When the Germans had done with their singing, they used to tell stories of the evil things within the forests, of the spirits that lurked in high rocks waiting to torment the traveller, of animals that broke from their sleep and wandered through fields in the moon light possessed with the power of giving death to the men who looked on them, of echoes which lived in the hills and trapped the voices of the unwary, so that the lonely drunkard who sang on his way home might suddenly be struck dumb and never again be able to harmonise with his friends at the scrubbed pine tables.
This was a melancholy affliction : death even might be better, for singing is as necessary for the German people as betting is for the English : and the violent satisfying in mass of the elemental emotions, fear, love, reverence, anger, pride, is also necessary.
Formerly out of their own crowded imaginations came the phantasies by which they could indulge their sense of fear.
Christianity gave them the reality of God into whose worship they could pour their love and reverence.
Prussia, with the insistent music of drums and cymbals and sobbing bugles, with tight-lipped syllables of command and defiance filled the latent forms of their anger and pride.
The Prussian Takes Over
But now Prussia has taken charge of all things and besides ordering the manner of music and verse that may be indulged in, must find for the people also tales to excite their terror and a religion to absorb the love and reverence which Prussia itself has helped to frustrate.
The new tales arc of the Jews whose power for evil is more frightening than that of the spirits of the old superstitions. The spirits could but dumb a lonely man, or possess the bodies of animals, but the Jews can destroy a nation. So the Germans talk and think of their new terrors with dread and hate.
For religion now there is a crude emotionalism which emanates from a frequent repetition of the words: BLOOD, Eaarin FIRE. The chief deity is power, and his prophet is Hitler. Against this religion the Catholics, and a good portion of the Lutherans, are implacably opposed. There is, however, a section of the Evangelical Church which, under the leadership of Dr. Ludwig Mtiller--who was made Primate of the United German Evangelical Churches in 1933—attempts to find a compromise between Christianity and the new emotionalism. How far Christianity has to be distorted in this endeavour is made obvious by a reading of Dr. Muller's interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount.
Friends Who Are Enemies
A pamphlet* giving an English tr-anslalion of this interpretation has just been published by a society called the Friends of Europe. This society which, with so many other small societies for the prevention of this and the promotion of that, has offices in St. Stephen's House, Westminster, could he more accurately named The Enemies of Nazi Germany, for an official of the society told the CATHOLIC HERM') that " Hitlerism is regarded as a menace to civilisation," and of the sixty-five pamphlets published by the society all except possibly five are concerned with giving publicity to the worst aspects of National Socialism.
Dr. Mtiller regards the Sermon on the Mount as " nothing but a; powerful divine call to the service of God and the comrade
ship of the nation." Therefore it is not surprising to find Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted translated into " Happy is he who bears his sufferings like a man; he will find the strength never to despair "; and Blessed are the meek, for they shall possess the land, distorted to " Happy is he who is always a good comrade, be will make his way in the world."
Full of the realisation of the sanctity of nationalism, Dr. Miiller writes: " Happy are they who keep peace with their fellowcountrymen; they do the will of God," which is his idea of Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.
St. John: A Nordic Version In the same pamphlet there are examples taken from a Nordic version of the Gospel of St. John, made by the German-Christian Bishop of Bremen, Dr. Weidmann. The chief point about this new version, other than a greater obscurity of language, seems to be the elimination of all reference to Jews which could possibly be given a favourable interpretation.
In the same manner of self-deception with which these Lutherans, pleasing-toHitler, view the history of Christ, do the complete Nazis view the history of the whole world..
Another parnphletf issued by the Friends of Europe examines, with deserved contempt, Eric Czech-Jochberg's Deutsche Geschtehte National-Sozialistisch Gesehen. As the title admits it is history seen through Nazi eyes, and seen, apparently, in a series of quick blinks. Of the 344 pages in the book, 74 account for the world from the time of the Creation to Bismarck. a further 22 lead up to the Great War, and the rest deal with the war itself and the rise of National-Socialism.
" Free Till Now . . ."
After the inevitable stuff about " Nordic Purity," " Aryan Culture," " Blood and "Earth," there are some fairy tales about Charlemagne and the politically astute Church. " The tine meshes of the spiritual hierarchy caught the (Teu(on) tribes, free till now . . . The high priests drew the
threads tighter and tighter . Charlemagne needed these princes of the Church, needed Church officials, needed Church non-commissioned officers . . . Who would have kept Rome for him, what could have given him a firm framework to his Empire
• The Gernianisation of the New Testament.
t A Nazi View of German Bistory. Both pnblished by Friends of Europe, 122, St. Stephen's House, Westminster, S.W.1, at 3d. each.
of subjugated enemies, Teutons as much as Romans, if not the priesthood?"
The Nazi historian is angry of the way in which the German emperors capitulated before Rome; but here it seems his Lutheran preconceptions actuate him as strongly as his Hitlerian enthusiasms. He writes of the Reformation as " the redemption of the world," of Gustavus Adolphus as " Holy," and suggests that with the Reformation the National-Socialist idea was born. " It was the humanists who now made Luther's cause their own, who at once fused the idea religious reviVal with the idea German nation. Then was the word German first raised aloft like the Host, so that the whole nation both high and low recognised it . . . Luther created as a Nordic. Through a new fusion of Christian and German he created a new German culture. The first German culture . . ."
All for Prussia
But his fervour for Protestantism changes into a fervour for Prussia. " Prussia must be. Prussia must always be in Germany, just as Germany must always be in Prussia."
Out of this fervour come these ideas on the uniting of Germany after the AustroPrussia War of 1866.
" Germany had to be created by a war. Only in a war could she be created. . . Only war welded the German peoples and princes together so that they became one.
" Germany had to be created by and in a war. • . • " The forts of Paris had to be godparents to the child and the roaring guns his baptismal bells."
Surprisingly, there is contempt for the Kaiser, who is blamed in some degree for the losing of the war. It is in describing the peacemaking of 1918 that CzechJochberg achieves something of a tragic eloquence.
What to Do ?
" Six hours later bugles sound along the whole front; from the sea to Switzerland. . . . The German stands there, does not know what to do with himself. He has his life again but he does not know where to go. He has no longer any country; at home there is a new order . . . and just behind at the temporary base, he heard yesterday, the cooks and orderlies in the depots were wearing red bolshevik rags . . .
" What is the German to do? I,ife has lost its meaning. And he marches off, takes his place in the company and when the word comes to march, he looks once more at the shell holes and rents, at the trenches and at this uptorn, terrible earth of France."
The bewilderment of the soldier is the bewilderment of Czech-Jochberg himself, and in understanding that bewilderment, some of the post-war history of Germany can be understood, and the Nazi revolution seems not such a monstrous and unnatural thing.