27 JANUARY 1939, Page 14

We never thought about Hitler. We thought about Wes- tarpp

and Hugenberg, but we dismissed Hitler from our minds. In 1928 Hitler was not taken seriously by any German of experience. I remember that for a short time I began to feel fussed about this Hitler business. I asked several people whether he should be taken seriously. They invariably answered that after his putsch of 1923 he had been completely discredited. His association with Ludendorff (who at the time was regarded as a mental case) had done him irreparable harm with both the right and the left. His own conduct at Munich on November 9, 1923, had not enhanced his reputation. True it was that some of the industrialists were at the moment financing him as a dem- agogic asset against the Communists. Yet once the Red Front Fighters had been disintegrated, Hugenberg and his assistants would send Adolf Hitler back to the place where he belonged. Such was the average opinion. I remember consulting an old friend of mine who had held high office under William II and who was also a man of integrity and culture. He answered as follows :

"Hitler has no chance whatsoever of succeeding. The working classes regard him as a spy of the Reichswehr. The Reichswehr regard him as a most undistinguished non-commissioned officer. The industrialists use him as a tool. The bourgeoisie regard him as a comedian."

I accepted that opinion.