632 STAGES OF REARMAMENT Once conscription was introduced into Britain, the die was cast—and not in our favour. Happily the rascals had not the patience to wait. If they had held on for three or four years, they would have had an army of thirty or forty divisions, which they could have sent to Europe. The French workman is an exceptionally skilled craftsman. Their factories and machinery are certainly out of date, but the workmanship is first class, and they carry out repairs with incredible rapidity. We, I think, lose a great deal of time by working so slowly on repairing damage. As regards rearmament, it was my principle to outline the plan for one year at a time, for a man invariably rises to the occasion that circumstances impose on him. For the year 1933-34 I allotted three milliard marks to the Wehrmacht, for 1934-35 the amount rose to five milliards, and by the time war was declared ninety-two milliard marks had been expended on the armed forces. Such figures are wholly without precedent. Before the first war, the defence budget called for about one milliard ! No one can say that he was prevented from carrying out a task of national importance by lack of funds ! The Reichstag was never consulted on the subject of money; the decision on what was to be done and what was not to be done was mine, and mine alone. From the moment that I abandoned the gold standard, and while I still had large numbers of unemployed at my disposal, I had no financial problems. I had to support seven million whole-time and four million part-time unemployed. This necessitated a budget of five milliards. We should have saved many milliards of overseas expenditure if the Wehrmacht had from the beginning been content to accept our own synthetic and supplementary raw materials instead of insisting on importing from abroad. I declared that we must put our economy on a war footing, but the Wehrmacht refused to follow my lead until compelled to do so by the pressure of war. You would not believe the lengths to which they went in order to thwart me! When I called for the construction of warships, they retorted by demanding copper to the tune of oneeighth of the annual production of the whole world ! When the first World War started we had at our disposal the
FUNDS FOR WEHRMACHT 633 accumulated reserves of thirty years. But in 1939 we had nothing. I cannot tell you with what fury and anger I had to work in order to get what I wanted. Even with good old Fritsch I had a battle royal on the day I re-introduced conscription. "Thirty-six divisions will be raised," I ordered, "and don't think you can turn me from my purpose by telling me that we have not the requisite arms and equipment!" The Fuehrer turns to Jodl: You say you had to fight tooth and nail for every single thing and that even so you were frequently compelled to reduce your demands by 40 per cent, 60 per cent, and even as much as 80 per cent. Well, you can thank Blomberg for that! I had nothing to do with it. To the Wehrmacht I allotted more in money and kind than it could possibly make use of. Again and again I had to protest that such and such an order had not been passed on, and quarrels on this subject were a weekly event. The invariable reply given to me was: "The Wehrmacht doesn't want it." There was a mass of people working against me behind my back and systematically sabotaging my efforts. And yet—what on earth did it matter if expenditure exceeded budgetary estimate? The Air Force regularly over-spent about two milliards annually. A crisis could only have arisen after all the unemployed labour had been absorbed, and this did not happen until late 1937 or early 1938. Up till then the only difficulties we had to face were those of foreign exchange. Schacht had told me that we had at our disposal a credit of fifteen hundred million marks abroad, and it was on this basis that I planned my Four Year Plan, which never caused me the slightest anxiety. Goring, by the way, was given very wide powers in this field. And that is how things are to-day, and we never find ourselves blocked for want of money. I always protested against the homeopathic-like quantities which the Wehrmacht demanded! The industrialists were always complaining to me about this niggardly procedureto-day an order for ten howitzers, to-morrow for two mortars, and so on. And that when one knows that production lines require four to eight months before they can set to work!