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Henry Judd

A First Hand, Exclusive Interview

What Is Happening Inside Hitlerland?

(December 1941)

From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 51, 22 December 1941, pp. 1 & 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Editor’s Note: Continuing its policy of publishing exclusive news dealing with the effects of the war, Labor Action presents this interview describing real conditions in Hitler Germany. This interview is based upon information supplied by refugees from Nazi terror who left Germany as recently as October 1941.


What are the German people thinking about the war?

Answer: There is absolutely no enthusiasm for the war! This is particularly true among the workers who detest the war and wish only that it would end. Since the beginning of the war against Russia they dislike the war more than ever before. This is because they have great sympathy for the sufferings of the Russian people and also because of the fact that every single family is mourning at least one dead or wounded man.

What has happened to those Jews who remain inside Germany?

Answer: Since the beginning of the war against Russia the persecutions of the Jews have been worse than ever before. These Nazi acts are directed particularly against the 70,000 Jews who still live in Berlin.

They are sent by the hundreds in freight trains to Poland, to distant towns and villages. They are not allowed to take along more than a suitcase. Those who still live in Berlin have to be home each night at 8 o’clock. For a long time, this order was not strictly enforced but one evening recently the Nazis visited all Jewish homes at 8 o’clock and sent to a concentration camp all those whom they did not find at home at this time.

The Jews are forbidden to eat any fruits. The remains of an apple found in the home of a Jew are sufficient cause for his arrest. All Jews able to do any kind of work are obliged to carry out forced labor for 12 hours a day. If they still have a little money left, they are not paid. If they are paid, the wages are far below the lowest standard of living.

How do the German people behave toward the Jewish people?

Answer: Most of the people – workers especially – are not anti-semitic! On the contrary, they attempt to help the Jews whenever they can do so. The grocers, for instance, often sell; the Jews more than the rations that are prescribed to them. My grocer in Berlin, for example, would secretly put aside good vegetables and fruits for his Jewish customers. One day he was ordered to come to the Gestapo office and was threatened and warned that he would be sent into a concentration camp unless he discontinued helping his Jewish customers.

A friend of mine remembers once when his butcher secretly slipped him a sausage as he was leaving the store and would not take any money for it. This butcher always sold him more meat than he was entitled to buy. These merchants do these things in order to show their dislike of the Gestapo and its regime.

Has the general behavior toward the Jews changed since all Jews have been forced to wear a yellow star of identification on their clothing?

Answer: This order has made the task of helping the Jews more difficult, but the sentiment of the German people as a whole has not changed. For instance, in all the means of transportation the Jews are supposed to remain standing until all the “Aryans’ are seated. But very often “Aryans” give up their seats to Jews.

What is the behavior of workers toward those Jews who are sent into the factories?

Answer: The workers are forbidden to talk with the Jewish workers. The Jews are forced to work in separate rooms which have their own special entrance. However, many workers seek an opportunity to talk with them and attempt to help them at their work. Those workers who do not do this really have nothing against the Jews, but they are afraid of being punished by the Nazis.

Frequently, workers are sent for weeks into a concentration camp for some little offense such as being late to work, or absent without permission haying been granted.

Why is there no rebellion and revolution against Hitler’s dictatorship if the majority of the German people do not want it?

Answer: The Gestapo is too watchful. As a result every man is afraid and distrusts his neighbor out of fear that he may be an agent of the Gestapo. Therefore, at present, it is very difficult to form any organization to fight the Nazis.

Here and there, on the walls of a factory, you can read slogans like “Nieder mit Hitler, Nieder mit dem Krieg” (Down with Hitler! Down with the war!). If there is an air raid warning during the night and people are forced to descend into cellars, you can hear them grumble and denounce this hated war.

However, there is something else which restrains the people in their opposition to the war. That is the terrible fear of the consequences of a German defeat – the fear of a new “Versailles” that will be a thousand times worse and will crush the German people once more. While the middle classes are afraid of losing the money they were forced to invest in state loans, the workers feel very uneasy about their belief that Germany will obtain a peace worse than the former peace and that they will be once more forced to bear all the burdens of such a “treaty.”

When the German workers understand that they haye friends among, the workers of England and America who are against imposing a new Versailles by the capitalist democracies on a defeated Germany, then they will have a different attitude toward opposing their own government. That is why I am glad to learn that the Workers Party, through its publication, Labor Action, has a socialist viewpoint on the war.

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