In order to round out the picture of Hitler which it has been the attempt of these pages to depict, a few words remain to be said about his private life since 1919.
Adolf Hitler left barracks in the August of that year, and rented a modest lodging with humble people in the Thierschstrasse, Number 41.
It is interesting to have a look into this poor room where Hitler lived for ten years. A Herr Erlanger was, at that time, the landlord of the house. He observes today: "I hadn’t much to do with him myself as he wasn’t directly a tenant of mine. His room was a sub-let. And since I am a Jew, I concerned myself as little as possible with the activities of my lodger and the National Socialists. I often encountered him on the stairway and at the door" – he was generally scribbling something in a notebook.
"Often he had his dog with him, a lovely wolfhound. He never made me feel he regarded me differently from other people. He lodged here in my house from the autumn of 1919 to 1929. First he took a little back room, and then an equally small one in the front to serve as a sort of office and study. The back room in which he slept is only eight by fifteen feet. It is the coldest room in the house; there’s a passage below it leading to the courtyard. Some lodgers who’ve rented it since got ill. Now we only use it as a lumber room; nobody will have it any more.
"The only ‘comfort’ Hitler treated himself to when he was here, was a hand basin with cold water laid on. The room to the front was a bit bigger, but the small high-set window left much to be desired. It was very scantily furnished."
We have caught a glimpse of the rooms that were his home all these strenuous years in the Thierschstrasse, and now we must have a look at his unpretentious house on the Obersalzberg.
The Obersalzberg is one of the slopes of the Bavarian Alps, above the Königsee, but below the grand, bare snow-flecked summits of the highest mountains near Watzmann. It is a shaggedly pine-wooded region interspersed with wide stretches and spaces of open grass or meadowland threaded by white filaments of winding road. The whole is dotted over with the characteristic Bauernhöfe (peasant farms) of the country, looking much like the chalets of Switzerland with their flower-decked balconies, their green-shuttered windows above the white stonework of the ground floor.
A steep road leads up from Berchtesgaden to the Obersalzberg. Here Hitler and a few chosen intimates found refuge from the stress and strain of life during the time that preceded the disruption of the Party in November, 1923. They forgathered in one of these Obersalzberg farm houses, called the Platterhof, and there took counsel together, and enjoyed brief, but precious, snatches of rest and recreation.
One gets to Berchtesgaden from Munich by train in about three hours. But by motor one can do the journey a little more quickly. Berchtesgaden is a little town near the Königsee. It does not He directly on the lake because the mountains there come down so steeply to the water’s edge no room remains for the town. The lower flanks of these mountains are covered with hanging pine forests, but the summits are bare rock, snow-clad and glacier-seamed in winter. The Obersalzberg is a single mountain in the neighbourhood of the Königsee (King’s Lake). There are houses built upon it.
Lower down the slope of the Salzberg lay a little house, also built in the Bavarian mountain style, called the Berghof.
Here the Bavarian Mountains meet the Salzburg Alps; the former frontier between Germany and Austria ran athwart these rocky summits. The view from hence is magnificent. Deep down below lies the green valley in which Berchtesgaden nestles. Snow-clad peaks soar into the blue heavens all around; among them König Watzmann and his seven rocky offspring.
Hitler’s house, Berghof, here, is in no sense a ministerial residence like Chequers in England. It is nothing more than a simple country house.
It consists of two storeys, the lower built of white stone, the upper of brown-stained wood. A wooden balcony with flower-boxes all along the railing runs round the house outside the bedroom windows. The windows have green shutters with white bands; the grey shingled roof is secured against the storms of winter by rows of heavy stones laid upon it. A little belfry, thatched, like a bird shelter, adorns one end of the roof tree. The plateau surrounding the house is laid out for a car park and a garden. There are flower borders, a large green lawn with a wide rectangular path surrounding it, a rock garden, a telescope, garden furniture – gay chairs, tables, coloured sun umbrellas – and a flagstaff with the long red flag and its hooked cross in the central circle of white, hanging from it.
