Adolf Hitler – speech at NSDAP congress hall in Nuremberg
September 11, 1935
National Socialists! Party Comrades!
Sixteen years ago the spiritual cornerstone was laid for one of the greatest and most significant manifestations of German life. The resolution of but a few men at that time to extricate Germany from the fetters of its internal corrupters and to liberate it from the yoke of external bondage constituted one of the boldest decisions in world history. Now, after sixteen years of hard struggle, this scheme has evolved to become a decisive historic achievement. A world of internal adversaries and obstacles was overcome, and a new world is at the verge of being born. On this day, we hereby lay for this new world of the German Volk the cornerstone of its first great monument. A hall shall rise which is to serve the purpose of annually housing within its walls a gathering of the elite of the National Socialist Reich for centuries to come. Should the Movement ever be silent, even after millenniums, this witness shall speak.
In the midst of a hallowed grove of ancient oak trees will the people then marvel in reverent awe at this first colossus among the buildings of the German Reich. With this premonition I hereby lay the cornerstone of the Congress Hall of the Reich Party Congresses in Nuremberg in the year 1935, the year of the freedom of the German nation hard won by the National Socialist Movement.
But if such a so-called “artist” feels himself called upon to portray human life under all circumstances from the viewpoint and perspective of what is inferior and diseased, then he should do so in an age in which there is a widespread appreciation for just this type of viewpoint. Today this age is over, and hence it is also over for this type of “would-be creative artists.” And though we are becoming ever firmer and more strict in our rejection of this, we hold that we are not making a mistake. For he who is chosen by Providence to lend external, graphically visible expression to the innermost and thus eternally healthy substance of a Volk will never find himself on the path to such aberrations.
Thus we are not talking about a “threat to the freedom of art.” Just as a murderer is not granted the right to kill his fellow men in body simply because this would mean interfering with his own freedom, a person similarly cannot be granted the right to kill the soul of the Volk merely so as to avoid placing any restrictions on his dirty fantasy and his total lack of restraint.
In the case of really great tasks, as a general rule, both those men who have commissioned the task and those who accomplish it should bear in mind that, although the assignment was given within a certain age, its accomplishment shall, by being performed to the utmost, become ageless.
To this end it is necessary that the really great tasks of an age must be assigned respectively, i.e. public commissions must, if their accomplishment is to generate eternal value, be placed in a certain proportion in respect to the scale of the rest of life.
It is impossible to place the monumental architecture of the State or the Movement on a scale corresponding to that of one or two centuries ago, while the products of bourgeois creation in the sphere of private or even purely capitalistic architecture have expanded conversely and increased many times over. What lent the cities of antiquity and the Middle Ages their characteristic and hence admirable and endearing features was not the size of the private bourgeois structures but the manifestations of community life towering above them.
In the bourgeois epoch, the architectural expression of public life was unfortunately repressed in favor of buildings documenting private-capitalistic business life. But the great historico-cultural task of National Socialist lies above all in departing from this trend.
We must, however, be guided not only by artistic but also by political considerations in endowing upon the new Reich, with a view to the great precedents of the past, a worthy cultural personification. Nothing is better suited to silence the little carpers than the eternal language of great art.
Millenniums bow to its utterances in reverent silence. May God grant us the stature to formulate these tasks in a manner equal to the stature of the nation.
This is doubtless a difficult undertaking.
The heroic feats of greatness which our Volk accomplished in history over 2,000 years number among the most tremendous experiences of mankind. There were centuries in which works of art corresponded to a spiritual human greatness in Germany-and in the rest of Europe. The unique eminence of our cathedrals represents an incomparable standard for the truly-in a cultural sense-monumental attitude of these ages. They demand from us more than admiration for the work itself; they demand reverence for the races which were capable of planning and carrying out such great ideas.
Since then, our Volk has risen and fallen with the changing tides of Fate. We ourselves were witnesses of a world-defying heroism, of the deepest despair and shocked bewilderment. Through us and in us, the nation has risen once again.
When today we call upon German art to take on new and great tasks, we are assigning these not only in order to fulfill the wishes and hopes of the present, but in the sense of a thousand-year legacy. By paying homage to this eternal national genius, we summon the great spirit of the creative power of the past to come dwell in the present.
But such elevated tasks will make people grow, and we do not have a right to doubt that, if the Almighty gives us the courage to demand what is immortal, He will give our Volk the power to accomplish what is immortal. Our cathedrals are witnesses to the glory of the past! The glory of the present will one day be gauged by the eternal values it leaves behind. Only then will Germany undergo a revival of its art and our Volk become conscious of a higher destiny.