GERMANY PREPARES FOR CONQUEST
AN ADDRESS BY LT.-COL. GEORGE A. DREW
Thursday, October 31st, 1935
PRESIDENT: I do not propose today to introduce our guest speaker to you. Colonel Drew is known to all of you, firstly, as a Past President of this Club; and, secondly, as a very distinguished writer. During the past few years he has written many important works in connection with the subject of Disarmament. That subject will probably be dealt with today in relation to his visit to the Old Land and to Europe. Thirdly, as you all know, Colonel Drew is a very effective speaker. He has addressed many organizations, both in Canada and the United States and, I presume, likewise in the Old Land and, in general-, he;has dealt with those subjects which are of concern to all the loyal subjects of His Majesty, the King. And, fourthly, and I am now talking particularly to our unknown lady listeners, it is well known that Colonel Drew is one of our brilliant, handsome, young bachelors.
Last Spring, subsequent to a serious illness, Colonel Drew visited the Old Land and Europe and spent some months there. He has returned and today he is going to give us some of his impressions as a result of investigations such as only Colonel Drew could make. He will deal with the subject: "Germany Prepares for Conquest."
I understand Colonel Drew is now track permanently with us in Toronto and will shortly resume his law practice. We will all be very glad to have him here, not only as a guest but as a permanent resident of this City. (Applause.)
COLONEL DREW: Mr. President and Members of The Empire Club: We are today living through one of the greatest, one of the most far-reaching events in the history of the world. The next few weeks will decide whether the principle of collective enforcement of peace, which was the dream of those who signed the Treaty of Versailles is to become a reality, or whether we are to see the present amassing of arms lead us down the road do destruction.
The day before yesterday Canada took an extremely important step when Mr. King announced that we subscribed to the principle of sanctions, along with thirty-six other nations, imposed on Italy as an aggressor nation. This is the first real test there has been of the theory which underlies the whole foundation of the League of Nations and if that united action does, as I know we all hope. Stop Italy in its barbarous onslaught on Ethiopia, then I believe a new day will have dawned in the principle of international justice in the world.
But that will only be the beginning. If, as we all hope, Italy should withdraw its forces from Ethiopia, we will still be a long way from having assured that peace for which so many million men died a comparatively few years ago. There is a more important threat to world peace today than Italy. Just as a small nation started the Great War, or rather was the spark which set flame to that combustible mass of feeling that had been built up, just in the same way, Italy, conceivably, tomorrow or a week from tomorrow might by some overt act begin another world war, but Italy is not the real menace to world peace today. That menace is Germany. I do not say that because I believe Germany is necessarily our enemy but because of the inescapable fact that German preparation for war far surpasses that of Italy and that there is no comparison between the military effectiveness of the two nations. Italy may precipitate trouble and Mussolini, carried away by a megalomania such as the world has never seen, may be prepared to sacrifice a whole nation to his own aim and, with a controlled press, with an anti-British feeling stirred to a depth of bitterness which we can hardly understand, it is possible that he may do that. But Italy is not the threat because every Italian who has that feeling of bitterness for England, and now for France as well, realizes also that the moment Italy starts war they have taken the first step to destruction.
With Germany the picture is entirely different. We see the same form of totalitarian government under the control of an absolute 'dictator supported by a completely controlled press, radio and moving picture organization, but there the similarity ends. Mussolini has done amazing things with a people who are naturally peace-loving, easy-going, more inclined to the ways of peace than those of war, but far away though we are, we should remember, we must remember, that Hitler, who has copied Mussolini's form of government, has under his control a nation that has been accustomed to discipline, both personal and economic, for many, many years.
In each nation propaganda plays its important part, but propaganda in Germany is something entirely different from that in Italy and in the development of his propaganda Hitler has the assistance of able lieutenants. You do not see the same thing in Italy at all. In Italy, if anyone raises his head and would appear to detract from the shining glory of Mussolini himself, he becomes an envoy of a foreign power, but Hitler has that genius for in some way gathering to himself all the power and all the glory that is built up by those very able men who surround him.
