Background: This is the last of Goebbels’ annual speeches on Hitler’s birthday. The Third Reich was in ruins, and even Goebbels had little to offer to raise hopes of victory. About the best he can do is suggest that things would be even worse without Hitler, rather small consolation. But even here, he uses religious imagery. “We feel Hitler in us and around us,” he says at the end.
The source: This was printed in most remaining German newspapers on 20 April 1945.
At the moment of the war when — so it seems — all forces of hate and destruction have been gathered once again, perhaps for the final time, in the west, the east, the southeast, and the south, seeking to break through our front and give the death blow to the Reich, I once again speak to the German people on the eve of 20 April about the Führer, just as I have done every year since 1933. That has happened at good and bad times in the past. But never before did things stand on such a knife’s edge, never before did the German people have to defend their very lives under such enormous danger, never before did the Reich have to draw on its last strength to protect its threatened self.
Times such as these are rare in history. They are unique and unparalleled for the fighting generation that must survive them. Historical events of similar nature and extent fade in our memory under the pain that we bear, under the sorrows that almost overwhelm us, under tortured questions about our own future and that of our brave, sorely-tested people...
This is not the time to speak of the Führer’s birthday in the usual way or to present him with the usual best wishes. More must be said today, and by one who was won the right both from the Führer and the people. I have been at the Führer’s side for more than twenty years. I have seen his rise and that of his movement from the smallest and most improbable beginnings up to the seizure of power, and gave my best efforts to them as well. I have shared joy and sorrow with the Führer, from unprecedented historic victories to the terrible setbacks in the remarkable years from 1939 until now. I stand beside him today as fate challenges him and his people with its last, most severe test. I am confident that fate will give him and his people the laurel wreath of victory. The fact that Germany yet lives, that Europe and the civilized world have not yet fallen into the dark abyss that looms before us, is thanks to him alone.
He will be the man of this century — who was sure of himself despite terrible pain and suffering — who showed the way to victory. He is the only one who remained true to himself, who did not cheaply sell his faith and his ideals, who always and without doubt followed his straight path toward his goal. That goal may today be hidden behind the piles of rubble that our hate-filled enemies have wrought across our once-proud continent, but which will once again shine before our burning eyes once the rubble has been cleared.
Times like those we experience today demand more of a leader than insight, wisdom, and drive. They demand a toughness and endurance, a steadfastness of heart and soul, that appear only rarely in history, but that when they do appear produce the most admirable achievements of human genius. Burkhardt said in his Observations on World History: “The fates of people and of states, of entire civilizations, can depend on whether an extraordinary person can bring forth the proper strength of soul and action. Normal minds and spirits, no matter how numerous, cannot replace such a person.”
Who can deny that only the Führer has the right to feel these words apply to him and his deeds in our and many coming generations? What can enemy statesmen say in response? They have nothing but superior numbers, their stupid and insane destructiveness and their diabolical lust for annihilation, behind which lurk the chaos of the collapse of civilized humanity. What has come of their loud and emotional theses of happiness, what of their Atlantic Charter and their Four Freedoms? Only hunger, misery, pestilence, and mass death. A whole raped part of the earth cries out against them. Once flourishing cities and villages in every nation of Europe have been transformed into fields of craters, and hundreds of thousands, even millions of women and children in the north, east, and southeast of the continent sigh and weep under the raging scourge of Bolshevism.
The most shining culture the earth has ever seen sinks in ruins and leaves only memories of the greatness of an age destroyed by satanic powers. The peoples are shaken by the most severe economic and social crises, which are but foretastes of the terrible events to come. Our enemies claim that the Führer’s soldiers marched as conquerors through the lands of Europe — but wherever they came, they brought prosperity and happiness, peace, order, reliable conditions, a plenitude of work, and therefore a decent life. Our enemies claim their soldiers came to the same lands as liberators — but wherever they come there is poverty and misery, chaos, devastation and destruction, unemployment, hunger and mass death. And what remains of their so-called freedom is a life that no one would dare call decent even in the darkest corners of Africa.
Here is a clear broad outline of a program of construction that has proved itself useful, humane and beneficial, positive and forward-looking, in its own as well as in all the other lands of Europe. It stands against the fantasies of Jewish-Plutocratic-Bolshevist destruction. Here stands a man, sure of himself, having a clear and firm will, against the unnatural coalition of enemy statesmen who are only the lackeys and tools of this world conspiracy. Europe once had the choice between these two. It chose concealed anarchy, and must today pay for its mistake with million-fold agony. It will not have much time any more to choose its fate a second time. It is a matter of life or death!
