THE GERMAN TALKS BACK by Heinrich Hauser


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This book- well ahead of publication- is already brewing a tempest in a teapot. People who have read advance material fall into various classifications:- (a) those who think the German point of view has no place on any publisher's list- a position with which I disagree; (b) those who think that Mr. Hauser, even though claiming to be in this country because he was anti-Hitler is a devil's advocate- and that he speaks only for himself and not for defeated Germany -- a question which seems to me beside the point; (c) those who feel that any light thrown on the German mentality, particularly the professed anti-Nazi, intellectual mentality, should be of value as a warning and a challenge -- and to this group I belong. I feel that some of Mr. Hauser's criticisms of American democracy should give us pause- but by no means do I think his thesis will convince his readers that democracy has failed because it is not perfect. The book should be read with constant challenge- on fact, on interpretation, on point of view (and in this process Prof. Hans Morgenthau, of the University of Chicago, makes a great contribution through both foreword and footnotes). But it should be read also with acceptance of the probability that Mr. Hauser's viewpoint is shared by a vast number of our presumably defeated enemy, and that therein danger lies. He does not harp on the Treaty of Versailles as the bogy, but on German and American gullibility, the one in swallowing the American way of life as their program, the other in assuming that Germany would like it. Result- a buildup of hatred of America, fed by Hollywood, by tourists, by distribution of charity. Hauser sees no glimmer of possibility for democracy in Germany; he sees communism as the ""out"" if the present program for demilitarizing, deindustrializing Germany, under occupation conditions, is carried out. He uses all the Hitler scareheadered bogey- need for a strong Germany as a bulwark, etc. He concedes the possibility of Germany becoming a self-sufficient agricultural country, if allowed to do it her own way. He interprets the elimination of Germany as an industrial nation as a process of physical destruction of industrial set-up-not recognizing the existence of plans for transfer of the means of production to recently occupied countries. He recognizes the complicity of all Germany in war atrocities- the guilt of civic cowardice- says punishment is impossible, and if tried will feed the brute in all men. He is bitter in his indictment of American education, American mechanized man, American waste- and says that the US will quickly shift back into isolationism and greed, leaving Germany dead, a state of nihilism.... The value and importance of this book lies not in what he has to say historically speaking, of the roots of Prussianism, and its virtues, not even in what he has to say as to the pitfalls into which the occupation program may fall- but in the revelation of the persistence of the very factors that made possible Hitler's Germany, that will make its re-education virtually impossible, that -- if not recognized and guarded against- will make World War III inevitable. Not to be considered in the light of dangerous propaganda- but a realistic display of a problem that must be recognized to be handled intelligently.

Pub Date: Sept. 20th, 1945
Publisher: Holt