This article was archived by k0nsl in 2003 at Holocaust History Archive. The formatting could be done better, a tad bit. The text will be reworked whenever there is time for it.
Just a short FYI.
Wales’s Bonds With the Continent
By GARETH JONES
Near the Isle of Wight the fastest liner in the world, the steamship Bremen, having arrived from New York, is waiting, and before long I shall be on board sailing to the Europe of 1933. A journey of 6,000 miles lies before me through a continent which is torn by national passions and class hatreds.
This turbulent Europe of 1933 is more closely linked with Wales than one would imagine. In 1914 a shot ringing out in a remote corner of the Balkans led to young Welsh soldiers streaming from the valleys and villages of South Wales to the battlefields of France. In 1919 it was a Welshman who played a leading part in making the Europe of to-day, in framing its frontiers and in calling into life the new States which have revolutionised the maps of 1914.
One Stroke of the Pen
In the last few years a few dark-haired French business men and politicians, puffing at their cigarettes round a conference table, have with one stroke of a pen, by a quota or embargo, caused Welsh miners to lose employment.
The building of a new railway from the coalfields of Silesia across Poland to the Baltic Sea led to many a night of worry for the Welsh coal exporter to Scandinavia.
The red light of alarm which shone out in May, 1931, when the greatest Austrian bank, the Credit-Anstalt, was on the verge of failure, shattered so greatly the confidence of the world that it led to the fall of the pound and had inestimable consequences to Welsh trade.
Strife in some far-off European corner may again cause the bugles of war to sound the alarm in Wales. A group of business men sitting in Berlin or Vienna may again with one small signature throw Welshmen out of work or cause Welsh-men to take up their tools again. Wales and Europe are inextricably bound. What is happening in Europe will hit or help Wales. To find out what is happening in Europe is the object of this journey which will take me across the North Sea to Bremen, down to Saxony, into the new State of Czecho-Slovakia to Prussian Berlin, to the danger zone of the Polish Corridor and Danzig, through the vast area of the new Poland, across the Soviet frontier into Moscow, into Red villages and towns and then back home to Wales.
We Are Off!
It is time to begin. The tender which carries the passengers from the port of Southampton to the steamship Bremen, which waits in the roads, is hooting, and we are off to seek to unravel the mystery of the Europe of 1933. We pass the largest vessel in the world, the Majestic (56,000 tons), towering high in its dry dock. Farther on a line of anchored ships lies idle, a tragic commentary on the state of shipping. Seaplanes dart down and glide along the water not many yards from the tender. The low coast of the Isle of Wight can be seen to the west in the mist.
Soon the gigantic form of the Bremen, with its two vast yellow funnels, looms before us. The tender approaches and comes alongside. Hundreds upon hundreds of port-holes look down upon us. As we British passengers step into the opening in the side of the vessel a brass band on the upper deck plays “God Save the King.” Stewards seize our luggage and march down endless corridors.
“You’ve just come from New York. What’s it like there?” I ask my steward.
“Terrible,” he replies. “There are more beggars on the street than in Germany. The poor fellows have no unemployment insurance. And there’s over million out of work in New York.”
Honoured Welsh Bards
When the steward has put my luggage in the cabin a voyage of exploration begins through this vessel of 52,000 tons, which has won the Blue Riband of the Atlantic. From the cabaret and dance hall of the boat, through the spacious lounge, along the shopping street I wander, until I come into the library, where an agreeable surprise awaits every Welshman.
Poetry of the leading nations of the world is carved into the wooden panels, and the first quotation I see is from Dafydd ap Gwilym and begins:
Yr wybrynt helynt hylaw
A gwrdd drwst a gerdda draw…
Underneath there is carved another Welsh poem:
Geinwawr ei grudd
Mae’r haul yn dod ar donnau’r wawr
Fel llong o’r tragwyddoldeb mawr.
The songs of Welsh bards now decorate the swiftest vessel ever built.
But the vessel is almost empty. A few lonely people stroll about, and the very silence on board is symbolic of the crash in world shipping. A talk on the bridge with the captain and other officers gives a clear picture of the distress of seafaring folk.
The Yellow Races
The boat is only 25 per cent. occupied. Out of a possible complement of 2,500 passengers there were only 600 on board from New York. Some of the officers curse the tariffs of the world, and one of them says: “It is the doom of the white race which we are seeing now, and the yellow races are listening. Every nation is trying to save itself and basing its policy on a nationalism of a hundred years ago. Only a new outlook can rescue us.”
Will the Europe of 1933 have this new outlook? Or will the old hatreds remain? An answer to this question may soon be found, because twenty hours have passed on this German boat in a whirl of concerts, meals, films, and dances; the Bremen is going slowly through the ice of the North Sea coast and Germany is in sight.
GERMANY WANTS A NEW FREDERICK THE GREAT
By GARETH JONES
A crowd has gathered in one of Bremen’s chief streets and is staring at a group of pictures in a shop window. Two or three youngsters look with flashing eyes at the scenes depicted.
The first photograph is of Mussolini-stern, with firm jaw. The German boys look at one another, nod, and say: “That’s the kind of man we want here.”
The second photograph shows thousands upon thousands of Nazis meeting in Danzig in their khaki uniform, carrying red banners with the swastika upon a white circle in the middle. “Danzig shall remain German” run the words underneath. “Thirteen years ago Danzig was torn from the Fatherland by the brutal Treaty of Versailles.” The youngsters, I can see, are burning with indignation when they look upon that scene.
The third photograph depicts French soldiers dragging a German policeman through the streets of a German town. French cavalrymen are riding alongside, some of them smiling scornfully. Underneath the photograph are the words: “The attack on the Ruhr ten years ago. A despicable blot on France’s honour. Germany, awake!“
The German youngsters look at each other, and one says: “To think that we Germans have stood that disgrace for thirteen years! But we will stand it no longer. Hitler will bring us honour again.”
That boy reflects the feelings of a large part of Germany. The period of patient waiting and of submitting to insults, the Germans feel, is at an end. Of this passionate desire for equality of status and of this hatred of a subordinate position in Europe I was soon to have proof, because ten minutes after the train had steamed out of Bremen station towards Hanover and Leipzig I entered into conversation with two German ex-soldiers. One of them was pale and excitable; the other was a former sergeant-major, stout, tall, with a red, scarred face.
The pale, excitable German said: “Germany can no longer suffer the disgrace it has had ever since the Socialists stabbed us in the back in 1918. We were betrayed then. That’s why we lost the war. The Republic has been the curse of Germany. But I have kept my old Imperial flag, and it’s waiting for the day when it will be unfurled and we can save Germany’s honour, which has been trampled under foot.”
The sergeant-major broke in: “Quite right. The day is bound to come. I was in the war on the third day. I went through Belgium for Imperial Germany. It was all in vain because of the traitors in Germany who have ruined everything- those Socialists, who have no feeling for the Fatherland.”
“So you want a Monarchy again ?“ I asked.
“Of course,” they both said.
“The Kaiser ?” I asked.
The sergeant-major puffed at his cheap cigar and meditated. “No. He should have gone out with the fleet in November, 1918, and died like a man. No. Not the Kaiser.”
“Well, the Crown Prince?” I asked.
“No, not the Crown Prince. He had too good a time behind the lines while we were in the front trenches. It will be a long time before we get a Monarchy, but it’ll have to come some day. It will have to be another Frederick the Great.”
