Background: Goebbels regularly gave a speech on Christmas Eve. This is what he had to say in 1944. In the past, the full texts of his speeches were usually printed. By late 1944 newspapers were down to four pages, and even his speeches needed to be cut to fit the available space. Many newspapers carried summaries, but I think this is the full text.
Goebbels really does not have much to say. He refers to the Battle of the Bulge, for which German hopes were still high as he spoke. He assures Germans that Hitler is healthy, that he has plans that will win the war, that they need to keep figting. He has little to say about how the war might still be won.
The source: Joseph Goebbels, “Fest der starken Herzen,” Neues Wiener Tagblatt, 27 December 1944. The original is available on ANNO, that astonishing Austrian effort to digitize the nation’s newspapers. If you haven’t looked at it, do so.
The Festival of Strong Hearts
by Joseph Goebbels
Reich Minister Dr. Goebbels spoke over the radio on Christmas Eve to the German people. Among other things, the Minister said:
The German people celebrates its sixth war Christmas today. I know that I am speaking today to millions of people who are separated from their families and loved ones. On this Christmas Eve they are part of the great German community of those who are alone. I speak to them above all. Human language in inadequate to express the storm of feelings we have in this sixth war Christmas. We have behind us a year unique in German history. Never before have our people had to bear such a heavy fate or prove their heroism to such a degree as in this year.
I need not speak to you of the sorrow and worry, of the privation and self-sacrifice that expresses the sum of our German heroism. Each of us knows that from his own experience. We need not deceive each other. We see the war realistically, not through the illusions of rose-colored glasses. Who could ever forget the almost apocalyptic pictures from the front and our hard-tested homeland! If tonight I confidently express the deep faith within us all and our firm hope for a more beautiful and brighter future for our people, I do it because I am unshakably convinced that the current and future development of the war will find a deeper and meaningful justification, and that is the best consolation to which we can hold. We have learned in his war that life’s greatest happiness is in fulfilling one’s duty and, therefore, this Christmas is for us a festival of our strong hearts, despite the difficulties of the age, for we know that we have fulfilled the tasks fate has given us and our people. Success has not deserted us, nor will it in the future.
The thoughts and wishes of millions of Germans fly across hundreds of kilometers to loved ones from whom we are separated, but whom in this hour we almost feel physically beside us, even when they have died for the fatherland. Our sons and fathers, mothers and children who have fallen at the front and in the homeland rise from their graves to stand silently beside us, not only to restore the torn bonds of family, but also to restore their bonds to our people. Were they to ask us us whether their heroic deaths are still meaningful today and whether we have proved worthy of their deaths, and will be worthy in the future, we may proudly answer yes. All that we have endured, and must still endure, is not in vain. We have soaked the soil of our faith with sacrifice and privation, but great things have grown from that. The time is ripe to change the world. True, the forces of darkness are still resisting the rising light of the century, but they will not be able to extinguish it.
That is the meaning of this war, however terrible its destructive madness may sometimes be. It is a world crisis, but not a world catastrophe. Crises are the turning points in a disease. If the sick person still has a healthy core they often are the turning point that leads to recovery. It will be the same in this war, and this evening when individuals and peoples spend a few hours in reflection, we Germans have every reason to keep before us the great historic mission that Providence has given us in this war.
It extends far beyond our own era. We are wanderers between two worlds; one we must overcome, the others we must gain. The path goes along deep chasms and we shudder if we look down into them. Several times in past months we talked along narrow ridges with dangers on both sides, yet we did not stumble. We went our way with assurance and determination and always found firm ground under our feet. If we review the past year we realize that despite everything, we always found safe ground the midst of the confusing events around us. We would have been lost had we, like other peoples, given up. Since that did not happen we met every danger successfully, with the result that that our national powers of resistance and attack have reached a level such that even our enemies are both distressed and filled with deepest envy. What further proof is needed that the German people is not destined to defeat, as our enemies have repeatedly tried to persuade us, but on the contrary is called to a great future!
There are not many candles burning on Christmas trees this year in the Reich. That is not the worst thing. Much harder to bear is that countless families have lost their homes, mourn the loss of a loved one who sacrificed his life for the fatherland and can no longer be with them. I know all the sorrows that go with that, and want to express all the deep feelings that wander through the broad spaces of our Reich, lacking direction and yet borne by warm wishes. I think of the millions of soldiers facing the enemy, whether attacking or defending, on the seas or in the air. They have not given in to the enemy’s raging masses of men and matériel, never faltering or yielding. They march again in enemy lands, moved by faith in the immortality of their people. The nation looks to them with complete confidence, expecting that they will defend our homeland against the assault of revenge-seeking and pitiless enemy, driving them out. Theirs is an historic task upon which the security and future of the homeland stands or falls.
What German heart is not beating more strongly with pride and emotion when I speak of our soldiers who have been on the offensive once again in the West for over a week! Their heroism, unbroken and never to be broken, has won astonished admiration from the whole world. Our warmest wishes accompany them in their winter assault, which has already had significant successes. No one will expect me to go beyond what is said in the OKW reports about current operations in the West, of their preparations, equipment, and goals. That will come at the proper time and opportunity. I do want to say that we are all vastly happy, that we thank the Führer and his soldiers with deep feelings, that we promise them to work fanatically and with determination to provide them the necessary matériel and moral support for their hard, but also glorious battle, and that more than ever before we are filled with provide to be citizens of our people. Our enemies have stopped laughing. They no longer speak of a stroll to Berlin; to the contrary, our brave divisions fighting winter battles in the West have confronted them again with hard facts. When I extend our Christmas greetings to them and all German soldiers on the fighting fronts over the radio, I am the spokesman of our entire people. It is a greeting from the thankful hearts of the nation.
That extends also to our German prisoners of war, the wounded, or those who died facing the enemy while firing their last bullet. Even in enemy sources we are proud to hear how nobly they met their fate and how much honor they brought the German name. I thank them for that. We will be sure that they one day return to the fatherland that they will not be ashamed of.
I find it hard to find the right words to remember the German men, women, and children who live along the borders or in the areas affected by aerial war, who for months, sometimes years, have faced the terror and threats of the enemy with unshakable resolve. I have visited them several times in recent weeks and each time I returned to my office with an overflowing heart. Instead of giving them strength, I always received strength from them. They have earned the admiration of the whole world that they are receiving. I greet and thank the homeland, which is living and fighting like those at the front. To the West and East, above all in all the areas threatened by aerial warfare, they stand at their posts. The home front is the avant garde of our people, our hope and our pride. It shows the world what a national can do when it is forced to fight for its life.
More than anyone else our mothers see in this war a battle for the life and future of their children. They bore them in pain and must protect them today with pain, but they want to assure them a great and beautiful fatherland. A river of faith and confidence flows from the mothers of our people.
In greeting our soldiers and mothers, I greet the whole German people. It is winning a wreath and noble star that will be immortal and imperishable. It is the leading people on earth. The world has long known that it is great and courageous, but that it was determined, hard, and steadfast has been proven only during this war. It has every reason to be proud. No other people could have withstood the tests that fate his laid on it. That is why victory is sure. I am certain of that.
My Christmas greeting extends in every direction. It reaches Germans at home, at the front, in all the nations of the world, and comprises millions in a community of faith. We never wanted to be in the past what we are today because we did not think it necessary: danger forced us to become a single people of eighty million Germans sworn to an idea, brothers in one will, united in faith.
In this festive hour this people wants to be a wall for the Führer. As I wish to give him the wishes of the people, so do I extend his wishes to the people. He is the spirit in each who with pride and dignity bears the hard trials of this war. His thoughts are only of his people, his only concern by day and sleepless nights. The lying agitation of our enemies says he is ill, but the wish is father to the thought. The Führer is in the best of health, always filled with the greatest mental and spiritual force. The world will learn at the proper time what he has to say. They are learning more about that today they they like. He looks to the future course of this war with unshakable faith and determination. Our victory is assured by his steadfast will never to weary or waver, never to bow to the enemy, to use every opportunity to strike the enemy, to trust blindly in his people that in this wild and turbulent age is the best and most loyal ally. I have never seen the Führer so full of plans and thoughts of the future as he was during recent weeks before our new offensive in the West, when our enemies in their blindness tried, as so often in the past, to drive a wedge between him and his people.
He will have things to say to them in the future as well if we today with passionate hearts bring him our Christmas greetings, those of the fighting front as well as those of the working, hard-tested homeland, for we are almost put to shame at the gigantic burden of worry and responsibility that he has to carry for his people.
None of us will not want to give his best to reduce his burdens. He is everything to us, our pride and our hope, the fulfillment of our longings and wishes, the constant factor in the changing conditions of the war, in short everything that a leader can be to us in the midst of the greatest battle of peoples of all times. He belongs to us as we belong to him, wholly, with body and soul.
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