Background: Goebbels gave a speech every year on Hitler’s birthday. This was the first. Hitler had only been in power for two-and-a-half months. Goebbels praises Hitler, but there is less of the deification found in later speeches in the series.
The source: I here use the published version of the text from Goebbels’ book Signale der neuen Zeit. 25 ausgewählte Reden von Dr. Joseph Goebbels (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1934), pp. 141-149.
The newspapers today are filled with congratulations for Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler. The nuances vary, depending on the tone, character, and attitude of the newspaper. All, however, agree on one thing: Hitler is a man of stature who has already accomplished historically important deeds and faces still greater challenges. He is the kind of statesman found only rarely in Germany. During his lifetime he has the good fortune not only to be appreciated and loved by the overwhelming majority of the German people, but even more importantly to be understood by them. He is the only German politician of the post-war period who understood the situation and drew the necessary hard and firm conclusions. All the newspapers agree on this. It no longer needs to be said that he has taken up Bismarck’s work and intends to complete it. There is enough proof of this even for those who do not believe, or who think ill of him. I therefore do not think it necessary for me to discuss the historical significance and still unknown impact of this man on the eve of the day on which, far from the bustle of the Reich capital, Adolf Hitler completes his 44th year. I feel a much deeper need to personally express my esteem for him, and in doing so I believe that I am speaking for many hundreds of thousands of National Socialists thoughout the country. We shall leave it to those who were our enemies only a few months ago and who then slandered him to praise him today with awkward words and embarrassing pathos. We know how little Adolf Hitler appreciates such attempts, and how much more the devoted loyalty and lasting support of his friends and fellow fighters corresponds to his nature.
The mysterious magic that he exerts on all who come in contact with him cannot alone explain his historic personality. There is more that makes us love and esteem him. Through all the ups and downs of Adolf Hitler’s career, from the beginning of his political activity to the crowning of his career as he seized power, he has always remained the same: a person among people, a friend to his comrades, an eager supporter of every ability and talent. He is a pathfinder for those who devoted themselves to his idea, a man who conquered the hearts of his comrades in the midst of battle and never released them.
It seems to me that one thing has to be said in the midst of the profusion of feelings. Only a few know Hitler well. Most of the millions who look to him with faithful trust do so from a distance. He has become to them a symbol of their faith in the future. Normally the great men that we admire from a distance lose their magic when one knows them well. With Hitler the opposite is true. The longer one knows him the more one admires him, and the more one is ready to give oneself fully to his cause.
We will let others blow the trumpets. His friends and comrades gather round him to shake his hand and thank him for everything that he is to us, and that he has given to us. Let me say it once more: We love this man and we know that he has earned all of our love and support. Never was a man more unjustly accused by the hate and slanders of his ill-wishers of other parties. Remember what they said about him! A mishmash of contradictory accusations! They did not fail to accuse him of every sin, to deny him every virtue. When he nonetheless overcame in the end the flood of lies, triumphing over his enemies and raising the National Socialist flag over Germany, fate showed its favor toward him to the entire world. It raised him from the mass of people and put him in the place he deserved because of his brilliant gifts and his pure and flawless humanity.
I remember the years when — just released from prison — he began to rebuild his party. We passed a few wonderful vacation days with him on his beloved Obersalzburg high above Berchtesgaden. Below us was the quiet cemetery where his unforgettable friend Dietrich Eckart is buried. We walked through the mountains, discussed plans for the future, and talked about theories that today have long since become reality. He then sent me to Berlin. He gave me a difficult and challenging task, and I still thank him today that he gave me the job.
A few months later we sat in a room in a small Berlin hotel. The party had just been banned by the Marxist-Jewish police department. Heavy blows were falling on it. The party was full of discouragement, bickering, and quarreling. Everyone was complaining about everyone else. The whole organization seemed to have given up.
Hitler, however, did not lose courage, but immediately began to organize a defense and helped out where he was needed. Although he had his own personal and political difficulties, he found the time and strength to deal with the problems and support his friends in the Reich capital.
One of his fine and noble traits is that he never gives up on someone who has won his confidence. The more his political opponents attack such a person, the more loyal is Adolf Hitler’s support. He is not the kind of person who is afraid of strong associates. The harder and tougher a man is, the more Hitler likes him. If things fall apart, his capable hands put them together again. Who would have thought it possible that a mass organization that includes literally everything could be built in this nation of individualists? Doing that is Hitler’s great accomplishment. His principles are firm and unshakable, but he is generous and understanding toward human weaknesses. He is a pitiless enemy of his opponents, but a good and warm-hearted friend to his comrades. That is Hitler.
