Adolf Hitler's Speech on the 17th Anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch
We now celebrate once more the 9th of November, and as back then a rally unites us on the eve of this day. For us the year 1923 was a high-point in the struggle for power in Germany. This struggle, and hence the significance of the day which we are celebrating, can be comprehended only by those who reflect on the age in which we found ourselves then and who, above all, bring back before their eyes the historic events leading up to this gigantic struggle.
As a former soldier of the World War and present Supreme Commander of the German Wehrmacht, I can say: they [the Allies] would never have carried the victory over Germany back then, had not their allies broken us internally! Four years they labored. It was even necessary to summon an American sorcerer-priest (Zauberpriester) who found the formula which made it possible for the German Volk to fall for the word of honor of a foreign president.
I took the same stand in our struggle abroad. Any such new intrigue, any new attempt to mobilize states against us through treaties and agreements, only led to my accelerating armament. I was firmly determined to risk it all. Without interruption the struggle went on with the objective of eliminating the Versailles Treaty. For, my Party Comrades, this I had to do if I were not to be a liar. After all, what did we fight for? When we made our first appearances in the years 1920-21 and 1922, our program was the elimination of Versailles. I could not all of a sudden say: forget about it.
I was determined to make Germany free once again. I led this struggle step by step. And, honestly, I had the ambition of maintaining the peace. From a multitude of rallies and publications, you know of the foreign policy conception I embraced at the time: I wished to establish close bonds of friendship with England. I thought the Germanic races had to come together. I wanted the same relationship to Italy. And further I thought of Japan as a power with interests parallel to our own. As far as Italy was concerned, this attempt succeeded thanks to the ingenious actions of the man who founded Fascism and who was victorious in the same struggle in his country which we National Socialists were confronted with in Germany. And, in the last instance, we succeeded with Japan also.
However, we met with failure regarding England, in striking contrast to our own desires. It was not our fault. To the contrary, I attempted, up to the last minute, until a few days prior to the outbreak of war, to realize my original foreign policy objective. At the time, I made the British Ambassador the greatest offers. I was willing to cooperate with England. But it was in vain. I had already realized at the time that certain war profiteers had been agitating for years without anyone putting an end to this business. There could be no doubt that one day they would bring the British people to hate and to be furious with Germany. And meanwhile, the German Volk would harbor no hatred for England. And thus, one fine day, Germany would have stumbled into a war without any psychological preparation. I already warned of this in the years 1938 and 1939, and most notably, in my speech at Saarbrucken, I emphasized that things could not go on in this manner. If England persisted in this campaign of hatred, then I would be forced to put German propaganda to use.
And thus came the day when it was no longer a question whether war could be avoided, but rather whether it could be postponed for one, two, or three years. This would have been possible only through the most severe humiliation of Germany. And one thing you must understand here, my Party Comrades: on the day I realized that England was only stalling for time, that they were determined to wage war under any circumstance, which was openly revealed in the statements of British statesmen, on that day, I had but one desire: if they were determined to declare war on us, then at least, so I hoped, they should do this during my lifetime. For I knew this would be the toughest of all struggles ever forced on the German Volk. Now not only do I imagine myself to be the toughest man the German Volk has possessed for decades, perhaps even centuries, but I also possess the greatest authority. Above all, I believe in my success, and I believe in it without reserve! I am firmly convinced that this battle will end not a whit differently from the battle I once waged internally.
I am convinced that Providence has led me up to this point and has held all trials at a distance, so that I could wage this battle for the German Volk. And finally, I did go through the Great War myself, and I belong to those who were cheated of the victory back then. And therefore it is my unshakeable resolve that this battle shall end differently from the battle back then.
When I spoke to you in the past year, the first phase of this battle lay behind us. In eighteen days, our Wehrmacht crushed Poland. Others had imagined things would develop quite differently. They had been convinced that the battle would last six, eight, or ten months. They said to themselves: "Wars with decisive results are no longer possible. Under the best of circumstances, trench warfare will ensue. A front will be erected in the East, and this will slowly bleed Germany to death. Meanwhile, the West will arm. Then the summer of 1940 will come, and then one will move up through Belgium and the Netherlands to the Ruhr territory frontier. And, then slowly one will master Germany." That is how they imagined things. And besides this, they believed that only a few weeks later-we have heard as much from all sides-a revolution would break out in Germany. This, moreover, would lead to destitution. They had not an inkling of the extent of our armament and believed that I was bluffing just as they have been trying to bluff us for years. They did not think anyone would really do what he said he would. Therefore they were convinced that this war would be a relatively easy one for them.
