The Collapse of the Second Reich
Chapter 10, Mein Kampf.
~ by Adolf Hitler (The Stalag Edition)
“There were many signs of decay which ought to have been given serious thought. As far as economics were concerned, it may be said that the amazing increase of population in Germany before the war brought the question of providing daily bread into a more and more prominent position in all spheres of political and economic thought and action.
Unfortunately, those responsible could not make up their minds to arrive at the only correct solution and preferred to reach their objective by cheaper methods.
Repudiation of the idea of acquiring fresh territory and the substitution for it of the mad desire for the commercial conquest of the world was bound to lead eventually to unlimited and injurious industrialization. The first and most fatal result brought about in this way was the weakening of the agricultural classes, whose decline was proportionate to the increase in the proletariat of the urban areas, until finally the equilibrium was completely upset.
The big barrier dividing rich and poor now became apparent. Luxury and poverty lived so close to each other that the consequences were bound to be deplorable. Want and frequent unemployment began to play havoc with the people and left discontent and embitterment behind them. The result of this was to divide the population into political classes.
Discontent increased in spite of commercial prosperity. Matters finally reached that stage which brought about the general conviction that ‘things cannot go on as they are,’ although no one seemed able to visualize what was really going to happen.
These were typical and visible signs of the depths which the prevailing discontent had reached. Far worse than these, however, were other consequences which became apparent as a result of the industrialization of the nation.
In proportion to the extent that commerce assumed definite control of the
State, money became more and more of a god whom all had to serve and before whom all had to bow. Heavenly deities became more and more old-fashioned and were laid away in the corners to make room for the worship of Mammon.
Thus began a period of utter degeneration which became especially pernicious because it set in at a time when the nation was more than ever in need of an exalted ideal, for a critical hour was threatening.
Germany should have been prepared to protect with the sword her efforts to win her own daily bread in a peaceful way.
Unfortunately, the predominance of money received support and sanction in the very quarter which ought to have been opposed to it.
His Majesty, the Kaiser, made a mistake when he raised representatives of the new financial world to the ranks of the nobility.
Admittedly, it may be offered as an excuse that even Bismarck failed to realize the threatening danger in this respect. In practice, however, all ideal virtues became secondary considerations to those of money, for it was clear that having once taken this road, the real old aristocracy would very soon rank second to the ennobled financiers.
Financial operations succeed more easily than war operations. Hence it was no longer any great attraction for a true hero or even a statesman to be brought into touch with some Jewish banker. Real merit was not interested in receiving cheap decorations and therefore declined them with thanks. But from the standpoint of good breeding such a development was deeply regrettable.
The aristocracy began to lose more and more those racial qualities that were a condition of its very existence, with the result that, in many cases, the term ‘plebeian’ would have been more appropriate.
A serious state of economic disruption was being brought about by the slow elimination of the personal control of vested interests and the gradual transference of the whole economic structure into the hands of joint-stock companies. In this way labour became degraded into an object of speculation in the hands of unscrupulous exploiters. The de-personalization of property ownership increased on a vast scale. Financial exchange circles began to triumph and made slow but sure progress in assuming control of the whole of national life.
Before the war, the internationalization of the German economic structure had already begun by the roundabout way of share issues. It is true that a section of the German industrialists made determined attempts to avert the danger, but in the end they gave way before the united attacks of money grabbing capitalism, which was assisted in this fight by its faithful henchman, the Marxist movement.
The persistent war against German ‘heavy industries’ was the visible start of the internationalization of German economic life as envisaged by the Marxists. This, however, could only be brought to a successful conclusion by the victory which Marxism was able to gain in the Revolution. As I write these words, success is attending the general attack on the German State Railways which are now to be turned over to international capitalists. Thus ‘International Social Democracy’ has once again attained one of its main objectives.
The best evidence of how far this ‘commercialization’ of the German nation was able to progress, can be seen plainly in the fact that when the war was over, one of the leading captains of German industry and commerce gave it as his opinion that commerce as such was the only force which could put Germany on her feet again.
This sort of nonsense was uttered just at the time when France was reestablishing public education on a humanitarian basis, thus doing away with the idea that national life was dependent on commerce rather than on ideal values.
The statement which Stinnes broadcast to the world at that time caused incredible, confusion. It was immediately taken up and has become the leading motto of all those humbugs and babblers—the ‘statesmen’ whom Fate let loose on Germany after the Revolution.
One of the worst evidences of decadence in Germany before the war was the ever-increasing habit of doing things by halves. This was one of the consequences of the insecurity that was felt all round, and it is to be attributed also to a certain timidity which resulted from one cause or another. The latter malady was aggravated by the educational system.
German education in pre-war times had an extraordinary number of weak features. It was simply and exclusively limited to the production of pure knowledge and paid little attention to the development of practical ability.
Still less attention was given to the development of individual character, in so far as this is ever possible, and hardly any attention at all was paid to the development of a sense of responsibility, to strengthening the will and the power of decision. The result of this method was not to turn out stalwart men, but rather docile creatures crammed with knowledge and to produce erudite people who had a passion for knowing everything.”