Sources will be found listed in the bibliography and in the reference notes at the end of the book—the latter listed by an identifying phrase from the text, page number and the source.
Introduction: the Story
The end of the First World War changed the world forever. It shattered the remnants of pre-modern Western society and unknowingly sowed the seeds for a concluding mass-slaughter to be suffered a generation later. The war cost virtuallyall of Europe’s remaining major dynastic powers their thrones and marked the beginning of the end of European colonialism. Besides shifting the balance of power in the world, the war also catapulted the United States of America into the international arena. Until that point it had remained mostly secluded from and rather unimportant to world affairs.
While it had dabbled with building an overseas empire during the cynical Spanish-American War, the United States really only entered the competitive field of international power while briefly fighting in, then brokering a fractured “peace” to the “war to end all wars” twenty years later, following the defeat of the German Kaiser in 1918. Whereas before the world war the young republic understandably had preoccupied itself with settling what had been an unspoiled continent, during and after the greatest armed struggle humanity had endured to that point, the U.S. discovered a new role in the world. Urgently looked to as a supplier of raw materials, soldiers and the capital needed to finance armaments, the U.S. utilized its position during the fighting to influence other Western powers; after the armistace, it claimed a leading place among them and garnered fantastic wealth from manufacturing products for a rapidly growing market abroad. Like stone-collecting children suddenly finding themselves possessing valuable gems, U.S. American government leaders and capitalists soon became giddy on the nation’s new-found prowess and set out to exploit what they deemed would become an “American Century.”
The United States’ ambiguous relationship with world power grew naturally out of its own history. On one hand, even since its colonial days the cultural experience of its people had fostered a sense of uniqueness, a faith that on the shores of the New World refugees from the old one had found a haven from the cruel limitations of stifling social tradition, political tyranny and perpetual poverty. White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant men seemed free to develop their lives as they chose and the riches of the wilderness generated unprecedented abundance for those persons with enough luck, pluck or shrewd cunning to survive life on the frontier. A hybrid strain of individualism developed in the young country that transformed former communally minded European peasants into a people confident in the fruits of personal “progress” and freedom. Rejecting the heavy hand of authoritarian rule and rigid class systems, they embraced an ethos of unlimited opportunity and the sanctity of the individual.
A seeming confirmation of their culture’s sense of having been divinely chosen as the New Canaan, U.S. Americans achieved the amazing feat of building a European-based culture across an entire continent in an astonishing short time. Convinced of the soundness of the national myth that ordinary persons now could realize humanity’s ever-elusive “pursuit of happiness,” U.S. Americans invested in expectations of personal advancement not obtainable in most other cultures. On becoming a world power, then, they set out beyond the shores of North America carrying with them this same idealism. Perhaps more than any other national characteristic, it would be the common U.S. American belief in freedom, fairness and a favorable outcome of most situations that would differentiate them from other peoples—and which repeatedly would receive a sound beating.
The United States assumed for most of its history it was not soiled by the same corruptions and ills that its constant flow of emigrants had fled. On the other hand, though, the growing country remained an awkward, self-conscious adolescent more established nations. It was one thing to briefly bathe in the self-righteous glory of military victory and savor the taste of world power; yet actually fulfilling the obligations of such a role seemed quite another matter. Unexpectedly thrust into the scrutinizing eye of a world hungry for peacetime leadership and direction, U.S. Americans soon lost the intoxicating reverie of having beaten the “Huns” and found the international spotlight a very sobering place to be. Some of the country’s leaders may have continued to champion active participation in the world’s political affairs, but common citizens overwhelmingly preferred a collective retreat home to regroup and reconsider the rather uncomfortable questions implicit in such a swift national coming-of-age.
Despite initially rallying behind Woodrow Wilson’s impossible, self-contradicting promise to engage the country in a war to eliminate war, public opinion after the signing of the Versaille Treaty again became decidedly isolationist—mostly in fear of so suddenly being handed international responsibility and easily slipping into “entangling Alliances.” Bowing to public sentiment, the Senate refused to ratify Wilson’s plan for U.S. involvement in the League of Nations. Voters subsequently elected in Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover—three Presidents who would cater to the interests of domestic business rather than of a global order. For the duration of the 1920s, then, U.S. Americans largely distracted themselves with the pursuit of making lots of money—and loads of whoopie.
