THE PAN GERMAN LEAGUE BEFORE 1914
The Pan-German League was founded by the arrogant anti-semitic Justizrat Heinrich Class with the future leader of the German Nationalist party, Alfred Hugenberg. Encouraged by the fact that Britain and France had decided to label the de facto Prussian Empire ‘Germany’ Class maintained that German unification was ‘incomplete’ because Bismarck had failed to include all Germans.…
The Pan German League’s vision of who was German included the Austrian Empire and all other countries Class considered of ethnic German stock in Switzerland, Holland, Luxembourg and Belgium. Class also included Romania because of its strategic position at the mouth of the Danube and Transylvania. The Germanic community of what he termed Mitteleuropa, was to be bound together first by a customs union, which would prepare the way for the creation of community-wide legal and political institutions. Eventually a Nationalstaat would come into being. It would be an evolutionary concept, ‘impelled by the logic of ethnic solidarity, economic pressure, and, should it prove ultimately necessary, military force’.
Because so many non-German-speaking countries were included in the Pan-Germans’ ethnic concept, the word ‘Aryan’ was used to describe the Germanic races.
… Pan-Germans also took Darwin’s theory of the survival of the fittest, and adapted it to their ideology. Thus they alleged that the Germans were not only the purest race, but also the fittest. p.68-9
The initial supporters of the Pan-Germans were overwhelmingly the middle classes who felt threatened by the rise of militant shop-floor socialism. The League’s membership reached a peak around 1900 with its sympathy for the ‘brave little brother nation of the Boers’. After the Boer war … however … it nearly became a spent force.
The other founder of the Pan German League was Alfred Hugenberg. … Indeed it appears that it was Hugenberg, who was instrumental in garnering heavy industrial support for the Pan-German League, when its membership was flagging. In 1910 Emil Kirdorf … agreed to put up substantial sums … Gustav Krupp … also agreed to fund it. … The League was suddenly awash with cash and …was instrumental in mobilising popular support in favour of two army bills in 1913 and 1913. The first … raised the numbers of the already large standing army from 595,000 to 622,000 .. the second proposed to increase the German army by a further 136,000 men. It was the largest army in German history and prompted France to introduce three years military service
The Pan-German League’s racist ideology did not lessen with the advent of cash from heavy industry. The influx of inferior blood was to be stemmed by all legal means. Conversely the elevation of Germans into a ‘master race’ meant that they needed to breed. To avoid hordes of children drifting towards the perceived decadence of the towns, the Pan Germans believed in a policy of acquiring Lebensraum (living space). Class was nothing if not an extremist. On the eve of the First World War he publicly proposed to evacuate the populations of large strips of land in both European Russia and Eastern France and to resettle them with Germans. p.68-71
… Only one month after the war began, Class published the Pan Germans’ war aims. For France they included high indemnities and the appropriation of the iron-ore producing area of Longwy-Brie, the French Channel coast and territory as far south as the Somme. … He even wanted France to cede Toulon as a fortified port! In the East he declared that ‘Russia’s face must be forcibly turned back to the east and her frontiers must be reduced, approximately to those of Peter the Great’ p.11
Class and the Pan-Germans campaign against the Jews continued during the war. … By October 1917 Class reported to the Pan German leadership that anti-Semitism ‘had already reached enormous proportions’ and that ‘the struggle for survival was now beginning for the Jews’. p.71
Although the Pan-Germans’ wildest hopes in the East had been exceeded, the German army on the Western Front was faced with collapse. So Class called for ‘the resolute struggle of a spirited ‘nationalist party’ against Jewry, against whom the legitimate anger of the people must be diverted’. p.10/11
During the war Krupp and three other large Ruhr companies had formed an organisation to refute Marxist propaganda… At the end of the war he and his fellow industrialists decided ‘ to organise a ‘national opposition’ to the Weimar Republic. p.71
The Social Democrats’ principle opponent was the German Nationalist Party, or DNVP, which followed an unambiguously pro-monarchist and anti-republican line. It won only 42 seats out of 421 in the first post-war elections as the public considered its members to be warmongers. However, it had the power and the money. p.68
After the rout of Matthias Erzberger, a bureaucrat called Dr. Wolfgang Kapp, declared that the government was inefficient, corrupt and had outlived its usefulness. … disaffected troops (were ordered) to capture Berlin and hoist the imperial flag.
