“I am deeply stirred by the word which Ulrich Hutten wrote the last time he seized his pen: — Germany.”
January 30th, 1937
The Case for Germany
A Study of Modern Germany
A. P. Laurie
M. A. Cantab., D. Sc., LL. D. Edin., F. C. S., F. R. S. E.
With a Preface by Admiral Sir Barry Domvile
K. B. E., C. B., C. M. G.
Berlin W 15
FIRST EDITION ………… JUNE 1939
SECOND EDITION ……. JULY 1939
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
PRINTED IN GERMANY
It is with admiration and gratitude for the great work he has done for the German people that I dedicate this book to the Fuhrer.
A. P. L.
TO THE READER
There are two sides to every question. You have read one side in our Press for six years.
This book gives the other side.
A. P. L.
It is a great pleasure to me to introduce the public to Dr. Laurie’s valuable book on modern Germany. He is best known to the world as a brilliant scientist, but he has found time in the intervals of his work to pursue with ardour the task upon which every sensible member of the British and German races should be engaged — namely the establishment of good relations and a better understanding between these two great nations.
Dr Laurie knows full well that this friendship is the keystone to peace in Europe — nay, in the whole world.
He is one of the small group who founded the Association known as “The Link”, whose sole aim is to get Britons and Germans to know and understand one another better. He is one of the most zealous workers in this good cause in the country.
He writes of the National Socialist movement with knowledge and great sympathy.
The particular value of this book lies in the fact that it is written by a foreigner, who cannot be accused of patriotic excess in his interpretation of the great work done by Herr Hitler and his associates. I recommend this volume with confidence to all people who are genuinely impressed with the desire to understand one of the greatest — and most bloodless — revolutions in history.
8th May 1939.
“As we advance in our social knowledge, we shall endeavour to make our governments paternal as well as judicial; that is, to establish such laws and authorities as may at once direct us in our occupations, protect us against our follies, and visit us in our distresses; a government which shall repress dishonesty, as now it punishes theft; which shall show how the discipline of the masses may be brought to aid the toils of peace, as the discipline of the masses has hitherto knit the sinews of battle; a government which shall have its soldiers of the ploughshare as well as its soldiers of the sword, and which shall distribute more proudly its golden crosses of industry — golden as the glow of the harvest — than it now grants its bronze crosses of honour — bronzed with the crimson of blood.”
RUSKIN. Political Economy of Art.
“All front fighters fought side by side and went through an inferno. They are all comparable to the heroes of the ancient world. It was the manhood of the nations in their prime who fought and experienced the horrors of modern war.
In another war the flower of the nations’ men and women will have to fight. Europe will be destroyed if the best in all of the nations are wiped out. A new conflict will exceed even the ghastly tragedies of the Great War.
I believe that those who rattle the sabres have not participated in war. I know that war veterans speak and think differently.
They energetically desire to prevent another conflict. I hope that the men who are standing before me can contribute to preserve the peace of the world — a peace of honour and equality for all.
Let us not talk of prestige as between the victors and the defeated. This is my one request: Forget what has divided the nations before and remember that history has advanced.”
Field Marshal GOERING addressing the British
and German war veterans.
