chapter  XXXVII
7 Pages

The Nazi Counter-Revolution

T h e Nazis, after the Munich Putsch in November 1923, settled down to the scientific organization of their small num­ ber of adherents. Their method was secret and conspiratory, making thereby the fullest use of the liberties that the Weimar Constitution guaranteed to all Germans. They formed small circles, studied the causes of discontent, and endeavoured to win all those strata of society which from nationalist, professional, and economic reasons were out of sympathy with the post-war conditions. The Nazis found them, first, among the ex-officers and ex-non-commissioned officers of the army; secondly, among the bureaucracy, public school teachers, and university undergraduates; finally, among the lower middle class. The ex-military men had suffered indignities during the

revolutionary months. They lost the high social status which they had enjoyed under the pre-revolutionary conditions. Moreover, they were deprived of their employment as a result of the Versailles Treaty, which, in their opinion, was the result of the “ stab in the back” of the heroic army by the revolutionary upheaval. The bureaucracy, that vast army of trained and drilled

officials, was seething with discontent at the intrusion into its ranks of trade union officials, who, without having gone through the normal curricula and simply by virtue of their Social Democratic membership card, were appointed to high offices. The conscience of the Prussian bureaucrat was out­ raged by such irregularities. And the outrage grew unbear­ able when even Jewish lawyers and doctors received high civil service posts. Such a thing was unheard of--trade union officials as Police Presidents and chiefs of Government depart­ ments; Jews in judicial posts or as State Councillors! The

outraged bureaucracy gradually formed a State within the State, working secretly, spying upon the intruders, and reporting to the Nazi secret directorate at Munich. The war, and particularly the inflation, impoverished the

lower middle class. Their sons saw no prospect in trade and commerce, and flocked to the secondary schools and Univer­ sities in order sooner or later to get some safe berth in the Central and Local Government. At the Universities they found hundreds of Jewish students, upon whom they looked as competitors, and whom they fought tooth and nail. The small shopkeepers and the traders saw in the large stores, which in many cases were organized by Jewish merchants, the cause of their own decline. Capitalist and Jew became with them synonymous terms. In the secondary schools the teachers, trained in pre-war

days, were mostly nationalist or militarist. Social Democracy did nothing to change the school books. The old Prussian spirit gradually returned, and youth was trained in the tenets of Nationalism. But all those elements, though numerically strong, could not have created such a vast anti-democratic organization but for the large metal and textile employers, who supplied the funds and the leading ideas to the Nazi headquarters. The German employers displayed, indeed, great acumen in the years from the autumn of 1918 up to the end of 1932. In the autumn of 1918, when the forebodings of the revolution began to fill the air, the capitalist leaders approached the General Committee of the Trade Unions in Berlin and arranged for close co-operation between Capital and Labour. The Social Democratic trade unionists were given preference of employment, and all revolutionary proletarians were gradu­ ally thrown out of work. The output of Labour and social legislation in the few revolutionary years was remarkable, and brought material advantages and influence to trade unionismeight-hour day, workmen’s councils, favourable collective agreements. As long as the danger of revolution was not

dispelled, the capitalists kept quiet; but, when the people finally settled down to the new conditions, the capitalists grew restive under the new burdens, which were aggravated by the effects of the Versailles Treaty-reparation payments, stoppage of the armament industry, restriction of the German export markets-and turned German economic life into a very hard struggle. After 1929 the situation grew desperate, and the whole Labour and social legislation, always a nuisance in the eyes of the employing class, appeared to them now as a farflung tangle of barbed-wire obstacles, impeding them at every step and stride. And this tangle, they felt, was made quite inextricable through the consequences of the Versailles Treaty, which deprived the Germans of their army and degraded them into a second-class nation-Wehrlos, ehrlos: unarmed, unhonoured. The leaders of the capitalist class decided to get rid both of organized Labour and of the Versailles Treaty. The muddle-headed Nazis, with their slogans against Marxism, Jews, pacifists, traitors, etc., thus received at the hands of the industrial leaders two clear-cut ideas to guide them. The intermediary between the capitalist leaders and the Nazi leaders was Herr von Papen, the most sinister figure of present-day Germany. He chaperoned Herr Hitler in his intercourse with the bankers and industrials. Yet, with all those advantages on their side, the Nazis made

