I am honoured that my WOLF essays inspired this group. Hail to you, W.! You will always have a seat at my table, brother.
Adolf Hitler: Speech at Heroes Remembrance Day in Berlin (16 March 1941)
For the second time, we celebrate in this room our folk’s Heroes Remembrance Day. Even more than a year ago, we have become aware how little words are able to express the worthy gratitude of a nation to its heroes.
In long, peaceful periods, the impressions of the terrible experiences of war gradually fade from memory, from which heroism and life-sacrifice elevate themselves. It then often goes so far that a generation no longer knows war at all and honors heroes without itself still being even the least worthy of them. Then the most difficult action of the man is celebrated with shallow slogans, yes, the danger exists that, from the memory of the heroic deeds of past times, the present believes it can draw freedom from the obligation for a similar bearing. But when the German folk honors its heroes in the year 1941, then this happens in a present and under circumstances which give us the right to remember with pride all had those who, in the battles of the more distant and most recent past, sacrificed their life for the nation.
When we remembered our heroes twelve months ago in this consecrated hall, there laid behind us the completely successful beginning of a war that Germany had not wanted, rather had been forced upon us by the same forces, which before history already bear the responsibility for the great war of folks 1914-1918. They were the elements who back then set themselves the goal to rob the German nation of the most primitive life right, who in the years of the Versailles dictate elevated the enslavement and economic impoverishment of Germany to the dogma of their new world order, and who then met our folk’s resurrection with the same hatred with which they once followed the Second Reich.
In a total misunderstanding of the facts, in a thereby conditioned miscalculation of their own and of German strength, but also in total ignorance of the new German leadership’s strength of will and decisiveness, they believed to have an easier game in the second subjugation of our folk than in the attempted first. When the American General Wood assures before the investigation committee of the American Senate that, already in the year 1936, Mr. Churchill declared to him Germany had already again become too powerful and therefore had to be destroyed in a new war, then this now historically verified fact shines light on the real responsibility for the present development. England and France wanted war, only it was less the folks, rather the thin political and financial leadership strata, behind them, as final driving force, standing international Jewry with its world conspiracies, democracy and Freemasonry.
The hope of these responsible war makers, however, was to not only find the outward reason for war through pushing forward Poland, rather to secure from the start the fragmentation of German forces that still seemed so useful to them from the World War. The eighteen-day campaign in Poland put these hopes to an abrupt end. With proud confidence, the German nation, under these circumstances, could enter the year 1941. Nonetheless, our folk did not live in self-deception about the difficulty of the coming year. The fight in the west, still alive today in the memory of every old German front soldier as path of suffering without end, had to be decided. In precise realization of our preparations and plans, in boundless confidence in the German soldier, in his equipment, his leadership, his ability and, above all, however, his bearing, I dared to announce on Heroes Remembrance Day 1940 the imminent fight as the most glorious victory in our history.
Eight weeks later, this fight began. Only, even before the Wehrmacht assembled in the west, the perhaps most important decision in this war had already fallen. On April 9th, with a few hours head start, England’s most dangerous attempt to strike German defensive strength from the north in the heart, was thwarted. When the morning of May 10th dawned, this, in the consequent effect perhaps worst threat against our military and economic position, as already successful repelled. The fight for the decision in the west could hence begin. It took the previously set course. What had not succeeded in four years of unspeakable sacrifice in the World War, was completed in a few weeks: The collapse of the British-French front. Without regard for the dull opinions of the present, guilt-ridden British Prime Minister, this year 1940 will go down into world history as one of the most decisive and in effect most significant. For in it, a shift of forces of genuinely historical significance set in. If Germany, even in 1918, had gained even a portion of these successes, the World War would have been won. Today the German Wehrmacht stands ready in a broad area, in terms of personnel and material most tremendously reinforced, determined and confident to complete what was begun in the historically epoch-making year of 1940.
But we now step, with an even stronger right than in the year 1940, before the German heroes of the past. We still all know what they had to endure and perform, especially in the World War. But we bow before their sacrifice no longer as unworthy ourselves. When the German divisions assembled for their advance in the west, the present-day Heroes Memory celebration had taken its venerable start; for at countless military cemeteries, the victorious sons stood at the graves of their heroic fathers with thankful emotion.
The German folk has paid back everything that it once, in insane blindness, surrendered and lost. So precisely today, we can again remember the life-sacrifice of the World War with elevated heart. Amidst all the glorious events of the present, we do not want in the process to overlook the immeasurable spiritual strength, which the German folk and its soldiers owe to the heroism of their ancestors. The solders of the World War as well did not fall in vain. Even if, back then, momentary success remained denied to the sacrifices, their heroic action, their fighting courage sublime beyond everything human, nonetheless left behind for the German folk a legacy, which not only every decent German generation will remember with reverence and deep emotion, rather has also remained for our opponents in paralyzing memory. Perhaps from this energetic awareness as well, the German folk now manages to do such infinitely great things. It feels itself as the executor of the will of its brave ancestors.
Next to the dead of the World War, the victims of the continuation of this struggle now form a row. And again, like back then, our folk’s sons lie in the expanse of space and of the seas, everywhere, as brave warriors of their Greater German homeland. It is the same German human being, who - be it in the World War or in the movement, at work at in the war today forced upon us - risks and gives up his life in order to finally secure peace for his folk overall and to force a peace, which leads to a better organization of human society than the one that the dictators of Versailles have broken.
But we also remember the Italian soldiers, who have today likewise had to sacrifice their life as allies in large parts of the world. Their ideals and war goals are the same as ours: The world does not exist for just a few folks, and an order that wants to base itself forever on only haves and have-nots, no longer exists, when the have-nots are determined to claim and represent their rightful share of God’s earth. The homeland as well must make heavier sacrifices in this war than previously. Its heroism as well contributes to shape the most decisive struggle in German history into a successful one. And here it is not only the man who proves himself in is strength of resistance, rather, above all, also the woman. The nation has today become a fighting unit. Not because it sought this fight, rather because it was forced upon it. Just as England and France declared war, so did England also begin the war against civilian life. To the blockade of the World War, to the war of hunger against women and children, it has this time added the air and arson war against peaceful villages and cities. Only England will fail in both. Churchill will not destroy Germany in the air war he started, rather Britain itself. And likewise, the blockade will not strike Germany, rather its initiators.
If now the onset of winter limits the combat actions on land, then the fighting in the air and at sea have continued. The heroism of our fliers adds itself to the heroism of our U-boat and ship crews.
We cannot conclude the Heroes Remembrance Day more worthily than through the renewal of our oath to transform the struggle for our annihilation incited by our international opponents into the final German victory. Behind us lies a winter rich in work. What was still to be improved in our training, was done. The German Wehrmacht has now risen to the militarily strongest instrument in our history. If in the months of the winter, above all, our ally had to endure the whole force of British attacks, then from now on the German Wehrmacht will assume its share of these burdens.
No power and no support in the world will change something in the outcome of this fight. England will fall! Eternal Providence does not let those triumph, who for the rule of their money are willing to forget the blood of human beings. Germany has demanded nothing from England and France. All its renunciations, its disarmament and peace proposals were in vain. The international finance plutocracy wants to wage this war to the end. The end of this war must and will hence be their destruction. May Providence then let us find the right path in order to lead the folks rid of its chains to a better order.
Cold and determined, we will hence assemble in the year 1941 in order to complete what was begun in the previous one. Quite regardless upon which earth or on which sea or in which air space German soldiers fight, they will know that this fight decides for always the fate, the freedom and the future of our folk!
But in that we victoriously end this fight, we thank most worthily all heroes of the past: for we save that for which they once also fell:
Greater German Reich!
96-Year-Old Accused of Being SS Camp Guard is Deemed “Unfit for Trial”
A 96-year-old man accused of being an SS guard at the Stutthof camp in German-occupied Poland has been deemed "unfit to stand trial."
The man, named only as "Harry S.," is alleged to have been stationed at the concentration camp.
The court in Wuppertal, Germany, had been due to try him of having "aided and abetted [the] murder [of] several hundred [people]," court judge and spokesman Christian Lange told MSM.
But owing to his inability to "conduct the defense in an understandable and comprehensible manner" the trial will no longer take place, Lange said. The court has decided, however, that he must "bear the expenses incurred by him in the proceedings himself."
Harry S. is accused of having served as a guard at the SS concentration camp, near the Polish city now called Gdansk, between June 1944 and May 1945.
Harry S. is alleged to have been part of a group of 11 men who guarded transport of prisoners to Auschwitz.
He was thought to either be stationed inside the Stutthof camp or inside the camp's watch towers, where his duty was also to guard security, Lange added.
