No. 20: Speech by Herr Hitler at Wilhelmshaven
Editor's Note: The following content is a transcription of a period document or a collection of period statistics. It may be incomplete, inaccurate, or biased. The reader may not wish to take the content as factual.1 Apr 1939
GERMANS! Volksgenossen und Volksgenossinnen!
Whoever wishes to estimate the decline and regeneration of Germany must look at the development of a city like Wilhelmshaven. A short time ago it was a dead spot almost without any title to existence, without any prospect of a future; to-day it is filled again with the hum of work and production. It is good if one recalls again to memory this past.
When the city experienced its first rise to prosperity, this coincided with the regeneration of the German Reich after its battle for unification. This Germany was a Germany of peace. At the same time as the so-called peace-loving virtuous nations were carrying on quite a number of wars, the Germany of that time had only one aim, namely, to preserve peace, to work in peace, to increase the prosperity of her inhabitants and thereby to contribute to human culture and civilisation.
This peace-time Germany tried with unceasing industry, with genius and with perseverance to set up its inner life and to assure for itself a proper place in the sun through participation in peaceful rivalry with other nations.
In spite of the fact that this Germany was for decades the surest guarantor of peace and devoted herself only to her own peaceful business, other nations, and particularly their statesmen, could not refrain from persecuting this regeneration with envy and hate and finally answering it with a war.
We know to-day from historical records how the encirclement policy of that time had been systematically pursued by England. We know from numerous established facts and publications that in that land one was imbued with the conception that it was necessary to crush Germany militarily because its annihilation would assure to every British citizen a larger measure of this world's goods.
Certainly Germany at that time committed errors. Its worst error was to see this encirclement and to take no steps in time to avoid it. The only reproach which we can level at the regime of that day is the fact that it had full knowledge of the devilish plan for a surprise attack on the Reich, and even so was unable to make up its mind to avoid in time such an attack, but allowed this encirclement to mature right up to the outbreak of the catastrophe.
The result was the World War.
In this war the German people, although they were in no way armed the best, fought heroically. No nation can claim for itself the glory of having beaten us to our knees, least of all those whose statesmen to-day are boasting.
Germany at that time remained unbeaten and unvanquished on land, sea and in the air. And yet we lost the war. We know the power which at that time vanquished Germany. It was the power of falsehood, the poison of a propaganda which did not shrink from distortion and untruthfulness and which caught the German Reich because it was unprepared and defenceless.
When the Fourteen Points of President Wilson were announced, many German "Volksgenossen," particularly the leading men of the time, saw in those Fourteen Points not only the possibility for ending the World War but for a final pacification of all nations of this world. There would come a peace of reconciliation and understanding, a peace which would recognise neither victors nor vanquished, a peace without war indemnities, a peace of equal rights for all, a peace of equal distribution of colonial territory and of equal consideration for colonial desiderata. A peace which would finally be crowned with a league of free nations. A peace which, by guaranteeing equal rights would make it appear superfluous for nations in future still to endure the burden of armament which, as is known, previously weighed down so heavily on them.
Disarmament, therefore, and in fact disarmament of all nations.
Germany was to give a good example by taking the lead and all undertook to follow her disarmament.
The era of so-called secret diplomacy was to come to an end as well. All problems were to be discussed and negotiated openly and freely.
The right of self-determination for nations was to be finally established and be regarded as the most important factor.
Germany believed these assurances. Relying on these declarations Germany laid down her weapons. And then a breach of faith began such as world history has never seen.
At the moment when our people had laid down their arms a period of blackmail, oppression, pillage and slavery began.
No longer any word of peace without victors and vanquished, but a sentence of condemnation for the vanquished for time without end.
No longer any word of equal rights, but rights for one side and absence of rights and injustice for the other. One robbery after another, one blackmail after another were the results.
No man in this democratic world bothered about the suffering of our people. Hundreds of thousands fell in the war, not through enemy action, but through the hunger blockade. And when the war came to an end this blockade was continued still for months in order to bring still further pressure on our nation. Even the German prisoners of war had to remain in captivity for indefinite periods. The German colonies were stolen from us, German foreign securities were simply confiscated, and our mercantile marine was taken away.
Then came financial pillage such as the world has never up to this day seen. Payments were imposed on the German people which reached astronomical figures, and about which English statesmen said that they could only be effected if the whole German nation reduced its standard of living to the utmost and worked fourteen hours a day.
What German spirit and German diligence had created and saved in decades was now lost in a few years. Millions of Germans were torn away from the Reich, others were prevented from returning into the Reich. The League of Nations was made not an instrument of a just policy of understanding, but a guarantor of the meanest dictate that human beings had ever thought out.
