March 13, 2017

1934. Goebbels Says Government Should Have Put Critics "Behind Bars"

Goebbels Berates Critics
"Nazi minister Joseph Goebbels (center) is seen in June of 1934" (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler in Italy and Germany prior to World War II.

From The New York Times, June 22, 1934:

Should Have Put Them 'Behind Bars,' He Tells Cheering Workers Outside Berlin
Meeting Ends the Cabinet Storm Officially—Hitler Visits Hindenburg at Neudeck
Berlin, June 21 — If Vice Chancellor Franz von Papen believed his now famous address at Marburg last Sunday would shake Dr. Paul Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister, in his attack on "reactionaries" he mistook his man.

Despite a cordial meeting of the two over tea cups at the Propaganda Ministry this afternoon and despite a visit by Chancellor Hitler to President von Hindenburg, the Propaganda Minister unloosed tonight all the fire of his oratory on the government's conservative critics in words Germany has seldom heard since the 1932 Nazi campaign against the "cabinet of barons" headed by Lieut. Col. von Papen. Dr. Goebbels was speaking before a wholly proletarian audience in the Berlin suburb of Neukölln, formerly one of the reddest spots in Germany, and cheer after cheer rolled out across the field until the Minister's voice could scarcely be heard above the wild enthusiasm of his hearers.

No Mention of Recent Events

Dr. Goebbels carefully avoided every direct reference to recent events, so it remains to be seen whether tonight's address should be regarded as the beginning of a new attack by the radical wing or a cannonade accompanying a retreat.

"The people will not forget the time when governments by divine right ruled," Dr. Goebbels said. "When we came to power this clique was against us. Now they stand next to us and offer their criticism. They want to remember that intelligence is not to be found only among gentlemen in club chairs."

Of all the statements in the speech none aroused so much enthusiasm as the declaration: "The National Socialist Government would have done better to place all these fine gentlemen behind locks and bars."

Dr. Goebbels concluded with an appeal to the "common people" to depend only upon itself, allow no one to lead it astray and see to it that the party remains true to its mission.

Officially, however, the storm that broke within the Hitler Cabinet following Colonel von Papen's speech ended today when before the assembled corps of foreign correspondents the Vice Chancellor and the Propaganda Minister, exponents of the rival camps, sat down at the same tea table and chatted amiably.

The scene, obviously designed to reduce the factional storm to the proverbial disturbance in a teapot, was staged appropriately enough in the Propaganda Ministry, although the occasion—an address by Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, president of the Reichsbank, on the German debt program—had been announced some time ago.

At the same moment, however, near the Eastern border of the Reich, Chancellor Hitler was conferring with President von Hindenburg at the Field Marshal's Summer estate at Neudeck. A report that Colonel von Papen had also left for Neudeck proved erroneous. The Vice Chancellor, instead of going himself, sent a full report on the situation to President von Hindenburg by courier. The change in his plans may have been prompted by the consideration that a race to Neudeck by both the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor would have been too startling a spectacle. Colonel von Papen is expected to visit Neudeck during the week-end. Herr Hitler returned to Berlin tonight.

What the Neudeck conference brought forth is a secret, at least for the present. Significant of the situation, however, was the first announcement of the conference today, which said that Chancellor Hitler had been "summoned" by the President. This announcement was quickly withdrawn, the substitute merely saying that Herr Hitler had gone to Neudeck to report on the meeting in Venice with Premier Mussolini.

Every effort was made in official quarters to "close the incident" and inquiry as to any official information was met with the response that the "incident" was a purely internal affair without interest to foreign countries.

Pledge to Curb Radicals Seen

Nevertheless, informed circles are inclined to believe that Herr Hitler went to Neudeck to give the President certain pledges and assurances that the radical elements would be curbed more effectively than heretofore. As stated previously in these dispatches, no dramatic developments are to be expected at present until events prove whether Chancellor Hitler really will adhere to a more moderate course and whether he is able to impose it on his radicals, who for the moment are in a fuming rage.

Meanwhile, Colonel von Papen's office is in receipt of congratulatory messages from all kinds of people, especially industrialists. It is significant that many of these messages come as open telegrams so that he who runs may read. That the courage to speak out what they think is again returning to the German people is one result of Colonel von Papen's speech. It may betoken a better future.