The diplomats and the dictator : a study of western diplomatic reactions to the rise of Hitler, September 1930-November 1933 / by Richard Rolland Mertz.
This study is an analysis and comparison of western diplomatic reporting on the Nazi rise to power and on the first nine months of Hitler's rule over Germany. It is based primarily on unpublished documents in the United States and German diplomatic archives, as well as published British, German, and American diplomatic reports. The Nazi Party first made a significant national showing in the 1930 Reichstag elections. During the subsequent period preceding Hitler's accession to the Chancellorship, western officials viewed the Nazis' prospects in parliamentary character terms, and largely ignored the antirepublican, extra-parliamentary character of the principal foci of political power. President Hindenburg's decisive political role was not correctly appreciated until after Hitler came to power. From November 1932 until the eve of Hitler's advent, diplomats believed that the crest of the Nazi wave had passed. This opinion was based largely on the Nazis' declining popularity at the polls and Hindenburg's personal antipathy toward Hitler. Prior to Hitler's accession to power, British observers took the Nazis' program seriously and erroneously interpreted Hitler's legality tactic as an indication that the Fuhrer was becoming moderate in outlook; Americans more properly viewed the legality tactic as a mere device and discounted Hitler's programmatic dogma as opportunistic demagoguery. These observers did not fully comprehend the revolutionary character of the Nazi Party or the latent civil war atmosphere in which the Nazi flourished. By June 1933, diplomats belatedly realized that Hindenburg no longer played a decisive political role. The Nazi reign of terror had gone almost unnoticed by observers. Hitler's eccentric personality and his ability to outrage foreign public opinion and at the same time preserve and strengthen the bases for remaining in power were correctly assessed by diplomats. Early in his rule, Hitler was actively interested in foreign affairs. Diplomats took into account Hitler's avowed aims expressed in Mein Kampf, presciently noted the impact of Hitler's anti-Semitism on foreign relations, and reported pessimistically on the prospects for peace. Although the diplomats failed to anticipate Hitler's advent, they were under no illusions about the Fuhrer's intentions after he became Chancellor. Germany's withdrawal from the League of Nations and the Geneva General Disarmament Conference in October 1933, reinforced the deep distrust with which diplomats viewed Hitler.
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