little headway up to 1930. In the Reichstag of the years 1925-30 the Parliamentary National Socialist Party consisted of fourteen members only. The delusive prosperity, created by the influx of American, British, French, Dutch, and Swiss loans, made public opinion averse from political adventures. The situation changed in 1930, when the effects of the universal economic crises, which started and startled the United States in the autumn of 1929, made themselves felt in Europe. Germany, as the financially weakest industrial country, felt the shock with particular force. The bubble of prosperity burst, and the middle classes, flurried and

scared, merged all their little Parliamentary Parties or “ Fractions,” as the Germans call them, into the National Socialist Party. The elections of September, 1930, made the Nazis the second strongest party, with one hundred and seven members in the Reichstag. All the disaffected and despairing elements grew rapidly into a united movement, imbued with a burning hatred of pre-war Germany and particularly of the Weimar Constitution with its democratic and social reform clauses, and they worked with might and main for its sub­ version. The Social Democrats, who occupied the key posi­ tions in the Prussian Government, took no effective steps to deal with the growing danger of Nazism, which after 1929 became all the more threatening as the judiciary, in all pro­ ceedings against Nazi defendants, were applying the law in the most lenient manner. The Social Democrats in the Prussian Government finally received their reward on July 20, 1932, when Herr von Papen curtly dismissed them. On the whole, it may be said that Social Democratic

influence in the Reich and in Prussia was tolerated only as long as the foreign garrisons were stationed in the Rhineland. The presence of Social Democrats in the Government was intended to serve as evidence of the pacific character of Germany. The ruling classes, the landed nobility, and the industrial magnates, knew quite well that, with a pronounced Nationalist Government in Germany, they would be hard put to it to induce the Powers to withdraw their garrisons from the Rhine. As soon as the Rhineland was evacuated, the glory of the Social Democrats departed; they were kicked out of their high offices, and room was made for the Nazis, the petted darlings of the ruling classes. The uniforms, the top boots, the trappings, the leasing of houses for Brownshirt barracks-in short, the whole outfit and housing of the Nazis-were paid for by the big landowners and the masters of large-scale industry. With the growth of this movement, the whole tone of

The Nazi Counter-Revolution 2 2 1 public life changed. The former peaceful meetings and lec­ tures, in which free discussion was the rule, degenerated into rowdy assemblies; instead of spirited heckling and clever repartees, empty beer bottles and the wooden legs of the furniture flew at the heads of opponents of the Nazis. “ Never discuss with a Jew or a Communist, use your fists!” And the same maxim was applied to the debates in the Reichstag and in the Prussian Landtag. Parliamentary proceedings, which up to 1930 were models of decorum, were turned into scenes of turbulence and bodily assaults. The Nazis are the only Party that has made violence its foremost means of “ persuasion.” It is a Party conceived in conspiracy, trained to dissimulation, and drilled in the methods of the Vehmgericht. The ruling classes have assigned to the Nazis a twofold

mission-the rearming of the nation and the destruction of trade unionism. On these terms they entrusted Herr Hitler with power, and he has to fulfil them. Those of his adherents who had come into the movement, not only from nationalist motives, but for serious social reform work, are ruthlessly kept under. The real programme of the Nazis was dictated by the ruling classes-a powerfully armed Germany and subjection of Labour to the present economic order. The latter point has brought popularity to Fascism and Nazism among the adherents of capitalist society, while a rearming Germany has caused a great deal of anxiety to the friends o f universal peace and to the beneficiaries of the Versailles Treaty. The new cultural propaganda is doing all that is necessary to prepare the minds of the people for the glories o f Valhalla. The school and the stage, the cinema and the radio, the gymnastic halls, and the open spaces in town and village, are given up to the cultivation of the war spirit. The first play produced after the inauguration of the Nazi regime was Hans Johst’s Schlageter, in which the expressionist poet announces that “mankind needs again leaders and priests,

who have the courage to shed blood, blood, blood, and to slaughter.” The play was staged in June, 1933. Twelve months elapsed, and on June 30, 1934, the terrible words of the poet were fulfilled: the Leader turned into a priest who had the “ courage to shed blood, blood, blood, and to slaughter.” The next Nazi drama was Kurt Eggers’s Annaberg, described as a “ National Festival Play,” whose theme is the fights in Upper Silesia. It opens with the following song:

Der Deutsche ist geschaffen, In Wehr und Waffen Hinaus ins Feld zu reiten, Als Held zu streiten. Sein junges frohes Sterben Verpfiichtet die Erben, Gleich ihm ihr junges Leben Als Losegeld zu geben.