A year ago, as I mentioned earlier, Poland was eliminated. And thus we thwarted their plans a first time. I was able to refer to this great success on November 8, 1939. Today, one year later, I have further successes to report! This, first and foremost, only he who himself served as a soldier in the Great War, can appreciate fully as he knows what it means not only to crush the entire West within a few weeks, but also to take possession of Norway up to the North Cape, from where a front is drawn today from Kirkenes down to the Spanish border.
All the hopes of the British warmongers were then torn asunder. For they had intended to wage war on the periphery, to cut off the German vital lines, and slowly strangle us. The reverse has come true! This continent is slowly mobilizing, in reflecting upon itself, against the enemy of the continent. Within a few months, Germany has given actual freedom to this continent. The British attempt to "Balkanize" Europe-and of this the British statesmen should take note-has been thwarted and has ended! England wanted to disorganize Europe. Germany and Italy will organize Europe.
Now in England they may declare that the war is going on, but I am completely indifferent to this. It will go on until we end it! And we will end it, of this they can be sure! And it will end in our victory! That you can believe! I realize one thing. If I had stepped up as a prophet on January 1 of this year to explain to the English: by the spring of this year, we will have ruined your plan in Norway, and it will not be you in Norway, but Germany; in the summer of this same year you will no longer be in the Netherlands or come to the Netherlands, but we will have occupied it; in the same summer you will not have advanced through Belgium to the German borders, but we will be at yours; and if I had said: by this summer, there will be no more France; then, all would have said: "The man is insane." And so I shall cease from making any further prophecies today. I would merely like to give a few explanations to the German Volk. The struggle up to now has led to results of an unequaled nature:
1. In terms of personnel. As bitter as it was for the individual family which had to make the sacrifice, it has cost the German Volk practically no sacrifices. In sum, the sacrifices we made in this war are not as big as those which the War of 1870-71 cost us. Indeed, they are barely half of this number.
In terms of personnel our calculations were upset insofar as we did not have to touch the earmarked, gigantic reserve armies, which we had counted on as replacements for losses. Many men with long service records could thus be dismissed. And still, mostly through the younger grades, we were in a position to strengthen the Wehrmacht at the same time. In terms of personnel the German Army looks completely different today from how it looked in the World War. Only a few days ago, I drove through Belgium and France, and as an old soldier of the World War, I must say our Wehrmacht looks magnificent today, irrespective of whether we are talking about the Army, Navy, Luftwaffe, or Waffen SS. All look equally handsome. They cannot be compared to those of the years 1914 or 1915.
2. In material terms, I prepared for this war as no other war has been prepared for. It was well worth it. The material sacrifices of this war are of no consequence. The ammunition we have used up in battle up to now is the equivalent of barely a month's production. The reserves are so enormous, that in many areas I had to halt production because there is no further storage room available. I have redirected production into other areas where I believe it to be important that we be especially strong. You have heard the others' threats of what they all will produce: Australia has six or seven million inhabitants, including Bushmen. And in spite of this, they want to produce eight times as many airplanes as Germany. Canada has nine million inhabitants. Now they want to build twelve times as many airplanes as Germany. As far as American production is concerned, astronomical figures do not suffice to describe it. In this realm, I do not want to enter into the competition. But one thing I can assure you of: we can mobilize all of Europe's forces.
German productive capacities are the highest in the world. And we will not leave matters at that, since we are in a position today to mobilize the forces of nearly all of Europe - and that I am doing this in the industrial sphere you can take for granted! Our material armament therefore is enormous, and it is just beginning to grow. Even though we have prepared this industrial mobilization for years, as you know, the initial push-in terms of greater figures- will only come about in another one to one and a half years. And this is the case now.
