Background: Goebbels regularly gave a speech on New Years Eve. This is what he had to say in his last such effort on 31 December 1944. In the past, the full texts of his speeches were usually printed. By late 1944 newspapers were reduced in size, and even his speeches needed to be cut to fit the available space. In this case, Hitler had also given a speech which was printed in full, leaving less room for Dr. Goebbels and many newspapers carried abbreviated versions. This is not the full text.
As in his speech on Christmas Eve, Goebbels had little factual evidence to support his argument that Germany could still win the war. The Battle of the Bulge that had looked promising on Christmas Eve was stalled. Germany had lost enormous territory, and enemy soldiers stood on German soil. Goebbels himself knew well enough that the situation was grim. Still, he pulls out his old arguments that as long as Germans keep fighting, Hitler will lead them to victory. What else could he say?
The source: Joseph Goebbels, “Die neue Zeit wird uns gehören,” Neues Wiener Tagblatt, 2 January 1945. The original is available on ANNO, that astonishing Austrian effort to digitize the nation’s newspapers.
Reich Minister Dr. Goebbels spoke over the radio on New Years Eve to the German people over Greater German radio. Among other things he said:
The end of the war year 1944 finds Occidental humanity in a truly tragic situation. If the misled peoples of Europe hoped that after five years of war their desolate situation would be relieved by the arrival of Anglo-American forces, the events of recent months have bitterly disappointed them and punished the lies. Where the enemies of the Reich entered Europe’s new order, starvation, misery, and political and economic chaos inevitably followed. An American Jewish newspaper recently wrote with unparalleled cynicism that of USA President Roosevelt’s promised four freedoms, the Continent’s tortured peoples received only one that they had not been promised: the freedom to complain.
That is how things are. 1944 brought the general crisis of Europe, indeed of the whole civilized world, to a new level. Today we see in the enemy press events mentioned in a few vague lines that in normal times would plunge peoples and continents into the deepest distress. Several USA terror bombers were recently shot down during a bombing attack on a famed center of German culture. They landed with their parachutes. One was a drunken Negro who had just left a building in soot and ashes that belonged to the treasures of the civilized world. The prisoner did not even know which German city he had dropped his bombs and incendiaries on, much less what irreplaceable cultural monuments had fallen victim to his barbarism. 1944 is characterized most clearly by this event.
What does he know about the multitude of suffering that has fallen upon the earth, not least on the German people? If there is anything that can give us faith and firm confidence in this whirlwind of powerful events that takes the world’s breath away from week to week and month to month, it is this: the German people has demonstrated its mission and its historic task, and continues to demonstrate it at the end of this year. It has matured, enabled us to grow, in ways that as we reflect greatly astonish even us. The German people was the only steady factor in this terrible year. If we had not given meaning and form to the war through our steadfastness and unshakable determination for our sworn ideals, the war would long have become meaningless and humanity sooner or later would have sunk into the darkest barbarism and the most stupid primitiveness of prehistoric times.
This conviction gives us the strength to continue to resist and to overcome difficulties in our way to victory that often seem insurmountable, and will continue to arise until we have victory securely and firmly in our grasp. We are fulfilling our German German mission in this war, through which we will rise or fall.
We are at the end of an old age and the threshold of a new one. The contours of this new age are already visible to those with deep insight, but they must await new facts and events to reach fruition.
As a result, we can today only attempt to view the war from a broader view, to examine it in historic perspective, even though we are forming it and suffering through it. It has its historic meaning, like any historic event of this size and reach. We simply cannot understand the meaning our enemies give to it. We see in them only the proponents and defenders of an evil world philosophy that we must resist, and with all the strength we have if we do not want to lose our lives and, therefore, extinguish the light of humanity.
If the past year could not shake us, what is there that could possibly could! We still have the months of July, August, September, and October in sorrowful memory: the start of the enemy invasion in the West, major offensives and breakthroughs by the Soviets on the central front, a ceaseless hail of bombs by the enemy air forces, a contemptible attack on the Führer during the most critical period of the war, the Anglo-American breakthrough near Avrances, the collapse of Romania, Bulgaria, and Finland, the loss of the occupied Western territories, and the Soviet attack that brought them to the borders of East Prussia.
Our people stood fast during these wild storms like a rock in the ocean. Its enemies thought the road to Berlin was clear. In London and Washington, the odds were 10:1 that the war in Europe would be over by October. The USA economy was changing over to peace-time production and a Christmas armistice was to be celebrated with fireworks in London. In this tornado of misfortune that fell upon us, the German mythos rose miraculously.
