The Danzig of today is very much unlike that of last year, recent visitors to the Free City on the Baltic report. A complete change in the tenor of life in Danzig has been wrought during the year and a half of Nazi supremacy in Germany as reflected in the administration of the old Hansa city, which is still nominally under the League of Nations.
While Albert Forster, head of the Nazi party in Danzig, and a largely Nazified senate presided over by Herman Rauschnigg and Arthur Greiser have not succeeded in introducing the actual terrorisms of the Nazi regime in Germany, the Nazis have virtual control of the city for over a year.
A year ago every person in Danzig wore the swastika symbol of the Nazi party and swastika banners were to be seen at every window. Blackshirted and brownshirted Nazis thronged the streets and looked with hauteur upon inhabitants in ordinary garb.
CITY’S DECLINE UNDER NAZIS
Today most of this is gone. Nazi flags and banners are no longer in such great evidence, except at Nazi headquarters. Fewer personsâ€”one in every fifteen or twentyâ€”wear the swastika. Not so many storekeepers greet their customers with “Heil Hitler!” as they formerly did, and there are fewer storm troopers in the streets.
So that externally the Nazi influence might seem to have diminished. But as a matter of fact a heavy brownness hangs over the city and over Zopport, the nearby health and gambling resort. The leading restaurants are closed and the cafes are deserted except for scattering dull groups.
Danzig residents in search of amusement go to Gydia, and the once gay and charming Danzig and Zopport are sombre and reminiscent for all the world of “Bruges la mort,” where beautiful buildings and stagnant canals are all that remain of the once teeming commercial city.
ECONOMIC CRISIS, UNEMPLOYMENT GROW
Conversation with the inhabitants of Danzig reveals that the Hitler regime has not found great favor there and that the former enthusiasm for Hitlerism wore off quickly when it failed to bring the promised plenty. Despite the thirty million marks spent for public works in Danzig by the Germans, who boasted that they had reduced the number of the unemployed from forty thousand to less than twenty thousand, the economic crisis in the city is greater than ever. Germany has stopped sending money and unemployment is on the increase.
Except for a few days following the first and the fifteenth of the month, when salaries are generally paid, there is practically no trade, merchants report. Factories are on reduced schedules.
The general state of dissatisfaction with the Nazis has led to increased activity and support of the oppositional parties, and particularly of the Social Democrats. Their courageous stand against the Nazis has won them many new adherents, and they have become the center of the opposition.
THE JEWISH QUESTION IN THE FREE CITY
Of course, with a League of Nations High Commissioner on the scene, the Nazi government of the Free City cannot introduce all the anti-Semitic propaganda and anti-Jewish acts which have been forced upon Germany, but as a matter of fact the dominant policy is very much like that in Germany, so far as the Jews are concerned.
A short time ago all the “coordinated” Danzig newspapers printed the six commandments for Nazi party members formulated a while back by Rudolph Hess, “representative of the leader Adolph Hitler.” According to these principles of behavior guidance, a Nazi may not represent a Jew in court or interne for a Jew in governmental or other institutions.
He must not take a Jew’s money for party purposes. He must have no public dealings with Jews and he must not wear party insignia during hours that he is engaged as an employee of a Jew.
STORES PICKETED, TRADE BANNED
Infringements of these rules are punishable, the circular says, by measures for party discipline. To enforce them Nazis picket Jewish enterprises, as in Germany. Stories of various Nazis, great and small, who have been embarrassed when they bought or attempted to buy clothes and other products in Jewish stores are common property.
Needless to say, the head of the Nazi party, Albert Forster, was behind Rauschnigg, who presided over the Senate until illness forced him out in favor of the then vice-president, Greiser, who is even more amenable to the Hitlerite dictates.
THREATEN REMOVAL OF BUSINESSES
Some time ago a delegation of Jewish merchants and lawyers called upon Rauschnigg to complain that the Horst Wessel song and other Nazi airs were being freely sung in the streets of Danzig. When the delegation threatened that if the singing of such ballads continued the city’s lumber merchants, all of whom are Jewish, would move their businesses to Gydnia, Rauschnigg promised to introduce a law which would provide punishment for all who insulted the honor of the Jews. He also prevented the closing of a German language Jewish publication which refused to be coordinated.
Illness, apparently, prevented Rauschnigg from keeping his word with regard to the “honor-protection law.”
The incident precipitated quite a conflict between him and Forster, and this, together with Rauschnigg’s illness, cleared the way for Greiser, who was elected president of the Senate within the fortnight.
PUBLIC FROWNS ON BOYCOTT
When another Jewish delegation inquired of Greiser as to the fate of the “honor-protection law,” they were told it was unnecessary, for anti – Semitic songs could kill no one. And besides, the Jews weren’t being beaten in the streets of Danzig.
The delegation repeated the threat that the lumber merchants would withdraw to Gydnia. Greiser’s answer, the story goes, was:
“I must tell Forster about this!”
Despite this officialâ€” or semi-officialâ€”attitude, the general public still shows no actual inclination to carry out a boycott of Jewish enterprises, and even prominent Nazi frequently choose to buy at Jewish stores.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.