Axidava

Have You Ever Met Hitler?

From Hubert Renfro Knickerbocker’s book ‘Is Tomorrow Hitler’s?’ published in 1941.

Have you ever met Hitler?

H. R. Knickerbocker:

Many times. From 1923 until today I have watched and studied him and a good part of that time I was close enough to have opportunities for firsthand observation. I first heard him speak in August 1923, not long before his unsuccessful attempt to seize power, in the famous Beer Hall Putsch, and then I witnessed the Putsch, and reported his trial with Ludendorff for treason. He was released from Landsberg Prison in December 1924 where he had been held in comfortable “fortress confinement” just long enough for him to have time conveniently to write Mein Kampf. I interviewed him for the first time in the Brown House in Munich in 1932. Thereafter I had a series of interviews with him, and was present at many of the great moments of his career.

What impression does he make when you meet him?

The first impression he makes upon any non-German is that he looks silly. Not to a German, mind you, and I suppose he did not look silly to any of those heads of European states who crawled to Berchtesgaden to get their orders. But to a foreigner not subject to his commands he certainly looks silly. I know that is a strong word to use about a man who has already conquered a continent but it fits.

I remember well the first time I ever laid eyes on him, in August 1923, when he was speaking at the Zirkus Krone in Munich—I broke out laughing. Even if you had never heard of him you would be bound to say, “He looks like a caricature of himself.” The moustache and the lock of hair over the forehead help this look, but chiefly it is the expression of his face, and especially the blank stare of his eyes, and the foolish set of his mouth in repose. Sometimes he looks like a man who ought to go around with his mouth open, chin hanging in the style of a surprised farm hand. Other times he clamps his lips together so tightly and juts out his jaw with such determination that again he looks silly, as though he were putting on an act.

Indeed Hitler is, more than anything else, an actor. He will go on being one the rest of his life, a great actor who in his role as tyrant conqueror will have affected the destinies of more millions of people than any other human being in history, but an actor to the last, a tragedian whom no one would take seriously until he began shooting at his audience. Even in the midst of his triumphs he manages to look silly to any outsider capable for the moment of detaching himself from horrified contemplation of the fate inflicted upon his victims.

I remember watching him roll down the Ringstrasse in Vienna standing beside the chauffeur in a cream-colored Mercedes car, with his arm outstretched in the stiff salute he affects on such occasions, the hand rigidly held at a slight angle downward. It was the moment of his conquest of Austria. The streets were crowded with half a million people, a few cheering sincerely, many cheering out of fear, and hundreds of thousands grim-faced, weeping inwardly.

At that moment when I, too, felt like weeping at the abasement of the city where I had worked and danced and studied and played when I first came to Europe fifteen years before, even at such a moment I found myself smiling and saying to friends looking out the window of my room in the Hotel Bristol, “Doesn’t he look silly?” That oversized cap of his, the military cap with the too-large crown and the visor which completely hides his low forehead!

There is something absurd even about his stance as he rides his victorious chariot through freshly conquered cities. He is softly fat about the hips and this gives his figure a curiously female appearance. A scientist friend of mine watching him once remarked that Hitler seemed afflicted by steatopygia, which he defined as “an excessive development of fat on the buttocks, especially in females.” It is possible that the strongly feminine element in Hitler’s character is one of the reasons for his violence. He realizes his femininity, is ashamed of it, wishes to be a man, and overcompensates by brutal behavior. This little fatty-hipped, slope-shouldered, lonely figure, standing so inflexibly, his arm outstretched so tautly, his eyes staring over the heads of his subjects, is incredible. “No,” you say to yourself, “this can’t be true.”

If this odd creature finally conquers the world, his last victims, we once proud Americans, would still be saying as we filed into concentration camp, “It’s impossible. He looks too silly.” But he is not silly. My friend, Captain Philippe Barres of the French Army, one of those who did not surrender, remarked to another Frenchman: “You say Hitler is merely a madman, an idiot. I suppose you must be one of those Frenchmen who prefer to have been conquered by an idiot than by a clever man.”

Oh no, he certainly is not an idiot; but is it not incredible that this mighty conqueror, now master over two hundred and fifty million Europeans—more civilized white human beings than ever before came under the tyranny of a single despot—and now reaching out to drive another thousand million under his yoke, that this man usually looks completely insignificant? I am sure that was the first impression Mussolini had of him. I saw the two dictators when they first met and Hitler never looked sillier in his life than at that time.

How did the two behave toward each other? Did they seem to like each other?

Not much. It was June 14, 1934 when Hitler first visited Italy to meet the Duce and discuss with him the fate of Austria. Hitler had not yet created his army and Mussolini could still talk on terms of equality, or even a little better. Mussolini wanted to impress his guest as much as possible with the power and glory of Fascist Italy. Hitler had to try to impress Mussolini with the coming strength of Nazi Germany. Mussolini, being at home, had all the advantage. For Hitler the trip itself must have been a great experience because it was the first time he had ever been out of Germany or Austria in his whole life, if you except the time he spent as a soldier in the trenches of Northern France.

Mussolini proved a great stage manager. He arranged the meeting to take place in Venice, and had his guest land on the airfield of the Lido. The fact that it was an island made it easy for the authorities to exclude the public, and when Hitler arrived he stepped directly into a perfectly appointed theater.

There were representatives of all the Italian armed forces, companies of Bersaglieri, Alpini, Sailors, Airmen, and the Black Shirt Fascist Militia, and a group of the highest civilian officials in black uniform with the black-tasseled fez caps of the party, surrounding the Duce himself who was in the powder-blue uniform of a Corporal of the Fascist Militia.

Mussolini used to think of himself as the successor to the Corsican Corporal. I remember once noticing that the only ornament on his desk was a framed portrait of Napoleon. I remarked on it, and Mussolini exclaimed, “A great Italian!” One of the Duce’s most ambitious literary ventures was a play called The Hundred Days. Whether he is still able after Greece, Libya, and Ethiopia to fancy himself in the role of a conqueror when he meets Hitler now, he still appears in the uniform of a corporal as when he met Hitler the first time.

The only persons on the field not in uniform were the foreign correspondents and we looked very dim compared with the brilliant Italians. Mussolini appeared a few minutes early and when he strode down the line and looked over his warriors he made a most vigorous impression. He had an electric step; his feet seemed to bounce off the ground, and the air vibrated with his personality. After he finished reviewing his troops he came over and stood within a few feet of us and we waited.

Presently Hitler’s Junkers plane roared down out of the sky, landed, taxied up to us, and came to a full stop. The door opened. The Italian troops, dazzling in full dress, presented arms. The Fascist officials stood at attention. The sunshine sparkled on Mussolini’s gold braid and the Duce, stepping close to the open door of the airplane, flung out his arm in a Roman salute with so much energy that it seemed as though he might lose his hand. He trembled with passion. Then, out of the shadow of the door, emerged Hitler. There, before the splendid Italians, he stood, a faint little man arrayed in his old worn raincoat, his blue serge suit, and a brand-new Fedora hat. His right hand faltered up in the Nazi salute.

He gives the salute two ways. For reviewing his own troops or crowds he gives it stiff-arm. This is his Prussian style. For greeting individuals he gives the salute, Viennese style, with a limp hand, the arm not outstretched but bent at the elbow and the hand flopping back until it almost touches his shoulder, then flopping forward feebly. He used the Viennese version on Mussolini. Hitler was embarrassed. Later we learned he had threatened to dismiss Baron von Neurath, then chief of protocol, for having advised him to come in civilian clothes.

The Fuehrer stood for a moment, blinking in the sunlight, then awkwardly came down the steps, and the two dictators shook hands. They were not over three yards from me, and I was fascinated to watch the expressions on their faces. Beneath the obligatory cordiality I fancied I could see an expression of amusement in Mussolini’s eyes and of resentment in Hitler’s. At any rate Hitler’s embarrassment did not diminish, for when Mussolini led him down the line of troops he did not know how to carry it off. This was the first time he had ever had to inspect foreign troops, but that was not the chief trouble. The chief trouble was his hat.

He had taken it off as a salute to the Italian flag, and he started to put it back on his head, thought better of it, and held it in his right hand. Then, as he walked beside the Duce, who was chattering all the time in his fluent German, Hitler shifted the hat to his left hand, then back to the right, and so back and forth until one could feel he would have given anything to be able to throw the hat away. Finally, when they reached the end of the line, he clapped the hat back on his head, but he had not yet recovered his poise because when they came to the launch which was to carry them to Venice, Hitler, flustered, tried to insist that Mussolini, the host, precede him on board. The Duce finally got behind the Fuehrer and shooed him down the gangplank first.

Mussolini arranged that his visitor should constantly be reminded that although Germany might have her great man, Italy had a greater. With true totalitarian courtesy Mussolini ordered thousands of young Black Shirts to cheer him and keep up a continuous howl of “Duce, Duce, Duce!” whenever Hitler appeared. They jammed St. Mark’s square and that night when Mussolini gave his guests a banquet in the wonderful old Palace of the Doges, the Black Shirts yelled so much and so powerfully that nobody could hear the speeches. Finally Mussolini had to send word for the boys to quiet down.

The show had its desired effect as far as the Italian populace was concerned. The climax of the evening was a procession on the Grand Canal. They had taken from museums the most treasured old gondolas, and decorated them with lanterns. You may imagine what a spectacle they made under a June moon. My wife had a gondolier who spoke a few words of broken English. She asked him, “What do you think of Hitler?” “Oh,” said the gondolier, “Eetlaire, Eetlaire is only a piccolo Mussolini.” I wonder if the gondolier still thinks Hitler is a “little Mussolini”?

What did the two dictators accomplish by their meeting? Did they lay the basis for the Axis there?

No, just the contrary. They laid the basis for nearly going to war with each other. The Axis was not formed until much later, after Mussolini had been compelled to recognize Hitler’s supremacy and take orders from him. At the time they first met, Mussolini still fancied himself Hitler’s superior. At Venice they were supposed to negotiate an agreement about Austria.

At that time Mussolini wanted very much to take Austria himself, or to keep it independent as a buffer state between Italy and the Germany which he felt was going some day to become strong enough to menace him as well as the rest of Europe. Hitler, on the other hand, was bent upon the Anschluss, upon annexing Austria as the first item on his program of expansion.

Mussolini had an army of unknown quality but big enough compared with Hitler’s to make the Duce feel superior and Hitler feel cautious. So they talked on this basis and Count Ciano, Mussolini’s son-in-law and already Propaganda Minister, took me aside the afternoon of the second day and triumphantly whispered that a “gentleman’s agreement” had been reached that both parties would respect the integrity and independence of Austria. It was all I could do to restrain myself from putting in my cable some obvious crack about the agreement between those two notable “gentlemen,” but one does not do that under censorship.

What happened then? I must say that everything that has happened in Europe since the gangsters took over has the quality of a caricature. Sure enough, Hitler and Mussolini made their “gentlemen’s agreement” to keep hands off Austria on June 15, and just forty days later, on July 25, Hitler sent a band of Nazi revolutionaries to seize the Austrian government. They murdered Chancellor Dollfuss, but were overpowered by loyal troops, and before Hitler could move, Mussolini had mobilized on the Brenner mechanized forces strong enough to make Hitler back down and disavow the whole action. I reached Vienna and the Ballhaus Platz while the loyal troops were still besieging the Reichskanzlei. Dollfuss had not died yet. In the midst of it all I had to laugh at the thought of that “gentlemen’s agreement.”

That must have made Mussolini cocky, to make Hitler back down?

Decidedly! I went from Vienna where I had covered the Dollfuss Putsch, back to Berlin for the death of Hindenburg—and incidentally for a sidelight on Hitler, let me remark this. You still hear repeated the wishful thought that the German Army will some day “do something” about Hitler. Nobody who knows anything about Germany believes that for a moment now, but I admit I thought it possible until the day Hindenburg died that the army might stop Hitler.

That was August 7, 1934, and at the moment Goebbels announced on the radio the death of the President he also announced that Hitler had assumed the presidency, which meant he was commander in chief of the armed forces as well as Reichs Chancellor, and thus had sole executive power. That morning I came early to the office in Berlin and as I entered the door Goebbels’ voice began to come over the radio. I worked on the cables until mid-afternoon and then Dosch-Fleurot and I went out to witness the swearing in of the Berlin garrison. That was where I learned that the army would from then on do nothing to stop Hitler.

The regiment was drawn up in hollow square and in the middle stood the commanding general on a platform. Every one of the 2,000 men and officers held his right hand above his head with the two fingers extended as in taking an oath in court. The general repeated the words two at a time and the troops repeated in sonorous chorus, “I swear—by God—eternal allegiance—to my Fuehrer—Adolf Hitler—to obey him,” and so on, with no word about the flag, the Constitution, or even the Fatherland. The oath was a personal oath to Hitler himself, as commander in chief. I believe it is unique; at any rate I have never heard of such an oath in any other army.

The officers corps knew what it meant, so much so that thousands of officers absented themselves that day from duty “on account of illness,” but when they came back each had to take the oath individually. The significance of that is that no German army has ever mutined, and this oath bound every soldier of Germany to the person of Adolf Hitler. It was a most impressive ceremony and I carried away from it the conviction that this army would never break its oath and turn on Hitler until it met defeat. I am still convinced this is true.

Yes, but what about Mussolini? You said he was decidedly cocky about defeating Hitler over Austria.

I started to say that after having covered the death of Hindenburg and the accession to the Presidency of Hitler, I went down and reported the Nuremberg Party Congress, and directly thereafter went to Rome and met Mussolini. It was October 1934. I had met him several times previously and he always used to insist on asking more questions than he answered; so he began our conversation by saying, “I hear you have been to Nuremberg—what did you learn there? What did they think of me?”

I answered that frankly the Italians were not popular in Nuremberg, and that one of my English colleagues, Chris Holmes of Reuters, who is tall, dark, and handsome, had once been mistaken for an Italian and had some trouble with Nazi Storm Troopers until he identified himself. “So we are unpopular there,” Mussolini ruminated. “And go on, what else did you observe in that line?”

“Well,” I continued, “one night I met a group of officers of the SS [Schutzstaffel] and we were talking about affairs, and one of them asked me what you, Your Excellency, would have done with those troops you mobilized on the Brenner during the Dollfuss Putsch if you had marched into Austria.” “Yes,” said the Duce leaning forward. “Yes, yes, go on, what did they want to know?” “Well,” I hesitated, “they wanted to know if you had marched into Austria, would you have stopped there, or would you have gone on and marched into Germany?” Mussolini put his hands on the desk and leaned halfway over it, and a great smile came on his face as he ejaculated, “Ahhhh! Were they afraid?” I laughed and he laughed and it was agreed that the Germans had been afraid, and if ever there was a delighted man it was Mussolini, reveling in the thought that he had frightened his gentlemen friends.

You have told us that the first impression one gets of Hitler is that he looks silly, but you remarked that this was a false impression…. Do you imply that on closer acquaintance his personality grows upon you?

In a way, perhaps. At any rate you realize after several meetings that the silly appearance is due to superficialities. His moustache, the lock of hair over his forehead, and his staring eyes make his face easy work for a cartoonist, and a world of them have taken advantage of it. It is almost like a mask. He frequently looks as though he were gazing into space when he is looking straight at you. He has terrific power of concentration and sometimes when he talks he appears to forget his surroundings, and to be conversing with himself, although he may be shouting loud enough to be heard by a great multitude.

His manner is various, and he can be quietly affable just as another time he may rave and bellow until his voice breaks. Once, during his trial for treason, I heard him bellow and then surrender to a louder voice. This was an incident worth recording, because as far as I know it is the only time Hitler has been literally shouted down. All during his trial the courtroom was dominated by the figure of Ludendorff, the great Ludendorff who for the last two years of the war had been master of Germany. Ludendorff of course was as guilty of treason as Hitler, and if the court had done its duty both Ludendorff and Hitler would have been sentenced to death and executed. Ludendorff, however, had such prestige that even this republican court was afraid to find him guilty, and as you know, they acquitted him. And having acquitted Ludendorff it was not possible to sentence Hitler to death. They gave him the lightest possible sentence, fortress confinement for five years, and later commuted by a general amnesty to less than a year.

Ludendorff used to bark at the court in Kommandostimme, the tone of the parade ground, every syllable clipped harsh, and when his imperious voice rose, the little Chief Justice in the middle of the Bench would quiver until his white goatee flickered so badly he had to seize it to keep it quiet. Hitler at that time had nothing like the authority of Ludendorff but he made up for that by his volubility and his rough treatment of the witnesses against him. As defendant he had the right to question witnesses and he bullied them unmercifully until the turn came of General von Lossow, the chief witness for the state. Von Lossow was in command of the Bavarian Reichswehr.