In February, a former secretary from the Stutthof camp was charged with complicity in the murders of 10,000 Jews, in what was a rare case involving an alleged female concentration camp staff member.
Prosecutors did not name the woman but said she was is accused of "having assisted those responsible at the camp in the systematic killing of Jewish prisoners, Polish partisans and Soviet Russian prisoners of war in her function as a stenographer and secretary to the camp commander."
In 2018, then 94-year-old Johann Rehbogen was charged with having been an SS guard at the Stutthof concentration camp as a teenager in 1942.
Rehbogen, who appeared in court in a wheelchair, denied knowing the extent of the atrocities committed there in a statement read at court by his attorney. The trial was suspended after Rehbogen was hospitalized with health problems, reported AFP.
A Special Message To All My Readers:
I will start publishing my poems again, as well as writing more essays. I have been copying a plethora of articles from various sources to give my readers and fans something different and special. Hope you've all enjoyed....
Besides essays and poems, I shall be writing short stories as well. And the essays will cover ancient Aryan history, European spiritual philosophy, Creativity, Fascism, Skinhead history, Lone Wolf tips and tricks, as well as various other items....
News from various sources on certain topics to continue on the HARDYLLOYD.NET website. And Creativity related topics on CHURCHOFBENKLASSEN.ORG website.
And as always you can expect my slightly psychotic humour. lol
Stay well, Komrades.
The Most Heartless War Crime Ever Committed: When the Soviets Sank a German Refugee Ship Full of Children
The deliberate sinking of this refugee ship filled with innocent german women and children remains not only the worst nautical disaster in world history but one of the most heartless and sadistic war crimes ever committed.
For millions of Germans cut off on the Baltic coast by the rapid Red Army advance, only one avenue of escape remained open - the sea. Even here, however, Soviet aircraft controlled the skies above and submarines prowled unseen below. In the various ports along the coast, thousands upon thousands of ragged, frozen refugees pressed to the water’s edge in hopes of landing a spot on one of the few vessels available.
The numbers were so great and the fear so consuming that efforts to board when ships did dock often resembled riots.
“The crush to get on board was just terrible,” a witness wrote from Pillau. “I saw a pram being squeezed out of all recognition by the pushing masses. One old man fell into the water and there was nothing one could do in the crush—also it was so cold he would have died on hitting the water.”
Because armed guards had orders to evacuate as many women and children as possible, babies were used like tickets, with half-crazed mothers tossing infants down to relatives on the pier. Some children landed safely; some did not.
If anything, the situation at Gotenhafen was even more horrific. As the Wilhelm Gustloff made ready to take on passengers in late January 1945, the ship’s crew was stunned by what they saw. “There must have been 60,000 people on the docks . . . ,” remembered second engineer, Walter Knust. “[A]s soon as we let down the gangways people raced forward and pushed their way in. In the confusion a lot of children got separated from their parents. Either the kids got on board leaving their parents on the harbor or the children were left behind as their parents got pushed forward by the throng.”
A former cruise liner designed to accommodate two thousand passengers and crew, by the time the Gustloff cast ropes on January 30, the beautiful white ship had taken on as many as eight thousand refugees. Even so, as she backed away from port, her path was blocked by smaller craft jammed with people.
“Take us with you,” the refugees cried. “Save the children!”
“We put down nets and everybody on the small ships scrambled up as best they could,” said the Gustloff ’s radio operator, Rudi Lange. “As we got under way I think I remember being told by one of the ship’s officers to send a signal that another 2,000 people had come aboard.”
That black, stormy night, as she struggled through high winds and heavy, ice-filled waves, the Gustloff ’s ventilation and plumbing systems failed utterly. Strained far beyond its limits, the tightly-sealed ship filled with a hot, nauseating stench of urine, excrement, and vomit. The groans and screams of severely wounded soldiers and the wails of separated families added to the ghastly horror. But the worst was yet to come. At approximately 9 p.m., three heavy jolts rocked the passengers on the Gustloff.
“Vroom—Vroom—Vroom! That’s what it sounded like,” recalled a young boy upon hearing the torpedoes.
“I heard [the] explosions,” wrote engineer Knust, “and I knew what had happened at once, because the engines stopped and then I saw a rush of water through the engine room. First the ship lurched to starboard under the force of the blast. Then she rose and began listing to port. I put on my shoes and jacket and hurried out into the corridor.”
Panic-stricken, thousands below deck stampeded through the narrow passageways crushing and clawing others in an attempt to reach the life boats. “People were rushing about and screaming. Alarm bells shrilled,” remembered one terrorized passenger.
“We struggled through the crowd to one of the boats,” said Paula Knust, wife of the ship’s officer. “It was so cold as the wind hit us. I was wearing only slacks and a blouse and blazer. Already the ship had a heavy list. The waves seemed very high, and you cannot imagine how terrible it looked.”
Most lifeboats were frozen solid and even those that could be freed were mishandled in the panic and spilled their screaming occupants into the black sea. Walter and Paula Knust grappled with one boat that did manage to get away. “As we hit the water,” the husband recalled, “I could see people leaping from the side of the ship into the sea. I thought those who escaped drowning would freeze to death. It was so cold.” Indeed, the water was so frigid that those who leaped overboard might just as well have jumped into boiling oil or acid for their chances of survival were almost as slim. In seconds, minutes at most, the struggling swimmers were dead.
While loud speakers blared words of comfort—“The ship will not sink. Rescue ships are on the way”—thousands of freezing people pressed along the decks. Convinced that the sealed bulkheads had held and that indeed, the ship would not sink, many passengers fled indoors once more to escape the razor sharp winds and –20 degree temperature. The respite proved brief, however.
At ten o’clock a heavy tremor ripped the Gustloff as the bulkheads broke and the sea rushed in. Within seconds, the big ship began to roll on its side. Sixteen-year-old Eva Luck was in the ballroom with her mother and little sister:
[S]uddenly the whole music room tilted and a great cry went up from all the people there. They literally slid in a heap along the angled deck. A grand piano at one end went berserk and rolled across the crowded room crushing women and children in its path and scattering others before it. Finally it smashed into the port bulkhead with a discordant roar as though a giant fist had hit all the keys at once.
Elsewhere, other victims went flying through glass enclosed decks into the sea. Amid the screams, sirens and roar of rushing water, gunshots sounded throughout the doomed ship as those trapped below committed suicide.
Miraculously escaping the ball room with the help of a sailor, Eva Luck’s family frantically tried to escape:
My mother had forgotten to put her shoes on, and I moved clumsily on high heels towards the iron rungs of the ladder going up the ship’s inside. People around us were falling about as the ship moved but I was able to grasp the rungs and haul up my little sister. . . . My mother followed us to the upper deck. When we got there it was terrible. I saw with horror that the funnel was lying almost parallel with the sea. People were jumping in. I could hear the ship’s siren and felt the ice-cold water round my legs. I reached out to try and grab my sister. I felt nothing but the water as it swept me out and over the side.
Fortunately for Eva and a few others, the force of the flooding water freed a number of life rafts. As survivors scrambled aboard, the Gustloff began her swift descent. “Suddenly,” remembered a woman in a lifeboat, “it seemed that every light in the ship had come on. The whole ship was blazing with lights, and her sirens sounded out over the sea.”
Paula Knust also watched the drama:
I cannot forget the loud clear sound of the siren as the Gustloff with all her lights on made the final plunge. I could clearly see the people still on board the Gustloff clinging to the rails. Even as she went under they were still hanging on and screaming. All around us were people swimming, or just floating in the sea. I can still see their hands grasping at the sides of our boat. It was too full to take on any more.
When rescue ships later reached the scene, they pulled from the icy waters a mere nine hundred survivors. All else—an estimated 8,000-9,000 men, women and children—were lost.
Even then, however, the nightmare did not end. When rescue vessels touched land, scores of victims were disembarked at Gotenhafen. Thus, in less than twenty-four hours, after a harrowing night of incredible terror, some refugees found themselves on the very docks they had hoped to leave, once again searching desperately for a way to escape to approaching Red Army.
Apocalypse at Dresden: The Long Suppressed Story of the Worst Massacre in History
Were all the crimes against humanity committed during World War lithe work of Hitler's underlings? That was certainly the impression created by the fact that only Germans were brought to trial at Nuremburg.
by R. H. S. CROSSMAN | November 1, 1963
Alas! It is a false impression. We all now know that in the terrible struggle waged between the Red Army and the German Wehrmacht, the Russians displayed their fair share of insensate inhumanity. What is less widely recognized—because the truth, until only recently, has been deliberately suppressed—is that the Western democracies were responsible for the most senseless single act of mass murder committed in the whole course of World War II.
