Background: This is the last of Goebbels’ articles in Das Reich. Two weeks later, he would be dead. Despite the hopeless war situation, he attempts to persuade Germans to keep fighting. Since the distribution system had collapsed by the time of this issue (Russian troops were already attacking Berlin), few people read this final essay.
The source: “Widerstand um jeden Preis,” Das Reich, 22 April 1945, pp. 1-2.
Resistance at Any Price
The war has reached a stage at which only the full efforts of the nation and of each individual can save us. The defence of our freedom no longer depends on the army fighting at the front. Each civilian, each man and woman and boy and girl must fight with unequaled fanaticism. The enemy expects that, once his tanks have broken through, they will find no resistance. He believes that we will be so disconcerted by his material superiority that we will let things take their course, without caring how they turn out. We must prove the enemy’s hopes wrong. No village and no city may give in to the enemy. The enemy is strong, but not strong enough to hold all the territory of the Reich without our help. If he persuades us to capitulate, he will have an easy time with us. The enemy has laid waste to our cities and provinces through the worst and most terrible bombing terror. As long as we are determined to resist at all costs, we cannot be beaten, and for us not being beaten means to be victorious.
This war of nations demands heavy sacrifice. Still, those sacrifices do not begin to compare with those we would be forced to bring if we lose. The enemy naturally wants to make his battle against the Reich as easy and safe as possible, and hopes to diminish our morale by seductive agitation. That is poison for weak souls. He who falls for it proves he has learned nothing from the war. He thinks it possible to take the easy road, when only the hard path leads to freedom. They are the same doubting souls who have no sense of national honor, and think nothing of living under the clubs of Anglo-American banking Jews, accepting charity from their hands. In other words, they are the rubbish of our nation, who nonetheless give the enemy an entirely false idea of this people. One sees how the English and American newspapers have fun with them, mocking and scorning them, and comparing them with a brave nation fighting for its life. That nation, which has demonstrated heroism and more heroism, has only one wish when reading these accounts: to kill them. They deserve nothing else. One cannot even claim that they do not know what they are doing. They have to know it, for they have been told often enough, even by the enemy, should they not want to believe us.
In the midst of a thousand battles, burdens and defeats, our people stand unbroken. Our hearts are proud when we hear from the enemy the wild fanaticism they encounter, how fathers, mothers and even children gather to resist the invaders, how boys and girls throw hand grenades and mines or shoot from cellar windows without regard to danger. They force the enemy to give them respect. They tie up his forces. They force him to commit his reserves to hold a rebellious city or a village glowing with national fanaticism, thereby slowing his advance until a new defensive line can be built a few kilometers further on. It is an absurd reversal of the facts to claim they are fighting in desperation. The enemy’s attacks are riskier than the methods we use to resist. They have a solid foundation, which will soon make its impact known in the course of the war. A nation that defended its freedom with all its resources has never yet been defeated. Often, however, those that give in from desperation have been defeated.
Our entire war effort requires revolutionary changes. The old rules of war are outdated, and have no use at all in our present situation. This is the age of wars between nations. When whole peoples are threatened, whole peoples must defend themselves. The enemy does not want to take a province from us or push us back to more favorable strategic borders; he wants to cut our very arteries by destroying our mines and factories, destroying our national substance. If he succeeds, Germany will become a cemetery. Our people will starve and perish, aside from the millions who will be deported to Siberia as slave labor. In such a situation, any means is justified. We are in a state of national emergency; it is no time to ask what is normally done! Does the enemy worry about that? Where does international law allow for the tens of thousands of German women tortured and raped in the East, or the tens of thousands of German children who have been murdered in a cowardly and terrible way, or the many who have fallen victim to barbaric enemy bombing terror? All normal ideas of warfare have long since been discarded by the enemy. Only we good natured Germans still hold to them in the mistaken idea that we might thereby bring the enemy to reason.
The facts prove the opposite. Our enemies are even insolent enough to call us barbarians and war criminals because here and there we put up touch resistance with the means we have available. Just recently, British terror fliers who had been shot down after doing their destructive work were attacked by men and women in Berlin, who after their homes had been destroyed were trying to rescue their possessions and dig out the corpses of their parents and children. Their reaction was understandable, but German guards protected them with their weapons. What would happen to a captured German pilot, were he lead through a flaming Moscow? To ask the question is to answer it. Knightly behavior will not accomplish much in this war. The German dreamer must wake up if he does not want to lose his freedom and his life. How long will he wait to do what is necessary? Will he wait until Bolshevist posters appear ordering everyone between fourteen and fifty to show up at a certain spot with clothing and two weeks of food in order to be transported to Siberia? Or until the Anglo-American occupation forces ruin our people through starvation and Typhoid Fever?
