Adolf Hitler – speech at Erntedankfest (Thanksgiving)
Buckeberg near Hamelin, October 6, 1935
Just as you are standing here before me, my German Volksgenossen, there stand multitudes more, sixty-eight times as many. Our Volk numbers sixty-eight million. These sixty-eight million are our principals; we are under obligation to all of them, responsible to all of them. They all want to live; they all need to eat; they need freedom, and thus they all have command over our actions. The Volk alone is our master (Herr), and it is this Volk we serve according to our best knowledge and belief.
However, in order to fulfill this task, it is necessary for each person to understand that the discipline and order demanded of him are to his own advantage and that the authority which requires this order is acting in his own interest. Everyone must understand this, for everyone profits from it.
And I thus turn once again to you, my peasants. When you till your soil, when you walk behind the plough, when you plant and when you finally arm [!] yourselves for the harvest, you would not enjoy it if someone were constantly standing beside you who knew nothing about farming but who felt called upon to constantly criticize you. My dear peasants, what would you do with a man like that? And if we try to defend ourselves against these people, they say, “There is a need for criticism.” No, my venerable Sirs, the critics: there is a need for work! There is a need for someone to have the courage to assume the responsibility and to stand by it to the death. Where would humanity be if in place of work and responsibility only criticism had been the governing, controlling and guiding factor in the lives of men? What all of us have witnessed today with our own eyes, this wonderful, condensed display of military action [!], would not be possible in terms of its prerequisites, its preparation and its performance were this institution governed by the rule, “Critics welcome here,” instead of, “Here orders are given, and orders are obeyed!” It is not difficult, in view of the vast amount of work being accomplished everywhere in Germany, to ascertain with notebook in hand that somewhere, sometime, perhaps a mistake has been made. I have yet to see the peasant who can state that he has never had a bad harvest, never perhaps could have done something more sensibly. That is not the point. The point is rather that one tries to do the right thing and never capitulates in the face of whatever difficulties may arise! Anyone forced to eliminate such distress as we were must seek new paths.
Unfortunately, our predecessors in office failed here and did not bequeath to us any recipes as to how such distress could be alleviated. We have sought our own paths, and we have found them. I believe the proof is in rallies such as these, too.
Where else could it be possible that nearly a sixtieth of a great Volk’s total millions flock together on one day in order not only to solemnly bear witness to their unity, but also to their solidarity with this regime and this system? Where is the statesman, where the head of state who can go forth into his Volk as I go forth among you?227 That is the marvelous thing, that our Volk has understood this regime, its necessity and its actions, and carried on as usual, in contrast to the weaklings who cannot comprehend that our Volk has understood that the actions we are taking lie in the interest of all.
Providence has enabled us this year to reap a harvest not only plentiful in financial terms; it has blessed us even more: from the beginning of this year onward, Germany was able to score numerous and decisive victories. Our German Wehrmacht was brought back to life. The German fleet229 will come to life once more. The German cities and the beautiful villages-they are protected, watched over by the strength of the nation, watched over by the weapon in the air.
Far beyond that, we want to say thanks for a special harvest: in this hour, we wish to thank the hundreds of thousands and hundreds of thousands of German women who once more gave us the most beautiful gift they have to give us: many hundreds of thousands of small children! [-] We want to do our duty, to take the straight path without looking back, as we have done hitherto. We want to stride through the difficulties of this age, strong and prepared, and never weaken. We want to do the right thing and have fear of no man, and want then to submit a request to the Almighty that He bless our work in the year to come as well, that He once more bestow upon our fields a plentiful bounty and upon us all great success.
May He especially keep alive in our Volk the right insight, may He secure for it inner [!] peace and instill in us all the wisdom and the prudence to do the right thing, that our Volk may live and Germany never die.