CHAPTER ……………………………………………………………. PAGE
To the Reader
Field Marshall Goering’s Address
I. DER FUHRER ……………………………………………………….. 11
II. THE BELEAGUERED CITY ……………………………………. 21
III. NATIONAL SOCIALISM ……………………………………… 25
IV. THE NAZI RALLYS AT NUREMBERG ……………………. 34
V. THE FOREIGN POLICY OF GERMANY ……………………. 41
VI. ENGLAND AND GERMANY ………………………………….. 49
VII. MARCH 7th, A MOST IMPORTANT DATE …………… 54
VIII. THE REAL ENEMY OF EUROPE ……………………….. 58
IX. COMMUNISM VERSUS NATIONAL SOCIALISM …… 62
X. THE UNION OF THE GERMAN PEOPLE …………………. 68
XI. ACTS OF “AGGRESSION” BY GERMANY ……………… 79
XII. THE DANCE OF DEATH ……………………………………… 85
XIII. OUR FUTURE POLICY TOWARDS GERMANY ……. 93
XIV. THE HITLER YOUTH MOVEMENT ……………………… 100
XV. THE WINTER HELP ORGANIZATION ………………….. 104
XVI. NATIONAL SOCIALISM AND THE PROTESTANT
CHURCH ……………………………………………………………………… 109
XVII. ECONOMICS …………………………………………………….. 118
XVIII. THE FOUR YEARS PLAN …………………………………… 138
XIX. THE GERMAN COLONIES …………………………………. 141
XX. THE LABOUR FRONT ………………………………………….. 146
XXI. AGRICULTURE …………………………………………………. 155
XXII. MUNICH AND AFTER ………………………………………… 167
Before describing National Socialism, it is necessary to discuss the ideas that inspired the political systems of the 19th century, which saw the rapid spread of democratic forms of government originating from the writers of the 18th century. Brought up from childhood in the belief that Democracy was the last word in perfect government I may be allowed to criticize it in my old age.
The stress of the war and the aftermath of war has led not only to the flight of Kings but the collapse of Parliaments and the rise to power of rulers from the people. Dictators govern or non-parliamentary regimes exist in Turkey, Russia, Poland, Germany, Italy and Spain, dictators who have risen to power by the sheer necessity of the situation. The average man, peasant or workman, is not interested in theories of Government. All he asks is law and order and a reasonable modicum of honesty and efficiency. The failure to obtain this minimum has resulted in the rise of Dictators, to replace anarchy and revolution by law and order.
The Government of our country, which has grown up through the centuries and like a patched old coat sits comfortably on the shoulders of John Bull, is not to be taken as a typical example of Democratic Government. Artificially created Democracies are very different.
A Democratic Government gives every adult citizen a vote for the election of a member of Parliament and from among the members of Parliament the Government of the day is chosen.
He therefore has a part in the Government and the utmost freedom of opinion is necessarily allowed so that the elector can decide what he wants and vote accordingly.
The defect in Democracy is that while it gives the individual citizen certain powers and privileges it asks nothing from him in return for the benefit of the community. In fact the community has no organized conscious national life. The voter having recorded his vote has no further duties to the State than to keep the law and avoid the police. It is true the citizen may be called upon by the State to fight as a soldier, but in time of peace nothing is asked of him. Parliament may pass laws for the common good but they are administered by State officials. The only organized life with an ethical idea of service is centred round the Churches or voluntary organizations. The Democratic State having given the utmost tolerance to freedom of opinion leaves the citizen to act as best he can for his own aggrandisement. The State consists of separate disconnected units and is not a living organism. It has made a God of Intellect but left out Ethics. It is notorious that in continental Parliaments each Party is willing to sacrifice the common good to its own advancement, and that they are incompetent and apt to become corrupt.
We have been saved from these defects because centuries of tradition have planted in us certain instincts which cause us to regard the body politic as a whole and to pull together in times of crisis in defence of the Nation; but that does not necessarily happen in artificial Democracies.
Our constitution is so complex, with a Monarchy, with a House of Lords, with traditions and customs derived from the past, and with all kinds of influences flowing into the national life, that it cannot be compared with any other Democracy.
We have above all traditions of service which come from the Aristocracy and landed classes of this country who, though deprived of power and to a great extent of wealth, still occupy the front pages as news, because of what they stood for in the past, and still in many instances stand for to-day. It is true the new rich and the more frivolous members of the Aristocracy have lowered the standard, but the best of the old families continue quietly their social duties. I can admire an old family who, like the Cecils, through generations have preserved a standard of public service, but I cannot admire a successful soap boiler.
