GENERAL ARTICLES

Germany Prepares For?

WILLSON WOODSIDE November 15 1934
GENERAL ARTICLES

Germany Prepares For?

WILLSON WOODSIDE November 15 1934

Germany Prepares For?

GENERAL ARTICLES

WILLSON WOODSIDE

STAND BACK! When this bomb explodes it will throw a shower of liquid fire!” It is in Berlin, at a great Nazi Exposition; a squad of Goering’s Air Defense men are demonstrating to the crowd how to act in case of attack from the air. This is the third type of bomb which they have set off. The onlookers had seen one containing stuff that kept aflame even while floating on pools of water; and another, the stuff of which, when struck by water from the fire hose, burst and splattered frightfully in all directions.

The demonstration goes on. The show includes mustard gas, deadly to the poor civilian unprovided with rubber suit and helmet; unimpregnated roof beams which burn like tinder; unreinforced houses which crumble on the occupants’ heads.

If these Germans felt as I did, they shivered and imagined the enemy over their homes already.

Why are they being scared in this way? More to make them air-minded than for any purpose of practical air defense. Hitler and Goering are drawing the nation behind them in support of their campaign of “preparation.” Preparation for what?

Hidden Airplane Factories

THE DAY after arriving in Hamburg I met a workman who was employed in the shipbuilding firm of Blohm and Voss. He told me they had lately set up a department for the making of seaplanes. There were 2,000 men working at it, and they all, including himself, had had to sign papers saying they would be liable to the death penalty if they gave the secret away. He happened to be a communist, and Nazi secrets didn’t mean much to him.

On the day on which I left Germany I visited the famous auto works of Daimler-Benz in Stuttgart. While in a heated argument with my guide as to whether the “whole world was against Germany,” we strayed into the aero-engine department, and when I looked up I saw all around me hundreds of men engaged in Germany’s air armament effort. In the three and a half months that had elapsed I had seen and heard enough to estimate that Germany had already 3,000 or more airplanes and thousands of aero-engines built and hidden away.

In Berlin, for instance, a young man with whom I formed quite a friendship, told me that his brother worked at the great Junkers airplane factory. They have 12,000 workers there now, running three shifts. The planes are stored, partly assembled, in underground hangars. On the big three-motored bomber alone, their production schedule was 1.8 machines per day, or 560 a year. Two years ago, before Hitler, I went to visit Junkers and found a works that had just escaped from bankruptcy and felt happy to employ 4,500 men for a forty-five-hour week. Practically all their production then was on small machines for export.

One day on the Unter den Linden I ran into a GermanAmerican who had sat at my table on the Bremen going over. He had a disturbed look on his face, and pulled me over to a bench to talk with me.

“Say, I don’t like the things that are going on here. The brother-in-law with whom I’m staying, works in an airplane factory down at Riesa. The place is hidden in a wood, with Nazi guards around to tell people that it’s ‘private hunting ground.’ He had to sign something saying that he wouldn’t talk about it on penalty of death. There’s 4,000 men working, and they put the airplanes in underground hangars.”

In Munich I met a young American who was studying conditions in Germany. He was living in a plain worker’s family. The father, he said, was employed at the Bavarian Motor Works, but referred to it simply as the “airplane works.” He said they had built two additions to the factory this year, and were running night and day.

I had several talks with Pembroke Stephens, the London correspondent who was later turned out of Germany by the Nazis. He told me of a vast underground hangar which he had seen nearing completion at Hanover. He described the project as bigger than Croydon or Le Bourget. Other underground aerodromes were at Cologne, Frankfort, Essen, Stuttgart, Lyck, Freiburg, Muenster and Dessau. He had discovered the Blohm and Voss seaplane factory at Hamburg, and another at Kiel.

Driving through Dessau at 9.30 in the evening, he had found such feverish activity at the Junkers flying field, with floodlights all lit, that he had stopp'd his car beside the road to look on. Almost immediately a guard had come over to question him, had asked for his passports and arrested him with his wife and friend. They were two days in jail before being released, and after a couple of days freedom in Berlin—during which time I met them—were shown out of the country.

While buying books in a second-hand bookstore in Berlin one day, I fell into conversation with a young Steel Helmeter who, like these others, hated and feared the Government’s armament preparations. He lived out near the Heinkel airplane factory, and said they were now working busily and had 200 planes stored away, knockeddown, already. The Saxon Auto Union, he said, were building aero-engines.

