Background: This is a report of Josef Bürckel’s second major speech after taking office as Gauleiter of Vienna. He takes on economic issues, pledging to return honesty to commerce. A major campaign followed to force reduction in prices.
He apparently did not behave as promised. His extravagant lifestyle led to his transfer to other duties. He was, however, given a full party funeral when he died in 1944. Corruption was no great barrier to success as a Nazi leader.
The source: “Jeder Anständige hilft mit. Ab heute fallen die Preise in Wein.” Volks-Zeitung (Vienna), 4 March 1939, pp. 1-3. This is taken from a newspaper report of the speech. The original newspaper is available on ANNO, an Austrian project to digitize a wide range of newspapers.
Every Decent Person Will Help:
As of Today, Prices Will Drop in Vienna
Bürckel Declares War on Jewdified Parasites
In a clear and passionate speech heard with enthusiasm by the thousands gathered in the Concert Hall Auditorium, Reich Commissioner Gauleiter Bürckel spoke forthrightly about what he said was the problem that most concerned the Viennese and everyone in the Ostmark: the price problem. He began with a discussion of the Jewish spirit and its spread to some Aryans, then turned to the price situation, which is inconsistent with the National Socialist principle of the honest merchant, and will therefore be wiped out. The Gauleiter announced concrete measures over the next few days and weeks, which all people’s comrades will help with to make Vienna a clean and honest city.
The great Concert Hall auditorium was the scene on Friday of a mass meeting marked by the theme of Gauleiter Bürckel’s speech, which had been the general topic of conversation in recent days in Vienna: “The honest merchant, and what we expect of him!” This theme caused tension in all parts of the population, including the people’s comrades who filled the hall to the last seat. Gauleiter Bürckel was welcomed because the audience knew that they could expect a hard reckoning with the commercial situation, which Jewish methods had put in a bad light. The refreshing openness with which the Gauleiter took on the problem quickly relieved the tension, and his forceful approach resulted in ever-increasing storms of loud applause. It increased to enthusiastic agreement as Bürckel clearly stated that Aryanization meant not merely a change in personnel, but also a total rejection of Jewish methods and the Jewish spirit.
The Gauleiter’s Speech
When I was entrusted a year ago with the task of reuniting the Ostmark with the Reich, one of my main concerns was the question: “What must be done to de-Jewdify Vienna?” If one asks such a question, he must know the real nature of the object he intends to deal with, and more than that he must ask how this object relates to its environment.
In short: What drives the Jews in Vienna, and what consequences follow? As a result of the interrelationships in the city, do only Germans live in enmity with the Jews in Vienna, or is there also the curious concept of “Jewish Viennese”? That is the deep question in this matter. Its answer determines the means that must be used to eliminate the evil.
If 300,000 Jews continue to live in this city and are able with the favor and support of the government to continue to follow their racial drives, then it is only too easy to understand why many Jews are able to continue their methods of exploitation, sometimes unnoticed.
To speak openly: The unrestricted activities of the Jewish spirit in this city in the past is the ultimate reason why it is so difficult to free working people from the curse of the Jewish spirit. The Jew follows this principle: “My money is my honor.” In practice, both in the past and today, that meant that the more money a Jew had, the more he was respected. That meant that the richer a Jew was the more honor one gave him.
This was not, however, the attitude of the average man, but rather exclusively that of the so-called “better circles of society.” In reality, the honor of the Jew is seen in the amount of misery prevailing among the broad masses. He had the money, the broad masses the misery. It is absolutely true that where one has the “most honorable” Jews, there one also has the greatest misery among the broad masses.
Jewish love of money and mass misery stand in an absolutely direct relationship. But what is misery for one cannot be honorable for another. The Jewish motto “My money is my honor” must be replaced by the ethical and moral German motto: “My honor is reflected in the fate of the whole community.” That means that the contribution of each individual to the whole is the sum of all his honorable activity. Applied to what we are talking about today this means for the individual: Jewish merchants and usurers must be replaced by the honest German merchant, for only that is honorable that contributes to the good of the whole.
The Problem that Most Concerns the Viennese
The battle now raging between the honest merchant and the Jewish haggler is easiest to understand if one looks at those who supply people with their daily needs, the things necessary for the standard of living of the whole community. Do they want to raise that standard of living, or is the aim of their speculation to lower it for their own benefit whenever they can?
I want to consider this question using examples, take a clear position, and then draw the necessary conclusions to deal with conflicts with the Jewish spirit. The economic problem that has most concerned the citizens of the Ostmark in recent weeks months— and particularly the city of Vienna— is pricing and price policy.
