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 antepenultimate speech, given over the radio on 15 April 1945.
The source: “Cowards Must Bear the Consequences,” Innviertler Heimattblatt (Ried), 20 April 1945, 2. The issue is available on ANNO.
Gauleiter and Reichsstatthalter Eigruber spoke over the radio to the population of Reichsgau Oberdonau on Sunday evening in his capacity as Reichsverteidigungskommissar. After a review of the military situation in the Gaue Steiermark, Niederdonau, and Vienna, the Gauleiter continued:
Military developments in the West and center of the Reich as well as in the Gaue Steiermark and Niederdonau compel clear thinking and decisions. The most-discussed problem is the evauation of the population from Oberdonau. I have a clear position: Oberdonau will not be evacuated. Transfering people to Bavaria is impossible.
Bavaria lacks even the most primitive housing. Bavaria has also taken many women and children from the west. And besides that, many cities and areas have been totally destroyed by air attacks. There can be no more evacuations or tranfers for the population, also for Wehrmacht offices and units. Even if the enemy is approaching, it is always better to be in the homeland. If there is a withdrawal everything else goes along, and if that happens it will be only a matter of days before the enemy catches up. War is determined by steadfastness. The best example is the few Tyrolian soldiers who fought Napoleon. I must, therefore, reject any attempt to leave the Gau in a westerly direction. I have instructed the railway as well as my offices to the west to pay sharp attention to that.
Refugees passing through Oberdonau will be checked in an orderly way and moved along. Despite all the rumors, there have been no incidents. All German women and children, Hungarians, prisoners of war, and foreign workers have been cared for and fed by the NSW and the Wehrmacht. Prisoners of war and foreign workers are behaving well, although the appearance of our streets and roads, forests and villages, had taken on an entirely different look in recent days. The important thing is that all the offices of the Wehrmacht, state, and party are cooperating closely to deal with many small difficulties with calmness and good sense. Such cooperation is not lacking in our Gau.
The Bolshevists have been sending German prisoners of war in the full uniforms of officers, NCOs, and soldiers with many medals either by parachute or through the Russian lines in order to spread unrest in their homeland or to commit acts of terror. Ruthless action is called for here.
I authorize each executive organ, each Volkssturm man, and each member of the NSDAP to make immediate use of his weapon against these traitors. Such communist-infected creatures deserve no mercy.
These criminals think that Stalin will be especially thankful to them for their betrayal of their own homeland, of their own wives, children, and mothers. These traitors, and they should mark this well, will never be forgotten. They will not be trusted, and they will be the first Stalin hangs, as he liquidated traitors in Bulgaria, and Romania.
Now is the hour of decision. He who believes the Bolshevists and their promises, he who stabs his own homeland, our women and children, in the back, he who is now a coward, will have to bear the consequences. There is only a hard either—or. I have, therefore, arrested a number of officials and party political leaders who fled Vienna, some before or during military activities. They will be condemned. It is a time in which each National Socialist has to prove himself. He must now prove by actions what he has always said.
And now information on our food supply:
In the near future we will release a kilogram of sugar, a half a kilogram of rice, and four eggs for each person. I have been able to secure the grain supply in the Gau such that supplies of bread are assured for a long time in Oberdonau.
Supplies of textiles in the shops are limited. That is not because supplies are limited, but rather because transportation from warehouses in the countryside takes time. They were moved there from the cities because the risk of destruction by air attacks was too great.
The situation on the fronts is serious. The war was reached a critical point. In the midst of these events, the prime war criminal and person guilty for the war, the president of the United States of North America, Roosevelt, died. That is a sign for us that our enemies and deadly foes are not immortal. We believe in justice. The hard-working and brave German people has borne so much and suffered such misery that in the end justice will favor our side. Let us continue to work and fight!
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