Background: This article from a Nazi political monthly aimed at all citizens deals with those who have been affected by Allied bombing. Consistent with the Nazi insistence on the certainty of final victory, they are assured that they will be the first to benefit when the war is over, that the government will restore all that they have lost. Those not yet affected by bombing are encouraged to support the victims of the war, and told that the Nazi Party has done an excellent job of leading Germany such that those who have been bombed out are the leading proponents of victory.
The source: Herbert Hahn, “Vortruppe der Rache. Die ersten Nutznießer des Friedens “ Der Schulungsbrief, (January/February 1944), pp. 9-11.
The Avant-Garde of Revenge:
The First Beneficiaries of Peace
by Herbert Hahn
There can be no doubt that enemy bombing terror in its present extent has become primarily a political problem. The Wehrmacht and other organizations certainly have enormously important tasks: the improvement of our military defenses, avoiding damage, and finally preparing for the revenge that we all long for. However, mastering the political problems caused by the air war has become no less important or decisive for the course of the war. Even our opponents see the air war against the German homeland as a political rather than a military means, which they prove by the choice of targets as well as through the unconcealed hope of forcing the German people to its knees through political means. What they have so far been unable to accomplish militarily, they hope to reach through reducing German morale, or at least speeding up our willingness to submit.
We know that they will not succeed by increasing bombing terror. They will not succeed because terror will not, as they hope, decrease our will to resist, but rather intensify it to fanatic hatred and a million-fold cry for revenge. The fact that our opponents’ hopes have been frustrated in what will be a fateful way, however, is not a result of the psychological impact of the method itself, but rather entirely because of our political war leadership. That has made our people immune against fatalism and apathy and it prepares our hearts for increasing resistance as a result of the blows we have received. Whether a person breaks under a blow of fate or rises to resist depends not on he who gives the blow, but rather solely on the character of the person affected, on his inner strength, on the quality of his heart and his soul. These inner values, which are so decisive, are not inherent or necessarily present. They are largely the result of the influence of the environment and education, even the education of adults — that is, of political leadership. That is why the expectations of our enemies will not be realized. They have no influence as to whether victims of the bombing war decide that they are defeated or strengthened, whether they blindly turn their justified wrath against against the “Nazi regime” or more farsightedly and consciously direct it toward the real cause of the misfortune, against the enemies of the Reich. That power is in the hands of our political leadership. When the Führer said on 9 November that the hundreds of thousands of people who had been bombed out are “the avant-garde of revenge,” that they have the most personal and strongest interest in a victorious end to the war, he gave the best evidence of the political maturity of the German people. That fact is not self-evident, but rather it is the proud fruit of years of tireless education and human leadership. There are enough examples in history of victims who reacted not against the real cause, but rather blindly and in panic turned against the next best scapegoat, often against their own leadership, when only strongly supporting that leadership would have been able to bring about the best outcome. In such cases — 1918 is the best example — the state structure or the military leadership was less to blame than a failure of human political leadership. Today, the victims of the war have become the center of our resistance. A journey through the German Gaue reveals that those hardest hit are the bravest, the ones who see most clearly. Their behavior is exemplary, particularly when compared to some circles that have so far been affected only slightly by the war. This fact is tremendously important to us. It proves that “popular enlightenment,” “political education,” and “human leadership” are not empty phrases used by people who need to feel important, but rather real tasks that bear fruit only after years of work, and now show very important results. The result is that a people, in the midst of crisis, remains able to discern, that in amidst the horrors of war it still recognizes the value of its leadership and is protected against its real enemies.
Of course such tasks, even when things are going well, are never finished; they are as eternal as the life of a people. Alongside the Führer’s comments on the “avant garde of revenge,” one should recall his words from the same speech: “When bombing attacks occur, the party above all sees to it that order is maintained and that everything possible is done.” Enemy air terror is a problem both for the present and for after the war. Today, as in the future, it can be mastered only with the means of political human leadership. We know — and this is generally recognized — that at present everything possible is being done to meet the material and social needs of those who have been bombed out. In material terms, this is little enough, for the leadership’s hands are tied by the need to concentrate all our strength and resources for immediate military needs. Although the state guarantees full compensation for all losses, those affected currently remain poor in possessions. Only the most pressing needs can be met immediately, and mostly only in part, and the spiritual losses are irreplaceable. No one realizes that more than those who are affected, who personally experience the hard conditions and unavoidable consequences of the war. However, they have just claim on all possible help from the community, and in reestablishing their old living conditions in the period after the war.
Those affected by bombing are our best and most natural ally in fighting for the victory of our worldview. There is a corresponding obligation: just as the victims of the war place their whole hopes in the National Socialist leadership, this leadership feels a strong responsibility toward them. In practice, that means that each party member, particularly political leaders and above all higher party leaders, feel personally responsible for the victims of the air war. Party leaders feel themselves attorneys for their rights and ensure that the less affected parts of the community take on the burdens of those who have been hurt. We are not blind to the fact that some of those who have been bombed out and who are living in temporary quarters have human weaknesses and make mistakes, displaying a lack of community feeling and a misunderstanding of the limits of what is possible. They need a firm response. That, however, does not alter the fact that the victims of the air war have a just claim on our help, and that they must benefit from the first fruits of the coming victory. If anyone is to benefit in the future, it must be those who unfortunately bear the suffering of today. Only when those affected by bombing terror have regained their former rights will the efforts and shortages of the war end for the rest of the community. Only then may we as a people think of enjoying the fruits of victory. This must be clear so as to avoid disappointments on one side and illusions on the other side.
Only in this way can the mutual obligations, the ties of battle and loyalty, between the victims of the air war and the political leadership be maintained. The party’s task is to maintain this spirit of national solidarity, hardening it through its untiring example in everyday life during the war. Never forget that this is a war of worldviews! Its most effect method of fighting is, therefore, political action.
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