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No.05 Dec 1938
Link back to LEGSreunited HOME page » LEGS Memorabilia » The Gossamer School Magazine » No.05 Dec 1938
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P165 Impressions - Germany 1938
Written by Kate Boyes - OCR results:
The majority of the people we met at Youth Hostels showed
little interest in politics . All those we talked to were eager
for peace and for friendship with England, and did their best
to convince us that the two countries were natural allies. They
told the two of us who were fair, how typically German we
looked, especially when, having accidentally jettisoned some of
our luggage through trying to scramble with bicycles down a
goat track on the edge of a cliff in the Hohenzollern Mountain,
we had to take to German peasant costume.
But clearly the Government spares no occasion for propa~
ganda. Every Youth Hostel has a portrait of Hitler in various
impressive attitudes, looking vastly diflerent from the insigni~
ficant little man that I once saw in Munich. And the book~
shops all have coloured postcards of him in white armour as
Lohengrin, though we were irresistibly reminded of the White
Knight in ~' A1ice.'' Nor are the Germans allowed to forget
their Government's claims. In the Felderrnhalle in Munich
are carved the names of Germany's lost territories, Eupen,
Malmedy, Alsace, the Colonies. and above them, the prayer,
' ' Lord, make us free. The Labour Corps do military drill
with their spades, and the refrain they sing on the march is,
'' To-day all Germany is ours,
To~morrow the world entire.''
But the people in general did not seem to be inspired by
this spirit. They were eager , often pathetically eager , for a
better understanding with England, and we saw no obvious
signs of enthusiasm for Hitler. Of course, we were greeted
everywhere with " Heil Hitler '' and we used to reply with
' ' Heil E,den,'' until one earnest youth in a hostel asked if that
was the English national greeting. We did meet a few enthu-
siastic Nazis. One man in a caf6 in Heilbronn had a long argu-
ment with us about Germany's territorial claims. He wanted
Schleswig, Denmark, and Lithuania, and he got very heated
on the subject of the Sudetenland. Unfortunately, the argu-
ment, like most of our political arguments in Germany, was
rather one~sided. The geographer of our party, the only one
who.knew anything about the subject, could only speak a word
or two of German and was reduced to saying ~~ Nein, Nein '' in
a loucl and forcible voice at intervals. As for me, my German
did not run to discussions of racial theory and I was still further
handicapped by the fact that I had never heard of Sudetenland
before. However, he exhorted us to tell all our friends what
a "good thing'' Hitler was. Then he told Joan and me that we
were the image of his two daughters, and bought us a glass
of beer on the strength of the resemblance, and we parted the
best of friends. Still his outlook was not very encouraging,
nor was the visitors' book in the Youth Hostel at Kehl, opposite
S:trasbourg. All the visitors had apparently rushed into verse
to express the sorrow that filled their hearts at the sight of the
French flag flying over Strasbourg, and their determination to
win the city back again.
The niece of the family I stayed with in Munich a year ago
was another very ardent Nazi who tried hard to convert me .
Whenever we went out together she insisted on walking down
the Residenz-strasse in order that she might salute, with great
verve, the memorial to the N~s who were killed in the 1923
rising. Sentries are always on guard there and across the
street is an Si.A. barracks. I have watched people cross the
road and make a detour round side streets to avoid passing this
memorial, which perhaps they did not wish to salute. MUnich
is the shrine of the Nazi movement and is thick with hallowed
spots where the faithful salute.
But many Germans cannot stomach all the Party's
methods. M~y friends in Munich used to ridicule the Hitler
salute, and always replied to it by '' Griiss Gott.'' Nor did
they try to defend the treatment of the Jews. Every village
has a notice '~ Jews not wanted here.'' And beneath the
Lorelei Rock they sell you souvenir copies of ' ' Die Lorelei ' ' in
which the poem is ascribed to an anonymous author, because
Heine was a Jew. I think all intelligent and educated Germans
must ridicule such behaviour, as my friends did. They told
me that the Nazi r6gime is stifling all art, and indeed, in the
bookshops there seem to be no modern novels ; only translations
from the E,nglish.
But however peaceful the people are in spirit they can
hardly help being swayed by propaganda when they hear noth~
ing else. A friend of mine who left Germany in the middle of
the Crisis said that her hosts could not understand her hurry.
' ~ If there is war, ' ' they said ' ' E,ngland and Germany will be
allies, so you'll be quite safe. '' Afterwards they wrote to tell
her how glad they were that the firm stand taken by Herr Hitler
and Mr. Chamberlain against the Bolsheviks had saved Europe
from war.
Photo reference: 05-Gossamer05