The Charlotte News

Sunday, November 13, 1938


Site Ed. Note: The following letter to the editor appeared on this day's page, re "Their Master's Voice" of November 11. The letter raises a sensitive and appropriate point, but by another turn of the page, it also begs the question: which first, chicken or egg? It obviously took some 33% of the German populace voting in 1933 for the Housepainter, with full view of his intentions and predilections to anyone who could read available plentifully in that thick book he authored, and it took the rest of the populace standing by idly, cowardly as he took control of the government and established a dictatorship. So, can it not be said that there was the seed to the kernel in the German nature, or better put, as the letter seems to begin to recognize in backwards reasoning, in the nature of man generally, merely awaiting the excuse of a Hitler to grant its release on the handiest political and social minority available?

Is that not, too, in the American character, in the white character, in the black character, in the yellow character, in the red character, what you will of any color? History certainly suggests the affirmative through the many battles and heroes fought on all plains and tundra on earth, from the plains of the Western United States to those of Asia. It is thus up to each individual to recognize that potential in each of us and put a check on it when it raises its head, either in ourselves or others. It's really pretty simple, if encountered quickly and forthrightly when it starts: You may simply tell the individual right straight up to go to Hell--or other choice and equally profound and most definitely offensive words. Even in certain states where they try to make such words and self-expression illegal--for some--it's still legal under the Constitution. So go ahead and express yourself. Better than allowing little dictators to accede to their wills and become stronger for it until collectively they form a new Hitler, by any other logo, some large company or corporation or public utility or bureaucracy you probably know. Candidly, those Nazi laws and their Nazi thug enforcers can go to Hell.

We don't disagree with the opinion of the letter-writer in general, but we have to wonder why he chose to make such statements at the time, after all, just two or three days after the outrages against Jews in Germany discussed further by Cash below in "Satisfying German Honor"; one has to wonder at the somewhat blasé, even somewhat defensive attitude, attempting to assuage guilt from the mass by blaming it all on the dictator. One also has to wonder why the writer did not sign his or her name.

Incidentally, we have heard this distinction before offered in response by the Editors, that is the Bavarian streak. Perhaps it is a prejudice, going back to the origins therein of Neandertalensis. We don't know. The truth is, though, that the streak is within all of us in varying manifestations and degrees. And if you believe otherwise, well, candidly, you can and probably will go to Hell.

It must always be borne in mind that Hitler thought himself pure and god-like, not the least evil or even capable of it, for he provided his own standards of moral rectitude, as with all true Nazis, while imposing whatever standards fit his prejudices and predilections to judge the conduct and morals of others.

If you know anyone who might doubt this concept, and its pervasive quality throughout the Reich and its curious mixture of anomic release, counterbalanced by the most rigid discipline ever imposed on an army in modern times, the ruthless and inevitable concomitant to such rigidity, then have them read the May 23, 1945 gruesome and elaborately detailed dying admissions of one Franz Ziereis, commandant of the Mauthausen camp near Linz, Austria. Despite his confession of direct participation in the grossest of atrocities, he still regarded himself as "not a wicked man" but one who had "risen through work". Yes, yes, such work. All orders from der ubergruppen, you zee. Why, clearly, Franz had no choice, ever. It was either do or die. Ultimately, he did, and, justly, died anyway.

German People Absolved of Brutal Streak

It's Hitler, Not Their Nature That is Responsible for Mistreatment of Jews

Dear Sir:

By what right do you imply--or rather say--that the German people as a race are a naturally brutal people?

In an editorial in Friday's paper you say:

"... have steadily whipped up the streak of brutality which lies in the German character."

I do not agree that the Germans are inherently more brutal than Americans or any other people. As a matter of fact, America's great melting-pot population is composed of many persons of direct Germanic descent.

I am in thorough agreement with your opinion of Hitler and all he stands for but that Germans can be whipped up to acts of brutality and violence more easily then can other peoples, I do not believe.

From my rather limited acquaintance with persons of German blood, I have found them to be very much like you and me. Take the average German out from under Hitler and place them in the same surroundings that we Americans enjoy, and you would find him much less prone to cruelty and violence than many of our citizens.

I doubt that many of our lynch mobs are led by or even composed of in any small degree persons in whose veins German blood predominates.



[Note: German is a term that covers a variety of peoples. Perhaps a distinction should have been made between say, Prussian Germans and Bavarian Germans. --Editors, The News.]

Farewell to Elkton

In addition to replacing a Republican Governor with a Democrat, Maryland played hob with Elkton's 2,000-a-month marriage trade. Approved wholeheartedly by the voters was a law requiring lapse of 48 hours between the issuance of a wedding license and the ceremony.

Slowly but surely, the country is learning some sense about marriage and restrictions on marriage. The signs are plentiful. This reform in Maryland, for instance, comes about partly because of prior reforms in New York and New Jersey. Those states passed laws making freedom from syphilis a prerequisite for marriage, and the use of Elkton's handy facilities by persons evading these requirements helped to build up Maryland sentiment against the sordid business.

North Carolina used to have such a marriage law as New York's and New Jersey's, but, with South Carolina and Virginia playing Gretna Greens, abandoned it. The law was all right, but it was ahead of its time. The lack of a law in surrounding states largely nullified its good intentions. Perhaps now, with other sections of the country showing the way and collaborating, the time is ripe to try again.

Concessions to Caste

"The Greatest Show on Earth," Ringling Bros.-Barnum & Bailey, expects to be back on the road next year bigger and better than ever. Labor troubles which this year, compounded with the Depression, sent it back into Winter quarters almost before Summer had begun, are all fixed up. Young John North Ringling has talked it over with President Green of AFL and expects no difficulty in working out details in signing contracts.