This sentence gave me a clue to the feeling in Germany today. Frederick the Great, the Prussian King who struggled against almost all the powers of Europe in the eighteenth century and built the military system of Prussia, is now the hero of Germany.
Attitude Towards Britain
The Germans feel that when they are surrounded by the French, the Poles, and the Czechs, and have their army reduced to 100,000 men, their honour and self-respect have disappeared. They bear no personal rancour against Britain, but their feeling against France, Poland, and also America, is often violent.
The pale German said: “The British were honourable enemies and we respect honourable enemies. But the French and the Poles have insulted us ever since the war and treated us like insects. And the Americans, too. What right had they to put their paws into the war in 1917 when it had nothing to do with them?”
The conclusion that the two ex-soldiers came to-and the fellow-travellers in the compartment nodded and muttered consent-was: “We must and we will again have a big army, so that we Germans can hold our heads high again.”
That is what national-minded German men are thinking. What of the women? I was soon to learn one widely-spread point of view, for the train had come into Hanover and I had to change for the Leipzig train.
The Good Old Days
Into the compartment came a big, strapping woman in home-spun tweeds. “An officer’s wife,” I said to myself. Almost her first words were: “We must have big army. As a mother and as the wife of a landowner, I say that the youth Germany is going to destruction. The young people have no discipline, and it’s discipline we want. We will have the old army back again. Let the lads earn only few-pence a day, as they used to in the good old days before the war. We cannot afford to have our youngsters idle upon the street. The Army would take half a million away from idleness.
“Then we people who breed horses have to suffer because the young people, not having been in the Army, know nothing about horses. Our Hanover horses are famous and have to be specially handled, very quietly treated. But they are being, spoilt because the youngsters have not been in the Army and thus know nothing about horses. We must have the Army again.”
It is not only the Nationalists who want a big Army in Germany, but also the Socialists. I recalled a conversation with a former Cabinet Minister, a Socialist, who had stated that a large Army was essential for Germany. He feared the Reichswehr (the present professional Army of 100,000 men). “It is a danger. It gives twelve years’ training and after that its soldiers get preference everywhere. It also has too much political power.”
The Private Armies
“Moreover, a large Army is a force for national unity. Germany is now split into contending private armies which hate and attack each other. The Nazis shoot at the Communists and vice versa. The Catholics hate the Protestants and the Prussians loathe the Bavarians. If we had an army these would live together and learn to get on with one another.
A large army would be a force for peace. Today the army for German youth is a romantic ideal. If the young people were grilled and cursed at, if they had to sweat and have blisters, they would soon be against militarism.
Germany is bound to have a great army again, I thought, as the lights of Leipzeig appeared and the train entered the largest station in Europe. What effect would that have on the peace of Europe and of Wales? The outlook seemed dark.
HITLER IS THERE, BUT WILL HE STAY?
By GARETH JONES
My Saxon host came rushing into my room, slammed the door and shouted: “Hitler is Chancellor!” Even the Alsatian wolfhound in the corner barked with excitement.
The Saxon continued: “Hindenburg has appointed Hitler Prime Minister. It’s a coalition between the National-Socialists and the German Nationalist party. Papen is Vice-Chancellor. At last Germany has a National Government such as you have in Britain.”
I went out into the streets to see if anything were happening. All was calm. I overheard snippets of conversation: “Adolf Hitler is a second Napoleon.” … “Will there be a General Strike?” … “There’ll be some murders in Berlin to-night.” … “It’s an attack on the working-classes.” … “Hitler has gone over to the capitalists.”
Then somebody came up to me, pressed a leaflet into my hand and slipped away. I looked at the pamphlet and read the letters: “GENERAL STRIKE AGAINST THE FASCIST TERROR! HITLER IS CHANCELLOR.”
“This new Cabinet of open Fascist Dictatorship is a most brutal declaration of war against the German working-class. Instead of Schleicher we have against us bayonets of the Army and the revolvers of the Hitler bandits. It means limitless terror, the smashing of the last rights of the workers. The barbaric of régime of Fascism is to be set up over Germany.
“COME OUT ON ” TO THE STREETS? Lay down your tools! Down with Hitler, Papen and Hugenberg! Long live the General Strike! Long live the struggle for a Workers and Peasant Republic! The Central Committee of the Communist Party of Germany.”
In the streets all was normal. I went to the station to look for any signs of revolt or of general strike. Nothing happened. I asked for a Communist newspaper. It’s banned to-day,” said the girl. “We’ve just been told that it is illegal to sell it any more.”
“Will there be a general strike now that Hitler is in power?” I asked a friend. “Will the Communists and the Socialists lay down tools?”
“No a bit of it,” replied the German. “The Unions have got no money; and no man would be fool enough to lose his job these days.”
The advent of Hitler has, therefore, been disappointingly calm. It is true that thousands upon thousands surged through the Berlin streets to greet the new Chancellor. It is true that the Hitler newspaper reports:
“Storm-leader Maikowski shot dead by Red murderer! On the march home after the overwhelming welcome to Chancellor Hitler our comrade, Storm-leader Maikowski, as he marched singing songs of battle, was laid low by a bullet fired by a band of Communist murderers. … His death shall not remain unavenged!” Otherwise, throughout Germany, all was calm. A few Nazi banners were hanging from windows in the Leipzig streets. On one wall was written a threat: “Nazi Storm Troops, the Red Trade Union Organisation Warns You!” But that was all.
A New Chapter
Nevertheless, the advent of Hitler may well open a new chapter in German postwar history. It makes the class-struggle in Germany more violent than it has been before. The Nazis have now co-operated with the most capitalistic sections of Germany. In the Cabinet, led by Hitler, there are Nationalist industrialists and great landowners. The German workers will be more bitter in their opposition to the Government than they were to Schleicher. Therefore, many people fear that Hitler, in spite of his desire to unite all classes and all creeds, will only succeed in making Germany more divided into master and worker than ever.
Hitler will find this problem of the workers the most difficult he has to deal with. In his wireless speech he has promised that by his Four-Year Plan no unemployed man will be left in Germany at the end of four years. Is this not too great a promise? Will not the disillusion sweep away the present foundations of Germany?
Hitler has gone so much to the Right, away from Socialism to Nationalism that he is bound to lose the faith which Radical elements in his party have in him.
Hitler’s Great Task
Hitler promises to overcome Bolshevism in Germany and to crush the followers of Marx. But it is misery and hunger, and not agitation, that have made 6,000,000 Germans vote for the Communist Party. If Hitler fails to banish misery and hunger many more millions will vote for the Communist Party, and the already nerve-stricken Germany will again be on the verge of civil war.
In German politics, however, nothing can be prophesied. There are to be elections on March 5th, and what will happen then no one knows. Perhaps there will be a National Dictatorship. Perhaps … but no one can tell.
The personality of Hitler arouses no confidence in the calm observer. It is hard to reconcile his shrieking hatred of the Jews with any balanced judgment. It is hard to think that a telegram he sent congratulating certain Nazis who had brutally murdered a Communist before the eyes of the murdered man’s family reveals any spirit of justice. Nor have Hitler’s scornful hints about the old age of Hindenburg and his reminder to the President that he (Hitler) could wait, while a man of over 80 years could not, earned the Nazi leader the respect of certain observers. Hitler’s neurotic behaviour in a December meeting of Nazis, when he burst into tears and wept without control, was not that of a Bismark.
His Goal Reached
Hitler is Chancellor. The former Austrian lance-corporal, with his thirteen million followers, has reached his goal at the very moment when his fortunes seemed to be turning and when defeat was staring him in the face.
