>> continued from Part 1 <<
With what apprehension, then, and later with what hooror, did the outside world discern the phoenix-like growth in Germany of something which was all too plainly akin to the Prussianism which is was belieed the war had finally killed! Some would blame this rebirth of a thing essentially ugly and evil upon the great slump which deprived Germany of her economic and financial supports. Others have it that there is something essentially militaristic in the German spirit. Yet others adopt a kinder – and let us hope, truer – view that the average German is one who is constitutionally better fitted to be led rather than to play an active part in a political system which can only function properly if all, or at least the majority, of the citizens are prepared to make the contribution to it’s proper working.
The German, in a word, has a passion for regimentation; he loves order, and is not at all averse to being ordered about. In the cold air of the Weimar republic he felt it difficult to breathe; it demanded of him a knowledge, a spirit of toleration, a willingness to take par in dull and uninteresting work, which he found it difficult to afford in an age of scarcity and insecurity.
Nazism removed from him the necessity of taking thought. He willingly gave up those rights and liberties which are regarded as the very life blood of British citizenship. He gladly agreed to sink his individuality in that of the mass; he concurred in that final stage of self-stultification, the subordination of the individual to the totalitarian god – the all powerful, allegedly all-knowing supposedly all-wise State.
Hypnotised and deluded by the messianic promises of the Leader, his conscience stifled by the assertions of the new ideology, his reason deafened by the clamour of the drums – the German Abandoned his interest in politics to the men of the Nazi machine – men who, to this world at large, came to resemble even more closely the gangsters of the American underworld. All that spoke of the liberal Germany of Stresemann – let alone of the Germany of Goethe and Schiller, Kant and Mendelssohn – was spurned with contumely. Christianity was assailed, and the crude paganism of the old Teutons was officially resurrected.
At first the world outside refused to believe that Germany which has travailed so hardly in 1919 was so soon lying on it’s deathbed. But it was not long before the last illusions were crushed beneath the hammer-blows of Nazi might. In the Reoccupation of the Rhineland, the reintroduction of conscription, the creation of an air force; in the cruel bullying and eventual seizure of Austria; in the successful dismemberment and final engorging of the democratic republic of Czecho-Slovakia; finally in the onslaught upon a Poland which had committed the greatest crime in the Nazi calender – refusal to submit to the most outrageous demands present at the point of the pistol – in all these the one used was FORCE.
As Mr Chamberlain declared in his noble pronouncement over the wireless Hitler’s “action shows convincingly that there is no chance of expecting that this man will ever give up his practice of using force to gain his will. He can be stopped by force.”
When historians come to write the record of these momentous days and weeks, they will no doubt have to say that there were many other reasons why Britain took up a sword for the second time against Germany. For us, living in this critical moment, the situation is plain. The things we are fighting against are, to quote Mr Chamberlain again, “the evil things – brute force, bad faith, injustice, oppression and persecution”.
In 1939, as in 1914, the enemy is the same. Then we called it by the name Prussian Militarism: today we know it as Nazism. Under whatever name it is a foul growth, something to be cut of the body of the nations.
And that we shall most surely do, if, in the worlds of the King, we “Stand calm, firm and united” – if we “do the right as we see the right, and reverently commit our cause to God”.
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This article is an exact copy of the original in ‘The War Illustrated’ magazine September 16th 1939.