Part 2 of 2 (Part 1 here)
Then Stoddard describes the Hitler Youth and related organizations. Although there were some positive aspects to them, they also resulted in some regrettable family conflicts over politics stemming from friction with the churches, which didn’t want youths to be diverted into a secular organization. In that regard, making membership in the youth organizations compulsory was an overreach. (On the other hand, if we had an obligatory youth group like that today, then we wouldn’t have a wigger problem.)
Stoddard then interviewed Frau Gertrud Scholtz-Klink of the Reichsfrauenführung, the Women’s Directorate. He notes that her pictures don’t do her justice, and that she’s quite personable. (Although she has a name that could’ve come from Hogan’s Heroes, and her photos look rather like a young version of Frau Farbissina from the Austin Powers franchise, surely she was the belle of the ball compared to American loony bird feminists.) As she explains:
Unlike many women’s organizations elsewhere, we don’t fight for what is often called “women’s rights.” Instead, we work hand-in-hand with our menfolk for common aims and purposes. We think that rivalry and hostility between the sexes are as foolish and mutually harmful as they are scientifically unsound. Men and women have somewhat different capacities, but these should always be regarded as complementing and supplementing each other — organic parts of a larger and essentially harmonious whole.
So much deplorability! I can’t even! Wow . . . just wow . . . Those evil Nazis!
He then describes the Winterhilfe, which was a relief program that those evil Nazis created early on to aid the desperately poor. Nearly everyone threw in some spare change; being a cheapskate was discouraged. The Party set up a lottery system to incentivize contributions, with a little over 1 in 20 winning at least a small prize. Stoddard made a donation himself, but didn’t win.
The discussion then turns to the healthcare system. Apparently the National Socialists were doing a fairly decent job with their socialized program. The details are a little sketchy, but it seems to have been rather like Obamacare, except that it worked.
Stoddard also examined the housing around Berlin. There were poor neighborhoods, but they were tidy and well-maintained — other than a grubby quarter that was home to many Jews and gypsies. (Anyone who assumes that they all got rounded up would be wrong.) Finally, he gets some news about conditions in Poland, which otherwise was under an information blockade. The streets of Warsaw had been cleared of rubble by then, and they were wrapping up a delousing campaign to prevent a typhus outbreak.
Chlorine for the gene pool
Stoddard also describes the practice of eugenics, a subject to which he’d given much study. I’ll add that even now, there’s much mythology about it. For one thing, there’s been a conflation of the sterilization law that he describes with other things. In particular, one item was a euthanasia program that got cancelled due to its unpopularity — which is evidence that public opinion mattered even in that particular dictatorship. (Whatever one feels about euthanasia, in practice it wasn’t much more aggressive than the policies of certain European “liberal democracies” today that like to keep their healthcare costs down.) The other item, of course, is The Holobunga itself. Since these things tend to get jumbled together in soft heads susceptible to propaganda, this means that even now, anything remotely having to do with eugenics will routinely be shot down with merely a reductio ad hitlerum argument.
Then the author offers a brief clarification of what National Socialist racial doctrine was and was not; even at the time he was writing, “the whole subject [had] been so obscured by passion and propaganda.” (That much hasn’t changed, of course.) Following that, he describes that by 1933, a demographic problem had arisen. Does any of the following sound familiar?
Economic depression, mass-unemployment, hopelessness for the future, had combined to produce a state of mind in which Germans were refusing to have children. The birth-rate dropped so fast that the nation was no longer reproducing itself. Furthermore, the lowest birth-rates were among those elements of highest social value. The learned and professional classes were having so few children that, at this rate, they would rapidly die out. At the other end of the scale, the opposite was true. Morons, criminals, and other anti-social elements were reproducing themselves at a rate nine times as great as that of the general population. And those lowest elements were favored in their breeding by the welfare measures of the Weimar regime.
Sterilization was mandated for those who had certain hereditary diseases, and was forbidden for those who did not. Stoddard attends an appeals court and finds that the process was hardly arbitrary:
Since this was the court of last resort, all matters came up to it on appeal from lower courts, and thus tended to be “hairline” cases. The thing that struck me most was the meticulous care with which these cases had already been considered by the lower tribunals. The dossier of each case was voluminous, containing a complete life-history of the subject, reports of specialists and clinics, and also exhaustive researches into the subject’s family history. In reaching its decision, the High Court not only consulted the records of the case but also personally examined the living subjects themselves.
His opinion after observing these proceedings is that the court was being entirely too cautious. (I’ll add that the sterilization law took at least some inspiration from American eugenics. Our version apparently remained in effect until some liberal judge thought it was okay for retarded people to reproduce like there’s no tomorrow.) Finally, he describes positive eugenics measures, incentivizing healthy families to have children.