He has begun quietly and legally. The strong whisky of the Nazi speeches has so far, in practice, been milk-and-water. He has not destroyed the Republic. He promises merely a Four-Year Plan to give employment. His is a tremendous task.
If he fails to bring Work and Bread in Germany far more blood will flow in the streets of Berlin than has ever flowed before.
German and Slav; Century old Problems of Minorities
By GARETH JONES
A VALLEY IN BOHEMIA.
So this is Bohemia. not, however, the Bohemia renowned among Welsh operatic societies, nor the Bohemia of literature, where poets and artists in large-brimmed black hats discuss poems and pictures, nor the Bohemia of night life in Europe’s capitals, but the real Bohemia which forms the northern part of the new State Czecho-slovakia.
Both sides of the steep valley are covered with fir trees, now white with the snow which has fallen without stopping for two or three days. The roads are almost impassable except with sledges dragged by horses whose bells tinkle when they drive through the villages. From the chimneys of the few scattered cottages rise wisps of bluish-grey smoke. This mountainous scene in the region south of Saxony and north of Prague is indeed peaceful.
Quiet though it may seem, however, this valley is in reality a battlefield. Two civilisations are here struggling against one another-the German and the Slav.
Analogy of Wales
Just as in Wales two cultures and two languages. Welsh and English, are striving for mastery, so here two cultures, that of Germany and that of Czechoslovakia, come into conflict; but the fight is a hundred times more bitter and the consequences for the peace of the world a hundred times graver than that between the Welsh and English cultures, though the problem is at bottom the same.
The people who live in these mountains are Germans, but they are ruled by the Czechs (pronounced as “cheques “), a Slavonic race. We are thus face to face with one of the greatest battles in the world, that between two nations, one the oppressor and the other the oppressed.
This battle is carried on in thousands of petty ways in Czechoslovakia, in Poland. in Yugoslavia, and in other countries, and is known to the League of Nations as the Problem of Minorities.
The nations in Europe which have the upper hand are trying to crush those members of their State who speak a foreign language. It is just as if the English attempted in every way to crush the Welsh and the Scotch and turn them into Cockneys; as if the English did not allow any Welshman to have a really responsible position, and as if the judges favoured the English in courts of law, nearly always giving judgment against the Welsh.
In this State of Czechoslovakia, set up by the Treaty of Versailles, out of fourteen million inhabitants only about seven million belong to the dominant race, the Czechs. Three-and-a-half million are Germans, while the others are Slovaks, Ruthenians, and Hungarians. The seven million Czechs, one half of the population, are the masters and are seeking to spread their power as rapidly as possible. One weapon is the law. In police-courts it is sometimes difficult for Germans to obtain justice. Last night as the woodcutters assembled in the inn one of the villagers gave an example of this inequality under which the Germans suffer. The woodcutters listened intently, puffing at their long German pipes, staring into their beer-mugs, and nodding agreement as the leader told his story: “A fine man is our forester, real good German, kind to everybody, and such a fond father you never saw. He looks after the forest splendidly for a Prince, who owns the forests here. Well, just before Christmas, after the first snow had fallen our forester was going with his wife through the woods half -an-hour away when he looked up and there he saw the rascal Wenzel, the Czech who lives in the village. And Wenzel was cutting down the young fir-trees, stealing them to sell as Christmas trees.
‘Stop!’ shouts our Forester, and goes up to him. Wenzel yells something at him in his heathen Czech language. Our forester bends down to count the fir trees which Wenzel had stolen, when, crack! A heavy blow comes on his skull.”
‘The brute!!,’ murmur the villagers.
“And the Czech runs away, leaving him there bleeding and senseless in the snow. The forester’s wife puts a coat under her husband’s head and rushes to us in the village. We get the sledge and horses and off we go and find the forester there with a pool of red blood in the snow all around. We bring him back, and all through the Christmas days he shouted mad things and would not wake. His children watched him Christmas Day and couldn’t understand what was the matter. “But, to cut a long story short, there was a trial. But the judge was a Czech. They wouldn’t allow evidence in German; and the rascal Wenzel, although he was guilty of attempted murder, as well as of stealing trees, got off scot-free!”
The villagers grunted angrily, “That’s how they treat us Germans—no justice for a German.”
That Christmas drama, narrated in a Bohemian inn, throws a light on the grave problem of Minorities.
Hour of Revenge
By other methods, such as education and favouritism for non-Germans, by ejecting landowners and settling the land of the Germans by Czech or, in Poland, by Polish labourers, the dominant Slavonic races are attempting to crush their Teutonic subjects. The tables are turned. Formerly the Germans were ruthless in destroying the Slavonic cultures. Now the hour of revenge for the Slavs has come.
In Czecho-slovakia the treatment of the subject nations has not been so brutal as in other countries, such as Poland, and often the Germans themselves are to blame. The fine veteran statesman, Masaryk, the President of the Czecho-slovak Republic, has tried his best to reconcile the races, and he is respected by all. Many Czech officials try their best to help the Germans. But still the petty oppression goes on.
This oppression in the new States is a danger for Europe. It may lead to grave trouble.
Lesson for Wales
It is arousing the passionate feeling in Germany that the lost territories must be won back.
It is causing misery and injustice and even terror in Europe.
The Welsh, as a small nation, should keep an eye on the oppressed peoples of Europe and stand up for justice, for fear the burning hatreds beneath the surface in Europe should again lead to a world conflagration, in which Wales herself would suffer.
That is the lesson of this valley in Bohemia.
THE ICE BREAKS IN THE MOUNTAINS
By GARETH JONES
A VALLEY IN BOHEMIA.
Last night, as the woodcutter and the toymakers were gathered in the village inn, singing their old folk-songs of the Ore Mountains, a villager dashed in and shouted: “The ice is breaking! The ice is breaking !”
All jumped to their feet and there was a scramble to the door. Then a series of crashes could be heard outside, as if many large pine trees in the narrow valley had tumbled to the earth. There was a breaking, grinding noise, to the continual accompaniment of the roar of a big torrent.
I was mystified, for the stream was so small that it could never make a noise which could so outrival the Thames or the Severn in flood. So I rushed out with the woodcutters to the back of the inn, which was situated a few yards from the river and then I realised why they were excited. The stream had really swollen into a big river and was carrying along – as one could vaguely see in the darkness with the help of a torch – huge blocks of ice, which were being dashed against trees and stones. The water was flooding up to the court-yard of the inn.
Saved – on the Roof
“Danger! danger!” shouted the innkeeper. “We’ll have to telephone right down the valley.” The innkeeper’s son rushed to the telephone while the others still stared at the sudden elevation of their local stream into the dignity of a real river. One of them said: “There may be bad times to-night in the next village, because their houses come right down to the stream. It was madness to build them so close. When the ice broke last year there were some people who had to climb out on the roof and were only saved that way.”
Someone cried that we had better see if the bridge were still standing. We went out on to the village street, which was one mass of ice, and slithered along until we reached the bridge. Its half-iron, half-wooden structure was still standing firm, and we stood on it watching the torrent rushing underneath, and seeing every other moment a large sheet of ice being tossed from one side of the stream to the other.
News then arrived from the next village. They had been long prepared. People living on the bank of the river had already been removed to safety, we heard, and beyond the usual flood no grave results were feared. The children bad all been wakened and were staring out of the windows at the swiftly-travelling ice-blocks, and some of the younger ones were terrified by the rumbling and the crashing in the valley.
Disasters of Other Days.