All within is as simple and as well-kept as without. The peasant note is stressed. To describe one of the rooms: the furniture, consisting of little but the table and a few chairs, is of local make, of painted wood. A wooden dado in grey-green panels with a single little bunch of country flowers painted on each, reaches half-way up the cream-washed walls. The window has a valance, and simple curtains of figured cretonne hang straight at the sides. A wooden bench coloured like the dado amply furnished with variously and gaily covered pillow-shaped cushions runs round the room and forms a window-seat. There are one or two well-hung engravings to be noted, a cupboard with large painted panels, topped with jugs in peasant ware, and the bright notes of here and there a tasteful plate set on the beading of the dado. Such is the Reichskanzlers sitting or dining-room in the Berghof. His square bare table has gaily turned and painted legs, and stretchers for foot rests between. All is eminently homelike and simple. A great green tiled oven, surrounded by a bench, takes the place of the English open hearth. Huge rag rugs lie here and there about the floor.
The Berghof was built shortly before the War by a Hamburg merchant. Hitler discovered it long before he bought it. His thoughts turned to this spot and this house after the strains and stresses of Landsberg.
He rented it, and asked his sister to come and keep house there, so that he himself could come and go as circumstances might permit. Later on he purchased it outright, and was thankful to withdraw to its peace and privacy during the stressful time of the struggle of the Party.
Later ensued a period during which but the rarest moments of respite could be snatched at the Berghof. During the last phases of his struggle for power in 1932 Adolf Hitler rarely was able to resort thither, alone or with chosen companions, for a few hours’ relaxation or intensive counsel.
After a simple but sufficient repast in which fresh milk, black bread, and some sort of cereal were the chief ingredients, the Führer and his friends liked to sit round the table, or around the stove, and in this informal fashion talk over the prospects and the problems of the Kampf.
Since his accession to the Chancellorship of the Reich, Hitler’s little country place has had to be adapted somewhat to its owner’s wider needs. Without losing anything of its unpretentiousness, a motor road approach to it has been constructed, and additional accommodation has been added after the Führer’s own plans. It remains, however, much as it was originally, and ever awaits the coming of its master, guarded by three friends of his of whom he has none more loyal and faithful, the sheep-dogs, Muck, Wolf and Blonda.
By the year 1929 when Hitler’s Party had now become a nation-wide Movement, it was unsuitable that he should remain any longer in the Thierschstrasse, mainly for the reason that he was obliged to receive the visits of highly placed or important people either in his inadequate little room there, or in the back premises in the Schellingstrasse used as Party headquarters. So he removed to an empty apartment in the Prinzregenten– Platz 16. "This bachelor requires nine rooms for himself," wrote one of his critics and opponents, quite failing to add that two families also shared them, one of these consisting of the very people with whom he had lodged in the Thierschstrasse.
Hitler still lives in this house when in Munich. His pretensions have waxed no whit since he became Chancellor.
He generally comes of a week-end to Munich or to Berchtesgaden. The rest of the time he spends in Berlin. He inhabits the old Reichskanzlei of Prince Bismarck. As a rule he takes his frugal meals at home, often in company with a few simple S.A. men who come to him from every quarter, some of whom he may not even know. His adjutant Brückner sees to it, doubtless, that it is not always the same visitors who have the privilege of dining with Adolf Hitler.
Personal comfort, apart from personal cleanliness, never meant much to Hitler. He lives as simply to-day in the Wilhelmstrasse as he lived at Frau Popp’s and in the Thierschstrasse in those early beginnings.
In this connection, it might be interesting to say a few words on the private life of the Führer.
As a matter of fact, on this subject there is but little to be said, for this private life takes up a few hours only of each day, and sometimes not so much as one single hour.
Although Hitler generally retires to rest at a very late hour, very often not until 2 a.m. or even later, he is up again early in the morning. He is without doubt one of those people who can do with a minimum of sleep. It is a known fact that, starting from January 30th, 1933, when he became Chancellor of the German Reich, he worked without interruption for three days and three nights, and during this time showed himself on the balcony of the Chancellor’s palace at frequent intervals to the enthusiastic crowds who all day long filled the Wilhelmplatz.
After breakfast, which in his case takes on a very simple form, consisting usually of milk, black bread and fruit, Hitler makes a practice of being informed on all world happenings. His Press Chief, Dr. Dietrich, who is closely attached to his person, lays a large quantity of home and foreign newspapers before the Führer, and furnishes him with a precis of all important articles and news items. This review of the newspapers takes place twice or three times a day. In addition Dr. Dietrich reports to the Führer all the numerous items of confidential information which day and night pour into the Chancellery of the Reich by telephone, telegraph and radio, or by courier. Dr. Dietrich is one of the few people who are permitted to present themselves at all times unannounced in the private room of the Führer. It may be said in this connection that Hitler is one of the best-informed persons in the world. It makes not the slightest difference where he happens to be, he keeps himself without intermission informed on all the important happenings in the world. When he is travelling by plane, the Morse apparatus works without intermission, and in his official train, in addition to a wireless receiver, there is a radio-telegraphic apparatus.