A great people was thus raped and led towards the misery that all of you know. A great people was deprived of its rights by breach of promise and its existence in practice was made impossible. A French statesman gave sober expression to this by declaring: "There are 20 million Germans too many in the world!"
There were Germans who, in despair, committed suicide, others who lethargically submitted to their inevitable fate, and others again who were of the opinion that there was nothing left to do but to destroy everything; others again ground their teeth and clenched their fists in impotent rage, others again believed that the past must be restored as it had been.
Every individual had adopted some sort of attitude. And I at that time, as the unknown soldier of the World War, took up my position.
It was a short and simple programme; it ran: removal of the domestic enemies of the nation, termination of the internal division of Germany, co-ordination of the entire national force of our people in a new community, and the smashing of the Peace Treaty in one way or another ("so oder so!") For as long as this dictate of Versailles weighed upon the German people, it was actually doomed to go under.
When other statesmen talk about the necessity of justice reigning in this world, then I may tell them that their crime is not justice, that their dictate was neither rightful nor legal, and that the permanent vital rights of peoples come before this dictate.
The German people was created by Providence, not in order to obey a law which suits Englishmen or Frenchmen, but to stand up for its vital right. That is what we are there for!
I was determined to take up this struggle for standing up for German vital rights. I took it up first of all within the nation. The place of a number of parties, classes and associations has now been taken by one single community, the community of the German people!
It is the duty of us all to realise this community and to continue to intensify it. In the course of this time I have had to hurt many an individual. But I believe that the happiness shared to-day by the entire nation must more than compensate every individual for the things which were dear to him and which he individually had to give up.
You have all sacrificed your parties, your clubs, your associations, but you have instead received a great and strong Reich!
And this Reich is to-day, thank God, sufficiently strong to take under its protection your rights. We are now no longer dependent upon the favour or disfavour of other States or their statesmen.
When over six years ago I came into power, I took over a pitiful heritage. The Reich appeared to possess no possibilities for existence for its citizens. At that time I began work with the only capital which I possessed. It was the capital of your power to work! It was your power to work, my "Volksgenossen," that I began to put into use. I had not foreign exchange and no gold; I only had one thing: my faith and your work! We have now founded a new economic system, a system which is called: capital is power to work, and money is covered by our production. We have founded a system based upon the most noble principle in existence, namely, form your life yourself! Work for your existence! Help yourself, then God will also help you!
We thus began a gigantic work of reconstruction, supported by the confidence of the nation, filled with faith and confidence in its permanent values. In a few years we tore Germany from its despair. The world did not help us in doing so!
If an English statesman to-day believes that all problems can and must be solved by frank discussion and negotiations, then I would like to say to this statesman: an opportunity to do so existed for fifteen years before our time! If the world to-day says that one must divide the nations into virtuous and non-virtuous categories-and that the English and French belong in the first place to the virtuous nations and the Germans and Italians to the non-virtuous-then we can only answer: the decision as to whether a nation is virtuous or not virtuous can hardly be made by a mortal human being, and should be left to God!
Perhaps this same British statesman will reply: God has already delivered judgment, for he has given to the virtuous nations one-quarter of the globe and has taken away everything from the non-virtuous! In answer to that, one may be permitted to ask: by what means have the virtuous nations acquired this quarter of the globe? And the answer must be, they have not been virtuous methods!
For 300 years this England has acted only as an unvirtuous nation, and now in old age she is beginning to talk about virtue. It was thus possible that during the British non-virtuous period 46 million Englishmen have conquered almost a quarter of the world, while 80 million Germans, on account of their virtue, have to exist at the rate of 140 to the square kilometre.
Yes, twenty years ago the question of virtue was not yet quite clear in the minds of British statesmen, in so far as it touched conceptions of property. At that time it was still thought to be compatible with virtue simply to take away from another people the colonies which it had acquired by contract or by purchase because one had the power to do so.
A power which now it is true is to count as something disgusting and contemptible. In this respect, I can only say one thing to these gentlemen: we do not know whether they believe that sort of thing themselves or not. We assume, however, that they do not believe it. For if we were to assume that they really believed it themselves, then we would lose every feeling of respect for them.
For fifteen years Germany had borne this fate patiently. I also tried at the beginning to solve every problem by discussion. At every problem I made offers, and they were every time refused! There can be no doubt that every people possesses sacred interests, simply because they are identical with its life and its vital right.
