HITLER'S CONCEPTION OF a social and economic order for the German people was something quite different from a permanent "military camp order." That is, if he had any conception at all. At all events, the party propagandists had orders to expound a National Socialist program, and Feder, the Civil engineer, was ordered to publish official pamphlets, one of which outlined the "structure of graded classes" in the Third Reich. Soon after the party's accession to power, the wildest plans were set afoot to "order" the country's economy. The promising slogan "The good of all before the good of one" was in the opinion of some, to inaugurate the establishment of an economic system in which the economic usefulness of the individual subject was to be as far as possible eliminated. Others believed that by State management of the country's economy, an equalization of interests would follow because the true function of economy would be seen to lie in the satisfaction of the needs of State and people, and not of the individual.
More easily said than done. Did this mean the corporative state? Did it mean totalitarian planned economy? Or was it state socialism? The first necessity was to act. The aim would then gradually define itself. So an enormous amount of organization was begun on all sides. The highly developed and
178 THE VOICE OF DESTRUCTION
sensitive organism of German economy was broken into by people who had no knowledge whatever of organization, and all conception of order was turned topsy-turvy. This feverish organizing called forth revolt on every side.
In agriculture, the difficulties were not too great. Also, though there was still a partial free market system, the "Reich working-class" could, up to a point, realize the ideas of a corporative order. But the moment trade, the professions and industry were touched, there arose an impenetrable tangle of difficulties. What was the real aim? What was meant by "an economy of bare essentials" (Bedarfsdeckungswirtschaft)? One was faced by phrases and slogans which, when analyzed, suddenly dissolved in mist.
But there were other people, intelligent and quite realist, who found that certain machinery was being created in the "class" organizations of the country's economy by means of which a considerable influence could be exerted on industrial undertakings. This "structure of graded classes" was the most suitable instrument for the control of economy. It would not do, these people maintained, to allow the national economy to become one great body, self-determining according to its own needs. In that case, it would even more than heretofore absorb and put itself in the place of the State. If that was the meaning of the corporative state, then National Socialism could have nothing to do with it. No, not the organization, but the control of economy; the subordination of economy to the guidance of the National Socialist party: this was the aim of these people, who recognized no specific economic laws, but held that the national economy could without harm be made subject to rules independent of its own terms of reference. To these people, the "structure of graded classes" was a means of
gaining control. The only organization they were interested in was that of an instrument of control over economy.
Unquestionably the prevalence of unemployment did make some sort of intervention in industry necessary. But could this really increase production? Were these measures not merely temporary? But if the purpose of organization was not the increase of production and the internal adjustment of the various branches of economy, but, on the contrary, the sub-ordination of economy to the State, or possibly even to a mere party, what became of economy itself?
In the meantime, it soon became evident that Danzig was the least promising place for economic experiments, since a seaport with international shipping, and without a customs department of its own, did best in allowing its economy to develop as freely as possible, and in avoiding complications and regulations which could only cause foreign shipping to be withdrawn to some more favorable port. I saw, therefore,
that the best thing we could do was to put the whole "graded class structure" on the shelf.
This gave rise to a serious conflict with the party, all the more since the whole elaborate plan of the new economic order had no other effect than that of simply subordinating economy to the orders of the party.
I refused to accept this as binding. There were a great many complaints on every side, and Hess, Hitler's deputy, summoned me to an interview. In his laconic fashion, which gives an impression of profound thoughtfulness, but is in reality nothing more than the diffidence and uncertainty of an immature mind, Hess could find no solution, merely uttering a few mild reproofs. Eventually I was sent for to speak to Hitler.
"What's your trouble?" he asked. When I explained to him my apprehensions as to this type of economic order, he was amazed. He had not the slightest intention of encouraging this nonsense. Did not Forster know that he had long since discarded the "structure of graded classes"? I replied that I had known nothing of that either; if I had, it would have spared me much trouble and needless annoyance. Hitler, in his characteristic fashion, at once plunged into a self-justification of his decision, and in this connection outlined along general lines his creed of Socialist ideas, a topic on which at that time he was very fluent.
"Do you intend to repudiate the corporative system of economy altogether?" I asked.
"At the present time I can see no meaning in this term at all," he
returned. "And I am convinced you cannot either. Mussolini
has for years been working at the realization of a new economic order which he
calls by this name. But he has got no further. That is to say, he has
not yet found the
tial, crowning principle, the keystone supporting the arch. You know, it's not a good idea to try to force such things. One should never build elaborate structures. These things must grow, and what's more, they must grow up from below. If you construct something from above, it will be a dead body that never fills with life-blood. Do you know how an artist creates? In the same way the statesman must allow not only his own thoughts to mature, but even more the driving forces of the nation itself. He may stimulate here and there, he may regulate and guide the forces, and he may even shut them all down again if he sees that the true forces have not yet arisen. But he cannot artificially bring forth anything. Nothing is more false than to cloak an immature nation with plans from above; however well-thought-out they may be. There is only one thing that can be done, and that is to keep alive the creative unrest that holds the true artist in constant tension. This must never be allowed to become stunted."
"Then the graded class structure, or the corporative state, or whatever you want to call it," I replied, "is, according to your statement, not mature enough to be realized yet. But surely the present state of chaos cannot remain either?"
"Brooding over these matters is of no use," Hitler returned. "No matter what you attempt, if an idea is not yet mature, you will not be able to realize it. I know that as an artist, and I know it as a statesman. Then there is only one thing to do: have patience, wait, try again, wait again. In the subconscious, the work goes on. It matures, sometimes it dies. Unless I have the inner, incorruptible conviction: this is the solution, I do nothing. Not even if the whole party tries to drive me to action. I will not act; I will wait, no matter what happens. But if the voice speaks, then I know the time has come to act.
"The same thing applies to the party members, to the people. If they do not understand a measure, then it must be dropped. It will have to be tried again later, continually tried again. The right time will arrive in the end. They will grasp it, carry it out, as though they had never had any other intention.
"Naturally," he went on, "I had to allow the party to become familiar with the theory of graded classes. I had to discover experimentally just how mature it was, and whether it could be carried any further at this juncture. I shall never act according to preconceived ideas. It is a matter of course that before I put something into practice, I must convince myself that it is feasible. And I must have men who will carry it out. For example, I have given my party comrades a task to perform. Very well; if they can master it, then they are the right men for it; if not, others must do it. But if I find no one, then this too is an unmistakable sign that the time is not yet ripe.
"There is a rigid relation between a problem and the men to solve it. If the men are not available, then the problem has not yet matured, and the time is not ripe. It is no use calling for a 'strong man' then. But if the time is ripe, the men will also be found. I cannot realize my ideas without the men for the job.
"In these last months," he concluded complacently, "I have not been able to find the men to give the graded class theory its suitable form in practice. Very well, then—we must post-pone the task, and return to it on another occasion."
The time seemed to me ripe, I interjected, to attempt some sort of synthesis between free, economic liberalism and a totally controlled Bolshevik economy.
"Is there such a thing?" Hitler inquired. "Don't allow yourself to be deceived by cut-and-dried theories. Certainly I know less today about these matters than I thought I knew a few years ago."
It seemed to me that an aimless organizational fever was less likely to dispel confusion than a preliminary serious theoretical examination.
Hitler grew impatient.
"Can't you remember," he said, "that I must keep the people occupied? They all want to help. They are filled with glowing enthusiasm. I must offer them something. Very well, let them try their hand. The graded class structure, after all, is not so important that they can do much harm in it. Something useful is bound to result from all this activity."
What then did all his previous explanations mean? That there was no intention of finding a new economic order for Germany by experiment, but only a desire to keep the mass of the party members occupied, and their attention turned away from more important matters? Certainly not. The motives behind Hitler's policy and his personal decisions are always of a complex nature. Without a doubt one very strong reason for the reorganization of the national economy was the desire to distract the party's attention. But it would be a mistake to regard this as the only reason, though Hitler's memory had indeed the quality of retaining only those motives which might later serve him well as a means of self-interpretation.
In this connection I might mention that Hitler has never occupied himself with the minor details of a problem, with two exceptions: foreign policy and the army. What is known as the mastery of material was quite unimportant to him. He quickly became impatient if the details of a problem were
brought to him. He was greatly averse to "experts" and had little regard for their opinions. He looked upon them as mere hacks, as brush-cleaners and color-grinders, to use the terms of his own trade.
"You must keep free of red tape," he advised me on this same occasion. "You have other people to attend to such things. You must keep your vision clear. Very evidently you pay too much attention to details. You mustn't fall into the unhappy habit of the former Chancellor Brüning, who prepared every law for publication with his own hands. So typical of the man! That's why he had no strength left for great decisions. Don't lose yourself in the false ambition to deal with details. Don't formulate the laws yourself."
I replied that I had indeed worked in detail on the laws planned for the "graded class order," since the matter became decisive and dangerous only in its details. I could not see how that could be avoided if one was not to be entirely dependent on the experts, and in the end was reduced to making decisions on an emotional basis.
