Background: The monthly periodical for the Nazi Party’s propagandists was Unser Wille und Weg, for which Goebbels wrote a monthly discussion of the situation for its early years. This is his essay from the August 1931 issue. It outlines the major Nazi propaganda themes at the time. It contained nothing confidential, but is a good summary of the Nazi propaganda line at the time.
The source: Joseph Goebbels, “The Situation,” Unser Wille und Weg, 1 (August 1931), 134-140.
by Joseph Goebbels
Dr. G. A creeping, latent civil war has plagued Germany for years. The parties of class struggle have organized the international proletariat against the breakthrough of National Socialist Germany and week after week, one might even say night after night, the flag bearers of German consciousness are dying on the streets of large cities.
No pen can record the misery that national Germany has had to suffer since 1918. Beaten down and demoralized, deserted by those whose duty and task it should have been to at least guarantee each citizen his constitutional rights, persecuted and enslaved, oppressed and thrown into prison — that has been the fate of German youth since 1918.
It seems as if the bloody civil war that has afflicted Germany has now reached its epitome. It seems to be daily, unchangeable reality that National Socialists are murdered on the streets. The press is not concerned any longer. The opposite! The large organs of international Jewdom make attackers out of the persecuted and pile cowardly slanders on them as they lay in their own blood.
Those abroad cannot forever ignore these conditions that cry out to the heavens. Foreigners do not see in the bloody excesses of the German Left Germany’s present explosive situation. Germany’s greatest political crisis is visible where Red murder celebrates its greatest orgies in the cities and countryside.
It is the crisis that we have predicted for years, that we said was the inevitable and unavoidable consequence of the tribute policies that our leaders have followed since 1918. The reparations crisis, as the journalists call it, can no longer be concealed. When the largest banks fail, when public financial institutions close their doors, when the government requires the authority of the Reich President to rule under Article 48 [this was the constitutional provision that allowed the chancellor to govern without a parliamentary majority, assuming the Reich President was agreeable] with emergency decrees to oppose the financial catastrophe that approaches with sinister certainty, one no longer needs rhetoric to prove that the German people stands at the brink of ruin, that it is only a question of time and pace until this catastrophe becomes total.
The events that have occurred in Germany with breathtaking speed during the month of July were not unexpected for us. The opposite! We have always and everywhere warned against them. In opposition to all official sources, we warned during the referendum against the Young Plan that the tribute Germany had paid since 1918 with borrowed money would one day destroy the whole German economy.
That crisis has come. True, Brüning’s cabinet has suceeeded in keeping their heads above water through draconic measures and emergency decrees, but there is no doubt that the least difficulty in public life will lead to an intolerable situation that will make clear to everyone what is today hidden behind the facade of a creeping dictatorship.
One can do anything with Article 48, except coin money. One can close banks, one can open them. One can prohibit public speeches, ban newspapers. Anything at all is possible if one approaches the Weimar Constitution with sufficient unscrupulousness.
The law that Brüning’s government released against the press shortly before their trip to Paris is copied almost verbatim from Tsarist censorship laws. Since the proclamation of this emergency decree in Germany, it is simply impossible for opposition representatives to do what their conscience demands. It no longer takes a clear and provable offense to ban a newspaper for weeks. One can now ban a newspaper simply because of its opinions, needing only to claim that it is a danger to public safety. We guarantee that a socialist bigwig does not need to be nervous when we write something against him, nor does a Jew need to feel insecure when we write something against him.
That is how we will act under this emergency decree. Whenever the political situation intensifies and signs of crisis appear in public life, one issues ban after ban against the National Socialist press. It is hardly worth the effort to list them all. It would be easier to list those newspapers that still appear, and list the others under a banner saying: “Banned by the beneficiaries of the present regime!”
We find ourselves in the midst of a constitutional crisis. Only a few realize its extent. The Weimar Constitution exists almost only on paper. There is no longer freedom of opinion and conscience in Germany. Political life is being strangled in intolerable ways. One denies work and prosperity to people’s comrades willing to work. Millions of people are threatened with creeping ruin, and the government defends itself against those protesting their social misery, even if they are only defending themselves with words and political opinions.
The National Socialist movement will have to consider whether it should ruthlessly discredit this intolerable regime of terror before world opinion. It has no support in the constitution. The time will come when we clearly tell the world that the present government is unconstitutional, that it violates the holy principles of democracy, and that the national opposition is not in any way willing to hold to agreements that this regime has made with world powers.
Implementing Article 48, the Weimar Constitution requires the presence of an immediate state of emergency that so threatens public safety as to require dictatorial measures by the Reich government to restore order.
That is in no way the case when Brüning all too freely uses the means of Article 48. The opposite! This cabinet and its measures are endangering public safety. There was a simple way to restore absolutely stable conditions: One should have entrusted the victorious National Socialist movement with the formation of a government on 14 September 1930 [the date of the previous Reichstag election]. One could have given it power in the Reich, and at the same time dissolved the Prussian parliament, the largest province in the country.
But they did not want to do that. They knew that a new German domestic policy would require an entirely different tune.
