Background: The following essay was published in the Nazi monthly for propagandists. The Nazis wanted everyone to be with them, but they were also concerned about the 110 percenters, those who joined the party only after it was expedient to do so, from self-interest rather than conviction.
I’ve taken liberties in translating the title. “Wendig” implies a certain agility or flexibility in adjusting to the circumstances, someone who conceals his true thoughts by saying the right things.
The source: R. Wiebach, “Zeitgenosse Wendig,” Unser Wille und Weg, 5 (1935), pp. 275-278.
Herr Wendig is not an enemy of the state, by God, he is not! But is he a friend of the state? — Well, he discovered National Socialism a little late, the end of April, perhaps the beginning of May 1933, but he immediately found it “fabulous” and “brilliant.” He had long found the dreadful bellowing in the Reichstag unpleasant. That is why he voted for the parties of the right rather than the Democrats as early as 1932, and a year later was a bitter foe of parliamentarianism. Through a trick of fate his opposition now had no target, since parliament had already vanished, but still...
Mr. Wendig finds the phrase “the common good before the individual good” [a Nazi Party slogan] to be “splendid”! That had been his secret desire for a long time. He spoke of it often and gladly, particularly at his Stammtisch where he could talk freely without worrying about being attacked on the way home [the point is that before 1933 admitting one was a Nazi could attract attacks from the left, so Mr. Wendig was a coward]. At the office he always had a lot to do and was so busy that he always forgot about it.
And those S.A. men during the Kampfzeit, they were great guys! They were always his secret idols! They were real men who risked their lives for him and his people. They were very young, politically ignorant and inexperienced... but still they did their jobs brilliantly. Thanks, a thousand thanks....
He really should make room for such S.A. men in his spare room, but the bed isn’t ready...
Wonderful idea, the people’s community! That has been a deep political longing in Mr. Wendig’s bosom for years. The idea is not a new one for Wendig. Now when he is enjoying his Sunday roast goose and the collector knocks on the door, he gives his 20 pfennig. That is the shadow side of the people’s community. Still, he gives, muttering “dammed begging” under his breath and, happy to have done the right thing, gets back to his roast goose.
He was very happy to read that taxes were being reduced. It proved he was right about the Nazis. The kind of tax policy he likes. He always had the feeling that the taxes demanded of his 12,000 RM annual income [the average German annual wage for 1935 was about 1700 RM] were unjustly high. But when he learned that the tax reduction did not apply to him, but rather to those with limited means and people’s comrades with many children, that he found — just between ourselves — wrong. At first he regretted that he was not of limited means and was thus unable to benefit from the reduction in taxes. That thought evaporated quickly. But on 1 May he did something else. He bought a ring with a swastika. Since then he has been a secret member of the Old Guard and begins his sentences with the phrase: “Back then, when we...” No one can say he is an enemy of the state or that he does not try hard enough to understand the new Reich. He would sent such a person back home! One thing he cannot stand, however: “Something is always happening.” There is the church struggle. Thunder and lightning, that was not the case before. Rosenberg answers the dark men [religious leaders who objected to Nazism] and that always gets opposition. Why? — And why is one always attacking the Jews? Why? — There is never peace. And they put someone in jail in Buxtehude, and Herr Meier, active politically, said something negative about Herr Schulze, also politically active, and Meier’s hand supposedly came in close proximity to Schulze’s nose. Not true? It is true! Herr Wendig is a well-read man. He reads foreign newspapers.
And the German press! Above all — just between us — the Nazi press. They demand that everyone read it! That was not the case before! Herr Wendig would certainly read it, but it is too forceful! Recently it complained about Herr Lehmann who vacationed in Italy instead of staying in Germany! And Herr Wendig wants to visit Nice in August! Things were different before. But that must and will change, which Herr Wendig knows well enough!
