Hitler seizes even greater powers

A portrait of Adolf Hitler from 1942. He had already seized direct personal command of the armed forces, now he took unlimited personal dictatorial power.

In Dresden in eastern Germany Victor Klemperer was living a precarious existence. While fellow Jews were having their houses searched, being arrested or deported on a regular basis, he enjoyed a small measure of protection because his wife was not Jewish.

He balanced his daily fears with a professional interest, as a former professor, with the language used by the regime. The speeches of Hitler were of particular interest to him. His commentary, of course, would have meant an inevitable death sentence had any of his diaries ever been discovered. Yet he seems to have had a compulsion to critique even as he realised that their tone was becoming even more menacing:

April 28, Tuesday

Hitler’s Reichstag speech on Sunday April 26. Going by that, it is no longer five minutes to twelve, but 11:59. He talks about how close catastrophe was last winter, He says he is better prepared for the next one. So when will it end? He says the outcome will be decided in the East. But what about England? But what about the USA?

Incomparably more important: He says he has only rarely had to resort to “harsh” measures, where obedience broke down. (So it has broken downl) Most important of all: He demands the right to be allowed to get rid of officers, civil servants, judges, instantaneously, without due process. …

It’s mad, it’s tyranny outdoing itself, it reflects the utmost insecurity if someone already long invested with all dictatorial powers once again demands what he already possesses; if a sultan expressly declares that he himself will directly intervene in the justice dispensed by his judges, if they practice merely “formal law”.

Linguistically amusing once again the relationship to numbers. “Napoleon had to cope with 19 degrees of frost, I had to cope with minus 50 degrees and once with 60 degrees, Even my winters are twice as grand as other people’s winters! And yet I am still victorious.” Still on numbers: the worst winter for 140 years.

The concentration of hate has this time turned into utter madness. Not England or the USA or Russia – only in everything nothing but the Jew. Pay attention to the hide-and-seek and open threat. 11:59, but shall we live to see the end of the day?

It has by now become a firm rule: On the day after a house search there are suicides. We heard of the new case at the same time as the Hitler speech. A couple called Feuerstein, living in Altenzeller Strasse, had been pillaged, then summoned to the Gestapo and beaten and kicked there; during the night the people were found dead in their gas-filled kitchen.

From day to day I wait for the house search to take place here. The apprehension is always worst in the evening between seven and nine. No doubt wrongly for the squads are said to appear at any time of day They are said to steal everything: even food that has been bought on coupons, writing paper, postage stamps, leather briefcases. They are said to drink up skimmed milk, etc.

See Victor Klemperer: I Will Bear Witness: A Diary of the Nazi Years 1942-1945. Klemperer was not alone in detecting a fresh paranoia about the Jews in this speech – in Britain psychologists were also to draw this conclusion from an analysis of Hitler’s current attitudes – a contemporary report was re-discovered 1n 2012, see Telegraph.

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