January 4, 2019

1943. Ten Years of Hitler

The New York Times on the Third Reich's Tenth Anniversary
Adolf Hitler and Paul von Hindenburg at the memorial parade in Tannenberg, August 27, 1933 (source)
This article is part of a series of posts on how newspapers covered the rise and fall of fascism in Europe. In January 1943 the New York Times editorial board published a piece marking the tenth anniversary of Adolf Hitler's rise to power.

From The New York Times, January 30, 1943:

A tortured humanity writhing under the scourge of the most extensive and the most savage war in history will contemplate this day with mingled fury and regret, but also with a sense of triumph and a new dedication to final victory over the powers of darkness. Ten years ago today a demoniacal demagogue named Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany and thereby unleashed forces which are now drenching the world with blood. There will be increased fury over the war itself, but also over the savagery and brutishness with which the unspeakable Nazis and their allies are waging a campaign of extermination against helpless conquered populations. There will be regret over our own past mistakes which permitted these forces to get out of hand. There will be, above all, elation over the fact that these forces have been met and stopped, and a new resolve to crush them and wipe them from the face of the earth so that they will never rise again.

But ten years of fevered history have also demonstrated that if Hitler was the mainspring of events the forces which he was able to mobilize are greater than any individual—that, in other words, Hitlerism is a far greater menace than Hitler himself, and that, therefore, the problems we face go deeper than the mere elimination of Hitler and his regime. These forces are both peculiarly German and worldwide, and this anniversary is a good time to impress them on our minds for future reference.

Within the German orbit Hitlerism is primarily the heir of Prussian militarism serving as the instrument of German industrialism. Both kept Hitler in his days of penury and brought him to power to carry through German rearmament after the pathetic failures of their first choices, the tricky but frivolous Junker Papen and the wily but politically inexperienced General Schleicher, who proposed to rearm Germany with the cooperation of the German labor unions. But their final choice fell on Hitler only because he had already rallied behind himself a large popular following by appeals to all the worst elements and instincts of the Germans and, above all, had gathered around himself a fanatical crew of hoodlums and adventurers with whom he promised to terrorize the rest of the Germans into line. This he did, and out of all these elements he was able to forge a military machine with which he could overrun Europe, and to build up a regime that derives its motive force from racial hatred, lust of conquest and domination, and a cold savagery that sets aside all the cultural and moral progress of the last 2,000 years and proposes to clear a Lebensraum for the German master race by exterminating the "inferior" races already living there as a preliminary to world conquest.

From a world-wide standpoint, Hitlerism represents both the drift toward totalitarian government first exemplified in Soviet Russia and touted in this country as the "wave of the future," and also a middle-class counter-revolution against the "proletarian" revolution of the Bolshevists. In this dual role it won the support of many Germans attracted by its totalitarian features or scared by the Communist menace, though the final support that put it over the top came from Communists jumping on the bandwagon. And it also attracted sympathies in other lands which, facing similar issues, were split in two, like France, or considered nazism a good bulwark against bolshevism, as did some elements in England.

Now nazism has fully unmasked itself and the whole decent world is up in arms against it. Today, on its tenth anniversary, it stands at bay like a hunted criminal on which the avengers are closing in from all sides, and the thousand years of Hitler prophesied for his Third Reich are running out fast. The Nazis have proclaimed this war is an Armageddon in which the vanquished will be forever eliminated from the stage of history. So be it. Today we know that it is not our side which will be eliminated, and the ultimatum at Casablanca is the guarantee that there will be no compromise with Hitler or his works.