THE HUMAN SOLSTICE
A CATHOLIC PRIEST and a Jewish rabbi were clearing the latrine in a concentration camp. Working up to their hips in filth, they were mockingly asked by the S.S. man who was standing guard over them,
"Where's your God now?"
"We don't know," replied the priest; "but he who seeks Him shall find Him."
But the rabbi said:
"God is here. God is even here."
But where is the god whom Hitler sometimes addresses in his speeches, the
god he calls
On one occasion, before he had immersed himself in foreign policy and his military plans, Hitler passionately exclaimed that he wanted to build up, to do constructive work as statesman and legislator. He was full, he said, of gigantic plans. The world would see in him the greatest creative genius of all ages.
"I have so little time . . . too little time!"
And he went on to say that we had, as yet, only the faintest idea of what manner of man he really was. Even his most
244 THE VOICE OF DESTRUCTION
intimate colleagues, he insisted, did not know what was in his mind, what it was that he wanted to build, or at least to start building.
Now and then he was obsessed by frightful nervous apprehension that he was going to fail to attain his goal. Or he would bury himself in technical puzzles, pottering about with motors and new inventions. At such times he was an in-tolerable nuisance to his entourage.
We had come to a turning-point in world history—that was his constant theme. We uninstructed persons, it was clear, had no conception of the scale of the revolution that was to take place in all life. At these times Hitler spoke as a seer, as one of the initiated. His inspired pronouncements were based on a biological mysticism—or shall we call it a mystical biology? The pursuit of the "random path of the intelligence," we learned, was the real defection of man from his divine mission. To have "magic insight" was apparently Hitler's idea of the goal of human progress. He himself felt that he already had the rudiments of this gift. He attributed to it his successes and his future eminence.
A savant of
Humanity, he proclaimed, was in the throes of a vast metamorphosis. A process of change that had lasted literally for thousands of years was approaching its completion. Man's solar period was coming to its end. The coming age was revealing itself in the first great human figures of a new type. Just as, according to the imperishable prophecies of the old Nordic peoples, the world has continually to renew itself, the old order perishing with its gods, just as the Nordic peoples took the sun's passing of the solstices as a figure of the rhythm of life, which proceeds not in a straight line of eternal progress but in a spiral, so must man now, apparently, turn back in order to attain a higher stage.
Did Hitler believe all this? Was it anything more than a sort of propaganda, with which to gain prestige and support in certain quarters? There were only a few people, mostly women, among whom he used to talk in this style. Perhaps that was simply because his rough political comrades would have had nothing but laughter for such portentous stuff. But how did this revolutionary and propagandist get hold of these notions? Perhaps they were his "white magic." Yet he may have believed in it all. He is capable of entertaining the most incompatible ideas in association with one another. One thing is certain—Hitler has the spirit of the prophet. He is not content to be a mere politician.
In our talks he put these ideas before me in a rather more materialistic form.
"Creation is not yet at an end," he said. "At all events, not so far as the creature Man is concerned. Biologically regarded, man has clearly arrived at a turning-point. A new variety of man is beginning to separate out. A mutation, precisely in the scientific sense. The existing type of man is passing, in consequence, inescapably into the biological stage
of atrophy. The old type of man will have but a stunted existence. All creative energy will be concentrated in the new one. The two types will rapidly diverge from one another. One will sink to a sub-human race and the other rise far above the man of today. I might call the two varieties the god-man and the mass-animal."
That, I commented, was very reminiscent of Nietzsche and his superman. But I had always taken all this as metaphorical.
"Yes," Hitler continued, "man has to be passed and surpassed. Nietzsche did, it is true, realize something of this, in his way. He went so far as to recognize the superman as a new biological variety. But he was not too sure of it. Man is becoming God—that is the simple fact. Man is God in the making. Man has eternally to strain at his limitations. The moment he relaxes and contents himself with them, he decays and falls below the human level. He becomes a quasi-beast. Gods and beasts, that is what our world is made of.
"And how simple, how elementary it all becomes! It is constantly the same decision that has to be made, whether I am faced with new political decisions to be made or with problems of the reordering of our social system. All those who cut themselves off from our movement, who cling to the old order, die away and are doomed. But those who listen to the immemorial message of man, who devote themselves to our eternal movement, are called to a new humanity. Do you now appreciate the depth of our National Socialist movement? Can there be anything greater and more all-comprehending? Those who see in National Socialism nothing more than a political movement know scarcely anything of it. It is more even than a religion: it is the will to create mankind anew."
Now, I said, I began to realize the deeper significance of his Socialism. It was the preparation for a division of humanity into the new Herrenmensch, the man of the élite, of the dominant few, and the Herdenmensch, the man of the herd. The new masses were, in the political field, the first indication of what Hitler called the atrophying type of humanity.
Hitler agreed. "Politics today is, literally, the frame of destiny. Don't you agree that the process of selection can be accelerated by political means?"
"We certainly can't breed the superman," I replied. "But, strictly speaking, what do we mean by breeding? Simply selecting." That, after all, was all that we farmers did, I told him. If a variety turned up, we kept it alive, deliberately selected it for propagation, and so hurried on the natural process. In scientific language, we sought for the homozygous plus-variation and cultivated it. "This, after all, is all that breeding amounts to, and I can conceive that a particular political system might make possible a process of human selection."
"Exactly so," said Hitler brightly. "You have put it well. Politics today is completely blind without a biological foundation and biological objectives. Only National Socialism has recognized this. My policy is not a national policy in the conventional sense. It draws its criteria and its objectives from a complete and comprehensive recognition of the essential nature of life."
"But you can only assist nature. You can only shorten her path when she chooses to grant you the new variety. All the breeder can do is to foster and propagate mutations when they appear."
"The new man is among us! He is here!" exclaimed Hitler
triumphantly. "Now are you satisfied? I will tell you a secret. I have seen the vision of the new man—fearless and formidable. I shrank from him!"
"I will tell you a secret. I am founding an Order."
The idea was not new to me. It had probably come from
After the lecture we sat in the Ratskeller,
the basement restaurant in the medieval town hall.
"It's time," said
He did not mean, continued
"It is quite possible," he concluded, "that we may suffer serious set-backs in foreign policy or in economic matters; at such times it is essential that the well-informed members shall be on the spot, as a secret priesthood existing independently of any organization in the public view, in order to conserve the great cultural ideas of National Socialism, and to be ready to bring them forth again at a more favorable moment."
Koch thought we might do well to consider the question without reference to set-backs. But something had got to be done. Hitler had given his assent to the idea of an Order being carried into effect, at all events in the training of fu-
ture leaders. "But I agree," he added, "that the sooner we make it clear that we are not just a political party of the old type, the better."
Nothing tangible resulted from all this at the moment. Hitler knew what his most active Gauleiter and storm-troopers thought of all bookish ideas and schemes. He himself was obviously interested in the idea of an Order. But he went forward cautiously, beginning with the introduction of National Socialist "Junker schools," under Ley, the head of the Labor Front. These schools were not merely for the training of future leaders; as their name suggested, they were intended for the creation of a new Order of nobles, to be bound together as a sworn body.
Hitler was perfectly well aware of the weaknesses of his Gauleiter
and the men in high command in the
He knew, he said, that these men were inaccessible to lofty ideas. They were political veterans who had grown to greatness amid the fury of the battle. They had never had more than a smattering of the "philosophy" of National Socialism, most of them had forgotten even that in the heat of the
struggle, and their ideas went no further than a few practical rules. But they had learned how to keep the masses in order and themselves in power. The present generation would have to be used up before the party could grow into the new and unfamiliar shape of a secular priesthood in control of the State. The present leaders were entirely out of reach of the deeper speculations which were more and more engaging Hitler's thoughts, the new world-religion, the creation of a new humanity.
