Night of 27th-28th September 1941
—Organisation of study.
If my parents had been sufficiently well-to-do to send me to a School of Art, I should not have made the acquaintance of poverty, as I did. Whoever lives outside poverty cannot really become aware of it, unless by over-throwing a wall. The years of experience I owe to poverty—a poverty that I knew in my own flesh—are a blessing for the German nation.
We must pay attention to two things: 1. That all gifted adolescents are educated at the State’s expense. 2. That no door is closed to them.
Since I hadn’t been able to finish my secondary studies, an officer’s career would have been closed to me, even if by working I had learnt more about it than is proper for a boy who has matriculated to know. Only an officer could win the Pour le Mérite. And at that, it was quite exceptional for an officer of middle-class origin to receive it.
In that closed society, every man existed only by virtue of his origin. The man who lacked this origin, and university degrees into the bargain, could not dream of becoming a Minister, for example, except by the short-cut of Social Democracy.
The view that suppression of these discriminations would be harmful to authority proved to be without foundation. A competent man always has the authority he needs. A man who is not superior by his talent invariably lacks authority, whatever his job may be.