To them we owe the fact that our public schools still carry on that ideal of service — though never expressed — to the State National Socialism and the Empire, and the ruling classes trained in them still keep control of the government. It is not without interest that just as our public schools with their system of monitors and heads of games and houses are training boys to rule in the best sense of the word, so Hitler has found the need for the same idea in Germany and through the Hitler Youth Organisation is giving that training which is so essential and which has always been absent from the German schools.
The Established Church has also kept up a tradition of Christian conduct, and the Society of Friends has always set a high standard of public service. I remember visiting a linen mill at Belfast many years ago and being horrified to see the girls at the machines in a room full of steam, soaked to the waist, and with no opportunity of changing before going home in the bitter cold outside. I asked: “Are all your mills like this?” “All but one”, was the reply, “but”, with a shrug of the shoulders, “that belongs to a Quaker”.
We can call our constitution a Democracy if we like, but it is modified by traditions drawn from the past which make it workable. All these traditions of national life are necessarily absent in Germany, because of her history, and have to be created.
We have another advantage owing to the fact that a stable though changing form of Government has existed so long in this country. Like pebbles in a stream, we have rubbed together until we are rounded and trained in toleration and moderation.
It was the absence of any idea of the State as an organized whole that led the thinkers of the 18th and early 19th century to try to plan a State in which the individual served the community. If by Socialism we mean the idea of the State as an organic whole to which the individual members must render service, it is as old as Plato’s Republic, and certain early writers on Socialism, and Hegel in his Political Philosophy, developed this conception.
Democracy combined with the false interpretation of the Economics of Adam Smith into a rule of conduct, had reduced the people of this country to such a condition by the middle of the 19th century that if the State had not interfered by legislation, we would have committed race suicide!
Unfortunately for the advance of civilized communities Karl Marx, by means of an unsound economic theory, side-tracked the Socialist movement from its purpose of remodelling the whole State, into a class war by which the Proletariat was to seize all the means of production and eliminate the middle class. The movement towards a true Socialistic development of the State which we owe to Ruskin, Owen, Kinglery, and Disraeli, was directed into a class war which has produced red revolution in Russia and been barren of any productive results in this country. Social legislation has been passed by both the Conservative and Liberal parties, but since a separate Labour Party was formed, though twice in office, they have produced no results, the last progressive piece of legislation — the Housing and Unemployment Acts — having been passed by the Coalition Government under Lloyd George. The attempts to create a class party and a class war in this country have proved a failure.
The people of this country, tired of political strife, have now twice returned by large majorities a Coalition Government, not because they necessarily admire its capacity or efficiency but because they are determined not to trust the country or the Empire to those who lead the Labour Party and still mumble the ideas derived from Karl Marx. The Bovril of Communism mixed with luke warm water does not attract the majority of voters. The complaint is made that the youth of the country takes no interest in politics. They have too much sense.
The time has come when we must return to Plato and the conception of the State as an organic whole to which each citizen must give service, and the sacrifice of individual interests for the common good. We must remember that we profess Christianity and that the principles governing the relations of the individual to his fellows have been laid down for all time in the Gospels, and given us the right ideals on which to found a living organic State. This does not mean that we have to deny Democracy, but on the contrary endow Democracy with an ethical principle. We are not wanting as a community in ethical instincts and desire to benefit our fellow creatures, but the whole needs co-ordinating as a conscious ethic guiding the Government and the individual. Without such an ethic, Democracy demoralizes the politician and the Press.
We need therefore to return to a genuine Socialism, that is, the conception of the State as an organic living entity demanding service and sacrifice of individual gain from its members, and ending class war and spoliation.
There are times in history when a great leader arises and sweeping aside all forms of Government establishes a personal rule. Such a crisis had arisen in Germany, and Hitler has become a great leader, but the main interest to the student is not his personal rule but the ideal of a State which he has evolved and is working out in Germany.