If a British statesman to-day demands that every problem concerning vital German interests should first be discussed with England, then I could make precisely the same claim and demand that every British problem must first be discussed with us. Admittedly, this Englishman would answer: Palestine is none of your business! But, just as Germany has no business in Palestine, so has England no business in the German Lebensraum! And if the problem is claimed to be a question of general rights, then I can only agree to this opinion if it were regarded as universal and obligatory. One says we had no right to do this or that. I would like to ask a counter-question: what right-just to quote only one example has England to shoot down Arabs in Palestine, only because they are standing up for their home? Who gives England the right to do so?
We at any rate have not slaughtered thousands in Central Europe, but have solved our problems in a peaceful and orderly manner! There is one thing, however, that I must say: the German people of to-day, the German Reich of the present time, are not willing to sacrifice interests, and they are also not willing to stand up to rising dangers without taking action! When the allies at one time changed the map of Europe with no consideration for expediency, justice, tradition or even common-sense, we did not have the power to prevent them from doing so. But if they expect the Germany of the present day patiently to allow vassal States, whose only duty consists in their being set to work against Germany, to carry on as they like until the day comes when their services are to be actively employed, then they are confounding present-day Germany with the Germany of pre-war days. Those who declare that they are prepared to pull chestnuts out of the fire for these Great Powers must also expect to burn their fingers in the course of the process.
We have really no feelings of hatred for the Czech people, we have lived together for years. English statesmen do not know that. They have no idea that the Hradschin was built not by an Englishman but by Germans, and that the St. Veit's Cathedral was also not built by Englishmen but by Germans. Frenchmen also were not active there. They do not know that already, at a time when England was still very small, homage was done to a German Emperor on this hill, and that, a thousand years before I did so myself, the first German King stood there and received the homage of this people. This the English do not know, they cannot know it and they need not know it.
It is sufficient that we know it, and that it is true that for a thousand years this area belonged to the Lebensraum of the German people. We would, nevertheless, have had nothing against an independent Czech State if this State had not, firstly, oppressed Germans, and, secondly, if it had not been an instrument for a future attack on Germany.
But when a former French Air Minister writes in a newspaper that it is the task of this Czechia, because of her splendid geographical position, to strike at Germany's industry by air attacks in a war, then one will understand that it is not without interest to us, and that we drew certain conclusions therefrom.
It would have been a matter for England and France to defend this air base. It was our affair, at any rate, to prevent the possibility of such an attack taking place. I believed that I could achieve this end in a natural and simple way. It was not until I saw that such an attempt was doomed to fail, and that the anti-German elements would once more gain the upper hand, and it was not until I also saw that this State had for a long time lost its inner capacity to live and that it had already collapsed, that I re-enforced ancient German right and reunited what had to be united by history, geographical position and all rules of common-sense.
Not for the purpose of suppressing the Czech people! It will have more freedom than the oppressed peoples of the virtuous nations!
I have, so I believe, thereby rendered a great service to peace, for I have in good time made valueless an instrument that was designed to become effective in time of war against Germany.
If people now say that this is the signal for Germany's desire to attack the whole world, then I do not believe they mean it seriously; such a statement could only be the expression of the very worst of consciences. Perhaps it is anger at the failure of a far-reaching plan; perhaps it is belief that the premises can thereby be created for a new policy of encirclement? Whatever the case may be, I am convinced that I have thereby rendered a great service to peace.
And it is from this conviction that I determined three weeks ago to give the coming Party Rally the name of "Party Rally of Peace." For Germany does not dream of attacking other nations.
What we do not, however, desire to renounce is the extension of our economic relations. To this we have a right, and I do not accept orders in this respect from any statesman inside or outside Europe!
The German Reich is not only a great producer, but also a tremendous consumer. In the same way as we become an unreplaceable commercial partner as consumer, so are we suited as a producer honestly to pay for what we consume.
We do not dream of waging war on other nations, subject, of course, to their leaving us in peace also. The German Reich is, however, in no case prepared permanently to tolerate intimidation, or even a policy of encirclement.
I once concluded an agreement with England-the Naval Agreement. It is based on the ardent desire, shared by us all, never to be forced to fight a war against England. This desire can, however, only be a reciprocal one. If it no longer exists in England, then the practical premises for the agreement have been removed. Germany would accept even a situation of this kind with calm composure! We are so sure of ourselves because we are strong, and we are strong because we are united, and also because we keep our eyes open! And in this town more than elsewhere I can only urge you to look at the world and all happenings therein around us with open eyes. Do not deceive yourselves regarding the most important prerequisite which exists in life, namely, the necessary power at one's own disposal. He who does not possess power loses the right to live! We have had fifteen years' experience of such a condition. That is why I have made Germany strong again and why I have created a defence force on land, on the waters and in the air.
But when there is talk in other countries of present rearmament and of continued and still greater rearmament, then I can only say to these statesmen: it will not be me whom they will tire out!