And, summing up, I may say one thing: we are better prepared for the future than ever before. We are prepared in terms of material, and we are prepared in terms of personnel. And that the Wehrmacht makes the most of every day, this anyone who himself served as a soldier knows well. Not a day is lost. This foremost military instrument of the world is being attended to and improved without a moment's interruption. And when the hour of large-scale operations comes once again, then I hope we shall achieve exactly the same results we have in the past. We have prepared everything in the most thorough manner in order to act quickly and daringly! And the hour will come in which those gentlemen, whose mouths have already conquered the world once again, will have to take up arms. And then we will see who has put these months to better use: we or the others! Germany with its allies, at any rate, is strong enough to face off any combination in the world. There is no coalition of powers which is militarily equal to ours! Economically speaking, the long preparations of peacetime have proved well worth the effort: the Four- Year Plan, which we recently prolonged for another four years, has created large reserves for us. The Englishmen know this quite well; otherwise they would not have cursed us so vividly because of it. It was to render us invulnerable to attempts at isolation or blockade. Besides this, it remains to be seen who will be blockaded a few months hence: we or the others! I believe that in some spheres, the English have been dissuaded from lying.
Mr. Churchill, who only eight and six months ago declared, "Within one month, we will have destroyed fifty percent of their U-boats," was not able to say as much the next month, i.e. another fifty percent, because then none of them would have been left. So the next month, the hits accounted for only thirty percent. A month later he could not say twenty percent, but had to content himself with ten percent. And now this General Liar of World History (Generallugner der Weltgeschichte) is beginning to admit that there appear to be more of our U-boats than there were in the beginning.
He can believe me: there are more now! He has no idea how many more there are! We will yet challenge them, these international, capitalist liars. And we will live to see it: one day there will be no more Churchill, but more and more German U-boats.
And now that he could no longer disclaim the gist of this, this most ingenious strategist ever born has fastened on the war in the air. For this has been quite an ingenious idea of Mr. Churchill's-of all places in a weapons category in which England is the weakest in comparison to us-to launch the war in the air. You know that for years I made proposals to the world to forsake bombing in warfare especially against civilian populations.
England has declined this, perhaps in anticipation of the ensuing development. Be that as it may! In spite of this, I did not allow battles to be waged against civilian populations in this war. In the war with Poland, I did not order nightly raids on Polish cities, since at night you cannot really hit your target with much accuracy. I allowed attacks to be carried out mostly during the day and only against military targets. I did the same in Norway. I did the same in the Netherlands, in Belgium, and in France. And then Mr. Churchill suddenly had the idea, since the Royal Air Force could not penetrate German air space during the day, to terrorize the German civilian population with attacks by night.
You know that I am a patient man, my Party Comrades! I stood by for eight days. They dropped bombs on the civilian population along the Rhine. They dropped bombs on the civilian population in Westphalia. And I stood by for fourteen days and thought to myself: the man is insane! He is introducing a type of warfare here which can lead only to England's destruction. When the war in the West came to an end, I extended my hand once more to England. Once again I was chided in the most despicable fashion and spat on. Mr. Halifax behaved like a man gone mad. Well! They stepped up the bomb attacks. Again I waited.
I must say it was becoming increasingly difficult for me. For many came to me who said: "How long do you still intend to wait, Fuhrer? They are not going to stop by themselves." I waited three months altogether, and then one day I issued the order: alas, I am taking up this battle, and I am taking it up with the determination with which I always step up to do battle. That means: to fight to the last from now on! They wanted a fight; they shall have a fight! They wanted to destroy Germany in the war in the air. I will show them who shall be destroyed.
The English people, whom I can only pity, can thank the common criminal Churchill for this. Mr. Churchill has produced the greatest military nonsense in this fight for which a statesman or warlord ever was responsible! He fought with the weapon which is his weakest. He fought from a position which has been geographically disadvantageous to England ever since we have held Trondheim and Brest. It was the weakest position which England could possibly maintain. We will persevere in this fight. I regret that it will demand sacrifices on our part as well. But I do know National Socialist Germany. Only Mr. Churchill does not know it. There is a big difference. He believed he could weary the German Volk. He completely forgot that now a different Germany has come into being. This Germany becomes all the more zealous with every bomb that is dropped. Its resolve is merely strengthened. Above all, it knows: this nonsense must be done away with once and for all. And in this, we are determined.
When Mr. Chamberlain was here in Munich in 1938 and hypocritically presented his peace proposals to me, this man had already decided for himself to proclaim immediately after his return: "I have been granted a postponement, and now let us arm until we can attack Germany." We are quite aware that any ceasefire agreement today would be just that: a ceasefire agreement. They would hope that in a few years I would no longer stand at the helm of this Reich and that then the fight could begin anew.
Hence it is my unalterable resolve to see this conflict through to a clear decision. Just as I rejected compromise in my struggle for Germany as a National Socialist, so I reject compromise here as well.