Hitler resisted the temptation to make any premature mention in public of
his deeper purposes. National Socialism was only at the outset of its career.
He had first to carry the political struggle to completion and to prepare
himself for the decisive war that must inevitably come. Only when, like old
"In my great educative work," said Hitler, "I am beginning with the young. We older ones are used up. Yes, we are old already. We are rotten to the marrow. We have no unrestrained instincts left. We are cowardly and sentimental. We are bearing the burden of a humiliating past, and have in our blood the dull recollection of serfdom and servility. But my magnificent youngsters! Are there finer ones anywhere in the world? Look at these young men and boys! What material! With them I can make a new world.
"My teaching is hard. Weakness has to be knocked out of
them. In my Ordensburgen a youth will grow up before which the world will shrink back. A violently active, dominating, intrepid, brutal youth—that is what I am after. Youth must be all those things. It must be indifferent to pain. There must be no weakness or tenderness in it. I want to see once more in its eyes the gleam of pride and independence of the beast of prey. Strong and handsome must my young men be. I will have them fully trained in all physical exercises. I in-tend to have an athletic youth—that is the first and the chief thing. In this way I shall eradicate the thousands of years of human domestication. Then I shall have in front of me the pure and noble natural material. With that I can create the new order.
"I will have no intellectual training. Knowledge is ruin to my young men. I would have them learn only what takes their fancy. But one thing they must learn—self-command! They shall learn to overcome the fear of death, under the severest tests. That is the intrepid and heroic stage of youth. Out of it comes the stage of the free man, the man who is the substance and essence of the world, the creative man, the god-man. In my Ordensburgen there will stand as a statue for worship the figure of the magnificent, self-ordaining god-man; it will prepare the young men for their coming period of ripe manhood."
More than that, concluded Hitler, he could not say. There were stages of which he must not allow even himself to speak. Even this, he said, he only intended to make public when he was no longer living. Then there would be something really great, an overwhelming revelation. In order to completely fulfill his mission, he must die a martyr's death.
"Yes," he repeated, "in the hour of supreme peril I must sacrifice myself for the people."
REVOLUTION WITHOUT END
I must add a few words on the subject of this doctrine of Hitler's. Few know about it. Yet his political purpose can only be understood with this background of his ideas. Hitler is not superstitious in the ordinary sense. His interest in the horoscope and the cryptic elements in nature is connected with his conviction that man exists in some kind of magic association with the universe. The political element is for him only the foreground of a revolution which he pictures on the most stupendous scale.
The study of apocryphal literature gives him the material for his doctrine. But what is of more importance than the doctrine is the will behind it. Hitler never tires of proclaiming, with endless variations on his theme, that the movement into which he has led the German people and the world is an unending movement, an unending revolution. This revolution embraces the whole existence of mankind. It is the liberation of mankind, which, according to Hitler's doctrine, advances a step every seven hundred years. This liberation is at the same time, for the great majority of mankind, a subjection to a new form of bondage. For the liberation is that of the sons of God. It is the revolution of the new nobility against the masses.
He has gone far, if we recall where he began. Hitler the conspirator and paid propagandist has become the prophet of a new religion. Is this merely the megalomania of a sick man, or is it not, after all, the outcome of a logical process? A red thread may be plainly seen running through all the inconsistent, contradictory activities of this most extraordinary man. "Activity is everything. Keep always on the
move." His natural restlessness finds expression in everything. But at the back of it there is not only his own "haunting hysteria," as he himself so significantly calls it. A world in full process of dissolution, and a people no less hysterical than himself could not but come under the leadership of a man of this sort.
"Time," he says, "is working for us. I need but give them a kick, and we shall be free of the chains of a world that has outlived its day. All these things that seem so solid are rotten and ready to collapse."
All things do, indeed, seem to be inwardly rotting and in dissolution. In
its dismay humanity seems to be abandoning itself to restless movement,
perpetual change. And self-surrender to the uncontrollable impulse to wreak
destruction seems to be the essence of the spirit that guides this insane
adventurer. "We do not know yet," said Hitler on one occasion,
"the full scope of our objective. But we have it in our blood, and we are
living it." That is literature—bad literature. It dates from the outset of
the present century. At that time there existed a sort of hysterical
It is not the first time that the sick fancies of a whole fevered nation have found concrete shape in figures that have worked havoc for centuries thereafter. Whole peoples have broken suddenly into an inexplicable restlessness. They undertake pilgrimages of penance, they are seized with an hysterical dancing mania. The present is one of these cases. A nation has become sick in mind; the circumstances may be investigated, but the root cause remains undiscoverable.
National Socialism is the Saint Vitus's dance of the twentieth century.
I think everyone who has met the Führer two or three times must have asked himself this question. Anyone who has seen this man face to face, has met his uncertain glance, without depth or warmth, from eyes that seem hard and remote, and has then seen that gaze grow rigid, will certainly have experienced the uncanny feeling: "That man is not normal."
Then again he may be seen to sit in apathy for a quarter of an hour, without speaking a word, without even looking up, picking his teeth abominably. Has he heard anything that was going on? Has he been dreaming? Never was a real conversation with Hitler possible. Either he would listen in silence, or he would "speechify" and not allow one to speak. Or he would walk restlessly up and down, interrupt constantly, and jump from one subject to another as if unable to concentrate.
I cannot judge whether Hitler is near madness in the clinical sense. My own experience of him and what I have learned from others indicate a lack of control amounting to total demoralization. His shrieking and frenzied shouting, his stamping, his tempests of rage—all this was grotesque and unpleasant, but it was not madness. When a grown-up man lashes out against the walls like a horse in its stall, or throws
himself on the ground his conduct may be morbid, but it is more certainly rude and undisciplined.
Hitler, however, has states that approach persecution mania and dual personality. His sleeplessness is more than the mere result of excessive nervous strain. He often wakes up in the middle of the night and wanders restlessly to and fro. Then he must have light everywhere. Lately he has sent at these times for young men who have to keep him company during his hours of manifest anguish. At times these conditions must have become dreadful. A man in the closest daily association with him gave me this account: Hitler wakes at night with convulsive shrieks. He shouts for help. He sits on the edge of his bed, as if unable to stir. He shakes with fear, making the whole bed vibrate. He shouts confused, totally unintelligible phrases. He gasps, as if imagining himself to be suffocating.
My informant described to me in full detail a remarkable scene—I should not have credited the story if it had not come from such a source. Hitler stood swaying in his room, looking wildly about him. "He! He! He's been here!" he gasped. His lips were blue. Sweat streamed down his face. Suddenly he began to reel off figures, and odd words and broken phrases, entirely devoid of sense. It sounded horrible. He used strangely composed and entirely un-German word-formations. Then he stood quite still, only his lips moving. He was massaged and offered something to drink. Then he suddenly broke out
"There, there! In the corner! Who's that?"
He stamped and shrieked in the familiar way. He was shown that there was nothing out of the ordinary in the room, and then he gradually grew calm. After that he lay asleep
for many hours, and then for some time things were endurable.
