Adolf Hitler's Address to the Reichstag (30 January 1939)
Greatly disconcerted about the future of my Volk, I moved into Wilhelmstrasse on January 30, 1933. Today—six years later—I am able to speak before this first Greater German Reichstag! Truly, we are today better equipped than any generation before us to appreciate the pious import of the saying: “What a turn of events brought about by divine dispensation!” Six years sufficed to fulfill the dreams of many a century; one year to afford our Volk enjoyment of the unity which many a generation yearned for in vain.
When I look at you today, the representatives of our German Volk from all Gaus of the Reich gathered around me, and I know the elected men of the Ostmark and the Sudetenland to be among you, then I am once more overwhelmed by those tremendous impressions recollected from that one year which realized the longings of centuries. How much blood was shed for this object—for naught! How many millions of German men strode forth on this bitter path throughout the years, conscious or unconscious of the higher ambitions they served—a path which led them to a swift or painfully prolonged death. How many others were condemned to end their lives behind fortress or dungeon walls, lives they sought only to dedicate to Greater Germany! How many hundreds of thousands, bending under the yoke of misery and worry, were forced to join that never-ending stream of German emigrants surging forth into the world, for decades cherishing the memory of the unfortunate homeland, after generations forgetting her. And now, in the span of this one year, a dream has come true.
It was not realized without a fight, as many an forgetful bourgeois might believe. For before this year of German unity, a political idea had to struggle fanatically for nearly two decades. Hundreds of thousands, millions risked their lives, their physical existence and economic livelihood. They put up with mockery and scorn as willingly as they faced abusive treatment, base defamation, and near-unbearable terror. Throughout the German Gaus, countless corpses and the injured splattered with blood bore witness to this struggle. And, moreover, this success was secured by an immeasurable rallying of willpower and perseverance in valiant and zealous determination. I must say this today because there is a danger that certain elements who contributed the least to the practical implementation of German unity now seek, as brash orators, to appropriate to themselves the creation of this Reich. They portray the events of 1938 as a most natural, long-overdue, foregone conclusion, only belatedly realized by National Socialism.
To counter these elements, I must first state that perseverance through this year required a strength of nerves of which these dwarfs have not an inkling.
They are well-known to us, these old incorrigible pessimists, skeptical and apathetic, who throughout the twenty years of our struggle made a positive contribution by making none. Now, after the victory, these self-proclaimed experts of the national uprising feel called on to contribute their comments and criticism to it.
I will now in a few sentences offer you an objective recapitulation of the historic events in this memorable year 1938.
Friday evening [March 11, 1938] a plea reached me, in the interest of preventing anarchy and chaos in this country, to order German troops to march.
Already by 10:00 p.m., units were crossing the border at several locations. The general invasion began at 6:00 in the morning [March 12, 1938], to the great and unforgettable jubilation of the people now finally liberated.
The man responsible for these developments was the then State President Dr. Beneš, who transformed Czechoslovakia into the exponent of the outside world’s hostile intentions against the Reich. It was he who, on the prodding and with the active participation of certain foreign circles,114 carried out the mobilization in May a year ago which sought first to provoke the German Reich and, second, to do injury to the German Reich’s prestige abroad.
The fictitious report of a German mobilization allegedly forcing Czechoslovakia to mobilize its armed forces was maintained and propagated, despite an official declaration twice conveyed at my bidding to the Czech State President Beneš, stating that Germany had not mobilized even a single soldier, and in spite of identical assertions to representatives of foreign powers. Insistent demands called for Germany to countermand the fictitious mobilization order and to renounce its pretenses. Beneš labored to spread the rumor that the determined nature of the steps he had taken had forced the German Reich back within its appropriate borders. Since the Reich had neither mobilized its forces nor entertained any intentions of attacking Czechoslovakia, this situation would have entailed without a doubt a serious loss of prestige for the Reich.
Because of this unbearable provocation, which was exacerbated by the truly infamous persecution and terrorization of our Germans there, I have decided to resolve the Sudeten German question in a radical manner and to resolve it once and for all.
On May 28, I issued orders: a) for the preparation of a military intervention against this state on October 2, b) for the intensification and expansion of our fortified line of defense to the West.
For the remainder of the confrontation with Herr Beneš and for the defense of the Reich against any attempts to influence or threaten it, there was a plan for the immediate mobilization of ninety-six divisions, to be reinforced if necessary by a great number of additional units within a short time period.
The developments during the summer months and the situation of the Germans in Czechoslovakia proved these precautions to have been appropriate.
When certain newspapers and politicians in the outside world insist that Germany is threatening other peoples by military extortion, it is on the grounds of a grossly distorted rendition of the facts. Germany has merely realized the right to self-determination of ten million German Volksgenossen in this area in which neither the English nor other Western nations have any business meddling. The Reich does not pose a threat to anyone, it has merely defended itself against the attempts at intervention by third parties.
There is no need for me to assure you, my Deputies, Men of the German Reichstag, that, in the future also, we will not stand for the Western states meddling in certain affairs, which concern us exclusively, in order to preclude by their intervention the arrival at natural and reasonable solutions.
Therefore, all of us were happy about the initiative of our friend Benito Mussolini and at the also highly appreciated readiness of Chamberlain and Daladier which allowed us to find elements for a peaceful settlement of a situation which demanded immediate attention. Moreover, this can justly be regarded as evidence of the possibility of a reasoned treatment of certain problems of vital interest and their resolution. However, without the determination to resolve this problem in one way or another, such an agreement between the great European powers could not have become a reality.