Things are evolving, and that is fine with Herr. Wendig. The word revolution, however, scares him, but evolution means compromise to him, and Herr Wendig forgets that a revolution is a transformation of worldview. And evolution does not mean compromise, but rather rather strengthening that which the revolution has created. That means changing everything, which he prefers to overlook since it is uncomfortable. He does not sense that the breakthrough of a new worldview is happening hourly and daily all around him, that the new worldview must oppose everything in the old one, that spiritual combat must result. He forgets that the new is always born of pain, denial, and unrest. For him the birth process is expressed by the phrase “something is always happening.” This “happening” is the best evidence that the revolution with its new ideas is expressed in evolution in all intellectual areas, that the battle is going on, and that the new is growing out of it!
He criticizes the German press and praises the foreign press — naturally in private — but he has never thought about that fact that the battle of the new spirit occurs in various areas, and that it is unnecessary for everyone to know all the details about things that concern only the few that are interested. That would inevitably lead him to the question of why the foreign press takes such a great interest in things that happen in Germany, giving more space and room to them than it gives to such matters in their own country. That is not the result of affection for Germany or tender feelings!
Herr Wendig is no enemy of the state, but he is a blowing reed in the wind. The louder he shouts “heil” today, the more privately he complains tomorrow. He is heart and soul for National Socialism, but his enthusiasm diminishes when that involves sacrifice.
It would be better if Herr Wendig used the time he spends shouting heil in the quiet and serious study of National Socialism. He would certainly conclude that everything that unsettles him today, that makes problems for him, is clearly and obviously necessary for our future. He would then realize that our revolution is not over when two or three flags are hoisted over this or that building, but rather that they are only expressions of a new era that is transforming all areas of human life, demanding enormous sacrifice, firm will, tireless work, and a faith for which there are no ifs and buts, but only one thing: Germany!
Dear propagandist, you meet this agile Wendig everywhere today. More than before, he and his “thinking” are widespread. You find him wherever you look, in all occupations, at the market, the Stammtisch, club meetings, in the cafe, the railroad station, in the train, everywhere. Just listen carefully! When he talks you first think that everything is in order! He does not say things directly, but rather “factually,” “realistically,” “entirely in keeping with National Socialism,” “without wanting to be critical,” or “that does not mean that I....” The first requirement in meeting these agile Wendigs is that one understands things. One does not address them with empty words, “high-flown gushings of rhetoric,” but rather that one with brief and precise sentences takes the wind out of the sails of these “agile Wendigs” with a single blow.
If such an “agile Wendig” begins chattering, let him go on for a while to let him “warm up.” “Herr Wendig’s” audience is “really excited” and it would be wrong to immediately jump in! Once this gentleman has gotten everything off his chest, dear propagandist, then it is your turn! But carefully! Unfortunately, and one sees this often, too often, one who wants to take the wind out of the sails instead rouses the storm. Why? Because it is all to easy to want to seem important! Never speak as yourself! Never talk about yourself or your own experiences! Those of the Führer and his associates are far better than yours! Aim at the nonsense as much as you want, but be careful not to refer to yourself. That only causes bad blood and will not alert the hearers to Herr Wendig’s false views, but instead will irritate them and make them think that “Herr Wendig” is right after all. They will do that from sheer stubbornness. Speak firmly, but factually and entirely in the spirit of National Socialism.
If even two people are sitting together talking about such things, don’t think: “Oh, it is just a pair of idle chatterers.” One says something, and the other will pass it on!
National Socialism is not found only in local group meetings or party gatherings, but rather as long as one’s heart beats! This has to be said as clearly as possible: There are no business or personal considerations, no ties of friendship! He who attacks the Führer or National Socialism must be given the appropriate answer! One does not shrink into a corner and pretend not to have heard because one has “ties”! In every situation be an open and honest National Socialist. Then these “Herr Wendigs” will vanish, because they cannot bear it, because they will have respect for Adolf Hitler’s political soldiers who do not haggle like a Jew, but know only one thing: Nothing for me, everything for Adolf Hitler and his splendid movement!
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