In September 1936, a month after the conclusion of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, David Lloyd-George spent three weeks in Germany. As a foreign statesman who’d been Prime Minister of Great Britain for six years (1916 – 1922), he observed the political and social conditions in Germany and was twice afforded an interview with The Chief. The following text is an article he wrote for the Daily Express upon his return.
The Chief for his part spoke warmly of Lloyd-George, claiming him to be ‘the Briton who left the deepest impression on me. …Lloyd-George was a pure orator, and a man of tremendous breadth of vision¹’.
I have now seen the famous German leader and also something of the great change he has effected. Whatever one may think of his methods – and they are certainly not those of a parliamentary country – there can be no doubt that he has achieved a marvellous transformation in the spirit of the people, in their attitude towards each other, and in their social and economic outlook.
He rightly claimed at Nuremberg that in four years his movement had made a new Germany. It is not the Germany of the first decade that followed the war – broken, dejected and bowed down with a sense of apprehension and impotence. It is now full of hope and confidence, and of a renewed sense of determination to lead its own life without interference from any influence outside its own frontiers.
There is for the first time since the war a general sense of security. The people are more cheerful. There is a greater sense of general gaiety of spirit throughout the land. It is a happier Germany. I saw it everywhere, and Englishmen I met during my trip and who knew Germany well were very impressed with the change.
One man has accomplished this miracle. He is a born leader of men. A magnetic and dynamic personality with a single-minded purpose, as resolute will and a dauntless heart. He is not merely in name but in fact the national Leader. He has made them safe against potential enemies by whom they were surrounded. He is also securing them against the constant dread of starvation which is one of the most poignant memories of the last years of the War and the first years of the Peace. Over 700,000 died of sheer hunger in those dark years. You can still see the effect in the physique of those who were born into that bleak world.
The fact that Hitler has rescued his country from the fear of a repetition of that period of despair, penury and humiliation has given him an unchallenged authority in modern Germany.
As to his popularity, especially among the youth of Germany, there can be no manner of doubt. The old trust him; the young idolise him. It is not the admiration accorded to a popular leader. It is the worship of a national hero who has saved his country from utter despondency and degradation.
To those who have actually seen and sensed the way Hitler reigns over the heart and mind of Germany, this description may appear extravagant. All the same, it is the bare truth. This great people will work better, sacrifice more, and, if necessary, fight with greater resolution because Hitler asks the to do so. Those who do not comprehend this central fact cannot judge the present possibilities of modern Germany.
That impression more than anything I witnessed during my short visit to the new Germany. There was a revivalist atmosphere. It had an extraordinary effect in unifying the nation. Catholic and Protestant, Prussian and Bavarian, employer and workman, rich and poor, have been consolidated into one people. Religious, provincial and class origins no longer divide the nation. There is a passion for unity born of dire necessity.
I have never met a happier people than the Germans and Hitler is one of the greatest men.David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor
¹Table Talk (1941 – 44), p700