Germany: a Self-Portrait: A Collection of German Writings from 1914 to 1943

By Harlan R. Crippen | Go to book overview

was chosen to inherit the bulk of the family fortune--160,000,000 marks in addition to factories and works in the Rhenish-Westphalia region--becoming the wealthiest and most powerful individual in Germany. General Ludendorff introduced him to leaders of the Nazi Party in 1923 and, although he did not become a member, he admits that 'since then I have invariably carried out the wishes expressed by . . . Hitler, Hess, and others.' When Hitler came to power Thyssen was rewarded with many honors and high positions. In 1939 he ostensibly broke with the Nazis and left Germany. While living in France he wrote his confessions, I Paid Hitler. Thyssen's flight and the widely publicized 'confiscation' of his properties were interpreted abroad as corroboration of the Third Reich's claim to be a classless state. It was assumed that Thyssen was captured and punished for his disloyalty when the Nazis marched into France, but recent reports from Germany indicate that he is not only alive but still enjoys his old privileges. This is only one of many reasons for suspecting hidden motives behind his confessions. The antifascist German journalist Heinz Pol has suggested that Thyssen may yet be prominent in attempts to win a negotiated peace which will not destroy the power of the German imperialists. Despite obvious factual and political unreliability I Paid Hitler remains valuable as an inside view of the mind of a German industrialist.


MY PERSONAL AND FINANCIAL RELATIONS WITH THE NAZI PARTY

from I Paid Hitler by FRITZ THYSSEN, translated by César Saerchinger

I DID NOT become a member of the National Socialist Party until December 1931. This was after my collaboration in a great mass meeting in Harzburg, at which Alfred Hugenberg, as leader of the German National People's Party, and Hitler, as leader of the German National Socialist Labor Party, announced the co-operation of the two parties. The German National People's Party was the heir of the old Imperial Conservative Party. The German National Socialist Labor Party is, of course, the official title of the National Socialists, commonly known as Nazis. That this partnership in prin

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