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From oneb!!!!!!agate!!!uunet!!!not-for-mail Mon Aug 30 04:50:18 PDT 1993
Article: 3525 of alt.revisionism
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From: (Dan Gannon)
Newsgroups: soc.history,alt.censorship,alt.activism,alt.revisionism,alt.discrimination,alt.conspiracy,soc.ethics,talk.politics.misc
Subject: How Hitler Consolidated Power...and Launched a Social Revolution
Date: 29 Aug 1993 22:54:17 -0700
Organization: TECHbooks - Public Access
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Summary: Article by Leon Degrelle, published in the _IHR Journal_

>From _The Journal of Historical Review_, Volume 12, Number 3 (Fall 1992):

                How Hitler Consolidated Power in Germany
                    and Launched a Social Revolution

                   The First Years of the Third Reich

                             Leon Degrelle

     I. Who Would End the Bankruptcy?

"We have the power.  Now our gigantic work begins."

  Those were Hitler's words on the night of January 30, 1933, as cheering
crowds surged past him, for five long hours, beneath the windows of the
Chancellery in Berlin.

  His political struggle had lasted 14 years.  He himself was 43, that is,
physically and intellectually at the peak of his powers.  He had won over
millions of Germans and organized them into Germany's largest and most
dynamic political party, a party girded by a human rampart of hundreds of
thousands of storm troopers, three fourths of them members of the working
class.  He had been extremely shrewd.  All but toying with his adversaries,
Hitler had, one after another, vanquished them all.

  Standing there at the window, his arm raised to the delirious throng, he
must have known a feeling of triumph.  But he seemed almost torpid,
absorbed, as if lost in another world.

  It was a world far removed from the delirium in the street, a world of 65
million citizens who loved him or hated him, but all of whom, from that
night on, had become his responsibility.  And as he knew -- as almost all
Germans knew at the end of January 1933 -- this was a crushing, an almost
desperate responsibility.

  Half a century later, few people understand the crisis Germany faced at
that time.  Today, it's easy to assume that Germans have always been
well-fed and even plump.  But the Germans Hitler inherited were virtual

  During the preceding years, a score of "democratic" governments had come
and gone, often in utter confusion.  Instead of alleviating the people's
misery, they had increased it, due to their own instability: it was
impossible for them to pursue any given plan for more than a year or two.
Germany had arrived at a dead end.  In just a few years there had been
224,000 suicides -- a horrifying figure, bespeaking a state of misery even
more horrifying.

  By the beginning of 1933, the misery of the German people was virtually
universal.  At least six million unemployed and hungry workers roamed
aimlessly through the streets, receiving a pitiful unemployment benefit of
less than 42 marks per month.  Many of those out of work had families to
feed, so that altogether some 20 million Germans, a third of the country's
population, were reduced to trying to survive on about 40 pfennigs per
person per day.

  Unemployment benefits, moreover, were limited to a period of six months.
After that came only the meager misery allowance dispensed by the welfare

  Notwithstanding the gross inadequacy of this assistance, by trying to
save the six million unemployed from total destruction, even for just six
months, both the state and local branches of the German government saw
themselves brought to ruin: in 1932 alone such aid had swallowed up four
billion marks, 57 percent of the total tax revenues of the federal
government and the regional states.  A good many German municipalities were

  Those still lucky enough to have some kind of job were not much better
off.  Workers and employees had taken a cut of 25 percent in their wages
and salaries.  Twenty-one percent of them were earning between 100 and 250
marks per month; 69.2 percent of them, in January 1933, were being paid
less than 1,200 marks annually.  No more than about 100,000 Germans, it was
estimated, were able to live without financial worries.

  During the three years before Hitler came to power, total earnings had
fallen by more than half, from 23 billion marks to 11 billion.  The average
per capita income had dropped from 1,187 marks in 1929 to 627 marks, a
scarcely tolerable level, in 1932.  By January 1933, when Hitler took
office, 90 percent of the German people were destitute.

  No one escaped the strangling effects of the unemployment.  The
intellectuals were hit as hard as the working class.  Of the 135,000
university graduates, 60 percent were without jobs.  Only a tiny minority
was receiving unemployment benefits.

  "The others," wrote one foreign observer, Marcel Laloire (in his book
_New Germany_), "are dependent on their parents or are sleeping in
flophouses.  In the daytime they can be seen on the boulevards of Berlin
wearing signs on their backs to the effect that they will accept any kind
of work."

  But there was no longer any kind of work.

  The same drastic fall-off had hit Germany's cottage industry, which
comprised some four million workers.  Its turnover had declined to 55
percent, with total sales plunging from 22 billion to 10 billion marks.

  Hardest hit of all were construction workers; 90 percent of them were

  Farmers, too, had been ruined, crushed by losses amounting to 12 billion
marks.  Many had been forced to mortgage their homes and their land.  In
1932 just the interest on the loans they had incurred due to the crash was
equivalent to 20 percent of the value of the agricultural production of the
entire country.  Those who were no longer able to meet the interest
payments saw their farms auctioned off in legal proceedings: in the years
1931-1932, 17,157 farms -- with a combined total area of 462,485 hectares
-- were liquidated in this way.

  The "democracy" of Germany's "Weimar Republic" (1918-1933) had proven
utterly ineffective in addressing such flagrant wrongs as this
impoverishment of millions of farm workers, even though they were the
nation's most stable and hardest working citizens.  Plundered,
dispossessed, abandoned: small wonder they heeded Hitler's call.

  Their situation on January 30, 1933, was tragic.  Like the rest of
Germany's working class, they had been betrayed by their political leaders,
reduced to the alternatives of miserable wages, paltry and uncertain
benefits, or the outright humiliation of begging.

  Germany's industries, once renowned everywhere in the world, were no
longer prosperous, despite the millions of marks in gratuities that the
financial magnates felt obliged to pour into the coffers of the parties in
power before each election in order to secure their cooperation.  For 14
years the well-blinkered conservatives and Christian democrats of the
political center had been feeding at the trough just as greedily as their
adversaries of the left.

  Thus, prior to 1933, the Social Democrats had been generously bribed by
Friedrich Flick, a supercapitalist businessman.  With him, as with all his
like, it was a matter of carefully studied tactics.  After 1945, his son,
true to tradition, would continue to offer largess to the Bundestag
Socialists who had their hands out, and, in a roundabout way, to similarly
minded and equally greedy political parties abroad as well.  The
benefactors, to be sure, made certain that their gifts bore fruit in
lucrative contracts and in cancelled fiscal obligations.

  Nothing is given for nothing.  In politics, manacles are imposed in the
form of money.

  Even though they had thus assured themselves of the willing cooperation
of the politicians of the Wiemar system's parties, the titans of German
capitalism had experienced only a succession of catastrophes.  The
patchwork governments they backed, formed in the political scramble by
claim and compromise, were totally ineffective.  They lurched from one
failure to another, with neither time for long-range planning nor the will
to confine themselves somehow to their proper function.

  Time is required for the accomplishment of anything important.  It is
only with time that great plans may be brought to maturity and the
competent men be found who are capable of carrying them out.  Not
surprisingly, therefore, any economic plans drawn up amid all this shifting
for short-term political advantage were bound to fail.

  Nor did the bribing of the political parties make them any more capable
of coping with the exactions ordered by the Treaty of Versailles.  France,
in 1923, had effectively seized Germany by the throat with her occupation
of the Ruhr industrial region, and in six months had brought the Weimar
government to pitiable capitulation.  But then, disunited, dispising one
another, how could these political birds of passage have offered
resistance?  In just a few months in 1923, seven German governments came
and went in swift succession.  They had no choice but to submit to the
humiliation of Allied control, as well as to the separatist intrigues
fomented by Poincare's paid agents.

  The substantial tariffs imposed on the sale of German goods abroad had
sharply curtailed the nation's ability to export her products.  Under
obligation fo pay gigantic sums to their conquerors, the Germans had paid
out billions upon billions.  Then, bled dry, they were forced to seek
recourse to enormous loans from abroad, from the United States in

  This indebtedness had completed their destruction and, in 1929,
precipitated Germany into a terrifying financial crisis.

  The big industrialists, for all their fat bribes to the politicians, now
found themselves impotent: their factories empty, their workers now living
as virtual vagrants, haggard of face, in the dismal nearby working-class

  Thousands of German factories lay silent, their smoke-staks like a forest
of dead trees.  Many had gone under.  Those which survived were operating
on a limited basis.  Germany's gross industrial production had fallen by
half: from seven billion marks in 1920 to three and a half billion in 1932.

  The automobile industry provides a perfect example.  Germany's production
in 1932 was proportionately only one twelfth that of the United States, and
only one fourth that of France: 682,376 cars in Germany (one for each 100
inhabitatnts) as against 1,855,174 cars in France, even though the latter's
population was 20 million less than Germany's.

  Germany had experienced a similar collapse in exports.  Her trade surplus
had fallen from 2,872 billion marks in 1931 to only 667 millions in 1932 --
nearly a 75 percent drop.

  Overwhelmed by the cessation of payments and the number of current
accounts in the red, even Germany's central bank was disintegrating.
Harried by demands for repayment of the foreign loans, on the day of
Hitler's accession to power the Reichsbank had in all only 83 million marks
in foreign currency, 64 million of which had already been committed for
disbursement on the following day.

  The astronomical foreign debt, an amount exceeding that of the country's
total exports for three years, was like a lead weight on the back of every
German.  And there was no possibility of turning to Germany's domestic
financial resources for a solution: banking activities had come virtually
to a standstill.  That left only taxes.

  Unfortunately, tax revenues had also fallen sharply.  From nine billion
marks in 1930, total revenue from taxes had fallen to 7.8 billion in 1931,
and then to 6.65 billion in 1932 (with unemployment payments alone taking
four billion of that amount).

  The financial debt burden of regional and local authorities, amounting to
billions, had likewise accumulated at a fearful pace.  Beset as they were
by millions of citizens in need, the municipalities alone owed 6.542
billion in 1928, an amount that had increased to 11.295 billion by 1932.
Of this total, 1.668 billion was owed in short-term loans.

  Any hope of paying off these deficits with new taxes was no longer even
imaginable.  Taxes had already been increased 45 percent from 1925 to 1931.
During the years 1931-1932, under Chancellor Bruning, a Germany of
unemployed workers and industrialists with half-dead factories had been hit
with 23 "emergency" decrees.  This multiple overtaxing, moreover, had
proven to be completely useless, as the "International Bank of Payments"
had clearly foreseen.  The agency confirmed in a statement that the tax
burden in Germany was already so enormous that it could not be further

  And so, in one pan of the financial scales: 19 billion in foreign debt
plus the same amount in domestic debt.  In the other, the Reichsbank's 83
million marks in foreign currency.  It was as if the average German, owing
his banker a debt of 6,000 marks, had less than 14 marks in his pocket to
pay it.

  One inevitable consequence of this ever-increasing misery and uncertainty
about the future was an abrupt decline in the birthrate.  When your
household savings are wiped out, and when you fear even greater calamities
in the days ahead, you do not risk adding to the number of your dependents.

  In those days the birth rate was a reliable barometer of a country's
prosperity.  A child is a joy, unless you have nothing but a crust of bread
to put in its little hand.  And that's just the way it was with hundreds of
thousands of German families in 1932.

  In 1905, during the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II, the birthrate had been
33.4 per one thousand.  In 1921 it was only 25.0, and in 1924 it was down
to 15.1.  By the end of 1932, it had fallen to just 14.7 per one thousand.

  It reached that figure, moreover, thanks only to the higher birth rate in
rural areas.  In the fifty largest cities of the Reich, there were more
deaths than births.  In 45 percent of working-class families, there were no
births at all in the latter years.  The fall in the birthrate was most
pronounced in Berlin, which had less than one child per family and only 9.1
births per one thousand.  Deaths exceeded the number of new births by 60

  In contrast to the birthrate, politicians were flourishing as never
before -- about the only thing in Germany that was in those disastrous
times.  From 1919 to 1932, Germany had seen no less than 23 governments
come and go, averaging a new one about every seven months.  As any sensible
person realizes, such constant upheaval in a country's political leadership
negates its power and authority.  No one would imagine that any effective
work could be carried out in a typical industrial enterprise if the board
of directors, the management, management methods, and key personnel were
all replaced every eight months.  Failure would be certain.

  Yet the Reich wasn't a factory of 100 or 200 workers, but a nation of 65
million citizens crushed under the imposed burdens of the Treaty of
Versailles, by industrial stagnation, by frightful unemployment, and by a
gut-wrenching misery shared by the entire people.

  The many cabinet ministers who followed each other in swift succession
for thirteen years -- due to petty parliamentary squabbles, partisan
demands, and personal ambitions -- were unable to achieve anything other
than the certain collapse of their chaotic regime of rival parties.

  Germany's situation was further aggravated by the unrestrained
competition of the 25 regional states, which split up governmental
authority into units often in direct opposition to Berlin, thereby
incessantly sabotaging what limited power the central Reich government had
at that time.

  The regional remnants of several centuries of particularism were all
fiercely jealous of their privileges.  The Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 had
divided Germany into hundreds of Lilliputian states, most of them musical
comdedy kingdoms whose petty monarchs tried to act like King Louis XIV in
courts complete with frills and reverential bows.

  Even at the beginning of the First World War (1914-1918), the German
Reich included four distinct kingdoms (Prussia, Bavaria, Wurttemberg and
Saxony), each with its own sovereign, army, flag, titles of nobility, and
Great Cross in particolored enamel.  In addition, there were six grand
duchies, five duchies, seven principalities, and three free cities.

  The Bavarian clung fiercely to his lederhosen, his steins of beer and his
pipe.  He took part in the war to preserve them.  The Saxon would gladly
have had a go-around with the haughty Prussian.  Each was intent on his
rights.  And for all of them, faraway Berlin was a thorn in the side.

  Each regional state had its own separatist government with parliament,
prime minister and cabinet.  Altogether they presented a lineup of 59
ministers who, added to the eleven Reich ministers and the 42 senators of
the Free Cities, gave the Germans a collection of 112 ministers, each of
whom viewed the other with a jaundiced eye at best.

  In addition, there were between two and three thousand deputies --
representing dozens of rival political parties -- in the legislatures of
the Reich, the 22 states and the three Free Cities.

  In the Reichstag elections of November 1932 -- held just months before
Hitler became Chancellor -- there were no less than 37 different political
parties competing, with a total of 7,000 candidates (14 of them by proxy),
all of them frantically seeking a pieceof the parliamentary pie.  It was
most strange: the more discredited the party system became, the more
democratic champions there were to be seen gesturing and jostling in their
eagerness to climb aboard the gravy train.

