Background: Hitler had been in power only two months when Hermann Göring delivered this speech to the NSBO, the Nazi labor organization. It is a good example of the message Nazism presented early on: The country was in a mess, the Nazi Party would do something about it. Göring argues that unlike previous German governments, the Nazis have a genuine interest in improving the lot of the workers. He also suggests that former Nazi opponents who were “little fish” have nothing to fear, since the Nazis will not be out for revenge, and rather strongly attacks the wave of denunciations that followed the Nazi takeover of power.
The source: Hermann Göring, “Nationalismus und Sozialismus: Rede auf der NSBO. im Berliner Sportpalast am 9. April 1933,” Hermann Göring: Reden und Aufsätze (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP, 1941), pp. 36-49.
Nationalism and Socialism
German women and German men! I have spoken at numerous meetings, and have taken repeated positions on many issues. But today is something very special for me: it is special because today I stand before Germans who work hard every day or who must live in dire poverty, and who have therefore learned from their own experiences what National Socialism is, and what its victory means for productive citizens.
My dear citizens! We are living through a National Socialist revolution. We emphasize the term “socialist” because many speak only of a “national” revolution. Dubious, but also wrong. It was not only nationalism that led to the breakthrough. We are proud that German socialism also triumphed. Unfortunately, there are still people among us today who emphasize the word “national” too strongly, and who do not want to know anything about the second part of our worldview, which shows that they have also failed to understand the first part. Those who do not want to recognize a German socialism do not have the right to call themselves national.
Only he who emphasizes German socialism is truly national. He who refuses to speak of socialism, who believes in socialism only in the Marxist sense, or to whom the word “socialism” has an unpleasant ring, has not understood the deepest meaning of nationalism. He has not understood that one can only be a nationalist when one sees social problems openly and clearly. And on the other hand, one can only be a socialist when he clearly sees that nationalism must triumph to protect the living space of a people from outside forces.
Just as nationalism protects a people from outside forces, so socialism serves a people’s domestic needs. We want the people’s strength to be released within the nation, forging the people once more into a strong block. The individual citizen must again have the sense that, even if he is finds himself in the simplest and lowest position, that his life and opportunities are assured. He should see that his own existence is rooted in the existence of his people, and that he must serve his people will all his strength. If I want to ensure that each individual has the ability to survive, that each individual German can be active, can work, can support himself once more, I must also work to ensure that conditions beyond our borders make that possible.
We did not make a national revolution in the sense of a barren, outdated hyper-patriotism, but rather this revolution is, in the truest sense of the word, a National Socialist revolution. Previously, the two fought each other, divided by hatred and unfortunate enmity. Nationalism and Socialism stood opposed: the bourgeoisie supported nationalism, the Marxists socialism. The bourgeoisie fell into a barren hyper-patriotism, lost in pacifistic cowardice. On the other side, a Marxist layer of the people, a Marxist class, wanted nothing to do with the Reich or a people. There was no bridge between them.
Marxist socialism was degraded to a concern only with pay or the stomach. The bourgeoisie degraded nationalism into barren hyper-patriotism. Both concepts, therefore, must be cleansed and shown to the people anew, in a crystal-clear form. The nationalism of our worldview arrived at the right moment. Our movement seized the concept of socialism from the cowardly Marxists, and tore the concept of nationalism from the cowardly bourgeois parties, throwing both into the melting pot of our worldview, and producing a clear synthesis: German national Socialism. That provided the foundation for the rebuilding of our people. Thus this revolution was National Socialist.
Our idea grew out of the people. And because it grew from the people, led by the unknown corporal of the World War, this idea was destined to bring an end to fragmentation and forge once more a unity among our people.
Outwardly, the Reich was weak, existing only on paper. Inwardly, the people was torn apart, bleeding from a thousand wounds. At home, strife dominated between parties, occupations, groups, classes, and religions. Our Führer Adolf Hitler saw that the Reich could survive and grow strong only if one achieved unity within the German people. That was the work of our party over the last fourteen years: to make once more one German people from a people of competing interests, from a people of differing religions, occupations, groups and classes.