A few days before the Putsch, Hitler had given his personal word of honor to von Lossow that he would not try a revolution. On the night of the Putsch, Hitler, brandishing a revolver, forced von Lossow to join the revolution and yield the Bavarian Reichswehr to the new Hitler government. But the moment von Lossow was free, he mobilized his troops and crushed the Putsch. So the two men hated each other, and each considered the other a double-crosser.

When von Lossow took the stand, Hitler stood up and yelled a question. Thereupon the General, a tall bony man, with a corrugated shaven head and a jaw of steel, pulled himself up to his full height and began yelling at Hitler and throwing his long forefinger as if it were a weapon at Hitler’s face. Hitler started to shout back, but the General shouted so much louder, and looked so menacing, that presently Hitler fell back in his seat as if he had collapsed under a physical blow. Hitler had his revenge on June 30, 1934 when he had von Lossow assassinated along with the hundreds of others who perished in the Blood Purge. In retrospect it is fascinating to reflect that Hitler, the most successful bully our world has seen, can himself be bullied.

Do you think that Hitler is personally responsible, or largely responsible, for this war? Is it possible to ascribe that much importance to one individual?

I do ascribe that much importance to the individual Hitler. We would no more have had this war, in the form it has taken, and at the time it has taken place, without Hitler, than we would have had the Napoleonic wars without Napoleon. Without Hitler, Germany would either have forged slowly ahead as she was doing under the Weimar Republic, or she would have come under some other leader of Pan-German Imperialism who would have attempted on a lesser and not so successful scale something like the thing Hitler has attempted. It is extremely unlikely that anyone else could have been found with Hitler’s genius. It is more likely that the Weimar Republic would have persisted. Remember, when Hitler was sentenced to fortress confinement for his 1923 Putsch, his National Socialist German Workers Party practically disappeared, but immediately upon his emergence from prison it began to grow until by 1928 he had 12 seats, and in 1930, 130 seats in the Reichstag.

You may say this growth of a radical party would have been inevitable under the circumstances of economic crisis, unemployment, and so on. I agree that the growth of radical votes would have been inevitable, but it was far from inevitable that so many of these radical votes should be canalized into one great, super-efficient, terroristic, militaristic party. This was the accomplishment of one man, Adolf Hitler.

I was a correspondent in Germany from 1923 on, and during that particular decade, 1923 to 1933, when Hitler took power, two-thirds of the German electorate voted consistently in favor of some form of collectivism, either Social Democracy, or National Socialism, or Communism. I contend that it was solely the genius of Adolf Hitler which eventually brought the whole country under his particular brand of collectivism. Without him the votes given the Nazis would have been split in half a dozen ways, and the probability is that the conservative parties representing one-third of the votes, with the Social Democrats who wanted a democratic republican collectivism, would have won out in the long run, and we should have had a republican Germany today and no war. This is sheer retrospective speculation, but it is useful to point out the importance of the personality of Hitler.

The Marxists have always insisted that individuals do not count; that history is made by economic and social forces which in the long run accomplish their destiny no matter who lives or dies. The longer I live the less I believe in this explanation of history, at any rate as it applies to our span of life.

Over centuries it may be that the great forces carry mankind irresistibly along no matter what leaders it has, but within a single generation we are bound to feel that the history of our nation would have been quite different if this or that individual had not existed. Objectively it may be true that over long periods of time the individual leader counts for little. But subjectively, for short periods of time, the individual leader counts for nearly everything. What a difference it would have made for the Jews of the whole world, if a Hitler had not obtained control of the collectivist movement in Germany.

There was nothing inherently anti-Semitic in the German yearning for a Gemeinschaft, a collective. Anti-Semitism need not have played any part in National Socialism any more than it did in Communism or Social Democracy. Yet, because Hitler from his early youth had been infected with this curious kind of psychic sickness, anti-Semitism became a part of the German state religion, and from this accident of history has grown the tragedy of twelve million people.

Is Hitler really the boss of Germany, or is there not someone behind the throne?

There is nobody behind the throne. Hitler is the whole regime, its author, its parent, its spirit, its brains, and its boss.

What about the men around Hitler; are any of them of the caliber to succeed him?

None of them is of the caliber to succeed Hitler, but Hitler has publicly announced Goering as his successor, and he would automatically take the position if der Fuehrer should die now. In the Party there is nobody to compete with him. The bloodthirsty Himmler, head of the SS Elite Guards and the Gestapo, is merely a policeman, one of great ability, ranking perhaps with the notorious Fouché of the French Revolution, but out of the question as Fuehrer. Goebbels, the advertising director, is the cleverest man in the Party, but he would be lucky to remain alive twenty-four hours after Hitler’s protective hand was removed. He and Himmler are rivals in unpopularity. Who are the rest? Minor figures, as Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, the upstart “Bismarck” of the champagne trade, who if anything is more widely disliked and despised than Goebbels. Hess, of course, has fled. Dr. Ley, the head of the Labor Front, is the type of drunken, racketeering labor gangster who in this country would have gone to the penitentiary under the lash of Westbrook Pegler. Alfred Rosenberg, the Party’s “brain,” could no more succeed Hitler than he could take Joe Louis’s place.

The more one scrutinizes the German scene the more one realizes that the war has moved all the big party figures far into the background, leaving only Goering a modest place miles beneath the Fuehrer. The outside world has believed Goering would be an improvement on Hitler, in that he would be more amenable to reason, less aggressive. He would be an improvement only in that he would be weaker. His instincts and intentions are not more Christian than Hitler’s. He would have neither Hitler’s magic hold on the German people nor Hitler’s genius in action, but he is as cruel a man as ever exercised power in a modern state. At the same time he has all the sentimentality which is an almost invariable accompaniment of brutality in this type of German. During the period of the worst Terror, the active Nazi revolution in 1933, Goering was over Himmler in charge of the concentration camps, and at the moment when the Nazi sadists and criminals in charge of the camps were beating to death and torturing and hanging scores of men daily, Goering decreed the severest law against cruelty to animals ever to be passed anywhere.

Goering’s most marked characteristics, aside from his high animal spirits, his callous cruelty, and his sentimentality, are his energy, courage, and will power. He looks too fat to be self-disciplined, but he twice cured himself of the morphine habit, which he had contracted after his wounding in the World War, and again after his wounding on the Odeon’s Platz during the Munich Putsch. A glandular derangement resulting from his wounds made him monstrously obese, but appears to have endowed him with an excess of energy which he demonstrates by doing the work of half a dozen men. He works incomparably harder than Hitler who by any ordinary standards is a fitful worker, given to long spells of dreamy idleness.

Everybody else in Germany quails before Goering, but Reichs Marshal Goering becomes a trembling, whipped child when Hitler yells at him, despite fanciful newspaper stories about Goering’s disputing with der Fuehrer. The Army prefers Goering to any other Nazi leader except Hitler, because Goering is the only soldier and the only gentleman by birth among the Nazi chiefs. Yet when one has reviewed all the points in favor of Goering’s position, it becomes more and more obvious that the war has made a successor to Hitler almost unthinkable. Hitler has the power now more than ever, but the power now is the Army; it is no longer, as it was until September 1939, the Party. If Goering were to take over automatically, after Hitler’s death, how long could he keep the apparatus running; what would the Army do; how would the German people and the people of Europe respond to their new and obviously so immensely inferior master? The more one considers the condition of Germany today the more it seems that Hitler is indispensable to German success. His successors would probably succeed one another with Blitz speed.

What about Karl Haushofer, who is said to be his one-man brain trust?

Haushofer is one of the men Hitler consults. Hitler likes Haushofer’s theory of what they call Geopolitik because it fits in with Hitler’s own theory that politics should always go ahead of economics, which is his particular way of proving the Marxists wrong. But Haushofer has no more influence than perhaps half a dozen of Hitler’s advisers. Hitler hates experts, because they advance objections to his projects. The only experts who have a chance with him are yes-men, except in the Army. He listens to technical advice from generals he respects, although even from them he would tolerate no shadow of opposition to his grand strategy. You may be sure Haushofer has never said no.

Is Hitler also in the military sphere the real war lord? Does he actually direct his battles as did Napoleon?

Hitler is the nearest thing to Napoleon since Napoleon. I remember just before the beginning of the war, in August 1939, I asked a Colonel of the French General Staff if they had heard that Hitler had taken over active command of the Army, in fact, and that when war began he would direct the fighting. The French Colonel said yes, that the French General Staff knew that was true. Then he surprised me by saying that they did not like it.

I had expected him to rub his hands and exclaim over French good luck in having an amateur at the head of the German Army. Not at all. This French Colonel went on to explain that Hitler had already demonstrated the most miraculous sense of timing, and this was perhaps the most important talent a field marshal could have, and that with the technical advice of his generals, Hitler might prove a formidable adversary indeed. Less than a year later the French Colonel who had foreseen so well was one of the vast army of military refugees fleeing before the New Napoleon.

I do not mean to say that Hitler blueprints each battle and determines where each division is to go. He simply determines the grand strategy, names the objective, and sets the time. For instance, in the case of Poland, some time before the German attack, Hitler called his General Staff together and said, “Gentlemen, I want you to work out a plan for the crushing of Poland as swiftly as possible. The problem is how to knock out Poland before the French and British can bring any help or alleviation by attacking in the West. Now, how many divisions can we have fully mobilized within a month? So, and how many do we need to hold the French? So. That will leave us so and so many for the Polish campaign. Now, gentlemen, at how many different points can we attack Poland, from every available entrance? You say five, including East Prussia. All right, now within forty-eight hours I want you to bring me a sketch plan of attack, with the outline of the number of divisions to attack at each point.”

With these data in hand Hitler orders the general disposition of the troops. Then he waits, and takes into account each of a score or hundred other factors besides military factors that may enter into the supreme decision to choose the exact time to strike. He considers the attitude of all the powers involved, the British and French morale, their military strength, the weather, the attitude of Poland’s neighbors, the Polish preparations, and finally when he is ready he gives the fateful order to march at 2 a.m. on September 1, 1939. Before the order reaches the commanding generals probably not more than half a dozen men in the world know the time.

He may meet technical criticism from his generals; he often does. But unlike Mussolini, whose staff is so subservient and sycophantic that they say “Yes” when the Duce has outlined some impossible campaign such as his fiasco in Greece, the German generals voice their objections. If the objections are valid, Hitler may change his plans. As a rule, however, Hitler’s grand strategy is seldom affected, because the great sweeping decisions are based upon Hitler’s appreciation of the problem, the campaign, the scene as a whole. His generals will be thinking of the local problem, and their opinion in this respect carries weight. But Hitler will be thinking in terms first of the whole war, second of the whole campaign, as against Poland. To these great decisions the generals invariably bow.

Why? How has this man who was able to become only a corporal in the last war suddenly obtained such an ascendancy over the German Army and in particular over the General Staff? I always understood that the General Staff of the German Army was one of the proudest, most professionally capable, and vain and exclusive organizations in the whole world.

How has Hitler done it? By being always right. Well, nearly always. He has so far made two mistakes, either or both of which may prove fatal, or not, as destiny will have it. The first was when, instead of launching an all-out assault on Britain immediately after Dunkirk, he pursued the crumbling French Army, which as he later learned, could not have been a danger to him; thus he postponed too late his attack on Britain.

Why didn’t he attack England at that time?

Because Hitler did not expect France to collapse as speedily as she did. Neither he nor anyone else in the world expected it. He may say he did but the best proof that he did not is the fact that he failed to take advantage of it. When the German armies broke through the Low Countries, and began to press upon the French line at the famous “hinge” at Montmedy, they were like a man who is pressing hard on a locked and bolted door when suddenly the bolt breaks, the door flies open, and the man pitches forward into the room.

So the German armies pitched forward into France when they broke across the Meuse and staggered on, almost losing their balance for lack of the opposition they had expected to find. They lurched on until at the end of five weeks the French Army had dissolved; the French government had surrendered; the nation of France had ceased to exist. Then Hitler pulled his army together, turned it around, started it for the Channel ports. But it takes time to turn an army around; it takes time to establish air bases and collect the thousands of flat-bottomed vessels to ferry an army across the channel.

The time required was fifty-five days from June 17, the day the French asked for an armistice, to August 8, when the Germans made their first mass air attack on Britain as preliminary to invasion. It was those fifty-five days which saved Britain. I arrived in London on June 20, full of the apprehension that Hitler’s army was about to sweep the world. After all it is impressive to have believed all your life that the French Army was the best in the world and then to witness it disappear in thirty-seven days of fighting.

It is more impressive to become a refugee. I had established in Paris the first home I had had in twenty years of vagabond newspaper work. As the German armies came closer to the French capital I congratulated myself that I could now live at home and motor daily to the front. Then one night around midnight the American military attaché, my old friend Colonel Horace M. Fuller, our wisest professional observer of the war abroad, and Lieutenant-Commander Hillenkoetter, our naval attaché, veteran submarine expert, called on me and said: “Knick, you must leave tonight; the Germans will be here by morning.”

In Edgar Mowrer’s overfull Ford, followed by Lilian Mowrer valiantly driving her tiny Simca, we left Paris about three o’clock in the morning, passing through empty streets, the great boulevards stretching wide and forlorn without so much as a policeman in sight, while fog eddied above the paving. We passed through the gates of the city where not even a sentry stood.

Paris was already broken, already humiliated. We fled on down, stopping with the demoralized government at Tours, and then on to Bordeaux where with 1,600 other refugees I found a place on the British India Line S.S. Madura, built to accommodate 160. On the way from Paris to Bordeaux we had traveled with six to eight million other refugees, the largest number of fugitives ever to assemble on the roads of the Western World. Flight, flight, flight! Anything to get away! That was the panic spirit which had gripped the whole population of France, as of the Low Countries.

The German Army could not even come in contact with the main body of refugees, except in the contact of murder when the Luftwaffe machine-gunned the roads. From the moment, eleven days after the grand assault began, when the Germans reached the sea at Abbeville, May 21, from that moment on French resistance disappeared. But Hitler could not begin to attack England until the British Expeditionary Force and the Northern French Army were destroyed. Actually the B.E.F. escaped from Dunkirk June 4, and from that date on Hitler was free to turn in either direction, and many observers believed he would drive straight at England.

Instead, he chose to pursue the French Army another thirteen days, until it surrendered. If Hitler, immediately after Dunkirk, had concentrated every resource on invading England, nobody can say what would have happened. Dunkirk had shocked the British more deeply than anything in 100 years, but the French capitulation shocked them worse.

By the time I arrived at Falmouth, after four days on deck with my fellow refugees, the British were still dazed, dismayed, not panicky, but desperately aware that they stood closer to national destruction than ever in 1,000 years. The truth was they had no army, or rather their army had no weapons. The B.E.F., which had possessed about 75 per cent of all the weapons possessed by all the British Land Forces, had been compelled to leave behind at Dunkirk all their tanks, cannon, and most of their machine guns and even their rifles. It was terrifying to stand on the curb in London and watch battalions of the Guards march by with only half a dozen rifles to a battalion.

The British Land Forces immediately after Dunkirk were practically weaponless. The R.A.F. which was soon to give so gallant an account of itself, needed reorganization; all the units which had been in France had to be brought back and reintegrated for the defense of the island. If ever the German invasion could succeed, it could have succeeded then, but Hitler did not move until the night of August 8, when he sent over his first mass of 400 bombers and fired the docks of London in a blaze so high I was able to read a newspaper by its light on the roof of the Ministry of Information building, eight miles from the fire. Had that attack been launched June 8 or even June 18, instead of August 8, who knows what the result would have been? By August 8 the British had been transformed.

Three things had happened to them which had not happened for over 100 years, since the time of Napoleon. First, they had become frightened; second, they had become angry; third, they had been forced, again I repeat, for the first time in 100 years, forced to go to work. Until the fall of France the British had been as easygoing as we are now, despite the fact they had been formally at war for eight months; but after the fall of France every able-bodied human being in the United Kingdom went to work at the rate of ten to twelve hours a day seven days a week.

In a miraculously short time they tripled their production of weapons, planes, ammunition; meanwhile we sent them 1,000 cannon, many machine guns, and 750,000 rifles. The R.A.F. trained, reorganized, expanded, laid out new fields. In short, when Hitler attacked he struck a new Britain, aroused as never since 1066. It was a dazzling example of what danger can do to a people. The British of August 1940 were not the British of June 1940.

