Background: Josef Bürckel had been appointed Gauleiter of Vienna shortly before he gave this speech. He introduces himself to Vienna, promising to improve the condition of the city and conduct himself with honesty and integrity. He apparently did not behave as promised. His extravagant lifestyle led to his transfer to other duties. He was, however, given a full party funeral when he died in 1944. Corruption was no great barrier to success as a Nazi leader.
The source: “Bürckels Versprechen an die Wiener. ‘Unser ganzer Kampf muß darum gehen, alle, die unsern Blutes sind, zu uns zu führen,’” Volks-Zeitung (Vienna), 5 February 1939, pp. 1-3. This is taken from a newspaper report of the speech, and is not a complete transcript. The original newspaper is available on ANNO, an Austrian project to digitize a wide range of newspapers.
Gauleiter Josef Bürckel announced his goals in his major speech at the Concert Hall to the party and the whole city of Vienna, which radio allowed to participate in the meeting. He said that his primary efforts would to into establishing and strengthening the people’s community, which includes all who are of good will. He publicly dealt with the concerns of the Viennese and promised that he and the movement would take action. The Führer had appointed him to his position, Bürckel concluded, to do his duty as a National Socialist.
The meeting in the Vienna Concert Hall became a powerful mass meeting that introduced Reich Commissioner Bürckel to his Viennese as their Gauleiter. Reichsstatthalter Dr. Seyß-Inquart, Gauleiter Dr. Jury, Obergruppenführer Reschny, Lieutenant Generals Löhr, Schubert, Hirschauer, and Schwarzneckl, Major General Stümpfl, the Stadtkommandant of Vienna, Mayor Dr.-Engineering Neubacher, Ministers Hueber and Klausner, and many other prominent men in leading positions of the party, state, and military were among those present.
Gauleiter Bürckel spoke as follows: The Führer once spoke prophetically in Weimar, making a fateful historical judgment about National Socialism and its tasks: “Either this movement will triumph or Germany will cease to exist!” The Führer said two significant things in this sentence. First, this movement had all the inner strengths, and it alone, to give the German people the historical maturity it needed to survive. These strengths dwelt within the movement, and they appealed to the same strengths within our people that were striving toward fulfillment. A second thing within this sentence: If it were possible for this movement to rescue the people, then it must also be possible for this same movement to preserve this rescued people. To preserve a people, the basic requirement is the community of all members of the people, for only a community that includes all of its forces is able to defend and preserve its existence.
We are too forgetful, thoughtlessly failing to give great events the respect that they deserve, since afterwards they seem to have been obvious. I must say clearly: Without this movement, none of the great historical events for the preservation of our people and its future would have happened! The movement gave the nation inner strength and unity, which were the prerequisites for the Führer’s great work. To question this fact means to immediately confess that one is an enemy of the people. There is no other way to see critics of great events. They are mostly groups of people who are annoyed by something positive and are happy to prove that something is negative. They let the sun rise in the south — if they have to — and set in the north. They worry about their own shadows and are nothing more than evil highwaymen of our great age.
Foreigners — the French, the British — and also the hateful Americans have to say that they rarely had any respect prior to our Führer and his Reich. They are still the same people today. Earlier, they believed everything from abroad that was negative about us. One would think that today they still have to believe what comes from abroad, although it can no longer do anything than report Germany’s salvation by the Führer and his movement.
Any worldview — or, we may say, any political movement — needs not only to take power, but also to maintain power if its victory is to be permanent. If either is lacking, one cannot speak of lasting victory. Taking power depends on criticizing what exists and making promises for the future.
This is perhaps the place to discuss this question: What is the primary difference in the claims to power of the various systems? This question can be answered by discussing methods of taking power. Marxism could, and wanted, to take power only by the path of destruction. In Germany, that meant destroying inner strength, subverting the military, subverting honor. In Russia, it mean destroying inner strength, destroying factories, destroying culture, etc. To gain power it must unleash base instincts. If one takes power by mobilizing base instincts that are destructive, automatically and inevitably these base instincts must stay in service of this so-called revolution, which means that base instincts defend the possession of power. What stands in Bolshevism’s way, therefore, is not dealt with through education, through the strength of Bolshevism, but rather what stands in its way is destroyed.