Remember the period of inflation, the time of rising and falling currency values in various countries. The German, for example, tended to flee from inflation, because it meant destruction. The Jew, on the other hand, had a need to be at the right place at the right time to take advantage of inflation.
Such an exclusively commercial approach that mocks the laws of ethnic life is the enemy of any solid and firm economic system, and in particular the enemy of economically appropriate firm prices, which are the foundation of healthy economic life. Such a commercial approach rejects firm prices even if all of the prerequisites of stability and order in economic life are present, such as the conditions that the Führer of the National Socialist state has created.
A “fair price” is one that results from honest calculation, and than therefore be charged by an honest merchant, without putting his integrity in doubt. It is an expression of community spirit that leads the customer to respect the integrity of the merchant. That is the first sign of the cancer that the Jews brought to our city. This cancer explains why it is so difficult to bring order to pricing in the city, to establish the necessary trust between buyer and seller.
After Today, Everything Has to Change!
We will not permit coded prices, nor will we “bargain.” That does not make us the enemy of the merchant of Vienna. We are the enemy only of the unreliable haggler, but we are the ally of the honest merchant, and must be sure that the customer respects him.
Cartoon from the Volks-Zeitung (Vienna) after Bürckel's Speech
On the other hand, the customer may not be seen as an idiot whose pocket one may freely pick. We created the concept of “Aryanization.” Aryanization does not only mean the “takeover of a Jewish business by an Aryan”; “Aryanization” also means a “cleaning from the Jewish spirit.” If one only wanted a change in personnel such that the successor looked different than his predecessor but business practices remained the same, one could leave things as they were.
I am talking only of those merchants who are the exceptions, but who provide an example of what not to do. I speak of the negative only because the positive in this city speaks for itself.
This Really Happens
These kinds of things happen. Some item costs 6 RM. The merchant calculates a selling price of 12 RM. He tells his sales clerks, however, to ask 14 RM. He even promises them a percentage of what they get above the price he calculates. If the clerk wants to earn something over his miserable wages to help his family, he must join in this genuine Jewish swindle. He has already been infected by the Jewish profiteering bacterium, just as much as his boss.
Another example. A fur shop sells a coat for 1600 RM. According to experts in the trade, a fair price is 700 RM. The trade organization calls this a crass and irresponsible action that one could expect only of Jews. As the result of a complaint, prices in a leather goods store were reviewed. The profit margin ranged from 80% to 383%. Monthly sales at the shop were 40,000 RM in 1937, 105,000 RM today. In this case, one can say that one Jew went and another one came. This was not what is meant by Aryanization.
Jewish “Foot-and-Mouth Disease”
Still another example. A shop offered an alarm clock to a worker for 30 RM. It finally sold it to him for 4 RM. Another shop sold coffee in various packages for 45, 55, 75, and 90 pfennig They all came from the same sack of coffee. And so on, and so on.
Such things show that the Jewish plague does not hold back from infecting the Aryan. The best thing one can probably say is that such an Aryan is inflected with the “Jewish disease.” They talk well, but steal money from the average person. They have succumbed to “Jewish foot-and-mouth disease.” One has to wonder about how fast such people understand things.
In Vienna, there can be only honest merchant, with no Jews remaining.
Those who feel offended by my remarks are the Jews I am talking about. Those who are thankful that their commercial honor is established are our allies, and we theirs. When I am told that “prices are governed by supply and demand,” I reply that that principle is a sin against the community. Following such a principle would mean that if hens lay fewer eggs, the price will rise such that the sick child of a poor person will never enjoy an egg. Prices may not be determined by supply and demand, as the Jews teach. I say instead that prices have a function within the community, and that therefore they are a matter of attitude.
Alignment with the Old Reich
Through major nationalization efforts and constant review of costs by producers, there will in the foreseeable future be an organic alignment with prices in the old Reich. This will occur as rapidly as possible. That will put an end to unfavorable effects on the standard of living. In commerce — and especially here in Vienna — careful review already shows the possibility of substantial price cuts. These will be fully implemented in coming days and weeks. It is also necessary to determine prices for small shops, so that the honest and decent merchant can calculate margins clearly, thus establishing confidence between merchants and their customers in Vienna according to the spirit of the people’s community. This will finally put an end to the dubious arena of deceitful Jewish economic activity.
Fair Prices for the Poorest
I have, therefore, decided to set the margins today for textiles, clothing, hosiery, knitwear, and shoes. Further regulations will follow. I do not see all these measures as a matter for the police or something like that, but rather as the expression of an inner sense of community in place of cold calculation. He who is part of the community and who knows that the poorest people are the most loyal in times of need will set prices so that these people can have at least a bearable life. The pricing system is really a matter of character.
