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Adolf Hitler's Address to the Wehrmacht (1 January 1943)

Soldiers!

When I addressed my last New Year’s Proclamation to you, a winter had set in along our front in the east which resembled a natural disaster.

What you soldiers of the eastern front had to go through at the time, you know yourselves. At night, when I worried and lay awake, my thoughts were with you. That we managed to avoid the Napoleonic collapse that was meant for us, we owe as much to your bravery and soldierly expertise as to your loyalty and steadfastness.

My fighters of the eastern front, you have saved Germany and, beyond this, all of Europe during that winter-and, with you, the soldiers of our allies who fought at your side. While in an endless struggle against the forces of nature and the treacherousness of the enemy you doggedly held the European front in the east, preparations had already begun in the homeland for taking up the struggle in the spring.

You have accomplished great things in the year 1942. The Crimea was conquered and cleared. Dangerous breakthroughs by the enemy at countless locations along the front were thwarted. In the three battles of Kharkov, the threat to our southern flank was eliminated, and the enemy was crushed. A new offensive of mighty proportions took the last remnants of the Ukraine from him, as well as his coal areas along the Donets. In this huge area, which reaches up to the Volga, you now fight side by side with the troops of our allied nations. You know how difficult this struggle is and will be, and how often the scales will appear to tilt in favor of our enemy, but the German victory will stand at the end, because during this year the German homeland has forged new weapons, and more so than ever before. What was prepared in many years of work is now beginning to run at full capacity in order to provide you, my soldiers, not only with better but also with more weapons and ammunition. As fighters, you are already superior to every enemy. Nevertheless, not only as your supreme commander but also as a former soldier, I know how much bitterness, suffering, fear of death, and valor is connected with even the most glorious victory. For in the end, it is the man, as fighter and soldier, who decides the battle of arms. Even the best weapon is worthless in the hands of a coward.

While you, my soldiers of the eastern front, paid a heavy toll in blood, and with you all the men and women deployed by the organizations helping you, who were so often forced to take up a rifle or machine gun themselves, the German soldier along all fronts has done his duty to the utmost.

From northern Norway to the Spanish border, the German divisions await our enemies’ attack. We can only guess whether they will come and when they will come. However, we know that they will be beaten no matter when or how they will come. In a few hours, Dieppe showed the English that a landing by the enemies on the continent will only lead to their lightning destruction. They will experience the same at any other location. While our allies are fighting a heroic struggle, especially in North Africa, traitorous French generals and admirals have broken the armistice. By violating solemn promises and words of honor even toward their own head of state, they have attempted to hand over the French colonial empire to our enemies, which, as the victor, we had left to France.

In agreement with the Duce, the remainder of France was thereupon occupied in a few days, the southern French Mediterranean coast was set up for the joint defense, the French army and fleet were disarmed, and we took possession of Tunis and Bizerte.

Thereby, we took up those new positions that are important, even decisive, for the conduct of the war in North Africa.

My Soldiers, by setting up and holding fronts so far away from Germany, you are not only protecting Europe together with our allies but also your own homeland, the German Reich. The accomplishments of our navy in this struggle are unique in history. Submarine and surface craft are destroying so many of the enemies’ warships and merchant marine that they cannot build new ships fast enough. The Luftwaffe and all its units are doing their utmost, as you have experienced or seen yourselves in the course of countless missions in this war. You soldiers of the army and the Waffen SS who are directly subordinate to me -you remain the backbone of this entire gigantic struggle.

Your bravery, loyalty, sense of duty, and steadfastness are the basis of the final victory. The grenadiers and riflemen of the regiments of the infantry and panzer divisions of the army and the units of the Waffen SS have not only suffered the greatest losses, they have also accomplished the most.

If, at the beginning of this new year, we firmly resolve never to retreat from our enemies, but instead to fight them until the final victory is ours, then we do so primarily in the memory of our dear comrades who have already given their lives for this victory. However, we do so also thinking of the German Volk, its present and future. Countless newspapers and public speeches announced what our enemies plan to do with our Volk. You know yourselves what the enemy in the east will do with us in case he wins. Our enemies will find out for themselves what we are determined to do in view of this. By thinking of our dead at the front, we also think of the bravery of the homeland.

It is worthy of its soldiers. All attempts by the enemy, his heinous attacks on women and children, places of cultural significance, and peaceful homes, did not demoralize the German Volk. On the contrary, they were imbued with that hatred which is necessary in order to wage such a fight with prospects of success. Even as we were driven into this war, we did not know this hatred- especially insofar as our western enemies were concerned. We never demanded anything of them that could have offended or insulted them. We did not demand anything that belonged to them. Our only wish was to live in friendship with them. Our soldiers fought heroically after England and France declared war on us but this hatred was still not there in the German Volk. The ruins of our old cathedrals, numerous dead and wounded women and children, the well-planned attacks on our military hospitals, and so on, only they brought about this change of heart in the German Volk. Mr. Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill taught Germany how to hate. Thus, the German Volk today works with grim wrath in the countryside and in the cities in the single determination that, this time, the war will end in such a manner that Germany’s enemies will no longer feel like attacking us again for the next hundred years. And those nations which have tied their destiny to that of Germany face the same question of life or death. May God have mercy on Europe, if the Jewish-Bolshevikcapitalist conspiracy succeeds. Europe would be lost forever and in the middle of it is your homeland, my soldiers, the homeland for which you are fighting.

The year 1943 will perhaps be difficult, but it will surely be no more difficult than past years. If the Lord gave us the strength to survive the [last] winter, then we will survive this winter and the next year all the more. One thing is certain: at this point there will be no more compromises in this struggle. What Europe and the rest of the world need is not a situation in which every twenty or twenty-five years the Jewish-capitalist vultures can turn against the peacefulness and, above all, social building of a new world, but instead a long resting period of uninterrupted development. Above all, Germany needs the conditions for the building of a National Socialist Volksgemeinschaft that is no longer threatened from the outside. If this state and the rest of Europe then possess within their borders the basis for secure nutrition and possess those raw materials without which human civilization today is inconceivable, then your sufferings, my soldiers, will not have been in vain. One day, new generations will come to the graves of our fallen comrades to thank them for the sacrifices they made for the life of posterity.

Because we are fighting for the life and freedom of our nations, and not for money or business, we believe that we may again ask the Lord to grant us His blessings in the coming year, as in the past.