Gestapo comments about fifth leaflet

1. The catchphrase of B is “Freedom and Honor”; the catchphrase “Freedom” reappears in A 53. Indeed, the eye of the person interested in freedom typically falls on “every individual”. (A 51; B 37; correspondingly in B 12, it says “personal freedom”.) In the political-historical view of the author, a new “war of independence” [Note 1] is beginning (A 24); it is very characteristic for this author that this phrase is not used casually on the spur of the moment, but is part of his well-thought-out historical thesis. …

… [He] speaks of the “Enslavement of Europe” (A 56) as was common in the Napoleonic era. Often in reactionary circles, one hears these parallels between Hitler and Napoleon that provide the basis for this. But here it is exploited through precise knowledge of the historical facts.

2. [Leaflet] A was written around December 1942 or January 1943. The status of the war was exclusively seen as generally unfavorable: Armies retreating in the East. Expectation of invasion from the West, enormous military buildup of America. It was only during those days that one could speak of the “Bolshevist threat” (29) in a mocking manner. …

4. Stylistically, the author demonstrates that he is a person who is well-versed in the Lutheran translation of the Bible. A 34: “…just judgment over him that…” [Note 2] In contemporary Germany, this archaic grammatical construction is used only as an echo of Luther. … And indeed, since the Catholic Church generally uses other translations of the Bible, this person is more likely Protestant than Catholic (compare also A 53 “Freedom of Religion” [Note 3]). … The expression in A 26 “the cloak of indifference, which you have placed on your hearts” is typical homiletics. …

6. … Where the reference to the selection process for leaders in A 19 is tinged with bitterness, I must assume that the author fell through the cracks in this process. The intimate knowledge of the terminology [associated with the process] confirms this portrayal. [Note 7]

7. Despite careful thought processes, flawed logic occasionally creeps in, which points to hasty composition. A 54 “Gewaltstaat” is nonsensical [Note 4]. So is A 36 “the outcome of this war” [Note 5]. …

8. The tendencies observed thus far have slipped past the author unwittingly. He has carefully camouflaged his intellectual origins to achieve his political goals. For example, he does not make use of the battle with the churches to make the arguments that mean the most to him. Significant as well is the manner in which he speaks of the Jews in A 20: In no way as philo-Semitic, and in no way making use of the sentimental, emotional arguments that circulate abroad in this point. He does not demonstrate any knowledge of the usual foreign arguments. It is likely that he has never been abroad, and that he does not have contact with foreigners. It is significant that there is a complete lack of understanding about foreign affairs (e.g. Italy). What is said in A 41 ff. about “cooperative efforts of the European nations” is verbose, empty, and paltry.

So much about the author himself. The following can be deduced regarding the presumed political situation. A 38 ff., that is in the earlier leaflet, he uses the old propagandistic phrase about “Prussian” militarism. Of course this is attributable to Bavaria. Correspondingly the call to “federalism” (A 46). Working on the peculiar Bavarian biases is an old tactic of the Center. The confused words in A 48 ff. correspond to this as well. The words attempt to describe a social agenda, but the concept does not materialize. This shoddy writing points to a naïve academician and reminds one a little of the earlier “yellow” workers’ unions, that is of Catholic social policy.

Yet at the same time, there is a very considered limitation of this battle against Prussiandom. In A 39, the opposition is to “a one-sided Prussian militarism”. The word “one-sided” is a conscious limitation that seeks to avoid offending those with a militaristic proclivity. This [form of] Bavarian separatism takes into consideration the broad support of the military that exists among the German people and seeks its disciples from appropriate circles, that is, most likely among students. This [conclusion] is further supported in A 35, which opposes those who are “cowardly and undecided”: this targets typically intellectual [Note 6] circles. As additional proof, A 36 specifically disputes the notion that this war is a “national” war. The feelings of people with nationalistic attitudes are herewith consciously spared. Incidentally, I do not believe that the author has been or is a soldier, based on the overall manner of speech.

… [Leaflet 6]

To summarize: The author appears to be a gifted intellectual who disseminates his propaganda in academic circles, particularly among the student body. Despite a certain vivacity in his speech and in the determination of his political will, his intellectual products are in the end little more than literary exercises. His words may not have the tone of an embittered loner, but it is certain that only a small, specific clique stands behind these words. They are not the effluence of a politically powerful, active group. The language [in these leaflets] is too abstract for that. The words will not (and cannot) find resonance in larger circles of soldiers or workers.


General Note: In Harder’s memorandum, A = Leaflet 5 by Hans Scholl, B = Leaflet 6 by Kurt Huber. I have extracted only the analysis of Leaflet 5 in this post. – Note that dating as 1/13/1943 is based on the recorded discussion between Hans Scholl, Alexander Schmorell, and Kurt Huber, where Huber edited the fifth leaflet.

Note 1: Alternate translation: War of liberation (German: Befreiungskrieg).

Note 2: German: gerechtes Gericht über die, so…, where “so” is used instead of “die”. This is the grammatical equivalent of King James “thee” and “thou”.

Note 3: Bekenntnis, same root word as in the Bekennende Kirche – Confessing Church – of Bonhoeffer/Niemöller.

Note 4: A Gewaltherrschaft is a despotism – ‘forced or violent’ + rule. The German word Gewaltstaat – ‘forced or violent’ + nation – has no meaning, though it’s likely the leaflet readers knew what was intended.

Note 5: The war had not yet ended. Stalingrad was a battle.

Note 6: Intellectual only, not geistig.

Note 7: This was precisely the case with Hans Scholl, both in Hitler Youth and in the army!


Source: ZC13267, Harder’s memorandum dated 2/17/1943

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