THE ARMISTICE of November, 1918, ushered in a policy which in all human probability was bound to lead gradually to total submission. Historical examples of a similar nature show that nations which lay down their arms without compelling reasons prefer in the ensuing period to accept the greatest humiliations and extortions rather than attempt to change their fate by a renewed appeal to force.
This is humanly understandable. A shrewd victor will, if possible, always present his demands to the vanquished in instalments. And then, with a nation that has lost its character - and this is the case of every one which voluntarily submits - he can be sure that it will not regard one more of these individual oppressions as an adequate reason for taking up arms again. The more extortions are willingly accepted in this way, the more unjustified it strikes people finally to take up the defensive against a new, apparently isolated, though constantly recurring" oppression, especially when, all in all, so much more and greater misfortune has already been borne in patient silence.
The fall of Carthage is the most horrible picture of such a slow execution of a people through its own deserts.
That is why Clausewitz in his Drei Bekenntnisse incomparably singles out this idea and nails it fast for all time, when he says:
'That the stain of a cowardly submission can never be effaced; that this drop of poison in the blood of a people is passed on to posterity and will paralyse and undermine the strength of later generations'; that, on the other hand, 'even the loss of this freedom after a bloody and honourable struggle assures the rebirth of a people and is the seed of life from which some day a new tree will strike fast roots.'
Of course, a people that has lost all honour and character will not concern itself with such teachings. For no one who takes them to heart can sink so low; only he who forgets them, or no longer wants to know them, collapses. Therefore, we must not expect those who embody a spineless submission suddenly to look into their hearts and, on the basis of reason and all human experience, begin to act differently than before. On the contrary, it is these men in particular who will dismiss all such teachings until either the nation is definitely accustomed to its yoke of slavery or until better forces push to the surface, to wrest the power from the hands of the infamous spoilers. In the first case these people usually do not feel so badly, since not seldom they are appointed by the shrewd victors to the office of slave overseer, which these spineless natures usually wield more mercilessly over their people than any foreign beast put in by the enemy himself.
The development since 1918 shows us that in Germany the hope of winning the victor's favour by voluntary submission unfortunately determines the political opinions and the actions of the broad masses in the most catastrophic way. I attach special importance to emphasizing the broad masses, because I cannot bring myself to profess the belief that the commissions and omissions of our people's leaders are attributable to the same ruinous lunacy. As the leadership of our destinies has, since the end of the War, been quite openly furnished by Jews, we really cannot assume that faulty knowledge alone is the cause of our misfortune; we must, on the contrary, hold the conviction that conscious purpose is destroying our nation. And once we examine the apparent madness of our nation's leadership in the field of foreign affairs from this standpoint, it is revealed as the subtlest, ice-cold logic, in the service of the Jewish idea and struggle for world conquest.
And thus, it becomes understandable that the same time-span, which from 1806 to 1813 sufficed to imbue a totally collapsed Prussia with new vital energy and determination for struggle, today has not only elapsed unused, but, on the contrary, has led to an ever-greater weakening of our state.
Seven years after November, 1918, the Treaty of Locarno was signed.
The course of events was that indicated above: Once the disgraceful armistice had been signed, neither the energy nor the courage could be summoned suddenly to oppose resistance to our foes' repressive measures, which subsequently were repeated over and over. Our enemies were too shrewd to demand too much at once. They always limit their extortions to the amount which, in their opinion - and that of the German leadership - would at the moment be bearable enough so that an explosion or popular feeling need not be feared. But the more of these individual dictates had been signed, the less justified it seemed, because of a single additional extortion or exacted humiliation, to do the thing that had not been done because of so many others: to offer resistance. For this is the 'drop of poison' of which Clausewitz speaks: the spinelessness which once begun must increase more and more and which gradually becomes the foulest heritage, burdening every future decision. It can become a terrible lead weight, a weight which a nation is not likely to shake off, but which finally drags it down into the existence of a slave race.