I have a young engineer friend of several years standing in a large German city. He

is a graduate in metallurgy, and has been able since the depression to get nothing but a ]xx>rly-paid assistantship in a university laboratory. This summer he was getting ready to leave to join an aluminum firm. His three colleagues, whom I knew too, had already left for jobs in the metal-

lurgical field in various parts of the country. I asked him:

“What do they use aluminum for here, besides in cooking utensils?”

“Most of these cooking utensils will be flying around overhead,” was his jesting answer.

We talked of Schachts new “metal plan.” They are going to increase aluminum production by three between 1933 and 1935, and zinc production twice.

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This will be more than their highest peak during the war—when they built 15,000 airplanes during the last two years and had a production of 2,000 machines a month when the war ended.

New Flying Schools

P)R AIRPLANES you need pilots, and landing fields, too. I went on a cycling trip in July through Silesia. My route, chosen by chance off an auto road map, led me past three new flying schools and a new aerodrome. This aerodrome, at Cottbus, had apparently been built by the boys of a Labor Service camp located a few hundred yards away, and which I was prevented from photographing.

In Breslau I told a Blackshirt, with whom I became fast friends, about the flying schools. He admitted them readily, as he was all for Hitler’s rearmament programme, but said that I had, by purest chance, run into three out of the eleven schools which existed in the whole of Germany.

Later I told this to a correspondent in Munich, and she laughed and said:

“That’s funny. Then three of the remaining eight schools lie on a road between Munich and the Austrian border, eighty miles away.”

An English girl who had lived ten years in Berlin told me that she had passed three new landing fields while on a short cycling trip in Pomerania. A boy of about twentytwo whom I met on the road told me that his older brother was an officer in the Labor Service, and that his company was improving a large aerodrome on the Army training grounds at Juteborg.

The aviators who are to man these planes made an appearance one day in Berlin. On a Sunday in June there was to be held a widely advertised Aviation Day, on which Goering’s blue-grey flyers were to march past him at Tempelhofer Field. All the “Air Sportsmen”—as he calls them!—from that part of Germany were there. As they marched steadily past him who styles himself “First Minister of Aviation,” I counted them. There were 8,500. Overhead, a formation of nine airplanes droned back and forth—nine airplanes, on Germany’s National Day of Aviation ! I talked with three or four of the young flyers afterward. They all said that they only learned “sportflying” and to build and fly gliders.

It seemed that most of the war preparations which reached my ears had to do with airplanes, that the Germans were putting most of their effort into this one branch. I talked this over plainly with a young and intelligent German who had been a friend of mine long before he became a StormTrooper. He laughed a bit in amazement at all the things I had managed to see, and explained that they were concentrating all their attention on aircraft because, for one thing, a tremendous lot of striking power could be had for a comparatively small outlay, and for another it was a field in which they could build the equal of anybody in the world because, not being hampered with the other great expenses of a navy, heavy artillery and fortifications, they might well hope to outstrip their neighbors. Besides, they had practically everything they needed for the building of aircraft. As we spoke, a formation of airplanes flew over the house. It was

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a Sunday, and I found this to be a regular weekly treat while I was in Berlin and Hamburg.

Able to Make War

OUTSIDE OF the airplanes, their other great effort seems to be in training men.

I remember the very evening I landed in Hamburg I was visiting some English people in a good residential section of the city. In the middle of the evening we heard the tramp of iron-shod heels in the street below. A squad of 100 black S. S. had arrived beneath our window, and there they stayed for two hours, marching, goose-stepping, turning. The Englishwoman beside me, who lived in Hamburg, turned away, saying: “That sends a shiver up your spine. To think that it’s starting all over again.” These S.S. men drilled four nights a week, either here or under my window, a block away.

In Berlin, it was the same. The room which I had, overlooked a schoolyard hidden in the middle of a city block, behind the houses on all four sides. Here in this yard the Storm Troops came to drill every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night. Out in the West End streets you met squads literally by the dozen every evening, coming or going from their drill. A law student I knew was always so tired from it that he could get very little studying done, yet there was no way of evading it. l ie said Germany was quite able to make war. A German-American told me his father-inlaw, fifty-five years old, had to belong to the S. A. to keep his job. He got shooting practice once a week.

