The Arms of Dictatorship
|"Chancellor Adolf Hitler greets President Paul von Hindenburg at the opening of the new Reichstag in Potsdam, Germany," March 21, 1933 (source)|
If it be true that a watched pot never boils, the menace of Adolf Hitler has been grossly exaggerated. His speech before the Supreme Court at Leipzig was in substance an invitation to the whole world to watch him boil over. There is an innocence almost childish about the detailed fashion in which he set out to be blood-curdling. Almost one expected him to state the precise number of heads that would roll from the guillotine when the Fascists have taken over control of the German nation and inaugurated the day of reckoning. There is something which may be innocence or mere confusion of ideas about his coupling the overthrow of the German Republic, the repudiation of the peace treaties and the mobilization of the guillotine with the legal two-thirds majority required by the Weimar Constitution. People will find it another mark of the ingrained German respect for law and order that even revolution and massacre must pause to make sure that they are not Verboten. These are not the deprecatory half-measures employed by the original practitioners of fascism in Italy or of the Communist variety of fascism in Russia. Mussolini's or Lenin's manifestos were concerned with the programs and principles and not with the dreadful things they would do to their enemies as soon as they got ready.
To dismiss the Hitlerite rhetoric, for all its naïveté, as of no consequence would be wrong. Since 1914 no one will venture to say what dire mischief may not be let loose by infantile irresponsibility. It requires no great talent to get on the nerves of the nations in the new European order and particularly in the present economic discontent. Yet, humanly speaking, the net result of the 6,000,000 votes cast for the Hitlerite platform of dictatorship and war, the net result of that flamboyant speech at Leipzig, should be to bring together the parties and elements in Germany standing for sobriety and the existing political order. These were a majority in the Reichstag election and may be expected to show a more decisive majority if it ever comes to a show-down. Many Germans who registered their economic and social grievances by voting Fascist a fortnight ago will think twice before actually inviting civil war and the return of French troops to German soil.
Wherever in Western Europe fascism has asserted itself successfully it has come as the retort to an experiment in communism, or from fear of a foreign enemy. It is still the doctrine in Italy that Mussolini's march on Rome saved the country from Red domination and from the dark designs of certain foreign powers. In Bavaria and Hungary an actual taste of communism preceded and prepared the way for the rule of the strong hand. These seemingly necessary conditions for flinging one's self into the arms of dictatorship Germany today obviously does not fulfill. She is in no danger from her domestic proletarians. And, despite the talk of Germany's enslavement by the peace treaties the signs of her servitude are fast disappearing.