"That is exactly what you should do," Hitler interrupted with animation. "Trust your instincts, your feelings, or what-ever you like to call them. Never trust your knowledge. Let me tell you one thing: the experts never have the true instinct. You must never seek it in them, but only in yourself, and in your party comrades. The more you talk to your party comrades, the more things become clear to you, too, the more they are simplified. You must think more clearly, more simply, when you try to explain something to a party comrade. You must get rid of all complicated, learned expressions. That is the salutary effect of our constant interchange of ideas with party comrades, with the people themselves—not with delegates who are strangers to the people, as in the democracies.
Experts are caught in their routine like the spider in its web, incapable of spinning anything but eternally the same web. To them you must simply give orders, and you will see how, quite suddenly, they will bring you an entirely different plan from their original one. Experts are always capable of thinking something diametrically opposed to their first opinion. Ire short, if we are in earnest about it, we shall find that the experts will always provide us with the material we require."
I must confess that I was disappointed at Hitler's stubborn rejection of any discussion of details, since it was just the details that I felt were important. But evidently the whole question of the "graded class structure" no longer interested Hitler. A decision one way or the other was not to be had from This was not the first time that, when difficulties arose, he simply pushed aside everything he had just planned, and lost all interest in the pile of wreckage that remained behind. He ignored all difficulties that threatened to be troublesome to him, and refused to be reminded of them.
Once more it was his gift of simplification, which he him-self pointed out as his special characteristic, that proved his superiority to his entourage.
EXECUTOR OF MARXISM
"I am not only the conqueror, but also the executor of Marxism—of that part of it that is essential and justified, stripped of its Jewish-Talmudic dogma."
I had asked Hitler whether the crux of the whole economic problem was not the extent to which private economic interests might continue to be the motive force of the national economy. There were party members who passionately denied the possibility of this, and expected a more radical social
revolution than moderate Marxism, at any rate, had ever intended.
"I have learned a great deal from Marxism, as I do not hesitate to admit," Hitler went on. "I don't mean their tire-some social doctrine or the materialist conception of history, or their absurd 'marginal utility' theories and so on. But I have learned from their methods. The difference between them and myself is that I have really put into practice what these peddlers and pen-pushers have timidly begun. The whole of National Socialism is based on it. Look at the workers' sports clubs, the industrial cells, the mass demonstrations, the propaganda leaflets written specially for the comprehension of the masses; all these new methods of political struggle are essentially Marxist in origin. All I had to do was to take over these methods and adapt them to our purpose. I had only to develop logically what Social Democracy repeatedly failed in because of its attempt to realize its evolution within the framework of democracy. National Socialism is what Marxism might have been if it could have broken its absurd and artificial ties with a democratic order."
"But surely," I objected, "what you are describing is not distinct from the Bolshevism and Communism of Russia."
"Not at all!" Hitler cried. "You are making the usual mistake. What remains is a revolutionary creative will that needs no ideological crutches, but grows into a ruthless instrument of might invincible in both the nation and the world. A doctrine of redemption based on science thus becomes a genuine revolutionary movement possessing all the requisites of power."
"And what is the aim of this revolutionary will?" I inquired.
"It has no fixed aim. Do you find that so difficult to understand?" Hitler asked me.
I replied that such a viewpoint certainly seemed to me rather novel and unusual.
"We are a movement," the Führer replied. "Nothing could express our nature better. Marxism teaches that a vast upheaval quite suddenly changes the world. The millennium falls from the skies like a seventh heaven. After that world history ceases. There is no further development. Everything is in order. The shepherd tends his flocks. The end of the world has come. But we know there is never a final stage, there is no permanency, only eternal change. Only death is unchanging. The past is eternal. But the future is an inexhaustible fount of possibilities of further development."
I had not, I admitted, seen matters from such a lofty point of view.
"It is the only point of view from which it is possible to see them at all," Hitler
retorted. "In my youth, and even in the first years of my
filled. But of course that was the decisive, world-historical step reserved for us."
After reflecting for a moment, Hitler resumed:
"You ask whether private economic interests will have to be eliminated. Certainly not. I have never said anything of the kind, nor have I deputed any of my subordinates to say so. That would be as mad as an attempt to abolish sexual intercourse by decree. The instinct to earn and the instinct to possess cannot be eliminated. Natural instincts remain. We should be the last to deny that. But the problem is how to adjust and satisfy these natural instincts. The proper limits to private profit and private enterprise must be drawn through the state and general public according to their vital needs. And on this point I can tell you, regardless of all the professors' theories and trades-union wisdom, that there is no principle on which you can draw any universally valid limits. The needs of a state, varying according to time and circumstances, are the sole determining factor. What may be necessary today need not be so tomorrow. This is not a question of theoretical suppositions, but of practical decisions dictated by existing circumstances. Therefore I may—nay, must—change or repudiate under changed conditions tomorrow what I consider correct today.
"There is no ideal condition of permanent validity. Only fools believe in a cut-and-dried method of changing the social and economic order. There is no such thing as equality, abolition of private property, just wage, or any of the other ideas they've been splitting hairs over. And all the distinctions that are made between production for consumption and production for profit are just pastimes for idlers and muddle-heads."
"What about the program of land reforms, the rescue from
ground-rent serfdom and nationalization of the banks?" I asked.
Hitler gesticulated impatiently. "Are you worrying about that program, too?" he asked. "Need I explain its meaning to you? Anybody who takes it literally, instead of seeing it as the great landscape painted on the background of our stage, is a simpleton. I shall never alter this program; it is meant for the masses. It points the direction of some of our endeavors—neither more nor less. It is like the dogma of the Church. Is the significance of the Church exhausted by the dogma? Does it not lie much more in the Church rites and activities? The masses need something for the imagination, they need fixed, permanent doctrines. The initiates know that there is nothing fixed, that everything is continually changing. That is why I impress upon you that National Socialism is a potential Socialism that is never consummated because it is in a state of constant change."
THE MYSTIC TRIANGLE
Even a man like Hjalmar Schacht, the great economic wizard, declares that he never leaves Hitler's presence without feeling uplifted and strengthened by the great perspectives Hitler unrolls, giving him a sense of the significance of his work. If even the astutest of economists feels thus, then how could I feel otherwise? Generalities propounded with every evidence of profound conviction have at times the effect of a revelation. There is not always a clear distinction between simplicity and foolishness.
Could I make use of anything I had just heard in my daily struggle with the small minds of the party? Hitler had given me to understand that he regarded me as worthy of being
admitted to his innermost thoughts—such as he had not disclosed even to his Gauleiter, who had shown himself incapable of understanding them. Did this not place me under obligations, compel me to keep this knowledge from the masses, and even to be tolerant of the uncomprehending desires of these masses, not to mention the Gauleiter themselves? Or, on the other hand, was this appearance of confidence a mere deception, one of Hitler's many tricks by means of which he kept people subservient?
I asked Hitler the meaning of the triangle he had drawn for Ley, of the Labor Front, and a number of Gauleiter, in order to make the future social order clear to them. Evidently Hitler did not remember. Forster had not been able fully to explain it to me, I told him, but had been much impressed by it nevertheless. He said it made everything quite clear.
"Oh, yes, I remember," Hitler replied. "This is what you mean: one side of the triangle is the 'Labor Front,' the social community, the classless community in which each man helps his neighbor. Everyone feels secure here, each one gets assistance, advice and occupation for his leisure time. All are equal here.
"The second side is the professional class. Here each individual is separate, graded, according to his ability and quality, to work for the general good. Knowledge is the criterion here. Each is worth as much as he accomplishes.
"The third side represents the party, which, in one or other of its many branches, embraces every German who has not been found unworthy. Each one in the party shares the privilege of leading the nation. Here the decisive factors are devotion and resolution. All are equal as party comrades, but each man must submit to a grading of ranks that is inviolable."
This, I agreed, was roughly what Forster had tried to ex-
plain to me, but he had been only partially successful. There had been some mystic significance as well, the first side at the same time representing the will in man, the second, what is usually called the heart, and the third, the intelligence.
Hitler laughed at this. There was no need to labor the comparison, he remarked. He had only meant to show how each individual, in all his feelings and activities, must be included in some section of the party.
"The party takes over the function of what has been society—that is what I wanted them to understand. The party is all-embracing. It rules our lives in all their breadth and depth. We must therefore develop branches of the party in which the whole of individual life will be reflected. Each activity and each need of the individual will thereby be regulated by the party as the representative of the general good. There will be no license, no free space, in which the individual belongs to himself. This is Socialism—not such trifles as the private possession of the means of production. Of what importance is that if I range men firmly within a discipline they cannot escape? Let them then own land or factories as much as they please. The decisive factor is that the State, through the party, is supreme over them, regardless whether they are owners or workers. All that, you see, is unessential. Our Socialism goes far deeper. It does not alter external conditions; no, it establishes the relation of the individual to the State, the national community. It does this with the help of one party, or perhaps I should say of one order."
I could not help remarking that this seemed a novel and harsh doctrine.