Besides flinging the country down a road of exaggerated power and wealth, the war had slapped former Victorian ideals in the face, in the process shattering earlier visions of simple morality and innocence. Yanked from the Heartland and plopped down in the midst of battlefield brutality, many U.S. soldiers returned from the war confused by the disturbing contrast between comfortable small-town life in rural American and the atrocities they’d witnessed in the trenches. In Europe young U.S. men had danced with women uninhibited by Puritanical prudence and U.S. blacks became celebrities in a France not yet made racist by the influx of former African and Arab subjects. Correspondents excitedly sent home word of a world larger than the limiting realm of church socials, the Masonic Temple and a stool at the local drugstore soda fountain. And, during the wartime labor shortage, U.S. women for the first time left the hearth to fill what previously had been male positions. In short, a de facto cultural revolution had erupted in the midst of an unsuspecting population.
Injected with new enthusiasm for personal advancement and a stable homefront after the war, the economy boomed. In addition to supplying European reconstruction efforts and drawing vast interest from wartime loans, U.S. business expanded through the selling of stocks and bonds. Confident in the prosperity of the times, seemingly everyone invested in the stock market; not only oil barons and steel magnates, but Parson Smith and Farmer Brown all scraped together their expendable funds and bought as many shares as they could. From 1918 to 1929 Dow Jones Industrial Average highs shot from 89.07 to 381.17. Big corporations bought out smaller companies, farms consolidated as the rural population shrunk from fifty-three to forty-three percent of the total population between 1910 and 1930, and increasing numbers of young people flocked to colleges and universities as education became synonymous with “making it.” Indeed, from appearances at least, it did seem that in the heady United States of the Roaring Twenties, “happy days [were] here to stay.”
In a climate where a fatherly Warren Harding promised “normalcy” and a stoic Calvin Coolidge matter-of-factly proclaimed that “the business of America is business,” differing social values began dueling with each other. While Rotary infected Main Street with community and mercantile boosterism, Hollywood advertised a world of glamour, of unleashed sexy men snubbing social roles to individually pursue fame and fortune, and of women casually smoking cigarettes and wearing short hemlines. Ma and Pa may have piously touted prohibition, hard work and familial fidelity back in everyone’s hometown, but Junior and Sis off at college carried pocket and hip flasks, went driving in fast cars and necked at illicit parties. Bootleg booze, jazz and wild dancing seemed to many as proof of degeneracy, yet for most a quiet conformity characterized daily life. A noisy minority may have caught national attention, but the majority of mainstream U.S. Americans continued living in a fading era of benighted small-town life.
Disheartened by the basically conservative times, however, a fringe subculture of young U.S. Americans bolted for Europe. Seizing upon the cultural tempo of metropolitan Paris, Gertrude Stein set up a salon and invited in the most promising U.S. American artists of the time—artists who mostly were exploring their native culture from afar and reinterpreting the “American experience.” The likes of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald (with Zelda) marched through Stein’s crowded parlor and into international fame for their avantgarde writing, but they represented only a wider community of creative ex-patriots. James Thurber, Harold Stearns, Elliot Paul and Ezra Pound all passed through Paris on their way to successful writing careers, as did Sinclair Lewis, Sherwood Anderson and Edith Wharton. Isadora Duncan and Bessie Smith set new standards for innovative dance and entertainment—and even folksy Grant Wood came to chic Paris in order to discover the simple majesty of Midwestern cornfields. Jazz cried throughout the nightclubs of the French capital and “l’attitude américaine” became synonymous with daring expressiveness, abandon and innovation.
Somehow, it seemed, the best of the United States cultural scene in the ‘20s lived in exile in Paris. No longer children of an isolated frontier, these young U.S. Americans had journeyed into the complex postwar world to gain the perspective born of distance from what is closest to a person: her or his own cultural identity. Although they had forsaken (at least temporarily) their native land, U.S. Americans living in voluntary exile in Europe embodied the struggle of a maturing culture in search of itself. Mostly children of Middle America—Hemingway hailed from suburban Chicago, the Fitzgeralds and Lewis from Minnesota, Anderson from Ohio, Wood and Shirer from Iowa, Bessie Smith from Kansas City—they had left the Heartland behind and sought refuge on the more tolerant, less conformist shores of postwar Europe. Although their works were often banned at home by mayors, preachers and teachers fearful of dissident views of a society the mainstream tried so hard to portray as “pure” and divinely blessed, the critical art of U.S. expatriates ultimately broke open and sometimes down some of the United States’ most guarded values, tastes and mores.
