The confidence that Hitler enjoys is unparalleled. But no act has yet proven he deserves it. The confidence that we accord to him is blind. He is an unequaled master in the art of making believe before having to respond to the question of his capacities and power.
The German is credulous by nature. The greatest historical event of his life was the Reformation, the transformation of his religion. In political affairs, he is equally believing. Even the incarnation of his political existence, that is to say the Reich, was a more a home for the object of transcendent faith than a tangible reality. Certainly, it is necessary live daily in Reich in all its pitiable powerlessness, but we do that because nothing prevents the belief in its coming perfection. Belief in something signifies in Germany – in political affairs equally – being sure of the object of his faith and to have it, to thus say, in his pocket. As always, we sell volunteers bear skins before having killed it. When we refuse to look the truth in the face, we always invoke with vehemence the confidence in an unbreakable faith.
German credulity creates a state of affairs that benefits all the false prophets. This credulity incites a shameless exploitation. Those who know how to excite the imagination thirsting for faith can always find a good public. The more difficult the times, the more the faith persists. That is what must help to surmount difficulties. It suffices that someone knows to speak well of a new development so that we take it to the skies.
After the fall of Bismarck, in 1890, the decline of Germany began. It was in the nature of things. From this epoch came the doctrines of salvation. William II himself was full of them. He was the one who made the promise of “better days.” Bülow opened the way to enemies, permitting them to thus encircle Germany. No one had hoped for a grander future for Germany. If he had not thrown off the mask since his fall, Germany would still honor him today as one of the most remarkable statesmen “after Bismarck.”
In this unshakable confidence in victory, which reigned during the war, he had a wild ardor. Despite a mountain of contradictory facts, he did not allow himself to be won over by doubt. It is true that in these years, no one dared to take advantage of the German credulity by presenting himself like a political messiah. Such a messiah could fear that we wouldn’t immediately take him at his word. The thunder of cannons did not shake the credulity of the Germans, but it dissipated the drunkenness of public prophets.
However, after the debacle, the public prophets emerged from their pits. Scheidemann promised “peace, bread, and liberty.” Erzberger preached “forgiveness for enemies.” Stresemann attracted the young people with the sweetness of Locarno and the magic of Dawes and Young. He was such a grand wonder worker that, under the influence of Genevan incantations, the German people considered their dishonored lives as the new existence of such a great power.
But all those who found a political claim in Germany were supplanted by Hitler. Never had he offered anything but slogans, and yet he won millions of hearts. We can say that since 1919, he was seeking political credit. He invented astute methods to solicit it. He knew that he would obtain credit more easily when propaganda was imaginative, such that it claimed knowledge to touch upon public opinion.
The writings of Hitler were always a bit confused, they lack precision. His thought is not clear. He does not have a clear vision of things. But the best that he published are the passages on propaganda that we find in two volumes. That is his favorite subject, that is the domain where he is most at ease. He then draws from his own experiences and reveals his most intimate secrets. In nearly all that he has written, there are un-assimilated elements, but when he acts on propaganda, he is an expert who knows his work deeply. “Propaganda”, he writes, “is this art of seizing the imaginary and sentimental world of the masses and finding the psychological means to capture their attention and move them.” Hitler invented an extremely effective method of propaganda that proved itself.
He passed the point where he must demand credit. We were pressed to offer it to him. He keeps very sure values: the faculty for the enthusiasm and the warm heart of the youth, the noble essence of the peasantry, the right of the bourgeoisie to keep to themselves. He had responsibility for millions of lives. The lenders, the creditors at no point doubted the solidity of Hitler’s enterprise. The claim made its effect. Everywhere we believe that we must “bet on” Hitler and this will pay off later to each part of the happiness and liberty of Germany. We approve all the measures taken by Hitler. We have forgotten the little failure of 1923. We consider it as an amusing incident. “Has there ever been a great man who never made a faux pas? Is there anything more touching than the sins of young geniuses?” This little incident brings no prejudice to the credibility of Hitler. Certainly, Hitler has occasionally remained indebted to the actions that he risked. He let it mature on the 14 of the September 1930. At this moment, all the perturbed democrats feared that he would start marching the same night. They knew what was given by general and public opinion, the Republic was easy prey for him. He did not start to march, but waded into the mire of parliamentarianism. Then came “the exodus.” We waited for something grandiose, for a brilliant political performance. The time passed and nothing happened. The “exodus” was a promise of payment that was not kept. Without having realized the least political profit, the group returned to the Reichstag. Already in 1931, Hitler believed he was strong enough to reverse the government and take power. No creditor moved to give the Führer all the serene and necessary latitude. The year ended and Hitler had only advanced to the Kaiserhof. The chancellery of the Reich was more inaccessible than ever. Even the day of Harzburg did not provide to the German nationalists political advantages which it had been given in advance of his reception. Brüning humiliated the SA and the SS by the interdiction on the wearing of the uniform. The prestige and the reputation of the entire National Socialist movement was at stake – thus the foreigners well understood. The situation required Hitler to throw all his political power into the balance. He must make it understood that under his protection, we were in perfect security and that the authority of the government could only expand beyond the limits he imposed. But Hitler comported himself like a “political” beggar who lacked means and dressed himself for the pleasure of his benefactor.
Each day for which a decision had been announced bore a new deception. Each effect presented by Hitler had to protected. The National Socialist movement became an enormous operation of credit, but until the present he had no relations with the big deal. Borrowing was very elevated, but he had yet to give birth to any creative act. We made a dalliance with those who claimed the hard cash and stumbled into a true political enterprise.
The future appeared as a terribly isolated Germany, submerged by forces of breakdown and decadence. France dreamed of butchering it, Russia consulted with Versailles. In this situation, it could have no politics of national success. It is impossible to escape to relapses, losses, and bad treatments. At the timely moment, Hitler neglected to watch for a global conjuncture that could have been very favorable to him. He wasted it by his primary anti-Bolshevism. He acted without circumspection, without prudence. He dreamed and he did not reflect enough on global politics. He dreamed of victory without having prepared strategic plans. They could have fell on him from the sky. He was not, like Bismarck, tormented by the “nightmare of coalitions.” Ever the adventurer, he rushed into the dangerous spheres of international politics. At the moment where the political credit, which flowed without cease, could bear their fruits, he had realized that they melted in his hands, that they were wasted and fled away.
The years passed, Germany lives on foreign credit. It wasted the future of its children to ease the present. Imposture rules in the economy and politics. The credit swindlers live easily. Their rating shows in the spirit of everything. They are admired and celebrated – and suddenly that was the fall into the void.
National Socialism inscribed itself among this cadre. It is the establishment of the most audacious credit fraud that had ever been erected on the political terrain. The “Brown House” resembles those pretentious palaces of businessmen in which fraudulent groups think about planning their flowering. The way and the fate of Stinnes, Lahusen, Dumcke, Katzenellenbogen, and Goldschmidt will be sooner or later that of Hitler.