June 15, 2017

1940. What Will Happen to the United States if Hitler Wins?

The Dire Prospect of Nazi Hegemony
Illustration featured in the Life magazine article "Six Ways to Invade U. S.", which imagines a two-front Axis invasion of the United States. The caption reads: "In Southern California, with burning oil wells in the background, a Jap light tank has stopped for gas at a roadside filling station. The attendant pretends to oblige, then sprays the tank with gasoline, setting it afire. The Jap shoots him down. Another attendant lies dead at right. A motorcyclist has overturned in the foreground. This is what he sees." March 2, 1942 (Art by Noel Sicklessource)
This article is part of a series of posts on how The New York Times covered the rise and fall of fascism in Europe. In 1940, as the situation in Europe grew increasingly dire for the Allies, New York Times foreign correspondent Otto D. Tolischus considered the question: What will it mean for the United States if Germany wins?

From The New York Times Magazine, June 2, 1940:
What It Might Mean to Us
Political and economic doctrines of the Nazis which a victorious war might put into operation against us

The cataclysmic events of the Western Front in France are shaking the world with the impact of an earthquake, rocking the foundations of twentieth-century civilization. Instinctively men everywhere begin to realize that the struggle now being fought out on the plains of France is no longer one of the countless European wars for strips of territory or national aggrandizement, or even the hegemony of the Old Continent, but a life-and-death struggle between two cultures, two ways of living and dying, two moral concepts and two systems of social, political and economic organization. The outcome must not only demolish the present but determine the future shape of that world.

That this struggle has assumed such world-wide ramifications is boldly proclaimed by Adolf Hitler himself and reaffirmed by every word that comes from National Socialist Germany. This new Germany is now breaking beyond German frontiers with the elemental force of an exploding volcano, the fires of which are testing the fitness of the existing world order to survive. It threatens to engulf France and Great Britain, as it did Austria, Czecho-Slovakia, Poland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium. That they came first is owing merely to the accident of geography which placed these countries as the first obstacles in the path of the National Socialist world revolution. Each conquered country is only a new base of departure for new conquests; the final goal is announced to be the world rule of the German master race.

•     •     •

If even a few months ago such ambitions appeared to be merely mad dreams or propagandistic slogans, they are assuming new reality amid the bursting bombs of German air armadas, the roar of motorized divisions and the tramp of legions, whose theme song is:
Today we own Germany,
Tomorrow the whole world.
Yet the National Socialist aims that lie beyond the conquest of any individual country had been revealed to the world long since with a calculating frankness that won them the death-defying allegiance of German youth—a fact which precludes their abandonment—and seduced the rest of the world into not taking them seriously.

Starting with the conquest of Germany itself under the "temporary slogans" of breaking the Treaty of Versailles and fighting bolshevism, Hitler proceeded to the unification of the German race and has now proclaimed as his next goal the consolidation of the European Continent, with Germany as its protector. [Hitler's New Year proclamation and Jan. 30 speech; Rosenberg's Danzig speech, April 16, 1940.]

But even that is a mere "temporary slogan" beyond which already is rising the next, whose import may be gleaned from the following statements of Hitler himself:

"A State which, in an age of racial pollution, devotes itself to cultivation of its best racial elements must some day become master of the earth," he writes in "Mein Kampf," which today is the bible of National Socialist Germany; and, barring half-hearted imitations elsewhere, Germany is so far the only country devoting itself to that task.

"We all sense," he also writes, "that in a far future mankind may face problems which can be surmounted only by a supreme master race supported by the means and resources of the entire globe."

•     •     •

And how these problems are going to be solved is indicated by his view of the rise of the Aryan, whose destiny Germany has taken into her keeping.

"As conqueror," he writes in the same book, "the Aryan subjected to himself lower humans and regulated their practical activity under his command according to his will and for his aims. By leading them to useful if hard work he not only spared the life of the conquered but perhaps also gave them a lot that was better than their former so-called 'liberty.'"

•     •     •

If these quotations seem to refer to the distant past or the distant future, it must be kept in mind that in National Socialist reckoning past and future merge into the present and that under that reckoning time is regulated only by the dynamics of the National Socialist movement itself. That these quotations are as valid today as ever is illustrated by the fate of Germany's conquered subject peoples, now working under German command for German aims. At the same time, the objectives that will follow consolidation of Europe are already suggested by the constant emphasis in the German press that only such a consolidated Continent will be able to employ the full force of "its immeasurable economic and spiritual resources in the struggle between the great world-political rooms."

But how, it may be asked, does this concern the United States, which still has wide oceans to protect it and whose wealth and resources makes it "the greatest nation on earth?" Surely Hitler cannot be planning to conquer the United States as well and make it one of the subject States of his world scheme? To raise that question only a few months—or even a few days—ago would have stamped one as an irresponsible alarmist. Yet it has been in the mind of all who watched the rise of National Socialism and realized its implications, and today only the irresponsible will presume to give an apodictic answer to that question. The answer of a responsible American Government is a $3,300,000,000 armament program, which makes it pertinent to subject the situation facing the United States in case of a German victory to cold-blooded analysis.

•     •     •

Such analysis must proceed from three fundamental considerations. First, which is self-evident, is that all National Socialist slogans invoked in the war against France and Britain apply with redoubled force against the United States. According to its own vociferous proclamations, National Socialist Germany is pitting "blood against gold" in a fight against "decadent democracy" and "rapacious plutocracy," depending on a free economy and world trade, in order to substitute for them a new world order based on national and international "socialistic" planning under authoritarian governments and a peace guaranteed by German aims.

