Noted German Jewish journalist and critic, now in exile
Weighing up Hitler, I said to myself: He is the man of the masses who has read Nietzche. He is the leader of the mob playing as the superman. He is a Mussolini from the bargain basement. Even his brutality is not original.
I made the reflection while I was lying in bed, suffering from influenza, at my house in the charming wooded suburb of Berlin called Grunewald.
I was suddenly warned by telephone that the authorities were going to withdraw my passport.
It would doubtless have been the end of my career… at least on this earthâ€”the only one to which I attach importance.
TAKES BEER AT PILSEN
Though I was running a temperature of 103, I at once jumped out of bed, crammed the necessary minimum of clothes into a rucksack, and, three and a half hours later, was in Czechoslovakia.
That evening, I felt a profound joy at the knowledge that the German frontier was behind me, and I revelled in a large glass of beer brewed in the Czech town of Pilsen.
After my flight, Herr Goering shouted and stormed over the wireless, because I had fled from the scene of his exploits.
Curiously enough, he forgot to mention that he himself had taken to his heels in November, 1923, after the setback to the Hitler “Putsch” in Munich, although nobody took the risk, on that occasion, of staying to face the music.
BETTER NATURED THEN
The Government in those days was more good-natured. But that is the method pursued by these “reforming” moralists. They blame their opponents for their own faults, to disguise them more effectively.
Is it rather tactless to speak thus? I do not see why I should keep silent, when people like that are striving to destroy our reputations.
How utterly farcical is their demand that they should be regarded as judges while we should be regarded as criminals!
QUESTIONS FOR THE NAZIS
Was it I who set fire to the Reichstag? Was it I who began the atrocities?
Was it I who squandered on processions and firework displays the last poor coins of a starving people?
Was it I, who, while professing myself “Socialist”, was receiving subsidies from the heavy industries?
Was it I who, while proclaiming myself “heroic”, waged a cowardly warfare against a poor and humble minority?
Was it I who, while shouting: “Down with corruption”, punished the small fry, but protected the most glaring cases of corruption?
Was it I who, after swearing to observe “legality”, proclaimed a revolution?
WHO INCITES VIOLENCE?
And was it I who, while professing to revere “discipline”, incited the mob to violence, allowing them to sing in the open streets songs which were nothing but invitations to murder?…
I fought this loathsome Nazi creed as far as was possible for one in my isolated position. I attacked it both in verse and in prose, at every opportunity, even in my dramatic criticisms.
After numerous assassinations committed by the Nazis, I wrote, “Resistance by merely intellectual methods is now bankrupt,” and I advised the opponents of Hitler to “hire a General”.
I encouraged the resistance put up by Left Wing parties, by the so-called “iron front”, which subsequently showed itself to be merely made of tin….
What kind of detailed portrait would an exile draw of Hitler? This creature Adolf is only a quarter of a whole personality; the remaining three-quarters are a psychological salad.
Two things were essentialâ€”an organization and money. The Nazi organization is not the work of Hitler, but of officers of the former Imperial army. The money was provided by the capitalistsâ€”and with both hands.
GOERING IN POWER
The man who is really in power today is not Hitler, but Goering. The director is himself directed. Hitler’s function is to maintain the confidence of the masses.
If Bruening had signed the Four Power Pact, if he had provisionally renounced any claim to the remodeling of frontiers, he would have been morally crucified and torn to pieces by the Nazis.
But Hitler is allowed to sign quite safely. Why?
First, because the mob swears by him and will continue to do so, even if he imitates Stresemann, who was hounded to death with insults.
THE “SENSE OF HONOR”
Second, because there are no longer any independent newspapers in Germany, and, therefore, no more criticism.
Third, because twenty million Nazis are convinced that a signatureâ€”is merely a signature.
They know perfectly well that Hitler has broken his word of honor in the political battle and that he himself realizes it.
In the opinion of many, Hitler’s outstanding achievement is his work of unification. On that ground he is glorified as a second Bismarck. And Hitler makes no protest against this.
Actually, a unification produced by terrorism is no unification at all. In fact, Germans today are more separated, divided, torn asunder by the deepest gulfs, than ever before.
This deep severance between citizens is so terrifying that they simply dare not express it. They live in a sort of “unity” which makes them ten times more unhappy than they were in the darkest periods of separatism in their history.
What prospect can an exile see of any possible improvement in the present desperate state of things?
The Nazi regime cannot be overthrown by anything but an international influence, unless it destroys itself. It may fall as a result of economic distress, unless it receives help from outside.
Or it may be destroyed by its own raging mania.
â€”Reprinted by courtesy of
The Daily Herald of London.
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.