From Chapter 10 of David Irving’s biography of Heinrich Himmler:
[Canvassing a wealthy diplomat for funds at the end of 1922 Hitler put his cards on the table. His target was Eduard Scharrer, publisher of the Münchner Neueste Nachrichten and a former consul-general from Stuttgart; but the Swabians are known for their thrift, he would need persuading. They met at Munich’s five-star Regina Palace Hotel in Maximilians Platz.
Aged now just thirty-three, Hitler played his hand with the skill of a seasoned statesman, turning his ‘cards’ face up one at a time with a brutal frankness he had not risked before. What made the meeting unusual was that Scharrer’s secretary took shorthand notes – of infinitely greater historical importance than Hitler’s later work, Mein Kampf, and he closely grilled Hitler on the concealed nugget of his real ambitions – his plan to stage an armed revolution in Bavaria, sweep away the corrupt Berlin regime, and take power himself.]
“THE QUESTION IS,’ began Hitler, as the rare stenographic fragments show, ‘will it [the revolution] succeed or not? I know that if Bolshevism were to come today, I’d either swing from the nearest lamp post or end up in some dungeon. . . I personally have the blind conviction that it will succeed. Absolute certainty.’ ‘We began three and half years ago with six men behind us, today three years later I am convinced we’ll succeed.’ The bans inflicted on his movement were not hurting but resulting in publicity one hundredfold, and far beyond Bavaria. Bavaria, he argued, had no choice now but to strike northwards – to march on Berlin. All the northern waffle about their own nationalist organisations was just hogwash; their leaders were ‘compromised’ and bogged down.
It was time to face facts: bit by bit, the communists were taking over all the North’s biggest cities. ‘The Reds are brilliantly organised,’ he admitted. In cities like Frankfurt the security police, the Sipo, already formed the cadres of this coming Red army – ‘The bulk of Sipo officers are socialist, Red, Jewish.’ Under General von Seeckt the Reichswehr was sound, he agreed, but limited to ‘upholding law and order’ and ‘protecting the Constitution.’
Scharrer interrupted to ask about the balance of power in Bavaria.
Hitler replied smoothly that three-quarters of the Sipo here were on his side, the green-uniformed Landespolizei ‘even better,’ and they could definitely depend on the Reichswehr – essentially, the Seventh Infantry Division under General Otto von Lossow.
After sketching the possible scenario under which the Bolsheviks might gradually take over in Berlin, Hitler argued that the situation was already a powder-keg, and the slightest spark might ignite the tinder. ‘Rathenau’s murder was the product of fanatical hotheads. The danger is still great. The more you suppress the activities of nationalist groups, the more you force them underground.’ He had no confidence in Bavaria’s new prime minister Eugen von Knilling, and spoke contemptuously of him; nor in any parliamentarian for that matter. ‘They must be willing to advance through blood and charnel-houses,’ said Hitler, and he scoffed: ‘What we need is not a Knilling the Kindly, but an Ivan the Terrible.’
NOW WAS STILL not the time to strike, however. Every week brought thousands of new supporters to his movement, but he was holding back until it had reached maximum strength.
‘Do you have the arms?’ asked Scharrer.
‘I hope we’ll be getting the weapons at the appropriate moment,’ replied Hitler. He had seventeen hundred ‘centuries’ already complete, he boasted, using the archaic word Hundertschaften to describe his stormtroop legions, ‘and with them on my side there’s not a soul that ventures onto the street if I don’t choose.’ Eighteen hundred of Mussolini’s fascists had sufficed to smash the Reds’ general strike in Italy in August 1922. ‘I hope my stormtroop detachments are also men of the right stuff. I’ve had no cause to complain on that score up to now. If I send in these men of mine at the right moment, as a self-contained force, there is nothing I can’t suppress.’
Scharrer’s next question brought Hitler round to foreign policy and the balance of power in Europe. ‘What kind of state,’ he asked, ‘do you have in mind then?’
‘So your interest is in getting together with the British.’ ‘Yes!’