Historians will wonder why Hitler did not move earlier against England. I suppose they will go on wondering why for centuries, even after Hitler has explained it in his memoirs, for his own benefit, and to the satisfaction of few. My estimate is that he simply overvalued the French Army and undervalued the British spirit. Surprised by the French collapse he was carried along by the momentum of his drive to destroy the possibility of further French resistance before trying to invade England. He lost thereby what may prove to have been his greatest chance when he failed to throw his whole air force, army, and navy at England in the moment of her greatest weakness.

What was Hitler’s second mistake?

His second mistake was when he went into Russia, apparently expecting the Red Army to fold up at least as fast as the French Army, probably hoping to be able to turn around and launch a second attack on Britain in 1941 before American aid became effective. The initial effect of the invasion of Russia was a disappointment to Hitler, however it may eventually end. So was the First Battle of Britain, but the final outcome of both battles must be awaited to determine how they will affect Hitler’s reputation as a master of war.

Meanwhile his generals have not had reason to change fundamentally the judgment they formed on the basis of their experience with him since 1933. That experience began when he took over the Presidency and obtained the oath of allegiance which, as we have seen, laid at least a legal foundation for his ascendancy over the armed forces. Then he set out to build out of the 100,000-man Reichswehr the mightiest military machine the world has ever known.

He denounced the military clauses of the Versailles treaty, and thus relieved the Army of its crushing sense of being condemned forever to inferiority. He boldly announced the creation of an Air Force, and assigned to it the explosive energies of his first Paladin, Goering. Thereafter, all the resources of the nation were poured into the armed forces. Nothing was too good for the troops. They were given barracks such as no European army had ever had, as good as anything the United States Army has ever known. The food of the army and navy and air force was improved until it was on the average far better, even in peacetime, than anything the German soldier had to eat at home.

Discipline was kept at its highest point, but at the same time a new spirit of comradeship came into the German armed forces. For the first time in the history of the German Navy, officers and men would eat at the same table. All this was bound to have its effect upon the services and to make them think at any rate gratefully of Hitler, but of course the test had still to come. What would this commander in chief order his troops to do? Would he lead them into some impossible adventure prematurely? Would this amateur after building his beautiful machine sacrifice it in some vainglorious maneuver? It seemed as though he would do just that.

The first test of Hitler’s fitness to command his army came on March 7, 1936, when he ordered it into the Rhineland to reoccupy that portion of Germany adjoining France which had been demilitarized by the Versailles treaty. France had insisted that Germany should promise never to quarter troops on the right bank of the Rhine. This was to make up for the fact that France had been prevented from occupying the right bank of the Rhine, and for the fact that the United States in 1919 had refused to join the proposed tripartite pact of France, England, and the United States, to guarantee the French from invasion by Germany.

As long as the Germans kept out of the Rhineland, France was safe. If the Germans ever reoccupied the Rhineland, it meant that they intended sooner or later to use it as a jumping-off-place from which to attack France. France therefore had insisted upon and had obtained this clause in the Versailles treaty, and had thereafter frequently announced that its violation would mean war. Nevertheless, Hitler toward the middle of February 1936 informed his General Staff that in the first week of March he intended to reoccupy the Rhineland. At that moment Hitler met his first opposition from the Army. The generals protested that they could not be responsible for what would happen, because if the French mobilized and fought, the German Army was not strong enough—it would have to retreat. Unspoken was the conclusion that if the German Army retreated, it would mean the end of the Nazi regime, the end of Hitler.

Hitler replied that it was the duty of the Army to obey orders; it was his duty as Fuehrer to give orders which could be successfully obeyed. “I know,” he told them, “that the French will not mobilize. I know the French will not fight. I know the English don’t want them to fight. Don’t ask me how I know. I know. It is my business to know.”

When I was in Spain during the Spanish Civil War, I learned under unusual circumstances something of what went on inside the German General Staff during those days of March 1936, which were to decide the history of the continent. At Burgos, headquarters of Franco’s government, I met Major von der Osten, who was ostensibly in charge of certain economic investigations or negotiations, but as a matter of fact was the chief of the German Gestapo in Spain. He was an agreeable fellow, father of eight children, highly intelligent, amusing, and it did not matter to me that some months before, his organization, the Gestapo, had had me arrested and thrown into a death cell in San Sebastian for thirty-six hours, whence I escaped by the determined vocal and political efforts of my friend and fellow correspondent, Randolph Churchill.

The Major knew that I knew that he was chief of the Gestapo and he knew that I would do all I could to get information from him of value to me, as I knew he would do likewise with me. So we got along famously, and one day he included me in a picnic with several other correspondents. There, on the banks of a clear stream while the Major’s soldier servants served us grilled frankfurters and Rhine wine, I led the conversation into discussion of what the Army thought of Hitler. The theme reached the reoccupation of the Rhineland, and at this the Major became enlightening.

“I was assigned to the Bendlerstrasse [headquarters of the General Staff] then,” the Major said. “I can tell you that for five days and five nights not one of us closed an eye. We knew that if the French marched, we were done. We had no fortifications, and no army to match the French. If the French had even mobilized, we should have been compelled to retire.” He confirmed that the opinion of virtually the entire General Staff was against Hitler; they considered the move suicidal, and when they did move, it was only to obey orders, not because they were convinced it was right.

“And what did they think after the thing was all over and Hitler had been proved right? Did they think that Hitler had proved himself a genius or that he just had extraordinarily good luck?”

The Major smiled. “We thought there was a good deal of kind fortune concerned,” he said.

That was Hitler’s first brush with his army, and his generals may well have put him down as lucky. He won, and later events proved how tremendous his victory was. For the occupation of the Rhineland enabled Hitler to build there his Siegfried line, and the Siegfried line enabled him eventually to hold France until he was ready to fall upon and destroy her as he did in 1940.

This first demonstration that he was “always right,” strengthened his position with the General Staff enormously. The second test was accordingly easier. It was Austria.

Just as in the case of the Rhineland, so in the case of Austria, France had often declared that any German attempt to annex Austria would be a cause of war. This made good sense, just as it had made good sense for the French to have said they would go to war to prevent reoccupation of the Rhineland. Once the Germans had the Rhineland and began to fortify it, they made it difficult for the French to defend Austria. Once the Germans had Austria they made it difficult for the French to defend Czechoslovakia. Once the Germans had Czechoslovakia they made it difficult for the French to defend France.

The German generals understood this series of steps as well as or better than the French, and therefore they could not believe that the French would allow each step to be taken without trying to stop it. Therefore, as Hitler ordered each step taken, his generals protested, since like all generals they did not want to start a war without the certainty of winning.

They protested vigorously over the decision to go into Austria, but once again Hitler said: “Gentlemen, it is your business to take the action I direct. It is my business to direct only action which will be successful. I can assure you now, as I assured you on the reoccupation of the Rhineland, that now also France will not move, the British will not move; we can do as we like.” He was right again, and now with two major victories to his credit, he could face his generals with an even more momentous and critical order—to occupy Czechoslovakia.

This third move, against Czechoslovakia, was the most critical, because here France was pledged by her solemn word of honor to fight for her ally, and because the possession of Czechoslovakia would make it possible finally to attack France herself. These two facts were of course amply known to the German generals and once more they assumed that the French generals and the French government would now awaken and fight for the life of their country.

So, in spite of the two lessons Hitler had given them, the German generals once more pointed out the dangers. Their Siegfried line was not nearly complete. If they threw crushing weight at Czechoslovakia, they would have to weaken their West Front so badly that the French, if they wished to plunge, might break through. Hitler this time was beside himself. He not only knew the French and British would not fight if the Czechs asked them to fight, but he believed, and I think he was right, that the French and British would not have fought even if the Czechs had fought.

So he wanted above all things at this juncture to meet a little opposition to blood his sword. He wanted the Czechs to fight, and knowing he would have them alone, he longed for a chance to show what his vast army and air force could do with overwhelming odds on their side. In my opinion it is just the opposite of true to say that Hitler wanted another bloodless victory. He did not. He wanted a bloody one, the blood of course, to be shed by the hopelessly outnumbered enemy. It seemed to him absolutely idiotic that any of his generals should object. They did, but feebly.

Once more Hitler overrode them, with the same arguments. “France will not fight. The British will not fight. We can do as we like with the Czechs. I only hope they do fight.” Hitler this time got everything he wanted but one thing. The Czechs, brutally betrayed by their ally France and bullied by England, did not fight. Hitler was cheated of his desire to do violence. At Munich the bad temper he displayed when Chamberlain and Daladier gave in to him on every point was caused by the fact that he realized these good gentlemen were going to make the Czechs surrender. He was not going to be given the chance to drop one bomb. He had to wait a whole year for his bloodshed.

If you doubt this analysis of Hitler’s bloodthirstiness, recollect that he never gave Poland a chance to imitate Czechoslovakia’s surrender. Would it not be a matter for wonderment if the German generals had failed to be impressed by this third example of the Fuehrer’s infallibility?

Yet when he proposed to destroy Poland even after the British and French had “guaranteed” her, some of Hitler’s generals still cautiously offered objections on the grounds that this would inevitably mean the Great War and maybe they could not win the Great War. For the fourth time Hitler overcame constantly lessening opposition of “timid” generals. He explained that he would knock out Poland before the French or British could strike, if indeed they intended to strike at all.

There was some doubt whether the Allies would really fight. Ribbentrop insisted Britain was through, and although they might declare war and mobilize, the British would do so only to save face, and would take the first opportunity to quit with a negotiated peace. But even if the British and the French did go to war, Hitler explained, he would finish Poland swiftly, and then turn such heat on France, bring such terrific forces to bear on the Western Front, that she would probably also be ready to negotiate peace, and if not he would knock her out also. That he was sure he could do, and once he had done that, the British would capitulate.

If there was any opposition lingering among the generals, it disappeared upon the signature of the Russo-German Pact, August 23, 1939. This most brilliant of all Hitler’s foreign political coups convinced his generals first that they would not have to fight a war on two major fronts, second that they were in the hands of an invincible military-political genius of the first category.

How gloriously right Hitler seemed to be. At first everything appeared to depend upon the speed with which Hitler could knock out the Poles, whether he could finish them off before the French could mobilize for a great offensive on the West. Optimistic Poles said they could hold out for three years; pessimistic Poles said one year. The French thought the Poles could hold for six months. The German generals thought it would take three months to break the Poles. Hitler gave them six weeks to do the job. They conquered Poland in eighteen days!

Then came Norway and then came France!

No matter what the German generals had thought before, by May 1940 they had the feeling Hitler was another Napoleon. Sure enough, on May 10, they attacked and on June 17 the French Army, the mighty French Army of 4,500,000 men only three generations from Napoleon, surrendered. The Germans, led by Hitler, had accomplished the greatest victory in the history of the German Army, and had inflicted upon their age-old enemy the most colossal defeat in the history of France. Indeed from the point of view of the numbers of men involved, and the issues at stake, it may be said to be dimensionally the greatest victory of military history.

How can anyone now wonder that after the fall of France the German General Staff with all its professional vanity would be proud to take and if necessary blindly obey orders from Corporal Hitler?

Hitler had brought his General Staff to this position of unquestioning obedience when he gave the orders to attack Russia. Here was truly the place for caution. If Hitler was another Napoleon, here was the same Russia. It meant a two-front war. It would give time for United States aid to become effective. At the best it meant lengthening the war by years.

“No,” Hitler ordered, “we shall conquer Russia before the summer is out, and conquer England before the year is out and before the United States can do anything about it. Vorwaerts!” Only the prestige built up by Hitler’s uninterrupted series of victories from the Rhineland to Crete could have won the acquiescence of the German General Staff to the Russian adventure.

Is Hitler personally brave?

It is hard to say. I could put it this way: Hitler is not the sort of man about whom one would unhesitatingly say that he is personally brave, as one would say about Churchill, for example. Perhaps we shall not count the story he told me about his winning the Iron Cross in the last war, since many Germans say it is not a true story. Yet it is an interesting one. He told it to me the night of March 11, 1932 on the eve of the Presidential election when he ran against Hindenburg and scored eleven million to Hindenburg’s eighteen million votes.

I asked him how he had won his Iron Cross. He always wore it but his political enemies declared there was no record in the army archives of its having been awarded him and neither in Mein Kampf nor elsewhere could there be found any account of how he got it. I was afraid when I asked the question that it might irritate him, but he seemed amused, and even pleased.

“You know,” he said, “I was a dispatch bearer in the war. One day, toward the first of June 1918, I was ordered to take a message to another part of the front, and had to traverse a section of no man’s land. Presently I passed a dugout which I thought abandoned, but suddenly I heard French voices below.

“Being alone, and armed only with a pistol, I stopped a moment, then drew my pistol and shouted below in my very bad French, ‘Come up, surrender!’ Then I shouted in German as though to a squad of soldiers, orders to ‘Fix bayonets! Draw your hand grenades!’ First one French soldier, and then another, and then another came up with their hands in the air until there were seven. I marched them to the rear and turned them over as prisoners of war. Now,” he paused, and smiled at Tom Delmer of the London Daily Express, who was with me, “if they had been English soldiers, or,” turning to me and continuing to smile, “if they had been American soldiers, I am not sure I should have been able to make them surrender so easily, and perhaps I would not have my Iron Cross or be here today.”

This is the only time I have observed a sense of humor in Hitler, and of course if his story is correct, it proves that he had on that occasion a considerable amount of personal bravery.

Then there is the time when, during the 1923 Munich Beer Hall Putsch, he threw himself down when the Reichswehr armored car began to fire its machine gun at him and Ludendorff and Goering and the rest of them. I was about a hundred yards away, jammed in the crowd, when I heard that machine-gun fire, the first I had ever heard in my life. That one whiff of fire killed sixteen of Hitler’s men including the body servant of Ludendorff standing next to the General whom he had served throughout the war. Hitler was injured because he had thrown himself down so violently that he broke his collarbone. Would you consider that a sign of cowardice? I do not know. It was the proper reaction for a front-line soldier.

Nevertheless, Ludendorff not only refused to take shelter but contemptuously stalked across the Odeon’s Platz and, in his uniform of a Lieutenant General, gave himself up to the Reichswehr Lieutenant in charge of the armored car, with the words: “Arrest me, Lieutenant. I shall never wear this uniform again.” Now there was a man about whom one would unhesitatingly say he is a brave man. You remember how Ludendorff, then a Colonel, took the fortress of Liege singlehanded, simply drove in his staff car to the Belgian lines, by amazing luck got through, drove straight to the entrance of the fortress, knocked, and walked in. When the Belgian commander saw before him a German Colonel, he assumed the game was up and surrendered. That won for Ludendorff the Pour le Merite, Germany’s Victoria Cross.

There was a time when Hitler displayed indubitable personal courage. That was when he arrested Captain Ernst Roehm, the head of his 2,500,000 Storm Troops, on the famous June 30, 1934, the day of the Blood Purge. Roehm had been Hitler’s close, if not closest, personal associate. I cannot use the word friend, because Hitler has never had a friend. He was the only man in the party, in the world, as a matter of fact, with whom Hitler exchanged the intimate “Du” or “Thou.” We Americans can never understand the significance of this continental custom. If you are on “Du Fuss” or “Thou Footing” with another man, it means you are brothers, and it is taken very seriously indeed by all except the proletariat, who in the informal brotherhood of the working classes, call each other indiscriminately “Thou.” But this intimacy of Hitler and Roehm did not prevent Hitler from cold-bloodedly ordering his friend’s execution when once Hitler had convinced himself Roehm was plotting treason. Cold blood is one of Hitler’s chief characteristics. It reminds one of Robespierre.

Roehm was hiding out with his staff at the hamlet of Wiessee, not far from Munich. His guards, heavily armed, had strictest orders to stop everyone, but everyone, and by that underlining emphasis in the orders, everyone was meant to include Hitler himself. Nevertheless, on the fateful morning, Hitler with two automobiles containing among others the canny Goebbels, several high SS officers, and a handful of SS gunmen, drove into Wiessee at daybreak, and when Roehm’s guards saw the All-Highest, instead of stopping him they saluted “Heil Hitler!” There was at least some bravery in Hitler’s daring to go personally to arrest Roehm, surrounded by his bodyguards. Once he had penetrated the sentry lines, there was not much for Hitler to fear, especially not in his personal encounter with Roehm. He found Roehm in bed with what they call in German a Lust Knabe.

