quality of literary criticism, for critics now review a play not according to its intrinsic value, but according to its Hitlerite orthodoxy. 

As in Soviet Russia and in Fascist Italy, the press is Government controlled and independent newspapers have been muzzled.  Still appearing under their old titles, these newspapers are but a ghost of their former selves and scarcely venture to breathe a word of’ criticism.  Liberty of expression has also vanished and the careful guarded way in which Germans now talk makes one think of Moscow or of Rome. 

Veiled Criticism 

The fear of criticising the régime has led in Germany to the same result as in Russia, namely a host of bitter, humorous anecdotes which are a form of veiled criticism.  Jews, for example, say: “A Jew can only become a solicitor nowadays, provided he fought and killed in the war. 

The Nazis have learned much from the Bolsheviks in their propaganda methods.  I had on this question a long conversation with Dr. Goebbels, the Propaganda Minister, who has the reputation of being the cleverest man in the Government, and he spoke with pride of Germany’s achievements in publicity.  The Germans, whose propaganda during the war had been so clumsy, had, in Dr Goebbels’ view, become the cleverest publicity men in the world and had out Americanised America in this respect.

The use of the cinema, of the stage, the staging, of vast demonstrations to arouse public enthusiasm, the booming of Nazi speeches through loud-speakers as one goes through the streets, the thousands of ‘gay’ flags - all these methods are similar to the propaganda methods of the Soviet Union. 

Even the worship of Hitler makes one think of the worship of Lenin in Russia and of Mussolini in Italy.  In each office his photo hangs, just as Lenin’s and Stalin’s adorn the Bolshevik office.  The cult of the leader is the feature of every dictatorship.  

Youth in the Saddle 

As in Fascist Italy and Soviet Russia, youth is in the saddle in Germany today, and that is one of the similarities which strike one who has been both to Russia and Germany.  

There are young men everywhere in responsible positions.  A young man whom I met and whom I thought had, on account of his youth, quite a minor position turned out to be the President of one of Germany’s most important provinces! 

The use of force is another feature which Germany has in common with the Soviet Union, and this leads to the disregard of the individual and to the worship of the State.  The State is to the Nazis and the Bolsheviks the God before whom all must bow and to whom individuals must offer up their most sacred rights. 

Difference In Aims 

However much the methods of the Nazis and the Bolsheviks may be similar, they differ profoundly in aims, for the Nazis believe in maintaining private property, whereas the Bolsheviks hold, private property to be the root cause of human ills.   Moreover, whereas the Bolsheviks were a minute minority in 1917, Hitler obtained more than 40. per cent. of the votes of the German people, and can say that he has the support of large masses of the population. 

One’s final impression on leaving Germany is that Hitler has achieved his dictatorship without civil war and with comparatively little bloodshed, and that the country is now remarkably calm. 

British visitors can go to Germany without any fears, and will be struck by the cleanliness, the: kindliness, and the hospitality of a great people, who, in spite of their nationalistic views, give a warm and pleasant welcome to British guests. 

The above article concludes a series of six by Mr. Gareth  Jones.








Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Germany.


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