Hence, we have before us today a form of representation of the German Volk which can claim to be a truly constituent body.
The German Volk of earlier decades, politically and socially disorganized, squandered large part of its inherent strength in an inner struggle as fruitless as it was senseless. The so-called democratic freedom to live to the full according to one’s persuasions and instincts leads not to an evolutionary advancement nor to a freeing of exceptional forces or values. Instead, it leads to a squandering of the existing wealth of the creative potential of the individual and to his ultimate paralysis. By putting an end to this fruitless struggle, National Socialism released the inner strength otherwise suppressed and set it free to realize the vital interests of the nation in the sense of managing the great community tasks in the interior of the Reich and securing the vital necessities for the community with regard to the surrounding world.
It is complete nonsense to presume that obedience and discipline are useful only to soldiers and that they have no further application in the life of peoples beyond this. To the contrary: a Volksgemeinschaft instilled with discipline and obedience can far more easily mobilize the forces necessary to secure the survival of its own people, thereby benefiting other peoples and serving the interests of all more effectively.
Such a Volksgemeinschaft cannot be created by force primarily, however, but by the compelling force of the idea itself, hence, through the toil of a continuing education.
There are indeed men whom neither the greatest of calamities nor earthshattering upheaval can incite to inner reflection or induce to spiritual action.
Their hearts beat no more. They are of no value to the community. They cannot make history and history cannot be made with them. Their blase decadence and narrow-mindedness expose them as a useless waste product of nature (Ausschussware der Natur). They find some consolation, even satisfaction, in considering what they hold to be their cleverness or wisdom elevating them to a lofty height above the events of the day; in other words, in the contemplation of their own ignorance.
Now it is easy to imagine that, without such ignorant men, a Volk may well be capable of the greatest actions and deeds. However, it is impossible to imagine a nation, much less to lead it, which has at its core a multitude of such ignorant men instead of a mass of full-blooded, idealistic, believing, and positive men.
They constitute the only valuable elements in a Volksgemeinschaft. You will allow them a thousand weaknesses, if only they possess the strength to give all they have, if necessary, for an ideal or for an idea.
My Deputies, we still face enormous, gigantic tasks! We must build up a new class of leaders for our Volk. Its composition is subject to racial criteria.
Through the educational system and the methods we employ, it is equally necessary to demand and secure valor and readiness to take on responsibility as natural prerequisites to the assumption of public office.
In assigning men to posts of leadership in State and Party, attitude and character are to be valued more highly than so-called purely scientific or supposed mental qualifications. For, wherever leadership has to be exercised, it is not abstract knowledge which is decisive, but instead the inborn ability to lead and therefore a high degree of readiness to take on responsibility, of determination, courage, and persistence.
In principle, we must realize that documented proof of a presumedly firstclass scientific education can never compensate for a lack of readiness to take on responsibility. Knowledge and leadership abilities, and hence vigor, are not mutually exclusive. In case of doubt, however, knowledge cannot serve as a substitute for attitude, courage, valor, and initiative, under any circumstances.
These attributes are the more important ones in terms of the leadership of a Volksgemeinschaft in Party and State.
When I express this to you, my Deputies, I do so under the impression of that year of German history which has taught me, more than my entire previous life, how important and irreplaceable these virtues are and how, in a critical hour, one man of action weighs more than one thousand sophisticated weaklings. As a social phenomenon this new selection of leadership has to be divorced from the numerous prejudices, which I can only term phoney and profoundly nonsensical social morals.
There is no attitude which does not have its ultimate justification in the resulting advantages for the community. What is unimportant or detrimental to the existence of the community can never be seen as moral in the service of a social order. Above all: a Volksgemeinschaft is conceivable only in recognition of laws which apply to all. You cannot expect or demand of one that he abide by principles which seem absurd, detrimental, or merely unimportant in the eyes of another.
I fail to comprehend the endeavors of dying social classes, seeking to hide behind a hedge of withering class laws which have become unreal and divorcing themselves from reality to sustain life artificially. Nothing can be said against it, if it is being done in an effort to secure a calm cemetery where to rest after passing away. However, if it is being done in order to erect a barrier against the progress of life, then the storm of a forward charging youth will brush away the old scrub.
Today’s German Volksstaat knows no social prejudices. Hence, it knows no special social morals. It knows only the laws and necessities of life, as they reveal themselves to man through reason and knowledge.
The unity of the entire German Volkskorper, whose foremost guarantors you are and will continue to be, my Deputies, affords me the certainty that whatever tasks pose themselves to our Volk, the National Socialist State will resolve them sooner or later! Whatever the nature of the difficulties we encounter may be, the valor and the courage of its leadership will master them!
1. We fight a truly gigantic struggle to which we have dedicated the entire force and energy of our Volk, and
2. we will win this struggle without reservations; yes, indeed, we have already won it! For what is the reason for all our economic troubles? Simply the overpopulation of our Lebensraum! And in this context, I can only hold out to these critical gentlemen in the West and in the democracies beyond Europe one simple fact and one simple question: The German Volk survives with 135 inhabitants per square kilometer without any exterior assistance and without access to its earlier savings. The rest of the world has looted Germany throughout the past one-and-a-half decades, has burdened it with enormous debt payments. Without any colonies, its people are nonetheless fed and clothed and, moreover, Germany boasts no unemployment. And now to my question: Who among our so-called great democratic powers is in a position to say as much of itself?! [-] To him on whom nature has bestowed bananas for free,116 the struggle for survival necessarily will appear far easier than to the weary German peasant who, all year round, toils to sow and reap on his plot of soil. And, therefore, we insist that this carefree, internationalist banana picker refrain from finding fault with the labor of our German peasant.