A British newspaper wrote a few days ago that the result of the insane policies of the enemy powers would surely be a revolution of the European peoples against the Anglo-American plutocracy, and that Hitler was the man who was hindered by the same plutocracy through an unholy alliance with Asiatic Bolshevism as he began to bring Europe political and economic happiness. That is how it is, and nothing can whitewash our plutocratic enemies of their crimes.
Opposing this apparently all-powerful coalition of destructive satanic forces brings with it tests and burdens of superhuman nature, but that is not dishonorable — the opposite in fact! To bravely accept a battle that is unavoidable and inescapable, to wage it in the name of divine providence, to have confidence in it and its eventual blessing, to stand before fate with a pure conscience and clean hands, to bear all suffering and every test, never even thinking of being untrue to one’s historic mission, never wavering even in the most difficult hours of the final battle — that is not only manly, it is also German in the best sense of the word! Would our people not accept this task and not fight for it as if it were the word of god, it would not deserve to live any longer, and would lose any possibility of further life.
What we experience today is the last act of a powerful drama that began on 1 August 1914 and which we Germans gave up on 9 November 1918 just before the end. That is why we had to begin again on 1 September 1939. What we hoped to spare ourselves in November 1918 we have paid for two- or threefold today. There is no escape — unless the German people surrenders any kind of decent human life and is ready to forever live in a way that would shame even the most primitive African tribes.
If it is manly and German as Führer of a great and brave people to depend wholly on oneself in this struggle, relying on one’s own own strength and certainty as well as the help of god in the face of an enemy who threatens with overwhelming numbers, to fight rather than to capitulate, then it is just as manly and German for a people to follow such a Führer, unconditionally and loyally, without excuse or reservation, to shake off all feelings of weakness and uncertainty, to trust in the good star that is above him and us all. This is all the more true when that star at times is covered by a black cloud. Misfortune must not make us cowardly, but rather resistant, never giving a mocking watching world the appearance of wavering. Rather than hoisting the white flag of surrender that the enemy expects, raise the old swastika banner of a fanatic and wild resistance, renewing the oath that we swore so often in the happy and safe days of peace, thanking god again and again that he gave us a true leader for these terrible times, feeling bound in our hearts to his sorrows and trials, thus showing the enemy world that they can wound but not kill us, that they can beat us bloody but not force us down, torture us, but not demoralize us!
Is there a single German who disagrees? After six years of battle, could our people debase itself so low as to forget honor and duty, surrendering in the turmoil of the moment its holy and inalienable right to its great future for a pot of soup? Who would dare suggest that? Who holds us in such contempt that he believes that now, just as we stand before the final and decisive round of the war, we would be untrue to all our sworn ideals, that we would throw all our hopes for the future of our Reich overboard, giving up in the midst of the confusion of misfortune that has overcome us on ourselves, our land and people, and the lives of our children and children’s children?
The world speaks of loyalty as a German virtue. How could our people have withstood the tests of this war without it, and how could it survive the war’s coming end without it? For it is ending! The war is nearing its end. The insanity that the enemy powers of unleashed on humanity has gone beyond all bounds. The whole world feels only shame and disgust. The perverse coalition between plutocracy and Bolshevism is collapsing! Fate has taken the head of the enemy conspiracy [U.S. President Roosevelt had died the week before]. It is the same fate that the Führer escaped on 20 July 1944 [the date of an assassination attempt on Hitler], amidst the dead, the wounded and the ruins, so that he could finish his work — through pain and trials it is true, but nonetheless as providence ordained.
Once more the armies of the enemy powers storm against our defensive fronts. Behind them is the slavering force of International Jewry that wants no peace until it has reached its satanic goal of world destruction. But its hopes are in vain! As he has done so often before, god will throw Lucifer back into the abyss even as he stands before the gates of power over all the peoples. A man of truly timeless greatness, of unique courage, of a steadfastness that elevates the hearts of some and shakes those of others, will be his tool. Who will maintain that this man can be found in the leadership of Bolshevism or plutocracy? No, the German people bore him. It chose him, it by free election made him Führer. It knows his works of peace and now wants to bear and fight the war that was forced upon him until its successful end.
