Adolf Hitler - interview for the writer Hanns Johst on the concept
of the ‘Bürger’ (bourgeoisie) published in the “Frankfurter Volksblatt “
January 27, 1934
Question: The Bürger’ is feeling increasingly distressed in respect to the romantic idea of peace of mind, his own peace of mind. So would you, Herr Reichskanzler, allow me to ask quite openly: what is your position on the ‘Bürger’?
Answer: I believe it would be a good thing if we first detach the concept of the ‘Bürger’ from the extremely unclear ambiguity which surrounds it and mutually establish an unambiguous definition of what we understand by the term ‘Bürger.’ I need only cite the ‘Staatsbürger’ (citizen) and the ‘Spießbürger’ (Philistine) to name two members of this species.
Question: Do you mean to say the ‘Staatsbürger’ is the man who stands up for his State politically no matter what, and the Spießbfirger’ is the type who calls himself apolitical for fear of losing his peaceful existence and, acting the Philistine, uses the well-known practice of sticking his head in the sand to avoid being an eyewitness to political conditions?
Answer: That’s exactly what I mean. One section of the bourgeois world and the bourgeois Weltanschauung enjoys acting the part of being completely disinterested in political life. These people have not progressed beyond the prewar position that politics has its own forms of existence far removed from their normal life in society and is to be practiced by a special caste engaged and predestined for that purpose. These people, armchair politicians, enjoy criticizing you as part of a general mood or motivated by personal interest, but they will never take on any representative, public responsibility. My Movement, as an expression of will and yearning, encompasses every aspect of the entire Volk. It conceives of Germany as a corporate body, as a single organism. There is no such thing as nonresponsibility in this organic being, not a single cell which is not responsible, by its very existence, for the welfare and well-being of the whole.
Thus in my view there is not the least amount of room for apolitical people. Every German, whether he wants to be or not, is by virtue of his being born into German destiny, by the fact of his existence, a representative of the form of existence of this very Germany. In upholding this principle, I am turning every class conflict around and at the same time declaring war on every concept of caste and consciousness of class.
Question: That means that you will not tolerate any flight into private life, whereas the bourgeois likes to take refuge in being a private person? You are forcing everyone to take on the position of a ‘Staatsbürger?’
Answer: I reject shilly-shallying (Drückebergerei) about decisions! Every single German must know what he wants! And he must take a stand for what he wants!
Since 1914, 1 have devoted my life to fighting. First as a soldier, blindly obedient to the military leadership. When this leadership allowed itself to be locked out of the power sphere of command in 1918, I took a close look at the new political command and recognized in it the true face of Marxism. With that began my fight against the politics of this theory and its practice.
Question: You encountered Marxist parties and the indifference of the middle class. You were regarded as part of the bourgeois right-wing.
Answer: This evaluation of my life’s work leaves room for two errors. My entire energy was devoted from the beginning to overcoming the leadership of the state by parties, and secondly-although this is logical and obvious from the origins of my uprising-I must never be understood in bourgeois terms.
In the quarrel of the parties, it became evident that the discussion was being conducted under false appearances. It is wrong, you see, that the bourgeois parties have become the employers and for the Marxists to call themselves proles and employees. There are just as many proles among the employers as there are bourgeois elements among the employees.
The bourgeois-allegedly for the sake of the Vaterland-are defending property, a capitalistic value. Thus from a Marxist point of view, love of one’s country is not dumb, but rather capital’s greed for profit. On the other hand, the international character of Marxism is regarded by the middle class as speculation for a world economy in which there is only state administration and no longer any private property.
The member of the bourgeoisie avoids this division of the Volk into opposing interest groups by hiding behind the superficial and zealous optimism of his daily paper and allowing himself to be educated “apolitically.” The lessons are organized very nicely according to the taste of his majesty, Gullible Fritz (Majestät Zipfelmütze), placid and peaceful. People are reverting step by step. The compromise serves over and over again to ban controversy literally from the face-but only the face-of the planet, and the end, the end is a political matter somewhere in the distance which is better left alone to preserve the peace, of course. But the fact that this peace was not a peace at all, but a daily defeat, a daily victory of consciously political Marxism-it is for the recognition of this fact that National Socialism is fighting.
National Socialism takes for itself the pure idea from each of these two camps. From the camp of bourgeois tradition, it takes national resolve, and from the materialism of the Marxist dogma living, creative Socialism.