A chat with The Chief
Stoddard manages to get an audience with none other than Adolf Hitler himself. This differed from an interview in that he wasn’t permitted to quote him. In order to get the opportunity, he pitched an angle that another American journalist had used successfully: “to present a picture of Hitler the Man and his surroundings, rather than to get a statement of the Fuehrer’s views on politics or other controversial matters.” He describes the trip to the Chancery on the appointed day. He found the interior to be vaguely reminiscent of an ancient Egyptian temple. He then met Hitler and had a 20-minute conversation. Although still abiding by the rules not to use quotations, he does give us a loose paraphrase:
I think it is no breach of my agreement to say that much of his talk dealt neither with the war nor politics but with great rebuilding plans which the war had constrained him temporarily to lay aside. His regretful interest in those matters seemed to show that he still had them very much in mind.
That much accords with what he had said to his old friend August Kubizek seven months later. Then there is a further description which may be of some interest concerning his appearance and how he talked when he wasn’t delivering a speech:
There are certain details of Hitler’s appearance which one cannot surmise from photographs. His complexion is medium, with blond-brown hair of neutral shade which shows no signs of gray. His eyes are very dark-blue. Incidentally, he no longer wears a cartoonist’s mustache. It is now the usual “tooth-brush” type, in both size and length. As already remarked, his uniform is severely plain and seemingly of stock materials.
In ordinary conversation, Hitler’s voice is clear and well-modulated. Throughout the audience he spoke somewhat rapidly, yet never hurriedly, and in an even tone. Only occasionally did I detect a trace of his native Austro-Bavarian accent. The audience was not a monologue. Although naturally he did most of the talking, Hitler gave me plenty of chances to ask questions and put in my say. He did not at any time sharply raise his voice. Only when discussing the war did it become vibrant with emotion; and then he dropped his voice almost to an intense whisper. He made practically no gestures, sitting for the most part quietly, with one hand resting on the arm of his chair and the other lying relaxed in his lap.
Hitler’s whole appearance was that of a man in good health. He certainly did not look a day older than his fifty years. His color was good, his skin clear and un-wrinkled, his body fit and not over-weight. He showed no visible signs of nervous strain, such as pouched eyes, haggard lines, or twitching physical reactions. On the contrary, appearance, voice, and manner combined to give an impression of calmness and poise.
Stoddard then contrasts the experience with his earlier audience with Benito Mussolini, who had his own type of charisma but sometimes seemed as if he were trying a bit too hard to impress.
The winter begins
Late 1939 brought a bitter cold snap. This caused the rivers to freeze, shutting down barge shipping and spoiling agricultural produce. Rail traffic was impacted. Shortages became common, and it was looking like it would be a meager Christmas because of the supply chain problem.
Stoddard takes a trip to Hungary, returning after New Year’s Day. Food is plentiful and the cities are lit at night. They had avoided the war up to that time, but the Hungarians knew it wasn’t likely to last long. There were several ways they could have arranged their alliances and how they could have played out, but none of them involved maintaining their neutrality:
It is the specter of Russia which haunts Hungarian minds. I could seldom talk politics in Budapest without having that grim topic bob up. Most Hungarians believe that Stalin has his eyes on Central Europe and plans to strike for its domination. Some think the attack will come soon. And it is generally agreed that such a Russian onslaught would set all Central Europe in flames.
It seems they were onto something.
Matters of state
The twentieth chapter is about the NSDAP itself. The Germans Stoddard spoke to likened it to the engine of government. Some Party initiatives eventually got spun off into government programs, though the line tended to be a bit blurry in practice. Membership was open during the Kampfzeit, but afterward became increasingly exclusive.
Stoddard then writes about the SS. The Gestapo gets some discussion as well, though it was kid’s stuff compared to contemporary domestic spying programs. He got a tour of the 1st Division LSSAH residence. This was right after he interviewed Heinrich Himmler. This had been very difficult to arrange, and occurred on his last day in Berlin. Stoddard’s interview was pretty hardball throughout, but the chief of the SS was unfazed. For one example:
Himmler took this in good part. He laughed easily. “I’m sure our police organization isn’t half as black as it’s painted abroad,” was his reply. “We certainly do our best to combat crime of every sort, and our criminal statistics imply that we are fairly successful. Frankly, we believe that habitual offenders should not be at large to plague society, so we keep them locked up. Why, for instance, should a sex-offender who has been sentenced three or four times be again set free, to bring lasting sorrow to another decent home? We send all such persons to a detention-camp and keep them there. But I assure you that their surroundings aren’t bad. In fact, I know they are better fed, clothed, and lodged than the miners of South Wales. Ever seen one of our concentration-camps?”
“No,” I answered, “I wasn’t able to get permission.”
“Too bad I didn’t know about it,” said Himmler. “There you’d see the sort of social scum we have shut away from society for its own good.”
Nobody ever accused Heinrich Himmler of being anything other than hardcore!
The next chapter concerns the Third Reich’s totalitarian characteristics. They didn’t meet classical liberal standards of governance, of course. For example, during a long discussion of how the Germans were keeping the crime rate down, Stoddard is told:
One reason why there is so little wartime crime is that, the very first day war broke out, the Government started a general round-up of all persons with noteworthy criminal records, who were thereupon removed from circulation in concentration-camps for the duration of the war. This was merely an extension of the indeterminate detention of habitual offenders which Himmler referred to when I interviewed him.
