FORCE AS GERMANY'S GOD
By T. D. RICHARDSON
THE tramp ! tramp ! tramp ! of marching feet to the tune of virile voices singing warlike songs, and the eternal drone of aeroplanes—those are the characteristic sounds that have impressed themselves on my mind after a stay of four to five months—one of many—in Germany. They are the sign and seal of the new cult of Force, of National power and supremacy of which Hitler is the High Priest.
Viewed in perspective, the hold that this creed of power and national as well as physical strength has gained over the people is little short of terrifying. Even those who decry the Government's foreign policy, who declare the financial callisthenics of Herr Schacht to be fantastic, and the few who deprecate the total lack of political liberty, worship either tacitly, or openly, at this shrine of Force. Everywhere one goes, in every stratum of society, in every activity of human life, this governing principle, this homage to the God of " Kraft " —Force—stands out above all others. Quite recently an order has been promulgated that every young man, be he prince or peasant, must spend either a year in the Army or six months in a Labour Camp. There may be a few in the length and breadth of the land who resent this encroachment on their liberty, but I never met one. On the contrary, the bitterest complaint of the young " Non-Aryan " is that he is debarred from joining in this stupendous parade. Those who are physically unfit—and a youth must be a cripple for the Germans to abandon him—deplore their inability, while young men of the highest position, accustomed to every luxury and the personal freedom of Continental life, willingly give up their golf, their dancing and the milder pursuits of their leisure hours to devote even more time to the business of getting fit and acquiring muscular strength, as well as of attending lectures on Military Science, Air-Defence and kindred subjects.
The Labour Corps are working at top pressure, building roads of unquestionable strategic importance, learning the construction of bridges, and assisting the farmers in the reclamation and cultivation of every available inch of land in order that Germany may be self-supporting and ready—for what ? With hundreds of thousands of trained men, lacking only, some assert, rifles and machine-guns, which it would take a comparatively short time to supply ; with a superb Air Force and an extremely efficient, and recently trebled, professional Army as a cadre, backed by the organizing ability of those in power, and the indomitable will and whole- hearted support of the people, the land forces of Germany are indeed formidable. The danger is that the military -spirit, that they insist is all that inspires this activity today, may at any moment turn into a war spirit. The constant rallies held all over the country not only keep the people on the qui rice, but provide excellent practice in mobilization and the rapid movement of troops to any given destination.
The great armament and steel firms of Germany are working overtime—a fact which needs no comment ; the consumption of sewing-machines and bicycles is limited, even in Germany. A visit I paid to a large motor works was illuminating. Row after row of high-powered lorries met the eye. Closer inspection revealed that their grey- green bodies were armoured. They are driven on the four- wheel principle, and a neat strong coupling at the rear leaves no doubt to any one with a military eye that they are designed (doubtless among other purposes) for the transport, at high speed, of medium heavy artillery, com- plete with shell and gun-crews. It is a noticeable fact that where, a few years ago, one was allowed to wander freely through any works, today notices, " Eintritt Verboten," abound.
Competent observers are of the opinion that the German Air Force, both civil and military, is second to none. The airmen themselves are openly confident in their splendid machines and their skill. They know from past experience the appalling possibilities of air raids with modern, fast-flying, weight-carrying planes. Every device of the propagandist is being used to make the people air-minded. Constant anti-air-raid drill is insisted upon, while even the children are encouraged to fly by night as well as by day by the issue of cheap tickets, with a draw for free flights embracing twenty-five per cent. of the pupils in every school. Germany is far less vulnerable to air attack than either France or England. Destroy Paris and you strike at the very heart of France. Reduce London to ashes and you have pierced the vitals of the Empire. But the ruin of Berlin would have compara- tively little effect on Germany, for there are at least twenty other possible capital cities.
There can be no question as to the efficiency of the ships and personnel of the German Navy. The 'Deutschland ' and her sisters represent the last word in naval construc- tion, while the restrictions imposed by the Versailles Treaty have been circumvented with consummate skill. A careful study of the film of the German manoeuvres held this summer in East Prussia affords evidence, not only of the excellence of all arms of the service, but also of the numerical strength of the mechanized forces. The effect on Poland was magical !
Germany today is no more menaced from without than she was three years ago. What need, therefore, is there for all these armed forces ? Without colonies or any means of expansion for her growing population, the generation coming to manhood is fertile ground wherein to sow the seeds of intense Nationalism and resentment against her ex-enemies ; seeds that are forced into growth by subtle propaganda to the effect that the country is the victim of injustice in a jealous World. This has induced a mental condition bordering on desperation, and desperate men resort to desperate measures. For the moment, Germany's foreign policy is governed by a desire to avoid trouble with Great Britain. How far the Rosenberg plan will entice her East towards the rich wheat fields of the Ukraine is problematical. The question of the Polish Corridor is, for the present, shelved, while a frontal attack upon France would, amount to strategic suicide.. There remains, therefore, only the road South-East, the line of least resistance. The ports of Trieste and Fiume might prove a great temptation should internal conditions in Germany drive the Leader to seek a diversion in war.
What attitude are we to adopt to all this ?.. There is both danger. and folly in outbursts of denunciation and disgust. We have to . live in the same world with Germany and we want, if possible, to. live at peace with her. The first thing is to understand her, to realize the aims and aspirations of Hitlerism and treat them with respect, even though they run counter to our own ideals. Too often we hear the complaint ..that the Germans do not understand the psychology. .of the foreigner, but do we take the trouble to understand theirs ? Unless we do so, war is definitely on the horizon. The problem confronting statesmen today is how to draw this proud, virile, intelligent people_ more closely into the comity of Nations and to divert, not only its superabundant energy, but whatever is good in Hitlerism from the path that leads to destruction into the way of Peace.