The excitement soon died down and the villagers returned to their pipes and their gossip.
Tales of how the ice had broken in years gone past were told by the elders. The ice-drifts of to-day were, in their view, mere bagatelles compared with the disasters which the ice had brought fifty years ago. There was silence when memories of lives lost in the floods in the Bohemian mountains were revived.
“When that cloudburst came over Gnats’ Tower and the water was dammed by piles upon piles of timber,” said a toy maker, “and when the dam suddenly burst and waves descended on the cottages, bearing huge pine trees and smashing bridges and drowning people, that was terrible.”
When the morning came the stream had lost its violence, but everywhere there were blocks and large pieces of ice, tossed into the fields around, on to the road, into the woods near the bank, and the fir trees near the stream had had their bark torn by the sharp contact of the on-coming ice.
This phenomenon was explained by the sudden thaw and the rain which had fallen heavily for twelve hours. Up to that change in the weather the river had been completely frozen into masses of ice, and the valley had been covered with snow.
When the thaw and the rain came water had formed in the river and had loosened the ice from the banks. More and more water formed, and in some parts of the stream was dammed by the ice masses.
Finally the pressure of the water was so great that the ice blocks were finally loosened from one another and were driven down stream. The ice often collected into packs, which collided with the trees and stones and the banks, and caused the cracking and the crashing which we had heard.
Such was the breaking of the ice in this village in Bohemia.
HOME INDUSTRIES ON THEIR DEATH-BED
By GARETH JONES
IN THE ORE MOUNTAINS,
IF one peeps into the small cottages of the villages in this region one sees girls and women with nimble fingers knitting lace around small buttons.
In some cottages the men are fast at work rapidly carving pieces of wood into toys. With a small hand-machine they prepare the rough outline of the forms of soldiers, sheep, pigs, Noah’s Arks, geese, and carts. On another table there stand pots of paints of the brightest red, the most glaring green, the deepest blue, and another worker, with incredible speed, dabs the colour on to the wooden figures.
In another village thousands of pieces of glass stand in the corner of the room and the women take many at a time, paint them with spots of colour, and finally string them together so that they tinkle like bells at the slightest touch.
The Two Spectres
These are the famous home industries, which are now on their death-bed. The men and women of these villages who lived by making buttons and toys and glass decorations are the victims of the Europe of 1933-the spectre of Tariffs and the spectre of the Machine.
Thousands of these friendly, simple mountain people are now suffering hardship because the world has shut its doors upon their toys- and because inventors have found machines which will do in one day what one home worker would take a month to do. Their hardship is symbolic of that of millions of men in Europe who are unemployed on account of Tariffs and of Machines.
There is hardly a toy-shop in Wales which has not been stocked with the wooden toys which these people have skillfully made. There is hardly a Christmas tree in Welsh festivities which has not tinkled with the glass pieces painted and strung together here. From these lonely fir-covered mountain, valleys the handwork of the villagers has gone out to Great Britain, to America, to Japan, to Holland, to Italy, and to other countries.
No better example of how the whole world is bound together by a million links could be given than this region. When Welsh colliers earned less and could buy fewer toys for their children the effect was immediately felt in this distant valley. When the British Government placed a tariff upon toys from abroad these villagers received a grave blow. The rest of the world had long placed barriers in the way of the import of toys.
Thus tariffs have been the doom of this valley, and the people here are unable to France, for goods from England, for food from the Dominions, but they cannot buy because the door has been slammed it the way of their goods. There is no demand for the products of their labour and thus their wages have crashed down. I saw woman who was knitting lace around buttons for dresses in American shops. Each button tool five minutes to complete, for the knitting was most delicate and skilled. “ What do you get for making those laced buttons?’ I asked.
She replied: “I get one shilling if make a gross”. For 144 buttons, each of which took five minutes to make, she only got twelve pence. She continued: “Last week I did well. I earned two shillings and sixpence. Of course I have to do my housework as well.” A girl told me that she usually earned one shilling and six pence per week from this work.
Throughout Europe there are people like this woman who depended upon home industry for their livelihood. This is now disappearing and its disappearance brings us face to face with one of the greatest revolutions in the world of today.
“How are the cobblers doing in this village?” I asked a woodcutter. “Terribly,” he replied. “You see, we used to have our boots made by the cobbler, just as we used to have our cloth made here by the weavers and the clothes made by the nearest tailor. But now there is nothing left for the poor cobbler to do, nor for the poor tailor, except a few repairs, because the factories and the machines do everything. The big companies have everywhere knocked out the shoemakers and the local tailors. The workers all want to buy cheap shoes. You’ve heard of our huge factory here in Czechoslovakia, Bata, haven’t you? Well, Bata has knocked out the smaller men.”
The Village Shoemaker
My thoughts went immediately to Llanrhaiadr-ym-Mochnant. where I used to spend my holidays as a schoolboy, and. to the village shoemaker, Robert Jones, a great character in the town. I also thought of the great part played in Welsh life by such shoemakers as Richard Lloyd, the uncle of Mr. Lloyd George, who were outstanding personalities. Those men gloried in their craft. In the Europe of 1933 these men are disappearing, and their places are being taken by vast factories and vast companies, which are getting more and more a monopoly over the economic life of the world.
In this revolution-the concentrating of industry away from the home into huge concerns-the machine has played a great part. Even in this small Czechoslovakian valley this is obvious. Japan, for example, used to buy many of the toys of Germany and of this district. Then the Japanese put up a tariff against foreign toys and set up factories with the latest machines, against which the simple villagers could not compete. Japan then imported toys into Germany and undercut the German toys in many lines. But the competition and the poverty caused by the tariffs led to such a fall in prices that both the Japanese and the German manufacturers suffered, and no one was better off.
Effect on the Child Mind
The machine has also affected the minds of children and has made them despise . wooden toys. The boys and girls of today demand locomotives, aeroplanes, and Zeppelins which are made of steel and tin. The toymakers who carve from wood bewail this. They say, “Children are spoilt by the machine-it has knocked out the home industry of making wooden toys.
Hit by tariffs and by the machine, the workers in North Czechoslovakia are, therefore, suffering. They receive no unemployment pay in cash, but in many parts the unemployed are given a bread card worth is 1s.3d. per week. The rest they must beg or borrow or earn by odd jobs. Even those who have work have very low wages.
In the Czech coal mines the wages have fallen to about twelve to fifteen shillings a week. The decision to lower wages led last autumn to the outbreak of a strike. Police- and soldiers were called, and in fights many were killed. The strike failed because the companies threatened to dismiss all the strikers-and bring in new workers. Many Communists took part in the strike, but a large number of the strikers were pious Catholics. It was significant that the troops showed great sympathy with the strikers.
Back to Germany
It is now time to leave the new State of Czechoslovakia and return to Germany, to cross from one troubled country to another. As I wave good-bye to the villagers the local timber merchant comes up to me, and his words are a striking close to my visit: “I have just heard that the Germans are going to raise their tariff still higher against Czech timber. It comes into force this month. It will mean my ruin.
The Europe of 1933 is tariff mad.
WORKLESS MILLIONS OF GERMANY
By GARETH JONES
AS I was looking into a shop window in the elegant main street of Dresden I felt someone tap my elbow nervously, and, turning round, I saw a young worker, who begged shamefacedly for a little money.
“What was your work?” I asked.
“Farm labourer,” he answered. “So I do not get any unemployment insurance. I can get no work on the land, and here in Dresden it is terrible. A curse seems to have come over the country.
