Beverley Baxter's LONDON LETTER

September 1 1944

Beverley Baxter's LONDON LETTER

September 1 1944

Beverley Baxter's LONDON LETTER

Did Hitler Stage the Bomb Plot?

ON AUG. 1 I wrote in my London Letter that the feud between Hitler and certain generals of the High Command had reached a point where an explosion could not long be delayed. I also gave it as my opinion that Hitler could not dismiss Field Marshal von Rundstedt without discouraging the nation and bringing the feud of the Nazi High Command to a head.

With scant regard for my estimate of the situation Hitler promptly dismissed Rundstedt. This reckless vanity-sodden gambler did not hesitate to challenge the fates. He struck down his commander-inchief and waited for the countermove. It came -and in the form of an explosion.

A few hours later Hitler rushed to the microphone to give the German people the glad tidings that he was safe although somewhat singed. It was history telling the same story over again. Napoleon, deserting the famished, frozen remnants of his Army retreating from Moscow, sent a messenger ahead to inform the Parisians that their Emperor was in excellent health.

The news of the attempt on Hitler’s life was one of the big moments of the war and the newspapers in every country rose to it with new blood in their veins. Stockholm, that superrumor factory, belched out stories until the Swedish telegraph operators must have pleaded for mercy. Editors in London, New York and points west sent frantic telegrams to their Stockholm correspondents demanding thousands of words on the inside story of the abortive attempt to liquidate the Führer.

The correspondents did their best. Each had a theory and one man’s guess was as good as another’s. With your permission I shall not travel quite along the same lines but shall put to you the background which we had known for some time in London and then try to deduce by logic exactly what did happen.

First it must be realized that we are seeing a vast and sinister moral collapse of the German race. 11 may well prove so catastrophic that the German will never rise again but will l>e an outlaw whom no one trusts qnd against whom all hands will be raised. It is hardly more than a decade since Hitler assumed office yet in that short time he has abolished truth, honor, decency, mercy and justice.

Children spy on their parents. Partner impeaches partner to curry favor with the Nazis. Private grudges are worked off under a pretense of superpatriotism. Judges of the High Courts are prostitutes, and clergymen have forgotten that martyrdom is the road which God demands of His priests. The sodden mass of the German people who stood by without a protest when their elected Reichstag representatives were beaten or arrested by the Nazis in 1933 are like idiot children in the dark reaching for the protecting hand of the mesmerist to whom they surrendered their reason.

Gangsters And Stooges

TO USE the language of today Germany largely consists of only two types—gangsters and stooges. One can only stand appalled at so swift and dreadful a descent into the abyss by a nation which gave Wagner, Luther and Goethe to the world.

It is the Germany of Hitler’s making and no one understands the Germans like the Führer. Therefore 1 suggest that we explore what has been going on in his mind for the last six months. I am convinced that only in the depths of that cunning, sordid, selfworshipping brain can we find the secret behind the bomb that failed to do its work.

One German city after another had been ravaged by Allied bombers but Hitler never went to see the

ruins or to comfort the homeless and the bereaved. Disaster followed disaster in the field but Hitler never went to the microphone to console the nation or promise it victory. Rumors spread that he was dead. Even when the Allies invaded France and the Reich became a beleaguered fortress he made no sign and uttered no word. Obviously this was a situation that could not go on.

His spies did not need to inform him what the generals were thinking. The cold contempt in their eyes would have told him that they were waiting the hour when they could strike him down. He knew that groups of the High Command were in touch with the imprisoned generals in Russia and that others were trying to make contact with the Allies through Spanish sources.

The broad shadow of Goering was also athwart the picture. Goering, the aristocrat (almost); Goering, the malignant clown; Goering, the fat voluptuary who made the people laugh; Goering, the regular soldier; Goering, the man who would cut his brother’s throat if it advanced fils purpose. Goering, the swollen swashbuckler, was keeping the Luftwaffe for his own use perhaps—certainly it was not fighting the enemy - and he was holding conversations with certain generals.

It is known that Himmler and Hitler had a long talk recently. There is no reason why the tyrant and his chief butcher should not meet but there is also no reason to suspect that their conversation was on books or the weather. The hangman’s noose is waiting for both their necks. Neither can save himself by betraying or killing the other.

Hitler’s mind works on clearly established lines. His methods do not vary. What would be more natural then that, in conversation with Himmler, he would recall the purge of 1934 when on the night of the long knives he liquidated all those elements in the, Party which had believed him when he said that the Party must bo master of the Army and in fact become the military as well as the political power. That superb stroke had rid him of the men who were his dupes and had won to his side the mighty autocracy of the Prussian military caste.

Why not another purge? And still further why not give the German people a victory? In other words why not an attempt on his life, foiled by the hand of Providence? Thus would the idiot children be lifted up and hope would live again. And above all it would bring the Führer once more to the centre of the stage.

Now we see Hitler, the ham actor, at his old game. Freidlinde Wagner described to me how he used to come to their home in Beyruth, arrange the scene in the drawing-room and give imitations of Mussolini, Goering and even, I am sorry to say, Sir John Simon. Hls best performance, according to Friedlinde, was his imitation of himself greeting a foreign diplomat who was a Jew.