After taking power National Socialism never followed the path of destruction, but rather the path of preservation, of construction. What stands in its way may not be destroyed, but rather won over. National Socialism, therefore, was able to take power because the inner strength that it possessed captured the people and led to victory. It must preserve victory by using the same inner strength. That does not mean to ruin and destroy, but rather to educate, thus reaching the whole of the people. We took power with this people, and will be able to maintain our power only if we remain bound to the same people. Our promise was racial (völkisch), corresponding to the deepest, noblest will of the people, and we must hold to the promise in the same racial way. Racial promise led to victory, and the fulfillment of that racial promise guarantees the victory of the people. Victory, however, will never be a final condition recognized by all. And that is good, for a complete victory is the beginning of the end for a people. A worldview must exist in the real world and serve this world if it is to prove its value.
The progress in developing our revolution makes it necessary to deal with several questions of National Socialist conscience, the answers to which may be useful to all, shall we say, to whom they are relevant. There are several possibilities when one considers growth of our movement, both numerically and in terms of values.
Our membership was not always 100% National Socialist in every regard, or at all times. Many came to us because of a part of our program, even aside from those for whom personal advantage was the final push that led them to join us. One joined us because he opposed the Jews, another from opposition to Marxism, or in hopes of saving the farmers. There were phrases like: “Everything would be OK, but why are you against this or that party....” or “You have a lot of good ideas, but there are, after all, decent Jews...”, etc. Then there is the most dangerous group, those who wanted to take the sting out of us, meaning those liberal remnants who dug in everywhere to cover themselves. They looked for “useful” bits of National Socialism that they could use to secretly advance the left, or shouted “Heil Hitler” so loudly that one could not hear the coins clinking in their pockets.
Altogether, these people are not 100% National Socialist. They determine our future educational plans. The totality of power is assured only by the totality of the worldview, and that requires constant educational effort. It is easier to protect the forest through fear than to teach people to protect it. However, fear has never worked as a long term educational strategy since it ignores the fact that there are elements whose nature is such as to condemn it to failure.
Three things result from this: First, the German people possesses undreamed of strengths; second, the movement has succeeded in mobilizing these strengths; and three, the accomplishments of recent years make us certain that there can be no unsolvable problem for such a people. From the beginning of his struggle, the Führer was filled with faith in the people and its inner strength. His first goal was to free those strengths from false use and application. Obviously, this could not happen without difficulties. It is equally understandable that we have to continue to fight for this goal today, given the fact that opposing forces are fighting a death struggle. Today, too, there remain difficulties.
If certain egotists here and there see their own accomplishments as requirements for National Socialist success, one has to ask: “Why did you not do that at the proper time? If you were in one way or another an opponent of National Socialism, why did you not then do something to boost the economy and help Herr Schuschnigg?” The naked truth: “We could not do anything.” The slogan “The economy is our fate” was fundamentally contradicted by hostile foreign countries. The Führer’s policies, and only his, alleviated the consequences of this foolish policy. Without them, one company after another would have collapsed. One can also wonder if the reserves of the economy would have been sufficient to preserve our life over the long term, or whether the millions of starving people would simply have given up. During the crazy age of liberalism, capitalism was equivalent to political power.
And since capitalism is based on the desire and drive for more and more, the concepts of the oppressor and the oppressed inevitably resulted. A community could never result from such power or impotence, unless both were eliminated. The game Bolshevism played with the oppressed can hardly be misunderstood.
On the other hand, the possession and use of power based on money could hardly encourage that part of the population that felt betrayed to sing with enthusiasm the same national anthem as the other part of the population.
I do not wish to leave out the activities of the power politics of the Freemasons or political confessionalism. They fit together like the gears of a watch, determining events according to their speculative interests. That game has to end.
German policy must consider the good of the whole nation, not individual benefit. Power belongs to the whole alone. The individual is but a servant.
These political assertions must, therefore, disappear: Money is a power, the economy is a power, the Church is a power. These power groups must take on— as has largely happened already — a kind of service relationship to the whole. In this sense, there are only tasks for the whole people to be fulfilled by the economy and all other areas, including our party. This service relationship determines the value of the individual, or even of whole institutions. This service relationship includes not only the economy, as a material factor, but also all spiritual institutions. The Church must see things in this way: There would be no people had the Creator not created it, and He would not have created it if he had not wanted it. Therefore, service to the people is a fulfillment of duty to the Creator.
In the same way, the task of the economy is to serve the community. This task does not consist — at least not primarily — in production, but rather an absolute educational purpose: to see that justice is implemented in practice. Our highest goal is the nationalization of all Germans. That means that these people must be given the inner strength to serve the whole. This inner strength, however, is dependent on the very sober knowledge that the concept of fatherland has value only when it is the fatherland of all, that it has the same meaning for all. The fatherland can have the same value for everyone only when all enjoy the same rights.