It is terrible to think that a madman may be ruling
But how comes it that so many visitors are charmed to the point of ecstasy over this man, and consider him an out-standing genius? Not only very young people, but men of knowledge and experience and critical judgment, are unable to speak of their experience without emotion. What is the magic that has captured them? Max Halbe, the poet, a close friend of Gerhart Hauptmann, told me of the meeting between Hitler and the veteran German dramatist. Hauptmann had the feeling that this might prove to be a counterpart of Goethe's meeting with Napoleon, and was eagerly looking forward to hearing some striking remark from Hitler. Hitler, himself an artist—which of Hauptmann's works would he penetrate to the heart, with the eye of genius? Not Die Weber; perhaps Florian Geyer.
Hauptmann was introduced. The Führer shook hands with him and looked into his eyes. It was the famous gaze that makes everyone tremble, the glance which once made a distinguished old lawyer declare that after meeting it he had but one desire, to be back at home in order to master the experience in solitude.
Hitler shook hands again with Hauptmann.
Now, thought the witnesses of the meeting, now the great phrase will be uttered and go down in history.
Now! thought Hauptmann.
And the Führer of the German Reich shook hands a third time, warmly, with the great writer, and passed on to his neighbor.
Later Gerhart Hauptmann said to his friends:
"It was the greatest moment of my life!"
This man, awkward and ill at ease, and always at a loss for words when he cannot be rhetorical, has not even the irritating attractiveness of the wayward. What, then, is it in him that so powerfully affects his visitors?
There is an instructive parallel—mediums. Most of these are ordinary, undistinguished persons; yet suddenly they ac-quire gifts that carry them far above the common crowd. These qualities have nothing to do with the medium's own personality. They are conveyed to him from without. The medium is possessed by them. He, himself, however, is uninfluenced by them. In the same way undeniable powers enter into Hitler, genuinely daemonic powers, which make men his instruments. The common united with the uncommon—that is what makes Hitler's personality so desperate a puzzle to those who come into contact with him. Dostoevsky might well have invented him, with the morbid derangement and the pseudo-creativeness of his hysteria.
I have frequently heard men confess that they are afraid of him, that they, grown men though they are, cannot visit him without a beating heart. They have the feeling that the man will suddenly spring at them and strangle them, or throw the inkpot at them, or do something senseless. There is a great deal of insincere enthusiasm, with eyes hypocritically cast up, and a great deal of self-deception, behind this talk of an unforgettable experience. Most visitors want their interviews to be of this kind, because so many others have said
that such were their own: One is reminded of that invisible picture of Till Eulenspiegel's, which no one was ready to admit that he could not see. But these visitors who were fain to hide their disappointment gradually came out with it when they were pressed. Yes, it is true he did not quite say that. No, he does not look impressive, it is impossible to pre-tend that he does. Why, then, imagine things about him? Yes, if you look critically at him he is, after all, rather ordinary. The nimbus—it is all the nimbus.
But is that really all it amounts to, that the visitor was simply under the influence of auto-suggestion during his "great experience"? The case is not quite so simple as that. I have often had the opportunity of examining my own experience, and I must admit that in Hitler's company I have again and again come under a spell which I was only later able to shake off, a sort of hypnosis. He is, indeed, a remarkable man. It leads nowhere to depreciate him and speak mockingly of him. He is simply a sort of great medicine-man. He is literally that, in the full sense of the term. We have gone back so far toward the savage state that the medicine-man has become king among us.
"I, Emperor and God"—that is not the formula of his existence. There is nothing Caesarian about him, no deification of the State in the person of the Emperor. The parallel with the Roman Emperors is entirely misleading. It is the Shaman's drum that beats round Hider. Asiatic, African cults and bewitchments are the true element of his spell, and furious dances to the point of exhaustion. The primitive world has invaded the West.
It is supremely important to avoid raising this man to undue significance, giving him immortality, making a myth out of him. He will dominate the imagination of his fellow-
countrymen long enough without that, and not theirs only. He himself believes that his influence will be greatest after his death. And in spite of every caution his spell might revive, like that of the imprisoned jinn in the Arabian tale who when set free suddenly grew into a giant. It is useful and salutary, therefore, to realize fully this man's ordinariness, to see Hitler as he is and not as he orates or as he interprets himself. It is not a pleasant study.
Hitler is exacting, spoiled, avaricious, greedy. He does not know how to work steadily. Indeed, he is incapable of working. He gets ideas, impulses, the realization of which must be feverishly achieved and immediately got rid of. He does not know what it is to work continuously and unremittingly. Everything about him is "spasm," to use a favorite word of his. Nothing about him is natural. His professed love of children and animals is a mere pose.
He has been a Bohemian all his life. He gets up late. He can spend whole
days lazing and dozing. He hates to have to read with concentration. He rarely
reads a book through; usually he only begins it. Yet he has a large library. He
loves books; loves fine editions and fine bindings. In his
He loves solitary walks. The mountain forests intoxicate him. These walks are his divine service, his prayers. He watches the passing clouds, listens to the moisture dripping from the pines. He hears voices. I have met him when in this mood. He recognizes nobody then: he wants to be alone. There are times when he flees from human society.
He has acquired the most curious habits. He can only get to sleep if his bed has been made in a particular way. The quilt must lie folded exactly as prescribed. Men whom he trusts must make the bed. Is he afraid of poisoning, of some secret contrivance, poison on the pillow, an infernal machine in the mattress? Himmler busied himself in the early days with a poisonous white powder. Strewn on the pillow, it would be inhaled in sleep and injure the lungs, bringing a painful death.
Göring is naturally brave; Hitler is not. He is excessively nervous, and insanely self-important. He has nothing of the brave man's readiness to challenge and defy fate. He sees to it that he is guarded like a precious antique. If he exposes himself to any risk, the protective arrangements are perfection. The onlooker may imagine that Hitler is taking a risk; he is not.
He is timid and sensitive. He has to force himself by much preparation to put on a bold front; he then becomes aggressive. He is without natural coolness.
For everything he needs to be worked up. He must pre-pare beforehand for the smallest decision, the simplest action: he must screw himself up to it. In the past he used to complain for weeks at a time, blaming the ingratitude of his followers or the unkindnesses of fate for his own inactivity. He was fond of posing as a martyr and dwelling on the idea of premature death. At such times he would seem to be giving up. He was then full of compassion, but only for himself.
All the more astonishing are the explosions of his "determined will," his sudden activity. Then he neither tires nor hungers; he lives with a morbid energy that enables him to do almost miraculous things. Everything is done then, in his own words, "with determination," "without tolerating"
(whatever obstacle may be in question), "fanatically." But everything about him is jerky and abrupt. He is entirely without balance. And in this respect he shows not the slightest improvement as he grows older. He has no natural greatness, even in the vastest of his new and vast rooms.
Hitler used to like to be seen with a riding whip in his hand; he has given up this habit. But the qualities it revealed remain—contemptuousness, arrogance, brutality, vanity. Hitler has never mounted a horse; but the tall riding boots and the riding whip bore witness to his resentment at past years of submission to his officers. What a vain and touchy creature the man must have been in his obscure youth! He is full of resentments. A chance word, an association of ideas, may arouse them at any time. Visitors have been completely dumb-founded at a sudden transition in the Führer from obvious goodwill to violent scolding, for some imagined slight, and defensive self-praise. In some harmless remark the visitor will have unwittingly touched one of the leader's sore points, re-opened some wound left by past injuries to his self-confidence and vanity.