  To all appearances, the incumbents who had been elected were there
forever.  They received fat salaries (a Reichstag deputy got ten times what
the average worker earned), and permitted themselves generous supplementary
incomes in the form of favors provided by interested clients.  A number of
Socialist Reichstag deputies representing Berlin, for example, had arranged
for their wives to receive sumptuous fur coats from certain Jewish

  In a parliamentary democracy, mandates are often very brief, and
ministerial appointments even more so.  The temptation is strong to get it
while you can.

  Honest, dishonest, or piratical, these 112 cabinet ministers and
thousands of legislative deputies had converted Germany into a country that
was ungovernable.  It is incontestable that, by January of 1933, the
"system" politicians had become completely discredited.  Their successors
would inherit a country in economic, social and political ruins.

  Today, more than half a century later, in an era when so many are living
in abundance, it is hard to believe that the Germany of January 1933 had
fallen so low.  But for anyone who studies the archives and the relevant
documents of that time, there can be no doubt.  Not a single figure cited
here is invented.  By January 1933, Germany was down and bleeding to death.

  All the previous chancellors who had undertaken to get Germany back on
her feet -- including Bruning, Papen and Schleicher -- had failed.  Only a
genius or, as some believed, a madman, could revive a nation that had
fallen into such a state of complete disarray.

  When President Franklin Roosevelt was called upon at that same time to
resolve a similar crisis in the United States, he had at his disposal
immense reserves of gold.  Hitler, standing silently at the chancellery
window on that evening of January 30, 1933, knew that, on the contrary, his
nation's treasury was empty.  No great benefactor would appear to help him
out.  The elderely Reich President, Paul von Hindenburg, had given him a
work sheet of appalling figures of indebtedness.

  Hitler knew that he would be starting from zero.  From less than zero.
But he was also confident of his strength of will to create Germany anew --
politically, socially, financially, and economically.  Now legally and
officially in power, he was sure that he could quickly convert that cipher
into a Germany more powerful than ever before.

  What support did he have?

  For one thing, he could count on the absolute support of millions of
fanatical disciples.  And on that January evening, they joyfully shared in
the great thrill of victory.  Some thirteen million Germans, many of them
former Socialists and Communists, had voted for his party.

  But millions of Germans were still his adversaries, disconcerted
adversaries, to be sure, whom their own political parties had betrayed, but
who had still not been won over to National Socialism.

  The two sides -- those for and those against Hitler -- were very nearly
equal in numbers.  But whereas those on the left were divided among
themselves, Hitler's disciples were strongly united.  And in one thing
above all, the National Socialists had an incomparable advantage: in their
convictions and in their total faith in a leader.  Their highly organized
and well-disciplined party had contended with the worst kind of obstacles,
and had overcome them.

[Photograph captioned, "Hitler poses with close comrades shortly after
being named Chancellor on January 30, 1933.]

  While it enjoyed extraordinary popular support, the National Socialist
movement had grown too fast, and problems deriving from that lay in wait
ahead.  Thousands of visionaries with nebulous dreams of domination, not to
mention hotheads dreaming only of brawls and revolution in perpetuity, had
found their way into the National Socialist ranks.  The ambitious ones
intended to rise to the top at any cost -- and as quickly as possible.
Many of them were ill-prepared; some simply lacked morals.  Many bitter
disappointments were in store for Hitler because of them.

  Hitler sensed as much.  He had ordered his party to halt recruitment of
new members, and even directed that the SA -- the huge civilian
paramilitary force that had carried him to power -- be reduced in size.
Indeed, by 1933 SA stormtroop membership had grown to the incredible figure
of 2,500,000 men, 25 times the size of the regular army, the Reichswehr.

  It was due to such pressures that Hitler was sometimes driven to rash
action, contrary to his real desire or intent.  Sometimes this meant
expulsions, the use of force or cases of intransigence, even though his
larger goal was to reunite the nation in peace, and accomplish his
political and social programs without useless clashes.

  Hitler knew that he was playing with dynamite.  Still, it was his
conviction that he was being driven not just by his National Socialist
movement, but by an inner, almost supernatural force.  Whether one called
it Providence or Destiny, it was this force, he felt, that had carried him
to victory.  His own force of character was such that it would yield to
nothing.  For Hitler, it was a foregone conclusion that he would forge a
new Reich, a new world.

  Hitler knew that the task he had set himself would be immense and
difficult to accomplish, that he would have to transform Germany in
practically every respect: the structure of the state, social law, the
constitution of society, the economy, civic spirit, culture, the very
nature of men's thinking.  To accomplish his great goal, he would need to
reestablish the equilibrium of the social classes within the context of a
regenerated community, free his nation from foreign hegemony, and
restructure its geographic unity.

  Task number one: he would have to restore work and honor to the lives of
six million unemployed.  This was his immediate goal, a task that everyone
else thought impossible to achieve.

  After he had once again closed the windows of the chancellery, Hitler,
with clenched fists and resolute mien, said simply: "The great venture
begins.  The day of the Third Reich has come."

  In just one year this "great venture" would be in full swing, effecting a
transformation from top to bottom in political, social and economic life --
indeed, in the German way of life itself.

     II. The Unification of the State

  "It will be the pride of my life," Hitler said upon becoming Chancellor,
"if I can say at the end of my days that I won back the German worker and
restored him to his rightful place in the Reich."  He meant that he
intended no merely to put men back to work, but to make sure that the
worker acquired not just rights, but prestige as well, within the national

  The national community had long been the proverbial wicked stepmother in
its relationship with the German working man.  Class struggle had not been
the exclusive initiative of the Marxists.  It had also been a fact of life
for a privileged class, the capitalists, that sought to dominate the
working class.  Thus the German worker, feeling himself treated like a
pariah, had often turned away from a fatherland that often seemed to
consider him merely an instrument in production.

  In the eyes of the capitalists, money was the sole active element in the
flourishing of a country's economy.  To Hitler's way of thinking, that
conception was radically wrong: capital, on the contrary, was only an
instrument.  Work was the essential element: man's endeavor, man's honor,
blood, muscles and soul.

  Hitler wanted not just to put an end to the class struggle, but to
reestablish the priority of the human being, in justice and respect, as the
principal factor in production.

  One could dispense with gold, and Hitler would do just that.  A dozen
other things could be substituted for gold as a means of stimulating
industry, and Hitler would invent them.  But as for work, it was the
indispensable foundation.

  For the worker's trust in the fatherland to be restored, he had to feel
that from now on he was to be (and to be treated) as an equal, instead of
remaining a social inferior.  Under the governments of the so-called
democratic parties of both the left and the right, he had remained an
inferior; for none of them had understood that in the hierarchy of national
values, work is the very essence of life; and matter, be it steel or gold,
but a tool.

  The objective, then, was far greater than merely sending six million
unemployed back to work.  It was to achieve a total revolution.

  "The people," Hitler declared, "were not put here on earth for the sake
of the economy, and the economy doesn't exist for the sake of capital.  On
the contrary, capital is meant to serve the economy, and the economy in
turn to serve the people."

  It would not be enough merely to reopen the thousands of closed factories
and fill them with workers.  If the old concepts still ruled, the workers
would once again be nothing more than living machines, faceless and

  What was required was to reestablish that moral equilibrium between the
workers, human beings who shape raw materials, and a useful and controlled
capitalism, returned to its proper function as a tool.  This would mean
changing an entire world, and it would take time.

  As Hitler knew full well, such a revolution could not be achieved while
the central and regional governments continued in a state of anarchy,
seldom accomplishing anything solid, and sometimes running amok.  Nor could
there be a revolution in society while dozens of parties and thousands of
deputies of every conceivable stripe pursued their selfish interests under
a political system that had thrashed about incoherently since 1919.

  Restoring the effectiveness of Germany's institutions on a nationwide
basis was therefore an indispensable prerequisite to any social rebirth.

  "A fish rots from the head down," says a Russian proverb.  And it was at
the head that political Germany, prior to Hitler, was going bad.  In the
end, the "democratic" parties abdicated without even defending themselves.
In 1930, the aged President Marshall von Hindenburg used his emergency
powers under Article 48 of the Weimar constitution to enable a succession
of semi-dictators to rule by decree.  But even they could accomplish

  These last chancellors -- Herr Bruning, Herr von Papen, and General
Schleicher -- were able to maintain rule only by executive decree.  Their
authority, artificially sustained by misuse of Article 48, was dependent on
von Hindenburg and the camarilla advising him.  Just how slim was their
level of popular support was shown in a particularly humiliating 1932
Reichstag "vote of confidence," in which more than 90 percent of the
deputies voted against him and his government.

  Hitler's accession to power abruptly brought an end to government
impotence.  As a condition of appointing him, however, Hindenburg had
demanded that the new chancellor be hemmed in like a prisoner in his own
government.  In his first government, Hitler was obliged name four times as
many conservative -- or better, reactionary -- ministers as his own men.
Just two members of his first cabinet were National Socialists.

  Hindenburg's representatives were given the mission of keeping Hitler on
a leash.  At the Reichstag session of March 24, however, Hitler broke that
leash, not with yet another executive decree (like his immediate
predecessors), but by obtaining a two-thirds parliamentary majority for the
"Enabling Act" that legally amended the constitution and gave him sweeping
plenary powers for a period of four years.

  Four years in power to plan, create and make decisions.  Politically, it
was a revolution: Hitler's first revolution.  And completely democratic, as
had been every stage of his rise.  His initial triumph had come through the
support of the electorate.  Similarly, sweeping authority to govern was
granted him through a vote of more than two-thirds of the Reichstag's
deputies, elected by universal suffrage.

  This was in accord with a basic principle of Hitler's: no power without
freely given approval of the people.  He used to say: "If you can win
mastery over the people only by imposing the power of the state, you'd
better figure on a nine o'clock curfew."

  Nowhere in twentieth-century Europe had the authority of a head of state
ever been based on such overwhelming and freely given national consent.
Prior to Hitler, from 1919 to 1932, those governments piously styling
themselves democratic had usually come to power by meager majorities,
sometimes as low as 51 or 52 percent.

  "I am not a dictator," Hitler had often affirmed, "and I never will be.
Democracy will be rigorously enforced by National Socialism."

  Authority does not mean tyranny.  A tyrant is someone who puts himself in
power without the will of the people or against the will of the people.  A
democrat is placed in power by the people.  But democracy is not limited to
a single formula.  It may be partisan or parliamentary.  Or it may be
authoritarian.  The important thing is that the people have wished it,
chosen it, established it in its given form.

  That was the case with Hitler.  He came to power in an essentially
democratic way.  Whether one likes it or not, this fact is undeniable.  And
after coming to power, his popular support measurably increased from year
to year.  The more intelligent and honest of his enemies have been obliged
to admit this, men such as the declared anti-Nazi historian and professor
Joachim Fest, who wrote:

     For Hitler was never interested in establishing a mere tyranny.  Sheer
   greed for power will not suffice as explanation for his personality and
   energy . . . He was not born to be a mere tyrant.  He was fixated upon
   his mission of defending Europe and the Aryan race . . . Never had he
   felt so dependent upon the masses as he did at this time, and he watched
   their reactions with anxious concern.

  Those lines weren't written by Dr. Goebbels, but by a stern critic of
Hitler and his career.  (J. Fest, _Hitler_, New York: 1974, p. 417.)

  By February 28, 1933, less than a month after his appointment as
chancellor, Hitler had already managed to free himself of the conservative
ballast by which Hindenburg had thought to weigh him down.  The Reichstag
fire of the previous evening prompted the elderly President to approve a
new emergency law "For the Protection of the People and the State," which
considerably increased the powers of the executive.

  Hitler meant, however, to obtain more than just concessions ruefully
granted by a pliable old man: he sought plenary powers legally accorded him
by the nation's supreme democratic institution, the Reichstag.  Hitler
prepared his coup with the skill, the patience, and the astuteness for
which he is legendary.  "He possessed," historian Fest later wrote, "an
intelligence that included above all a sure sense of the rhythm to be
observed in the making of decisions."

[Photograph captioned, "Hitler, von Hindenburg, and von Papen, in the
Garrison church at the solemn 'Day of Potsdam' ceremony."]

  At first, Hitler carefully cultivated Hindenburg, the elderly First World
War FELDMARSCHALL who was fond of tradition.  Accordingly, Hitler arranged
a solemn ceremony in Hendenburg's honor in Potsdam, historic residence of
the Prussian kings.  This masterpiece of majesty, beauty, tradition and
piety took place in Potsdam's Garrison Church on March 21, 1933, just days
before the Reichstag was to reconvene.

  Hindenburg had served as an army officer for half a century.  So that the
old soldier might be reunited with his comrades, Hitler had arranged for
veterans from all the wars in which Hindenburg had served to be present on
this solemn occasion.  From all around the country they came: veterans from
the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-1871 (62 years before), from the war of
1866 against the Austrian empire (67 years before), and even from the war
of 1864 against Denmark (69 years before!).  For someone on the retirement
list of 1911, it must have been a heartwarming occasion to be reunited
again with comrades from so long ago.

  With deference and apparent humility, and attired in formal dress for the
occasion, Hitler bowed his head before the old man.  In the stately church
where the ceremony took place, Hitler had arranged that the chair of the
former Kaiser, Wilhelm II, which had been unoccupied for 14 years, remained
empty, so that Hindenburg could halt before it and make his salute, his
marshal's baton raised, as if the monarch were still there.

  Hitler also quietly led Hindenburg down into the church crypt, to place
wreaths on the tombs of his old master, Kaiser Wilhelm I, and of Frederick
the Great.  The President's old eyes were rimmed with tears.

  On that 21st day of March at Potsdam, the octogenarian President relived
the glorious past of the German monarchy.  This somber homage was his hour
supreme.  Hindenburg had always been a loyal servant of the Emperor, and
this reminder of his former sovereign, and of the great days of his own
long career, deeply moved him.  Hitler was the first chancellor since the
defeat of 1918 to so honor the tradition of Prussia and Germany.  The young
revolutionary chancellor had touched his heart.

  A month and a half earlier, Hindenburg had commissioned Papen, Hugenberg,
and Neurath and other conservative ministers to pinch in Hitler "until he
hollered."  Now that was over.  Hitler had won him over: in front of an
empty armchair and before the tombs of Prussia's greatest kings.

  A year and a half later, as he lay dying, the old FELDMARSCHALL would
believe that he was back in the time of the Hohenzollern dynasty, and in
his delirium would address Hitler as "Majesty."

  This "Day of Potsdam" ceremony also won Hitler new support from among the
country's many monarchists, giving them the impression that he was not
altogether insensitive to the idea of restoring the monarchy.  But the new
chancellor's temporary prudence was calculated with precision.

