The Charlotte News

Wednesday, April 5, 1939


Site Ed. Note: Thus, the sentimental side of Hitler: as he plucked from twenty years earlier in his imagined Flanders-meanderings--so viscidly motile as to be positively a fresison. From feeding the dear little mice as a vivandier to chortling to himself about the vapid fecklessness with which workers develop recruits through pamphleteering for their new parties and union movements, he buzzed along through his story with such genuine and warming asides. The Byzantine intricacy of the mind thus on display was none if not primus inter pares within his party; such was the beguiling wit with which it was set down, in fact, as to have been nothing less than hyperbolic Biwihelen Superduction.

At that time I was living in one of the barracks of the 2nd Infantry Regiment. I had a little room which still bore the unmistakable traces of the Revolution. During the day I was mostly out, at the quarters of Light Infantry No. 41 or else attending meetings or lectures, held at some other branch of the army. I spent only the night at the quarters where I lodged. Since I usually woke up about five o'clock every morning I got into the habit of amusing myself with watching little mice which played around in my small room. I used to place a few pieces of hard bread or crust on the floor and watch the funny little beasts playing around and enjoying themselves with these delicacies. I had suffered so many privations in my own life that I well knew what hunger was and could only too well picture to myself the pleasure these little creatures were experiencing.

So on the morning after the meeting I have mentioned, it happened that about five o'clock I lay fully awake in bed, watching the mice playing and vying with each other. As I was not able to go to sleep again, I suddenly remembered the pamphlet that one of the workers had given me at the meeting. It was a small pamphlet of which this worker was the author. In his little book he described how his mind had thrown off the shackles of the Marxist and trades-union phraseology, and that he had come back to the nationalist ideals. That was the reason why he had entitled his little book: "My Political Awakening". The pamphlet secured my attention the moment I began to read, and I read it with interest to the end. The process here described was similar to that which I had experienced in my own case ten years previously. Unconsciously my own experiences began to stir again in my mind. During that day my thoughts returned several times to what I had read; but I finally decided to give the matter no further attention. A week or so later, however, I received a postcard which informed me, to my astonishment, that I had been admitted into the German Labour Party. I was asked to answer this communication and to attend a meeting of the Party Committee on Wednesday next.

This manner of getting members rather amazed me, and I did not know whether to be angry or laugh at it. Hitherto I had not any idea of entering a party already in existence but wanted to found one of my own. Such an invitation as I now had received I looked upon as entirely out of the question for me.

A Vote for Economy

A couple of years ago Mr. Bulwinkle declared that it was going to be necessary for Congress to curtail expenditures regardless of who asked for the money or where it went. This appealed to us as exceeding good sense, which explains the disappointment we expressed last month with Mr. Bulwinkle's failure, as shown by roll-call votes in the House this session, to put his foot down for economy or anything like it.

Last week, however, Mr. Bulwinkle came through. The motion was to send the Relief Bill back to committee with instructions to reduce the deficiency appropriation from $100,000,000 to $55,000,000. The Tenth District's man voted for the reduction, likewise voted against passage of the bill containing the $100,000,000 appropriation.

These days, when a politician suits his vote to his sentiments, the event is worth recording.

Buck Benny Falls Off

"You must feel very much ashamed of yourself standing here today," the judge told Jack Benny just before he passed sentence on him for conniving to smuggle goods into the United States. "It is a very poor return from you to your Government and to the people who have made so much of you."

"I am ashamed," Benny replied, almost inaudibly.

Well, it was a pretty humiliating situation, on the face of it. The accommodating fellow Chaperau who did the actual smuggling--whether or not for a fee never was disclosed--had represented himself as an accredited emissary to the U. S. Government and therefore immune from the prying customs inspectors, and the scheme looked as safe as a sofa. To have it turn into a nightmare, with Benny standing there in court like any common criminal waiting to hear his doom pronounced, was awful.

And yet, as sad a commentary as it may be on the morals of returning U.S. travelers, the fact is that most of them have no scruple at all against evading duty on articles intended for their own use or disposition. The smuggling laws were made for smugglers. They wouldn't smuggle for pay, that is, but the Kashmir shawl for Aunt Hilda and the morocco desk set for Uncle Herbert and all the usual various purchases one brings back from abroad--they run up into money, and so does the duty on them. Aboard ship there is candid discussion of how to outwit the customs men.

And so, except that he got caught, Benny's crime was no worse, except possibly in degree, than has been committed a million times by his broadened compatriots. His abasing experience, however, may have a tonic effect in creating respect for the customs.

The Sentimental Hitler

That interesting gentleman, the Lord Chamberlain in England, whose business it is to play censor to the English stage, has banned a song in a review which is to open in London this week. The name of the song is, "Even Hitler Had a Mother."