The dilemma we shall then face can only be resolved in two ways:
1. through an increase in the import of foodstuffs which necessitates an increase in the export of German manufactured goods in due consideration of the fact that raw materials used in the production process have to be imported initially and hence only a fraction of profit remains for the purchase of foodstuffs, or
2. through an expansion of Lebensraum for our Volk, thereby establishing an economic circle to secure the production of sufficient foodstuffs for Germany domestically. Since the second approach is as yet [!] impossible to pursue due to the persistent delusions of the one-time victorious powers, we are forced to follow along the path of the first proposition. This means we must export in order to be able to purchase food from abroad. Since these exported goods use up raw materials which we ourselves do not possess, this means we must export yet more goods to secure these raw materials for our economy. We are compelled not by capitalist considerations, as this may be the case in other countries, but by dire necessity, the most excruciating which can befall a people, namely, concern for its daily bread.
And when foreign statesmen threaten us with economic sanctions, for what reason I do not know, then all I can do is to assure them that this would lead to a desperate struggle for economic survival. We could far more easily hold our own in such a struggle than those other satiated nations, for our motive for entering into this struggle would be a very simple one: German Volk, either live, i.e. export, or perish! And I can assure all these doubters abroad that the German Volk will not perish; it will live! And, if necessary, this German Volk will place at its leadership’s disposal its entire capacity for work realized in the new National Socialist community. It will take up this struggle and it will persevere in this struggle. And as far as its leadership is concerned, I can only assure you that it stands determined to do whatever is necessary.
A final resolution of this problem in a reasonable manner will only come about when the greed of certain peoples has been conquered by the insights of human common sense and reason if one accepts that insistence on injustice is not only detrimental politically, but also useless economically, indeed that it spells insanity.
Given the present circumstances, we have no recourse other than to persist in the continuation of our previous economic policy which must undertake to obtain the highest yields possible from the Lebensraum available to us. This requires an ever greater increase in our efforts and in production.
This forces us to strengthen the implementation of the Four-Year Plan. Ever more manpower must be mobilized. And it is at this point that we enter into a new phase of Germany’s economic policy.
In the first six years after our rise to power, it was the task of our economic leadership to channel idle manpower into some form of productive occupation.
In the coming years, it will be their task to draw up a detailed inventory of our labor force, to reallocate productive powers according to plan. They will need to strive for rationalization and an improvement of operating conditions, in order to secure, while the work input remains constant, an increase in productivity, which, in turn, frees manpower for new additional production.
This, however, forces us to make the money market more accessible in the interest of technical advancement of our enterprises and to relieve it from its obligations to the state. This in turn necessitates close cooperation of economic and financial institutions. I stand determined to bring to its conclusion the transformation of the German Reichsbank—a path pursued ever since January 30, 1937—from an internationally controlled bankers’ enterprise to the bank of issue of the German Reich.
If the rest of the world (ubrige Welt) laments the loss of the international character of yet another German institution, may we point out that it is our inexorable decision to impart to all institutions affecting our lives predominantly German, that is National Socialist, characteristics. And perhaps this will make clear to the world the distorted nature of the claim that we sought to force German attitudes on the rest of the world. It would be far more justified if we in National Socialist Germany lamented that the outside world (andere Welt) is persistently trying to force its attitudes on us.
I now hold it to be the duty, my Reichstag Deputies, of every German man and every German woman to comprehend the conduct of the Reich’s economic policy. In the cities and in the countryside you have to consider in particular that Germany’s economic policy is not based on some sort of financial theory, but rather on a very primitive understanding of production, on the realization that the sole determining factor is the quantity of goods produced.
That we are faced with numerous other tasks, such as the necessary deployment of a high percentage of manpower to the armament—by itself unproductive—of our Volk, is regrettable, yet unalterable. After all, the economy of the present Reich hinges on its external security. It is best to arrive at this realization early rather than too late. I hence see it as imperative for the National Socialist leadership of this State to do everything humanly possible to strengthen our defenses. I place great stock in the German Volk’s insight and, above all, in its recollections.
We have no right to presume that, should Germany suffer yet another attack of weakness, its destiny would take on a different appearance. To the contrary: they are in part the very same men who once kindled the fire to scorch the entire world who today strive to prepare the grounds for another, renewed struggle as the paid henchmen at the service of those promoting hatred among peoples, to augment existing animosities.
Deputies, Men of the Reichstag! I implore you in particular not to forget one thing: It is apparently one of the exquisite privileges of democratic, political livelihood, enjoyed in certain democracies, to indulge in artificially feeding the flame of hatred against so-called totalitarian states. By a flood of partially distorted, partially fictitious reports, these rouse public opinion against certain peoples who have done nothing to harm others nor wish to undertake anything of this nature, but have only suffered from the great injustice done to them throughout the decades.
And when we venture to defend ourselves in view of the injurious attacks of such apostles of war as the gentlemen Duff Cooper, Eden, Churchill, or Ickes, then this is portrayed as though we were infringing on the most sacred of rights in these democracies. According to the understanding of these gentlemen, they apparently have the unchallenged right to attack other peoples and their leadership, but no one in turn has the right to defend himself against these attacks. I need not assure you that, as long as the German Reich shall exist as a sovereign state, its leadership will not allow one or another English or American politician to forbid it to reply in kind to such attacks. In the future, the weapons we forged shall insure that we remain such a sovereign state, as shall a great number of our friends.
