II The following is the second 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 third article will be published tomorrow.
Those who believe that all is quiet again in Germany and that dissatisfaction with the present regime has been completely suppressed are under a false impression.
Dissatisfaction in the country is growing daily among all classes. There is great dissatisfaction with the recent mass murders of the Storm Troop leaders. There is dissatisfaction with the isolation politics which the present government is carrying on. There is also growing displeasure with the forced anti-Semitism.
The German peopleâ€”the great. German massesâ€”are far from the anti-Semitism their press and propaganda agencies attempt to impose upon them. The average German woman even today wants to shop at Jewish stores and to patronize Jewish doctors. The average German peasant, even today, prefers to deal with Jews rather than with the government.
This thin layer of officials and Nazi leaders is the ruling group. It dictates and forces anti-Semitism upon the people. To this official stratum anti-Semitism is of as vital importance as oxygen. They must keep the population in suspense and in a state of excitement, and they hope to do so by inciting the people against the Jews.
But the people of Germany are beginning to have their own attitude towards things. The people of Germany no longer wish to be led blindly. They have no desire to be fooled, and even tend to distrust Hitler himself.
Therefore, when the Nazi press uses the scarcity of potatoes as a pretext for placing blame upon the Jews, one hears here and there the voice of the average German citizen, who can no longer be persuaded that the Jews are to blame. One can even hear the opinion expressed that “if the Jews were permitted to deal in potatoes, there would be enough potatoes in Germany.”
Such “revolutionary” opinions from the average German are of no small importance in Germany. They are the expression not only of confidence in Jews, butâ€”and much more importantâ€”of lack of faith in the government as well. They show that the people are weary of hearing tales about the Jew’s guilt in everything. The tune “The Jews are to blame for all of Germany’s troubles” is beginning to lose its popularity with the German people. They don’t believe it any more, nor do they believe the government.
I was present at a great Nazi mass-meeting at the Berlin Sport Palace, where Goebbels delivered a sharp attack upon the “traitors of the people” who grouped themselves around the assassinated Captain Roehm, and against “enemies” both within and without.
FAILS TO STIR APPLAUSE
Three times in the course of that speech Goebbels referred to the Jews. And not one of those references inspired a single person in the auditorium to express his agreement with Goebbels by shouting “bravo.”
This phenomenon is symptomatic. Usually, whenever Goebbels or Hitler in the course of a speech mentioned Jews, their words were drowned out by storms of applause. Now, however, anti-Semitic utterances of Goebbels are permitted to pass by in silence and without comment, even among Nazi friends, and at meetings at which only members of the Nazi party are present.
And at the Nazi clubs these days, a stranger has the opportunity of hearing a great deal of comment to the effect that it’s about time to stop turning the people’s head with agitation against the Jews. In Nazi meeting places people tell each other openly that if Hitler hadn’t started up with the Jews Germany would today perhaps not be on the brink of as great an economic catastrophe as she now faces. The world, perhaps, would regard Germany in quite a different light. The Jews of the world, perhaps, would be helping Germany and it would certainly not have come to a boycott of German goods. German trade would have quite another aspect. German exports would not have fallen. Industry would perhaps have revived. Germany would certainly have been able to obtain credit abroad.
That’s the talk.
Over their beer glasses in the saloons the people sit and talk, making a careful reckoning and expressing opinions the government is not at all pleased to hear. There is actual doubt as to the wisdom of the Hitler – Goebbels anti-Jewish policy. People begin to believe the anti-Jewish policy was a fatal mistake from the first.
HITLER PRESTIGE WANES
People don’t believe the government is sincere in its anti-Jewish policy, and they don’t believe in many other phases of government activity as well. Among the broad masses of the German population, the prestige of Hitler and his government has greatly declined.
That blind faith which the people had in their “leader” has evaporated. Their disciplined dependance upon him is no more. Nor is there any longer in Germany that disciplined unity which was so noticeable in the first months of the Hitler reign. Germans have begun to have their own opinions both about the “leader” and concerning his work.
That divine faith in the Nazi regime is at an end. Now Germany is a land of quiet dissatisfaction. It is a country sitting on top of a volcano, a country waiting nervously for things to happen, a country where everyone knows these “things” are bound to happen sooner or later.
PREDICTS NEW, BITTER DRIVE
It would be wrong to think that the Jews of Germany no longer have anything to fear.
It would be wrong to assume that just because the German people are losing faith in Hitler and are more sober about the Jews the Jewish population of Germany no longer has anything to fear.
Just the opposite is the case. Because things are getting worse for the Nazi regime, and because Hitler has no good excuse to offer his people just now, it may be-expected that the anti-Semitic campaign in the press and other public media will in the next few months assume a much sharper character in Germany than they have previously shown, and will be much more bitter than in all the duration of the Hitler rule.
No one in Germany today doubts that in the Nazi press the blame for the increasingly unfavorable conditions in Germany will be placed upon the Jews. All indications are that the Jews of Germany are facing a hard winter of bitter anti-Jewish propaganda and perhaps of serious physical harm.
True, the German people no longer believe the anti-Semitic newspapers so implicitly, but the German government now has no alternative except that of pressing anti-Semitism. Having no other butt, it must make the Jew the one who is to blame.
When a government has the direct intention of furthering anti-Semitism, the will of the people plays a very insignificant part. The government will always have enough ways and means at its command for making the life of the Jewish population bitter, if necessary to carry out here and there a little pogrom, and to stage the whole affair as being due to the “will of the people.”
The Jews of Germany are well aware of all this. They are not nursing any false illusions. But the Jews abroad should also know the truth about the situation. The present superficial calm in Germany must not be overestimated. The Jews of England and of America must still be on the watch, more so now than ever.
To Be Continued Tomorrow