Roehm was a barrel-chested, scar-faced desperado whose only two weaknesses were his homosexuality and drink. He had grown potbellied, and invariably woke with a hangover. He slept in a nightgown. When Hitler flung open his bedroom door at daybreak and routed him out of bed, Roehm must have been distinctly at a disadvantage. There he stood, bleary-eyed, nightgowned, potbellied, before his Fuehrer roaring charges of treason, yelling that he was under arrest, ordering him to dress and be quick about it.

I passed through Munich on my way from Rome to Berlin to cover the Blood Purge the next night. From SS officers who boarded my train at Munich, via the good-looking Italian Wagon-Lit conductor who had been from time to time propositioned by Roehm, I learned that Major Buch, Hitler’s chief SS executioner, had that evening gone to Roehm’s cell where a revolver had been left to let him commit suicide, and had shot Roehm as he cried, “Tell Adolf to come kill me if he has the nerve!”

Is it true that Hitler is a homosexual?

No, it is not true. He came seriously under suspicion because of his intimacy with Roehm, and because for so many years he tolerated the blatant homosexuality of Roehm and his cohorts. This was a scandal so colossal that it surely has no counterpart in history. Roehm as the head of 2,500,000 Storm Troops had surrounded himself with a staff of perverts. His chiefs, men of the rank of Gruppenfuehrer or Obergruppenfuehrer, commanding units of several hundred thousand Storm Troopers, were almost without exception homosexuals. Indeed, unless a Storm Troop officer were homosexual, he had no chance of advancement.

All this was known to every intelligent observer in Germany and of course was known in every detail to Hitler. His moral indignation when he made his Blood Purge and cleaned out this “nest of immorality” was one of his more brazen pieces of hypocrisy. He purged Roehm not on account of his distasteful habits but because Roehm was plotting to seize power, make himself head of the Army, and form what would have been, incidentally, a homosexual government.

Nobody knows whether he intended to do away with Hitler or merely force Hitler to go along with him. At any rate Hitler would have no part of it, and Roehm was killed, though not for his abnormal love life. Thereafter Hitler passed the most stringent edicts against homosexuality and this odd feature of German life was driven underground. It remains, nevertheless, characteristic of the Germans, that they, outwardly the most brutally masculine of all European peoples, are the most homosexual nation on earth.

Naturally because Hitler never showed any sign of interest in women, he came under suspicion, but prolonged observation has convinced all the witnesses I know, including Germans and foreigners, that Hitler is simply asexual, has no sex life at all, or rather has sublimated it in his “marriage to the German people.”

How do you mean, “marriage to the German people”?

That is precisely the relationship Hitler conceives himself to have with the Germans, and I must say millions of Germans appear to feel as though they constituted his wife. Incidentally it was Lord D’Abernon, long-time British Ambassador to Germany, who remarked that the world did not properly understand the meaning of masculinity and femininity as applied to nations, and that in his opinion the Germans were the most feminine people in Europe and the French the most masculine. Whether D’Abernon would today be of the same opinion, I do not know. At any rate Hitler certainly obtains from his contact with the German people a more than adequate surrogate for normal sex life.

Just imagine what his feelings must be when he stands, as in peacetime he used to stand, on the platform at the Tempelhofer Field in Berlin, and before him are a million Germans. This is the largest crowd that any man has ever had before him in person. You could never assemble such a crowd in a democracy, because it takes them twelve hours to march into place and twelve hours to march away.

On the night before the first of May, which the Nazis stole from the Communists and Socialists and made their own Labor Day, the Berlin population is herded into line and marched off in battalions. Everything is meticulously arranged by a General Staff, so that by the time Hitler appears one million persons, no less, are standing to hear him. When Hitler appears, from a million throats roars the cry “Heil Hitler! Heil! Heil! Heil!” time and time and time again.

Then he speaks and at every possible opportunity comes again the bellow from a million German voices “Heil! Heil! Heil!” Sounds silly? Oh no, not any more than the German goose step is silly. It looks silly only in the movies. In real life it is tremendously impressive—ten thousand steel-shod boots striking the ground with all the force ten thousand muscular legs can put into it. They shake the ground, and when the million Germans shout “Heil!” they make the firmament quiver. I defy anyone to hear such a mass yell without trembling at the sheer brute power of it.

Suppose you were the recipient of this ovation! Hitler obtains his life’s satisfaction from this sort of power orgasm. Now, of course, he has the whole continent of Europe to trample upon. Every man who loves power for its own sake as Hitler does, has a strong streak of sadism, of enjoyment in the infliction of pain or humiliation upon others. So now Hitler has a double stream of enjoyment in which to wallow. I do not think he will ever marry.

Are women attracted to Hitler?

Soon after he came to power he had to pass an edict forbidding German women to crawl out of the crowd and attempt to kiss the hem of his raincoat as he passed by. This was forbidden partially for the same reason as the Verbot against throwing flowers, which was issued because it would be easy to conceal a bomb in a bouquet. Whenever he appeared in public, scores of German women tried to get near enough to him to touch his raincoat or come into some kind of personal contact with him.

It is, regrettably, impossible to record that this is a purely German phenomenon. An American woman distinguished herself at the Olympic Games, and incidentally brought about a disciplinary shake-up among Hitler’s bodyguards, by brushing past his gunmen and kissing him on the cheek. All this is, perhaps, only evidence of the traditional regard women have for strength, whether exhibited by the champion prize fighter, wrestler, chess master, millionaire, or by the Fuehrer of Germany.

I have heard scores of you fellows, foreign correspondents and others, say they “know the truth about Hitler,” and constantly recommend that we find out what he means, but that seems to be a pretty complicated business, and we cannot all live in Germany long enough to find out about it. Can you tell us in a few words just what he does mean, for us?

Yes, in the fewest words: Hitler means exactly what he says. He says the German people are a master race, destined to rule the world. He says the German people have the power to enforce their rule on the world. He intends that they shall rule the world during his lifetime. He includes the United States in the world he intends to rule.

Finally, he does have the power to carry out his world conquest unless we fight him in time. That is the shortest way to put it. The reason you think it hard to understand or find out what Hitler means is that you refuse to believe these things because they upset you, and if you believed them then you might have to work harder, or sacrifice something such as your automobile, or blood, or maybe your life. Read Mein Kampf. It is all there.

What kind of public speaker is Hitler? Is he truly a great orator? How does he compare with others?

He is probably the greatest spellbinder of all time. He literally talked himself into power in Germany and thereafter he talked the great German nation into becoming his blindly obedient and fanatically loyal Herculean slave. With his slave he has laid a continent in chains. But he never delivered an oration in his life, because an oration according to Webster is “An elaborate discourse, delivered in public, treating an important subject in a formal and dignified manner,” and that Hitler never did. In this respect, Goebbels is incomparably his superior.

An oration by Goebbels has a beginning, a middle, and a crescendo end; it has form, style, and the language is chosen, the gestures sparing but effective, the voice clear and only now and then distorted by passion. Hitler begins any old way, rambles, digresses, becomes excited, rants, shouts until his voice is hoarse, and frequently breaks into a falsetto scream.

The quality of Hitler’s voice is unpleasant. It is thick in the middle register, guttural in the low, and its high notes are rasping. In every speech at some time he becomes angry and then the tone is either terrifying or embarrassing to the listener, depending upon his relation to Hitler’s power. I speak, of course, of the foreign listener, as it would affect you if you understood German. His anger frequently overpowers him, but he never splutters, he roars. I sometimes felt as I listened to him, and I have heard him fifty times or more, as though he were a wild beast.

Then he can shift in a twinkling to the tone of irony, contemptuous, derisive. Much of his speech is ungrammatical; many of his sentences do not “read,” do not make German. He pays apparently no attention to the structure of his speech. He sometimes ends so abruptly that his audience is shocked, having expected him to finish his thought, or even complete a sentence. His gestures are extravagant, and resemble those of an old-fashioned camp-meeting preacher. He mimics well, and delights in ridiculing his opponents by caricaturing them.

There is scarcely a rule of oratory he does not ignore. He is seldom dignified. All of this, of course, is in reference to his extemporaneous public speaking which brought him to power, not to the speeches he reads, as he has read nearly everything since he took power. As Chancellor of the Reich he can read a speech with dignity, as he read the funeral oration over Hindenburg, which I heard in Tannenberg.

Yet with all the criticism one can bring to bear on his public speaking, he remains the most effective mob master ever to step on a platform. He sweeps his audience with him. Sometimes they are slow to come along, as the time when after seven days of slaughter in Germany he rose in his own uniformed Reichstag to explain the Blood Purge of June 30, 1934. That time he spoke for twenty minutes before he received a single handclap. He had just killed more than a thousand people including leaders of his own party, Ernst Roehm, his closest friend and head of the 2,500,000 Storm Troops; Gregor Strasser, one-time rival for leadership of the Nazis; General Kurt von Schleicher, former Reichs Chancellor, and his wife; Karl Ernst, head of the 250,000 Berlin and Brandenburg Storm Troopers; General von Lossow and former Reichs Commissar von Kahr of Bavaria, who had defeated his first effort at seizing power in Munich, and hundreds of others.

The nation was stunned; the Nazi Party itself was partially paralyzed with fear. Hitler had turned his SS [Schutzstaffel] Black Guards against his SA [Sturmabteilung] Storm Troops, and hundreds of Brown Shirt officers had died before the Black Shirt firing squads, many of them shouting “Heil Hitler!” as they fell. Most of the members of the Reichstag, that curious gesture of Hitler before democracy, were active or honorary officers in the Storm Troops. A score of seats were empty. Their lawful occupants were dead. The survivors were appalled and not less bewildered than the public. Nobody knew what had happened; what to expect. When Hitler began to speak, for the first time in his life he was received in silence.

As I sat in the press gallery of the Kroll Opera House, I noted this with amazement, but I felt the silence was that of stupefaction, not of indifference and certainly not of rejection. The listeners were simply stricken dumb. Yet the silence continued, for five, ten, fifteen, twenty minutes. By then I began to think that Hitler might have made a mistake, that perhaps his dummy Reichstag was actually disapproving their idol. Many of them had close friends among the dead. Then came the breaking point. I think it was the most dramatic moment in any speech I have ever heard of Hitler’s.

In his intolerably repetitious way he had started with a description of Germany’s suffering under the Versailles treaty, and under the “fourteen years of servitude to the traitors of November,” then sketched the events leading up to the Blood Purge, described his discovery of the plot against the State, and then with a leap he shifted into his most passionate style. He had come to the moment of ordering the executions. Raising his right hand, forefinger pointed on high, he stood on his toes and roared: “Meine Herren, at that moment I was the Supreme Court of Germany; I was the Supreme Judge of Germany; I was Germany!”

The silence in the Reichstag broke, and as though hypnotized, the 500 Brown-Shirted members roared: “Heil! Heil! Heil!” There, they had recognized their master. He had spoken as a master. He had consented again to be their master, and from a mood of bewilderment and fear they burst into the joyful acknowledgment of their abasement. Forgotten were the friendships with the dead, blotted out in the keen pleasure of hearing the crack of the lash. From then on his lengthy accounting was constantly punctuated by the traditional applause.

Incidentally it might be pointed out here that there is after all a very significant difference between the tyrants of long ago and the tyrants of today. It is a fact that the tyrants of today exercise greater power over the lives of their subjects than any we can recollect from former times. Historians have to search to find a Ptolemy, a Caesar, or a Mongol Khan who had so complete a discipline over their populations, so profound a control over the individual lives of their subjects as have the despots of the modern totalitarian states.

But all the modern despots find it necessary to report to their subjects, to speak and explain, to take them into their alleged confidence, however mendacious the report may be. They find it expedient, no matter how they spurn the principles of democracy, to pretend to treat their subjects as free to exercise a judgment. Why else does Hitler constantly come before his people to talk? In the western tyrannies of antiquity and the Middle Ages, in the European monarchies of divine right and in the Oriental despotisms, the rulers considered it unnecessary to deliver an accounting to their people.

The conclusion is that the short experience the world has had with democracy, not yet two hundred years in duration, has left with the most imperious ruler a sense of responsibility to the ruled, or is it merely fear? Hitler despises the masses, I know. But he fears them also. If Louis XVI had possessed a fraction of Hitler’s speaking talent, or King Charles of England, or Czar Nicholas of Russia, perhaps they might have had a different fate.

In the preface to Mein Kampf Hitler indicates the paramount importance he attaches to the art of political speaking. He wrote: “I know that one is able to win people far more by the spoken than by the written word, and that every great movement on this globe owes its rise to the great speakers and not to the great writers.” He then wrote a book of 1,000 pages which is said by now to have been distributed to eight million people, but it was still the spoken word. He dictated every line of it. You ask, what kind of public speaker is Hitler? I answer, read Mein Kampf.

It reminds me of a man named Korff. Korff was the brains of the Ullstein Verlag, pre-Hitler Germany’s greatest publishing concern. Korff originated the Berliner Illustrierte, first of the world’s great picture weeklies, forerunner of Life, and Look, and the French Match. He raised his Berliner Illustrierte to more than two million circulation, undreamed of on the continent before. His salary was record breaking, his prestige likewise.

One day in 1931, more than a year before Hitler came to power, Korff came before his board of directors and said, “Gentlemen, I’m through. I am going to resign. I wish you to release me and to make your arrangements accordingly.” Astounded, the board asked why. “Because I’ve read the book, gentlemen,” replied Korff. “What book?” they asked. “Mein Kampf,” Korff said, and began to explain, but couldn’t on account of the laughter. Dear old Korff had to have his joke. But no, it was not a joke. Korff resigned, liquidated his property, got out of Germany and in 1933 when Hitler came to power the Nazis bought out Ullstein’s at forced sale.

The laughing members of the board and stockholders—those not yet dead, shot attempting to escape, or hanged by their belts in concentration camp—received a fraction of one per cent of the value of their holding. Of all the house of Ullstein, only the man who read the book escaped. I advise you to read the book.

As an orator, Hitler has many superiors. I have mentioned Goebbels in Germany. Trotzky was certainly better. I heard Trotzky speak in Moscow the last time he ever appeared on a Russian platform. It was in 1926. He had been in disgrace for more than a year, but was allowed to speak on the innocuous theme, “The United Sates of America and Siberia,” a lecture with paid admissions. The proceeds were to go to the benefit of needy students of Moscow University. Why Stalin allowed it I do not know, but he never permitted a return engagement, for Trotzky’s popularity proved so great that the mounted police had to be called out to move the crowds which, despite the exorbitant admission price, jammed the street before the lecture hall.

I paid thirty roubles for a balcony seat. It was worth the price. Trotzky appeared, dapper in a light-gray whipcord suit, and for an hour and a half in Russian which I only faintly understood, moved me and the three thousand other listeners to intense appreciation of his forensic talents. I was surprised to hear Trotzky’s voice, a clear high tenor. I had expected a deeper, more rotund tone. They said, however, that the clarity of his delivery and its carrying power were such that he alone among Bolshevik orators could speak in the Red Square and without a microphone be heard by half a million listeners. Without being able to understand more than one word in ten, as at that time I had been in Russia less than a year, I was nevertheless convinced by this one hearing of Trotzky that he was one of history’s greatest orators.

What sort of eyes has Hitler? Are they magnetic? What color are they?

It seems to depend on who is looking at them. I noticed that Francis Hackett in his useful book, What Mein Kampf Means to America, cites three descriptions of Hitler’s eyes, all different. Otto Tolischus calls them “small, greenish brown and almost poetically introspective eyes.” William D. Bayes calls them “faded blue eyes between colorless brows and puffy sallow cheeks.” John McCutcheon Raleigh wrote: “The fanaticism in his eyes was the most commanding thing about him … they possess a hypnotic quality that can easily persuade his followers to do anything the mind behind the eyes desires.”

These differences evoked from Mr. Hackett the remark: “If you want to feel discouraged about the art of reporting, consider these three accounts of Hitler’s eyes.” But what about these additions? Dorothy Thompson says in her interview, reprinted in Dictators and Democrats: “The eyes alone were notable. Dark gray and hyperthyroid, they have the peculiar shine which often distinguishes geniuses, alcoholics and hysterics.” In the same book Lothrop Stoddard writes: “His eyes are very dark blue.” Likewise, in the same compilation, I have reported that “He fixed his flat, non-magnetic, China-blue eyes on me….” I will stick to my version. His eyes were certainly not magnetic as far as I was concerned, though I am convinced they would be highly magnetic to any German. As for the color, they are of such an intermediate, shifting shade that it may well be they could show in different lights all the way from greenish brown, faded blue, dark gray, dark blue, to China blue.