Is that an exaggeration? Not at all! It has become grim reality in the occupied territories in the East and West. Only a few romantic souls fail to see it. They have built a world of illusions, and do not want to believe the hard facts and draw the necessary conclusions. They must change their thinking, and as fast as possible. Someone once said that he did not know which people could be beaten to death, but he did know that the German people had to be beaten to life. What kind of blow will it take to finally wake these people from their illusions, to persuade them to give up their fantasies and errors, for their own good even if not for that of everyone else? What will persuade these obstructionists and defeatists to defend themselves?
The enemy is out to get us all. The London papers recently reported that Anglo-American officers viewed with contempt the owners of the houses where they were quartered. They were buying German-English dictionaries in order to parley. Only the domestic servants refused to behave in so unworthy a manner. What can one say about such creatures? Beating them seems the only possible solution. Thank God, these are isolated events. What can a German think about people who have had their property destroyed and who have been told they will be tortured in the manner of the Middle Ages, who still want to have a pleasant conversation with their conquerors?
Why do we mention these examples? In order to protect healthy people against infection. Were they to succumb, it would all be over. We would have no salvation, no future. We must help ourselves if we are to receive any help at all. It is more than naive to hope that the enemy will help us. We still have enough means and opportunities to defend ourselves and to bring the war to a successful conclusion if we only use them. This is the center of our efforts.
Each must start with himself, banishing all weakness and lethargy. He must stand firm and give an example to others, he must be on guard when he hears defeatism. He must be a man and act, work, and fight until we have overcome the gravest crisis of this war. We do not know how long that will take, only that it is necessary if we wish to live. That is true for every German, whether at the front or at home. No one can leave it to everyone else. We are all in the same boat that is plowing through the storm. No one can sit in a corner grumbling and complaining, making only critical remarks to the helmsman and the other passengers. Who can hold it against the rest when he who apparently shows no regard for the rest is tossed overboard to ease the strain on the rest, both physically and because they have wearied of a professional complainer who is endangering their efforts to save themselves? That is how things are.
We can no longer pay any heed to weariness, weakness, and delicacy. What we want, and what the intentions of our devilish enemy are, has been said often and clearly enough during the war. It does not need to be repeated. Everyone knows it. Developments have confirmed it, not contradicted it. There is no hope that the weaklings are right correct in their cowardly excuse that things will be only half as bad as we fear. If the enemy’s agitation deceives us into surrender, things will be much worse than we predicted. We must draw the proper conclusions, coolly, calmly, without complaining, but also with determination. Raising the white flag means giving up the war and shamefully losing one’s life. There is no reason for doing that. To the contrary, that would only help our enemy to win a cheap victory, and for at least a while cover up the growing crisis in his coalition.
The results are easy to see. They would affect us only, and sooner or later would result in the complete destruction of our nation. No one is willing to accept that fate. We must therefore fight on, resisting at all costs, even under the toughest and bleakest conditions. We fought for years almost without risk. That was not particularly commendable. The risk was entirely on the enemy’s side. They overcame the danger. Who thinks that we cannot do the same? He should buy a noose and do to himself what he thinks is going to happen to our whole nation.
We still live and breathe, and have mountains of resistance left in us that we only need draw upon. Never have we believed so passionately in Germany as today, when the Reich has before it a crisis of unparalleled seriousness. One may not judge a sick person’s chances of recovery by his fevered delusions. Rather, every possible means must be used to reduce the fever and waken the body’s natural defenses, to give the patient courage so that he does not lose the will to live. One must strengthen his defenses so that they can bring him through the critical moments. Any other behavior is foolish and dangerous. A fourteen-year-old lad crouching with his bazooka behind a ruined wall on a burned out street is worth more to the nation than ten intellectuals who attempt to prove that our chances now are nil. The fighting lad acts instinctively in the right way, the intellectuals act in a false and illogical way because they give up since things do not seem in balance.
Whether things balance or not depends on us alone. The final account of the war will depend on the whole efforts of the involved nations. The German people can yet make an unprecedented contribution. It will thereby earn the victory. In 1918, we gave up at the last minute. That will not happen in 1945. We all have to see to that. This is the foundation of our ultimate victory. It may sound improbable today, but it is nonetheless so: Final victory will be ours. It will come through tears and blood, but it will justify all the sacrifices we have made.
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