  "There is no need to destroy the existing institutions," Hitler assured,
"until there is something better to put in their place."

  He still had need of men like von Papen and other ruling-class
troglodytes.  He kep them at his side as he drove them around Potsdam on
that historic day, the festive city bedecked not only with swastika banners
but equally with the black-white-and-red flags of the Second Reich,
resurrected for the occasion.  Brass bands paraded around, blaring heroic
marches calculated to make their old chests swell.  Here too, the scarcely
camouflaged aversion to the parvenu was softened.  Hitler had tamed the
aristocrats, both born and moneyed.  They would no longer stand in his way.

  But it was above all Germany's army -- the Reichswehr -- that was the
object of Hitler's most ardent courtship.  In 1933, he desperately needed
the army's support.  The generals had tolerated his rise to power with
reluctance.  A corporal in the chancellory seemed intolerable to the
haughty, monocled generals.  Some ambitiously sought to supervise the
nation's political machinery.

  They had not been consulted when Hitler was named Chancellor on January
30.  The old FELDMARSCHALL had even sternly sent away General von
Hammerstein-Equord, who had come to tell Hindenburg of the General Staff's
vote of disapproval.  In the weeks since, the generals had barely tolerated
the young outsider.

  Keenly aware that a coup d'etat by this proud military caste could
instantly sweep him and his party away, along with all his plans for the
future, Hitler knew that he must proceed cleverly against the imperious
generals.  The Reichswehr was therefore accorded a position of honor at
Potsdam.  At the entry walkway to the royal palace, Reichswehr troops
presented arms on one side, while a line of SA stormtroopers faced them on
the other side.  Unifying conservative military traditions of duty and
honor with a revolutionary new force, together they formed the honor guard
that symbolized a Germany restored to harmony.

[Photograph captioned, "The young Chancellor greets the aging President at
the "Day of Potsdam" ceremony, March 21, 1933."]

  As for the generals, their tunics gleaming with decorations and their
chests thrown out, they once again marched behind their old commander, a
heroic retinue worthy of a great Germanic chieftain.  At last, after
fourteen years of disregard under the democratic Weimar Republic, they once
again bathed in the golden light of martial glory.  Corporal Hitler was
perhaps not as contemptible as they had thought.

  The ex-corporal, standing at attention in top hat and formal dress suit,
let them have their day of glory at Potsdam.  He knew enough to let them
bask in the limelight.

  Hitler had won his armistice.

  To reach the people, Hitler and Dr. Goebbels had quickly taken control of
the nation's radio, from which they had for so long been barred (and which
their adversaries had put to only mediocre use).  Within a few weeks, they
had succeeded in making radio their most effective tool.  Each of Hitler's
major speeches was broadcast to the nation with a hitherto unknown power.

  Radio also brought the spectacle of Potsdam to the people.  Goebbels set
up his microphones everywhere: in front of Hindenburg, behind Hindenburg,
in the royal crypt, close to the military bands, and even on the rooftops
of houses (where the announcers risked their necks to cover the pageantry).
One of them was a young National Socialist Reichstag deputy named Baldur
von Schirach, who in 1946 would find himself in the dock before the
vengeful Allied judges of the Nuremberg Tribunal.

  All of Germany was on the edge of its seat as it listened for hours to
the exciting coverage of the event.  Millions of Germans thrilled to once
again hear the stirring old melodies, and to closely follow Hindenburg's
every move, almost as if they were there.

  During the dark days of the recent past, the venerated old warrior had
represented tradition and hope.  Now, thanks to Hitler's careful planning
and management of this occasion, the ancient soldier embodied the promise
of great national renewal.  It was, as historian Fest has observed, "the
feast of reconciliation gorgeously presented . . . That day at Potsdam
truly proved to be a turning point in history . . . Many government
officials, army officers, lawyers and judges, many members of the
nationalistic bourgeoisie who had distrusted Hitler on rational grounds,
abandoned their stand . . ."  (J. Fest, _Hitler_, New York: 1974, p. 405.)

  Potsdam was a grandiose theatrical stage on which all had played their
parts, even -- by their very absence -- the luke-warm and Hitler's enemies
on the left.

  Glued to their radio sets, all Germany had participated in the spectacle,
at first fascinated, and then caught up in the emotion of the event.  The
next day, Berlin newspapers declared: "National enthusiasm swept over
Germany yesterday like a great storm."

  "A strange mixture of tactician and visionary," Joachim Fest would later
write, sizing up this extraordinary stage manager.  For Hitler had led
field marshals, generals, and other dignitaries, none of them fools,
through his drill paces as though they had been so many animated tin
soldiers.  But Hitler's plans extended far beyond winning over the Old

  In order to establish his new state in definitive form, Hitler now
proposed to obtain the official ratification of the Reichstag, which would
establish his authority to govern as a virtual dictator for a period of
several years.

  To gain such plenary powers lawfully, the German constitution had to be
amended, and this would require approval by two thirds of the parliament's

  Hitler's party, having won 17,300,000 votes in the elections of March 5,
1933, for the new Reichstag, held a total of 288 seats -- making it by far
the largest single party.  His conservative ally in the temporary
partnership, Hugenberg's German National People's Party (DNVP), had
captured 4,750,000 votes and held another 52 seats, giving the coalition a
total of 340 deputies.

  After deducting the 81 "empty" Communist seats, the opposition now
mustered just 226 members: 120 Social Democrats, 92 (Catholic) Center and
BVP deputies, and 14 others.

  Although his coalition held a majority of seats, to alter the
constitution Hitler needed a two thirds majority -- which meant 36
additional votes.

  At first sight, this goal seemed almost impossible.  For more than a
decade, the Catholic Center and Bavarian People's parties had been
outspoken critics of Hitler and his National Socialist movement,
unhesitatingly using religion as a partisan political weapon, and even
denying religious burial to Catholic National Socialists murdered by
Communist killers.

  Hitler, with the assistance of Goring (who was now president of the new
Reichstag), would now have to win over that clerical flock.  Center party
leader Monsignor Kaas, a squat and pudgy prelate who found the collecting
of votes to be more satisfying than the guidance of souls, was flattered
and courted by Hitler, who dangled before him the promise of a
rapprochement between the state and the Catholic Church, an earnest promise
that Hitler would make good on the following summer.  The beguiled prelate
may have believed that he was going to lead errant sheep back to the fold.
In any case, Hitler succeeded in persuading and seducing the Center party.
Some deputies of the smaller opposition parties also yielded.

  When it came time to vote, Hitler was granted plenary powers with a
sweeping majority of 441 votes to 94: he had won not just two thirds, but
82.44 percent of the assembly's votes.  This "Enabling Act" granted Hitler
for four years virtually absolute authority over the legislative as well as
the executive affairs of the government.

  The five paragraphs of this "Law for the Alleviation of the Misery of the
People and the Nation" were brief and to the point:

  1. Laws may be promulgated by the Reich government apart from the
  procedures provided for by the Constitution . . .

  2. Laws promulgated by the Reich government may deviate from the
  Constitution provided they do not change the position of the Reichstag or
  of the Reichsrat.  The powers of the Reich President are not changed.

  3. Laws promulgated by the Reich government will be prepared by the
  Chancellor and published in the "Official Journal."  Unless otherwise
  specified, they become effective on the day following publication . . .

  4. Treaties concluded by the Reich with foreign states that concern
  matters of national legislation do not require ratification by the
  legislative bodies.  The Reich government is empowered to issue the
  regulations necessary for their execution.

  5. This law becomes effective on the day of publication, and remains
  valid until April 1, 1937.  It also becomes invalid if the present
  government is replaced with another.

  Berlin, March 24, 1933
  Von Hindenburg, Hitler, Frick, von Neurath, Krosigk

  Thus, a parliamentary democracy, exercising its constitutional powers,
had legally established an authoritarian national state.  Next, a solution
was needed to the problem of the horde of the competing regional, state and
local parliaments, jurisdictions and authorities.  For the most part, these
authorities were virtual nullities, and there was no love lost between
them.  For fourteen years, though, they had acted together whenever an
opportunity presented itself to thwart the central government in Berlin.

  It was inconceivable that a strong government such as the one Hitler had
just established could function effectively with thousands of second-level
politicians carping and questioning his every move.  Anyway, Germans had in
fact become sick and tired of the squandering of authority, the perpetual
squabbling, the pettiness, discord, and the anarchy for which, in the final
analysis, it was the people who paid.

  "It is a fact," French historian Benoist-Mechin later observed, "that the
unification of the states and the Reich answered one of the most profound
aspirations of the German people.  They had enough of being torn apart by
the constant threats of secession and the provincial governments.  For
centuries they had dreamed of being part of a single community."
(_Histoire de l'Armee Allemande_, vol. III, p. 117.)

  It seemed a simple enough task, because public opinion demanded the
abolition of the administrative mess.  But such a reform would necessarily
bruise the vanity of thousands and collide head-on with many local special

  A man who is a council president or a minister, even if only of a small
state, does not easily resign himself to being no more than a private
citizen, to once again becoming, let us say, a provincial lawyer scampering
to the court house with coattails flying.  The 2,400 legislative deputies
would also be bitter about losing the good life they had come to know and
expect.  Gone the prestige, the deference, the awards, the vacation trips
at public expense, the discreet gratuities!  Who among us does not make a
wry face when swallowing bitter medicine?  But it had to be, for Hitler had
his eyes fixed on that national goal: a unified nation.

  That did not mean, of course, that in eliminating the regional
administrations Hitler had any desire to do away with the distinctive
identities of the nation's various provinces.  On the contrary, he believed
that a nation's life ought never to be monopolized by its capital city, but
should rather be nourished and constantly renewed by the blooming of dozens
of centers of culture in regions rich in varied manners, mores and legacies
of their past.

  He believed that the nation was the harmonious conjunction of these
profound and original variations, and that a state conscious of its real
powers ought to promote such variety, not smother it.

  The dispersion of political power had not favored such a variety, but
had, on the contrary, diminished it, depriving it of the cohesion a large
community brings.  The Reich's 25 separate administrative entities, rivals
of the central government and often of each other, were a source of
disorder.  A nation must consist of regions that know and esteem each
other, and which gain mutual enrichment from their interlinking, rather
than each withdrawing into a culture that is strangled by an exclusive and
restrictive provincialism.  And only a strong central authority could
insure the flowering of all the various regions within a single collective
entity.  In sum, what Hitler intended was that each region should bring its
share of original culture to the totality of a German Reich that had put an
end to so many fractious administrations.

  From 1871 to 1933, Germany's various national governments had come up
against this obstacle of political particularism.  Even so gifted a leader
as Bismarck had not been able to overcome this persistent problem.  And
now, where the leaders of both the Second Reich and the Weimar Republic had
failed, or had not dared to take the risk, Hitler, in a few months, was
going to convert this long-standing division and discord into potent and
effective unity.

  Hitler had scarcely moved into his office overlooking the chancellery
garden, where squirrels cracked nuts in the trees and at times even leaped
into the building itself, when he drew up a law to unify the Reich's many

  The first of the states that would be made to toe the line was Bavaria,
which up to that point had been a bulwark of belligerent separatism and
hidebound monarchists.

  Hitler's intentions were no sooner known than several Bavarian ministers
devised a plan to resurrect from retirement that old fogy, the ex-Prince
Ruprecht, heir to Bavaria's Wittelsbach throne, who in November 1923, then
as an ordinary private citizen, had, with a good deal of boasting, helped
block Hitler's ill-fated putsch.  Now the new chancellor responded to their
little plot with sudden and crushing force, bringing the Bavarian state
administration to heel in a single night.  The next morning, Lieutenant
General von Epp wa named Reich Commissioner in Munich.

  Thereafter, almost all of the other regional states rapidly collapsed,
like a house of cards.

  The most difficult state to master was Prussia, an enormous bastion (a
third of Germany) stretching across the heart of the country.  Prussia
truly consisted a state within the state, a special government.  In 1931
its Socialist government had held Reich Chancellor Bruning completely in
check.  His humiliating defeat came notwithstanding their party's crushing
defeat in the Prussian elections a short time earlier at the hands of
Hitler's candidates.  Chancellor von Papen found that he, too, had to come
to grips with Prussia, which was nearly as strong as the central

  After he became Chancellor, Hitler was obliged for a time -- because
Hindenburg demanded it -- to let von Papen remain as Reich Commissioner of
Prussia; and it was only with great effort on his part that Hitler managed
to have Goring named as von Papen's Minister of the Interior in Prussia.
The autonomy of the Prussian government, more than any other, had to be
liquidated: otherwise, the central government would remain subject at any
moment to embarrassment and hindrance in the city that was the capital of
both Prussia and the Reich.  The matter was particularly delicate because
von Papen, the aristocrat, had to remain as Reich Commissioner of Prussia.
To remove him would risk disapproval and even countermeasures by President
von Hindenburg.

  Hitler at that point surpassed himself in versatility and guile.  By dint
of flattery and persuasion, within a month von Papen let himself be gently
shoved out the door.  Hitler all but dictated for him the text of his
letter of resignation of April 7, 1933, in which the Vice Chancellor
acknowledged that the Law on the Unification of the Lands of the Reich "was
a legal edifice destined to be of great historic importance in the
development of the German Reich."  He further recognized that "the dualism
existing between the Reich and Prussia" had to come to an end.  In his
letter he even compared Hitler to Prince Otto von Bismarck.

  Although von Papen was being nudged out, Hitler soothed his wounded pride
by publicly declaring that he never would have been able to carry out the
political reunification of the Reich alone; that the great architect of the
achievement had been von Papen.

  Without turning a hair, Hitler also wrote to Feldmarschall von

    In assuming the functions of Reich Commissioner in Prussia during the
  difficult period following the 30th of January, Herr von Papen has
  deserved very great credit for contributing so strongly to the working
  out of a strict coordination between the policies of the Reich and those
  of the regional states.  His collaboration with the cabinet of the Reich,
  to which he will henceforth be able to devote himself completely, will be
  of priceless assistance to me.  The feelings I have for him are such that
  I rejoice in having the benefit of his cooperation, which will be of
  inestimable value to me.

  For his part the aged field marshal responded to this small masterpiece
of hypocrisy with one of his own, this one addressed to von Papen:

  Dear Herr von Papen,

    I have just accepted your request that you be relieved of your duties
  as Reich commissioner of Prussia.  I take this opportunity to thank you,
  in the name of the Reich and in my own name, for the eminent service you
  have rendered the nation by eliminating the dualism existing between the
  Reich and Prussia, and by imposing the idea of a common political
  direction of the Reich and the regional states.  I have learned with
  satisfaction that you will henceforth be able to devote all your energies
  to the government of the Reich.