No more rigid caste system is to be found, not even in the army, than in a circus. Top-billing performers remain majestically aloof from the unspotlighted. These in turn have little to do with the non-exhibiting employees of the circus, and the whole crowd of show people look down as from a lofty height, disdainfully and without a tremor of social consciousness, on the roustabouts. It was the roustabouts who struck the big show last June, but they got no aid or sympathy from the upper crust, despite the fact that the upper crust is largely unionized.

With AFL, which does its best to protect the craftsman from the mere manual worker and requires in some trades an interminable apprenticeship, it is possible to reach an agreement preserving this caste system. But should CIO ever get a bottom hold in the circus, it will be Katy bar the door. To CIO all men are equal, whether they swing from trapezes by one toe or tidy up after the elephants, and John L. Lewis probably doesn't like circuses, anyhow.

Capricious Relief

One day last week, in a Washington letter-service to paid clients, we ran across the flat statement that relief was wholly political in motive, that it went up before elections and came down afterward. After this election, the letter went on to say, the relief rolls would be pruned again.

And the same day, later, we read in Washington Merry-Go-Round, which is pro-New Deal, that the Administration was going to cut the relief rolls by about 250,000 a month, bring down the WPA load from its peak of 3,150,000 in October to 2,000,000 by next March 1.

The second statement seems directly in confirmation of the first--so far as fact went anyhow. As to motive, we dunno. In 1936, which was an election year, it is true that relief rolls came down until mid-year, then started rising again despite the fact that employment and manufacturing industries were steadily increasing, and substantially. But in 1937, which was not an election year, the relief rolls decreased as the index of employment rose, and increased only when the index of employment fell.

In sum, relief is capricious. Sometimes it reverses Supreme Court practice by preceding, instead of following, the election returns, and sometimes it keeps step with employment.

Satisfying German Honor

"If that ain't stealing, I don't know." From a Southern folk song.

A billion marks--400,000,000 dollars--was the fine assessed against the Jews of Germany yesterday by a conference of Nazi ministers. The Jews' offense was--that they were beaten up by good Nazis and arrested by Nazi police? That their shop windows were broken by Nazi mobs and their shops looted, on the word of American correspondents in direct contradiction of the word of Propaganda Minister Goebbels, by Nazi thieves?

No, even in Germany's remarkable code of justice, one doesn't yet tauntingly fine the victims of outrages. This fine was handed out for the murder of a Nazi embassy secretary in Paris by a 17-year-old Polish Jew whom the Nazis had banished in a playful little game over Jew human beings with Poland--banished to a place where there was no shelter and no food. It was handed out because the murder of this German official had aroused the lust, always near the surface, of the Nazis to mock and hurt and rob the Jews.

That in doing so, with the tolerance of Goebbels, Goering et al., the property of good Nazis tenanted by Jews suffered along with Jewish property, was something to be rectified. Whatever of the fine is collected will be useful for that purpose--but not to reimburse the property-owners, ah, no. To enrich the State.

Insurance settlements for demolished property the Nazi Government will confiscate. The Jews themselves are ordered to repair property damage not only to stores but to residences. Furthermore, by the known snide ways in which the Nazis replenish their treasury, it is certain that any other property or values owned by Jews may be sold, at any old prices, to help to pay the $400,000,000 fine.

It is one of the grossest, incensing dirty deals in all history. It is hardly imaginable in a civilized people, and serves warning what the world is up against in the Germany of Hitler, Goering and Goebbels. It is something else more familiar:

"If that ain't stealing, I don't know." From a Southern folk song.

Something for Legislators

When a session of criminal court begins Monday morning, the docket from which defendants are called will contain more than 200 cases. It being impossible for the court to try all of these, a start will be made with all the jail cases, which are newer cases; and old ones, some of them continued from previous sessions, will be continued again.

As a result, these continued cases grow mustier term by term. Witnesses are lost track of, circumstances are forgotten, prosecution becomes hit or mess, and justice is left too much up to chance. Besides, the swiftness as well as the certainty of punishment is supposed to deter crime.

The crowded docket appears to be, this time, no court officer's fault. Mecklenburg, with an assistant solicitor of its own, is unusually well prepared to prosecute cases as the court is ready to hear them. But the court's time is limited. Terms of court scheduled are too infrequent; the mill grinds slower than it is fed.

It is a subject which by all means ought to have the attention of the local delegation to the next Legislature. No more important defect in co-ordination between the State and its subdivisions is to be found than this lag in ordering punishment or acquittal for persons promptly arrested by the police for crimes, some of them serious. The supply of cases and the rate at which the court may try them are known from experience. All that remains to be done is to obtain sufficient and regular terms of court.

The Bag-Holders

A report has it that Southern Railway is asking large holders of its $30,000,000 in 6 1/2 bonds and $20,000,000 in 6s to exchange for 4% bonds. As an inducement to the swap, the report goes on, a bonus in common stock would be paid, which the road could well afford, since it would be reducing its fixed charges substantially.

The preferred stock would benefit from the exchange (if there is anything to that) because with the reduction in interest charges dividends on the preferred would be sooner reached. But common-stockholders--well, they would fare less happily. Their equities would be diluted. Reductions in fixed charges would help to preserve values, of course, but hardly returns. The reception of dividends on any but a very few railroad common stocks looks remote at this writing.

Nor is that the worst of it. Congress is going to take up the railroad problem, and the railroad problem has been defined by two separate fact-finding reports within the last six years as consisting in considerable part of top heavy capital structure. The upper stories consist of common stock, from which coincidence the little reader may draw his own conclusions.


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