Background: Hitler delivered this speech on 30 January 1937, the anniversary of the Nazi takeover of power in 1933, and always the occasion for a major Hitler speech.
The source: This is taken from a German translation published by H. Müller & Sohn in Berlin. I’ve Americanized the British spellings in the original.
SPEECH DELIVERED IN THE GERMAN REICHSTAG ON JANUARY 30TH 1937
by Adolf Hitler
FÜHRER AND CHANCELLOR
This session of the Reichstag takes place on a date which is full of significance for the German people. Four years have passed since the beginning of that great internal revolution which in the meantime has been giving a new aspect to German life. This is the period of four years which I asked the German people to grant me for the purpose of putting my work to the test and submitting it to their judgment. Hence at the present moment nothing could be more opportune than for me to render you an account of all the successes that have been achieved and the progress that has been made during these four years, for the welfare of the German people. But within the limits of the short statement I have to make it would be entirely impossible to enumerate all the remarkable results that have been reached during a time which may be looked upon as probably the most astounding epoch in the life of our people. That task belongs rather to the press and the propaganda. Moreover, during the course of the present year there will be an Exposition here in Berlin which is being organized for the purpose of giving a more comprehensive and detailed picture of the works that have been completed, the results that have been obtained and the projects on which work has been begun, all of which can be explained better in this way than I could do it within the limits of an address that is to last for two hours. Therefore I shall utilize the opportunity afforded me by this historic meeting of the Reichstag to cast a glance back over the past four years and call attention to some of the new knowledge that we have gained, some of the experiences which we have been through, and the consequences that have resulted therefrom—in so far as there have a general validity. It is important that we should understand them clearly, not only for our own sake but also for that of the generations to come.
Having done this, I shall pass on to explain our attitude towards those problems and tasks whose importance for us and for the world around us must be appreciated before it will be possible to live in better relations with one another. Finally I should like to describe as briefly as possible the projects which I have before my mind for our work in the near future and indeed in the distant future also.
At the time when I used to go here and there throughout the country, simply as a public speaker, people from the bourgeois classes used to ask me why we believed that a revolution would be necessary, instead of working within the framework of the established political order and with the collaboration of the parties already in existence, for the purpose of improving those conditions which we considered unsound and injurious. Why must be have a new party, and especially why a new revolution?
The answer which I then gave may be stated under the following headings: —
(1) The elements of confusion and dissolution which are making themselves felt in German life, in the concept of life itself and the will to national self-preservation, cannot be eradicated by a mere change of government. More than enough of those changes have already taken place without bringing about any essential betterment of the distress that exists in Germany. All these Cabinet reconstructions brought some positive advantage only to the actors who took part in the play; but the results were almost always quite negative as far as the interests of the people were concerned. As time has gone on the thought and practical life of our people have been led astray into ways that are unnatural to them and injurious. One of the causes which brought about this condition of affairs must be attributed to the fact that the structure of our State and our methods of government were foreign to our own national character, our historical development and our national needs.
The parliamentary-democratic system is inseparable from the other symptoms of the time. A critical situation cannot be remedied by collaborating with the causes of it but by a radical extermination of these causes. Hence under such conditions the political struggle must necessarily take the form of a revolution.
(2) It is out of the question to think that such a revolutionary reconstruction could be carried out by those who are the custodians and the more or less responsible representatives of the old regime, or by the political organizations founded under the old form of the Constitution. Nor would it be possible to bring this about by collaborating with these institutions, but only by establishing a new movement which will fight against them for the purpose of carrying through a radical reformation in political, cultural and economic life. And this fight will have to be undertaken even at the sacrifice of life and blood, if that should be necessary.
In this connection it is worthy of remark that when the average political party wins a parliamentary victory no essential change takes place in the historical course which the people are following or in the outer aspect of public life; whereas a genuine revolution that arises from a profound ideological insight will always lead to a transformation which is strikingly impressive and is manifest to the outside world.
Surely nobody will doubt the fact that during the last four years a revolution of the most momentous character has passed like a storm over Germany. Who could compare this new Germany with that which existed on the 30th. of January four years ago, when I took my oath of loyalty before the venerable President of the Reich?
I am speaking of a National Socialist Revolution; but this revolutionary process in Germany had a particular character of its own, which may have been the reason why the outside world and so many of our fellow-countrymen failed to understand the profound nature of the transformation that took place. I do not deny that this peculiar feature, which has been for us the most outstanding characteristic of the lines along which the National Socialist Revolution took place—a feature which we can be specially proud of—has hindered rather than helped to make this unique historic event understood abroad and among some of our own people. For the National Socialist Revolution was in itself a revolution in the revolutionary tradition.
What I mean is this: Throughout thousands of years the conviction grew up and prevailed, not so much in the German mind as in the minds of the contemporary world, that bloodshed and the extermination of those hitherto in power—together with the destruction of public and private institutions and property—were essential characteristics of every true revolution. Mankind in general has grown accustomed to accept revolutions with all these consequences somehow or other as if they were legal happenings. I do not mean that people endorse all this tumultuous destruction of life and property; but they certainly accept it as the necessary accompaniment of events which, because of this very reason, are called revolutions.
Herein lies the difference between the National Socialist Revolution and other revolutions, with the exception of the Fascist Revolution in Italy. The National Socialist Revolution was almost entirely a bloodless proceeding. When the party took over power in Germany, after overthrowing the very formidable obstacles that had stood in its way, it did so without causing any damage whatsoever to property. I can say with a certain amount of pride that this was the first revolution in which not even a window-pane was broken.
don’t misunderstand me however. If this revolution was bloodless that was not because we were not manly enough to look at blood.
I was a soldier for more than four years in a war where more blood was shed than ever before throughout human history. I never lost my nerve, no matter what the situation was and no matter what sights I had to face. The same holds good for my party colleagues. But we did not consider it as part of the program of the National Socialist Revolution to destroy human life or material goods, but rather to build up a new and better life. And it is the greatest source of pride to us that we have been able to carry through this revolution, which is certainly the greatest revolution ever experienced in the history of our people, with a minimum of loss and sacrifice. Only in those cases where the murderous lust of the Bolsheviks, even after the 30th of January, 1933, led them to think that by the use of brute force they could prevent the success and realization of the National Socialist ideal—only then did we answer violence with violence, and naturally we did it promptly. Certain other individuals of a naturally undisciplined temperament, and who had no political consciousness whatsoever, had to be taken into protective custody; but, generally speaking, these individuals were given their freedom after a short period. Beyond this there was a small number who took part in politics only for the purpose of establishing an alibi for their criminal activities, which were proved by the numerous sentences to prison and penal servitude that had been passed upon them previously. We prevented such individuals from pursuing their destructive careers, inasmuch as we set them to do some useful work, probably for the first time in their lives.
I do not know if there ever has been a resolution which was of such a profound character as the National Socialist Revolution and which at the same time allowed innumerable persons who had been prominent in political circles under the former regime to follow their respective callings in private life peacefully and without causing them any worry. Not only that, but even many among our bitterest enemies, some of whom had occupied the highest positions in the government, were allowed to enjoy their regular emoluments and pensions.
That is what we did. But this policy did not always help our reputation abroad. Just a few months ago we had an experience with some very honorable British world-citizens who considered themselves obliged to address a protest to me because I had some criminal protégés of the Moscow regime interned in a German concentration camp. Perhaps it is because I am not very well informed on current affairs that I have not heard whether those honorable gentlemen have ever expressed their indignation at the various acts of sanguinary violence which these Moscow criminals committed in Germany, or whether they ever expressed themselves against the slogan: “Strike down and kill the Fascist wherever you meet him”, or whether, for example, they have taken the occasion of recent happenings in Spain to express their indignation against slaughtering and violating and burning to death thousands upon thousands of men, women and children. If the revolution in Germany had taken place according to the democratic model in Spain these strange apostles of non-intervention abroad would probably find that there was nothing which they need to worry about. People closely acquainted with the state of affairs in Spain have assured us that if we place the number of persons who have been slaughtered in this bestial way at 170.000, the figure will probably be too low rather than too high. Measured by the achievements of the noble democratic revolutionaries in Spain, the quota of human beings allotted for slaughter to the National Socialist Revolution would have been about 400.000 or 500.000; because our population is about three times larger than that of Spain. That we did not carry out this mass-slaughter is apparently looked on as a piece of negligence on our part. We see that the democratic world-citizens are by no means gracious in their criticism of this leniency.
