The Pittsburgh Press (July 27, 1943)
When time is ripe, regime will be set up to bargain with Allies, underground says
By William Philip Simms, Scripps-Howard foreign editor
Circumstantial reports indicate that, after Mussolini, the days of Adolf Hitler may also be numbered.
Details of a plan to overthrow the Nazi Führer and set up a new government, especially designed to make peace with the Allies, have already reached an advanced stage, according to a usually-reliable source known to be in close touch with the European underground.
The head of the new regime, according to my informant, would be a certain internationally-known-and-admired figure whom he named. When last heard of, this man was in a German concentration camp. To publish his name now might subject him to torture or even endanger his life, so it is omitted.
The No. 2 man would be Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, former financial dictator of the Reich, now reported to be living in a sort of exile at Lienz, in the Italian Tyrol.
The third strongman would be Field Marshal Walther von Brauchitsch, commander of the Reichswehr at the beginning of the war and grand master of the blitzkrieg. He is now reported in Hitler’s bad graces.
This, I was told, does not mean that Germany is about to crack up. On the contrary, it is said, German leaders are convinced that Hitler’s ouster is necessary to save Germany. That is why they want to take the war out of the hands of a crystal-gazing ex-paperhanger and turn it over to trained soldiers. Only in that way can they hope to hold out against the Allies long enough to obtain something better than unconditional surrender.
The timing of the coup, it is said, depends on the breaks – on European developments as a whole no less than on developments within Germany itself. That is why Mussolini’s downfall is so important. It sees a long way toward bringing things to a head.
Explains ‘right time’
An Austrian general and former member of the Austrian General Staff told me several months ago that the German Army would take over when the right time came. When I asked what he meant by “the right time,” he replied substantially as follows:
German officers who despise Hitler are, nevertheless, just as loyal to the fatherland as Hitler is – or even more so. For while his first thought is for the Nazi Party and personal glory, theirs is for their country. If they can help it, they will do nothing which might plunge the country into civil war and expose it to certain defeat. Which is what a premature coup might do.
So, the officers will not force matters. If given enough rope, the Führer will hang himself. His guesswork war planning has already brought colossal defeats. Sooner or later, he will become so unpopular that the people will welcome his ouster. That will be the time to act.
Russian attitude cited
Much, of course, depends on the attitude of Russia. But Russia, many believe, is ready to play ball with any “democratic” regime which will oust the Nazis and evacuate Russian territory and Russian spheres of interest – the Baltic states, eastern Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bessarabia, Moldovia and the Balkans.
In any event, the manifesto put out by the “Free Germany” Committee in Russia last week is interpreted widely as having such a meaning. If the Germans will oust Hitler and his gang, said the manifesto, they can set up a government pretty much of their own choosing, with private property rights, a free economy, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, press and all the rest.
The committee, composed of German war prisoners, was set up by Russian consent. Obviously, it had the Kremlin’s blessing.
Perhaps the German conspirators are fully aware of what they are doing. For if a new German regime is set up, and Russia makes peace with it, there does not seem to be much the other Allies could do but follow suit.