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Hitler on British Values (12)



Through the occupation of the Ruhr, Fate once more reached out its hand to the German people and bade them arise. For what at first appeared as a heavy stroke of misfortune was found, on closer examination, to contain extremely encouraging possibilities of bringing Germany’s sufferings to an end. 

As regards foreign politics, the action of France in occupying the Ruhr really estranged England for the first time in quite a profound way. Indeed it estranged not merely British diplomatic circles, which had concluded the French alliance and had upheld it from motives of calm and objective calculation, but it also estranged large sections of the English nation. The English business world in particular scarcely concealed the displeasure it felt at this incredible forward step in strengthening the power of France on the Continent. From the military standpoint alone France now assumed a position in Europe such as Germany herself had not held previously. Moreover, France thus obtained control over economic resources which practically gave her a monopoly that consolidated her political and commercial strength against all competition. The most important iron and coal mines of Europe were now united in the hand of one nation which, in contrast to Germany, had hitherto defended her vital interests in an active and resolute fashion and whose military efficiency in the Great War was still fresh in the memories of the whole world. The French occupation of the Ruhr coal field deprived England of all the successes she had gained in the War. And the victors were now Marshal Foch and the France he represented, no longer the calm and painstaking British statesmen. 

In Italy also the attitude towards France, which had not been very favourable since the end of the War, now became positively hostile. The great historic moment had come when the Allies of yesterday might become the enemies of to-morrow. If things happened otherwise and if the Allies did not suddenly come into conflict with one another, as in the Second Balkan War, that was due to the fact that Germany had no Enver Pasha but merely a Cuno as Chancellor of the Reich. 

Nevertheless, the French invasion of the Ruhr opened up great possibilities for the future not only in Germany’s foreign politics but also in her internal politics. A considerable section of our people who, thanks to the persistent influence of a mendacious Press, had looked upon France as the champion of progress and liberty, were suddenly cured of this illusion. In 1914 the dream of international solidarity suddenly vanished from the brain of our German working class. They were brought back into the world of everlasting struggle, where one creature feeds on the other and where the death of the weaker implies the life of the stronger. The same thing happened in the spring of 1923. 

When the French put their threats into effect and penetrated, at first hesitatingly and cautiously, into the coal-basin of Lower Germany the hour of destiny had struck for Germany. It was a great and decisive moment. If at that moment our people had changed not only their frame of mind but also their conduct the German Ruhr District could have been made for France what Moscow turned out to be for Napoleon. Indeed, there were only two possibilities: either to leave this move also to take its course and do nothing or to turn to the German people in that region of sweltering forges and flaming furnaces. An effort might have been made to set their wills afire with determination to put an end to this persistent disgrace and to face a momentary terror rather than submit to a terror that was endless. 

Cuno, who was then Chancellor of the Reich, can claim the immortal merit of having discovered a third way; and our German bourgeois political parties merit the still more glorious honour of having admired him and collaborated with him. 

Here I shall deal with the second way as briefly as possible. 

By occupying the Ruhr France committed a glaring violation of the Versailles Treaty. Her action brought her into conflict with several of the guarantor Powers, especially with England and Italy. She could no longer hope that those States would back her up in her egotistic act of brigandage. She could count only on her own forces to reap anything like a positive result from that adventure, for such it was at the start. For a German National Government there was only one possible way left open. And this was the way which honour prescribed. Certainly at the beginning we could not have opposed France with an active armed resistance. But it should have been clearly recognized that any negotiations which did not have the argument of force to back them up would turn out futile and ridiculous. If it were not possible to organize an active resistance, then it was absurd to take up the standpoint: "We shall not enter into any negotiations." But it was still more absurd finally to enter into negotiations without having organized the necessary force as a support.