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Website note:

THE bank has pulled this article from their website but it was cached and we have secured it for posterity here. The article has been quietly replaced on the bank website by one on the Wright brothers and their airplane.

Incidentally the book Conversations with Hitler by Herman Rauschning, though popular with Hitler biographers, is totally phony; former Danzig politician Rauschning met Hitler only once, at a cocktail party. The book was published early in the war by Emery Reves, Winston Churchill's literary agent, as part of an anti-Nazi propaganda effort.

As for the worth of "historian" John Lukacs, one of those who willingly cited Rauschning, well, see our legal dossier on him.

Resource Center > Trust Publications > Outlook

July 2003 - continued

In the early 1930's a writer named Rauschning interviewed Hitler [see box on right], gathering material for a book. Observing that fascist governments believed in strong central control over their entire countries, Rauschning asked why the German government did not nationalize all private industries. "Why should I nationalize the industries?" Hitler asked. "I will nationalize the people." And so he did. He gave the German people of the Thirties an arrogant belief in their own superiority and destiny. That belief would eventually help to destroy them, but during the Depression it helped businessmen to cast aside their doubts, hire workers and invest for the future; and it led German workers to work harder than anyone else in Europe. Hitler not only glorified Germany and the Nazi party -- he also glorified work itself, and Germany responded.

It is tempting to give free-market capitalism the credit for all economic miracles, but the story of Germany in the Thirties is an eye-opener. Hitler was hardly a capitalist; he seems to have spent little time worrying about the health of the economy; and his planned economic programs made little sense. But Germany thrived anyway. Why? Perhaps because Hitler knew that public confidence is a vital ingredient for economic growth. And Hitler, in historian John Lukacs' words, "was the most terrifying creator of national confidence in the history of the world."

Since public confidence might be so important, let's look at the key economic news so far in 2003 and ask what it suggests about our own state of mind, and the possibility of that nightmare deflation scenario.

The U.S. economy entered 2003 in a state of anxiety about war. That didn't improve until the war ended, and even then the improvement was a halting, uncertain tiptoe towards the future. The biggest chunk of the American economy is consumer spending, and it kept surprising people by refusing to collapse under the weight of all the anxiety about unemployment, debt, terrorism and war. There were two ways to interpret this: either the U.S. consumer was an addict so hooked on debt and spending that only an outright Depression would "cure" him; or the gloomy picture of the U.S. economy painted by the pessimists was overlooking some major patches of blue sky and sunlight.

When you look at the "hard" economic facts about 2003, it's tough to see anything that looks like bright sky and sun. Auto sales have limped along above stalling speed, but seemingly only because automakers cut prices (through zero-interest deals and rebates) so much that profits nearly vanished. The housing market has been amazingly strong, but nobody feels like betting that the fantastically low interest rates (which clearly drove that market) will stick around very long. Business spending behavior has been stuck hard in "go slow, wait-and-see" mode for a very long time now, and despite several months of growth in technology spending there isn't yet any clear sign that the general spending pedal is being pushed again. (Technology spending had sunk so low that a few months of growth aren't impressing people, yet.)

The "soft" economic facts are the many surveys which are done each month about practically everything from business buying plans to consumers' psychological feelings about the future. Since the war's end, these surveys have mostly shown improved confidence, but it's been a pale, anemic sort of movement, like school kids drifting toward the cafeteria at lunchtime, not because they're looking forward to the menu but because it's better than heading back to class.


BBC News: Bank apologises for praising Hitler | bank apologises to ADL | too late, ADL forces bank president to resign
Free download: David Irving, Hitler's War
Outrage as German town, Bitterfeld, lists Hitler as 'honorary citizen'
Germany to stage "Great Germans" version of the BBC's Great Britons series -- but bans Hitler
© Focal Point 2003 e-mail:  write to David Irving