Thus, in Germany edicts of disarmament alternated with edicts of enslavement, political emasculation with economic pillage, and finally created that moral spirit which can regard the Dawes Plan as a stroke of good fortune and the Treaty of Locarno as a success. Viewing all this from a higher vantage-point, we can speak of one single piece of good fortune in all this misery, which is that, though men can be befuddled, the heavens cannot be bribed. For their blessing remained absent: since then hardship and care have been the constant companions of our people, and our one faithful ally has been misery. Destiny made no exception in this case, but gave us what we deserved. Since we no longer know how to value honor, it teaches us at least to appreciate freedom in the matter of bread. By now people have learned to cry out for bread, but one of these days they will pray for freedom.
Bitter as was the collapse of our nation in the years after 1918, and obvious at that very time, every man who dared prophesy even then what later always materialized was violently and resolutely persecuted. Wretched and bad as the leaders of our nation were, they were equally arrogant, and especially when it came to ridding themselves of undesired, because unpleasant, prophets. We were treated to the spectacle (as we still are today!) of the greatest parliamentary thick-heads, regular saddlers and glove-makers - and not only by profession, which in itself means nothing - suddenly setting themselves on the pedestal of statesmen, from which they could lecture down at plain ordinary mortals. It had and has nothing to do with the case that such a 'statesman' by the sixth month of his activity is shown up as the most incompetent windbag, the butt of everyone's ridicule and contempt, that he doesn't know which way to turn and has provided unmistakable proof of his total incapacity! No, that makes no difference, on the contrary: the more lacking the parliamentary statesmen of this Republic are in real accomplishment, the more furiously they persecute those who expect accomplishments from them, who have the audacity to point out the failure of their previous activity and predict the failure of their future moves. But if once you finally pin down one of these parliamentary honorables, and this political showman really cannot deny the collapse of his whole activity and its results any longer, they find thousands and thousands of grounds for excusing their lack of success, and there is only one that they will not admit, namely, that they themselves are the main cause of all evil.
By the winter of 1922-23, at the latest, it should have been generally understood that even after the conclusion of peace France was still endeavouring with iron logic to achieve the wet aim she had originally had in mind. For no one will be likely to believe that France poured out the blood of her people - never too rich to begin with - for four and a half years in the most decisive struggle of her history, only to have the damage previously done made good by subsequent reparations. Even Alsace-Lorraine in itself would not explain the energy with which the French carried on the War, if it had not been a part of French foreign policy's really great political program for the future. And this goal is: the dissolution of Germany into a hodge-podge of little states. That is what chauvinistic France fought for, though at the same time in reality it sold its people as mercenaries to the international world Jew.
This French war aim would have been attainable by the War alone if, as Paris had first hoped, the struggle had taken place on German soil. Suppose that the bloody battles of the World War had been fought, not on the Somme, in Flanders, in Artois, before Warsaw, Nijni-Novgorod, Kovno, Riga, and all the other places, but in Germany, on the Ruhr and the Main, on the Elbe, at Hanover, Leipzig, Nuremberg, etc., and you will have to agree that this would have offered a possibility of breaking up Germany. It is very questionable whether our young federative state could for four and a half years have survived the same test of strain as rigidly centralized France, oriented solely toward her uncontested centre in Paris. The fact that this gigantic struggle of nations occurred outside the borders of our fatherland was not only to the immortal credit of the old army, it was also the greatest good fortune for the German future. It is my firm and heartfelt conviction, and sometimes almost a source of anguish to me, that otherwise there would long since have been no German Reich, but only 'German states.' And this is the sole reason why the blood of our fallen friends and brothers has at least not flowed entirely in vain.