By this summer there were 3,000,0(X) men in the S. A. or Brown Shirts. There were \ 300,(XX) in the S. S. or Black Shirts, a j picked “crack” organization. The main difference between the two, before the great “purge,” seemed to be that the S. S. service was heavier and it was more difficult to leave it, once a member. I know a dozen S. A. and S. S. men well. Some were halfway to being soldiers already, others had learned little more than, like the Ling’s horses, “to march down the street and march back again.” It seemed to depend a great deal on their local commander. Now the S. A. formations have been partially disbanded, but only to give way to a more sure and intensive training.

This is handled in the Lalwr Service Corps, to which, after November, every German boy of twenty, twenty-one and twenty-two must report compulsorily. In August I met a boy of twenty-two in Munich i who had a grievance against the Government because he had planned to make a cycle trip to Italy and had been refused the necessary passix>rt, not yet having done his Labor Service. I have visited a dozen camps of the latter corps, four under the wing of the Propaganda Ministry, and the rest while out cycling alone. The camps around Berlin which I saw on the official visits were much finer than those which I later ran across in the country.

On the conducted visits, our observations gave us to feel that the boys were there mainly to work on great land reclamation projects, and had a spade in their hands most of the day. In the afternoons they had “field sports,” with “some light drill to discipline them.” After more experience, I I was forced to treat the Labor camps with open suspicion. One morning on my cycle trip I was eating lunch in a park when I heard a staccato of military commands coming from the other side of a fence. I looked over, and there was the whole personnel of a camp, divided into about twenty small squads, being assiduously drilled byofficers and subalterns. This was in the middle of the morning, too—the time laid out on their official programme for spade work.

In Munich, a boy who had just finished his term said he was glad to be out of it. He

wouldn’t tell much, but intimated they “learned to handle other things besides shovels.” A Hamburg acquaintance related finding Labor Camps in East Prussia busy building earthwork fortifications. Then there are the two camps already mentioned, working on aerodromes in Cottbus and at Juteborg. At the Nuremberg Party Con, gress in September, the soldierly bearing of the 52,(XX) Labor Service lads who had been brought there, was a sensation.

Up to now the number of boys in the camps has steadily been given as 240,000. There is reason to believe that they number half a million at present. Each class called out for November will have 800,000 more, so probably not all can be handled at once. Nevertheless, a further law has been passed in September which declares that, where possible, the jobs of boys under twenty-five should be given to older unemployed men and the boys sent to camp. It seems that every young man in Germany must be trained to be a soldier, and as quickly as possible.

Increase in Army

AMONG ALL THESE uniformed forma■T*tions, first place must still go by a long way to the Reichswehr or regular army.

; One sees so many more of these on the streets this year that no possibility for doubt exists that the Reichswehr has already 1 been increased from the Versailles 100,000 to the 300,000 discussed but never sanctioned at Geneva. Recruiting has been brisk. A student tells me that the rector of each university and technical college has been instructed to approach his graduating boys separately and encourage them to enroll for a 13 -i years course in the Army.

“Two years ago you didn’t have a chance of getting into the Army, now it’s easy,” said another boy who had the choice placed squarely before him—Army or Labor Service.

“I’m going to choose the Army. It’s for a year and a half, but the Labor camp would run to a year anyway, because what they do is to ask you after you've done the regulation six months: ‘Have you a job to go to?’ Of course you haven’t, and so you have to stay another six months. In the Army you may have heavier duties, but you get a nice uniform and $12 a month instead of $3 in the Labor Corps, and you have a superior standing to any of the other uniformed people.”

The Army is young, strong, well trained and efficient. What it appears to lack more than anything at the moment is one or two generals of pronounced character and ability.

The force next to the Reichswehr in efficiency is the Gendarmerie and Police. “Police” here doesn’t mean quite what it does in Canada. In Essen I drove out to Police Headquarters, in company with a doctor who had to settle some minor license infringement. We arrived at a huge barracks colony on the outskirts of the city, the big buildings being arranged around a parade ground just like any army barracks. The doctor explained that the Police had been moved out here since the war. When Germany was limited to such a small Army, the Police had been organized along military lines as second-string soldiers. They had ride practice and field manoeuvres, and indeed were often men who had completed their term in the Reichswehr. There are about 200,000 of them.

The Nazis themselves have built up three highly trained corps in addition to the Labor Corps. These are the black S. S., the khaki Feld Jaeger, and the blue Goering Police, neither of the two latter being very large. The S. S. have lately been raised to a position of honor and importance. They were employed in the purge of the S. A. on June 30. Now they serve as the pillar of National Socialism, the country’s “G.P.U.,” the watchdogs over the less reliable S. A. and the personal bodyguards of the leaders.