He is the product of all those, from Plato onwards, who have imagined the State as an organic whole consciously guided by an ethical principle and calling on its individual members to play their part each in his place in helping forward the ethical idea by which the State is guided. His originality lies in converting these abstract ideas into a living principle of life by substituting for the abstraction the State, the living reality — the German Nation.
The sufferings of the German people have made them ardent Nationalists. The Fatherland, crushed and trampled on by the Nations of Europe, suffering every humiliation, has become to the German people the one object of their devotion. The love of the Reich has become a living and consuming flame. Hitler has seized upon that and directed it to an ethical aim. If we wish to appeal to youth we must ask them for service and if need be sacrifice. Only in that way can we utilize their ethical inspiration, and so he has appealed to the youth of Germany. He will accept no class division; he will stamp out all class war. No man can ask more than to be a citizen of the German Nation, and it is as a member of the body corporate that Hitler addresses his appeal to him.
He has fused all parties together to cast them in a new mould. He has accepted the economic system of Germany as he found it, though he is modifying it in many ways by the action of the State, and while he has carried out many sound reforms profoundly modifying conditions in Germany, these are merely the outward and visible sign. He is aiming at a change of heart, a new ideal of action, a conversion of the German people, without which external machinery is of little use. Doubtless many of the experiments will fail and fresh plans be worked out, but as long as the ethical idea is there, reforms are easy which here would be difficult.
It must be remembered that the Continental Trades Unions are very different to ours, being almost entirely in the hands of political agitators. Obviously the existence of Trades Unions whose leaders were paid to promote class war, was intolerable to the Nazi idea, and Hitler substituted the organization called the Labour Front, with committees of masters and men elected by secret ballot, and State officials who act as overseers and have the last word. Most elaborate labour laws have been passed guarding the workman in every kind of way, and while wages are low the conditions of life are very much improved. Not only are full wages paid during all holidays but the “Strength through Joy” organization has brought to every workman the opportunity of attending concerts and theatres and of cheap holiday travel including sea voyages and visits to foreign countries. Two special 25,000 ton ships have been built and four others chartered for this purpose, and hiking hostels are provided everywhere.
Housing is being carried out on an enormous scale, both in town and country, and factories are not only being made sanitary but pleasant to work in with the provision of dining rooms and bathing facilities. There is still much distress in big cities and the most complete and remarkable voluntary association has been created to deal with this problem, while the “one pot meal” every month during winter has helped to provide funds. It may be truthfully said that in Berlin last winter no person went without sufficient food and clothing and enough coal to keep one fire burning. The Nazi organization puts at the service of the State a million and a half willing voluntary workers.
Hitler has said that a healthy State is built on the peasant, and Germany has over half a million peasant families cultivating their own land. Our peasants alas are landless. He has made the house and land the possession of the family for all time descending from father to son, and has made it illegal to mortgage the house and farm. Any destitute member of the family has the right to food and shelter in the ancestral home.
Prices are fixed and the State organizes distribution. Good food is cheap and plentiful in Germany, yet the peasant is doing well. The middle man is retained for distribution but can no longer rig the market and ruin the farmer with low prices, and plunder the consumer.
The only way the traveller can judge internal prices is by what he pays in restaurants. Two of us made an excellent meal on roast venison with cranberry sauce, Swiss cheese, butter, brown bread and beer for a total of three and a half marks in Nuremberg.
When Hitler first got control there were six million unemployed in Germany. To-day there is a shortage of workmen, and Italian, Dutch and Polish workmen are being brought in. Those for whom work could not be found during the first years were employed in road making, land reclamation and similar tasks. They had to move from place to place and so live in camp, and were necessarily under discipline to ensure order and train them to a form of labour which was new to many of them. Our plan of paying men the dole and allowing them to loaf in idleness is utterly abhorrent to the German mind. The employment of the unemployed on public works in this country was destroyed by the Trades Unions demanding standard rates of wages for unskilled labour. The cost was prohibitive. Clothed, fed and housed, and his family looked after, the German unemployed are glad to work. This has been described by our Labour Party as slave labour. No one would be more astonished than the German unemployed at such a description.