The devastation of Dresden in February, 1945, was one of those crimes against humanity whose authors would have been arraigned at Nuremburg if that Court had not been perverted into the instrument of Allied justice. Whether measured in terms of material destruction or by loss of human life, this “conventional” air raid was far more devastating than either of the two atomic raids against Japan that were to follow it a few months later. Out of 28,410 houses in the inner city of Dresden, 24,866 were destroyed ; and the area of total destruction extended over eleven square miles.
As for the death roll, the population, as we shall see, had been well nigh doubled by a last-minute influx of refugees flying before the Red Army ; and even the German authorities—usually so pedantic in their estimates—gave up trying to work out the precise total after some 35,000 bodies had been recognized, labeled and buried. We do know, however, that the 1,250,000 people in the city on the night of the raid had been reduced to 368,519 by the time it was over; and it seems certain that the death roll must have greatly exceeded the 71,879 at Hiroshima. Indeed, the German authorities were probably correct who, a few days after the attack, put the total somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000.
How was this horror permitted to happen? Was it a deliberate and considered act of policy, or was it the result of one of those ghastly misunderstandings or miscalculations that sometimes occur in the heat of battle? There are many who will say that these are academic questions belonging to history. I do not agree. Of course, what happened at Dresden belongs to the prenuclear epoch. But it has a terrible relevance to the defense strategy which the Western democracies are operating today. If the crime of Dresden is not to be repeated on a vaster scale, we must find out why it was committed. That, at least, has been my feeling, and there are two special reasons which have prompted me to go on investigating the facts for so many years. In the first place, I was myself involved in a quite minor capacity in the decisions which preceded it. When the Germans overran France in 1940 and the Chamberlain Government in London was replaced by the Churchill Government, there was a purge in Whitehall. Unexpectedly I found myself recruited to a secret department attached to the Foreign Office, with the title “Director of Psychological Warfare against Germany.” My main task was to plan the overt and subvert propaganda which we hoped would rouse occupied Europe against Hitler. But I soon found myself caught up in a bitter top-secret controversy about the role of bomber offensive in the breaking of German morale.
The Prime Minister was haunted by fears that the bloodletting of the Somme and Passchendaele in World War I would have to be repeated if we tried to defeat Hitler by landing and liberating Europe. So the Air Marshals found it easy to persuade him that if they were given a free hand they could make these casualties unnecessary by smashing the German home front into submission. What Hitler wreaked against London and Coventry, our bombers would repay a thousandfold, until the inhabitants of Berlin, Hamburg and every other city in Germany had been systematically “dehoused” and pulverized into surrender. To achieve this, the Air Marshals demanded that top priority in war production should be given not to preparations for the second front, but to the construction of huge numbers of four-engined night bombers.
Eagerly Sir Winston Churchill accepted their advice, with the backing of his whole Cabinet. The only warning voices raised were those of a number of very influential scientists who, by means of careful calculations, threw serious doubt on the physical possibility of wreaking the degree of destruction required. Their mathematical arguments were reinforced by the studies we psychological warriors had made of British morale in the blitz. Assuming, wisely as it worked out, that the German people would behave under air attack at least as bravely as the British people, we demonstrated that the scale of frightfulness our bombers could employ against German cities would almost certainly strengthen civilian morale, and so stimulate the war production that it was intended to weaken.
Early in 1941, these arguments were finally swept aside, and Britain was completely committed to the bomber offensive. By the time it reached its first climax in the raid on Hamburg, however, I had been transferred to Eisenhower’s staff. I was happy, first in North Africa and then in SHAEF, to work with an Anglo-American staff who did not trouble to conceal how much they detested the hysterical mania for destruction and the cold-blooded delight in pounding the German home front to pieces displayed by the big-bomb boys. Indeed, one of my pleasantest memories is the attitude General Walter Bedell Smith displayed a few weeks after the Dresden raid. Sir Winston had accused “Ike” of being soft to the German civilians and ordered him to use terror tactics in order to panic them out of their homes and onto the roads, and so to block the German retreat. No one contradicted Sir Winston, but as soon as his back was turned, we were instructed to work out a directive that would prevent him getting his way.
IF THE BRITISH COMMONWEALTH AND THE UNITED STATES LAST A THOUSAND YEARS, MEN MAY SAY THAT THIS WAS THEIR DARKEST HOUR
On V.E. Day, when I flew back to Britain in order to stand as a Labour Candidate in Coventry, I assumed with relief that my concern with bombing was over. But I was wrong. Within years, Coventry—the main victim of the Luftwaffe—had “twinned” itself with Dresden, the main victim of the R.A.F. And when Germany was divided and it became difficult for Westerners to go behind the Iron Curtain, I had a standing invitation to visit Dresden as the guest of its Lord Mayor. I have done so frequently, and on each occasion I have tried to match the inside experience of bombing strategy I acquired during the war with firsthand information from its victims “on the other side of the hill.” I have also checked the published accounts of the destruction of Dresden available in Western and Eastern Germany, against the official History of the Strategic Bombing Offensive published only two years ago in Britain. These researches have left me in no doubt whatever how Dresden was destroyed, why it was destroyed, and what lessons we must draw from its destruction.
The prelude to the bombing of Dresden was sounded by the Russian communiqué of January 12, 1945, which announced that the Red Army had resumed its offensive all along the front, and was advancing into Prussia and Silesia. This news could hardly have been more embarrassing, either to General Dwight D. Eisenhower whose armies were still recovering from the humiliating effects of General Karl von Rundstedt’s Christmas offensive in the Ardennes, or to President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill who were now preparing for the Yalta Conference due to start on February 4. Since the postwar settlement was bound to be discussed with Josef Stalin in terms not of principle but of pure politics, Sir Winston felt that the impression created by the Red Army’s occupation of Eastern Europe and advance deep into Germany must somehow be countered. But how? The obvious answer was by a demonstration right up against the Red Army of Western air power. What was required, he decided, was a thunderclap of Anglo-American aerial annihilation so frightful in the destruction it wreaked that even Stalin would be impressed.
January 25 was the day when the decision was taken that resulted in the blotting out of Dresden. Until then, the capital of Saxony had been considered so famous a cultural monument and so futile a military target that even the Commander in Chief of Bomber Command, Air Marshal Sir Arthur Harris, had given it hardly a thought. All its flak batteries had been removed for use on the Eastern front; and the Dresden authorities had taken none of the precautions, either in the strengthening of air-raid shelters, or in the provision of concrete bunkers that had so startlingly reduced casualties in other German cities subjected to Allied attack. Instead, they had encouraged rumors that it would be spared either because Churchill had a niece living there, or else because it was reserved by the Allies as their main occupation quarters. These rumors were strengthened by the knowledge that no less than some 25,000 Allied prisoners were quartered in and around the city, and that its population had doubled to well over a million in recent weeks by streams of refugees from the East.
All this Sir Winston knew on January 25. But early on that winter morning he had learned that the Russian Army had crossed the Oder at Breslav and was now only sixty miles from Dresden. Angrily he rang up Sir Archibald Sinclair, his Secretary of State for Air, and asked him what plans he had for “basting the Germans in their retreat from Breslav.” Sir Archibald, whose main function it had been to protect Bomber Command from public criticism by a series of lying assurances that scrupulous care was taken to bomb only military targets, remained true to type. He prevaricated over the phone and next day replied that in the view of the Air Staff “intervention in winter weather at very long range over Eastern Germany would be difficult.” To this the Premier replied with a memorandum so offensive in its controlled fury that the Minister and the Air Staff, never noted for their moral courage, were stampeded into action. At once, orders were given to concert with the American Eighth Air Force a plan for wiping out Leipzig, Chemnitz and Dresden.
Sir Winston and his staff left for Yalta, where it became only too clear that the Premier’s forebodings were justified. Strengthened by his victories, Stalin pressed his political demands upon a President now weakened and very near his death, and a Prime Minister isolated and ill at ease. When suggestions were made that the Western bombing should be used to help the Red Army advance, the Russian generals were chilly and unresponsive. Nevertheless, Sir Arthur Harris had already selected Dresden, now only sixty miles from the front, for destruction. And day by day, Sir Winston hoped that he would be able to impress Stalin with the demonstration of what Allied air power could achieve so near the Russian allies. But the weather was against him. The conference broke up on the eleventh, and it was only three days later—long after the conference when it could no longer have any effect on the negotiations—that the R.A.F.’s spokesman in London proudly announced the destruction of Dresden.
