Mussolini used to be a newspaper man himself. He still owns a newspaper or two in the country that looks like a boot on the map. And if the stories of the ironclad censorship II Duce wields over his nation’s public prints are true, then Mussolini in effect owns many newspapers. Which should make him a newspaper man many times over.
And which, to bring our thought to a fitting climax, should make him entirely eligible to write a Day Book for the Jewish Daily Bulletin when the regular custodian of the volume is tired and all out of inspiration.
II Duce of Rome actually has written a column for the Bulletin. He may not have written it himself, affairs of state being as pressing as they are. And when it was written, probably by some bona fide working newspaper man employed on his paper in Milan, II Popolo d’Italia, there was no thought in the mind of the writer that it would make the Day Book in a far-off New York newspaper.
“The reason Nazi Germany talks so much of purifying the race,” this Mussolini editorial cynically remarks, “is that there are so many crazy people in Germany.”
Now that’s one we never thought of. Is it possible that there are real lunatics in Germany? Can it be that this glorious Third Reich, over which the divinity of Adolf Hitler rules with such benevolent despotism, harbors in its borders crazy people, people bereft of their senses, out of their mindâ€”in a word, nuts?
Now truly, Mr. Mussolini, that’s one we never thought of. It’s a harsh thing to say of people that they’re batty or, as the walterwinchellians might say, wacky. Such sweeping charges should never be made in a family newspaper. They might be condoned in a publication like Julius Streicher’s Der Stuermer, where trifing with the truth has been developed to the status of an exact science. When such damning indictments of a people are made in an honest newspaper, however, they should be accompanied by proof.
II Popolo, mindful of this duty to honest journalism, has presented what it believes to be proof:
“At the end of 1931,” Mussolini’s paper writes, “there were 220,000 mental cases in German asylums, according to official German statistics. Osterman (a German scientist) estimates the mental cases in the Reich in 1934 at 600,000, or one per cent, of the population.
“But it is two per cent.,” II Popolo contends, “according to the calculations of Rubin, another German scientist, who takes account of the children. Other statistics disclose that the number of mental deficients is increasing at the rate of 4,500 a year.”
Now as far as it goes, that’s not bad at all. But, of course, it doesn’t go quite far enough. Somewhere along the line there has been careless journalism committed. Probably one of Mussolini’s cub reporters was assigned to the task of digging up the information for the II Popolo editorial writer. It may have been his first assignment and, probably stage-struck, the cub muffed his task completely.
He failed to dig up some frightfully pertinent material that might have clinched II Popolo’s thesis perfectly. In the first place he might have dug up the reasons why these poor people started mumbling to themselves.
It wouldn’t have surprised us if one of the chief causes of the insanity was the necessity enforced upon them by their leaders of thinking up new ways to injure their Jewish neighbors and still be ### to their deeply ingrained Christian principles of “love thy neighbor.”
Or another cause that probably played an important role in the tremendous rise in the number of cases of people “teched in the head,” as our hillbillies would describe their state: Reading the literary output of the Nazi leaders.
And if anyone among the readers of this column thinks that this is not an important factor, he is invited to glance ever so casually at the following collection of fruity items culled from an English book called “Hail Hitler,” a sort of anthology of the most inspired sayings of the Reich geniuses:
“Anyone who really and sincerely desires the victory of the pacifist idea must strive by every means after the conquest of the world by the Germans.”â€”Adolf Hitler. I wonder whether Adolf made that crack just before the famous purge that pacified seventy-seven of his erstwhile pals and enemies, or immediately after. It would be an interesting statistical commentary on the II Popolo insanity story, if the figures could be adduced on the number of persons that went goofy when that remark was made public.
“He died in the faith of his Redeemer, Adolf Hitler.”â€”An obituary notice in a German newspaper. That item probably made maniacs of at least 3,000 faithful Nazi rooters of Hitler’s who feared that they might be the next to be asked to “die in the faith of his Redeemer, Adolf Hitler.”
And this one almost certainly gave thousands of perfectly sound Germans the galloping D.T.’s:
“The war produced, apart from all its horrors, the great epochal source of new life. All the healing power that sprang from it has been condensed in the person of Lance-Corporal Adolf Hitler.” â€”Karl Ranch.
After reading that one and a few others that are hardly printable in this space, I am inviting friends to visit me at Padded Cell No. 3 in Matteawan.