The Stone City

Words Made to Last

Friday, June 17, 2005

Hitler in 1941

On December 11, 1941, Adolf Hitler spoke to the Reichstag on the just-signed declaration of war against the U.S. The speech is almost fantastically long (over 9500 words in the English translation; probably somewhat over an hour of rapid speech), and I am discussing only a small part of it here.

What caught my eye was Mr. Hitler's attack on Franklin Roosevelt. He begins:
And yet there is something in common between us. Roosevelt took over a State in a very poor economic condition, and I took over a Reich faced with complete ruin, also thanks to Democracy. In the U.S.A. there were 13,000,000 unemployed, and in Germany 7,000,000 part-time workers. The finances of both States were in a bad way, and ordinary economic life could scarcely be maintained. A development then started in the U.S.A. and in the German Reich which will make it easy for posterity to pass a verdict on the correctness of the theories.

Note that Germany was "faced with complete ruin", but at least it did not have "unemployed". Of course, we know whose recovery effort will be more praised:
While an unprecedented revival of economic life, culture and art took place in Germany under National Socialist leadership within the space of a few years, President Roosevelt did not succeed in bringing about even the slightest improvements in his own country. And yet this work must have been much easier in the U.S.A. where there live scarcely 15 persons on a square kilometer, as against 140 in Germany. If such a country does not succeed in assuring economic prosperity, this must be a result either of the bad faith of its leaders in power, or of a total inefficiency on the part of the leading men. In scarcely five years, economic problems had been solved in Germany and unemployment had been overcome. During the same period, President Roosevelt had increased the State Debt of his country to an enormous extent, had decreased the value of the dollar, had brought about a further disintegration of economic life, without diminishing the unemployment figures. All this is not surprising if one bears in mind that the men he had called to support him, or rather, the men who had called him, belonged to the Jewish element, whose interests are all for disintegration and never for order. While speculation was being fought in National Socialist Germany, it thrived astoundingly under the Roosevelt regime.

[Emphasis mine.] Notice the emphasis on population density, and the assumption that land is wealth, which fits with the lebensraum policy. I am curious as to whether the section in boldface was a rhetorical trick for emphasis, or a simple slip of the tongue -- accidental singlethink, so to speak. The criticism of Jews and of "speculation", to the extent that it has any meaning, is probably best interpreted as an accusation that the New Deal was too corrupt and too capitalistic.
Roosevelt's New Deal legislation was all wrong: it was actually the biggest failure ever experienced by one man. There can be no doubt that a continuation of this economic policy would have done [in] this President in peace time, in spite of all his dialectical skill. In a European State he would surely have come eventually before a State Court on a charge of deliberate waste of the national wealth; and he would have scarcely escaped at the hands of a Civil Court, on a charge of criminal business methods.
The characterization of the U.S. as a semi-criminal hinterland, explicit here, still informs the perceptions of many Europeans; even their ambassadors.
This fact was realized and fully appreciated also by many Americans including some of high standing. A threatening opposition was gathering over the head of this man. He guessed that the only salvation for him lay in diverting public attention from home to foreign policy. It is interesting to study in this connection the reports of the Polish Envoy in Washington, Potocki. He repeatedly points out that Roosevelt was fully aware of the danger threatening the card castle of his economic system with collapse, and that he was therefore urgently in need of a diversion in foreign policy. He was strengthened in this resolve by the Jews around him. Their Old Testament thirst for revenge thought to see in the U.S.A. an instrument for preparing a second "Purim" for the European nations which were becoming increasingly anti-Semitic. The full diabolical meanness of Jewry rallied round this man, and he stretched out his hands.
We often employ this kind of rhetoric ourselves, directed at today's Arab dictatorships. (Well, minus the bit about the Jews.) It is almost surreal to see the direction so strikingly reversed.
Thus began the increasing efforts of the American President to create conflicts, to do everything to prevent conflicts from being peacefully solved. For years this man harboured one desire -- that a conflict should break out somewhere in the world. The most convenient place would be in Europe, where American economy could be committed to the cause of one of the belligerents in such a way that a political interconnection of interests would arise calculated slowly to bring America nearer such a conflict. This would thereby divert public interest from bankrupt economic policy at home towards foreign problems.
Not just any war would do; it was necessary that England be "one of the belligerents." You would think the English would be rather upset with Mr. Roosevelt, who by this reasoning wasted their empire and their soldiery for domestic political gain. If only they had known who their real enemy was, they wouldn't have been so hard on Germany.

I have never been more glad that history is written by the winners.