In the last months of a decade that would come to epitomize greed, political isolation and personal carefreeness, the gilded facade of the postwar boom collapsed. The stock market crashed and the silly, robust ‘20s gave way to the dire, depressed ‘30s. The U.S. expatriate colony in Paris quietly snuck home, as did most of the U.S. businesspeople, journalists and political representatives who had ribboned the world during the years following the First World War in search of expanding markets, paper-selling headlines and U.S. clout overseas. In the States the industrial machinery of the nation abruptly stopped, Ma and Pa tightened their belts back on the farm and Junior and Sis set aside their flasks and began hawking apples. No longer obsessed only with their own cultural identities, pioneering artists became preoccupied instead with paying the rent and filling their stomachs. Quickly weaned from the illusion of a premature national adulthood, the rising Zenith of the projected American Century crashed during takeoff—while an oblivious Herbert Hoover fished more and lead the nation less.
The world—especially Europe—had mostly welcomed the United States’ entry into the international theater during the war. While skeptical of U.S. culture and the sophistication of its people, Europeans admired the accomplishments of their castaway cousins and appreciated the relief work following the ceasefire provided by both the U.S. government and private organizations. In the embittering times of the Depression, however, the United States experienced an increasingly complicated relationship with other countries. Germany, France and Great Britain—as well as numerous other countries—owed vast debts to the U.S. after having borrowed heavily during the prosperous years of economic expansion. Now the same loans that had allowed Europe to rebuild threatened to tear apart its political stability and material well-being. Reeling under tremendous war reparations and domestic obligations, Germany wished to reschedule its debt to U.S. banks. Subsequently, throughout Europe U.S. Americans were no longer applauded as heroes, but rather tolerated as visitors; a bus of U.S. American tourists in Paris was even attacked by an angry mob.
The still-young nation’s search for identity continued even during the Depression, but in less obvious ways and stripped of the urgency afforded that quest by careless youth. Instead of mostly rebellious Bohemians, a more diverse crowd would carry on the role of discovering the “American character” from abroad. Journalists would still venture into other lands, but individuals more typical of the U.S. population as a whole also would move into the world. No longer shielded by the blind confidence of a newfound international status or postwar prosperity, these people by necessity would see their country and themselves in more realistic terms. Especially in a Germany overtaken by the National Socialists, U.S. Americans abroad in the sober 1930s had to more seriously examine the U.S.’ role in the world and how being U.S. Americans set them apart from other peoples. The experiences they had in the Third Reich, for example, emphasized in both direct as well as subtle ways how being U.S. American affected them and their experiences.
A “journalist” of a sort and the son of a New England patrician family, veteran writer Lothrop Stoddard would travel to Germany soon after the war began in September 1939. A rightist, while aware of some of its excesses he would shamelessly apologize for the horrors of the Third Reich—even issuing a mostly uncritical account of his meeting with the Fuehrer. Supportive of Nazi efforts to breed a master race through the use of “eugenics,” Stoddard’s experiences inside the Third Reich remain a reminder that easily duped, selfish individuals were not only the products of a German nationalism starved for revengeful leadership, but also of a country renowned for its love of personal freedom.
Overall, the stories about the experiences of the eleven U.S. Americans included in the following chapters—from the spectacular to the mundane—provide numerous examples of or references to how the cultural background of the subjects affected their experiences of Nazi Germany. More than that, however, they suggest how during the course of their stay in the Third Reich, the subjects came to more clearly understand what it means to be an “American.”
Viewed collectively, these stories represent the early wanderings into the world of an adolescent-culture-come-world-power in search of its self and its place among older, more seasoned societies. In the experiences of U.S. Americans inside Nazi Germany lay valuable lessons about the influence of cultural background on who we really are as individuals and on the choices we make. Through better understanding those dynamics, hopefully each of us who shares these stories can better understand ourselves, our culture and our role in the world today.