We must now turn back and see what the airmen had been planning. Sir Arthur Harris was quick to seize the opportunity presented by the Prime Minister’s insistence that Bomber Command must make its presence felt in Eastern Germany. Since 1941, by a slow process of trial and error which had cost him many thousands of air crews, he had perfected his new technique of “saturation precision bombardment.” First, daylight operations over Germany had been discarded as too costly ; then, with raiding confined to nighttime, target bombing, after a long period of quite imaginary successes, had been abandoned as too wildly inaccurate. The decision was taken to set each city center on fire and destroy the residential areas, sector by sector.
In this new kind of incendiary attack, highly trained special crews were sent ahead to delineate a clearly defined target area with marker flares, nicknamed by the Germans “Christmas trees.” When this had been done, all that remained for the rest of the bomber forces was to lay its bomb carpet so thickly that the defense, the A.R.P., the police, and the fire services would all be overwhelmed.
This fire-raising technique was first used with complete success in the great raid on Hamburg. Thousands of individual fires conglomerated into a single blaze, creating the famous “fire-storm” effect, first described by the Police President of the city in a secret report to Hitler that soon fell into Allied hands:
“As the result of the confluence of a number of fires, the air above is heated to such an extent that in consequence of its reduced specific gravity a violent updraft occurs which causes great suction of the surrounding air radiating from the center of the fire. . . . The suction of the fire storm in the larger of these area fire zones had the effect of attracting the already overheated air in smaller area fire zones. . . . One effect of this phenomenon was that the fire in the smaller area fire zones was fanned as by a bellows as the central suction of the biggest and fiercest fires caused increased and accelerated attraction of the surrounding masses of fresh air. In this way all the area fires became united in one vast fire.”
The Hamburg fire storm probably killed some 40,000 people: three-quarters by carbon-monoxide poisoning as a result of the oxygen being sucked out of the air ; the rest by asphyxiation.
As soon as he heard that permission had been given to destroy Dresden, Air Marshal Harris decided to achieve this by a deliberately created fire storm, and to increase the effect he persuaded the Americans to split the available bombers into three groups. The task of the first wave was to create the fire storm. Three hours later, a second and much heavier night force of British bombers was timed to arrive when the German fighter and flak defenses would be off guard, and the rescue squads on their way. Its task was to spread the fire storm. Finally, the next morning, a daylight attack by the Eighth Air Force was to concentrate on the outlying areas, the new city.
Two-pronged attacks had been successfully carried out during 1944 against a number of German towns. The three-pronged attack employed at Dresden was unique and uniquely successful. The first wave, consisting of some two hundred fifty night bombers, arrived precisely on time and duly created a fire storm. The second force— more than twice as strong and carrying an enormous load of incendiaries—also reached the target punctually, and, undisturbed by flak or night fighters, spent thirty-four minutes carefully spreading the fires outside the first target area. Finally, to complete the devastation, some two hundred eleven Flying Fortresses began the third attack at 11:30 a.m. on the following morning. Without exaggeration, the commanders could claim that the Dresden raid had “gone according to plan.” Everything which happened in the stricken city had been foreseen and planned with meticulous care.
So far, we have been looking at the Dresden raid from “our own side of the hill”—considering the point of view of Mr. Churchill, concerned to create the best impression possible on Stalin at the Yalta Conference, and of Air Marshal Harris, eager to demonstrate the technique for creating a fire storm. But what was the impact on the Dresdeners? Inevitably the raid has created its own folklore. Thousands of those who survived it now live in Western Germany, each with his own memory to retail to the visitor. In Dresden itself, the city fathers have now established an official Communist version, of which the main purpose clearly is to put the main blame on the “American imperialists” (we are solemnly told, for instance, that the R.A.F. was directed to special targets in the city by an American capitalist whose villa on the far side of the Elbe is now a luxury club for favored Communist artists). Nevertheless, anyone who bothers to read the books published in both Germanies and to compare the stories he hears from Communist and anti-Communist witnesses soon discovers that not only the outline of events but the details of the main episodes are agreed beyond dispute.
Dresden is one of those German cities which normally devotes Shrove Tuesday to Carnival festivities. But on February 13, 1945, with the Red Army sixty miles away, the mood was somber. The refugees, who were crowded into every house, each had his horror story about Russian atrocities. In many parts of the city, and particularly around the railway station, thousands of latecomers who could find no corner in which to sleep were camping in the bitter cold of the open streets. The only signs of Carnival spirit, when the sirens sounded at 9:55 p.m., were the full house at the circus and a few gangs of little girls wandering about in fancy dress. Though no one took the danger of a raid very seriously, orders must be obeyed and the population just had time to get down to its shelters before the first bombs fell at nine minutes past the hour.
Twenty-four minutes later, the last British bomber was on its way back to England, and the inner city of Dresden was ablaze. Since there were no steel structures in any of its apartment houses, the floors quickly capsized, and half an hour after the raid was over the fire storm transformed thousands of individual blazes into a sea of flames, ripping off the roofs, tossing trees, cars and lorries into the air, and simultaneously sucking the oxygen out of the air-raid shelters.
Most of those who remained belowground were to die painlessly, their bodies first brilliantly tinted bright orange and blue, and then, as the heat grew intense, either totally incinerated or melted into a thick liquid sometimes three or four feet deep. But there were others who, when the bombing stopped, rushed upstairs. Some of them stopped to collect their belongings before escaping, and they were caught by the second raid. But some 10,000 fled to the great open space of the Grosse Garten, the magnificent royal park of Dresden, nearly one and a half square miles in all.
Here they were caught by the second raid, which started without an air-raid warning, at 1:22 a.m. Far heavier than the first—there were twice as many bombers with a far heavier load of incendiaries -—its target markers had been deliberately placed in order to spread the fires into the black rectangle which was all the airmen could see of the Grosse Garten. Within minutes the fire storm was raging across the grass, ripping up some trees and littering the branches of others with clothes, bicycles and dismembered limbs that remained hanging for days afterward.
Equally terrible was the carnage in the great square outside the main railway station. Here, the thousands camping out had been reinforced by other thousands escaping from the inner city, while within the station a dozen trains, when the first sirens blew, had been shunted to the marshaling yards and escaped all damage. After the first raid stopped, these trains were shunted back to the station platforms—just in time to receive the full force of the bombardment. For weeks, mangled bodies were littered inside and outside the station building. Belowground, the scene was even more macabre. The restaurants, cellars and tunnels could easily have been turned into effective bombproof shelters. The authorities had not bothered to do so, and of the two thousand crowded in the dark, one hundred were burned alive and five hundred asphyxiated before the doors could be opened and the survivors pulled out.
The timing of the second raid, just three hours after the first, not only insured that the few night fighters in the area were off their guard, but it also created the chaos intended and effectively interrupted all rescue work. For many miles around, military detachments, rescue squads and fire brigades started on their way to the stricken city, and most of them were making their way through the suburbs when the bombs began to fall. Those who turned back were soon swallowed up in the mad rush of panic evacuation. Most of those who proceeded toward the center perished in the fire storm.
The most terrible scenes in the inner city took place in the magnificent old market square, the Altmarkt. Soon after the first raid finished, this great square was jam-packed with panting survivors. When the second raid struck, they could scarcely move until someone remembered the huge concrete emergency water tank that had been constructed to one side. This tank was a hundred by fifty yards by six feet deep. There was a sudden stampede to escape the heat of the fire storm by plunging into it. Those who did so forgot that its sloping sides were slippery, with no handholds. The nonswimmers sank to the bottom, dragging the swimmers with them. When the rescuers reached the Altmarkt five days later, they found the tank filled with bloated corpses, while the rest of the square was littered with recumbent or seated figures so shrunk by the incineration that thirty of them could be taken away in a single bathtub.
But perhaps the most memorable horror of this second raid occurred in the hospitals. In the last year of the war, Dresden had become a hospital city, with many of its schools converted into temporary wards. Of its nineteen hospitals, sixteen were badly damaged and three, including the main maternity clinic, totally destroyed. Thousands of crippled survivors were dragged by their nurses to the banks of the River Elbe, where they were laid in rows on the grass to wait for the daylight. But when it came, there was another horror. Punctually at 11:30 a.m., the third wave of bombers, the two hundred eleven American Flying Fortresses, began their attack. Once again, the area of destruction was extended across the city. But what the survivors all remember were the scores of Mustang fighters diving low over the bodies huddled on the banks of the Elbe, as well as on the larger lawns of the Grosse Garten, in order to shoot them up. Other Mustangs chose as their targets the serried crowds that blocked every road out of Dresden. No one knows how many women and children were actually killed by those dive-bombing attacks. But in the legend of Dresden destruction, they have become the symbol of Yankee sadism and brutality, and the inquirer is never permitted to forget that many choirboys of one of Dresden’s most famous churches were among the victims.