Well, some say, “social” in “ the sense of charity is still important, because by giving one becomes a valuable benefactor. Socialism in the sense of duty is too much, since no one particularly notes if a duty is fulfilled. Everyone considers it self-evident, but if one does not fulfill it, one is stigmatized.” Some things have been postponed, and they had to be if we were serious. The duty of which I spoke must also find its expression in the Winter Relief charity. Here, one must not do his duty in an inverse relationship to his prosperity. It is often moving to see some impoverished chap give his last penny, while others head for the woods because today is a collection day. and those annoying beggars will come by.
My dear friend! If National Socialism had not come along, the whole nation would be begging! We are not working for a part of the population, but for all. As is well known, one does not worry about those for whom things are going well, but rather for those for whom things are going badly. He who tries to escape this duty is the worst beggar in the country.
And remember this: the dead of our movement were not rich SA or SS men. They died for you and your salvation. They still live; they were not trampled down by Bolshevism merely because they died. How miserable you must be, you who have been saved, if you now want to disgrace the sacrifice of these men who died for you. A commitment to all reveals the deepest duty of thankfulness, which only un-German misers can ignore.
That does not ignore the fact that the penny of the thousand mark note can reveal the same upright attitude, although in the case of the penny it is certain, but it is sometimes questionable in the case of the thousand mark note.
One more thing. The willingness to die for the whole is the epitome of perfect dedication to the community. No one will doubt that this attitude is less common among workers or smaller farmers, or the average man, than it is among the more prosperous or those with better positions. Neither the worker nor anyone else will die for the property or possessions of others, but rather for that German he considers his equal. Only that gives the concepts of people’s comrade and community their deepest and highest meaning.
12 February is the anniversary of the Marxist attempt to bring down the Dolfuß regime. Who would say that these men who risked their lives were fighting for purely personal advantage? I do not want to defend them, but I must say this: I respect those Marxists who wanted to eliminate the System in an honorable way, who wanted prosperity and a place in the sun for their children. and believed their leaders only that far. They did want to destroy Germany and believed they were doing right. My reproach is directed instead at those who forgot to hinder these German workers from falling into Jewish hands.
We must have more respect for them than for that fellow traveler who for years quietly tried to find a National Socialist who could later say that he had always wanted to return to the Reich. On the one hand a willingness to risk one’s life, on the other hand speculation. The one happens because of faith — but such an attitude combined with speculation is lack of character.
How were things here in Vienna? The hearts of thousands longed for the Reich. They fought heroically, without any prospect of material advantage. Other thousands sought to hinder that great goal. Most of them, however, did so for material advantage, or because they were hungry for power. The same was true in the Old Reich. We wanted to bring the people together in order to give it the strength to gain its freedom. Others fought to continue the split, so that they could continue to exist. We fought them to the ground. And what did the Führer conclude? To take revenge? To destroy? Or to educate people and win them over?
It would have been easy for us to stand our opponents against the wall. But who were our opponents? Not a few had once stood in the trenches, risking their lives for the whole community. These were people who in our view had merely had their ethnic confidence shaken. Had we eliminated them, we would also necessarily destroyed a valuable treasure for the nation. Today, we are happy to have hundreds of thousands, even millions, in our ranks who formerly were Marxists or adherents of other positions, and who today are not the worst among us.
In making such a statement about Vienna as a whole, it becomes clear why I give the following firm order with regards to the inner unity of the movement and all its associated organizations:
Anyone who wishes to go his own way, or to have nothing to do with us, must realize that we in the movement are a community with but one goal, to build together the unity that is the prerequisite to build a community in this city; that means that our struggle is to bring everyone of our blood in Vienna to us, to bind them inextricably to us. I do not care if someone has a membership badge or not at the moment. for badges are often superficialities where deep conviction is lacking. I am concerned only with building a community of character, and he who best serves the party is he who contributes the most to this strong popular community, leaving aside those few hopeless cases whom I do not even want to talk about.
In this regard, I want to saw something openly to my colleagues and to everyone in Vienna. Secrecy only stands in the way of our upright community. Your concerns are not unknown to me, those of the city, of the whole population, as well as those that have developed within the movement for a variety of reasons. Partly they have economic causes, partly other causes. Those criticisms with a material basis mostly have to do with wages and prices, or the standard of living resulting from wages and prices.
This question always comes up: Has the standard of living improved, declined, or remained the same? I have not the least intention to say that everyone’s standard of living has improved. I will not do that for two reasons: First, it is not true. and second, because it would be stupid to ignore the facts.
