Hitler's Speech at the Municipal Hall Square in Wilhelmshaven, 1 April 1939 [1]

[translation from the German by Allen Knechtmann]

"And all that America did not receive from Europe may seem worthy of admiration to a Jewified mixed race, but Europe regards that merely as symptomatic of decay in artistic and cultural life, the product of the introduction of Jewish or Negroid blood." -- Adolf Hitler, 11 December 1941

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Germans! Racial comrades!

Whoever desires to appreciate the collapse and rise of Germany, he must see the development of a city such as Wilhelmshaven. Only a short time ago it was a ghost town, almost without a justification for existence, without prospect for a future -- today filled again with the droning of work and creation. It is good if one recalls again to mind this past.

When this city experienced its first upturn, this occurred together with the rise of the German Reich after its battles for unification. This Germany was a Germany of peace. In the same era in which the so-called peace-loving, virtuous nations conducted quite a number of wars, Germany recognized but one goal: to keep the peace, to work in peace, to increase the prosperity of its inhabitants, and, with that, to contribute to human culture and civilized behavior. This Germany of the peacetime sought with unending industry, with geniality, and with steadfastness to develop its internal life and to secure outwardly a proper place in the sun through the participation in the peaceful competition of the nations.

Nevertheless, this Germany was for decades the securest guarantor of peace and dedicated itself only to its peaceful business, but other peoples and especially their statesmen were unable to refrain from pursuing this rise with envy and hate and finally answering it with a war. We know today from historical documents how the encirclement policy of that time was conducted according to plan by England. We know from numerous remarks and publications that in this land the view was supported that it was necessary to overcome Germany militarily, because its annihilation would secure to every British citizen a higher measure of goods.

It is true that Germany committed mistakes then. Its worst mistake was seeing this encirclement and not warding it off in good time. A single guilt of which we can accuse the regime of that time is that it had full awareness of the devilish plan of an attack on the Reich and still did not utilize the decisive force necessary to deflect in good time this attack, but rather let this encirclement ripen until the beginning of the catastrophe. The result was the World War. In this war the German people -- even though it in no way was equipped as best as could be -- then fought heroically. No people can claim for itself the glory of having conquered us, the least of which being those whose statesmen today are speaking the greatest words.

Undefeated and unvanquished Germany remained on land, on sea, and in the air. And nonetheless we lost the war. We know the might which vanquished Germany then. It was the power of the lie, the poison of a propaganda which recoiled from no distortion and from no untruth, and opposite it stood the former German Reich completely defenseless, because it was unprepared.

When Wilsonís Fourteen Points were promulgated, many German racial comrades, above all the "leading" men of that time, saw in these Fourteen Points not only the possibility of ending the World War, but also of pacifying finally all the peoples of this world. . . . There was supposed to come a peace of reconciliation and understanding, a peace which was supposed to recognize neither victor nor vanquished, a peace without war reparations, a peace of equal rights for all, a peace of equal distribution of colonial regions and equal consideration of colonial desires. A peace which was supposed to find its final crowning in a League of Nations of all free nations, which league was supposed to be a guarantor for equal rights and which was able therefore to be perceived as superfluous, that in the future the nations might still bear the armaments which previously, as was maintained, had so oppressed them. Therefore disarmament, and indeed disarmament of all nations! Germany was supposed to go ahead with the good example, and all were supposed to be obligated to follow its disarmament. And even the age of secret diplomacy was supposed to come to an end. All the problems were supposed to be discussed and dealt with openly and freely. But above all the right of self-determination of the peoples was finally supposed to be stabilized and raised to the most important factor of the human history of the future.

Germany believed these assurances! It laid down its weapons trusting this declaration. And then began a breach of faith as had never before been seen in world history. Just as our people had laid down its weapons there began a time of extortion and oppression, of plundering and enslavement. No more words of "Peace without Vanquished and Victor," rather a sentence of condemnation for the vanquished lasting forever! No more words about equal rights, rather rights on the one side and injustice and lack of rights on the other. Robbery upon robbery, extortion upon extortion were the results.