Introduction: the Setting
Germany’s fate following the end of the First World War hardly could have been any more different from that of the United States. While Britain, France, Czarist Russia, Austria, Italy and the other warring nations each played a role in spilling wholesale destruction on what had appeared to be a thoroughly civilized continent, Germany received the bulk of the blame for the mess when it was over. During four years of global war, the world’s major powers each slugged out their quests for supremacy in the trenches; in the end, however, Germany paid the highest price for a war that had essentially begun by “accident.”
Immediately following the First World War, Britain and France attempted a return to business as normal. Germany, however, enjoyed no such luxury. For almost a decade and a half following German capitulation, Germany’s economy staggered under an impossible debt assessed to it by the Allies as war reparations. In the vacuum created by the Kaiser’s fall, the citizenry sunk in a fierce struggle for power. Unused to genuine self-rule, a revolution broke out after a proposed constitutional monarchy failed at the war’s end and various political factions began an ugly match for control of the country. Finally, after complex politicking, Paul von Hindenburg—a member of the former royalist government—and Friedrich Ebert, a Social Democrat, formed the Weimarer Republic in February 1919.
The collapse of German national pride, street violence and crumbling parliamentary coalitions marked the early years of the precarious Weimarer Republic. At the Versailles treaty table, a helpless interim German government accepted the terms of a forced peace that left the German people indignant. Besides signing a war-guilt clause accepting complete responsibility for the war, the German delegation watched as the Allies seized all German colonies and carved off German territories with a combined population of over seven million people. Incredulous of the terms, the German people widely believed their government had been tricked into signing such a shameful armistice. Swayed by charges made by dejected monarchists and the military, many Germans believed the lie that the Kaiser’s army had never been defeated, but instead had been stabbed in the back by the “November criminals”: Republicans, Socialists and Jews. Guilty by association, the Weimarer government never fully gained the confidence of the German people.
The Weimarer coalition government remained a shaky one for all of its brief life. Attacked from both the Left and the Right, it attempted to establish a liberal, capitalist democracy in a country with a traditionally conservative, authoritarian legacy. In the open-season climate of weak Weimarer rule, Communists and the Freikorps—Volunteer Corp—fought each other on the streets of Berlin. A coup d’etat failed in 1920, followed by political assassinations and revolving party mergers. The value of the Mark dropped precipitously, bread lines formed and civil war threatened to engulf Germany. Finally, a squawking little Austrian by the name of Adolf Hitler and his small Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—National Socialist German Workers’ Party, or “Nazi”—movement staged an aborted revolt in Munich. The acting prime minister, Gustav Stresemann responded to the county’s crises by suppressing further coup attempts and issuing a new national currency, the Rentenmark.
After years of social turmoil, events in Germany finally calmed. A team of British and U.S. officials met to reschedule Germany’s war debt, and the signing of the Locarno Pact—in which Germany renounced claims to Alsace-Lorraine and other contested borders—opened the way for Germany’s entry into the League of Nations in 1928. Large foreign investments rejuvenated the German economy; wages rose and unemployment fell to one million. Centrist parties dominated the Reichstag and former agitants grew quiet.
Peace and prosperity, however, were short-lived. The crash of the New York Stock Exchange in late 1929 triggered a sudden global depression. Because Germany’s recovery had depended upon foreign credits, when they ceased and previous loans were called in, the German economy slumped: Germany’s foreign trade shriveled, industry sacked workers, wages shrunk and bankruptcies spread like mushrooms after a spring rain.
Overseeing the second national crisis to wreck Germany in a single decade, centrist pro-Weimarer parties could not sustain popular support, making way for Left and Right extremist parties to quickly ascend to power. While Communists rose to be the third largest party in Germany, the once-obscure Nazi Party ranked as the largest. The Nazis did not have a clear mandate to rule, but because the single-minded Nazis were better organized under Hitler’s strict leadership than the constantly bickering Communists, the clever Nazis managed by 1933 to take advantage of the liberal Weimarer regime’s own rules and almost effortlessly overthrow it.
