“His Favorite Sport”

“His Favorite Sport” (August 17, 1934)
by Cyrus Cotton “Cy” Hungerford (1889-1983)
14.5 x 17.5 in., ink on paper
Coppola Collection

Hungerford worked for the Wheeling (West VA) Register before becoming editorial cartoonist for the Pittsburgh Sun for fifteen years from 1912. He joined the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1927 and stayed there until his retirement in 1977.

As early as April 1934, Hitler knew that Hindenburg would be dead by year’s end. He spent much of the spring and summer working to get the armed forces to support him as Hindenburg’s successor. Huge banners blazened with the “JA dem Führer!” campaign message adorned buildings. The year before, no parties other than Nazis were permitted, so this was the last step for Hitler to assimilate power. Hindenburg, as President, had the power to dismiss Hitler.

On August 1, with Hindenburg nearly gone, pushed the cabinet into passing a law that merged the offices of President and Chancellor. The next day, immediately after Hindenburg’s death, within hours, Hitler had the armed forces swear allegiance to the new Führer.

A referendum was to be held on August 19, a move so typical of Hitler’s reign, to demonstrate (by strong-arming with no actual choice) that these political changes were the will of the people. The interim between taking power and then claiming it was filled with the typically out-sized and out-loud rhetoric used by the new Nazi leader.

Hitler to declare a national holiday on August 17, 1934 so that he could address the German people directly over the millions registered radio sets.

Never let it be said that the world did not notice the rise of this windbag, inflated by and backed by his troops.

Author and academician George M. Schuster, at the end of 1934, published “Strong Man Rules,” an attempt to interpret of the rise and victory of the Nazi movement and of its policies. He made an effort to understand the failure of liberalism in Germany and to explain the evolution of the mentality that moved such a large part of the German people to see heroism and statesmanship.

Schuster writes: “I went to listen to Hitler again, but Hitler is a windbag and a wire-puller – a politician who knows how to capitalize his own emotions and those of others.

‘Under cover of the high-falutin’ verbiage with which Hitlerism drugged its followers, the Nazis “carried out as efficient a raid on the cupboard as Mother Hubbard’s own. When they were through, it was bare indeed. They made laws enabling them to revise the civil service codes, and under cover of that revision placed their men in all jobs within reach. Persons without the slightest training or practical experience were dropped into august easy chairs.”

Among other positions, Shuster would go on to a 20-year tenure as the President of Hunter College (1940-1960).

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