Background: This material comes from a quite remarkable book that can only be compared to religious devotional literature. The editor wrote to a range of people asking them to say what Adolf Hitler meant to them. The result is language one would ordinarily apply to God. The book runs 205 pages. I translate about eighteen pages here, which is enough to give the flavor. At least 120,000 copies were published.
The source: Günter d’Alquen, Das ist der Sieg! Briefe des Glaubens in Aufbruch und Krieg (Berlin: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1941).
Who among us mortals today is able to describe the Führer.
He was born of the people, grew from the people, was chosen by the people, and now stands and lives and works in each of us. He wakens in each of us the strength that is Germany’s new growth. It is a brilliant union of the strength and power that this man means to us in the name of the Reich.
And if this people had a single heart and this heart had a single mouth,
this mouth alone could speak of Adolf Hitler.
Who knows. Perhaps words would fail even that mouth, for do not words fail him who speaks of his father or mother to a stranger, someone who has never met them and learned to love them.
We have therefore accepted the fact that those not of our blood can never comprehend the holy secret of the mystery of “Führer and people,” or even begin to understand it. Their lack of understanding was the most dangerous error that drove the enemy to war against the Reich.
Thus we have attempted to give a picture of the Führer whose truthfulness and accuracy mirrors the image that is in the soul of the people.
We wanted to risk a cross section, listening to the deepest feelings of the German people, achieving though many individual details a picture that comes as close as possible to that inexpressible image that is before us all.
The best time seemed to us to be the Führer’s birthday. We wrote to people, both men and women, who at various occasions had given us evidence of their friendship and confidence.
This was our request: “Tell us who the Führer is to you. What role does he play in your life, in your entire personal universe.
You do not need to say what you think the Führer means to the people as a whole or to history. You are no better able to do that than any other mortal. We want to see the Führer from your purely personal perspective, just as you would describe your father or your brother. Does not after all the Führer belong to each of us in the same way?
You need feel no stage fright, for we need your thoughts not for the public, but for ourselves. We want to broaden our view through your eyes, and we want to broaden our perceptions by using your perceptions...”
Contrary to what we had promised, we chose to publish some of the many answers we received. We had no choice, because it was all too clear to us that there is no professional writer who is as able to speak of the Führer to the only real audience, the German people.
Today millions both at home and at the front stand in the midst of a decisive battle. More than ever before, the will of the Führer expresses the united will of the people. Like his soldiers, Adolf Hitler wears a field gray uniform. As leader of the Reich, he is also the image of the unknown soldier.
From letters from officers and soldiers, we know that our heroes in Poland, in the West, and in the North died with the Führer’s name on their lips. We know that today they speak with him everywhere, on lonely watch, behind the hurricane of the spinning propeller, in the deadly stillness of a submerged submarine.
We know, we feel and believe that his hand holds ours firmly. We hear his commands, his orders as the reflection of our own desires.
This Führer is Germany’s heart. Nay, more than that it is the eternal German soul, expressed in us all, living at all times, yet never as much as today.
And what all these weak words cannot say, these sentences that follow will. They will bring together melodies that will together form a powerful chorus that expresses the rhythm of our existence:
A call to action, to a new life, and also since fate deems it, a call for Germany’s victory through Adolf Hitler!
Berlin, 20 April 1939
“Today I stand before your picture. This picture is large, without borders. It is powerful, hard, beautiful, and elevating. It is simple, good, modest, warm. Yes, it is father, mother, brother in one, and still more.
It encompasses the better part of my life, the quiet hours of reflection, the days of misery and fear, the sunshine of faithful fulfillment, and victory that always meant the beginning of new duties and new tasks. The more I attempt to grasp it, the more infinite it is, but never is it foreign or distant.
You are the Führer, without commanding it. You live and are the law. You are love and strength. My heart is full of thoughts about you this day, too full to express the wishes of many and their thanks to you.
You are freedom, for you gave duty its meaning that gives significance, joy, and strength to all our work. You took the curse of sweat and toil from this people, a people that today like me stands in modest stillness with you.
You stand in a cathedral of million-fold love, its steeple towering far above. Millions of hearts beat faster and warmer on this your birthday. Because your life belongs to us, it is a holiday — a holiday of the Germans.
And we who hoped that our love would give you something of our strength and blood sense that even on this your birthday, your presents, your gifts are unending. They are rich and strong, making us happy in the depths of our heart.
How weak today are pens and tongues. They cannot express what fills our souls. Deeds and words struggle to even once give you the thanks that are so deep in our hearts.
We old soldiers of your path who have so often seen you along the way are with you today, along with the loyal dead and the millions of children who await a free life, which you will fill with sunshine for them and their descendents in the fullest sense of the word.