For five days and nights, the city burned and no attempt was made to enter it. Then at last the authorities began to grapple with the crisis and to estimate the damage. Of Dresden’s five theatres, all had gone. Of her fifty-four churches, nine were totally destroyed and thirty-eight seriously damaged. Of her one hundred thirtynine schools, sixty-nine ceased to exist and fifty were badly hit. The great zoo which lay just beyond the Grosse Garten had been struck in the second raid, and the panicked animals had mingled with the desperate survivors. Now they were rounded up and shot. Those who escaped from the prisons, when they too were blown up, had better fortune: they all managed to get away, including a number of brave anti-Nazis.
But some things had survived destruction. The few factories Dresden possessed were outside the city center, and soon were at work again. So too was the railway system. Within three days, indeed, military trains were running once again right through the city, and the marshaling yards—untouched by a bomb—were in full operation. It was as though an ironical fate had decided that the first fire storm deliberately created by mortal man should destroy everything worth preserving, and leave untouched anything of military value.
In their salvage work, the Nazis relied on some 25,000 Allied prisoners of war, concentrated in and around the city. Dresden, as was known very well in London and Washington, was not only a hospital city but a prisoner-of-war city—still another reason why the authorities assumed it would not be attacked. Faced with the appalling scenes of suffering, the prisoners seemed to have worked with a will, even after some of their fellow-prisoners had been shot under martial law for looting.
What Dresdeners chiefly remember, of these first days after the raid, is the disposal of the bodies. Throughout the war, German local authorities had been extremely careful to show great respect for death, enabling relatives wherever possible to identify and to bury their own dead. At first, this procedure was followed in Dresden. But weeks after the raid there were still thousands of unopened cellars under the smoldering ruins, and the air was thick with the fog and sweet stench of rotting flesh. An S.S. commander made the decision that the daily procession of horse-drawn biers from the city to the cemeteries outside must be stopped. If plague was to be prevented, the rest of the corpses must be disposed of more speedily. Hurriedly, a monstrous funeral pyre was constructed in the Altmarkt. Steel shutters from one of Dresden’s biggest department stores were laid across broken slabs of ironstone. On this macabre gridiron, the bodies were piled with straw between each layer, soaked with gasoline and set ablaze. Nine thousand corpses were disposed of in this way, and eight cubic meters of ash were then loaded into gasoline containers and buried in a graveyard outside the city, twenty-five feet wide and fifteen feet deep.
If it was expected in either London or Washington that the destruction of Dresden, despite its negligible military significance, would at least shatter German morale, this hope was soon to be disappointed—thanks to Paul Joseph Goebbels’ skillful exploitation of the disaster. For days, the Propaganda Ministry in Berlin poured out, both in its foreign and in its home services, a stream of eyewitness accounts of the stricken city, backed up by moralistic attacks on the cold-blooded sadism of the men who created the fire storm. In his secret propaganda, Dr. Goebbels did even better by leaking to the neutral press a fictitious top-secret estimate that the casualties had probably reached 250,000. As a result of this Nazi propaganda campaign, the German people were convinced that the AngloAmerican forces were indeed bent on their destruction. And their morale was once again stiffened by terror of defeat
Disturbed by the success of Dr. Goebbels’ propaganda, the airmen decided to call a press conference on February 16 at SHAEF. As a result of the briefing, given by a British Air Commodore, Associated Press cabled a special dispatch all over the world, announcing “the long-awaited decision to adopt deliberate terror bombings of German population centers as a ruthless expedient of hastening Hitler’s doom.” The correspondents added that the Dresden attack was “for the avowed purpose of heaping more confusion on Nazi road and rail traffic, and to sap German morale.”
When this dispatch reached London, it was immediately censored on the ground that officially the R.A.F. only bombed military targets, and the attribution to it of terror raids was a vicious piece of Nazi propaganda. In the United States, where the dispatch was widely publicized, the embarrassment caused to the Administration was acute, since the Air Force spokesmen had seldom failed to point out the difference between the indiscriminate R.A.F. night attacks and the selective and precise nature of the daylight bombing carried out by the Eighth Air Force. In order to stop awkward questions, General George C. Marshall then gave a public assurance that the bombing on Dresden had taken place at Russian request. Although.no evidence was produced either then or since for the truth of this statement, it was accepted uncritically and has since found its way into* anumber of official American histories.
But suppression was not sufficient to stem the rising wave of public protest. Coming as it did when the war was virtually over, the wanton destruction of the Florence of the North and the mass murder of so many of its inhabitants was too much, even for a world public opinion fed for years on strident war propaganda. The publication of a lengthy report by a Swedish correspondent caused a revulsion of feeling.
Within a few weeks, this revulsion against indiscriminate bombing had affected even Sir Winston Churchill. Up till now, the critics in the British Parliament of area bombing had been a small, derided minority. Suddenly, their influence began to grow, and on March 28', Sir Winston in response to this new mood, wrote to the Chief of the Air Staff, beginning with the remarkable words :
“It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed.”
Since the Premier had taken the lead in demanding the switch from target to area bombing and had actively encouraged each new. advance proposed by Air Marshal Harris in the technique of air obliteration, this memorandum could hardly have been less felicitously phrased. It provided damning evidence that so long as terror bombing was popular, the politicians would take credit for it ; but now that public opinion was revolting against its senseless brutality, they were only too obviously running forcover and leaving the. air force to take the blame.
So outraged was the Chief of the Air Staff that on thisoccasion he stood up to Sir Winston, forcing him to withdraw the memorandum, and to substitute for it what the official historians—who narrate this incident in full—have described as “a somewhat* more discreetly and fairly worded document.”
But in Britain at least the damage had already been done. From that moment, Bomber Command, which for years had been the* object of adulation, became increasingly discredited, and the nickname of its Commander in Chief changed from “Bomber” Harris to “Butcher” Harris. Although the bomber crews suffered far the heaviest casualties of any of the British armed services, no campaign medal was struck to distinguish their part in winning* the war. In his victory broadcast of May 13, 1945, Sir Winston omitted any tribute to them, and after the Labour Government came to power,. Earl Attlee was just as vindictive. In January, 1946, he omitted their Commander in Chief from his victory honors list. Sir Arthur Harris accepted the insult loyally, and on February 13 sailed to exile in South Africa.
The Eighth Air Force was treated more gently, both by the politicians in Washington and by the American public. Its airmen received their share of campaign medals, and to this day it has never been officially admitted that by the end of the war they were bombing city centers and residential areas as wantonly by day as the R.A.F. was by night. There was, however, an important difference between the public image of the two Air Forces. The British Cabinet, having secretly decided to sanction indiscriminate terror bombing, concealed this decision from the British public and therefore compelled Bomber Command to operate under cover of a sustained and deliberate lie. In the case of the Eighth Air Force, selfdeception took place of lying. Instead of doing one thing and saying another, the myth was maintained that on every mission the Flying Fortresses aimed exclusively at military targets, and this is still part of the official American legend of World War II. It was because it was impossible to square this legend with what had happened at Dresden that General Marshall had to excuse American protestation in that holocaust on the fictitious ground that the Russians had requested the attack.
I leave it to the reader to decide which form was more nauseating— British lying or American self-deception. For what concerns me in this inquiry is not the public image of Anglo-American idealism that was shattered by the Dresden raid, but the crime against humanity which was perpetrated. That it was decided to bomb ä city of no military value simply in order to impress Stalin. That a fire storm was deliberately created in order to kill as many people as possible, and that the survivors were machine-gunned as they lay helpless in the open—all this has been established without a shadow of a doubt. What remains is to ask how decent, civilized politicians enthusiastically approved such mass murder and decent, civilized servicemen conscientiously carried it out.
The usual explanation — or excuse — is that strategic bombing was only adopted by the Western powers as a method of retaliation in a total war started by totalitarians. This is at best a half-truth. The Nazis and the Communists dabbled in terror raids on civilian targets. But they were old-fashioned and imperialist enough to hold that the aim of war is not to destroy the enemy, but to defeat his armies in the field, to occupy his country, and exploit its resources. That is why both Stalin and Hitler preferred to use their air power, not as a separate weapon of unlimited war, but as a tactical adjunct to conventional land and sea operations. In fact, the only nations which applied the theory of unlimited war really systematically were the two great Western democracies. Both created a gigantic strategic air force and carried out quite separate but equally unsuccessful attempts to defeat Germany by aerial annihilation.
Yet, at first sight, terror bombing seems to me, as an Englishman, a form of warfare repugnant to our national temperament, and utterly unsuited to an island people, itself hopelessly vulnerable to indiscriminate air attack. And I suspect that most Americans also feel that it does not conform with the traditions of the American way of life.
Why then did both nations adopt it?
