Part 5 - "Denazification Certificate trade" and self-deception
His idea of the fusion of nationalism and Socialism was doubtless a new and very good one. In this way he succeeded in balancing the major conflicts among the people as a whole and hence in bringing about an internal peace such as remains unparalleled in any nation on earth either both before and since. This unique condition lasted from approximately 1933 to the 1936 Olympics. From that point on, a change began to creep in which became clearly apparent only much later, towards the end of the war.
The first trigger was the removal of the SA from power, a process which began on June 30, 1934. It was a crucial blow against the National-Socialist Revolution. I got the first taste of this on the evening of June 30, 1934. My wife Alexandra and I were visiting the Goebbels' when Hitler, just arrived at Berlin, told us in detail how this fateful day had passed for him. He knew that I was a Troop Commander with the SA and one of three aides to the Senior Troop Commander of the SA Unit Berlin-Brandenburg, albeit only pro forma - excused from SA service to discharge my duties as ministerial aide.
In the course of conversation that distressing day, Hitler suddenly asked me: "Where were you today, anyway - your superior, Senior Troop Commander Ernst, was caught while attempting to escape - and has been executed!" I replied that I had been doing my work at the Ministry, as usual. "You were lucky. If you had been taken along with Ernst, I doubt I could have saved you." This statement was like a bucket of ice-water in my face. My wife was outraged as well; she never forgave him for this answer.
There can be no doubt that he was correct in taking severe measures against Röhm and the corrupt members of the higher-up SA leadership, and especially in taking these measures personally and at great risk to himself. But he should never have suffered his SA - the backbone of the Revolution, which he had trained to function with fantastic self-discipline - to be politically wiped out. In permitting this to happen, he put the Revolution at the mercy of very different powers - and that was the beginning of the end.
Among those executed - and unjustly so - were two of my closest friends: Troop Commander Schneidhuber and Brigadier General Baron von Wechmar.
Of course we, more than anyone else, asked ourselves for years why Hitler had acted as he had. Three factors had pushed him to it: the Party (later under the influence of Bormann), the Reichsführer SS Heinrich Himmler, who was in the process of establishing his own power base, and the former Chief of Staff of the SA, Hermann Göring, who believed that he would now be able to build up a National-Socialist air force as the focal point of domestic power.
Around 5 pm on June 30, 1934, when Adolf Hitler arrived from Munich at Tempelhof, a company of the Luftwaffe air force was assembled to salute the Führer for the first time. This was meant to surprise and please Hitler. But Hitler's face darkened, he all but ignored the Luftwaffe, and Goebbels was furious.
In the morning that same day, I had sat in my office on Wilhelm Square, waiting for my Minister, when Göring had suddenly come in. He greeted me, went directly to the large window, drummed against the glass with his fingers, and said, without looking at me: "Do you know what's going on?" I answered that I knew next to nothing. Then he said - and it made almost no sense to me at the time: "Chief of Staff Röhm is being executed today." Röhm, also a Reich Minister, shot himself, and rightly so, for as Chief of Staff of the SA he was utterly impossible, as well as a depraved character and hence a traitor. The Wehrmacht seems to me to have served in a double game.
The elimination of the SA automatically resulted in the neglect of the "old guard" of the NSDAP, since most of the members of the "old guard" had also been members of the SA for many years. Thus, June 30, 1934 slowly but surely led to the shut-down of the Revolution, which from that point on took place largely in private, so to speak.
And thus the path was cleared for all those who wished to join the Party as soon as they possibly could in order to profit somehow from the external success of this state and this people. The real National-Socialists scornfully called these people "the Nazis". With them and through them, the Party grew more and more bureaucratic. The "old fighters" no longer felt comfortable with it and retreated into the SA or the "old guard".
We perceived this to be all the more tragic because now the years came where the actual process of reconstruction and development could begin; for Hitler had created order, the people were as happy and as united as never before, industry was booming, export trade flourished, and at the center of it all was the German worker, both "of muscle" and "of intellect" - respected, and with a cheerful heart.
What do people strive for who live a free and happy life and take well-deserved pride in their and their nation's progress? A family, a home, and children! This is how it has been everywhere and at all times. A look at the statistics of the 1930s proves more clearly than any election results that the German people were very content at that time, and counted on a long time of peace. Anyone who claims that there was any considerable popular resistance against Adolf Hitler and his government before 1944 either lacks even the most basic understanding of those days - or is a contemptible liar!
In 1945-46 millions of Germans believed that only lies could save them. Day in, day out, the enemy served them clever and cunning falsehoods, either directly or in a roundabout way. This was also the origin of the atrocious "Persil note" racket, the denazification certificate scam by means of which millions "saved" themselves at the expense of the truth and the honour of the entire nation.
I doubt that there is any other place on earth where lies as numerous and as imaginative have been dreamed up as in post-war Germany - especially in West Germany. Since more or less all the Germans had supported the National-Socialist Reich in one way or another, especially during wartime, post-1945 reconstruction was quite inconceivable without these more than 90% of the people.
No doubt all those who provided the professional as well as the political know-how required for the reconstruction of the new state had previously acquired and applied their abilities under Hitler's regime. It is thus in no way an exaggeration to say that the courage, the determination, the team spirit and most of all the faith in Germany - all those qualities without which Germany could never have been resurrected from its rubble - had their origins in exactly that Germany that was henceforth to be so dreadfully calumniated.