    With feelings of sincere comradeship, I remain your devoted

            von Hindenburg, President of the Reich

  Ex-Chancellor von Papen thus lost the only effective power he still held.
Although he remained a member of the inner circle of Hitler's government
(but for how long?), he was now really little more than a willing stooge.

  Hitler immediately named himself STATTHALTER of Prussia, and Goring as
Minister President, thus bringing the greatest German state under firm

  One after another, the regional states were shorn of their sovereignty.
The process was staged like a ballet.

  Act One: Regional parliamentary power is transferred smoothly to men who
had Hitler's confidence.

  Act Two: Each man announces acceptance of the "Law of Unification."

  Act Three: Each regional parliament procliams the end of its own state
autonomy and sovereignty.

  Act Four: In each region, Hitler appoints Reich Commissioner (or
STATTHALTER), who is charged with carrying out the Chancellor's political

  In the Grand Duchies of Baden and Saxony there were a few verbal
skirmishes, but these were quickly squelched.  In the Free City of Hamburg
(population a million and a half), its leaders grumbled a bit for form's
sake, but only a few hours of negotiations were required to make them see
the light.  In just a few weeks, the entire process was accomplished.

  Making use of the sweeping powers granted him by the Reichstag's
overwhelming vote of approval on March 23, 1933, within a few months Hitler
succeeded in transforming the faltering Reich government into a formidable
instrument of action.  Thanks to that mandate, and several special decrees
signed by the President, he was thus able constitutionally to eliminate the
rival authorities of numerous state governments and parliaments.

  "It all went much faster than we had dared hope," Goebbels commented with
delight, and a shade of sarcasm.

  Precisely one year after Hitler had become Chancellor, a "Law for the
Rebuilding of the Reich" spelled out the full extent of the change:

  1. Representation of the regional states is abolished.

  2.   (a) The sovereign rights of the regional states are transferred to
  the government of the Reich.
       (b) The governments of the regional states are subject to the
  government of the Reich.

  3. The governors [STATTHALTER] are subject to the authority of the Reich
  Minister of the Interior.

  4. The government of the Reich may modify the constitutional rights of
  the regional states.

  5. The Minister of the Interior will issue the legal and administrative
  decrees necessary for the implementation of this law.

  6. This law will become effective on the day of its official publication.

  Berlin, January 30, 1934
  Von Hindenburg, Hitler, Frick

  Bismarck, the "Iron Chancellor," could never have dreamed of political
reunification on such an authoritarian and hierarchical basis.  But Hitler
had tried, and succeeded.

  Germany had now attained a level of concentrated power and authority more
profound than any ever achieved in her history.  And it had all been
accomplished, moreover, by democratic means.

  After 1945 the explanation that was routinely offered for all this was
that the Germans had lost their heads.  Whatever the case, it is a
historical fact that they acted of their own free will.  Far from being
resigned, they were enthusiastic.  "For the first time since the last days
of the monarchy," historian Joachim Fest has conceded, "the majority of the
Germans now had the feeling that they could identify with the state."

  But what of the political parties?

  Although Hitler had succeeded in transforming the tens of millions of
Bavarians, Saxons, Prussians and residents of Hamburg into citizens of one
and the same Reich, under a single national administration, and even though
the anthill of petty and more or less separatist states had been leveled,
there still remained in Germany the contentious and divisive political
parties.  They had been discredited, to be sure, but the hearty ambitions
of impenitent politicians could reawaken to erode the foundations of the
new state.

  The party leaders were scarcely in a position to protest.  On the
preceding 23rd of March they themselves had overwhelmingly approved the
fateful "Enabling Act."  Now, with their wings clipped and their
prerogatives taken away, they no longer served any useful purpose.  They
were not merely superfluous, they had become an encumbrance.

  How would Hitler get rid of them?

     III. Liquidation of the Parties

  On the day in March when the deputies of the Weimar Republic voted to
relinquish their power, Hitler, standing before them in their own
parliamentary bailiwick, utterly poised in his brown shirt, did not spare
them.  "It is for you, gentlemen of the Reichstag," he declared, "to decide
between war and peace."

  But how, one might ask, could they take up the fight now, when they had
in fact already given up the fight years earlier?

  At this point, Hitler was no longer even willing to let the last
recalcitrant Reichstag deputies, the Social Democrats -- by now reduced to
representing a mere 17.55 percent of the nation's voters -- assume the
martyred pose of a persecuted fringe group.

  "You talk about persecution!" he thundered in an impromptu response to an
address by the Social Democratic speaker.  "I think that there are only a
few of us [in our party] here who did not have to suffer persecutions in
prison from your side . . . You seem to have totally forgotten that for
years our shirts were ripped off our backs because you did not like the
color . . . We have outgrown your persecutions!"

  "In those days," he scathingly continued, "our newspapers were banned and
banned and again banned, our meetings were forbidden, and we were forbidden
to speak, I was forbidden to speak, for years on end.  And now you say that
criticism is salutary!"

  The shoe was now on the other foot.

  "From now on we National Socialists will make it possible for the German
worker to attain what he is able to demand and insist on.  We National
Socialists will be his intercessors.  You, gentlemen, are no longer needed
. . . And don't confound us with the bourgeois world.  You think that your
star may rise again.  Gentlemen, Germany's star will rise and yours will
sink . . . In the life of nations, that which is rotten, old and feeble
passes and does not return."

  Finally, Hitler dismissed these bankrupt Socialists with the words: "I
can only tell you: I do not want your votes!  Germany shall be free, but
not through you!"
(Quoted in: J. Fest, _Hitler_, New York: 1974, p. 408 f.)

  Within just half a year, Hitler would succeed in liquidating all those
now passe and essentially irrelevant political parties.  Not just the
Socialist Party, already rejected by the people themselves, but all the
other conniving party politicians as well: the conservatives, a century
behind the times, the myopic nationalists, and the boastful Catholic
centrists -- all of them agents and collaborators in Germany's road to ruin
between 1919 and 1933.

  All of these parties had clearly lost their drive.  That some voters
still supported them in early 1933, even after Hitler had become
Chancellor, was largely out of habit.  Their impetus was gone.  The parties
of the Weimar system had botched everything and let the nation go to ruin.
Germany's collapse, her six million unemployed, the widespread hunger, the
demoralization of an entire people: all this was their doing.  Now that a
strong leader with broad national support had taken their place, what could
they do?  As Joachim Fest would later write, they were "like a spider web
with which one hoped to catch eagles."

  Hitler's millions of followers had rediscovered the primal strength of
rough, uncitified man, of a time when men still had backbone.  Theirs was a
Dionysian power, one that they would conserve for the great challenges to
come: it wouldn't be needed against the political parties.  A mere shrug of
the shoulders, and those would fall apart.

  It was fitting that the first to crumble was the Social Democratic party
(SPD).  It went out with a whimper.

  It had still shown some guts on March 23, when its Reichstag deputies
refused to vote Hitler plenary powers.  After 1945 the Socialist party
would glory in that deed, while at the same time taking care not to add
that less than two months later, on May 17, the Social Democratic deputies
decided to approve Hitler's major address to the Reichstag on foreign
policy.  It was as if they felt themselves swept along by the surge of
popular support for Hitler, even within the ranks of their own party.
Along with the National Socialist deputies, they voiced their approval for
Hitler's policy.

  From his perch as Reichstag president, Goring turned to glance at the
turncoats, and commented: "The world has seen that the German people are
united where their destiny is at stake."

  Now that the Social Democratic leadership, which for so long had railed
against Hitler, decided to back him in the Reichstag, the party's rank and
file could hardly be expected to oppose him.  That day marked the end of
the Social Democratic party's credibility.  Following the example of their
own party leadership, the large SPD electorate would, understandably, now
also vote for Hitler.

  After this act of capitulation, it was now child's play for Hitler to
liquidate the Social Democratic party.  Four weeks later, on June 22, it
was officially dissolved.  "No one," Fest has observed, "expected any show
of resistance on the part of the SPD."  The party's initials could more
fittingly have been RIP: RESQUIESCAT IN PACE.

  The peace would be total.  Apart from a few leftist members of the
Reichstag who went into exile and led isolated and unproductive lives
abroad, the now former Socialist deputies continued, each month, to pocket
the pensions that Hitler had allowed them.  They walked about unmolested on
the streets of Berlin.  A number of them, some with great success, even
threw in their lot with the National Socialists.

  Gustav Noske, the lumberjack who became defense minister -- and the most
valiant defender of the embattled republic in the tumultuous months
immediately following the collapse of 1918 -- acknowledged honestly in
1944, when the Third Reich was already rapidly breaking down, that the
great majority of the German people still remained true to Hitler because
of the social renewal he had brought to the working class.

  After the "Reds," the "Whites" had their turn.  Of the two dozen or so
political parties that existed in Germany in 1932-1933, a number of the
smaller ones quietly dissolved themselves without anyone even noticing
their demise.  They had been created for no reason other than to aid the
political ambitions of their founders.  But now, with no more Reichstag
seats in sight, there was no further point in trying to recruit voters.

  The parties of the right, formerly important but now abandoned by their
voters, were conscious of the futility of expending any further effort or
money to subsist artificially.  Now lacking any popular support, one after
another they, too, voluntarily disbanded.  The "German National People's
Party," abandoned by its bourgeois supporters, was the first to give up the
ghost.  A few days later, on June 28, the "State Party" did the same.  The
"Bavarian People's Party" and the "German People's Party" took the same
step on July 4.

  Of all the conservative mossbacks, the most difficult to get rid of was
Alfred Hugenberg, the media titan who was still a minister in Hitler's
cabinet.  Nazis rather disrespectfully called him "the old porker in the
beet patch."  Hugenberg ultimately lost his cabinet post because he
overplayed the role of zealous nationalist at a conference in London in
June 1933, making a claim, premature to say the least, for the return to
Germany of her colonies, and calling for German economic expansion into the
Ukraine!  Hitler regarded this as totally inopportune, particularly at a
time when he was making every effort to reassure his skeptics and critics
abroad.  After this diplomatic blunder, Hugenberg had no choice but to
resign.  Thus departed the once powerful capitalist who had vowed, on
January 30, to politically muzzle the newly named Chancellor.

  His dismissal was a double success for Hitler: by disavowing an
international troublemaker, he reassured those outside the Germany who had
been alarmed by Hugenberg's ill-chosen statements; and he rid himself of a
political liability whose diplomatic gaffe had cost him whatever standing
he had in von Hindenburg's esteem.

  The last political factor to go was the clerico-bourgeois "Center" party.
Following its vote on March 23 to give Hitler plenary powers, the Center
had forfeited all credibility as an opposition party.  Its following
dwindled away in indifference.  After all, if Center leader Monsignor Kaas
decided to side with the Fuhrer in the Reichstag, why shouldn't the party's
rank and file do likewise?

  Meanwhile, diplomatic negotiations with the Vatican on a concordat to
regulate relations between the German state and the Catholic church were
close to a favorable conclusion.  In this effort, perhaps more than any
other, Hitler manifested patience, cunning, and tact.  He needed political
peace with the Church, at least until, with the help of the hierarchy, he
could count completely on the support of Germany's many Catholics.

  By voting for Hitler in the Reichstag, Center leader Kaas and his pious
clerics had unsuspectingly fallen into a trap.  On July 5, 1933, they
declared themselves politically neutral and dissolved themselves as a

  As a contemporary observer noted: "All the things being abolished no
longer concerned people very much."  With regard to the rapid demise of the
political parties and the other political forces of both the right and
left, Joachim Fest aptly commented: "If anything could have demonstrated
the sapped vitality of the Weimar Republic, it was the ease with which the
institutions that had sustained it let themselves be overwhelmed."  (Quoted
in: J. Fest, _Hitler_, New York: 1974, p. 415.)

  To abolish the political parties and swallow up their once vast networks
of voters took only a scant half year, and with little damage to life or
limb.  Hitler had succeeded in winning over or at least neutralizing those
who had so recently reviled and jeered him.  No one was more astonished at
the rapidity with which the political parties had succumbed than Hitler
himself.  "One would never have thought so miserable a collapse possible,"
he remarked in July 1933, after having thrown the last shovelful of dirt on
the graves of the Weimar Republic's once mighty parties.
(J. Fest, _Hitler_, p. 415.)

     IV. Unification of the Labor Unions

  Only one significant political factor remained: the Marxist trade unions.
For many years they had represented one of the country's most potent
forces.  Although nominally only an economic factor, they had also been a
major political factor, furnishing the Communists with their militants and
the Social Democrats with the bulk of their voters.

  For fifteen years they had been a constant and fanatical pressure group,
stirring up turmoil in the streets and formulating ever greater demands.
The unions had long provided the Left with large amounts of money, funds
that were continually replenished by the contributions of millions of union

  Here again, well before the collapse of the party-ridden Weimar Republic,
disillusion with the unions had become widespread among the working masses.
They were starving.  The hundreds of Socialist and Communist deputies stood
idly by, impotent to provide any meaningful help to the desperate

  Their leaders had no proposals to remedy, even partially, the great
distress of the people; no plans for large-scale public works, no
industrial restructuring, no search for markets abroad.

  Moreover, they offered no energetic resistance to the pillaging by
foreign countries of the Reich's last financial resources: this a
consequence of the Treaty of Versailles that the German Socialists had
voted to ratify in June of 1919, and which they had never since had the
courage effectively to oppose.

  The few palliative modifications that had been won, wrested with great
difficulty from the rapacious Allies, had been achieved by Gustav
Stresemann, the conservative foreign affairs minister.  Although he enjoyed
little or no support, even from the politicians, Stresemann fought
stubbornly, in spite of faltering health, to liberate the Reich.  Enduring
fainting fits, and with a goiter, growing ever more enormous, knotted
around his neck like a boa constrictor, Stresemann, even as he was dying,
was the only Weimar leader who had seriously attempted to pry away the
foreign talons from the flesh of the German people.

  In 1930, 1931 and 1932, German workers had watched the disaster grow: the
number of unemployed rose from two million to three, to four, to five, then
to six million.  At the same time, unemployment benefits fell lower and
lower, finally to disappear completely.  Everywhere one saw dejection and
privation: emaciated mothers, children wasting away in sordid lodgings, and
thousands of beggars in long sad lines.

  The failure, or incapacity, of the leftist leaders to act, not to mention
their insensitivity, had stupefied the working class.  Of what use were
such leaders with their empty heads and empty hearts -- and, often enough,
full pockets?

  Well before January 30, thousands of workers had already joined up with
Hitler's dynamic formations, which were always hard at it where they were
most needed.  Many joined the National Socialists when they went on strike.
Hitler, himself a former worker and a plain man like themselves, was
determined to eliminate unemployment root and branch.  He wanted not merely
to defend the laborer's right to work, but to make his calling one of
honor, to insure him respect and to integrate him fully into a living
community of all the Germans, who had been divided class against class.

