This is the fifth, and last, of a series of articles, based on an investigation of Nazi Germany, conducted for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
In Germany any good Nazi will say, “Ah, you Americans! You had better hold your tongues about Nazi Germany. Some day you will have the same thing over there. Wait and see!”
The Nazis are not alone in this attitude. Many foreigners believe that Fascism in one form or another will eventually sweep the world. Well-informed persons prophesy that France and England, and perhaps the Scandinavian countries, will do as Russia, Poland, Italy, Germany and Austria have done â€” install a dictatorship. But few believe that coming dictators will be fashioned after Hitler.
The consensus of American opinion, gathered from hundreds of Americans in Germany, was that the Yankee sense of humor would not allow a rigid Fascism, except in war.
“We would laugh a Nazi movement into the ground,” one American remarked; and with few exceptions his countrymen agree. American wise-cracks have proven more effective in overcoming ceremony and discipline than has violent rebellion abroad.
Some say that in the White House there is already a dictator, and they advance as proof the surrender of congressional powers, the NRA, bank holidays, and labor camps. As yet, however, we have no indication that Congress will not meet again in January or that in November, 1936, we will not go to the polls and designate whether Mr. Roosevelt will return to private life or remain at the head of the American government.
It is interesting to toy with the idea of National Socialism in America. One might write a farce using as settings a typical American background, giving leading roles to rabid German militarists, and tracing the reactions of the Joneses to their disciplinarians. With a former house plasterer, Herr Schmidt, of the National Socialist Party, at the head of the government, here are a few episodes in the history of Nazi America:
WHAT ROOSEVELT WOULD DO
Franklin D. Roosevelt would move into a hospital “for his health’s sake.” Having been a Democrat, he would be unable to communicate with the world. The windfall in the form of magazine and newspaper syndicated articles normally coming the way of ex-presidents would be out of the question. The American press would be coordinated into an expression of Herr Schmidt’s views. All sentiment to the contrary would be regarded as unprintable. Herr Schmidt’s armed men, drawn from the jobless who marched on Washington, would wait around the hospital door, anticipating an opportunity to prove their patriotism by shooting the former president.
The “army of unemployed” would be put in snappy uniforms. The more rabid elements of the country would either be jailed or elevated to commissioned posts in the political army. A number of persons drawn from American aristocracy would be quick to realize upon which side their bread is buttered and “democratically” ally themselves with the political army. In its composition would be many well-meaning, sincere people who would feel that the United States has been wronged by other countries in post-war treaties. War with Japan would be advocated for possession of the Island of Yap; hard feelings would be engendered toward France, Britain, Italy, and Poland for their debt defaults; and the red-menace would become headline material for the dailies. The righteous and brave army would make 150,000 arrests throughout the country, throwing into dismal prisons, where bedding consists of heaps of straw, the majority of Democrat and Republican leaders and business men who also happen to be business rivals of members of the political army.
YOU GOT TO SAY IT!
Almost all telephone conversations would begin with, “Hail Schmidt!” and end the same way. Friends passing on the street would raise their right hands in salute and, “Hail Schmidt!” Those failing to return the greeting would be subject to imprisonment; and many poor immigrants would be beaten because they would not be familiar with the American language or the American Nazi customs to shout, “Hail Schmidt!” when the Nazi Party flag passed or when strangers greeted them. There would be much heel-clicking, and patriotism would rise to such heights that any utterance not favorable to Herr Schmidt would be considered high treason.
The movement in America would not be complete without a persecution. The brunt of this would fall on the shoulders of the Catholics or Jews, traditional scapegoats. Perhaps both. But because of the numbers of Catholics in the United States, and because the Irish police and politicians throughout the country have the means and the spirit to crack open a few Nazi skulls Jews would probably be the victims in this case.
All newspaper and magazine stands would be littered with such pamphlets as “The Jewâ€”The International Pest!” and newspaper headlines would carry such information as “Our Leader Schmidt Demands Jew Extermination”, and “Jewess Cohen Commits Suicideâ€”May Others Do Likewise.”
All plays, movies and books would be submitted to Nazi censors, who would cut out lines with sin, sex, suggestion, and undue levity. “Hot-cha” music would be barred. And “suggestions” would be made as to how the work might be improved from the Schmidt viewpoint. Love scenes would be undertaken with profound philosophical discourse between the lovers on the Leader’s aims for social rebirth of the nation.
JIMMY JONES & FAMILY
Jimmy Jones, disgusted with conditions under the new rulers of America, would go to England, where he would tell the press he is “plumb disgusted with Nazi America.” During the following week Herr Schmidt’s political army would round up the Jones family remaining in the United States and throw them into prison.
One fine morning, Joe Johnson, former publisher of the Sykesville Crier, now in charge of America’s foreign affairs, would come beaming into the Leader’s office. “Look, I got an idea,” he would announce. “American ships ain’t got enough passengers. All we gotta do is pass a law forcing all citizens to travel on our boats. Ain’t that a dinger?” The new government heads are enthusiastic over the idea, pass it in record time (that is, Schmidt scrawls his name on the proposal), and American shipping faces a boom eraâ€”until furious foreign ambassadors and ministers rage into Schmidt’s office. “Don’t you know sections so-and-so of this and that trade treaty?” they demand. Schmidt has not heard of the treaties, let alone of the sections. He repeals the law by signing another paper.
AN EXCHANGE OF FUNCTIONS
The Governor of Illinois would be placed in one of the many newly-organized prisons, where he would spend his days digging latrine trenches for the amusement of his uniformed guards. In his place the country’s most famous murderer would maintain order by personally thrashing and shooting everyone he didn’t like.
The Leader’s heart will be touched by the poverty of his people, so he will pass a law giving two million unemployed work, subsidizing marriages, and otherwise scattering hope and money. The day after the enactment of the laws, various executives file into the Leader’s office to announce, “We have come for the money to subsidize marriages, to get going on public works, and to distribute among the people. Where is it?”
“I hadn’t thought of that,” says the Leader. “Have we confiscated the funds of all other parties? How about the Boy Scout funds? Have we taken over all the property of Jews who have left the country? How about the lotteries? And what did we get from these birds we’ve sent out with tin cups? The banks are just about broke, but I think we can bleed them for a little more, even though it may mean inflation. And some of you birds get busy thinking of a few new taxes, the old onesâ€”bachelor tax, entertainment tax, beer tax, hotel taxes, and suchâ€”aren’t big enough.”
The executives edge out the door; but before they reach the corridor, the Leader cautions them, “And if the people begin talking about being hungry again, give them a few mammoth parades and have our official spellbinders get busy with their patriotic speeches. Have the newspapers turn out more ’rounded the corner’ articles.”
EIGHT CIGARETTES DAILY
A few hundred thousand American unemployed would be given work in labor camps. They would live in squalid quarters reeking with disinfectant; eat the plainest of food, the scene of which is far from savory; and earn enough money to buy eight cigarettes a day. In the afternoon periods they would drill and hear lectures setting forth reasons for war with other countries. There would be no objection to this because the political army would not allow argument.
Under Herr Schmidt the children of America would be taken off the play fields to be drilled in army maneuvers. They would be taught the salute and “Hail Schmidt!” greeting. Every now and then in all parts of the country they would meet, fifty or a hundred thousand at a time, to parade through city streets singing patriotic, anti-Jewish, and anti-foreign songs. In schools they would be taught that Jews, Negroes, Chinese, and Japanese were inferior races; and, fearing the taunts of their playmates and older acquaintances, they would be forced to sur-