“… by October 1934 three million workers had been reemployed in Germany over two years, half the previous total of unemployed, and Keynes’s silence on Hitler’s New Deal was deafening. The reason is that Hitler’s recovery programme was too mixed up with imperialist aims and terroristic methods for it to hold any attraction for him. Keynes was trying to save liberal society, not destroy it. He would give no comfort to its enemies. Garraty has noted the similarities between Hitler’s and Roosevelt’s programmes; even their rhetoric, with its invocation of the war spirit, sounded the same.Hitler had come to power on 30 January, 1933. What is interesting is that already by August 1933 Keynes condemned Nazi Germany as barbarism, long before the horrors of Kristallnacht (November 9–10, 1938) or Hitler’s international aggression.
But, whereas Roosevelt was the scion of the American ruling class, Hitler was nurtured on the hatreds of Central Europe and the agony of Germany’s defeat; for him war was the purpose, not the symbol, of the effort to restore Germany’s industrial might.
Keynes understood this from the start. ‘Germany is at the mercy of unchained irresponsibles,’ he wrote on 15 July 1933. And on 19 September: ‘Broken in body and spirit, [they] seek escape in a return backwards to the modes and manners of the Middle Ages, if not of Odin.’ Anti-semitic though Keynes occasionally seems by the standards of out day, he was outraged by the officially sponsored outbreaks of Jew-baiting in Nazi Germany. On 25 August 1933, he wrote to Professor Spiethoff, who was arranging the publication of a German translation of ‘National Self-Sufficiency’:Forgive me for my words about barbarism. But that word rightly indicates the effect of recent events in Germany on all of us here …. It is many generations in our judgement since such disgraceful events have occurred in any country pretending to call itself civilised ... If you tell me that these events have taken place, not by force, but as an expression of the general will … that in our view would make some of the persecutions and outrages of which we hear … ten times more horrible.When Germany withdrew from the World Disarmament Conference on 14 October, he wrote to Lydia, ‘Everyone must soon be faced with the alternative of simply allowing Germany to rearm when she likes, or of attacking her as soon as she begins to do so. Hideous!’ Keynes never went to look at the ‘new’ Germany. Carl Melchior, subjected to anti-semitic attack, died in December 1933. When the Mayor of Hamburg visited King’s College in 1934 and invited Keynes over, he replied, ‘After the death of my friend . . . there is nothing left that could attract me to Hamburg.’” (Skidelsky 1992: 486).
Skidelsky, R. J. A. 1992. John Maynard Keynes: The Economist as Saviour 1920–1937, Macmillan, London.