Hitler’s working day, similarly to that of other states-men, consists principally in the receiving of reports, in discussions with the heads of his Chancellery and of the different ministries, in the reception of visitors, and in working through documents and files. In addition to this he frequently finds time to devote himself to his favourite subject of architecture. There is little doubt that had Hitler not become Chancellor, he would have been an architect of no small repute. The vast plans which in less than a decade will have completely changed the face of so many towns in Germany, such as Berlin, Hamburg, Nuremberg and Munich, originate in their main features with Hitler, and were worked out in part by his former architect, the late Professor Troost, and in part by his present adviser, Professor Speer.
As already stated, it is seldom that Hitler takes his midday meal alone. Generally some members of his immediate staff sit at table with him, and he also very frequently invites a few of his oldest adherents whom he came to know during the war, or in the years immediately following it. Often too, to their great surprise, some of the youngsters and girls of the Hitler Youth, who come from all parts of Germany, and stand before the Chancellor’s house, find themselves invited in to lunch with him, and to tell him about themselves and their families, and the circumstances in which they live. Although the Führer himself eats vegetables, salad and fruit only, it is not his wish that those who sit at table with him should follow him in this respect.
Hitler generally invites a few well-known German artists and men of science to a short tea in the afternoon, this enabling him to discuss artistic and scientific matters with them. The interest which the Führer takes in painting and sculpture may be said to be as great as that which he takes in music. Among the subjects which interest him most are history, of which he possesses an unusual knowledge, the natural sciences, and practical engineering. In technical matters the Führer is also an expert. The well-known People’s Car, which is to be manufactured by the million in Germany, and which in spite of its exceptional qualities is, in the matter of cheapness, in advance of all other types up till now, was constructed by Professor Porsche under the constant supervision of the Führer. Designs from Hitler’s own hand decided its form, and he himself carried out tests with the trial car, before the final form was decided upon.
In the evening it is the custom of the Chancellor to work for several hours, often as late as midnight. Now and again he visits the opera, or more frequently he sees films in his own cinema in the Chancellor’s palace. He takes a particular interest in the films, and often has foreign films run off before him, so that he may compare them with the German films. Afterwards he discusses both the artistic and the technical side with German film artists.
Before finally retiring to rest, it is Hitler’s custom to read for a certain time, and in preference to any others he reads works on history, and on the history of art, also on military subjects and biographies.
A little noticed but indeed interesting and typical quality of the Führer’s is his intense loyalty to all those with whom he has been acquainted for a long time, and who in former years were in any way amicably disposed towards him, or afforded him any help. It is a known fact that when in Munich he still stays with the same people with whom he stayed in 1919. Few persons, however, realise why when in Munich he frequently takes his meals in a small, inexpensive and comparatively unknown restaurant in the Schellingstrasse. It is for the reason that during the period 1926 to 1930, when the headquarters of the Party were accommodated in the back part of a house in this street, the then Leader of the Party, Hitler, used to take his meals in this inexpensive hostelry which adjoined them. Similarly, when travelling by car in Upper Bavaria, the Führer makes a practice of visiting the same inns and the same acquaintances, which many years before he used to visit at the very beginning of his struggle.
Not far from Munich, in the small village of Solln, there lives an old lady eighty years of age of the name of Hoffmann. She is known everywhere in Munich by the name of "Hitlermutterl" (Hitler’s Mother). In her house there hangs a portrait of the Führer dating from the year 1925, bearing the following dedication: "Meinem lieben treuen Mütterchen in Verehrung Adolf Hitler" (To my beloved and devoted adopted Mother in token of deep respect Adolf Hitler). This distinguished old lady has ever since the year 1920 been one of the most devoted adherents of Hitler. She visited him every month during his arrest in the fortress of Landsberg, and remained loyal to him for years on end. Today she is still working in the National Socialist People’s Welfare Organisation. In spite of the heavy burden of the responsibilities of State, Hitler never misses journeying every year by car to the small village of Solln to pay a visit to "his beloved and devoted adoptive Mother" on her birthday.