We do not have much to day, and we know you despise empty words. When we nonetheless say them, you will know they are true:
Führer, all us old soldiers whom you sanctified to yourself through struggle want to remain, in good times and bad, what we always were!”
— One of the Old Guard
“I cannot write...”
I have tried for a long time to find words to express what the Führer is to me. Words expressing one’s deepest feelings can sound so thin and empty. The Führer towers so high that words cannot reach him. To me and all other honest Germans, he has become fate itself. Can a man put his fate in words? I do not think it possible.
All I can say is about what the Führer means to me is this: I want to love him because he is Germany.”
— Erich F., Münster
Until my 30th year, my father was the center of my life. He was to me the highest and purest example of all that a man can be in nobility, goodness, greatness of soul, purity of desire and ability. Who ever met him had to admire this person, whether he wanted to or not.
His death in 1930 left a terrible void. Suddenly all that guided my thinking and my efforts — suddenly the center was no longer there.
There is not enough space to describe how the Führer came to fill this place in me. At first I saw in him only a political leader who attracted me for reasons I could not really explain.
The change from a follower to a personal and deep relationship with the Führer really came only after 1933. Today, he is like a father to me.
I saw daily how he toiled for his people, how he fought for our existence, how he improved our living conditions. In short I experienced once again everything that I had seen in my father.
My last transformation came two years later during a brief stay in the Bavarian Alps. I stopped by an old woodcutter in a remote valley. We sat together in a small and decrepit house and spoke about many things, including the Führer.
Looking toward his son, a small lad, he said: ‘When I close my eyes, I know that the lad has a father, our Führer. He will surely care for him better than his physical father.’
This ‘surely’ from the mouth of an old man who had never seen the Führer, who had never been to the movies though others had told him the Führer could be seen in the newsreels, moved me deeply, though I had thought I was close to the Führer.
I was envious and jealous. I had no brothers or sisters. My father belonged to me alone, and sharing such a relationship was new for me.
Gradually I accepted the fact that other people too saw the Führer as more than the Chancellor, as more than a friend of the people, and today I have come so far that I cannot deny the happy feeling that this thought gives me.
There are two pictures on my desk, for I am not really a worshipper of persons. The one is of my father, the other of the Führer.
I often work alone until midnight. Sometimes sorrows overcome me. Then I talk with my father and the Führer.
The one smiles at me, the other shows determination. In this way, I believe, fate has filled the void within me.”
Gerhard D., Berlin
“Only one wish...”
“Is it possible for a National Socialist to say what the Führer is to him and what role he plays in his personal world?
Why is it that a Hermann Göring, a Dr. Goebbels, otherwise masters of the word, clearly struggle for words when they attempt to thank the Führer in the name of the entire German people for one of his deeds? Because that which needs to be said comes not from the understanding, but from the soul, from an overflowing heart.
There may be gifted writers who can speak from the heart and only from the heart. They may be able to find words appropriate for the great nobility of our feelings. But we who became harder men during hard years know only that a feeling fills us whose nature and depth we can scarcely fathom, and that therefore makes us silent.
Honor, love, loyalty, thankfulness, devotion, sacrifice — each in full yet each insufficient: perhaps together they can describe the feeling.
But only if these concepts retain their original, deepest and most beautiful meanings, which have been stolen from them by everyday life!
Even if one exhausts these concepts there is still something missing (which shows the fundamental, the characteristic, the unique of our feelings for the Führer): to personalize these concepts even beyond their noblest content.
They mean something quite different when applied to the most esteemed father, the most loving mother, the most loyal wife, the truest friend than when in our souls we celebrate the Führer and wish to give them to him as our most precious gift.
We cannot know the extent and significance of his unique historical greatness, but one does not need to be a comparative historian to sense at least dimly, given the great events of the past six years, that never before has the earth seen such a man.
You experienced this man and his work, you saw him face to face, you are a German as he is, you too know the cares of this truest father of the Fatherland!
How could such feelings of pride not influence the very nature of your loyalty, your love, your thankfulness? Normally one might perceive them as a moral debt, but in a personal relationship with the Führer they are transformed from a debt into the highest and final goal of your thinking and action, your will and desires. They fill your life by giving it meaning. Your children will envy you, and you are left with but one wish:
To one day be able to give your best and utmost to serve the Führer and his work.”
— Dr. O.R., Dortmund.
“He saved us from suicide”
I know you expect no deep expression of feelings, for feelings cannot be clothed in words. But please imagine this: jobless, without any money. For two years! For four years! For six years! A desperate woman, broken in body and soul, with three young children.
How often did I see their hungry eyes looking toward me with vain expectation. Nothing is more tortuous than such looks from children.
My faith in him, the fanatical fighter, was what kept me and mine from what lured us — and anyone else in our situation — Suicide!