We have given five-sixths of the unemployed jobs again, and thereby food on the table. Looking at the whole German people, more than seven million once again have a job and food on the table. Foreign countries did not give us anything, and there was no place for us to steal from. We could do it only through sacrifice on the part of the whole.
Still, our standard of living is not yet adequate, since here and there greedy people have driven prices up because their pocket book is more important to these greedy people than a German people's comrade, and because here and there profit is valued more highly that the camaraderie of the entire nation.
I have said this openly, and will never keep silent about such things to you, and above all to German workers, whom one lied to for years, destroying their confidence and soon after, their loyalty. I also believe that no one can better bear the truth than the German worker. I am also convinced that the movement never has to lie, since our aims are always the highest goals of the nation, not the interests of some power- or money-hungry individual. Anyone in the movement who lies, whomever it may be, steals from Germany, from all those who call themselves workers for the whole community.
I do not want to say that I am able to fix everything by tomorrow morning. I will only promise to do whatever is humanly possible to raise the standard of living of the Ostmark to the level of the rest of Germany. You cannot ask more of me than that, and I know that you are not asking for more than that. What concerns me most is the terrible housing conditions to which many fine people's comrades are subjected. Anyone in Vienna who can help in any way must join in here. Together with our mayor, I want to do everything I can to resolve this problem.
All of these matters in Vienna must be resolved, and they will be resolved if everyone joins together. Pitching in is the most active form of criticism. And if, now and then, there is a shortage of butter or something like that, I will not say: “There is enough butter,” but rather I will say: “We are going to be without butter for eight days,” which will mean that the leaders of the movement are the first to go without.
And if things turn worse for us here or there, we will all be in the same position, and we will all get by in the same way. I will not follow any other principle.
In conclusion, my colleagues and party comrades, let me speak on behalf of so many unknown old fighters and say that the honesty of the revolution may never be disgraced by the satisfaction of material desires. He who fights from idealism, but later demands payment for his idealism, disgraces himself. A simple example: If a revolutionary band of thousands storms down a street, but only a few reach the end of the street because the others have charged into bakeries and butcher shops to fill their rucksacks, only the few at the end are true, honest revolutionaries, while the others, perhaps from human weakness, have forgotten to defend their posts in the middle of the street. You know what I am talking about. And I speak for you old fighters, who did not have a hand in the game:
My highest goal will be to serve the great majority. I can do that only be declaring war against all forms of corruption, and against all forms of denunciation. I have given authority to one of my colleagues to cleanse the movement of everything that is unworthy of it.
I expect that you will stand by me in these matters so that I can demand that the entire city respects my colleagues as men who want to make Vienna a city of honor, of respect, and of community. Our highest principle is: “The people is not there for us, but rather we are there for the people.”
I wish to give this command to my colleagues as I assume the leadership of Gau Vienna. In this connection, permit me a personal remark.
My predecessor had the toughest job in the Ostmark. I want to publicly state that this man remained as poor as he was when he began his work [This is untrue. His predecessor, Odilo Globocnik, was indicted for illegal currency transactions].
I did not ask for this difficult job. A National Socialist remains at his post until he is relieved by the Führer.
The Führer gave me the order to be your Gauleiter in Vienna. Well: My Ma ain’t from Vienna (“Mei Mautter is kaa Weanerin”)... I will do all I can to do what a decent mother demands of her Viennese boy.
I will lead the movement honestly and loyally.
Anyone who wants to belong to us can belong to us. The employer, the employee, the professor, the street cleaner, the Protestant, the Catholic, the former Marxist, and he to whom the German people’s comrade is worth more than money, our soldiers and their officers, in short, everyone who has not become a saboteur to our common cause through bad behavior, but who instead belongs to Germany.
Those within our party who do not like this community, and those outside the party who also do not want us to march together, they are our common enemies.
Thus we will build a revolutionary front of all decent people to fight against that which is not decent, to build a common defense against everything that harms the community. Here in Vienna, we want to join together ever more strongly to build a wall of loyalty around our Führer, whom the Lord God has sent to our wonderful Germany, and who created the movement that had the strength to save the German people, and possesses the strength to preserve it forever. A youth stands before us for which we are responsible. It must take our flag in its hands and march onward as part of the eternity of our nation. What we create must be so valuable and holy to it that it will always be ready, when necessary, to clench its teeth and save this Germany of justice, loyalty, and honor from the Devil in Hell.
[Page copyright © 2010 by Randall Bytwerk. No unauthorized reproduction. My e-mail address is available on the FAQ page.]
Go to the Gauleiter Page.
Go to the 1933-1945 Page.
Go to the German Propaganda Home Page.