We saw him at the party’s two large Nuremberg rallies, surrounded by the masses who saw in him Germany’s hope. In the evenings, we sat with him in his hotel room. He was dressed in a simple brown shirt, the same as always, as if nothing had happened. Someone once said that the great is simple, and the simple is great. If that is true, it surely applies to Hitler. His nature and his whole philosophy is a brilliant simplification of the spiritual need and fragmentation that engulfed the German people after the war. He found the lowest common denominator. That is why his idea won: he modeled it, and through him the average man in the street saw its depth and significance.
One has to have seen him in defeat as well as victory to understand what sort of man he is. He never broke. He never lost courage or faith. Hundreds came to him seeking new hope, and no one left without receiving renewed strength.
On the day before 13 August 1932, we met in a small farm house outside Potsdam. We talked deep into the night, but not about our prospects for the next day, but rather about music, philosophy, and worldview issues. Then came the experiences one can only have with him. He spoke of the difficult years of his youth in Vienna and Munich, of his war experiences, of first years of the party. Few know how hard and bitterly he had to fight. Today he is surrounded by praise and thanks. Only fifteen years ago he was a lonely individual among millions. The only difference between him and them was his burning faith and his fanatic resolve to transform that faith into action.
Those who believed that Hitler was finished after the party’s defeat in November 1932 failed to understand him. Only someone who did not know him at all could make such a mistake. Hitler is one of those persons who rises from his defeats. Friedrich Nietzsche’s phrase fits him well: “That which does not destroy me only makes me stronger.”
This man, suffering under financial and party problems for years, assailed by the flood of lies from his enemies, wounded in the depths of his heart by the disloyalty of false friends, still found the limitless faith to lift his party from desperation to new victories.
How many thousands of kilometers have I sat behind him in cars or airplanes on election campaigns. How often did I see the thankful look of a man on the street, or a mother lifting her child to show him, and how often have I seen joy and happiness when people recognized him.
He kept his pockets filled with packages of cigarettes, each with a one or two mark coin. Every working lad he met got one. He had a friendly word for every mother and a warm handshake for every child.
Not without reason does the German youth admire him. They know that this man is young at heart and that their cause is in his good hands. Last Easter Monday we sat with him in his small house on the Obersalzberg. A group of young hikers from Braunau, where he was born, came by for a visit. How surprised these lads were when they got not only a friendly greeting, but all fifteen lads were invited in. They got a hurriedly prepared lunch and had to tell him about his hometown of Braunau.
The people have a fine sense for the truly great. Nothing impresses the people as deeply as when a person truly belongs to his people. Of whom but Hitler could this be true: As he returned from Berchtesgaden to Munich, people waved in every village. The children shouted Heil and threw bouquets of flowers into the car. The S.A. had closed the road in Traunstein. There was no moving either forward or back. Confidently and matter-of-factly, the S.A. Führer walked up to the car and said: “My Führer, an old party member is dying in the hospital and his last wish is to see his Führer.”
Mountains of work were waiting in Munich. But Hitler ordered the car to turn around and sat for half an hour in the hospital at the bedside of his dying party comrade.
The Marxist press claimed he was a tyrant who dominated his satraps. What is he really? He is the best friend of his comrades. He has an open heart for every sorrow and every need, he has human understanding. He knows each of his associates thoroughly and nothing happens in their public or private lives of which he is not aware. If misfortune happens, he helps them to bear it, and rejoices more than anyone else at their successes.
Never have I seen his two sides in anyone else. We had dinner together on the night of the Reichstag fire. We talked and listened to music. Hitler was a person among people. Twenty minutes later he stood in the smoldering, smoking ruins of the Reichstag building and gave piercing orders that led to the destruction of communism. Later he sat in an editorial office and dictated an article.
For those who do not know Hitler, it seems a miracle that millions of people love and support him. For those who know him, it is only natural. The secret of his success is in the indescribable magic of his personality. Those who know him the best love and honor him the most. One who has sworn allegiance to him is devoted to him body and soul.
I thought it was necessary tonight to say that, and to have it said by someone who really knows him, and who could find the courage to break through the barriers of reserve and speak of Hitler the man.
Today he has left the bustle of the capital. He left the wreaths and hymns of praise in Berlin. He is somewhere in his beloved Bavaria, far from the noise of the streets, to find peace and quiet. Perhaps in a nearby room someone will turn on a loudspeaker. If that should happen, then let me say to him, and to all of Germany: My Führer! Millions and millions of the best Germans send you their best wishes and give you their hearts. And we, your closest associates and friends, are gathered in honor and love. We know how little you like praise. But we must still say this: You have lifted Germany from its deepest disgrace to honor and dignity. You should know that behind you, and if necessary before you, a strong and determined group of fighters stands that is ready at any time to give its all for you and your idea. We wish both for your sake and ours that fate will preserve you for many decades, and that you may always remain our best friend and comrade. This is the wish of your fellow fighters and friends for your birthday. We offer your our hands and ask that you always remain for us what you are today:
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