To say that most German statesmen & politicians outside the Government's charmed circle were scared to death last week, would be understatement. Panic made cowards of the bravest of brave German Socialists and Communists. Even Catholics trembledexcept Dr. Hans Luther. It was accurately said that in less than two weeks Chancellor Hitler has reduced his opponents to a lower level of groveling fear than did Premier Mussolini in the two years after the March on Rome, Oct. 30, 1922.
The Facts. In Italy Opposition Deputies kept their seats and voted against the Mussolini Government until June 15. 1924, when the "Aventine" Opposition withdrew. Since 1928 Il Duce has had a parliament made up exclusively of yes-men elected by the Italian people whose only alternative is to reject the entire slate of Deputies presented to them as candidates by the Fascist regime.
In Germany last weeknot two years but two weeks after the Republic "died" (TIME, March 13) and before the new Reichstag metnearly all Communist Deputies and many Socialist Deputies were in jail. The Hitler Government announced that no Communist Deputies (even should they break jail) would be admitted to the Reichstag. Most Socialist Deputies were expected to stay away, lest they be harmed. The bravest Socialist (by reputation), Dr. Otto Braun, Premier of Prussia, once famed as "The Lion of Social Democracy," fled to Switzerland where he was still so terrified that he telegraphed to Berlin his resignation from the Prussian Diet and from the German Reichstag.
Previously Premier Braun & Cabinet had petitioned the German Supreme Court to declare unconstitutional the German Government's seizure of the Prussian State Government (TIME, Feb. 13). Last week the panic-palsied petitioners withdrew their petitiona great convenience to the Supreme Court.
Suddenly Berlin police demanded the passports of two members of the vanished Braun Cabinet, famed Karl Severing, one-time Prussian Minister of Interior (which made him in 1920-26 and 1930-32 the head of Berlin's and Prussia's police) and onetime Prussian Minister of Education Adolf Grimme. The police said they wanted to "examine'' the passports, refused to say why. Pale green with fear,
Herren Severing & Grimme managed to send their passports to the Presidential Palace, breathed a mite easier when they were able to say, "Our true friend President von Hindenburg is holding our passports as trustee."
"Mustard Flag!" President von Hindenburg's pompous State Secretary, Dr. Otto Meissner was once secretary to "the George Washington of the German Republic," its first President, Friedrich Ebert (died 1925). One day last week Dr. Meissner picked up his telephone, heard a woman's voice weak with terror, the voice of Widow Ebert, a plump, pink, normally happy hausfrau.
Some Nazi Storm Troops had just raided her apartment brandishing pistols, said Widow Ebert. They had demanded, "Give us your mustard flag!" (A derisive Nazi term for the now abolished German Republican banner of black, red & gold.)