I believe that the motive which prompted us was a very characteristic Anglo-Saxon desire to defend ourselves without preparing for war, to win the fruits of victory without actual fighting, and (if this proved impossible) at least to keep casualties down to a minimum among our own soldiers. Not only do British and American fighting men demand a far higher standard of living than most of their enemies. Even more important, they insist that they should not be required to risk death in close combat if remote-control methods of destroying the enemy are available. That, I am sure, is the main reason why our politicians and generals felt morally justified in conducting a bomber offensive against Germany which culminated in the destruction of Dresden.
Once we see this, we are no longer surprised that, as soon as an atomic bomb had been perfected, President Truman decided, with the full approval of the British Prime Minister, to use it. In this way, he could finish off the Japanese without a landing that would have cost thousands of American lives!
The moral I draw from the terrible story of Dresden is that the atom bombs employed on Hiroshima and Nagasaki did not inaugurate a new epoch in the history of war. They merely provided a new method of achieving victory without the casualties involved in land fighting far more deadly and far more economical than the thousand-bomber raid of World War II. Here, our politicians and generals felt, was the ultimate weapon which would enable the democracies to disarm and to relax—yet deter aggression.
Alas! Nearly twenty years of bitter experience have taught us that the world was not made safe for democracy either by the “conventional” fire storm created by the bombers in Dresden, or by the atomic fire storm of Hiroshima. Even in modern war, crime does not always pay!
I and my friends will continue to target the Eastend + the South Hills with fliers and what not till the federal cocksuckers of the probation office give me back my shit you faggs stole!! And if you think I'm bluffing, well, you ain't seen nothing yet!!
How Germany Tackled Financial and Economic Crisis Within Three Years
To deal with the massive unemployment and economic paralysis of the Great Depression, both the US and German governments launched innovative and ambitious programs.
Although President Franklin Roosevelt’s “New Deal” measures helped only marginally, the Third Reich’s much more focused and comprehensive policies proved remarkably effective. Within three years unemployment was banished and Germany’s economy was flourishing.
While Roosevelt’s record in dealing with the Depression is pretty well known, the remarkable story of how Hitler tackled the crisis is not widely understood or appreciated.
Adolf Hitler became Chancellor of Germany on January 30, 1933. A few weeks later, on March 4, Franklin Roosevelt took office as President of the United States. Each man remained his country’s chief executive for the next twelve years -- until April 1945, shortly before the end of World War II in Europe. In early 1933 industrial production in each country had fallen to about half of what it had been in 1929. Each leader quickly launched bold new initiatives to tackle the terrible economic crisis, above all the scourge of mass unemployment. And although there are some striking similarities between the efforts of the two governments, the results were very different.
One of the most influential and widely read American economists of the twentieth century was John Kenneth Galbraith. He was an advisor to several presidents, and for a time served as US ambassador to India. He was the author of several dozen books, and for years taught economics at Harvard University. With regard to Germany’s record, Galbraith wrote: “… The elimination of unemployment in Germany during the Great Depression without inflation -- and with initial reliance on essential civilian activities -- was a signal accomplishment. It has rarely been praised and not much remarked. The notion that Hitler could do no good extends to his economics as it does, more plausibly, to all else.”
The Hitler regime’s economic policy, Galbraith goes on, involved “large scale borrowing for public expenditures, and at first this was principally for civilian work -- railroads, canals and the Autobahnen [highway network]. The result was a far more effective attack on unemployment than in any other industrial country.” / 1 “By late 1935,” he also wrote, “unemployment was at an end in Germany. By 1936 high income was pulling up prices or making it possible to raise them … Germany, by the late thirties, had full employment at stable prices. It was, in the industrial world, an absolutely unique achievement.” / 2 “Hitler also anticipated modern economic policy,” the economist noted, “by recognizing that a rapid approach to full employment was only possible if it was combined with wage and price controls. That a nation oppressed by economic fears would respond to Hitler as Americans did to F.D.R. is not surprising.”
Other countries, Galbraith wrote, failed to understand or to learn from the German experience: “The German example was instructive but not persuasive. British and American conservatives looked at the Nazi financial heresies -- the borrowing and spending -- and uniformly predicted a breakdown … And American liberals and British socialists looked at the repression, the destruction of the unions, the Brownshirts, the Blackshirts, the concentration camps, and screaming oratory, and ignored the economics. Nothing good [they believed], not even full employment, could come from Hitler.”
Two days after taking office as Chancellor, Hitler addressed the nation by radio. Although he and other leaders of his movement had made clear their intention to reorganize the nation’s social, political, cultural and educational life in accord with National Socialist principles, everyone knew that, with some six million jobless and the national economy in paralysis, the great priority of the moment was to restore the nation’s economic life, above all by tackling unemployment and providing productive work.
“The misery of our people is horrible to behold!,” said Hitler in this inaugural address. / 5 “Along with the hungry unemployed millions of industrial workers there is the impoverishment of the whole middle class and the artisans. If this collapse finally also finishes off the German farmers we will face a catastrophe of incalculable dimension. For that would be not just the collapse of a nation, but of a two-thousand-year-old inheritance of some of the greatest achievements of human culture and civilization …”
The new government, Hitler said, would “achieve the great task of reorganizing our nation’s economy by means of two great four-year plans. The German farmer must be rescued to maintain the nation’s food supply and, in consequence, the nation’s vital foundation. The German worker will be saved from ruin with a concerted and all-embracing attack against unemployment.”
“Within four years,” he pledged, “unemployment must be decisively overcome … The Marxist parties and their allies have had 14 years to show what they can do. The result is a heap of ruins. Now, people of Germany, give us four years and then pass judgment upon us!”
Rejecting the cloudy and impractical economic views of some radical activists in his Party, Hitler turned to men of proven ability and competence. Most notably, he enlisted the help of Hjalmar Schacht, a prominent banker and financier with an impressive record in both private business and public service. Even though Schacht was certainly no National Socialist, Hitler appointed him President of Germany’s central bank, the Reichsbank, and then as Minister of Economics.
After taking power, writes Prof. John Garraty, a prominent American historian, Hitler and his new government “immediately launched an all-out assault on unemployment … They stimulated private industry through subsidies and tax rebates, encouraged consumer spending by such means as marriage loans, and plunged into the massive public-works program that produced the autobahn [highway system], and housing, railroad and navigation projects.”
The regime’s new leaders also succeeded in persuading formerly skeptical and even hostile Germans of their sincerity, resolve and ability. This fostered trust and confidence, which in turn encouraged businessmen to hire and invest, and consumers to spend with an eye to the future.
As he had promised, Hitler and his National Socialist government banished unemployment within four years. The number of jobless was cut from six million at the beginning of 1933, when he took power, to one million by 1936. / 7 So rapidly was the jobless rate reduced that by 1937-38 there was a national labor shortage.
For the great mass of Germans, wages and working conditions improved steadily. From 1932 to 1938 gross real weekly earnings increased by 21 percent. After taking into account tax and insurance deductions and adjustments to the cost of living, the increase in real weekly earnings during this period was 14 percent. At the same time, rents remained stable, and there was a relative decline in the costs of heating and light. Prices actually declined for some consumer goods, such as electrical appliances, clocks and watches, as well as for some foods. "Consumer prices rose at an average annual rate of just 1.2 percent between 1933 and 1939," notes British historian Niall Ferguson. "This meant that Germans workers were better off in real as well as nominal terms: between 1933 and 1938, weekly net earnings (after tax) rose by 22 percent, while the cost of living rose by just seven percent." Even after the outbreak of war in September 1939, workers’ income continued to rise. By 1943 average hourly earnings of German workers had risen by 25 percent, and weekly earnings by 41 percent.
The “normal” work day for most Germans was eight hours, and pay for overtime work was generous. / 10 In addition to higher wages, benefits included markedly improved working conditions, such as better health and safety conditions, canteens with subsidized hot meals, athletic fields, parks, subsidized theater performances and concerts, exhibitions, sports and hiking groups, dances, adult education courses, and subsidized tourism. / 11 An already extensive network of social welfare programs, including old age insurance and a national health care program, was expanded.
Hitler wanted Germans to have “the highest possible standard of living,” he said in an interview with an American journalist in early 1934. “In my opinion, the Americans are right in not wanting to make everyone the same but rather in upholding the principle of the ladder. However, every single person must be granted the opportunity to climb up the ladder.” / 12 In keeping with this outlook, Hitler’s government promoted social mobility, with wide opportunities to improve and advance. As Prof. Garraty notes: “It is beyond argument that the Nazis encouraged working-class social and economic mobility.” To encourage acquisition of new skills, the government greatly expanded vocational training programs, and offered generous incentives for further advancement of efficient workers.