No man in this democratic world has looked after the suffering of our people. Hundreds of thousands in the war fell not through hostile weapons, but rather through this hunger blockade which continued month after month in order to extort our people even more. Even the German prisoners of war had to remain for a long time in captivity. The German colonies were robbed from us, the German foreign assets simply confiscated, our merchant ships taken away. It came to a financial plundering such as the world had never before witnessed. Sums of reparations were loaded onto the German people which were humanly impossible, which reached into astronomical numbers and of which an English statesman said that they could only be fulfilled if the entire German people were to reduce its standard of living to the bare minimum and work fourteen hours every day. What German spirit, German industry, German industriousness . . . had created and saved up over decades, was now lost in a few years. Millions of Germans were either torn away from the Reich or otherwise prevented from returning to the Reich.

The League of Nations did not become the instrument of a rightful policy of understanding, but rather the guarantor of the nastiest dictate which men had yet devised.

So was a great people violated and reduced to poverty, which you all know . . . A great people was deprived of its rights through a breach of faith and its existence made practically impossible. A French statesman called a spade a spade when he declared: "There are 20 million Germans too many in the world!"[2]. . .

There were Germans who ended their lives in despair, there were others who lethargically accepted an unalterable fate, and still others were of the opinion that everything would have to be smashed . . . Still more gnashed their teeth and balled their fists in impotent rage, others yet believed the past would have to be restored, restored just as it was. Everyone had taken some position or another.

And even I at that time, as an obscure soldier of the World War, took my position! It was a very short and simple program; it was: elimination of the internal enemies of the nation, ending the fragmentation of Germany, concentration of the entire national force of our people in a new community, and the shattering of the so-called peace treaty! Because so long as this Dictate of Versailles burdened the German people, it was actually condemned to perish.

Whenever other statesmen speak that right must rule on this earth, then it may be said of them that their crime is no right, that their dictate is neither right nor law, rather that the eternal right to live of the nations stands above their dictate and above their expediencies. The German nation was not created by Providence in order to follow obediently a law suited for Englishmen or Frenchmen, but rather to justify its right to life. Thus we are here! I was resolved to take up this struggle for the justification of the German right to live. I took up this fight for the time being within the nation. . . . In the place of a multiplicity of manifestations there is now one community, the German national community! To make it a reality and to deepen it is the task of all of us . . . I have had to endure some pain during this time. But I believe the happiness with which the entire nation is today blessed must amply compensate everyone for that which he had to give up dearly to have it. All of you have sacrificed your parties, associations, organizations, but in return you have received a great, strong Reich. And this Reich is today, thank God, strong enough to protect your rights. We are no longer dependent on the favor or the disfavor of the other states or their statesmen . . .

When I came to power over six years ago, I assumed a pitiful inheritance. . . . The Reich seemed to possess no possibility of existence for its citizens. I then commenced working with the only capital I possessed. It was the capital of the power of your labor! Your power of labor, my racial comrades, I now began to employ. I had no foreign exchange . . . and no gold reserves, I had but one thing: My faith and your labor! We now have founded a new economic system, a system which means: Capital equals the power of labor, money equals production. The backing of money lies in our continuing production. . . . We have established a system which is based on the noblest principle that there is, namely: Life itself forms you! Your existence works for you! To you nothing is given! Help yourself and then God will also help you! Thus we began a gigantic work of construction. . . . Borne by trust in the nation, filled with faith and confidence in its eternal worth, we have in just a few years torn Germany from this despair. And the world has not helped us in so doing!

When today an English statesman opines that all problems must be discussed, that one must resolve them through open discussion and negotiation, then I would like merely to say to this statesman: There was opportunity for fifteen long years before our era for that! . . .

When the world says today that the peoples must be divided into virtuous nations and into such which are not virtuous -- and to the virtuous nations belong, in the first rank, the English and the French, and to the unvirtuous belong the Germans and the Italians --, then we can only say: the judgment of whether or not a people is virtuous, which can hardly be expressed by a mortal, must be left to dear God!

