Background: This is an essay by Dr. Otto Dietrich, Hitler’s press secretary, from a 1936 illustrated Nazi coffee table book on Adolf Hitler. The essay is a good example of the deification of Hitler by the Nazis. Hitler is presented as a person with a mystical, supernatural power to reach the German people. Most of the pictures accompanying the chapter are available on a separate page.
The source: Otto Dietrich, “Der Führer und das deutsche Volk,” Adolf Hitler. Bilder aus dem Leben des Führers (Hamburg: Cigaretten/Bilderdienst Hamburg/Bahrenfeld, 1936, pp. 19-26.
The Führer and the German People
The relationship of the German people to the Führer is always a source of pride for Germans and of great surprise for foreigners. Nowhere else in the world does one find such fanatic love on the part of millions of people for a person, a love that is not exaggerated or hasty, but rather grows from deep and great faith, the kind of lasting confidence children may have in a very good father.
Enthusiasm lasts for a few years, but deep love, once established, is indestructible and may endure for centuries. It is a strong, powerful light that never dims. This light is no sudden development, nor is it kindled through surprising and exciting events, rather it has grown slowly and powerfully. It is not the result of stormy excitement at a particular event, rather it is always present, at all times and in every German. It may fill our hearts with pride on a particular occasion, or when hundreds of thousands of other citizens gather before the Führer or there may be no special reason at all, as when an individual is at work at his job. Whenever one thinks of the Führer, a deep love surfaces that is sufficient to justify the sentence: “Hitler is Germany Germany is Hitler!” Never have the hearts of a people been nearer to a man than to him, who began from nothing. He came not from outside our nation, but was born a member of our nation. He sensed its need and lived among it, and if today someone asks for the name of the unknown German front soldier, the whole German nation would answer: Adolf Hitler!
He was the conscience of the nation. He expressed the sorrow and the resistance of an enslaved people, and in him the life will of all Germany, in the midst of its deepest need, found its expression. Adolf Hitler never said anything but what the people itself felt in the depths of its soul. He never did anything but what the entirety of the people wanted to do. He was not, is not, and never will be a dictator who forces the people to accept his personal wishes. He is a Führer, and that is the highest thing that can be said of any human being. That is why the people loves him, trusts him, rejoices in him. This man for the first time in history has allowed them to fully express themselves.
This is secret of the immortality of Adolf Hitler and his work, the certainty of the path he has chosen: It is not longer only he himself, or his work, or his path, but rather the entire German people itself finds its expression in him. It loves him because it loves itself; in following him it follows its own most secret wishes, in him its best thoughts find expression. Everyone senses this, and therefore no one is a stranger to Adolf Hitler, and the Führer is not a stranger to anyone. Workers and farmers, Nobel Prize winners and artists, fighters and dreamers, the happy and the desperate, each speaks with him in his own language, understands and is understood. Everything is clear and plain, no one is nervous in the presence of this great man. No one is ordered, no one recruited, but each is called, following his own conscience, and has no choice but to follow lest he be convicted by his own heart. People voluntarily do what must be done, and no people on the earth is freer than the Germans.
The people never tire of hearing the words of the Führer, and were the Reich party rally in Nuremberg to last twice as long as it does, people would still be waiting on the last day as eagerly as on the first to hear him. He could travel throughout Germany every day and the people would still surround his car with as much enthusiasm as on the first day, bringing him children so that he could see the future of Germany. If necessary, they would give their lives for him, as did hundreds of his party members in the years of struggle for power.
There have been emperors and kings, rulers and heroes, usurpers and terrorists, intelligent and important leaders at the heads of nations, but never before has there been something so simple as this: a Führer. This is unique in the history of the world, and the German people have the good fortune to have him. If one fails to understand this, he understands nothing about the German people, nor why people’s eyes glow, their voices shout, their arms rise, their hearts beat faster, when Adolf Hitler appears before the German people. From these outward signs of the steady and mysterious connection between the Führer and people, Adolf Hitler receives the strength he needs for new works, and the people receive power from his gaze.
This is particularly clear when the German youth appears before the Führer. He who is with the Führer for days and weeks and months sees unforgettable scenes.
Once between Stettin and Pasewalk, at least 10 kilometers from any village, a group of German youth gathered alongside the road in the midst of a rain storm because they had somehow heard that the Führer would drive past that day. It was evening before the Führer’s procession neared. From a distance one could see a crowd between the trees, then the flag-waving children. They lit red, blue, and green sparklers. Sentries were stationed ahead of the crowd to indicate that the procession should stop. Although time was short, the Führer gave the order to stop, and instantly the car was surrounded by about a hundred children who not only sprang onto the running boards, but even on the hood and trunk in order to catch a glimpse of the Führer in the car’s interior. After each of the three cars had been inspected, a particularly capable boy found the Führer. He yelled: “Here he is, everyone come here!” Things got wild. The security personnel had to intervene, since some were even climbing on the roof of the car. The leader of the youngsters, the one who had found the Führer, gave a short speech, youthful, fresh and innocent, and then all made room for a girl in a white dress. She bowed deeply and recited her own poem that expressed their joy at seeing the Führer. She ended by giving Adolf Hitler a small basket with wonderful red apples. Deeply touched, the Führer ran his fingers through her blond hair, at which the child was overcome with happiness and began to cry. Slowly the procession got moving again, and long after as one looked out the back window one saw the youngsters waving their hands and flags.
At mass meetings, the youth are always the ones in the front rows. The well-behaved stand where their teacher or youth leader told them to, orderly and in a row. The bolder ones hang from tree branches, sit on statues or building windows, stand like living statues on factory walls, climb flagpoles or lantern posts and fill the Führer’s path with shouts of joy. Corners are the favorite places for the youth to wait for the Führer, since the car has to slow down, particularly when the youth are standing such that the cars have to move even more slowly. It is even better where there is a construction site, for the Führer will be able to move only at a walking pace and one will surely have the chance to stop him. It almost always takes a lot of work under such circumstances to get moving again, and when a path is finally open, the children run from behind the car to its front, hoping to stop it yet again.
For a Hitler mass meeting in a southern German city, tens of thousands of Hitler Youths formed rows along the streets. The further along, the closer the rows got to each other until there was only enough room for the car to squeeze through. At first all went well. Suddenly, however, there was a great tumult, and although the torch-bearers in the front tried to hold the youths back, they were forced forward by the pressure. Their flickering torches showed the Führer in the car, and both smoke and passionate jubilation surrounded the Führer and his followers. It was lucky they did not light fire to the cars. It took fifteen minutes to free the Führer from the throng of enthusiastic youths.
It is instructive to see how eager youth are to photograph the Führer. They stand with their tiny cameras, their fingers quivering on the button, shaking with nervousness and excitement. They need a lot of luck to get a picture. Yet a surprising number of them manage to snap a good picture. Here too luck seems to be with the young, since more experienced amateur photographers often complain that it is impossible to get a good opportunity in the midst of the general enthusiasm and the crowds.
A little girl had the honor of presenting the Führer with a bouquet of flowers as he traveled through Upper Silesia. She was to recite a short poem, and got the first line out, but then forget the rest in her excitement.She tried to get it out, but finally stood on tiptoes and handed the Führer the flowers, saying “Hitlerrr here they are, I f-f-forgot everything!,” and ran off.
Here is a street along with the Führer will drive. It is closed off. People wait, often for many hours. They are waiting for the Führer. They want to see him. Everyone, man, woman, boy and girl want to see him. “It is like a holiday today,” an old lady says, and she is right, for the Führer is visiting this small town for the first time.
Flags wave from the rooftops and garlands span the street. The entire city is decorated. The Führer comes... A whirlwind goes through the crowd. Here and there the line of security personnel bends, shouts break out. Arms rise toward the Führer. Laughter and tears, expressions of joy and enthusiasm. The women lift their children high, and small arms wave above the crowd. With beaming eyes and smiles they join in the enthusiastic “Heil Hitlers!” With confidence and faith, the women and mothers look to the Führer. They know that he alone is to thank for the fact that their unemployed husbands once more have jobs. They have work, and now can feed their families. Life once again has meaning, and they face the future without fear or worry.
There is a letter that a girl doing agricultural service wrote to her parents: “... I must write yet another page. You will surely be happy to hear what I have to say. Think of it, my dear parents, I saw the Führer, think about it, the Führer!!...”
These words “Think about it, the Führer!” are important. They show the pride in the experience, the depth of the love of this German girl for her Führer. That is the fulfillment of a wish this girl probably never had the courage to express. It is a real gift of fate, the best that could be imagined. In the middle of her year of agricultural service, she met the Führer. “Think of it, what it means...!”
