Background: Franz Hofer was Gauleiter of Tirol-Voralberg, a region at the far west of Austria, from 1938-1945. This is his appeal at the very end of the war, with Allied troops breaking into the area. The next day’s issue of the newspaper, the last, announced Hitler’s death. On 6 May 1945 Hofer was captured by the Allies. An unrepentant Nazi, he survived until 1975.
The source: “Haltet in entscheidender Stunde zur Heimat!”Innsbrucker Nachrichten, 1 May 1945, p. 1. This is taken from a newspaper article available on ANNO, an Austrian project to digitize a wide range of newspapers.
Gauleiter Hofer gave the following radio speech Monday evening:
Tyroleans and Voralbergers!
Each of us feels the heavy weight and apparent uncertainty of this hour.
Each of us also senses that the decision is nearing, one that will bring the tortured peoples, above all the German people, longed-for peace.
Fellow citizens north and south of the Brenner, west and east of the Alberg!
Be loyal to the homeland in the decisive hour!
He who makes new wounds in the fighting homeland is no friend of our land!
The land is at the highest tension, everything is stretched to the limit! These are the hours of testing, which we have often experienced in recent decades.
It rests upon us to assure honor, freedom, and justice for ourselves and our children by keeping our nerve. To lose our nerve now would mean that all sacrifices were in vain! To lose one’s nerve means to give up on oneself! Remember 1918 and the years that followed! Remember civil war, unemployment, starvation, poverty, and misery. We have forgotten all that too quickly!
Remember that in the last world war more people starved than fell in war!
Remember your families, above all your children!
If a person’s body is attacked by disease, he does everything possible to strengthen the body’s natural defensive capacities. The sick person must take medicines, must drink tea, must undergo a sweat cure. He will do everything to master the crisis. He knows that either health or infirmity will follow. Often a sick person despairs during the crisis. He may end a sweat cure prematurely. Often a sick person believes that a temporary break is better than the advice of his friends and the possibility of later health. Yet how happy each of us is when he has been helped by a caring friend or doctor, and after all the misery of a sweat cure overcomes the bacterium and is healthy again!
Men and women! We want to overcome the hard times, we want to master them, like a sick person masters his crisis! Health or infirmity! Freedom or defeat! Each must keep that before his eyes.
Peace with honor, freedom, and justice is possible only if one does not lay down his arms until that peace comes, if calm and order prevail in the areas not occupied by the enemy. If we succeed in keeping our homeland free of foreign troops in this decisive hour, then perhaps it can be spared the hard fate that otherwise will unavoidably break into our homeland. Outward determination and inward calm are the prerequisites for sparing our homeland, for leading to our women and children the way to a better future and a happy Europe.
Enemy advance troops are at Lake Garda, the Chiusa Pass, and Mittenwald. The enemy has been able to enter our Gau only in Neutte Country and Bregenz. Local shooting clubs, the Hitler Youth, and units of the German Wehrmacht stand at the borders to defend the “land in the mountains.”
In this hour, I expect experienced party members to do their duty in an exemplary and unshakable way. Those not in a shooting club should stand shoulder to shoulder with all men who treasure the security of the homeland, displaying in the decisive hour: Love of their homeland.
Tyroleans and Voralbergers! In this historic hour I appeal to your decency and community spirit. With common effort and exemplary attitude we will find the way to a better future!
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