Intimate and heartfelt as are the relations of Hitler to his old acquaintances and friends, equally profound is the confidence which all sections of the population, each after their kind, feel towards the Führer. On an average three thousand letters reach the Chancellor’s office every day, each of them addressed to Adolf Hitler personally; in these people from all parts of the country make requests, and lay propositions before him. A special bureau deals with these letters alone, and it has been ascertained that the great majority of the requests received are in point of fact justified. In such cases help is always given, either by the National Socialist People’s Welfare Organisation, or by some other organisation of the Party, or by the Reich’s Chancellor himself. The Führer frequently causes such letters to be laid before him, with a view to keeping in constant touch with the anxieties of the people, and in order to be able himself to lend a helping hand.
During the weeks preceding Christmas the stream of letters grows to the dimensions of a flood. Tens of thousands of children write to "Uncle Hitler," to tell him about their Christmas wishes. With a few words, and in childish handwriting, the different toys and other matters are mentioned upon which the hearts of his small correspondents are set. They believe that "Uncle Hitler" must surely be on good terms with Santa Claus, and in this they are right. The National Socialist People’s Welfare Organisation make it their business to see that the wishes of the children are fulfilled, and among the hundreds of thousands of Christmas packets which are distributed every year by this organisation, many thousands are destined for those children who, full of confidence, have written to "Uncle Hitler."
In a village in the neighbourhood of the Obersalzberg there lives a boy who suffers from paralysis. He too once wrote to Adolf Hitler, and asked for a wireless set as a Christmas present. The letter found its way into the Führer’s hands, and to the great surprise and joy of the poor youngster, the Führer insisted on making him a personal present of the much-desired set. Hundreds of examples of the kind might be quoted.
But it does not always so happen that Hitler is the giver. Often it is the other way about. Some time ago, for example, when as the result of a chill Hitler was suffering from a cough, and from hoarseness of the throat, he received written advice, and numberless letters and prescriptions from all classes of the community. He was sent all kinds of medicinal teas, and a large quantity of jars of honey from all parts of Germany found their way to the Chancellor’s house. Every year on his birthday Hitler receives more presents than it has ever been the lot of a statesman to receive from his fellow-countrymen. Every year, on April 20th, entire post office vans drive up to the Chancellor’s residence, and whole rooms gradually fill with presents of every description. The great majority come from humble homes, and also from children, and many of the presents represent months of patient work. It is with the greatest happiness that the Führer examines all the presents that are sent him, for he cannot but look upon them as evidence of the devotion which the millions in Germany feel towards him, who have placed their whole future in his hands.
From the few examples cited above, it will be readily recognised that the relations between the Führer and the German people, from a human standpoint also, are both close and intimate. And as Hitler, since taking over the Chancellorship, can hardly be said to have altered in any of his essential human qualities and principles, and in his manner of regarding himself, like Frederick the Great, as "the first servant of the State," and no more so do the German people look up to the Führer not as a dictator, or a ruler, but as the leading working man of the nation.
Undoubtedly the year 1938 was by far the most dramatic since Hitler’s accession to power. At the same time it possibly entailed the greatest consequences not only for Germany but for the whole of Europe. In March, 1938, Austria ceased to be an independent State, and in October the same year Czechoslovakia lost those of her frontier regions which were almost exclusively inhabited by Germans.
These two countries, Austria and Czechoslovakia, were created at Versailles, and, according to the calculations of the authoritative statesmen there, should have been of permanent duration, had conditions generally and the balance of power in Europe remained what they were in 1918, but it was forgotten that history does not stand still. It would have been considered impossible, at that time, that the face of Germany would radically change within the century, and that she could again attain to any great degree of political or military importance.
Not one of the statesmen gathered at Versailles had ever heard of Adolf Hitler. Had he done so he would certainly have smiled ironically at the man’s insignificance, and at the fantastic plans he formulated in the Bierhalle of Munich.
And yet it was this very Hitler beginning his struggle entirely without means, without power and without help, who in fourteen years had united behind him a people of sixty-eight millions; who as the creator and leader of a new Germany, twenty years after Versailles, showed that the Treaty signed there was nothing practically but a scrap of paper.
For treaties can only be lasting when at the beginning they take into consideration alterations in the situation, or when–in such a case–they are revised. If this is not done, they will simply be passed over and extinguished by historical development.
