Ernst Bloch warns against Hitler and the NSDAP (1924)


In 1924, left-wing writer Ernst Bloch warned his readers of disregarding or under-estimating Hitler’s appeal to other Germans – especially the young:


“At first we coldly ignored it. Shrugged our shoulders at the malicious pack that crawled forth. At the red posters with the driveling sentences, but the knuckledusters behind them. That which roughly stepped to our bedside early in the morning to demand our papers, stuck itself up as a party here. Jews are forbidden to enter the hall…

The peasants, the urban peasants, still exist here [in Bavaria] as a rabble: primitive, open to suggestion, dangerous, unpredictable. The same people who had blackened the streets at Eisner’s funeral in countless processions hounded the leaders of yesterday to their death. From one day to the next the flag shops exchanged the soviet star for the swastika… These were not only impoverished petite bourgeoisie, who grab at now this and now that means of assistance, nor were these an organized proletariat, not even a relatively organisable lumpenproletariat that could be kept up to scratch, but definitely mere riffraff, the vindictive, crucifying creatures of all ages. They were dazzled by the sham, by students in regalia, by the magic of processions, parades, and ringing spectacle…

Seventeen-year-olds are burning to respond to Hitler. Beery students of old, dreary, reveling in the happiness of the crease in their trousers, are no longer recognizable, their hearts are pounding. The old student fraternity member is arising again, Schill’s officers reborn, they find their brother in Schlageter, heroic associations with all the signs of irrational conspiracy are gathering under a secret light. Hitler, their leader, did not deserve the indulgence of his judges and this farcical trial, but even with the wit of Berlin lawyers there is no getting at him, and even Ludendorff, this brutally limited masculine symbol, does not live on the same level with him.

Hitler is undoubtedly a highly suggestive type, unfortunately a great deal more vehement than the genuine revolutionaries who incited Germany in 1918. He gave the exhausted ideology of the fatherland an almost mysterious fire and has made a new aggressive sect, the germ of a strongly religious army, into a troop with a myth… The extent to which Hitler has young people on his side should not be underrated. We should not underestimate our opponent but realize what is a psychological force for so many and inspires them.”