Is Hitler really the tough man he claims to be? I remember he was reported in a recent speech to have remarked: “I am the hardest man ever to rule Germany.”

When a man talks too much about his strength, it may mean he is not so strong after all. Francis Hackett sorted out in his index of Mein Kampf all the references to “Qualities, concepts or practises Hitler approves,” and to the ones he disapproves. The two lists throw a good deal of light on Hitler’s character, or rather on what he thinks his character ought to be.

The things Hitler approves are: First, “Advance by sections,” by which he means that to achieve, one must concentrate upon one goal at a time, as he has brilliantly exemplified in his conduct of the war so far. Then in alphabetic order, Hitler approves: “Brutality; Discipline; Executions for Treason; Faith; Fanaticism; Force; Hardness; Idealism; Joy in responsibility; Loyalty; Obedience; Passion; Perseverance; Ruthlessness; Sacrifice; Self-preservation; Self-sufficiency, national; Silence and discretion; Social justice; Social responsibility; Terrorism; Toughness; Will power and determination.”

Hitler condemns: “Cowardice; Eroticism; Half measures; Humaneness; Liberty; Pacifism; Passive resistance.”

My impression is that of the qualities he named, Hitler possesses brutality, discipline, faith, fanaticism, force, hardness, idealism, joy in responsibility, passion, perseverance, ruthlessness, sacrifice, discretion, terrorism, will power and determination; but that he does not possess loyalty or a true sense of social justice, or social responsibility, or toughness. He is hard without being tough. That is, I believe he will one day prove brittle. As for loyalty, he is notoriously able to discard a lifelong friend, and if necessary kill him, as he did Roehm, without visible compunction.

What is the secret of Hitler’s power?

That is a question that has interested me for eighteen years, since I first saw Hitler and heard him speak. During all this time I have heard hundreds of explanations of his power and have thought of some myself. But the most interesting and plausible discussion of his personality I have ever heard was given me by Dr. Carl G. Jung, the great Swiss psychiatrist, when I visited him in his home in Zurich to ask him to diagnose the dictators. It was in October 1938, and I had come directly from Prague where I had witnessed the death of Czechoslovakia.

Dr. Jung’s analysis of Hitler has been remarkably confirmed by the events since that time. He had been personally fascinated by the problem of Hitler’s personality, and had studied it for years. He said: “There were two types of strong men in primitive society. One was the chief who was physically powerful, stronger than all his competitors, and another was the medicine man who was not strong in himself but was strong by reason of the power which the people projected into him. Thus we had the Emperor and the Pope.

“Hitler belongs in the category of the truly mystic medicine man. His body does not suggest strength. The outstanding characteristic of his physiognomy is its dreamy look. I was especially struck by that when I saw pictures taken of him in the Czechoslovakian crisis; there was in his eyes the look of a seer.”

I asked, “Why is it that Hitler who makes nearly every German fall down and worship him, produces next to no impression on any foreigner?”

“Exactly,” Dr. Jung assented. “Few foreigners respond at all, yet apparently every German in Germany does. It is because Hitler is the mirror of every German’s unconscious, but of course he mirrors nothing from a non-German.

“He is the loud-speaker which magnifies the inaudible whispers of the German soul until they can be heard by the German’s conscious ear. He is the first man to tell every German what he has been thinking and feeling all along in his unconscious about German fate, especially since the defeat in the World War, and the one characteristic which colors every German soul is the typically German inferiority complex, the complex of the younger brother, of the one who is always a bit late to the feast. Hitler’s power is not political; it is magic.

“To understand magic you must understand what the unconscious is. It is that part of our mental constitution over which we have little control and which is stored with all sorts of impressions and sensations; which contains thoughts and even conclusions of which we are not aware. Besides the conscious impressions which we receive, there are all sorts of impressions constantly impinging upon our sense organs of which we do not become aware because they are too slight to attract our conscious attention. They lie beneath the threshold of consciousness. But all these subliminal impressions are recorded; nothing is lost. Someone may be speaking in a faintly audible voice in the next room while we are talking here. You pay no attention to it, but the conversation next door is being recorded in your unconscious as surely as though the latter were a dictaphone record.

“Now the secret of Hitler’s power is not that Hitler has an unconscious more plentifully stored than yours or mine. Hitler’s secret is twofold; first, that his unconscious has exceptional access to his consciousness, and second, that he allows himself to be moved by it. He is like a man who listens intently to a stream of suggestions in a whispered voice from a mysterious source, and then acts upon them.

“In our case, even if occasionally our unconscious does reach us through dreams, we have too much rationality, too much cerebrum to obey it—but Hitler listens and obeys. The true leader is always led.

“We can see it work in him. He himself has referred to his Voice. His Voice is nothing other than his own unconscious, into which the German people have projected their own selves; that is, the unconscious of seventy-eight million Germans. That is what makes him powerful. Without the German people he would be nothing. It is literally true when he says that whatever he is able to do is only because he has the German people behind him, or, as he sometimes says, because he is Germany. So with his unconscious being the receptacle of the souls of seventy-eight million Germans, he is powerful, and with his unconscious perception of the true balance of political forces at home and in the world, he has so far been infallible.

“That is why he makes political judgments which turn out to be right against the opinions of all his advisors and against the opinions of all foreign observers. When this happens it means only that the information gathered by his unconscious, and reaching his consciousness by means of his exceptional talent, has been more nearly correct than that of all others, German or foreign, who attempted to judge the situation and who reached conclusions different from his.”

I remarked that if Hitler’s Voice continued to be always right, we were in for a very interesting period. This was five months before Hitler swallowed the whole of Czechoslovakia, and eleven months before he launched the Second World War by assaulting Poland.

Dr. Jung gravely answered: “Yes, it seems that the German people are now convinced they have found their Messiah. In a way the position of the Germans is remarkably like that of the Jews of old.

“Since their defeat in the World War the Germans have awaited a Messiah, a Savior. That is characteristic of people with an inferiority complex. The Jews got their inferiority complex from geographical and political factors. They lived in a part of the world which was a parade ground for conquerors from both sides, and after their return from their first exile to Babylon, when they were threatened with extinction by the Romans, they invented the solacing idea of a Messiah who was going to bring all the Jews together into a nation once more and save them.

“The Germans got their inferiority complex from comparable causes. They came up out of the Danube Valley too late, and founded the beginnings of their nation long after the French and English were well on their way to nationhood. They were too late for the scramble for colonies and for the foundation of empire. Then when they did get together and made a unified nation, they looked around them and saw the British, the French, and others with rich colonies and all the equipment of grown-up nations and they became jealous, resentful, like a younger brother whose older brothers have taken the lion’s share of the inheritance.

“So the Germans slept through the division of the world into colonial empires and thus they got their inferiority complex which made them want to fight the World War; and of course when they lost it their feeling of inferiority grew even worse and developed a desire for a Messiah, and so they have their Hitler. If he is not their true Messiah, he is like one of the Old Testament prophets; his mission is to unite his people and lead them to the Promised Land. This explains why the Nazis have to combat every other form of religion besides their own idolatrous brand. I have no doubt but that the campaign against the Catholic and Protestant churches will be pursued with relentless and unremitting vigor, for the very sound reason, from the Nazi point of view, that they wish to substitute the new faith of Hitlerism.”

I asked Dr. Jung: “Do you consider it possible that Hitlerism might become for Germany a permanent religion for the future, like Mohammedanism for the Moslems?”

“I think it is highly possible,” Dr. Jung replied. “Hitler’s ‘religion’ is the nearest to Mohammedanism, realistic, earthy, promising the maximum of rewards in this life, but with a Moslem-like Valhalla into which worthy Germans may enter and continue to enjoy themselves. Like Mohammedanism, it teaches the virtue of the sword. Hitler’s first idea is to make his people powerful because the spirit of the Aryan German deserves to be supported by might, by muscle and steel. It is not a spiritual religion in the sense in which we ordinarily use the term. But remember that in the early days of Christianity it was the church which made the claim to total power, both spiritual and temporal. Today the church no longer makes this claim, but the claim has been taken over by the totalitarian states which demand not only temporal but spiritual power.

“Incidentally it occurs to me that the religious character of Hitlerism is also emphasized by the fact that the German communities throughout the world far from the political power of Berlin, have adopted Hitlerism. Look at South America.”

Dr. Jung said he had closely observed Hitler at his meeting with Mussolini in Berlin. “I was only a few yards away from the two men and could study them well. In comparison with Mussolini, Hitler made upon me the impression of a sort of scaffolding of wood covered with cloth, an automaton with a mask, like a robot or a mask of a robot. During the whole performance he never laughed; it was as though he were in a bad humor, sulking. He showed no human sign.

“His expression was that of an inhumanly single-minded purposiveness, with no sense of humor. He seemed as if he might be a double of a real person, and that Hitler the man might perhaps be hiding inside like an appendix, and deliberately so hiding in order not to disturb the mechanism.

“With Hitler you do not feel that you are with a man. You are with a medicine man, a form of spiritual vessel, a demi-deity, or even better, a myth. With Hitler you are scared. You know you would never be able to talk to that man; because there is nobody there. He is not a man, but a collective. He is not an individual, but a whole nation. I take it to be literally true that he has no personal friend. How can you talk intimately with a nation?”

Finally Dr. Jung delivered a prophecy which was to prove woefully accurate just five months later. “England and France,” he said, “will not honor their new guarantee to Czechoslovakia any more than France honored her previous pledge to Czechoslovakia. No nation keeps its word. A nation is a big, blind worm, following what? Fate perhaps. A nation has no honor, it has no word to keep. That is the reason why in the old days, they tried to have kings who did possess personal honor, and a word. But you know if you choose one hundred of the most intelligent people and get them all together, they are a stupid mob? Ten thousand of them together would have the collective intelligence of an alligator. Haven’t you noticed at a dinner party that the more people you invite the more stupid the conversation? In a crowd, the qualities which everybody possesses multiply, pile up, and become the dominant characteristics of the whole crowd.

“Not everybody has virtues, but everybody has the low animal instincts, the basic primitive caveman suggestibility, the suspicious and vicious traits of the savage. The result is that when you get a nation of many millions of people, it is not even human. It is a lizard or a crocodile, or a wolf. Its statesmen cannot have a higher morality than the animal-like mass morality of the nation, although individual statesmen of the democratic states may attempt to behave a little better. For Hitler, however, more than for any other statesman in the modern world, it would be impossible to expect that he should keep the word of Germany against her interest, in any international bargain, agreement, or treaty. Because Hitler is the nation.”

Isn’t there anything constructive about Hitlerism? Is it all destructive? Won’t they get over their period of madness and settle down and make good world citizens?

In 1934 I talked with President Thomas G. Masaryk of Czechoslovakia in the old Hradzin Palace in Prague. The venerable statesman was eighty-four years old, but he was still able to deliver measured philosophical replies. One of them was to the question: “Aren’t you as head of the Republic of Czechoslovakia which Hitler and his Nazis threaten so violently, afraid he may some day attack you?” The old man slowly replied, “No, because every revolutionary movement such as the Nazis’ has its period of ecstasy, and the Nazis are going through theirs now, but in a little while more they will subside and we will be able to get along peaceably with them.”

I went away with my first example of the fact that no man over seventy ever seems to be able to understand Hitler. I beg the pardon of the grand exception, Senator Glass, whose early and persistent advocacy of effective action against Hitler has distinguished him among Senators, some of whom approach treason in their imbecilic refusal to comprehend the life-and-death issue facing America.

Just five years after the founder of Czechoslovakia had expressed his faith in the fundamental normality of the Nazis, his conviction that they were after all like other people, and that their revolution would follow the natural course of other radical movements and become stabilized, Hitler sat at the very desk in the Hradzin where Masaryk had sat. Czechoslovakia had ceased to exist precisely because Masaryk and all the other heads of states in Europe blindly refused to see that in Hitlerism the world was faced with a brute which always had to move forward, steadily became bigger and hungrier as it was fed, and would never cease to destroy and devour until stopped by force. To the German there is something mystically attractive about this Nazi Wave of Destruction. They feel their fate is being achieved by violence so fierce that it intoxicates them, as the young Nazi Shock Troops are intoxicated by battle lust when they fling themselves upon the enemy.

It is the Nazis’ ability to combine this berserk, mystic rage with cold scientific mastery of the intricate instruments of mechanized war that makes them so formidable. They even loot scientifically, as witness the way they have bled France. I know an amusing and typical example of the German’s aptitude for plundering profitably.

In Spain I met a young German Nazi machine gunner serving with Franco. His name was Franz, and he had been an SS officer in Duesseldorf. He had come to Spain, he declared, for idealistic motives, to fight the Bolsheviks, and now after three months’ service his idealism had been rewarded with a small fortune. I asked him how he had been able to make any money serving as a noncommissioned officer.

“Oh,” he explained, “I have the advantage over these Spaniards and Moors of having an academic education. I did not finish school but I had enough Naturwissenschaft to know my way about in a physics or chemistry laboratory. Now what do these poor ignorant Spaniards and Moors do when they enter a town we have just taken. They go busting around breaking into homes and offices, looking for cash and jewelry and such things, but nobody ever leaves cash and jewelry lying around. What do I do? I go straight to the Kino, the motion picture theater, and straight to the projection room, and there I remove the lenses which are worth from ten to twenty thousand pesetas, and I put the lenses in my suitcase when I get back, and now I have two suitcases full of lenses. They are worth a fortune. You see the beauties of education?”

How has Hitler run his show without money, without gold, without foreign exchange? Can the Nazi economy continue to run indefinitely on its present basis?

The Nazi economy can continue to run only as long as the war lasts. This is the economic compulsion on Hitler to go on fighting. The Nazi economy is one of scarcity. There are not enough workers, since most able-bodied men are in the army; not enough food, or clothing, or fuel, or manufactured articles. Everybody not in the armed forces has to work very hard, very long hours in order to feed the colossal war machine and produce the minimum necessary for the civilians to subsist. Scarcity would normally shove prices upward; but not in the Nazi economy where the Terror makes price control really work. The Gestapo is a more potent backing for the currency than gold. The workings of a totalitarian economy seem queer to us only because we continue to think of Adam Smith’s “economic man,” and because we still believe that man will always act freely in accord with the law of supply and demand. But man under the Nazis is not free, does not act according to the law of supply and demand but according to the Nazi law. This compulsion by Terror makes a different kind of economic unit of him; our economic laws do not apply to him any more. In our bourgeois society when civil law condemns a man to go hungry, appetite is likely to make him break the law. In the totalitarian state the punishments of the concentration camp subdue almost every impulse to rebel.

For foreign trade the Nazis use an infinitely flexible, complex system of barter, often three-way. They confidently assert they have outgrown the use of gold; although one of the reasons Walther Darre advanced for a Nazi conquest of America was to lay hands on the American gold reserve at Fort Knox. The Nazis have demonstrated that they can do without gold, but this is no proof that gold is not more convenient than barter; it is proof only that anything can be used for money as long as the people believe in it, by natural inclination or by compulsion—wampum, cows, brass, paper, or the muzzle of a Gestapo pistol. It is one of our commonest fallacies to believe that financial considerations affect very much the beginning or the middle or the end of a war. Can you recall any war that had to stop because one side ran out of money? In wartime a nation becomes a collective and money a mere bookkeeping item. Only after the war when accounts are presented, does bankruptcy become real. Hitler inherited a bankrupt, bourgeois, peacetime economy and turned it overnight, from the moment he came to power in 1933, into a wartime economy. Real peace would mean the total collapse of Hitler’s totalitarian economic machine.

Why do the Nazis call theirs the Third Reich?

Historically the First Reich was the Holy Roman Empire, the second was the one founded by Bismarck, and the third is Hitler’s. When I discussed this once with Dr. Jung, he pointed out deeper meanings. He said, “Nobody called Charlemagne’s kingdom the First Reich, nor William’s the Second Reich. Only the Nazis call theirs the Third Reich, because it has a profound mystical meaning.”

Dr. Jung said the Nazis feel a parallel between the Biblical triad, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and the Third Reich, and that in fact many Nazis refer to Hitler as the Holy Ghost. “Again,” Dr. Jung continued, “consider the widespread revival in the Third Reich of the cult of Wotan, God of Wind. Take the name Sturmabteilung, Storm Troops. The swastika is a revolving form making a vortex moving ever toward the left—which means in Buddhistic symbolism sinister, unfavorable, directed toward the unconscious. All these symbols of a Third Reich led by its prophet under the banners of wind and storm and whirling vortices point to a mass movement which is to sweep the German people in a hurricane of unreasoning emotion on to a destiny which perhaps none but the seer, the prophet, the Fuehrer himself can foretell—and perhaps not even he.”

