Totalitarianism in the fullest and most obnoxious sense of that word has always been latent in Hitler's programme, and his speeches have often given expression to it in connection with one aspect or another of the community's affairs. But he can seldom have been so comprehensively totalitarian as he was in his May Day speech this year, in which he covered a very wide range of topics and used language which he is generally content to leave to his lieutenants.
The familiar insistence on the iron discipline that must override all manifestations of individualism in the intereses of national unity was heightened by the plain intimation that the individual must " bend or break." There was an equally vivid frankness in his account of the treatment in store for children. From the age of ten they are to be taken from their parents to be " formed into 'a community " and not released until they are eighteen years old. " Then they will go into the Party, the S.A., the S.S. and the other organisations, or they will go at once to work and into the Labour Front and the Labour Corps and then _for two years into the Army. If that won't make a nation out of such a people nothing will."
Finally, " the Churches " were warned again with ominous explicitness. They are to be thrust back ruthlessly upon " the care of souls which properly belongs to them," it being understood that the morality of political acts does not belong to this sphere. They are to confine themselves to teaching Christianity hut are not to teach principles that conflict with the absolute supremacy of the State's authority. And these mutually contradictory admonitions were clinched by an open and most hostile allusion to the recent Papal Encyclical to the Church in Germany.
It seems, indeed, as if the dictator, after innumerable hesitations, is now plunging blindly down the road that leads to open conflict with the Catholic Church. The impression is heightened by the way in which the gloomy fatalism that has always beset this neurotic man has crystallized in a new account of " the common German basis " of national unity. It is no longer " blood," but " a common destiny," " their destiny in the world."
When men begin to talk like that— particularly men who see themselves as the embodiment of destiny—the madness that destroys both men and nations is not far off. We have never denied or sought to minimise the service which the Nazis have rendered to Europe by their opposition to Communism both within and without the Reich. But we have been equally clear that in so far as Nazism is inseparable from State paganism it is not a tolerable ally for Catholics against State atheism. And it is the second of these truths that it has become increasingly necessary' to emphasise of late, with the addition that Nazism seems to be becoming practically identical with State paganism.
We are correspondingly uneasy concerning the increasing closeness with which Italian foreign policy seems to be accommodating itself to German views and purposes. We had something to say on this matter in our Notes last week and now Baron von Neurath's visit to Rome seems about to draw the bond still closer. An halo-German entente is an understandable reaction to the lunatic action of the French politicians who brought Soviet Russia as a make-weight into Western European affairs. The Italo-German understanding of last summer eased for the time being the tension over Austria. But the Nazification of Catholic Austria would be an intolerable price to pay for this easing of tension, and Mussolini will get little satisfaction from a free hand in the Mediterranean if his other hand is grasped too firmly by Hitler north of the Alps. Moreover Italy deserves a better fate than to be drawn into the orbit of pagan Germany's " destiny." Happily in the case of Mussolini an occasional fatalism in phraseology masks a considerable capacity for forming reasoned judgements and following them freely, and he is not likely to consent to anything finally inconsistent veith Italy's freedom as a Catholic nation.