Actually we could simply laugh off the libelous claim that Germany intended to attack America. And, indeed, we would much prefer to remain silent on the topic of the campaign of hatred pursued by certain British apostles of war and to simply ignore them. Yet we may not forget the following: 1. The democracies in question are states in which the political structures make it possible that, within a few months’ time, the most notorious of these warmongers may actually have emerged as the leaders of their governments.
2. We hence owe it to the security of the Reich to enlighten the German Volk about the true nature of these men in a timely manner. The German Volk harbors no hatred for England, America, or France, and desires nothing other than to live calmly and peacefully, while the Jewish and non-Jewish agitators persist in rousing the animosity of these peoples against Germany and the German Volk. In the event that these warmongers should succeed in their undertakings, our own Volk would be confronted with a situation incomprehensible to it, as it was not psychologically prepared for anything of this nature.
Therefore, I believe it necessary that from now on our propaganda and press shall answer immediately to any such attacks and inform the German Volk of them. It must know who these men are who so desperately seek to provoke a war, no matter what the circumstances. I am convinced that the calculations of these elements will prove faulty as soon as National Socialist propaganda begins to reply in kind to these provocations. We shall deal with them as successfully as we did in Germany’s interior when we wrestled the Jewish world enemy to the ground through the forceful use of our propaganda.
The peoples of the world will realize within a short time that National Socialist Germany does not desire to elicit the enmity of other peoples.
Allegations of the aggressive designs entertained by our Volk on other peoples are the products of a deranged, hysterical mind or blatant lies by certain politicians struggling for survival. In certain states, businessmen void of any conscience try to save their financial interests by propagating these lies. Above all, it is international Jewry which seeks thereby to gratify its thirst for vengeance and its insatiable hunger for profit.121 And this constitutes the greatest libelous claim ever levied against a great and peace-loving Volk.
After all, German soldiers have never fought on American soil other than for the cause of America’s independence and freedom. Yet American soldiers were shipped to Europe and contributed to the suppression of a great nation struggling to preserve its liberty. It was not Germany that attacked America; it was America that attacked Germany. And it did so, according to the findings of an investigative committee in the American House of Representatives, without any compelling reason, other than perhaps capitalist considerations.
Nevertheless, let there be no doubt as to one point: all these attempts will not in the least sway Germany from its reckoning with Jewry. I would like to say the following on the Jewish question: it is truly a shaming display when we see today the entire democratic world filled with tears of pity at the plight of the poor, tortured Jewish people, while remaining hardhearted and obstinate in view of what is therefore its obvious duty: to help. All the arguments with which they seek to justify their non-intervention lend only further support to the stance of Germans and Italians in this matter.
For this is what they say: “We”—that is the democracies—“cannot possibly admit the Jews!” And this those world powers claim who can boast no more than ten persons per square kilometer while we must accommodate and feed 135 persons per square kilometer.
Then follow assurances: “We cannot take them unless they receive a certain monetary contribution from Germany to facilitate immigration.” Small matter that Germany has already been good enough to provide for these elements for centuries, who possessed little more than infectious political and sanitary diseases. What this people possesses today, it obtained at the cost of the not-so-cunning German Volk by means of the most base manipulations.
What we do today is no more than to set right the wrongs these people committed. In the days when the German Volk lost its savings, accumulated throughout decades of hard work, thanks to the inflation incited and nurtured by the Jews; when the rest of the world took the German Volk’s assets abroad; when it expropriated our colonial possessions; at that time such philanthropic contemplations did not yet play such an influential role in these democratic statesmen’s considerations. I wish to assure these gentle-men that, owing to a fifteen-year-long crash course in democracy, we are today steeled against any sentimentality.
We had to live to see how, at the end of the war, after hunger and destitution had killed more than 800,000 children of our Volk, because of the gruesome articles of a Diktat which the democratic, humane world apostles had forced on us in the guise of a peace treaty, nearly a million dairy cows were driven from our barns. We had to live to see, one year after the end of the war, over one million German prisoners of war still held captive without any perceptible cause. We had to suffer the sight of how, along our frontiers, far more than oneand- a-half-million Germans bereft of their possessions were driven from their homes with no more than their shirts on their backs. We had to bear the sight of millions of our Volksgenossen torn from us, without anyone according them a hearing, and were left without any means of sustaining themselves in the future.
I could supplement these examples by dozens of yet more gruesome ones.
Do not reproach me on the grounds of your humanitarian concerns. The German Volk does not wish to be governed by another people; it does not wish others to determine its affairs in its place. France to the French; England to the English; America to the Americans, and Germany to the Germans! We are determined to undercut the efforts of a certain foreign people to nest here; a people whose members knew how to capture all leading positions. We will banish this people. We are willing to educate our own Volk to assume these leadership functions. We have hundreds of thousands of the most intelligent children of peasants and workers. We will have them educated, and we are already educating them. We are hoping that one day we can place them in all leading positions within the state along with others from our educated classes.
No longer shall these be occupied by members of a people alien to us.
Above all, as the literal meaning of the term already indicates, German culture is exclusively German; it is not Jewish. Hence we shall place the administration and the care for our culture in the hands of our Volk. Should the rest of the world be outraged and protest hypocritically against Germany’s barbarous expulsion of such an extraordinary, culturally valuable, irreplaceable element, then we can only be astonished at the consequences such a stance would imply.