This psychiatric explanation of the Nazi names and symbols may sound to a layman fantastic, but can anything be as fantastic as the bare facts about the Nazi Party and its Fuehrer? Be sure there is much more to be explained in them than can be explained by merely calling them gangsters. They are products of that most hysterical, illogical, emotional mentality in Europe, the German.

But I thought the Germans were stolid, phlegmatic, sensible people. How can you describe them as hysterical?

The commonest mistake the outside world makes about the Germans is to describe them the way you have done. We Americans seem to have judged most European nations exactly opposite from what they really are. We consider the Italian to be emotional, easily swayed, the Frenchman to be volatile, the Spaniard passionate, and so on. Well, all the Latin races are models of calm, common sense and middle-of-the-road, essentially stable people compared with the Germans. As Dr. Jung put it, “The Italians are stable. Their minds do not roll and wallow and leap and plunge through all the extravagant ecstasies which are the daily exercise of the German mind.” The Germans carry everything to excess.

What other nation in Europe would have been inundated in one decade by a wave of hysteria which was to sweep them into idolatrous worship of a former building-trades laborer and corporal and lift them into conquest of the entire continent of Europe and promise the conquest of the world? Surely this is the most extraordinary yielding by a great people to a mass emotion ever observed in our so-called civilized world.

It is not, however, the first time that similar things have happened in Germany. Hitler has had some notable predecessors in the turbulent period of the Reformation.

The Anabaptists of Munster were forerunners of the Nazis, and their Fuehrer, John of Leyden, was a figure comparable to Hitler in ambition and in his mystic hold over his followers. Leyden and his associates seized the city of Munster in Westphalia in 1532 and, establishing a totalitarian theocracy, set out to conquer the world and make Munster its capital. Is that any more or less fantastic than Adolf Hitler, setting out to proceed from Munich to the conquest of the world?

John of Leyden differed in one respect, however, from Hitler. He not only encouraged polygamy as Hitler’s Black Guards encourage promiscuity, but he had four wives of his own, one of whom he, in a typically Hitlerian fit of rage, beheaded with his own hand in the market place. Munster for three years was the scene of excesses, profligacy, and inhuman tortures committed upon the foes of the medieval Nazis, until they were finally overcome by a coalition of outraged neighbors, comparable in a smaller way, one might say, to the present coalition against the Third Reich.

Doesn’t the life of Hitler, as far as we know it, show that he suffered very much from poverty in his youth and then when Germany was defeated, he suffered along with his fellow Germans so deeply that we ought to be able to understand and forgive instead of hating and making war upon him?

That seems the equivalent of appealing for sympathy and understanding for a mad dog, because the poor dog had been bitten and given rabies without wanting it. It was not his fault, and he had suffered from it, so why shoot him? Hitler, we know, did suffer as a youth from many disabilities, including extreme poverty, and we ought to be sorry that he did, not merely as Christians from love of our neighbor, but because Hitler is causing us such infinite trouble and misery, partially perhaps, on account of these early discomforts.

But we can do nothing to correct Hitler’s personal history. By the time he came into our lives his character was fixed in rigid, implacable hatred for every human being on earth not willing or suitable to help him place Deutschland in command of the world with himself the globe’s supreme ruler. He is as little susceptible to reformation today as a rattlesnake. As for the German people and their sufferings after the defeat in the last war, there are several things to say.

First, they did not suffer nearly so much as a nation usually suffers after losing a four-years’ war. I can testify to that from personal observation of the Germans from 1923 on, a period including the most desperate months of the inflation. It is simply not correct to say as Hackett says about the Germans after the war, “They were just as unhappy, as despairing and as demoralized, in the midst of their Reconstruction Period, as the old South in the years after the Civil War.”

The old South was physically devastated by the war. Germany surrendered before the enemy reached her territory; she came off materially scot-free. The people of the old South felt permanently beaten and for a long time hopeless because they had failed in their attempt to defend their right to be independent. The people of Germany felt temporarily frustrated of their ambition to dominate the world; just twenty years later they set forth to try it again. Do you think the old South, if it had wanted to do so, would have been able physically or economically to have resumed the struggle with the North in 1885, twenty years after the end of the Civil War, as the Germans did with the Allies in 1939, twenty years after Versailles?

My second point about the German suffering is that before Versailles they demonstrated their intention in the treaties of Bucharest and Brest-Litovsk, to inflict upon their enemies terms incomparably more severe than Versailles.

Third, in the course of the present war the Germans have proved that the sort of peace they intend to grant the countries they vanquish now will make the Versailles treaty appear to be a dispensation from Heaven.

Fourth, although these facts do not of course excuse the flaws in the Versailles treaty, none of its defects could possibly excuse the bestial behavior of the Germans toward the especial objects of their pathological antipathy, the Jews, Czechs, and Poles, nor provide a reasonable basis for their desire to inflict vengeance upon the entire world.

Finally, it makes no difference what the reasons for present German behavior are, that behavior threatens to destroy us and unless we check it by force, we shall perish.

What should we do with Hitler after we beat him? Will he be allowed to escape to a lifetime of comfort the way Kaiser Wilhelm did?

When this question is asked I am reminded of an old Texas recipe for cooking rabbit. It begins, “First catch your rabbit.” I do not know what will be done with Hitler. There are many people who say he will never be taken alive; that he will commit suicide. I do not believe that. My guess is that Hitler would either “do a Hess” and escape to England or seek death in battle as the Kaiser once claimed he would do.

If he remains alive, our people being incurably sentimental, we should probably treat him the way the Allies treated Napoleon after Leipzig. They sent him, as you may remember, to Elbe, and gave him an annual income of 2,000,000 francs, which was about $400,000 and equivalent to $1,000,000 in purchasing power today. Perhaps we would not, though, especially if the American people have to live through a great deal of hardship and bloodletting on account of this man. Maybe we will become like the British, who, after all, are going to have something to say about the fate of Hitler if and when he is ever caught.

The Daily Mail of London ran a questionnaire asking its readers what they thought should be done with Hitler after the war. The largest number, twenty-five per cent, wanted him shown about the country in a cage. This is an idea which had been suggested for the former Kaiser, and it shows a surprising insight into the source of the deepest emotions for extremely vain men of the type of Hitler and the Kaiser; they certainly would suffer more from such public humiliation than from any other punishment.

Another twenty per cent wanted him executed by hanging, shooting, or beheading, in that order. Fifteen per cent wanted him exiled to remote, unpleasant places, as Devil’s Island, the Andaman Islands, Ascension Island, Arctic wastes, and the African desert. Another fifteen per cent wanted him condemned to lifelong solitary confinement. Ten per cent wanted to make him live the rest of his life under the same conditions the English are living under now, with bombs, rationing, and so on. Five per cent wanted to hand him over to the Poles or Jews. Five per cent would have him treated as a certified lunatic.

Five per cent suggested all sorts of miscellaneous treatment, including confinement under precisely the same conditions as normally obtain in a Nazi torture chamber. There were no suggestions at all that he should be treated well, as Napoleon was treated. The question is not trivial and the answers of the British are really important, because they throw light on the temper of the British people after the brutal manhandling they have received from Nazi bombers. The most constructive suggestion I ever heard on the subject of what to do with Hitler came from my brilliant friend, Edgar Mowrer, who had a decade of experience in Germany. He suggests that after we have defeated Hitler we put him in a cage and send him about Germany to explain to the Germans how wrong he had been.

What would happen if Hitler were to be killed?

It would reduce the German war effort by one-half, and would guarantee that Germany would lose. Hitler is irreplaceable, unique, and if he were to be killed, or died, or anyhow left the scene, Germany would not collapse but she would be as an automobile going at top speed, suddenly run out of gasoline. The momentum of the car would carry it forward a certain distance, but it would eventually stop.

That, in my opinion, is what would happen to Germany if deprived of Hitler. It is not his technical ability that would be missed so much, nor his administrative brains, nor even his incredibly accurate, intuitive knowledge of his enemies, nor even his uncanny sense of timing. What would be missed would be his inspiration to the German people. If they lost their medicine man the faith in his name would flicker on, but the confidence in his infallibility which now upholds the civil population in the hardships of war and promotes the courage of the troops in battle would disappear. The effect would be disastrous.

Why doesn’t somebody kill Hitler?

For the last two years that has been the question most frequently asked me on the lecture platform all over America. Sometimes a fourth of all the written questions sent up would be this one. An average of twenty-five persons out of every thousand in the audience would put this question and they have been doing that ever since Hitler’s victory over the Allies in Munich in September 1938. This itself is an interesting light on the American attitude. Most of the time the question was framed, “Why doesn’t some Jew, or some Britisher, or some Frenchman kill Hitler?”

It is bewildering to reflect that up until September 1939, any young man, Jew or Gentile, British, French, or of any of the thirteen nations Hitler has conquered, any brave, intelligent man could have killed Hitler within two months of making the resolution to do so. Only one requirement was essential—that the assassin be willing to give up his life. Now, however, it may cost the lives of millions of young men on the battlefield before this author of evil is destroyed.

But wasn’t he always too closely guarded to be killed?

Not at all. Now it is another matter. Since the war began he is so well guarded that it might be impossible to get at him. Before the war began it would have been easy to kill him. It might even have been possible for a bold and shrewd assassin to have killed him without being captured. I give you one instance.

At every Nazi Party Congress in Nuremberg there are hundreds of thousands of strangers in the city. The Gestapo with all its resources cannot possibly check on them all. A resourceful foreigner, speaking German and posing as a German, could obtain a room in a hotel facing the main street down which the parades pass. During the course of the Congress Hitler appears in at least one parade a day down this street. He always uses a long black Mercedes car and he stands in the front, next to his chauffeur. Hitler stands there holding on now and then with his left hand, and giving the Nazi salute with his right.

In the rear of his car are four SS men, and on the running boards are two others, and behind Hitler’s car is another identical Mercedes with six to eight more SS men. The SS men, who are the best pistol shots in Germany, lean out of their cars, peering at the crowds, and they keep their right hands always on their pistols. You say that sounds as though he were well guarded? Not at all. The crowd in Nuremberg is so great that it encroaches on the path of the automobiles until they are slowed to a walk. That means Hitler passes underneath your window at a walking speed.

An assassin could lean out of his window and toss a bomb into Hitler’s car with absolute accuracy. He could not miss. I have often leaned out and looked down at Hitler and remarked in a whisper to my comrades, “How easy it would be, wouldn’t it, to drop a grapefruit?” And if you think a bomb is too uncertain, why not try a sub-machine gun? That would be 100 per cent sure. You would have him at a distance of about thirty yards. With one burst you could riddle him, put perhaps twenty bullets into him before the guards could turn around.

You ask how the assassin could get the sub-machine gun or the bombs into the hotel? The Gestapo is good, but it is a long way from being perfect. They overlook a great many things. We were in Vienna when Hitler marched in. The Gestapo had been in control of the city for days. But on the very day Hitler came to Vienna my wife borrowed a radio set from Tess Shirer and had the porter carry it into the hotel and up to our room. It was the size of a large thick suitcase. Nobody stopped her, or asked to investigate it. It might have contained two or three sub-machine guns with sufficient ammunition and a few hand grenades.

You object that the assassin would certainly be caught and executed. I agree. Political assassins almost never escape. But political assassins must always and nearly always are willing to take this chance. You can take it as a rule of political assassination, however, that if the assassin is bold enough, he can always get his man. Remember the Macedonian gunman, Vlada Georgiev, who killed King Alexander and Louis Barthou in Marseilles, October 9, 1934? He was a husky fellow who waited behind the police line until the royal automobile came opposite him and then burst through the line like a football player and with one leap was on the running board of the automobile pumping bullets from his automatic into his two victims. It was all over in thirty seconds. The police had no chance to intervene before Alexander was dead. General Georges, later the unhappy second in command of the French Army, cut down the assassin with his saber.

This is the classic street assassination, resembling in every detail the killing by Gavril Princip of the Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo, June 28, 1914, which touched off the first World War. But the Nuremberg situation would give an assassin a chance for his life. You see, the SS guards are constantly watching the crowds in the street. None of them pays attention to the windows of the houses and hotels along the street. The crowds are so thick that between our hotel and the path of Hitler’s automobile would be standing twenty to thirty thousand people.

Now suppose the assassin drops his bomb or fires his machine gun, or to make assurance doubly sure, drops bombs and fires his machine gun. Hitler falls. The crowd panics. How long would it take the SS men or other police to get through the crowd to the hotel entrance, climb the stairs, and search for the assassin? It would take several minutes at least. And in the midst of that howling mob of panic-stricken people it would take minutes more before the police could surround the block. Meanwhile the assassin would have plenty of time to run upstairs to the roof, across to another building, and down a rear fire escape to mingle with the crowd. Whatever the later details of escape, there would be a chance of his getting away from the scene of the shooting if he had laid his plans carefully in advance.

You haven’t told us yet why nobody ever tried it?

Yes, it has been clumsily tried, but without the proper preparation. Four or five attempts were made on Hitler’s life during his first two years in office, 1933 and 1934, while I was in Berlin. They were all hushed up so closely that we never had more than the skeleton of the story. They were hushed up because the Nazis and especially the Gestapo, and especially its chief, Heinrich Himmler, know that there is nothing so infectious as the idea of political assassination.

The news of an attempt at assassination will set off a series of imitative attempts. Therefore Himmler gave up his original idea which was expressed in his announcement through the German press a few weeks after Hitler took office. Himmler declared in a formal proclamation that if anyone were to assassinate or attempt to assassinate the Fuehrer, there would be, and these are his exact words, “a massacre such as the world has never seen.” He specified that the Gestapo would massacre all of the Nazis’ opponents, and implied they would kill every Jew in Germany.

Himmler’s announcement was calculated to deter assassins, but he never meant to put it into effect unless Hitler were actually killed. We correspondents, however, heard of several attempts on Hitler. One was said to have taken place the day before the great Blood Purge of June 30, 1934, and was believed to have contributed to Hitler’s decision to exterminate his enemies. In this case the assassin fired with a rifle at Hitler’s automobile. Another time his car was narrowly saved from crashing into an obstacle supposed to have been placed in the road with the purpose of killing him. Other attempts were even more vaguely rumored. Himmler took care that the public should learn nothing about these attempts, not only because of the infectious nature of the news of the assassinations, but because the Gestapo considered it undesirable to reveal that anybody in Germany could want to kill the Fuehrer.

That’s all right about Germans, but why not a Britisher, or a Frenchman, or a Jew?

The question why doesn’t a Jew, or why didn’t a Jew, kill Hitler is one that I have often heard asked of my Jewish friends, and the answer usually is that if a Jew killed Hitler the Nazis would slaughter every Jew in their dominions. The Nazis now have under their despotism in the Reich and the fifteen conquered countries perhaps five or six million Jews still. I agree that it is perfectly possible that the Nazis might try to slaughter them all if a Jew were to kill Hitler, but if Hitler is not defeated these unfortunate victims of Nazi hatred will ultimately perish anyway.

Nevertheless, even the very courageous young Jews who used to operate an organization to counter Arab terror argued the same way with me when I was in Palestine, that if they killed Hitler they would doom hundreds of thousands if not millions of Jews to death. It seems that they can believe rationally that Hitler does intend eventually to exterminate all the Jews in Europe, and so it would not make much difference if they were all or many of them killed as a result of Hitler’s assassination, but emotionally they cling to the subconscious hope that something will happen to save them. Of course, the only thing that can save the Jews of Europe is for Hitler to be defeated before they all die.

As for a young Britisher or Frenchman killing Hitler, before the war began, as I have said, it would have been easy, but consider if a man had killed Hitler before the war, what would the world have said? What sort of judgment would the world have delivered on the assassin? Would he have been considered a hero, a savior of mankind? Not at all, because Hitler up to that time was only a potential menace to Britain, France, and the other peaceful states. If he had been killed, his assassin would have been declared a madman, and his act would have been condemned by all save the small group of persons who perceived the inevitability and the catastrophic course of the war Hitler planned against the world. No assassin kills out of pure idealism. A man who killed Hitler would want a little credit for it, and until the war began he would have received none.

He would receive plenty of credit now. Why doesn’t the British government organize the killing of Hitler? Haven’t they plenty of agents in Germany?