A happy mother who is always singing with her children. No one can see in her the miserable, desperate woman she once was. Instead of three unhappy hollow-cheeked children, four little devils making noise far and wide.
Look at them! There may be families with better behaved children, but none with children as cheerful and happy! That is what the Führer means to me and mine.
I turned my back very early to a foreign worldview because it left my whole life meaningless. The Führer gave me his worldview a firm place to stand, for it is nothing but a knowledge of the eternal laws that are behind the universe.
His deeds are a joyful fulfillment of these laws. His successes do not seem to me, as one hears all too often, the result of good luck, but rather as the natural consequences of his nature. This faith, no, this certainty, enables me to understand the Führer when his actions would otherwise require blind confidence.
Such obvious confidence is the most wonderful feeling that I can imagine. Admiration? Recognition? Thanks? They are nothing when compared to the full understanding of a people of 80 million for the mission of its Führer. That alone would be crowning of his sacrificial struggle.
This fulfillment of this wish is my prayer for the Führer.”
— Fred. Ch., Poppelau
“We with our seven children...”
The Führer is everything to us, he is our faith, security and hope. As a bearer of the blood medal [awarded to the earliest Nazis], I have always believed in this man, who guided and inspired us, who led us in the fight for Germany’s greatness. We, I, my wife and our seven children, believe only in him, Adolf Hitler. Is there a belief more understandable, more real, more natural than this?
Has the Führer not done everything for us that one could do for the good of a family? Did he not give me a job and the ability to decently feed and clothe my family? Has he not given my children a future that no other country could so easily give?
The Führer is with us in every situation! Look, sometimes the world is hard on a family. There are difficult situations that cannot be overcome. In just such hours I go to my living room, and there is a picture of my Führer.
I look Adolf Hitler in the face and remember his great struggle, his great will and accomplishments, and my miserable mood is gone and thinking of the Führer gives me new strength.
How can I fail when I see the greatness in and around Adolf Hitler?
My children know the Führer as the man who rules all, arranges all, who built their world. The Führer is the embodiment of what people had such difficulty describing to us children before. But this is the enormous difference: The Führer moves among the people so that one can celebrate him, so that our love for him is rewarded through his ever new deeds.
The Führer is hope for us in every situation. Look, my dear comrade, according to the Führer’s own words, raising seven children is a great responsibility to the state and a holy duty.
To form these young souls, to raise them to be decent adults, is such a wonderful task only because the Führer has given us the sure foundations that are necessary. He is our hope, for only through his generous measures are we with many children also able to “lead an decent life,” as anyone should be able to do. He protects our strength through the NSV [the Nazi Party charity], through subventions for children, through the support the state gives women and children, through the high status he gave to children.
Once people mocked those with many children. Today people honor them. Now my wife and I have become respected members of the state. That is why we have such hope for the future of our children, for the Führer has provided all that is necessary for them so that they too will be able to establish families and contribute to the security and protection of the great Fatherland.
Is it not wonderful to know what a wonderful future awaits our children. One cannot but remember our own youth during the postwar period, during the inflation, the days of hunger and so much that had terrible effects on our youth and development.
Our children have no fears of such things, for they know that our Führer plans everything, foresees everything, and prepares the best for us.
Is it not obvious why the Führer means everything to us?
— Toni Dominik Sch., Unterammergau
“Him or no one...”
I can still remember the first time I saw and heard the Führer in 1920 in the Zirkus Krone [a place the Nazis regularly held early meetings] in Munich. This was the introduction: “Adolf Hitler will speak!” A somewhat slight young man stood before me, with a short coat, soft collar, and crumpled tie, poorly clothed. I was curious to hear what this man had to say to me.
As I heard his voice, the passion of his words (something unheard of at the time), the growing tension of his words, it became clear to me: This man or no one! To this day, this inner feeling has not left me.
The greatness of this man, his deeds, his historic successes seem enormous to me. But yet I always see him as a man of the people, one of us in my mind’s eye. It fills me with pride that Providence choice one of our brothers to fulfill German history.
I honor the great figures of German history, but my feelings for the Führer are different. I believe that love is the best word to describe them.
One of us, who came from the people, has done amazing deeds, yet remained the same from the first day I saw him until today.
I admire this man so much that I would defend him even if he were in the wrong, but he cannot be wrong since he is truth and justice themselves.
— Gr. F., Munich
“I think about the man”
“How often I think about the man a people of 80 million call its Führer. But I do not think as much about the Chancellor, but rather on Adolf Hitler the man.
As a friend of the mountains, I often compare him with a spruce tree on a lonely height. Like it, he is in the deepest sense alone. No matter how many honor, love and treasure him, it will never be enough. We will always be in his debt.
Where is the wife he calls his own? Where are the children that could call him ‘Father’ with loving voices? Where is the lap in which he could rest his head? Can the cheers of the people, can power and fame replace these joys? That is what I always think about when I think about the Führer.