Brutal and vindictive, he is also sentimental—a familiar mixture. He loved his canaries, and could cry when one of them sickened and died. But he would have men against whom he had a grudge tortured to death in the most horrible way. He eats incredible quantities of sweetmeats and whipped cream; and he has the instinct of the sadist, finding sexual
excitement in inflicting torture on others. In Roman history he gloats over such a figure as Sulla, with his proscriptions and mass executions. Once he recommended to me as instructive reading a banal novel of which Sulla was the hero.
Most loathsome of all is the reeking miasma of furtive, unnatural sexuality that fills and fouls the whole atmosphere round him, like an evil emanation. Nothing in this environment is straightforward. Surreptitious relationships, substitutes and symbols, false sentiments and secret lusts—nothing in this man's surroundings is natural and genuine, nothing has the openness of a natural instinct.
"Oh!" said Forster once to me—"Forster Boy," one of Hitler's closest intimates, the enfant terrible among the Gauleiter —"Oh, if Hitler only knew how it does one good to have a fresh, natural girl!" Forster had just begun "courting." "Poor Hitler!" he said. I did not pursue the subject.
Hitler has a room with obscene nudes on the wall, concealing nothing. Such
pictures have no artistic intention or appeal. He revels in this style of
painting. Is he merely aping
Frederick II of
But in Hitler even this bit of hero-worship is debased to a means of satisfying his vanity and of political deception. Even in the praise of others he is so self-centered that it is only his own self that he thus honors. Yet this man, so convinced of his own godlike stature, is grateful for every
bit of praise and for the crudest flattery. He lives on praise and recognition. He needs constant reassurance by expressions of enthusiastic approval. He depends at all times on the agreement of those round him. It is to women's encouragement that he owes his self-assurance. It is absurd that he of all men should always be surrounded by a crowd of women, most of them rather over-blown—that women, indeed, launched him on his career.
Hitler was discovered by women, society ladies who pushed him forward, when still a young man, after the Great War. It was the wives of some great industrialists, before their husbands, who gave him financial support, surreptitiously supplying him with money, and in the inflation period with valuables. It was in the company of a clique of educated women that the paid propagandist developed into a political prophet. How much they contributed to his stock of ideas may be doubtful. But it was they who pampered him and ministered to his conceit with extravagant advance laurels. Women's gushing adulation, carried to the pitch of pseudo-religious ecstasy, provided the indispensable stimulus that could rouse him from his lethargy. It is curiously reminiscent of the feminine adoration lavished on the arid and unattractive Robespierre.
Hitler knew very well what he was about. He "cultivated" these connections as carefully and calculatingly as any ad-venturer in pursuit of a rich wife. He gave his Gauleiter cynically concrete instructions, urging them to devote particular attention to propaganda among women. In the struggle for power it was the woman's vote that brought Hitler
to triumph. In the mass meetings in every town the front rows were always filled with elderly women of a certain type, married and single. Anyone looking down from the platform on those front seat women and watching their expressions of rapturous self-surrender, their moist and glistening eyes, could not doubt the character of their enthusiasm. The S.S. men who guarded the hall at these meetings soon had a coarse phrase for these women enthusiasts: they were the "varicose vein squad."
Eroticism is an important political factor in modern mass propaganda, the erotic effect of a speaker's voice, of tonality and speaking melody. These are much more important elements of a speech than its content. Hitler has taken factors of this sort into account, and owes not a little of his political success to their cynical exploitation. How much of his relations with women has been a genuine sublimation of erotic intensity and how much cold calculation, I do not know. Hitler, as I see him, is a personality so exclusively wrapped up in himself that he is incapable of genuine devotion. And thus the more or less morbid women who swarm around him and pay him homage, women with more than a touch of hysteria, are a deliberately selected company.
Later I frequently found with him strikingly pretty young blondes. They sat beside him at meals. He stroked their hands. He permitted himself little intimacies. The whole thing was play-acting. The whole conceit and unnaturalness of this man shows itself even in the most elementary relations in human life. He has shaken off nothing of his past. He still carries it with him, and with its insincerity and uncleanness and monstrousness it burdens the whole German people.
It is true that Hitler is no longer the young man of 1923. In 1933, when he came into power, he was already more
realistic, more calculating, more cynical. Since
then he has further changed. The Byzantines of the new German court speak of a
process of ripening to greatness. They praise Hitler's rise to be the most
eminent of statesmen and predict that some day he will also prove himself the
greatest of army commanders. But the essential Hitler is unchanged. He has remained
the same hopelessly immature man, with the same morbid lusts. His technique,
his routine, may have ripened. Otherwise he is tragically identical with the
Hitler of twenty years ago. He may well claim that he laid the foundations of
his philosophy of life in his
Hitler cannot shake off his past. In everything that he does he remains true to type. But can anyone shake off his past? Only by spiritual development; and of this Hitler is incapable. This man of the unending revolution, of unending movement and change, is confined in his own tragic nature that shuts out every creative influence that ripens a man. He remains unchanged.
To this day he is the hireling of whoever offers the best terms. To this day he is the vain and touchy person of his boyhood. To this day he is the excitable, theatrical revolutionary of the years of inflation, his hand on his heart as he swears tremendous oaths; and then, when he breaks them, tearfully entreating forgiveness and comprehension of his claim that he had to obey the higher call of the Fatherland.
THE EAGLE'S EYRIE
He not only built a new Chancellery; he put up a branch of it in his mountains.
the cleavage between town and country, and to create a new feeling of attachment to the soil and of love of home.
When he had completed the work of rearmament,
At the time of my conflict with the party I represented to Hitler my concern
at Forster's ambitious building schemes for
Hitler was inclined to take offense at my criticism. Did I suppose that these buildings were a luxury? Could I get no further than the idea of workmen's housing and the like—was that all my imagination would run to?
"In my buildings I am giving the people visible symbols of my plans for the new order," he told me. "We are all influenced by the places in which we work and rest. Only by the dimensions and the purity of our buildings can the people measure the scale of our ideas. I should have made the greatest possible mistake if I had begun with housing estates and workers' tenements. All that will come—obviously. Any Government could do that, any Marxist or bourgeois Government.
But only we, as a party, can work freely and on a generous scale at this
noblest of all arts. We are the first, since the time of the medieval
cathedrals, to provide the artist with important and imposing tasks. Not homes
and little private buildings, but the most tremendous architecture that has
been seen since the gigantic buildings of
But building plans had to give place to the great problems posed for Hitler by foreign policy and the military situation. He could only devote leisure moments to building plans and models. He sat now poring over maps and strategic plans, playing the never-ending game, the never-ending gamble, of his foreign policy. More and more clearly he was developing into the army commander of the new world war.
Strategic and political moves, and deliberate working on opponents' nerves
in "psychological warfare," were but the elements now of a vast
building plan of another sort, that of a new world empire. Things
at which in the past Hitler had merely hinted, perhaps as objectives for the
remote future, were now being worked for with uncanny deliberation. Chance came
to his aid in furthering their attainment. Everything and everyone seemed to be
playing amazingly into his hands, and carrying him on from success to success.
Visitors came and went; they came by command, summoned with threats: A new and
remarkable political method made its appearance.
eign diplomats had to make the best of this hindrance to their labors.
The mountain seat grew into a remarkable building, in which boys' dreams or the fantastic ideas of detective story writers found concrete realization. Bavarians were reminded of their romantic King Ludwig II, with his fairyland castles, his isolation, and his final madness. In a rocky ravine, concealed and shut off from the world, a lift rises several hundred yards. It leads to a glass-walled building, hidden away in the rocky wilderness of the Bavarian mountains, looking across to the Watzmann. Here, high above the world, far beyond reach, the German Führer sits enthroned. It is his eagle's eyrie. Here he looks out to eternity. Here he challenges his aeon.