  In January 1933, Hitler's victorious troops were already largely
proletarian in character, including numerous hard-fisted street brawlers,
many unemployed, who no longer counted economically or socially.

  Meanwhile, membership in the Marxist labor unions had fallen off
enormously: among thirteen million socialist and Communist voters in 1932,
no more than five million were union members.  Indifference and
discouragement had reached such levels that many members no longer paid
their union dues.  Many increasingly dispirited Marxist leaders began to
wonder if perhaps the millions of deserters were the ones who saw things
clearly.  Soon they wouldn't wonder any longer.

  Even before Hitler won Reichstag backing for his "Enabling Act,"
Germany's giant labor union federation, the ADGB, had begun to rally to the
National Socialist cause.  As historian Joachim Fest acknowledged: "On
March 20, the labor federation's executive committee addressed a kind of
declaration of loyalty to Hitler."  (J. Fest, _Hitler_, p. 413.)

  Hitler then took a bold and clever step.  The unions had always clamored
to have the First of May recognized as a worker's holiday, but the Weimar
Republic had never acceded to their request.  Hitler, never missing an
opportunity, grasped this one with both hands.  He did more than grant this
reasonable demand: he proclaimed the First of May a national holiday.

  Just as the Socialist party had gone from a vote in the Reichstag against
Hitler (March 23, 1933) to a vote of support (May 17, 1933), so did the
union leaders make a 180-degree turn within weeks.  At one stroke, Hitler
granted to the union what they had vainly asked of every previous
government: a holiday celebrated by the entire nation.  He announced that
in order to honor Labor, he would organize the biggest meeting in Germany's
history on the First of May at the Tempelhof airfield in Berlin.  Caught
unprepared, but on the whole very pleased to take advantage of the
situation by throwing in their lot with National Socialism and, what is
more, to take part in a mass demonstration the like of which even Marxist
workers could scarcely imagine, the union leadership called upon their
leftist rank and file to join, with banners flying, the mass meetings held
that May Day across Germany, and to acclaim Hitler.

  I myself attended the memorable meeting at the Tempelhof field in 1933.
By nine o'clock that morning, giant columns, some of workers, others of
youth groups, marching in cadence down the pavement of Berlin's greatest
avenues, had started off towards the airfield to which Hitler had called
together all Germans.  All Germany would follow the rally as it was
transmitted nationwide by radio.

  By noon hundreds of thousands of workers -- Hitlerites and non-Hitlerites
-- were massed on the vast field.  The demonstrators observed impeccable
order.  Hundreds of tables, quickly set up by the Party, provided the
ever-increasing throngs with sandwiches, sausages, and mugs of beer at
cost, to refresh the new arrivals after their march.

  Everyone, of course, was standing, and would remain so for up to fourteen

  A fabulous speaker's platform stood out against the sky, three stories
high, flamboyant with huge flags, as impressive as a naval shipyard.  As
the hours went by, thousands of prominent figures took their seats,
including many members of the foreign diplomatic corps.  By the close of
the day, a million and a half spectators stretched to the outermost edges
of the immense plain.  Soldiers and civilians mingled together.  Fanfares
sounded repeatedly.  A political meeting no longer, it had become a
festival, a sort of fantastic Bruegelian kermess, where middle-class
burghers, generals and workers all met and fraternized as Germans and as

  Night fell and Hitler appeared.  His speaker's rostrum was indeed like
the prow of a giant ship.  The hundreds of beacons which had illuminated
the great sea of humanity were now extinguished.  Suddenly, Hitler burst
forth from the dark, a solitary figure, high in the air, lit by the
dazzling glare of spotlights.

  In the dark, a group of determined opponents could easily have heckled
Hitler or otherwise sabotaged the meeting.  Perhaps a third of the
onlookers had been Socialists or Communists only three months previously.
But not a single hostile voice was raised during the entire ceremony.
There was only universal acclamation.

  Ceremony is the right word for it.  It was an almost magical rite.
Hitler and Goebbels had no equals in the arranging of dedicatory ceremonies
of this sort.  First there were popular songs, then great Wagnerian hymns
to grip the audience.  Germany has a passion for orchestral music, and
Wagner taps the deepest and most secret vein of the German soul, its
romanticism, its inborn sense of the powerful and the grand.

  Meanwhile the hundreds of flags floated above the rostrum, redeemed from
the darkness by arrows of light.

  Now Hitler strode to the rostrum.  For those standing at the end of the
field, his face must have appeared vanishingly small, but his words flooded
instantaneously across the acres of people in his audience.

  A Latin audience would have preferred a voice less harsh, more delicately
expressive.  But there was no doubt that Hitler spoke to the psyche of the
German people.

  Germans have rarely had the good fortune to experience the enchantment of
the spoken word.  In Germany, the tone has always been set by ponderous
speakers, more fond of elephantine pedantry than oratorical passion.
Hitler, as a speaker, was a prodigy, the greatest orator of his century.
He possessed, above all, what the ordinary speaker lacks: a mysterious
ability to project power.

  A bit like a medium or a sorcerer, he was seized, even transfixed, as he
addressed a crowd.  It responded to Hitler's projection of power, radiating
it back, establishing, in the course of myriad exchanges, a current that
both orator and audience gave to and drew from equally.  One had to
personally experience him speaking to understand this phenomenon.

  This special gift is what lay at the basis of Hitler's ability to win
over the masses.  His high-voltage, lightning-like projection transported
and transformed all who experienced it.  Tens of millions were enlightened,
riveted and inflamed by the fire of his anger, irony, and passion.

  By the time the cheering died away that May first evening, hundreds of
thousands of previously indifferent or even hostile workers who had come to
Tempelhof at the urging of their labor federation leaders were now won
over.  They had become followers, like the SA stormtroopers whom so many
there that evening had brawled with in recent years.

  The great human sea surged back from Tempelhof to Berlin.  A million and
a half people had arrived in perfect order, and their departure was just as
orderly.  No bottlenecks halted the cars and busses.  For those of us who
witnessed it, this rigorous, yet joyful, discipline of a contented people
was in itself a source of wonder.  Everything about the May Day mass
meeting had come off as smoothly as clockwork.

  The memory of that fabulous crowd thronging back to the center of Berlin
will never leave me.  A great many were on foot.  Their faces were now
different faces, as though they had been imbued with a strange and totally
new spirit.  The non-Germans in the crowd were as if stunned, and no less
impressed than Hitler's fellow countrymen.

  The French ambassador, Andre Francois-Poncet, noted:

    The foreigners on the speaker's platform as guests of honor were not
  alone in carrying away the impression of a truly beautiful and wonderful
  public festival, an impression that was created by the regime's genius
  for organization, by the night-time display of uniforms, by the play of
  lights, the rhythm of the music, by the flags and the colorful fireworks;
  and they were not alone in thinking that a breath of reconciliation and
  unity was passing over the Third Reich.

    "It is our wish," Hitler had exclaimed, as though taking heaven as his
  witness, "to get along together and to struggle together as brothers, so
  that at the hour when we shall come before God, we might say to him:
  'See, Lord, we have changed.  The German people are no longer a people
  ashamed, a people mean and cowardly and divided.  No, Lord!  The German
  people have become strong in their spirit, in their will, in their
  perseverance, in their acceptance of any sacrifice.  Lord, we remain
  faithful to Thee!  Bless our struggle!"  (A. Francois-Poncet, _Souvenirs
  d'une ambassade a Berlin_, p. 128.)

  Who else could have made such an incantatory appeal without making
himself look ridiculous?

  No politician had ever spoken of the rights of the workers with such
faith and such force, or had laid out in such clear terms the social plan
he pledged to carry out in behalf of the common people.

  The next day, the newspaper of the proletarian left, the "Union Journal,"
reported on this mass meeting at which at least two thirds -- a million --
of those attending were workers.  "This May First was victory day," the
paper summed up.

  With the workers thus won over, what further need was there for the
thousands of labor union locals that for so long had poisoned the social
life of the Reich and which, in any case, had accomplished nothing of a
lasting, positive nature?

  Within hours of the conclusion of that "victory" meeting at the Tempelhof
field, the National Socialists were able to peacefully take complete
control of Germany's entire labor union organization, including all of its
buildings, enterprises and banks.  An era of Marxist obstruction abruptly
came to an end: from now on, a single national organization would embody
the collective will and interests of all of Germany's workers.

  Although he was now well on his way to creating what he pledged would be
a true "government of the people," Hitler also realized that great
obstacles remained.  For one thing, the Communist rulers in Moscow had not
dropped their guard -- or their guns.  Restoring the nation would take more
than words and promises, it would take solid achievements.  Only then would
the enthusiasm shown by the working class at the May First mass meeting be
an expression of lasting victory.

  How could Hitler solve the great problem that had defied solution by
everyone else (both in Germany and abroad): putting millions of unemployed
back to work?

  What would Hitler do about wages?  Working hours?  Leisure time?
Housing?  How would he succeed in winning, at long last, respect for the
rights and dignity of the worker?

  How could men's lives be improved -- materially, morally, and, one might
even say, spiritually?  How would he proceed to build a new society fit for
human beings, free of the inertia, injustices and prejudices of the past?

  "National Socialism," Hitler had declared at the outset, "has its mission
and its hour; it is not just a passing movement but a phase of history."

  The instruments of real power now in his hands -- an authoritarian state,
its provinces subordinate but nonetheless organic parts of the national
whole -- Hitler had acted quickly to shake himself free of the last
constraints of the impotent sectarian political parties.  Moreover, he was
now able to direct a cohesive labor force that was no longer split into a
thousand rivulets but flowed as a single, mighty current.

  Hitler was self-confident, sure of the power of his own conviction.  He
had no intention, or need, to resort to the use of physical force.
Instead, he intended to win over, one by one, the millions of Germans who
were still his adversaries, and even those who still hated him.

  His conquest of Germany had taken years of careful planning and hard
work.  Similarly, he would now realize his carefully worked out plans for
transforming the state and society.  This meant not merely changes in
administrative or governmental structures, but far-reaching social

  He had once vowed: "The hour will come when the 15 million people who now
hate us will be solidly behind us and will acclaim with us the revival we
shall create together."  Eventually he would succeed in winning over even
many of his most refractory skeptics and adversaries.

  His army of converts was already forming ranks.  In a remarkable tribute,
historian Joachim Fest felt obliged to acknowledge unequivocally:

    Hitler had moved rapidly from the status of a demagogue to that of a
  respected statesman.  The craving to join the ranks of the victors was
  spreading like an epidemic, and the shrunken minority of those who
  resisted the urge were being visibly pushed into isolation...  The past
  was dead.  The future, it seemed, belonged to the regime, which had more
  and more followers, which was being hailed everywhere and suddenly had
  sound reasons on its side.

  And even the prominent leftist writer Kurt Tucholsky, sensing the
direction of the inexorable tide that was sweeping Germany, vividly
comented: "You don't go railing against the ocean."  (J. Fest, _Hitler_,
pp. 415 f.)

  "Our power," Hitler was now able to declare, "no longer belongs to any
territorial fraction of the Reich, nor to any single class of the nation,
but to the people in its totality."

  Much still remained to be done, however.  So far, Hitler had succeeded in
clearing the way of obstacles to his program.  Now the time to build had

  So many others had failed to tackle the many daunting problems that were
now his responsibility.  Above all, the nation demanded a solution to the
great problem of unemployment.  Could Hitler now succeed where others had
so dismally failed?

     V. Where To Find The Billions?

  As he stood, silent and preoccupied, at his chancellery window on that
January evening, receiving the acclaim of the crowd, Hitler was seized with
anxiety -- and not without reason.

  In his memoirs, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht recalled: "I had the impression that
he was a man fairly crushed by the weight of the responsibility he was
taking on . . . That profound emotional upheaval of which I was a witness
could not possibly have been mere playacting: it betrayed true feelings."
(H. Schacht, _Memoires d'un magicien_, vol. II, p. 52.)

  Hitler, however, was a man capable of overcoming such anxieties.
Although he faced an agonizing national tragedy -- immense unemployment,
general misery, almost total industrial stagnation -- which no other
politician had been able even to ameliorate, this youthful leader would
take on this challenge with an extraordinary sense of purpose and will.

  Hitler had no sooner been voted plenary powers than he rolled up his
shirt-sleeves, and begun to carry out his well-laid plans.

  Unlike the other responsible -- or irresponsible -- politicians of
twentieth-century Europe, Hitler did not believe that fighting for his
country's economic health meant having to impassively accept one setback
after another, stand idly by while industries died, or look on as millions
of unemployed workers tramped the streets.

  In those days, the only solution to these problems that was accepted by
politicians and economists in the democracies was to drastically cut
spending, both governmental and private.  Belt-tightening was the
agreed-upon remedy.

  Thus, Germany's leaders prior to Hitler had cut salaries by 25 percent,
limited payment of unemployment benefits to six months, and reduced total
private investment by five sixths.  The country's standard of living had
collapsed like a deflated balloon.  At the end of six months the unemployed
obviously had not found new jobs.  To the contrary, they were joined by
long lines of new unemployed.  Deprived of all means of subsistence, they
gravitated to the welfare offices.

  People spent less and less, with the inevitable consequence that
industries producing consumer goods closed their doors, one after another,
for lack of orders, thereby sending thousands more unemployed into the
streets.  In 1932, Germany's industries were languishing, their production
reduced by half.

  Yearly private investment had fallen from three billion marks to barely
500 million.  No new blood had been injected into the industrial system, no
workplaces modernized.  The economy stagnated.

  The government not only lacked any new initiatives, it was almost
bankrupt.  Fiscal receipts had fallen to ten billion marks, of which the
meager and short-term unemployment benefits alone absorbed two thirds.

  Germany couldn't wait for a business upswing to get the economy moving
again.  As Hitler had long understood, the government had to bring economic
renewal by bold action and imaginative enterprise.

  Unemployment could be combated and eliminated only by giving industry the
financial means to start up anew, to modernize, thus creating millions of
new jobs.

  The normal rate of consumption would not be restored, let alone
increased, unless one first raised the starvation-level allowances that
were making purchases of any kind a virtual impossibility.  On the
contrary, production and sales would have to be restored before the six
million unemployed could once again become purchasers.

  The great economic depression could be overcome only by restimulating
industry, by bringing industry into step with the times, and by promoting
the development of new products.

  Because Germany had no petroleum, for example, the production of
synthetic gasoline (from coal) should be encouraged as much as possible.
The technique was already known, but it needed to be applied.  Similarly,
Germany was able to produce an artificial substitute for rubber, "Buna."
But the plans for its development and production were still stored away in
file cabinets.  Only a small percentage of practical new inventions ever
left the records files.

