Background: Goebbels delivered this speech in Munich on 31 July 1932, the day of the national elections to the Reichstag. It is a good example of National Socialist election propaganda. Goebbels doesn’t say much about what the Nazis will do with power. In fact, his basic claim is that they will do something, while other parties will do nothing.
The source: Joseph Goebbels, “Gebt Raum dem jungen Deutschland,” Revolution der Deutschen. 14 Jahre Nationalsozialismus (Oldenburg: Gerhard Stalling, 1933), pp. 91-106.
It is really rather remarkable that I, a Prussian, can speak in the Bavaria of Held and Stützel [opposition politicians]. These gentleman behave as if Germany ended at the Main River. They claim to be the defenders and proponents of the nation and of Christian culture, yet they stand at the side of the Prussian Marxism of Severing, Braun, and Grzesinksi [politicians of the Social Democratic Party]. They want people to believe that fate of the church and the fatherland should best be put in their hands, yet they form coalitions with those who deny God and betray the fatherland. They resist the reawakening German nation in the form of National Socialism.
These gentlemen should realize that their political days are numbered. We took care of the political hacks of Social Democracy in Prussia and we will do the same with the hacks of the Bavarian People’s Party!
The days are gone in which one could draw lines through Germany, when the nation tore itself apart, when we were first of all Bavarians or Prussians, Catholics or Protestants. National Socialism has brought the German people once more to an inner unity that transcends class, occupation, or Church membership. That unity is the best guarantee of the power, strength, and future of the Reich. Those who benefited from our internal conflicts sense that their last days have come. As long as we quarreled with each other they could carry on their cowardly political business at our expense, but now their parasitic political life is over. Now they are shouting that socialism or the church are in danger! No, the Marxist traitors were the ones who betrayed socialism, and the church was betrayed by those who claimed to defend Christianity but in reality made coalitions with God-denying atheists, thus destroying the foundations of national and Christian morality.
We have two Marxist parties for the workers. Are things going well for workers?
We have two Catholic parties. Has Catholicism been saved? No, the opposite is true. Ever since the Marxist parties in Germany began their fevered games, the workers have lost their jobs and their prosperity, and since the Christian-Catholic parties have joined with Marxism, God-denying atheism has gone about its work unhindered. These parties are the cause of the misery of the German people; the best thing for Germany is to kick this dead system’s fat hacks in the rear.
These gentlemen have recently had a small taste of what is to come in Prussia. What must Severing, Braun, and Grzesinski be thinking? The good old days at Aranjuez [the site of the Spanish Royal Palace this is a contemporary reference that I do not understand] are gone. They were ever so comfortable. They had fourteen years in power, fourteen years to translate their program into reality. They took power as socialists, as men of the people, and the broad masses gave them power. There as probably never been a system that began with as much support as this new government had in 1918. They had power, they had signed an honorable peace treaty, they wanted to realize socialism, to bring on an age of freedom, beauty, and dignity. We lost the war, they said, but the people won. When the Treaty of Versailles was forced on the people, they said that the rich would pay for it, but the people would enjoy social progress. They wrote a constitution in Weimar. It was supposed to give the people freedom of belief and freedom of opinion, and they ruled under this constitution for fourteen years. They signed treaties they knew could not be fulfilled, and at home they oppressed the nation by brute force and an iron hand.
In 1927 the Prussian Prime Minister Braun declared that he was determined to root out National Socialism. The only thing that got rooted out was Dr. Braun himself. Minister Severing declared that the fire department could deal with National Socialism. He pretended to be strong, declaring that he would leave office “only by force.” A lieutenant and ten men were enough to chase him out the back door.
Mr. Höltermann declared a few weeks ago that all the Iron Front [a coalition of parties opposing the Nazis] needed to do was put on its jackets and the ghost of the S.A. would vanish. A few days ago, in an interview with a foreign correspondent, he said that things has changed so suddenly in Prussia that nothing could be done about it. That’s the way things go. The unexpected happens, and these political hacks felt a bit too secure in their cushy positions.
Hitler is still around. Grzesinksi and Braun aren’t! The Social Democrats seem to think God gave them their ministerial offices. But power not only has to be seized, it has to be earned, and he who does not deserve power will eventually have to surrender it.
Grzesinski, the Berlin Police President, spoke a few weeks ago in Leipzig. He asked why no one chased that foreigner Hitler out of the country with a dog whip! Hitler is still around. Grzesinski is the one who got chased out. He may not have been chased off with a dog whip, but don’t give up hopeit may happen yet!
The party hacks accused National Socialism of making easy promises to make itself popular, which explains its broad following. Well, we National Socialists are prepared to do things better, but first these hacks will have to leave their offices. As long as we are in the opposition, we have the right to criticize and they have the duty to govern.
The gentleman say that one may criticize, but only in moderation. Criticism must be directed against mistakes that must be criticized. If the government’s mistakes are minor, one can criticize gently. But when the government’s mistakes endanger the entire nation, the opposition has to do more than open its mouth; it has to yell. If the government envies our comfortable position in the opposition, they are free at any time to give up the burdens of office for the pleasures of opposition. They need only resign their offices. As long as they sit firm, however, we can do nothing other than criticize them.
