Adolf Hitler – speech in Führerbau
Munich, November 10, 1938
The year 1938 owes its great successes, as a matter of course, primarily to the enormous work of education which National Socialism has wrought for the German Volk. Slowly this work is beginning to bear fruit. The German Volk has brilliantly proven itself within these past months; yes, indeed, we may say that it has done so better than any other nationality in Europe. Naturally, we also owe these successes to the decisiveness of the leadership. Gentlemen, I can assure you that this was not always easy.
First, the decisions had to be made; then they had to be carried out. After all, the nation as a whole-and particularly the intellectuals-did not stand behind these decisions. It was only natural that numerous of these “spirited men”-those at least who think of themselves as “spirited”-were less than in agreement with these decisions. They voiced doubts continuously. Hence, it was all the more important to persevere with an iron will and to see through the decisions which had been made in May despite heavy opposition.
Further, the actual motivation behind these decisions, which were the root of our successes, was revealed in our large-scale preparations and, most importantly, in our military rearmament. Certain measures which had to be and have been implemented sooner or later were undertaken this spring. Central to these measures was the construction of the fortifications in the West. Moreover, the political situation worldwide greatly advanced our interests. Taking advantage of this situation was instrumental to our success. We benefited greatly from the international situation which never before has appeared so favorable to our cause.
In this context, one must not forget one thing which was crucial, namely, propaganda. Not only propaganda in the interior but also in the exterior. As I pointed out earlier, the fact that the German Volk took a different stance in this case quite different from that of other peoples and of that which the German Volk would have taken not so very long ago, is the result of the persistent enlightenment campaign with which we have inundated the German Volk. And here the press played a big role.
With this we have taken upon ourselves the resolution of several tasks this year which we wish to achieve by employing propaganda. And it is here that the present press will be amongst our foremost instruments. First, the slow preparation of our Volk itself. For decades, circumstances caused me to speak almost exclusively of peace. Only by constantly emphasizing the German Volk’s desire for peace and peaceful intentions was I able to gain the German Volk’s freedom step by step and thus to give it the armament necessary as a prerequisite for accomplishing the next step. It is self-evident that this peace propaganda throughout the decades may well have had quite questionable effects. It might well leave the mistaken impression in the minds of many that the present regime stands for the resolution and the willingness to preserve peace under all circumstances.
This would not only lead to a wrong assessment of the ambitions of this system. It would also, and above all, lead the German nation, instead of being prepared for what is to come, to fall prey to a spirit of defeatism. In the long run, this could and most certainly would obliterate the successes scored by the present regime.
For years, I spoke only of peace because of this forced situation. Now it has become necessary to slowly prepare the German Volk psychologically for the fact that there are things that cannot be achieved by peaceful means. Some goals can only be achieved through the use of force. Not that it was necessary to propagandize the use of force as such, but it was necessary to shed light on certain events abroad in such a manner that the inner voice of the German Volk naturally cried out for the application of force. That meant that certain of these events needed to be portrayed in a manner in which they would automatically trigger a certain reaction in the brains of the mass of the German Volk: if you cannot stop these things in a peaceful manner, then you will just have to stop them by force-in any event, things cannot go on like this.
Fulfilling this task took many months’ time: it was begun on schedule, continued, and reinforced. Many did not understand this, gentlemen, many thought it a bit extreme. These men were those hypersophisticated intellectuals who have no idea of how to get a Volk to stand straight when thunder rolls and lightning is in the sky. Secondly, it was necessary to make propaganda abroad as well and to do so for a variety of reasons. For one, it was necessary to portray those problems, problems that moved us ourselves, to the world as issues of importance and great urgency. Second, it was necessary that it became increasingly clear to the whole world that the German nation had reached a stage at which it could no longer be discounted. This would have to become increasingly evident based on the manner in which we treated these problems. And finally, one had to convincingly portray the cohesiveness of the German nation. It was also to this end that the press was essentially employed. Further, it was necessary to impress the enemy by this propaganda and press campaign, impress the enemy we faced at this time, namely, Czechoslovakia. There might have been some who did not understand the measures we took in the course of these years. Gentlemen, from May 21 on, it was crystal clear that this problem had to be resolved in one way or another! Any further delay would only have complicated the situation and might well have rendered its resolution all the more bloody. Today we know that this was perhaps the last possible moment in which to resolve this problem in the manner in which we were able to resolve it now.