Things thus had to develop in a different way. Once again, the German people stands before a gray fall and a terrible winter. Rumors are that the unemployment rate will rise dramatically this fall and winter, probably increasing to eight to ten million. Poverty will strike Germany to an extent that will make all that has come before look like child’s play.
One can force into silence the voice of conscience that the National Socialist opposition has raised. That, however, will not feed a starving people, and those from whom one has taken everything turn in the end to desperate actions.
With some mockery, the foreign press has repeatedly said that the indifference, one might almost say the resignation, with which the broad masses have accepted the present government’s dictatorial measures, is inexplicable. That is only partly correct. The masses are not indifferent, much less resigned. They are waiting with discipline to see what will come. One can only thank the leadership of the National Socialist movement that the anger of the people has not broken out, that even under the greatest trials of its supporters it has held to the strictest legality.
All that, however, hinders us not in the least from using every means that the National Socialist people’s movement has to gain power legally and constitutionally. One such method is the referendum. A referendum will help clean things up in Prussia.
One can only smile when reading the commentaries about the Prussian referendum in those journals supporting paying reparations. They have no arguments left with which to defend their weak position. They have to use their old method of appealing to the world to keep their leaky ship afloat.
France opposes the referendum. The Social Democratic press was not embarrassed to use this argument. As always, this treasonous party has followed policies that are for the good of France, not for the good of the German people. Whether or not the referendum passes, it is clear that millions and millions of Prussian-minded men and women oppose the Black-Red dictatorial government. And if it does not succeed on 9 August, we will remember the saying: Postponed is not the end of it!
During July, international discussion focused on the Hoover Plan and its political consequences. We discussed the background to this action in our last issue. We rejected Hoover’s offer then as entirely unsatisfactory. It is our duty even more today to note that the clever diplomats and financial experts of the French government have made of a bad beginning an even worse ending.
The French government seized the initiative from the American president. French banks had bought up the short-term credits extended to Germany, and at the decisive moment took them back without pity from German economic life. The impossible situation in which Germany depended entirely on unlimited credit became evident, and the great crisis took its inevitable course
The world drew back at the last moment. If Germany had been left to itself during the crisis and if France had decided to make ruthless use of the means it had, Germany’s fate would have been decided. That we still live and breathe, that the German people still can eat and a few still have jobs is entirely due to France’s grace. The oppressor nation is able at any moment to repeat the bloody game and Germany belongs entirely to Paris. The authority of the state, so much praised among us, is in the hands of French high finance, and Germany’s collapse will be determined in Paris.
That’s why Brüning took a trip. That is why he spoke in Paris and London. These were not spontaneous political visits. They were begging missions of the most humiliating type. One needed credit not to rescue the people, but rather to protect the government against threatening collapse. How the newspapers rejoiced as Brüning and Curtius went to Paris. They were delighted by billions in loans that would result from these negotiations. Once again, streams of money would flow to Germany, and our economic life would prosper because of a wealth of credits and loans.
Brüning came back from London a defeated man. There was no longer talk of a long-term two billion loan. It took an effort to persuade the powers gathered in London (influenced by the moral pressure of the finance groups behind them) not to withdraw any further short-term credits from Germany.
Now they are silent. But only as long as it pleases them to be so. Germany is at their mercy, and although Brüning was not forced to accept the intolerable political conditions that some suggested the grace period he won is only a reprieve. He was given a period of grace to use in the coming months to work with the Marxist provincial governments to quiet the national opposition, the never silent conscience of the nation, thus taking from an unnerved and impotent people those political rights that are the last hope to escape Versailles, Dawes, and Young.
France was not satisfied with a general attack on Germany’s currency. France went after England with the same cynical force that it has used against us since 1918. The offensive against the pound even brought difficulties for the usually imperturbable Bank of England.
Nourished by the tribute it extracts from Germany, France is establishing a dictatorship over Europe that shames not only every freedom-loving German, but also every honorable European. France is in fact the troublemaker of Europe, and recent developments on international financial markets have proved National Socialism’s long-standing argument for the necessity of cooperation between Germany, Italy, and England to oppose this Negro-nation that is well along the way to plunge all of Europe into irreparable misfortune.
The works is moving. Old altars have fallen, new altars are being built. And the new altars have withstood the storms of the age only in part. The empire of the Bolshevists is collapsing. Stalin’s most recent speech had to curry favor with international capitalism. He gave up the fundamental principles of the communist worldview and offered peace to the individualist system he had previously opposed.
Desperation afflicts the peoples. Europe and Germany suffer under unprecedented skepticism about the world.
If National Socialism did not exist, we would all have long-since sunk into desperation. But we have a faith and hope to hold on to. The National Socialist worldview can master the spiritual and political crisis that afflicts Germany and Europe. Even more deeply rooted in us is the knowledge that only with us and through us is a resurrection of the German nation possible, and that only after Germany has taken a new form can Europe gain its true, lasting peace.
National Socialism is firmly in the flow of the age. Plagued by no skepticism or desperation, it is striving toward the future, to victory over the powers of liberal democracy.
1 August 1931.
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