The newspapers had a field day, poking fun at Kapp after the failure of his putsch but he was no ordinary bureaucrat. … he had collaborated with heavy industry and especially Krupp on the expropriation of French property during the war. He was also one of the moving spirits behind the Fatherland party … (which) had been bankrolled by Hugenberg and … espoused many of the causes embraced by the Pan Germans. p.76-77
(The French occupied the Ruhr to secure the reparations due to them)
On 2 September, some 100,000 Nationalists assembled at Nuremberg to celebrate the anniversary of the French defeat at Sedan in 1870. Hitler was allowed to stand on the podium with General Ludendorff and other ‘Nationalist’ notables. p.110
The success of the German far right’s propaganda (during France’s occupation of the Ruhr ) was shown by its striking successes in the general elections … The avowed enemies of the Republic, the German Nationalists or DNVP, gained 96 seats in Parliament. With the help of Hitler’s NSDAP and other minority groups, the DNVP could have formed an administration. But the party preferred to remain in opposition. p.119
The DNVP’s raucous opposition to the Dawes Plan (reparations agreement) alarmed American and Allied negotiators. Without the acceptance of the Plan by men like the strident nationalist and newspaper baron, Alfred Hugenberg, the canon-maker Krupp and the coal baron, Kirdorf, they feared that Europe would be plunged into chaos again. p.124
The German Nationalist or DNVP … was (still) a huge party, although its votes had fallen dramatically from 6 million to less than 4.4 million in the elections. … After the election debacle, Alfred Hugenberg, former co-Chairman (with Heinrich Class) of the Pan-German League, became the DNVP’s leader on 14 October. Despite his party’s reverses he knew that he still had the tacit support of the President, the officer corps, (etc) … The party decided that it would increase its appeal by campaigning on an anti-Marxist ticket. But (it also) had an extra agenda.
Hugenberg noticed how much better his party and Hitler’s had fared when the German people were suffering after the Great Inflation. On 15 July 1928 the New York Times revealed that ‘if the country’ seemed ‘to warrant it’ Hugenberg still envisaged being able to persuade the people to vote for dictatorship.
‘He (Hugenberg) favours monarchism and Hohenzollern legitimism … but believes that the restoration of the Imperial throne can be gained only through the preliminary creation of a dictatorial regime akin to Premier Mussolini’s in Italy’. p.136
In July Hugenberg formed a committee (which included the Pan German, Heinrich Class and Hitler) … and submitted his so-called Freedom Bill petition to the German people. … Its premise was that Germany was innocent of starting the First World War … (and that) any minister who supported the Young Plan, the Dawes Plan and even the Treaty of Versailles should be tried for treason. p.158
On 17 October counting on the petition to hold a national referendum on Hugenberg’s (and Class and Hitler’s) so-called Freedom Bill began. … The New York Times commented that ‘no other post-war political issue has contained an equal amount of mischief in its make-up’. It also believed that the petition would gain the requisite 10% of the votes needed for a national referendum because if some of Hugenberg’s 4.4 million party faithful fell by the wayside, he could still count on Hitler’s swelling number of supporters. p.161
(The petition succeeded and the US stock market collapsed)
Historian Henry Ashby Turner could find no documentary evidence to substantiate Fritz Thyssen’s allegation that Hugenberg passed 20% of DNVP political funds to Hitler. p.176
(Hindenburg dissolved the Reichstag and ordered an election)
Huge advertisements … appeared on bill-boards … deliberately created to instil a sense of fear and outrage about the onus of paying the (reparations) …
… as an original promoter of Hugenberg’s (Freedom) Bill Hitler was naturally a beneficiary of Hugenberg’s outrageous scaremongering.
(Hugenberg’s) DNVP’s electoral campaign concentrated on the iniquities of the territorial adjustments of the Treaty of Versailles (particularly the Polish Corridor).
The New York Times recorded ex-Premier Poincaré’s alarm: ‘revision, however peaceful the tone which one affects for that cry, is nothing in reality but a war cry … In some quarters fears are expressed over the possibility of Adolf Hitler and Dr Alfred Hugenberg combining to form a party of revenge’. p.176-8
In October 1931 a rally was held by Hugenberg at Bad Harzburg. It was attended by .. many .. notables … including the Pan German leader, Heinrich Class. Hugenberg declared: ‘For years the nationalist opposition has been remonstrating in vain against the ineffectiveness of German governments and the machinery of the German state in the face of the Marxists terror tactics. ….’.
Then he asked Hitler to give his speech, ahead of such luminaries as Dr Schacht. Hitler rose to the challenge, declaring repeatedly, ‘We are protecting Germany and the rest of the world against Bolshevism’. p.189
Although initially made Minister of Economics and Agriculture in Hitler’s first cabinet, he (Hugenberg) produced a remarkable memorandum on 16 June calling for the restoration of German colonies and for Russian land to be used for German settlement. This not unnaturally aroused the hostility of France and Russia and caused problems for Germany’s Foreign Minister, von Neurath. … Hugenberg was forced to resign and the next day his party was dissolved. p.221