Note 023
by Joachim C. Fest

This catalogue of failures and omissions relies to a great extent on a self-critical expression of the socialist position: see Hendrik de Man, 'Sozialismus und Nationalfaschismus' (Potsdam, 1931), quoted in 'Zwischenspiel Hitler'. He goes on to say:

'It is understandable after the disappointments of socialistic experiments in the early post-war years that socialism had no further utopia, that so many people allowed themselves, out of a dull feeling of indignation against the established order and unhampered by the vagueness of its ideas and the contradictions of its mythology, to be inspired by the Nationalist Fascist utopia of the Third Reich.'

To this explanation, which brings out the intrinsic elements of failure of the Weimar Republic, the point must be added that, in spite of all shortcomings, this state still had great merit and while free to do so showed great achievements. The failure of its institutions was the fault less of any unsuitable structural conception than of the men who managed them. The architects of its constitution could point out that no one had or could have fore-seen the unprecedented crises which impeded the Republic from its inception; but the earlier principal mistake probably lay in the overestimation of the human material, so that all good beginnings finally and unexpectedly came to grief. The most impressive example of this is still that liberal principles were consistently maintained in the face of mutual and bitter hostilities. Also, the utopian belief in the automatic rule of law stemming from liberal thought which makes leadership superfluous in a democracy is worth mentioning here: it was clearly refuted by Hitler, who knew how to stir up continual need for charismatic or at least personal rule.

From Chapter 3 ,The Fuhrer , Part 1 of The Face Of The Third Reich by J.C. Fest — See further Notes

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