Adolf Hitler’s Speech in Schleiz, Thuringia (18 January 1927)
My fellow Germans! I do not know whether all meetings here are as well attended, but I hardly think so.
Why have you come here today in greater numbers than perhaps you would have done on another occasion? Simply because an election is under discussion? No, not at all. You are well aware that elections have taken place for decades and you expect that there will be more elections in the coming years. In previous years they have never completely satisfied you, and in the coming decades you will not be satisfied by the elections either. Nor have you come here in the hope that I will read out a long recipe for a cure.
You yourselves do not expect the promises made by the election speakers to be kept. You have long since ceased to believe in magic cures. What is really decided through an election of this kind? You know how things are today. Here in Thuringia, too, there is no reason to expect that a new view of the world (Weltanschauung) will take over. The likelihood is that once again coalitions will have to be formed, either on the right or the left or at the centre. The various partners in such a coalition jealously ensure that the middle-of-the road politics remain intact, that if possible no one obtains complete power, and instead the previous general line is continued. For example, you know yourselves the kind of decisions which are made in the German Federal Parliament (Reichstag) today. The German Federal Parliament is not a sovereign institution. It can prescribe or decide nothing other than what we have been ordered to do in order to fulfil the terms of the peace treaties.
To me the situation of the German nation today seems like that of a sick person. I know that people on various sides often say, "Why do you constantly say that we are sick!" People have said to us: "Daily life goes on as it always did; this "sick person", as you can see, eats day after day, works day in and day out; how can you say that this person is sick?!" But the question is not whether a nation is still alive and the economy functioning. Just because a person eats and works does not mean that he is fit. The most reliable criterion is how that persons himself feels. He can tell whether he is fit or ill. It is precisely the same in the life of nations. Nations are often sick for long periods - often centuries - yet individual members of the nations cannot fully understand the nature of the sickness.
A few days ago I was in Eisenach and stood on top of the Wartburg, where a great German once translated the Bible. At that time the world was also sick, sick for centuries. Many people tried to apply remedies - in vain. Until finally a powerful figure came along, a great man who attacked the root cause of the sickness of his time. He initiated a movement which would not have removed human suffering but which pointed the way to a new direction which was decisive.
It is precisely the same today. No one will claim that the German nation is healthy. It is sick and this feeling of sickness motivates our entire nation today. Some people, it is true, feel well. There are individuals who thrive precisely when the nation is sick, people whose well-being is an indirect proof of the general crisis. This crisis will always be twofold in nature. It is not only a material crisis, it is above all a spiritual, ethical and moral crisis, even if most people are unwilling to believe this because they merely experience the material crisis. This could not exist if there were not a spiritual crisis. This applies particularly to our time.
This is the reason why you have come here. In this room there are supporters and opponents of our movement. The supporters came to hear their leader, the opponents came in order to hear just for once the leader of this movement. However, someone who strongly believes in an idea - a religious idea, for example - does not go to listen if someone is preaching a different idea. If I am firmly rooted in my own faith then I have absolutely no interest in another. You have come here, although you probably are not conscious of this, because you are dissatisfied with what has existed in the past. Neither the man on the right nor the man on the left is satisfied.
I do not want to divide the German nation into little parties but instead into two broad halves. The one half consists of those who consciously describe themselves as national. The other half consists of those who just as consciously call themselves international. On the one side the national middle class (Bürgertum), and on the other side the international proletariat. Within these groups there is constant movement in one direction or the other. Why? Because people are not completely satisfied with the achievements of their political direction. Instead individuals sometimes have the feeling that the direction to which they belong has failed. So within the large group they move somewhat more to the left or a little more to the right, and look around and think that in the next camp things can get better than they were.
What really proves whether an idea is right or wrong? The real proof of the correctness of an idea is not whether people believe it, but whether it succeeds, i.e. whether the goal of the program which is proposed is achieved. So we can apply the following test: If a group of people join together to achieve a specific goal, this group is not victorious at the moment when it obtains power but at the moment when it achieves its goal with the aid of that power. Today there is another theory, the one on which our state is based. According to this a political campaign can be considered successful when it has gained control of the power within the state. If, however, we apply this test, then you can judge how little success the two groups we are considering have had in achieving their goals. Naturally the individual on the one side can shout "Hurrah!", and on the other side can shout "Down with you!". But the question is not who can shout loudest but who has achieved their goal? The answer to this question is easy because both groups held political power.