One thing is certain, gentlemen: even a delay of no more than one or two years would have placed us in a most difficult situation militarily. Our enemies worldwide would not have changed. The “aircraft carrier” in the heart of Germany would have continued to build up and to seal itself off behind its fortifications. The imperative of first meeting this challenge would have implied that all our additional weaponry be applied to this task. This in turn would have slowly but surely devoured all investment into the military.
Hence, this problem had to be resolved this year-no matter what the circumstances. It was simply no longer possible to defer this issue to a later date. For the first time, preparatory steps were pursued to completion, and they were carried out on such an enormous scale that they could not well be disguised. Above all, however, the surrounding countries must have been aware of the activity-given the circumstances. Back then, I somehow had the impression that all these pacifist slogans no longer moved anyone. They had become tiresome and, anyway, no one believed them any longer or took them seriously. By then, I had arrived at the conclusion that only one alternative remained; to speak the truth relentlessly and brutally, and to do so without any false pretenses. No more and no less was required. In the long run, this simply had to have a paralyzing effect upon the state which was the most afflicted.
Many times, the question was put to me: “Do you truly believe this is right? For months now, each shooting-range in the vicinity of Czechoslovakia is being fired upon constantly. Czechoslovakian bunkers are being fired upon constantly. Live ammunition is being used constantly. Indeed, you practically force everyone to notice the on-goings.” I was convinced that these tactics would ultimately, over the months, ruin the nerves of these gentlemen in Prague. And to this end, the press had to make its contribution. It had its share in slowly ruining the nerves of these people. Indeed, their nerves did not stand up to the pressure.
At this last and crucial breaking point, the others lost their nerve so that in the end it was not necessary for us to actually take up arms. Indeed this was the main task of our press campaign, a task many did not understand. They said: “You are exaggerating, this is not fair play, after all it is just a tiny state.” Only intellectuals could say something of this nature, naturally the Volk never would. In this instance, the Volk preferred a diet of greater clarity, boldness, and acridity. But certain intellectuals did speak in this manner, feeling themselves guardians of a different type of morality in Germany. They felt themselves responsible for what they called justice and for keeping measure in all things. Many of them did not understand this. Believe me, it was necessary! And in the end, all that counts is the success! I would now like to establish the fact that propaganda did excellent work this year, extremely excellent work.
The press, too, blossomed in this work, and 1 personally felt great pleasure looking through numerous German newspapers every day.
Almost every day I could ascertain the great effectiveness of this propaganda and, in particular, of this propaganda in the press. What matters in the end is the success, as I said earlier, and, gentlemen, what a fabulous success it is indeed! This success is like a dream, a success so great that, in the present, we are not yet capable of assessing its true extent.
I realized the greatness of this success for the first time as I found myself standing on the Czech bunker lines. It was then I realized what it means to gain a line of fortification, nearly 2,000 kilometers in length, without having had to fire a shot. Gentlemen-this time propaganda in the service of a great idea conquered ten million people and 100,000 square kilometers of land for us.
That is enormous! For us, this opens the door to an understanding of Napoleon’s victories.
He was victorious not only because he was a brilliant strategist and great warlord. The Marseillaise and the ideas of the French Revolution came before him, and brought them to fruition. Out of this, we must arrive at one fundamental realization: the press, gentlemen, can achieve the impossible and it can have an enormous effect if it is used as a means to an end. We live in a time when the opposite is proving itself to be true. For example, assuming there are 2,400 newspapers in one country and each of them makes its own politics based upon its journalists’ reflections, then there are 2,400 newspapers aiming to discredit each other. The net result would be chaos like the one we are witnessing at present in the French press. One newspaper repudiates the conclusion of the other and, within a short time, the result is that every newspaper is discredited. When we look to the past six years, we cannot deny that the French press played a pivotal role in the collapse of the country. And this was so because of the complete muddleheadedness and lack of discipline of the French press. Every paper published whatever it thought appropriate at one particular point in time.