He has converted his dreams into reality. But with him also are troubled dreams of the past and torturing doubts as to the future. Again and again he is convulsed by paroxysms that bring him near to insanity. But now, if he cannot sleep for agitation, he is no longer alone. He presses a button, and aides-de-camp come hurrying in. He wants to speak at once to someone: aircraft and motor cars set out to bring him. Often he only wants young men to come at night from their beds; they must help their master to forget the fear and anxiety and solitude that are torturing him. They sit or stand round the fire in the huge room, ignorant, uncomprehending, unfeeling; they bandy jokes and stories, banal or indecent. Their task is to divert Hitler's thoughts, to help him to stop thinking and worrying. Hitler himself walks restlessly up and down, like John Gabriel Borkman.
This Master Builder, this Solness, is himself not immune from dizziness. A whole nation watches anxiously as he climbs to the top of his building to crown it with a wreath. It expects
to see him suddenly stagger and fall, and lie mangled and lifeless on the ground.
But as yet every wish of his can be fulfilled. Every whim is given effect. Only in invention he has not the success he ardently desires. Here it is not sufficient to command; everything has to be achieved, point by point, by steady labor.
Hitler has also joined the company of inventors. He invents in the same way as other powerful lords, with the brains of other people. And we almost seem to be back in the days of the Philosopher's Stone, when princes thirsting for gold locked up their adepts in solitary towers until the formula should be discovered and the gold produced. But the search now is for secret military inventions, aerial torpedoes, death-rays. Hitler has always toyed with technical problems. His Gauleiter are astonished at his knowledge of the merits and shortcomings of every motor car. He particularly enjoys giving technical advice to his colleagues. The grands seigneurs of the past talked endlessly of their horses and studs; these new peers spend hours discussing their cars and private planes. Hitler excels them all. He sketches, improves, designs. He was, at one time, a draughtsman. He has unquestionably a certain skill. And in the eyes of his admirers he can achieve anything. He is a universal genius, the new Leonardo! He puts ideas into the heads of everybody—architects and generals, savants and authors, statesmen and captains of industry: each of them receives from Hitler the brilliant idea that crowns his efforts with success. Nobody leaves the Leader's presence without confessing, like Schacht, that he goes back to his work refreshed and with new courage.
So, in his own Sans Souci, Hitler feels like Frederick of Prussia, who in the intervals between his wars, and before the last and hardest of them, united with the life of the statesman
and soldier that of a thinker and poet and
musician, while laying the foundations of victory and of constructive work.
Hitler's thoughts, like
But he does work, day and night, seriously and with determined tenacity, on plans of foreign policy. One idea after another is considered and dropped. It is a complicated game. He holds all the threads in his hands. He has his own sources of information. He controls a vast organization. Material is within immediate reach on every question. He watches the whole surface of the earth. He has long grown out of the simple East European, continental policy of the past. There are no isolated problems in foreign policy. The remotest of them affects his situation. And his own moves affect the whole world.
To gain influence over the people who matter, to get information about them, about their passions, their tastes, their friends, their way of life—that is politics. Women are his spies, strikingly beautiful women play a critical part in his political calculations. What type of woman is this man's fancy, and that man's? These are problems no less important than the number of submarines or aeroplanes. With extraor-
dinary subtlety each man's type of womanhood is found for him, delicately and with great caution. This is done not only for heads of states and dictators, but for powerful bankers, foreign politicians, perhaps Generals. So secrets of state are learned, and influence is won. All this is no fevered fancy, no plagiarism from spy fiction, but historic reality. One man gives their orders to these women, and they carry them out for his sake, for the sake of his great and noble aims.
These are indeed no ordinary times. They combine the methods of the
Renaissance with the usages of Imperial Rome in decay, the customs and
Hitler once told me that he had not only read but studied "The Prince." The book, he said, is simply indispensable for every politician. For some time he had it always at his bedside. He had found unexampled purification and emancipation in reading it. It had liberated him from mistaken, sentimental ideas. It had revealed to him for the first time how many inhibitions fetter us at every step. It was not until he had read this Florentine's book that he realized that we have to learn what the science of politics really is.
He mentioned the book in the talk I had with him on my return from
to speculate on human vices rather than on human virtues. The French Revolution may have appealed to virtue; we shall do better to do the opposite. And it is not enough to work on the weaknesses of the masses; those of the men at the head of affairs are of more importance. I cannot embark on a policy without knowing them. A thorough knowledge of the weaknesses and vices of each one of my opponents is the first condition of success in any policy."
Hitler complained of the spinsterly methods of German foreign policy and diplomacy. These people were continually groping in the dark. They had no intelligence service worth the name, and so nothing to work on. Nothing reached them but now and then a tedious embassy report. You might regard this stuff either as light literature or as scientific disquisitions, but in either case he was not interested in it. It was just consequential, portentous tripe. What he, Hitler, wanted to know was where Lord So-and-so liked to throw his line and who was the mistress of X, the managing director of Messrs. Y, Limited. "The whole Foreign Ministry is choked with bureaucracy and formalism."
I remarked that it was just the same with the military espionage and counter-espionage during the War. When I became unfit for military duty I was employed for a time on counter-espionage. The whole system at that time was ridiculous.
"It's better now," said Hitler. Military espionage was working exceedingly well. Even more wretched had been the political secret service—it simply did not exist. "I am doing my utmost to make up for lost time. What we need is something like the British secret service, an Order, doing its work with passion."
"Passion will not make up for everything," I objected. "A great deal of accumulated experience is needed, and that is not acquired all at once."
"Anyhow," said Hitler, "we shall get nothing achieved without a staff who have their hearts in the work. The officials don't like this job; it's too dirty for them. So they say, but in reality it is they who are too cowardly and too stupid. But consider the women, the society ladies thirsting for adventure, sick of their empty lives, no longer getting a 'kick' out of love affairs. And I shall not shrink from using abnormal men, adventurers from love of the trade. There are countless men of this sort, useless in respectable life, but invaluable for this work.
"I told those Father Christmases at the Foreign Ministry that what they
were up to was good enough for quiet times, when they can all go their sleepy
way; but not good enough for creating a new Reich. They must take the trouble
to learn more modern methods. Neurath is
unimaginative. Shrewd as a peasant, but with no ideas.
At the moment it's his benevolent appearance that is of most use to me. You
can't imagine a man like that going in for a revolutionary policy, they will
Neurath, I suggested, was amiable, but inclined to patronize. He seemed to be saying, "Let us give the young men a sniff of the mysteries."
"Yes, the lordliness and conceit of these people is huge. They think wonders of the mysteries of their craft. An efficient Ambassador must be a master of ceremonies; at all events, he must be able to work as procurer and forger. The least of all his duties is to be a correct official!
"Besides," Hitler continued, "I am not going to wait until these gentlemen wake up to the fact that they have got to
start learning over again. I am building up a great organization of my own. It costs a lot of money, but it gets things moving for me. I have drawn up a questionnaire covering details of the persons I am interested in. I am having a comprehensive card index compiled of every influential person in the world. The cards contain every detail of importance. Will he take money? Can he be bought in any other way? Is he vain? Is he sexual? In what way? Is he homosexual? That is of the utmost value, because it provides close associations that can never be escaped from. Has he anything in his past to conceal? Can he be subjected to pressure? What is his business? His hobby, his favorite sport, his likes and dislikes? Does he like travel? And so on. It is on the strength of these reports that I choose my men. That really is politics. I get hold of men who will work for me. I create a force of my own in every country."