What was the political goal of the group on the right? Please ignore petty day-to-day goals such as pay raises for teachers, or increases to civil servants' pensions etc. The political goal of the right in our nation was in broad terms as follows: "We want to establish a great, powerful German Reich, a Reich which has power and greatness, a Reich with strength. We want to ensure complete freedom for this Reich through unlimited cultivation of a sense of national honour and national pride and by maximum development of the nation's strength to defend itself. We want our nation to achieve its place in the sun and to retain it. A national Reich, externally powerful and internally free." When you recall this goal today and compare it with reality, you have to admit that it has not been achieved. We will discuss the reasons for this later. The fact is that Germany did not retain its power, its strength, its size. The internal structure of the state was not preserved. The German defence organism, the source of the nation's strength, was not retained. Nor was the final and most important goal achieved! On the contrary! Of 30 million adult men and women, fifteen million flatly reject the national ideal. They say: "We are international, we want nothing to do with the national ideal."
It is not as if we were once close to the goal, or as if we were on the march towards the goal. From decade to decade you on the right have moved further and further away from your goal, and today you are further than ever from it. And you have grown old during this process. At the age of sixty you can no longer hope to fight a battle with fate which at the age of thirty or forty you lost. This generation has failed and blundered and leaves the stage of world history ingloriously! It received a great Reich from its fathers and has shamefully squandered its inheritance. I will speak later about the excuses which are offered. For the moment I merely want to establish that the political goal of the right has not been achieved.
And the left? Its goal was the establishment of a world-wide coalition of states with a proletarian form of government - that is to say states which are completely free of militarism and of capitalism - and the establishment of a new world built on the corpses of the downtrodden anti-socialist states. And here again if you disregard all explanations and interpretations and concern yourselves purely with the bare truth, then, my friends on the left, you must admit that your real objective has also not been achieved. The world is more divided than ever before. What people call the League of Nations is a pathetic structure, as pathetic as probably our old German Reich before 1871. World history takes its course ignoring this so-called League of Nations as if it did not exist. The states are arming themselves day after day. Militarism has not been abolished, and capitalism has not been abolished either and has become instead the dominant world power. Are the developments which we see in Germany by any chance the victory of socialism? So here, too, it is understandable if a person is discontent. His newspaper can tell him about day to day events etc. Yet he cannot help sometimes saying to himself that the whole struggle has been in vain! Today an army of unemployed separates us from genuine social well-being. And this army is growing larger rather than smaller.
It is the feeling that something is not right which brings you here. When there is a need to overcome a crisis which cannot be cured by small-scale measures, when circumstances which affect an entire nation must be remedied and thus require the application of large-scale measures, the first requirement is that we understand how things got the way they are. We live in a time which in small ways is great and genial but in broad terms has been a miserable failure. That is the reason why I am criticized for not concerning myself with day to day problems. To me worrying about day to day problems is as if, when someone is seriously ill, your sole concern is whether to feed him his soup with a silver or a golden spoon.
We want to seek out the really major causes of the sickness. Let me return to the group on the right and the group on the left. Why did those on the right not achieve their goal? There are a number of reasons. Don't expect me to concern myself with the petty excuses. If a great movement completely loses power and if the opposite of what it wants takes place, then you cannot say that this or that person is responsible. You do not lose a state because someone made a mistake. And don't imagine that those international Jew boys can overthrow a really healthy state. When a state suddenly collapses as our Reich did, this state must already have been be hollow within, even if many people refuse to recognize this. The collapse of the efforts by the right has nothing to do with individual petty errors. Mistakes will occur both on the winning and the losing side.
The one reason which the right gives for its failure is that the German middle class (Bürgertum) made the big mistake of not maintaining its hold on power and instead surrendered it. If a person surrenders power which he has, only to recognize later that this was a fatal error, he passes judgment on himself. It is impossible to maintain a position of dominance from a position of weakness. But in the long run a position of dominance is not maintained with mechanical weapons, machines guns, hand grenades etc. The absolute monarchy in Germany recognized this. In principle its view, "l'état, c'est moi", was right. Why? Because everybody was still convinced that, for example, the man who then ruled over the Prussian Reich was unselfish, was a hero, because everyone was convinced: "I am ruled over sensibly and this indirectly benefits me."