Lock up the crooks and the crime rate goes down? Why, golly, how the heck did that ever happen? Anyway, surely the ACLU would’ve disapproved of such an approach prioritizing pragmatism over legalism. Stoddard then discusses the Reich’s economic policies, which some business owners found objectionable. He then briefly touches on the tensions between Church and State.
In the last chapter before his return home, Stoddard goes into subjects that are difficult to understand from an outsider’s perspective. In-depth information about military matters was off-limits to him, as well as conditions in the occupied territories. He did talk to two Jewish families, inquiring into what their community was experiencing. This deserves some attention, since the suffering of the Jews in Europe is today seen as the most important aspect of history between 1939 and 1945, and the war itself has become merely a backdrop to that in the popular imagination:
I was told that, while the situation of the 20,000 Jews still in Berlin was a hard and distressful one, there had been no organized violence against them since the great synagogue-burning riots of November, 1938. Jews were occasionally beaten up or otherwise mistreated; several instances had occurred after the Munich attempt on Hitler’s life. But my informants said they thought such acts were due to the initiative of Party subordinates rather than to official policy.
Then he documents various discriminatory measures against Jews: entry being barred from certain areas, an 8 PM curfew, and so on. I’ll add that later, Goebbels accelerated the initiative to relocate them from the capital, noting that he didn’t want to end up getting shot on the way home from work by some theater student:
The Jews naturally find such a life intolerable and long to emigrate. But that is most difficult because they can take almost no money or property with them, and other countries will not receive them lest they become public charges. Their greatest fear seemed to be that they might be deported to the Jewish “reservation” in southern Poland which the German Government is contemplating.
Moreover, I’ll add that relocation to this reduced Pale of Settlement is what the “Final Solution” meant, before American propagandists got ahold of the phrase. Besides that, they had also initially had an option to move to the once and future Israel, along with a means of exchanging their money. The Transfer Agreement (Ha’avara), however, is an interesting subject for another time.
The author likens German attitudes toward Jews to Turkish attitudes about Greeks and Armenians in earlier times:
. . . I took the matter up with Mustapha Kemal and other Nationalist leaders. In all cases, their answer was substantially the same.
Here was their line of argument: “We know what we are now undergoing, and what bad repercussions our policy may have on world public opinion. But we feel it is a vital national task. We believe that the Greeks and Armenians are aggressively alien elements, who monopolize many aspects of our national life. The more they prosper, the more harmful they become. By suddenly driving them out, we may have to suffer economically for ten, twenty, or even thirty years, until we have produced from our own people competent artisans and business men. What is that in the life of a nation? Under the circumstances, it is a price we are ready to pay.”
An odd missing piece is that Stoddard doesn’t describe how the tension began. He only mentions that they were regarded as genetically unassimilable. Perhaps suggesting that the Germans had actual grievances with Jewish behavior would’ve been too hot to publish in America, even if he’d stated that it didn’t warrant persecuting the lot of them. The reader is left to assume that the gripe was about nothing more than irrational prejudice, which is how the matter is usually characterized even today. He’d also observed conditions firsthand in the Weimar Republic and could’ve drawn some conclusions about who was spreading Marxism, pushing degeneracy, and profiteering during the financial chaos. If in the unlikely event he genuinely had no idea what the tensions were about, he could’ve asked any of the several NSDAP officials he’d spoken with why they considered Jewish activities detrimental to their nation. This was a lost opportunity, since future friction could have been avoided if they’d stopped doing that.
Lastly, Stoddard discusses the war effort, particularly regarding the supply situation. The final analysis of where things could go is grim, and turned out to be fairly accurate.
Ultimately, Lothrop Stoddard’s impression of the Third Reich was negative in some areas, which is understandable for someone whose formative years had been spent in a democracy governed by classical liberal principles. He notes several instances in which theory and practice didn’t line up in Germany, with lapses in transparency and the rule of law.
Unfortunately, the same thing was starting to happen in the US as well, which would become painfully obvious eight decades later. I wonder how he would’ve compared the Third Reich to a country run according to managed democracy, having a senile Commander-In-Cheat for a figurehead installed in a tainted election, and with an out-of-control ruling class that openly hates the nation’s founding population and seeks to dispossess it. There are reasons why people tend to think of the past as the good old days.
* * *
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 Sounds familiar? Back then, they had a war going on and severe weather causing understandable transport problems. This time, the supply chain problem is allegedly about container ships waiting to be unloaded. However, it wouldn’t surprise me much if it were really about ginning up a manufactured crisis to jerk the public’s chain and push for more centralized control. Sure, it’s mighty cynical of me to entertain the possibility, but after several iterations of dialectical strategies, certain patterns start to look familiar. Since this latest supply chain brouhaha dramatically underscores the problems with dependence on foreign manufacture, the globalists didn’t think this one through too clearly. Big Bad Orange Man was right about this one!
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