Adolf Hitler - speech at Erntedankfest (Thanksgiving)
Buckeberg near Hamelin, October 3, 1937
Hence there is no such thing as freedom for the individual, just as there is no freedom for a class. What does that mean, my dear peasants, freedom for the individual? You yourselves know how very strongly you are forced by Nature and by the requirements of your profession to perform certain tasks, whether you want to or not. In good weather or bad! Nature continually compels man to perform tasks he does not relish and work he does not always find pleasant.
Yet perhaps life would not be good at all if everything went the way the individual happens to want it to at the moment. On the contrary: overcoming obstacles is the supreme triumph of life.
Where would even the smallest farm end up if no one wanted to bear the responsibility? The community of the Volk is no different from a family: one person must have an overall perspective, one person is responsible not only for the organization of production, but for coordinating consumption, too!
If we say today that our Lebensraum is too small and that, therefore, it is essential for us to supplement it by way of colonies, some wiseacre will appear from somewhere in the world and say, “Why do you need colonies? Colonies would do you no good at all! You have purchasing power!” Frankly, we ourselves are smart enough to buy what we can when we have money. But one should not have cleaned us out for fifteen years first-then we could buy things today! There are rich people who say, “Wealth is a very heavy burden to bear! Let no one wish that he, too, might be encumbered by this burden!” Now one might think that, if wealth is such a heavy burden, they would be glad to give some of it away. That, however, is something they do not want to do, either. And there are foreign statesmen who say, “Colonies are a heavy burden.” Yet they do not want to give away any part of this burden! They say, “Colonies have no value at all!” Yet under no circumstances are they willing to restore this “worthless” possession to its rightful owner! And when I talk about “rightful owners,” it is in a time and in a world pervaded by the ideals of morality and modesty laid down by the League of Nations. And it was in accordance with these ideals that we Germans once acquired our colonies, but in accordance with different principles-such as, from the moral perspective of the League of Nations, would deserve to be utterly condemned-that we lost them.
There is a reason why, at every Erntedcankfest, I have the Wehrmacht perform exercises for you. You shall all he reminded that we would not be standing here if sword and shield were not standing guard over us. Yes indeed, we have peace only because the new German weapon is being held over it. That gives us peace, that gives us security, and that gives us the prerequisites for doing our job.
The prerequisite for every success, however, is that the will of he who represents the will is also respected. As long as every rank of the German nation remains subject to one will, any problem can be solved! We have solved them in the past, have we not? But I was only able to solve them because the German Volk was standing behind me! Only because you were marching after me was I able to march ahead! When I gave the order to occupy the Rhineland last year, the important thing was not that the soldiers were marching, but that the German Volk went along, that the entire nation was backing me. To it you owe the success!
It is so easy to promise people something, but so infinitely difficult to keep one’s word. I might well say of myself that I have never promised the German Volk anything I was not able to really deliver. I even think I have delivered more in these five years than I once promised! But if so, only because I succeeded in teaching the German Volk to be reasonable and go along with me!
If we adhere to this path, decent, industrious, and honest, if we do our duty so bravely and loyally, it is my belief that the Lord will help us again and again in the future as well. He does not abandon decent people for any length of time! While He may sometimes put them to the test or send them trials, in the long run He will always allow His sun to shine upon them and ultimately give them His blessing.
If we all stick together in the city and the country, if each and every person decently does his duty in the place he occupies and thinks not only of himself but of his fellow humans as well, then you can trust that there is nothing which could break us asunder. We shall prevail! In the year to come, and in the decades to come! We have a magnificent sun today. A year ago, we had pouring rain. What next year will bring is something I do not know. But that we will be standing here over and over again, that is something I do know, no matter what the weather! When we meet here again after a year has passed, we will once more be able to pledge anew: the year is over, and once again everything has gone well.
Everything has become even more splendid. And we are fortunate to be allowed to live in Germany.
To Our German Reich and our German Volk-Sieg Heil!