One of the papers claimed that any negotiations with Germany on the basis of a 200,000-man army were tantamount to a criminal deed. Another paper claimed that any negotiations on the basis of a 300,000-man army were tantamount to crime as well. Three years later, these same papers demand: “Now why did you not accept the 300,000-man army proposal back then?” They keep contradicting themselves. This whole matter is proof that in modern times, in times in which the greatest battles ever are being fought, in such times you cannot win the battle if the-let me call them-“critical swords” act to self-glorification. They must instead listen to one command and strike out in one direction. As a means to an end, the press becomes an instrument of incredible force. Its value is not diminished by the fact that there is no need for paper A to disprove the claims of paper B, nor by the fact that paper C could contradict both the claims of A and B. In an age where questions of such paramount importance are on the agenda, the press will lose its importance completely once it strays from this path, something we witness in many other countries today. I experienced this early on, gentlemen-in my youth. As a young man when I first witnessed the practical formation of a national identity in Vienna, the city’s newspapers were exclusively of a Marxist or liberal democratic persuasion. This included all the big papers such as the Neue Freie Presse, Wiener Journal-at the time still named the Die Zeit-, Wiener Tagblatt, and Extrablatt, and so on. Those were the big papers and the papers of the worker. For the remainder, there was only one with an anti- Semitic agenda, namely the Deutscbes Volksblatt with a circulation of about 20,000 to 25,000. And on the board of the city council of Vienna, 136 of the 148 delegates were anti-Semitic, namely the Christian Socialists. That goes to show how little influence the press had in reality. No one took note of its scribbling. The press published, the people read, but the papers themselves had no influence.
Today the situation is similar in many other countries where public opinion is beginning to make itself felt. Public opinion there is of a completely different nature from that portrayed by the press. The press simply does not want to face the facts. It was once the same here. When I took power, we controlled less than five percent of the German press. Not even five percent: 95 percent opposed us. But the power became mine; the Volk backs me! That simply goes to show just how incredible the power of the press can be when it serves as an instrument of power wielded by one government. And, I would like to point out, this proves just how devoid of importance the press becomes when it is left to its own devices, when it tries to make history and politics by itself. In Germany, we have attempted to transform the press into a most powerful instrument. And at the close of this year, I would like to proclaim before you that I am more than satisfied with the results. The press has gloriously passed the test and has proven its value. We face great new tasks. And above all we have one mission, gentlemen, one mission we must fulfill by all means: to strengthen the self-confidence of this German Volk- step by step! I realize that this is a goal that cannot be achieved within a year or two.
What we need is a forceful and confident public opinion, if at all possible, to penetrate the ranks of our intellectuals as well. It is in this manner only that we successfully can make politics in the long run. When I say in the long run, I do not mean spring 1939 nor am I speaking of the summer. What I am speaking of are the coming decades, the years that lie ahead of us. We must instill in our Volk that same profound self-confidence that once permeated the German soldier at the end of the Franco-German War of 1871 and that he felt up to the middle of the World War. This type of self-assurance gives the German Volk a sense of its intrinsic value and the sense that its leadership is the right one. Here it is of paramount importance that in our education of the Volk we must consciously combat all those forces that I myself have encountered as the greatest enemy of the resurrection of our people: mass hysteria-and more specifically-the hysteria of our intellectual strata. To this end, one must rely completely on the broad general public in order to counter the weight of this inbred, intellectual and hysterical strata.
Let me give you an example. In February of this year, our intellectuals claimed: “Things are not going well in foreign affairs; truly they are not going well at all!” Toward the end of February: “We are headed for catastrophe! Our foreign policy is a catastrophe, a pure catastrophe!” Mid-March: “Incredible victory! The battle is won-thanks to our braveness and steadfastness.
Everything is in order now! Germany is invincible, it is a world power, etc.
The colonies are next on the list-they will be returned to us as gifts, undoubtedly. Too bad the leadership did not carry the matter further, evidently it was not quite its day. It should have made a double-take, it should have pushed further, everything was still open.” Two months later, upon the beginning of Czechoslovakian predicament they claimed: “Haven’t we had enough for one year?! We should not be embarking upon yet another enterprise.” A month later: “This will end in catastrophe! Germany will face economic ruin; this will ruin German financially! We can pay for this neither in terms of money nor in terms of human endurance!” Another week later: “The entire world is against us; we are facing another world war!” Yet another week later: “Triumph! Why did the leadership not take things a step further and take all of Czechoslovakia?! Why negotiate?” You would not believe the response I have had.
