Grouse for Breakfast

Dorothy Thompson

Decatur Daily Review/February 5, 1937

In Which Dorothy Thompson Looks At Chancellor Hitler’s Recent Address

“I strongly advise you against reading the papers this morning,” said the grouse. “They are full of conditions and situations, of floods, menaces, tax programs, strikes, and, I regret, of your perpetual King Charles’ head.”

“My King Charles’ head? Whoever are you talking about?”

“Wilhelm the Third, King and Emperor. And prophet. Christened Adolph. Surname Hitler. He hath spoken. Occasion is four years of his rule, and the beginning of four years more.”

“Oh, give me the papers. What did he say?”

“Confine yourself to the grapefruit. I dislike women reading newspapers at breakfast. No woman can read a paper like a gentleman. Folded perpendicularly and elegantly held in one hand. Like all women, you get it into the coffee.”

“Well, then, what did he say?”

“He said he was for him. He said Heil, Hitler. He said he had known need and sorrow and now was bent with care and asked for four more years of it. The Reichstag stood up. The Reichstag sat down. The Reichstag cheered. The Reichstag left. Germany regenerated. Bloodless revolution. Four more years ‘Mein Volk! Heil!’”

“Why do you call him Wilhelm III? He would prefer to be likened to Bismarck.”

“There are differences between the Kaiser and the prophet. For instance, the moustache. Both, you observe, wear them, and in both the moustache is the center of attention in the countenance. But the Kaiser’s moustache is aggressive. The incumbent’s is cuddled under the nose like a wee, sweet mousy.

“The Kaiser looks like somebody about to do something. Hitler looks as if he had just been caught doing something. Also, I believe, the Kaiser was accustomed to commune with God, whereas the prophet comes down from the mountains having communed with himself.

“Oh, yes, there are great differences. But there are greater similarities. The Kaiser broke with Russia, while deploring the danger of the Yellow Peril from Japan. The prophet breaks with Russia while glad-eyeing the Japs whom he has discovered to be Aryans along with the Arabic Moors.

“Have you been able to figure out why an African soldier on the Rhine is a pollution of the Nordic race, and is its savior in Spain? Both found themselves encircled by enemies; both admired England while deploring the English. Mr. Hitler, for instance, finds that the so-English Mr. Eden is doing his country a grave wrong by being so very un-English as to think like an Englishman. Like the Kaiser. Mr. Hitler thinks the English should think like Germans. A grave error, made once before in history.

“But the greatest similarity is in the cosmic mysticism of their dreams. And that is why they are alike, and neither of them in the least like Bismarck. Bismarck believed in blood and iron and German unity. But Bismarck knew precisely what he wanted. He also knew how to get it.

“He knew that he could not have both Russia and Britain as enemies. He made one his ally and he kept the other neutral. And when he got what he wanted, he stopped, and thereafter behaved like a good European. Bismarck will go down in history as the German statesman who knew when to stop.”

“Your historical remarks are interesting, but how about the speech?”

“In addition to congratulating the German people upon four years of himself, he was expected, you remember, to answer a speech by M. Blum. He did not, of course, do so, since the Germans have no dealings at present with sub-humans, to which category M. Blum, by reason of his racial extraction, belongs by German definition.

“M. Blum was so sub-human as recently to suggest that now that Germany has equality, but lacks raw materials, foreign trade, international currency, and colonies, it might be well to amicably consider ways and means of getting them for Germany.

“He also was so sub-human as to suggest that the normal interchange of goods in the world is greatly facilitated by a peaceful atmosphere: that an international armaments race, in which every country spends the bulk of its national income on guns, is not the best accompaniment for a restoration of prosperity. M. Blum suggested that since all wars eventually end in peace conferences, it might spare a lot of wear and tear to have the peace conference first.”

“Well—and?”

“You can readily see that such an idea is the product of a degenerate mind, of a people gone soft, and could only occur to a Blum or an Anthony Eden or a Cordell Hull. It has the supreme dismerit in this period of history of being reasonable. Mr. Hitler proudly ignored it.

“He said he had offered a disarmament pact three times; it has been refused, and now that there was a man in power in France who might accept it, he would be hanged if he would offer it a fourth time. Or words to that effect.

“Besides. Mr. Hitler along with Japan is engaged in a crusade. He will not be able to rest until he has saved all of us.”

“From what?”

“From regimentation. Planned economy, rigged trials, state control over the productive machinery, concentration camps, enforced exile, five-year plans, party dictatorship, suppression of religion, mass demonstrations, drilled youth, labor camps, a sub-servient press and education, mass propaganda, and the obsequious worship of one man.”

“Saved us, from those?”

“I am telling you about the speech. Lest you become confused Mr. Hitler wishes to save us all from communism. There is, apparently, a great issue in the world. It is whether you and I shall eventually say ‘Heil, Hitler!’ or whether we shall say ‘Heil, Stalin!’”

“But suppose we won’t say either?”’

“Your naive remark is democratic liberal idiocy. France says she won’t say either, but she is buying cannon. Britain says she won’t say either, but she is equipping every man, woman and child with gas masks, and plugging the chimneys so they won’t suck in gas while letting out smoke. Spain said she wouldn’t say either, but look at her now.”

“Oh, what a nice, comfortable, cozy thing a flood is!”

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