I shall deal in more detail with parts of this social re-organization in subsequent chapters, but I have said enough to show the general lines. They will make mistakes; but the team spirit is there and the determination to succeed. Our Policy under the false application of the teaching of Adam Smith was in the 19th century to put economic gain first. Hitler’s policy has been to put the well being of the people first, to consider the race not the multiplication of goods. He has been rewarded by success in the field of economics.
Nothing has caused more criticism of the German revolution than their handling of the Jewish question. I do not propose to defend it, but give certain explanations which are worthy of consideration. It is perhaps unnecessary to say that the whole business has been grossly exaggerated and active imaginations have been at work inventing unspeakable horrors. During the early days of the revolution brutalities were committed on both sides, many of Hitler’s followers being shot down by Communists, and rightly or wrongly they hold in Germany that Communism is a Jewish revolutionary movement.
The hatred of the Jew on the continent is not confined to Germany. The anti-Jewish pogroms that have taken place in Poland were so dreadful that the Polish Government did not allow any news of them to leave the country, and there can be no doubt that Hitler, by bringing the whole matter under law and regulation, saved the Jews from massacre. It is difficult for us to understand this bitter hatred. We find the Jew a law abiding, hard-working citizen, and have no complaint to make. It is doubtless true of the Jew as of all human beings, that good treatment makes a good citizen and bad treatment a bad citizen.
The only law passed by the Government dealing with the Jewish question, when Hitler came into power, was the Nuremberg Law dealing with marriage. There are to-day some 500,000 Jews in Germany but they are excluded from many professions and Government service. On the other hand they have their own cultural society, theatres and concerts and are protected from ill treatment by the Police.
Mixed up with this Jewish question is the racial question. The Nordic peoples differ from the Latin peoples in guarding jealously the purity of the blood. We have never in this country objected to intermixed marriages with Jews, but an officer in the army in India who marries a Hindu girl would have to resign his commission, while in the U.S.A. and South Africa etc., the slightest taint of negro blood means social ostracism.
In dealing with this difficult question I merely wish to point out that enmity to the Jew is not peculiar to Germany, and that it is better to regulate the Jewish position by law than to have outbreaks of fanaticism. True, Karl Marx was a Jew and rightly or wrongly, as I have said, Communism is regarded in Germany as being Jewish in origin and being organized by Jews.
The dismissal from their posts of distinguished men of learning, artists, musicians, scholars and men of science because they were of Jewish blood gave great offence among the intellectual classes. Art, science and learning recognizes no boundaries of race. What was not known in this country was that these men were offered full retiring pensions if they remained in Germany and that they had managed to fill a large preponderance of posts to the exclusion of Germans. It is true that our Government is doing its best to-day to exclude foreign musicians and actors from this country, a most indefensible proceeding which makes it difficult to criticize the action of Germany, but it was the dismissal given in the highest ranks of learning that shocked Europe and America. Every revolutionary political movement like every religious movement has its excesses and intolerances, and far too much has been made of their blunders. To-day we regard the French Revolution with all its horrors and excesses as marking a step forward in political history. It is only necessary to look back at contemporary writing in this country to realize we could not see the wood for the trees.
The quarrel with Rome was inevitable, because the Vatican will interfere in politics, and just as we had to fight the Vatican to a finish for two hundred years, so any strong Government which wishes to be master in its own home has sooner or later to face the opposition of Rome. We at any rate should understand and sympathize with the position of the German Government.
To us the whole idea of imprisonment for political opinions is abhorrent, but we do not hesitate to arrest and imprison thousands of prisoners without trial in India, and in Belfast to-day any Roman Catholic is liable to arrest and trial before a secret tribunal and can be imprisoned merely on “suspicion” without trial. Political prisoners are not peculiar to Germany. All continental countries, including Democratic CzechoSlovakia and even France have their political prisoners and secret police.