Both National Socialist ideology and Hitler’s basic outlook, writes historian John Garraty, “inclined the regime to favor the ordinary German over any elite group. Workers … had an honored place in the system.” In accord with this, the regime provided substantive fringe benefits for workers that included subsidized housing, low-cost excursions, sports programs, and more pleasing factory facilities.
In his detailed and critical biography of Hitler, historian Joachim Fest acknowledged: “The regime insisted that it was not the rule of one social class above all others, and by granting everyone opportunities to rise, it in fact demonstrated class neutrality … These measures did indeed break through the old, petrified social structures. They tangibly improved the material condition of much of the population.”
A few figures give an idea of how the quality of life improved. Between 1932, the last year of the pre-Hitler era, and 1938, the last full year before the outbreak of war, food consumption increased by one sixth, while clothing and textile turnover increased by more than a quarter, and of furniture and household goods by 50 percent. / 16 During the Third Reich’s peacetime years, wine consumption rose by 50 percent, and champagne consumption increased five-fold. / 17 Between 1932 and 1938, the volume of tourism more than doubled, while automobile ownership during the 1930s tripled. / 18 German motor vehicle production, which included cars made by the US-owned Ford and General Motors (Opel) works, doubled in the five years of 1932 to 1937, while Germany’s motor vehicle exports increased eight-fold. Air passenger traffic in Germany more than tripled from 1933 to 1937.
German business revived and prospered. During the first four years of the National Socialist era, net profits of large corporations quadrupled, and managerial and entrepreneurial income rose by nearly 50 percent. / 20 Between 1933 and 1938, notes historian Niall Ferguson, Germany's "gross domestic product grew, on average, by a remarkable eleven percent a year," with no significant increase in the rate of inflation. / 21 “Things were to get even better,” writes Jewish historian Richard Grunberger in his detailed study, The Twelve-Year Reich. “In the three years between 1939 and 1942 German industry expanded as much as it had during the preceding fifty years.”
Although German businesses flourished, profits were controlled and by law were kept within moderate limits. / 21 Beginning in 1934, dividends for stockholders of German corporations were limited to six percent annually. Undistributed profits were invested in Reich government bonds, which had an annual interest yield of six percent, and then, after 1935, of four and a half percent. This policy had the predictable effect of encouraging corporate reinvestment and self-financing, and thereby of reducing borrowing from banks and, more generally, of diminishing the influence of commercial capital.
Corporation tax rates were steadily raised, from 20 percent in 1934 to 25 percent in 1936, and to 40 percent in 1939-40. Directors of German companies could grant bonuses to managers, but only if these were directly proportionate to profits and they also authorized corresponding bonuses or “voluntary social contributions” to employees.
Between 1934 and 1938, the gross taxable income of German businessmen increased by 148 percent, and overall tax volume increased during this period by 232 percent. The number of taxpayers in the highest income tax bracket -- those earning more than 100,000 marks annually -- increased during this period by 445 percent. (By contrast, the number of taxpayers in the lowest income bracket -- those earning less than 1500 marks yearly -- increased by only five percent.)
Taxation in National Socialist Germany was sharply “progressive,” with those of higher income paying proportionately more than those in the lower income brackets. Between 1934 and 1938, the average tax rate on incomes of more than 100,000 marks rose from 37.4 percent to 38.2 percent. In 1938 Germans in the lowest tax brackets were 49 percent of the population and had 14 percent of the national income, but paid only 4.7 percent of the tax burden. Those in the highest income category, who were just one percent of the population but with 21 percent of the income, paid 45 percent of the tax burden.
Jews made up about one percent of Germany’s total population when Hitler came to power. While the new government moved quickly to remove them from the nation’s political and cultural life, Jews were permitted to carry on in economic life, at least for several years. In fact, many Jews benefited from the regime’s recovery measures and the general economic revival. In June 1933, for example, Hitler approved a large-scale government investment of 14.5 million marks in the Jewish-owned firm Hertie, a Berlin department store chain. This “bail out” was done to prevent the ruin of the large firm’s suppliers, financiers, and, above all, its 14,000 employees.
Prof. Gordon Craig, who for years taught history at Stanford University, points out: “In the clothing and retail trades, Jewish firms continued to operate profitably until 1938, and in Berlin and Hamburg, in particular, establishments of known reputation and taste continued to attract their old customers despite their ownership by Jews. In the world of finance, no restrictions were placed upon the activities of Jewish firms in the Berlin Bourse [stock market], and until 1937 the banking houses of Mendelssohn, Bleichröder, Arnhold, Dreyfuss, Straus, Warburg, Aufhäuser, and Behrens were still active.” / 27 Five years after Hitler had come to power, the Jewish role in business life was still a significant one, and Jews still held considerable real estate holdings, especially in Berlin. This changed markedly in 1938, however, and by the end of 1939 Jews had been largely removed from German economic life.
Germany’s crime rate fell during the Hitler years, with significant drops in the rates of murder, robbery, theft, embezzlement and petty larceny. / 28 Improvement in the health and outlook of Germans impressed many foreigners. “Infant mortality has been greatly reduced and is considerably inferior to that in Great Britain,” wrote Sir Arnold Wilson, a British M.P. who visited Germany seven times after Hitler had come to power. “Tuberculosis and other diseases have noticeably diminished. The criminal courts have never had so little to do and the prisons have never had so few occupants. It is a pleasure to observe the physical aptitude of the German youth. Even the poorest persons are better clothed than was formerly the case, and their cheerful faces testify to the psychological improvement that has been wrought within them.”
The improved psychological-emotional well-being of Germans during this period has also been noted by social historian Richard Grunberger. “There can be little doubt,” he wrote, “that the [National Socialist] seizure of power engendered a wide-spread improvement in emotional health; this was not only a result of the economic upswing, but of many Germans’ heightened sense of identification with the national purpose.”
Austria experienced a dramatic upswing after it joined the German Reich in March 1938. Immediately following the Anschluss (“union”), officials moved quickly to relieve social distress and revitalize the moribund economy. Investment, industrial production, housing construction, consumer spending, tourism and the standard of living rose rapidly. Between June and December 1938 alone, the weekly income of Austria’s industrial workers rose by nine percent. The National Socialist regime’s success in banishing unemployment was so rapid that American historian Evan Burr Bukey was moved to call it “one of the most remarkable economic achievements in modern history.” The jobless rate in Austria dropped from 21.7 percent in 1937 to 3.2 percent in 1939. The Austrian GNP rose 12.8 percent in 1938, and an astonishing 13.3 percent in 1939.
An important expression of national confidence was a sharp increase in the birth rate. Within a year after Hitler came to power, the German birth rate jumped by 22 percent, rising to a high point in 1938. It remained high even in 1944 -- the last full year of World War II. / 32 In the view of historian John Lukacs, this jump in the birth rate was an expression of “the optimism and the confidence” of Germans during the Hitler years. “For every two children born in Germany in 1932, three were born four years later,” he notes. “In 1938 and 1939, the highest marriage rates in all of Europe were registered in Germany, superseding even those among the prolific peoples of Eastern Europe. The phenomenal rise of the German birthrate in the thirties was even steeper than the rise of the marriage rate.” / 33 “National Socialist Germany, alone among countries peopled by whites, succeeded in attaining some increase in fertility,” notes the outstanding Scottish-born American historian Gordon A. Craig, with a sharp rise in the birth rate after Hitler came to power, and a steady increase in the years that followed.
In a lengthy address to the Reichstag in early 1937, Hitler recalled the pledges he had made when his government assumed power. He also explained the principles on which his policies were based, and looked back at what had been accomplished in four years. / 35 “… Those who talk about `democracies’ and ‘dictatorships’,” he said, “simply do not understand that a revolution has been carried out in this country, the results of which can be considered democratic in the highest sense of the term, if democracy has any real meaning … The National Socialist Revolution has not aimed at turning a privileged class into a class that will have no rights in the future. Its aim has been to give equal rights to those who had no rights … Our objective has been to make it possible for the whole German people to be active, not only in the economic but also in the political field, and to secure this by organizationally involving the masses … During the past four years we have increased German production in all areas to an extraordinary degree. And this increase in production has been to the benefit of all Germans.”
In another address two years later, Hitler spoke briefly about his regime’s economic achievement: / 36 “I overcame chaos in Germany, restored order, enormously raised production in all fields of our national economy, by strenuous efforts produced substitutes for numerous materials that we lack, encouraged new inventions, developed traffic, caused mighty roads to be built and canals to be dug, called into being gigantic factories, and at the same time endeavored to further the education and culture of our people for the development of our social community. I succeeded in finding useful work once more for the whole of the seven million unemployed, who so touched all our hearts, in keeping the German farmer on his soil in spite of all difficulties, and in saving the land itself for him, in restoring a prosperous German trade, and in promoting traffic to the utmost.”