I have no doubt the killer of Hitler would be decorated by fifteen governments or more, but there are still millions of muddled sentimentalists in this country who would shudder at the thought of assassination. There were few, I suppose, who objected to the G-men shooting the rabid Dillinger, but millions denounced the little doctor, Weiss, who shot the far more dangerous criminal, Huey Long. So it would have fared with anyone who would have assassinated Hitler. Imagine how different the history of Germany and of the world might have been if Hitler had been among the victims of the machine gun which fired on him on the morning of November 10, 1923, on the Odeon’s Platz in Munich.

Before this war there were just as many sentimentalists in England, but you would have to look a long time to find one now. During an air raid in London I asked an old English lady, one of the gentlest creatures I have ever known, what she would do if she were driving an automobile and suddenly Hitler were to appear in front of the car. Would she turn and save him, or would she drive ahead and hit him? “I would press the accelerator and drive straight over him,” she said firmly.

What was the explanation of the bombing attempt on Hitler in the Munich Beer Hall?

It bore every earmark of being an admirably well thought-out and executed plan by the British which just failed by a few minutes. I should think the British government has done all it could to have Hitler killed. Certainly the British know how supremely important it would be to do away with the heart and brains of Nazidom. The bomb attempt on Hitler in the Buergerbraeu Keller in Munich, November 8, 1939, the anniversary of the Hitler-Ludendorff Putsch, nearly succeeded. To refresh your memory: Hitler and his “Old Fighters” left the beer hall twelve minutes before a time bomb exploded, killing seven persons and wounding sixty-three. The Germans blamed it on the British secret agents, and announced they had captured two such agents, a Mr. Best and a Captain Stevens, on the day after the bomb explosion.

The Gestapo had gone over into Holland to kidnap the two Britishers who incautiously made a rendezvous close to the frontier.

Some persons analyzed this affair thus: The Gestapo itself arranged the bomb to go off after Hitler left. The Gestapo did it for one of two reasons. Either Himmler wanted to kill Hitler, or Hitler wanted the bomb attempt in order to arouse sympathy for himself among his people, and hatred of the English. Neither of these explanations makes sense to me. No Nazi leader in his right mind wants Hitler to be killed, because every Nazi is aware that his party, his job, and his very life are dependent upon the continued existence and leadership of Hitler. I will not say anything further about the plain fact that most of Hitler’s subordinates literally worship him. Just on the basis of individual self-interest, it would be unlikely that any Nazi leader should wish to weaken the Nazi position so disastrously.

I do not believe Himmler or any other Nazi was behind the attempt. Nor is it credible that Hitler planted the bomb to arouse sympathy for himself among the German people. He has all the sympathy he needs, and German hatred for the English is quite adequate. Neither of these two reasons could balance the danger involved in the infectious quality of a public attempt at assassination such as this was. This attempt, which took place before a large public, could not be concealed.

Finally, it seems that the German capture of the two British secret agents crippled the British Intelligence Service in Germany for many months. They were men high in the service and could be presumed to have known a good deal about the whole Intelligence Service setup in Germany. With the Gestapo at work on them in the approved style recently made so vivid and bloodcurdling by Jan Valtin in Out of the Night, it is not likely that many British Intelligence agents in Germany remained unidentified. At any rate there have not been any further attempts on Hitler, at least none that we know about.

The time-bomb attempt was compared by some correspondents to the Reichstag fire, but I fail to see the basis for comparison. The Reichstag was set afire by the Nazis for the specific, rational purpose of blaming it on the Communists, suppressing their party, jailing their deputies, and thus obtaining for the Nazis a majority vote in the Reichstag. These purposes were achieved to the great profit of the Nazis. What profit could the Nazis have had in staging a near assassination of Hitler? When the Reichstag was burned, my cabled report was censored, the first censorship I had experienced in eight years of work as a correspondent in Germany.

The freshly appointed censor cut out a paragraph in which I had pointed out that police when seeking the perpetrator of a crime, always try to find out first who would have profited by the crime. So in the case of the Reichstag fire it was only necessary to look for the persons who would profit by the fire. The answer was as plain as daylight. Only the Nazis would profit by the fire. The censor deleted this commonplace but accurate observation. Who would profit by the death of Hitler? The Nazis? Of course not. The British? Of course! If they had succeeded they would have earned the thanks of a thousand million beneficiaries throughout the world.

The fact that Hitler and his staff saved their lives by leaving the Buergerbraeu Keller earlier than had been their custom in former years is the basis of the peculiar claim that the whole thing was a Nazi plot. Why, it is argued, should Hitler have not stayed as usual to chat with the comrades of the early days? Why indeed? Because this was wartime, the first anniversary of the Putsch to be celebrated since the war began. Hitler has not been known to waste much time since the war began. He could be assumed to have had a number of things to do more important than chatting with his Beer Cellar veterans. This time his industry saved his life.

Why is it there are so few assassinations or attempted assassinations in any of the totalitarian states? You would think their cruelties would lead many desperate men to seek revenge.

Yes, you would, and this is a matter that many of us in Russia used to discuss. How odd it was that in the history of the Soviet Union there were only three known assassinations or attempts at assassination of Soviet leaders.

Lenin was shot and seriously wounded in 1918 by Dora Kaplan, a Social Revolutionary; Uritzky, police chief of Leningrad, was killed at the same time; and sixteen years later, December 4, 1934, Sergei Kirov, political boss of Leningrad, was shot by a half-demented former Communist, Nikolaev. I shall not forget the Kirov killing because I was in Moscow at the time and saw Stalin, in the bitter cold of a Moscow December, help carry barehanded the coffin of Kirov to its grave on the Red Square, and then hurry back to his office to plan his revenge, the most colossal ever enjoyed by a human being since the prophet wrote that vengeance was reserved to the Almighty.

It was the Kirov killing, of course, which touched off Stalin’s great purge. It illustrates perfectly the first of several reasons why assassinations are rare in the totalitarian states. Let me say here that one of those reasons is not the one most popularly believed. It is not due to the impenetrable guard kept around the tyrants. There at the funeral of Kirov, we in the press box were not more than twenty yards from Stalin as he stood on top of Lenin’s tomb, and when he walked to the grave he came within almost touching distance of me.

Granted that the correspondents have unusual facilities, and that the G.P.U. checks all of them to be confident none of them is dangerous. But there in the Red Square hundreds of thousands of men and women marched past Stalin, the nearest only a few feet away. Any one of them could have shot at him or hurled a hand grenade at him before any of the police surrounding the tomb could have intervened.

Likewise, Stalin could have been killed any time during the two decades by any person with the initiative to attend the Bolshoi Theater when Stalin was there, sitting in the rear of his first floor forward box. He could have been shot from a score of seats in the first two rows of the orchestra. It would have been even easier to wait for one of the big Communist meetings in the Bolshoi Theater when Stalin was there with all the leaders of the party. I have seen him with the entire Politburo and forty or fifty others, sitting bunched together on the stage of the Bolshoi Theater, while we in the Press box in the Gallery, almost overhanging the stage, leaned over the rail and quietly observed how easy it would be to drop something in Stalin’s lap.

A single bomb small enough to be concealed beneath an overcoat would have killed Stalin and perhaps the entire top rank of the Communist Party. Why hasn’t anyone tried it? Stalin surely has more enemies who would like to see him dead than any man in the world except Hitler. Stalin probably has more personal enemies than Hitler, because Stalin has executed more people. When you think of the millions who died as victims of the Revolution, and of the millions who died in the famine of 1932-33, when Stalin ordered the peasants of the Ukraine to be stripped of all their food to teach them a lesson, it seems singular that no bereaved survivor should have lifted his hand against the tyrant.

The first reason, however, why a modern despot enjoys relative security is the character of totalitarian terror. In a normal democratic country an assassin has to fear only the loss of his own life, and the lives of his immediate conspirators, if any. In Russia, after Kirov’s death, Stalin executed in this wise:

First, 103 persons who were not even accused of having had anything to do with the assassination but had been held in jail for various political offenses. This was simply the first gesture of the Terror, intended to shock the country. Then as the police rounded up Nikolaev’s family, friends, and acquaintances, and read his diary, they came to know virtually every human being Nikolaev had known during his whole life. Every one of these persons was arrested and after being squeezed dry of information was executed; at any rate they all disappeared.

But that was only the beginning. The purges which were occasioned, not caused, by the Kirov killing lasted about four years, from 1935 to 1938 inclusive. The Purge became so huge that Nikolaev was forgotten, but before the G.P.U. finished with the Nikolaev complex, they had liquidated in this wise: Every relative of Nikolaev to the third cousins; every acquaintance of Nikolaev and every acquaintance of an acquaintance of Nikolaev, and every acquaintance of every acquaintance of every acquaintance of Nikolaev. You think this is an exaggeration? Not at all. The number of executions ran into thousands.

Now what would be the effect upon a would-be assassin, if, as he contemplated his deed, he reflected that as a consequence of his killing Stalin, not merely would he himself be executed, but every human being in the world with whom he had ever come in contact? Man experiences the world largely as a series of contacts with other men. Suppose the assassin knew by just such an experience as the Russian people had in the case of the killing of Kirov, that his entire world would be blotted out if he went on with his plans. Would not this deter almost any man?

He might be motivated by the highest idealism, and would plan to give his own life in order to rid his country of a cruel despot, but if he were thinking of helping the people in his own world he would be bound to admit that far from helping them, he was about to condemn to death everybody on earth he had ever known. This surely is the most important deterrent to assassination in despotic states and it is corroborated by the experience of Italy.

Mussolini’s Fascist state is the least terroristic of the three totalitarian states. The terror is so mild in comparison with the Soviet or Nazi varieties, that it almost fails to qualify as terroristic at all. The best proof I know of this is the experience of an Italian friend of mine who before Fascism came to Italy was chief correspondent of one of Italy’s greatest newspapers.

He occupied a position which might be compared with that of chief Washington correspondent of the New York Times. When Mussolini took power this friend, whom I may call Luigi, was dismissed from his newspaper because he refused to become a Fascist. If he had wished to serve Mussolini, he would have been made a Senator, and would have become a rich man. But no, he was a courageous, passionately sincere liberal. He used to declare, “I would approve of nearly all Mussolini’s program (he doubtless would not say that now), but as long as he wants to compel me to approve, I disapprove. I shall only approve when I am at liberty to disapprove.”

Now what would have happened to this sort of man in Soviet Russia? A leading journalist under the Czar defies Bolshevik power! You know as well as I what would happen to him. He would be shot at once. They would not even waste on him food for a day’s extra meals. He would have been shot the moment the Cheka noticed him. And what would have happened to Luigi in Germany? He would have been sent to a concentration camp and there he would have been tortured and either gradually killed or turned out a broken emasculated creature, not a man any more.

But what happened to him in Italy? First, his newspaper, with which he had a contract, bought off the contract for a sum sufficient for him to live on in a modest way the rest of his life. At the same time the police established a twenty-four hour surveillance of him. Three detectives working in eight-hour shifts were assigned to watch him. Mind you, he wasn’t arrested, and was even allowed to become the correspondent of a foreign newspaper.

The detectives were there all the time. Luigi came to know them well. If they behaved decently and he liked them, he never gave them any trouble. But if one of them was rude, this is the way Luigi would do. He would get all his newspapers, a dozen or more to read in the morning, and though ordinarily he would take a taxi or walk to his office, now to discipline the detective, Luigi would get on one of the streetcars which circle Rome and he would sit there, going around and around the city for a couple of hours, reading his papers. The detective had to follow him. The detective rode a bicycle. Two hours of hard road work usually corrected the manners of the worst of them. Think of that kind of police “Terror,” and you have a fair idea of the comparative mildness of the Italian kind of totalitarianism. We used to take delight in counting up how many hundreds of thousands of lire it had cost the Italian government to keep three detectives employed for fifteen years.

What has this to do with our theme of assassination? Just this, that during the first twelve years of Mussolini’s dictatorship he was attacked twelve times, and several of the attempts only failed by the narrowest margin.

One of the earliest and most serious attempts was by a former general who hired a room a couple of hundred yards away from the Palazzo Chigi, equipped himself with a sporting rifle fitted with telescopic sights, and waited for Mussolini to come out on the balcony to speak. This event may have inspired Geoffrey Household’s Rogue Male. The general was betrayed at the last moment, arrested, and sentenced to life imprisonment on the Lipari Islands. That is another index of the comparatively mild character of the Italian despotism. At that time the Fascist legal code still had no provision for the death penalty for a plot against the life of the head of the State.

In spite of everything you say it still seems difficult to see why some person half-demented by persecution or the cruelties inflicted upon his family and friends should not have tried to take vengeance against the tyrant. There must certainly be among the victims of Nazi or Bolshevik brutality many persons too tortured in mind to be able to remember all those considerations you have advanced?

Undoubtedly there are, but these persons are generally too demoralized to act. If they are sufficiently distorted by their suffering to forget the consequences to their family and friends of an attack on the tyrant, they are too enfeebled to move. Fear paralyzes them. The modern totalitarian tyranny, as the German and Russian, by reason of the ideology of the ruling party and superior organization of its police force, ferrets out, identifies, and disciplines a larger percentage of its opponents than any tyranny was ever able to do in the past. The ideology of the party makes an ex-officio police agent out of every Communist in Russia and every Nazi in Germany.

The G.P.U. and Gestapo are superior to the police systems of former modern tyrannies because this is the first time that tyrannies have not been ashamed of their political police, but acknowledge, boast of them, and coerce the population to cooperate with them. The amorality of Bolshevism and Nazism, or rather their rejection of the Christian standard of behavior, is best illustrated by the exceptional position of the political police systems. Under a regime such as the Czar’s, the political police, the Okhrana, was likewise an instrument of repression, and as such the regime showed constant evidence of being ashamed of it.

The efficiency of the Okhrana suffered correspondingly. Today, in view of our experience with the G.P.U. and the Gestapo, the Okhrana seems like a benevolent association for the benefit of wayward Russians. It is instructive now to go back and read the memoirs of that great opponent of the Czar, the noble revolutionary, Prince Kropotkin. To note the comparative triviality of the offenses charged by the revolutionaries against the regime, and then to note the comparative leniency of the punishments inflicted by the Czar upon his enemies is to measure the chasm which the Bolshevik Revolution and the Red Terror dug between our New Dark Age and the imperfect, liberal, easygoing Past, the like of which no one in our generation shall ever see again.

Under the Okhrana the number of political assassinations in Russia culminating with the killing of Alexander the Second, reached an all-time high. This fact, like the attempts on Mussolini’s life, corroborate the thesis that mild Terror is ineffective, while extreme Terror may be completely effective. It seems to me to be useful to stress this fact about the Nazi or Bolshevik Terror, because one of our American democratic illusions to which we cling most fondly is that good will always triumph, liberty will eventually win over tyranny, and despots will ultimately be overthrown by their oppressed victims.

This doctrine is not only false, but one of the most harmful of our wishful thoughts, since it leads us to believe that all may come right with this very wrong world without our having to do anything about it. Another instructive pursuit is to get a copy of the old Who’s Who of the Russian Communist Party and observe that there was not a single leading member of the Party who had not been at one time or another, and frequently many times, under arrest by the Okhrana. Stalin, supreme butcher of the lot, was five times in the hands of the men whom he later was to help exterminate. One can conservatively say that if the Okhrana had been operated on the principles of the Soviet Police, not a single leader of the Bolsheviks would have been left alive, and there would have been no Bolshevik Revolution as we know it, and no Soviet Union with its melancholy record of life-taking failure, and perhaps no Nazi party in Germany, and who knows, perhaps no World War now.

Absolute Terror not only physically removes the more dangerous opponents of the tyranny but it reduces the survivors to morbid obeisance, to a sort of unwilling, servile, unconscious idolatry of the tyrant. The tyrant, when he attains the stature of Hitler or Stalin, becomes the Omnipotent Father in the subconsciousness of all his subjects, including those hostile to him. This makes it all the more difficult for the rebel to raise his hand in patricide. Those who insist that the modern tyrants are mere gangsters overlook the aura of mystic power which is created around the figure of a ruler daily greeted by choruses of adulation and abasement from tens of millions of his people. It is no more to be resisted than the rhythm of tom-toms.

When the Lion of Judah, Emperor Haile Selassie, declared formal mobilization of his ragged soldiers, he had two batteries of war drums, one in major, one in minor key, beating their defiant message all day and all night from his palace in Addis Ababa. The pulsations of the drums at the Ghibi more than two miles away came to me in my room in the stables of the Imperial hotel with a mesmeric force that made me long to follow their rhythmic directions. The same effect is obtained in the great tyrannies by the mass salutations of the tyrant worshipers.