"A huge and expensive job, is it not?"
"Have we ever shirked a job? There's no sense in attempting propaganda without adequate resources—on the contrary, it merely arouses opposition and achieves nothing. People have an entirely mistaken notion of what propaganda is. Open influencing of the masses is only one side of it, and a perfectly innocent side. The masses have got to be worked on, in order to prepare the ground. But the real problem is to get hold of prominent people, and whole sets.
"I should have thought," continued Hitler, "that that was obvious enough. I have to provide myself with a sphere of influence. That is all; but it is also ample. The results at which I have to aim are only to be attained by systematic corruption of the possessing and governing classes. Business advantages, erotic satisfactions, and ambition, that is to say, the will to power, are the three main stops in our propaganda organ.
"We shall only see the fruits of my activity in the coming war. For none of my opponents will have anything of the sort to use against me. In the past the French produced a Talleyrand and a Fouche; today they have become humdrum and circumspect, a nation of dried-up clerks. They will venture to play for halfpence, but no longer for a great stake."
At the time I did not take all this seriously. I said something to the effect that the possibilities of underground political influence of this sort must not be over-estimated.
Hitler replied tartly that they could not possibly be over-estimated.
"If these gentlemen," he said, "with their outworn ideas, imagine that they can go on pursuing policy like the honest merchant with his business, in accordance with precedent and convention, let them go on. But I am concerned with power politics—that is to say, I make use of all means that seem to me to be of service, without the slightest concern for the proprieties or for codes of honor. And if people come blubbering to me, like that man Hugenberg and his tribe, complaining that I am breaking my word, that I am paying no regard to treaties, that I am making a practice of trickery and deception and misrepresentation, I reply:
" 'Well, what of it? You are free to do the same. Nobody is preventing you.' "
He laughed sourly.
"All these gentry have got to realize that I can no longer carry on politics in the style of the bourgeois democracies and monarchies of the nineteenth century, with their totally obsolete rules and conventions. When has a revolutionary regime ever confined itself to conventional limitations? I am carrying on power politics, with the aid, if I choose, of naked, ruthless force, and what earthly difference can there be be-,
tween using every means of trickery and misrepresentation and ordering my armies to march? One method is regarded as respectable, and, now and then, unhappily unavoidable between well-bred people; at the other, people throw up their hands in horror. Why? Such distinctions are moral fancies for old women. I certainly have an advantage over these bourgeois democrats in my freedom from pedantic and sentimental inhibitions. Am I to be so generous as to throw away this advantage, simply because my opponents have not progressed so far? If anyone is prepared to be deceived, he must not be surprised that he is."
I tried to suggest that these might be two-edged weapons: trickery invites counter-trickery.
"Maybe," replied Hitler, "but anyhow I get there first. My great political opportunity lies in my deliberate use of power at a time when there are still illusions abroad as to the forces that mold history."
A renascence, said I, of Machiavellianism.
"If you like," assented Hitler. "I have no objection to describing myself as a disciple of Machiavelli. But I consider that only we who realize the biological foundations of policy are in a position to act accordingly."
Trickery, deception, treachery, misrepresentation, flattery, murder—all these political instruments soon lost their efficacy, I objected. The history of the Italian city states seemed to me to offer direct evidence that a policy of that sort could not long continue to serve.
Nor need it, said Hitler. He would be content if it worked long enough to
enable him to break through the political walls that surrounded
"After all," said Hitler, "my opponents ought to be grateful to me for falling in with their pacifism, and preferring
political weapons for attaining what others before me attained only by armed struggle.
"Let us not deceive ourselves," he continued. "Those people no longer have any desire to resist us. Their anxiety to come to terms with us cries aloud from every word that comes from that camp. All these democracies and abdicating classes want nothing beater than to disburden themselves of their tiresome responsibility, and to have the peace I guarantee to them. These men are not of the sort that want power and enjoy having it. All their talk is of duty and responsibility, and they would be only too delighted to be able to tend their gardens in peace, and go fishing when the time comes round, and, for the rest, to spend their life in pious meditation."
Quite so, I agreed—so far as concerned our German Liberals and
Conservatives. But I was not so sure about
Hitler ignored my remark.
"But we, sir, are feverishly in pursuit of power," he almost shouted, "and we are not a bit afraid to say so. We are madly keen on it. 'We are fanatically pursuing it. For us the pursuit of power is not an anaemic theory: the will to power is for us literally the whole meaning of this life. We are alive," he shouted triumphantly, "alive! Let the others sleep! Fafnir, the wild worm: 'I lie still on my possessions; let me sleep!' " He roared with scornful laughter.
"Today," he resumed, "the old wives of the literary world are everywhere croaking at me, charging me with 'betrayal of the spirit!' And they themselves have been betraying the spirit to this day in their fine phrases. So long as it was just a literary pastime, they prided themselves on it. Now that we are in earnest with it, they are opening wide their innocent eyes."
"But is not all life made possible only by conventions?" I asked.
"That is beside the point. At critical periods in history all the tinsel falls away and the great rhythm of life alone rules the hour. I am restoring to force its original dignity, that of the source of all greatness and the creatrix of order."
So Hitler ran on, carried away by phrases of this sort about the greatness of his new type of politics. Finally he returned to our theme:
"It is characteristic of the narrowness of these outlived classes that they should be indignant with me, indignant at our contempt for past customs and assumptions in political life. I recognize no moral law in politics. Politics is a game, in which every sort of trick is permissible, and in which the rules are constantly being changed by the players to suit themselves."
He came then to the disappointment of the German Nationalists, who had expected quite different things from him.
"It is not my fault," he said, "if these men took me for a simpleton and found afterwards that it was they who had been fooled."
He rejected as idiotic the charge that he was a dictator. "People want to brand me as a bloodthirsty tyrant. All rule is at bottom tyranny. It can come into existence in no other way. If this does not fit in with what the Hugenberg people want, or with the ideas of my well-meaning English friends, they must wait until they have grown accustomed to the new order of things. Every new regime seems to be a tyranny, simply because it applies compulsion in an unfamiliar style. Rule and the maintenance of order are inconceivable without compulsion."
He came once more to the reproaches constantly made against him on account of the men who are his best colleagues. "I am charged with surrounding myself with ambitious and pushing elements. What rubbish! Am I to build my Reich with saintly sisters? If a man is not ambitious, I don't want him. Only on those whose own personal advancement is so bound up with the general movement that there is no longer any separating the two things—only on those men can I depend. Men who not only spout patriotism but make it the sole motive of their actions, are suspect. In any case, my task is not to make men better, but to make use of their weaknesses.
"The men I want round me are those who, like myself, see in force the motive element in history, and who act accordingly. Not that I have any desire to appear as more contemptuous of the moral code than the generality of men. Why make it easy for people to attack me? I myself can quite easily give my policy a coloring of morality and show up my opponents' motives as hypocritical. Moral commonplaces are indispensable for the masses. Nothing is more mistaken than for a politician to pose as a non-moral superman. That is a fool's game. Those who try to play it are usually sons of respectable families who have been carefully brought up and gone to the bad, and who want to pass off their degeneracy as strength. I shall certainly not make it a matter of principle to act immorally in the conventional sense. I am ready to stick at nothing—that is all."
