So, the Kaiser was asked in 1938 what he thought of Hitler, according to this thing I found on the Internet
. Here is his verdict:
So, for Wilhelm, sitting in the Netherlands in 1938, the problem with Hitler is: 1) he's not a family man, 2) he's not religious, and 3) he doesn't have any monarchical right to absolute power.
Not that he wasn't on board for a while. He admits National Socialism had a certain allure for him, especially when one considers the quality of the people involved...
Just a quick runthrough of that roster:
- Papen was the one who convinced Hindenberg that this Hitler guy was quite harmless and should be allowed into the government. He quit after they killed some of his friends during the Night of the Long Knives, but the Nazis found roles for him throughout the war - ambassador to Turkey etc. When captured at his home he remarked that "I wish this terrible war were over." An American paratroopers replied "so do 11 million other guys!" Acquitted at Nuremberg.
- Schleicher was the last chancellor of the Weimar Republic. Didn't like Papen as a potential successor, so he voted the Hitler ticket. He figured he'd still be in charge, since he ran the Army. He slipped on a bar of soap and fell on a bullet in 1933.
- Neurath - Foreign minister until 1938. In the late 30s he and Blomberg (below) warned that attacking Russia would lead to a repeat of WWI, with the western powers forcing Germany into a war on two fronts. He was fine with the annexation of Austria and Czechoslovokia, just didn't want to go too far. Hitler, knowing he needed a wartime consigliere, replaced him with Ribbentrop. Neurath went on to various domestic roles, but lacking sufficient enthusiasm for the agenda was denuded of his remaining powers. He "tried to resign" on several occasions and finally managed to do so in 1943. Convicted on various charges at Nuremberg, he got a compassionate release from Spandau in 1954, died in 1956.
- Blomberg - Commander-in-Chief of the German armed forces from 1933-1938, "one of Hitler's most devoted followers." A 1928 visit to the Soviet Union persuaded him of the military benefits of totalitarianism. He had practical experience with those benefits, too: stuck with the job of organizing the defense of East Prussia with just one division in the early 30s, he found that making lists of every man of military age for potential conscription was helpful. He was a big fan of the Hitler Oath for the military. Alas, in 1938 it emerged (with help from Göring) that his second wife had once been the subject of dirty pictures, taken by a Jew. His career was over. Raeder tried to convince him to commit suicide, but Blomberg instead spent a year-long honeymoon on the Isle of Capri. He spent WWII in obscurity and gave evidence at Nuremburg, where he died of cancer and was buried in an unmarked grave.
These are the fine men on whom Wilhelm had staked his hopes. Without their cultural centeredness and fine moral guidance, he can see only naked, meaningless, mundane, victory: