BerksBarristerSpring2017 - 24

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Book Review

Continued from page 23

followed him, laughed with him, felt with him. Together they
mocked the French. Together they hissed off the Republic.
Eight thousand people became one instrument on which
Hitler played his symphony of national passion." Thus spoke
Hubert R. Knickerbocker, a Pulitzer Prize winning American
journalist.
Over the last four or five decades, it has become
commonplace to see "election results" from various third world
countries and banana republics claiming that the regime in
power received the votes of 95 percent and more of all eligible
voters. These results are not taken seriously by any other than
the ideologue supporters of the minor monsters in power in
such places. I have never seen any claim, however, that election
results in Germany in the 1930s were fraudulent or had been
the subject of tampering in any way. After Hindenburg's death
on August 2, 1934, Hitler proposed that the title of Reich
President held by Hindenburg, be retired for all time. The
nation was informed that a plebiscite would be held on August

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24 | Berks Barrister

17, seeking the approval of the new governmental structure which
would be headed by a single person designated Führer and Reich
Chancellor. The plebiscite was held on August 17, with the results
being announced two days later. Ninety-five point seven (95.7)
percent of eligible voters turned out. Those approving of Hitler's
proposal comprised 89.9 percent of all of those voting. Again,
there appears to have been no claim whatsoever to the effect
that these election results did not truly reflect the desires of the
German people.
Hitler's deft, cynical, and hypocritical use of violence is
also clearly on display. As previously noted, the SA was Hitler's
principal instrument in this realm. It was headed by Ernst
Röhm, and existed as early as 1923. In 1934, however, Röhm was
showing signs of being disenchanted with Hitler and perhaps
having higher ambitions. Hitler responded by circulating rumors
of a suspected coup d'état on the part of the SA leadership. On
June 29, 1934, Röhm and various other leaders in positions of
authority in the SA were arrested. A number of them, Röhm
included, were condemned for engaging in homosexual activity.
Those claims were in large measure true, but Hitler and his
confederates were well-aware of those proclivities for many
years prior to the 29th of June. The roundup of potential rivals
came to be known as "The Night of the Long Knives." Many of
those arrested, including Röhm, were shot. Others were merely
imprisoned.
That these steps were taken at that precise point in time
reveals extraordinary insight on Hitler's part. Hindenburg had
been ill for a long time, and his condition was deteriorating
rapidly. Had Röhm and others been in a position to act in late
July and early August, Hitler's plan for the restructuring of the
German government might never have come to fruition; actual
violence between opposing factions might have resulted in chaos.
Hitler's preemptive strike against that potential result evidences a
high degree of political, and perhaps even military, sophistication.
Hitler's views regarding the Jews were consistent at least
from the early 1920s through the end. They were expressed
in writing in his famous "Mein Kampf " and reiterated by him
countless times. Apologists for the German populace of the '20s,
'30s, and '40s are at best delusional, and at worst, dishonest in
their assertions that the general public knew nothing about what
was happening to Jews. The Anschluss, the famed absorption
of Austria into the German Reich, occurred in the spring of
1938. While there was a small military incursion into Austria
by German forces on March 12, a plebiscite held of Austrians
on April 10 resulted in an overwhelming majority who agreed to
be so incorporated. While it certainly can be argued that many
voters cast their ballots out of fear, there is no suggestion that the


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