  Great public works projects were another way to create new jobs,
stimulate industrial activity, and revive the economy.  For one thing,
Germany's mediocre roads needed vast improvement.  Moreover, the demands of
the time called for the construction of a national network of modern
highways.  Radiating thousands of kilometers, these great concrete
lifelines would encourage increased commerce and communiccation among the
Reich's many regions.

  New highways would also encourage increased automobile production.
Considering the potential, Germany was still quite backward in automobile
production.  It manufactured only one-fifth as many cars as France.

  Nearly ten years earlier, while in his prison cell, Hitler had already
envisioned a formidable system of national highways.  He had also conceived
of a small, easily affordable automobile (later known as the "Volkswagen"),
and had even suggested its outline.  It should have the shape of a June
bug, he proposed.  Nature itself suggested the car's aerodynamic line.

  Until Hitler came to power, a car was the privilege of the rich.  It was
not financially within the reach of the middle class, much less of the
worker.  The "Volkswagen," costing one-tenth as much as the standard
automobile of earlier years, would eventually become a popular work vehicle
and a source of pleasure after work: a way to unwind and get some fresh
air, and of discovering, thanks to the new Autobahn highway network, a
magnificent country that then, in its totality, was virtually unknown to
the German worker.

  From the beginning, Hitler wanted this economical new car to be built
for the millions.  The production works would also become one of Germany's
most important industrial centers and employers.

  During his imprisonment, Hitler had also drawn up plans for the
construction of popular housing developments and majestic public buildings.

  Some of Hitler's rough sketches still survive.  They include groups of
individual worker's houses with their own gardens (which were to be built
in the hundreds of thousands), a plan for the covered stadium in Berlin,
and a vast congress hall, unlike any other in the world, that would
symbolize the grandeur of the National Socialist revolution.

  "A building with a monumental dome," historian Werner Maser has
explained, "the plan of which he drew while he was writing _Mein Kampf_,
would have a span of 46 meters, and a capacity of 150 to 190 thousand
people standing.  The interior of the building would have been 17 times
larger than Saint Peter's Cathedral in Rome."  (W. Maser, _Hitler, Adolf_,
p. 100.)

  "That hall," architect Albert Speer has pointed out, "was not just an
idle dream impossible of achievement."

  Hitler's imagination, therefore, had long been teeming with a number of
ambitious projects, many of which would eventually be realized.

  Fortunately, the needed entrepreneurs, managers and technicians were on
hand.  Hitler would not have to improvise.

  Historian Werner Maser, although quite anti-Hitler -- like nearly all of
his colleagues (how else would they have found publishers?) -- has
acknowledged: "From the beginning of his political career, he [Hitler] took
great pains systematically to arrange for whatever he was going to need in
order to carry out his plans."

  "Hitler was distinguished," Maser has also noted, "by an exceptional
intelligence in technical matters."  Hitler had acquired his knowledge by
devoting many thousands of hours to technical studies from the time of his

  "Hitler read an endless number of books," explained Dr. Schacht.  "He
acquired a very considerable amount of knowledge and made masterful use of
it in discussions and speeches.  In certain respects he was a man endowed
with genius.  He had ideas that no one else would ever have thought of,
ideas that resulted in the ending of great difficulties, sometimes by
measures of astonishing simplicity or brutality."

  Many billions of marks would be needed to begin the great socioeconomic
revolution that was destined, as Hitler has always intended, to make
Germany once again the European leader in industry and commerce and, most
urgently, to rapidly wipe out unemployment in Germany.  Where would the
money be found?  And, once obtained, how would these funds be allotted to
ensure maximum effectiveness in their investment?

  Hitler was by no means a dictator in matters of the economy.  He was,
rather, a stimulator.  His government would undertake to do only that which
private initiative could not.

  Hitler believed in the importance of individual creative imagination and
dynamism, in the need for every person of superior ability and skill to
assume responsibility.

  He also recognized the importance of the profit motive.  Deprived of the
prospect of having his efforts rewarded, the person of ability often
refrains from running risks.  The economic failure of Communism has
demonstrated this.  In the absence of personal incentives and the
opportunity for real individual initiative, the Soviet "command economy"
lagged in all but a few fields, its industry years behind its competitors.

  State monopoly tolls the death of all initiative, and hence of all

  For all men selflessly to pool their wealth might be marvelous, but it is
also contrary to human nature.  Nearly every man desires that his labor
shall improve his own condition and that of his family, and feels that his
brain, creative imagination, and persistence well deserve their reward.

  Because it disregarded these basic psychological truths, Soviet
Communism, right to the end, wallowed in economic mediocrity, in spite of
its immense reservoir of manpower, its technical expertise, and its
abundant natural resources, all of which ought to have made it an
industrial and technological giant.

  Hitler was always adverse to the idea of state management of the economy.
He believed in elites.  "A single idea of genius," he used to say, "has
more value than a lifetime of conscientious labor in an office."

  Just as there are political or intellectual elites, so also is there an
industrial elite.  A manufacturer of great ability should not be
restrained, hunted down by the internal revenue services like a criminal,
or be unappreciated by the public.  On the contrary, it is important for
economic development that the industrialist be encouraged morally and
materially, as much as possible.

  The most fruitful initiatives Hitler would take from 1933 on would be on
behalf of private enterprise.  He would keep an eye on the quality of their
directors, to be sure, and would shunt aside incompetents, quite a few of
them at times, but he also supported the best ones, those with the keenest
minds, the most imaginative and bold, even if their political opinions did
not always agree with his own.

  "There is no question," he stated very firmly, "of dismissing a factory
owner or directory under the pretext that he is not a National Socialist."

  Hitler would exercise the same moderation, the same pragmatism, in the
administrative as well as in the industrial sphere.

  What he demanded of his co-workers, above all, was competence and
effectiveness.  The great majority of Third Reich functionaries -- some 80
percent -- were never enrolled in the National Socialist party.  Several of
Hitler's ministers, like Konstantin von Neurath and Schwerin von Krosigk,
and ambassadors to such key posts as Prague, Vienna and Ankara, were not
members of the party.  But they were capable.

  While Hitler kept a close eye on opportunists (such as Franz von Papen,
who was both intelligent and clever) he knew how to make the best use of
such men, and to honor them and recognize their achievements.

  Similarly, he did not hestitate to keep on competent bureaucrats chosen
by his predecessors.  A good example was Dr. Otto Meissner, who had headed
the presidential chancellery under the socialist Ebert and the conservative
von Hindenburg, and who had done everyting in his power, up to the last
minute, to torpedo Hitler's accession to power.  But Meissner knew his
work, and Hitler wisely kept him on the job.  Hitler treated him with
respect and confidence, and Meissner served the Fuhrer faithfully and
efficiently for twelve years.

  Perhaps the most remarkable such case is that of Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, the
most discerning and competent of Germany's financiers in 1933.  A Hitler
supporter?  By no means!  Schacht never was and never would be a supporter
of anyone but himself.  But he was the best in the business: for getting
the Reich's economy moving again, he had no equal.

  Ten years earlier, at the end of 1923, Schacht had financially rescued
the Weimar Republic by helping to invent the "Rentenmark."  He was shrewd
and imaginative, and thus capable of understanding and implementing the
boldest of Hitler's plans.

  Schacht's personal ambition was immense, but this was yet another reason
for Hitler to give him every possibility to rise as high as he could.
Within weeks of taking power, Hitler appointed him President of the
Reichsbank, and then, a year later, as Economics Minister as well.  Schacht
couln't be happier.

  Dangerous?  Of course!  Doubly so, inasmuch as Schacht was a capitalist
to the core, with close ties to major foreign banking interests, not
excluding Jewish financiers in London and New York.  Moreover, Schacht
cared little for Hitler's revolutionary program, which regarded labor as
the true source of national wealth.

  Hitler called on the brilliant Dr. Schacht to devise new ways of
acquiring the funds necessary for what he intended to accomplish.  That was
a great deal, but it was all.  The collaboration went no further: Schacht
was never permitted to intervene in political matters.  When Schacht's
financial formulas had served their purpose, the collaboration would end.
Until he was dismissed as Reichsbank president in 1939, Hitler made good
use of his extraordinary talents.  But Schacht never forgave his dismissal,
and would nurse a seething resentment.

  Determined to conjure up billions of marks as quickly as possible, and by
any means available, in early February 1933 Hitler summoned Schacht's
predecessor as Reichsbank president, Dr. Hans Luther, to his office.
Luther, who had been appointed to his post in 1930 by a previous
administration, had old-fashioned views of extreme prudence in the
management of state funds.  Since the state's coffers were nearly empty, he
was all the more prudent.  His detachable collar, stiff as a colling card,
proclaimed the rigidity of his principles.  He belonged to the old school
of accountants who spend a dollar only when they have a dollar.

  Hitler was well aware that this capable man was not happy to be presiding
over a central bank that lacked funds.  It was not, however, to have Luther
empty the state treasury that Hitler had summoned him, but to ask him to
devise new means of financing Germany's recovery.

  It was a question of imagination, but Luther's brain was not a volcano of
new ideas; it was a calculator.

  "How much money," Hitler asked him, "can you put at my disposal for
creating jobs?"  Luther hesitated to respond immediately; his mental
calculator began functioning.  After working out the calculations in his
mind, he responded as though speaking to the director of a large financial
firm: "One hundred and fifty million."

  An eloquent answer, it showed just how completely Hitler's predecessors
and their colleagues were lacking in their understanding of the scope of
the resources that would be needed to save the Reich.  One hundred and
fifty million, at a time when the German government was pouring a billion
marks every three months into unemployment benefits alone!

  With a budget of 150 million marks, the German treasury would have been
hard put to spare even thre or four marks a day to the five or six or seven
million unemployed over one short week.

  Clearly, this question had never been put to Dr. Luther, and no Reich
leader before Hitler had ever troubled to learn how to go about raising the
funds that would be indispensable for carrying out a serious program to put
Germany back to work.

  Obviously, then, Dr. Luther was not the person to put Hitler's program
into effect.  The new Chancellor then thought of Schacht, the sly old fox.
He was always good for a trick, and now Hitler needed some of his magic.

  "Herr Schacht," he said, "we are assuredly in agreement on one point: no
other single task facing the government at the moment can be so truly
urgent as conquering unemployment.  That will take a lot of money.  Do you
see any possibility of finding it apart from the Reichsbank?"  And after a
moment, he added: "How much would it take?  Do you have any idea?"

  Wishing to win Schacht over by appealing to his ambition, Hitler smiled
and then asked: "Would you be willing to once again assume presidency of
the Reichsbank?"  Schacht let on that he had a sentimental concern for Dr.
Luther, and did not want to hurt the incumbent's feelings.  Playing along,
Hitler reassured Schacht that he would find an appropriate new job
elsewhere for Luther.

  Schacht then pricked up his ears, drew himself up, and focused his big
round eyes on Hitler: "Well, if that's the way it is," he said, "then I am
ready to assume the presidency of the Reichsbank again."

  His great dream was being realized.  Schacht had been president of the
Reichsbank between 1923 and 1930, but had been dismissed.  Now he would
return in triumph.  He felt vindicated.  Within weeks, the ingenious
solution to Germany's pressing financial woes would burst forth from his
inventive brain.

  "It was necessary," Schacht later explained, "to discover a method that
would avoid inflating the investment holdings of the Reichsbank
immoderately and consequently increasing the circulation of money

  "Therefore," he went on, "I had to find some means of getting the sums
that were lying idle in pockets and banks, without meaning for it to be
long term and without having it undergo the risk of depreciation.  That was
the reasoning behind the Mefo bonds."

  What were these "Mefo" bonds?  Mefo was a contraction of the
METALLURGISCHE FORSCHUNGS-GmbH (Metallurgic Research Company).  With a
startup capitalization of one billion marks -- which Hitler and Schacht
arranged to be provided by the four giant firms of Krupp, Siemens, Deutsche
Werke and Rheinmetall -- this company would eventually promote many
billions of marks worth of investment.

  Enterprises, old and new, that filled government orders had only to draw
drafts on Mefo for the amounts due.  These drafts, when presented to the
Reichsbank, were immediately convertible into cash.  The success of the
Mefo program depended entirely on public acceptance of the Mefo bonds.  But
the wily Schacht had planned well.  Since Mefo bonds were short-term bonds
that could be cashed in at any time, there was no real risk in buying,
accepting or holding them.  They bore an interest of four percent -- a
quite acceptable figure in those days -- whereas banknotes hidden under the
mattress earned nothing.  The public quickly took all this into
consideration and eagerly accepted the bonds.

  While the Reichsbank was able to offer from its own treasury a relatively
insignificant 150 million marks for Hitler's war on unemployment, in just
four years the German public subscribed more than 12 billion marks worth of
Mefo bonds!

  These billions, the fruit of the combined imagination, ingenuity and
astuteness of Hitler and Schacht, swept away the temporizing and fearful
conservatism of the bankers.  Over the next four years, this enormous
credit reserve would make miracles possible.

  Soon after the initial billion-mark credit, Schacht added another credit
of 600 million in order to finance the start of Hitler's grand program for
highway construction.  This Autobahn program provided immediate work for
100,000 of the unemployed, and eventually assured wages for some 500,000

  As large as this outlay was, it was immediately offset by a corresponding
cutback in government unemployment benefits, and by the additional tax
revenue generated as a result of the increase in living standard (spending)
of the newly employed.

  Within a few months, thanks to the credit created by the Mefo bonds,
private industry once again dared to assume risks and expand.  Germans
returned to work by the hundreds of thousands.

  Was Schacht solely responsible for this extraordinary turnaround?  After
the war, he answered for himself as a Nuremberg Tribunal defendant, where
he was charged with having made possible the Reich's economic revival:

    I don't think Hitler was reduced to begging for my help.  If I had not
  served him, he would have found other methods, other means.  He was not a
  man to give up.  It's easy enough for you to say, Mr. Prosecutor, that I
  should have watched Hitler die and not lifted a finger.  But the entire
  working class would have died with him!

  Even Marxists recognized Hitler's success, and their own failure.  In the
June 1934 issue of the _Zeitschrift fur Sozialismus_, the journal of the
German Social Democrats in exile, this acknowledgement appears:

  Faced with the despair of proletarians reduced to joblessness, of young
  people with diplomas and no future, of the middle classes of merchants
  and artisans condemned to bankruptcy, and of farmers terribly threatened
  by the collapse in agricultural prices, we all failed.  We weren't
  capable of offering the masses anything but speeches about the glory of

     VI. The Social Revolution

  Hitler's tremendous social achievement in putting Germany's six million
unemployed back to work is seldom acknowledged today.  Although it was much
more than a transitory achievement, "democratic" historians routinely
dismiss it in just a few lines.  Since 1945, not a single objective
scholarly study has been devoted to this highly significant, indeed
unprecedented, historical phenomenon.