“Go to the poor quarters here and you will see what misery is. But we’ll get rid of it some day. Hitler will do nothing. He’s ranking himself with the capitalists and is just the tool of Hugenberg. But we workers will fight to the death against him. Berlin is Red; Dresden is going Red; the whole country is going Red. And it is all because we can get no work.”
Unemployment and the misery which follows it are sending millions of honest German workers into the camp of the extremists. It is arousing among the middle class in Germany burning hatred of the system under which they live. It is creating a tense feeling that anything is better than the present distress. Here in Dresden, which has a population of 650,000, nearly 200,000 men, women, and children depend on help from the public bodies in order to live. In most German towns nearly one-third of the inhabitants receive what little money they have from relief and unemployment insurance.
The Means Test
If you are an unemployed young man in Germany, without family, you receive about 4s. 6d. to 5s. per week. If you are a man with a wife you receive about 12s. per week, with from is 1s.6d. to 3s. extra for each child. If, however, there are other resources, such as savings or odd jobs, this sum is drastically cut down, for the means test is. rigidly applied, and a very careful search is made into the amount of money which each unemployed man has.
The amount of unemployment relief depends on what the worker earned when he was in work. If he earned £1. a week he will receive far less than the worker who earned £2 a week. There is thus a sliding-scale. This is fairer to the skilled labourer, who may receive nearly twice as much unemployment insurance as the unskilled. If this system existed in Wales the skilled tin-plate or steel worker who was paid from £3 to £5 a week would, on losing his work, receive, under German conditions, from 10s. to 12s. a week, while the unskilled worker with a wage of about £2 in Wales would receive about 5s in unemployment insurance per week. In Germany, however, wages are far lower and the worker who receives £2 10s. a week is already in the category of well-paid employ.
The unemployment benefit only lasts 38 days, after which the unemployed man has to obtain relief from the towns. This places a tremendous burden upon the city finances, and leads many people to tremble at the thought of what will happen when the cities go bankrupt. Cologne, for example, a city of 730,000, has to maintain an army of unemployed as large with their families as the population of Cardiff, and spend. £3,000,000 a year on this.
A Financial Mystery
It is a mystery to many how the city can find such a vast sum. What will happen if the taxes, fail to bring in enough to pay the poor relief is the anxious question asked by all. One distinguished leader in Saxony said to me: “God help us if the towns cannot pay the money to the unemployed. And there is danger of this. If that happens, we shall see anarchy. There will be an outburst of rioting and plundering which we have never seen before. There will hardly be a shop-window unbroken in the whole of Dresden.”
Investigations I have made into the way the German unemployed live reveal a grim picture, and one is astounded that revolutionary outbreaks of violence have so rarely occurred. One reason for the calm and the quietness of the unemployed is probably the under-nourishment, which does not encourage energetic action.
The average unemployed family would have a budget similar to the following: The father, the mother, and the two children would receive at the most 18s a week. Of this they would have to spend about 6s on rent. About 2s. would be spent on coal, which leaves 10s. a week for four persons to live on. It-should be mentioned here that prices are in most products slightly higher than in Britain. Bread is dearer than in South Wales. Ten shillings a week for the family means about 1s.6d. per day, to be spent, not only on food but also on light, on clothes, and on shoes.
A good housewife will usually divide the 1s. 6d. per day in the following way: About 4d. will go in wool, soap, repairs and extras, while she will spend is. 2d. on food. She will prepare the following meals (the prices are for four persons): Breakfast: A couple of slices of black bread, with a weak substitute coffee. Total cost 3½d., or less than a penny each. Dinner: Potatoes, with cabbage or thick soup. Bread is too dear for dinner. Total cost 6d., or l½d. each. Supper: Potatoes. Cost 4½d.
This family would have no milk, and meat would be rarely seen in the house. It must be remembered, however, that the housewife in this case is economical and is receiving the full rate of relief. If she were a good-for-nothing, or if the husband took his relief money into a public-house, the. family would be on the verge of starvation. The children, however, receive milk in school.
It would be of great interest to compare the budget of unemployed families in South Wales with this budget of a German family.
Children Hard Hit
Health, conditions among the children of the unemployed are getting worse and worse. I have been shown the private reports of teachers and of inspectors of the homes, and they make tragic reading. Many children cannot go to school because they have no shoes. There is a terrible lack of bed clothing in the houses. The children come to school in the most meager of rags, and few of them in the poorest quarters have sufficient warm clothing. Often a child, when given a free meal, will gulp down without stopping eight large plates of soup.
Among the former proud middle class of Germany the distress is also great. In one city I was brought into a restaurant where a free meal of a dish of soup containing pieces of sausage was being given to members of the middle class who were destitute. It was a pathetic sight. Young artists, teachers, professors, old factory. owners who had gone bankrupt, writers with keen intellectual faces, came in one by one for their soup.
Some of them had been wealthy, some of them bad painted well-known pictures, some of them had received rounds upon rounds of applause on the stage. Today they are glad to have a bite of meat. It was striking to note that they still maintained their German pride in a respectable appearance. Each wore a spotlessly clean stiff white collar. One never knows in Germany whether the clean, well-groomed man next to one in a bus is not on the verge of destitution.
The Germans still maintain a sense of humour. In my view Germans have a tremendous capacity for humour and joke about their troubles.
Unemployment has led to the following witticism. One German says: “I know how to abolish 3,000,000 of the unemployed.”
“How will you do that?”
“First I should put 1,000,000 to work at painting the Black Forest white; secondly, I should make 1,000,000 build a one-way track from Berlin to Jerusalem for the Jews to go along, and the other 1,000,000 should cover the Polish Corridor with linoleum.”
The 6,000,000 German unemployed have shown remarkable humour and courage under disastrous conditions. Unless the world hastens, however, to break down tariff walls to rescue Europe from the strangling grip of trade restrictions, and unless the mad militarist rampant throughout the globe calms down, the patience of the unemployed may come to an ends and then woe betide Europe!
HOW GERMANY TACKLES UNEMPLOYMENT
By GARETH JONES
Wales and Germany have one grave problem in common-how to tackle unemployment. In both countries there is an army of workless young people who feel that there is no place for them in the world. Whether they live in Merthyr or in Berlin, in Pontypridd or in Munich, they face the same spectre of idleness and poverty.
In South Wales isolated attempts are being made to alleviate the boredom and the apathy of the unemployed. In Bryn-mawr, in Trealaw, in Merthyr, and elsewhere greater activity has entered the lives of the workless, and this has raised their spirits and benefited the community.
In Germany the fight against the deterioration of youth has been carried on with energy. The German Government say: “We must bring the unemployed off the streets. We must give them hope. We must show them that they are wanted by the State, and thus conquer their pessimism. We must make them healthy by giving them work in the open air. We must give them physical drill. We must interest them in literature, in history, and in geography. We must teach them crafts. We must use them to improve our roads, our forests, our land, our bridges. But, above all, we must teach them order, discipline, and loyalty to the State.”
To carry out these aims the German Government has encouraged a Voluntary Labour Service, which has set up thousands of labour camps throughout Germany. Last summer 290,000 young Germans were given work, bread, and health in these camps. In Saxony, for example, which has about twice as many inhabitants as Wales, there are about 600 camps with from 30 to 200 people in each. Thus if Wales were in Germany there would be about 300 camps training the youth of the country.