THE NAZI RALLYS AT NUREMBERG
Once a year, early in September, all eyes in Germany are turned to Nuremberg. The world at large takes an ever greater interest in this city as the years go by. It is here where the National Socialist Party holds its annual rallys. These are gatherings entirely different to similar events in the parliamentary democracies. The difference is not only to be found in the huge assemblies of the SA and SS men, the corps of political leaders, the Hitler Youth and the Labour Service but, at each gathering, the Fuhrer lays down his programme of work for the coming year. The names given to these annual rallys are also characteristic. “The Victory of Faith”, the “Triumph of Will”, were the first two after the assumption of power. Early this year, the Fuhrer had already assigned the title of “Rally of Peace” to the 1939 gathering.
I will endeavour to describe the impressions gained when in September 1937 I was given the opportunity of attending that rally.
As I sped towards the old city of Nuremberg, I tried to remember it as I had seen it many years ago, a perfect specimen of mediaeval Germany surrounded by its old walls and towers. How would the venerable city take to playing its part as the Mecca of the new revolution that was transforming Germany? Of one thing I was sure, that the German people under their new leader, with his sense of the artistic and his love of everything German, would not have done anything to desecrate this priceless treasure from the past.
There is a new Nuremberg, for Nuremberg is today, as it was in the middle ages, an important manufacturing centre; but it lies outside the city walls, and not even the railway has been allowed to enter and to spoil the old town. On leaving the station, the old walls are facing you looking like an illustration from Grimm’s fairy tales. On the day of my arrival the battlements were decorated with the long red banners with a white disc and the black swastika in the centre, which Hitler designed for his party and which is now the flag of Germany. Beautiful in colour the long banners draped the old grey walls in perfect harmony, and they seemed pleased with this new decoration. It was of good omen, that the new revolution was so closely knit with the past of the German people and was not a garish and vulgar twentieth century invention. Hitler had not only chosen Nuremberg as the Mecca of the Nazi party because its people had been faithful to him in the early days of the movement, but also because he wanted to associate the revolution indelibly in the German mind with the past.
Walking through the streets of Nuremberg I saw only two varieties of decoration. The green branches of the pine, and the long red banners hung everywhere. Those who saw the decoration of Bond Street at the time of the Coronation will get some idea of the general effect.
The streets were crowded with people, and with the men of the S.A. in their brown uniforms, and the S.S. in their black uniforms, who had special charge of the crowd. No soldiers and hardly any police were visible anywhere. I was amused to read in an English newspaper from. their special correspondent at Nuremberg that the streets were swarming with soldiers.
It so happened that I was so fortunate as to step out of the station just when the Fuhrer was expected to pass by on his arrival. Both sides of the street were lined with a jolly crowd joking and laughing with the S.S. men in their black uniform, to whom had been given the task of holding them back. They stood about a yard apart with a leather band held between them to form the barrier, and with no weapon of any kind except a small dagger. There could be no question that it was a joyous crowd looking well fed. One day I mentioned to a working woman in this country that under the Nazi regime the German people were only allowed a quarter of a pound of butter a week each. She stared at me in astonishment and said, “I have not eaten butter for years, I cannot afford it”.
Presently as I stood waiting, some open cars went by containing Nazi officials who were duly cheered. Then there was a long pause which was broken by the passage of a motor bicycle belonging to the police, with a yellow flag which passed by to see that the road was clear, and then we heard the roar of “Heils!” in the distance coming nearer and nearer. The excitement of the crowd was infectious, at last I was to see the Fuhrer, the man who held Germany in the hollow of his hand and commanded respect in Europe. His solitary open car moving at about six miles an hour, accompanied with no escort, was approaching. Standing in the car beside the driver was a slim erect figure in brown uniform, with one hand resting on the windscreen and the other arm held out in the Nazi salute. He looked straight in front, his face serious and composed. We are accustomed in our processions to the smiles and bows of Royalty, but I imagine the immovable erect figure is derived from the tradition of the old Roman Generals when receiving a triumph.
