Berlin, January 30, 1937
Men! Deputies of the German Reichstag!
The Reichstag has been convened today, on an important day for the German Volk. Four years have passed since that moment marking the beginning of the great inner cataclysm and reorganization Germany has experienced, four years which I requested from the German Volk as a period of probation and judgment. What would be more logical than to use this occasion to recount in detail all the success and progress these four years have bestowed upon the German Volk? Within the framework of such a short rally it is not even possible to mention all those things which might well be regarded as the remarkable results of this perhaps most astounding epoch in the life of our Volk! That is a task more fitting for the press and propaganda. Moreover, there will be an exhibition this year in the Reich Capital of Berlin in which the attempt will be made to give a comprehensive and more detailed impression of what has been created, achieved and begun than I could possibly be capable of giving in a two-hour speech. Therefore, I wish to make use of today’s historic meeting of the German Reichstag in order to point out, in a retrospective on the past four years, a few of the generally valid insights, experiences and consequences which are important not only for us to understand, but also for posterity.
I can say it with a certain amount of pride: this was perhaps the first modern revolution in which not so much as a window pane was shattered. Yet I do not want to be misunderstood: if the course of this revolution was bloodless, it was not because we were not men enough to stand the sight of blood. For four years, I was a soldier in the bloodiest war of all time. I never once lost my nerve throughout, no matter what the situation or what I was confronted with. This also applies to my fellow workers. But we perceived the task of the National Socialist Revolution not as destroying human life or property but instead as building up a new and better life. It is our greatest source of pride that we carried out this-undoubtedly greatest-cataclysm in our Volk with a minimum of casualties and losses.
Only where the murderous lust of Bolshevism believed itself capable, even after January 30, 1933, of preventing the triumph or the realization of the National Socialist idea by force have we naturally countered with force- and have done so with the speed of lightning. Then again there were other elements.
We recognized their lack of restraint, coupled with the gravest lack of political education, and these we merely took into preventive custody, only to restore to them their liberty after a very short time, generally speaking.
And then again there were those few whose political activities served only as a cover for a criminal attitude evidenced in numerous sentences to prison or penal servitude; these we prevented from continuing their devastating work of destruction by urging them to take up a useful occupation, probably for the first time in their lives.
In the space of a few weeks, both the political residues and societal biases of the past thousand years in Germany had been cleared away and eliminated.
Germany and the German Volk have overcome several great catastrophes.
Naturally, there always had to be certain men-I will be the first to admit-who took the necessary steps and who saw these measures through despite the eternal pessimists and know-it-alls. True, an assembly of parliamentary cowards is most ill-suited to lead the Volk forth-away from destitution and despair!
My Deputies! When the German economy seemingly ground to a complete halt in the years 1932 and 1933, the following became more clear to me than in the preceding years: the salvation of our Volk is not a financial problem; it is exclusively a problem of utilizing and employing the available work force on the one hand and exploiting available soil and mineral resources on the other.
The Volksgemeinschaft does not subsist on the fictitious value of money but on actual production, which gives money its value. This production is the primary cover for a currency, not a bank or a vault full of gold! And when I increase this production, I am actually increasing the income of my fellow citizens; if I decrease production, I decrease income, regardless of what salaries are being paid out. [-] This concerted resolution of economic issues finds its greatest expression in the Four-Year Plan. It assures that once great numbers of German workers are released by the armament industry and re-enter the labor force, these workers shall find secure employment within our economy. [-] It is quite clear that neither strikes nor lockouts can be tolerated in a sphere where such views prevail. The National Socialist State does not recognize an economic law of the jungle. The common interest of the nation-i.e. of our Volk-has priority over the interests of all its competing components. Therefore we cannot allow that any means suited for utilization in our Volk’s training and education be exempted from this shared obligation.
The education of youth, Jungvolk, Hitler Youth, Labor Service, Party, Wehrmacht: all of them are institutions for training and educating our Volk.