The members of the camps are all volunteers. They work about six hours a day, some on roads, some in draining marshes, others in clearing the results of floods, some in building sports grounds. Besides these six hours, four hours are devoted to lectures, discussions, sport, and physical drill. For, as the President of the Saxon Labour Service said: “It is the man and not the work which is important.”
The spirit of those who join these camps is similar to that of young Welshmen who seek work. A number of unemployed who wished to offer their services were asked why they wanted to join, and nearly all gave similar replies, which ran as follows:
i. “I am sick and tired of not having enough to eat.”
ii. “I am sick and tired of dragging about the house with nothing to do.”
iii. “I want to learn something.”
The Work They Do
These young men do not work fork profit, for they only receive fourpence a day in pocket-money, the pay of the pre war German soldier. They are given, however, plain but good food, work-clothes, exercise, health and comradeship, and work from four to nine months in the camp. The State subscribes 2s. per day per man, and the cost to the Government in 1932 was about £5,000,000.
All the work done is for the public good and not for the benefit of an individual. Urban district councils or rural councils, co-operative societies or churches, employ the labour of the voluntary labour camps for public works. Thus the financially embarrassed public bodies of Germans have been able to get excellent work done at small cost and to the benefit of the health and spirits of the unemployed.
The camps may be set up by the private initiative of clubs, such as the Y.M.C.A., by political groups or by societies. There are Hitler camps, there are Protestant camps, Socialist camps, and other kinds but in general the neutral camp, where men of all parties and sects come together is preferred. Now, however, that Hitler is in power, the Nazis will be favoured. In each camp there is a leader who has been especially trained and put to a severe test, and who is usually over 25 years of age. His influence upon the young workers can be very great.
In the beginning of the movement the Trade Unions opposed the Voluntary Labour Service, in which they saw a menace to the wage agreements they had struggled for, and at present the Builders’ Union is still a deadly enemy of the camps. But the Trade Unions have now realised that it is better to give work to the unemployed, if they volunteer for it, even at an infinitesimal pocket-money rate, than to allow their health and moral to suffer.
Moreover, many thousands abandoned the Trade Unions in order to be able to volunteer for the camps. Contractors also fight against the Labour Service and accuse it of stealing their trade. In spite of the opposition, and in spite of financial difficulties, the movement is growing. Indeed the Hitler Government wishes to make it compulsory and turn it into a kind of national conscription scheme.
Germany led the way in unemployment and health insurance. Perhaps by these labour camps Germany may be leading the way to a method of rescuing the youth of Europe from the effects of unemployment. The German authorities are still groping in the dark, and have great difficulties to face. But their experiments may be of great value to areas such as South Wales which have the same unemployment problem to tackle.
STORM OVER THE POLISH CORRIDOR
By GARETH JONES
(NOTE. Mr. Gareth Jones travelled from Dresden via Berlin, and across, a part of Poland, to the Free State of Danzig, where he interviewed the leading authorities. He now describes his return journey to Berlin.)
IN THE AEROPLANE FLYING FROM DANZIG TO BERLIN.
At last we are off. After rushing across the aerodrome field, and then bumping slightly, the aeroplane has left the ground, and beneath us we see the fields, roads houses, shores, and woods of one of the most fateful regions in all Europe.
The aeroplane is beginning to rock. Each time the pilot tries to rise one wing goes up and the other down. I stand up to take my overcoat off and am tossed into my seat again.
No wonder the aeroplane is two hours late. A strong wind was blowing when Professor Haferkorn, who was once lecturer at Aberystwyth College and mastered Welsh, brought me to the airport nearly three hours ago. We waited in the restaurant, which had many pictures of Bismarck. I went to buy my ticket and found that my name was written on it as “Professor de Jong.”
I was fated to remain in the Free State of Danzig, which was torn away from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, more hours than I expected, for a messenger entered and announced:
“Ladies and gentleman. Due to the very strong wind, the aeroplane had to turn back, but is now on its way, and will be two hours late.”
The whirr of the engine was at last heard. We went out and saw the machine, on which was written: MOSCOW-BERLIN. The words made one feel that one was really in Eastern Europe and going to fly along part of the historic line Moscow-Berlin, which connects Asia with Europe, with Communism, Capitalism, and the land of entrenched proletarian dictatorship with that of growing Fascism.
The Moscow-Berlin plane is now rocking over the Baltic coast. The Baltic is looking bright blue, although from the west black storm-clouds come. If I look around I can see the city of Danzig, which is about as large as Cardiff.
A small steamier is entering Danzig harbour, about which diplomats have been fighting since 1919. That streak is the Vistula. Now exactly underneath is the Monte Carlo of the North, Zoppot. The casino and the pier can be clearly seen. Near the sea one has a glimpse of the two prewar villas of the Crown Prince, and one recalls that he was most popular with be Danzigers.
It is getting difficult to write, for the wind seems to be growing stronger. Underneath is the railway which links Danzig with the Fatherland. We are now flying over woods. The plane has several times dropped suddenly and then rocked. A little snow remains on the round.
We are leaving the Baltic-but one moment. There is a port-one only gets a slight view of it-it does not look, a natural harbour at all. It is Gdynia, and was recently built by Poland.
Now we are flying over the Polish Corridor. There are more woods underneath and a lake here and there. We must have crossed the frontier between the Danzig Free State and Poland. How that German pilot must boil with rage when be thinks that his East Prussia is separated from the rest of Prussia by that narrow stretch of territory belonging to Poland and extending to the sea!
The land is very flat underneath. We are flying about 1,000 to 1,500 feet high, and can see the peasants’ huts, some with straw roofs, some with tiled roofs. Over there is a brick factory-the only factory to be seen. The rest of the land is farming land, with a village here and there, lakes, and many small pine forests. Some of those villages are inhabited by a tribe called Kashubes. So that is the Polish Corridor.
No more blue sky left now. The aeroplane is rattling and shaking. There are more storm-clouds in front. I am beginning to regret the excellent meal I took of pork cutlets and pancakes. The aeroplane has just recovered from a drop in the worst air-pocket I have ever experienced.
By a lake which is frozen over there is some timber. It is difficult to realise that that stretch of land which has only a few villages and woods and fields is one of the danger spots of Europe and that millions of Germans would willingly die to win it back.
The aeroplane is tossing still more violently. This article will have to be finished elsewhere.
STOLP: A SMALL TOWN IN POMERANIA.
A few hours ago I had never heard of Stolp. But now we are forced to spend the night here. I saw the passengers get alarmed as the wings of the aeroplane seemed to go up still higher and down. At last we saw a town to the north. The pilot flew for it and before long we made our forced landing smoothly.
Bulwark of Germanism
A man came rushing up, opened the door, and said: “There’s another colossal storm coming.” The pilot came out. “Impossible to fly further; It’s dangerous,” he said. “We’ve taken an hour and a quarter to do 55 miles. The force of the wind against us was terrific.”
Thus we find ourselves in this typical Prussian town, which has as its hero Blücher, is proud of its soldiers, and considers itself a bulwark of Germanism near the Polish Corridor.
To-morrow we fly on to Berlin-when the storm has died down.
One day a far more violent storm may break over the Polish Corridor. The names Danzig, Gdynia, East Prussia will be on the lips of all.
When that storm of national passions will break no one knows, but the dark clouds are rapidly gathering. The forces making for strife in this part of Europe I shall describe after the aeroplane has taken me across the Prussian plain and has landed me in the Tempelhofer Aerodrome, Berlin.
WITH HITLER ACROSS GERMANY
By GARETH JONES
In Hitler’s Aeroplane,
February 23, 1933.