Hitler added that the Americans were also interested, as they regarded his party as anti-Marxist. Britain realised that if Germany were destroyed, France would rule and Britain would become a third-rate power. So the French would back the Bolsheviks, and the British Germany. As for Italy, he predicted that Germany would need her support if it came to another war between Germany and France, as was likely within the next twenty or thirty years, in his view, and that would require acceding to Benito Mussolini’s demands over the disputed South Tyrol region. ‘The Andreas Hofer League is pursuing an idiotic policy,’ he said, using the word saudumm. ‘I would not be inclined to shed a drop of German blood over the South Tyrol. You need Germans on the Rhine, not sent to Bolzano. We might negotiate a coalition of the Latin races,’ he added, a further fascinating hint of his grand strategy: ‘The South Tyrol problem can be resolved only by compensation.’
‘Do you think,’ Scharrer pressed him, ‘we’ll march against France within the next two or three generations?’ ‘Methinks sooner,’ said Hitler, then reverted to his pet theme, his affection for Britain and her Empire: ‘We won’t do better than five percent from any political horsetrade,’ he said, ‘except as Britain’s second. We’ve got to have something of a free hand in foreign policy, and that’s possible only with Britain’s help.’ ‘If Bolshevism breaks out in the north, then we can’t stop France getting involved in Germany.’
Alluding perhaps to the death of Otto von Bismarck, Hitler stated: ‘In 1899 I would have formed an alliance with Britain, smashed Russia, and gained a free hand against France. If Germany had been calling the shots in Europe, we would never have been at war with Britain.’ In short, between them they could have kept France permanently in check. They had to reverse their policies towards Britain.
Warming to his views on strategy he turned to Russia. Germany’s future lay in the east, he said, ‘the destruction of the Russian empire and the distribution of its land and property, which will be settled by German settlers and exploited by German power.’ ‘There are vast areas there for us to colonise. But not by way of land reform à la Damaschke. The solution is to smash Russia, and to win land and real estate for the Germans to settle and cultivate.’
After successfully invading Russia the newly powerful Germany could deal with France without any intervention by Britain. It would give Germany what he called ‘elbow-room.’ Germany could show the Allied disarmament commissions the door, and prepare their industries for a new patriotic war. ‘It could all be done in secrecy,’ he suggested, and he referred to certain work done on a flamethrower.
In further remarks Hitler touched on Gerhard Rossbach’s targeted killings (the ‘Vehm courts’), the rule of law, and the worsening economic crisis. He saw trades unions as no threat provided they kept out of politics. ‘Britain has trades unions too,’ he reminded Scharrer.
As for inflation, Hitler suggested the obvious: ‘On the day they stop printing paper money, the devaluation of the mark will stop.’ The government was just printing money to make up for its wastefulness – for example overmanning, with three or four men doing a job where one did it before.
‘Only a brutal government will get anywhere against this paradise for parasites – a dictator who foregoes all popularity and says: Who cares if I am hated!’ They needed another Bismarck.
‘How would you break resistance?’ asked the consul-general.
‘The moment the dictator arrives there will be a general strike,’ conceded Hitler. ‘But precisely that enables him to make a clean sweep. The general strike will be broken.’ The state must be run along economic lines just like any other business. ‘Inflation leads to Bolshevism,’ he defined. ‘Because it undermines the incentive to save. That’s what the Bolsheviks want. . . Nowadays people aren’t saving.’
Scharrer asked the key question: ‘When will the time come?’
‘The moment the Bolshevik wave breaks,’ replied Hitler. ‘In my view, we wait for that. Our nationalist strength is growing. The moment our rate of increase tapers off, then – wham! Immaterial who starts first, us or them. The world will proclaim whoever wins is right.’
FOR A FEW minutes Hitler lectured on the Nazi theme of ‘smashing interest-bondage.’ In the Middle Ages Christians had been forbidden to charge interest – the privilege had been allowed only to Jews. Gottfried Feder had adopted the rallying call in 1919.
