December 20, 2017

1932. German Industrialist Advocates Fascist Rule

Fritz Thyssen Sees Nazism as Preferable to Communism
"Adolf Hitler and Fritz Thyssen visit a Thyssen factory in the Ruhr," 1935 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise of fascism. In March 1932, New York Times correspondent Harold Callender spoke with businessman Fritz Thyssen, a Hitler supporter, about Thyssen's outlook on Germany's future.

From The New York Times, March 10, 1932:
Ruhr Industrialist, Backer of Nazis, Sees Choice Between Fascism and Communism
Holds Hitlerites Have Roused a New and Necessary Spirit of Nationalism in Germany

ESSEN, March 9 — In many parts of Germany your correspondent has studied the rising tide of National Socialism, listened to Nazi speakers, visited the universities, where youth is fired by the Nazi movement, questioned Adolf Hitler and other leaders about Nazi aims and sought vainly to discover the specific economic program of the party, which its leaders say is in the process of preparation.

Here in the Ruhr one gets new light on the movement, which enjoys the support of certain industrialists. So your correspondent today asked Dr. Fritz Thyssen, one of the outstanding leaders of German heavy industry, who is a friend and supporter of Herr Hitler, why he favored a Nazi regime for Germany.

Dr. Thyssen answered that he found sufficient reason for supporting Herr Hitler in the fact that he had roused in half the country a new spirit of nationalism that is essentially healthy and necessary and serves as a bulwark against communism.

Dr. Thyssen sees no danger in the socialistic theories of the Nazis because economic facts and not theories will determine policies. He believes that the choice, not only for Germany but for Europe, lies between communism and fascism, and he prefers fascism.

Stresses Nationalist Aspect

"It is the nationalist aspect of the movement that is important," he said. "Marxism is internationalist in tendency. This is true of the Centrist [Chancellor Bruening's] party because it is allied with the church and the trade unions.

"We need a nationalist government and a stronger foreign policy. Heretofore we have always made concessions. The policy of fulfillment must end. If foreigners insist that we make huge payments, we must say, 'Very well, but in that case we cannot buy your goods. We cannot do both.'

"Would a Nazi government have a disturbing effect on foreign relations, as some fear?" your correspondent asked.

"On the contrary," answered Dr. Thyssen. "It would not improve relations with France but it should make no difference with other countries. An anti-Communist regime ought to make a favorable impression in America and England.

"Relations with France are difficult whatever government we have. We have long tried for rapprochement with France without success. If Europe is to be tranquil Germany must have an opportunity to live without being under constant pressure form France and without its eastern frontiers being menaced by Poland."

"You support the Nazi movement then despite the Socialistic ideas of its speakers and pamphlets?" Dr. Thyssen was asked.

"A large proportion of Germans even outside the trade unions are socialistically inclined," he replied. "There are more or less socialistic ideas in all parties. The question is whether we shall enact socialistic measures because they are economically necessary or because we believe them desirable. That is what has divided the Marxists from the others.

Sees them Same as Fascisti

"We must regard the Nazis as the German equivalent of the Italian Fascisti. They are the same thing. Fascism has not done badly in Italy.

"I regard a Fascist State as one that in a crisis will take measures needed to bring order and then restore economic freedom when the crisis passes. Dr. Bruening has taken such measures to a certain extent, but the measures of the present government are socialistic and tend to lead us toward communism. The huge civil service based on partisan patronage is also expensive, and when the State is unable to pay then comes communism.

"The danger of communism in Germany is real. Many say that since cooperation with France is impossible we must turn to Russia. It is not yet determined which way we shall turn—to communism or fascism."

"But the Nazi ideal is what they call 'autarkie'—the restriction of Germany's international economic relations to the minimum—while the Ruhr, as well as other industrial areas, is equipped for world trade," your correspondent remarked.

"Industry and trade cannot longer be run as formerly," was the reply. "It is impossible in the long run to buy from the countries that do not buy from us. To carry out such control of trade we require State supervision, at least for the immediate future.

"The only question is whether this is to be for the duration of the crisis or become permanent. I think it is temporary, as Mussolini does, and that as soon as the crisis is past industry will recover its freedom. We have rigid State control of trade already, but how long it will continue depends on world circumstances, not statesmen.

"Russia has a state monopoly of foreign trade. How can we deal with her on an equal footing without similar measures? We cannot sell great quantities without buying at the same time. This is America's great mistake and one of the causes of the crisis."
Conference to Consider "Menace" is Urged by B'nai B'rith Meeting

A conference of major Jewish organizations was urged last night to consider the "alarming situation" produced by the anti-Semitism of Adolf Hitler in Germany and the "imminence" of his accession to power. The proposal was embodied in a resolution unanimously adopted by more than 500 Jews, meeting under the auspices of B'nai B'rith at Temple Emanu-El, Fifth Avenue and Sixty-fifth Street.

The resolution was presented by Municipal Court Judge Myron Sulzberger after speakers had denounced Hitlerism not only as a menace to Judaism but to the peace of the world. It is to be forwarded for action to the national headquarters of B'nai B'rith in Cincinnati.

Supreme Court Justice Albert Cohn, district president of B'nai B'rith, presided.