Background: This is a report of a speech by Robert Wagner,Gauleiter of Baden from 1925-1945. He was executed in 1946 for criminal actions while in office. The speech came at a high point of Nazi success. The previous year, Hitler had seized Austria and the Sudetenland. He had just secured the rest of Czech territory (Bohemia and Moravia) as well as the return of the Memel District from Lithuania. Hitler seemed unstoppable, but the rest of the world was becoming aware that Hitler would not stop unless compelled to. After all, he had said that the Sudetenland was “my last territorial demand in Europe” in September of 1938.
Wagner’s speech was the kickoff to a huge campaign of meetings in his Gau Baden intended to whip up popular enthusiasm and persuade the rest of the world that Germany was entirely behind Hitler.
The newspaper report is a summary, not the full speech.
The source: Freiburger Zeitung (Morgenausgabe), 30 March 1939, pp. 1-2, 5 The newspaper is available on-line.
The True Face of the Democracies
Freiburg, 29 March
Everywhere in Gau Baden, in the cities and villages, towns and hamlets, party members and citizens gathered in mass meetings in these last days of a month of great historic events to hear news of the great German nation’s fateful battle for life from the mouths of their leaders. They also gave the only possible answer to those agitators, liars, and international well-poisoners who want to plunge the world into misery, terror, war, and bloody collapse.
It is an answer so unanimous and so clear that opponents must see how strong and firm the will of a nation today is that has the good fortune to live in Germany’s greatest days and stride into the future behind Adolf Hitler.
The Gauleiter appeared at the head of his Gau, county, and strongpoint leaders, and the citizens of Freiburg turned out in numbers that probably overshadowed all previous mass meetings to thank him for proclaiming the theme for our county here in the Black Forest capital.
Political leaders and members of party organizations and formations were released from their jobs early so that they could participate at the Festival Hall mass meeting. The honor guard and party units gathered at 7 p.m., while a steady stream of people poured into the Festival Hall, which was filled to the last seat by 7:30 p.m. The hall doors were opened and chairs set up in the lobby, but even that was not enough.
The honor guard that accompanied the Gauleiter along Schlageter Street had to stand outside the Festival Hall, as did many thousands more for whom there was no room inside.
It seemed as if all of Freiburg had gathered on this evening around the Festival Hall to hear the Gauleiter and participate in this great event.
A few minutes after 8:30 the Gauleiter entered the decorated hall, accompanied by country leader Dr. Fritsch, Mayor Dr. Kerber, and the leaders of the formations to the jubilant shouts of “Heil” from the thousands in the audience. With a fanfare and the singing of “A Young People Rises Up,” the banners of the S.A., the S.S., the NSKK, and other symbols of the party and movement were carried in. Once again a fanfare sounded through the hall and a quotation from the Führer was read, followed by a responsive reading and a battle song. It made the hard, determined, fighting character of the mass meeting clear.
The leader of County Freiburg, Kreisleiter Dr. Fritsch greeted the Gauleiter in the name of the party and citizenry, and expressed his pleasure at the Gauleiter’s appearance. From the mass turnout, he said, the Gauleiter could see the loyalty and admiration people of this city have for him. The Kreisleiter concluded: “We greet our Gauleiter with our old battle cry, “Sieg Heil!” Thundering shouts of “Heil” accompanied Reichsstattshalter Gauleiter Robert Wagner as he stepped to the platform. The Gauleiter spoke for about an hour, and the citizens of Freiburg listened with intensity and greeted each significant sentence with spontaneous applause.
The Gauleiter Speaks
The Gauleiter looked back on the centuries during which Germany had suffered terrible decline. The history of two other nations in Western Europe was entirely different. England and France forged the inner unity of their nations and created powerful world empires because of that unity. England and France gathered all their national strength and incorporated foreign peoples into their colonial empires, becoming states that ruled the world. They did not do this by peaceful means, but rather as history shows robbery, war, and brutal oppression were the ways through with which the democracies gained their power in the world. If naïve scholars find something else in history, they are ignoring real life and are blind to the facts. Power was their tool, a principle the democracies today call “humanity.” The past days have given us proof of the crude hypocrisy of these humanitarian democracies, the Gauleiter said to the audience’s approval. We ask: What has England lost in Palestine or France in Syria? We have to ask that if the democracies ask us what we lost in Bohemia and Moravia. We can only say this: peace and order prevail in Bohemia and Moravia, while war rages in Palestine and Syria. In these enslaved countries one can learn what the term humanity means for the democracies. Tens of Thousands of Arabs were murdered, 80-year-olds hanged, women and children cut down by bullets. (Outraged reactions) During applause lasting several minutes the Gauleiter said:
There is no greater lying hypocrisy in the world than England’s! And France conquered Syria with cannons, not democratic humanitarianism!
The Domestic Unity of the Reich
In recent years Germany has followed the course France and England took hundreds of years ago: Germany is finally on the path to domestic unity. That may surprise the world, and it may also be surprised that we not only established domestic unity, but at the same time solved Germany’s critical problems. We need only to review the naked facts: the German people has been reformed so that it is able to take an interest in Europe. To establish domestic unity, we needed our faith, our will, our readiness to act, and our devotion and loyalty to the Führer.