I believe the earlier this problem is resolved, the better. For Europe cannot find peace before it has dealt properly with the Jewish question.
It is possible that the necessity of resolving this problem sooner or later should bring about agreement in Europe, even between nations which otherwise might not have reconciled themselves as readily with one another. There is more than enough room for settlement on this earth. All we need to do is put an end to the prevailing assumption that the Dear Lord chose the Jewish people to be the beneficiaries of a certain percentage of the productive capacities of other peoples’ bodies and their labors. Either the Jews will have to adjust to constructive, respectable activities, such as other people are already engaged in, or, sooner or later, they will succumb to a crisis of yet inconceivable proportions.
And there is yet one more topic on which I would like to speak on this day, perhaps not only memorable for us Germans: I have been a prophet very often in my lifetime, and this earned me mostly ridicule. In the time of my struggle for power, it was primarily the Jewish people who mocked my prophecy that, one day, I would assume leadership of this Germany, of this State, and of the entire Volk, and that I would press for a resolution of the Jewish question, among many other problems. The resounding laughter of the Jews in Germany then may well be stuck in their throats today, I suspect.
Once again I will be a prophet: should the international Jewry of finance (Finanzjudentum) succeed, both within and beyond Europe, in plunging mankind into yet another world war, then the result will not be a Bolshevization of the earth and the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation (Vernichtung) of the Jewish race in Europe. Thus, the days of propagandist impotence of the non-Jewish peoples are over.
National Socialist Germany and Fascist Italy possess institutions which, if necessary, permit opening the eyes of the world to the true nature of this problem.
Many a people is instinctively aware of this, albeit not scientifically versed in it.
At this moment, the Jews are still propagating their campaign of hatred in certain states under the cover of press, film, radio, theater, and literature, which are all in their hands. Should indeed this one Volk attain its goal of prodding masses of millions from other peoples to enter into a war devoid of all sense for them, and serving the interests of the Jews exclusively, then the effectiveness of an enlightenment will once more display its might. Within Germany, this enlightenment conquered Jewry utterly in the span of a few years.
Peoples desire not to perish on the battlefield just so that this rootless, internationalist race can profit financially from this war and thereby gratify its lust for vengeance derived from the Old Testament. The Jewish watchword “Proletarians of the world, unite!” will be conquered by a far more lofty realization, namely: “Creative men of all nations, recognize your common foe!”
Among the reproaches which the so-called democracies have heaped on Germany has been the claim that National Socialist Germany is a state hostile to religion. On this topic, I wish to make the following solemn declaration before the entire German Volk:
1. To date, no one has been persecuted because of his religious affinity in Germany, nor will anyone be persecuted for this reason in the future either.
2. Since January 30, 1933, the official institutions within the National Socialist State have transferred the following tax earnings to the two Churches: 130 million Reichsmarks for the fiscal year 1933; 170 million Reichsmarks for the fiscal year 1934; 250 million Reichsmarks for the fiscal year 1935; 320 million Reichsmarks for the fiscal year 1936; 400 million Reichsmarks for the fiscal year 1937; 500 million Reichsmarks for the fiscal year 1938. In addition to this, the Church receives approximately 85 million Reichs-marks annually in the form of Lander subsidies, and approximately another seven million Reichsmarks in the form of subsidies by the local communities and associations. Next to the State, the Church constitutes the greatest proprietor of land. It possesses holdings in real estate and forestry in excess of ten billion Reichsmarks. From these, it derives annual earnings of about 300 million.
Moreover, the Church benefits from countless gifts, bequests, and, above all, from donations collected. Further, the National Socialist State accords the Church concessions in a variety of realms: donations and inheritance are taxexempt for instance. To make an understatement, therefore, it is with insolent impertinence that foreign politicians accuse the Third Reich of hostility to religion. Should the churches within Germany regard the situation as unbearable, then please bear in mind that the National Socialist State is willing, and prepared at any time, to undertake a clear separation of church and state, as is the case in France, America, and other countries. In this context, I permit myself to pose the following question: Within this period, how much did official state appropriations to the church amount to in France, England, and the USA?
3. The National Socialist State has not closed even one single church, neither prevented church services nor infringed on the conduct of Mass. It has not imposed its views on any confession’s church doctrine and faith. In the National Socialist State, man is free to seek absolution in the fashion desired.
However, the National Socialist State will relentlessly deal with those priests who, instead of serving the Lord, see their mission in propagating derisive comments on our present Reich, its institutions, or its leading men. It will bring to their attention the fact that the destruction of this State will not be tolerated.
The law will prosecute a priest who implicates himself in illegal activities and he will be held accountable for these in the same manner as any other, ordinary German citizen. It must, however, be stated at this point that there are thousands upon thousands of priests of all Christian beliefs who attend to their clerical duties in a manner infinitely superior to these clerical warmongers and without entering into conflict with the established law and order. To protect these is the mission of the State. To destroy the enemies of the State is the duty of the State.
4. The National Socialist State is neither prudish nor hypocritical. Still there are certain fundamental mores which must be upheld in the interest of preserving the biological health of the Volk. And we shall not allow these to be altered. This State prosecutes pederasty and child abuse as crimes to be punished by the law, irrespective of who perpetrates them. Five years ago, when leading members of the National Socialist Party were guilty of these crimes, they were shot. Should other men perpetrate similar transgressions, whether in public, privately, or as members of the clergy, the law will duly prosecute them and sentence them to serve time. Should men of the cloth perpetrate other transgressions, in violation of their avowal of chastity etc., then it is of no interest to us. There has been no mention of this in our press ever. And besides this, this State has interfered only once in the inner organization of the churches, namely on the occasion when, in 1933, I myself attempted to reunite the impotent, fragmented Protestant Land Churches of Germany in the form of a great and mighty Protestant Reich Church. This attempt ran aground on the opposition of individual Lander bishops. And therefore I abandoned my efforts since, in the final instance, it is not our task to strengthen or to defend by force the Protestant Church against its own leaders.
The motivation behind certain statesmen in the democracies abroad taking such a vigorous interest in a few German priests is obviously political.
For these very same democratic statesmen remained silent when in Russia hundreds of thousands of priests were hacked to pieces and their bodies burnt. These democratic statesmen remained equally silent at the brutal slaughter of priests and nuns in Spain, numbering in the tens of thousands, some of whom were even burnt alive. These democratic statesmen could not deny these facts, but they remained silent and nothing broke this silence. In the meantime, upon news of these massacres—and of this I must indeed remind these democratic statesmen—countless National Socialists and Fascist volunteers placed themselves at General Franco’s disposal. They did so with the aim of precluding an escalation of the conflict, to prevent this Bolshevist bloodbath from enveloping all of Europe and hence the greater part of the civilized world.
It was concern for European culture and the essence of civilization which led Germany to take sides in this struggle between Nationalist Spain and the Bolshevists who attempted to destroy it. It is indeed a pitiful sign of the mentality abroad that people there cannot conceive of so selfless an intervention.
Alas, National Socialists shared in General Franco’s uprising because of their burning desire to promote his cause: to avert the danger threatening to engulf his country, a danger Germany itself had almost succumbed to.
Therefore, it cannot be sympathy or pity for persecuted servants of God that has mobilized the interest of the democratic citizens in some priests in Germany who have come into conflict with the law. Rather these interest them as German enemies of the state. May they note the following on this topic: we shall protect the German priest as a servant of the Lord, but we shall destroy the priest who is a political foe of the German Reich. We believe this will preclude the development of a situation which, as the experience in Spain has demonstrated, could all too easily escalate into a confrontation of as yet unforeseeable proportions.
As a matter of principle, I should like to state the following on this subject: apparently, certain circles abroad are pervaded by the conviction that the outspoken avowal of sympathy for certain elements who have come into conflict with the law in Germany would bring about an improvement of their situation. In this context, there is perhaps the hope of terrorizing the leadership of the German State by employing certain methods of exerting influence through the media.
This assessment rests on a profound fallacy. For the credence lent to these individuals abroad, and hence implicitly to their anti-governmental activities, merely reassures us in our earlier conviction that the characters in question are in fact traitors. After all, simple opposition to a regime has never elicited equal sympathy from these democracies abroad; and neither has the prosecution nor the sentencing of an individual in political opposition. For when was there ever a stronger opposition movement in Germany than the National Socialist one? Never were political adversaries suppressed by like base means, persecuted, and hunted as those of the National Socialist Party. To us it is an honor never to have partaken in the sympathy and support extended by a foreign government. Evidently, such support is lent exclusively to those who aim to destroy the German Reich. Hence, in our eyes, the display of such support would indicate the necessity to step up measures previously taken in any such case.
In view of the dangers enveloping us today, I regard it as most fortunate to have found states within Europe and beyond Europe which, like the German Volk, have had to struggle hard to preserve their existence: Italy and Japan. In the Occident, Italy and Germany today constitute the most ancient peoples, Italians as the descendants of Ancient Rome and Germans as the descendants of the Germanic tribes, and hence we have been in touch with one another the longest. Already on the occasion of my speech in the Palazzo Venezia in Rome during my visit to Italy, I underlined the tragic nature of the centuries-long and fruitless confrontation between this most mighty of cultured peoples of the Ancient world and the young German Volk, which belonged to a new world coming into being. These clashes were due largely to the lack of any natural frontier separating the two peoples and to a multitude of other circumstances.
But from these contacts throughout the millenniums sprang a community, one tied not only by linkage of blood, but by a shared historical and cultural past, a heritage of supreme significance. What precisely the Germanic peoples owe to Antiquity in terms of the evolution of statehood, realization of ethnic affinity, and in the sphere of general cultural development, defies measurement and description in its totality. Two thousand years have passed since. And the time came when we ourselves were called on to make a contribution, and we did so generously. Throughout, we remained closely linked to the Italian people, spiritually, culturally, and historically.
The 19th century heralded a process of political unification, strikingly alike in both instances. The Germanic tribes united in the German Reich, the Italian people came together in the Italian Kingdom. And the year 1866 even witnessed both peoples entering side by side into the struggle to form new states. Now, for a second time, these peoples are experiencing a similar development. A man of secular standing was the first to oppose successfully to the democratic world of ideas, which had become barren, a forceful new idea which reigned victorious within a few years’ time. What Fascism means to Italy is difficult to imagine. What it has contributed to the preservation of the culture of man is of astronomic proportions.
Striding through Rome or Florence, who can help being overcome by the contemplation of what fate these unique monuments of human creativity might have met with had it not been for Mussolini and Fascism, which pulled Italy back from the brink of Bolshevist oblivion? Germany, too, faced this danger. Here National Socialism wrought the miracle of rescue. And the belief in a new Renaissance in our day and age clings to these two states in the imagination of countless men of all races. The solidarity between these two regimes represents far more than simple, egotistical self-interest. This solidarity holds the promise of Europe’s rescue from its threatened destruction by Bolshevism.