Books, newspapers, lectures, art, theater, film: all are means for the education of the Volk (Volkserziehung). What the National Socialist Revolution has accomplished in these areas is astonishing and colossal. One need only think of the following: Today, our entire German system of education-including the press, theater, film, and literature-is run and organized exclusively by German Volksgenossen. How often were we told before that removing the Judentum from these institutions must result in their collapse or deterioration? And what has happened now? In all of these areas we are witnessing a tremendous flourishing of cultural and artistic life. Our films are better than ever before; the performances on the stages of our first-rate theaters are in a world class all their own. Our press has become a powerful instrument serving the selfassertion of our Volk and does its part in fortifying the nation. German science is doing successful work, and tremendous proofs of our creative architectural will shall one day bear witness to this new epoch! An incredible immunization of the German Volk has been achieved to all the infiltrating tendencies from which a different world is made to suffer. We now already take for granted several of our institutions that were not yet understood even a few years ago: Jungvolk, Hitler Youth, BDM, Frauenschaft, Labor Service, SA, SS, NSKK-and above all the Labor Front with its tremendous organization-are bricks in the proud structure of our Third Reich. This safeguarding of the internal life of our German Volk needed to be complemented by an external safeguard. And I believe that it is here, my Deputies and men of the German Reichstag, that the National Socialist uprising has achieved the most marvelous of its accomplishments! When, four years ago, I was entrusted with the chancellorship and with it the leadership of the nation, I assumed the bitter obligation to lead back to honor a people who had been compelled to live the life of an outcast among the other nations for fifteen years. The internal order of the German Volk provided me with the requirements for reestablishing the German Army, and these two circumstances likewise made it possible to throw off those shackles which had been felt to be the deepest mark of disgrace ever branded on a people.
In concluding this process today, I have but a few statements to make.
First: the restoration of German equality of rights was a process that concerned and involved Germany alone. In its course we neither deprived any other people of anything nor did harm to any other people.
Second: I hereby proclaim to you that, within the context of the restoration of German equality of rights, I shall divest the German Reichsbahn and the German Reichsbank of their prior character and place them completely under the sovereign control of the Government of the German Reich.
Third: I hereby declare that, by virtue thereof, the part of the Treaty of Versailles which deprived our Volk of equality of rights and degraded it to an inferior Volk has now been settled in the natural course of things.
Fourth: above all, I herewith most solemnly withdraw the German signature from that declaration extracted under duress at that time from a weak government against its own better judgment, that Germany was to blame for the war! My Deputies, Men of the German Reichstag! This restoration of the honor of our Volk-most clearly evidenced in an external sense in the introduction of conscription, in the institution of a new Luftwaffe, in the re-establishment of a German Navy, in the reoccupation of the Rhineland by our troops-was the most difficult and most daring task and accomplishment of my life.
Today I must bow down in thanks to Providence, whose mercy has enabled me, once an unknown soldier in the World War, to thus help our Volk to win the battle for the restoration of its honor and uprightness! Unfortunately, not all the necessary measures in this context could be accomplished by way of negotiations. Be that as it may: a Volk cannot attain its honor by negotiating; it must seize its honor-just as its honor cannot be negotiated away, but only taken away!
That I took the required action without consulting our former opponents on each point or even informing them, was also due to the knowledge that I had thus made it easier for the other side to accept our decisions, as they would have had to at any rate. Allow me also to add yet another statement, namely, that the period of so-called surprises has now come to an end. As a state with equal rights, conscious of its role in Europe, Germany will cooperate loyally in the future to settle the problems which are a cause for concern to us and to the other nations.
When I now proceed to take a stand on all these basic questions of the present, it is perhaps most feasible to do so along the lines of the remarks Mr. Eden made recently in the English House of Commons.
In essence, they contain all there is to say on the relationship between Germany and France. Here I would like to express my genuine thanks for the opportunity of replying which was offered to me in the both frank and remarkable comments of the honorable British Foreign Secretary.
I have read these comments carefully and, I believe, correctly. Naturally I do not wish to become absorbed in details; instead I would like to try to extract the major points from Mr. Eden’s speech and, for my part, clarify and respond to them.
Initially, I will attempt to put right what appears to me to be a quite regrettable error. Namely, the error that Germany has any intention whatsoever of isolating itself, of passing over the events in the rest of the world with indifference, or that Germany had no desire to show any consideration for general exigencies.