Thus everything turned out differently! True, Germany collapsed like a flash in November, 1918. But when the catastrophe occurred in the homeland, our field armies were still deep in enemy territory. The first concern of France at that time was not the dissolution of Germany, but: How shall we get the German armies out of France and Belgium as quickly as possible? And so the first task of the heads of state in Paris for concluding the World War was to disarm the German armies and if possible drive them back to Germany at once; and only after that could they devote themselves to the fulfilment of their real and original war aim. In this respect, to be sure, France was already paralysed. For England the War had really been victoriously concluded with the annihilation of Germany as a colonial and commercial power and her reduction to the rank of a second-class state. Not only did the English possess no interest in the total extermination of the German state; they even had every reason to desire a rival against France in Europe for the future. Hence the French political leaders had to continue with determined peacetime labor what the War had begun, and Clemenceau's utterance, that for him the peace was only the continuation of the War, took on an increased significance.
Persistently, on every conceivable occasion, they had to shatter the structure of the Reich. By the imposition of one disarmament note after another, on the one hand, and by the economic extortion thus made possible, on the other hand, Paris hoped slowly to disjoint the Reich structure. The more rapidly national honour withered away in Germany, the sooner could economic pressure and unending poverty lead to destructive political effects. Such a policy of political repression and economic plunder, carried on for ten or twenty years, must gradually ruin even the best state structure and under certain circumstances dissolve it. And thereby the French war aim would finally be achieved.
By the winter of 1922-23 this must long since have been recognized as the French intent. Only two possibilities remained: We might hope gradually to blunt the French will against the tenacity of the German nation, or at long last to do what would have to be done in the end anyway, to pull the helm of the Reich ship about on some particularly crass occasion, and ram the enemy. This, to be sure, meant a life-and-death struggle, and there existed a prospect of life only if previously we succeeded in isolating France to such a degree that this second war would not again constitute a struggle of Germany against the world, but a defence of Germany against a France which was constantly disturbing the world and its peace.
I emphasize the fact, and I am firmly convinced of it, that this second eventuality must and will some day occur, whatever happens. I never believe that France's intentions toward us could ever change, for in the last analysis they are merely in line with the self-preservation of the French nation. If I were a Frenchman, and if the greatness of France were as dear to me as that of Germany is sacred, I could not and would not act any differently from Clemenceau. The French nation, slowly dying out, not only with regard to population, but particularly with regard to its best racial elements, can in the long run retain its position in the world only if Germany is shattered. French policy may pursue a thousand detours; somewhere in the end there will be this goal, the fulfilment of ultimate desires and deepest longing. And it is false to believe that a purely passive will, desiring only to preserve itself, can for any length of time resist a will that is no less powerful, but proceeds actively. As long as the eternal conflict between Germany and France is carried on only in the form of a German defence against French aggression, it will never be decided, but from year to year, from century to century, Germany will lose one position after another. Follow the movements of the German language frontier beginning with the twelfth century until today, and you will hardly be able to count on the success of an attitude and a development which has done us so much damage up till now.
Only when this is fully understood in Germany, so that the vital will of the German nation is no longer allowed to languish in purely passive defence, but is pulled together for a final active reckoning with France and thrown into a last decisive struggle with the greatest ultimate aims on the German side - only then will we be able to end the eternal and essentially so fruitless struggle between ourselves and France; presupposing, of course, that Germany actually regards the destruction of France as only a means which will afterwards enable her finally to give our people the expansion made possible elsewhere. Today we count eighty million Germans in Europe! This foreign policy will be acknowledged as correct only if, after scarcely a hundred years, there are two hundred and fifty million Germans on this continent, and not living penned in as factory coolies for the rest of the world, but: as peasants and workers, who guarantee each other's livelihood by their labour.
In December, 1922, the situation between Germany and France again seemed menacingly exacerbated. France was contemplating immense new extortions, and needed pledges for them. The economic pillage had to be preceded by a political pressure and it seemed to the French that only a violent blow at the nerve centre of our entire German life would enable them to subject our 'recalcitrant' people to a sharper yoke. With the occupation of the Ruhr, the French hoped not only to break the moral backbone of Germany once and for all, but to put us into an embarrassing economic situation in which, whether we liked it or not, we would have to assume every obligation, even the heaviest.