  Similarly neglected is the body of sweeping reforms that dramatically
changed the condition of the worker in Germany.  Factories were transformed
from gloomy caverns to spacious and healthy work centers, with natural
lighting, surrounded by gardens and playing fields.  Hundreds of thousands
of attractive houses were built for working class families.  A policy of
several weeks of paid vacation was introduced, along with weekend and
holiday trips by land and sea.  A wide-ranging program of physical and
cultural education for young workers was established, with the world's best
system of technical training.  The Third Reich's social security and
workers' health insurance system was the world's most modern and complete.

  This remarkable record of social achievement is routinely hushed up today
because it embarrasses those who uphold the orthodox view of the Third
Reich.  Otherwise, readers might begin to think that perhaps Hitler was the
greatest social builder of the twentieth century.

  Because Hitler's program of social reform was a crucially important --
indeed, essential -- part of his life work, a realization of this fact
might induce people to view Hitler with new eyes.  Not surprisingly,
therefore, all this is passed over in silence.  Most historians insist on
treating Hitler and the Third Reich simplistically, as part of a Manichaean
morality play of good versus evil.

  Nevertheless, restoring work and bread to millions of unemployed who had
been living in misery for years; restructuring industrial life; conceiving
and establishing an organization for the effective defense and betterment
of the nation's millions of wage earners; creating a new bureaucracy and
judicial system that guaranteed the civic rights of each member of the
national community, while simultaneously holding each person to his or her
responsibilities as a German citizen: this organic body of reforms was part
of a single, comprehensive plan, which Hitler had conceived and worked out
years earlier.

  Without this plan, the nation would have collapsed into anarchy.
All-encompassing, this program included broad industrial recovery as well
as detailed attention to even construction of comfortable inns along the
new highway network.

  It took several years for a stable social structure to emerge from the
French Revolution.  The Soviets needed even more time: five years after the
Bolshevik revolution of 1917, hundreds of thousands of Russians were still
dying of hunger and disease.  In Germany, by contrast, the great machinery
was in motion within months, with organization and accomplishment quickly
meshing together.

  The single task of constructing a national highway system that was
without parallel in the world might have occupied a government for years.
First, the problem had to be studied and assessed.  Then, with due
consideration for the needs of the population and the economy, the highway
system had to be carefully planned in all its particulars.

  As usual, Hitler had been remarkably farsighted.  The concrete highways
would be 24 meters in width.  They would be spanned by hundreds of bridges
and overpasses.  To make sure that the entire Autobahn network would be in
harmony with the landscape, a great deal of natural rock would be utilized.
The artistically planned roadways would come together and diverge as if
they were large-scale works of art.  The necessary service stations and
motor inns would be thoughtfully integrated into the overall scheme, each
facility built in harmony with the local landscape and architectural style.

  The original plan called for 7,000 kilometers of roadway.  This
projection would later be increased to 10,000, and then, after Austria was
reunited with Germany, to 11,000 kilometers.

  The financial boldness equalled the technical vision.  These expressways
were toll free, which seemed foolhardy to conservative financiers.  But the
savings in time and labor, and the dramatic increase in traffic, brought
increased tax revenues, notably from gasoline.

  Germany was thus building for herself not only a vast highway network,
but an avenue to economic prosperity.

  These greatly expanded transport facilities encouraged the development of
hundreds of new business enterprises along the new expressways.  By
eliminating congestion on secondary roads, the new highways stimulated
travel by hundreds of thousands of tourists, and with it increased tourism

  Even the wages paid out to the men who built the REICHSAUTOBAHN network
brought considerable indirect benefits.  First, they allowed a drastic cut
in payments of unemployment benefits, or 25 percent of the total paid in
wages.  Second, the many workers employed in constructing the expressways
-- 100,000, and later 150,000 -- spent much of the additional 75 percent,
which in turn generated increased tax revenues.

  Imagine the problems, even before the first road was opened for traffic,
posed by the mobilization of so many tens of thousands set to work in often
uninhabited regions, in marshy areas, or in the shadows of Alpine peaks!
It's hard enough for 150,000 men to leave their homes and camp out in often
rough terrain.  But in addition, it was necessary, from the outset, to
insure tolerable living conditions for the columns of men who had agreed to
work by the sweat of their brows under the open sky.

  In France, it was all but unthinkable in those days for a man out of work
to move even 20 kilometers away to search for a new job.  He was
practically glued to his native village, his garden, and the corner cafe.
The Germans were fundamentally no different, but by 1933 they were fed up
with their enforced idleness.  By pouring concrete, using a pick, or
whatever it took, this hard-pressed people would bring dignity back in
their lives.

  No one balked at the inconvenience, the absence from home, or the long
journey.  The will to live a productive and meaningful life outweighed all
other considerations.

  To keep up the worker's morale and spirit, lest he feel isolated or that
he was merely being exploited, no effort was spared to provide material
comfort, entertainment and instruction.  The world had never before seen
its like in any great construction project.  At last, workers felt they
were being treated like respected human beings who had bodies to be
satisfied, hearts to be comforted, and brains to be enlightened.

  Camp sites, supply bases, and recreation facilities were systematically
set up, with everything moving forward methodically as the construction
advanced.  Fourteen mobile crews that provided motion picture entertainment
traveled along, moving from one construction site to the next.  And always
and everywhere, labor was honored and celebrated.

  Hitler personally dug the first spadeful of earth for the first Autobahn
highway, linking Frankfurt-am-Main with Darmstadt.  For the occasion, he
brought along Dr. Schacht, the man whose visionary credit wizardry had made
the project possible.  The official procession moved ahead, three cars
abreast in front, then six across, spanning the entire width of the

  The Second World War would abruptly halt work on this great construction
undertaking.  But what was envisioned and created remains as a deathless
testimony to a man and an era.

  Hitler's plan to build thousands of low-cost homes also demanded a vast
mobilization of manpower.  He had envisioned housing that would be
attractive, cozy, and affordable for millions of ordinary German
working-class families.  He had no intention of continuing to tolerate, as
his predecessors had, cramped, ugly "rabbit warren" housing for the German
people.  The great barracks-like housing projects on the outskirts of
factory towns, packed with cramped families, disgusted him.

  The greater part of the houses he would build were single-story, detached
dwellings, with small yards where children could romp, wives could grow
vegetable and flower gardens, while the bread-winners could read their
newspapers in peace after the day's work.  These single-family homes were
built to conform to the architectural styles of the various German regions,
retaining as much as possible the charming local variants.

  Wherever there was no practical alternative to building large apartment
complexes, Hitler saw to it that the individual apartments were spacious,
airy and enhanced by surrounding lawns and gardens where the children could
play safely.

  The new housing was, of course, built in conformity with the highest
standards of public health, a consideration notoriously neglected in
previous working-class projects.

  Generous loans, amortizable in ten years, were granted to newly married
couples so they could buy their own homes.  At the birth of each child, a
fourth of the debt was cancelled.  Four children, at the normal rate of a
new arrival every two and a half years, sufficed to cancel the entire loan

  Once, during a conversation with Hitler, I expressed my astonishment at
this policy.  "But then, you never get back the total amount of your
loans?," I asked.  "How so?" he replied, smiling.  "Over a period of ten
years, a family with four children brings in much more than our loans,
through the taxes levied on a hundred different items of consumption."

  As it happened, tax revenues increased every year, in proportion to the
rise in expenditures for Hitler's social programs.  In just a few years,
revenue from taxes tripled.  Hitler's Germany never experienced a financial

  To stimulate the moribund economy demanded the nerve, which Hitler had,
to invest money that the government didn't yet have, rather than passively
waiting -- in accordance with "sound" financial principles -- for the
economy to revive by itself.

  Today, our whole era is dying economically because we have succumbed to
fearful hesitation.  Enrichment follows investment, not the other way

  Since Hitler, only Ronald Reagan has seemed to understand this.  As
President, he realized that to restore prosperity in the United States
meant boldly stimulating the economy with credits and a drastic reduction
in taxes, instead of waiting for the country to emerge from economic
stagnation on its own.

  Even before the year 1933 had ended, Hitler had succeeded in building
202,119 housing units.  Within four years he would provide the German
people with nearly a million and a half (1,458,128) new dwellings!

  Moreover, workers would no longer be exploited as they had been.  A
month's rent for a worker could not exceed 26 marks, or about an eighth of
the average wage then.  Employees with more substantial salaries paid
monthly rents of up to 45 marks maximum.

  Equally effective social measures were taken in behalf of farmers, who
had the lowest incomes.  In 1933 alone 17,611 new farm houses were built,
each of them surrounded by a parcel of land one thousand square meters in
size.  Within three years, Hitler would build 91,000 such farmhouses.  The
rental for such dwellings could not legally exceed a modest share of the
farmer's income.  This unprecedented endowment of land and housing was only
one feature of a revolution that soon dramatically improved the living
standards of the Reich's rural population.

  The great work of national construction rolled along.  An additional
100,000 workers quickly found employment in repairing the nation's
secondary roads.  Many more were hired to work on canals, dams, drainage
and irrigation projects, helping to make fertile some of the nation's most
barren regions.

  Everywhere industry was hiring again, with some firms -- like Krupp, IG
Farben and the large automobile manufacturers -- taking on new workers on a
very large scale.  As the country became more prosperous, car sales
increased by more than 80,000 units in 1933 alone.  Employment in the auto
industry doubled.  Germany was gearing up for full production, with private
industry leading the way.

  The new government lavished every assistance on the private sector, the
chief factor in employment as well as production.  Hitler almost
immediately made available 500 million marks in credits to private

  This start-up assistance given to German industry would repay itself many
times over.  Soon enough, another two billion marks would be loaned to the
most enterprising companies.  Nearly half would go into new wages and
salaries, saving the treasury an estimated three hundred million marks in
unemployment benefits.  Added to the hundreds of millions in tax receipts
spurred by the business recovery, the state quickly recovered its
investment, and more.

  Hitler's entire economic policy would be based on the following equation:
risk large sums to undertake great public works and to spur the renewal and
modernization of industry, then later recover the billions invested through
invisible and painless tax revenues.  It didn't take long for Germany to
see the results of Hitler's recovery formula.

  Economic recovery, as important as it was, nevertheless wasn't Hitler's
only objective.  As he strived to restore full employment, Hitler never
lost sight of his goal of creating a organization powerful enough to stand
up to capitalist owners and managers, who had shown little concern for the
health and welfare of the entire national community.

  Hitler would impose on everyone -- powerful boss and lowly wage earner
alike -- his own concept of the organic social community.  Only the loyal
collaboration of everyone could assure the prosperity of all classes and
social groups.

  Consistent with their doctrine, Germany's Marxist leaders had set class
against class, helping to bring the country to the brink of economic
collapse.  Deserting their Marxist unions and political parties in droves,
most workers had come to realize that the endless strikes and grievances
their leaders incited only crippled production, and thus the workers as

  By the end of 1932, in any case, the discredited labor unions were
drowning in massive debt that realistically could never be repaid.  Some of
the less scrupulous union officials, sensing the oncoming catastrophe, had
begun stealing hundreds of thousands of marks from the workers they
represented.  The Marxist leaders had failed: socially, financially and

  Every joint human activity requires a leader.  The head of a factory or
business is also the person naturally responsible for it.  He oversees
every aspect of production and work.  In Hitler's Germany, the head of a
business had to be both a capable director and a person concerned for the
social justice and welfare of his employees.  Under Hitler, many owners and
managers who had proven to be unjust, incompetent or recalcitrant lost
their jobs, or their businesses.

  A considerable number of legal guarantees protected the worker against
any abuse of authority at the workplace.  Their purpose was to insure that
the rights of workers were respected, and that workers were treated as
worthy collaborators, not just as animated tools.  Each industrialist was
legally obliged to collaborate with worker delegates in drafting shop
regulations that were not imposed from above but instead adapted to each
business enterprise and its particular working conditions.  These
regulations had to specify "the length of the working day, the time and
method of paying wages, and the safety rules, and to be posted throughout
the factory," within easy access of both the worker whose interests might
be endangered and the owner or manager whose orders might be subverted.

  The thousands of different, individual versions of such regulations
served to create a healthy rivalry, with every factory group vying to outdo
the others in efficiency and justice.

  One of the first reforms to benefit German workers was the establishment
of paid vacations.  In France, the leftist Popular Front government would
noisily claim, in 1936, to have originated legally mandated paid vacations
-- and stingy ones at that, only one week per year.  But it was actually
Hitler who first established them, in 1933 -- and they were two to three
times more generous.

  Under Hitler, every factory employee had the legal right to paid
vacation.  Previously, paid vacations had not normally exceeded four or
five days, and nearly half of the younger workers had no vacation time at
all.  If anything, Hitler favored younger workers; the youngest workers
received more generous vacations.  This was humane and made sense: a young
person has more need of rest and fresh air to develop his maturing strength
and vigor.  Thus, they enjoyed a full 18 days of paid vacation per year.

  Today, more than half a century later, these figures have been surpassed,
but in 1933 they far exceeded European norms.

  The standard vacation was twelve days.  Then, from the age of 25 on, it
went up to 18 days.  After ten years with the company, workers got a still
longer vacation: 21 days, or three times what the French socialists would
grant the workers of their country in 1936.

  Hitler introduced the standard forty-hour work week in Europe.  As for
overtime work, it was now compensated, as nowhere else in the continent at
the time, at an increased pay rate.  And with the eight-hour work day now
the norm, overtime work became more readily available.

  In another innovation, work breaks were made longer: two hours each day,
allowing greater opportunity for workers to relax, and to make use of the
playing fields that large industries were now required to provide.

  Whereas a worker's right to job security had been virtually non-existent,
now an employee could no longer be dismissed at the sole discretion of the
employer.  Hitler saw to it that workers' rights were spelled out and
enforced.  Henceforth, an employer had to give four weeks notice before
firing and employee, who then had up to two months to appeal the dismissal.
Dismissals could also be anulled by the "Courts of Social Honor"

  This Court was one of three great institutions that were established to
protect German workers.  The others were the "Labor Commissions" and the
"Council of Trust."

  The "Council of Trust" (VERTRAUENSRAT) was responsible for establishing
and developing a real spirit of community between management and labor.
"In every business enterprise," the 1934 "Labor Charter" law stipulated,
"the employer and head of the enterprise (FUHRER), the employees and
workers, personnel of the enterprise, shall work jointly toward the goal of
the enterprise and the common good of the nation."