It’s often been claimed, even by some supposedly reputable scholars, that Hitler’s success in reviving his nation’s economic life was based largely on government spending for rearmament and preparation for war. This is a myth. As the renowned British historian A. J. P. Taylor noted: / 37 “Germany’s economic recovery, which was complete by 1936, did not rest on rearmamnent; it was caused mainly by lavish expenditure on public works, particularly on motor roads, and this public spending stimulated private spending also, as [British economist John Maynard] Keynes had said it would. Hitler actually skimped on armaments, despite his boasting, partly because he wished to avoid the unpopularitiy which a reduction of the German standard of living would cause, but more from the confident belief that he would always succeed in bluff. Thus, paradoxidcally, while nearly eveeryone else in Europe expected a great war, Hitler was the one man who neither expected nor planned for it.”
American historian John Garraty compared the American and German responses to the Great Depression in a much-discussed article published in the American Historical Review. He wrote: / 38 “The two movements [that is, in the US and in Germany] nevertheless reacted to the Great Depression in similar ways, distinct from those of other industrial nations. Of the two the Nazis were the more successful in curing the economic ills of the 1930s. They reduced unemployment and stimulated industrial production faster than the Americans did and, considering their resources, handled their monetary and trade problems more successfully, certainly more imaginatively. This was partly because the Nazis employed deficit financing on a larger scale and partly because their totalitarian system better lent itself to the mobilization of society, both by force and by persuasion. By 1936 the depression was substantially over in Germany, far from finished in the United States.”
In fact, the jobless rate in the United States remained high until the stimulation of large-scale war production took hold. Even as late as March 1940, the US unemployment rate was still almost 15 percent of the work force. It was production for war, not Roosevelt’s “New Deal’ programs, that finally brought full employment.
Prof. William Leuchtenburg, a prominent American historian known best for his books on the life and career of Franklin Roosevelt, summed up the President’s mixed record in a highly acclaimed study. “The New Deal left many problems unsolved and even created some perplexing new ones,” concluded Leuchtenburg. “It never demonstrated that it could achieve prosperity in peacetime. As late as 1941, the unemployed still numbered six million, and not until the war year of 1943 did the army of jobless finally disappear.”
The contrast between the German and American economic records during the 1930s is all the more striking when one takes into account that the US had vastly greater natural resource wealth, including large petroleum reserves, as well as a lower population density, and no hostile, well-armed neighbors.
In an address given in December 1941, Hitler himself compared the record of his government and that of President Roosevelt in dealing with the challenge of the world economic crisis.
“Whereas the German Reich experienced an enormous improvement in social, economic, cultural and artistic life in just a few years under National Socialist leadership,” he said, “President Roosevelt was not able to bring about even limited improvements in his own country. This task should have been much easier in the United States, with barely 15 people per square kilometer, as compared to 140 in Germany. If economic prosperity is not possible in that country, it must be the result of either a lack of will by the ruling leadership or the complete incompetence of the men in charge. In just five years, the economic problems were solved in Germany and unemployment was eliminated. During this same period, President Roosevelt enormously increased his country's national debt, devalued the dollar, further disrupted the economy, and maintained the same number of unemployed.”
In another major address given that same year, Hitler compared the social-political-economic systems of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Germany. / 42 “We’ve now gotten to know two [social-political] extremes,” he said. “One is that of the Capitalist states, which use lies, fraud and swindling to deny their peoples the most basic vital rights, and which are concerned entirely with their own financial interests, for which they are ready to sacrifice millions of people. On the other hand we’ve seen [in the Soviet Union] the Communist extreme: a state that’s brought unspeakable misery to millions and millions, and which, following its doctrine, sacrifices the happiness of others. From this [awareness], in my view, there is for all of us only one obligation, namely, to strive more than ever toward our national and socialist ideal … In this [German] state the prevailing principle is not, as in Soviet Russia, the principle of so-called equality, but rather only the principle of justice.”
Could Hitler’s economic policies work in the United States? These policies are probably most workable in countries such as Sweden, Denmark, and the Netherlands, with a well-educated, self-disciplined and ethnically-culturally cohesive population, and a traditionally strong “communitarian” ethos with a correspondingly high level of social trust. Hitler’s economic policies are less applicable in the United States and other societies with an ethnically-culturally diverse population, a markedly individualistic, “laissez-faire” tradition, and a correspondingly weaker “communitarian” spirit.
David Lloyd George — who had been Britain’s prime minister during the First World War -- made an extensive tour of Germany in late 1936. In an article published afterwards in a leading London newspaper, the British statesman recounted what he had seen and experienced.
“Whatever one may think of his [Hitler’s] methods,” wrote Lloyd George, “and they are certainly not those of a parliamentary country, there can be no doubt that he has achieved a marvelous transformation in the spirit of the people, in their attitude towards each other, and in their social and economic outlook.
“He rightly claimed at Nuremberg that in four years his movement had made a new Germany. It is not the Germany of the first decade that followed the war — broken, dejected and bowed down with a sense of apprehension and impotence. It is now full of hope and confidence, and of a renewed sense of determination to lead its own life without interference from any influence outside its own frontiers.
“There is for the first time since the war a general sense of security. The people are more cheerful. There is a greater sense of general gaiety of spirit throughout the land. It is a happier Germany. I saw it everywhere, and Englishmen I met during my trip and who knew Germany well were very impressed with the change.”
“This great people,” the seasoned statesman went on to warn, “will work better, sacrifice more, and, if necessary, fight with greater resolution because Hitler asks them to do so. Those who do not comprehend this central fact cannot judge the present possibilities of modern Germany.”
Although prejudice and ignorance have hindered a wider awareness and understanding of Hitler’s economic policies and their impact, his success in economic policy has been acknowledged by historians, including scholars who are generally very critical of the German leader and his regime’s policies.
John Lukacs, a Hungarian-born American historian whose books have generated much comment and praise, has written: “Hitler’s achievements, domestic rather than foreign, during the six [peacetime] years of his leadership of Germany were extraordinary … He brought prosperity and confidence to the Germans, the kind of prosperity that is the result of confidence. The thirties, after 1933, were sunny years for most Germans; something that remained in the memories of an entire generation among them.”
Sebastian Haffner, an influential German journalist and historian who was also a fierce critic of the Third Reich and its ideology, reviewed Hitler’s life and legacy in a much-discussed book. Although his portrayal of the German leader in The Meaning of Hitler is a harsh one, the author all the same writes:
“Among these positive achievements of Hitler the one outshining all others was his economic miracle.” While the rest of the world was still mired in the economic paralysis, Hitler had made “Germany an island of prosperity.” Within three years, Haffner goes on, “crying need and mass hardship had generally turned into modest but comfortable prosperity. Almost equally important: helplessness and hopelessness had given way to confidence and self-assurance. Even more miraculous was the fact that the transition from depression to economic boom had been accomplished without inflation, at totally stable wages and prices … It is difficult to picture adequately the grateful amazement with which the Germans reacted to that miracle, which, more particularly, made vast numbers of German workers switch from the Social Democrats and the Communists to Hitler after 1933. This grateful amazement entirely dominated the mood of the German masses during the 1936 to 1938 period …”
"The scale of the Nazi economic achievement should not be underestimated," concludes Niall Ferguson, a Harvard University professor of history. "It was real and impressive. No other European economy achieved such a rapid recovery ... To most people in 1930s Germany it seemed there had been an economic miracle. The Volksgemeinschaft [national community] was more than mere rhetoric; it meant full employment, higher wages, stable prices, reduced poverty, cheap radios (the Volksempfänger) and budget holidays. It is too easily forgotten that there were more holiday camps than concentration camps in Germany between 1935 and 1939. Workers became better trained, farmers saw their incomes rise. Nor were foreigners unimpressed by what was happening. American corporations including Standard Oil, General Motors and IBM all rushed to invest directly in the German economy."
Joachim Fest, another prominent German journalist and historian, reviewed Hitler’s life in an acclaimed and comprehensive biography. “If Hitler had succumbed to an assassination or an accident at the end of 1938,” he wrote, “few would hesitate to call him one of the greatest of German statesmen, the consummator of Germany’s history.” “No objective observer of the German scene could deny Hitler’s considerable exploits,” noted American historian John Toland. “If Hitler had died in 1937 on the fourth anniversary of his coming to power … he undoubtedly would have gone down as one of the greatest figures in German history. Throughout Europe he had millions of admirers.”
Mark Weber (Institute for Historical Review)