April 4, 2017

1939. "U.S. Urged to Join Anti-Hitler Bloc"

Calls for Unity to Avert War
A crowd gathers in Fort Wayne, Indiana for a speech by Charles Lindbergh at a rally held by the controversial America First Committee on October 3, 1941 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how The New York Times covered the rise and fall of fascism in Europe.

From The New York Times, February 5, 1939:
Coalition Is Needed to Avert War, Former Berlin Editor, Here on Visit, Says
Economic Troubles May Lead to Overthrow of Nazis by Revolution, He Adds

To avoid a war it is necessary to form "an anti-Hitler coalition on the largest possible basis," Friedrich Stampfer, former editor-in-chief of the German daily Vorwaerts in Berlin, said here in an interview. The paper once was the majority Socialist organ of the Reich which was suppressed by the Nazis.

"According to confidential reports which we receive from Germany, distrust of Hitler has increased since the annexation of Austria and Sudetenland for two reasons," said Mr. Stampfer in an interview at the Hotel Barbizon-Plaza. "First, through the Munich agreement the German people learned how close they were to war and they don't want war. Second, the anti-Jewish riots opened even the eyes of those who refused to believe in 'atrocity stories.'"

Mr. Stampfer, who arrived last Thursday on the Normandie for his first visit, is now the editor of the weekly Neue Vorwaerts, published since the beginning of 1938 in Paris. He had founded the new publication as a successor to the old Vorwaerts, of which he had been editor for eighteen years, in 1933. It was printed in Prague until the end of 1937, when, according to Mr. Stampfer, it was "forced out of Czecho-Slovakia."

Tells of a New Situation

"A new situation has arisen in Germany," he said. "General unrest and dissatisfaction, together with the regime's financial and economic difficulties, offer a possibility for the overthrow of the Nazis by revolutionary means, thus avoiding a general European conflict. Should this, however, not occur, then a second World War is inevitable. It is therefore a race between revolution and war."

Speaking about the proposed anti-Hitler coalition, Mr. Stampfer said that "we are at work to rally all democratic forces outside and inside Germany—especially inside Germany. We have started a broad world movement against Nazism based upon the already existing opposition within the Third Reich."

Disclosing that his visit here aimed at American support of such a movement, Mr. Stampfer said that the "underground movement" in Germany was strong, being conducted by the "younger generation of Social Democrats."

"How well this movement is organized in Germany is evident through the fact that our regularly published magazine 'Reports from Germany' contains nothing but facts on the Third Reich as reported by our confidential correspondents in Germany," he said. "Yet what we print on 150 pages of tissue paper every week are mere excerpts from our comprehensive reports."

Warrant Out for Arrest

Mr. Stampfer, who was served with a warrant for arrest on the day of the Reichstag fire when he declared in the Vorwaerts that neither Communists nor Socialists but "others" had caused the arson, said that two factors were encouraging to the anti-Nazi movement; America's support and the weight of Thomas Mann's personality.

"Thomas Mann to the civilized world is today the representative of German culture and one of the strongest forces at work for the unification of all anti-Nazis," Mr. Stampfer said. "As to America, this country can avoid a European war by supporting Europe's democratic nations. Europe has given you so much and it is now your turn to return some of it."