Volksgemeinschaft: that means a community of all productive labor, that means the oneness of all vital interests, that means overcoming bourgeois privatism and the unionized, mechanically organized masses, that means unconditionally equating the individual fate and the nation, the individual and the Volk.
I know that liberal bourgeois concepts are highly developed in Germany, the bourgeois man rejects public life and has a deep-seated aversion toward what goes on in the streets. If he weakens in his resolve for any length of time, this public life, the street, will destroy the ideal of his four walls.
In cases like this, attack is the best form of defense.
I am not responsible for the fact that the central command of the German State was taken over by the street in 1918. However, the bourgeoisie does not have the slightest reason to suspect that I was the drummer who sounds the reveille, for if the bourgeoisie had slept through the facts of history, it would have awakened too late, awakened to a political state of affairs which is called Bolshevism and which is the mortal enemy of the concepts of the middle class. The Russian Revolution was up in arms against the middle class as bourgeoisie, and in Germany the decisive battle of this Weltanschauung has just been lost.
The fact that all of Germany is enlightened as to Bolshevist imperialism, that not a single German can say, “I knew nothing of it,” but can resort only to the lame excuse, “I didn’t believe it”-that is and always has been my commitment and the basic principle of all of my loyal followers.
Question: Inasmuch as you were forced by the Weimar Constitution to organize along party lines, you called your movement the National Socialist Workers’ Party. In my opinion, you are thus giving the concept of the worker priority over the concept of the bourgeoisie.
Answer: I chose the word “worker” because it was more natural and corresponded with every element of my being, and because I wanted to recapture this word for the national force. I did not and will not allow the concept of the worker to simply take on an international connotation and become an object of distrust to the bourgeoisie. In a certain sense, I had to “naturalize” the term worker and subject it once again to the control of the German language and the sovereign rights and obligations of the German Volk. Similarly, I will not tolerate that the correctly used and essentially understood concept of the ‘Bürger’ is spoiled. But I believe the ‘Bürger’ is called upon to ensure this.
Question: In the Weltanschauung of National Socialism, there are therefore only the ‘Staatsbürger’ and the worker. And all people are either both, or neither, and thus parasites in the life of the State.
Answer: Certainly, I feel this is a significant comparison, for this alone enables us to dispense with the entire superficial vocabulary of unnecessary arrogance caused by parliamentarianism and all of that liberalism. The ‘Spießbürger’ must become a citizen of the State; the Red comrade must become a Volksgenosse. Both must, with their good intentions, ennoble the socioiogical concept of the worker and raise the status of an honorary title for labor. This patent of nobility alone puts the soldier and the peasant, the merchant and the academician, the worker and the capitalist under oath to take the only possible direction in which all purposeful German striving must be headed: towards the nation.
Only when everything that happens within the entire German community happens with a view to the whole does the whole, in the changing currents of political effects, in turn become capable of taking on the positive and productive leadership of all of the individual units, classes and conditions.
Leadership is always based upon the free will and good intentions of those being led. My doctrine of the Führer concept is therefore quite the opposite of what the Bolshevists like to present it as being: the doctrine of a brutal dictator who triumphs over the destruction of the values of private life. Thus as Reich Chancellor I am not discontinuing my activities as a public educator; on the contrary: I am using every means provided by the State and its power to publish and make known my every word and deed with the goal of winning the public with this openness for every single decision of my national will by proof and conviction. And I am doing this because I believe in the creative power and the creative contribution of the Volk.
Question: In other words, Herr Reichskanzler, in the Volk you perceive the myth of a fusion of the worker and the ‘Bürger,’ just as you perceive the State as the malleable instrument of the Volk? If I may state it quite openly, you see the instrument of the State in the hand of the Volk, and you thus see in your own chancellorship the sovereignty of the Volk as consecrated to the name of Adolf Hitler!
Answer: I hope that this dialogue serves as an enlightenment to the broad circles of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeois man should stop feeling like some sort of pensioner of tradition or capital and separated from the worker by the Marxist concept of property; rather, he should strive, with an open mind, to become integrated in the whole as a worker, for he is not a member of society at all in the distorted sense in which he was persecuted as a hostile brother within the ranks of the Volk. He should base his classic bourgeois pride upon his citizenship and, in other respects, be modestly conscious of his identity as a worker.
For everything, which does not feverishly press for work and affirm its faith in work is condemned to extinction in the sphere of National Socialism.