I had read in our newspapers that Hitler never dared to move outside unless he was surrounded by an armed guard. Not only was he alone, but the S.S. men lining the street had no weapon to protect him.
But what of Hitler himself? I saw him many times afterwards talking with the officers of the S.S. and S.A. and speaking in the stadium, and tried to compare him with other great men I have seen in my life, men of strong personality as all such men must be. No man cares less for the display of power. When he received the march past of the S.A. and S.S. men in the old market square, he was dressed in a brown shirt, riding breeches and black riding boots without hat or coat. We are used to a display of gorgeousness on the part of generals riding on a charger wearing a magnificent uniform and covered with medals. Hitler’s uniform did not differ from that worn by his S.A. men, and his only decoration was the decoration for valour — the Iron Cross of the First Class. It seemed inconceivable that this man in the brown shirt talking with his officers was the master of Germany.
His face is familiar to all of us from his photographs but they do not do him justice. I have never seen one that I liked; he eludes the camera which does not register what is most of interest in his face and expression. He is different to any man I have ever seen before. A flame seems to burn within that slim figure and to look out of his eyes. There is nothing of the fanatic in his expression, but a look of superhuman energy and intensity of purpose; the face of a man specially endowed with the capacity for power; his very simplicity and absence of ostentation strengthens the impression. Bonaparte for all his genius was a vulgar soul and clothed himself in Imperial robes and troubled himself about the details and the etiquette of a court. Such trivialities are impossible for Hitler. Studying his face we can understand those quick decisions which have astonished his followers and electrified Europe; decisions carried out with a surprising rapidity and efficiency. Like Bonaparte he is always in advance of other people and therefore takes them by surprise. Bonaparte had a habit much disliked by the opposing generals of arriving with his army twenty four hours before it was possible for the army to be there; if Hitler had the vulgar ambition for military conquest, he would be the most dangerous man in Europe to-day, because he would out-manoeuvre the generals, just as he has out-manoeuvred the diplomatists by the simplicity and directness of his approach to all questions; but he belongs to a new age in which such conquests are an anachronism, though the diplomatists of Europe living still in the past have not yet realised that fact, and therefore pile up armaments which compel Germany to do the same in self-defence.
I have not yet begun to tell what I saw in Nuremberg and the impression it made upon me, but in truth there is only one man in Nuremberg amid all these crowds — the Fuhrer.
Everywhere one met with friendly faces and a charming welcome. The Germans are probably the only people in Europe who really like us, and admire us probably much more than we deserve. It is because of that very liking that when irritated by the attacks in our press, and by our public men, they at last turn on us and give us some of our own back again. Attlee speaking in the House of Commons calls Hitler a gangster, and a German newspaper accuses Baldwin of bawling like a street urchin. It is all very childish and stupid. As I have said, they like and admire us, and I defy anyone not to like them. We feel at home with them as we can never feel with a French man or an Italian. I myself am a Scotsman, and it is perhaps truer to say that the Scotsman and the German always get on well together.
The three things which impressed me most during my stay in Nuremberg were the torch light procession, winding through the streets, the long red banners glowing in the light from the torches; the meeting of the Politische Leiter in the great stadium at night; and the parade of the boys of the labour camps.
This is the part of the Nazi organisation which has attracted most attention in this country. Started on a voluntary basis before Hitler came into power, he at once realised its importance in training the youth of Germany to the idea of citizenship taught by the Nazi party, and its significance as symbolising the whole Nazi conception of the State.