Quite true, Hitler replied, and not everyone was capable of understanding it. For this reason, he had felt it necessary to popularize his ideas by means of the diagram.
Then doubtless he would not approve, I suggested, of the kind of state landlordship, or state ownership of the means of production, the dream of some of the most ardent social and economic workers of the party?
Hitler against registered impatience.
"Why bother with such half-measures when I have far more important matters in hand, such as the people themselves?" he exclaimed. "The masses always cling to extremes. After all, what is meant by nationalization, by socialization? What has been changed by the fact that a factory is now owned by the State instead of by a Mr. Smith? But once directors and employees alike have been subjected to a universal discipline, there will be a new order for which all expressions used hitherto will be quite inadequate."
I replied that I was beginning to understand what new and tremendous perspectives this opened.
"The day of individual happiness has passed," Hitler returned. "Instead, we shall feel a collective happiness. Can there be any greater happiness than a National Socialist meeting in which speakers and audience feel as one? It is the happiness of sharing. Only the early Christian communities could have felt it with equal intensity. They, too, sacrificed their personal happiness for the higher happiness of the community.
"If we feel and experience this great era thus," Hitler concluded, "then we shall not be disturbed by details and individual failures. We shall know then that every road leads us forward, no matter how much it seems to go in another direction. And above all, we shall then maintain our passionate desire to revolutionize the world to an extent unparalleled in history. It gives us also a special, secret pleasure to see how the people about us are unaware of what is really happening to them. They gaze fascinated at one or two familiar super-
ficialities, such as possessions and income and rank and other outworn conceptions. As long as these are kept intact, they are quite satisfied. But in the meantime they have entered a new relation; a powerful social force has caught them up. They themselves are changed. What are ownership and income to that? Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings."
IS HITLER A DICTATOR?
THE CONFLICT OF views between myself and the
National Socialist party in
In spite of my isolation, I endeavored to continue my work. I was strengthened in this purpose above all by the foreign
IS HITLER A DICTATOR? 195
At length the whole matter was referred to Hitler himself. It seemed to him
important enough to justify a personal hearing of all the Danzig Senators, who
could thus express their views about me. The most serious accusation that could
be made against me, however,
was—as my successor to the presidency subsequently explained—that I
"really" believed in the
possibility of a German-Polish settlement, instead of merely using it as a
temporary measure. I was not present at this inquiry, nor was I ever given the
opportunity of justifying my conduct with regard to particular accusations. For
this purpose Hitler invited me to a private interview. This was in February,
1934. I justified my position by outlining the existing political condition of
line pursued by myself as opposed to the desires of the party. Objectively there was little to be said against it.
Hitler began, however, by declaring that I was practically asking for absolute powers. If politics were as simple as that—if all that was necessary was to act according to the objective requirements of the situation, then indeed it would be an easy matter, and we could contentedly rely on the experts. Unfortunately, we had to deal with human imperfections, with malice and lack of understanding. Now certainly the party were not malicious. Or did I contend that they were? Men in responsible positions under National Socialism little knew, he told me, how lucky they were, compared with the politicians of the Weimar Republic, who had at every step to combat not only stupidity, but the malice of all against all. It was one of the great accomplishments of National Socialism to have eliminated this poison from the life of the nation, this evil rancor existing between the different parties, who were not interested in objective achievements, but merely jealous of their own prestige and profit.
"The party is well-intentioned," the Führer assured me. "The party understands everything. It is only a matter of explaining properly. If you do not succeed in making your intentions clear to the party, then either you do not yourself see things simply and clearly enough, or you are not the right man. If you become estranged from the party, so that it no longer understands your speech, it is always your own fault. That is why I constantly insist that you should talk, discuss, hold meetings, remain always in close touch with the mass of the party. If you lose that contact, you may have the best intentions in the world, but no one will understand you. We must not make the mistake of the bourgeois representatives, who are strangers to the people, and have perhaps one or two
meetings, usually a fortnight before elections, and then never bother about their constituents again.
"It may be," he went on, "that our party comrades fail to understand certain matters because they have hitherto been unacquainted with them. But you cannot reproach them with being unwilling to understand. It is my mission, as it is that of each one of my assistants, repeatedly to explain my views to the party comrades, until they have understood them, and have voluntarily accepted them. Of course it is evident that in this continual striving, the sharp corners of your own views will be rounded off, and your judgment will often have to be re-adjusted. So much the better! This is the fruitful outcome of such a constant interchange of ideas. The party is an incorruptible judge. However correct your own motives and ideas may be, if the party rejects them, you must seek the fault first and foremost in yourself."
Hitler spoke in a loud, firm tone, but without hostility. I cautiously ventured to say that I should certainly not fail to explain and make comprehensible the policy I considered the right one. But I had reason to believe that in some quarters there existed little interest in allowing the public to gain any understanding of this policy.
Hitler turned on me brusquely. Did I think he could always do as he thought right? He had to make allowances, and adapt himself to the will and the understanding of others. He had obligations which he meant to fulfill to the letter. Above all he had to consider the "old gentleman," whose memory and receptivity were dimmed, who frequently, with the stubbornness of age, rejected things without investigating them. He would have to accept this state of affairs and adapt his policies to it. Or did I believe he was a dictator who might do as he pleased?
He paused dramatically, and then uttered with solemn emphasis these memorable words:
"I am no dictator, and never will be a dictator."
Even if he succeeded in breaking the fetters that bound his actions at that time, he explained, he would never make a decision according to his own arbitrary views. No individual could carry the great responsibility involved in such a status. I was under a complete misapprehension as to the meaning of "leadership," and made the current mistake of confounding leadership with dictatorship.
"The fact that we do not vote and carry out our policy by majority decisions does not mean that we evade all control, whether it comes from the mass of the party or from factors outside the party. Do you propose to be more independent than I?"
Hitler moderated his tone. Any fool could play the dictator, he went on, while the possibility of doing so lasted. But it could not last long.
"You ask for full powers. You want to eliminate the party. And who will guarantee that you are the one who was right? How could I be sure I myself was right if I wanted to rule as absolutely as you want to do? I can only obtain such assurance by, again and again, consulting the will of the party. In your case, I have that assurance only when other men, when the incorruptible party, have tested each and every one of your measures. When you are in agreement with these men, I shall know you are on the right road. There is no such thing as unlimited power, and I should never dream of pretending to it myself. The word dictatorship is misleading; there is no such thing as dictatorship in the accepted sense. Even the most extreme autocrat is compelled to correct his absolute will by existing conditions. Considered soberly, there are only vari-
ous means of giving shape to the public will. At times you may be more absolute and less dependent as a parliamentary official than I am today or ever will be.
" 'Being a dictator' is a catch-phrase with no reality behind it. My way of taking an average of the innumerable observations, judgments and desires in the party is an eminently difficult and continually fresh problem. It is my foremost problem—never to find myself in opposition to my party. If I am of a different opinion, then it is my duty to change either my own, or the party's view. But no one can give you what you ask for. You want to operate in a vacuum, instead of reaching some agreement between the opposing forces—forces with-out which there can be no life."
Hitler went on talking past the actual problem, which was an entirely concrete one, and lost himself in the maze of a general dissertation on the nature of the party.
"What is, in fact, the meaning of our party? Why have we eliminated all the other parties, and fought against the whole of the parliamentary, democratic system? Did you think it was because we wanted to destroy all contact with the people? On the contrary: we have destroyed outworn institutions just because they no longer served to produce a fruitful relationship with the body of the nation, but led only to gossip and brazen deceit. We have eliminated parasites who insinuated themselves between the people and their leaders. Of course the part played by the masses is thereby also cut out. There is no longer a voting herd periodically intoxicated with words. In place of the mass, there is now the people's community, developed from the masses, the incorporated nation awakened to self-consciousness: our party.
"The term 'party,' " he added in parenthesis, "is a misnomer. I should prefer 'order' myself. But perhaps this is ro-
mantic. The Young German Order has destroyed its significance; one is reminded of monastic orders.
"Now," he concluded, "what is the meaning of our party? Only he who accepts duties has a right to a voice in them. But he who does so, he who joins our ranks, who is thought worthy of joining our ranks (and this without regard to person)—that man has a right to be heard, and is heard. We stand in close contact with this flower of the nation. We submit all questions to it. We are doing a work of political education such as no other party has ever done before. I shall never take an important decision without first being assured of the approval of the party. I cannot give orders as I please. What I command is not arbitrary, but the result of close understanding with the party. We go far beyond any parliament on earth in our constant reference to the will of the people. Only thus can a real people's unity be attained. I am not dependent on the man in the street. But I am responsible to my party comrades. The parliamentary democracies can influence public opinion as they like. I am subject to an incorruptible judge, my party."