The rise of the National Socialist movement in Munich in the year 1920 opened up the question of the Anschluss of Austria and of the Sudeten German territories, and therewith the creation of a Greater Germany.
The first paragraph of the Programme of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party runs as follows:
"We demand the fusion of all Germans into a Greater Germany on the ground of the people’s right of self- determination." As Adolf Hitler announced this programme on the 24th of February, 1920, in the Hofbräuhaus in Munich to an enthusiastic audience of 2000 people, among his hearers were some from Austria and Sudetenland, delegates from the Nazi Parties of those districts populated by Germans.
The development of the Austrian and Sudeten German Nazi Parties from 1919 to 1933 draws many a parallel with the rise of the Hitler Movement in Germany. When, however, Hitler became Reich’s Chancellor in January, 1933, the struggle for union with the Reich carried on by those parties in Austria and Sudetenland entered upon its dramatic last phase. The Führer’s first care, however, was to make Germany strong again, politically, and from a military and economic point of view, for the reason that he knew only a strong nation at home could guarantee to the Germans in Austria and Czechoslovakia the realisation of the right to self-determination.
It would exceed the purpose of the present book to describe here the long embittered struggle waged by the people in Austria–who for the most part were National Socialists–against the Government and its forces. It cost innumerable lives. Thousands of National Socialists were imprisoned for years together: still more fled to Germany. Distress and misery waxed ever greater and greater. Schuschnigg’s Dictatorship had long looked for support from abroad, until at length Germany became sufficiently powerful, and the Berlin-Rome Axis was consolidated. In March, 1938, Adolf Hitler was once more able to set foot on his native soil, after a long absence. The question he had so often pondered as a schoolboy in Linz: "Why don’t we Austrian Germans live together with the others in Germany?" remained a question no longer, for he himself had answered it for ever.
The first visit paid by the Führer in his native land was to the graves of his parents in Leonding near Linz. On the evening of his first day in Austria he visited his old Master, Professor Pötsch, the man who had grounded him so well in history, before he started to make history himself.
On the same evening the present writer (who as a journalist accompanied the Führer’s entry into Austria and that of the German troops) had occasion to note a characteristic example of Hitler’s method of rapid thinking. His thought never tarries with the thing which has immediately been accomplished, but at once goes forward. On that particular evening, when all the inhabitants of Linz were out and about, laughing and weeping for joy, when thousands of them gathered before the Führer’s hotel enthusiastically singing National Socialist songs, when everyone in the hotel and out of it was talking of nothing but this marvellous event, this Anschluss–Hitler himself asked for a big map of Linz, and began then and there to discuss rebuilding with architects and engineers, to rough out plans for the enlargement of the city. He talked already of a new bridge over the Danube, a work put in hand a few weeks later; and he was much interested in new projects for a large river harbour, the building of which was begun three months afterwards.
On the same day first orders were already being placed with Austrian industry, and plans were initiated for the building of a Reich’s motor high road from Salzburg to Vienna. In order to ameliorate the terrible immediate distress in the cities and in the country the National Socialistic organisation for the betterment of the people (Volkswohlfahrt, N.S.V.) now took hold. In the first six months after the Anschluss the N.S.V. laid out more than seventy million marks for the benefit of the impoverished population of Austria. This one quotation alone shows how extensive was the help extended. The sum involved was almost as much as the first loan made to Austria by the United States after the War, in order to save a country in utter collapse from final extinction. But the money spent in Austria by the N.S.V. was no loan; it was a gift. It was spent by the German people, and distributed in the form of foodstuffs, clothing, etc.
Yet another reference to figures to show how Austria was assisted economically by the Anschluss – the number of the unemployed, which had stood at about 600,000 in March, already sank in six months to 100,000. At the same time the marriage rate quadrupled itself over the preceding year.
In this way Hitler began the work which was designed, as he said, to transform his native land into a blossoming garden.
With the Anschluss of Austria an accomplished fact, the question of the return of the Sudeten Germans to the Reich became acute. This problem had been a long-standing one. The Sudeten Germans had repeatedly been striving after unity with Germany ever since 1848. In the year 1918, after the collapse of the Habsburg monarchy, the Deputies for the Sudeten area declared (30th October, 1918) the region to be an Austrian Province. But in the Austrian Constitution of October, 1918, Austria was declared to be a part of the German Reich! Herewith the Anschluss of Austria and of Sudetenland with the German Reich was formally completed.
