Background: Early in March 1945, the Germans recaptured the town of Lauban, near Görlitz. Goebbels visited the area, delivering one of his last speeches on 10 March 1945 in Görlitz. By March 1945 German newspapers were down to 2-4 pages, leaving insufficient room to print the full text of Goebbels’s speech. Most of the account is thus a summary of what he said.
The source: Joseph Goebbels, “So werden wir die Sowjets schlagen!,” Völkischer Beobachter (Vienna Edition), pp. 1-2, 11 March 1945. The issue is available on ANNO.
In the evening Reich Minister Dr. Goebbels spoke in the front city of Görlitz to thousands of soldiers, Volkssturm men, Hitler Youth, women, and armaments workers. Alongside armaments workers one saw numerous women who bravely stay at their posts that are critical to the war effort, but also those unfortunate mothers who suffered the rage and horrors of Bolshevist soldetska, still with the vision of their children tortured to death before their eyes.
When Dr. Goebbels mentioned these indescribable Soviet bestial acts, he referred back to the glorious history of this proud province, particularly that of Görlitz, which was first involved in the Mongolian bloodbath over 700 years ago, and then successfully resisted the onslaught of the Hussites 500 years ago. This is not the first time that the Silesian homeland has had to overcome the central Asian steppes, and the descendants of those brave generations are as determined as their forefathers were to give their utmost to defeat this deadly danger.
Our fathers did not have things easier than we do today. We would not be today, would not exist, had they not done their duty then as we must today. Just as we honor these fathers and grandfathers whose manly conduct guaranteed the freedom and life of the German generations that followed, so, too, will our children and grandchildren be thankful that we do the same for them today.
Dr. Goebbels called on the officers and soldiers present as witnesses that the Soviets disregard all the rules of war in the most contemptible way. The result is that they encounter a spirit of resistance that grows daily more determined and harder. The cry to remove the hated yoke about our tortured people’s soul is a constant reminder and gives our fighting divisions and Volkssturm units previously unknown strength.
The shock that first overcame us, therefore, terrifies us no longer and instead of the panic the hated enemy hopes to spread among us, he today meets only the unanimous desire of hundreds of thousands of soldiers on the Eastern Front: “Defeat the Bolshevists wherever you meet them.”
If in the midst of such iron determination a cowardly doubter appears now and then to ask what can be done in the face of the heavy burdens of the present, Dr. Goebbels’s answer, short and to the point, is: “If we do not want to sell our lives and the lives of our people both now and forever at the cheapest price, we all must stay at our post and fight fanatically, whether in the east or the west, or on the home front.” The enemy has left no doubt what he will do to our women, our children, even our children’s children if we fail in this decisive hour of a continent-spanning battle between peoples, if we lose courage and do the worst that any people can do in a battle, namely lay down our weapons and give up our cause. To the last doubter in our own land and above all to the enemy who believes he is standing at the pinnacle of victory:
“Never will the hour come in which we capitulate, and never in history is there an example of a people that was lost if it did not itself give itself up for lost.”
Dr. Goebbels concluded the mass meeting, characterized by passionate expressions of agreement, with an appeal to all Germans, to soldiers in the east, west, and south, to the Volkssturm men, the youth, and the working population at home:
“Stay where you owe, dig into our home earth in a genuinely manly way! Do not weaken nor let your heart fear. The enemy can be beaten, and we have beaten him often enough. We must overcome the enemy’s superiority in material with superiority of our hearts and steadfastness. We have less war matériel; we must act bravely, intelligently, and independently wherever we meet him. We may not give up a centimeter of German soil without forcing the heaviest loss of blood. We must fight him in the fields, in the forests, in the cities, on every street and every house, until the oceans of blood he has shed in this battle makes him unable to continue. Then the hour of our triumph will come. History will grant us the victory that we have all earned.”
The excepts above are a small part of what Goebbels said. Other parts of his speech survive in newsreel footage. There he says:
“When our soldiers attack here or there on the Eastern Front, they will ask no pardon and give no pardon. Those units that have begun small offensives will join in the coming weeks and months into a great offensive. We will enter this offensive as if we were entering a religious service. And when you take up your weapons and climb into your tanks, you will have before your eyes your murdered children and raped women, and a cry of revenge will rise up before which our enemies will turn pale.
As the Führer overcame the crises of the past, so will he overcome this crisis. He is firmly convinced of this. The day before yesterday he told me he was sure we could overcome this crisis and begin out new offensives we will drive back and defeat the enemy and that the day will come for us to raise our flags in victory. He believes that as firmly as he has believed anything in his life.”
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