For fifteen years Hitler had directed his Movement; during the whole length of this period had he, in thousands of meetings and assemblies, sought to inculcate the masses with his ideas.
At length the German people had come to look to him for their resuscitation, for their salvation from the menace of Bolshevism, and they trusted that once in power he could, and would, make good his promises.
When Hitler came to power he did, indeed, proceed at once to carry out the purposes and promises of a programme conceived so many years before. We have seen him working it out, point by point, boiling it down, pinning it down under twenty-five “Headings” in Anton Drexler’s little Wohnzimmer (living-room) while Frau Drexler gets the frugal supper. We have seen him submitting it point by point to the Munich public in the Hofbräusaal, when hundreds of dissentient beer mugs were hurled at his head. We have seen him pacing up and down his narrow room at Landsberg pouring out the whys and wherefores of it all to Rudolf Hess, who rattles as hard as he can go on the typewriter to get the teeming content of this energetic brain into some sort of literary order.
And now, after fifteen years of struggle, he saw himself at long length on the threshold of achievement.
Together with Hitler two other National-Socialists were included in the new Cabinet, Herr Wilhelm Frick as Minister of the Interior, and Captain Hermann Goering as Minister without Portfolio, and Commissary for Air.
With the coming of this new Government, and the setting aside of the old duality as between Prussia and the rest of the Reich, was the basis laid for a universal German policy, and for the elimination of all elements inimical to German life.
In his first address to the people the Chancellor called for a sense of national discipline. He asked for four years in which to make good the blunders of the post-War administrators, in which to re-erect the State, in which to cope with the problem of unemployment; in which to redeem German peasantry from its misery and help-lessness.
In the night of February 27th-28th, 1933, the Communists set fire to the Reichstag. A few days previously a raid on the catacombs of the Karl Liebknecht House in Berlin had brought to light a great quantity of material which proved beyond cavil that the forces of Bolshevism were girding themselves for a mass offensive in Germany. The Chancellor replied by draconian measures to ensure the safety of the State.
On the evening before the great elections of March, on the “Day of the Awakened Nation,” the Chancellor addressed the entire people by means of the radio. The result of his speech was to renew in every heart in Germany the will to succeed, the passion for freedom, the sense of nationality. Everywhere bells were pealed, bonfires were ignited on the hills, flags bedecked the streets in every town and village–as Horst Wessel, indeed, had predicted in his song!
The National-Socialists brought off a complete and overwhelming victory on March 5th with a return of 17 300 000 votes, and a win of two hundred and eighty- eight seats in the Reichstag. Adolf Hitler, who headed the voting list, entered the Parliament House, himself, for the first time. The Government could count on a majority of 52 per cent. These results at the poll inducted the “National-Socialist Revolution”– perhaps the most bloodless Revolution known in history. The National-Socialists, everywhere, “took over.”
In Munich the Minister President Held boasted that were Hitler to send a Reichs Commissary thither, he would have him arrested on the frontier. When, however, on March 9th, the Reichs Commissary, in the person of General Ritter von Epp, duly appeared, the Minister President immediately climbed down and withdrew from the scene of action.
Herr Esser, who took part in these proceedings, told me how minutely and exactly all had been arranged beforehand. Everything went by clockwork, according to plan, without the least confusion or miscarriage. “As a matter of fact,” he said, “we had been prepared for a good deal more opposition, Held had been so full of threats and fulminations.”
The opening of the Reichstag on March 21st was an act symbolising the unity of the entire German people. Not less historically significant was the hand-clasp exchanged between the aged and revered General Field Marshal von Hindenburg and the new young Chancellor, Adolf Hitler. The dignity of immemorial tradition extended a welcome to the younger generation straining towards a new and happier future… .
At the first session of the new Reichstag an “Enabling Bill” was passed whereby Hitler was made absolute Dictator for a period of four years. The purpose of this was to free him from the shackles and delays of parliamentary procedure in bringing his programme into immediate action. We shall see in a subsequent chapter how, and to what first ends, he availed himself of this measure.