Hitler talked on about the greatness of the National Socialist movement. The shape our national destiny was now taking, he said, was the essential thing. It was discipline that kept people together, not this or that aim, this or that item of the program. I must confess to having been swayed by his impassioned speech, yet I could not help thinking what a strange spectacle this was. Here was a man enthusiastically idealizing his actions, which in reality sprang from quite different motives. Was this conscious misleading of opinion? Or did he believe his own professions? I think he did. In order to rise above the daily squabbles in the party, he was com-
pelled to create for himself a fictitious world, and had to lash himself into a frenzy to believe in it. In that state, I am convinced that he no longer saw the reality, but only what he so passionately wanted to see. Hitler, the creator of a new form of democracy—that was the true motif of his speech. The democracy that had degenerated into parliamentarism would be rescued by National Socialism.
I asked him whether it would not be in the interests of clarity that this new form, which was today escaping from the framework of the still legal Weimar Constitution, should be embodied in a new set of laws. As things were, responsible politicians found themselves constantly in a state of conflicting duties. The old status no longer had the force of law, yet the new one appeared in the guise of a revolutionary force, and as such, based on violence. The new rule seemed arbitrary, not because it signified something new, but solely because it was not subject to law.
Hitler curtly rejected my suggestion. The moment the new status could be formulated constitutionally, its revolutionary force, he declared, would be exhausted. The revolutionary status must be retained as long as possible, in order not to paralyze its creative power before its time. It was the fundamental error of the jurists and law-makers to think they could create life by means of a constitution and a code of laws. The true life of the nation would then go on outside the constitutional status, as the hair-splitting Weimar Constitution had proved.
"Constitutions can only conclude real developments; they can never precede them. Artificial construction violates life. Disease in the body of the nation, and continual unrest and disturbance of growth, will be the inevitable results."
As long as possible, he would allow things to remain in their present condition. It was not yet possible to see the direction in which the new shape of the German destiny was going to develop. Everything must be allowed to grow and mature.
"I can wait," Hitler said with strong emphasis. "Let my successors after my death codify the great life of our nation. It is still too early now."
Hitler then began to speak of the reform of the Reich. Conditions here were
similar. He was being urged to give the Reich its new district (Gau) constitution,
dissolving the old, historical provinces, and making the new districts the
permanent components of the Reich. But he was not going to be pushed. As an
artist, he knew exactly when an idea had matured, but here everything was still
in the early stage of ferment. Besides, before he could really model the
permanent shape of the new
The same thing was true of legal development. Everything here was still in a state of flux, but this very fact was his surety that new life was being breathed into the administration of justice. There was, of course, no such thing as objective justice.
"Justice is a means of ruling. Justice is the codified practice of ruling."
In this field, too, he deprecated the suggestion that he was a dictator who wished to force development; he was rather a
builder. But he was like those great builders of cathedrals who labored generation after generation on some massive structure, and were more interested in the innate life of this structure than in any brilliant ideas of their own.
"So I, too, build the new
Hitler had by this time talked himself into a state of exaltation. He had quite forgotten the occasion of our interview, namely my justification.
"I need ten years of law-making," he cried excitedly. "The time is short. I have not long enough to live, and first I must wage our war of liberation. I must lay the foundations on which others can build after me. I shall not see it fulfilled," he finished suddenly.
Hitler dismissed me in friendly fashion. I was confused. My own problem remained unsolved. As we exchanged fare-wells, he gave me a further piece of advice:
"I should like to warn you against two things. Don't associate with those bourgeois Nationalists. Don't take them more seriously than they deserve. The day of these gentry is past. The bourgeois age is ended. These men are ghosts. Don't allow yourself to be impressed by their so-called expert knowledge. They don't understand the new world that is arising, and they know nothing of its laws. These people will help neither me nor you. My other warning is against the League and its representative in your city. That world, too, is on its deathbed. See the self-importance of these people for what it is: the unreality of the theater. Once the performance is over, you find yourself again in the street. You must shake off all scruples; only then will you understand the party, and the party understand you."
The truth was very different. The party was neither well-intentioned nor anxious to understand. The party wanted power. Each individual party member wanted a place in the sun, cost what it might. Each one sought security for himself, and hoped by active work and a military bearing to attract the attention of the leaders and gain promotion. Those who blustered most, and had no scruples about technical knowledge, had the best chance of jobs and favors. Anyone who raised objections on the grounds of competence was regarded as inconvenient and pushed into the background. Thus the conflict between the rival elements of the party sharpened and grew heated. Motives of competence were looked on as outworn bourgeois scruples. It was impossible to make head or tail of this confusion, and to anyone standing as high as Hitler, the unvarnished truth rarely succeeded in breaking through. Everyone did his best to impress his immediate superiors. "A job well done must rattle," was an old proverb of the Prussian soldiery. But the numbers of false pretenses now indulged in by people who wished to appear in the most favorable light before Gauleiter or other, higher, officials surpassed anything previously seen.
These conditions prevailed in the highest circles, and the following is only
one example of many. Todt, the Director-General for road-building, wanted, as early as 1934,
to build a motor-road through the
Nevertheless, I agreed to put out a feeler in the course of conversation.
Imagine my amazement when, a month or two later, on a visit to Hitler, I was
told by him that he had now bound
On returning from my interview with Hitler, I found an invitation from Todt at my hotel. I visited him that evening in his office, which at that time was in the Pariser Platz—I believe it was in the old, feudal club of the former infantry guards. He showed me his plans and maps, a vast network of planned, and in part already completed roads. Then he asked me about the progress of my talks with the Polish Government, and whether there was any chance of getting the road through the Corridor, as the Führer was most anxious for it. I let him talk, making sure there was no truth in what I had heard only a short while before from Hitler as a settled matter.
Todt came to a full stop at last, and then I told him of my conversation with Hitler that morning. I must confess that it gave me the greatest pleasure to watch the painful embarrassment of this gentleman who was so swollen with his own importance.
"That was a misunderstanding," he stammered, "there must be some misunderstanding." After this our conversation came to a rapid end. The truth, of course, was that, on the strength of my vague promise to sound the possibilities, Todt had given
Hitler entirely inaccurate information in order to convince him that everything was settled, and the motor-road on the point of being constructed. As everyone knows, the Poles never approved its construction.
By such methods, though not always as crude as this, these Ribbentrops made use of all their relations with Hitler to further their own ambitions. They threw sand in Hitler's eyes. They were assiduous in presenting themselves as peculiarly competent, in order to improve their own positions. Each one studied to tell Hitler what he wanted to hear, and sought to outshine his rivals and competitors in the matter of favorable and agreeable news calculated to show his own ability and skill in bringing about desired results. The German people, once the most objective and scientific of peoples, now went to unbelievable extremes of lying servility.
Hitler was never told the uncomfortable truth. By favor-ably colored reports he was pushed ever further along the road to ruin. It began with the minimizing of difficulties and the magnifying of favorable prospects, with the slightest shifting of emphasis, and ended with out-and-out falsification. A policy grew up of keeping from him everything that might excite him. His excessive fits of rage tempted few people to provoke such a storm. This policy of concealment soon became general, and was practiced by the other great ones of the party.
man—and obtained the required sum, and more, without difficulty. Was it not natural that Hitler and his lieutenants should come to believe that there were no difficulties, that every-thing could be done if only these "experts" were managed properly?
In reality, the problem was merely postponed. In the end it reappeared in
such an urgent form that something had to be done. Usually it was by then a far more expensive business. The
This currency trouble was one of the bones of contention which had
increasingly worsened my relations with the party. Two months after I was to
have justified my actions to Hitler, and had listened instead to a fervent
lecture on the nature of the party, I laid the financial position of
siderably longer time to
return. We, in
In my desperation I appealed,
among others, to Keppler, later the Secretary of
State, and at that time Hitler's special agent in economic matters. He had his
offices in the Reich Chancellery in
Not contented with this vaguely splendid forecast, I obtained an interview over
Keppler's head with Hitler. But here, too, the result
was unsatisfactory. I repeated what I had told the Cabinet session, namely,
Hitler raged and screamed. He would not permit it! He would never allow an inflation!
"I have given my word. I shall not inflate. The people don't understand inflation. It can be done without inflation."
He became so incoherent that I failed to understand all he said. It was some time before he regained his calm. The inter-view was not an enjoyable one.
Incidentally, Schwerin-Krosigk had on one
occasion, while we were both waiting in Hitler's anteroom, told me quite
frankly his opinion that
"Do anything you please," he repeated on this occasion, "except devaluation. I shall never give my consent to it, any more than I shall ever permit ration cards. There are plenty of other measures if you will only use your brain."
It was, he went on to declare, because of this unbelievable lack of understanding for the feeling of the masses, the small investors and the housewives, that the last war had been lost. He would not allow the same mistake to be made again, least of all before war had even started. He would sooner abolish money altogether, and instead of ration cards, introduce communal care of the whole nation. If the worst came to the worst, he could justify such measures to the masses. He could explain it as the new war Socialism, and proclaim it as a tremendous social advance. The people would believe that. But his government must never be associated with measures that had once already plunged the Reich into misery and defeat. This would only call to life feelings that would soon
turn against everything National Socialism was trying to do. The confidence of the nation would be destroyed in a very few months.