Just before going to Germany last summer I saw a German moving picture that seemed to me peculiarly significant of the mental attitude and the development of the propaganda organization in Germany. It was called, "The Young and the Old King." It was an amazingly distorted story of the training of Frederick the
Great by his father. Frederick the Great's training was not such as most young kings would expect, but it was an entirely different training than that depicted in this picture in which Emil Jannings took the leading part. In that picture, one of unrelieved gloom and cruelty, you had the story of young Frederick, more interested in playing the flute than in following the teaching of arms and, finally, under the brutality of his father, he decided to escape and to give up his hope of becoming king. To aid him in that escape he enlisted the support of a young lieutenant in the same regiment, named Von Katte. The plot being discovered, Von Katte was arrested, was tried by court martial and sentenced to Tife imprisonment. In this moving picture, from which the word `Propaganda' fairly screamed from every line, Frederick the Great's father tore up the judgment of the court martial and ordered Von Katte's execution. The execution was carried out before young Frederick himself, so he should understand the stern realities of his duty as a coming king of Germany. Then you have the picture at the death-bed of Frederick the Great's father, when Frederick the Great goes to Frederick William and tells him that he realizes now that no matter what cruelty there may be, the end justifies the means and that through that act of supreme cruelty he had become the great soldier and statesman that he then was. It did not need to be said in the picture itself, but all the way through you felt that Dr. Goebbels was justifying the Blood Purge of June, 1934. You could see June, the 30th, 1934, standing out in every line and having seen that picture, when I went to Germany, I did expect to find something of that atmosphere of cold cruelty that seemed to be pictured by this evidence of their propaganda.
Instead of that the picture was entirely different. There is, it is perfectly true, a picture of rigid efficiency everywhere. From the time I landed at the Tempelihofer Airport to the time I left there I saw nothing but 'disciplined organization, but at the same time a very real evidence of contentment, assurance, confidence, and an obvious belief that that which they were doing was right. Strangely enough, I found that the courtesy of the Customs officials at the Tempelhofer Airport was very much greater than the courtesy of our own Customs officials, through whom I passed a few days ago. Strangely enough, with all the rigour one finds in Germany, or is supposed to find, I found that generally the customs enforcement is not nearly so severe as one is expected to believe.
Underneath it all there are sinister backgrounds that one cannot actually touch, that one cannot really appreciate because there is no question about the rigorous discipline that is imposed. It is very rarely that one finds a German perfectly free to discuss what he actually thinks about the situation. There are, of course, the two great problems which have aroused such strong feeling in Great Britain and elsewhere throughout the English-speaking world, the utterly unforgivable treatment of the Jews and the supposed suppression of religion, in Germany, but insofar as one can see things in Germany it is rather difficult actually to find any evidence of these rather important developments in their national history. True, you may go out on the waters above Berlin, along the Wannsee and the Havel, and see the chateau where Einstein used to live and from which he was driven as a man unworthy of Berlin citizenship, and which was given to an actress as a person more worthy of Berlin recognition than Einstein. It is true, you may see synagogues closed, but it is only by chance if you see any real' evidence of the cruelty there has been, but there can be no question about the amazing depth to which that anti-Jewish sentiment has gone. It is taking at the present time a form that is not so visible but is extremely effective of refusing licences to Jewish traders and in that way, of course, preventing the very means of their livelihood and that suppression of the living occupations of the Jewish citizens of Germany is undoubtedly being greatly intensified.
Strangely enough, there are exceptions. I was very interested to meet in Berlin a representative of the Krupp Armament Company who is a Jew, a very charming, well-educated Jew, and he is a good salesman of armaments. He had just returned from Turkey and was on his way to Russia. His relationship to the German state was too important to apply the same principle to him as in other cases. Those exceptions do occur in Germany, as elsewhere.
