I The following is the first of a series of four articles that paint an illuminating picture of what Germany and German Jews may expect in the immediate future. The series is based on close observations made by Mr. Smolar, chief European correspondent of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency over a period of several months. The second article will be published tomorrow.
It is no longer a secret in Germany. Everybody knows it and everybody is talking about it: Hunger!
Hunger is descending upon Germany just as it did in the days of the World War as it did in the days of the military blockade.
Germany is dying, dying economically, politically and financially. If inflation has not yet been proclaimed in Germany, if German paper money has not yet been officially devaluated, it is only because the government of Germany still finds it profitable to pay her tremendous foreign debts in her half worthless marks.
But from week to week inflation comes steadily closer. From week to week, the value of the German mark decreases further and further. The gold reserves of the German Reichs-bank diminish steadily. Germany’s foreign credit is practically exhausted.
In Germany today a repetition of what occurred in Soviet is taking place. The German gold reserves are being exhausted and there is no prospect of any more. There is no money for the importation of raw materials; there is certainly no credit. Who would grant new loans to Germany when she repudiates her old ones?
DEADENED BY DEGREES
Without credit, without gold reserves, with an empty treasury and with a discredited reputation, Germany is being deadened by degrees. Unemployment in the country is growing steadily; factories stand idle for lack of the wherewithal for the import of foreign raw materials, export trade is dying because there is little to export, the ranks of the dissatisfied who have nothing with which to be satisfied grow, the economic blockade of Germany becomes stronger because Germany cannot pay. Things are progressing in such fashion that in a few weeks Germany will be faced by a tremendous economic crash, a great economic catastrophe, heavy unemployment and literal hunger.
Hunger is descending upon Germany not only because she has no money to import foodstuffs and raw materials from abroad, but also because not everything is in order within the country.
The harvest of the German fields is very small this season. The German peasantsâ€”as superstitious as anyâ€”take the poor crop to be a sign from God and a punishment for the Nazi government’s persecution of the Catholics and the Jews.
Yet the superstitious inclinations of the German peasants would not be so dangerous to the German government were it not for new laws now being promulgated. These laws place the peasant under strict government control, forbid him the uncontrolled sale of his grain, his vegetables and his potatoes, and virtually deprive him of the ownership of his live stock.
The government forbids the peasant to sell his potatoes. So the same thing is being repeated in Germany as happened in Soviet Russia: the peasant buries his potatoes deep in the ground, to have on hand when the black “hunger months” arrive. He is forbidden to sell hogs or cattle. So he kills them off and sells the meat secretly. He figures that the price set by the government for his few pounds of grain will scarcely make it worth his while to sell the stuff, so he hides it wherever he can and tells no one he has it.
PEASANTS LOSE FAITH
Germany, great industrial Germany, which never had enough breadstuffs and was forced even in years of generous harvest to import grain, is now in a position where she can not import any bread and will not even see the produce of her own fields. The German peasant has lost his confidence in the present regime, with the result that the government will not get his grain away from him.
Opposed by the peasant, with the harvest bad and without the opportunity of buying food abroad, Germany faces a winter such as she has never experienced since the gruesome days of the World War, a winter of absolute hunger, for there is neither bread nor other food. During such a winter some years ago Germany lost the World War and was transformed into a second-class power. During such a winter Germany may now lose again, and may experience events which might be of historic significance not only for the German people but for all the world.
The German Jews contemplate the coming winter with grim foreboding. They tremble not so much because of the hunger which will strike everyone and them too, but because of the events which this hunger can arouse, especially against them, as Jews.
JEWS WILL BE ‘GOAT’ AGAIN
There is no doubt in anyone’s mindâ€”and I have heard it not only from Jews, but also in the most responsible of foreign diplomatic circles in Berlinâ€”that as soon as the nation-wide hunger becomes a bit more noticeable, the present Nazi government will seek to blind the eyes of the starving, unhappy people by throwing the blame upon the Jews. The government will not be in a position to give the people any bread, but it will certainly make an attempt to feed them the story that it is the Jews who are to blame for the lack of anything to eat.
Even nowâ€”before the hunger period is in full swingâ€”certain German newspapers are engaged in laying the groundwork, saying that “world Jewry is preparing a hunger blockade against Germany.” German newspapers are already being inspired to write that the scarcity of potatoes is to be attributed to the Jews. Many German newspapers are already leading off to the effect that should Germany be faced with a catastrophe, the Jews may expect pogroms.
Once this note is sounded, the rest comes of itself. In present-day Germany, where the press is not the voice of the people but of the government, every point of view expressed by a newspaper is taken to be the point of view of the government. There is not a single newspaper in Germany today which says what the government does not wish it to say.
WORST SEEN AHEAD
This tendency on the part of newspapers to place the responsibility for the lack of food upon the Jews has thrown a great fear upon the German Jews. It makes their danger greater than ever and causes Jews generally to feel that for the Jews of Germany the worst is not yet over.
In the smaller provincial cities of Germany, Jewish families are worrying now how they will manage when the difficult starvation days arrive. In Berlin there is still some recourse. There the government may have some regard for the opinion of foreign nations, and perhaps, may prevent open pogroms. But in the quiet provinces? Under the seven-times-seven locks of the censors? If several hundred members of the Nazi party could have been shot in the space of one brief night and no one able to determine the exact number of those murdered, who can say what can happen in a quiet provincial city to the Jews!
A hard winter is descending upon Germany. It will be a winter of starvation and economic disaster. Who knows how this catastrophe will affect the Jews? The Jew is always the goat, no matter what the catastrophe. And that is certainly the case in Hitler land.
To Be Continued Tomorrow