(Dr. Erich Mosse is a German Jewish exile now in this country. He won fame in Europe as a playwright under the name of Peter Flamm.)
When in the autumn of 1932 we in Germany observed the ever-increasing obfuscation of minds, the rising tides of Fascism, the growing menace to the endeavor and existence of German democracy, we clearly and soberly realized that the only salvation from the mounting madness was the unity of German labor.
German labor was split from top to bottom into Social Democrats and Communists. Its party committee, its editors, and speakers applied all their energy to fighting one another with acrimony, hatred, and the worst insinuations, as they had never done against the common enemy. The Communists refused to cooperate with the bourgeois-minded Social Democrats, whose leaders had betrayed the Revolution of 1918 to the bourgeoisie; and the Social Democrats did not want any cooperation with the “Bolsheviks,” who received their orders from Moscow, and whose press and spokesmen adopted a vulgar tone which got on the others’ nerves.
At the elections, the Communists, tenaciously and obdurately acting upon considerations of principle, put up their own candidate, although knowing for a certainty that he would fall through and that in some cases the candidate of the Fascist or at least Rightist bourgeois parties would be elected as a result of such tactics.
INTELLECTUALS SEE PERIL
If Hitler’s barbarous shooting down of his own party leaders in Germany seems also to have thinned the ranks of his followers over here and to have checked somewhat the spread of this plague, let none deceive himself about the prompt forgetfulness of fanatics who are swayed and urged on not by reason, reflection, or understanding, but by those dark powers of passion which uncontrollably and irrepressibly stagger on to their goal.
URGES SWIFT ACTION
I do not pretend to be saying anything theoretically new by this. Better and more shrewdly than in the German situation responsible men are perceiving the dangerous position of Jewry. But what is more serious in this parallel, what requires action, immediately, without delay and opposition, is in this case, too, the hopeless frittering of forces, the thousand contrary opinions, tendencies, parties, committees, and leagues, which work beside and against one another, while the common peril is at the already half-open gate.
None of these parties or committees is willing to make any sacrifice for the sake of the whole; to hold the office of chairman, treasurer, or secretary seems more important than that which is the most urgent of all: the husbanding of material and moral resources. Each seeks to accumulate and to seize as much power as possible; lungs are inflated to the bursting-point in order to outshout the other fellow; each knows best, and thus there arises that chaos of unorganized tendencies which pull the costly fabric in all directions until the fist from the outside rends it asunder with one blow.
SAYS FUNDS ARE WASTED
As an illustration, let me point out, from my own experience with the relief work for the German refugees in Paris, the fact that thousands are not being helped, that sums generously and self-sacrificingly given are being wasted through lack of organization, and that the most worthy persons are being sent in a humiliating and degrading manner from one committee to the other, from one office to the next, because there is no central office, no coordination, no unifying, deciding hand. It should be added that these things have improved somewhat after the lapse of a year; but what was lost in resources, in material and moral energies, is irretrievable.
Theoretically the need of a unified leadership has long been perceived; the plan to gather up the various societies and committees within the framework of a single organization, at least for the social service work, was conceived half a year ago. But one asks in vain, What has been done in this half year; what has become of the widely heralded coordinating committee; what has become of the hand which, in the given case, is to weld by force the divergent vanities and tendencies?
CHAOS IN ALL FIELDS
We speak here of this social service work only by way of example; chaos evists in all fields. Everywhere there is the will, the readiness, the understanding, but in the endless debates, sessions, and speeches, every unifying action is paralyzed by the motto, “Each knows best.”
As a member of a family whose name and fate are very closely linked with the battle for democracy, I believe ####hall not be misunderstood if I declare that, in view of the urgent need of the situation, the only remedy is the immediate organization of an official and internationally recognized central office, elected by universal, direct vote, and invested with dictatorial powers.
Are we really incapable of taking our destiny in our own hands, of uniting at last for common action, and of choosing at last a man, for my part with a number of advisers, who will act as the official and internationally recognized spokesman of the Jews? A man who will be ready and able to represent the Jewish minorities in Geneva and in all the capitals of the world? Making decisions at once when necessary? Demanding and exacting discipline in the face of a situation in which the war of all against all requires absolute centralization of decisions, of efforts, of the means chosen for defense and rehabilitation?
Today the Jewish question is no longer exclusively religious, nor merely social or national. Here is a group of people, scattered all over the world, helplessly at the mercy of all countries in which they happen to live.
If we do not help ourselves, we are lost. We cannot wait any more for metaphysical aid. We cannot indulge any more in fatalistic daydreams. We must act, today, now, at once. The boycott is all right, meetings are all right, and so are publicity and economic sacrifices; but everything will be in vain if the one hand is lacking which shall hold all the forces together with a firm grip. If we arm this hand with full power and authority, we shall not press between its fingers the weapon of murder, but that of creative life. Let us quickly agree on a name, on the name of a man who will devote all his energy to this great task; a man who is young, energetic, clever, tenacious, and brave; a non-partisan man, without personal vanity, but with the vision of a towering spirit.
We do not want to debate any longer, we have no more time for debates. We have to act.