14th May 1942, at dinner
Suppression of the freedom of the press—The National Socialist journalist—The lure of authority.
As a supporter of this viewpoint, I have tried, since I came into power, to bring the whole of the German press into line. Wherever it may be, this fetish of the liberty of the press constitutes a mortal danger par excellence. It is not easy, at the beginning, to explain all this to the journalists and to make them understand that, as members of a corporate entity, they had certain obligations to the community as a whole. And endless repetitions were necessary before I could make them see that, if the press failed to grasp this idea, it would end only in harming itself.
The British press affords so excellent an example that it has become quite impossible to gauge British public opinion by reading the British newspapers. This has been carried to such a pass, that as often as not the press bears no relation whatsoever to the lines of thought of the people.
That is exactly what happened in Vienna before 1914, in the time of Burgomeister Lueger. In spite of the fact that the entire Viennese press was in the hands of Jewry and in the pay of the liberals, Lueger, the leader of the Christian Social Party, regularly obtained a handsome majority—a fact which showed all too clearly the hiatus existing between the press of Vienna and public opinion.
As in the military sphere the aircraft has now become a combat weapon, so the press has become a similar weapon in the sphere of thought. To-day, the journalist knows that he is no mere scribbler, but a man with the sacred mission of defending the highest interests of the State. A people submits thus voluntarily to authority primarily because its instincts are of a feminine rather than a dominant nature. In the married state a woman will sometimes perhaps reconnoitre a bit, to see whether she could impose her will, but deep within her she has no desire at all to wear the trousers.
It is the same thing with the people. Sticking to military simile, a company does not expect its commander to consult it on all points. This explains how the populace came to cut off the head of a being so pusillanimous as Louis XVI—for the attitude of this king towards the people was far less severe than that of Napoleon; but in the latter the people had recognised a leader—and a man worthy of their veneration. Bismarck was perfectly right when he said that any human society which suppressed the death penalty, the ultimate expression of human defence against the a-social, merely from fear of a possible error of justice, was simply destroying itself.
However one lives, whatever one does or undertakes, one is invariably exposed to the danger of making mistakes. And so, what, indeed, would become of the individual and of the community, if those in whom authority was vested were paralysed by fear of a possible error, and refused to take the decisions that were called for?