Background: August Eigruber was Gauleiter of Oberdonau (Upper Danube), a region of Austria, from 1939-1945. He was tried after World War II for crimes against humanity, convicted, and hanged on 28 May 1947. This is a newspaper report of his speech to Nazi Party local group leaders in his Gau in August 1943.
The source: “Die Heimat steht auf der Wacht! Gauleiter Eigruber sprach über die Aufgaben der Ortsgruppenleiter,” Neue Warte am Inn (Braunau am Inn), 18 August 1943, 6. The issue is available on ANNO.
Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter Eigruber spoke about the political and military situation and the resulting duties of party leaders at a two day meeting of all local group leaders in Gau Oberdonau.
The fate not only of our people, but of all peoples, hangs in the balance in these months and years, he said. The decisive thing is to realize the greatness of this battle. We Germans are at the turning point of our ethnic life. For the first time in our history, the song of Germany [Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles], Von der Etsch bis an den Belt [from the Adige to the Belt, or loosely, from the Italian border up to Denmark] is true. We have forged a community from a people once divided. This work of community has changed us inwardly. We Germans want never again to be at the mercy of others, but rather we want to decide our own fate.
Despite the war, we have raised our people’s standard of living, we have protected the soil of German farmers, we have accomplished unique things through our socialist communal efforts. We have also developed domestic national unity. We are above all Germans, Germans who love their own people above all else and who believe in the right to life of the German people.
Don’t only ask, but act!
Regarding the behavior of party leaders, the Gauleiter said: “The readiness to fight and sacrifice is essential. Do not always demand everything from the simple German people’s comrade, but apply it to yourselves and act accordingly!” The Gauleiter discussed the political and military situation and said: “The enemy hopes and assumes that he will be able to diminish and destroy German powers of resistance this year. The collapse of his hopes will be the beginning of a new phase in this war. The homeland has very heavy tasks if it is to accomplish unprecedented achievements. We National Socialists, who are responsible for our domestic efforts, are determined to fight. A National Socialist never avoids battle, but rather seeks it out. Speaking of political education to promote the determination to fight, the Gauleiter said: “That is the most important task of the party leader. He represents the interests not of the individual, not of professions or towns, but rather of National Socialism, and thus the entire German people.”
With regards to his own thinking, the Gauleiter said: “I see myself not as Gauleiter of Gau Oberdonau or as the representative of this Gau to the Reich government, but rather as Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter of the Reich who represents the interests of the German Reich in Gau Oberdonau.” The Gauleiter stressed the importance of women’s work during the war. The work of the National Socialist Frauenschaft is involved in this great task. At a time when young, active men are in the military, women also replace men’s labor within the party. The Gauleiter said: “We know how important the woman is for behavior and moral in times of need.”
Distinguish Precisely between Right and Wrong!
Turning to the local group leaders, he continued: “Distinguish precisely between right and wrong. Keep control of yourself, do your work thoroughly, do not promise anything you cannot accomplish, stand by your word. In cases of conflict, listen to both sides and earn the respect of others. Never play the big man. A police state can permit that, never a people’s state.”
The Gauleiter described the desperate situation of our opponents, who are being forced recklessly to throw their reserves of men and matériel into the fray, and said that after their storm has subsided the enemy will face the hour of revenge. He concluded: “This time, we in the homeland will not betray those at the front. We stand guard. We believe in the German people, we obey the Führer blindly, and want to be now as we were before his most loyal warriors.”
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