They say we want power! Certainly, of course we want the power to implement our ideas, and as long as power is in their hands we have to attempt to win it.
Power doesn’t belong to you, it belongs to the people. You are the people’s servants, and when you use power poorly, the people will take it away from you. That has to be made clear to the people when one criticizes the government, and that we have certainly done.
The government’s parties say that we could join them, we could form a coalition. If we want to squeeze in, they can make room for us.
That is out of the question! We National Socialists have no desire to sit next to you, we want to get rid of you. You must make way for young Germany.
The governing parties say that it would be nice if we learned the art of governing. They are for example willing to give us the Welfare Ministry and teach us politics. But education requires two, one who teaches, and one who wants to learn. They say we want total power?! We say “Yes!” They ask if there is to be only one party? We say “Yes!”
We do not think thirty parties are to Germany’s advantage, but rather its misfortune.The parties are the beneficiaries of our division; they use politics only to preserve their own interests through their control of the government. They have spread the pestilential stench of their coalitions across Germany, and that is why these parties must vanish.
They have lost their right to exist over the past fourteen years. They were born to help the people, but they have become the people’s greatest enemy. One can say of them what the Englishman Cromwell said as he dissolved Parliament: “The people elected you to eliminate their misery, and you have become their greatest misery. We are therefore putting an end to your chatter. Is their a virtue you still possess or a vice that you do not possess? You came to help the people, but I tell you that you were never a government.”
Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you, is not Germany today in the same situation?
Isn’t it necessary to eliminate these parties, and isn’t it time to put an end to their useless activity?
They will not go happily, one can understand that; it is sweet to hold and use power. They are comfortable in their offices. They have governed for fourteen years, and would be ready to do so for fourteen more. If they were a decent government, they would go before the people and say: This is what we have done in fourteen years. If you want us to continue, vote for us. If you want things to be different, and if you think the other side could rule better than we, then vote for them.
A real government would be too proud to say that it was a real government. A real government does something! Frederick the Great did that when he gave hundreds of thousands of peasants land; he entrusted the administration of his land to thousands of soldiers. Thousands of civil servants ran his government. The finances were solid, the economy was healthy, the land was strong internally and internationally. Such a king did not need to talk about the future; he could point proudly to what he had accomplished. But the men of this government can only talk about what they want to do. They said conditions were more than we could handle or that we are the unhappy victims of the war that is responsible for everything.
That is not true, and even if it were true it would be the worst condemnation of Social Democracy, for it was they who wanted to lose the war. They were the traitors in 1918. They used outward collapse to take power at home, they were willing to sell the entire nation into slavery to bring down a system they hated.
They can’t hide the truth any longer. We will compare their promises with their accomplishments, we will remind them of what they said at the beginning and of what has happened since. Where are the jobs, the prosperity, the freedom, the beauty, the dignity they promised? Where is the socialism, where the international peace, where the disarmament, where the silver lining, where the growing economy, where the elimination of unemployment, where the reduction of taxes?
They say the National Socialists are dreamers, that they ignore the facts.
Who is ignoring the facts? Those who promised a Reich of beauty and dignity in 1918, or those who saw in the revolution a disaster for our nation?
Who is ignoring the facts? Those who signed the Treaty of Versailles and thought it could be fulfilled, or those who opposed signing the treaty, even if they only had seven men?
Who is ignoring the facts? Gustav Streseman, who saw the Dawes Pact as the ray of hope on the horizon, or Adolf Hitler, who sitting in Landberg Prison raised the warning that if the treaty were signed it would mean enormous misery, misfortune, unhappiness and unemployment for Germany?
I ask you, ladies and gentlemen, for you certainly have not forgotten: who is ignoring the facts? The ministers who promised the people in 1929 that the Young Plan would rescue the economy, eliminate unemployment and reduce taxation, or we who opposed the referendum on the Young Plan? The government accused us of being traitors and rabble rousers. We had to grit our teeth as our civil servants were driven from their office and robbed of their dignity and livelihoods, as our Führer was hauled into court and our S.A. men sent to jail.
Was it easier to sit in a ministerial office and get fat while deceiving the people with illusions, or to resist? Was it more popular to lay dead comrades in their graves, or to accuse the National Socialist movement over the radio of being rabble rouses, traitors, and the enemies of the workers? Now we see the results of their policies. These results do not come out of the blue, for we foresaw them, we predicted them.
Our finances have collapsed, the economy is in ruins, the factory chimneys have stopped smoking and the furnaces are cold. Seven million unemployed are on the streets, the middle class is ruined, the specter of civil war is about, farmers are driven off the land, the people are divided by class and occupation.
Everywhere the battle cry sounds: Catholics, Protestants, Bavarians, Prussians, the middle class, the workers. One almost is forced to the conclusion that there are no Germans in Germany any more. Germany is torn apart, the plaything of international forces. They stand on our bleeding backs. The nation needs all its strength domestically; it no longer wants to, no longer is able, to turn its strength outward. That is the result of their failed party politics. They have mobilized interests against each other, they have awakened the lower instincts. They have become defenders of selfishness and pleasure; the result is that the nation is divided and will be struck from the list of great nations.
