The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Individual Responsibility Of Defendants

Franz Von Papen

(Part 3 of 15)

[Page 918]

Writing in the September 1932 issue of the periodical "Volk und Reich," von Papen declared:

"The present situation clearly shows that party domination and State leadership are concepts incompatible with one another. It is conceivable theoretically that a party might gain the majority in parliament and claims the government (State leadership) for itself. The NSDAP has proclaimed this theoretical possibility as its practical goal and has come very close to attaining it. It is to be hoped that the leaders

[Page 919]

of this movement will place the nation above the party and will thus lend a visible expression to the faith of millions looking for a way out of the spiritual and- material distress of the nation provided also by the leadership of the State."


" The hope in the hearts of millions of national socialists can be fulfilled only by an authoritarian government. The problem of forming a cabinet on the basis of a parliamentary coalition has again been brought into the field of public political discussion. If such negotiations, in the face of growing distress, are conducted with the motif of destroying the political opponent by the failure of his governmental activity, this is a dangerous game against which one cannot warn enough. In the last analysis such plans can mean nothing else but a tactics which counts on the possibility that matters get worse for the people and that the faith of millions will turn into the bitterest disappointment, if these tactics only result in the destruction of the political adversary. It is within the nature of such party-tactical maneuvers that they are veiled and will be disclaimed in public. That, however, cannot prevent me from warning publicly against such plans, about which it may be undecided who is the betrayer and who the betrayed one; plans, though, which will certainly cheat the German people out of their hope for improvement of their situation. Nothing can prove more urgently the necessity for an authoritarian government than such a prospect of maneuvers of a tactical game by the parties." (Papen article quoted in "Frankfurter Zeitung" 2 September 1932, p.

In his Munich speech on 13 October 1932 von Papen was especially clear:

"The essence of conservative ideology is its being anchored in the divine order of things. That too is its fundamental difference compared with the doctrine advocated by the NSDAP. The principle of 'exclusiveness' of a political 'everything or nothing' which the latter adheres to, its mythical Messiah- belief in the bombastic Fuehrer who alone is destined to direct fate, gives it the character of a political sect. And therein I see the unbridgeable cleavage between a conservative policy born of faith and a national-socialist creed as a matter of politics. It seems to me that today names and individuals are unimportant when Germany's final fate is at stake. What the nation demands is this: it expects of a movement which has written upon its banner the internal

[Page 920]

and external national freedom that it will act, at all times and under all circumstances, as if it were the spiritual, social and political conscience of the nation. If it does not act that way; if this movement follows merely tactical points of view, democratic- parliamentarian points of view, if it engages in the soliciting of mass support using demagogic agitation an mean. of proletarian class struggle then it is not a movement any more, it has become a political party. "And, indeed, the Reich was almost destroyed by the political parties. One simply cannot, on one side, despise mercilessly masses and majorities, as Herr Hitler is doing, and on the other hand surrender to parliamentarian democracy; surrender to the extent of adopting resolutions against one's own government together with Bolshevists."


"In the interest of the entire nation we decline the claim to power by parties which want to own their followers body and soul, and which want to put themselves, as a party or a movement, over and above the whole nation." (3817-PS)

In a series of interviews and speeches in the fall of 1932 von Papen castigated the Nazi party for its ambitions to achieve a total and centralized control of Germany. He contrasted its objectives and methods to his own "conservatism" and emphasized its incompatibility with the preservation of the "federalistic" type of government to which he was committed. His public pronouncements in this connection were clearly reflected in the contemporary press:

"Von Papen claimed that it had been his aim from the very beginning of his tenure in office to build a new Reich for and with the various states [Laender]. The Reich government is taking a definite federalist attitude. Its slogan is not a dreary centralism or unitarianism."


"Wherever one did hear von Papen express himself in public, one did hear a chancellor who took special care to be regarded as an unconditional federalist." (3318- PS)

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