What grounds are there for the view that Germany is adhering to a policy of isolation? If the assumption as to Germany’s isolation is concluded from what are alleged to be Germany’s intentions, I would like to note the following: I do not believe that a state could ever intend to consciously take a politically disinterested stand on events in the rest of the world. Particularly not if this world is as small as modern-day Europe. I believe that, if a state is in fact forced to take refuge in such an attitude, then only by virtue of being compelled to do so by an alien will imposed upon it. I would like to assure Foreign Secretary Eden here that we Germans do not in the least want to be isolated and by no means feel isolated.
In the past few years, there have been quite a few political ties which Germany has entered into, re-established, improved and, in the case of a number of states I might even say it has set up close and amicable relations. From our perspective, our relations in Europe are normal to most states, and very friendly to quite a few. At the top of this list I might cite the excellent relations binding us with all those states which have, as a result of hardship similar to our own, arrived at similar conclusions.
By virtue of a series of treaties, we have resolved former tensions and thereby made a substantial contribution to improving European conditions.
You will recall for example our agreement with Poland which proved advantageous for both states; our agreement with Austria; our excellent and close relations with Italy; our amicable relations with Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal, Spain, etc.-and last but not least, our no less friendly relations with quite a number of states outside of Europe.
The agreement Germany concluded with Japan for the purpose of combating the Comintern Movement is graphic proof of how little interest the German Government has in isolating itself and how little it thus does in fact feel isolated.
Moreover, I have expressed more than once the desire and the hope of being able to arrive at equally good and friendly terms with all our neighbors.
Germany-and I solemnly reiterate this here and now-has repeatedly declared that there can be no humanly conceivable contentious issues whatsoever between itself and France, to cite an example. The German Government has moreover assured Belgium and Holland that it is prepared to recognize and guarantee these states at any time as inviolable neutral territories.
In the light of all the declarations formerly given by us and the actual state of affairs, I am somewhat at a loss to comprehend why Germany should feel itself isolated or even adhere to a policy of isolation.
I do, however, fear that I must interpret Mr. Eden’s words as meaning that he regards the implementation of the German Four-Year Plan as one element of Germany’s refusal to partake in international relations. Therefore, I wish to leave no doubt whatsoever that the decision to implement this Plan is not subject to any review. The reasons which led us to arrive at this decision were cogent ones. And I have been unable to detect any recent development which might have moved us to refrain in any way from implementing this decision.
Germany has a tremendous number of people who wish not only to work, but also to eat. In other respects as well, our Volk has a high standard of living.
I cannot build the future of the German nation on the promises a foreign statesman gives of providing some kind of international aid; I can build it only on the real foundation of a functioning industry whose products I must sell either at home or abroad! And this is perhaps where I, in my mistrust, differ from the optimistic remarks of the British Foreign Secretary.
If in fact Europe does not awaken from the fever of its Bolshevist infections, I fear that, despite the good intentions of individual statesmen, international trade will not increase, but ultimately decrease. That is because this trade is built not only upon the uninterrupted and thus secured production on the part of one specific nation, but on the production of all nations. Initially, however, one thing is certain: every single Bolshevist disruption will of necessity lead to a more or less lengthy disruption in orderly production. Therefore, I am not able to view the economic future of Europe as optimistically as Mr. Eden apparently believes he can. I am the responsible leader of the German Volk and must look after its interests in this world to the best of my knowledge and belief. Hence I am also under an obligation to assess the situation in accordance with what I believe I can perceive with my own eyes.
The history of my Volk would never acquit me were I to omit-for any reason whatsoever-doing something which is imperative for the preservation of this Volk. I am glad, as are we all, of any increase in our foreign trade. However, in view of the unresolved political situation, I shall not fail to do anything which might serve to guarantee to the German Volk its existence even after other states have succumbed to the Bolshevist infection. Furthermore, I must object when this view is dismissed as being but the product of a feeble imagination. For right now there is no doubt about the following: the honorable British Foreign Secretary is showing us theoretical perspectives on life, while in reality, for one, completely different events are taking place. The revolutionizing of Spain, for example, drove fifteen thousand Germans out of that country and did severe damage to our trade.