I ask you: Do you think that this can continue without plunging the people into dreadful misfortune?! Do you believe this has all happened by chance, do you believe that tour misery has come from nowhere? And that it may vanish just as it came?! You will join me in answering “No.”
A nation does not collapse by accident. Every collapse has its causes, and if one eliminates the causes one can save the nation from danger. The parties that caused this situation have neither the strength nor the will to change it.
When men plunge a nation into misery, and have had fourteen years to do something about it, but don’t, instead grow comfortable in it, the nation must conclude that the misery can be alleviated only by removing those who caused it.
We will eliminate the misery only by eliminating the parties and the men that caused it. That is the goal of the National Socialist movement.
We are not surprised that the other parties are defending themselves. The Social Democrats can see that the end is near. They still attempt to slow the National Socialist movement by lies and slanders. They say that Hitler tolerates Papen, and that the S.A. uniforms are paid for by the taxes of the Emergency Decree.
If Hitler had any intention of tolerating a cabinet, he would borrow the experts from the Social Democrats.
Of course that party cannot understand that an S. A. man pays for his own uniform. One must remember that the Social Democratic party hacks got their frock coats from the Sklareks [Jews engaged in a major financial scandal].
These gentlemen still seem to live in the year 1918. They would simply like to forget about the intervening years; they want to make us responsible for their own shameless deeds, following the old practice of accusing someone else of one’s own sins. The murderer isn’t guilty, but his victim. They have worn cylinder hats for fourteen years; now they want to wear the worker’s cap again. For fourteen years they have forgotten about the people. We get to admire them only in the illustrated magazines. They got fat and the people starved. Now they suddenly want to forget it all.
Now they even steal our methods. We have carried the Swastika for twelve years. Now they are waving those Sklarek arrows [a reference to the three parallel arrows, the symbol of the Iron Front, the anti-Nazi coalition]. We have greeted each other for twelve years with “Heil Hitler.” Now they stretch out their hand and say “Freedom.” How should one take that? Is it a wish or an observation? One has to assume it is an observation, since it is hard to imagine that a party that has had power for fourteen years could want anything more. They had fourteen years to fulfill their wishes; why haven’t they done so and realized freedom? Now they pretend they are in the opposition.
For fourteen years they have spoken only of law and order and peace, but now they talk of barricades and uprisings and resistance and “giving way only by force” and “taking off their jackets.” When one has been in the government fourteen years, one forgets what the masses smell like. Schiller’s words from “Kabale und Liebe” apply here: “It’s gone flat, Luise.”
No one believes them any more. They sound false, hollow, and weak, particularly given their unfortunate record.
They talk of their great leaders and in newspaper articles ask how one can throw out such a spotless man as Severing in so brutal and unscrupulous a manner. We have already shown them “how.” If Severing is one of the spotless leaders of the Social Democrats, one can imagine how clean the rest of them are. Their posters proclaim: “The Nazis lie, the Nazis lie!” The crazy always think that the sane are crazy.
They write that ninety percent of the German people have nothing, ten percent have everything. Should things stay that way? To change it we have to get rid of the party hacks who haven’t done anything about it for fourteen years.
They ask if we want to do it all by ourselves, without any help from them at all. They worry what will become of them. We National Socialists hope to find a “place” for them. They ask us rudely as if they were a decent party well, what do you really want?
It is none of your business what we want. We will do it with the people, not you.
Let me satisfy a bit of your curiosity. First we want to get rid of you, then march in on 31 July.
Surely you do not expect me, the representative of a movement of fifteen million people, to come before you and beg for your vote. It is not my goal to deceive you, but to persuade you. If someone will vote only for a party that promises him something, I say: don’t vote for us, vote for someone else. We don’t promise you a bed of roses. We believe that the good of the individual depends on the good of the whole; that is the sum of the good of each individual.
Germany fell into misfortune only after the individual believed he should pursue his interests at the cost of the general welfare.
Germany’s misery will end when the individual sees the general welfare as the best guarantee of his own own.
Twelve years ago we appeared in public for the first time. People laughed at us, they mocked and joked about us, they called us utopians and dreamers. Seven men founded this gospel in 1919, In the twelve years since they have grown to an army of fifteen million. All of us are the bearers and pathfinders, the witnesses, of this unique popular movement.
Wherever we look today, we see an awakening people on the march, a young generation of fighting activists who have torn down the old barriers. They are men who are not first of all Bavarians or Prussians, Catholics or Protestants, middle class or proletarian, but rather their first loyalty is to their land, their people, their nation.
We believe that the two thousand year old longing of our people for inner unity is being fulfilled. We have thrown down the glove before class struggle and occupational lines. We have been slandered, mocked, beaten bloody and thrown in jail. Despite that, or I say because of it our movement has grown strong.
This seed should grow on 31 July. 31 July will show if Germany will find new inner unity that will break the chains of Marxism, or if it will collapse entirely, still bound by those chains.
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