We certainly had the power in our hands to do what has been done in Spain. And probably we had better nerves than the murderer who steals upon his victim unawares, shunning the open fight, and who is capable only of murdering defenseless [sic] hostages. We have been soldiers and we never flinched in the face of battle throughout that most gruesome war of all times. Our hearts and, I may also add, our sound common sense saved us from committing any acts like those which have been done in Spain.
Taking it all in all, fewer lives were sacrificed in the National Socialist Revolution than the number of National Socialist followers who were murdered in Germany by our Bolshevik opponents in the year 1932 alone, when there was no revolution.
This absence of bloodshed and destruction was made possible solely because we had adopted a principle which not only guided our conduct in the past but which we shall also never forget in the future. This principle was that the purpose of a revolution, or of any general change in the condition of public affairs, cannot be to produce chaos but only to replace what is bad by substituting something better. In such cases, however, something better must be ready at hand. On the 30th. of January four years ago, when the venerable President of the Reich sent for me and entrusted me with the task of forming a new Cabinet, we had already come through a strenuous struggle in our efforts to obtain supreme political control over the State. All the means employed in carrying on that struggle were strictly within the law as it then stood and the protagonists in the fight were the National Socialists. Before the new State could be actually established and promulgated, the idea of it and the model for its organization had already existed within the framework of our party. All the fundamental principles on which the new Reich was to be constructed were the principles and ideas already embodied in the National Socialist Party.
As a result of the constitutional struggle to win over our German fellow-countrymen to our side the party had established its predominance in the Reichstag and for a whole year before it actually assumed power it already had the right to demand this power for itself, even according to the principles of the parliamentary-democratic system. But it was essential for the National Socialist Revolution that this party should put forward demands which of themselves would involve a real revolutionary change in the principles and institutions of government hitherto in force.
When certain individuals who were blind to the actual state of affairs thought that they could refuse to submit to the practical application of the principles of the movement which had been entrusted with the government of the Reich, then, but not until then, the party used an iron hand to make these illegal disturbers of the peace bend their stubborn necks before the laws of the new National Socialist Reich and Government.
With this act the National Socialist Revolution came to an end. For as soon as the party had taken over power, and this new condition of affairs was consolidated, I looked upon it as a matter of course that the Revolution should be transformed into an evolution.
The new development which now set in, however, meant that there had to be a new orientation not merely of our ideas but also in regard to the practical policy which we had to carry out. Even today certain individuals who have fallen in the march of events refuse to adapt themselves to this change. They cannot understand it because it is beyond their mental horizon or outside the sphere of their egotistic interests. Our National Socialist teaching has undoubtedly a revolutionizing effect in many spheres of life and has interfered and acted under the revolutionary impulse.
The main plank in the National Socialist program is to abolish the liberalistic concept of the individual and the Marxist concept of humanity and to substitute therefore the folk community, rooted in the soil and bound together by the bond of its common blood. A very simple statement; but it involves a principle that has tremendous consequences.
This is probably the first time and this is the first country in which people are being taught to realize that, of all the tasks which we have to face, the noblest and most sacred for mankind is that each racial species must preserve the purity of the blood which God has given it.
And thus it happens that for the first time it is now possible for men to use their God-given faculties of perception and insight in the understanding of those problems which are of more momentous importance for the preservation of human existence than all the victories that may be won on the battlefield or the successes that may be obtained through economic efforts. The greatest revolution which National Socialism has brought about is that it has rent asunder the veil which hid from us the knowledge that all human failures and mistakes are due to the conditions of the time and therefore can be remedied, but that there is one error which cannot be remedied once men have made it, namely the failure to recognize the importance of conserving the blood and the race free from intermixture and thereby the racial aspect and character which are God’s gift and God’s handiwork. It is not for men to discuss the question of why Providence created different races, but rather to recognize the fact that it punishes those who disregard its work of creation.
Unspeakable suffering and misery have come upon mankind because they lost this instinct which was grounded in a profound intuition; and this loss was caused by a wrong and lopsided education of the intellect. Among our people there are millions and millions of persons living today for whom this law has become clear and intelligible. What individual seers and the still unspoiled natures of our forefathers saw by direct perception has now become a subject of scientific research in Germany. And I can prophesy here that, just as the knowledge that the earth moves around the sun led to a revolutionary alternation in the general world-picture, so the blood-and-race doctrine of the National Socialist Movement will bring about a revolutionary change in our knowledge and therewith a radical reconstruction of the picture which human history gives us of the past and will also change the course of that history in the future.
And this will not lead to an estrangement between the nations; but, on the contrary, it will bring about for the first time a real understanding of one another. At the same time, however, it will prevent the Jewish people from intruding themselves among all the other nations as elements of internal disruption, under the mask of honest world-citizens, and thus gaining power over these nations.
We feel convinced that the consequences of this really revolutionizing vision of truth will bring about a radical transformation in German life. For the first time in our history, The German people have found the way to a higher unity than they ever had before; and that is due to the compelling attraction of this inner feeling. Innumerable prejudices have been broken down, many barriers have been overthrown as unreasonable, evil traditions have been wiped out and antiquated symbols shown to be meaningless. From that chaos of disunion which had been caused by tribal, dynastic, philosophical, religious and political strife, the German nation has arisen and has unfurled the banner of a reunion which symbolically announces, not a political triumph, but the triumph of the racial principle. For the past four-and-a-half years German legislation has upheld and enforced this idea. Just as on January 30th, 1933, a state of affairs already in existence was legalized by the fact that I was entrusted with the chancellorship, whereby the party whose supremacy in Germany had then become unquestionable was not authorized to take over the government of the Reich and mould the future destiny of Germany; so this German legislation that has been in force for the past four years was only the legal sanction which gave jurisdiction and binding force to an idea that had already been clearly formulated and promulgated by the party.
When the German community, based on the racial blood-bond, became realized in the German State we all felt that this would remain one of the finest moments to be remembered during our lives. Like a blast of springtime it passed over Germany four years ago. The fighting forces of our movement who for many years had defended the banner of the Hooked Cross against the superior forces of the enemy, and had carried it steadily forward for a long fourteen years, now planted it firmly in the soil of the new Reich.
Within a few weeks the political debris and the social prejudices which had been accumulating through a thousand years of German history were removed and cleared away.
May we not speak of a revolution when the chaotic conditions brought about by parliamentary-democracy disappear in less than three months and a regime of order and discipline takes their place, and a new energy springs forth from a firmly welded unity and a comprehensive authoritative power such as Germany never before had?
So great was the Revolution that its intellectual foundations are not even yet understood but are superficially criticized by our contemporaries. They talk of democracies and dictatorships; but they fail to grasp the fact that in this country a radical transformation has taken place and has produced results which are democratic in the highest sense of the word, if democracy has any meaning at all.
With infallible certainty we are steering towards an order of things in which a process of selection will become active in the political leadership of the nation, as it exists throughout the whole of life in general. By this process of selection, which will follow the laws of Nature and the dictates of human reason, those among our people who show the greatest natural ability will be appointed to positions in the political leadership of the nation. In making this selection no consideration will be given to birth or ancestry, name or wealth, but only to the question of whether or not the candidate has a natural vocation for those higher positions of leadership. That was a fine principle which the great Corsican enunciated when he said that each one of his soldiers carried a marshal’s baton in the haversack. In this country that principle will have its political counterpart. Is there a nobler or more excellent kind of Socialism and is there a truer form of Democracy than this National Socialism which is so organized that through it each one among the millions of German boys is given the possibility of finding his way to the highest office in the nation, should it please Providence to come to his aid.