Another important step towards the general weaving together of all the aspects of government was the appointment everywhere of new Reichstatthalter, i.e. of Provincial Premiers. These, Hitler suggested, should be nominated by the President. The Chancellor himself is Reichstatthalter for Prussia in order personally to bind that country and the whole Reich together. The duties of these Provincial Premiers, as they may be called, are numerous and important.
In April came the law which would recapture for those of German birth and extraction the majority of representation in the learned professions and in official life. This law, bearing heavily as it did upon the Jews, makes exception in their case for all those who had fought for Germany in the War, and for those whose fathers and sons had so fallen.
Then came ordinances to regulate school matters. In no direction more than in this is the new spirit and bent of National Socialism to be discerned. The High Schools were overcrowded. Their overflow to the Universities had to be facilitated. At the same time Hitler resolved to check the superfluity of girls seeking facilities for the higher education.
An entire book could be written of Hitler’s theory of education; on his estimate of the place and function of woman in the State; and on the great youth movement resultant from both, known in Germany as Hitlerjugend. He says the most important thing for girls is the right training of the body, next that of character, and third that of the intellect. A striking proof of the self-sacrificing enthusiasm and unanimity with which such data are accepted by the female intelligentsia in Germany to-day has, for instance, been afforded by the willingness of the University women of Heidelberg largely to forgo, at Hitler’s behest, and in favour of men, the learned professional careers to which they had looked forward.
To those who imagine that Hitler has set back the clock five hundred years for German womanhood there is this to be answered: If German girls do not retire from competitive life with men, there will be neither work nor food for either in another few decades. A country with a dense and growing population and no colonies, must narrowly restrict its labour market, in the learned professions as well as in the trades. Again, there is no parallel to be drawn between the type of woman and the numbers of women frequenting the Universities in England and America to those in Germany. The German Universities–and their name is legion–were swarming with women. Some went thither for the purposes of serious study. For those who do not go thither for the purposes of serious study, it is obvious enough that the quicker they are driven home again the better.
In May the German Labour Front took the place of the old system of Trade Unions. It would require many pages to give an adequate idea of this reorganisation in Germany of the relationships between employer and employee. The idea underlying it was typical of the “Socialism” in Hitler’s programme.
By the time summer had come round, most of the previously existing separate (and highly antagonistic) political parties in the State had ceased to exist. The Social Democrats were suppressed, and for the most part the rest extinguished themselves. A law was passed forbidding the formation of fresh parties. The public were relieved at last to be free of the veritable pest of so many parties and groups, and the Gordian knot of German disunity was cut at one blow.
Then came the organisation of the air, both for purposes of ordinary communication and for defence. This Ministry was confided to General Goering.
The lot of the ordinary man in the street, the everyday person, claimed its share of the Chancellor’s attention. A law was passed, which, among other things, aimed at making life easier for the weak and unfit, for those impoverished by the War, for War widows and orphans.
Hitler looks to early and healthy marriage, State aid for struggling young families, to assist in stamping out many of those social abominations which St. Paul says should not even be named among Christians, but which have been more hideously rife in the world since the Great War than at any previous period.
Severe measures were enacted to put down immorality, and further, a law was framed with the object of preventing unfit children coming into the world.
Hitler’s much discussed Law for the Prevention of Hereditarily Diseased Offspring, passed on July 14th, 1933, is based upon the German policy of “regeneration”(These particulars are taken from an article published by the Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst, in News in Brief Vol. 2, No. I, page 5.), which aims at promoting the propagation of valuable, innately healthy children, while preventing an offspring of hereditarily diseased persons in so far as those descendants are likely to be of inferior quality. Considering the fact that the average ratio of children of healthy families to diseased families is from 1 to 2 to 5 to 7, the necessity of such a policy seems clear.
The following statements, taken from the Zentralblatt für Reichsversicherung und Reichsversorgung (Central Gazette for Federal Insurance and Pensions), show to what extent the German people is affected by hereditarily diseased persons, in the sense of the law, their number being estimated at 400 000 (one-half of them innately feeble-minded). On the average, each diseased person costs the community which sends him to an institution, RM. 1 482 per annum. Since insane persons live in institutions 7 ½ years on the average, they require an expenditure of RM. 11,600. It is a conservative calculation that the German communities have to spend more than 170 millions of marks a year on their insane alone.
