5O2 HINDENBURG'S VIEWS ON JEWS AND PRESS the rest of the Reich, and were, first and foremost, in a position to re-arm. Subsequent events proved that I was right. It is true that, in order to set the minds of the people at rest, I went personally to the Rhineland. But the German people, by giving me a 99 per cent majority in the elections to the Reichstag on agth March 1936, proved conclusively that they both understood and approved my policy. It was by no means easy to convince the Old Gentleman, but once one had done so, he always gave his fullest support to whatever it might be. For instance, at first he would not hear of any anti-Semitic measures. But when, at a dinner at the Swedish Legation, at which both were present, the King of Sweden expressed certain criticisms of the German policy towards the Jews, the Old Gentleman refuted them, saying in his deep, sonorous, bass voice that this was a purely domestic German affair, with which the German Chancellor alone was competent to deal. I had some difficulty, also, in persuading the Old Gentleman of the necessity of curtailing the liberty of the press. On this occasion I played a little trick on him and addressed him not as a civilian with "Mr. President", but as a soldier with "Field Marshal", and developed the argument that in the Army criticism from below was never permitted—only the reverse, for what would happen if the N.C.O. passed judgment on the orders of the captain, the captain on those of the general and so on? This the Old Gentleman admitted and without further ado approved of my policy, saying: "You are quite right, only superiors have the right to criticise!" And with these words the freedom of the press was doomed. For the fact that the Old Gentleman so faithfully followed my lead and always did his utmost to understand my intentions, I am deeply grateful. To what extent he had to free himself from old ideas in the process is shown by his remarks on the appointment of Gauleiter Hildebrandt to the post of Reichstatthalter. The Old Gentleman signed the appointment, growling as he did so: "The fellow was only a farm labourer. Isn't he content with having been made a member of the Reichstag and being given the opportunity of spending the rest of his life in peace and quiet there!"
WARTIME CRIMINALITY 503 Once I had won him over to my side, the Old Gentleman's solicitude towards me was truly touching. Again and again he said that he had a Chancellor who was sacrificing himself for his country, and that often he could not sleep at night for thinking of "his Chancellor flying from one part of the Reich to another in the service of the people". What an eternal shame it was, he added, that such a man must belong to one Party. 220 22nd May 1942, midday Recruiting spies—The need for barbarous methods— Weaknesses of the judges—Habit encourages crime. Spies nowadays are recruited from two classes of society: the so-called upper classes and the proletariat. The middle classes are too serious-minded to indulge in such activity. The most efficient way of combating espionage is to convince those who are tempted to dabble in it that, if they are caught, they will most certainly lose their lives. In the same way I am of the opinion that one should proceed with the utmost severity against other contemptible forms of crime which have sprung up under war conditions—for instance, theft under cover of the black-out. For, except by truly barbaric methods, how can one suppress such crimes, under cover of the black-out, as bag-snatching, assaults on women, housebreaking when the cellar door is left open and so on? For all such crimes there must be one penalty alone—the death penalty, whether the evil-doer is seventy or seventeen years of age. Unless in war-time one punishes crime in the homeland with the utmost severity, two dangers will arise: (a] The numbers of the criminal classes will increase and become uncontrollable ; (b) One will have the anachronism of the decent man losing his life at the front, while the criminal at home gets away with it, because he knows full well that for such and such a crime he can, under paragraph so-and-so, only be imprisoned for a specified period. One must clearly understand that in wartime the population