And that is no theory. In the present National Socialist Germany it is a reality that is considered by us all as a matter of course. I myself, to whom the people have given their trust and who have been called to be their leader, come from the people. All the millions of German workers know that it is not a foreign dilettante or an international revolutionary apostle who is at the head of the Reich, but a German who has come from their own ranks.
And numerous people whose families belong to the peasantry and working classes are now filling prominent positions in this National Socialist State. Some of them actually hold the highest offices in the leadership of the nation, as Cabinet Ministers, Reichsstatthalter and Gauleiter. But National Socialism always bears in mind the interests of the people as a whole and not the interests of one class or another.
The National Socialist Revolution has not aimed at turning a privileged class into a class which will have no rights in the future. Its aim has been to grant equal rights to those social strata that hitherto were denied such rights. We have not ruined millions of citizens by degrading them to the level of enslaved workers. Our aim has been to educate slaves to be German citizens. One thing will certainly be quite clear to every German; and this is that revolutions as acts of terror can only be of short duration. If revolutions are not able to produce something new they will end up by devouring the whole of the national patrimony which existed before them. From the assumption of power as an act of force the beneficial work of peace must be promptly developed. But those who abolish classes for the purpose of putting new classes in their place sow the seeds of new revolutions. The bourgeois citizen who has the ruling power in his hands today will become a proletarian if he is banished to Siberia tomorrow and condemned to enforced lab our there. He will then yearn for hisday of deliverance, just as did the proletarian of former times, who now thinks that his turn has come to play the despot. Therefore the National Socialist Revolution never aimed at bringing in one class of the German people and turning out another. One the contrary, our objective has been to make it possible for the whole German people to work, not only in the economic but also in the political field, and to guarantee this possibility by organizing the various classes into one national unit.
The National Socialist Movement, however, limits its sphere of internal activity to those individuals who belong to one people and it refuses to allow the members of a foreign race to wield an influence over our political, intellectual, or cultural life. And we refuse to accord to the members of a foreign race any predominant position in our national economic system.
In this folk-community, which is based on the bond of blood, and in the results which National Socialism has obtained by making the idea of this community understood among the public, lies the most profound reason for the marvelous success of our Revolution.
Confronted with this new and vigorous ideal, all idols and relics of the past which had been upheld by dynastic interests, tribal affiliations and even party interests, now began to lose their glamour. That is why the whole party system of former times completely collapsed in a few weeks, without giving rise to the feeling that something had been lost. They were superseded by a better ideal. A new movement took their place. A reorganization of our people into a national unit that includes all those whose lab our is productive simply pushed aside the old organizations of employers and employees. The symbolic emblems of the recent past, which was a period of disintegration and disability, were banished, not—as in 1918 or 1919—through a resolution voted by a committee appointed to invent a new symbol for the Reich, as if the choice were to depend on the results of a prize competition. But all these old emblems were now displaced by that flag which symbolized the militant period of the National Socialist Movement and which was borne by us on the day of Germany’s resurgence. Since that day it has become the consecrated symbol of his national resurgence on land and sea and in the air.
There could be no more eloquent proof of how profoundly the German people have understood the significance of this change and new development than the manner in which the nation sanctioned our regime at the polls on so many occasions during the years that followed. So, of all those who like to point again and again to the democratic form of government as the institution which is based on the universal will of the people, in contrast to dictatorships, nobody has a better right to speak in the name of the people than I have.
Among the results of this phase of the German Revolution I may enumerate the following: —
(1) Since that time there is only one trustee of supreme power among the German people and that trustee is the whole people itself.
(2) The will of the people finds its expression in the Party, which is the political organization of the people.
(3) Therefore there is only one legislative body.
(4) There is only one executive authority.
Anyone who compares this state of affairs with the condition of Germany before January 1933 will realize what a tremendous transformation is indicated by these few short statements.
But this transformation is only a result that has followed from carrying a fundamental axiom of the National Socialist doctrine into practical effect. This axiom is that the only reasonable meaning and purpose of all human thought and conduct cannot be to create or to maintain structures, organizations or functions made by men, but only to preserve and develop the innate character of the people itself; for Providence has given us this character as the groundwork of all our constructive efforts. Through the successful issue of the National Socialist Movement the people as such was placed above any organization, construction or function, as the sole element that is always there and will permanently abide.
The meaning and purpose which Providence had in mind when it created the different races cannot be investigated by us, human beings, and no theory about it can be laid down. But the meaning and purpose of human organizations and of all human activities can be measured by asking what value they are for the maintenance of the race or people, which is the one existing element that must abide. The people—the race—is the primary thing. Party, State, Army, the national economic structure, Justice etc, all these are only secondary and accidental. They are only the means to the end and the end is the preservation of this nation. These public institutions are right and useful according to the measure in which their energies are directed towards this task. If they are incapable of fulfilling it, then their existence is harmful and they must either be reformed or removed and replaced by something better.
It is absolutely necessary that this principle should be practically recognized; for that is the only way in which men can be saved from becoming the victims of a devitalized set of dogmas in a matter where dogmas are entirely out of place, and from drawing dogmatic conclusions from the consideration of ways and means, when the final purpose itself is the only valid dogma.
All of you, gentlemen and members of the German Reichstag, understand the meaning of what I have just said. But on this occasion I am speaking to the whole German people and therefore I should like to bring forward a few examples which show how important these principles were proved to be when they were put into practice.
There are many people for whom this is the only way of explaining why we talk of a Nationalist Socialist Revolution, though no blood was shed and no property wrecked.
For a long time our ideas of law and justice had been developing in a way that led to a state of general confusion. This was partly due to the fact that we adopted ideas which were foreign to our national character and also partly because the German mind itself did not have any clear notion of what public justice meant. This confusion was evidenced more strikingly by the lack of inner clarity as to the function of law and justice.
There are two extreme poles which are characteristic of this mental lack: —-
(1) The opinion that the law as such is its own justification and hence cannot be made the subject of any critical analysis as to its utility, either in regard to its general principles or its relation to particular problems. According to this notion, the law would remain even though the world should disappear.
(2) The opinion that it is the main function of law to protect and safeguard the life and property of the individual.
Between these two extreme poles the idea of defending the larger interests of the community was introduced very timidly and under the cloak of an appeal to reasons of state.
In contradistinction to all this, the National Socialist Revolution has laid down a definite and unambiguous principle on which the whole system of legislation, jurisprudence and administration of justice must be founded.
It is the task of justice to collaborate in supporting and protecting the people as a whole against those individuals who, because they lack a social conscience, try to shirk the obligations to which all the members of the community are subject, or directly act against the interests of the community itself.
In the new German legal system which will be in force from now onwards the nation is placed above persons and property.
The principle expressed in that brief statement and everything it implies has led to the greatest reform ever introduced in our German legal structure. The first decisive action taken in accordance with the fundamental principle I have spoken of was the setting up not only of one legislator but also of one executive. The second measure is not yet ready but will be announced to the nation within a few weeks.
In the German penal code, which has been drawn up with this wide general perspective in view, German justice will be placed for the first time on a basis which ensures that for all time to come its duty will be to serve in maintaining the German race.
Although the chaos which we found before us in the various branches of public life was very great indeed, the state of dissolution into which German economic life had fallen was still greater. And this was the feature of the German collapse that impressed itself most strikingly on the minds of the broad masses of the people. The conditions that then actually existed have still remained in their memories and in the memory of the German people as a whole. As outstanding examples of this catastrophe we found these two phenomena: —
(1) More than six millions of unemployed.
(2) An agricultural population that was manifestly doomed to dissolution.
The area covered by the German agricultural farms that were on the point of being sold up by forced auction was as large as the whole of Thuringia (more than 8.000 square miles).
In the natural course of events the falling off in production on the one side and the decrease in purchasing power, on the other, must necessarily bring about the disruption and annihilation of the great mass of the middle class also. How seriously this side of the German distress was then felt might subsequently be measured by the fact that I had to ask for full owners for the period of four years especially for the purpose of reducing unemployment and putting a stop to the dissolution of the German agricultural population.