Years ahead of his time, Hitler expressed the view they should allow interest only where it was beneficial. ‘What do the people want?’ he asked, and answered: ‘First, a lord and master . . . second, a government which is firm but just, not exploiting or suppressing the people but acting for their own good.’ He cited the example of Prussia in the Seven Years War: ‘The people had to bear huge burdens, but recognised that everything the king did was for their own good.’
Reverting to the need for a dictator in Berlin, he jested: ‘For myself, I too would be a republican but only if the German people consisted just of Lower Saxons.’ They had the finest Roman blood, they were pure Aryans, and needed no monarch. The way things were however they needed an idol, almost but not quite a monarch – ‘I consider a monarchy would be a disaster for Germany. What we need today is a bloodthirsty and ruthless ruler, and I do not think you will find one of those among the present pretenders to the throne.’ What Germany needed was an Oliver Cromwell, he said, reverting to English history. The country must however have proper courts too with ‘real judges, as the only guarantee for the rule of law.’
AFTER BRIEFLY sketching his own simple origins – his time spent labouring on construction sites, alternating with studies (‘a fanatical passion for reading, six hundred books over the last six years’) – he reverted to the Judenfrage, the Jewish Problem. Hitler adduced once again the illustrious example of Frederick the Great: ‘He excluded the Jews where they were bound to do harm, but made use of them where they were useable.’
‘In our political life,’ he continued, ‘the Jews are absolutely detrimental. They systematically poison the people. I used to regard anti-Semitism as incredibly brutal, but when I came to regard the Jews not as a religion, I became their deadly enemy. They have no in-born right to rule, as they are bereft of any spark of organisational talent. . . They are born destroyers. They have no culture of their own, no architecture – and architecture is the soul of entire nations that has been cast in stone. They are totally uncreative, negativity incarnate, the voice which always says no. The Jew can’t help being that way, but we don’t have to stand for it. Other peoples have a soul, but the Jews are just mathematicians.
‘That explains why only Jews could found Marxism, as that denies and destroys the very basis of every culture. The Jews calculate that they will create a broad mass of the people without any intelligence whatsoever, people who will be willing tools in their hands. The Jews want a caste-like stratification of the people.‘While an Aryan nation is constantly able to bring forth fresh blood from its depths, and is forever rejuvenating itself, the Jews try to divide humanity into castes, which will lead only to its slow morbidity. For proof of the harm caused by the caste system see ancient Egypt and India. The Catholic church provides the opposite example. . .
‘If I remove the head from a people,’ he continued, ‘and replace it with a different head, the people itself are doomed. That is the inherent danger of the Jewish Problem. Already eight-two percent of the doctors in Berlin are Jews. Where will it all end? Either servitude, or revolution. If the Jews were more honourable, then you could say it’s just fate.’
If not, he predicted, there were two or more possibilities – ‘either the Armenian, Levantine, way, or a bloody confrontation.’ In 1915 the Turks had brutally expelled the Armenians from their country. ‘As a human being,’ added Hitler, ‘I agree with Bismarck, who said once, “Don’t expect me to defend your Emancipation Laws. As a man, I would find it shameful to be a soldier having to stand before a Jewish officer, or to be a citizen before a judge of Jewish origin.’
‘The warlord,’ concluded Hitler in this telling exchange, ‘needs a blindly obedient and instinctive mass-following. He has to convince them that they are faced with nothing but outright enemies. Never should we state, “We are not entirely devoid ourselves of guilt for the war.” Look at the British! Take a leaf out of the Catholics’ book too. Their church totally suppresses the slightest doubts.’
The consul-general wrote a cheque for a million Reichsmarks to Hitler’s Party; it was a generous donation even in those inflationary times. It was intended to buy arms. Over the next twelve months Hitler tried twice to seize power. Heinrich Himmler climbed aboard the juggernaut of the Nazi movement, clinging to the outer rungs, for both adventures, and saw Hitler fail each time.