As Italy strode forth in its heroic struggle for its right to existence in Abyssinia, Germany sided with it as its friend. This friendship was more than repaid in the year 1938. May no one in the world doubt National Socialist Germany’s loyalty, in which it shall not waver. In the interest of peace, let there remain no doubts that, should any power initiate hostilities against Italy, for whatever reason, this will automatically call Germany to its friend’s side. Above all, one should not heed false council by those who vegetate in the various countries as isolated, bourgeois weaklings who fail to comprehend that in the life of nations, wisdom implies not cowardice, but courage and honor.
As regards National Socialist Germany, it is painfully aware of the destiny awaiting it should Fascist Italy be wrestled to the ground by an international agglomeration of forces, irrespective of pretenses. We know these consequences and we shall cold-bloodedly (eiskalt) look them straight in the eye.
There will not be a repetition of the fate of Prussia from 1805 to 1806 in German history. Those weaklings who then counseled the King of Prussia counsel no one in today’s Germany. The National Socialist State knows of the inherent dangers and undertakes the necessary steps to prepare for its defense.
Just as I know our own Wehrmacht is quite capable of standing up even under the greatest of strains of a military nature, I know this to be true of the military might of Italy. For as no one can judge the present German Army by the standards of the old Federal Army around 1848, no one can assess the present Fascist Italy by the standards of the old, warring Italian states. Only a hysterical, mean-spirited press, as obstinate as it is tactless, can so quickly repress memories of the embarrassment it suffered through its false prophecies of Italy’s Abyssinian campaign. And its present assessment of the Nationalist forces under General Franco affords it a similar embarrassment once over.
Men make history! They forge the tools to mold history and, above all, they lend them their spirit. Great men are no more than the strongest, most concentrated representation of a Volk. National Socialist Germany and Fascist Italy are sufficiently strong to secure peace in the face of any infringement and stand determined to bring to a successful close this conflict which irresponsible forces have far too thoughtlessly embarked on.
This does not mean we Germans desire war, as an irresponsible press would like to have it, but that we
1. appreciate other peoples’ wish to secure for themselves a share in the goods of this world, in accordance with their numbers, their courage, and their intrinsic value, and that therefore we
2. recognize these rights which oblige us to take a common stance in the pursuit of our common interests.
Above all, we shall not yield to threats or attempts at blackmail under any circumstances! Our relations to Japan are determined by this realization and the firm determination to arrest the menace of a progressive Bolshevization of a world blind to this danger. One day, the Anti-Comintern Pact may be appreciated as a focal point around which gathered a group of powers whose most salient ambition lay in the thwarting of this satanic phenomenon imperiling peace and culture worldwide. Within the past two years, the Japanese people has repeatedly and tangibly demonstrated its splendid heroism and, undoubtedly, it is a swordsman in the service of mankind on the other side of the globe. Its potential collapse would be to the detriment of the cultured peoples within Europe and beyond and would irrevocably herald the Bolshevization of the Far East. And no people can wish for such a development, other than perhaps international Jewry, which has an interest in this, too.
And if indeed in this past year mighty exertions were permitted to come to a peaceful conclusion, then we are grateful for this not only to Mussolini. As mentioned in the first part of this speech, we extend our thanks also to those other two statesmen who, in the hour of critical decision, valued peace more highly than persistence in a wrong. Germany places no territorial demands on either England or France, other than perhaps a restitution of its former colonies.
Yet, although a resolution of this question is highly desirable, this issue most assuredly does not warrant the outbreak of open hostilities.
If Europe today is plagued by strenuous tensions, then this is due primarily to agitation in an unaccountable and irresponsible press. It allows not a single day to pass by without spreading disquiet among mankind by propagating false alarms, as ludicrous as they are libelous. The liberties taken in this context by the various organs of this worldwide poisoning of wells (Weltbrunnenvergiftung) can be regarded only as criminal wrong-doing. In recent days, there has been an attempt to place radio journalism at the service of this internationally instigated campaign. I wish to pronounce this warning here: if certain countries do not immediately desist from airing broadcasts targeted at Germany, then we shall respond accordingly. And then I hope statesmen from these countries will not venture to approach me with the sincere desire to restore normal relations between our states.
For I remain convinced that our educational campaign will be far more effective than the campaign of lies instigated by these international Jewish agitators. And the announcement of American film companies of their intention to produce anti-Nazi-i.e. anti-German-films, will only lead to our German producers creating anti-Semitic films in the future. And in this instance, too, certain elements would do well not to deceive themselves as to the effect: a multitude of states and peoples exist today who would be most receptive to such an educational campaign expanding their comprehension of this important issue.
I believe that, should we succeed in arresting the activities of the Jewishinternational press agitators and their propaganda, then a reconciliation between peoples would be speedily attained. These elements alone persistently place their hopes on war. I, however, believe in a long-lasting peace.
For is there truly a conflict of interest between England and Germany, for instance? I have often enough stated that there is no German man and especially no National Socialist who even as much as dreams of interfering with the vested interest of the British Empire. And repeatedly the voice of reason was heard to reign in England as well, and we have indeed heard of Englishmen whose calm reflection has led them to espouse a similar stance toward Germany.
It would be a cause for great happiness throughout the world, should these two peoples enter into confiding cooperation with each other. And the same holds true for our relations with France.