It was a question of bending and breaking. Germany bent at the very outset, and ended up by breaking completely later.
With the occupation of the Ruhr, Fate once again held out a hand to help the German people rise again. For what at the first moment could not but seem a great misfortune embraced on closer inspection an infinitely promising opportunity to terminate all German misery.
From the standpoint of foreign relations, the occupation of the Ruhr for the first time really alienated England basically from France, and not only in the circles of British diplomacy which had concluded, examined, and maintained the French alliance as such only with the sober eye of cold calculators, but also in the broadest circles of the English people. The English economy in particular viewed with ill-concealed displeasure this new and incredible strengthening of French continental power. For not only that France, from the purely politico-military point of view, now assumed a position in Europe such as previously not even Germany had possessed, but, economically as well, she now obtained economic foundations which almost combined a position of economic monopoly with her capacity for political competition. The largest iron mines and coal fields in Europe were thus united in the hands of a nation which, in sharp contrast to Germany, had always defended its vital interests with equal determination and activism, and which in the Great War had freshly reminded the whole world of its military reliability. With the occupation of the Ruhr coal fields by France, England's entire gain through the War was wrested from her hands, and the victor was no longer British diplomacy so industrious and alert, but Marshal Foch and the France he represented.
In Italy, too, the mood against France, which, since the end of the War, had been by no means rosy to begin with, shifted to a veritable hatred. It was the great, historical moment in which the allies of former days could become the enemies of tomorrow. If things turned out differently and the allies did not' as in the second Balkan War, suddenly break into a sudden feud among themselves, this was attributable only to the circumstance that Germany simply had no Enver Pasha, but a Reich Chancellor Cuno.
Yet not only from the standpoint of foreign policy, but of domestic policy as well, the French assault on the Ruhr held great future potentialities for Germany. A considerable part of our people which, thanks to the incessant influence of our lying press, still regarded France as the champion of progress and liberalism, was abruptly cured of this lunatic delusion. Just as the year 1914 had dispelled the dreams of international solidarity between peoples from the heads of our German workers and led them suddenly back into the world of eternal struggle, throughout which one being feeds on another and the death of the weaker means the life of the stronger, the spring of 1923 did likewise.
When the Frenchman carried out his threats and finally though at first cautiously and hesitantly, began to move into the lower German coal district, a great decisive hour of destiny hat struck for Germany. If in this moment our people combined a change of heart with a shift in their previous attitude, the Ruhr could become a Napoleonic Moscow for France. There were only two possibilities: Either we stood for this new offence and did nothing, or, directing the eyes of the German people to this land or glowing smelters and smoky furnaces, we inspired them with a glowing will to end this eternal disgrace and rather take upon themselves the terrors of the moment than bear an endless terror one moment longer.
To have discovered a third way was the immortal distinction of Reich Chancellor Cuno, to have admired it and gone along, the still more glorious distinction of our German bourgeois parties.
Here I shall first examine the second course as briefly as possible.
With the occupation of the Ruhr, France had accomplished a conspicuous breach of the Versailles Treaty. In so doing, she had also put herself in conflict with a number of signatory powers, and especially with England and Italy. France could no longer hope for any support on the part of these states for her own selfish campaign of plunder. She herself, therefore, had to bring the adventure - and that is what it was at first - to some happy conclusion. For a national German government there could be but a single course, that which honour prescribed. It was certain that for the present France could not be opposed by active force of arms; but we had to realize clearly that any negotiations, unless backed by power, would be absurd and fruitless. Without the possibility of active resistance, it was absurd to adopt the standpoint 'We shall enter into no negotiations'; but it was even more senseless to end by entering into negotiations after all, without having meanwhile equipped ourselves with power.