“ This does not include the expenditures for diseased children a part of whom are attending auxiliary schools. Every pupil of an auxiliary school is costing the Government RM. 573 per annum, compared to a maximum of 230 for a healthy pupil. For the whole of the Reich the expenditures for auxiliary schools amount to about 40 millions of RM. per annum. Direct expenditures on hereditarily diseased persons in the Reich, states and communities, amount to at least 350 million RM. a year in all. We have to add to that sum all of the expenditures made by charitable organisations and institutions, by churches and by private persons; also the costs of execution which amount to about 100 million RM. a year. Some institutions, where insane criminals are kept, show quotas of RM. 20 a day for every inmate. The significance of such figures will seem the more evident if we realise that many healthy, industrious families cannot afford a quarter of that sum as a daily expenditure for their entire household.”
One can gather from all this how far-seeing the law is which provides for the sterilisation of the hereditarily defective when so far as medical science can predict, only further severe bodily or mental abnormality is to be anticipated. The absence of the birth of those unfitted for life relieves those upon whom their subsistence would depend from indescribable suffering and unremitting sacrifice.
In spite of all that has been written and said to the contrary the action of the Chancellor in unifying the Protestant sects of Germany has had no anti-Christian significance. “The rock bed foundation of the German Evangelical Church,” says the Instrument which achieves this purpose, “is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as witnessed for us in the Sacred Scriptures, and as enlightened afresh by the Confession of the Reformation.”
The Chancellor sought by a Concordat with Rome to define the relationships and rights of the Catholic Church and the State respectively, so as to secure smooth working in both spheres.
The Party Day in Nuremberg, 1933, witnessed such a demonstration of loyalty to Adolf Hitler as had never yet been seen. For the first time the Party Day had become a State function and had developed into an assembly of the nation.
Hitler can never lay stress enough on the importance of the agricultural classes, of the plough-driving peasant. Upon them, and upon him, is built the superstructure of the State. Agriculture is the source of the country’s strength.
All the great cities would soon be nothing but arid deserts of bricks and mortar where they not to receive, year after year, an influx of fresh healthy life from the country. On the other hand, this migration to the towns, if carried too far, is a curse in itself against which the National-Socialist theory of the State sedulously sets its face. Hitler envisages for the future not a gathering of the population into endless great cities, but their re-establishment, right down to the roots, in their native soil. National Socialism has already achieved a great deal, and with much success, in this direction.
The law touching hereditary farmland seeks to relieve the small farmer of many of the uncertainties and troubles which have hitherto weighed him down. His land is to be inalienable and no longer the easy prey of the financial speculator.
On Saturday, October 14th, 1933, Hitler withdrew his country from the League of Nations. There should have been no occasion in this for the universal amazement it has caused. Adolf Hitler had announced his intention of taking this step some months before. Not before Germany has parity of rights does it concern her at all to waste time over disarmament conferences which forever come to nothing.
On the same day President von Hindenburg dissolved the Reichstag, since, in consequence of the dissolution of all parties except the National-Socialists, this now had become a mere Rump.
The new electors fully confirmed all former National-Socialist gains, and went far beyond. The result of these, held in November, was a victory for Adolf Hitler which even his most ardent adherents had hardly dared hope. From a voting population of 43 millions, 40½ millions supported the National-Socialist regime. Six hundred and sixty-one Members returned to the Reichstag. It meant that 95 per cent of the German people had firmly taken their stand behind Hitler.
This result was their thanks to him for all that he had hitherto done for them.
There would be little purpose in giving a description of all the measures since undertaken by Hitler for the reconstruction of Germany, these being generally known. It would moreover require at least a volume for the purpose, even if the most important only were taken into consideration.
The foregoing brief resume has concerned itself with little but the political aspect of things. In the following chapter some attempt will be made to show what all this meant translated into everyday terms, brought to bear on the everyday life of the German citizen.
Source: Germany’s Hitler (Chapter XII)