At about 19 years of age every boy in Germany, whether he be rich or poor, “Cook’s son, Duke’s son, Son of a belted Earl”, spends six months in a Labour camp with spade and pick reclaiming the waste soil of Germany to make it fit for cultivation, draining the land, improving the forests, planting trees, and doing all that is needed to develop the natural resources of Germany. They all live and work together, and so that there shall be no distinction between rich and poor, they are all limited to the same amount of pocket money, and like the English school boy the hamper from home is shared with everybody.
The fundamental ideas of National Socialism are all expressed in this organisation. The dignity of Labour, even of the roughest kind, if undertaken in the service of the Reich; the wiping out of the distinction between the bourgeoisie and the workman; and the union of the German people as members one with another. Incidentally it is giving Germany the most physically fit youth in the world.
Every year contingents are sent from every part of Germany to be received by Hitler in the great stadium at Nuremberg; they are all in a uniform of their own with their knapsacks on their backs, and shouldering a brightly polished spade instead of a rifle. Each contingent has its own band and carries its own banners, the swastika banner, having on it a spade surrounded by a wreath of corn. The stadium was packed with people when Hitler arrived; then we heard the music of the band of the first contingent and as they marched we all rose and saluted the flag. On passing Hitler they broke into the goose step, and then turning to the left, the spades flashing in the sun like mirrors, came in from the back of the stadium and formed up placing their knapsacks on the ground and seating themselves upon them. Contingent followed contingent, until the vast floor of the stadium was filled, then standing up they went through the military salute with the spade instead of the rifle, and stood at ease with both hands resting on the handle of the spade. All these movements were carried out by each section at the word of command with military precision; as the one hand came down upon the other on the spade handle, it rang out as one clap. The neatness with which they performed all these movements was repeatedly applauded by the audience, whose enthusiasm and interest in the boys made me think of a collection of British parents at a school cricket match. The uniforms, the bands, the banners, and the absolute precision of movement on word of command are all intended to show that the glamour which surrounds preparations for war can equally well surround service in the cause of peace. Before dispersing the boys chanted a litany of dedication to the Reich, and in memory of the dead of the great war, written by themselves. Hitler in his speech said that this was the greatest demonstration for peace which the world had ever seen. When he said “Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Eine Gemeinschaft, Eine Kraft”, the whole audience rose and thundered applause.
Later in the day I saw some of these boys, brown and sturdy, marching back to camp, singing as they went. The streets were lined with people laughing, cheering and throwing flowers and packets of sweets. As I watched them I could not help thinking of the pale-faced, underfed and underdeveloped boy in our great cities, loafing at a street corner with a fag in his mouth. These German boys, though doubtless full of fun on occasions, have serious faces, inspired by an ideal of service to their fatherland, and ready if necessary to die in her defence. The Fuhrer is their hero.
My last vivid memory is of what took place at the meeting at night in the stadium when Hitler addressed the Politische Leiter. We were sitting in darkness, when suddenly shafts of light shot up all round the stadium, meeting over our heads and forming a temple of luminous pillars symbolising the Reich. Then a soft light fell on the back of the stadium, and we saw, rising into sight, descending the steps, and moving slowly between the ranks massed on the ground, men carrying the long red Nazi banners, the spear points of the poles glancing in the light. Very slowly they moved towards the front of the stadium, symbolising the flow of the life stream of the German people, the audience observing an absolute silence. When they had come to rest, we all rose and sang Deutschland uber Alles and the Horst Wessel song. Then the trumpets sounded and Hitler began his speech.
In one part of the stadium was a tragic little group, Austrians, exiled from their land because of their political beliefs, who greeted Hitler with cries of, “sterreich griisst den Fuhrer”. One day standing in the street, I found myself next to an Austrian lady. Among the laughing crowds she was silent, her eyes filled with tears. She turned to me and said in English,
“I have never seen the Fuhrer before — I think my heart is breaking”.
Version 2: Added links to other parts – Sep 22, 2014