I may further state that in 1933 the National Socialists did not interfere with any activities which were being carried out by others and which at the same time promised success. The Party was called to take over the government of the country at a moment when the possibilities of redeeming the situation in any other way had been exhausted and particularly when repeated attempts to overcome the economic crisis had failed.
After four years from that date I now face the German people and you, gentlemen and members of the Reichstag, to give an account of what has been accomplished. On this occasion I do not think you will withhold your sanction from what the National Socialist Government has done and you will agree that I have fulfilled the promises I made four years ago.
It was not an easy undertaking. I am not giving away any secrets when I tell you that at that time the so-called economic experts were convinced that the economic crisis could not be overcome. In the face of this staggering situation which, as I have said, appeared hopeless to the minds of the experts, I still believed in the possibility of a German revival and particularly in the possibility of an economic recovery. My belief was grounded on two considerations: —
(1) I have always had sympathy for those excited people who invariably talk of the collapse of the nation whenever they find themselves confronted with a difficult situation. What do they mean by a collapse? The German people were already in existence before they made any definite appearance in history as it is known to us. Now, leaving out entirely what their pre-historic experiences may have been, it is certain that during the past two thousand years of history, through which that portion of mankind which we call the German People has passed, unspeakable miseries and catastrophes must have befallen them more than once. Famines, wars and pestilences have overwhelmed our people and wreaked terrible havoc among them. It must give rise to unlimited faith in the vital resources of a nation when we recall the fact that only a few centuries ago our German people, with a population of more than eighteen millions, were reduced by the Thirty Years War to less than four millions. Let us also remember that this once flourishing land was pillaged, dismembered and devastated, that its cities were burned down, its hamlets and villages laid waste, that its fields were left uncultivated and barren. Some ten years afterwards our people began again to increase in number. The cities were rebuilt and began to be filled with a new life. The fields were ploughed once more. Songs were heard along the countryside, in concord with the rhythm of that work which brought new life and livelihood to the people.
Let us look back over the development, or at least that part of it known to us, through which our people have passed since those dim historic ages down to the present time. We shall then recognize how puny is all the fuss that these weakling fools make who immediately begin to talk about the collapse of the economic structure—and hence of human existence—the first moment a piece of printed paper loses its face value somewhere in the world. Germany and the German people have mastered many a grave catastrophe. Of course, we must admit that the right men were always needed to formulate the necessary measures and enforce them without paying any attention to those negative persons who always think that they know more than others. A bevy of parliamentarian weaklings are certainly not the kind of men to lead a nation out of the slough of distress and despair. I firmly believed and was solemnly convinced that the economic catastrophe would be mastered in Germany as soon as the people could be got to believe in their own immortality as a people and as soon as they realized that the aim and purpose of all economic effort is to save and maintain the life of the nation.
(2) I was not an economist, which means that I have never been a theorist during my whole life.
But unfortunately I have observed that the worst theorists are always busy in those quarters where theory has no place at all and where practical life counts for everything. It goes without saying that in the economic sphere and with the passing of time experience has given rise to the employment of certain definite principles and also definite methods of work which have been proved to be productive of good results. But all methods and principles are subject to the time element. To make hard-and-fast dogmas out of practical methods would deprive the human faculties and working power of that elasticity which alone enables them to face changing demands by changing the means of meeting them accordingly and thus mastering them. There were many persons among us who busied themselves, with that perseverance which is characteristic of the Germans, in an effort to formulate dogmas from economic methods and then raise that dogmatic system to a branch of our university curriculum, under the title of national economy. According to the pronouncements issued by these national economists, Germany was irrevocably lost. It is a characteristic of all dogmatists that they vigorously reject any new dogma. In other words, they criticize any new piece of knowledge that may be put forward and reject it as mere theory. For the last eigtheen [sic] years we have been witnessing a rare spectacle. Our economic dogmatists have been proved wrong in almost every branch of practical life and yet they repudiate those who have actually overcome the economic crisis, as propagators of false theories and damn them accordingly.
You all know the story of the doctor who told a patient that he could live only for another six months. Ten years afterwards the patient met the physician; but the only surprise which the latter expressed at the recovery of the patient was to state that the treatment which the second doctor gave the patient was entirely wrong.
The German economic policy which National Socialism introduced in 1933 is based on some fundamental considerations. In the relations between economics and the people, the people alone is the only unchangeable element. Economic activity in itself is no dogma and never can be such.
There is no economic theory or opinion which can claim to be considered as sacrosanct. The will to place the economic system at the service of the people, and capital at the service of economics, is the only thing that is of decisive importance here.
We know that National Socialism vigorously combats the opinion which holds that the economic structure exists for the benefit of capital and that the people are to be looked upon as subject to the economic system. We were therefore determined from the very beginning to exterminate the false notion that the economic system could exist and operate entirely freely and entirely outside of any control or supervision on the part of the State. Today there can no longer be such a thing as an independent economic system. That is to say, the economic system can no longer be left to itself exclusively. And this is so, not only because it is unallowable from the political point of view but also because, in the purely economic sphere itself, the consequences would be disastrous.
It is out of the question that millions of individuals should be allowed to work just as they like and merely to meet their own needs; but it is just as impossible to allow the entire system of economics to function according to the notions held exclusively in economic circles and thus made to serve egotistic interests. Then there is the further consideration that these economic circles are not in a position to bear the responsibility for their own failures. In its modern phase of the development, the economic system concentrates enormous masses of workers in certain special branches and in definite local areas. New inventions or a slump in the market may destroy whole branches of industry at one blow.
The industrialist may close his factory gates. He may even try to find a new field for his personal activities. In most cases he will not be ruined so easily. Moreover, the industrialists who have to suffer in such contingencies are only a small number if individuals. But on the other side there are hundreds of thousands of workers, with their wives and children. Who is to defend their interests and care for them? The whole community of the people? Indeed, it is its duty to do so. Therefore the whole community cannot be made to bear the burden of economic disasters without according it the right of influencing and controlling economic life and thus avoiding catastrophes.
In the years 1932/33, when the German economic system seemed definitely ruined, I recognized even more clearly than ever before that the salvation of our people was not a financial problem. It was exclusively a problem of how industrial lab our could best be employed on the one side and, on the other, how our agricultural resources could be utilized.
This is first and foremost a problem of organization. Phrases, such as the freedom of the economic system, for example, are no help. What we have to do is use all available means at hand to make production possible and open up fields of activity for our working energies. If this can be successfully done by the economic leaders themselves, that is to say by the industrialists, then we are content.
But if they fail the folk-community, which in this case means the State, is obliged to step in for the purpose of seeing that the working energies of the nation are employed in such a way that what they produce will be of use to the nation, and the State will have to devise the necessary measures to assure this. In this respect the State may do everything; but one thing it cannot do—-and this was the actual state of affairs we had to face—-is to allow 12.000 million working hours to be lost year after year.
For the folk-community does not exist on the fictitious value of money but on the results of productive labor, which is what gives money its value.
This production, and not a bank or gold reserve, is the first cover for a currency. And if I increase production I increase the real income of my fellow-citizens. And if I reduce production I reduce that income, no matter what wages are paid out.
Members of the Reichstag: Within the past four years we have increased German production to an extraordinary degree in all branches. And the whole German nation benefits by this increase. For it there is a demand today for very many million tons of coal more than formerly, this is not for the purpose of superheating the houses of a few millionaires to a couple of thousand degrees, but rather because millions of our German countrymen are thus enabled to purchase more coal for themselves with their increased income.
By giving employment to millions of German workers who had hitherto been idle, the National Socialist Revolution has brought about such a gigantic increase in German production. That rise in our total national income guarantees the market value of the goods produced. And only in such cases where we could not increase this production, owing to certain conditions that were beyond our control, there have been shortages from time to time; but these bear no proportion whatsoever to the general success of the National Socialist struggle.
