Building the Third Reich

Building the Third Reich

Building the Third Reich

Building the Third Reich

Excerpt

by JOHN C. DE WILDE

In the six years that have elapsed since the advent of Adolf Hitler, the world's estimate of this former corporal and of the system he created has undergone drastic revision. When the aged President Hindenburg summoned Hitler to head the German government on January 30, 1933, few observers, either at home or abroad, were willing to predict for him a long tenure of power. The Nazi leader was generally regarded as no more than a clever, if rather dangerous, demagogue who could never develop into a practical statesman and politician. His program was regarded as a fantastic and confused jumble of economic and political shibboleths which could hardly be translated into reality in this modern world. Almost every one underrated his profound insight into popular psychology, his understanding of political strategy, his indomitable will power and ruthlessness. In the Reich itself the conservative and reactionary elements who had helped Hitler to power expected to keep him a "prisoner," to use him simply as a tool to re-establish their former dominance. Outside Germany many "experts" were ready to prophesy that economic and political difficulties, both domestic and foreign, would soon encompass the downfall of the new Chancellor.

Despite Hitler's repeated successes, opinion of him was slow to change. Even today prophets of Germany's economic or financial collapse are occasionally heard; and many opponents of the Nazi régime comfort themselves with the thought that rising discontent in the Reich will put an early end to the German Führer. Yet no one now refuses to take Hitler seriously. Throughout the whole world people anxiously scan their newspapers for the latest news from Berlin. In a few years Hitler has lifted Germany from the rank of a second-rate power to a position of hegemony on the European continent. By a series of dramatic moves, shrewdly calculated and timed so as to avoid war, he has pushed the boun-

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