If the revolutionizing of Spain were to spread to other European states, the damage would increase, not decrease. If, however-this I must also investigate-the reason behind the opinion that Germany is adhering to a policy of isolation might lie in our withdrawal from the League of Nations, I would like to point out that the Geneva League was never truly a league of all the nations; a number of major nations either never belonged to it in the first place or had withdrawn even before we did, whereas no one claimed they were adhering to a policy of isolation. Therefore I believe Mr. Eden has evidently misunderstood German intentions and our own views on this issue.
For nothing is further from our minds than severing either our political or our economic relations with the other world or even to diminish them. On the contrary, the opposite is more to the point.
I have so often attempted to make a contribution to understanding in Europe, and have quite often assured particularly the English people and its government how very much we desire to cooperate and be on sincere and friendly terms with them. And I mean all of us, the entire German Volk, and last but not least myself! Yet I do admit there does exist a real and, as I see it, unbridgeable difference between the views of the British Foreign Secretary and our own on one issue. Mr. Eden emphasizes that under no circumstances does the British Government wish to see Europe torn in two halves. It is unfortunate that this desire was not expressed and heard earlier. Today this desire is nothing but an illusion.
For sadly the fracture not only of Europe, but of the entire world into two halves is now an accomplished fact. It is regrettable that the British Government did not take the position it does today-that the fracturing of Europe needs to be avoided under all circumstances-at an earlier point, for then the Treaty of Versailles never would have come about. It was in fact that Treaty which introduced the first fracture to Europe, namely, the division into victorious nations on the one hand and vanquished nations, without rights, on the other.
No one suffered from this fracturing of Europe more than the German people. That this rupture was repaired, at least as far as concerns Germany, is essentially the achievement of the National Socialist Revolution in Germany and thus, to a certain extent, probably mine as well! The second fracture arose as a result of the proclamation of the Bolshevist doctrine, one of whose integral components is that it does not confine itself to a single people but aims to be forced upon all peoples.
At issue here is not a special form of life indigenous to, let us say, the Russian people; rather, it is the Bolshevist goal of world revolution. The fact that the honorable Foreign Secretary Eden refuses to see Bolshevism as we see it is perhaps related to Great Britain’s location, perhaps to other experiences of which we have no knowledge. I do, however, hold that, because we speak of these things not as theoreticians, one cannot accuse us of being insincere in our conviction.
For Mr. Eden, Bolshevism is perhaps something sitting in Moscow; for us, however, Bolshevism is a plague against which we have been forced to defend ourselves in a bloody fight; a plague that has attempted to make of our country the same desert it has made of Spain, that had begun the same shooting of hostages we are now witnessing in Spain! National Socialism did not seek contact with Bolshevism in Russia; rather, the Jewish international Muscovite Bolshevism attempted to penetrate Germany! And it is still attempting to do so today! And we have fought a difficult battle against this attempt, upholding and thus defending not only the culture of our Volk, but perhaps that of Europe as a whole in the process.
If in those days in January and February 1933 Germany had lost the last decisive battle against this barbarity, and if the Bolshevist expanse of rubble and corpses had spread to encompass Central Europe, perhaps one might have reached other conclusions on the Thames as regards the character of this, the most horrendous menace to mankind.
Since England must be defended at the Rhine in any case,28 it would now already be in the closest proximity to that harmless democratic Muscovite world whose innocuousness is so constantly and ardently hammered home to us.
Thus I would like once more to formally state the following: Bolshevism is a doctrine of world revolution, i.e. of world destruction. To adopt this doctrine, to accord it equal rights as a factor in European life, is tantamount to placing Europe at its mercy. If other peoples choose to expose themselves to contact with this menace, Germany has nothing to say on the matter.
However, as far as Germany itself is concerned, I would like to leave no doubt that we 1. perceive in Bolshevism an intolerable world menace; and 2. that we are using every means at our disposal to keep this menace away from our Volk; 3. that we are thus endeavoring to make the German Volk as immune to this infection as possible.
This also entails that we avoid any close contact with the carriers of these poisonous germs and that we are specifically not prepared to dull the German Volk’s sense of perception for this menace by ourselves establishing connections more extensive than the requisite diplomatic or economic relations.
