Inside Interview with the Nazi movement
There are two links about the Nazi party that I thought would be educational in relation to my proposed geometric relationship between National Socialism, Communism, and Democratic Socialism.
Himmler took this in good part. He laughed easily. “I’m sure our police organization isn’t half as black as it’s painted abroad,” was his reply. “We certainly do our best to combat crime of every sort, and our criminal statistics imply that we are fairly successful. Frankly, we believe that habitual offenders should not be at large to plague society, so we keep them locked up. Why, for instance, should a sex-offender who has been sentenced three of four times be again set free, to bring lasting sorrow to another decent home? We send all such persons to a detention-camp and keep them there. But I assure you that their surroundings aren’t bad. In fact, I know they are better fed, clothed, and lodged than the miners of South Wales. Ever seen one of our concentration-camps?”
“No,” I answered, “I wasn’t able to get permission.”
“Too bad I didn’t know about it,” said Himmler. “There you’d see the sort of social scum we have shut sway from society for its own good.”
That was all very fine, but I felt that Himmler was hedging a bit. So I proceeded: “You refer there to criminals in the general sense of the term. But how about political offenders — say, old-fashioned liberals? Is any political opposition tolerated?”
“What a person thinks is none of our concern,” shot back Himmler quickly. “But when he acts upon his thoughts, perhaps to the point of starting a conspiracy, then we take action. We believe in extinguishing a fire while it is still small. It saves trouble and averts much damage. Besides,” he continued, “there isn’t any need for political opposition with us. If a man sees something he thinks is wrong, let him come straight to us and talk the matter over. Let him even write me personally. Such letters always reach me. We welcome new ideas and are only to glad to correct mistakes. Let me give you an example. Suppose somebody sees traffic on a busy corner badly handled. In other countries he could write a scathing letter to the newspapers saying how stupidly and badly the police run things. A hundred thousand people who may never have even seen that corner might get all excited, and the prestige of both the police and the State itself might suffer in consequence. With us, all that man has to do is to write us, and I assure you the matter will be quickly righted.”
During his lifetime Lothrop Stoddard (1883-1950) was one of America’s most influential writers. He earned a doctorate from Harvard, and was the author of 15 books, including the much-discussed 1920 work, The Rising Tide of Color. He wrote numerous articles and essays, and was an editorial writer and foreign affairs expert for The Washington Star.
Shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War in Europe, he went to Germany on behalf of the North American Newspaper Alliance to report first-hand from the war-beleaguered Third Reich. During this visit he conducted interviews with such key figures as Hitler, Himmler, and Goebbels. Stoddard compiled his observations and interviews in a 300-page book, Into the Darkness, that the Dictionary of American Biography called “a fair and honest appraisal of the Nazi state.” This remarkable account will soon be re-issued in an attractive new Noontide edition.
In the following essay, adapted from Chapter 20 of Into the Darkness, Stoddard presents a skeptical but open-minded look at the role of the all-embracing National Socialist Party. This chapter also includes his January 1940 interview with Heinrich Himmler — the first ever granted to a foreign journalist by the SS leader.
It is interesting to see what the Nazis saw of themselves. No one can gain power without considering the needs of the individuals in that location. The power of nations that aren’t built upon grassroot support, are weak nations economically and militarily.
Here is the humble beginning of Hitler’s rise to power.
Adolf Hitler never held a regular job and aside from his time in World War One, led a lazy lifestyle, from his brooding teenage days in Linz through years spent in idleness and poverty in Vienna. But after joining the German Workers’ Party in 1919 at age thirty, Hitler immediately began a frenzied effort to make it succeed.
The German Workers’ Party consisted mainly of an executive committee which had seven members, including Hitler. To bring in new members Hitler prepared invitations which each committee member gave to friends asking them to attend the party’s monthly public meeting, but few came.
Next they tried having invitations printed at a stationary store. A few people came.
Then they placed an advertisement in an anti-Semitic newspaper in Munich and at Hitler’s insistence, moved the public meeting to a beer cellar that would hold about a hundred. The other committee members were concerned they might have trouble filling the place, but just over a hundred showed up at the meeting held on October 16, 1919.
Hitler was scheduled to be the second speaker at this meeting. It was to be his first time as a featured speaker, despite the misgivings of some committee members who doubted Hitler’s ability at this time.
But when Hitler got up to speak, he astounded everyone with a highly emotional, at times near hysterical manner of speech making. For Hitler, it was an important moment in his young political career. He described the scene in Mein Kampf:
“I spoke for thirty minutes, and what before I had simply felt within me, without in any way knowing it, was now proved by reality: I could speak! After thirty minutes the people in the small room were electrified and the enthusiasm was first expressed by the fact that my appeal to the self-sacrifice of those present led to the donation of three hundred marks.”
The money was used to buy more advertising and print leaflets. The German Workers’ Party now featured Hitler as the main attraction at its meetings. In his speeches Hitler railed against the Treaty of Versailles and delivered anti-Semitic tirades, blaming the Jews for Germany’s problems. Attendance slowly increased, numbering in the hundreds.
Hitler took charge of party propaganda in early 1920, and also recruited young men he had known in the Army. He was aided in his recruiting efforts by Army Captain Ernst Röhm, a new party member, who would play a vital role in Hitler’s eventual rise to power.
In Munich, there were many alienated, maladjusted soldiers and ex-soldiers with a thirst for adventure and a distaste for the peace brought on by the Treaty of Versailles and the resulting democratic republic. They joined the German Workers’ Party in growing numbers.
There were many other political groups looking for members, but none more successful than the Marxists. Genuine fear existed there might be a widespread Communist revolution in Germany like the Russian revolution. Hitler associated Marxism with the Jews and thus reviled it.
He also understood how a political party directly opposed to a possible Communist revolution could play on the fears of so many Germans and gain support.
In February of 1920, Hitler urged the German Workers’ Party to holds its first mass meeting. He met strong opposition from leading party members who thought it was premature and feared it might be disrupted by Marxists. Hitler had no fear of disruption. In fact he welcomed it, knowing it would bring his party anti-Marxist notoriety. He even had the hall decorated in red to aggravate the Marxists.
On February 24, 1920, Hitler was thrilled when he entered the large meeting hall in Munich and saw two thousand people waiting, including a large number of Communists.
A few minutes into his speech, he was drowned out by shouting followed by open brawling between German Workers’ Party associates and disruptive Communists. Eventually, Hitler resumed speaking and claims in Mein Kampf the shouting was gradually drowned out by applause.
He proceeded to outline the Twenty Five Points of the German Workers’ Party, its political platform, which included; the union of all Germans in a greater German Reich, rejection of the Treaty of Versailles, the demand for additional territories for the German people (Lebensraum), citizenship determined by race with no Jew to be considered a German, all income not earned by work to be confiscated, a thorough reconstruction of the national education system, religious freedom except for religions which endanger the German race, and a strong central government for the execution of effective legislation.
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