The second reason is the simplest. When I talk to national politicians today and I say to them: "Please admit that you have failed; fifteen million people are no longer interested in the national ideal and that is the most dreadful thing conceivable", they reply: "Yes, but look at these people, they are scum. Just go down and mix with these people, they are not worth talking to." There is only one response to this. If it is true that fifteen million people consciously reject the national ideal because they are morally bad, because they are riff-raff, scum, scoundrels, what is the point of any further political activity? Well, with what do the gentlemen on the right intend to save Germany? With their fragmented and divided middle class? No, under these circumstances there is no value in continuing the struggle, it is pointless. Fate has simply spoken, i.e. our nation is destined for destruction. But then why not have the courage to go before the nation and say, even if one does not wish to admit that one has failed: "Under these circumstances we have no further interest in politics! There is no point in engaging in politics any longer!" Nevertheless these gentlemen come before you again and say: "Give us your votes!".
However, it is not true that fifteen million people are not national because they are morally bad. You see, I cannot judge a nation by the situation which prevails at this moment. Naturally it is simpler and easier to explain that fifteen million people are scum than to admit that you are making a mistake or have represented an idea in the wrong way. They say the people are worthless. Why worthless? I cannot measure a person's worth in terms of his wealth or his birth, or things like that. All that means nothing, is not a measure of worth. If today I were to remove a good-for-nothing who is born wealthy I would do the nation no harm, but I would if I removed a craftsman or an intellectual who conscientiously does his duty. The value of a person depends on the value which his labour creates. It is not by his own volition that a person becomes a thinker, musician, great inventor etc. This is not the result of his individual will but rather a higher nature endows him with this disposition at birth. A person may be praised because he is a genius; his abilities are, however, of no importance if he cannot make them serve everyone. He can just as well be a brilliant criminal, good-for- nothing, or as we say in Bavaria, a "Schwabinger". They are people who live in a suburb of Munich, a very special kind of person; with a few exceptions the females are recognizable by their very short hair and the males by their very long hair. These brilliant characters from whose midst now and then brilliant statesmen like Kurt Eisner emerge - if they did not exist the world would lose nothing. On the other hand, if I were to remove any street cleaner who conscientiously sweeps his square meter of street, I would have to replace him with another street sweeper. We should judge people according to the abilities with which nature has endowed them and which they use for the benefit of the community. This criterion excludes the accidental factor of high or low birth and gives a person the freedom to forge his own reputation. Even the most insignificant person, if he honestly carries out the work he is given so as to serve the national community (Volksgemeinschaft), can be replaced by another, but the community needs his services. If I apply this criterion I cannot say that the fifteen million people on the left are worthless. You cannot simply remove them, you would have to replace them. Some of them may be worthless but the first measure of value speaks for the fifteen million. Anything invented by the mind requires many pairs of hands if it is to be used in the real world. The national community needs them. It cannot exist without them. In our country these hands are no less valuable than anywhere else. German industry could not have begun to celebrate its triumphs if it did not have the German worker. The industrialist would be astonished if he had to work with others rather than German workers. He would not want to work with others. He is very well aware of the value of the German worker.
The second criterion of value: People should be measured firstly by the work which they perform for their nation and secondly by their general character. It is not shouting hurrah but the willingness to subordinate their personal interest to those of the community, to those of the state, to subordinate their ego to the interest of all others which demonstrate their character. There are people who are full of assurances that they are ready to sacrifice themselves for the sake of the community at large. They do everything out of sympathy for their fellow members of the human race. Others fight the most momentous battles at a table full of beer bottles. Their ability to make sacrifices remains theoretical.
There is, however, a practical test and this test is war. That great test when the iron Goddess of Fate approaches the individual and asks him: "Are you ready now to sacrifice yourself for others, yes or no?" Pretences are not the deciding factor then, or deception, no, pretences disappear and all that remains is the naked human as he really is. One fellow was torn away from his comfortable middle class life which until then had provided him with a living and shown him the art and science of the German nation. And Fate also put this question to the other fellow, who until then had not shared in the good things of life, who had spent his life in miserable poverty, in crowded slum tenements, twelve, fourteen or sixteen to a couple of rooms, yes, five or even ten to a little hole. One day Fate removed the man from his previous environment. Then came the hours which did not seem to him like the most precious and the most inspiring but in fact the most horrible in his entire life. He was constantly plagued by the thought: "Will you stick it out or not?". Those hours of temptation when a voice called out to him: "Man, save yourself, you will not survive, just like the others!" Then temptation had to be overcome; then his sense of duty asserted itself: "You cannot do that, that is shameful."