Hitler spoke of the necessity of terrorism and brutality. He had not the slightest liking for concentration camps and secret police and the like, but these things were simply necessities from which there was no getting away. "Unless you are prepared to be pitiless, you will get nowhere. Our opponents
are not prepared for it, not because they are humane or anything of that sort, but because they are too weak. Dominion is never founded on humanity, but, regarded from the narrow civilian angle, on crime. Terrorism is absolutely indispensable in every case of the founding of a new power. The Bolsheviks applied it in the old style: they killed off the whole of the former ruling class. That is the ancient, classic method. To the best of my memory, it is recommended by Machiavelli; or, at least, he recommends extending goodwill only to the second stratum, those who were immediately below the ruling class. I go further. I make use of members of the old ruling class itself. I keep them in fear and dependence. I am confident that I shall have no more willing helpers. And if they become refractory, I can always return to the ancient, classic method.
"Too much frightfulness does harm. It produces apathy. Even more important than terrorism is the systematic modification of the ideas and feelings of the masses. We have to control those. It is incomparably easier nowadays with the radio."
That, I said, involved a tremendous responsibility. With the modern technique the masses could be made to believe or disbelieve anything at will.
"Yes," replied Hitler, "those who are responsible to history grow more and more visibly to worldwide omnipotence. Consequently they must be as free as gods from the outlook of the masses. Their supreme, their only purpose in all they do must be to maintain their power. Our path," he continued, "is not unsullied. I know of no case in which a man has trodden the path to power without wading through mud. We are content to leave it to our successors to set store by morality."
The sources of Hitler's extremist views were evident enough. I asked him whether
he had read
violence, and whether he had heard of Pareto's cycle of the élite. But Hitler disliked questions of that sort. He evaded mine by saying that he had devoted a great deal of time to the literature of the subject, and having thoroughly absorbed it all did not know, and did not care which of his ideas were suggested from without and which were his own. In any case, whatever ideas had been put forward and whoever had put them forward, he was the first to carry them out on a grand scale and with consistency. That was the only thing that mattered. "The Bolsheviks are only now, by devious routes and after having sent packing the whole body of Marxist doctrine, coming round to the clarity of my own policy." As for Mussolini, he lacked breadth and boldness of outlook. He could never get beyond the completely misleading prototype of the Imperium Romanum.
PREMONITION OF MARTYRDOM
At the time of the conversation just recorded, it was still possible to hope that our nation would withstand the temptation of this grotesque doctrine of violence. But that would be possible only if Hitler could be forced to abdicate, and his place taken by a statesman who would bring reconciliation and a new constitutionalism. But could Hitler be overthrown?
His horoscope spoke of a sensational progress, of victory after victory. Then it became confused and ambiguous. A prophecy spoke of an unparalleled downfall.
The Middle Ages had been resuscitated. Comets and dark prophecies were expected to bring the truth to light, where other sources were banned or restricted to the political struggle. The whole nation was affected. The sect of Bible Searchers searched the Scripture, and came in the Book of
Daniel to the vision of the tyrant. "He," they whispered to one another, is he of whom it is written (Dan. xi. 37): "Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. But in his estate shall he honor the god of forces." For their prophecy they were condemned to concentration camps and death. But the masses ask, "How long?"
That question, the question how this nightmare can be shaken off and this
man removed, without plunging the German nation into the destruction and
ferocity of civil war, has occupied the minds of all thinking people in
Hitler has always threatened to let loose infinite blood-shed if there is
any attempt at overthrowing him by force. Is there any remedy save through
force? Could the party be split in two? It might have been in 1932, and it
might still have been in 1934. But not after that for a long
time. The masses had become apathetic, and blindly credulous. The party
members were utterly dependent for their livelihood on the continuance of the
regime. Hitler could only be overthrown if the masses rose against him and if
the many small men in the party saw their position threatened by an imminent
collapse of the party and became anxious to escape from their compromising
association with it. Hitler's down-fall would only be possible if he made
manifest mistakes and suffered manifest defeats that produced doubts of his
superlative quality. Only if he was obviously leading
The time of mass risings and barricades was gone for ever. This nucleus of power could be found only in the army.
A second consideration was whether the process of destruction of the regime from within, of its self-destruction, could be hastened. The economic situation was not sufficient for this: the regime might yet vegetate for years. But suppose Hitler were brought into a completely hopeless situation in foreign affairs—would he not then make mistake after mistake, and, once he had lost his self-assurance, end by completely losing his head? The man's whole temperament made him only able to carry on with his policy so long as he continued to have unshaken faith in himself. His fall must be prepared by destroying his self-confidence. If his nimbus were dissolved, he would lose all prestige and authority with the party and the masses. The whole regime would then very soon collapse like a card castle.
There were some honorable open opponents of the regime in
There have been subtle plans to induce Hitler to compromise himself beyond recovery. But these have failed for two reasons. His riskiest enterprises have succeeded, and in
doing so have turned into his greatest triumphs. In
the second place, for Hitler to get into difficulties involves
The only thing left to do is to leave Hitler to bear full and exclusive personal responsibility for the war defeat and destruction that must inevitably come. He will try to evade this responsibility, to shift it on to the shoulders of the party, to share it out among his advisers. He will try above all to make the army leaders answerable for the course of the war. And then he will find that, with the exception of a few of those grown-up cadets who have not learned to think things out, not one of the army leaders or high officials has any other answer than: "It's up to you, Herr Hitler! You led us into this. Now get us out."
But will this happen? Will not such men as Hjalmar
Schacht see behind Hitler's fall the irreparable downfall of
The party's thinking is less involved. The old guard always had its own
opinion about "Ahi" (Adolf Hitler); the
very nickname was a contemptuous dig at him. When his tremolo came into
his speech, or he appealed with convulsive sobs to the hardened criminals of
must become intolerable. Finally Hitler must reappear, metamorphosed, a gigantic figure. He must no longer conduct day-to-day policy; he will be too great for that. As a great law-giver and prophet he must bring from the sacred mountain the new tables of commandments. Then, after this last act, he must disappear for ever. But his corpse must not be discovered. For the mass of the faithful he must end in mystery.
So this man let his fancy run on. He was not alone. Others expressed the same idea in more primitive fashion, but their meaning was the same: sooner or later, Hitler must go. He must sacrifice himself. The greatest service he could do to the movement was to suffer a martyr's death.
Some of the leaders make use of this feeling and do their best to promote
it. The faithful Rudolf Hess himself said some time ago that the new State must
not be coupled with the vast proportions of the Leader, or at his death it
would all be shaken like the State of Frederick II and that of
A suspicious prophecy; it has recently been repeated. But who is to decide that Hitler shall stand aside like an elder statesman? Hitler himself is aware that he is no dictator. But, say the Gauleiter and the national leaders, there were general councils in the Teutonic Order who deposed their Grand Masters; and destiny may have the same end in view for the new Grand Master of the German Order-State. Was not one of the greatest of the Grand Masters deposed
because he wanted to renew a war with
It is quite conceivable, too, that Hitler might
become impossible for
Hitler has long since sensed the growing discussions around him. He is surrounded by premonitions. Could he retire of his own will, and return with increased prestige? Would it not soon prove that the regime cannot exist without him? And would not his return be the greatest triumph of his life? Or will he die, shot by one of his most trusted comrades; and will not his sudden end, so long feared, come at the very moment when he alone knows the way out of Germany's severest trial? It was old Hugenberg who said to Hitler to his face: "You will only fall through shots fired by your own men!"