If this aeroplane should crash then the whole history of Europe would be changed. For a few feet away sits Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of Germany and leader of the most volcanic nationalist awakening which the world has seen.
Six thousand feet beneath us, hidden by a sea of rolling white clouds, is the land which he has roused to a frenzy. We are rushing along at a speed of 142 miles per hour from Berlin to Frankfurt-on-Main, where Hitler is to begin his lightning election campaign.
The occupants of the aeroplane are, indeed, a mass of human dynamite. I can see Hitler studying the map and then reading a number of blue reports. He does not look impressive. When his car arrived on the airfield about half an hour ago and he stepped out, a slight figure in a shapeless black hat, wearing a light mackintosh, and when he raised his arm flabbily to greet those who had assembled to see him, I was mystified.
His Right Hand Men
How had this ordinary-looking man succeeded in becoming deified by fourteen million people? He was more natural and less of a poseur than I had expected; there was something boyish about him as he saw a new motor-car and immediately displayed a great interest in it. He shook hands with the Nazi chief and with those others of us who were to fly with him in the famous “Richthofen,” the fastest and most powerful three-motored aeroplane in Germany.
His handshake was firm, but his large, outstanding eyes seemed emotionless as he greeted me. Standing around in the snow were members of his bodyguard in their black uniform with silver brocade. On their hats there is a silver skull and crossbones, the cavities of the eyes in the skull being bright red.
I was introduced to these, the elite of the Nazi troops, and then to a plump, laughing man, Captain Bauer, Hitler’s pilot, the war-time flying hero. We then entered the great aeroplane and now we sit far above the clouds.
Brain of the Party
Behind Hitler sits a little man who laughs all the time. He has a narrow Iberian head and brown eyes which twinkle with wit and intelligence. He looks like the dark, small, narrow-headed, sharp Welsh type which is so often found in the Glamorgan valleys. This is Dr. Goebbels, a Rhinelander, the brain of the National-Socialist Party and, after Hitler, its most emotional speaker. His is a name to remember, for he will play a big part in the future.
To Hitler’s left sits a massive, fair-haired man besides whom Hitler looks dwarf-like. This is Hitler’s adjutant. The others in the aeroplane are secretaries, and there are five members of Hitler’s bodyguard in their black and silver uniforms with red swastika badges. The only two non-Nazis are another newspaper correspondent and myself and we are the first foreign observers to be invited by Hitler since be became Chancellor to accompany him on a flight.
Next to me sits a scarred, well-built member of the bodyguard, who has a sense of humour and keeps ragging another member who is sleeping. He has already offered me two boiled eggs, two bags of chocolate, an apple and biscuits. There is nothing hard and Prussian about my fellow-passengers. They could not be more friendly and polite, even if I were a red-hot Nazi myself.
The chief of the bodyguard is now drinking to my health in soda-water and grinning. He shows me his silver badge which he wears on his breast and which shows that he has been a follower of Hitler for thirteen years. He is obviously proud of his uniform and points out his photograph to me in a weekly illustrated newspaper.
The clouds underneath have now cleared, and we can see the Elbe winding below. Hitler is now asleep. The sun is shining upon the engine to the left. I take up a Nazi newspaper and I read:
“To-morrow night Goebbels and Prince August Wilhelm are speaking in the Sport Palace in Berlin.”
Prince August Wilhelm, the son of the Kaiser! What relations are there, I wonder, between the Monarchists and Hitler? I recall an item of information which I picked up in Berlin. The Kaiserin had come to Berlin to win over Hitler. A meeting was arranged in a salon. Hitler kept the Empress waiting in the drawing-room twenty minutes while he chatted in the corridor outside. At last they met, but the Empress failed in her mission, and Hitler is not yet converted to Monarchism.
Another item is: “Fifty thousand people hear Dr. Goebbels in Hanover.” I look at the vivacious little man and see that he is reading Wilson’s Fourteen Points. His smile has disappeared, and his chin is determined, he looks as if he were burning to avenge what the Nazis call the betrayal of 1918. I recall the Nazi slogan: “Retribution.”
A notice, “In Memoriam,” which I next read in the Nazi paper then gives a clue to the emotion which has been let loose in Germany. Beneath the photograph, surrounded by a thick black line, of a handsome young boy in a Nazi uniform I read: “The father of this Storm Troop man, Gerhard Schlemminger, was one of the two million who fell for Germany. The wife he left behind bravely went along her path of duty and educated her son to be a sincere, honourable German citizen in the decadent post-war days of confusion and vice. But Gerhard, who gave all his energy for the freeing of Germany, was yesterday struck dead by a murderous Bolshevik bullet.”
This throws a light upon the political passions in Germany. I look again at Hitler. He and his followers feel that the hundreds of Nazis, such as this young boy who have died in street battles must be avenged, and they will be ruthless in crushing Communist opposition.
Hitler is now turning and smiling to his adjutant. He looks mild. Can this be the ruthless enemy of Bolshevism? It puzzles me.
The Two Hitlers
We are now descending, however. Frankfurt is beneath us. A crowd is gathered below. Thousands of faces look up at us. We make a smooth landing. Nazi leaders, some in brown, some in black and silver, all with a red swastika arm-band, await their chief. Hitler steps out of the aeroplane. But he is now a man spiritually transformed. His eyes have a certain fixed purpose. Here is a different Hitler.
There are two Hitlers – the natural boyish Hitler, and the Hitler who is inspired by tremendous national force, a great Hitler. It is the second Hitler who has stirred Germany to an awakening.
BEGINNING OF GERMAN FASCISM
By GARETH JONES
HOTEL BASLER HOF,
Germany is going full speed towards a Fascist Dictatorship. Now that Hitler has gained power he will cling to it. No considerations of constitutionalism will make him waver in his purpose. He will even throw aside Hindenburg rather than loosen the grip which he is gaining on Germany.
He is surrounded by men of unflinching will, unfettered by traditions, burning with hatred of Bolshevism and passionate in their cry of “Germany, awake!”
Who are these men? The cream of his followers are here now in this hotel, preparing for the vast meeting which is to stir the population of Frankfurt. When I draw the curtain and look down into the street I see some of them guarding the hotel. There is a police cordon drawn around and, except for the members of the bodyguard in their black and silver uniform, there is no one in the street outside. The members of the bodyguard are the picked few of the hundreds of thousands of storm troops whom Hitler has led to power.
Thus Hitler has behind him a vast army of determined young men, excellently trained. Those who are in brown are the S.A. men, or the Storm Department men. They are the rank-and-file. Those who are in black with silver trimmings are the S.S. men, the special defence troops, the elite. I have just had a long conversation with one of the leading S.S. men, who was pointed out to me as a hero, for he had killed a Communist.
“What happened?” I asked the powerfully built young man, whose smile was so disarming that I found it difficult to realise that I was talking to one who had killed a man, although he had on his helmet a skull and crossbones. He told his story eagerly.
“Yes, that was a rare fight. We Nazis have a meeting-place here, and one night a number of Communist thugs rushed in to raid us. We set to. One of them came at me and I just took him up and crashed his skull against the piano. He was done for. Nine Communists got wounded in that fight and I got a dagger wound in my hand. Look at it.
“I managed to escape, but later I was amnestied. The amnesty came on my birthday.”
Gentleness to their enemies is no characteristic of Hitler’s hundreds of thousands of followers. The storm troops are backed by fourteen million German citizens, and Hitler finds himself in a strong position. He is digging himself in rapidly, thanks to one man, Goering, who now controls Prussia, and Prussia is two-thirds of Germany.
