James Waterman Wise’s “Swastika: The Nazi Terror” is a condensation, organization and synthesis of the documentary and printed material available on the present German government’s anti-Semitic reign of terror, in both its cold and hot aspects, and a lucid statement of the background of rationalization and propaganda which preceded it. It is, at the same time, sufficient in itself and a trenchant index and reference to the material which has so rapidly been accumulating on the Nazis since they put their program into operation such a few months ago.
It would be no exaggeration to call this little book the most useful single work which has come from the press since The Brown Terror began. There is, of course, Edgar Ansel Mowrer’s praiseworthy “Germany Puts the Clock Back”, based on a vigilant news correspondent’s firsthand knowledge, but good as is Mr. Mowrer’s book, it must be borne in mind that it was written, and published, before President Von Hindenburg submissively put the reins of power into the hands of Hitler.
In his first chapter, The Advance Guard of Hate, Mr. Wise traces the story of the growth and development in Germany of anti-Semitic propaganda and rationalization back to fifty years ago, when began the movement to give anti-Semitism much of the philosophy and vocabulary it had before it became the terrible vogue it is today. Absorbed as we of this generation are in the news reports of today, this chapter is perhaps the most valuable and interesting. Mr. Wise indicates, by direct quotation and his own interpretation, what a confession of national weakness is implied by the whole course of Germany’s anti-Semitic propaganda.
In his second chapter, entitled Psychic Factors, Mr. Wise shows how defeat in the World War, the imposition of the Versailles Treatty and the “inactivity of despair” involved in the effort to meet imposed obligations, set in motion the psychic quest for a whipping boy upon whom was to be transferred the defeat and the humiliation. “Of exactly the proper proportions of identity and difference, he [the Jew] provided the perfect object for a transference of guilt. It is tragic and ironic to note that the very effort of the Jew to be assimilated into the German genus betrayed him most completely into the hand of his enemies.” He proceeds to the conclusion, which may possibly be contested, that the German became more enraged at the Jew whose life was a mimickry of Germanism than at the Jew who retained his Jewish identity. Mr. Wise quotes, at justifiable length, an article by Dr. Nahum Goldmann, originally published in Opinion, wherein is traced the development of so-called scientific, or Teutonic, anti-Semitism, analyzed as “a consequence of Jewish strength and Germanic insecurity”. Consoling, and not so consoling, a Jewish conclusion!
In the chapter entitled Out of Their Own Mouths, Mr. Wise considers the anti-Semitic campaign from inside the Nazi mind, or as close to the Nazi mind as even the most objective-minded Jew today can get. Mr. Wise tells us that “No estimate of the present German Chancellor could be more incorrect than that of an incompetent nonentity swept to incongruous heights by the illogic of events”, without, however, telling us what points of superiority, if any, Hitler really has. Perhaps that is beyond Mr. Wise’s scope. In any event he sums up for us the points of the Hitler propaganda, taking us along the whole gamut from kindergarten hate to university rationalization of hate, with the creation of the Aryan myth and the German folk-state, admission to which is pre-determined by race.
The chapters called The Brown Terror and The Cold Pogrom contain material already familiar to many of us in news despatches, magazine articles and special correspondence which has been published in The Times, in this paper and elsewhere, not overlooking Mr. Knickerbocker’s excellent articles in The New York Evening Post. Particularly apt is Mr. Wise’s description of the Terror as an extended Freinachtâ€”the customary night of license granted warriors by their commander after a victory. And all this evidence of suffering, writes Mr. Wise, “is here collated and published, not in order to harrow and incite, but because, while the peak of the bloody business seems for the moment to have been passed, it is not yet ended.”
In the chapter on World Reaction Mr. Wise considers the various forms of protest which have been uttered and their sources. He considers also the possibility of answering the Hitler offensive with an economic boycott and in his last chapter, What Can Be Done? poses a choice among four alternative courses of action:
1. The effort to alleviate present sufferings;
2. The appeal to Germany;
3. The appeal to international opinion, and
4. The exertion of economic pressure.
In a postscript he indicates the international danger implied in the Swastika. He writes: “Its threat is not limited to German Jewry, to political democracy, to world peace. It menaces the very basis of civilization. For, in essence, it is a return the tribal mood and the savage mind. Such indeed is its purpose and its boast.”
And books like these are valuable elements in the vigilant counter-of-fensive which Jewry the world over must wage against calumny, hatred and violence.