Perhaps this same British statesman will counter me: "God has already pronounced judgment; because he has given to the virtuous nations a quarter of the entire world and from the unvirtuous he has taken everything!" It is merely a question of what means by which the virtuous nations have acquired this quarter of the world, and therefore I must say: Those have not been virtuous methods! For three hundred years England has acted only as an immoral nation in order now to lecture on morality. Thus it could happen that in this British, unvirtuous era 46 million Englishmen have subjugated almost a quarter of the world, while 80 million Germans, as a result of their virtuosity, must live 140 persons to the square kilometer. Yes, only twenty years before, the question of virtue for the British statesmen was still not completely clarified, insofar as it dealt with concepts of property. Then virtue was still unanimously regarded as simply taking away, because one had the power, from another people its colonies, which it had acquired purely through treaties or purchase. That power which now, in any case, is considered as somewhat loathsome and detestable. I have but one thing to say to these men: Whether they believe this or not, we do not know. We assume, however, that they do not believe this. Because if we wanted to assume that they actually do believe this, then we would lose all respect in their eyes.

For fifteen years Germany has patiently borne its lot and its fate. Also I have from the beginning sought to resolve every problem through discussion. With every problem I have made offers, and every time they have been declined! There is now no doubt that every people possesses interests which are holy, because they are identical to its life and its right to live.

When today a British statesman demands that every problem which lies within the German life interests must first be discussed with England, then I can just as well require that every British problem be discussed first with us. Of course, these Englishmen might give me the answer: "In Palestine the Germans have nothing to seek!" -- We want to seek nothing at all in Palestine. But, just as we Germans have so little cause to seek something in Palestine, so has England just as little cause to seek something in our German living space!

And when one now declares that here it is concerned with general issues of rights and law, so can I accept this opinion if one wishes to regard it as a general standard. It is said we should have no right to do this or that. I would like to raise the question in reply: What right does England have -- just to mention an example -- to shoot down Arabs in Palestine because they act for their homeland? Who gives it the right? We, in any case, have not slaughtered thousands in Central Europe, rather we have settled our problems in calm and in order![3]

However, I would like to say here: The German people of today, the German Reich of now, they are not willing to give up interests of life, they are also not willing to face escalating dangers passively! If the Allies once without regard for advisability, for right, for tradition, or for rationality altered the map of Europe, we did not have the power to prevent it. If they expect of Germany today that it should patiently not stop satellite states whose sole purpose is to be used against Germany until the day on which this action should take place, then the Germany of today has been confused for the Germany of the prewar period! Whoever declares himself already prepared to pull the the chestnuts of these great powers from the fire must be prepared for the possibility that his fingers will get burned in so doing.

We really have no hatred against the Czech people; we have lived together for centuries. This the English statesmen do not know. They have no idea that the Hradschin was built not by Englishmen but rather by Germans, and that the St. Veit Cathedral likewise was built not by Englishmen but rather by Germans.

Also, Frenchmen were not active there. They do not know that in a time when England was still small, homage was being rendered to a German Kaiser on this mountain, that a thousand years before me the first German king stood there and received the homage of this people. That the English do not know, that they also cannot know, and, indeed, they do not need to know. It suffices that we know it and that it is so that for a millennium this area has lain in the living space of the German people.

We would, in any case, have had nothing against an independent Czech state if it 1) had not oppressed Germans, and if 2) it had not been the instrument of a coming attack against Germany. But when a previous French minister of air travel writes in a newspaper that the task of this Czech Republic is, on the basis of its superb location, to strike at the heart of Germany's industry through air attack in wartime,[4] then it will be understood that this is not without interest to us and that we then draw certain consequences from it. It would have been contingent upon England and France to defend this air base. To us it was contingent, in any case, to prevent such an attack from taking place.

I have believed this could be achieved on a natural and simple path. I was deceived. Only when I saw that every attempt in this manner was certain to fail and that the German-hating elements would again gain the upper hand, and only when I further saw that this state had long since lost its internal ability to live, yes, that it had already collapsed, [5] have I now carried through again the old German right, and I have again united what through history and geographical location and in accordance with all rules of rationality had to be united. Not in order to oppress the Czech people! It will have more freedom than the repressed peoples of the virtuous nations!

