Well, Dorothy Thompson has been asked out of Germany because she couldn’t say “ja.”
Thus begins a new Nazi purge â€”a liquidation less spectacular, perhaps, than that June 30 blood bath which really was more in the nature of an animated “Advice to the Lovelorn” column than a move of any political significance, but certainly in many ways far more interesting as a commentary on the dominating forces now at work within Germany.
While Arthur Garfield Hays and his brethren go around paraphrasing Voltaire, proclaiming that “we detest your views but we will defend to the death your right to express them,” the objects of their tolerance have put into effect a more succinct rule of thumb. It runs something like this:
Miss Thompson, who has acquired full stature as an individual despite the fact that in private life she is Mrs. Sinclair Lewis, made the mistake of poking fun at Hitler in an article back in 1931, well before Nazism’s accession to power.
On that occasion she referred to Hitler as “a little man… whose countenance is a caricature… of a drummer-boy risen too high.”
This reference must have rankled and fermented in Adolf’s bosom these past three years, to the point where he simply had to do something about it.
We can picture him standing on tip-toe before the shaving mirror which for him constitutes a full-length glass, anxiously searching his reflection and gazing into his own eyes with a wistful “say-it-isn’t-so” expression.
“So I’m a little man, am I!” he mutters. He raises his right hand high in the air, so high that he can almost reach the edge of the chaise longue in his boudoir. “I’ll show her!”
“Call in my shoe-maker!” he roars to his personal maid. “Have him build me twenty pairs of new shoes, with the Frenchiest heels on the market! Nobody can call ME a little man and get away with it!
“Let’s see. What else can I do to get even? Well, I’ll speak to Goebbels. He has a better head for such things.”
“A pleasant young man in civilian clothes,” says Miss Thompson, handed her the official document which informed her she was persona non grata in the Reich.
There is a certain elemtn of mystery in this statement. Where was anyone able to find a full suit of civilian clothes in Nazi Germany? Here is something which deserves more thorough investigation. No recent photo emanating from Hitlerland has given any evidence whatsoever that such a thing exists there.
Perhaps the “pleasant young man” was being allowed to wear civilian clothes as a reward for his signal service to the stateâ€”something like the situation in the Czarist Russian army, in which wags insisted it was a real distinction to be a private.
Another interesting phase of the incident is the reaction of Miss Thompson’s colleagues of the foreign press. Frederick T. Birchall, in the New York Times, describes it as follows:
“Nearly the entire corps of American and British correspondents went to the railway station to see her off and wish her good luck. They gave her a great bunch of American beauty roses as a token of their affection and esteem.”
This, in case those dauntless men failed to realize it, was a dangerous gesture, unless it signified a “We who are about to die salute you” attitude.”
To present roses as a token of affection and esteem to someone who in 1931 referred to Hitler as “a little man” in itself constitutes the vilest sort of calumny against the German people.
Those newspaper men are much too insolent. They refuse to recognize the full meaning of the kindly warning which Miss Thompson’s ejection betokens. They deliberately take the pariah to their bosom and they even go to the railway station to wave goodbye to her.
We foresee a run on the Berlin American Beauty market. Here is an opportunity for some enterprising Berliner to start a new commercial enterprise, based on the forthcoming flood of reportorial departures.
He might call it the Service Bureau for the Accommodation of Farewell Parties to Non-Coordinated Members of the Foreign Press.
His field would be limitless. We can even suggest a tentative advertising circular to him:
“When you say goodbye, do it properly. Practical gifts will be more appreciated than frivolities.
“Most important of all to the departing correspondent is a bullet-proof vest. These we carry in quantity, and of every conceivable make and design.
“Candy to eat on the train, lemons to suck on the boat, articles from the gifted pens of George Sylvester Viereck and Ivy Lee, complete reprints of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, handsomely bound editions of Der Stuermerâ€” we can get them all for you wholesale.
“And incidentally, never forget that all of us are here today, gone tomorrow. Let us make reservations for you on the next boat.”
A. J. B.