Vienna’s True Heart
He who lies happily in bed at night because his cash register is overflowing because he has made a good “Rebach” [Yiddish for profit, here pejorative], but forgets that because of that someone else’s family is going to bed hungry, lacks the heart of a true Viennese. And he who can look himself in the eye in the mirror in the evening and say to himself: “One again you have been an exemplary member of the community today” is our comrade, one we call an “honest merchant.” I also think — and not in a friendly way — of those who always have the background music of complaint in their dealings. They stand behind the counter and say things like “This will be out of stock soon,” or “This is the last of the English material,” or “You don’t have to buy it if you don’t want to.”
I recently said that the people does not exist for the Party, but rather the Party and its leaders have to work day and night for the people.
The Merchant Must Serve the Customer
To put it clearly, the decent German customer is not there for the benefit of the merchant. Their relationship is personal, not merely commercial. The same principles apply here as they do everywhere else in the people’s community. Things such as preferential treatment, rude treatment, and irresponsible complaining must be eliminated.
Citizens of Vienna! I have spoken about a dry topic today. But this matter relates to our daily life.
Now is the time to think and act as National Socialists!
Everyone must know this: National Socialism depends on loyalty, and prefers to avoid harsh measures. If some people are incorrigible, they earn their reward. The conclusions to be drawn from these remarks, which apply down to the last village in the Ostmark, are these:
1. In coming days, in Vienna and in the rest of the Ostmark, everything possible will be done to eliminate whatever has anything to do with the Jewish spirit, for the Jewish spirit and National Socialism go together like fire and water.
I am thinking not only of prices, but of other things that go with honest commerce.
It will not be possible for one to have to buy some water along with his vegetables in the market. If someone tells me that this is the custom in Vienna, I saw in the name of all decent Viennese businessmen: “That is no Viennese custom, but rather Jewish tradition.” Just as we think little of a person who has a friendly expression, but is rotten inside, so we forbid in the future that one puts a layer of good apples at the top of a carton of rotten fruit.
No one will slip past us in this educational campaign. If someone thinks that, since the margin for mass produced articles is higher than that for fashionable clothing, he can stop making the mass produced articles and say: “For the time being, I no longer carry work uniforms,” we will know how to respond. He who does not carry work uniforms because he earns less from them separates himself from the community. Even the little man, with his needs, belongs to this community. We will stand by the little man in such cases, and refuse to patronize such so-called “high class shops.”
National Socialism has an ethical law: From him to earns the least, the least must be demanded.
By the way, he who wants to earn his money in a different way proves that he is absolutely unnecessary in Vienna and the rest of the Ostmark. We know only one way of dealing with unnecessary things: Get rid of them!
2. We want to make life in this city hell for anyone who has a stronger Jewish spirit than a German spirit. Vienna must become the city of honest commerce in the East, an honest city. Commerce in Vienna will earn a reputation shared by few cities in the world.
Everyone — whether citizen or foreigner — must display the same honest conduct. I want to speak particularly to those party comrades who have taken over Jewish businesses. These men are obliged to display National Socialism in practice. I expect them to be my most loyal allies. That will not stop me, however, from speaking clearly, and taking the necessary steps, even in the case of party comrades.
How Were Things a Year Ago?
Each person should ask himself the question: “How was my business going a year ago?” Everyone must know that our wonderful Führer is responsible for everything that has happened. He works day and night for us all. Without him, nothing would happen. Without him, the German economy would not be flourishing. And what he has given us has not been given to the individual, but rather to the whole. That means that the individual has no right to steal as his heart desires.
Do not hold it against me if I have upset one person or another today. I do it only because I must serve you and the cause. The battle against evil is always a battle for good. I am therefore ready to ignore much of what happened in the past. Some were in trouble and tried to rescue themselves as fast as they could. That was wrong.
But now, there has to be an end to it. Strike a blow against the Jewish spirit that afflicted this beautiful city and its fine citizens for centuries. In the future, do not speak of Christ and mean cotton, do not sing “Deutschland über alles” and mean profit.
You All Bear the Swastika!
They mean something only when they come from inner conviction. Inner conviction is not a matter of theory, but rather of practice. The swastika is appropriate only for the honest merchant, for whom we are fighting. The others should take it off, for they have nothing to do with us, and we have nothing to do with them. The Party is ready to support the honest merchant in any situation. We will knock the teeth out of those who betray us. There is no other choice.
Every citizen of Vienna will stand by my side in this struggle. We stand by the honest German merchant in Vienna, but will fight the Jewdified parasite to the end.
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