After 43 years of peace (between 1871 and 1914), World War I broke out, lasting from 1914 to 1918. Woodrow Wilson and the Allies held Kaiser Wilhem responsible. It was understood the Treaty of Versailles did not settle the struggle for power. The word "smokescreen" was said to be a common tactic in political debate to divert attention from the real issue with irrelevant arguments. The year 1932 had been described as the "turning point" in the Old World. H.R. (Hubert Renfro) Knickerbocker from the New York Evening Post Foreign Service had spent 8 years monitoring events and 2 months of travel throughout Germany in the midst of "its hardest winter in a century" and in the first period of the "Hitler era". He was able to see through the smokescreen and reported his observations: 

"Homo heidelbergensis is the name of the warrior of the Old Stone Age, whose jaw-bone, fossilized found near Heidelberg, gave science its first acquaintance with paleolithic man...Of the 4000 students in Heidelberg, 60 to 70% adhere to organizations dominated by the National Socialists. The majority of the students outside of these organizations are politically passive, and even the bitterest opponents of the Hitlerites admit the overwhelming influence of the Swastika banner in the student body. The ratio may be taken as fairly representative of the proportion for the 140,000 students in institutions of higher education throughout the Reich. These students of the oldest German university tell a clearer story, give better evidence, throw more light on the temper of their Fatherland than any other source of information in Germany. 

"Heidelberg and Bonn are the 2 universities that lead in social rank. The Bonner Borussia and the Saxon Borussia are the 2 student corps that lend prestige above their fellows. But it is not the singularities of the Heidelberg students that make them important. It is their common characteristic with the rest of the men of their age in Germany that makes them most significant not only for Germany but for America and the rest of the world. It is the characteristic of youth and of maturity, of an age too young to have taken part in the (First World) War and an age old enough to bring full citizenship. 

"For 55 more years (until 1987) Germany must continue to pay reparations (debts from political and private loans, some 1 billion gold francs to France a year and $US3 billion to the United States)  according to the Young plan, but according to the inexorable laws of nature Germany will pay no more reparations within 13 years (in 1945) at the extreme outside limit. The same laws of nature have decreed that this should be the Hitler era and the personality of Adolf Hitler has as little to do with it as the majority of his followers had to do with the (First World) War. For the laws in question are the laws of birth and death, and by reason of these laws there are today (in 1932) 13,570,000 Germans above the age of 20, old enough to vote, and below the age of 12, too young to have taken part in the (First World) War. 

"Thirteen years from now (in 1945) the total number of Germans old enough to vote but too young to have taken part in the (First World) War will be 26,820,000, and in that year (1945) they will have the undisputed absolute majority among the voters of Germany. Long before that time comes they will dominate the political scene. They dominate it to a very large degree today (in 1932), and it is these 13,570,000 voters who are chiefly responsible for the German recalcitrance in reparations negotiations and for a score of other comparatively new phenomena in German foreign and domestic politics. 

"Heinrich Brüning is a man of the Center party, by its very name a party of moderation. But in the last year (1931) Chancellor Brüning promulgated the ill-fated Austro-German Customs Union, a Hitler measure; decreed nationwide drastic wage crisis, a Hitler measure; reduced the rate of private interest, a Hitler measure, and finally announced an attitude on reparations, not clearly defined but so nearly like the 'We never can pay and never shall pay' of Hitler as to make no matter. On Brüning presses Hitler. On Hitler press the youth. Whatever the outside world may think of the ethics of repudiating treaties, the youth of Germany have found a formula that suits them in that of Hitler: 'We repudiate nothing that we have signed; we did not sign Versailles.' They refuse to recognize the principle of continuity of national responsibility; precisely as the Bolsheviks in Russia refused to recognize it.

"The problem of the German youth has frequently been recognized. A good deal of talk has been expended upon it. But few have taken the trouble to examine it statistically and attempt to weigh precisely the part played today and to be played tomorrow by the men and women who form the post-war generation. Our own post-war youth present problems for their parents. Europe's post-war youth, absorbed in politics, tense, embittered, present problems for a continent and perhaps the world.

