The Propagander ™ FAQ
Did Hitler's Leadership Save the German Economy?
Some time around 1936 Schacht had come to the salon of the Berghof to report. We guests were seated on the adjacent terrace and the large window of the salon was wide open. Hitler was shouting at his Finance Minister, evidently in extreme excitement. We heard Schacht replying firmly in a loud voice. The dialogue grew increasingly heated on both sides and then ceased abruptly. Furious, Hitler came out on the terrace and ranted on about this disobliging, limited minister who was holding up the rearmament program."
Hitler countered Schacht's incessant demands to reduce rearmament by giving increasing control of the German economy to
Schacht and his Ministry of Economics had been told six months earlier to start making secret economic preparations for war, and he had used considerable sleight of hand to find the necessary funds so far. Along with a number of decidedly dodgy financial maneuvers, he had been forced to create a siege economy, banning virtually all consumer imports and severely restricting foreign currency transactions. But he believed there were limits beyond which he dared not push the long-suffering German public. "They are being starved of oil to cook with, butter for their bread, meat for a Sunday dinner," he told Goering. "Soon there will be a black market, and then we will have to start shooting people. I simply cannot spare you any more money."
Schacht might have been one of the worlds most brilliant economists, but he was no politician and knew little about ordinary people. Goering, on the other hand, knew nothing about economics, but everything about what the German people really wanted. For three weeks he worked with Pilli Koerner on a major speech, which he then delivered with great panache to a mass rally in Hamburg, the city where the loudest complaints about austerity rations had been made.
Wearing his Luftwaffe uniform and looking quite drawn after his latest bout of slimming, he began by outlining the tremendous progress that had already been made in restoring German pride through rearmament. He then moved on to remind his audience of the shaming restrictions still imposed on their country by Versailles. Only through strength, he told them, could Germany regain her rightful place in the sun. Having softened the meeting up, he delivered the killer punch. "I must speak clearly," he cried. "Some people in international life are very hard of hearing. They can only be made to listen if they hear guns go off. We are getting those guns. We have no butter, comrades, but I ask you: would you rather have butter or guns? Shall we bring in lard, or iron ores? I tell you, being prepared makes us powerful. Butter only makes us fat!" He slapped his hollow belly to emphasize his point, and the meeting erupted into roars of approval. Radio listeners all over Germany joined in.
Hitler sent him a telegram of congratulations. Schacht came up with the money for the Luftwaffe. The speech was reported around the world. The defining phrase, 'guns or butter' entered the international vocabulary. Goering, of course, never had to make the choice for himself--he could always have both. But no one ever mentioned that.
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