Presenting itself in a time of exaggerated, desperate need, many Germans found in the Nazi Party a simplistic response to the country’s ills. Directed by Hitler’s masterful demagoguery, the Nazis represented an alternative to both the feeble “leadership” provided by Weimarer democrats and the prospect of a Soviet-sponsored dictatorship of the proletariat. Using as their Bible the twisted musings of their angry, hateful leader recorded in Mein Kampf, the Nazis appealed to the latent nationalism of the German people and manipulated their desire to reassert their collective power. The Nazis stressed the need for individual subordination to the state, but in return offered a paternalism promised to provide for the needs of all “true” Germans—a distinction which excluded Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, Communists and all others the regime decreed “enemies of the state.” Nazi leaders publicly decried pacifism, liberal democracy and humanitarianism; concurrently, they touted militarism, hatred against dissident elements, national territorial expansion and unquestioning obedience to Nazi tenets.
While Fascist movements occurred simultaneously in Italy, Spain and to lesser extents in France, Britain and the United States, National Socialism grew out of German cultural and political history. The eighteen-century Prussian kings Frederich the First and Frederich the Second cultivated a mystic of “Blut und Eisen”—“blood and iron.” They elevated militarism and the icons of Teutonic culture into veritable religions. In doing so, they established a tradition where the Prussian army provided a cultural model for German civic as well as private life. They reinforced a class system based largely on aristocratic and military lines where the monarchy, the army and the aims of the state scarcely could be distinguished. Ultimately—under the shrewd, autocratic direction of Kaiser Wilhelm the II and his main general, Otto von Bismarck—Prussian society would give birth in 1871 to a unified Germany. Where before Germanic peoples lived in hundreds of disjointed city-states and principalities, Bismarck founded the German nation.
Following the chauvinistic examples of Prussia’s Hohenzollern kings, nationalist philosophers such as Frankfurt’s Arthur Schopenhauer painted humanity in only the darkest light, reaffirming popular belief in the depravity of humankind and intimating the necessity for draconian rule. Meanwhile, Friedrich Nietzsche went on to name the underlying nihilistic Angst of the German soul and suggest the need for German cultural collectivism. Men like historian Oswald Spengler maintained that the “law of societies” involves cyclical rises and falls of nations; he concluded that western civilization had entered a period of decay which only those with clear vision could save through forceful action. His contemporary, cultural critic Arthur Moeller also prepared the intellectual ground for Nazism, as he christened the “Third Reich” and insisted on the existence of an innate German superiority over others based on unscientific psychological types.
Kings and men of letters, however, weren’t the only ones to propagate German nationalism or blend it with empty dogma based on “race” .The composer Richard Wagner propounded the idea of a Nordic superhuman—the blonde “Aryan” of ancient Teutonic lore—and of a German Volk, a people set apart from all others by virtue of their “race” and history. In the early decades of the twentieth century, German youth leaders declared visions of Gemeinschaft—true community—as the foundations of a quasi-mystical rebirth of the nation. They enthusiastically sold to an eager public romantic images of leadership and camaraderie as antidotes to rationalism and stultifying bourgeois values. Capitalizing upon old prejudices against non-Aryans, nineteen-century German nationalists of all sorts pointed to an alleged “Jewish problem” and they claimed without reservation the right to expand Germany’s political boundaries over lands currently occupied by Slavs.
Europe in the late nineteen-century whirled with dizzying claims by proponents of various ideologies and political agenda. A social misfit with dubious ancestry and a childhood marked by abuse, Adolf Hitler’s encounter with some of the movements occurring at that time helped form the basis of what would become official Nazi ideology. An unsuccessful architect-turned-postcard-painter, Hitler drifted through prewar Viennese society and listened to the likes of Karl Luger, the organizer of an anti-capitalist and anti-Semitic movement for poor Catholic youth—a movement which was both politically radical yet loyal to the ruling Hapsburgs. Hitler also found inspiration in the form of Georg von Schoenerer’s pan-Germanic, anti-aristocratic rantings and the labor-organizing work of Schoenerer’s disciple Karl Hermann Wolf. Wolf founded a workers’ party for Sudeten Germans in the Czech state of Bohemia, which bore the name Deutsche National-Sozialistische Arbeiterpartei—the namesake for Hitler’s own subsequent party.
Out of the historical aggregate of German nationalism, anti-Semitism and political dogma, Hitler designed a peculiar ideology that suited his own grandiose ambitions. In the name of pan-Germanism and German superiority, he advanced his claims for territorial expansion and hegemony. Hitler courted restless Prussian military leaders who saw the Versailles Treaty as a mere obstacle to the German campaign for Lebensraum—living space—and fed the German people fanciful yet fanatical drivel about the purported “mission” of the German “master race.”