I extended my hand often-in vain. They wanted this fight; now they shall have it! The German Volk will see this fight through to the end! The danger that it might erupt again within one or two or three years, after a period of heightened tension, must be removed. The German Volk wants to have peace finally. It wants a peace that allows it to work and which does not allow international scoundrels to agitate among other peoples against us. These are the folks who make their fortunes through war. I have no reason to wage war for material considerations. For us, it is but a sad enterprise: it robs us, the German Volk and the whole community, of so much time and manpower. I do not possess any stocks in the armament industry; I do not earn anything in this war.
I would be happy if we could work again as I used to work for my Volk. But these international war criminals are at the same time the armament industry's greatest black marketeers. They own the factories, they make business. They are the same people we had here in Germany earlier. There can be but one confrontation with these people: one of us must break. And this one will not be, under any circumstances, Germany! And if this Germany today possesses a different attitude, this is because National Socialism has pulled the German Volk up by its bootstraps again. It has created the mental, psychological, moral, and also material conditions for the enormous victories by the Wehrmacht of our young Reich. Every soldier knows it and must know that the armies which today march beneath our banner are the revolutionary armies of the Third Reich! They carry in their hearts not only faith in a Germany as it once was, but they carry in their hearts the faith in a Germany as we all imagine it will be in the future, for which we have fought so long, the faith in a better Reich, in which the great goals of our national and social Movement shall be realized.
And that we possess such a Germany today, this we owe to those who marched in the year 1923 and, above all, to those who then, as the first, shed their blood for the Movement. These sixteen dead are more than simply sixteen dead! They became the crown witnesses for a new resurrection of our Volk.
Their sacrifice was all the greater, for back then they could yet barely perceive in their faintest fantasies what has come into being since. Then they acted out of a boundless love for Germany. When someone came to join the Movement then, one could only say to him: "You can give up everything else, since you will be laughed at and ridiculed and persecuted. You must be aware that you will be without bread, that they will throw you out of everywhere. You will have nothing of which you can be certain, other than death perhaps.
But you see before you something for which we all fight. It is a new Germany of honor which we will resurrect and which will secure for its sons their daily bread. And it will take a place once more in this world which it deserves, based on the number of its people, its historical past, and our former, present, and future worth." And all these men came to take their places. Many of them felt this but subconsciously. There were so many common folk in this Movement. We were avoided like the plague by those who held themselves to belong to the intelligentsia or the upper middle classes. We were avoided like the plague by them, so that the greater number of those who joined our ranks were mostly mere common people. Perhaps they had not so clear a vision of what was to come. They only knew: one day things will be better.
Things will be better one day, because we will build up a new Reich. And in this Reich much will be realized that our foes actually yearn for deep inside themselves, without realizing that following along the path on which they have set out, they shall never be able to achieve it.
For this these men stood up, and for this sixteen of them gave their lives back then.
They were sixteen, although they might equally well have been five hundred or five thousand, and not one of them uttered a complaint. Not even the wounded betrayed the cause. To the contrary, the wounded all the more eagerly became Party comrades once again, all the more zealous than before! And in the footsteps of these sixteen many hundred followed, here and beyond the borders of the Reich. They followed along the path of martyrs for years, for nearly a decade. Their numbers were the greatest in the Ostmark and the Sudetenland perhaps-all the stronger was their belief because the battle seemed the most hopeless there. How could all these common folk surmise the course of history as it has now truly come to pass? How could they foresee the miracle which would return them home gloriously to a great
Reich one and a half or two decades later? Still they fought, with a faithful heart, without knowing precisely if this would come to pass during their own lives.
And all this took its beginning from this November 8, and November 9, 1923. And so we celebrate the commemoration of these men, all the more profoundly moved today than even then, since all of them bore in their hearts the disgrace of the collapse of the year 1918— 19. And this disgrace gnawed at their hearts and upset them. How often did we sit together, aglow with the one thought: this must be repaired in our history: this cannot last and this cannot remain! Otherwise the German Volk would be burdened with this blemish for all time! We will erase this from the book of our history! We will wash it away again! We will resurrect a Germany of might, power, and magnificence.
Germany must be resurrected, one way or another! And in this spirit we fought.
In this spirit they fell. In this spirit the battle continued to be waged. And in this spirit we face the outside world today, and we will complete that for which they fell back then. They [the World Powers] believe they are destroying Germany. They will be proved mistaken! Germany will rise from the battle all the more!