Not that we could have prevented the occupation of the Ruhr by military measures. Only a madman could have advised such a decision. But utilizing the impression made by this French action and while it was being carried out, what we absolutely should have done was, without regard for the Treaty of Versailles which France herself had torn up, to secure the military resources with which we could later have equipped our negotiators. For it was clear from the start that one day the question of this territory occupied by France would be settled at some conference table. But we had to be equally clear on the fact that even the best negotiators can achieve little success, as long as the ground on which they stand and the chair on which they sit is not the shield arm of their nation. A feeble little tailor cannot argue with athletes, and a defenceless negotiator has always suffered the sword of Brennus on the opposing side of the scale, unless he had his own to throw in as a counterweight. Or has it not been miserable to watch the comic-opera negotiations which since 1918 have always preceded the repeated dictates? This degrading spectacle presented to the whole world, first inviting us to the conference table, as though in mockery, then presenting us with decisions and programs prepared long before, which, to be sure, could be discussed, but which from the start could only be regarded as unalterable. It is true that our negotiators, in hardly a single case, rose above the most humble average, and for the most part justified only too well the insolent utterance of Lloyd George, who contemptuously remarked, à propos of former Reich Minister Simon, 'that the Germans didn't know how to choose men of intelligence as their leaders and representatives.' But even geniuses, in view of the enemy's determined will to power and the miserable defencelessness of our own people in every respect, would have achieved but little.
But anyone who in the spring of 1923 wanted to make France's occupation of the Ruhr an occasion for reviving our military implements of power had first to give the nation its spiritual weapons, strengthen its will power, and destroy the corrupters of this most precious national strength.
Just as in 1918 we paid with our blood for the fact that in 1914 and 1915 we did not proceed to trample the head of the Marxist serpent once and for all, we would have to pay most catastrophically if in the spring of 1923 we did not avail ourselves of the opportunity to halt the activity of the Marxist traitors and murderers of the nation for good.
Any idea of real resistance to France was utter nonsense if we did not declare war against those forces which five years before had broken German resistance on the battlefields from within. Only bourgeois minds can arrive at the incredible opinion that Marxism might now have changed, and that the scoundrelly leaders of 1918, who then coldly trampled two million dead underfoot, the better to climb into the various seats of government, now in 1923 were suddenly ready to render their tribute to the national conscience. An incredible and really insane idea, the hope that the traitors of former days would suddenly turn into fighters for a German freedom. It never entered their heads. No more than a hyena abandons carrion does a Marxist abandon treason. And don't annoy me, if you please, with the stupidest of all arguments, that, after all, so many workers bled for Germany. German workers, yes, but then they were no longer international Marxists. If in 1914 the German working class in their innermost convictions had still consisted of Marxists, the War would have been over in three weeks. Germany would have collapsed even before the first soldier set foot across the border. No, the fact that the German people was then still fighting proved that the Marxist delusion had not yet been able to gnaw its way into the bottommost depths. But in exact proportion as, in the course of the War, the German worker and the German soldier fell back into the hands of the Marxist leaders, in exactly that proportion he was lost to the fatherland. If at the beginning of the War and during the War twelve or fifteen thousand of these Hebrew corrupters of the people had been held under poison gas, as happened to hundreds of thousands of our very best German workers in the field, the sacrifice of millions at the front would not have been in vain. On the contrary: twelve thousand scoundrels eliminated in time might have saved the lives of a million real Germans, valuable for the future. But it just happened to be in the line of bourgeois 'statesmanship' to subject millions to a bloody end on the battlefield without batting an eyelash, but to regard ten or twelve thousand traitors, profiteers, usurers, and swindlers as a sacred national treasure and openly proclaim their inviolability. We never know which is greater in this bourgeois world, the imbecility weakness, and cowardice, or their deep-dyed corruption. It is truly a class doomed by Fate, but unfortunately, however, it is dragging a whole nation with it into the abyss.