The four-year plan is the most striking manifestation of the systematic way in which our economic life is being conducted. In particular this plan will provide permanent employment in the internal circulation of our economic life for those masses of German lab our that are now being released from the armament industry.
One sign of the gigantic economic development which has taken place is that in many industries today it is quite difficult to find sufficient skilled workmen. I am thankful that this is so; because it will help to place the importance of the worker as a man and as a working force in its proper light; and also because in doing so—though there are other motives also—we have a chance of making the activities of the party and its unions better understood and thus securing stronger and more willing support.
Seeing that we insist on the national importance of the function which our economic system fulfils, it naturally follows that the former disunion between employer and employee can no longer exist. But the new State will not and does not wish to assume the role of entrepreneur. It will regulate the working strength of the nation only in so far as such regulation is necessary for the common good. And it will supervise conditions and methods of working only in so far as this is in the interests of all those engaged in work. Under no circumstances will the State attempt to bureaucratize economic life. The economic effects that follow from every real and practical initiative benefit the people as a whole. At the present moment an inventor or an economic organizer is of inestimable value to the folk community. For the future the first task of National Socialist education will be to make clear to all our fellow-citizens how their reciprocal worth must be appreciated. We must point out to the one side how there can be no substitute for the German worker and we must teach the German worker how indispensable are the inventor and the genuine business leader. It is quite clear that under the aegis of such an outlook on economic life, strikes and lock-outs can no longer be tolerated. The National Socialists State repudiates the right of economic coercion. Above all contracting parties stand the economic interests of the nation, which are the interests of the people.
The practical results of this economic policy of ours are already known to you. Throughout the whole nation there is a tremendous urge towards productive activity. Enormous works are arising everywhere for the expansion of industry and traffic. While in other countries strikes or lock-outs shatter the stability of national production, our millions of productive workers obey the highest of all laws that we have in this world, namely the law of common sense.
Within these four years which have passed we have succeeded in bringing about the economic redemption of our people; but we realize at the same time that the results of this economic work in town and city must be safeguarded. The first danger that threatens us here is in the sphere of cultural creativeness. And that danger comes from those who are themselves active in that sphere. For our fellow-countrymen who are engaged in artistic and cultural productivity today, or are acting as custodians and trustees of cultural works, have not the necessary intuitive faculties to value and appreciate the ideal products of human genius in this sphere.
The National Socialist Movement has laid down the directive lines along which the State must conduct the education of the people. This education does not begin at a certain year and end at another. The development of the human being makes it necessary to take the child from the control of that small cell of social life which is the family and entrust his further training to the community itself.
The National Socialist Revolution has clearly outlined the duties which this social education must fulfil and, above all, it has made this education independent of the question of age. In other words, the education of the individual can never end. Therefore it is the duty of the folk-community to see that this education and higher training must always be along lines that help the community to fulfil its own task, which is the maintenance of the race and nation.
For that reason we must insist that all organs of education which may be useful for the instruction and training of the people have to fulfil their duty towards the community. Such organs or organizations are: Education of the Youth, Young Peoples Organization, Hitler Youth, Lab our Front, Party and Army—all these are institutions for the education and higher training of our people. The book press and the newspaper press, lectures and art, the theatre and the cinema, they are all organs of popular education.
What the National Socialist Revolution has accomplished in this sphere is astounding. Think only of the following: —
The whole body of our German education, including the press, the theatre, the cinema and literature, is being controlled and shaped today by men and women of our own race. Some time ago one often heard it said that if Jewry were expelled from these institutions they would collapse or become deserted. And now what has happened? In all those branches cultural and artistic activities are flourishing. Our films are better than ever before and our theatrical productions today in our leading theatres stand supreme and alone in comparison with the rest of the world. Our press has become a powerful instrument to help our people in bringing their innate faculties to self-expression and assertion, and by so doing it strengthens the nation. German science is active and is producing results which will one day bear testimony to the creative and constructive will of this epoch.
It is very remarkable how the German people have become immune from those destructive tendencies under which another world is suffering. Many of our organizations which were not understood at all a few years ago are now accepted as a matter of course: the Young people, the Hitler Youth, BDM., Womanhood, Lab our Service, SA, SS, NSKK, but above all the Lab our Front in its magnificent departments—they are all building stones in that proud edifice which we call The Third Reich.
This consolidation of the internal life of our German nation also establishes a united front towards the outside world. I believe that it is here that the National Socialist Revival has produced the most marvelous results.
Four years ago, when I was entrusted with the Chancellorship and therewith the leadership of the nation, I took upon myself the bitter duty of restoring the honour of a nation which for fifteen years had been forced to live as a pariah among the other nations of the world. The internal order which we created among the German people offered the conditions necessary to reorganize the army and also made it possible for me to throw off those shackles which we felt to be the deepest disgrace ever branded on a people. Today I shall bring this whole matter to a close by making the following few declarations: —
First: The restoration of Germany’s equality of rights was an event that concerned Germany alone. It was not the occasion of taking anything from anybody or causing any suffering to anybody.
Second: I now state here that, in accordance with the restoration of equality of rights, I shall divest the German Railways and the Reichsbank of the forms under which they have hitherto functioned and shall place them absolutely under the sovereign control of the Government of the German Reich.
Third: I hereby declare that the section of the Versailles Treaty which deprived our nation of the rights that it shared on an equal footing with other nations and degraded it to the level of an inferior people found its natural liquidation in virtue of the restoration of equality of status.
Fourth: Above all, I solemnly withdraw the German signature from that declaration which was extracted under duress from a weak government, acting against its better judgment. [sic], namely the declaration that Germany was responsible for the war.
Members of the German Reichstag: The revindication of the honour of the German people, which was expressed outwardly in the restoration of universal military service, the creation of a new air force, the reconstruction of a German navy and the reoccupation of the Rhineland by our troops, was the boldest task that I ever had to face and the most difficult to accomplish.
Today I must humbly thank Providence, whose grace has enabled me, who was once an unknown soldier in the War, to bring to a successful issue the struggle for the restoration of our honor and rights as a nation.
I regret to say that it was not possible to carry through all the necessary measures by way of negotiation. But at the same time it must be remembered that the honor of a people cannot be bartered away; it can only be taken away. And if it cannot be bartered away it cannot be restored through barter; it must simply be taken back.
That I carried out the measures which were necessary for this purpose without consulting our former enemies in each case, and even without informing them, was due to my conviction that the way in which I chose to act would make it easier for the other side to accept our decisions, for they would have had to accept them in any case. I should like to add here that, at all this has now been accomplished, the so-called period of surprises has come to an end.
As a State which is now on an equal juridical footing with all the other States, Germany is more conscious than ever that she has a European task before here, which is to collaborate loyally in getting rid of those problems that are the cause of anxiety to ourselves and also to the other nations.
If I may state my views on those general questions that are of actual importance today, the most effective way of doing so will be to refer to the statements that were recently made by Mr. Eden in the British House of Commons. For those statements also imply the essentials of what must be said regarding Germany’s relations with France. At this point I should like to express my sincere thanks for the opportunity which has been given me by the outspoken and noteworthy declarations made by the British Foreign Secretary.
I think I have read those statements carefully and have understood them correctly. Of course, I do not want to get lost among the details, and so I should like to single out the leading points in Mr. Eden’s speech, so as to clarify or answer them from my side.
In doing this, I shall first try to correct what seems to me to be a most regrettable error. This error lay in assuming that somehow or other Germany wishes to isolate herself and to allow the events which happen in the rest of the world to pass by without participating in them, or that she does not wish to take any account whatsoever of the general necessities of the time.
What are the grounds for the assumption that Germany wants to pursue a policy of isolation? If this a such an attitude, then the most than [sic] can be said is that it has been forced to do so under the coercion of a foreign will imposed upon it. Now, in the first place, I should like to assure Mr. Eden that we Germans do not in the least want to be isolated and that we do not at all feel ourselves isolated.