My German citizens! How often have we stood in this place, how often elsewhere in Germany, today in this city, tomorrow in another one! We raced from place to place, spoke, raising the spirits, even of those who despaired. Ever again we hammered at the masses, a hundred times, a thousand times, ten thousand times: A German people must rise up! We tore one after another from the despair of the parties, classes and groups, making them into the bricks, the pillars of this new Reich. We worked hard for years. Today, amidst the jubilation of victory, we may quietly remember the hard struggle, the terrible need, which often we no longer believed we could master, yet which always drove us to new inner strength, to one more attempt. The movement collapsed, hardly born, splintered, yet climbing upward once more.
What enormous effort, what huge sacrifice, what devotion! That is why, in the midst of our meetings and celebrations that demonstrate the powerful awakening of our people, we must always remember those who gave everything they had. Countless of them are no longer alive. Others are crippled, still others left alone. They fought, they sacrificed everything. Their only motto was battle and work. And when the Reds claim that we are now the bigwigs, we answer, fellow citizens, as follows: We have not had the time to become bigwigs. We had no time, and too much work and too many battles to fight, which hardened us. We want only to be workers in German construction, masons on German projects. In exhausting labor and through great exertion, we have slowly built that which has risen up.
The parties are finished! They tremble in cowardice. They were cowards because they were born of cowardice. The System was cowardly, and it left in a cowardly way, because it also grew from cowardice. How miserably they went, fetched by a lieutenant and two officers. It did not even take a dozen men. How these labor leaders betrayed the workers! I can tell you this. If I had the time and opportunity to let German worker look at the files of their so-called leaders, at the countless and many requests to their bosses for support, even when they themselves held the highest posts, he would learn the truth about those leaders. One could show the German worker the attempt by a top Red party bigwig to get credit toward his pension for the time which he betrayed the German people and our fatherland as editor of a Social Democratic newspaper. Thirty or forty years of pension credit were not enough for these gentlemen. They wanted to start at eighteen with their military service. That is how those Red gentlemen were! They lost their followers because they thought only about themselves, no longer about their followers. No one demanded of them that they live in poverty themselves, but they were not expected to forget about those for whom life was hard. One expected that they would work for others, not for themselves, the expectation Germans have always had of labor.
We have slowly begun to create unity from the chaos of parties. Today, these old parties play only a comic role. Today, when one says something political about certain parties, a speaker can hardly do it. As soon as he names certain parties, laughter breaks out in the meeting, since people no longer take them seriously. Who today knows anything about all these ridiculous parties and party splinter groups? Everyone laughs at these leftovers from former times, rather as one looks at antediluvian animals. One shakes one’s head that such things ever existed in the German Reich.
Only after Adolf Hitler had established the first foundations of domestic unity could we begin to think about strengthening the Reich internationally. For centuries, it had been only a hope, a dream, in Germany: He reestablished the unity of the Reich with a single law from the ruler of the Reich. Where are all those party leaders who a few months ago were saying: Herr Hitler will soon learn that, south of the Main River, his day is over. This law achieved what generations had longed for: the Reich, the scepter of the Reich, governs all the German provinces. The variety, the uniqueness, the ethnic heritage, all that will be maintained.
Now that the Reich once more firmly controls the individual provinces, the German people must be forged into a similar unity. Now, my national comrades, you members of factory cells are now the blacksmiths who are forging our German people. You must work toward this in your cells, in your factories. You must constantly explain, constantly educate, constantly attempt to make clear to your fragmented national comrades what is at stake.
Comrades, for years we struggled for the German soul, to win over each individual, to transform him, to free him from all the filth of a corrupt system, to make him again into a German fighter, a German person. Now you must continue this in your factories. You must continually fight for each individual German soul. You must raise them from their lethargy, and you must educate and persuade those who have been misled.
