German-Americans Against Fascism

Processing German prisoners. Cherbourg, June 1944

Processing German prisoners. Cherbourg, June 1944.

This is a portrayal of the face of Germany. It is an answer to the question: Is this Second World War a war of the “Have-nots” against the “Haves,” as Hitler asserts, of the poor peoples against the rich peoples, of the socialist nations against the plutocratic nations?

This question, important for every American, but addressed primarily to German Americans, is based on nothing but official statistics of the Hitler government or statements in the National Socialist press. The facts are therefore all the more forceful and imposing. They permit but a single conclusion: never have the plutocrats within Germany itself held such arbitrary and unlimited sway. They financed Hitler and brought him into power. With him they waged war on the German people and are now waging war on the world. They won the first war; but they must and shall lose the second war — with the help of the German people.

A frightful correlation between death and wealth exists in Germany. The more soldiers die — and by the end of 1942 there are already as many
German dead as in the entire first World War — the greater the increase in wealth and power of Krupp, Roechling, Mannesmann and Kloeckner, of the Chemical Trusts and the big banks, of the Silesian barons and the Nazi newly-rich. No, this is no war for the self-determination of the German people. It is a war for the conquest of the world by these brigands who have crushed the German people in order to set themselves up as leaders.

If the Third Reich were for the common man, as Goebbels’ propaganda would have us believe, there would not be hundreds of thousands of German
progressives sitting in the prisons of Germany; nor would those who advocate political and economic democracy in Germany be precisely the ones who are being executed.

If the Third Reich were for the common man, there would be no religious persecution. The greatest minds of German culture, the outstanding scientists, writers and artists would not have been driven out of the country or remained in “exile” inside Germany, where they maintain an attitude of icy silence towards the Nazi regime.

If the Third Reich were for the common man, the middle class would not have been sacrificed to the Moloch of big business.

If the Third Reich were for the common man, the banks and industries and resources of the sub-soil would belong to the people and not be the private affair of a few score old and newly-rich.

If the Third Reich were for the common man, it would not be the Third Reich. But as it is now, it is the rich man’s Reich.

From 1933 to the outbreak of the Second World War almost 2,000,000 German men and women were detained for some time — and many of them permanently — in concentration-camps, prisons, houses of correction, and Gestapo headquarters. This is proof enough of the breadth
and depth of the underground movement against Nazism.

We believe in that movement because we believe in the greatness of the German people. It deserves a better fate than to go through life with head bent low and end up in a Hitlerite slaughterhouse.

There is absolutely no contradiction between attachment to the German language, to German origins and the German people on the one hand andresponsibility to America as one’s adopted fatherland on the other. These feelings coincide. It is not only a question of protecting this continent from the racial barbarism of the swastika, of preventing the muzzling of every American and of preventing the hangman from becoming the busiest person in the country. As we carry the banner of democracy into the fight, we struggle at the same time for the German people — not against Germany, but against its tyrannical rulers.

Conscious of our German origins, we wish to help the land of Schiller, Goethe and Heine, the land of Johann Sebastian Bach and Beethoven, the land of great scientists and inventors, the land of the founders of Socialism re-gain its freedom and again take its honorable place in the family of free peoples. In the first 6 years of the Hitler dictatorship at least 12,000 Germans, murdered by the Gestapo, spilled their pure blood drop by drop for the sake of that high purpose. To that end new victims are falling daily in “the war-theater inside Germany” (Kriegsschauplatz Innerdeutschland”), to quofe the expression used by the very head of the Gestapo, Heinrich Himmler.

The German revolution is knocking at the door. The careful observer, his senses sharpened, already hears the low rumbling and feels the first tremors of the earth. The explosion will turn Germany into a volcano swallowing up the Nazi rulers. The tears of the women widowed by Hitler, the sighs of the millions of wounded and crippled, the grumbling of the exhausted, hungry and recalcitrant German and foreign work-slaves will change to battle-cries, millions of battle-cries against the imperialistic Nazi “master-race.” Under the slogan of “Peace, bread, freedom” a new Germany will be born; and the world will recognize in its men and women executors of the will of German fighters for freedom of the past.

It is the duty of the German-American to proclaim solidarity with these men of freedom. It is our duty to fight this people’s war against the Axis with passion and in an offensive spirit. By so doing, we defend both America and the German people. We will fulfill this duty.

Adapted from Alfred Norden’s The Thugs of Europe (1943). Photgraph courtesy of Photos Normandie. Published under a Creative Commons license.