During recent years Germany has entered into quite a number of political agreements with other States. She has resumed former agreements and improved them. And I may say that she has established close friendly relations with a number of States. Our relations with most of the European States are normal from our standpoint and we are on terms of close friendship with quite a number. Among all those diplomatic connections I would give a special place in the foreground to those excellent relations which we have with those States that were liberated from sufferings similar to those we had to endure and have consequently arrived at similar decisions.
Through a number of treaties which we have made, we have relieved many strained relations and thereby made a substantial contribution towards an improvement in European conditions. I need remind you only of our agreement with Poland, which has turned out advantageous for both countries, our agreement with Austria and the excellent and close relations which we have established with Italy. Further, I may refer to our friendly relations with Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal, Spain etc. Finally, I may mention our cordial relations with a whole series of nations outside of Europe.
The agreement which Germany has made with Japan for combating the movement directed by the Comintern is a vital proof of how little the German Government thinks of isolating itself and how little we feel ourselves actually isolated. Furthermore, I have on several ocassions [sic] declared that it is our wish and hope to arrive at good cordial relations with all our neighbors.
Germany has steadily given its assurance, and I solemnly repeat this assurance here, that between ourselves and France, for example, there are no grounds for quarrel that are humanly thinkable. Furthermore, the German Government has assured Belgium and Holland that it is ready to recognize and guarantee these States as neutral regions in perpetuity.
In view of the declarations which we have made in the past and in view of the existing state of affairs, I cannot quite clearly see why Germany should consider herself isolated or why we should pursue a policy of isolation. From the economic standpoint there are no grounds for asserting that Germany is withdrawing from international cooperation. The contrary is the truth. On looking over the speeches which several statesmen have made within the last few months, I find that they might easily give rise to the impression that the whole world is waiting to shower economic favors on Germany but that we, who are represented as obstinately clinging to a policy of isolation, do not wish to partake of those favors To place this whole matter in its true light, I should like to call attention to the following bare facts: —
(1) For many years the German people have been trying to make better commercial treaties with their neighbors. and thus to bring about a more active exchange of goods. And these efforts have not been in vain; for, as a matter of fact, German foreign trade has increased since 1932, both in volume and in value. This is the clearest refutation of the assertion that Germany is pursuing a policy of economic isolation.
(2) I do not believe however that there can be a lasting economic collaboration among the nations on any other basis than that of a mutual exchange of commercial wares and industrial products. Credit manipulation may perhaps have a temporary effect, but in the long run economic international relations will be decisively influenced by the volume of mutual exchange of goods. And here the state of affairs at the present moment is not such that the outside world would be able to place huge orders with us or offer prospects of an increase in the exchange of goods even if we were to fulfil the most extraordinary conditions that they might lay down. Matters should not be made more complicated than they already are. If international commerce be sick, that is not due to Germany’s refusal to assist it, but is due to the fact that disorder has invaded the industrial life of the various nations and has influenced their relations with one another. But Germany cannot be blamed for these two things, and especially not National Socialist Germany. When we assumed power the world economic crisis was worse than it is today.
I fear however that I must interpret Mr. Eden’s words as meaning that in the carrying out of the four years plan he sees an element of refusal on Germany’s side to participate in international collaboration. Therefore I wish it to be clearly understood that our decision to carry out this plan is unalterable. The reasons which led to that decision were inexorable. And since then I have not been able to discover anything whatsoever that might induce us to discontinue the four years plan.
I shall take only one practical example: In carrying out the four years plan our synthetic production of rubber and petrol will necessitate an annual increase in our consumption of coal by a margin of something between 20 and 30 million tons. This means that an extra quota of thousands of coal miners are assured of employment for the rest of their active lives. I must really take the liberty of asking this question: Supposing we abondon [sic] the German four years plan, then what statesman can guarantee me some economic equivalent or other, outside of the Reich, for these thirty million tons of coal?
I want bread and work for my people. And certainly I do not wish to have it through the operation of credit guarantees, but through solid and permanent lab our, the products of which I can either exchange for foreign goods or for domestic goods in our internal commercial circulation.
If by some manipulation or other Germany were to throw these 20 or 30 million tons of coal annually on the international market for the future, the result would be that the coal exports of other countries would have to decrease. I do not know if a British statesman, for example, could face such a contingency without realizing how serious it would be for his own nation. And yet that is the state of affairs.
Germany has an enormous number of men who not only want to work but also to eat. And the standard of living among our people is high. I cannot build the future of the German nation on the assurances of a foreign statesman or on any international help, but only on the real basis of a steady production, for which I must find a market at home or abroad. Perhaps my skepticism in these matters leads me to differ from the British Foreign Secretary in regard to the optimistic tone of his statements.
I mean here that if Europe does not awaken to the danger of the Bolshevic infection, then I fear that international commerce will not increase but decrease, despite all the good intentions of individual statesmen. For this commerce is based not only on the undisturbed and guaranteed stability of production in one individual nation but also on the production of all the nations together. One of the first things which is clear in this matter is that every Bolshevic disturbance must necessarily lead to a more or less permanent destruction of orderly production. Therefore my opinion about the future of Europe is, I am sorry to say, not so optimistic as Mr. Eden’s. I am the responsible leader of the German people and must safeguard its interests in this world as well as I can. And therefore I am bound to judge things objectively as I see them.
I should not be acquitted before the bar of our history if I neglected something—no matter on what grounds—which is necessary to maintain the existence of this people. I am pleased, and we are all pleased, at every increase that takes place in our foreign trade. But in view of the obscure political situation I shall not neglect anything that is necessary to guarantee the existence of the German people, although other nations may become the victims of the Bolshevic infection. And I must also repudiate the suggestion that this view is the outcome of mere fancy. For the following is certainly true: The British Foreign Secretary opens out theoretical prospects of existence to us, whereas in reality what is happening is totally different. The revolutionizing of Spain, for instance, has driven out 15.000 Germans from that country and has seriously injured our trade. Should this revolutionizing of Spain spread to other European countries then these damages would not be lessened but increased.
I also am a responsible statesman and I must take such possibilities into account. Therefore it is my unalterable determination so to organize German lab our that it will guarantee the maintenance of my people. Mr. Eden may rest assured that we shall utilize every possibility offered us of strengthening our economic relations with other nations, but also that we shall avail ourselves of every possibility to improve and enrich the circulation of our own internal trade.
I must ask also whether the grounds for assuming that Germany is pursuing a policy of isolation are to be found in the fact that we have left he League of Nations. If such be the grounds, then I would point out that the Geneva League has never been a real League of peoples. A number of great nations do not belong to it or have left it. And nobody has on this account asserted that they were following a policy of isolation.
I think therefore that on this point Mr. Eden misunderstands our intentions and views. For nothing is farther from our wishes than to break off or weaken our political or economic relations with other nations. The contrary is the truth. I have already tried to contribute towards bringing about a good understanding in Europe and I have often given, especially to the British people and their Government, assurance of how ardently we wish for a sincere and cordial cooperation with them. I admit that on one point there is a wide difference between the views of the British Foreign Secretary and our views; and here it seems to me that this is a gap which cannot be filled up.
Mr. Eden declares that under no circumstances does the British Government wish to see Europe torn into two halves. Unfortunately, this desire for unity has not hitherto been declared or listened to. And now the desire is an illusion. For the fact is that the division into two halves, not only of Europe but also of the whole world, is an accomplished fact.
It is to be regretted that the British Government did not adopt its present attitude at an earlier date, that under all circumstances a division of Europe must be avoided; for then the Treaty of Versailles would not have been entered into. This Treaty brought in the first division of Europe, namely a division of the nations into victors on the one side and vanquished on the other, the latter nations being outlawed. Through this division of Europe nobody suffered more than the German people. That this division was wiped out, so far as concerns Germany, is essentially due to the National Socialist Revolution and this brings some credit to myself.
The second division has been brought about by the proclamation of the Bolshevic doctrine, an integral feature of which is that they do not confine it to one nation but try to impose it on all the nations.