To be sure, we have won a great victory, and each victory has certain consequences. One such consequence is competition. We know that there are many who really have no deep support for us, who have no understanding at all for National Socialism, yet today they have suddenly become the best National Socialists around. They have spread like mushrooms. We must be cautious! Clothing is not enough to make a National Socialist, nor the badge for which we were persecuted for a decade, nor the Heil greeting. The heart alone determines whether one is a National Socialist. We want no fighter, no National Socialist, of the mind! No, only he who is one from the heart; he must come to us from his own feelings and senses, and become ours. We therefore must look clearly and sharply, with ice-cold vision, into their hearts, not into their brains, to see if they have become National Socialists. But on the other side, citizens, we also should be generous. We no not want to take petty revenge. We are, after all, the victors. What difference does it make if someone once called us criminals, or brown bandits, or something else! Years have passed, and now they have come to us with real conviction. And we, too, were not National Socialists from birth. So let us be generous, remembering that we also once thought differently, and are thankful to those who led us to this splendid goal! The more we are ourselves National Socialists, the stronger and freer we feel it, the more we can forget the past and warmly extend the hand of reconciliation. But on the other hand, where real crimes were committed against the people, there must be pitiless and just revenge. That is the prerequisite if we are to forgive the others. The big ones must be caught, not the little ones. We want to let the little ones alone, but we must settle accounts with the big ones, who know how to juggle things back and forth, doing their business here and there. They must receive just revenge with pitiless hardness.
This is the context in which we have to understand the new civil service law, as everything is being cleansed, purified, and rebuilt. Citizens, we cannot deny it: This is a hard law. It affects the individual with, when necessary, great force. It shatters careers if falsely applied. Since it is so hard, and must be that hard, I have ordered that no one except a minister himself can decide the career of a subordinate. Whether it concerns the fate of a worker, a porter, or a state secretary makes no difference. Everyone is affected equally. We want to be clear about this: The law may not be used by anyone who wants to apply his personal instincts, who wants to settle old scores with someone he has been unhappy with since his schooldays. That may not happen. The sole factor is whether the person in question is for the state or against his people. That is the only factor that may be considered. The individual civil servant with a good conscience can proudly hold his head high. Nothing will happen to him or any other employee. As much as a person can be just, justice will be the policy here. Be aware of the great responsibility here, for you have this responsibility too, not only the minister.
I know that today denouncers are appearing, almost a pile of them, complaining about someone or another, mostly from envy, since they perhaps want to have someone’s job, or because they do not like someone. People are ostracized, gossiped about, or denounced. People’s comrades, he who denounces someone else reveals his true character. He who openly says: “I accuse” will be listened to, but he must be willing to stand by his accusation. Denouncers are those who carry on their filthy business at night, with anonymous letters with the worst sort of accusations. Mostly, this consists of lies. We must keep our state and our people pure. Anyone has the right to make an accusation, but if his charges are false, if they are lies, the laws of libel apply. If we follow this guideline, I am sure that this law will be a blessing for our people despite all the difficulties.
People’s comrades, we have spoken of those all to eager to accuse others, who are driven by envy, But let me assure you that not everyone who comes to us today does so out of envy. Believe me: Despite the busybodies, despite all the excess, these people are, thank God, a tiny minority. Other motives and other reasons explain the thousands and ten thousands of others who have come to us. In part, as you know, the pressure, the force was so heavy that many could hardly do anything, even if they wanted to. That is not the most important point. Do not forget something else — something about which we can be proud and happy: Millions of Germans throughout Germany over these years had no idea what National Socialism was. They saw the brown columns, they read terrible things about those columns each day in the Jewish press, they read how bad National Socialism was, they read that it would destroy everything, that it would ruin everything, that it could lead to anarchy, to collapse. They did not know us. In part, they had become too dulled to worry about the nation’s fate. There was no point to it. Everything was too dismal, too tragic, the desperation was too great. And then, suddenly, the movement came, tearing through the clouds, suddenly there was light again, the sun shone. Hundreds of thousands, even millions, of people suddenly woke up. The scales fell from their eyes and they saw something wonderful. They suddenly saw how a movement that had been insulted, outlawed, estranged, took the light in its hands. They were happy to see a new spring coming that would change everything. There was new joy, new hope. A faith that had been buried, that had been soiled, came alive. Those are the ones coming to us today, the ones who say: “We did not know it. Accuse us of being too weak. But we were not bad. We did not know. Everything that we only dreamed about, what was in our subconscious, has become true. Let us in! The number of these people’s comrades is growing! These are good people who may be fighters tomorrow. You must further awaken them, strengthen their sentiments. They should become a great army, so that one day Germany will think and feel only in National Socialist ways. Then this people’s unity will be eternal.