Within a few years after the war, Germany will flourish as never before. Its ruined landscapes and provinces will be filled with new, more beautiful cities and villages in which happy people dwell. All of Europe will share in this prosperity. We will again be friends of all peoples of good will, and will work together with them to repair the grave wounds that scar the face of our noble continent. Our daily bread will grow on rich fields of grain, stilling the hunger of the millions who today suffer and starve. There will be jobs in plenitude, the deepest source of human happiness, from which will come blessing and strength for all. Chaos will vanish. The underworld will not rule this part of the world, but rather order, peace, and prosperity.
That was always our goal! It is our goal today. If the enemy powers had their way, humanity would drown in a sea of blood and tears. War would follow war and revolution would follow revolution, finally destroying the last remnants of a world that was once beautiful and lovely, and that will be so again.
But if we achieve our goals, the project of social construction begun in Germany in 1933 and was rudely interrupted in 1939 will be taken up again with renewed strength. Other peoples will join in — not because we force them to, but rather of their own free will — because there is no other way out of the world crisis. Who could show the way save the Führer! His work is the work of order. His enemies have only a devil’s work of anarchy and devastation to set against his work.
German history is not rich in great statesmen. But where one has appeared he usually had something to say and give not only to his own people, but to the world. What would there be European about Europe had not German kaisers and kings, counts and generals and their armies repeatedly withstood the onslaughts from the east! Usually only a disunited continent stood behind them that either did not understood or even fell upon Germany in the midst of its saving work for Europe. Why should it be any different today? At the present state of things, which the war is just before, or perhaps even in the midst of, a peripeteia, it is difficult to understand this great battle between peoples. One thing, however, can no longer be disputed: If there had been no Adolf Hitler, if Germany had been led by a government like those in Finland, Bulgaria, or Rumania, it would long since have become the prey of Bolshevism. Lenin once said the path to world revolution leads though Poland and the Reich. Poland is already in the possession of the Kremlin, despite all the attempts of the Anglo-Americans to conceal it. If Germany had followed, or would follow, what would become of the rest of our continent?
To ask the question is to answer it. The Soviets would probably already be at the Atlantic coast, and England sooner or later would receive its just reward for its betrayal of Europe that finds its most wretched expression in its marriage with Bolshevism. In the United States too, one would soon think differently of the dreadful world phenomenon that a Jewish press entirely and fully conceals from the American public.
If the world still lives, and not only our world but the rest of it as well, whom has it to thank other than the Führer? It may defame and slander him today, persecuting him with its base hatred, but it will have to revise this standpoint or bitterly regret it! He is the core of resistance to the collapse of the world. He is Germany’s bravest heart and our people’s most passionate will. I permit myself to make a judgment that must be made today: If the nation still breaths, if it still has the chance of victory, if there is still an escape from the deadly danger it faces — it is thanks to him. He is steadfastness itself. I have never seen him fail or falter, or weaken or tire. He will go his way to the end, and there awaits not the end of his people, but rather a new and happy beginning to an era in which Germandom will flourish as never before.
Listen, Germans! Millions of people look to this man from every land on the earth, still doubting and questioning whether he knows the way out of the great misfortune that has befallen the world. He will show the peoples that way, but we look to him full of hope and with a deep, unshakable faith. We stand behind him with fortitude and courage: soldier and civilian, man, woman and child — a people determined to do all to defend its life and honor. He may look his enemies in the eye, for we promise him that he does not need to look behind him. We will not waver or weaken. We will never desert him, no matter how desperate and dangerous the hour. We stand with him, as he stands with us — in Germanic loyalty as we have sworn, as we shall fulfill. We do not need to tell him, for he knows and must know: Führer command! — We will follow! We feel him in us and around us. God give him strength and health and preserve him from every danger. We will do the rest.
Our misfortune has made us mature, but not robbed us of our character. Germany is still the land of loyalty. It will celebrate its greatest triumphs in the midst of danger. Never will history record that in these days a people deserted its Führer or a Führer deserted his people. And that is victory. We have often wished the Führer in happy times our best on this evening. Today in the midst of suffering and danger, our greeting is much deeper and more profound. May he remain what he is to us and always was — Our Hitler!
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