29 NOVEMBER 1940, Page 18

Strength Through Joy

They Wanted War is a very ambiguous title. Under the general motto, "They wanted war : they shall have it," Hitler and his paladins issued a series of New Year's proclamations at the beginning of the year 1940. They Wanted War, without quotation marks, is a book that puzzles. Does the author, Otto D. Tolischus, mean the Allies or Germany? Not once, in his studied im- partiality, has he said what he means.

His despatches to the New York Times from Berlin fill the bulk of the book up to April or May of this year, when he was ejected from Germany. In spite of this objectivity, he only re- mained eight months of the war before his expulsion. But all the chapters are the same ; the National-Socialist thesis is taken and left unrefuted even when it cries out for refutation. This book certainly does not contain despatches that can have warranted his expulsion, but he won the Pulitzer prize for the best foreign correspondence of the year almost at the same time as his ex- pulsion; and the prize was not given in frivolous vein.

Mr. Tolischus traces the war preparation of the Third Reich with remarkable clearness. It was a " total mobilisation for total war with total objectives." He says, quite rightly, that all per- sonal liberty was lost, and how and why. He states also some of the things that are intended to make up for the loss. " In the final analysis, however, even the power of Hitler depended on the willingness of the German people to follow his lead." Mr. Tolischus says that bayonets are not enough to run a complicated machine like a modern industrial nation. The efficiency of German men and women cannot be explained by concentration camps or S.S. firing squads alone, however much these may have been used to crush opposition. In my opinion, the fear of the Gestapo is far greater than its actual victims, great as their number may be. Not more than, say, two or three million out of eighty million inhabitants, really, in their heart of hearts, believe that the loss of freedom, and all it involves, is worth it. Of course, Hitler is a conjurer, and I suppose he was at the height of his conjuring in May, the very month when the book was pre- sumably finished. But gradually, during the summer and autumn, he had fallen quite a dot in the estimation of all sorts of people, even if it is not said. As for the last chapter of Mr. Tolischus's book, it is already out of date—for a long time anyway. In May . or June an American author may have feared that Britain would be defeated and America remain face to face with Hitler. As Britain has not the slightest intention of giving in, the chapter in question is not pertinent.

There are some interesting comments on war-time in Germany. Never in recent history, except during the final years of the last War, were Germans able to buy so little with their incomes. This was true of rich and poor alike except in so far as the well-to-do were able to live on their purchases of the past; the labourers doing heavy man's work were better off than the rich. " Ger- many," said Mr. Tolischus, " was still far from the common wretchedness of ' classless ' Russian Bolshevism, but the drift was unmistakable. And, like all levelling processes, the German pro- cess was levelling down, not up." That life at its best was no longer opulent is illustrated by the weekly menu suggested by a household magazine for well-to-do homes : Noon: Potato soup with dried mushrooms, apple compote with currants.

Evening: Milk curds, unpeeled potatoes, radishes.