I hold the Bolshevist doctrine to be the worst poison which can be administered to a people. I therefore do not want my own people to come into contact with this doctrine in any way. And as a citizen of this Volk myself, I will not do anything I would be forced to condemn in my fellow citizens. I demand from every German worker that he refrain from having any relations or dealings with these international pests, and for his part he will never see me quaffing or carousing with them. In other respects, every additional German contractual tie with the present Bolshevist Russia would be completely useless to us. It would be equally inconceivable for National Socialist German soldiers to ever need fulfill a helpmate function in protecting Bolshevism; nor would we on our side accept any aid from a Bolshevist state. For I fear that every Volk which reaches out for such aid will find it to be its own demise.
I must also take a stand here against the view that the League of Nations might lend its support as such if needed and actually save the individual member states by virtue of its assistance. No, I cannot believe that. Foreign Secretary Eden stated recently that actions speak louder than words. I would, however, like to point out that the outstanding feature of the League of Nations to date has been not actions, but words-with the exception of a single case in which it perhaps would have been better to have been content with words only.29 Moreover, in that one instance-as could be expected-the actions were not able to achieve the desired effect.
Mr. Eden holds that, in the future, every state should possess only those arms which are necessary for its defense. I do not know whether and in what form Moscow has been approached with respect to putting this interesting thought into practice, and to what extent promises have already been made from that quarter.
There is, however, one thing I must say: there is no doubt that the amount of the arms required for defense depends upon the amount of the dangers which threaten a country. This is something which each Volk-and each Volk alone- is competent to judge. Thus if Great Britain establishes the limits of its arms today, everyone in Germany will understand this; the only way we can see it is that London alone is competent to decide on the proportions of the protection required by the British Empire. At the same time, however, I would also like to stress that the proportions of the protection and hence defensive arms required by our Volk comprise a matter which falls under our own competence and thus is to be decided exclusively in Berlin.
The attempt has been made to construe a connection between German sympathy for national Spain and some sort of colonial designs. Germany has no colonial claims against countries which have not taken colonies from it. In addition, Germany has suffered so greatly from the Bolshevist plight that it will not exploit this plight and rob another unhappy people in its hour of need or extract from it some future gain by force.
The German Volk once built up a colonial empire without robbing anyone and without violating any treaties. And it did so without waging war. That colonial empire has been taken away from us. The reasons being brought forth today to rationalize that action are not tenable.
First: “The natives do not want to belong to Germany.” Who asked them if they wanted to belong to someone else; and when have colonized peoples ever been asked whether they harbored good will and affection for their former colonial masters? Second: “The German colonies were not even properly administered by the Germans.” Germany had only gained these colonies a few decades before. Great sacrifices went into their expansion, and they were in the midst of an evolution which would have led to completely different results today than, for instance, in 1914. Yet we had nonetheless developed the colonies to such an extent that others considered them worth waging bloody battles with us to wrench them from our possession.
Third, it is claimed, “Those colonies had no real value.” Were this the case, this lack of value would also apply to other states, and hence it makes no sense that they are depriving us of them at all. Moreover, Germany has never demanded colonies for military purposes, but exclusively for economic ones.
It is obvious that the value of a certain territory may decrease in times of general prosperity; it is, however, just as obvious that such an assessment will undergo an immediate revision in times of distress. And today Germany is living in times of a difficult struggle for foodstuffs and raw materials. Sufficient imports are only conceivable given a steady and continuous increase in our exports. Thus the demand for colonies in a country as densely populated as our own will naturally be put forward again and again.
In concluding these remarks, I would like to take a stand on a document the British Government sent to the German Government on the occasion of the occupation of the Rhineland.
At the outset I would like to establish that we hold and are convinced that the English Government did everything in its power at that time to avoid an escalation of the European crisis, and that the document in question owes its existence to the desire to make a contribution toward untangling the situation at the time. It was nonetheless impossible for the German Government to provide an answer to these questions for reasons the Government of Great Britain will certainly appreciate.
We have chosen instead to settle some of these questions the most natural way of all in the practical handling of our relations with our neighboring states, and now that full German sovereignty and equality of rights have been restored, I would like to state conclusively that Germany will never again sign a treaty which is in any way irreconcilable with its honor, with the honor of the nation and the government representing it, or which is otherwise irreconcilable with Germany’s vital interests and thus cannot be upheld for any length of time.33 I do believe that this declaration will be easily comprehended by everyone.