I am determined to continue to march along this road, and I am convinced that we shall advance faster than the others. No Power in the world will ever wheedle our arms from us by mere words. But should anyone at any time show any desire to measure his strength against ours by force, then the German people will always be in a position and ready and determined to do the same!
And our friends think just as we do, especially the State with which we are closely bound and with which we march, now, and in all circumstances, and for all time. When hostile journalists do not know what else to write about, then they write of cracks in the Axis. They can be at ease.
This Axis is the most natural political instrument in the world. It is a political combination of ideas which owes its existence not only to reason and the desire for justice, but also to strength inspired by idealism.
This structure will hold out better than the present alliances of non-homogeneous bodies on the other side. For if anybody tells me to-day that there are no differences in world outlook or ideologies between England and Soviet Russia, I can only say: I congratulate you, Gentlemen.
I believe we shall not have long to wait before we see that the unity in world outlook between Fascist Italy and National Socialist Germany is, after all, different from that between democratic Great Britain and the Bolshevik Russia of Stalin.
But if there should really be no ideological difference between them, then I can only say: how right is, after all, my attitude towards Marxism, communism and to democracy! Why two apparitions, when after all they are made of the same substance?
We are experiencing in these days a very great triumph and a feeling of deep inner satisfaction. A country that was also devastated by bolshevism, in which hundreds and thousands of human beings, women, men, children and old people, were slaughtered, has liberated itself, and liberated itself in spite of ideological friends of bolshevism who sit in Great Britain, France and other countries.
We can only too well understand this Spain in her struggle, and we greet her and congratulate her on her victory. We Germans can say so with special pride, for many young German men have done their duty there.
They have helped as volunteers to break a tyrannical regime and to recover for a nation its right to self-determination. We are glad to see how quickly, yes, how extremely quickly, here also a change in the world outlook of the suppliers of war material to the Red side has come about, how extensively one now suddenly understands National Spain and how ready one is to do business with this National Spain, perhaps not ideological business, but at least economic business!
This also is an indication of the direction developments are taking. For I believe that all States will have to face the same problems that we once had to face. State after State will either succumb to the Jewish Bolshevik pest or will ward it off. We have done so, and we have now erected a national German People's State.
This People's State desires to live in peace and friendship with every other State, it will, however, never again permit itself to be forced to its knees by any other State.
I do not know whether the world will become Fascist! I do not believe that the world will become National Socialist! But that the world will in the end ward off this worst form of bolshevistic threat in existence, of that I am absolutely convinced.
And, therefore, I believe in a conclusive understanding among peoples which will come sooner or later. There is no point in bringing about co-operation among nations, based upon permanent understanding, until this Jewish fission-fungus of peoples has been removed.
To-day we must depend upon our own power! And we can be satisfied with results of this confidence in ourselves! At home and abroad!
When I came into power, Germany was torn and impotent at home, and abroad a toy of foreign will. To-day we have order at home and our economy is flourishing. Abroad we are perhaps not popular, but we are respected. That is the decisive factor. Above all, we have given millions of our "Volksgenossen" the greatest happiness they could have wished for: their home-coming into our Great German Reich. And, secondly, we have given great happiness to Central Europe, namely, peace, peace protected by German power. And this power shall not be broken again by any force in the world. That shall be our oath.
We thus realise that the "Volksgenossen," more than 2 million in number, who died in the Great War, did not die in vain. From their sacrifice a new Great German Reich has arisen. From their sacrifice this strong young German Reich of the "Volk" has been called to life and has now stood its test in life.
And in the face of this sacrifice, we would not fear any sacrifice if it should ever become necessary. This the world should take note of!
They can conclude agreements, make declarations, as many as they like: I put my trust not in scraps of paper, but I put my trust in you, my "Volksgenossen."
Germans have been the victims of the greatest breach of promise of all time. Let us see to it that our people at home may never again become easy to break up, then no one in the world will ever be able to threaten us. Then peace will be maintained for our people or, if necessary, it will be enforced. And then our people will flourish and prosper.
It will be able to place its genius, its capability, its diligence, and its perseverance at the disposal of the work of peace and home culture. That is our desire; it is that which we hope and in which we believe.
Twenty years ago the party was founded, at that time a very small structure. Recall the distance covered from that time until to-day. Recall the extent of the miracle that has been worked upon us. And have faith, therefore, by the very reason of our miraculous progress, in the further road of the German people in the coming great future!
Germany: Sieg-Heil! Sieg-Heil! Sieg-Heil! ww2dbase
The British War Bluebook; courtesy of Yale Law School Avalon Project
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Chiang Kaishek, 31 Jul 1937
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