Herr Rudolf Hess has denied the story. Herr Doktor Goebbels has also called it the Nazi equivalent of a pack of lies. But whether it is true or not the report of the Hess edict ordering party members to ostracise Jews completely in private and public life sounds so much like the genuine Nazi article that it is too good an opportunity for this Day Book keeper to pass up lightly.
Of the many reasons one might ascribe for the issuance of such a command, there are one or two that sound plausible.
Rudolf has always had the reputation of being a strong, silent man in the party. With his bushy eyebrows, his grim jaws, and a face the Creator might have hewn with chisel out of rock, he must have been particularly galling to his gayer, more talkative companions like Goebbels and Goering, with his Hessian reticence.
A Nazi leader, that is, a true Nazi leader, these two tongue-waggers can be imagined thinking, should be a great one for words. There should be silver in his tongue. He should talk fast and in great volume. He should be able to talk incessantly, because if he once stops the people will begin to think and that would be fatal.
But as long as Rudolf was content to stay behind the scenes, Doktor Goebbels and Herr Goering had no objections to his silence. However, there came a day when the Hessian physiognomy began to loom larger in the swastika councils. Hess, it was being rumored, was the Hitler favorite. Hess, the other applicants for that post began to hear more and more frequently, was the Hitler man-behind-the-throne. Then one day the foreign press reported that Hitler was to name Hess his heir-apparent. When the “heil”-fellow-well-met passed on to his reward, Rudolf would inherit his mantle and would step into his brogans.
At this stunning newsâ€”if it was newsâ€”we have absolutely no difficulty in imagining what happened in the Goebbels-Goering circles.
A silent man in Hitler’s shoes! Incredible! Unheard of! Himmel und mein Gott, Donner und Blitze, Adolf must have a touch of the heat. Adolf ist verrueckt geworden.
Men of words and action that they are, the G. brothers ambled over to Adolf’s quarters one dark night and tapped upon his bedroom door.
Later, when Hitler was telling Hess about it, he started this way:
“While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping, As of some gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door . . .”
“Gently rapping?” Rudolf said to Adolf. “Doesn’t sound at all like Goering.”
Addled Adolf then spilled the works. He informed ##ddy Rudolf that his two leading councillors insisted that before they would say “ja” to Hess as his successor, Hess would have to undergo a trial-by-tongue. He’d have to open his mouth and show the mettle his tongue was made of. And if it weren’t silver, they’d have to give Hess three tigers and a “nein” instead of a long locomotive and a “ja.”
“So, my dear Rudolf,” said Herr Adolf, “you’ll have to open your mouth and bray. And because I like you, here’s a free tip. Bray something about the Jews. You’ll ring the bell with Willy und Paul if you do.”
Hess thereupon retired to his quarters. After hours of intensive skulldruggery, he came forth and emitted such a beautiful resounding bray that it put to shame the best previous efforts of his two envious companions. It was such a humdinger of a bray, indeed, that Goebbels, in his fear that Hess might succeed him as chief Nazi brayer, rushed out of his stall with vigorous denials.
“Whew!” he was later overheard to say to his stall-mate Goering, “That’s was a beaut of a blast. That’s what happens when a fellow saves up his breath for so many years and then lets it all out at once. Like a volcano. It almost blew us out of jobs. If I thought he had it in him to bray like that, I swear I’d have applauded him every time he elected to keep his mouth closed. Ach, from now on we’ll have to concentrate on finding a muzzle for Rudolf.”
In ordering his Nazi confreres to refrain from (1) hiring Jewish lawyers, (2) giving Jews letters of introduction to officials, (3) taking party contributions from Jews, (4) permitting Jewish stores to display Nazi symbols, (5) being seen in public places with Jews, and (6) having any kind of private relations with Jews, Herr Hess has laid himself open to a hideous suspicion.
Shortly before Hess emitted that blast, he was observed entering the biggest leather goods factory in Berlin. When he came out he had in his hands a pair of old-fashioned horse-blinders. Remember those things? Horses used to wear them to keep their eyes from wandering from the straight-and-narrow.
The connection between that pair of blinkers, the Hessian edict and the hideous suspicion should by now be apparent. Hess, being a practical soul, must have decided that if he was going to talk, he would try to talk some dough into his pockets. Over here we have a word for itâ€”graft.
If this edict of Hess’ is ever enforced, in the name of the order of Day Book columnists, I shall immediately demand an investigation.
The investigation will be demanded on the contention that if Nazis are to carry out the Hessian orders to the letter they will have to refrain even from looking at a Jew or anything owned by a Jew. Knowing human nature as I do, I know this will be manifestly impossible without some artificial assistance. Have you ever tried, for example, keeping your eyes off your neighbor’s newspaper while riding in the subway?
It can’t be done. Not even the Nazi “ja” men can do it. Unless that is, they have some artificial assistance. Unless, for example, each member of the Nazi party is ordered to buy and to wear during all his walking hours a pair of patented Hess horse-blinders.
Goering, Goebbels, old fellows! Are you blind? Can’t you see your opportunity? We are presenting you with a practically cast-iron case against your upstart brayer Hess. Hail him before the Nazi councils and make him explain how he happened, on the day before he brayed that colossal bray of his, to be seen walking out of the Berlin leather goods factory with an old-fashioned pair of horse-blinders.
Gentlemen, any Tammany politician will tell you, if the Nazi wigwam is to be tops in the governing business, it cannot afford to condone graft. H. W.