"Every state depends first and foremost on the craving for security and the confidence of the small investor and the housewife. Any government that has not these two classes as its friends cannot stand."
THE SECRET OF RULING THE MASSES
Hitler began in this connection to discuss leadership of the masses. He had an unerring instinct for what the masses felt, what could be expected of them, and what must, at all costs, be avoided, he told me. This was an inborn gift, and no one could teach him anything here. But this gift alone was not sufficient. It was necessary to be sure of one's means. The leadership of the masses was an art in the truest sense of the word, and mastery of this art presupposed a good deal of exacting labor.
"My enemies have turned up their noses at me. They have asked, full of envy: 'Why is this man so successful with the masses?' These Socialists and Communists thought they had a monopoly over the masses. They even had all the meeting-places and owned the streets. Yet suddenly a man appeared who created a really great mass movement. Was this just a lucky fluke, was it due to the uncritical mind of the masses? No, it was thanks to us, to our assiduity, and to the technique we perfected.
"It is true that the masses are uncritical, but not in the way these idiots of Marxists and reactionaries imagine. The masses have their critical faculties, too, but they function differently from those of the private individual. The masses are like an
animal that obeys its instincts. They do not reach conclusions by reasoning. My success in initiating the greatest people's movement of all time is due to my never having done anything in violation of the vital laws and the feelings of the mass. These feelings may be primitive, but they have the resistance and indestructibility of natural qualities. A once intensely felt experience in the life of the masses, like ration cards and inflation, will never again be driven out of their blood. The masses have a simple system of thinking and feeling, and anything that cannot be fitted into it disturbs them. It is only because I take their vital laws into consideration that I can rule them.
"I have been reproached for making the masses fanatic and ecstatic. In the opinion of these wiseacres the masses must be soothed and kept in apathy. No, gentlemen, the reverse is true. I can lead the masses only if I tear them out of their apathy. Only the fanatic mass can be swayed. A mass that is apathetic and dull is the greatest threat to unity. Apathy is to the masses a defensive form of rejection. They hide behind apathy, till suddenly they break out in entirely unexpected actions and reactions. The statesman who fails to take immediate measures against a growing apathy of the masses ought to be impeached."
He had made the masses fanatic, he explained, in order to fashion them into the instruments of his policy. He had awakened the masses. He had lifted them out of themselves, and given them meaning and a function. He had been reproached with appealing to their lowest instincts. Actually, he was doing something quite different. If he were to go to the masses with reasonable deliberations, they would not understand him. But if he awakened corresponding feelings in them, they followed the simple slogans he presented to them.
"At a mass meeting," he cried, "thought is eliminated. And because this is the state of mind I require, because it secures to me the best sounding-board for my speeches, I order every-one to attend the meetings, where they become part of the mass whether they like it or not, 'intellectuals' and bourgeois as well as workers. I mingle the people. I speak to them only as the mass."
He paused to reflect for a moment. Then he resumed with increased eagerness.
"I am conscious that I have no equal in the art of swaying the masses, not even Goebbels. Everything that can be learned with the intelligence, everything that can be achieved by the aid of clever ideas, Goebbels can do, but real leadership of the masses cannot be learned. And remember this: the bigger the crowd, the more easily is it swayed. Also, the more you mingle the classes—peasants, workers, black-coated workers—the more surely will you achieve the typical mass character. Don't waste time over 'intellectual' meetings and groups drawn together by mutual interests. Anything you may achieve with such folk today by means of reasonable explanation may be erased tomorrow by an opposite explanation. But what you tell the people in the mass, in a receptive state of fanatic devotion, will remain like words received under an hypnotic influence, ineradicable, and impervious to every reasonable explanation. But just as the individual has neuroses which must not be disturbed, so the mass has its complexes that must not be awakened. Among them are all reminders of ration cards and inflation.
"I can safely demand much greater sacrifices from the masses, but I must get them to view those sacrifices in the proper light. How can I expect to wage war if I drive the
masses into the same state of apathy that they were in during 1917-18?"
Up to this point I had had no chance of saying anything, but I interposed a question now. Was it not the function of the party, I asked, to make things clear to the individual, not as a mere component of the masses?
"No," Hitler replied, "that may be possible for a short time, but in critical times, the mass arises everywhere—in the street, in the factory, at the baker's shop, in the underground, in every place where ten to a dozen people congregate—and they will react in the mass, forgetting reason and persuasion. The entire weight of the masses rests on the party, and the party is itself a constituent part of the mass."
Hitler then began to discuss the use of propaganda to defeat opponents—a problem he strongly emphasized, that was quite distinct from the previous one. The two must on no account be confused. He had been discussing the mastery of the masses, but propaganda meant the defeat of opponents. The two had one thing in common: both must eschew all discussion of reasons, all refutation of opinions—in short, there must be no debating or doubting. But apart from this, the aim of a propaganda battle with one's opponents was quite a different one.
"Mastery always means the transmission of a stronger will to a weaker one. How shall I press my will upon my opponent? By first splitting and paralyzing his will, putting him at loggerheads with himself, throwing him into confusion."
He conceived the transmission of the will, he said, as some-thing in the nature of a physical and biological process. Foreign bodies penetrated the circulation of the enemy, gained a foothold, and gave rise to disease and infirmity till he was ready to surrender. The instrument of terrorism was indis-
pensable, less for its direct effects than for its undermining of the opposing will.
Once more Hitler began to speak of the coming war. The rules he had been laying down were also, he said, the fundamental rules of a war with psychological weapons. The world would be amazed at the methods he had in preparation for this purpose. The enemy propaganda of the last war would be child's play to his methods. War would not be waged by him solely as a military operation. If a bloody war did ever develop, he was confident of causing astounding breakdowns in the enemy ranks, on whom he would be in a position to force his will in the midst of battle.
Hitler's views on what is known today as the "war of nerves" were familiar to the initiated circles. They were the same as those to which he had adhered in the struggle for power. These tactics of political warfare were something quite peculiar to Hitler, and he could rightly claim that they were based on a wide range of psychological experience and study. Always he returned to these rules, and insisted that his Gauleiter, even in the smallest provincial districts, should ac-quaint themselves thoroughly with his ideas.
"Do anything you please," were the words with which he dismissed me. "But not another word about devaluation or inflation. Besides, the masses see no difference between the two."
"My Führer, don't touch black magic. As yet both white and black are open to you. But once you have embarked upon black magic it will dominate your destiny. It will hold you captive. Don't choose the quick and easy successes. There lies before you the power over a realm of pure spirits. Do not allow yourself to be led away from your true path by earth-bound spirits, which will rob you of creative power."
Hitler was fond at times of this sort of mystical talk. Only in such guise could any serious warning be offered to him. This woman friend expressed in her way what everyone who came into touch with Hitler was bound to feel: Hitler was abandoning himself to forces which were carrying him away —forces of dark and destructive violence. He imagined that he still had freedom of choice, but he had long been in bondage to a magic which might well have been described, not only in metaphor but in literal fact, as that of evil spirits. And instead of a man emerging step by step from the obscurity of his youth, and freeing himself from its dross in his upward course, we witnessed the development of a man possessed, the helpless prey of the powers of darkness.
Had he been a free agent? Could he have chosen any other
course? Many of us who knew him believed that he could. Many of us still hoped to see a change when it was already too late. But he was hampered, for one thing, by the dead-weight of the obscure associates of the past who had accompanied him in his rise. He had failed to drive them back into the obscurity to which they properly belonged, and this omission weighed on his whole career. How much good-will there was in the party, what forces would have been at his call, if these crooks and gangsters had not thronged round him! But the real reason why he pursued the path to the abyss lay in an infirmity of will. Hitler seems a man of tremendous will power, but the appearance is deceptive. He is languid and apathetic by nature, and needs the stimulus of nervous excitement to rouse him out of chronic lethargy to a spasmodic activity. He had chosen the easier path, and had abandoned himself to the forces that led him to destruction.
There were talks that showed that he had a conception of his true task. But these talks were no more than flights into an unreal world, flights which strengthened his belief in himself. The die had long been cast. It was an illusion that this man had any freedom of choice left, even if he possessed qualities which might have enabled him to rise higher. He followed a course which brought him, in externals, to the summit of power; in essentials it condemned him to more and more hope-less dependence.
Hitler was no dictator. Nor was he merely carried like a cork to the surface. He always marched with the big battalions. Over and over again in conversation he declared that we must always choose the weaker for opponent and the stronger for ally. It might sound a commonplace, he would say, but it was the essential rule for all political activity. One thing, especially, Hitler never did—he never ran counter to
the opinion of his Gauleiter, his district commissioners. Each one of these men was in his power, but together they held him in theirs; and accordingly, whenever differences arose, he so steered his course as to carry the overwhelming majority of them with him. The secret of his leadership lay in knowing in advance what course the majority of his Gauleiter would decide on, and in being the first to declare for that course. Thus he was always in the right, and the opposition was put in the wrong. These Gauleiter watched jealously over their prerogatives. They admitted no new members into their ranks. They resisted with robust unanimity every attempt to set limits to their rights of sovereignty. Hitler was at all times dependent on them—and not on them alone.