Another thing I had been led to expect was some evidence of the suppression of religion and, particularly, of the Roman Catholic faith, because in the English press, as you know, the Archbishop of Canterbury and other leading British Divineshave taken a very vigorous position in regard to the restraint that has been imposed upon the free performance of religious ceremonies within the German State. I must confess that I am in some doubt as to whether we really know the exact situation there, as to whether the press reports are entirely correct. Before I went to Germany, I had been led to believe that Cardinal Faulhaber, the leading Roman Catholic Cardinal in Germany, was under some measure of restraint, practically under arrest for some statements he had made. I happened on Corpus Christi day, to be in Munich, a city with over eighty per cent of the population Roman Catholic, and there I saw the largest and most impressive procession, and taking his full and proper place, in his ecclesiastical garments, was Cardinal Faul haber. His body-guard was some 20,000 of the permanent force troops and all along the road were detachments of the permanent force troops. In other words, you have the actual German co-operation of the State in its military form with this procession.
What the answer is I cannot say, but in Roman Catholic churches in Munich that day I saw, as far as I could see, a complete freedom of expression so far as religion was concerned.
But it is not only in such things as that that we find these amazing contrasts. I doubt if there is any country in the world today that presents such striking contrasts as does Germany. On the one hand you have a great military power being rebuilt. On the other hand you have a city that is literally filled with music. There is music in the air everywhere. As you walk along the streets at night there are actually hundreds of excellent orchestras playing. Without going into any of the cafes where they play one can hear good music, can hear singing, can hear this evidence of a taste for the finer things.
Again, one finds, in Berlin particularly, an abstemious-ness, a discipline that one perhaps has not been led to expect. Certainly the old typical German beer drinker is to be found in Berlin only as an exception. The main occupation in Berlin after the day's work is over seems to be taking, talking, talking about politics and the Party. In these cafes where thousands sit at night you see healthy, vigorous looking people sitting for hours listening to the music, drinking, perhaps, a small stein of beer or a glass of wine and nothing more, and if one is to appreciate the picture and to understand what has taken place, one should realize that perhaps nowhere is there a people as physically fit as the German people today. They have made a fetish of physical fitness. At noon on Saturday they go to the country, those who are not in uniform, and on the waterways throughout the country you see them paddling in their canoes, walking along the roads everywhere, becoming the brown fit people that they really are. Walking through the streets of Berlin it is a stimulating sight to see these vigorous, healthy people whose rotundity does not in any way correspond with the German picture that we have had in the past.
Another thing which, I must admit, struck me very forcibly in Berlin was the absence off those formal German salutes that we have been led to expect. In Berlin, where the seat of government is, I didn't hear a "Heil Hitler" once the whole time I was there. One occasionally saw the right arm raised in a somewhat casual salute, such as we might give ourselves, but that is only one example, one evidence of the fact that it is extremely dangerous to come to sudden conclusions in Germany today because when you get away from Berlin, particularly to the south of Germany, "Heil Hitler" is exactly like "Good day." A man goes into a store, raises his right arm and says "Heil Hitler" and the clerks behind the counter reply "Heil Hitler," and perhaps there is good reason why they should do so. Everywhere one sees posters; the German people have developed the use of posters perhaps more than any other nation. Everywhere you see posters: "The Salute of the German People is 'Heil Hitler'."
Again, one might be misled as to the extent of the military training in Berlin. From Monday morning to Saturday at noon there is not an unusual evidence of military uniforms. True, you see a great many more than you will in London or in New York or anywhere in Canada, but you won't see as many as you will in Rome or in the other continental capitals in relation to the population: but on Saturday at noon the picture changes completely and at noon it seems that everybody gets into uniform and people come out in the Brownshirt uniform, children and girls and boys. In every vacant lot around Berlin and other cities of Germany you see people drilling and drilling efficiently, and that is a part of the training which is usually ignored in discussing German military strength. Germany today has a permanent force army of some 650,000 men, as large or a little larger than France's. Beyond that is a very highly trained force, the Brownshirts, of perhaps a million - no one outside of the German officials know how many - who are efficient troops and could be thrown into, action very shortly after a war began. That is a fact which must be taken into consideration in thinking of German military power.
But far more important than this visible evidence of training, far more important even than the realization of the fact that they have nearly a million men in training in their permanent force, their conscript labour organizations which are really military training camps, their navy and their air force and in addition to that perhaps another million Brownshirts, far more important than that is the extremely efficient centralization of authority in Berlin itself.