Hitler offered a badly beaten country an anesthetizing potion against frustrated national aims and an insidious inferiority complex—and in the process assured his own ascendancy to Germany’s leadership. Utilizing the brilliant propagandists and menacing ruffians who populated his party, the would-be Fuehrer pointed to a purported Bolshevik threat while at the same time plotting his own dictatorship. As the National Socialists gained increasing numbers of votes in German elections, Hitler used force to intimidate—and later completely silence—his opponents. Taking advantage of mass psychology and the new electronic media, Hitler apportioned all of Germany’s problems to one enemy—the easily targeted Jew—and embodied for the nation its desire to regain lost pride through full employment, stability, rearmament and international respect. Declaring Ein Volk, Ein Land, Ein Fuehrer (“one people, one country, one leader”), Hitler oversaw the transformation of his Nazis from a ragtag underground movement in Munich to supreme rulers looking out over a revitalized German Reich from the Berlin’s halls of government. Against formidable odds, the Nazis won absolute power in Germany.
Once the joke of both urban intellectuals and provincial officials, when Hitler took office in 1933 he seized the means to institutionalize what earlier had been mere political theorizing. After the fall of the Weimarer government, Germany underwent nothing less than a Nazi revolution. The Nazi Party and the regime became indistinguishable. The Nazis found in the people the support needed to practice their policies based on racism and megalomania, while the people found in the fully installed Nazis the means to restore their precious Ordnung—order—and express frustrated German nationalism.
Giving the Schutzstaffeln (or “SS”) unlimited “freedom of the streets,” Hitler came to dominate every aspect of political life in Germany, as well as much of the private lives of its people. In the totalitarian police state that he and his thugs created, schools and universities, the media, theater and the arts became organs of the state. These bodies, along with the compulsory Hitler Youth, strove to indoctrinate the population—especially the children—with Nazism. Both Catholic and Protestant churches came under the scrutiny of the state-run German Church Organization. Initially under the guise of creating work brigades as an alternative to unemployment, the Nazis also began secretly rearming the country. With German society firm in hand and rearmament underway, then, Hitler began his brisk march toward war.
Introduction: the Characters
While Theodore Lothrop Stoddard used his experiences inside Nazi Germany as material for his writing, he did not go to Europe simply as a journalist. Instead, he went on a personal search to discover firsthand what Nazism meant to Germany and the world. Stoddard’s father was a well-known world traveler and lecturer: like his father, Stoddard used his travels to find literary inspiration.
The author of over a dozen books, Stoddard was born to John Lawson and Mary Hammond Brown Stoddard on 29 May 1883 in Brookline, Massachusetts. He graduated from Harvard and Boston University and joined the Massachusetts Bar in 1908. Stoddard earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1914 while writing his first book, The French Revolution in San Domingo. He next became interested in Europe. He wrote Present-Day Europe: Its National States of Mind in 1917 and The Stakes of the War in 1918. Thinking it had found an authority on the war, Harpers hired him to write for their Pictorial Library of the World War in 1919. Soon afterwards, Stoddard became increasingly concerned about racial politics, as reflected in his The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy, 1920 and The New World of Islam, 1921. The Revolt Against Civilization and Racial Realities in Europe—published respectively in 1922 and 1924—set Stoddard in the middle of controversy and provoked charges of being racist.
Shifting his attention away from purely racial matters, Stoddard wrote Social Classes in Postwar Europe in 1925 and Scientific Humanism in 1926. Reflecting the resurgent U.S. patriotism of the time, in 1927 he released Re-Forging America. As he grew older, Stoddard retreated to safer issues. His The Story of Youth, 1928, and Luck—Your Silent Partner, 1929, spoke to the trivialized interests of the United States during the apex of the Roaring Twenties. The stock market crash and the ensuing Great Depression, however, changed Stoddard’s interests yet again, for in 1932 he wrote Europe and Our Money and Lonely America. Turning once more to race, he published Chasing the Tides of Color in 1935. A Republican and Unitarian, the aging Stoddard took on his last writing mission in 1940 when he sailed to Germany to see how a group of supreme racists—the Nazis—were reforging Europe.