Burnie, Tasmania, Aus.
Thursday 15 September 1938
LAUNCESTON, – Wednesday. – “I am perfectly satisfied in my own mind that no one in Germany today wants war,” said Mr. Arthur Cook, General Secretary of the New Zealand Workers’ Union, in an interview at Launceston today.
Mr. Cook, who represented the workers of New Zealand at the recent International Labor Conference at Geneva, spent some time in Germany, where, he thinks, conditions of the workers are better than anywhere else in the world, and far ahead of Australia or England.
Hours of work in Germany were longer than in Australia, he said. The largest factories observed a nine-hour day and a 54-hour week, but conditions were immeasurably superior. Germany was a highly militarised country, and that had had a big effect in destroying home life. * see my comment below
Mr. Cook said he was much impressed by the fact that no physically fit man or woman was without work. There were no signs of poverty, and everyone was working enthusiastically to build up a self-contained country and a physically fit nation.
“I made a point of discussing the question of war- whenever and wherever I could” continued Mr. Cook, “and I can honestly say that nowhere did I gain the impression that war was wanted. Everyone expressed the hope that Germany would never have to go to war again, particularly with England. The older people with knowledge of the last war, and the young men alike made it perfectly clear that they had no wish to go to war, although the military policy of the country was such that if war broke out they would be forced to take part. “
One thing I did notice was the extensive hatred of Russia among the German people. Frequently I heard it said that if another war came Russia would be the cause of it.”
* Comments: There is NO evidence for that remark! Germans were happy and prospering, and they enjoyed the highest standard of living of any industrialized nation at that time, with unprecedented social benefits which were the envy of all other nations. He may have been talking about earlier times under the Kaiser. Just guessing.
Keith, a friend from the UK says:
“My Grand Parents Visited Germany in Summer 1939. They were astounded how well off the Ordinary Germans were, and how happy and content they were. Britain’s Working people were still poverty stricken. Children went barefoot in my home town of Gateshead till 1945, and people still had outside toilets till the 1980s.”
Indeed, my German parents who grew up under Hitler knew fellow Germans who had gone on paid cruises to England. Upon return, they reported that the Brits were a sorry lot, and that the people there could not believe that these German tourists were merely average German workers going on a paid vacation cruise. The Brits had thought they must be the “well to do” types until they had engaged them in conversation.