It is the same everywhere in Bavaria, in East Prussia, in Silesia, and the Rhineland.
Two men of the Labor Front were marching along a country road in Westphalia. The work camp is deep in the country and the nearest railroad station is a long way away. But both men are in good cheer and whistle as they walk, for they are going on vacation, back home after months of healthy, strenuous work. “Back home, back home...” one whistles. A procession of cars goes past. “Well,” one says, “they are going faster than we are.” The other says “They waved!” The procession stops and waits until the two men trot up. “Where are you going? Hop in!” Their eyes open wide in astonishment, for it is the Führer who has stopped for them. He listens as they tell him about their lives, how things are in the work camps, and wants to know all the details. Soon they are at the next small town. The cars stop. As they leave the Führer says to one of them: “It is going to rain. Do you have a rain coat?” He answers: “My Führer, I do not have a coat, since I was unemployed for a long time.” The Führer takes his own gray travel coat off and puts it on the shoulder of his fellow citizen. Before he can say a word of thanks, the auto procession has moved on.
Somewhere a group of young workers at a large factory have gathered. The Führer steps before them and looks each deep into his eyes. He turns to one of the young workers and asks:
“Are you a member of the party?”
“Are you an S. A. Man?”
“No, I belong to the labor front.”
“What were you before?” the Führer asks after a pause.
The blond young man lowers his gaze, then says nervously: “I was a young communist, my Führer!” The words are hard for him to say. The Führer takes his hand and says with a smile, “But today you are all with me, my young people.” Blushing, the young man answers: “By God, you can count on us, my Führer!”
There are many such scenes, each of which shows the connection between the German people and Adolf Hitler.
Before a Führer mass meeting in Hamburg on the occasion of an important referendum, a handicapped man and his son are at the security line before the Führer’s quarters: “I want to serenade the Führer.” The SS men let the man through, and below the Führer’s window he takes out his instrument from the gray case and plays a song. Silently and respectfully, the thousands of onlookers listen to him. The Führer hears the melody from the street musician. The Führer invites him up, and listens to the story of his life: “I have been unemployed for four years,” the handicapped man says at the end. “My Führer, can you do something to find me a job?” The Führer signals an aide. Two quick telephone calls follow, then the Führer says: “Go there tomorrow morning. You can start work immediately.” The news races across the crowd. Unending, stormy ovations break out.
The day on which the Führer appeared at the funeral of those killed in the Reinsdorf explosion is unforgettable. The coffins of the fallen heroes of labor were in a long row. The flags were at half mast, the flowers were dark, the grievers stood in silence. The closest kin were gathered in one area. It was a picture of deep sorrow, with weeping mothers, sisters, brothers and fathers. The Führer arrived, and the memorial service began. The pain of the survivors was heart-rending. Clergymen spoke and the song of good comrades was played. The honor salute thundered over the gathering. Then the Führer left his attendants and walked alone to meet the grieving. A hundred arms reached toward him seeking consolation, and the memory of the sorrow in the face of the Führer in this midst of this sad gathering is burned into the memories of those who saw him. He spoke individually with the men and woman, silently taking the hands of some. The crowd pressed toward him. Here the Führer took the head of an old woman who had lost her son in his consoling hands, there he said a few words to a pale Hither Youth member whose father had died. The Führer’s consolation was strong they were not alone in their grief. Never were Führer and people so close as when the grieving raised their arms to silently thank Adolf Hitler.
The Führer and the German people. .. Once there was a mass meeting in the Frankfurt Festhalle, and while the Führer spoke inside to thousands of people a woman went to his car and placed a small bouquet of lilies of the valley (it was the middle of winter) in the car where she thought the Führer would sit. As the procession sped away after the meeting, in the middle of the thundering heil shouts one heard a clear strong voice: “The lilies of the valley are from me!”
One could tell hundreds, thousands of similar stories. Some are touching, some amusing, some moving, others encouraging. All have a common theme: “A miracle has happened, the kind of miracle a nation has but once in its history: The Führer and the people are one and the same, and the love that binds the people to their Führer is so large, so natural, so self-evident and bright that it is new every moment, yet always as strong.
What eternal power, what lasting blessings will result for the people and the Führer, for the Führer and the German people!
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