862.50 Four Year Plan/11

The Ambassador in Germany (Dodd) to the Secretary of State

No. 3203

Sir: I have the honor to enclose a clipping36 from the London Times of December 18, summarizing an article written for the Deutsche Bergwerkszeitung by a certain Colonel Thomas who discusses the military aspects of the Four Year Plan.

This article offers a certain confirmation of the theory advanced in the Embassy’s despatch No. 3129 of November 2, 1936,35 concerning the role that may have been played by the War Ministry in the conception and execution of the Four Year Plan. It lays especial stress upon the management of labor under war conditions, a subject to which it is known that the War Ministry has devoted considerable thought in the realization that the improper handling of the labor situation during the years 1914–1918 constituted an important element of weakness and was a mistake which at all costs must be avoided in the future. Probably no one realized this better than the late General von Schleicher who sought to build up a strong military state with the parliamentary backing of the trade unions.

On the afternoon of December 17, there was held in the Preussenhaus in Berlin a semi-secret conference on the Four Year Plan. The assembly, which in all numbered some 300 persons, was composed of representatives of industrial groups, of high Party leaders and officials from the Economic and Labor Ministries as well as from the Labor Front. On the evening of the next day the semi-official Deutsches Nachrichten Büro issued a somewhat unilluminating communiqué to the effect that Göring had stressed the mission of the German economic system to serve the interests of the whole community and that therefore in contrast to outmoded individualistic economic principles this aim compelled universal obedience. It is reported that the Führer made a surprise visit to pay Göring a tribute as a man who-did not know the word “impossible”, and to appeal to all groups to [Page 160] align themselves behind him in the task of fulfilling the Four Year Plan.

From a well-informed private source it was learned that Göring actually spoke about two hours in his most unrestrained style. It appears that he declared in effect the government’s determination to proceed with the re-armament program to the full limit that was possible, that the need for effective military self-sufficiency transcended considerations of the economically practicable, and that therefore industry as well as the workers and the people must be prepared for further sacrifice. In the course of one of his numerous digressions we are reliably informed that he declared with that fanatical irresponsibility characteristic of many of Germany’s present day rulers that “the day would come when the Austrians would deem it an honor to be given the Hitler salute”. It is understood that this remark was at once reported back to Vienna where it had the reaction that might be expected in Austrian government circles.

Respectfully yours,

William E. Dodd
  1. Not reprinted.
  2. Not printed.