Meanwhile those at home thought that the boys out there were full of enthusiasm and ready to put their lives on the line jubilantly. Those were the hours when Fate applied its test - to the German working man as well. No German army could have celebrated a victory if beside the General had not stood the German grenadier. The millions who owned nothing for which they could have fought, they were the objects of the second test. They did their duty as if the entire fate of the fatherland depended on them alone, and in so doing they passed the test to the everlasting fame of the broad masses of our People.
With this before our eyes it cannot be said that the German People are worthless, are evil. If this had been the case Germany would have collapsed in the first three weeks. Today the German People have nothing in which to believe and hence turn this way and that thoughtlessly and weak. And there is a reason for this: How can the German People have faith in those weak individuals who are watching and have watched as Germany suffered harm in the most humiliating fashion? How can it regard them as the protectors of their interests? These men have heaped too much guilt upon themselves for the German people to ignore this. Believe me, if I were not a National Socialist, I could never join the ranks of the middle class (bürgerlich) parties, because I loath big talk which is merely an empty facade; I hate the kind of cowardice which avoids making decisions; I hate the half-hearted attitude which was shown before, during and after the war.
The reasons given by the left are just as faulty as those of the right. The first big excuse is: "Yes, we were stupid to seize power alone.". Well, that is your own fault! And the second: When you say to a leader on the left, "What use are your international and Marxist ideas, fifteen million people reject them?", the only answer you get is that the fifteen million people are simply worthless and useless, and that they should have decapitated them. Here I have to say the same as I did earlier about the other side. How do you measure a person's value? It is determined by the person's value for the community. Can the professional class, the intellectual laborers, (Geistesarbeiter) really be called worthless? Certainly not! There are thousands and thousands of pairs of hands at work in a factory from which a locomotive finally emerges. But do not forget that before their work began it was the engineers who designed the machine, there were the chemists who made the alloys. You cannot say today: "Out with the engineer; he is not a member of our party, so off with his head!" If it was a question of only three or four you could do that, but with fifteen million people that is impossible. If millions of working people did not supply their strength to implement ideas which originate in the brains of others, if those brains did not constantly supply all the millions of pairs of hands with the plans, the human race would be unable to progress from its original state. Our brain and hands have collaborated to create the healthy organism in which we all participate and of which we all are a part today.
And the second criterion, that of character? You cannot say that all those on the right are all scum, they have no character. You must not judge the value and the character of the German professional and middle classes in general on the basis of individual typical slaver-drivers or exploiters. This would be just as stupid as judging every manual labourer by some good-for-nothing who crosses one's path. Just as in the army there were officers who forgot that they had fellow citizens, fellow Germans under their command - if you believe in metempsychosis you might thing that perhaps they were camel drivers in an earlier existence - there were also N.C.O.s who had been one of us before their promotion and who were much worse than those officers.
There is no class in which excessive types are not found. If you merely see the excessive types, then the hand can cut off the head, or the head the hand, but I cannot imagine what the rump is supposed to do on its own without hand or head. This is incompatible with the freedom of the working class. It is important that we not only see the worst but also the good on the other side. Please do not forget that there have been millions who work with their brains, inventors, etc., who have created the best things for the human race but who have nevertheless died penniless, and that today there are still people who, for example, take on the most dangerous mission in the service of science. Why does someone engage in cancer research for a decade until he is perhaps infected himself? Not because he wants to exploit others, but because he is one of the hundreds of thousands of people who have the interest of the community at heart . . . .
International Marxism is rejected by fifteen million people, because fifteen million minds are too intelligent not to know that the condition it seeks is impossible to achieve, just as impossible as it was in Russia - other than in theory.
The German socialist has been taught to believe that he can only be international, and he has been taught that there exist only other human beings. That defies all experience and is an insult to their own existence. It is easy for anyone to say that a person is a person, just as a dog is a dog no matter whether it is a dachshund or a greyhound. A person is a person, whether New Zealander or German, English or Zulu. However, they differ just as much as one breed of dogs from another.