These days bear witness to the fifth anniversary of the conclusion of our Non-Aggression Pact with Poland. There is little dissent today among those who truly love peace as to the value of this agreement. Just imagine where developments might have taken Europe in the interim, had it not been for the conclusion of this pact which truly signaled a great relief for all involved.
Poland’s most outstanding marshal and patriot rendered his people as great a service as the National Socialist State’s leadership rendered the German Volk.
And, in the course of the tense months last year, German-Polish friendship became a reassuring factor in the otherwise troubled political life in Europe.
Our relations with Hungary are based on a long-standing, well-tried friendship and shared interests. Each people has traditionally avowed its high regard for the other. Germany rejoiced in participating in the restitution for a misfortune inflicted on Hungary.
One state that has commanded our Volk’s attention ever since the Great War has been Yugoslavia. The high regard which German soldiers once felt for this valiant people has become ever the more profound and has fostered the development of a sincere friendship. A sharp increase in trade has marked our economic relations with Yugoslavia, as with states friendly to us such as Bulgaria, Greece, Rumania, and Turkey. The primary cause has lain in the complementary nature of these economies to the German one.
Germany today considers itself fortunate to possess pacified frontiers to the West, South, and North. Our close relations to states in the West and in the North, i.e. to Switzerland, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and the Baltic States, are the cause of further rejoicing, all the more so as recent times have witnessed an increasing tendency to renounce certain war-laden paragraphs of the League of Nations.141 To a greater extent that any other state, Germany appreciates knowing that truly friendly neutral states reside along its borders. May Czechoslovakia succeed in its search for inner peace and the restoration of law and order so as to preclude a relapse into the times of former State President Beneš. The adherence of Bulgaria and Manchukuo to the Anti-Comintern Pact143 is an agreeable symptom of resistance worldwide to the threat posed by Jewishinternationalist, Bolshevist agitation.
The amicable relations between the German Reich and the South American states are at present being invigorated in the economic sphere.
Our relations with the North American Union have suffered unduly because of a smear campaign. With the pretext that Germany threatens America’s independence and even its liberty, it has placed an entire continent at the service of all too transparent political and financial interests. These are attempting to agitate against those European states governed by the people for the people. All of us are aware that these elements are not representative of the will of millions of American citizens who do not doubt for one minute, despite bombardment by a ‘gigantic Jewish-capitalist instigated propaganda campaign—via press, radio, and film—that there is not a word of truth in all these claims. Germany desires to live in peace and friendship with all countries, America included. It declines any involvement in America’s internal affairs and hence, equally vigorously, it rejects American involvement in Germany’s internal affairs.
Whether or not Germany seeks maintenance of economic ties or promotes business with the states of Latin America is really not the business of anyone but these states themselves. Germany is a sovereign state and a great Reich. Its policies are not subject to revision by American politicians. In any event, I believe that all the world’s states face so many urgent problems at home these days that their peoples would undoubtedly be glad if the statesmen responsible accorded greater attention to domestic issues in their own countries. As concerns Germany, my own experiences have taught me that the tasks to be mastered are so great that they are almost beyond a single man’s capacity for insight and concerted action. I can therefore state, both on behalf of my staff and myself, that we are dedicating our lives exclusively to the maintenance and sustenance of our Volk and Reich, both of which can proudly look back on a glorious history spanning the millenniums.
My Deputies, Men of the First Greater German Reichstag! As I conclude my explanations today, the years of struggle and fulfillment lying behind us now pass once more before my mind’s eye. To many these meant the sense and purpose of their entire existence. We know that greater things cannot be granted to our Volk and our own lives.
Without shedding a drop of blood, we succeeded in raising up this great Reich of the German Volk. Let us not forget, however, that this process meant painful sacrifices for some of us: the erasing of many Lander structures; the lowering of their banners; the oblivion of their local traditions. Yet may it be of consolation to these men that no generation involved in the constructive process of our history has been spared similarly painful experiences. Ever since the first German dukes labored to form wild tribes into higher unions, their endeavors had to obliterate institutions grown dear, cherished recollections, manly pledges of loyalty, and so on.
It was nearly two thousand years before the scattered Germanic tribes emerged as one people; before the countless lands and states forged one Reich.
We may now consider this process of the formation of the German nation as having reached its conclusion. The creation of the Greater German Reich represents the culmination of our Volk’s thousand-year struggle for existence.
As streams of German blood flow together therein, so do traditions of times past, their standards and symbols, and, above all else, all the great men of whom their contemporaries were rightly proud. Small matter whose side they stood on in their day, all those daring dukes, great kings, formidable warlords, mighty emperors, and around them the inspired geniuses and heroes of the past served as instruments of Providence in the formative process of a nation. Insofar as we embrace this great Reich in grateful reverence, the wealth of German history reveals itself to us in all its splendor. Let us thank the Lord Almighty for bestowing on our generation the great blessing to be alive at this time and this hour.
Closing words of the Reichstag’s president Hermann Göring:
Your comrades of the first hour are seated before you willing to follow your lead loyally as one united whole; to stride forth at your side in the future also, suffused by the single desire to follow you blindly toward the attainment of the greatest of victories: the victory of our great German Volk. You have led us onward to victories unfathomable. You have restored to us a life worth living, a life splendid and magnificent. It was you who created Greater Germany. How feeble are our expressions of gratitude; words to express our gratitude to you simply defy us! The cries with which we jubilantly hail you presently, mein Führer, these shouts of Heil sum up everything we feel within ourselves in respect to inspiration, dedication, love, and loyalty.
Comrades! To our dearly beloved Führer, the creator of Greater Germany:
Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!