15 APRIL 1938, Page 2

Germany's Plebiscite The only person in Europe who was surprised

by the result of Sunday's plebiscite was apparently Herr Hitler himself : the German for vote is now la, and the vote of over 99 per cent. in favour of the Anschluss surpassed even Herr Hitler's expectations. Yet surprise is not necessary ; anyone who voted No, or abstained, had to withstand the combined effects of the pressure of the Party, of patriotism. of national pride, of fear of terrorism and the Secret Police, of the fundamental arguments in favour of the Anschluss, of unremitting propaganda, and of the complete lack of opposition, criticism and freedom of speech. Those who can resist so much are necessarily few and exceptional ; but the continuing wave of suicides in Austria is a tragic demon- stration of what tens of thousands, probably indeed millions. of Austrians feel. On no one has the plebiscite had a more remarkable effect than on Herr Hitler himself, and the speeches he made during the campaign and on its final day deserve the closest attention. He spoke of himself as the instrument of God and of Providence, as the poor boy who like David rose to be a national Messiah, as a miracle worker, and, ignoring Mozart or Beethoven, as Austria's supreme gift to the Great Reich ; and in these mystical paroxysms he promised to work the further miracle of uniting all the Germans in Europe—a promise which could only be fulfilled by revolutionising every Central European State. Herr Hitler's mysticism may be patho- logical, but as a political factor it can be formidable.

* * * *