You know, it is really unbelievable that it was possible to preach this insanity of internationalism to millions of people and people believed in this idea; incredible that the Jew who has been in our midst for thousands of years and yet remained a Jew, has managed to persuade millions of us that race is completely unimportant, and yet for him race is all-important. What would that really mean, - that race does not matter? That would mean that if today I were to remove the Germans from here and take them to Central Africa and brought the Negro here, things would look the same as if the Germans were here. The Negro would create just as cultured a state. Do not imagine that the jazz band would have created [the] culture which we have today! If we look around, everything we see here has been produced by the collaboration of intellectual and physical labour for centuries. Where do these inventors come from? Do you believe that the human race has a single invention which was created by a Negro? Not one. Even the most primitive jobs which he has performed, he took over from the white race. If you train him long enough, he can play a Wagner opera on the piano. But that demonstrates the skill of the trainer rather than the ability of the Negro. It is only now that they are beginning to civilize the Negro. And that applies to every aspect of the question. Certainly a Negro can dust a light bulb today but he cannot invent one.
There are fields in which various races were active for centuries. Wherever the Aryan goes there is culture; if he leaves, it gradually disappears; and if he returns after two thousand years to somewhere where culture has perhaps been replaced by a desert, he will restore culture. Culture is inseparably linked with people, that is to say with certain people. If you take them away in the long run nothing is left. You say that does not matter, a person is a person. The automobile is the great future means of transport. Who invented it? You say that first there was the engineer Daimler and then there was an engineer Benz. Certainly they were the inventors of the high-speed motor. There are hundreds of inventors in the field of electricity thousands and thousands of inventions. Amongst thousands of inventors there is not a single Jew, not a single one. If you go into the factory and go through the work halls and look at the endless huge machines and then look at the workers - there, too, no Jews. But if you go into a shop in Berlin on the Kurfürstendamm, then you do not see a single non-Jew in it. Some people invent, others work and others then sell what has been produced. The most important thing is inventing, and the second most valuable activity is producing the article, and the easiest thing is then selling what has been made, and that is the work of the Jew. The reason why today he has no culture of his own, no state of his own, has to do with the fact that for thousands of years he has avoided any productive work. He has not been persecuted because he did not perform productive work, but because he demanded unproductive interest charges. He always only bought, sold and sold again, and our ancestors forbade that: "You do not work our soil, therefore you have no right to buy it either".
Tens of thousands of Protestants were driven out of my native land, for ever. And so they packed their bundle of belongings and they went to East Prussia and worked, or went overseas. Those who were persecuted in this manner began to work over there, took up the struggle with the wild animals, set up farms, and after them the people with spades always followed until the continent was conquered. And when everything was done, our friend came. Don't tell me that he would not have been allowed to come earlier, and do not say he could have withstood the climate. He can withstand the climate everywhere. It is only work that he cannot stand. That is the only reason why he did not go. Believe me, the same people who had managed to make almost the entire world serve their purposes could have created a state for themselves anywhere. The world would have been happy, grateful, but they had absolutely no desire to do this. . . .
Believe me, you will never achieve national reconciliation on the basis of the present parties. This reconciliation is what National Socialism seeks to achieve. Our national ideal is identical with our social ideal. We are National Socialists, that is to say what we understand by the word nation is not one class, nor one economic group; the nation is for us the collective term for all people who speak our language and possess our blood. We see no possibility for pride in the nation if there is a well-fed group of entrepreneurs and behind them the starving and exhausted working people of our nation. National pride is possible only if intellectual and manual labourers, well fed and with a decent standard of living, can live side by side in harmony. We want to build the foundation for a new view of the world (Weltanschauung) in which greatness attaches only to the person who sacrifices himself out of passionate devotion to his entire People. We are convinced that no one in the world will give us anything for nothing. No one else is furthering our cause, we alone must forge our own future. Within our nation lies the source of our entire strength. If our nation falls we shall all fall with it. We cannot prosper if our nation is destroyed. Our nation and our state shall prosper so that each individual in it can live.
We are not pacifists, for we know that the father of all things is combat and struggle. We see that race is of supreme importance to the life of our nation as well as character, the basis of which must be responsibility toward our People. We are absolutely convinced that every decision requires responsibility. That is why we are at odds with the entire world, that is why we are considered subversive and why we are prohibited from speaking, and why we are silenced, because we want to restore the health of our entire German nation and to cure it from this cursed sickness of fragmentation.