“How has it been possible for the present-day regime in Germany to have clipped short all the ties with the past?” asks Hamilton Fish Armstrong in an article entitled “Hitler’s Reich,” in the current issue of “Foreign Affairs,” in which he discusses the contemporary German scene. In seeking an answer, Mr. Armstrong states that “the young people who dominate the Third Reich care absolutely nothing at all about history before the beginnings of the Nazi movement in Munich in 1919.
“They live exclusively in the present, except for a little private history which they have created for themselves, consisting (apart from embellished and purified records of Nazi growth) of the glorification of certain martyrs to the cause of German awakeningâ€”for example Horst Wessel, a Nazi labor organizer murdered by communist rivals and Schlageter, a young German patriot of uncertain antecedents who was executed in May 1923 after conviction by a French court-martial on charges of espionage and sabotage in the Ruhr.”
It is upon these young Nazis who “are proud to be ignorant, proud to despise the skill and attainments of the specialist” and inoculated with the virus of revolution, that the welfare of Germany now depends.
Mr. Armstrong argues that Hitlerism in its essence is not reactionary. It is revolt against postwar conditions and “it is not a return to any old Germany as such.” He says “it is a twentieth century revolution, as radical in its implications and potentialities as the Russian Revolution, but in the Prussian manner. It is very Prussian because the people have had the desire, the will, to subordinate themselves to leaders with impervious voices and gestures, to obey them even when violence was involved, and individually to merge themselves in the ‘totalitÃ¤tstat’. They felt Germany ready once again to command in the world; and because they were conscious of being part of a superior force they did not individually mind being commanded.”
Mr. Armstrong deals at length with the psychological make-up of the German leaders in order to present clearly the events of the past months and to determine the future development of the country. Both the domestic and foreign policies of the Nazi government, if they can be understood at all, depend so much on a knowledge of the Nazi mind. Will there be a war with France? Will Germany go Communistic? Will there be a break in the Nazi inner circle? Anyone of these might happen, states Mr. Armstrong in his clear and impartial survey of “Hitler’s Reich”.
MAURICE SAMUEL IN “OPINION”
“Like most Jews who read books and worry about the future of the Jewish people I have always taken it as a matter of course that the cultural and political type of a Stocker or a Leon Daudet should find in us the embodiment of all evil principles”, writes Maurice Samuel in this month’s “Opinion.” “But I did not realize till late that there is a special kind of unfriend-liness (of another type of course, but almost as disturbing) to be expected from a man like Bernard Shaw. . . . And I still squirm a little when an author with whom I happen to be, in other respects, in complete sympathy, talks of our group survival as one of the obstacles on the upward path of civilization, or picks out our very obvious bad qualities without remembering what seem to me to be our equally obvious good qualities.”
It pleases us that Mr. Samuel has seen fit to discuss this subject because it is one that has troubled many. He quotes from Du Maurier’s noveil “Peter Ibbetsen,” in in which the hero accuses the Jews of responsibility for the superstitious habits of western humanity. He says “it seems to me that the Jewsâ€”a superstitious and businesslike people, who know what they want, and do not care how they get itâ€”must have taught us to pray like that.”
Samuel Butler in the “Way of All Flesh”, says Mr. Samuel, attributes to Jewish influence, via the Puritans, the horrid relationship between parents and children which appeared in England shortly after the time of Elizabeth and reached its climax in the time of Victoria.
Two men who have meant much to Mr. Samuelâ€”Sir Thomas Browne and Gibbon, the hostorianâ€”both speak of the Jew in disparaging terms. “If Browne despised the Jews for refusing to accept Christianity,” he writes “Gibbon despised them for having given birth to it.”
We are faced with this hostility in numerous authors whose work otherwise strikes a sympathetic note, and we must agree with Mr. Samuel when he writes: “We cannot help correcting errors of fact; we would be more than human if we did not repudiate aspersion on our character. . . . For the rest, let us give up hope of being accepted anywhere. It is absurd for a people with so curious and baffling a destiny to be always on the search for approbation.”