We owe the reconstruction of Germany to a German people who had lived through the Thirties and who thus provided the consequent attitude towards nation and state, to life in general and to the mind-set resulting from it. If today's new generation were faced with the same task as the Hitler generation had faced between 1945 and 1952, the reconstruction efforts would be a sorry sight indeed. It is impossible to achieve something truly essential for one's nation and state in the absence of great and eternal ideals!
The first Federal Chancellor of post-war days, Dr. Konrad Adenauer - a close personal acquaintance of mine from my student days - was himself part of this. Under Hitler's regime he had made extraordinary efforts to regain the position of Mayor of a major German city (Cologne). Hitler did not doubt Adenauer's abilities, but he felt that because of his attitude in the days of Rhenish separatism he could not assign him such a privileged position now. He did, however, decree that Dr. Adenauer should receive an annual pension of 40,000 Reichsmark. Reich Minister Dr. Lammers told me this after the war. He had seen Hitler personally about this matter and was thus the best possible witness.
No doubt Federal Chancellor Dr. Adenauer as well as his successor Dr. Kurt Georg Kiesinger - who had served as liaison between Reich Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop and Reich Minister of Propaganda Dr. Goebbels - both knew enough of how things had really been, to be able to publicly counter the slander aimed at the German people - but they were careful not to do any such thing!
The "Persil notes", those denazification certificates, were the prerequisite for the army of slanderers. Through them, a situation was created where the events of the past were not clarified on a basis of conviction or of loyalty to people and state and for the sake of peace with the former enemy powers; rather, an atmosphere of million-fold fears regarding dependence on the enemy powers and the apparent hopelessness with respect to a peace agreement gave rise to a generalized, demoralizing complex of lies that strained any real attempts at German foreign relations to the utmost and thus rendered internal peace impossible for both ethical and moral reasons.
And the more the real contemporaneous witnesses die off, the less chance there is for this nation to find its way back to the whole truth about itself.
But for as long as a nation is burdened down like that - rightly or wrongly -, it cannot possibly be a free agent in its decision-making process, its politics, or ultimately in its life as a whole. For as long as the burden remains, it will be blackmailed by other nations - and the internal blackmail amongst the people themselves will also continue.
And what did the post-war governments of West Germany do about this? The wrongest thing they could possibly have done! They tried to beg and buy the honor of their people. But bowing and scraping, and payments rendered in hopes of appeasement, only ever exacerbate such a situation - they never remedy it, for every half-way sensible person in other countries cannot help but reason that anyone who bows and scrapes and pays up like that, has got to have a tremendously guilty conscience!
And when we say today: "What we are charged with isn't true at all - the greatest part of it, at least, is a total lie!", then the response we get is: "If that's the case - as we suspected it to be from the start, by the way - then you Germans of today are such a bad lot that we can't respect you at all anymore, because you're too cowardly to tell the truth and restore your honor - merely to safeguard your export trade!"
Mankind did itself a poor service indeed when it tried to crush a people, a state and most of all a Revolution which, with the proper support, could have done everyone a world of good. Today even more than in the 1920s, the nations of the highly civilized Western world suffer from standing in the service of unbridled materialism and hence of Capitalism, and they suffer from having lost the ability to think naturally, and from having thus lost themselves in ever more devastating excesses and lack of moderation. For decades these nations have been deceiving themselves while in fact offering themselves up for their total destruction. The governments have long been acting in accordance with the teachings of Emile Coue, in the true style of self-persuasion, effusively lauding our happy and fortunate lifestyle over and over again in spite of what reality tells them and in the face of the most glaring evidence to the contrary, and praising that progress which in the end will be our undoing.
During the worst of the bombing of Berlin I was able to leave all the furnishings which I had been able to salvage from my gutted house, standing in the street, completely unguarded, for eight days and nights without a single item being stolen. These furnishings included many valuable antique pieces of furniture, carpets and paintings. And this was by no means an exceptional case, but rather the rule in that nation and time now sneered at as "Hitler's Germany"!
Even in wartime, Reich Minister Dr. Goebbels and I were able to go for walks in Central Berlin, on Wilhelm Street and Unter den Linden, without ever meeting even one person who gave us anything but a friendly greeting.
In February 1945, in the staff headquarters of the "Feldherrnhalle", I saw four young soldiers crying with helpless rage because they had been caught trying without permission to sneak to the Front, to finally get their chance to fight for Germany. -
For me, one of the most devastating and at the same time one of the greatest experiences was Christmas Eve 1945, when we, some 6,000 captured National-Socialists, surrounded by watchtowers manned by guards with machine-guns, suddenly and without prior arrangement began to sing the song "I Pray to the Power of Love". All the American officers and many thousands of Germans gathered to see and hear us and to join in - and the American camp commander, a front-line officer, had tears in his eyes.
At the Nuremberg Palace of Justice, an Army General threw himself from the third floor down to the stone-paved corridor of the ground floor. There, in the central square of the great prison, he lay dead on the ground before our very eyes. It was not long before some of the men in their cells began to sing, and more and ever more joined in, until all of us - the imprisoned National-Socialists and the non-National-Socialists and even some foreigners - sang along, and the enormous vaults resounded with that song that had used to pass our lips so easily, and now came from the heart and soul one last time: "To you, Adolf Hitler, we pledged ---!" Among the singers were soldiers, officers, Generals, professors, clergymen, lawyers, judges, physicians etc., of whom dozens already knew that they would be hanged - because none of them were what the Ignorant Ones of then and now claim they were.
US infantry, armed to the teeth, arrived in droves, Allied tanks surrounded the prison, while
descended on that "prison of honor".