Never in history have there been such vast numbers of people to add the influence of the multitude to the herd instinct to conform. The greatest tyrannies of long ago, when the human tribe was a fraction of its size today, the Roman Empire, the Mongol Khanates, or even the Indian Mogul Kingdoms, disposed of power over small populations compared with the more than 250,000,000 now ruled by Hitler or the 200,000,000 by Stalin. In this day of electric communications the huge bulk of such aggregates does not become unmanageable. The more territory Hitler conquers, the more loot he has, the more permanent resources to exploit, and the more people to enslave at work useful for the Nazis. Our only hope against him is for his military defeat at the hands of ourselves and our friends.

You have made discouragingly plain why there are so few political assassinations in Germany, but couldn’t somebody like the fellow who killed King Alexander and Barthou in Marseilles be found?

I do not think so. That fellow, Vlada Georgiev, was a member of the famous Imro, the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization, which had the only system I ever heard of to guarantee that their members carry out assigned assassinations, no matter what the police terror might be. The Imro’s object was to unify and obtain the greatest possible degree of independence for Macedonia, divided among Bulgaria, Greece, and Jugoslavia. Their chief weapon was assassination, and when the Imro decreed a person’s death it was about as certain to be carried out as any human decision can be. The procedure was to appoint a killer and provide that he be killed unless he fulfilled his task. To make this principle work it was necessary that the appointed assassin realize he would more surely die if he failed than if he succeeded and risked legal execution. A long tradition of killings within the Imro made this fearful compulsion effective.

The mechanics of the system were simple. Like the Russian Nihilists under Boris Savinkov, the Imro used to try and formally condemn their victims to death. Thereupon the committee would draw beans from a bag. The man drawing a black bean was the appointed assassin. He was A. He had to leave the room. The others drew again. The man drawing the second black bean, B, was appointed to kill A if A didn’t kill the chosen victim. B then left the room and a third black bean, C, was appointed to kill B if B failed to carry out his assignment, and so on until the whole committee had lined up, each with a gun in the back of another. No one knew who among his comrades was his potential executioner, but each knew that death was certain if the decisions of the committee were not obeyed. Now this sort of system would work, I believe, even in Nazi Germany, but the democracies are far too squeamish to indulge in such practical methods.

Did the Nazis or the Bolsheviks practice assassination?

They both rather looked down on individual killings as dilettante. They preferred to do away with their victims en masse; especially the Bolsheviks. I remember at the time of the Blood Purge of June 30, 1934, when Hitler had murdered one thousand or more of his opponents, a Polish correspondent in Moscow was expelled by the Soviet authorities because he commented in a dispatch from the Russian capital that the Bolsheviks regarded Hitler’s purge with the same disdain a wholesaler would have toward the operations of a retailer. One thousand dead would be retail business for the Bolsheviks. The Communists, however, stood programmatically on the platform of no “individual terror” as they put it, because they considered that assassinations of single persons were ineffective, time and energy wasting.

The Nazis spurned no weapon, and so they murdered right and left from the beginning. It was their type of young men, whether yet organized in the Nazi Party or not, who committed most of the political assassinations of postwar Germany from Rathenau and Erzberger until Hitler came to power. Meanwhile, they deliberately provoked battles with the young men of every other faction, Democrats as well as Communists, in assemblies and on the streets, and the deaths from these clashes numbered hundreds yearly.

After Hitler came to power you might have expected individual assassinations to cease. But no, the murders by individual Nazis of individual enemies, business rivals, or of anyone they happened to dislike, continued through the year 1933 and it was not until 1934 that the Gestapo took over the monopoly of murder. No claim of Hitler’s is more ridiculous than his boast that the Nazi revolution was bloodless. There is no record of how many Germans perished at the hands of the uniformed bullies of the Nazi Party for strictly personal reasons, but the numbers surely ran into thousands. I was a correspondent in Berlin during that bloody year and I can testify as an eyewitness.

But weren’t those stories about atrocities exaggerated? You know we were fed so much propaganda in the last war that later turned out untrue, like the Belgian baby’s hands being cut off—how much can we believe of the atrocity stories we hear now?

No, the atrocity stories of today and of yesterday and of the last war were not exaggerated. The truth is that we shall never learn of more than the tiniest fraction of the atrocities committed by the Germans, and I am sure we never learned about more than a fraction of their atrocities in the last war.

Now by all means let some earnest young man arise and declare that the British and the French and the Americans also commit atrocities. Do they? Perhaps, because among our troops as among the troops of every nation are some exceptionally brutal men, who when they are possessed of the fury and license of battle become criminals. But only among the Germans was and is atrocious behavior, torture, and murder, an official policy, calculatedly carried out upon the authority of the government to terrorize or exterminate the vanquished. When I came to Germany I was intensely sympathetic with the Germans and refused to believe any of the atrocity stories of the last war. It took many years of residence in Germany and the experience of living through the bloodiest period of the Nazi revolution to realize that there was almost no atrocity charged against the Germans which could not have happened.

What a beautiful example of German propaganda the Belgian baby atrocity story was. Dr. Goebbels must often have jealously admired the person, whoever he was, who thought up the Belgian baby. Do we wish to cast in doubt reports about the atrocities our people are committing? Very well, let us plant a monstrous charge against ourselves, which we can prove untrue, then we can claim (and many of our softheaded opponents will believe us) that all other charges are untrue. This was the effect of the charge that German troops had cut off the hands of Belgian babies. Strangely enough, it was Northcliffe’s Daily Mail which obliged the Germans by first picking up the story of the Belgian baby, and then offering a reward for proof, and finally printing as a journalistic scoop the fact that no proof could be found that the Germans had ever cut off a Belgian baby’s hands. Thus in the minds of millions of simple British and Americans the Germans were exculpated of any atrocities. The bombarded British are not likely to make such a mistake again.

Was there anything in the first World War to equal the deliberate machine-gunning by German warplanes of the fleeing populations on the roads of Poland, France, and the Lowlands? I do not believe it has a counterpart in modern history, and only Genghis Khan and Tamerlane could have matched it in earlier days. There were thousands of children including babes in arms among the dead along the roads scarified by the Luftwaffe. An American diplomat in Paris estimated that in France and the Lowlands 100,000 civilians, two-thirds of them women and children, were killed thus by the Germans, or approximately the same as the number of French soldiers who died in battle. The slaughter of civilians in Poland surpassed this figure many times.

I do not know why I should boggle at the lopped-off Belgian baby’s hands, except that nobody could ever find an authentic example, and I cannot imagine what good it would do the Germans, nor believe that even Nazi Germans like to torture babies. The machine-gunning of the roads in Europe had a military object, to cause panic and to clog the movements of the Allied troops. But I have seen enough purposeless acts of brutality committed by the Nazis to know what they are capable of doing.

I wish Anne Morrow Lindbergh, whose sensitivity as a poet I sincerely admire, could have been with me one day in the women’s ward of a Berlin hospital as I listened to a woman explain to me why she lay there bandaged from head to foot, with the blood still oozing through. It was in the spring of 1933, and the Brown Terror was getting into its stride, but the Nazis had not yet learned to bar correspondents from hospitals. After this story they were all barred.

The woman was Frau Marie Jankowsky, forty-eight years old, mother of five sons. She was a Social Democratic welfare worker. “Night before last,” she related to me, pausing only when pain made her gasp, “a group of Storm Troopers came to our flat. One of them backed my husband and sons into the kitchen and held them at the point of his revolver. The others took me away to a Storm Troop barracks on the second floor of a building not far from my house. There they stripped me naked. In the middle of the room was a table, and covering the table a flag. They asked me what the flag was.

“I answered it was the Black Red Gold flag of the Republic. They said ‘No,’ and commanded me to repeat that it was Black Red Ordure. I refused and four Storm Troopers pulled me face down over the table, the fifth pushed my face into a bundle of rags to stop me screaming, and a sixth began beating me across the back with a light steel rod.

“It cut the skin and made blood come with every blow. The Storm Troop Captain said, ‘Give her twenty blows, the Jewish sow.’ I am not Jewish but that did not make any difference. Then they jerked me off the table and said, ‘You stole shoes from your welfare section, didn’t you?’ I said, ‘No,’ and the Captain said, ‘Give her another twenty.’ I was bleeding badly when they pulled me off the table again and yelled at me, ‘What’s this?’ and showed me our flag of the Iron Front with three arrows. I told them, but they demanded that I say it was a manure fork. I refused and the Captain ordered another twenty blows.

“That made sixty, and I was very weak, but finally when they pulled me off the table again and yelled at me, ‘You served Communists in your soup kitchen,’ I still had enough strength left to say, ‘You ought to be ashamed to say that because I served you and you and you, but no Communists.’ This made them angrier than ever and the last twenty blows were the worst, and when I rolled off the table they picked me up, and the Captain struck me across the face with his riding crop, and then a Storm Trooper hit me on the jaw with his fist and knocked me across the room so that I fell and wrenched my knee.”

The livid scar of the riding crop flamed across her face, and the dressing on her knee confirmed that injury. I asked the medical attendant to describe her injuries as they were when she arrived and he confirmed that her back had been cut deep into the musculature. Yes, I wish Anne Morrow Lindbergh had been with me to see and hear this story, although it is only one of hundreds of thousands which could have been related first by German victims of the Nazis and now by the vanquished of the entire continent.

Mrs. Lindbergh says the “Wave of the Future,” by which she means the wave of collectivism, the wave of Nazism, is irresistible, and hence we would be wrong to try to resist it, because by resisting we would only increase the casualty list. She dismisses the brutalities, atrocities, inhumanities of the conquering Nazis as merely the “scum” on the wave, something which will pass away and leave the clear blue water of the New Order. But she has not viewed this Wave of the Future at firsthand and so she has not been able to perceive that the scum reaches all the way from the top to the bottom of the Nazi wave; that there is no clear water beneath the surface brutality of the New Order, that from its beginning until today and until it is destroyed it has been, is, and will be unqualifiedly evil.

Atrocities? I assure you there are more atrocities being committed this very moment by the hosts of the Gestapo, the Black Guards, the Storm Troops, and all the other ruffians of Hitler throughout prostrate Europe than you have ever dreamed about. If only we could arrange to have all our isolationists, our weasel-worded noninterventionists, and our complaisant converts to the Wave of the Future take a trip to Europe and let them observe the fate of the 150,000,000 under Hitler’s heel. The Wave of the Future is a wave of blood and tears. What American in his right mind can wish to live if this wave engulfs our world?

You mentioned Jan Valtin’s book, Out of the Night. Do you consider the book authentic?

It is the most accurate description of Nazi and Bolshevik Terror I have ever seen in print. Valtin tells from the inside of the G.P.U. and the Gestapo what an American newspaperman working in Russia and Germany could observe in fragments from the outside. There is not an incident in the book, however gruesome, which could not have happened, no matter how improbable it may appear to a reader far away from the horrors of totalitarian police methods. I recommend the book to every American, because these two evil weapons of the tyrant states are operating today in our country and Valtin has given us the most authoritative picture of their activities we have ever had. Whatever he was in the past, this strange young German has done more for democracy by writing these grim memoirs than most democrats who have been democrats all their lives.

Since Hitler attacked Russia, don’t you think it is no longer correct to say Nazism and Communism are the same? Hasn’t Hitler proved now that he is really an enemy of Bolshevism and is protecting the world against it?

That would be the equivalent of saying that one monarchy would not attack another or that you could not have war between two republics. The war between Hitler and Stalin is a war between two terroristic collectives. The collectivist form of their economy is almost identical, both of them being a form of state capitalism; both are supported by police terror and both found their principle motive power, the fuel to run their society, in hatred.

Both avowed that the end justifies the means and both thereupon employed every conceivable form of fraud, deceit, and violence to attain their ends. Pagan, atheistic rejection of Christianity, deliberate denial of even the desirability of the principle of universal brotherly love was common to the two totalitarian creeds. The fact that the two monsters of malevolence finally turned their hatred upon one another actively only emphasizes the identical character of the fratricidal twins. What of their essential features has changed since they warred upon each other? Nothing whatever. Does the Russo-German war prove Hitler’s thesis that he was an implacable enemy of Bolshevism? Nonsense! Hitler’s brand of Bolshevism is infinitely more menacing to us all than any produced in Russia. The bibles of the twin regimes, Mein Kampf and Das Kapital, preach identical doctrine: Here, hate everybody of a different race; there, hate everybody of a different class. Since Jesus Christ was on earth the Communist Party and the Nazi Party and the states they founded are the first institutions of such dimensions to be built avowedly and officially on hatred.

In Russia they began by saying they had to hate and kill in order to clear the land of all classes hostile to a socialist world, in order to make room for a happier life. But hatred becomes a habit, grows, expands monstrously until it cannot find enough victims. Before the Bolsheviks even gained a far-off glimpse of a happier life their hatred had become an end in itself. They began, by hating, as they thought, rationally; they finished by hating and killing themselves.

The proletariat and peasantry, instructed by the Communists, began by hating the Czar, the aristocrats, bankers, factory managers, engineers, technicians, schoolteachers, dentists, undertakers, physicians, lawyers, priests and policemen, everyone who occupied any position noticeably superior to that of the masses. It took them about ten years to slaughter this lot, and then they began hating and killing the better-off farmers. I was there during the final mopping up of the first victims and again for the extermination of the second group, and as the last of the identifiable enemies of the Bolsheviks disappeared in the cellars of the G.P.U., or in the wastes of Siberia, we in Moscow used to discuss quite seriously what these furious haters were going to do when they ran out of “classes” to hate.

It was no joke. It had become indispensable to Bolshevik life to have an object of hatred and when the object was exterminated another had to be found. We guessed they would have to begin hating and killing themselves, and we were right. To us it was not surprising. When you lived among them, you realized that Communist “class hatred” is hatred of anyone who gets along better than oneself and there is just as much hatred of Communists by Communists as of capitalists.

In no organization has there ever been more back-stabbing, poisoning, strangling, murderous mutual hatred of one another than in the Communist Party, from the malignant Russian Central Committee through all its verminous offspring in the Comintern. They used to boast of the “monolithic” character of the Russian Communist Party. It was like a block of granite without a crevice. The Russian Jacobins declared they would never commit the error of their French forebears who found they could not stop killing when once they had started to kill one another. For years the outside world observed this Bolshevik self-restraint and there was much fear of it.

Then suddenly the prodigious store of hatred within the Bolshevik breast burst the bounds of self-preserving sanity and the apostles of Marx fell to killing each other with bewildering ferocity. Howling “Wrecker,” “Saboteur,” “Trotzkyist,” “Bukharinist,” “Rightist,” “Leftist,” “Nazi,” “Fascist,” they shot their own Soviet-reared professional men, generals, admirals, government officials, in a whirl of self-destroying madness which left even persistent Soviet sympathizers unable to explain what was going on because nobody, possibly including Stalin, understood it. It was like a mad dog biting himself, tearing out his own viscera. What could be the fate of the eviscerated animal?

Even before the war, in both Germany and Russia, the omnipotent, omnivorous State had devoured all but a vestige of happiness. As the two regimes of hatred went forward along their respective paths each lost gradually even the desire to promote the happiness of anybody, even of its own people.

In the land of the Bolsheviks, the bigoted struggle against men of another class became a struggle against men of another view. The internal political conflict impaired production, hampered the campaign against poverty, and protracted the wretchedness of the population. Nobody ate, drank, slept, lived even decently, much less comfortably, and there was no security. They had given up liberty for security. Now security was gone, for to their dismay the Bolsheviks saw that the one thing for which everything had been sacrificed, the defense apparatus, was inadequate.

In the land of the Nazis, the attempts of the Supermen to rule the world led the Germans to forget individual happiness as completely as the Bolsheviks. The Nazis believed that if they gave up butter for guns today, they could tomorrow win with their guns more butter; but the Nazi chief never had any intention of stopping for butter. In comfort-loving, once-bourgeois Germany, food, clothing, fuel, transportation deteriorated until it was impossible to find even a physically happy person outside the young armed forces for whom the nation sacrificed all. These favored youths found their chief pleasure in the exercise of a technical skill and lust in combat which enabled them to crush a continent with playful ease.

Now from the Atlantic to the Pacific, across the greatest continuous land surface on the globe, from the English Channel to the Sea of Japan there exists not one comfortable, secure, happy family. Not among the more than five hundred million persons now in Europe with its neighbor states could be discovered a trace of the happiness, imperfect though it was, which used to exist. The Nazi Bolsheviks had achieved triumph as far as Europe was concerned. The Wave of the Future had swept happiness from its path.

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