I have, . . . I believe, thus shown a great service to the cause of peace; because I have made worthless in good time an instrument which was determined to bring war against Germany. If it is now said that this was the signal that Germany now wants to attack the entire world, I really do not know if this is meant seriously; only the worst conscience by far could accept that. I do not believe it. Perhaps it is the wrath over the failure of an ambitious plan, perhaps it is believed that through it tactical prerequisites can be established for a new policy of encirclement? Be that as it may: I am of the conviction that I have shown a great service to the cause of peace. And from this conviction I have resolved for three weeks to designate the coming Party Convention as the "Party Convention of Peace."[6] Because Germany does not think of attacking other peoples. What we do not want to do without is the building of our economic relations. We have a right to that, and I am accepting the instructions of no European or non-European statesman!

The German Reich is not only a great producer, but also an immense consumer. As we, as a consumer, become an irreplaceable trade partner, so are we, as a producer, suitable for paying honorably and soundly for that which we consume. We do not think of waging war on other peoples, though under the condition that they also leave us in peace. The German Reich is, in any case, not prepared to accept in the long term a policy of intimidation, even only of encirclement.

I once concluded an agreement with England, the Naval Agreement. It is based on the warm desire we all have of never having to go to war with England again. But this wish has to be mutual. If in England this desire no longer exists, then the practical prerequisite for this agreement is eliminated. Germany will accept that with composure. We are so self-confident, because we are strong, and we are strong, because we are united and because we are far-sighted as well!

And in this city I can only direct to you, my racial comrades, one request: Look at the world and all the events around us with open eyes. Do not deceive yourselves regarding the most important prerequisite which is given in life, namely regarding your own power. Whoever does not possess this actually loses the right to live! We experienced that for fifteen years. Therefore, I made Germany strong again, I have established a Wehrmacht on land, on the water, and in the air. And therefore we never again desire to become exhausted! If in other countries it is said that there will be arming and ever more arming, then I can say one thing to these statesmen: you will not exhaust me! I am resolved to continue down this path, and I am of the conviction that we will move more quickly along it that the others. No power in the world will ever coax our weapons from us through any empty phrases. But should someone desire to measure with force his power against ours, then the German people is in the position at any time to do that, and also ready and resolved! . . .

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Notes

[1] This speech, given in connection with the launching of the battleship Tirpitz, was an immediate response to the declaration in the British House of Commons by Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain on 31 March 1939 featuring the guarantee for Poland.

[2] The French Minister-President Georges Clemenceau was supposed to have made this utterance to a French interviewer during the Versailles peace conference.

[3] The Palestinian struggle against colonial occupation, of course, continues today against the Zionist state.

[4] Pierre Cot in the English newspaper News Chronicle, 14 July 1938.

[5] On 15 March 1939, the President of Czechoslovakia, Dr. E. Hacha, and the Czechoslovakian Foreign Minister, Dr. Chvalkovsky, travelled to Berlin to request German intervention in the ethnic violence which had been tearing apart Bohemia and Moravia since the start of 1939. Hitler and the German Foreign Minister, Joachim von Ribbentropp, concluded with the two Czech statesmen an agreement which provided for the establishment of a German protectorate over Bohemia and Moravia and a political separation of Slovakia from Prague. The establishment of this protectorate was carried out in complete calm and order, as mentioned already by Hitler in the speech at hand. It ought to be pointed out that the political separation of Slovakia from the Czech lands, and thus the elimination of the Czechoslovakian state, was an idea whose time had come as a result of the inherent lack of viability of this prominent example of a political creation of the Versailles Treaty. Proof of the inherently artificial nature of the Czechoslovakian state was provided anew for anyone still needing to be convinced by the second political division of Czechoslovakia after the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in 1989/90.

[6] It was supposed to have taken place from 2 to 11 September 1939, but was cancelled on 26 August on account of the intensifying foreign situation.

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English translation copyright 2001 by James Allen Knechtmann. All rights reserved; no reproduction in part or in whole is permitted without prior written permission of the translator.

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