The Führer has never complained about such things, even mentioned them. But he who has a heart realizes, when he sees the Führer encounter a child, knows: ‘Adolf Hitler has sacrificed and must sacrifice for the good of the greater cause.’
One more thing. Given his conscientiousness, must not this unique man constantly worry? Can he read or even scan the countless regulations that are necessary to guarantee that his clear laws are carried out? And are all of the words in the regulations consistent with the spirit of these good and clear laws? Do not some dumb or thoughtless people hold the Führer responsible when some overeager official tries to be more papal than the pope?
Surely such things must worry the Führer during sleepless nights.
All of this I think about when the name Adolf Hitler is in my soul.”
— Otto R., Vienna
“My fondest dream”
“What does the Führer mean in my life? That is hard to say, for I have thousands of feelings for this man.
He is after all the Führer.
A Führer that I dared not hope for in my fondest dreams. And I had these dreams so often. I say dreams, but could a front soldier in 1918 in the face of collapse dream? No, it was wishful thinking or even better, obsessions that I had as I could not or did not want to understand the bitterness of a retreat in a lost war.
I dreamed of an imaginary figure who would succeed in inspiring all the good and brave for a final assault that would defeat all the domestic and foreign foes. But there was no one there. The call went unanswered, though hundreds of thousands would surely have followed it. I knew even then that fate took its course because there was no Führer.
I sensed it a thousand times, at the front, behind the lines, on leave or while at home. I will not speak of what came later, of the thousand deeds and miracles the Führer performed. The word Führer has a particular meaning for me.
How often people misuse the word Führer. One should really use this term only for Adolf Hitler, educating the youth to honor this word, just as the Christian church does with its language.
The Führer has given me the confidence once again to be proud to be a German, but also I think him for an enormous improvement in my economic condition. Thanks to his program of automobile manufacturing, one of my inventions brings me increasing royalties, which finally freed me from the debts of the period of crisis. Once again I can enjoy life in this respect.”
“Words are far too poor...”
“...Our beautiful German language seems to me far too poor to express my feelings. Every sentence that I write seems banal and hollow to me.
Please do not get me wrong. It is hardly possible for ordinary people to give proper expression to our feelings.
I know fellow citizens who had the opportunity and great good fortune to see the Führer close up, several even who were able to shake his hand. And when I asked these people what they said to him, they answered: ‘Nothing, I was not able to say anything.’
The same thing would happen to me if I had the good fortune to shake the Führer’s hand. Look, everything that I do for my wife, my children, my parents, all that is simply my duty as a man. How much more must I do for the man who made it possible for me to start a family, who gave me work after six years of moving around, who now worries and works day and night for me and my family — our dear Führer Adolf Hitler.
One should not talk about this simple and obvious manly duty, but rather one should show it through one’s actions. Quietly, modestly, without big words.
May the Almighty give me the strength to raise strong children. I am proud that in three years of marriage I have fathered three healthy children as my contribution to the new Greater Germany.”
— Alfred G. Laage
In the West...
My dear Lieslotte!
...Your visit to my mother made me happy. She had already written me about it. She remembers how in the past I filled the house day after day with organ music.
I know how much my mother frets and worries about me. I am sorry about that, but there is nothing I can do about it. It is worst when I have to return after a leave. I always tell her: “Be brave and cheerful,” and I know how brave she is. When we are under fire in the field, we have no worries or concerns. If we die, it happens quickly. But mother will have such pain back home!
All German mothers want fate to spare their sons, but many will have to die, for great things must be bought by sacrifices.
No pleading and no prayers can prevent that, for it is hard and inescapable necessity. That is what makes it so hard for me, since I am the only one, with no remaining brothers or sisters. Nonetheless, my life and my future belong to my people. I have set aside all plans for the future and want only to be a soldier. If I make it though, there will be so many opportunities.
I wish only that I come through healthy, or that I die. If this wish is fulfilled, I will cheerfully do anything. I am happy and thankful that even though I am so young, I can serve my fatherland as a soldier and actively assist in the great struggle for existence.
I believe that hardly a generation has ever experienced so much and learned so early the seriousness of life as we who were born between the two wars. He of us who lives long will have tasted all of life and had his fill.
When this war has ended in victory, Germany’s great days will begin. We must then take care to ensure that the spirit of the years of struggle is maintained and that the people does not sink into comfortable satisfaction, political indifference and carelessness, as in the years before 1914. We want to ask fate to continue to give us statesmen with the sternness, greatness, and farsightedness necessary to protect what has been won.
Our Führer is the most unique man in history. I believe absolutely in him and his movement. He is my religion.”
[Page copyright © 2002 by Randall Bytwerk. No unauthorized reproduction. My e-mail address is available on the FAQ page.]
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