Thus, some want the living Hitler to bear responsibility to the bitter end,
as the only way to destroy this man with his devilish ideas; others want to
save the Hitler myth and to make him disappear at the summit of his success, so
that the responsibility for the inevitable setbacks may fall on others. In
Hitler never left his supporters in any doubt that war must come, however much he might try to prevent it. "We shall not be spared the great testing-time," he said in my presence at a leaders' conference. "We must be prepared for the hardest struggle that a nation has ever had to face. Only through this test of endurance can we become ripe for the
dominion to which we are called. It will be my duty
to carry on this war regardless of losses. The sacrifice of lives will be
immense. We all of us know what world war means. As a people we shall be forged
to the hardness of steel. All that is weakly will fall away from us. But the
forged central block will last for ever. I have no fear of annihilation. We
shall have to abandon much that is dear to us and today seems irreplaceable.
Cities will become heaps of ruins; noble monuments of architecture will
disappear for ever. This time our sacred soil will not be spared. But I am not
afraid of this. We shall clench our teeth and go on fighting.
So, in winged words, he gave play to his imagination, in the effort to talk
his close colleagues out of their anxiety. He went on to speak of the ruthless
way in which he would have to wage war. All means would be justified. For
everyone would know that the issue would be one of life and death for
There are times of exaltation when, dreaming at his mountain seat, Hitler
feels that he is his country's greatest genius, and the greatest of law-givers
for future mankind. Has there ever been in all history, he says to himself, a
man who in so short a space, seven years, has achieved so much? He has really
fulfilled his mission already, at least so far as laying the foundation-stone
is concerned. He counts his successes, with the "untamable" pride
that he has felt even amid his greatest humiliation. He is the creator of a new
type of power, of a new vast dominion such as never before existed in
For seven years more he wants to struggle for the external greatness and the permanent molding of the Greater Germanic Reich; and then for another seven years to devote himself to the last and greatest tasks, prophecy, the proclamation of the new faith, with which his work will really be completed. For if the Christian era is now to give place to the thousands of years of the coming Hitlerian era, it will not be because of an external political order, but because of the revelation of the new doctrine of salvation for which mankind has been waiting.
But then he begins to think of the coming struggles, the inescapable labor of detailed execution; and his hands begin to tremble. The very idea of the daily burden makes him feel physically ill. He can no longer endure these men of his entourage, these unvarying, stupid faces. He has been growing more and more irritable. His nerves are upset by the smallest trifle.
These dull colleagues, with their pedantry, their pettiness, their persistence! They do not keep their distance as they should. They presume with confidences to which he objects. He should never have to leave this place. He ought to give his commands from this solitude, like a god in the clouds. From here, where nobody disturbs him, his glass-walled house in the mountains, his eagle's eyrie. The reports he needs should be sent to him here. He would rule from here.
But need he go on plaguing himself with all this detail? Is it his business to carry on an administration? Let the others see to all that. He must keep himself free for the great decisions. Why must he wage war? He is overcome with weariness. He thinks now fairly frequently of death.
He remembers his "Testament." It provides for everything. He will live on in that, even if he is now to die. The thought of the testament is a relief to him. The things still to be done are contained in it. His young comrades will carry them out. For them the testament will be sacred.
This testament provides for the building up of the Order, the definitive framing of his National Socialist Party Order. It names his successors. He thinks with hatred of Göring. To yield his place to that man! But there is no way out of it. It will not be for long. Göring will not live long.
This testament contains the plan of the Reich, the structure of the new Greater Reich, its Constitution, and the new "Dec-
laration of Rights."
This Constitution was to be proclaimed in
But he will not live. He feels that he will not. He has been marked down by death. Others will have to complete his work.
He is filled with anguish. The feelings of happiness that were uplifting him only a moment before have gone. Traps are being set for him, ambushes. He hears whispering that stops as he approaches. People look more and more curiously at him. They are discussing him. What can these people want to say about him? They are not joking; they all have a sinister look. These people are up to something.
What will they do with his testament? Will it not have the same fate as Hindenburg's? They will substitute another one for it. Everything will be changed. These creatures will mangle his work. They will rob him of his immortality. That Göring will reintroduce the monarchy. The Hohenzollern will step into his vacant place. The hour of the monarchy has struck, says Göring. Has he (Hitler) labored in order to restore the Hohenzollern? That is what old Hindenburg wanted. He had to promise the old man that he would see to it. He did not keep his promise.
Everyone is suddenly turning against him. There is no one he can trust any longer, not even Hess. Horribly ugly chap, to tell the truth, that Hess, with those deep-set little eyes, those unlovely prominent cheekbones. Hess, too, is disloyal.
They are all lying in wait for him. They have borrowed his technique, his cunning and trickiness. There is no sincerity and honor among the party members. Each one of them watches the next like a mortal enemy. That was a good plan at the outset, when he was making his way and approaching power with this insubordinate crew. He was able to play off one against another. But now he has no one he can rely on, no one who is not thinking first of himself and his own future.
And his old opponents? Are not these more numerous than ever? Are they not raising their heads again, with impudent daring? Those officers and junkers, in whose presence he always felt a little uncomfortable, those conceited officials, those unimaginative industrialists!
And the masses? They are beginning to elude him. He notices it. His unfailing sense is not to be deceived. The people have no determination now; they are weakening. And how is he to wage war now—with this sort of human material?
Suddenly his problems begin to press on him; they are beginning to be independent of him. He used himself to be the one to push on; now everything has begun to take charge. He is being carried away. He is only able with difficulty to keep on his feet. And suddenly all the problems are pressing at once! He no longer has any freedom of decision. These deadly problems have acquired a will of their own. They are dragging him the way he does not want to go. Must he now carry out the things he has passionately fought against? Is he not being carried along, step by step, in the opposite direction to the one he meant to take?
Really, has he achieved anything? Will not everything collapse when he is no longer at the head? If only he had introduced his Constitution, if only he had carried his statute into law! Now nothing will go down to posterity. His suc-
censors will mutilate and falsify everything, they will trample on his memory and befoul it, just as he did with his predecessors and his opponents. Nothing of his will remain, except a few buildings as curiosities. The buildings! Perhaps after all he was no more than an architect, and all the rest was just a roundabout way of enabling him to build—him, the stumped candidate for entry into the school of architecture!
Grotesquely devious life's path!
He has really done nothing that has permanence. Every-thing will be transitory like a confused morning dream. He knows the masses well enough. He has lived among them. He has been too close to them not to despise them for all time. And they will hate and despise him. With all the breathless, panting greed of the stunted, they will take their revenge for having once believed in him and acclaimed him—a man no better than themselves. Just a guttersnipe like themselves. A guttersnipe who pushed himself up by fraud where he had no place. They yelled the loudest in his praise; now they will be the first to stone him. Their women will spit at him. They will shriek for his execution—or would, if he were not already long dead.
Is he not dead already? Is he not just dreaming all this? He grows faint.
His life was a feverish dream. He will be called the great culprit. He has
achieved nothing, except destruction. The foundation on which he meant to build
has suddenly disappeared. It is all a phantasm. Where now is his new Reich? Are
Doubts and apprehensions clutch at his throat. He is hoarse again. He feels his pulse. He is afraid. The threads are closing round him. "I do not want to die!" Sweat breaks out on him. He shivers. The prophecy, the last horoscope! He threw that warning to the winds.
The solitude oppresses him. He is in terror of it. Something frightful is closing in on him. He must get into company. He must do something, anything. Anything but think! Find something to do—at once.