By Fritz Thyssen
FRITZ THYSSEN, one of the wealthiest iron and steel barons of the Ruhr, supported and subsidized Hitler and the National Socialist movement because he believed that this was the way to restore conservative nationalism in Germany, with a monarchy to crown the new political edifice after the Nazis had done the dirty work of removing or terrorizing a few inconvenient extremists. His idea, to put it mildly, was a mistake, as he fully realized when he fled from Germany after the outbreak of the war. His was the only vote in Hitler’s robot Reichstag that was cast against the declaration of war; and it was cast in a rather irregular way — in the form of a letter of protest, naturally never published in Germany, which he sent from Switzerland. Thyssen has paid for his mistaken judgment; he is believed to be either dead or incarcerated in a concentration camp, after having fallen into the hands of the Nazis at the time of the collapse of France. If he had read more carefully the writings of Oswald Spengler, with their prophetic insight into the future predominance of politics over economics, he might never have cherished the idea, so naïve and so disastrous, that the Nazis would function as a pretorian guard for capitalism. Despite the title, there is little in the book about Thyssen’s financial dealings with the Nazis. There are sketches of parvenu corruption in the Nazi ranks, and the author’s wishful thought for Germany’s future is the division of the country into two monarchies, an Eastern and a Western.
W. H. C.