I knew one man a while back who sat in this office in Berlin. Regarding negotiations on the topic of the Navy, he maintained: “This demand for 35 percent is utterly outrageous! To think that the English would ever agree to anything of that nature is to totally underestimate them. They cannot agree to that, they will never agree to such a demand! This will lead to a breakdown of British-German relations, it will lead to the isolation of Germany! This will strain the so laboriously won rapprochement between Germany and England- laboriously won by the Foreign Ministry that is.” Then the actual negotiations take place. The demand for 35 percent is granted, even 45 percent regarding the submarine fleet. If we wished we could get one hundred percent. About three or four months thereafter, I finally had to throw this gentleman out of the Foreign Ministry for good since this very gentleman had declared, all of a sudden: “I have no idea what got into Ribbentrop to make such a big deal out of this. Had he gotten 50 percent then we could talk, but 35 percent-what is a mere 35 percent in the end?” I then fired this gentleman after his statement was brought to my attention, perchance. He was a legation counsellor.
I have experienced similar things in the meantime. I received memoranda that proved to me in black and white that all this was completely impossible and, in the end, it would lead to catastrophe, and so on. And then I saw other memoranda that insisted that the distance between our southernmost position in ... and our northernmost position in lower Austria was a mere 60 kilometers-why on earth had I not taken these few kilometers as well. And then it was pointed out to me that there happened to be German-speaking enclaves in this strip of land in case I should not be aware of this fact! Yes, gentlemen, such is the hysteria of our high society! We must strive in particular not to let this hysteria infect the broad masses. And we must do so in order to instill in the Volk, and if at all possible in certain intellectual circles as well, a real self-confidence. It is the mission of the press to further the self-confidence of all Germans and to refrain from doing anything that might thwart this process, endanger this self-confidence, or to weaken its impact.
I know only too well that certain parties will point out that in fact there are several issues which deserve criticism. Gentlemen, there are two approaches. Approach number 1: I search all of Germany to find something to criticize. Once I start on that, gentlemen, I will turn into a veritable Russelschwein in no time. There will be plenty of subjects, and I will dig myself in ever the more. That is one way to stay busy, but to me it is not a satisfying one.
However, there is another approach which lies in the recognition of the great tasks facing us. I will not resolve even the most trifling of matter if I get bogged down by details. Rather I must direct the force of the entire nation toward the truly great tasks facing us. I must solve these great tasks. To the extent that I succeed in resolving these enormous tasks, small matters will reveal themselves as ludicrous and trivial. No one will speak of them ever again. And hereby I will overcome them as well. No one will take note of them any longer and no one will think of them.
And finally: human imperfection. In the past, this issue was not removed from the face of the earth either. The press in the liberal states did not succeed in this and neither shall we. There will always be people of insufficient strength and talents, lacking in character, etc., and we cannot remove them from the face of the earth.
What is important instead is not to promote public awareness of these faults, but to emphasize instead the great surge of strength in our nation, a strength evident throughout the centuries and millenniums.
One day, a man came up to me and said: “Listen, if you do this, then Germany will be ruined within six weeks’ time.” So I said: The German Volk once survived wars with the Romans. The German Volk survived the Volkerwanderung. The German Volk later survived the great battles of the early and late Middle Ages. The German Volk survived the religious wars of more recent times. The German Volk then survived the Napoleonic Wars, the Wars of Liberation, even a World War, even the Revolution [of 1918]-it will survive me, too!
It is imperative for us to instill in the German Volk a confidence based upon its history and our beliefs in order to be able to carry out the great political tasks facing us. Gentlemen, a nation’s Fuhrer can do no more than his nation will allow him to do. This is a law of unquestionable appropriateness and significance. I ask you: how shall I approach the tasks facing us in the future if I have behind me a people lacking in faith?! It does not suffice that I myself have faith: I must know that behind me stands a German Volk strong in its convictions, united, secure, and confident. It is the goal of our mutual, gigantic efforts to achieve this. This is a wonderful task.
You know it is something completely different to be making history instead of ... [sentence incomplete]. And indeed today we live in a most wonderful period, a time in which we can truly say that history is being made. And indeed we can say that we have not wasted our time in the pursuit of trivial matters, that we did not record historic events simply for the sake of recording events.
Nor did we talk about them only for the sake of idle chatter. All this has led to for one outcome, an historic outcome, which allows us to stand proudly amidst the ranks of our revered ancestors, gentlemen! And I did not accomplish this feat by myself. Rather, it is the accomplishment of hundreds of thousands who stand behind me, who march alongside me, and who represent the Volk in the end.
Therefore, it is necessary for us to strive to awaken the true force of the German Volk by reinforcing confidence in this power. Hereby we will bring stability to the assessment of political problems.
I should perhaps add that there is yet one concern that continues to haunt me. It is the following: when I take a look at the intellectual classes we have- unfortunately, I suppose, they are necessary; otherwise one could one day, I don’t know, exterminate (ausrotten) them or something-but unfortunately they’re necessary. So when I take a look at these intellectual classes and imagine their behavior and take a closer look, in comparison to myself, and to our work, then I almost get scared. For since I have been politically active and particularly since I began to lead this Reich, I have experienced only successes. And all the same, this mass is floating around, often in such a positively repulsive, nauseating way. What would happen if we ever suffered a defeat? It is a possibility, gentlemen. Can you imagine how this race of chickens would act then, given the chance? They are not reliable, even now that we are scoring success upon success unrivaled in the history of mankind. Can you imagine how they would react if we truly suffered defeat?
Gentlemen, it used to be my greatest pride to have built up a party that stood by me, come what may. The party stood behind me, even in times of setback and dismay, and apparently it did so all the more fervently when times were tough. I took great pride in this, and it was a great consolation for me.
This is precisely what we must bring the Volk to do. It must learn to fanatically believe in the Endsieg so that even if we meet with failure, the nation will assess this failure in a different light, in a more illuminated light if I may say so, thinking: this is only temporary, victory will be ours in the end! There once was a Prussian warlord who epitomized this trait of character: Blucher-the man of innumerable defeats who zealously believed in victory in the end, and this was the crucial point! We must instill this belief in the entire Volk. It must be instilled with an absolute, stubborn, self-evident and confident faith: in the end we will accomplish all that is necessary. This can only succeed, we can only accomplish this by persistently appealing to the nation’s strengths, underscoring the Volk’s good points, and ignoring its so-called bad points.
To this end, it is imperative that the press blindly pledge itself to one principle: “The leadership acts correctly!” Gentlemen, we all must admit that we do indeed make mistakes. Journalists are not exempt from this either. Nevertheless, we all can only endure if, instead of permanently criticizing each other in full view of the world public, we highlight each other’s positive aspects.
In other words, it is imperative that-while not disclaiming the possibility of errors or even of discussion-the correctness of the leadership’s actions must, in principle, be continuously emphasized. That is crucial. Above all, you know, this is necessary because of the Volk. Still today I hear some people demanding-they are throw backs to a more liberal age: “Should one not place this issue before the Volk for once?” Well, gentlemen, I do believe I have accomplished not little, at least a lot more than some old cobbler or some old dairymaid.
Nonetheless, it is entirely possible that I may not arrive at an agreement with other gentlemen on the assessment of certain problems, with other gentlemen who have also accomplished not little. However, a decision must be made. It is totally impossible that I leave this decision, an issue to which no one knows a solution at this point, in the hands of dairy maids and dairy farmers or cobblers. It is totally impossible.
It does not make any difference whether this decision proves correct in the last instance-that is of no interest. What is decisive is that the entire nation as a single unit stands behind this decision. It must form a unitarian front. Should the decision prove not entirely correct, this will be more than compensated for by the determination with which the whole nation backs it. This will be of importance in the coming years, gentlemen! In this manner only can we free the German Volk from the bondage of doubt, a doubt that only makes the Volk unhappy. The broad mass would rather not be troubled by doubt, it has only one desire: to be led by a leadership it can trust. The mass does not want this leadership to be a divided one, but rather that this leadership should step before it as one.
You may believe me that the Volk likes nothing better than the feeling that when I venture out into the streets with my colleagues on a day such as November 9, they can point at us and say: “That is he, and that is he, and that is he.” The Volk feels secure in the knowledge that these men will stand together, follow one Fuhrer, and this Fuhrer will stand by these men. These men are their idols. It is possible that an intellectual might not be capable of comprehending this. But the man in the street, he somehow places his trust in those men who step before him. He depends on these men. Seeing the Fuhrer step forth, accompanied by all his men, that picture reassures the man in the street.
It is this that makes the people happy! That is what they want! This has been the case throughout German history. The Volk always delights in seeing the men on top united. This makes it easier to maintain its own unity. We must bear in mind the big picture, we must do everything in our power to preserve and foster this impression with the Volk. We must instill in the Volk the conviction that the leadership is right and that everyone stands behind this leadership.
Psychologically speaking, this makes it possible for the leadership to hold its own in times of crisis.
In summary, I would like to point out one fact, gentlemen. In the liberal states, the mission of the press can be summed up as follows: press plus Volk against leadership. For us, it must read: leadership plus propaganda plus press, etc., to stand united before the Volk! Leadership of the Volk entails all of this.
Every man must feel himself to be a leading member of the Volk and must feel himself personally responsible. Every man must internalize the high principles of leadership. Regardless of what is discussed behind closed doors, the leadership must step before the Volk as one, a single united entity.
It does not matter whether one of its members is responsible for propaganda only, another is responsible for the press, and a third conducts rallies or a fourth manages the political organization. A fifth may lead the military. A sixth may either work in the administration or represent his country abroad.
All of these men are part of the German Volk’s leadership, and as such they must appear to stand united before the Volk. Amongst us, we can exchange opinions. Before the Volk, there is only one opinion. Gentlemen, this is the clear-cut command of the hour! If we can carry out this command, then this leadership will make the German Volk great and mighty. And this means, that in 1935 we find ourselves not at the end of an epoch. Rather, we stand at the beginning of another great era in the history of our Volk.
Gentlemen! I believe in the future of the German Volk. In the past, a man perhaps thought: “The Fuhrer must be a dreamer-how else could he believe in these possibilities?” Quite easily, gentlemen! People make history. People did so in the past, and they will do so in the future. What is decisive is the internal worth of the people. Their numbers are crucial. The value of the German Volk defies comparison. I will never believe that there could ever he a people of greater worth.
I am convinced that, particularly today, our Volk represents the pinnacle reached by an evolution toward gradual, racial improvement, unequaled on this planet at present. With regard to statistics you should always keep in mind that the American Union is made up of 126 million or 127 million people. However, if you subtract the Germans, Italians, Negroes, Jews, etc., then all you are left with are about 60 million Anglo-Saxons, people who count themselves as members of the Anglo-Saxon race. The Russian Empire contains not even 55 million or 56 million true Russians. The British Empire has less than 46 million Englishmen living in the mother country. The French Empire contains less than 37 million true Frenchmen. Italy has little more than 40 million Italians. Only 17 million Poles remain in Poland. However, from 1940 on, 80 million people of one race will live in Germany, surrounded by nearly eight million people additionally who are actually of the same race as well. Whoever has doubts about the future of so great a block of people, whoever does not believe in this future, is merely a weakling. I believe in this future without reservation! We once called our own the greatest empire on earth. Since then, we have slackened in our efforts, and we have worn ourselves out. We exhausted our powers in a process of inner disintegration. We lost in standing abroad. Now, after a period of crisis which has lasted 400 or 300 years, our Volk has finally recuperated. And I am certain that what we are witnessing today we is the rebirth of Germany and hence of Germany’s future. For all of us, the greatest happiness lies with having been allowed to partake in the process of preparing, forming, and realizing this future.
All of us feel profound satisfaction at this and, in view of this, all else loses in meaning. It was this firm conviction that once led me forth from my hospital bed as it has inspired me to this day on which I stand before you. And all of us must resound with this firm conviction as we stride forth on the path laid out for the German Volk. I am certain this path will lead the German Volk to greatness and it will lead the German nation onward toward a bright future. I wish to thank you once again for your cooperation.