But this Anschluss concluded in a democratic sense on the people’s own right to self-determination was not of long duration. The French Foreign Minister, Pichon, announced as early as in January, 1919, that all means of force would be put into relentless operation to prevent such a union of Germans. Under pressure from the Allied Powers the step had to be cancelled. Czechoslovakia was designed to form a military fortress of great strategical worth, which widely dominated Germany. And this artificially constructed State could only hold together if Austria remained dissociated with the Reich.
But the statesmen at Versailles had not reckoned with the National Socialists, who increased the more rapidly also in Sudetenland the more the German population was oppressed by the Czechs. The misery of these people became worse and worse; although the Czechs were numerically twice as strong as the Germans, 60 per cent of the latter formed the unemployed. Since the end of the Great War over 20,000 of them had committed suicide. These facts were doubtless responsible for it that by 1933 the National Socialist Party had become the most powerful party in Czechoslovakia. After it became more and more certain to those living abroad in the summer of 1933 that ere long Adolf Hitler would assume the direction of affairs in Germany, the Czech Government felt that a settlement of the Sudeten question was drawing nearer. They hoped to resolve it in their own favour by repressing and exterminating the Germans in Czechoslovakia, before Nazi Germany should become strong enough to have a say in the matter. The Czech Government dissolved the National Socialist Party in October, 1933.
At this moment Konrad Henlein, Director of the German Gymnastic Societies in Czechoslovakia, appeared on the political stage. In spite of persecution, and of measures taken against him by the State Authorities, in less than two years he succeeded in getting together two- thirds of the Germans living in Czechoslovakia into a Sudeten German party. Whereupon he became the leader of the strongest party in the country. But in spite of this he was not permitted to take part in the Government.
Affairs were rapidly coming to a crisis. The measures taken by the Government against the Germans became more and more effective. The position of these people constantly became worse. Here is one example: In the Czech city of Zwickau, entirely inhabited by Germans, at the end of the year 1936 only 200 men were in work out of 4,800. One thousand two hundred of the unemployed received no dole at all; 80 per cent of the children were undernourished and tuberculous. The misery elsewhere was similar to this.
When Austria returned to the Reich the crisis in Czechoslovakia came to a head. Meantime Konrad Henlein had succeeded in bringing all Sudeten Germans into his party. At the local elections in June, 1938, 95 per cent of the voting was in his favour. The anxiety of the Czech Government and of the military authorities increased at the same time. Shootings took place nearly every day. Germans were shot in the streets.
The British Government recognised the danger of the situation and despatched Lord Runciman to look into it, and to act as intermediary. Lord Runciman soon saw that here no adjustment was possible any longer, that only a swift and complete liberation of the Germans from Czechoslovakia would avoid the danger of an inter-national conflict. The brutal treatment of the Sudeten Germans by the Czech Army, which had been mobilised for months, aggravated the situation.
Then Adolf Hitler stepped in.
In his speech to the Party Congress in Nuremberg on the ground of the people’s right to self-determination he required that the Sudeten Germans should be permitted to return to the Reich. Otherwise Germany would be obliged to secure this right for them by force. The British Prime Minister Chamberlain, who was particularly anxious to avoid armed conflict, thereupon immediately flew to Berchtesgaden, to have a talk with Adolf Hitler. The Czech Government showed itself unwilling to under-take negotiations. It armed the Communist groups, and forbade the Henlein Party.
Severe fighting took place daily in which the Czechs used artillery and tanks. Every night there was a constant stream of thousands of Sudeten German refugees across the German border.
Meantime talks were going on in London between the British Prime Minister and the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, the outcome of which was a suggestion to the Czech Government that the German regions should be severed from Czechoslovakia, thereby securing a lasting peace in Europe.
The proposal was accepted after Mussolini had made it quite clear that he took his stand on the side of Germany.
But the Czech Government made no move to realise the project. The Sudeten Germans, who were shot, many of them women and children, already numbered nearly two hundred. There was a second meeting between Hitler and Chamberlain, this time at Godesberg. The Führer handed the Prime Minister a Memorandum for the Czech Government in which considering the impossible state of affairs he demanded the severance of the Sudeten areas by the 1st of October, 1938.
The crisis was now coming to a head. All Europe was seized with the feverish anticipation of war. Germany, England and France had already partially mobilised. While Hitler was having a fortress wall built in the west, upon which more than five hundred thousand men were employed, in the east the German and Czech Armies were confronting each other.