  No longer would either be exploited by the other -- neither the worker by
arbitrary whim of the employer, nor the employer through the blackmail of
strikes for political ends.

  Article 35 of the "Labor Charter" law stated: "Every member of an
enterprise community shall assume the responsibility required by his
position in said common enterprise."  In short, each enterprise would be
headed by a dynamic executive, charged with a sense of the greater
community -- no longer a selfish capitalist with unconditional, arbitrary

  "The interest of the community may require that an incapable or unworthy
employer be relieved of his duties," the "Labor Charter" stipulated.  The
employer was no longer unassailable, an all-powerful boss with the last
word on hiring and firing his staff.  He, too, would be subject to the
workplace regulations, which he was now obliged to respect no less than the
least of his employees.  The law conferred the honor and responsibility of
authority on the employer only insofar as he merited it.

  Every business enterprise of twenty or more persons now acquired a
"Council of Trust" (VERTRAUENSRAT), two to ten members of which were chosen
from among the staff by the chief executive.  The law's implementation
ordinance of March 10, 1934, further stated:

    The staff shall be called upon to decide for or against the proposed
  list in a secret vote, and all salaried employees, including apprentices
  of twenty-one years of age or older, will take part in the vote.  Voting
  is done by putting a number before the names of the candidates in order
  of preference, or by striking out certain names.

  Unlike the enterprise councils (Betriebsrate) of pre-Hitler Germany, the
Council of Trust was no longer a tool of one class.  Comprising members
from all levels of the enterprise, it was now an instrument of teamwork
between classes.  Obliged to coordinate their interests, former adversaries
in the workplace now cooperated in establishing, by mutal consent, the
regulations which determined working conditions.

    The Council has the duty to develop mutual trust within the enterprise.
  It will advise on all measures serving to improve carrying out the work
  of the enterprise, and on standards relating to general work conditions,
  in particular those that concern measures tending to reinforce feelings
  of solidarity between the members themselves and between the members and
  the enterprise, or tending to improve the personal situation of the
  members of the enterprise commun-ity.  The Council also has the
  obligation to intervene to settle disputes.  It must be heard before the
  imposition of fines based on workshop regulations.

  The law further required that, before assuming their duties, members of
the Work Council had to take an oath before all their fellow workers to
"carry out their duties only for the good of the enterprise and of all
citizens, setting aside any personal interest, and in their behavior and
manner of living to serve as model representatives of the enterprise."

  Every 30th of April, on the eve of the great national holiday of labor,
Council terms ended and new elections were held.  This helped to weed out
incompetence, overcome stagnation, and prevent arrogance or careerism on
the part of Council members.

  The business enterprise paid a salary to each Council member, just as if
he were employed in the office or on the shop floor, and had to "assume all
costs resulting from the regular fulfillment of the duties of the Council."

  The second institution established to insure the orderly development of
the new German social system was the "Labor Commission" (REICHSTREUHANDER
DER ARBEIT), the members of which were essentially conciliators and
arbitrators.  They were charged with dealing with and overcoming the
inevitable frictions of the workplace.  It was their function to see to it
that the Councils of Trust functioned harmoniously and efficiently, and to
ensure that a given business enterprise's regulations were carried out to
the letter.

  Each of the thirteen Labor Commissions operated in its own district of
the Reich.  As arbitrators, they were independent of owners and employees.
Appointed by the state, they represented rather the interests of everyone
in the enterprise, and the interests of the national community.  To
minimize arbitrary or unfounded rulings, the Labor Commissions relied on
the advice of a "Consultative Council of Experts," consisting of 18 members
selected from a cross section of the economy in each territorial district.
As a further safeguard of impartiality, a third agency was superimposed on
the Councils of Trust and the thirteen Commissions: the Tribunals of Social

  Through these institutions, the German worker, from 1933 on, could count
on a system of justice created especially for him, empowered to "adjucate
all grave infractions of the social duties based on the enterprise
community."  Examples of such "violations of social honor" were cases in
which an employer, abusing his power, mistreated his staff, or impugned the
honor of his subordinates; in which a staff member threatened the harmony
of the workplace by spiteful agitation; or in which a Council member
misused or published confidential business information discovered in the
course of his work.

  Thirteen "Courts of Social Honor," corresponding to the 13 Commissions,
were established.  The presiding judge was not a party hack or ideologue;
he was a career jurist, above narrow interest.  The enterprise concerned
played a role in the Tribunal's proceedings: two assistant judges, one
representing management, the other a member of the Council of Trust,
assisted the presiding judge.

  Each Court of Social Honor (EHRENGERICHT), like any other court of law,
had the means to enforce its decisions.  There were nuances, though.  In
mild cases, decisions might be limited to a reprimand.  In more serious
cases, the guilty party could be fined up to 10,000 marks.  Special
sanctions, precisely adapted to the circumstances, were provided for.
These included mandatory change of employment and dismissal of a chief
executive, or his agent, who was found delinquent in his duty.  In the
event of a contested decision, the finding could be appealed to a Supreme
Court in Berlin -- yet another level of protection.

  In the Third Reich, the worker knew that "exploitation of his physical
strength in bad faith or in violation of his honor" was no longer
tolerated.  He had obligations to the community, but he shared these
obligations with every other member of the enterprise, from the chief
executive to the messenger boy.  Finally, the German worker had clearly
defined social rights, which were arbitrated and enforced by independent
agencies.  And while all this had been achieved in an atmosphere of justice
and moderation, it nevertheless constituted a genuine social revolution.

  By the end of 1933, the first effects of Hitler's revolution in the
workplace were being felt.  Germany had already come a long way from the
time when grimy bathrooms and squalid courtyards were the sole sanitary and
recreational facilities available to workers.

  Factories and shops, large and small, were altered or transformed to
conform to the strictest standards of cleanliness and hygiene: interiors,
so often dark and stifling, were opened up to light; playing fields were
constructed; rest areas where workers could unbend during break, were set
aside; employee cafeterias and respectable locker rooms were opened.  The
larger industrial establishments, in addition to providing the normally
required conventional sports facilities, were obliged to put in swimming

  In just three years, these achievements would reach unimagined heights:
more than two thousand factories refitted and beautified; 23,000 work
premises modernized; 800 buildings designed exclusively for meetings; 1,200
playing fields; 13,000 sanitary facilities; 17,000 cafeterias.

  To assure the healthy development of the working class, physical
education courses were instituted for younger workers.  Some 8,000 were
eventually organized.  Technical training was equally emphasized.  Hundreds
of work schools, and thousands of technical courses were created.  There
were examinations for professional competence, and competitions in which
generous prizes were awarded to outstanding masters of their craft.

  Eight hundred departmental inspectors and 17,300 local inspectors were
employed to conscientiously monitor and promote these improvements.

  To provide affordable vacations for German workers on a hitherto
unprecedented scale, Hitler established the "Strength through Joy" program.
As a result, hundreds of thousands of workers were now able to make
relaxing vacation trips on land and sea each summer.  Magnificent cruise
ships were built, and special trains brought vacationers to the mountains
and the seashore.  In just a few years, Germany's working-class tourists
would log a distance equivalent to 54 times the circumference of the earth!
And thanks to generous state subsidies, the cost to workers of these
popular vacation excursions was nearly insignificant.

  Were Hitler's reforms perfect?  Doubtless there were flaws, blunders and
drawbacks.  But what were a few inevitable mistakes beside the immense

  Was Hitler's transformation of the lot of the working class
authoritarian?  Without a doubt.  And yet, for a people that had grown sick
and tired of anarchy, this new authoritarianism wasn't regarded as an
imposition.  In fact, people have always accepted a strong man's

  In any case, there is no doubt that the attitude of the German working
class, which was still two-thirds non-Nazi at the start of 1933, soon
changed completely.  As Belgian author Marcel Laloire noted at the time:

    When you make your way through the cities of Germany and go into the
  working-class districts, go through the factories, the construction
  yards, you are astonished to find so many workers on the job sporting the
  Hitler insignia, to see so many flags with the swastika, black on a
  bright red background, in the most densely populated districts.

  Hitler's "German Labor Front" (DEUTSCHE ARBEITSFRONT), which incorporated
all workers and employers, was for the most part eagerly accepted.  The
steel spades of the sturdy young lads of the "National Labor Service"
(REICHSARBEITSDIENST) could also be seen gleaming along the highways.

  Hitler created the National Labor Service not only to alleviate
unemployment, but to bring together, in absolute equality, and in the same
uniform, both the sons of millionaires and the sons of the poorest families
for several months' common labor and living.

  All performed the same work, all were subject to the same discipline;
they enjoyed the same pleasures and benefited from the same physical and
moral development.  At the same construction sites and in the same
barracks, Germans became conscious of what they had in common, grew to
understand one another, and discarded their old prjudices of class and

  After a hitch in the National Labor Service, a young worker knew that the
rich man's son was not a pampered monster, while the young lad of a wealthy
family knew that the worker's son had no less honor than a nobleman or an
heir to riches; they had lived and worked together as comrades.  Social
hatred was vanishing, and a socially united people was being born.

  Hitler could go into factories -- something few men of the so-called
Right would have risked in the past -- and hold forth to crowds of workers,
at times in the thousands, as at the huge Siemens works.  "In contrast to
the von Papens and other country gentlemen," he might tell them, "in my
youth I was a worker like you.  And in my heart of hearts, I have remained
what I was then."

  During his twelve years in power, no untoward incident ever occurred at
any factory he visited.  Hitler was at home when he went among the people,
and he was received like a member of the family returning home after making
a success of himself.

  But the Chancellor of the Third Reich wanted more than popular approval.
He wanted that approval to be freely, widely, and repeatedly expressed by
popular vote.  No people was ever more frequently asked for their electoral
opinion than the German people of that era -- five times in five years.

  For Hitler, it was not enough that the people voted from time to time, as
in the previous democratic system.  In those days, voters were rarely
appealed to, and when they expressed an opinion, they were often
ill-informed and apathetic.  After an election, years might go by, during
which the politicians were heedless and inaccessible, the electorate
powerless to vote on their actions.

  To enable the German public to express its opinion on the occasion of
important events of social, national, or international significance, Hitler
provided the people a new means of approving or rejecting his own actions
as Chancellor: the plebiscite.

  Hitler recognized the right of all the people, men and women alike, to
vote by secret ballot: to voice their opinion of his policies, or to make a
well-grounded judgment on this or that great decision in domestic or
foreign affairs.  Rather than a formalistic routine, democracy became a
vital, active program of supervision that was renewed annually.

  The articles of the "Plebiscite Law" were brief and clear:

  1. The Reich government may ask the people whether or not it approves of
  a measure planned by or taken by the government.  This may also apply to
  a law.

  2. A measure submitted to plebiscite will be considered as established
  when it receives a simple majority of the votes.  This will apply as well
  to a law modifying the Constitution.

  3. If the people approves the measure in question, it will be applied in
  conformity with article II of the Law for Overcoming the Distress of the
  People and the Reich.  The Reich Interior Ministry is authorized to take
  all legal and administrative measures necessary to carry out this law.

  Berlin, July 14, 1933.
  Hitler, Frick

  The electoral pledge given by Hitler that day was not vain rhetoric.  One
national referendum followed another: in 1933, in 1934, in 1936, and in
1938, not to mention the Saar plebiscite of 1935, which was held under
international supervision.

  The ballot was secret, and the voter was not constrained.  No one could
have prevented a German from voting no if he wished.  And, in fact, a
certain number did vote no in every plebiscite.  Millions of others could
just as easily have done the same.  However, the percentage of "No" votes
remained remarkably low -- usually under ten percent.  In the Saar region,
where the plebiscite of January 1935 was supervised from start to finish by
the Allies, the result was the same as in the rest of the Reich: more than
90 percent voted "Yes" to unification with Hitler's Germany!  Hitler had no
fear of such secret ballot plebiscites because the German people invariably
supported him.

  From the first months of 1933, his accomplishments were public fact, for
all to see.  Before the end of the year, unemployment in Germany had fallen
from more than 6,000,000 to 3,374,000.  Thus, 2,627,000 jobs had been
created since the previous February, when Hitler began his "gigantic task!"
A simple question: Who in Europe ever achieved similar results in so short
a time?

  More than two and a half million working-class homes once again knew
bread and joy; more than ten million men, women and children of the working
class, after years of want, had regained their vigor, and had been returned
to the national community.

  Hitler's popularity took on some astonishing, indeed comical, aspects.
"A brand of canned herring," Joachim Fest relates, "was called 'Good
Adolf.'  Coin banks were made in the form of SA caps.  Bicarbonate of soda
was recommended with the advertising slogan 'My Struggle (MEIN KAMPF)
against flatulence'!  Pictures of Hitler appeared on neckties,
handkerchiefs, pocket mirrors, and the swastika decorated ash trays and
beer mugs, or served as an advertisement for a brand of margarine."
Annoyed by such fawning (and exploitative) use of his name, and the emblem
of his party, Hitler ordered that it be discontinued immediately.

  The economic and social transformation of the Reich impressed observers
no less than the political transformation wrought by the leader of National
Socialism.  Gottfried Benn, Germany's greatest poet of that era -- and a
man of the Left -- wrote to an expatriate friend, Klaus Mann:

    I personally declare myself in favor of the new State, because it is my
  people that is making its way now.  Who am I to exclude myself; do I know
  anything better?  No!  Within the limits of my powers I can try to guide
  the people to where I would like to see it . . . My intellectual and
  economic existence, my language, my life, my human relationships, the
  entire sum of my brain, I owe primarily to this nation.  My ancestors
  came from it; my children return to it . . . There are moments in which
  this whole tormented life falls away and nothing exists but the plains,
  expanses, seasons, soil, simple words: my people.  (See: J. Fest,
  _Hitler_, New York: 1974, p. 428.)

  In his detailed and critical biography of Hitler, Joachim Fest limited
his treatment of Hitler's extraordinary social achievements in 1933 to a
few paragraphs.  All the same, Fest did not refrain from acknowledging:

    The regime insisted that it was not the rule of one social class above
  all others, and by granting everyone opportunities to rise, it in fact
  demonstrated class neutrality . . . These measures did indeed break
  through the old, petrified social structures.  They tangibly improved the
  material condition of much of the population.  (J. Fest, _Hitler_, pp.

  Not without reason were the swastika banners waving proudly throughout
the working-class districts where, just a year ago, they had been
unceremoniously torn down.

[end of article]

[Reprinted by permission from _The Journal of Historical Review_, P.O. Box
1306, Torrance, CA 90505, USA.  Subscription rate: $40 per year, domestic.
$50 per year, foreign.]

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