He was no dictator. He allowed himself to be guided by the forces at his back, often against his better judgment. It was the sum of these forces that at all times kept him to the fore. But the result was that his policy continually developed along wholly different lines to those which he had envisaged. He maintained his position of supremacy, but he had lost his freedom of decision.
My own relations with the party had become impossible. After my return from
I refused. My own proposals were an immediate devaluation of the
Hitler was taking his ease at Obersalzberg and
would not give me an audience. I remained in
I do not know whether my memorandum ever came into Hitler's hands. If it did, he certainly did not read it. Hitler never read reports or memoranda. But Lammers would have been able to make him acquainted with its contents. Forster, however, forestalled me. He was admitted to Obersalzberg, and to an audience.
Hitler capitulated to his Gauleiter. He refused to let me defend my memorandum in person. This made my course perfectly clear. I resigned.
Many times in our talks Hitler had expressed his particular friendliness
towards me. He had told me various things that were certainly beyond the ken of
his district commissioners. Now, however, he plainly could not escape from the
entanglement of his dependence on these old supporters. He had placed himself
at their mercy. And it was impossible for him to render justice to anyone
against them. This was not realized at the time in
enable him to follow a riper and more stable
policy. There in
At this time, in the autumn of 1934, I was staying, while awaiting a
decision, in a Christian hostel, a sort of Y.M.C.A., in
I had done all that it was possible to do. I had informed some of the most influential citizens of
But in the Free City of Danzig there was no longer a vestige left of the old independent Hanseatic spirit. Every man I approached showed himself to be concerned for nothing beyond his own precious self, and to be in terror of "backing the wrong horse." This spinelessness of the German business men could not but be fatal to their country. It may be that Hitler was merely the instrument of an inexorable verdict of history—the dissolution of the German middle class, which
never had manifested any serious ambition for political independence.
I found support elsewhere. Every potential opponent of my ultimate successor, Forster, approached me with the desire to assist me. These men were ready to come into the open. They advised me not to attack Hitler's henchman but to strike at other opponents, and so to get back into the saddle. Typically Nazi tactics! These persons saw everything under one aspect only, that of a struggle for positions and against rivals.
In another quarter—the army—the sweeping away of party control of
There was something in that. But it needed different forces. I could not in
the same breath call in the Opposition for the maintenance of the Statute and
carry out a coup d'état. Apart
from that, we should have been financially on the rocks in a few weeks, as we
could not maintain our currency without the support of the Reich. At that time
it was impossible to get rid of National Socialism in
But these were mere fancies.
There I was in
"But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men."
I read the passages preceding and following the verse quoted, read of the men who are lovers of their own selves, boasters, proud; read of those who shall be turned unto fables, who after their own lusts shall heap to themselves teachers.
Black magic, white magic—Hitler is the typical person with no firm foundation, with all the shortcomings of the superficial, of the man without reverence, quick to judge and quick to condemn. He is one of those with no spiritual tradition, who, being caught by the first substitute for it that they meet, hold tenaciously to that, lest they fall back into nothingness. He belongs also to the type of German who is "starving for the unattainable." For all those who have been unsuccessful
in the battle of life National Socialism is the great worker of magic. And Hitler himself is the first of these; thus he has become the master-enchanter and the high priest of the religious mysteries of Nazidom.
Hitler's henchmen make more and more play with this quality of his of supreme magician, a quality supposed to out-distance those of a great statesman. And amid the ecstasy of his speeches, or in his solitary walks in the mountains, he feels that he does possess this quality. But in the many vacant hours of lethargy he feels humiliated and weak. At such times he is irritated and unable to do or decide anything. He tries then to acquire the semblance of creativeness by endless talk. This requires an audience.
It was in this mood that Hitler once conferred on me the privilege of learning his views on morality and the things of the spirit. They were a mixture of misunderstood Nietzsche and popularized ideas of a certain tendency in current philosophy. All this stuff he poured forth with the air of a prophet and a creative genius. He seemed to take it for granted that the ideas were his own. He had no notion of their actual origin, and considered that he had worked them out himself, and that they were inspirations, the product of his solitude in the mountains. I give here some of these dicta, noted down at the time, but not all of them now in their original context. They are fragments from various talks.
"We are now at the end of the Age of Reason. The intellect has grown autocratic, and has become a disease of life."
"Our revolution is not merely a political and social revolution; we are at the outset of a tremendous revolution in moral ideas and in men's spiritual orientation."
"Our movement has at last brought the Middle Ages, medieval times, to a close."
"We are bringing to a close a straying of humanity." Of truth and conscience:
"The Ten Commandments have lost their validity." "Conscience is a Jewish invention. It is a blemish, like circumcision."
"A new age of magic interpretation of the world is coming, of interpretation in terms of the will and not of the intelligence."
"There is no such thing as truth, either in the moral or in the scientific sense."
"The idea of free and unfettered science, unfettered by hypotheses, could only occur in the age of Liberalism. It is absurd."
"Science is a social phenomenon, and like every other social phenomenon is limited by the benefit or injury it confers on the community."
"The slogan of objective science has been coined by the professorate simply in order to escape from the very necessary supervision by the power of the State."
"What is called the crisis of science is nothing more than that the gentlemen are beginning to see of their own accord how they have gone off the line with their objectivity and independence. The simple question that precedes every scientific activity is: who is it who wants to know something, who is it who wants to find how he stands in the world around him? It follows necessarily that there can only be the science of a particular type of humanity and of a particular age. It is reasonable to say that there is a Nordic science, and a National Socialist science, which are bound to be opposed to the Liberal-Jewish science, which, indeed, is no longer fulfilling its function anywhere, but is in process of stultifying itself."
"We approach the realities of the world only in strong emotion and in action. I have no love for Goethe. But I am ready to overlook much in him for the sake of one phrase—'In the beginning was action.' Only the man who acts becomes conscious of the real world. Men misuse their intelligence. It is not the seat of a special dignity of mankind, but merely an instrument in the struggle for life. Man is here to act. Only as a being in action does he fulfill his natural vocation. Contemplative natures, retrospective like all intellectuals, are dead persons who miss the meaning of life."
"We Germans above all, with our long-established habit of brooding and dreaming to excess, needed to be brought back to the great truth that only deeds and perpetual activity give meaning to life."
"Every deed has its place, even crime."
"All passivity, all inertia, on the other hand, is senseless, inimical to life. From this proceeds the divine right of destroying all who are inert."
"The word 'crime' comes from a world of the past. There are positive and negative activities. Every crime in the old sense towers above respectable inactivity. Action may be negative from the viewpoint of the community, and must then be prevented. But it is at least action."
Of the intelligence:
"We must distrust the intelligence and the conscience, and must place our trust in our instincts. We have to regain a new simplicity."
"People set us down as enemies of the intelligence. We are. But in a much deeper sense than these conceited dolts of bourgeois scientists ever dream of."
"I thank my destiny for saving me from the State-granted privilege of acquiring blinkers in the form of a so-called scientific education. I have been able to steer clear of many naive assumptions. Now I am reaping the benefit. I approach everything with a vast, ice-cold freedom from prejudice."
"To the Christian doctrine of the infinite significance of the individual human soul and of personal responsibility, I oppose with icy clarity the saving doctrine of the nothingness and insignificance of the individual human being, and of his continued existence in the visible immortality of the nation. The dogma of vicarious suffering and death through a divine savior gives place to that of the representative living and acting of the new Leader-legislator, which liberates the mass of the faithful from the burden of free will."
Pronounced with the authority of the recognized leader in the presence of his entourage, such dicta, studding a conversation, gave the impression of deep revelations. Hitler, moreover, was offended if anyone gave expression to his feeling that they had been said before or were being said by others who shared his opinions. He wanted to feel that he had thought out all of them, alone and unaided. He regarded it as a belittling of his stature if we mentioned similar opinions. Like other self-taught men, he was unaware that the ideas that seemed to him to be mysterious inspirations were the product of the general intellectual outlook of today, of which he was constantly absorbing the germs.
But this was not mere jealousy. He hated the suggestion of predecessors and contemporary thinkers on his lines because, however similar their ideas, they had given expression to them in an entirely different connection. It is true that no one else drew the same revolutionary conclusions from them, combining cultural and social, political and moral elements in a single general conception of a vast world change. This was his original contribution. What this world change amounted to in his idea was a point that he left unexplained. He spoke of it only in pictures, of doubtful originality. But we had the feeling that in his exaggeration of his own importance he came dangerously near to the limit beyond which Nietzsche passed when he announced that he was the Dionysus-God, the Anti-Christ become flesh.