England and France prepared to march, and Hitler and Mussolini left no doubt about it that on their side Germany and Italy were ready to fight for the right of self-determination and the immediate return of the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia to the Reich.
Meantime open war had broken out between the German population and the Czech soldiery. Over 200,000 Sudeten German refugees had abandoned their homes and belongings and fled to Germany.
The world was confronted by the most critical moment since August, 1914.
Then it was the wonderful thing happened.
At the suggestion of the British Prime Minister, and at Mussolini’s intervention, the Führer invited the leading statesmen of England, France and Italy to a final conference at Munich. While the whole world looked to Munich in a state of intense tension, the four statesmen sat and deliberated at length.
Reason carried the day.
The representatives of the four great European Powers came to agreement, after various points in the original Memorandum had been mitigated and amended.
The new proposals were accepted by the Czech Government, the German troops began their entry into the Sudeten German territory on the 1st of October, 1938, and hereby was confirmed the return of three and a half millions of Germans to the Reich.
Just as he had formerly visited Austria, the Führer was present in Sudetenland on the first day of the liberation of the fortunate people of these regions. But the writer remarked a great difference in the behaviour of the Austrians and the Sudetenlanders. Whereas in Austria there was nothing but rejoicing and laughter, the thousands of people here who lined the roads and waited for hours for the coming of the Führer were weeping. It was deeply moving to see how even the hard weather-beaten faces of the peasants were wet with tears. They had endured such untold misery and oppression, this sudden change of affairs was too much for them. They could not grasp what had happened before their eyes. The Führer’s road was thickly strewn with flowers.
The Sudeten Germans received assistance as expeditiously as Hitler’s fellow-countrymen in Austria had done. The first thing was to provide the poor people with food and clothing. As the German troops marched in they already distributed over 200,000 loaves of bread. Their field kitchens were placed at the service of the entire population. Hundreds of the trucks of the N.S.V. entered the impoverished towns and villages at the same time as the soldiers. In Dresden alone tons of tinned stuff and other foods were assembled, together with clothing and footgear for 250,000 people. Similar concentrations of supplies were organised all along the frontier, in order that help might be immediately forthcoming.
Then the Führer provided work for the unemployed. Building was begun.
The swift settlement of the Sudeten German question doubtless caused the disappearance of one of the most dangerous occasions of war in Central Europe.
The settlement was a gain for Germany as well as for Czechoslovakia. It meant a gain, as a matter of fact, for all Europe. No further complications will now arise as to frontiers between Germany and Czechoslovakia, because now the frontier is drawn not on artificial and strategical, but on natural and ethnological lines. Like the other countries of Southern Europe Czechoslovakia will benefit by a close economical co-operation with Germany and will peacefully attain to a new prosperity which would never have come to her through war.
Today the whole world demands "Whither Germany?" The answer is simple. One can only reply, "Germany follows Hitler." Who would predict the course the Fatherland will pursue should study the life of the Führer, mark its consistency from the beginning up to the present, and only so venture on prophecy. It is impossible to foretell what line his policy will take if he is only considered from the angle of politics and diplomacy. Hitler must be estimated from the human side as well.
Anyone who has so studied Hitler’s career, especially that period of it in Vienna which preceded his taking up politics will grant that he has not deviated from the views he formed as a young man either in respect of them or with regard to the conduct of life in general.
And, as has been so often remarked, place and power have not altered the manner of man he was.
Germany’s foreign policy is directed towards peace and good understanding. It is a great mistake when they confuse National Socialism with Imperialism. National Socialism has no designs upon other lands and other peoples. Germany’s future lies in its keeping, and, indeed, that of the whole world–in the keeping of the true Socialism of common life, not in that of class war.
Socialism as an international aspiration has practically petered out. It reached its apogee towards the end of the War, and at the moment when it made its bid for power, its failure began.
The future belongs to National Socialism since, like Christianity itself, it is founded on love, and reconciliation between high and low, rich and poor. Herein lies its special creative and effective power. Marxian Socialism, on the contrary, flourishes on class clash and hatred. It is anti-Christian and destructive.
The world will come to the recognition of all this in time. It may be decades will be required before the truth of the contention is established beyond cavil. Later generations will consider the Period of Marxian Socialism as an interlude out of which purgatory the world emerged into the truer and beneficent conception of Adolf Hitler.