Here it is not a question of a special form of national life in Russia but of the Bolshevic demand for a world revolution. If Mr. Eden does not look at Bolshevism as we look at it, that may have something to do with the position of Great Britain and also with some happenings that are unknown to us. But I believe that nobody will question the sincerity of our opinions on this matter, for they are not based merely on abstract theory. For Mr. Eden Bolshevism is perhaps a thing which has its seat in Moscow, but for us in Germany this Bolshevism is a pestilence against which we have had to struggle at the cost of much bloodshed. It is a pestilence which tried to turn our country into the same kind of desert as is now the case in Spain; for the habit of murdering hostages began here, in the form in which we now see it in Spain. National Socialism did not try to come to grips with Bolshevism in Russia, but the Jewish international Bolshevics in Moscow have tried to introduce their system into Germany and are still trying to do so. Against this attempt we have waged a bitter struggle, not only in defence of our own civilization but in defence of European civilization as a whole.
In January and February of the year 1933, when the last decisive struggle against this barbarism was being fought out in Germany, had Germany been defeated in that struggle and had the Bolshevic field of destruction and death extended over Central Europe, then perhaps a different opinion would have arisen on the banks of the Thames as to the nature of this terrible menace to humanity. For since it is said that England must be defended on the frontier of the Rhine she would then have found herself in close contact with that harmless democratic world of Moscow, whose innocence they are always trying to impress upon us. Here I should like to state the following once again: —
The teaching of Bolshevism is that there must be a world revolution, which would mean world-destruction. If such a doctrine were accepted and given equal rights with other teachings in Europe, this would mean that Europe would be delivered over to it. If other nations want to be on good terms with this peril, that does not affect Germany’s position. As far as Germany itself is concerned, let there be no doubts on the following points: —
(1) We look on Bolshevism as a world peril for which there must be no toleration.
(2) We use every means in our power to keep this peril away from our people.
(3) And we are trying to make the German people immune to this peril as far as possible.
It is in accordance with this attitude of ours that we should avoid close contact with the carriers of these poisonous bacilli. And that is also the reason why we do not want to have any closer relations with them beyond the necessary political and commercial relations; for if we went beyond these we might thereby run the risk of closing the eyes of our people to the danger itself.
I consider Bolshevism the most malignant poison that can be given to a people. And therefore I do not want my own people to come into contact with this teaching. As a citizen of this nation I myself shall not do what I should have to condemn my fellow-citizens for doing. I demand from every German workman that he shall not have any relations with these international mischief-makers and he shall never see me clinking glasses or rubbing shoulders with them. Moreover, any further treaty connections with the present Bolshevic Russia would be completely worthless for us. It is out of the question to think that National Socialist Germany should ever be bound to protect Bolshevism or that we, on our side, should ever agree to accept the assistance of a Bolshevic State. For I fear that the moment any nation should agree to accept such assistance, it would thereby seal its own doom.
I must also say here that I do not accept the opinion which holds that in the moment of peril the League of nations could come to the rescue of the member States and hold them up by the arms, as it were. No, I don’t believe that. Mr. Eden stated in his last address that deeds and not speeches are what matters. On that point I should like to call attention to the fact that up to now the outstanding feature of the League of Nations has been talk rather than action.
There was one exception and in that case it would probably have been better to have been content with talk. In this one case, as might have been foreseen, action was fruitless.
Hence, just as I have been forced by economic circumstances to depend on our own resources principally for the maintenance of my people, so also I have been forced in the political sphere. And we ourselves are not to blame for that.
Three times I have made concrete offers for armament restriction or at least armament limitation. These offers were rejected. In this connection I may recall the fact that the greatest offer which I then made was that Germany and France together should reduce their standing armies to 300,000 men; that Germany, Great Britain and France, should bring down their air force to parity and that Germany and Great Britain should conclude a naval agreement. Only the last offer was accepted and it was the only contribution in the world to a real limitation of armaments.
The other German proposals were either flatly refused or were answered by the conclusion of those alliances which gave Central Europe to Soviet Russia as the field of play for its gigantic forces. Mr. Eden speaks of German armaments and expects a limitation of these armaments. We ourselves proposed this limitation long ago. But it had no effect because, instead of accepting our proposal, treaties were made whereby the greatest military power in the world was, according to the terms of the treaties and in fact, introduced into Central Europe. In speaking of armaments it would be well to mention in the first instance the armaments possessed by that Power which sets the standard for the armaments of all others.
Mr. Eden believes that in the future all States should possess only the armament which is necessary for their de fence. I do not know whether and how far Mr. Eden has sounded Moscow on the question of carrying that excellent idea into effect, and I do not know what assurances they have given from that quarter. I think however that I ought to put forward one point in this connection. It is quite clear that the measure of a country’s defensive armament should be in proportion to the dangers which threaten that country. Each nation has the right to judge this for itself, and it alone has the right. If therefore Great Britain today decides for herself on the extent of her armaments everybody in Germany will understand her action; for we can only think of London alone as being competent to decide on what is necessary for the protection of the British Empire. On the other hand I should like to insist that the estimate of our protective needs, and thus of the armament that is necessary for the de fence of our people, is within our own competency and can be decided only in Berlin.
I believe that the general recognition of these principles will not render conditions more difficult but will help to release tension. Anyhow Germany is pleased at having found friends in Italy and Japan who hold the same views as ourselves and we should be still more pleased if these convictions were widespread in Europe. Therefore nobody welcomed more cordially than we did the manifest lessening of tension in the Mediterranean, brought about by the Anglo-Italian agreement. We believe that this will first of all lead to an understanding which may put a stop to, or at least limit, the catastrophe from which poor Spain is suffering. Germany has no interests in that country except the care of those commercial relations which Mr. Eden himself declares to be so important and useful. An attempt has been made to connect Germany’s sympathy for Nationalist Spain with some sort of colonial claims against countries which have taken no colonies from her. Our sympathies with General Franco and his Government are in the first place of a general nature and, secondly, they arise from a hope that the consolidation of a real National Spain may lead to a strengthening of economic possibilities in Europe. We are ready to do everything which in any way may contribute towards the restoration of order in Spain.
But I think that the following considerations should not be left out of account: —
During the last hundred years a number of new nations have been created in Europe which formerly, because of their disunion and weakness, were of only small economic importance and of no political importance at all. Through the establishment of these new States new tensions have naturally arisen. True statesmanship however must face realities and not shirk them. The Italian nation and the new Italian State are realities. The German nation and the German Reich are likewise realities. And for my my own fellow citizens I should like to state that the Polish nation and the Polish State have also become realities. Also in the Balkans nations have reawakened and have built their own States. The people who belong to those States want to live and they will live. The unreasonable division of the world into nations that have and nations that have not will not remove or solve that problem, no more than the internal social problems of the nations can be simply solved through more or less clever phrases.
For thousands of years the nations asserted their vital claims by the use of power. If in our time some other institution is to take the place of this power for the purpose or regulating relations between the peoples, then it must take account of natural vital claims and decide accordingly. It is the task of the League of Nations only to guarantee the existing state of the world and to safeguard it for all time, then we might just as well entrust it with the task of regulating the ebb and flow of the tides or directing the Gulf Stream into a definite course for the future.
But the League of Nations will not be able to do the one or the other. The continuance of its existence will in the long run depend on the extent to which it realize that the necessary reforms which concern international relations must be carefully considered and put into practice.
The German people once built up a colonial Empire without robbing anyone and without violating any treaty. And they did so without any war. That colonial Empire was taken away from us. And the grounds on which it was sought to excuse this act are not tenable.
First: It was said that the natives did not want to belong to Germany. Who asked them if they wished to belong to some other Power? And when were these natives ever asked if they had been contented with the Power that formerly ruled them?
Second: It is stated that the colonies were not administered properly by the Germans.
Now, Germany had these colonies only for a few decades. Great sacrifices were made in building them up and they were in a process of development which would have led to quite different results than in 1914. But anyhow the colonies had been so developed by us that other people considered it worth while to engage in a sanguinary struggle for the purpose of taking them from us.
