Hitler with his staff at his "Wolf's Lair" field headquarters in 1940.
Foreign Affairs From The Anthology: The World at War
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Hitler's Reich [Excerpt]

The First Phase

A people has disappeared. Almost every German whose name the world knew as a master of government or business in the Republic of the past fourteen years is gone. There are exceptions; but the waves are swiftly cutting the sand from beneath them, and day by day, one by one, these last specimens of another age, another folk, topple over into the Nazi sea. So completely has the Republic been wiped out that the Nazis find it difficult to believe that it ever existed, at any rate as more than a bad dream from which they were awakened by the sound of their own shouts of command, their own marching feet. . . .

Not merely is he wiped out, but the memory of him is wiped out. It is pretended that he never was. His name is not mentioned, even in scorn. If one asks about him, a vague answer is given: "Oh yes -- but is he still alive? Maybe he is abroad. Or is he in a nursing home?" This does not merely apply to Jews and Communists, fled or imprisoned or detained "for their own protection" in barbed-wire concentration camps. It applies to men like Otto Braun, leader of the great Social Democratic Party, perennial Premier of Prussia. . . . It applies to the series of Chancellors furnished by the once-powerful Center Party. . . . The generals who were talked about as embryo dictators -- von Seeckt, Groener, even the powerful von Schleicher -- are no more heard of or seen. . . . Stresemann is not merely dead, but has been dead as long as the last Pharaoh. The men who ruled Germany in these fourteen years have been swept away, out of sight, out of mind, out (according to the program of Dr. Goebbels, propagandist-in-chief) of history. . . .

The Stahlhelm, the organization of front-line veterans, credited with having saved the country from anarchy and communism in several post-war crises, but feared by the Nazis as a possible rival to their S.A., has been broken and subjected. . . .

The Reichswehr, on which General von Schleicher counted and which as recently as last December could and would have supported him in a determined move to establish authority in the name of the flickering Republic, now stands glumly aside. . . . All that its leaders can do is wait (as the Royal Italian Army has waited without result) to see whether there will ever come a moment of chaos when they might step in to reëstablish the state they were enlisted to serve. It is a forlorn hope.

One by one continue to fall the last possible citadels of defense against uncontradicted Nazi dictatorship.

Federal Germany is gone. The Gleichschaltung law disposes of the prerogatives of the separate States, and Nazi leaders have been named Statthalter, with power from Berlin to dismiss State governments should they not prove fully amenable. Eminent Lutheran and Reformist theologians are hastily forming a new and unified Reichskirche to meet the fear of the Nazis that opposition or weakness might develop in the former 28 autonomous churches in the various States, and to simplify their drive against religious organizations which are not two parts blood and iron and only one part milk of human kindness. The Socialist trade unions . . . were finally seized outright on May 2, the day after the celebration of the "Festival of National Labor." Their buildings were occupied by storm troops, their officers were jailed, and their funds were appropriated to the new Nazi union which is now organizing all labor as an instrument of party will. . . .

The judiciary has been weeded over with minute care, and as a result many judges . . . have either resigned or been dismissed. Henceforth, says a circular of the Prussian Ministry of Justice, judges will be tested for their patriotism and social principles and will be put through periods of service in military camps to school them in "martial sports." In Nazi eyes the conception of abstract justice is outworn. The essential justice is that which serves the higher ends of the state.

Even the great Nationalist Party, ­co-partner with the Nazis in the March election which followed the fall of von Schleicher, and supported by all the clans of Junkers, monarchists, landed proprietors, former army officers and officials, is left hanging in the air, its toes barely touching the ground, slowly strangling in the noose of its own devising. When on the night of January 30 von Papen persuaded Hitler to join him in making the election, he thought that he had prepared the way for his own conservative forces to swallow up the Nazis. But it was the reverse which happened. . . .

These new rulers of this new people have also a new vocabulary. In literature and art, in the professions and even in sport, new specifications replace taste and skill and experience. . . . A work of art or a performance of any sort is not good unless the creator is an Aryan, preferably Teutonic to the last drop of his blood (if such a being exists), preferably a Nazi, and in any case not a liberal or a Jew. Music, the theatre, the cinema, all have been bent to Nazi propaganda aims. The universities are being "cleansed." . . . The press has also been "assimilated," unfriendly or lukewarm or liberal or pacifist or "internationalist" or Jewish proprietors, editors and correspondents have been expelled, and Nazi commissars put at the side of the writers who remain. Attention is centered almost exclusively upon news of the revolution -- texts of proclamations, speeches of leaders, accounts of mass meetings and celebrations. . .

The German Republic was a puny plant. Beneath the inch or so of top-soil in which its seeds were hastily placed were a dozen unyielding strata, packed down and solidified by tradition and usage. The servitudes of a punitive peace treaty, the galling preponderance of France and her allies in Europe, the economic distress following the defeat and the inflation, all these hindered its growth. The cultivators, from Ebert and Scheidemann through Stresemann and Brüning down at last to von Papen and von Schleicher, cared less and less about saving it. . . . But the final determining condition which caused the Republic's death was that it had no nourishment from below. As an eminent German said to the writer two or three years ago: "We made a republic; but there were no republicans." [Full Article]

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