The great tasks which have been commenced beyond this [the Four-Year Plan] shall be continued. Their goal will be to make the German Volk healthier and its life more comfortable. As external evidence of this great epoch of the resurrection of our Volk shall now stand the methodical expansion of several of the Reich’s major cities. Enhancing Berlin to become a true and genuine capital of the German Reich is the first priority. Therefore today-just as this is done for our road-building-I have appointed a General Building Inspector for Berlin who will be responsible for the structural enhancement of the Reich Capital and shall ensure that, despite the chaos of Berlin’s constructional development, the strong lines will be retained which do justice to the spirit of the National Socialist Movement and the individuality of the German Reich Capital. A period of twenty years has been allotted for the implementation of this plan.
May the Almighty God grant us the peace to be able to accomplish this tremendous task. Parallel to it there will be a large-scale enhancement of the Capital of the Movement, the City of the Reich Party Congresses and the City of Hamburg.
This, however, shall serve merely as a model for the general cultural evolution to which we aspire as the crowning glory of the internal and external freedom of the German Volk.
And finally, it shall be a task of the future to guarantee, in a constitution, for all time to come the true life of our Volk as it has now taken shape in the form of a state, and thus to elevate that life to become the immortal basic law for all Germans.
When I look back upon the great work of the four years lying behind us, you will understand that my initial feeling can be none other than that of gratitude to our Almighty God who allowed us to accomplish this work.
He blessed our work and enabled our Volk to stride unscathed and confident through all the perils lining its path.
I have had three unusual friends in my life: in my youth Poverty was my companion for many years. When the Great War came to a close, it was the deepest Regret at the collapse of our Volk that overcame me and prescribed my path. Since that January 30 four years ago I have met my third friend, Concern. Concern for the Volk and Reich entrusted to my leadership. It has never left me since, and will probably accompany me now until I am no more.
Yet how could a man be capable of bearing up under the weight of this concern if he did not, faithfully trusting in his mission, have the consent of Him who stands above us all? It is Fate with special tasks that so often compels men to he alone and forlorn. I also wish to thank Providence here and now that it enabled me to find a company of the most loyal fellow fighters who have linked their lives to mine and who have been at my side ever since, fighting with me for the resurrection of our Volk. I am so happy that I need not stride through the German Volk as a lonely man, but that beside me there are men comprising a guard whose name will live on in German history.
At this time I would like to thank my old comrades in arms who stood by me untiringly throughout these long, long years, and who are now giving me their help, either as Ministers, as Reichsstatthalters, as Gauleiters, or in other positions within the Party and the State. At present, there are fateful events taking place in Moscow which really reveal to us how highly that loyalty which binds leading men deserves to be valued.35 I would further like to extend my sincere thanks to those who, although they have not issued from the ranks of the Party, have come in the course of these years to constitute true helpers and companions in the leadership of the Reich Government and in the rest of the Volk. Today they all belong to us, though this very minute they may not yet have the symbol of our community.
I would like to thank the men and women who built up our Party organization and have so successfully headed it. Yet above all I must take this opportunity to thank the leaders of our Wehrmacht. They have made it possible to present the National Socialist weapon to the National Socialist State without any disturbance. Thus today the Party and the Wehrmacht constitute the two eternally-sworn guarantors of the assertion of our Volk’s life. We are also aware that all our deeds would have been in vain had not hundreds of thousands of Political Leaders, countless civil servants of the Reich and innumerable soldiers and officers stood by us loyally in the spirit of our uprising. And beyond that-had not the broad front of the entire German Volk stood behind us.
On this historic day, I must once again mention those millions of nameless German people who, from every walk of life, from every profession and factory and from every farm, have given of their heart and their love and their sacrifices for the new Reich. And we, too, Men and Deputies of the Reichstag, wish to join together to thank above all the German women, the millions of our mothers who have given the Third Reich their children. For what would be the sense in all our work, what would be the sense in the uprising of the German nation without our German youth? Every mother who has given our Volk a child in these four years has contributed, by her pain and her happiness, to the happiness of the entire nation. When I think of our Volk’s healthy youth, my faith in our future becomes transformed into joyful certainty. And I sense with heartfelt fervency the significance of that single word Ulrich von Hutten wrote before he set aside his quill for the last time: