Background: Goebbels had given his famous “total war” speech in February 1943. On 5 June 1943, the Nazis organized a mass meeting in Berlin to report that the Stalingrad crisis had been mastered, that German armaments production was increasing dramatically, and that final victory was sure. Albert Speer opened the meeting with a speech, followed by Joseph Goebbels. Both speeches were rather more optimistic than conditions justified, as soon became clear. According to a document in the party files, 500,000 copies were to be printed (the document is in the National Archives series of microfilms, series T-81, reel 24).
For details on the German war economy, see Adam Tooze, The Wages of Destruction: The Making and Breaking of the Nazi Economy (New York: Viking, 2007).
The source: Tatsachen sprechen für den Sieg. Die Reden der Reichsminister Speer und Dr. Goebbels im Berliner Sportpalast am 5. Juni 1943 (Berlin: Universum Verlag, 1943).
The Facts Speak for Victory
The Sport Palace Speech by Reich Minister Speer
Fellow workers in the armaments industry!
A year ago we held a ceremony honoring the accomplishments of the German armaments industry.
German armaments workers then were honored in a unique way. Some of them received the Knight’s Cross for War Service — the first Germans to receive the honor.
Today, a year later, we have particularly good grounds to hold such a ceremony again.
For me, and for my countless fellow workers gathered here, it is a particular joy to celebrate this day in this hallowed hall, together with old Berlin party comrades.
As an unknown party member, I sat among you often during the period of struggle to experience the Führer’s unique mass meetings, and to receive new courage from the passionate words of our Gauleiter, Dr. Goebbels.
Today, I speak to you to report the successes that our armaments industry has had in the past year.
The many millions who work in the armaments industry, the entire German people that to an increasing extent is working, directly or indirectly, to arm the Reich, and above all our soldiers at the front, have a right to know of the great advances in our armaments during the past year.
I cannot go into detail, since that would give the enemy information to aid his attacks on our industry, but the statistical information I will give the public today will give it the certainty that our armaments industry has accomplished great and remarkable things.
Long before the war began, our lack of raw materials forced us to tightly control our economy, and centrally direct it.
The Four Year Plan accomplished great things by building wholly new industries to manufacture such materials.
During the four years of war, enemy economic experts expected our production to sink year by year because of shortages of raw materials.
I can, to the contrary, report that German armaments production has increased each year, and achieved records in every area in May 1943. (The Minister’s statements were greeted with jubilant applause.)
Reich Marshall Hermann Göring’s historic achievement is to have laid the foundation for maintaining, and strengthening, the German armaments industry through the Four Year Plan.
Last spring, the Führer gave me precise orders to increase production of nearly all weapons, tanks, and munitions by a multiple of previous production. At first, the task seemed almost impossible to me and my colleagues.
Our armaments production had been centrally organized during the years of peace. It intensified once the war began, and was increased and improved as the war went on.
We calculated that to multiply production to such a degree would also require multiplying the workforce, manufacturing tens of thousands of machines, greatly increasing the availability of iron, copper, aluminum, and other metals that were in short supply, and further the building of new factories at a cost of several billion marks.
It was clear to all of us that, under these conditions, it was not possible.
A new way had to be found to increase armaments production.
During this period, many leading factories had already begin freely exchanging new methods that they had developed during the first years of the war.
The results were first systematically evaluated by the Luftwaffe, and then by the army.
The results were surprising.
Comparing firms with the same product, one saw that some firms used significantly fewer workers, or less material, or fewer factory machines to achieve the same production in the same period of time.
There were clearly leaders in industry who knew how to improve their operations such that they were far above average.
The task was now to make these men responsible for the larger issues of armaments production.
These thousands of capable factory heads, technicians, and leaders had to be released from their particular factories, and given dictatorial authority to organize and lead.
They could then apply what they knew to less effective factories.
That meant that they had to reveal the methods they had developed in their firms to others. Today, it is clear that they have done this with the genuine passion of the engineer and technician.
This thinking, stimulated by the Führer and Reich Marshall on 18 February 1942 resulted in an organization that today can demonstrate unique success.
These colleagues were given full authority that allowed them to do as they wished, to reorganize things, to change where production occurred, to clear up difficulties, or to close factories.
This powerful organization has been responsible for our industry for more than a year. It has since been extended to other industrial branches. Today, it includes 4,000 of the best engineers and technicians, who have all volunteered for the task and do their duty, fully conscious of the heavy responsibility that they bear.
At least a few of these largely anonymous men in the armaments industry should be introduced to the public. We will, therefore, ignore their desire to remain modestly behind the scenes.
The public has the right to know these men who have accomplished enormous things since since the beginning of the Four Year Plan.
This organization, combined with the responsibility of industry, have resulted in new strength and new ideas, quickly resulting in a good chance of meeting the Führer’s major demands.
Confident in the experience of this group of responsible men, we promised the Führer that we would achieve what he ordered — although we were not at all sure how we would do it.
Today we can proudly report that we not only achieved the Führer’s orders, but in some areas significantly surpassed them. (Stormy applause).
Since spring 1942, we have increased several times over the monthly production of heavy tanks, of anti-tank guns, of light, medium, and heavy flak, of long range artillery, of every variety of munitions, including hand grenades and mines, and also of aircraft.
The Führer has given me permission to reveal to you today precise figures of the increases in this year.
It is necessary to stress something very clearly.
The achievements of the German worker have been unique. (Long lasting, lively applause.)
His idealism and willingness to work have made it possible to achieve the goals that we set.
The willingness to sacrifice, the unlimited willingness to work selflessly, which we have seem time and again, gives those in the leadership of armaments production the necessary strength to set ever new goals.
At times, workers voluntarily remained in their factories for weeks, sleeping for only a few hours in primitive camps together with their foremen, engineers, and directors, eating in the factory, in order to gain the time to meet important jobs within the necessary period.
And one can hardly thank them enough for the work they put into maintaining production in factories damaged by aerial attacks.
With stubborn determination, they worked to keep the lapses in production to the shortest possible time. In some factories, it was possible not only to meet production quotas by the end of the month, but even in some cases to exceed them.
These achievements were not possible through organizational methods. They were only the result of our factory teams who know what they owe to our fathers, brothers, and sons at the front.
Many quiet deeds were done, which the rest of us learned of only by accident.
Precise statistics will show that, despite aerial attacks in recent months, production has not fallen, but rather has instead steadily increased. (The minister’s statement is greeted with lively applause.)
The availability of the necessary raw materials and labor is the most important factor for high, steadily increasing, armaments production.
Thanks to Reich Marshall Hermann Göring’s Four Year Plan, begun before the war, the foundations of our armaments industry were built up to a degree sufficient for our needs.
And these resources have been strengthened year by year during the war, enabling even higher levels of armaments production.
The plants in the occupied territories and in the East have resulted in greatly increased production of coal and iron.
And during the past year, the monthly production of steel has been significantly increased by improved methods of production.
Ways of further increasing production have been worked out and implemented.
The production of specialty steels, central to armaments production, has significantly increased during 1942. Our production capacity in this area is about the same as America’s.
Our production of metals which are essential in armaments production has been significantly increased in Germany and the occupied territories. In this fourth year of war, we have sufficient supplies of copper, aluminum, magnesium, manganese, and other metals.
Over the past eighteen months to two years, numerous engineers have worked to find ways to economize in the use of metals. As a result, although we are producing many more weapons and pieces of equipment, the use of metals has fallen significantly.
We have found new methods that enable us to reduce our dependence on these metals. And since the occupied territories possess these metals in abundance, increasing supplies are guaranteed for the coming years.
Providing sufficient energy is a further requirement to increasing armaments production.
Our electrical production is rising from year to year. We expect that it will continue to meet the growing demand.
A large number of hydroelectric plans began operating this year, and even more will be available next year.
I can report that the temporary damage to two dams has not affected our energy supply. The decentralized nature of our electrical system allowed us to provide substitute sources of electricity to the armaments industry on the same day.
The enemy’s hopes that the water supply in the Ruhr would be disrupted for a long time have been hindered by a variety of temporary and longer-term measures.
Energy engineers have done particularly good work in every important factory. Their work and expertise have cut energy consumption significantly, up to half in some important areas.
The entire people has cut the use of electricity, gas, and water, and reduced the use of coal. All of this has allowed the armaments industry to further increase production since the beginning of this year.
Everyone should and must know that these measures, which must be continued and increased in the future, demand sacrifices that will directly benefit the front.
Transportation, which has a vital role in increasing armaments production, has made extraordinary progress since 1942.
All the transportation limitations present in spring 1942 have been eliminated, due to the Reichsbahn’s significantly increased daily performance.
The armaments industry has made a great contribution to improvements in the transportation industry, which is of decisive significance for supplying the front.
In 1942, the Reich Marshall ordered the armaments industry to do all it could to increase the production of locomotives, since large numbers of locomotives are necessary to control large territories.
We have increased average monthly production of locomotives by more than 300% between 1941 and May 1943.This will certainly increase in the course of this year.
Through numerous efficiencies and entirely new manufacturing methods, the labor cost of a locomotive has fallen by a third, the use of iron by 22%, and the use of copper by a fifth.
These figures sound simple, but it took an enormous amount of work to achieve them.
At the same time, the armaments industry received orders to take over the production of electric motors for trucks. The result:
Between 1 June 1942 and today, three and a half times as many trucks have been refitted with electric motors as in the previous three years together.
The successes this year have resulted in substantial savings in fuel, which corresponds to the continuing addition of many large hydroelectric plants, and allows more fuel to be sent to the front.
The provision of labor for the armaments industry deserves special thanks, for the labor supply is one of the fundamental problems, both for us and for our enemies.
Since party comrade Sauckel took on his difficult job, many new workers have been provided to the armaments industry and its suppliers.
Party comrade Sauckel not only succeeded in replacing the numerous men inducted by the military in 1942 and spring 1943; his contribution has been that since the beginning of his activity about a year ago, there has been an increase of 23% in the work force. Other areas of the war economy have also had a significant increase in the work force.
All of the great exertions I have mentioned so far are necessary to provide the necessary foundation for increasing armaments production.
Coal, iron, metals, transportation, electricity, gas, water, machines, and labor, all these must be coordinated in a complicated process to ensure supplies and parts for the armaments industry that enable the manufacture of weapons and equipment.
The best experts work to eliminate all problems, to ensure that the rapid flow of materials reaches the right place at the right time. Most importantly, they ensure that quality steadily improves, and that new weapons and new developments are introduced without disturbing the smooth functioning of the armaments industry.
In his proclamation at the beginning of 1943, the Führer said:
Here I provide the first interim report on what our armaments industry has achieved between 1941 and today, thanks to the abilities and energy of out workers, thanks to the work of our engineers and technicians, thanks to the untiring and able work of the officers and engineers of the weapons offices, and thanks to the high sense of duty of German factory heads.
For understandable reasons, I can provide only percentages, not actual levels of production.
In recent months, figures have also been released by America that claim percentage increases in armaments production that are incredible to laymen: increases of ten-, twenty-, or even fifty-fold.
When we transformed our armaments production from peace to war conditions, there were also cases in which production increased ten- or twenty-fold over a short period. Once our armaments production reached a war level in 1941, using our full economic resources, significant increases were not easy to achieve. The fact that we were able to increase them by multiples requires entirely different standards of evaluation.
In summary, we have achieved the something like the following results:
(The audience follows the minister’s remarks with growing interest and excitement, repeatedly interrupting him with strong applause.)
The manufacture of munitions across Europe requires the storage of large amounts of munitions. The Führer foresaw this, and made the necessary preparations.
The difficulties of supplying widely separated fronts means that our troops must be economical in using munitions, even though our production is significantly above consumption.
Nonetheless, there has been a steady conversion to larger, better, but also heavier guns that demand more material.
Some individual examples from this area of the armaments industry. The production of carbines has increased by half during the last four months.
This is also true of all other forms of weaponry: light and heavy mine throwers, light flack, medium and heavy artillery, and also the manufacture of new gun barrels is significantly higher than in 1941.
This, too, is the result of the collective efforts of everyone in the armaments industry.
Our industry had put particular energy and devotion into catching up with and exceeding our opponents’ temporary advantage in production. Here, too, it is unnecessary to supplement the available statistical data with a lot of words. The numbers speak for themselves!
In May alone, we manufactured more heavy tanks than in all of 1941.
Here, too, new production methods resulted in great savings in labor and material.
This is a particular achievement when one realizes that since 1941, tanks have become heavier, better armed, and better equipped.
The Luftwaffe’s weaponry, energetically directed by Reich Marshall Hermann Göring himself, has not lagged behind.
Since providing statistics would give the enemy insight into our new methods and great advances in this area, I cannot give details at the moment of our great successes.
The German people today has been given powerful, incontrovertible information on the homeland’s achievements, achievements only possible because of the will of each individual in the great community of the homeland.
They all want to give their full effort to help the German soldier, ensuring that he has enough weapons of the highest quality.
This information also reaches the great community of workers, engineers, and leaders in the German armaments industry, letting them know the great successes their tireless work has had.
To recognize this work, the Führer has provided a unique honor. Nine workers and leaders of the German armaments industry are receiving the Knight’s Cross for War Service. (Lively approval and long-lasting applause.) These medals, which are an extraordinary honor for the entire German armaments industry are being awarded here today.
The Führer has authorized me to express his thanks for the sacrificial work and enormous achievements that you have so far accomplished.
He also expresses the thanks of the front to you, and to the millions of other workers in the armaments industry, who have contributed to this unique success.
As I make these proud accomplishments known, I want especially to thank the Reich Marshall, whose work with the whole German economy laid the foundation that enabled and ensured these achievements.
These achievements were made possible by the collegial and selfless efforts of Reich Minister and party comrade Funk, Field Marshall Milch, party comrade Dr. Ley, party comrade Sauckel, and our party comrade Gauleiter Dr. Goebbels.
I also remember our unforgettable Reich Minister and party comrade Dr. Todt, whose ideas laid the foundation for what we are accomplishing today.
He was not blessed to see the results of the work he began, the extraordinary efforts of our capable industry.
The statistics I have provided give you an impression of the Reich’s enormous armaments production. You could see that production has increased significantly in many areas.
But there is one thing even more important than the production of aircraft, weapons, tanks, or munitions:
That is the application of our war experience to improve existing weapons, and to discover entirely new weapons.
In the present war, so tightly connected to technology, opposing masses cannot only be balanced by better quality, but also defeated by it.
I cannot do more here than assure you that German inventiveness, known throughout the world, is seeking and finding, and has already found, new ways.
When our new inventions are revealed to the public, it is only when those abroad learn about them through their effective use. That happens at a time when these weapons have already been surpassed by better ones.
It would be too cautious to withhold the impact of the Tiger from the German people, even after the sensation-seeking foreign press has carried major reports about this new weapon.
You may be sure, however, that we prefer to be too slow rather than too quick in announcing new weapons.
The rumors circulating in wide circles of the people are more unsettling.
It is unavoidable that tens of thousands of engineers and workers are involved in developing new weapons. However, they should avoid speaking about them, and it would be good if all people’s comrades conscious of their duty would keep silent in the German manner.
We have not only the possibility to develop new weapons given our tradition of manufacturing weapons and our well-trained engineers and inventors, but also, and in contrast to our opponent, we have the favorable structure of our economy and the ability to mass produce new weapons in the shortest period of time!
America and Russia have an indisputable advantage in mass producing items. However, this method of production restricts the ability to quickly change over to the production of new weapons. It often takes a year to retool for new production, and achieve superiority.
There is probably no country on earth that has so many well-trained workers with long experience in producing quality products that require the work of specialists.
Our widely distributed industry, with its countless large, medium, small, and even tiny factories, has one other advantage besides the ability to rapidly change over to the production of new weapons:
We are relatively safe from aerial attacks on our industry.
We have distributed manufacturing widely in individual factories, as the structure of our industry requires.
The difficulty that that once provided for mass production is today a decisive advantage.
For those areas in which mass production will remain essential for the long term, we have built enormous new factories that are far superior in size and production to those of our opponent.
Today, as part of the total war effort by the homeland, we are closing countless factories that make no decisive contribution to the war effort. This creates new opportunities to distribute important manufacturing.
Since closing these factories also frees energy, there is the possibility to further distribute industrial production.
And finally, we have productive resources in the occupied territories — also for raw materials — which we are putting to use.
Up to the beginning of this year, there were enough foreign workers present or available to meet the necessary production increases.
Today it is necessary, step by step and without any haste, to use additional labor in the homeland for the armaments industry and related important areas of the war effort.
Our goal for the remainder of 1943 is not only to maintain the production of May 1943, but also to significantly increase it by the spring of next year. (Stormy, long-lasting applause.)
Here, too, we have extensive and well worked out plans for new increases.
Achieving these goals, however, depends on the ever increasing readiness of the German people to continue their support of the German war economy.
The Führer expects that the homeland will spare no sacrifice when it come to supplying the soldiers at the front with new weapons.
Hard months of work are before us if we are to meet the Führer’s new goals in armaments production.
We vow to our soldiers at the front not only to continue to do our duty, but to do everything in our power to constantly increase our production from month to month.
And should my courage and that of my colleagues to meet new challenges ever weaken, we need only visit workers in the factories to receive new energy from their example of vitality and energy.
The accomplishments of the homeland that I have revealed today are enormous.
They fill us all with pride.
Despite that, we must and will always see our achievements as modest when compared with the deeds that occur at the front day after day.
If the homeland works with the same spirit with which soldiers out there fulfill their duty, then the manufacture of the necessary weapons will make a decisive contribution to the achievement of final victory.
We will provide the front with new weapons, new tanks, aircraft, and U-boats, and in sufficient numbers so as to enable our soldiers, with their unsurpassable superiority as fighters, not only to survive the battle, but to triumph in the end.
The front expects that of us, and we will fulfill this heavy burden.
We vow that to those who had to lose their lives in this battle.
(Long-lasting, lively applause follow the conclusion of Reich Minister Speer’s speech, as well as thanks and appreciation for that which has been accomplished, and for the oath to support the front to the fullest.)
The Sport Palace Speech by Reich Minister Dr. Goebbels
A translation of this speech is available here.
[The last eight pages include a picture of the nine men awarded the Knight’s Cross for War Service, with brief biographies of each.]
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