Dorothy Thompson – The Nazism of defeat (6-4-41)

Reading Eagle (June 4, 1941)


The Nazism of defeat

Nazism, like fascism, was designed as a form of state for war and conquest. As such, it can find a certain justification in logic. It can be argued that life is a continual struggle of dog-eat-dog; that the law of the survival of the fittest is the history of mankind, and the life and power of nations is determined by their fitness to wage and expand by war.

At any rate, power is its only justification – the only justification it ever made for itself. Ten million youths raised their arms and shouted “Heil Hitler!” because he promised them that he would make Germany the most powerful nation on earth. They were taught to sing “Today Germany belongs to us, tomorrow the whole wide world.” They were taught that there is only one measure of good: Will it add to the world-power of Germany? Hitler said, when his opponents told him that Germany was surrounded and shackled and too weak to fight:

If a people but desire freedom, weapons will grow in their hands.

Hitler’s and Mussolini’s fascism was go-getter fascism. It never occurred to either of them that fascism or Nazism could be sold to their own people as a means of persuading them to give something up. Hitler did not go out and tell the German people:

You will never be able to lick the Allies. Get rid of your government, accept me as leader, and I will promise you that I will give away everything in sight.

On the contrary, he overthrew his predecessors on the ground that they were not looking out for the interests of Germanic power and had been making the people weak, pacifist and timid.

But there is a new form of fascism abroad now. It is the fascism of defeat, or colonial fascism. It consists of persuading people to accept fascism and become economic and political colonies of Germany in order to avoid danger. It is not the fascism of a leader calling the nation to awaken. It is the fascism of leaders begging the nation to go to sleep. It does not awaken a desire for strength; it spreads a miasma of fear. It cries out in ringing tones:

Norway, you are licked! Hooray for defeat! I, Quisling, your great leader, assure you that you are finished! Three cheers for being finished!

Or, it shouts:

Let us sing the Marseillaise in honor of our great and gallant collaborators! Frenchmen: I, Pierre Laval, always told you you would be licked! Follow me! I will see to it that you are licked even more thoroughly.

Perhaps Quisling and Laval wonder why they are not as popular with the Norwegian and French people as Hitler is with the Germans. Haven’t they brought their nations the blessings of fascism? Haven’t they been the harbingers of the New Order? Haven’t they leapt upon the wave of the future?

There must be something wrong. When Hitler cries, “Germans, arise!” he gets a hand, and when Laval cries, “Frenchmen, lie down!” he gets nothing but sour looks.

This fascism of surrender is surely the most preposterous of all modern phenomena. It is the complete contradiction in terms. It is an attempt to arouse a nation under the banner of incarnate force by the manly cry:

Break arms! All is lost!

Which brings me to the question of Mr. Lindbergh, and his grotesque crusade.

Mr. Lindbergh is a man who, in his personal life, made himself a hero by an undertaking which seemed to the average man foolhardy and impossible. He was built up into a national idol because of a risky exploit that ended in victory. Such a man has infinite possibilities for a political career.

In a world permeated by Nazi-fascist ideas, he might have become a dangerous rival to Hitler. Had he come back from Europe, and barnstormed the country, crying to the crowds:

Wake up, your government is dilatory; this country needs an air force of 50,000 planes; it needs to double the navy; wake up, young Americans, and save America.

…he might have demanded that the country needs new leadership and recommended his own person.

Instead, our hero has one story that he preaches in time and out: It is too late; America must retreat; she must accept the sphere of influence plan of Hitler and confine herself to that space allotted to her by destiny in the form of the Nazi Prince. Give up, America? A greater land than thou is on the march. Thou hadst better get ready to take the rap.

Mr. Lindbergh’s speeches contain remarkable suggestions that require a little analysis. He says that it is Roosevelt and not Hitler who wants to conquer the world! It seems that Nazi Germany, the shrinking violet, needs to be saved from the flame-snorting Roosevelt. This leads directly to the plea that this country needs new leadership to save it from the aggressor in the White House.

What does this mean?

The President was elected six months ago. We have a government appointed by the President, and in harmony with his policies. “New leadership” can only mean that the President and his government should be changed. But they have 3½ years of office ahead of them.

Does Mr. Lindbergh think he can persuade them to resign? If not, how can they be removed to make way for “new leadership?” Is Mr. Lindbergh suggesting that the President be impeached? By whom? Does Mr. Lindbergh think that such a process would add to the power of the United States at this moment in the world? Or would it plunge the nation into anarchy, even perhaps into civil war?

This is not Hitlerism, it is Quislingism, the last and most grotesque form of fascism. It is not an attempt to unite a nation for power, but to divide a nation for defeat. It is not an attempt to seek comrades in arms – a policy which Hitler relentlessly pursued – but to throw overboard our only allies. It is not the promise of a leader to free the nation, but to get the ear of the dominant power!

It is a really remarkable sight: The spectacle of a man and an organization eliciting hearty cheers from a mass of followers by marshalling them to attack in this moment the President of the United States! Allons, citoyens! Prenez les bataillons! On to victory! Down with Roosevelt!

America First takes on a really ominous significance – ominous but somehow ridiculous. Attack America first! Our frontiers lie in Washington! Our Poland lies on the Potomac! Americans, awaken! Get rid of the President and give up! Surrender to peace with Hitler!

Such a movement in a country as vital as this one will never be really dangerous. Someone might make a Nazi revolution with the cry “Throw off your chains,” but never with the slogan “Throw up the sponge.” Americans aren’t made that way.

We don’t have to overthrow the government in order to surrender. We don’t have to sacrifice American institutions in order to be completely surrounded and dictated to. If the country lets him down, Roosevelt could accomplish all that without any help at all.

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