A second consideration, long overlooked but now also evident, is that power dynamics of authoritarian States have their own law of action, which is determined by opportunity rather than by any individual will—even the will of Hitler, who is a prisoner of the forces he unleashed. In contrast to the Western post-war mentality, which envisaged a world stabilized by paper treaties, power politics abhors a power vacuum and enters it—in Europe as in the Far East. Under the hammer blows of the German armies in France the world again is being shocked into a realization that the only dam against power is more power—even if that entails the risk of war.

•     •     •

The third and most important consideration is that National Socialist Germany wages "total war," in which military might, economic warfare and moral disintegration of the prospective enemy play equally important roles.

If the European Continent should be really consolidated under the aegis of Hitler, and if its "immeasurable economic and spiritual resources"—not to speak of its military might—should be thrown into the balance in the political struggle between "world-political rooms," the United States would face what is known in diplomatic parlance as a new situation, unprecedented in history. But it may be pertinent to try to envisage the consequences of a crushing defeat for France and Britain and the imposition on them of an "anti-Versailles," already propounded in the German press.

Such an "anti-Versailles" would first of all involve total disarmament of the defeated countries. That would leave the German Army supreme and beyond challenge by any power or combination of powers in the world. But it might and probably would also involve surrender of the Allied navies to victorious Germany, as Germany was compelled to surrender her navy to the victorious Allies in 1918.

That would put Europe's strongest navies on one side of the United States and an allied Japanese navy on the other side. Added to them would be the strongest air fleet in the world. Both would far surpass any defenses that America or all the Americas could create in years. Moreover, an "anti-Versailles" must be expected to include complete redistribution of Europe's colonies and dominions—redistribution between Germany and, at least for the moment, her temporary allies. And it must likewise be expected to include confiscation of all foreign investments of France and Britain, as Germany's foreign holdings were confiscated in 1918. Moreover, National Socialist Germany has developed its own technique for acquiring ownership of industrial and other resources of conquered countries. The result would be a complete change in the political and economic control of Europe and Africa, much of Asia and Oceania and presumably Australia.

•     •     •

The economic consequences to America of such an upheaval are equally obvious. It would put America's entire foreign trade, not only with Europe but also the rest of the world, completely under the control of Germany and her allies. That trade, it may be argued, amounts to less than 10 per cent of America's total production; but under America's methods of production that 10 per cent often determines profit or loss. True, America produces many things which even a totalitarian world would still need. But the things that world would need would be American raw materials, such as oil and cotton. In markets for finished goods employing profitable labor America would find the competition of a consolidated Europe, behind whose salesmen stood the military might of Germany.

What that means already is amply illustrated in the case of Rumania and other Balkan States. Moreover, whatever foreign trade remains to the United States would have to be conducted on terms dictated by Germany, which repudiates free private multilateral world trade conducted on a gold standard and substitutes for it a government-controlled bilateral barter trade based on an equal exchange of goods between two countries and paid for in "labor currency."

•     •     •

In practice this means that Germany buys from each country only as much as she sells to it, and measures the value of goods so exchanged not in terms of gold but in terms of labor. But the value of hours of labor in each country is determined through the mechanism of a managed fiat currency; the exchange value is adjusted arbitrarily by agreement between government, whose relative position, in turn, is determined by their relative might. Germany as the mightiest country in the world could herself determine how much foreign goods her fiat marks would buy and how much German goods the currencies of other countries should buy in return. Germany could determine employment and living standards in countries that must trade with her.

For America the more or less world-wide adoption of this system would entail a further development of still immeasurable consequences—namely, demonetization of gold. With such a development the $19,000,000,000 gold hoard in Kentucky would be reduced to trinket value. In such a case it might be doubted whether America's foreign investments would be worth the paper they are written on. Difficulties of America's "financial imperialism" already are the subject of mocking comment in the German press.

•     •     •

Such, in any case, would be some of the inevitable consequences of "socialistic planning between nations" and a victory of "blood over gold" which the National Socialist regime has proclaimed on its banners. It proposes to lead the world into the "socialistic millennium" to be formed—in Hitler's words—"not by the senile forces of a decaying world but by the young and productive nations to whom belongs the future."

This would leave the United States alternative courses. This nation could adopt an autarchic planned economy of its own resources within the confines of its own borders and militarize itself to the limit to assure its safety. But there can be little doubt that planned economy goes hand in hand with authoritarian government, and so this course might mean an end of America's political democracy.

To adopt the alternative might be to court economic catastrophe of still inconceivable dimensions, with social and political upheavals, and possibly make America ripe for the invader. German proposals for new and more "organic" organization of the United States are already at hand. According to all National Socialist commentators, the American people are not a nation but a conglomeration of racial units. According to Colin Ross, much-traveled German author, whose views are widely disseminated in Germany, the vertical division of the United States into Federal States is purely artificial and should be replaced with horizontal organization according to racial groups. Such horizontal organization already has been introduced by Germany in Czechia, Poland and Slovakia. It goes without saying that in these subject countries the German racial organization dominates.

According to Ross, a like organization in the United States would give the German element in America a new role to play, according to its numbers, influence and importance, enhanced by Hitler's victories. And as a "fifth column" such an organization might decide American victory or defeat in war.