I stood on the curb on the evening of the celebration for the twentieth anniversary of Germany’s mobilization, and watched the various units march home to their barracks. A battalion of grey Reichswehr, a battalion of green and black Gendarmerie, and a

battalion of black S. S. passed in succession. All wore steel helmets, carried rifle and pack, and marched with equal smartness; I swear a color-blind man would have seen here three battalions of soldiers. Actually the S. S. and the Police have not had as thorough training as the Reichswehr, but to avoid splitting hairs they can be considered as soldiers. This would give Germany a standing army of 800,000 men, with all the Labor Corps boys and the 3,000,000 S. A., in reserve.

Steel Output Doubled

ON TOP OF all this there are the 4,000,000 boys of the Hitler Youth, all playing at soldiers. I ran across a division of 5,000 one Sunday in a large clearing in the woods between Berlin and Potsdam. They were having a review. There was a headquarters tent and staff, motor-cycle dispatch riders, a bicycle corps of 120, a radio dugout manned by a signal corps, a kitchen squad with army field kitchen, an ambulance corps and sentries. The Hitler Youth also have cavalry, although none were here. The boys, ranging all the way from ten to twenty years, marched and countermarched, with hundreds of banners waving, and were reviewed by officers of the Storm Troops.

They carry daggers engraved “Blood and Honor” on the blade, and in their songbooks it says: “The Flag is more than Death !” I have examined their handbooks—they are all full of military field exercises and military lore. Their week-ends are spent like this at marching and drill, and at age eighteen they get rifle practice. The old “wander life” of the German boy is far behind now.

Men and airplanes, even in such quantities, are scarcely enough by themselves for a war. There was plenty of evidence that the rest was being prepared, too. A Czech engineer with whom I have collaborated and who knows the whole German machine industry intimately, told me that Krupp had taken on 7,000 men in one month and that Germany’s steel output was double that cf last year. This is certainly not. accounted for by building or railway construction. I don’t remember a single big building going up in all Germany, except additions to an aero-engine factory, and to a factory for making cartridge machines, and one big Nazi headquarters building in Munich.

I know that a good deal of the increased steel output was going to the machine industry. Now, the leader of this industry personally told me that although normally they were dependent on the export trade for the greater part of their business, at present they were doing a record domestic business. Since Germany is scarcely likely to be equipping more factories for peace-time production with so many lying half used—nay, it is forbidden to open new ones—it can only be guessed as to the kind of new machines being turned out so busily.

One instance of this I saw. I visited the aforementioned cartridge factory. They are also a famous machine-tool firm—it was as such that I went to see them—but at present two-thirds of their production is machines for making machine-gun cartridges. The most of these were labelled with a litcle brass plate with a coat of arms on it and destined, I was told, for “Persia.” Others were for China, Argentina and Portugal. Perhaps it was true; I don’t know.

The auto industry is 100 per cent busier than last year, too, quite apart from its sideline of airplane engines. Most of the increase in their output goes to the Party, or to outfitting the now separately organized Motor Section of the Storm Troops, a very powerful arm.

Gas masks I found being made in a Munich rubber factory, in which a department of 350 workers had been set up at the beginning of this year.

Ready to Fight

THESE ARE SOME of the things I saw in Germany this year. They are mostly chance observations and are far from giving a complete picture. In general, they are

backed up by the trend of German economic policy. All available money and effort have been poured into a terrific internal effort. Germany’s export markets, her financial credit, international goodwill have all been tossed away in the frenzied struggle. In the long run, the truth is inescapable that Germany can only support a population of 65,000,000 people by having a large export trade or possibly by conquering a large new territory.

Hitler has written into his book time and again that the whole goal of his foreign policy will be the latter. Nothing is more incessantly talked about in Nazi Germany than the inadequacy of present German territory. ; To this end an untiring propaganda is kept up on the shame of Versailles and the claim

that now, as then, “the whole world is against them.”

When will war break loose? Is it fantastic to imagine that Germany will fight next January if the Saar Plebiscite goes against her? Many a German boy said to me this summer: “We’re not looking for war, but if the Saar is stolen from us, that will be the breaking point: we'll fight.” I can see one of these clear-eyed boys before me yet, his left hand resting on his dagger—on the blade, “Blood and Honor”—and hear his words:

“We want to sacrifice ourselves for Germany and for our leader, Adolf Hitler, to bring together all the Germans now held apart. The world can’t hold us down like this for ever. Even if it costs us our lives, we’re going to free the Fatherland !”