June 26, 2017

1941. Nazi Political Warfare Pushes for a "New Order"

Hitler Plan for Britain
Adolf Hitler, playing a game with Death, overlooked by a portrait of Kaiser Wilhelm II (Sidney Strube, 1941)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism. In 1941, German writer Hermann Rauschning wrote about Adolf Hitler's plans for a "New Order."

From The New York Times, March 25, 1941:
He Is Believed to Desire to Confront Britain With Peace Consolidating 'New Order'
This Involves Avoidance of a War That Will Regenerate British Staying Qualities
Adolf Hitler's possible choices of campaign plans for 1941 are further examined here by an eminent German writer who was high in the Nazi party's inner circle until 1935, when he broke with Herr Hitler and left Germany. He is the author of "The Revolution of Nihilism" and "The Voice of Destruction." He is now in London.


Adolf Hitler and his generals are not ignorant of the weaknesses of the German situation. His efforts will therefore be directed toward a fundamental change in the situation rather than strictly limited objectives.

But it is open to question whether the German High Command can effect this fundamental change by purely military methods. Even today its actions are dictated by the enemy, and so Herr Hitler may be compelled to undertake against his own will actions that offer a doubtful prospect of success.

He may therefore attempt to effect the fundamental change by political methods in preference to military ones. Before the "Blitz" campaign he always achieved his greatest successes with his policy of faits accomplis. It would be conformable to his trend of thought to conceive the idea of a fait accompli of peace.

It might be possible, he would imagine, to render Great Britain's war against "the new order" in Europe useless by inducing all allied and occupied countries, and those already drawn into the Nazi sphere of influence, to agree to his peace terms and declare their acceptance of a European solidarity of interests from which all extraneous powers would be excluded.

Will Sow Doubts About War

Herr Hitler's political warfare, with simple but effective slogans, broke the morale of the French forces and civilian population. The political premises for his new disintegration attempts will be found in repetitions of his willingness to conclude a negotiated peace. They will find fruitful soil in easily awakened doubts concerning the necessity and possibility of continuing the war and in cleavage of public opinion on this point.

An attack on Russia, for example, could give him a good start, because the surprise at this unexpected turn of events would cause many people to revise their opinion of him. If Herr Hitler is really our bulwark against bolshevism, they would argue, why make war on him?

But even this dramatic move would be unnecessary for his purpose, since the present situation affords him possibilities of effective peace propaganda. He has repeatedly sought to make it clear to neutral diplomats and other distinguished visitors that he has never desired war with the British Empire and would regard its destruction as a world calamity. His proposed readiness for peaceful cooperation with the British Empire on such a basis would always find new channels of communication.

There is a grain of truth in Herr Hitler's statement that he has never sought war with the British. This is not merely due to the fact that his backers made it a condition that he should avoid complications with Britain and the United States, when they advocated the Chancellorship for him, and likewise not because he fears the inexhaustible resources of the British Empire. The real reason is rather to be sought in the desire of leading circles in Germany to eschew any enterprise likely to hold up the disintegration of the British Empire, which they deem inevitable, and lead to a regeneration of the British nation.

War Held a Regenerator

To understand this trend of thought aright, we must remember that it was not only the Prussian military cast, but the Swabian Schiller who extolled war as a regenerator of life. A war—so argue others besides the Nazis—would regenerate all the power instincts and martial virtues of the British nation which appeared to have degenerated before the outbreak of hostilities. Far from hastening the breakup of the British Empire, a war would tend to strengthen it and prolong British hegemony, at least for another two or three generations. In well-informed circles—and not merely German ones—the life of the British Empire was estimated at another generation.

It is not inconceivable that Herr Hitler would win over the small States and also Italy, France and Spain to this project and strengthen the two latter countries in their antagonism to Britain. As long as the present French regime remains in power there can be no question of any similarity of British and French war aims. If France does not become an actual opponent of Britain, she will be resolved to pursue a more independent policy. There can be no further question of a common entente policy.

We might, indeed, interpret the situation in the sense that the three Latin powers are vitally interested in seeing that neither Herr Hitler nor Britain should win a decisive victory over the other. Europe is a balance of great cultural powers which gives scope for various combinations. And if the line of the new French policy is opposed to a German or Russian hegemony of Europe, it is equally antagonistic to a British one. Hence the new points of contact with Italy and Spain. Moreover, this policy is the only one that gives Premier Mussolini a chance to save something for his regime.

Whether such a policy will serve the real interests of France is another question. It is also doubtful whether it can be realized. French policy now seems to assume some resemblance to the Russian policy in favoring a draw in preference to the victory of one or other opponent. But that is just what Herr Hitler desires, and therefore he will raise no objections to this Latin bloc. On the contrary, he will be able to use it for his own ends.

It would be quite in accordance with Herr Hitler's trend of thought to force a peace on Britain against her will. His estimation of public opinion in Britain and the United States leads him to conclude that a moderate peace, achieved by negotiation, would revive the isolation tendencies latent in both Anglo-Saxon powers. Moreover, Nazi circles closely in touch with the Reichsfuehrer are largely inspired by the idea of a revolution in the United States.

What Herr Hitler really desires to achieve by a fait accompli peace is the basis for a new propaganda campaign that would disintegrate Anglo-Saxon morale as surely as his slogans broke the French morale last year. The weaknesses of its ruling classes made the dissolution of this "artificial creation" inevitable. Why, then, provoke a revival of life and resistance power by a war? That is the real meaning of Herr Hitler's declaration of friendship for Britain!

The one focus point of his policy is therefore his belief in the irrevocable passing of British world supremacy and the call to Germany to assume the inheritance. His other focus point was and still is the elimination of his continental rival, Russia, with whom a Germany rising to a position of world power could never remain in permanent alliance, because there can be only one supreme power in control of the Eurasian Continent. While Britain can therefore be left to a gradual process of disintegration, the Slavonic race must be destroyed by force before it becomes a real menace to German world domination.

Peril in the British Collapse

The sudden collapse of such a great institution as the British Empire would also contain certain dangers for the victorious destroyer. The aim of Nazism is not the negative one comprised in the destruction of the British Empire, but the positive extension of its own domination over its essential component parts. A military overthrow would not exclude the possibility that some of the key points would fall into foreign hands.

In the event of a break-up of the British Empire, Russia, Japan and the United States would be in a position to annex valuable territories. Probably Nazism would be forced to yield most of the overseas territories to other powers, in which case Germany would be thrown back into her constricted continental situation. It is possible that in the early stages of his development Herr Hitler may have thought only in continental terms, but by now it has become clear to him that world domination implies territories abutting on the ocean and domination of those oceans.

Herr Hitler desires a world empire and not merely a continental empire. Germany can grow only slowly to such a position. She can best gain a footing overseas by participation in overseas interests. That is the significance of the much discussed slogan of a "junior partnership."

Similar consideration formerly prevented Nazism from attempting a spectacular "march on Berlin" and induced it to substitute the notion of gaining power by means of a backdoor assumption of government and a slinking into key positions from which partners could be ousted at a convenient moment.

During this present conflict, Herr Hitler has still clung tenaciously to his idea of avoiding war to the knife with Britain and employing political means to wriggle out of hostilities by a fait accompli of peace. If the process of the British Empire's disintegration can be thus continued, he will argue, in a way in which will let its fruits fall into his lap, and if this process can be hastened, then it would be better to employ political methods that would tempt British commercial instincts rather than military means that would awaken the British sporting spirit.