Well, in point of fact and of course, he did--in spite of our natural tendency to assume that he must have been fashioned by the hand of some Frankenstein with a zest for psychopathy. What is more, he seems, according to his own account in "Mein Kampf" to have been greatly devoted to her. He says that she was invariably kind, which is quite possibly so; and represents himself as overcome with grief when she died while he was a young student at Vienna. Nor is that so curious as it sounds. The man is actually a great sentimentalist, whose sentimentality takes the form of worship of the German people and the will to advance it at any cost to all others. His very brutality, both at home and abroad, is simply an instrument devoted to the end of achieving what with fanatical passion he believes to be for the glorification of that people.

And that he actually has soft spots in him, so long as his obsession is not crossed, is testified to by all those who have observed him closely. There is a curious story in "Mein Kampf" which bears it out, too. When, after the war, he was half-starving in a barracks at Munich, he used, he says, to get up at 5 o'clock every morning and feed the mice which shared his quarters and which had got so used to it that at the appointed time they would be ranged about his bed, waiting. He speaks of them with a genuine German sentimentality as "gentle little creatures."

A strange man. But it is a strange world in which we live, anyhow, masters.

The Neutrality Argument

Shall Belligerents Come And Get Supplies Or Shall We Withhold Them In Any And All Cases?

The neutrality wars in the Senate began again today with the Administration apparently backing the Pittman Bill (only because it seems the best it can get) and the bitter-end isolationists, including Borah, Johnson, "Champ" Clark, Nye, and so on, out to defeat it and ram through a more far-reaching measure.

Everybody admits that the neutrality laws passed since 1935 haven't worked. And all but the isolationists pretty well agree that they have only brought us a good deal of grief; for it was through their operation in part, that the Spanish Republic was destroyed and Fascism established in Spain to menace the Monroe Doctrine and our interests in Latin America. The Pittman Bill attempts to head off such cases in the future by providing that arms may be sold to all belligerents, but that they must be sold on the cash-and-carry plan--i.e., the buyer must pay down his coin for them and carry them off in his own ships. In one respect, indeed, this bill goes beyond the existing law and provides that all goods whatever must be sold on this cash-and-carry plan.

The isolationists, however, claim that the real trouble with neutrality has been that it didn't go far enough. They want to cut off all sales to belligerents, or at least to ban the sale of arms and all essential war supplies. A complete embargo is proposed in a resolution sponsored by Nye and Ham Fish, a less complete one in the Nye-Clark-Bone resolution.

The isolationists also charge that the Pittman Bill is calculated to benefit Britain and France in case of a war with Germany, since these two nations would be likely to control the sea. The Pittmanites admit as much, but retort that the isolationist resolutions simply give the green light to Adolf Hitler, to go ahead with his plans of conquest without any fear that the American industrial machine will aid in destroying him if he does. It is foolish, they say, to pretend that the case in England and France is not in some measure our own, and that we are indifferent as between our friends and our obvious enemies.

You may take your choice, ladies and gentlemen, but for ourselves, it seems to us that all such efforts to bind the future are somewhat dubious. A simple declaration that the United States will not be responsible for the protection of ships carrying materials to belligerents and for passengers who persist upon traveling in the ships of belligerents ought to be quite enough.

They'll Show 'Em!*

By this Saturday, North Carolina's WPA quota must be cut from 49,000 to 45,400. This means, in terms of human beings, that 3,600 relief workers are to be fired. And the necessity for this comes about because of the appropriation to run WPA from February to July 1 is about to be cut from the $875,000,000 asked by the President to $825,000,000.

So small an economy--small in comparison with other Federal expenditures--is nonetheless bad news for relief workers. We have a dark suspicion, too, that it is being made as cruel as possible. For one thing, the pink slips are to be handed out on a quota basis--so many slips per hundred workers per state. That would be fair enough if relief had been dispensed in the first case on a quota basis. But it wasn't. To the contrary, Eastern states have received the bulk of it, far out of proportion to their population.

Moreover, when you fire relief workers in North Carolina, you economize to the extent of only $35 or so a month. When you fire relief workers in New York City, say, you have saved nearly twice as much. If it were economy with the least resulting displacement of workers that WPA sought, it ought to begin in New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois and adjacent states.

Moreover again, WPA, in ordering the reductions, has overlooked entirely the many frills of relief, such as Federal Theater projects, Federal Writers projects, National Youth Administration projects (to enable boys and girls to stay in college and to provide high school students with lunch money and carfare) and has set out to take economy from the hides of the genuinely needy--heads of families and others. Apparently the Administration is deliberately going to translate this rebuff from Congress into the greatest possible suffering.


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