We will allow nothing to divide us and drive us apart any longer. The world may note that if necessary we will resist anything and anyone who meddles in our domestic affairs.
That is the same foundation upon which England and France, and later America, built. It takes a good bit of ill-will not to see that. The Führer gave this foundation of power for the building of Greater Germany, which give us the strength to defend and advance it. The holy duty of the party is to guard the domestic unity of the nation and to ensure that even the last German heart, the last German soul, is reached by the greatness of our idea. Today it seems to us a miracle to see what the Führer forged from a broken, decaying nation, how Adolf Hitler succeeded in the greatest accomplishments of German history. We still cannot measure the greatness of the age and the greatness of these achievements.
The time will come, however, when people will say that today was Germany’s greatest age. It is a wonderful time that makes us deeply joyful and happy, and we are proud that we are living through it.
The Gauleiter then asked this question: What is the world thinking today? What they once did themselves they are not willing to let us do. We have only taken back German land and German people. We have reincorporated Bohemia and Moravia where Germanic peoples lived for more than a thousand years, we have taken back territory where German history happened for hundreds of years. We have only restored German people and German cultural territory to their German mother.
The democracies should learn from that, and govern their foreign peoples with the same humanitarianism and decency with which we, for example, govern the Czechs.
In the Neighborhood….
But the world does not want to recognize that. We have examples close at hand of the hypocrisy with that reveals people’s attitudes. It all makes no impression on us any longer. It does not affect us National Socialists. We have seen through all the hypocrisy of the democracies, and we know only one person who is able to speak for us, and if necessary act for us: our Führer Adolf Hitler! Perhaps the democratic world would have been happier if we had taken Austria, the Sudetenland, Bohemia, Moravia, and now Memel by military means, if we had conquered them by force and brought about conditions like those we see, for example, in Spain. Under Adolf Hitler’s leadership, however, everything happened naturally, on the foundation of justice and with the agreement of the Czech people, whose leadership legalized it.
What do the democracies really want? Apparently they want disorder in the world. (Lively approval). They do not want Germany to live, they simply do not grant us the right to live. That means we must fight for our existence, that we want to fight, and that we will fight. And this fight is taking place under different conditions than in the past. The Führer leads us; he has solved Germany’s great issues. What are democratic statesmen over against him? It is night and day, light and shadow. Our greatest gain is that finally in the twentieth century, we found a hero before whom all obstacles give way. Adolf Hitler is irresistible and unbeatable! (Jubilant applause for minutes)
And the Germany of today, from the military standpoint, is no longer the Germany of 1932. Greater Germany’s borders are protected by the best military in the world! (Renewed applause) The rest of the world deceives itself if it imagines that Germany will do without the place in the sun, with the living space, that it needs. There can be no compromise in Germany’s struggle for its existence, no turning back, no wavering. The German people will now build a Reich that corresponds to the capacities, the achievements, and the vital interests of the German people! We claim today only what others have already claimed for themselves. We do not want to use force, for no one loves peace as much as the Führer and his people. But we also want our rights!
The world must accept the fact that Central Europe is German space. We do not want to rule either Europe or the world, but we as a people of eighty million want to live peacefully, work, and get along. Those elsewhere can say and do what they think necessary. When, however, the democratic world continues to spew out its agitation and hatred about Germany, we will defend ourselves against this agitation with the propaganda means available to us. The audience laughed as the Gauleiter described the stupid lies that are being spread about Germany, and worse still, such stupid lies are believed!
Education is necessary!
Our neighbors may get a small taste of what our educational propaganda is able to do as this wave of over a thousand meetings rolls over Baden. Their agitation will accomplish nothing; at most it only makes us harder, more determined, more ready for action. The world is spreading the crude lie that the Führer can no longer be believed. But what destroyed our faith in the world more than Versailles? We trusted Wilson’s 14 Points, but were lied to and betrayed in the crudest and most shameful way. If such a thing has happened, we were not the ones who destroyed faith and trust, but rather our opponents. The decisive thing is that we all believe in Adolf Hitler. We are ready and willing to prove that at any time. (Thundering applause) Any resistance must and will fail against the greatness, strength, and faith of a people of 80 million. We face the future calmly and confidently, for we know that the future will be as great as the years since the takeover of power and that Germany’s critical issues are being resolved. Therefore, we march behind Adolf Hitler, determined and ready for any sacrifice. This is not a government, a party, or a parliament, but rather this is an entire people. It stands united behind a courageous Führer who is aware of his responsibility, whose only goal is co create what Germany’s vital interests require: Freedom, honor, and our daily bread!
The thousands present thanked their Gauleiter with unending applause for his moving words, for his manly declaration to the world. Kreisleiter Dr. Fritsch expressed the thanks of all in attendance as he promised the Gauleiter that the party members and people’s comrades from County Freiburg will give their full strength to the task.
Unshakable loyalty to the Führer and an oath of total devotion to Adolf Hitler is our affirmation in this hour.
The meeting closed with a three-fold “Sieg Heil” to the Führer and the singing of the national anthem. Shouts of “Heil” accompanied the Gauleiter from the square as he departed, an expression of thanks for this significant and meaningful hour in which the courageous determination of the population of Freiburg and Upper Baden made itself powerfully and vividly clear. — Hanns Lasotta
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