In the days before the Great War the various kingdoms of Germany were not entirely in harmony with each other at all times and each was exceedingly proud of its own tradition. Bavaria was a kingdom with far more ancient lineage than that of Berlin. It was proud of its position, proud of its tradition, but when Hitler came into power one of his first steps was to suspend completely the authority of the provincial governments which had succeeded those kingdoms.
In the famous Brown House which is the Nazi party headquarters in Munich, I was discussing some of these things with a leading Nazi official who, incidentally, spoke the sort of English that almost made one wonder whether one hadn't better go back to school oneself. He was an Oxford graduate, a 'delightful man to meet in every way, and exceptionally well informed about American and Canadian politics. I asked him if there wasn't some resentment of this loss of authority on the part of the provinces or states which were so short a time ago proud kingdoms. He said, "No. Every German today realizes that it was inefficient, that it was unsound." He said, "We had nearly as great a confusion of government as you have in Canada." (Laughter.) So, after all, the criticisms aren't entirely on one side.
Now, undoubtedly under that centralization of authority there have been great things accomplished. But it is in that centralization that the menace lies. They are building great highways, great public works, but all those public works and particularly all those highways are subordinated to the theory of military expediency. Another thing that is very noticeable throughout the whole of Germany is the almost feverish activity in developing the production of food stuffs that will make them self supporting. Everywhere now you see wheat being grown, every inch of land being used to the very limit of its fertility. Germany remembers the food shortage of the last years of the war and they are determined not to have that experience repeated of it is at all possible.
Then they have what is extremely interesting, this great Ersatz programme, a programme of substitution by scientific means of those things that cannot be produced in Germany itself and which they have previously imported. In most cases the cost of producing these things is beyond all comparison above those of the imported articles but that, quite obviously, has no bearing at all on a nation so determined as Germany is today to make itself all-powerful from a military point of view.
As an example, most of the gasoline produced in Germany is produced by their hydrogenation process from coal. Most of the tires, nearly all the tires on German automobiles, are made of synthetic rubber. Clothes are being made from wood; sugar is being made from wood, even today in times of peace. Nitrates for fertilizers and explosives are being produced by the breaking down of nitrogen from the air. In every direction: science, and after all German science is particularly efficient, science has become the hand-maiden of military power.
Germany is devoting more and more attention to the development of her air fleet. All air craft production is centralized under an authority in Berlin which cooperates with the Air Ministry. Their great all-metal Junker planes are not as comfortable, not as luxurious, as those of the Imperial Airways, the Dutch K.L.M., or the Air France, but they are bombers, convertible at a moment's notice.
I was flying down from Berlin to Nuremberg and I had no knowledge of the type of plane I was flying in. I simply got a ticket on the seven o'clock plane in the morning. We took off in a head wind, flew in a head wind and flew down without varying our course directly into Nuremberg. I looked at my watch; we had covered 390 kilometers in an hour and a quarter, having averaged a speed of over 200 miles an hour. I asked what the machine was. There was a friend of mine there with whom I was discussing this and he said, "So you came dawn in one of the bombers, did you? They are the bombers, one of the new Heinkel machines, the fastest commercial machine in the world. They are the standard fast bombers of Germany today and are being poured out as fast as air craft workshops can pour them, working day and night."
Everywhere throughout Germany you see posters emphasizing the importance of aviation. You see posters: "Hitler say, `Every German Youth Should Fly'," and it is amazing the numbers that are. They are watching air port lines all over Europe. The German lines are incomparably the most efficient and the best organized in Europe today. It may not be a palatable thing for us to accept, but the fact remains, they are the very best and most efficient air lines in Europe today and it is no wonder that the capitals of Europe are terrified at the prospect. When you can fly from London to Berlin in about three hours, when you can hop from Munich to Venice in an hour and a half or an hour and forty minutes over the Bavarian Alps, when you can come from inland Italy to Zurich in Switzerland over the Alps in about an hour and a half, you begin to realize the menace of aviation in Europe today. With the addition of their great chemical plants and their air craft production, Europe has good reason to be fearful of the air craft development in Germany.
Strangely enough, Hitler does not seem to in any way avoid the opportunities that other men under him may have to glorify themselves. Goering is a great showman. Goebells is not a showman but a very efficient propagandist. Schacht and Von Blomberg and Beck all take their important places.
It is a rather healthy sign that there is a certain amount of humour in Germany in relation to some of these men. No one jokes about Hitler but Goebbels is popularly known as "Mickey Mouse," and the stories about Goering I wouldn't dare repeat at The Empire Club or to those people who might be listening over the air. There are many amusing stories illustrating his fondness for show. One story is that Goering was supposed to be walking along the street with his dog. A friend meeting him said, "A new medal on your uniform?" Goering looked down and said, "Heavens above, I have a dog tag on there." So on the stories about Goering go but they seem to popularize him and that is one of the things in the propaganda about the German people today.
No one should think for a moment that the German people are not behind Hitler. They are, in spite of the Blood Purge. We would think a thing of that kind would alienate sympathy throughout the whole country. Germans to whom I spoke said it stopped too soon, they thought of several others it might have worked on very well. After all, one must realize there is a spirit of medieval cruelty in the German people which we do not understand, and perhaps it is a good thing in its way, but they are prepared to subordinate every other activity to the welfare of the State and they simply feel that it was a good thing that people causing trouble or who might have caused trouble were done away with. But if you were a German living in Germany you might well have reason to feel the way the Germans do. One must remember that in an amazingly short time Hitler has raised the German people from a discouraged and abject nation to a position of courage, of confidence and of arrogance again. In an amazingly short time he has repudiated all the obligations of the Treaty of Versailles, has developed one of the largest, if not the largest army in Europe, is building a powerful navy and has built up probably the most powerful air force m the world. Unemployment has been greatly reduced, based largely on rearmament, industry all over Germany, except in a few localities, is very active. I think it is quite correct to say that at no time in the history of the world has there been such a sudden transition affecting so many people as has occurred in Germany in less than two years. It may be alarming to her neighbours, it is alarming, but it undoubtedly has brought a new spirit of confidence and happiness to the German people. Unlike the Italians, they do prefer discipline and they 'do like uniforms.
It is difficult even today to realize how complete that change has been. Germany today is no longer the defeated power under the Treaty of Versailles. Germany today is a proud people, Germany is a proud nation seeking an opportunity to recover those things of which they believe they were improperly deprived.
Where is it all leading? That great army, that army equipped with weapons of the latest kind is not equipped for defensive purposes. There is no nation that is at all likely to attack Germany. Germany has been deprived of so much that it is inconceivable that any of her neighbours should seek to take more. That army is meant for one purpose. That army is meant for one purpose alone, and the sooner we realize it the better. It is meant for con quest. The answer is to be found, I think, in! the Field Marshal's Hall on the Odeon-platz in Munich. Across the end of that hall, which has become a focal point of the sentiment of the German people because there the first Nazis were killed in their march on Munich, are, a group of ten names, the names of the States they lost after the war, and above those names are wreaths kept always green, and they will be kept always green until' those lost territories are recovered. You don't need to guess. You find in expressed words in the programme of the Nazi Party adopted back in 1920, when the Nazi organization was first created by Hitler, the statement that they must have all those territories back which were stolen from them under the Treaty of Versailles.
Now, don't misunderstand me. I am not holding any brief for Germany. I am not justifying the attitude, I am simply saying what the attitude is. When I say that in the programme of the Nazi Party it is stated they must have these territories back, I say you must realize the almost fanatical belief that the German people have in that programme if you are to understand how important that statement is.
Then here is another thing that must be regarded - the intense hatred of France. In Germany today the hatred of France is almost indescribable and seeing it, one can not help feeling on the slightest excuse this great army would move against France as it moved once before.