What seemed incomprehensible to the enemy occurred: the German people and its leadership thought not of capitulation, but of the opposite. In a unique effort they again found firm footing. The idea triumphed over raw power. The light of the world flickered, but it did not go out. No crisis was strong enough to strike our life nerve. If ever the Reich proved in a critical hour that it is eternal and imperishable, not a dream or fantasy, but rather a hard and unchangeable fact, this was that hour.
The hardest months of the war have cost us some drops of sweat and blood, but they will doubtless go down in history as the most heroic accomplishment of the German people in this great battle of nations. It displayed what our enemies call the German miracle. We proved ourselves stronger than they, and even many of us, thought possible, so strong that our heroic people deserted by nearly all of its allies, alone and dependent only on itself, resisting a world of enemies. In a few weeks it not only stabilized its defensive fronts, but also began a strong offensive blow in the center of the flank of its Western enemy, which they had thought invulnerable. Our enemies were completely astonished. They cannot understand it. We, however, do understand it. It is no miracle, but rather the result of our faith, our fighting, and our labor.
Fate has given us nothing; to the contrary, it has made success as difficult as possible. We have scorned its obstinacy. In the truest sense of the word we have dug into our home earth with our fingernails, which is why it remains and will remain ours. We have not folded our hands in our laps and waited for a miracle, but rather we have made the German miracle a reality through our labor and through our bravery. That is the real great achievement of this war.
Throughout history military conflicts of such revolutionary character as to change the face of humanity, even to transform it, have been led by great men who direct their courses and their short and long term effects. They lead their peoples to previously unknown heroism and the greatest loyalty to themselves and their historic laws, driving them in the most critical hours to ever new heights. Each is a secular genius who is far ahead of his time, who in the loneliness of his calling acts according to the tasks Providence has given him. To see and understand the effects he has that transforms the world and humanity itself requires special grace.
One may look across the field of enemy politicians and generals in this battle of peoples that far exceeds anything we have known before without discovering a personality who can in any way be compared to the Führer. They are only manifestations of parliamentarian vote counters and gamesters or the most bloody back stabbers.
He, however, is the symbol and embodiment of his age. If Europe saves its life, it will only be through him.
Others mouth empty phrases and quick promises, behind which a terrible reality lurks that those who have fallen under their power have already had a bitter taste. They are united only in their hatred, in their diabolical desire to destroy everything they find better than they are. When later the history of this war is written, historians will not be able to avoid the conclusion that during this breathtaking hour in the development of Germany and Europe, salvation came because a leader found a people and a people found a leader who were worthy of each other.
They face the power of the threatening words and fearful weapons of their enemies with their invulnerable hearts and remain in the end the victor. Whatever the war may bring to the individual, whether good or ill, we are prepared. On 20 July of the past year we looked as if paralyzed into the deep abyss of complete misfortune [the attempt on Hitler’s life] and became a faithful people.
A war is decided only at the last moment. If those in London, Washington, and Moscow believe that we have nothing any longer to say, they will like some of us have to change their minds. We need only point to the latest events on the battlefields. They were a surprise to the enemy side, but that does not mean that they were not prepared in advance by our side. The enemy did not think we could do anything, but they learned otherwise, and will also have to learn many other things otherwise in the future. But that is not our problem, but rather our enemies’. The sons of their peoples have to pay with their blood and lives for the mistakes of their leaders, and this will continue until they realize that the German people cannot be defeated, but is destined to victory.
The German people will lower its weapons only when it has victory firmly in its hands, not a second sooner. As much as we love peace, it must and will be a victorious peace for which we will never need to be ashamed. That is our unshakable decision. For this goal we gather all the strengths of the nation and bring them to use with determination.
We are active again in all areas of military leadership. A great new exertion by our people has proven what we can do when we stay hard on the enemy’s heels, not allowing ourselves to be brought to rest by boasting words.
The Führer has shown us over the last four months how one can work silently and with determination on a great plan, then unveil it suddenly and surprisingly on the battlefield. He can rightly expect from the nation that we face the coming storms of war, overcoming them coolly and confidently. He is the model to all of us of a fighting life, of courage with insight, of strength with skill, of broad-minded planning with a Spartan personal style. The whole people must follow his model.
The people has the good fortune in this satanic struggle to have a leader who stands above everything and turns it all in the end to good. It must use this good fortune, for the Reich does not often have such a one.
I greet the Führer and his people. May God grant the Führer continued health and a blessed hand, may he grant the people understanding and strength so that it may be always ready for what the war may bring. Then we will not need to fear for our future. The new year will be a transition to a new age for us. This new age will belong to us because we alone have earned it. It will reward all our suffering and sacrifice. It will reveal the deep and final meaning of this war, which today still remains hidden. To serve it in the confusion of this turning point of the world is our highest duty, but also our proudest right. Firmly convinced and determined, we enter the new year of battle and war ahead of us. The new year will always find the German people and its leadership masters of the situation.
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