June 8, 2017

1941. The Growing Union of Hate in Europe

Hitler's "New Order" Consumes the Continent
"The Angels of Peace Descend on Belgium" by David Low, published in the Evening Standard on June 10, 1940 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise and fall of fascism in Europe. Two weeks after Germany launched its invasion of the Soviet Union, New York Times foreign correspondent C. L. Sulzberger described the "union of hate" being spread across Europe by the Nazi regime, whose propaganda newspaper Das Reich at one point went so far as to state: "Our people must always fight against the temptation to devote their energies to the good of others."

From The New York Times, July 6, 1941:

As Hitler extends his conquests the Continent is reduced more and more to primitive cruelty


As Adolf Hitler pushes his armies deeper into Russia he is doing more than conquer new areas of Europe; he is extending that union of hate which has been growing ever since the Fuehrer started on the road to conquest. The material results of his soaring aspirations are already plain—a Europe swept into ruins, a Europe with its vast and intricate industrial scheme dedicated only to the spread of destruction, with its fertility ravaged to a bare penurious level of subsistence, its people subdued to the dull bonds of slavery and ignited by terrible internal passions.

What effect the great new explosion between Russia and Germany can have upon this incipient league of mutual detestation is impossible to say. Scarcely hidden beneath the military efficiency of the vicious spread of dictatorship are the anarchic seeds of a reign of terror. Who can say how much the tremendous political fifth column of the Comintern will be able to exploit this dangerous situation as a military weapon?

Will the Pan-Slavs of the Balkans and Central Europe be able to create disorders behind the lines; or is it the deadly Gestapo too efficient a weapon of Hitler's new brand of Pan-Germanism? Will the secret cells of communism, with which Europe has been so assiduously dotted, flourish now in the rich soil of bombs and destitution? Will the vague tenets of Marxism, so strangely warped at Moscow, unite the bitterly discordant elements of the Continent? Can a carefully engendered anti-communistic sentiment temporarily cause the great bloc of European anti-Fascists to forget their differences; or will this sudden new war add new coals to that subterranean furnace already eating out the solid structure of the Continent? These questions cannot yet be answered. It is not yet time to make predictions.

•     •     •

This hatred which is eating into the continental soul is directed not only against the autocratic conqueror. Part of the tactic which has enabled his domination was to encourage and foster a network of mutual antipathies which have festered in the European peoples for centuries. Pent-up discords which had gradually disappeared as civilization installed itself as a habit are once more rampant; fear, envy, strife and detestation are replacing orderly development as Europe is becoming a cruel jungle.

Today the Bulgar brutalizes the Greek in the peaceful villages of Thrace. Torture, pillage and hangings are becoming commonplace as Sofia graciously accepts the gift of Hitler for which it exchanged its pretensions to liberty. Serbs in Macedonia are once again subjected to the heavy yoke of their half-Slavic cousins and their maltreatment is so extensive that the Germans were forced to intervene at Ochrida and Struga. The mixed Macedonian population is witnessing the inception of a new reign of terror.

I remember a Macedonian peasant of Gostivar once saying: "When I was born I was named Nikola Popstefanija. That was under the Turks. Then the Bulgars came and I was forced to change my name to Nikola Popstefanoff. Then the Serbs came and I was named Nikola Popstefanovich. None of us cares much what happens here if we can only have peace." Once more Nikola will have to change his name and once more Macedonia is being made to live up to its title of "bloody land."

Italian and Bulgar are shedding blood in the decaying streets of holy Ochrida, where ancient Pan is supposed to have roamed and Cyril, Methodius and Clement taught Christianity to the early Slavs. Croat terrorists in the north are celebrating the greatest heyday since they collaborated in the assassination of King Alexander seven years ago, brutalizing the Serbs and the Jews with whom the great majority had habitually lived in peace. Hitler's Hungarian puppets are busily shaming the name of St. Stephen, for whose crown they have reclaimed the Vojvodina and Banat, and are restoring the boasted Magyar citation with bullet, knife and hangman's noose.

