The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 5, Issue 6 (October 1, 1930)
German Fascism is Ascendant—Germany's Debt, like others, is Heavier by Price-fall—Radio Smiles at Depression—Old Order Changes—Economic Doubts.
The Soul of Germany.
Probably the most remarkable event of the month is in Germany. Fascism (in brown shirts, as compared with the Italian black shirts) has made a big bound upward. It is a German Fascism, and, probably unlike any Fascism that any other country would produce. It is, in fact, known less by the sign of brown shirts than by the sign of “Steel Helmets.” In this, one glimpses the eternal German under a new banner and title. Its “catchword,” says the cablegrams, is “Down with everything for which the Republic stands.” Its leader, Adolf Hitler, put that slogan into action in 1923, when, as reactionary leader in Bavaria, he launched the Hitler “futsch” and finished in military detention. But he was soon free again and organising a political “putsch.” In the last Reichstag there were twelve Hitlerites. The recent election has lifted the number to 107. Not many, you may say, in a Reichstag of more than 550. Yet a menacing indication of anti-Republican feeling in Germany. “Thank God,” says a Berlin paper, “no pacifist fraud will ever rob the German of his pride in armed forces.” Does that mean that “All Quiet on the Western Front” is for foreign consumption?
In the modern world, economics and politics are inextricably interwoven. It is not the function of this column to go into politics any more than necessity drives. But the Fascist development in Germany—with its open threats to deal with the Republic first, with the world afterwards—is too significant a fact to be regarded with a closed eye, whether that eye be political or economic. For Germany is the ultimate debtor, even as the United States is the ultimate creditor. Britain is both debtor and creditor—debtor to the United States, and creditor of Germany and of certain Allies. It took years to settle the debts-liquidation process on lines that appeared to fix the liability of the ultimate debtor, and the reward of the ultimate creditor. In fact, it is only within the last couple of years that the last settlement, the Young Plan, was signed by Germany and her creditors. And now, from the first succeeding appeal to the German electors, springs this remarkable accession of strength to a party that would throw both Republic and Young Plan on the scrap heap.
What has already happened economically under the Young Plan is, in part, symptomatic of what is happening nearly everywhere throughout the world. It is a commonplace that prices of goods have fallen hugely and are falling. That means that if you have to pay a gold debt in goods, you must hand over more goods.page 12
As recently as March, 1929, the Allied Governments were demanding from Germany an average annuity (on Young Plan lines) of about 2200 million marks; the German experts countered with an offer of 1650 million marks; they formally compromised at 1989 million. But the “Statist” points out, since that date prices have fallen by nearly 19 per cent., so the compromise amount is a greater real burden than the Allies’ original demand. Viewed from that angle, the German Reichstag voting appears in a new light. Measured by the same process of falling prices, Britain's real debt to the United States, is over 200 millions sterling greater than when it was funded in 1923 at 945 millions (although Britain has since repaid 35 millions of the principal). But what Britain loses on money owed by her, she gains on money, owed to her. It is not so with the ultimate debtor, Germany.
Passing of Historic London Inn.
Three hundred years of London history is associated with the Golden Cross Hotel, which has just closed its doors, a victim to the modernisation of the metropolis. Made famous by Dickens, through Copperfield and Pickwick, the Golden Cross yet cannot live upon its past. Something even more golden must be done with the old site; and the inn, like the coaches that called at it, will be a memory. It happens that this year they are making further commemoration in the Old Country of Sir James Wolfe, the chivalrous conqueror of the Heights of Abraham, and already, with Montcalm, the subject of a famous monument at Quebec. Now, it was Wolfe who declared, on the eve of the battle, that he deemed it greater glory to have written “Gray's Elegy” than even to conquer Canada. What, then, would Wolfe say if he returned from beyond the veil to see the invasion of Stoke Poges village by modern factories and buildings, depriving the churchyard, immortalised by the “Elegy,” of its seclusion and environment? Modern menaces to literary relics throw a new light on whether the pen is mightier than the sword. The Stoke Poges Defence Committee asks for £30,000.
It is not to be supposed, of course, that the changing of the old order is not progress. Reconstruction is probably at least 90 per cent. good. In ten years a quarter of a million new buildings have been erected in London, and “the appearance of the capital has been changed.” To realise the immensity of it, reflect that quarter of a million new dwellings in New Zealand would practically re-house the population. British official wireless declares that the building boom of the last decade shows no sign of decreasing, and that it “is expected to continue and extend under the encouragement of the new Housing Acts.” At the same time, it is also recorded that British unemployment is moving farther and farther above the two million mark. “Punch” has a cartoon showing the Australian kangaroo about to dive into the “Waters of Retrenchment.” To the British Lion (looking on and smoking a cigar) the kangaroo says “It won't be long before you'll have to do the same?” It is a cartoon by Sir Bernard Partridge, who may not be an economist. But it reveals a certain trend of thought.
A Flourishing British Industry.
Good it is to hear of an industry “virtually unaffected by the present worldwide trade depression.” Such a one, says the Secretary for the Dominions (the Hon. J. H. Thomas), is wireless. British radio manufacturers, he adds, are constructing six new factories, covering 200,000 square feet. And there are no unemployed in the trade, which is, on the other hand, absorbing unskilled labour. It is one of the greenest branches on the not altogether green tree of British industry. At the National Radio Exhibition, which Mr. Thomas opened in London, they show a wireless receiving set (weight, a few ounces) entirely concealed in a policeman's helmet, and enabling the wearer to receive orders concerning crime and criminals from any police station within a radius of eight miles. That the wireless people can establish an intelligence department in a man's hat is wonderful page 13 enough. They may yet introduce one into his head. To “talk through your hat” used to be a disgrace. To hear through it will one day be entirely proper.
Pioneers of a New Era.
New records in high flying and deep diving are being made. In the latter department Italians are effecting wonderful wreck-salvage (recovery of gold, etc.), at great depths, and the British Admiralty is interested in a new deep diving device. Believing that aeroplanes will find the best flying at 50,000 feet or more, Professor Piccard, of Brussels, announces his intention of ascending in a special balloon to test the rarified atmospheres and low temperatures. But he is also interested in “cosmic rays” and may try to reach a height of ten miles. (The aeroplane height record is, at the moment, between 40,000 and 50,000 feet.) Early in September the Frenchmen Costes and Bellonte made the third east-west crossing of the Atlantic by aeroplane. Theirs is the first direct flight from Europe to the United States. (The Germans, Huenfeld and Koehl, and the Australian, Kingsford Smith, both made a stop en route). Theirs is also the longest east-west Atlantic flight, taking 37 hours and covering about 4038 miles.
Asked her future plans, Miss Amy Johnson said she had none. But she added (at the “Daily Mail” luncheon), “I am going to work just as hard as I can—I hope more by example than by talking—and at the end of eight months I hope to do something.” Some of the Australian papers put Miss Johnson on a pedestal. Some did not. But the lady put certain newspapers on a pedestal when she told an English interviewer: “The press of Sydney I hate, loathe, and despise.”
“The World's Best Loser.”
“The world's best loser,” Sir Thomas Lipton, again failed to win the America Cup. He says that this is his last attempt—which is not surprising, as he is an octogenarian or thereabouts. “No single man in England,” he said, “can build a million dollar yacht alone, and without that none can hope to lift the Cup. After this it will have to be syndicate against syndicate.” Other reports state that the Americans have applied the principles of this machinery age to yachting—duraluminum mast, winches to do men's work, meters to record strain on sails, etc. Presently, perhaps, they will raise sail, or set it, by pressing a button. Anyway, the America Cup stays in America.