The outcome of this contempt for intellect and science a few places lower in
Hitler's entourage was shown in a short talk I had with Himmler,
head of the Gestapo and the S.S.—the secret police and Hitler's vastly inflated
bodyguard. Himmler had had a private school
education. He was able to express himself with more brutal pregnancy than
Hitler. Himmler was my guest one evening at
Himmler called me to account about a professor who
lectured on prehistoric times both at
view. At that time a sensation had been created by
an exceedingly silly book, a manifest forgery, the "Uralinda
Chronicle." The book traced back the history of the Teutons
to an infinitely remote period; and it proved once more that the original
German-Teuton race was the true creator of European
civilization. The professor had treated this book with proper severity, and Himmler wanted me to dispose once for all of scientific
mischief-making of this sort. He himself would put the fear of God into the
professors in Königsberg and
What ideas, he said, these gentlemen got into their heads! Their scientific views were of no interest to anybody, they were just their private opinions. But if the State or the party had declared that a certain view was regarded as the desired starting-point for scientific research, that view must be accepted simply as a scientific axiom, and there must be no shilly-shallying about it, still less malevolent criticism.
"We don't care a hoot whether this or something else was the real truth about the prehistory of the German tribes. Science proceeds from hypotheses that change every year or two. So there's no earthly reason why the party should not lay down a particular hypothesis as the starting-point, even if it runs counter to current scientific opinion. The one and only thing that matters to us, and the thing these people are paid for by the State, is to have ideas of history that strengthen our people in their necessary national pride.
"In all this troublesome business we are only interested in one
thing—to project into the dim and distant past the picture of our nation as we
envisage it for the future. Every bit of Tacitus, in
Prehistory is the doctrine of the eminence of the Germans at the dawn of civilization."
In another milieu, that of the dreamers and credulous cranks, these ideas of the end of rational science reappeared, in the guise of a great retrogression of civilization from the age of reason to that of "sleepwalker's assurance," that of a super-rational magic. I heard a lecture by the professor who had edited the peculiar "Chronicle," Professor Wirth; he had written some queer books on the "Origin of Humanity," and had engaged in research into the primitive symbolism of prehistoric ages in signs and designs. Hitler was interested in the subject. Wirth spoke at meetings in which the fundamentals of a new conception of God and the basis of the coming civilization were discussed; the chair was taken by an ex-diplomat, von Leers. Humanity, we learned, stood on the threshold of a new day. Every principle accepted at the present day was far gone in obsolescence. Nothing could be of any service to us in the new era now dawning but recollections and resuscitations of the earliest ideas and customs of the dawn of humanity.
HITLER, WAGNER, GOBINEAU
Hitler recognized no predecessors—with one exception: Richard Wagner.
He asked me whether I had ever been to
"I won't discuss music," said Hitler. "I know Thuille and these neo-romantics. It's decent music, but that's all. But none
of these lesser lights know the real Wagner. I don't mean simply the music, but the whole revolutionary doctrine of civilization, down to the details that may seem trifling and immaterial."
Did I know, he continued, that Wagner had attributed much of the decay of our civilization to meat-eating? "I don't touch meat," said Hitler, "largely because of what Wagner says on the subject, and says, I think, absolutely rightly." So much of the decay of our civilization had its origin in the abdomen—chronic constipation, poisoning of the juices, and the results of drinking to excess. He did not touch meat or alcohol, or indulge in the dirty habit of smoking; but his reason had nothing to do with considerations of health, but was a matter of absolute conviction. But the world was not ripe for this advance.
Wagner, said Hitler, had really proclaimed the eternal tragedy of human
destiny. He was not merely a musician and a poet; he was the supreme prophetic
figure among the Germans. He, Hitler, had come early to Wagner, by chance or by
the disposition of
"The problem," he cried, "is this: How can we arrest racial decay? Must what Count Gobineau says come true? We have acted politically on it—no equality, no democracy! But are we to allow the masses to go their way, or should we stop them? Shall we form simply a select company of the really initiated? An Order, the brotherhood of Templars round the holy grail of pure blood?"
Hitler pondered a moment and then went on:
"We must interpret Parsifal in a totally different way to
the general conception, the interpretation, for instance, of the shallow Wolzogen. Behind the absurd externals of the story, with its Christian embroidery and its Good Friday mystification, something altogether different is revealed as the true content of this most profound drama. It is not the Christian-Schopenhauerist religion of compassion that is acclaimed, but pure, noble blood, in the protection and glorification of whose purity the brotherhood of the initiated have come together. The king is suffering from the incurable ailment of corrupted blood. The uninitiated but pure man is tempted to abandon himself in Klingsor's magic garden to the lusts and excesses of corrupt civilization, instead of joining the élite of knights who guard the secret of life, pure blood.
"All of us are suffering from the ailment of mixed, corrupted blood. How can we purify ourselves and make atonement? Note that compassion, through which man gains enlightenment, is only for the corrupted man at issue with himself. And that this compassion knows only one treatment—the leaving of the sick person to die. The eternal life granted by the grail is only for the truly pure and noble!"
Hitler continued with vivacity:
"For myself, I have the most intimate familiarity with Wagner's mental processes. At every stage in my life I come back to him. Only a new nobility can introduce the new civilization for us. If we strip Parsifal of every poetic element, we learn from it that selection and renewal are possible only amid the continuous tension of a lasting struggle. A world-wide process of segregation is going on before our eyes. Those who see in struggle the meaning of life, gradually mount the steps of a new nobility. Those who are in search of peace and order through dependence, sink, whatever their origin, to the inert masses. The masses, however, are doomed to decay and self-
destruction. In our world-revolutionary turning-point the masses are the sum total of the sinking civilization and of its dying representatives. We must allow them to die with their kings, like Amfortas."
Hitler hummed the motif "by pity enlightened . . ." (durch Mitleid wissend. . . .)
"In a natural order," he continued, "the classes are peoples superimposed on one another in strata, instead of living as neighbors. To this order we shall return as soon as the sequelae of Liberalism have been removed. The Middle Ages were not yet ended when the liberal dissolution began of the firm bonds which alone guaranteed the rule of a nobility of pure blood—until finally in our glorious day we find all values subverted—the meaner components of the European nations on top, and the valuable ones dependent on them."
"But this," I interposed, "means the setting up of a new feudal order."
"No, no!" said Hitler, and he told me to disregard all these ridiculous comparisons. "Don't let us waste time on these naive criteria. Such conceptions of an age of which not a vestige is left have no bearing on what we are called to create. Imagination is needed in order to divine the vast scale of the coming order. But," he continued, "when a situation is created that favors noble blood, the man of the great race always comes to the top, as, for instance, our own movement shows. The creation and maintenance of this situation is the great preparatory political action of the Leader-legislator."
"Once," I mentioned, "I heard you say, I think, that the days of conventional nationalism are over. Did I rightly understand you?"
"The conception of the nation has become meaningless. The conditions of the time compelled me to begin on the
basis of that conception. But I realized from the first that it could only have transient validity. The 'nation' is a political expedient of democracy and Liberalism. We have to get rid of this false conception and set in its place the conception of race, which has not yet been politically used up. The new order cannot be conceived in terms of the national boundaries of the peoples with an historic past, but in terms of race that transcend those boundaries. All the adjustments and corrections of frontiers, and of regions of colonization, are a plowing of the sands."
I tried to object that there were very great difficulties in the way of this
"I know perfectly well," he said, "just as well as all these
tremendously clever intellectuals, that in the
scientific sense there is no such thing as race. But you, as a farmer and
cattle-breeder, cannot get your breeding successfully achieved without the
conception of race. And I as a politician need a conception which enables the
order which has hitherto existed on historic bases to be abolished and an
entirely new and anti-historic order enforced and given an intellectual basis.
Understand what I mean," he said, breaking off. "I have to liberate
the world from dependence on its historic past. Nations are the outward and
visible forms of our history. So I have to fuse these nations into a higher
order if I want to get rid of the chaos of an historic past that has become an
absurdity. And for this purpose the conception of race serves me well. It
disposes of the old order and makes possible new associations.
Hitler concluded, with growing fervor:
"Just as the conception of the nation was a revolutionary change from
the purely dynastic feudal states, and just as it introduced a biological
conception, that of the people, so our own revolution is a further step, or,
rather, the final step, in the rejection of the historic order and the
recognition of purely biological values. And I shall bring into operation
"This revolution of ours is the exact counterpart of the great French Revolution. And no Jewish God will save the democracies from it. There is a stern time coming. I shall see to that. Only the tough and manly element will endure. And the world will assume a new aspect.
"But the day will come when we shall make a pact with these new men in
Hitler's anti-Semitism is an essential element in his general policy, but it is also part of his mental make-up. To him the Jew represents the very principle of evil. His feeling about
the Jews has much in common with that of the pornographer Julius Streicher and with that of the ordinary storm-trooper or S.S. man, but there are also elements of difference. To the great majority of the Nazi clique of leaders the whole racial doctrine is "Adolf's bunkum." They regard the ousting of the Jews as an exercise in revolutionary activity. They are able to do with the Jews as they would have been glad to do with the whole middle class, which is not so defenseless. To Streicher and his following anti-Semitism is a splendid stroke of business and, at the same time, a satisfaction of their vile instincts. Among the mass of the Germans there is no deep-rooted anti-Semitism; they have their grudges against the Jews, but these are no great matter.