"At the end of the last year of the (First World) War (in 1918) they were taking boys of 18 and under in the German army, but on the average a boy who was 18 in 1918 and is 32 today (in 1932) saw no service. Boys who were 6 years old in 1918 are 20 today (in 1932). Twenty is voting age in Germany. Thus between the ages of 20 and 32 are to be found the men and women who watched the (First World) War with the eyes of childhood, had no part in it, but today (in 1932) have reached the age to exercise an ever-growing voice in the government.

"The 13,570,000 Germans of this age explain many things. They explain first of all Hitler. Without them Hitler would still be leader of an obscure party too small probably for one Reichstag mandate. Hitler himself is distinguished by a sort of youthfulness of emotions that make him sympathetic to men much younger in years. He see things from the more or less simple point of view of youth, the point of view that weighs all difficulties in terms of will-power; anything is possible if one wills it strongly enough. These youths believe it possible to change everything overnight and that all it takes is courage. The leaders of other parties tell them it takes much more than courage, that it takes patience, and years, and diplomacy. Hitler tells them 'all it takes is guts.' They follow Hitler. But not all of them.

"The essential quality of radicalism and of youth, namely, faith, is the chief ingredient of Communism also. And what part of the 13,750,000 who are not marching today (in 1932) under the Swastika banner of the National Socialists are marching under the Red flag of Communism. Class and economic differences determine the division. The working youth are largely Communists; the middle-class youth and the scions of the landed gentry and of the aristocracy are largely National Socialists. The number of German youth to choose their politics from the moderate middle parties is insignificant.

"Nations often understand the complicated characteristics of each other but do not begin to comprehend each other's simple beliefs. Apparently this is because the very simple and therefore the most important beliefs are taken so for granted that nobody thinks it necessary to explain them. The most fundamental German belief in this category and pertinent to the subject of this investigation is the belief that Germany did not start the (First World) War. Every German takes that for granted. Most foreigners take it for granted that Germany did start the (First World) War. What the historians have discovered and what degree of guilt or innocence history will ascribe to Germany is of little consequence in comparison to the indubitable fact that 99% of all Germans are convinced that the (First World) War was fought in defense of the Fatherland.

"The second fundamental belief depends on the first one. It is the belief that reparations are merely tribute. 'We lost the war, we have to pay for it,' was not merely the formula but the conviction even of the proponents of fulfillment of the treaties. Not 1% of Germans ever accepted acceded to the formula of the Versailles Treaty that required them to say: 'We started the war, we must pay for it.' The formula, 'We lost the war, we have to pay for it,' worked very well until the births and deaths of every year made stronger and stronger the section of the German population that today (in 1932) declares, 'We did not even lose the war, we had nothing to do with the war. We refuse to pay for it.'

"This section has become numerous enough now to make its voice heard and with all the recklessness of youth its voice declares openly what the elders longed to say but dared not. This is the real inner sense of the change in Germany's attitude toward reparations, toward the Versailles Treaty, the French and the whole outside world. The change came through natural laws predestined to be realized. Herbert Hoover's announcement of a debt holiday precipitated the change more quickly than it might otherwise have come.

"Events always take place in less than their extreme limits. The extreme limits of the fundamental post-war revolution in Germany, a revolution that like all revolutions is bound to have effects outside the borders of the country of its origin, are the years 1940-45 (World War II was described as an 'economic war'). In 1940, according to the statistical estimates taken from official sources, there will be 46,600,000 German voters and 21,720,000, or nearly a majority, will have been less than 18 when the (First World) War ended.

"In 1945 there will be 48,500,000 German voters and 26,820,000, or a very large majority, will have been born since 1900, too young to have fought in the (First World) War. The revolution of births and deaths by that time at the latest will have changed Germany from a defeated to an undefeated country. The year 1932 appears a decisive one, next year (1933) may be another. The years 1940-45 promise the 11th hour (*) for the fruition of decisions."

(*) The armistice (truce) called on the 11th hour of the 11th of November 1918 brought World War I to an end. 

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