I suggest that there is no greater problem of statesmanship before Canada today than to determine what our position is going to be in the face of this threat, because a very real threat it is. I do not suggest and I do not believe that Germany is hostile to the British Empire. I know from conversations I had in Germany this summer that their foreign policy is directed toward establishing British friendship more than toward any other objective they have, but the fact stares us in the face, there is a great army. Only last Monday, General Goering said that the factories of Germany were working 24 hours a. day to supply the equipment to those armies to make them all-powerful.
What are we going to do about it? We are not now in the realm of theories. We are in the realm of cold facts, the sort of facts that cost us over 60,000 killed, 160,000 wounded, and figures running in the billions of dollars between 1914 and 1918. It is better that we should make our decision while we can 'do it dispassionately than wait until the storm breaks. Britain has taken leadership in demanding that Italy recognize those principles of international justice to which she subscribed. I doubt if there was a time when any of us had as much reason to be proud of being British as we have today and I am perfectly sure it is going to fall to Britain's lot and the lot of the British Empire to take the leadership in meeting this extremely efficient and ominous threat that Germany presents today. I do not suggest that war is inevitable, but I do say that war is inevitable unless Germany's intentions are recognized. I do say war is inevitable unless we recognize the fact that Germany intends to have back those properties of which she was deprived. I hold no brief for Germany. There is the fact. If and when Germany demands the return of those properties, what are we going to do? Let us decide while we can make a calm decision. The Treaty of Versailles is dead. Germany has killed it. Britain ratified its death by signing the bilateral navy treaty with Germany last June. If there is no binding treaty it is high time that we met and farmed another treaty to take it place. We are at the parting of the ways. Canada must decide what course she is going to take. Are we going to co-operate with the British Empire in seeking a solution or are we going to follow a policy of North American isolation. Those are the two courses before us. If we follow the first we may be committed to serious obligations, very serious obligations indeed. If we follow the latter, we obviously follow the foreign policies of the United States. Those are the only paths which lie before us. There is no use today evading the issue. Personably I hope we throw in our lot with the British Empire. (Applause.) It may involve great risks, but are those risks any greater than if the present armament race goes on until force is used to back demands that could now be discussed under the collective system that in the past few days has for the first time become a living international reality? I think not. Surely the last war gives the answer.
Peace is still possible. Peace can be assured even today, but only if we are prepared to do something to assure that peace. The collective system can work lust as our police forces work in our own cities, but peace cannot be assured on the mere expression of pious hopes. Because of our friendly relationship with the United States and because our situation is to some extent similar to theirs, I suggest that if we join the other units of the British Empire in an unqualified support of collective action to enforce peace we would do much to bring together the English-speaking people of the world in an understanding that would do more and will do more than anything else to assure world peace.
PRESIDENT: Gentlemen, it is going to be very difficult indeed to express adequately to Colonel Drew the appreciation of this gathering for the address to which we have just listened. For that reason, and also because of the real debt that this Club owes to one of the Past Presidents, and due to the fact that he is visiting our City today, I am going to ask Major Baxter to express our thanks to Colonel Drew. (Applause.)
MAJOR BAXTER: Mr. President. Colonel Drew, Members: This is a tough assignment and with your permission I will step out of the role of Past President and go into the one which I am better equipped to speak on and that is Advertising.
The ethics, as they call it, of the legal profession and of the physicians, prohibit them from tooting their own horns, so with your permission I will write, if I may, a brief advertisement for Colonel Drew on launching into his legal career.
I think I can first of all deal with him as an authority on international affairs. He has demonstrated today his keen insight, his study, his ability to get beneath the surface and dig up facts.
His next qualification is that in matters of research into the lives and history of those whose political beliefs he may not share, he has demonstrated on more than one occasion how embarrassing he can be to others not so fortunately situated.
The third line of the advertisement is addressed to the ladies of the air. I do not know of any man better equipped to soothe a widow's troubled heart. I would recommend that you place all the affairs of your widows in his hands, though personally, I wouldn't trust my own.
Lastly, summing up, if I may, I would say, Colonel Drew, it is a pleasure to read your writings. It is a pleasure to listen to you and it is even a more lasting pleasure to look at you. We thank you.
(Laughter and applause.)