Provinces of Yugoslavia are returning to those habits of turmoil which existed so long when robber-patriot bands wandered about the mountain forests slaughtering and raiding Ottoman Turks. Thousands of armed Chetniks, living off the soil, are still fighting their own specialized Balkan type of warfare against the Italians, Hungarians, Bulgarians and their German masters, doing their utmost to render difficult the gradual and mechanical extinction of the concepts of South Slavic national independence.

•     •     •

But the armies of the Axis continue methodically to establish their beloved "New Order." Mass murder once more has become a Balkan commonplace. Photographs already are being smuggled out, showing pendant bodies of men and women—students, teachers, priests, officials. The Serbian Patriarch Gavrilo was forcibly shaved and the funds of his churches were seized as part of the general loot.

With cynically deliberate efficiency, Axis propagandists have used puppet agents to spread hatred among friendly peoples. Paid Moslem Bosniaks have turned against their Serbian neighbors and the proud people of Montenegro have been humbled by Italian trickery. Croat, Serb and Dalmatian have been sucked into a whirlpool of fratricide conceived by the evil mind of Paul Joseph Goebbels.

Hungary's "calm acceptance" of the "New Order," so joyfully publicized in the prostituted Budapest press, may have been signalized by increasing communism, the forced draft of labor, the persecution of the Jews and liberals, the discontented murmurs of housewives as food stocks are whisked off to Germany. The proud Magyar has been subjected to a trio of unpleasant masters: his own cheap nobility, unprincipled local Nazi leaders, and traditionally inimical Germans, whom he is warned by his national proverbs to mistrust. In Rumania—whose recent national history is like a recital of the plagues of Job—riots, murders and intrigue continue beneath the dark cloak of fear. The unhappily allied governments at Budapest and Bucharest, now fighting Russia, denounce one another bitterly as cruel terrorism reigns in both halves of that integral province of Transylvania, which Hitler found it convenient to divide.

•     •     •

One might say: "But this is merely a turbulent Balkan area recently recovered from war; it would be unjust to categorize Europe on this quasi-savage basis." Unfortunately Europe has become completely Balkanized in the worst meaning of the word. The evil methods, traditions and instincts of that bloody area's saddest period are ubiquitous on the Continent. The old system of Balkan buffer States exists from beaten Belgium to the Polish Government General. Alternate trickery and such musical comedy situations as the puppet Kingdom of Croatia, with its ridiculous mummery of Tomislav II, or the clerical tyranny still prevailing in Bratislava, as compared to the stark slavery in the occupied area of Northwestern and Northeastern Europe, fail to disguise Hitler's obvious intent to divide the Continent into sufficient tiny sections to insure his one objective—German rule.

In Poland, already largely forgotten by a world grown sick of horrors, more than 18 per cent of the population has been eliminated by the Germans. Such as remains is now functioning in various unhuman capacities—factory robots, agricultural quasi-cattle, economy labor battalions supporting the families of their German bullies or sheer drones mutely awaiting disposition under the terrifying Nazi machine for assassination of the soul.

•     •     •

The brutal bullying of Czechs in the "protectorate" is slowly breaking down this sturdy people, used by tradition to silent resistance. Grain from Bohemian fields moves northward while the sullen population labors in vast factories to produce tanks, aircraft and guns under a revived system of galley slavery, while their Slovak cousins, under a forced labor system, lead a duplicate life under the illusion it is the free choice of their so-called independent government which guides them.

The Finns, still bearing the scars occasioned when the friendly Fuehrer released upon them the forces of his partner in depredation who is now his enemy, add to their burdens the support of Nazi troops. Sweden, which ever chooses the "middle way" in politics as well as in sociology, exists in a frightened fog of freedom, guarding the spark of spiritual independence while Norwegians suffer that version of life conceived by Alfred Rosenberg, accepted by Quisling and induced by German occupation.

Occasional letters trickling out of Copenhagen hint at the unhappiness of butter-and-egg salesmen in Denmark who see the whole of their little country follow the disputed provinces of Schleswig-Holstein into the German maw. The Nazis are already beginning to view Holland as the mere homeland of Germanic tribes, and Belgium is being bartered on the counter in order the more easily to induce the French to accept Hitler's cooperative terms.