To arrest a number of generals on the discovery of a plot against his life would not be effective. It would create doubt and spread discouragement without showing the hand of Providence toward himself. Therefore there had to be a bomb. Why not a time bomb, such as the Nazis used in the Beer Hall in Munich when Providence saw that Hitler was not there? That had rallied the nation to him at the cost of only a few silly lives and had given lüm a chance to arrest all sorts of people under suspicion.

Yes, there must be a bomb. But Hitler, the ham actor, knew that it would not secure the required effect if the explosion küled no one. That would be unconvincing as well as inartistic. Then who should Continued on page 46

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be privileged to die for this superb publicity stunt? What could be better than to choose some of the generals who were conspiring against him?

A conference was called—that we know. We are asked to believe that a number of anti-Hitler officers came to a room in which one of their number had managed by some miracle to plant a time bomb. They went without question, apparently willing to die providing that they took the Führer to hell with them. Is there a court of law in the world that would accept that story?

Hitler’s artistry did not end there. I suggest that he threw in some of his faithful generals just to give an air of verisimilitude to an otherwise bald and unconvincing narrative. He was probably bored with them anyway.

So the bomb dutifully exploded. It was apparently not a very powerful one but perhaps Hitler did not want to waste explosives that could be used on the women and children of London. It killed and maimed some of his friends as well as his enemies; and, putting his arm in a sling, he was photographed shaking hands with his pal Mussolini who had turned up to enjoy the fun. Then Hitler went to the microphone to tell the joyous news to the German people.

Excursion Into Murder

If we examine this story with cool minds we must come to the conclusion that it stinks of the master just as clearly as the fake burning of the Reichstag, and the planted bomb in the Munich Beer cellar. By all the laws of evidence this is Hitler’s work from beginning to end.

Now we must ask what Hitler has gained from this excursion into murder and melodrama and to what use he will put it?

First, he has undoubtedly had a blood bath. The pistol must have barked a lot in the hours that followed

the outrage. Himmler will also have 1 used it as a pretext for interning, or \ more likely killing, any doubtful e civilians whom he has had on his list. j Secondly, Hitler has convinced the i poor bemused German hordes that i Providence has a special care for theo Führer and therefore for them. i

Thirdly, it has displayed Hitler as s the man of courage, the god who does i not fear the lightning, the Messiah about whom is drawn the protection of the magic fire.

Fourthly, he has made it difficult foro plotting generals to meet and make : plans. >

Fifthly, it has frightened Goering into coming once more to the side ofo his sacred leader. i

These are not bad returns for a onei act murder farce. Hitler as an actor1 manager can look into his mirror and say, “Well done thou master of effects!” > 1

But now we must peer into the future because this is not an isolated incident, but is one of the moves in the terrible drama of Germany’s future.

Hitler and the generals have one thing in common. They know that they 1 cannot win. Also, both he and they realize that the Allies will not come to terms either with the Nazis or the ■ generals. Therefore, in my opinion, Hitler is preparing for a long Civil War, with the Allies looking on from the windows of their offices of occupation inside the Fatherland.

Hitler has seen that no invading army can prevent an underground J movement striking incessantly at its i tormentors. It has been a bitter lessono which he will want to turn to his own j account. Let the Allies pour 100 divisions into Germany but they could not prevent the Nazis carrying on i organized terrorism—not against the ] invaders—but against those who dared ’ to oppose National Socialism. ¡

Hitler does not regard National 1 Socialism as a political movement or 1 party, but as the eternal expression ofo the German spirit. Defeat in the field ] will not destroy it. He has sown the ] seed in the young, and as the bitter postwar years of hardship and dis1 illusionment take their toll of the spirit f so will the Hitler youth in theiro unchanging intellectual adolescence I long for the rise of the Nazis again. :

The recent speech of the beer-swollen J

Doctor Ley in Berlin gives us an idea of what is ahead. With the now wellestablished delicacy of Nazi oratory he said: “The Jew of Moscow ordered this attempt on the Führer’s life. England and her lords supplied the bomb, and German counts and noblemen threw it. Swine, blue-blooded swine. A worker said to me yesterday: ‘Thank God it was not a worker.’ ”

Underworld of Terrorism

There you have the pattern of the Civil War to come. The Nazi movement, gone underground, with hidden armories and unlimited stolen money, wül by threat, bribery and persuasion endeavor to rouse the feeling of the masses against the middle class and the nobility. It has perhaps even a more urgent meaning at the moment. The Russians are already in East Prussia, the home of the Junkers and their rich estates. How wise to persuade the people that this territory is the soil from which traitors spring and is therefore not Germany at all.

To put it at a low figure there must be 3,000,000 Nazis whose crimes as Gestapo agents or SS Troopex-s will not permit them to return to civil life. That is Hitler’s strength. He has made a multitude of fellow criminals who must share his fate. After Germany is beaten they will create a nation-wide underworld of terrorism.

It is because of what lies ahead for the Third Reich that the Allies are known to be considering the partitioning of the country after the war. There may be no other way of saving Europe or giving a chance of life to the German people.

I am convinced that the attempt on Hitler’s life was staged. I am convinced that it was a deliberate step in the Nazi plan to follow the Second World War with a long-drawn-out Civil War. I also believe that although the Nazis will denounce the Junkers and the Prussian military caste they will both come together again at some far-off point in the future and try to plunge Europe into its Third World War.

In our time at least, Germany cannot be trusted again. If we needed any strengthening of that decision it should come from the elaborate swindle of the bomb plot in which ‘Hitler once more attributed his survival to the holy alliance of “Mich und Gott.”