My First Seventy-Six Years: Autobiography

By Hjalmar Horace Greeley Schacht | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FORTY-FIVE At Odds with the Party

FROM the very beginning I was on bad terms with the Party. Prior to working with the Hitler Government I had met only very few Party members. I got to know most of the Gauleiter in the course of my official activities. I studiously avoided social gatherings of the Party and attended official assemblies only when unable to get out of doing so. When I occasionally came across an honest, decent character among Party members I was glad to cultivate his acquaintance. Such characters were neither so rare nor so few as rumour later asserted.

Unfortunately these responsible and industrious elements were much less conspicuous than the braggarts, bullies and profiteers whom I often irritated with my sarcastic remarks, though without getting much forrader; a larger percentage among them being quite unequal to the intellectual demands of their official positions.

By way of illustration I remember a reception at the Kaiser Wilhelm Academy, with the usual dinner-party, at which I had to make a speech. I was glad of the opportunity to attack bureaucracy, State control and collective planning, and on the other hand to emphasize the need for personal initiative, freedom of opinion and individual incentive. I ended with a well-known quotation from Goethe, which I adapted slightly to the occasion:

Nation, Bondman, aye, and Victor, Each and all now testify, Highest good vouchsafed to mortals Lies in collectivity.

"Oh, forgive me," I added, "that was a slip--it should run:

Nation, Bondman, aye, and Victor, Evermore do testify, Highest good vouchsafed to mortals Lies in personality."

As we left the hall I found myself near two men in brown uniform engaged in conversation.

"That was a very good speech by that fellow Schacht."

"A pity, though, that he made that bad mistake at the end."

-342-

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