I had in my own experience a practical demonstration of the fact that the
majority of the party members did not take the anti-Semitic shouting of the
Nazis seriously, and certainly had no expectation that anything drastic was
really intended. On
In the pogrom of the autumn of 1938 the general attitude showed the extent of the degradation into which Hitler has plunged the German people. "What does it matter to us? Look away if it makes you sick. It is not our trouble." That was the general reaction to the chasing of thinly-clothed men and women, and old and sick people, through the streets. Natural feelings of indignation had been overcome by the growth of
callousness and of fear of the all-powerful tyranny. Still, the scenes did not increase the popularity of anti-Semitism.
Hitler, however, believes in the natural wickedness of the Jew. For him the Jew is evil incarnate. He has made a myth out of the Jew, and has made capital out of it; but behind this is a manifestly genuine personal feeling of primitive hatred and vengefulness.
Explanations of this may be sought in his personal experience, and,
incidentally, it may be that under the
Was not this degenerate race the protagonist of the independence of the spirit, and thus the mortal enemy of the coming age? Were not its members among the most eminent in science, that insubordinate outsider which in Hitler's view, destroys life instead of promoting it? And was not the whole hated doctrine of Christianity, with its faith in redemption, its moral code, its conscience, its conception of original sin, the outcome of Judaism? Was not the Jew in political life always on the side of analysis and criticism? Hitler had plenty of arguments to bring forward in justification of his loathing.
The extent to which he was obsessed by his hatred of the Jews was shown by
the way he could scarcely speak without bringing in sooner or later at least
one scathing reference to them. On one occasion he gave me a fairly full
account of his ideas on this subject. It was perfectly true, he said, that anti-Semitism
is a useful revolutionary expedient. He had often made effective use of it, and
would in the future. It was valuable both as an implicit threat to the whole
middle class in
"My Jews are a valuable hostage given to me by the democracies. Anti-Semitic propaganda in all countries is an almost indispensable medium for the extension of our political campaign. You will see how little time we shall need in order to upset the ideas and the criteria of the whole world, simply and purely by attacking Judaism.
"The Jews themselves are our best helpers in this. In spite of their dangerous situation, the poor Jews continually associate with the enemies of the established order, and the rich Jews are envied because they are much in view as possessors of great fortunes. Thus it is easy to justify ourselves by quoting concrete instances from close around. And, once the principle of race has been established by the exposure of the particular case of the Jews, the rest is easy. It logically follows step by step that the existing political and economic order has to be ended and attention paid to the new ideas of biological politics."
Anti-Semitism, continued Hitler, was beyond question the most important weapon in his propagandist arsenal, and almost everywhere it was of deadly efficiency. That was why he had allowed Streicher, for instance, a free hand. The man's stuff,
too, was amusing, and very cleverly done. Wherever, he wondered, did Streicher get his constant supply of new material? He, Hitler, was simply on thorns to see each new issue of the Stürmer. It was the one periodical that he always read with pleasure, from the first page to the last.
But, he said, we cannot rest content with that: it is only the beginning of a merciless struggle for world domination.
"The struggle for world domination will be fought entirely between us,
between Germans and Jews. All else is facade and illusion. Behind
I asked whether that amounted to saying that the Jew must be destroyed.
"No," he replied. "We should have then to invent him. It is essential to have a tangible enemy, not merely an abstract one."
Hitler instanced the Catholic Church: it did not content itself, he said, with the Devil; it had to have visible enemies in order not to relax in the struggle.
"The Jew," he said, "is always with us. But it is easier to
combat him in the flesh than an invisible daemon. The Jew was the enemy of the
"Jews have been ready to help me in my political struggle. At the outset of our movement some Jews actually gave me financial assistance. If I had but held out my little finger I should have had the whole lot of them crowding round me. They knew well enough where there was a new thing on, with life in it. It was the Jews, of course, who invented the economic system of constant fluctuation and expansion that we
call Capitalism—that invention of genius, with its subtle and yet simple self-acting mechanism. Let us make no mistake about it—it is an invention of genius, of the Devil's own ingenuity.
"The economic system of our day is the creation of the Jews. It is under their exclusive control. It is their superstate, planted by them above all the states of the world in all their glory. But now we have challenged them, with the system of unending revolution. Has it not struck you how the Jew is the exact opposite of the German in every single respect, and yet is as closely akin to him as a blood brother?
"I have read 'The Protocols of the Elders of Zion'—it simply appalled me. The stealthiness of the enemy, and his ubiquity! I saw at once that we must copy it—in our own way, of course. Think of it—these people constantly on the move, and we with our new faith in unceasing activity, two groups so closely allied and yet so utterly dissimilar. It is in truth the critical battle for the fate of the world!"
"Don't you think," I objected, "that you are attributing rather too much importance to the Jews?"
"No, no, no!" exclaimed Hitler. "It is impossible to exaggerate the formidable quality of the Jew as an enemy."
"But," I said, "the Protocols' are a manifest forgery. I saw the book in 1920, through a certain Muller von Hausen. It was evident to me that it couldn't possibly be genuine."
"Why not?" grunted Hitler. He did not care two straws, he said, whether the story was historically true. If it was not, its intrinsic truth was all the more convincing to him. "We must beat the Jew with his own weapon," he continued. "I saw that the moment I had read the book."
"So you derived inspiration for your struggle from the 'Protocols'?" I asked.
"Yes, certainly, down to the veriest detail," he replied. "I found these Protocols enormously instructive. I have always learned a great deal from my opponents. I studied revolutionary technique in the works of Lenin and Trotsky and other Marxists. And I got illumination and ideas from the Catholic Church, and from the Freemasons, that I could never have obtained from other sources. The man who is not ready to learn from his enemies, and from them above all, is a fool. Only a weakling will be afraid of losing his own inspiration by studying the enemy."
"Even the Freemasons and the Catholic Church? Is not that going rather far?"
"Not a bit of it," retorted Hitler. "Nothing could be more natural. I learned above all from the Jesuits. So did Lenin, for that matter, if I remember rightly. There has been nothing more impressive in the world than the hierarchical organization of the Catholic Church. I have taken over many elements of it in the organization of my party. To have lasted almost two thousand years, under changing fortunes, is an achievement."
"I remember hearing you say something of the sort once," I ventured. Hitler ignored the remark, and pursued his theme:
"The Catholic Church is a model above all in its uncommonly clever tactics and its knowledge of human nature, and in its wise policy of taking account of human weaknesses in its guidance of the faithful. I have followed it in giving our party program the character of unalterable finality, like the Creed. The Church has never allowed the Creed to be interfered with. It is fifteen hundred years since it was formulated, but every suggestion for its amendment, every logical criticism or attack on it, has been rejected. The Church has realized
that anything and everything can be built up on a document of that sort, no matter how contradictory or irreconcilable with it. The faithful will swallow it whole, so long as logical reasoning is never allowed to be brought to bear on it. But if there is one thing that will perplex and demoralize the flock of believers it is an alteration of a solemn confession of faith, no matter how remote it may have become from practical realities, no matter if it has become simply a venerable ancient monument."
"I can't help wondering," I said, "what you could possibly have taken from the Freemasons."
"That's simple. Needless to say, I don't seriously believe in the
abysmal evilness and noxiousness of these people. In
He banged the table.
"An Order, that is what it has to be—an Order, the hierarchical Order of a secular priesthood. But, mind you, the only
one. Ourselves or the Freemasons or the Church—there is room for one of the three and no more. The Catholics entirely agree with us as regards the Freemasons. There you are—and we are the strongest of the three and shall get rid of the other two."
I recapitulated—"The Church's hierarchical organization, the Freemasons' principle of an Order, with its inviolable oath of obedience and secrecy and its esoteric doctrine revealed in stages through symbols. And what," I asked, "have you taken over from the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion'?"
"Political intrigue, the technique of conspiracy, revolutionary subversion; prevarication, deception, organization. Is that not enough?"
A regular collection, I admitted.
"But we have been speaking," said Hitler, "of the Jew only as the ruler of the economic world empire. We have been speaking of him as our political opponent. Where does he stand in the deeper struggle for the new world era?"
I confessed that I had no notion.
"There cannot be two Chosen People. We are God's People. Does not that fully answer the question?"
"That is to be understood symbolically?"
Again he banged the table.
"Symbolically? No! It's the sheer simple undiluted truth. Two worlds face one another—the men of God and the men of Satan! The Jew is the anti-man, the creature of another god. He must have come from another root of the human race. I set the Aryan and the Jew over against each other; and if I call one of them a human being I must call the other something else. The two are as widely separated as man and beast. Not that I would call the Jew a beast. He is much further
from the beasts than we Aryans. He is a creature outside nature and alien to nature."
Hitler seemed to have more to say. But words failed him amid the onrush of his surging thoughts. His face was distorted and working. He snapped his fingers in his excitement. "It's an endless subject," he spluttered.