And in 1923 we faced exactly the same situation as in 1918. Regardless what type of resistance was decided on, the first requirement was always the elimination of the Marxist poison from our national body. And in my opinion, it was then the very first task of a truly national government to seek and find the forces which were resolved to declare a war of annihilation on Marxism, and then to give these forces a free road; it was their duty not to worship the idiocy of 'law and order' at a moment when the enemy without was administering the most annihilating blow to the fatherland and at home treason lurked on every street corner. No, at that time a really national government should have desired disorder and unrest, provided only that amid the confusion a basic reckoning with Marxism at last became possible and actually took place. If this were not done, any thought of resistance, regardless of what type, was pure madness.
Such a reckoning of real world-historical import, it must be admitted, does not follow the schedules of a privy councillor or some dried-up old minister, but the eternal laws of life on this earth, which are the struggle for this life and which remain struggle. It should have been borne in mind that the bloodiest civil wars have often given rise to a steeled and healthy people, while artificially cultivated states of peace have more than once produced a rottenness that stank to high Heaven. You do not alter the destinies of nations in kid gloves. And so, in the year 1923, the most brutal thrust was required to seize the vipers that were devouring our people. Only if this were successful did the preparation of active resistance have meaning.
At that time I often talked my throat hoarse, attempting to make it clear, at least to the so-called national circles, what was now at stake, and that, if we made the same blunders as in 1914 and the years that followed, the end would inevitably be the same as in 1918. Again and again, I begged them to give free rein to Fate, and to give our movement an opportunity for a reckoning with Marxism; but I preached to deaf ears. They all knew better, including the chief of the armed forces, until at length they faced the most wretched capitulation of all time.
Then I realized in my innermost soul that the German bourgeoisie was at the end of its mission and is destined for no further mission. Then I saw how all these parties continued to bicker with the Marxists only out of competitors' envy, without any serious desire to annihilate them; at heart they had all of them long since reconciled themselves to the destruction of the fatherland and what moved them was only grave concern that they themselves should be able to partake in the funeral feast. That is all they were still 'fighting' for.
In this period - I openly admit - I conceived the profoundest admiration for the great man south of the Alps, who, full of ardent love for his people, made no pacts with the enemies of Italy, but strove for their annihilation by all ways and means. What will rank Mussolini among the great men of this earth is his determination not to share Italy with the Marxists, but to destroy internationalism and save the fatherland from it.
How miserable and dwarfish our German would-be statesmen seem by comparison, and how one gags with disgust when these nonentities, with boorish arrogance, dare to criticize this man who is a thousand times greater than they; and how painful it is to think that this is happening in a land which barely half a century ago could call a Bismarck its leader.
In view of this attitude on the part of the bourgeoisie and the policy of leaving the Marxists untouched, the fate of any active resistance in 1923 was decided in advance. To fight France with the deadly enemy in our own ranks would have been sheer idiocy. What was done after that could at most be shadow-boxing, staged to satisfy the nationalistic element in Germany in some measure, or in reality to dupe the 'seething soul of the people.' If they had seriously believed in what they were doing, they would have had to recognize that the strength of a nation lies primarily, not in its weapons, but in its will, and that, before foreign enemies are conquered, the enemy within must be annihilated; otherwise God help us if victory does not reward our arms on the very first day. Once so much as the shadow of a defeat grazes a people that is not free of internal enemies, its force of resistance will break and the foe will be the final victor.
This could be predicted as early as February, 1923. Let no one mention the questionableness of a military success against France! For if the result of the German action in the face of the invasion of the Ruhr had only been the destruction of Marxism at home, by that fact alone success would have been on our side. A Germany saved from these mortal enemies of her existence and her future would possess forces which the whole world could no longer have stilled. On the day when Marxism is smashed in Germany, her fetters will in truth be broken forever. For never in our history have we been defeated by the strength of our foes, but always by our own vices and by the enemies in our own camp.
Since the leaders of the German state could not summon up the courage for such a heroic deed, logically they could only have chosen the first course, that of doing nothing at all and letting things slide.
But in the great hour Heaven sent the German people a great man, Herr von Cuno. He was not really a statesman or a politician by profession, and of course still less by birth; he was a kind of political hack, who was needed only for the performance of certain definite jobs; otherwise he was really more adept at business. A curse for Germany, because this businessman in politics regarded politics as an economic enterprise and acted accordingly.
'France has occupied the Ruhr; what is in the Ruhr? Coal. Therefore, France has occupied the Ruhr on account of the coal.' What was more natural for Herr Cuno than the idea of striking in order that the French should get no coal, whereupon, in the opinion of Herr Cuno, they would one day evacuate the Ruhr when the enterprise proved unprofitable. Such, more or less, was this 'eminent' national' 'statesman,' who in Stuttgart and elsewhere was allowed to address his people, and whom the people gaped at in blissful admiration.
But for a strike, of course, the Marxists were needed, for it was primarily the workers who would have to strike. Therefore, it was necessary to bring the worker (and in the brain of one of these bourgeois statesman he is always synonymous with the Marxist) into a united front with all the other Germans. The way these mouldy political party cheeses glowed at the sound of such a brilliant slogan was something to behold! Not only a product of genius, it was national at the same time - there at last they had what at heart they had been seeking the whole while. The bridge to Marxism had been found, and the national swindler was enabled to put on a Teutonic face and mouth German phrases while holding out a friendly hand to the international traitor. And the traitor seized it with the utmost alacrity. For just as Cuno needed the Marxist leaders for his 'united front,' the Marxist leaders were just as urgently in need of Cuno's money. So it was a help to both parties. Cuno obtained his united front, formed of national windbags and anti-national scoundrels, and the international swindlers received state funds to carry out the supreme mission of their struggle - that is, to destroy the national economy, and this time actually at the expense of the state. An immortal idea, to save the nation by buying a general strike; in any case a slogan in which even the most indifferent good-for-nothing could join with full enthusiasm.
It is generally known that a nation cannot be made free by prayers. But maybe one could be made free by sitting with folded arms, and that had to be historically tested. If at that time Herr Cuno, instead of proclaiming his subsidized general strike and setting it up as the foundation of the 'united front,' had only demanded two more hours of work from every German, the 'united front' swindle would have shown itself up on the third day. Peoples are not freed by doing nothing, but by sacrifices.
To be sure, this so-called passive resistance as such could not be maintained for long. For only a man totally ignorant of warfare could imagine that occupying armies can be frightened away by such ridiculous means. And that alone could have been the sense of an action the costs of which ran into billions and which materially helped to shatter the national currency to its very foundations.
Of course, the French could make themselves at home in the Ruhr with a certain sense of inner relief as soon as they saw the resisters employing such methods. They had in fact obtained from us the best directions for bringing a recalcitrant civilian population to reason when its conduct represents a serious menace to the occupation authorities. With what lightning speed, after all, we had routed the Belgian franc-tireur bands nine years previous and made the seriousness of the situation clear to the civilian population when the German armies ran the risk of incurring serious damage from their activity. As soon as the passive resistance in the Ruhr had grown really dangerous to the French, it would have been child's play for the troops of occupation to put a cruel end to the whole childish mischief in less than a week. For the ultimate question is always this: What do we do if the passive resistance ends by really getting on an adversary's nerves and he takes up the struggle against it with brutal strong-arm methods? Are we then resolved to offer further resistance? If so, we must for better or worse invite the gravest, bloodiest persecutions. But then we stand exactly where active resistance would put us - face to face with struggle. Hence any so-called passive resistance has an inner meaning only if it is backed by determination to continue it if necessary in open struggle or in undercover guerrilla warfare. In general, any such struggle will depend on a conviction that success is possible. As soon as a besieged fortress under heavy attack by the enemy is forced to abandon the last hope of relief, for all practical purposes it gives up the fight, especially when in such a case the defender is lured by the certainty of life rather than probable death. Rob the garrison of a surrounded fortress of faith in a possible liberation, and all the forces of defence will abruptly collapse.
Therefore, a passive resistance in the Ruhr, in view of the ultimate consequences it could and inevitably would produce in case it were actually successful, only had meaning if an active front were built up behind it. Then, it is true, there is no limit to what could have been drawn from our people. If every one of these Westphalians had known that the homeland was setting up an army of eighty or a hundred divisions, the Frenchmen would have found it thorny going. There are always more courageous men willing to sacrifice themselves for success than for something that is obviously futile.
It was a classical case which forced us National Socialists to take the sharpest position against a so-called national slogan. And so we did. In these months I was attacked no little by men whose whole national attitude was nothing but a mixture of stupidity and outward sham, all of whom joined in the shouting only because they were unable to resist the agreeable thrill of suddenly being able to put on national airs without any danger. I regarded this most lamentable of all united fronts as a most ridiculous phenomenon, and history has proved me right.
As soon as the unions had filled their treasuries with Cuno's funds, and the passive resistance was faced with the decision of passing from defence with folded arms to active attack, the Red hyenas immediately bolted from the national sheep herd and became again what they had always been. Quietly and ingloriously Herr Cuno retreated to his ships, and Germany was richer by one experience and poorer by one great hope.
Down to late midsummer many officers, and they were assuredly not the worst, had at heart not believed in such a disgraceful development. They had all hoped that, if not openly, in secret at least, preparations had been undertaken to make this insolent French assault a turning point in German history. Even in our ranks there were many who put their confidence at least in the Reichswehr. And this conviction was so alive that it decisively determined the actions and particularly the training of innumerable young people.
But when the disgraceful collapse occurred and the crushing, disgraceful capitulation followed, the sacrifice of billions of marks and thousands of young Germans - who had been stupid enough to take the promises of the Reich's leaders seriously - indignation flared into a blaze against such a betrayal of our unfortunate people. In millions of minds the conviction suddenly arose bright and clear that only a radical elimination of the whole ruling system could save Germany.
Never was the time riper, never did it cry out more imperiously for such a solution than in the moment when, on the one hand, naked treason shamelessly revealed itself, while, on the other hand, a people was economically delivered to slow starvation. Since the state itself trampled all laws of loyalty and faith underfoot, mocked the rights of its citizens, cheated millions of its truest sons of their sacrifices and robbed millions of others of their last penny, it had no further right to expect anything but hatred of its subjects. And in any event, this hatred against the spoilers of people and fatherland was pressing toward an explosion. In this place I can only point to the final sentence of my last speech in the great trial of spring, 1924:
'The judges of this state may go right ahead and convict us for our actions at that time, but History, acting as the goddess of a higher truth and a higher justice, will one day smilingly tear up this verdict, acquitting us of all guilt and blame.'
And then she will call all those before her judgement seat, who today, in possession of power, trample justice and law underfoot, who have led our people into misery and ruin and amid the misfortune of the fatherland have valued their own ego above the life of the community.
In this place I shall not continue with an account of those events which led to and brought about the 8th of November, 1923. I shall not do so because in so doing I see no promise for the future, and because above all it is useless to reopen wounds that seem scarcely healed; moreover, because it is useless to speak of guilt regarding men who in the bottom of their hearts, perhaps, were all devoted to their nation with equal love, and who only missed or failed to understand the common road.
In view of the great common misfortune of our fatherland, I today no longer wish to wound and thus perhaps alienate those who one day in the future will have to form the great united front of those who are really true Germans at heart against the common front of the enemies of our people. For I know that some day the time will come when even those who then faced us with hostility, will think with veneration of those who travelled the bitter road of death for their German people.
I wish at the end of the second volume to remind the supporters and champions of our doctrine of those eighteen heroes, to whom I have dedicated the first volume of my work, those heroes who sacrificed themselves for us all with the clearest consciousness. They must forever recall the wavering and the weak to the fulfilment of his duty, a duty which they themselves in the best faith carried to its final consequence. And among them I want also to count that man, one of the best, who devoted his life to the awakening of his, our people, in his writings and his thoughts and finally in his deeds:
|© Copyright Peter Crawford 2012|