The presidential elections in Germany have come and gone, but my friend Schmidt and my other friends of “the lost generation” are not satisfied.

It was from Schmidt that I first heard the phrase, used to designate the generation of German youth which has come of age since the war—a generation of serious young men and women whose political opinions and views of life have been brought to maturity, not by years, but by fatigue, disillusion, and despair. “We are a lost generation, a generation without a future,” said Schmidt. “A normal generation inherits a future to which it can look forward. That, our rightful inheritance, was taken from us by the war” …

The aspirations of the younger generation have met defeat in the recent presidential elections. It has been decided that there is to be no immediate change; Hindenburg will continue to govern Germany. But, unless the government can reach some understanding with France and find some way to force a revision of the Treaty of Versailles, opposition to the republic is bound to increase. It must not be forgotten that Hitler, in 1932, doubled his 1930 vote; and in the [local] elections of April 24, held in five German states, Hitler’s National Socialists became the strongest political party in four of them, including Prussia.

Even if Hitler were to die, and his party to go to pieces, the point of view of the lost generation would not change …

Rightly or wrongly, the Hitler group blames all of Germany’s troubles on the Treaty of Versailles, which has placed upon the German people the burden of reparations, the restriction of the nation’s boundaries, and the stigma of war guilt. Whenever that document is mentioned it is usually called “the Slave Treaty,” and it is a common occurrence to hear it said, “We are a people held in bondage.” In Danzig, which was German before the war but is now a free city more or less under the dominance of Poland, I heard a fiery speaker at a meeting of young Hitlerites proclaim, “What was German will be German, and no treaty can change it.” These things are not isolated instances; the traveler in Germany encounters them on every hand. They are symptoms indicating the new mood of the nation.

But it would be a mistake to suppose that the reparations requirements and the other material aspects of the treaty are the sole causes of Germany’s discontent. In one of Hitler’s headquarters in Berlin I overheard a furious discussion in which an unemployed bricklayer took the leading part. “Until we have wiped out this thing which weighs upon the German people,” he said, “we can have no spiritual progress.” He had been speaking of the treaty, and I thought he was referring particularly to the clauses on reparations; but he continued violently: “Until we have removed the blot of having to bear the sole responsibility for the war, we are a slave people. It must be removed immediately!” There was something sardonically irrelevant, albeit impressive, about a young man who, uncertain where his next meal was coming from, could work himself into a passion about a matter so intangible, so involved and impersonal, as the question of war guilt …

Naturally enough, there is a resurgence of bitter feeling against France. Ancient hatred grows inflamed. Since the war much has been done to promote a better understanding between France and Germany, but nothing can bring the two nations together so long as the Treaty of Versailles divides them. Thousands of young Germans look upon France as the guardian of the treaty, and hence as the fundamental cause of all their current difficulties …

I heard the same resentment expressed even more dramatically by a young German salesman who shared a compartment with me on the Berlin-Cologne express …

“I have often been in France,” the young man said, “and I find that the French make one mistake about Germany. They mistake cries of pain for cries of revenge, and they forget that a man can strike out more wildly and blindly from pain than from any other cause.”