Third: It is said that they are of no real value.
If that is the case then they can be of no value to other States also. And so it is difficult to see why they keep them.
Moreover, Germany has never demanded colonies for military purposes, but exclusively for economic purposes. It is obvious that in times of general prosperity the value of certain territories may decrease, but it is just as evident that in times of distress such value increases. Today Germany lives in a time of difficult struggle for foodstuffs and raw materials. Sufficient imports are conceivable only if there be a continued and lasting increase in our exports. Therefore, as a matter of course, our demand for colonies for our densely populated country will be put forward again and again.
In concluding my remarks on this subject I should like to note a few points concerning the possible ways which may lead to a general pacification of Europe, which might also be extended outside Europe.
(1) It is in the interests of all nations that the individual countries shall possess internally stable and orderly political and economic conditions. They are the most important conditions for lasting and solid economic and political relations between the peoples.
(2) The vital interests of the different peoples must be frankly recognized Mutual respect for these vital interests alone can lead to the appeasement of the essential needs of the nations.
(3) The League of Nations, to be effective, must be reformed, and must become an organ of the evolutionary concept, and must not remain an organ of inactivity.
(4) The relations of the people towards one another can only be regulated and solved on a basis of mutual respect and absolute equality.
(5) It is impossible to make one nation or another responsible for armaments or for limitation of armaments, but it is necessary to see this problem as it really is.
(6) It is impossible to maintain peace among the nations so long as an international irresponsible clique can continue their agitation unchecked.
A few weeks ago we saw how an organized band of international war mongers spread a mass of lies which almost succeeded in raising mistrust between two nations and might easily have led to worse consequences than actually followed.
I greatly regret that the British Foreign Secretary did not categorically state that there was not one word of truth in those calumnies about Morocco which had been spread by these international war mongers. Thanks to the loyalty of a foreign diplomat and his Government, it was possible to clear up this extraordinary situation immediately. Supposing another case arose in which it turned out impossible to establish the truth so readily, what then would happen?
(7) It has been proved that European problems can be solved properly only within certain limits. Germany is hoping to have close and friendly relations with Italy. May we succeed in paving the way for such relations with other European countries. The German Reich will watch over its security and honor with its strong army. On the other hand, convinced that there can be no greater treasure for Europe than peace, it will always be a reasonable supporter of those European ideals of peace and will be always conscious of its responsibilities.
(8) It will be profitable to European peace as a whole if mutual consideration be always shown for the justified feeling of national honor our among those nationalities who are forced to live as a minority within other nations.
This would lead to a decisive lessening of tension between the nations who are forced to live side by side, and whose State frontiers are not identical with the ethnical frontiers.
In concluding these remarks I should like to deal with the document which the British Government addressed to the German Government on the occasion of the occupation of the Rhineland.
I should like first to state that we believe and are convinced that the British Government at that time did everything to avoid an increase of tension in the European crisis, and that the document in question owes its origin entirely to the desire to make a contribution towards disentangling the situation of those days.
Nevertheless, it was not possible for the German Government, for reasons which the Government of Great Britain will appreciate, to reply to those questions.
We preferred to settle some of those questions in the most natural way by the practical building up of our relations with our neighbors.; and I should like to state that, complete German sovereignty and equality having now been restored, Germany will never sign a treaty which is in any way incompatible with her honor; with the honor of the nation and of the Government which represents it; or which otherwise is incompatible with Germany’s vital interests and therefore in the long run cannot be kept.
I believe that this statement will be understood by all. Moreover, with all my heart I hope that the intelligence and goodwill of responsible European Governments will succeed, despite all opposition, in preserving peace for Europe. Peace is our dearest treasure.
Whatever contributions Germany can make towards preserving it, these she will make.
Before concluding my address today I should like to give a short sketch of the tasks that lie ahead of us.
In the carrying out of the Four Years Plan lies our first task. It will call for gigantic efforts but eventually it will turn out a great blessing for our people. Its purpose is to strengthen our national economic system in all its branches. The execution of it is guaranteed. All those great works which have been started apart from this plan will be continued. Their purpose is to promote the health of the nation and make life more pleasant. Building extensions will be systematically carried out in some of our large cities, as an externalization of the spirit that actuates this great plan. And that order will be based on such spacious plans as will be worthy of the National Socialist Movement and also of the German metropolis. We have allotted a period of twenty years for the carrying out of this plan.
May the Almighty God grant us a time of peace in which to bring this gigantic work to completion. Parallel therewith, the Capital of the Movement (Munich), the Party Metropolis (Nuremberg), and the Free City of Hamburg will be remodeled and extended on large lines.
But this work will only be the counterpart of a general cultural development which we wish to see taking place in Germany, as the crowning achievement to the restoration of our internal and external freedom.
And, finally, it will be one of our future tasks to give the German people a Constitution which will be in harmony with the real life of our people, as that life has developed politically. This Constitution will place its seal on this life for all time to come and will be an imperishable and fundamental law for all Germans.
As I look back on the great work that has been done during the past four years you will understand quite well that my first feeling is simply one of thankfulness to our Almighty God for having allowed me to bring this work to success. He has blessed our lab ours and has enabled our people to come through all the obstacles which encompassed them on their way.
I have had three extraordinary friends in my life. In my youth it was Poverty, which was my companion for many years. When the Great War came to a close it was the profound anguish that I felt over the downfall of our people. This anguish seized me and determined the path I had to follow. Since January 30th. four years ago I have made the acquaintance of the third friend — anxiety for the people and the Reich, which have been entrusted to my guidance. From that time this anxiety has never left my side and will probably remain a faithful companion until the end of my days. But how could a man bear the burden of this anxiety were it not for the faith he has in his mission and which enables him to trust that He who is above us all sanctions my work. Destiny has often decreed that men who have a special mission to fulfil must be lonely and deserted. But here I wish to return thanks to Providence for having given me a group of faithful comrades who linked their lives with mine and have ever since fought at my side for the resurrection of our people. It is a great happiness for me that I did not have to walk among the German people as a man alone, but that at my side there was always a group of men whose names will endure in the history of Germany.
At this point I wish to thank my old fighting comrades who have stood by my side throughout all these years and who give me their help today either as Cabinet Ministers, Reichsstatthalter, Gauleiter, or in other positions under the Party or the State. During these days a tragedy is being enacted in Moscow which shows how highly we ought to value that loyalty which binds the leaders of a nation to one another. I further wish to express my sincere gratitude to all those who did not belong to the ranks of the Party but who in these recent years have been loyal assistants and comrades in governmental work and in other work for the nation. All of them belong to us, even though they may not wear the external insignia of our party community. I thank all those men and women who have assisted in building up our party organizations and working in them with success. But above all I have to thank the chiefs of our armed forces. They have enabled us to provide the National Socialist State with a National Socialist defence force, without placing any difficulties whatsoever in the way. Thus the Party and the defence forces are now the guarantors sworn to devote themselves to the preservation of our national existence.
But we know that all our efforts would have been in vain if we did not have the loyal cooperation of hundreds of thousands of political leaders, innumerable officials and countless soldiers and officers, who did their work under the inspiration of the ideal of our national resurgence. And above all we must acknowledge that our success could not have been attained if we were not backed up by the united front of the whole people.
On this historic occasion I must once again thank all those millions of unknown Germans, from every class and caste, profession and trade and from all the farmsteads, who have given their hearts, their lives and their sacrifices, for the new Reich. And all of us, gentlemen and members of the Reichstag, hereby join together in tendering our thanks to the women of Germany, to the millions of those German mothers who have given their children to the Third Reich. During these four years every mother who has presented a child to the nation has contributed by her pain and her joy to the happiness of the whole people. When I think of that healthy youth which belongs to our nation, then my faith in the future becomes a joyful certainty. And it is with a profund [sic] feeling that I realize the significance of the simple word which Ulrich von Huten wrote when he picked up his pen for the last time — Deutschland.
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