1 NOVEMBER 1930, Page 15



[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.]

Sue,—The great Parliamentary battle has now been fought. The Government has emerged victorious and the Reichstag been adjourned till December 3rd. The proposals for the bridging credit were accepted, the amendments to Dr. Briining's emergency financial programme were referred to a committee, the demands for the suspension or revision of the Young Plan were handed over to the parliamentary committee for foreign affairs and, quite at the close of the crucial session, various votes of lack of confidence in the Government were settled by passing on to the order of the day.

The battle was a heated one, lasting for three days, but already when the second day closed, signs were not lacking that the Government would win. So peculiar was this conflict that students of parliamentary history may profitably devote a little time to studying it. The scene was unlike any which the Reichstag building had witnessed before. A series of rehearsed battle cries in rhyme, shouted in chorus, and " community singing " of the Internationale alternated pleasantly with speeches full of rhetorical fire, which in their turn were incessantly interrupted by remarks full of biting satire and of conscious or unconscious humour. On top of this, came the entrance of the National Socialists in brown shirts with the anti-semitic swastika badge on their arm —the assemblies were indeed unique. It must be remembered that for the first time the Reichstag was housing two hundred and eighty newcomers who possessed rw parliamentary experience or tradition and who had, in part, emerged from an electoral battle of the crudest form. And yet, in spite of all this, the Reichstag was able to carry out its programme.

It was no easy task for a moderate Government to obtain the upper hand in such a radical atmosphere. Only a few days ago its fate hung very much in the balance. A right wing, composed of the German Peoples Party right down to the National Socialists, seemed to be forming and the Centre party was expected not to join it immediately but to stand on one side awaiting issues, ready always to turn away from the wing if it became impossibly wild. Then suddenly the National Socialists came forward with their proposalS for the reform of the German economic system (which a member of the Socialist party averred to have been copied froni Leviticus XXV!) These were a few of their proposals : — (1) The highest rate of interest which may be paid is five per cent., of this at least one per cent. must be considered an amortisation of capital. After fifty years every loan will he annulled. (2) Only transactions " for money " arc to he permitted on the Bourse, the customary dealings in Mocks and shares being forbidden. (3) Another proposal, announced by the VOlkische Iteobachter but not actually brought forward in the House, provided for the confiscation of the fortunes of all " the Bank and Bourse princes " (sic I), of all the Eastern Jews who have entered Germany since 1514 and of all War and revolution profiteers. These proposals proved rather too much for the Reichstag, which began to realise that it would be extremely difficult to co-operate with these dwellers in Utopia. Only whispers of a coalition with the National Socialists were still to be heard.

It was, indeed, fortunate for the Cabinet that the National Socialist proposals came when they did, but other factors also tame to its aid. Dr. Briining's programme had revealed him to lie a man with sufficient energy to carry through a thorough if an unpopular reform. The bridging credit granted by foreign countries showed that the situation in Germany was not viewed as desperately from abroad as Germany herself believed it to be. The Reichsbank reported that the demand for foreign exchanges had again become normal. The trade cartels, headed by the iron and coal industry, began to give way and to lower their fixed price schedules. Germany's trade returns for September showed a hardly-won profit balance of over a + milliard marks. All this helped to bring about the victory of the Government.

The four votes referred to at the beginning of this letter are Characteristic of the monetary- situation in Germany. On the

one side is her extremely critical economic situation. This it is hoped to reform by the bridging credit and the emergency programme under the guidance of as strong a Government as possible. But ever-present and not to be left out of account, js the active thinking which is going on about the Young Plan and the Treaty of Versailles. Anybody who picks up the actual Treaty and reads it—as many Germans are doing now —can understand the feelings which rise, especially in the youth of Germany, when they read it. It is not only the economic situation which has given rise to these thoughts in Germany. To quote only a few words from a recent speech of Dr. Brfining's : " What agitates the German nation, and par- ticularly its young members, so deeply is, that following upon the disappointment in the disregard of Wilson's fourteen points has come the fact that clauses in the Treaty of Versailles which were in Germany's favour have not been carried through by the other signatories. Disarmament, which was forced upon Germany, has not been followed by the voluntary disarmament of the other nations." Thomas Mann, the famous novelist, himself by no means an extreme nationalist and a man of marked international sympathies, in a political speech of high literary merit delivered in Berlin on October 18th, summed up the prevailing attitude in Germany towards the Treaty of Versailles. " It is contrary to life and to nature," he said, " to regard the Versailles Treaty as Europe's Magna Charta." Ile spoke of the " absurd " territorial divisions made in the East of Germany, the scheme of Reparations payments bringing good to no one and drawn up in a "vac victis " spirit, and the lack of understanding, shown in the Jacobinic conception of the State, of the German feeling towards German minorities. "The most potent security for France," he said, "would be a German nation imbued with a thoroughly healthy spirit."

When such a reasonable German as Thomas Mann speaks in this strain, it can be understood how much in the forefront of every-day thought this problem lies. Any echo of such sentiments abroad is eagerly fastened upon ; so, for DIShIllee, the report issued by the British Electrical and Allied Manu- facturers Association in London about the economic effect of reparations, as well as Gustave Ilerve's recent sensational articles in the V leloire, and similar pronouncements from America.

So it seems now as though Germany and her fellow- sigmatories, especially America, will have to think out these problems afresh— problems, the eventual solution of which will decide whether the future of Europe is to be permanently menaced by Bolslievism.—I am, Sir, &c., YOUR CORRESPONDENT IN FRANKtURT.