The borderlands of Europe are forgotten in greater disasters. People of Alsace and Lorraine are either forced to accept the German yoke or struggle to exist in penurious France, while German émigrés from the eastern continent take over their homes.

•     •     •

Switzerland lives in constant terror that, when it is no longer useful for Germany as an international clearing house for money, trade, espionage, news and the Red Cross, a partition order will be given. Portugal—Britain's last continental ally save Turkey—is dreading a similar moment.

Italy, which sacrificed her peace and prosperity to Mussolini's mad effort to expand in a land which he himself described as "a collection of rock gardens and sand piles," is now a barely disguised Nazi colony. Spain, still rent by wounds and dissension fostered by early Axis power politics, is at present hovering on the borderline of possibilities when it will again benefit by this deathly friendship.

Perhaps the most tragic situation of all exists in the beaten and bewildered France where puppets and two-faced politicians contend in betrayal of the unhappy birthplace of democratic theory. Families are divided between sympathy with the British Allies and the free De Gaulle-ist forces, and the spiritless tenets held within the boundaries ruled by Vichy—between desolate occupied territories and Himmler's prison camps.

•     •     •

This is the Europe now undergoing the birth pangs intended to produce the famous "New Order" and German propaganda gives reassuring assertions that while the process of change may be hard, it will be well worth the pain for the resulting stability. Exactly how this is conceived in the Nazi master minds has not yet been specifically put forth, but from various indications already officially pronounced from Berlin, it is clear why the Continent has been unready to accept it willingly.

The entire system is based on the egocentric theory of a German "Herrenvolk" fit to dominate the world and other races in varying degrees of serfdom. The German tongue will be "the technical language of the future," and the Continent will be called on to support the German bureaucracy which rules it and the German war machine which "guards" it. As the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung says, "revenue from taxation alone from the new parts of the Reich will suffice for service and amortization of the Reich's armaments debt." And as the Deutscher Volkswirt points out, continental agriculture must feed the German industrial machine.

It is agreed by Nazi leaders that the German race of masters in Hitler's version of a Neo-Platonic "Republic" must benefit from the privileges of its position. As Dr. Robert Ley says, "a lower race needs less culture, less clothes and less food." To this the oracle Das Reich adds, "Our people must always fight against the temptation to devote their energies to the good of others."

•     •     •

Spiritual and economical Europe lives in destitution, facing only the possibility of ameliorating slavery to serfdom. Ideals of democracy conceived by France's eighteenth-century philosophers have been leveled beneath the Prussian boot. The non-Germanic populations of the Continent are being forced into the position of stokers to the huge Nazi war machine which keeps them in subjection. From Bulgaria to Norway forced labor is the mode of procedure.

Whether this tightly knit autarch of barter economy, ruled by the iron fist of dictatorship, could ever be made to work in Europe is a question. Nazism is built on the necessity of supporting an ever-increasing army, with the rest of the population drafted as serfs to keep it going. Demobilization of this military system would probably collapse the peace structure because even Hitler could not manufacture a gendarmerie which, added to a spy and a bureaucracy system, would be equal in size to the Wehrmacht.

The last signs of continental independence are far from being quenched. The last time I crossed the Danube out of Rumania, a tired ex-Cabinet Minister accompanying me said, "I hope you knew my country when it was happy and free." Three months ago a German official asked me, "Why can't the English send more planes and make this war short?"

•     •     •

There are other signs that the will to independence is not yet broken. The Germans were furious when the Greeks hauled down the Swastika from the Acropolis and when they pelted British prisoners with flowers. Nazis must replace the occupation troops of Holland each six weeks in order to protect them from "infection" with the free Dutch spirit. Hundreds of French officers in North Africa are remaining loyal to Vichy until America can supply them weapons with which to fight.

Most of Europe still realizes that Hitler's "New Order" is merely an industrialized throwback to the feudal system based on barter and control—not only economic barter but the exchange of liberty for protection when the only protection is needed against those who are stealing liberty. It will take more than Goebbels's propaganda to erase this conviction.