Men and women of the factory cells! You should certainly handle economic and social problems in your factory cells. You should certainly be an economic support for your comrades. But that is not the main task! No, the material is not the prime goal, rather the ideals. The factory cells, too, are called first of all to train the German worker, the German employee, in worldview matters, to form him, to educate him, until he has become a German National Socialist. That is your main task. You must make clear to the former Marxist or communist that work is no curse, but rather a blessing.
That is how we want to build the state once more. Slowly, with exhausting effort, we must reestablish the right to work. We want to give German people work again so they can earn their own bread. We want to sow once more and show that a person can live from his own efforts, not depending on some kind of support, that no one starves because someone has stolen from him the right to work. The whole nation must demand that. On the other hand, I demand that each individual puts his whole strength in service of this people and this nation.
People’s comrades! Much has happened in the past weeks. We have seen and experienced new things. In the pat few weeks, Marxism apparently collapsed, outwardly, at least. Through laws, through regulations, and other such things, one can destroy Marxism’s external organization. But that is only external. The state, the police, the government can only deal with the external forms. You, however, must smash and destroy the idea of Marxism. One cannot destroy and eliminate an idea with outward means, but rather the strength to overcome an idea must come from another idea, a better idea. It must be clear, more active, more energetic, if it is to drive the other idea from the world. The National Socialist worldview smashed Marxist insanity in this way. The factory cells have to keep attacking Marxism. You can do that only from within. The strength you need must be found in your confidence in what we preach, in what we do, in what we want to build. And furthermore, it requires blind loyalty, loyalty to the Führer who has created everything, without whom there would be nothing that we see today. They strength grows with discipline. A military unit can have everything it needs. It can have the best position, better material, great superiority, the best leadership — it can have all this, but without iron discipline it will be defeated, it will be destroyed. A small but disciplined unit will always overcome and defeat a larger undisciplined mob. That is why inner discipline is necessary, first the inner discipline of the individual, which then shines from the group, from the movement to which he belongs.
There are two more sources of strength, and they above all will help you to bring our idea to victory and the other idea to defeat. That is this unshakable faith: Germany must live, German will live, because we want it, because it is necessary. This idea will give you strength. And from this faith will come hope, the home, the longing, that always helps a person to win, even when he wants to despair. Night may surround us, but as long as the torch of our hope shines, no one will be defeated. Action must come from these inner sources of strength. You must bear the idea and help it to victory.
Confidence, loyalty, discipline, faith, and hope: These are the pillars on which this movement must rest, because this movement has become the bearer of this powerful idea.
We want to live, and therefore we will live. There is a vast field of
ruins before us. Everything has collapsed. Wherever one looks, things have been undermined, hollowed
out, broken, become rotten. Small steps have already
been taken. A little has been cleared away, here and there is the start
of firm ground on which one can build. But the destruction extends far,
far to the horizon, with wasteland everywhere, everything in ruins. My
people’s comrades, you are used to working, and therefore in the
coming days there is but one slogan: work, work, and still more work for
our people, and for our fatherland that must be rebuilt. Get to work,
and may God bless our labors!
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