24th July 1942, at dinner
What to expect from the Dutch—The popularity of the Duce.
When people tell me that the Dutch will not make good SS-men, I always remember the cartoons of Spitzweg, who represented the German soldiers of the South German States sitting and knitting socks. But twenty years of instruction have put a very different complexion on the matter. A race like the Dutch, which has shown itself capable of organising a magnificent Far Eastern air service and which produces a host of first-class sea-men, can easily be taught to assimilate the military spirit. One must not lose faith in the essential soundness of the race, for sound it certainly is.
Bormann is quite right when, on the authority of his collection of photographs, he declares that the Duce enjoys an immense popularity. I have myself seen in a dozen different episodes in Italy how very popular the Duce is with the majority of the people; and there is no denying the unparalleled achievements of this man and of Fascism—the innumerable new factories, the construction of new houses and schools and hospitals, the great colonial enterprise and many more; when one recalls the deplorable state of Italy at the time of the Duce’s assumption of power, one realises the magnitude of his achievements.
Over and above all this he overcame Bolshevism, not by military force, but by superior intellect, and it is him we have to thank for showing for the first time, by his decisive defeat of the inner power of Bolshevism, that even in this twentieth century it is possible to recall a people to a sense of purely national pride.
There he has rendered us all a great service—much as, in the years to come, my own greatest service to humanity will be thought to be my success in saving Europe from the Asiatic onslaught.
The Duce’s political activity is considerably impeded by royal prerogative; it is, for example, all but impossible to assume the leadership of a country if the armed forces thereof owe allegiance to another. No business firm could be efficiently run by the managing director, if some other shareholder held a majority of shares, and was thus in a position to alter or cancel orders at will. Unless legislative and administrative power are in one hand, endless difficulties will arise.
When we Germans pass judgment on the Duce, we must bear all these considerations well in mind, not forgetting that, when all is said and done, it is the Duce we have to thank for the fact that Italy is not in the war on the side of the Allies.
The upper ten thousand of Italy, instead of realising that a victory for Communism would mean their own immediate annihilation, and instead therefore of giving him all the support they could, placed difficulty after difficulty in his way in the struggle against the Bolsheviks. They were as little conscious of the tremendous assistance they were giving the Bolsheviks as the stupid calf, of which it is said: “The stupid calf chooses its own butcher.”
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