Goering is perhaps the most determined of Hitler’s followers. He has already dismissed hundreds of non-Nazi police, presidents, officials, and Civil Servant in Prussia and replaced them with keen Nazis. Many war heroes are now in control of the police. Goering’s actions have amounted to a coup d’état without violence.
Law the Tool of a Party
In a few weeks the Nazis have won the key positions, and they are not the kind of men to give them up. Goering has written a letter to the police which practically absolves them from any blame or responsibility if they shoot a Communist or a Socialist. The police are to support the Nazi troops in crushing non-nationalistic elements and the Nazi storm men are to become auxiliary police. Law is thus rapidly becoming the tool of a party.
Equally dictatorial has been the attitude towards the press. Responsible news papers have been banned for criticisms In this respect Germany is beginning to tread the path of Russia and Italy.
A dictator of public opinion is to be appointed-if opinion can be dictated to- and he is going to be the vivacious little man who sat behind Hitler in the aeroplane, and whose dark, narrow head an sharp brown eyes looked like those of a Glamorgan miner- Dr. Goebbels. With the “Herr Doktor,” as he is called, I have spent several hours.
He has a remarkably appealing personality, with a sense of humour and a keen brain. One feels at home with him immediately, for he is amusing and likeable.
It is strange to think that this little man who looks so Iberian, is a leader of the Nazi movement, which has as its basic the supremacy of the big, blonde Nordic race. Before long he is going to have control of the press, of the wireless, of art, as head of a new Ministry, and he is determined to educate the whole of public opinion in Germany along National Socialist lines.
The time has come, however, to leave for the mass meeting. The hall, which holds 25,000, has been packed since twelve o’clock, although Hitler is not to speak until 8.15. The “Leader” is upstairs getting ready. Dr. Goebbels tells me that the Nazis never prepare their speeches fully. They all speak out openly. Goebbels and Hitler jot a few slogans on two or three pieces of paper or outline a short plan and are usually carried away by the revivalist spirit.
Hitler is now coming down the staircase in his brown uniform. We must go. Before long I am destined to witness one of the most overwhelming outbursts of national emotion which history records and the beginning of German Fascism.
PRIMITIVE WORSHIP OF HITLER
Emotion of National Eisteddfod at Political Meeting
By GARETH JONES
For eight hours the biggest hall in Germany has been packed with 25,000 people for whom Hitler is the saviour of his nation.
They are waiting, tense with national fervour. Five cars are now rushing towards the hall. In the first sits Hitler; in the next two open cars are the stalwart bemedalled bodyguards; then comes our car with Hitler’s secretary. The hall is surrounded by Brown Shirts. Wherever we go the shout resounds, “Heil, Hitler!” and hundreds of outstretched bands greet us. We dash up the steps after Hitler and enter the ante-chamber.
From within we hear roar upon roar of applause and the thumping and the blare of a military band and the thud of marching, feet. The door leading to the platform opens and two of us step on to the platform. I have never seen such a mass of people; such a display of flags, up to the top of the high roof; such deafening roars. It is primitive, mass worship.
Through the broad gangway Nazi troops are marching with banners, and as each-new banner comes there is another round of shouting. Steel Helmets now march in with the old Imperial and regimental flags, symbolic of the rebirth of militarism.
Then Hitler comes. Pandemonium! Twenty-five thousand people jump to their feet. Twenty-five thousand hands are outstretched. The. “Heil, Hitler,” shout is overwhelming. The people are drunk with nationalism. It is hysteria. Hitler steps forward. Two adjutants take off his Brown coat. There is a hush.
Hitler begins in a calm, deep voice, which gets louder and louder, higher and higher. He loses his calmness and trembles in his excitement. In the beginning of his speech his arms are folded and he seems hunched up, but when he is carried away he stretches out his arms and he seems to grow in stature.
He attacks the rulers of Germany in the past fourteen years. The applause is tremendous. He accuses them of corruption. Another round of enthusiasm. He whips the Socialists for having vilified German culture. He appeals for the union of Nationalism with Socialism. He calls for the end of class warfare. When he shouts, “The future belongs to the young Germany which has arisen,” the 25,000 hearers leap to their feet, stretch out their right hands and roar: “Heil, Hitler!
A Comparison With Lloyd George.
It is the emotion of the National Eisteddfod exaggerated multifold. Imagine the Welsh national feeling responding to Mr. Lloyd George and add to bitterness of defeat, the depth of humiliation which, Germany has gone through; the painful poverty of the middle class, the sufferings through inflation, the rankling injustice of the War Guilt Clause and savage political hatred, and a picture of the Hitler crowd is there.
Imagine a speech of Mr. Lloyd George. Take away the wit, take away the intellectual play, the gift of colour, the literary and Biblical allusions of the Welsh statesman. Add a louder voice, less varied in tone, a more unbroken stretch of emotional appeal, more demagogy, and you have Hitler. Hitler has less light and shade than Mr. Lloyd George. He has less variety of gesture. Hitler’s main motion is to point out his right hand, which trembles. He is without the smile and the sharp glance of Mr. Lloyd George without his hush and sudden drop of the voice.
Mr. Lloyd George is more of an artist and knows that life is not all emotion or All tragedy. He lightens a grave speech with humour, as Shakespeare brings in the comedy of life in the porters’ scene in “Macbeth”. Hitler is pure tragedy or heightened melodrama, and reminds one of Schiller’s “Robbers”. His only comic relief is bitter irony. Mr. Lloyd George has a wider scale and as in a Beethoven symphony, makes lighter mood follow or precede a tragic part. Hitler is the Wagner of oratory, a master in repeating the leitmotiv in many varied forms, and the leitmotiv is “The Republican régime in Germany has betrayed you. Our day of retribution has come.” His use of the brass instruments of oratory is Wagnerian, and he thunders out his resounding blows against Bolshevism and against democracy.
“We Shall Do Our Duty”
Whereas Mr. Lloyd George is more complex and more subtle and a speech of his is kaleidoscopic, changing in tone and colour from one moment to another, Hitler is more uniform, and his oratory is in colour; one blazing red which makes the people mad.
But both orators know their audiences, and Hitler’s speech is the speech for Nationalist Germans. He has now ended with the words: “I shall complete the work which I began fourteen years ago as an unknown soldier, for which I have struggled as leader of the party and for which I stand to-day as Chancellor of Germany. We shall do our duty.” Again the hall resounds. He marches out and we follow into the ante-chamber. He is wet with perspiration. From the hall we hear 25,000 voices singing “Deutschland uber Alles.”
We rush to the car. As we step out of the hall we see thousands of blazing torches, and we drive through an avenue of Brown Storm Troops, each man of which holds his torch in the left hand and stretches out his right hand in adoration to the leader, Adolf Hitler.
Such was the manifestation of Fascism in Germany. With the shouts of “Heil; Hitler,” resounding in my ears I prepare to leave Germany, the land where dictatorship has just begun, and to go to the land of the dictatorship of the working class. From the country of Fascism I now go to the home of Bolshevism. In a few days’ time I shall be on my way Berlin across the Polish Corridor, East Prussia, Lithuania, Latvia, until I enter the territory of Soviet Russia.
The Europe of 1933 has seen the birth the Hitler dictatorship in Germany.
What will it see in the Soviet Union?
The following article appeared as a series of twelve in The Western Mail throughout February 1933, entitled: ‘A Welshman looks at Europe‘.