German Propaganda Archive Calvin University


Background: The following essay was published in Der Angriff on 7 November 1932. On 6 November the Nazis had suffered a major electoral defeat. From 230 seats in the July 1932 Reichstag election they had fallen to 196. The Nazis were still the largest party in parliament, but their momentum seemed broken and there was despair throughout the party.

In his diary entry for that day Goebbels wrote: “We have suffered a blow.” Goebbels’s response was to downplay the effects of the loss and emphasize that the government had little support: “We may not overlook the fact that scarcely ten percent of the people stand behind the government. I express our position in an essay with the theme: ‘The Chancellor without a People.’ It sharply attacks the government. I want to keep the depressed mood in the party from growing too much.”

It an interesting example of Goebbels’s response to bad news. Instead of dealing with Nazism’s decline in support, he presents the election as a resounding defeat for Reich Chancellor von Papen (who assuredly was not happy with the results).

The source: “Der Kanzler ohne Volk,” Wetterleuchten. Aufsätze aus der Kampfzeit (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1939), pp. 338-340.

The Chancellor without a People

by Joseph Goebbels

The result of yesterday’s election is clear. The Reich Chancellor who believed that he was called by the German people has ten percent of the adult German people behind him if one assumes the German National Party and the German People’s Party are his absolutely loyal followers. As long as history has been influenced or determined by popular votes, there has never been a government leader who has suffered such a defeat. An entire nation rose up to protest a dilittantish system that tried to superficially overcome the fundamental problems of the day, attempting to claim as its own the work of others to which it had made no contribution. If this election is to have any meaning, and if the government does not wish to ignore every written and unwritten law of popular sovereignty, the cabinet will announce its resignation before this day is done.

The government attempted to ignore a devastating election in the Reichstag [in the July 1932 election]. It dissolved the Reichstag before the parties could vote, or better said used dead legal paragraphs rather than accepting the results. It appealed to the people and the people responded in a way that could not have been more embarrassing.

It was clear from the beginning that the National Socialist movement would suffer some losses in this election. In this historic phase of its development it had to throw out those who had joined it after previous elections in recent months not because they wanted to bring about a decisive political transformation through and with it, which is our goal and our historic mission. They often joined because they mistakenly believed that they could gain something, and at the moment they realized that the National Socialist movement wanted more than to gain an easy victory and then share in the distribution of government positions they switched to another camp where they believed that they could comfortably claim power that was already half theirs. When one considers the lower election participation, the losses have little weight. In any event, the losses are of no significance compared to the wide-ranging decisions that await us. The movement defended itself against the fortune-hunters in the most manly and courageous way, throwing them off the saddle. They now lay in the dust of the political arena.

A party that displays such heroic self-denial for the sake of so great a goal, that refuses the most alluring temptations and continues its way with pride and without compromise, demonstrates its true historic stature. It proves that it can risk doing what is unpopular even under the most challenging conditions because it is necessary, and as so often in our past, lay the foundations for a still greater rise.

It may be that the Reich Chancellor will shake his head a few times and realize that his battle against the parties has only resulted in here and there galvanizing the miserable and wretched remnants of bourgeois interests for what will certainly be a very brief revival. We are not interested in arguing with him about it. The people who switch to the People’s Party before the major political decisions of the near future are of little worth.

What seems to us more important, something for which one can never deny responsibility, is that the increase in the reddest Marxism, above all in the big cities, has reached a level that arouses the greatest concern. The conservative, Christian, and authoritarian policies that the Reich Chancellor promotes have in practice only encouraged Bolshevism. The Christian outlook is surely in good hands there. If one leaves things with this cabinet of social and political Reaction, there will surely come the “rule of the Soviets” and the brilliant minds of the ruling class will see the results, assuming they still have the opportunity.

The German Nationals wanted to be the comfortable beneficiaries of this effort. They were in a bed not intended for them and believed that things would come to them on a platter.. The results stand in grotesque relation to their efforts. The few seats that the DNVP won will bring them no great joy.

And when the scribbling Jews of the Scherl Verlag compare what they wanted from this election with what they actually got, they will gradually realize that one cannot fight a worldview movement that has gained its place through blood and sacrifice by partisan maneuverings and intrigues.

Be that as it may! The Communist Party has every reason to send the Reich Chancellor a friendly telegram of thanks, and if things go as they should receiving such a message would probably be his last official act. This unhappy chancellor has now suffered a complete shipwreck. He never got deeply into things, but only splashed around on the surface. His economic program is finished, his so-called "authority of state” that lacks any support at all from the people leaves him standing naked in the eyes of the public, his horsemen faltered at the hurdles, rising deficits daily speak an increasingly threatening language, Germany is absolutely alone in the world, and now the whole people with a majority of ninety percent has rejected this chancellor and his policies.

The National Socialist movement is fighting today with more determination than ever. It strode head high through the swamp of partisan slanders, this time from the forces of Reaction, and in close combat with the enemy has been only slightly injured by a glancing blow. This conflict, as with all previous ones that we had to face, has only strengthened our strength and victorious endurance.

We are determined to fight for our great goal with undiminished devotion, come what, and despite everything make 1932 the year of great decision. If it were still necessary to bring to reason and understanding those worthies who hold Germany’s fate in their hands, yesterday must have done it. It was an unmistakable lesson, perhaps the last, offered to the narrow-minded stubbornness of bourgeois Reaction. There is but one conclusion: if Germany this winter is not to sink into the maelstrom of chaos, if one wants to give the people justice and the nation what it deserves, appoint Hitler and put power in his hands.

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