and Fury in Germany
Alice Hamilton, M.D.
Professor of Industrial Medicine, Harvard Medical School
MY curiosity led me to wade through the flood
of flowery speeches in the papers, but with results which were
about as valuable as this, the comment on Hitler's May Day speech
in that great newspaper, the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, for
One must read the speech in order
to see the breadth of his program but however important this is,
the mind of the hearer goes back to the impression of a man filled
with glowing zeal, yes obsessed with the idea to build Germany
into a nation, to fuse into one whole, regardless of class, religion,
social standing, a nation which will have an unbridled zeal for
home and freedom. One source of Hitler's fascination for the mass
is that he speaks their language, he can handle the most diflficult
problem with amazing simplicity. The idea that the work of hand
and brain are of equal value may be said to be hardly new, but
nobody till now has carried it out. His program, compulsory labor,
which will take away the stigma from manual work, the lowering
of interest rates, will arouse confidence and hope and encourage
new enterprises. German production is to be stimulated without
harm to agriculture. Hitler's aim is to free individual initiative
and creative impulse from the cramping influence of the majority
The Voelkischer Beobachter, Hitler's own paper,
The Nazi party has always had as
its object to lead back to the nation the workers who have so
long been estranged from it, infected by the poison of Marxism.
Let it be the true fulfillment of the revolution to make these
homeless men again into Germans.
Hitler's own book, Mein Kampf, written when
he was in prison in 1923 and since revised and issued as authoritative
in a 1933 edition, contains his program for all phases of national
life. I turned to it but found surprisingly little on labor, in
a book that is unconscionably wordy on almost every possible subject.
Hitler says that the German trades-unions did fight the battles
of labor for years and won great improvements in hours, wages
and conditions of work. He recognizes their services, sees that
they were indispensable under the old system and that the opposition
of the employers was shortsighted and against the best interests
of the country. Then, after this sensible treatment of the subject,
he suddenly switches over to a typical Chamber-of-Commerce speech
about the new Nazi unions, which will not be based on class warfare
but on the principle that all men are equal with equal rights
and responsibilities. The worker will know that the prosperity
of industry means his own happiness; the employer will know that
the contentment of the workers is the necessary foundation for
his own success. Of course the leader principle must replace the
democratic-parliamentary system in labor organization as in everything.
The labor movement can never bc solved
by a multitude of leaders of different groups. It must have one
leader to weld the groups into one army Nature chooses the strong
man and he conquers and that is eternally right for victory is
proof of the rightness of a cause. No victory was ever gained
by coalitions, only by a single leader....
Trades-unions made the mistake of thinking
that a combination of weak associations will be strong, but
this is all wrong, for experience always shows that the majority
represents stupidity and cowardice and therefore if a union
is ruled by majority vote it will always act with weakness and
stupidity. Also there is then no chance for the selection and
encouragement of the best and for their ultimate victory. Labor-unions
are therefore enemies of natural selection.
Everything really good in history has been
accomplished, not by coalitions but by the success of a single
conqueror. Nor will a national state ever arise through the
compromising plans of a national labor group but onlythrough
the steel-likewill of a single individual.
This is really the extent of Hitler's discussion
of trades-unions. He goes on to say that he decided to bore from
within, not to start a rival labor organization. Nothing is said
of course of the notorious agreement between the Nazi party and
the great industrialists whereby the latter promised to finance
the movement on condition that the unions be wiped out.
|One of the series of official photographs
of the concentration camps. Here the enemies of the Nazi
government, which include the leaders of the labor movement,
are kept imprisoned
One definite promise was made by Hitler, of
work for the unemployed in state labor camps. There had been a
growing movement among the young men and girls to form voluntary
labor groups, composed of young people of all social classes and
there were already thousands working in such camps, giving unpaid
service for the Fatherland. But by May it began to be plain that
voluntary service was not in accordance with Nazi principles.
The Nazi Youth League „the only recognized group by then „pronounced
against it, on the ground that it fostered an undisciplined spirit.
The question was decided by the government which ordered unwhich
ordered unmarried unemployed men between eighteen and twenty-five
years to report for compulsory service. The announcement in the
papers was as follows:
Voluntary labor service is over.
Groups are to be formed in preparation for compulsory work and
in each at least 60 percent must be Nazis and Steel Helmets who
were such before January 30, 1933. This change is to be effected
between now and October 1, by which time an army of 120,000 will
be assembled and by the first of next year an army of 350,000
will be ready, but only half can be taken the first six months,
then the other half, because of lack of money. Later a whole year's
service will be possible. The men who act as leaders will be not
only officers but either workmen or youths, and for a short time
they too must do all kinds of work in the camp.
A few weeks later Rust, the commissioner
for education, said of the compulsory labor camps which were to
open August 1:
This is a measure to prevent the
overfilling of the higher schools and to destroy the cleft between
student and worker; it is also a measure for character-training.
Intellect is not to be fostered in these camps, but leadership.
It will be not militaristic training but a training for the struggle
against the philosophy of Marxism and liberalism. The period of
liberalism must become a curse to the German worker.
After that there was silence for a while,
we heard no more about labor, and then suddenly on June 22, Ley
issued a statement in quite a new vein, no flowery sentiments
about releasing German workers from Marxist chains and leading
them into the promised land. Evidently the blind workers hugged
their chains and had made all sorts of trouble for their would-be
liberators. It became necessary to deal vigorously with those
who were smallminded and selfish enough to cling to their old
associations and therefore the Leader had decided to forbid any
organizations of any kind except the German Workers Front. Catholic
and evangelical bodies were to be regarded as public enemies.
Anyway, they were centers of corruption and robbery from which
the workers must be protected. The officers of these organizations
(whose names were given) were expelled not only from office but
from the German Workers Front and the members of the latter must
have no dealings with them.
With this ends my information concerning labor