The Weimar Constitution provided the Nazis with a convenient basis for the establishment of the totalitarian state. They made no effort to conceal their intention of taking advantage of the weaknesses of the Weimar Republic in order to attain power. On April 30, 1928 Dr. Goebbels wrote in his paper Der Angriff:
We enter Parliament in order to supply ourselves, in the arsenal of democracy, with its own weapons. We become members of the Reichstag in order to paralyze the Weimar sentiment with its own assistance. If democracy is so stupid as to give us free tickets and salaries for this bear’s work, that is its affair ...
And later in the same article:
We do not come as friends,
nor even as neutrals. We come as
enemies. As the wolf bursts into the flock, so we come.
Hitler expressed the same idea on September 1, 1933, when, looking back upon the struggle for political power in Germany, he wrote:
This watchword of democratic freedom led only to insecurity, indiscipline, and at length to the downfall and destruction of all authority. Our opponents’ objection that we, too, once made use of these rights, will not hold water; for we made use of an unreasonable right, which was part and parcel of an unreasonable system, in order to overthrow the unreason of this system.
Discussing the rise to power of the Nazis, Huber (document 1, post p. 155) wrote in 1939:
The parliamentary battle of the NSDAP had the single purpose of destroying the parliamentary system from within through its own methods. It was necessary above all to make formal use of the possibilities of the party-state system but to refuse real cooperation and thereby to render the parliamentary system, which is by nature dependent upon the responsible cooperation of the opposition, incapable of action.
As its parliamentary strength increased, the party was able to achieve these aims:
It was in a position to make the formation of any positive majority in the Reichstag impossible.... Thus the NSDAP was able through its strong position to make the Reichstag powerless as a lawgiving and government-forming body.
The same principle was followed by Germany in weakening and undermining the governments of countries which it had chosen for its victims. While it was Hitler’s policy to concentrate on only one objective at a time, German agents were busy throughout the world in ferreting out the natural political, social, and economic cleavages in various countries and in broadening them in order to create internal confusion and uncertainty. Foreign political leaders of Fascist or authoritarian persuasion were encouraged and often liberally subsidized from Nazi funds. Control was covertly obtained over influential newspapers and periodicals and their editorial policies shaped in such a way as to further Nazi ends. In the countries Germany sought to overpower, all the highly developed organs of Nazi propaganda were utilized to confuse and divide public opinion, to discredit national leaders and institutions, and to induce an unjustified feeling of confidence in the false assertions of Nazi leaders disclaiming any aggressive intentions.