On foreign policy.

1937-01-30 - Adolf Hitler

This session of the Reichstag takes place on a date which is full of significance for the German people. Four years have passed since the beginning of that great internal revolution which in the meantime has been giving a new aspect to German life. This is the period of four years which I asked the German people to grant me for the purpose of putting my work to the test and submitting it to their judgment. Hence at the present moment nothing could be more opportune than for me to render you an account of all the successes that have been achieved and the progress that has been made during these four years, for the welfare of the German people. But within the limits of the short statement I have to make it would be entirely impossible to enumerate all the remarkable results that have been reached during a time which may be looked upon as probably the most astounding epoch in the life of our people. That task belongs rather to the press and the propaganda. Moreover, during the course of the present year there will be an Exposition here in Berlin which is being organized for the purpose of giving a more comprehensive and detailed picture of the works that have been completed, the results that have been obtained and the projects on which work has been begun, all of which can be explained better in this way than I could do it within the limits of an address that is to last for two hours. Therefore I shall utilize the opportunity afforded me by this historic meeting of the Reichstag to cast a glance back over the past four years and call attention to some of the new knowledge that we have gained, some of the experiences which we have been through, and the consequences that have resulted therefrom—in so far as there have a general validity. It is important that we should understand them clearly, not only for our own sake but also for that of the generations to come.

Having done this, I shall pass on to explain our attitude towards those problems and tasks whose importance for us and for the world around us must be appreciated before it will be possible to live in better relations with one another. Finally I should like to describe as briefly as possible the projects which I have before my mind for our work in the near future and indeed in the distant future also.

At the time when I used to go here and there throughout the country, simply as a public speaker, people from the bourgeois classes used to ask me why we believed that a revolution would be necessary, instead of working within the framework of the established political order and with the collaboration of the parties already in existence, for the purpose of improving those conditions which we considered unsound and injurious. Why must be have a new party, and especially why a new revolution?

The answer which I then gave may be stated under the following headings: —

(1) The elements of confusion and dissolution which are making themselves felt in German life, in the concept of life itself and the will to national self-preservation, cannot be eradicated by a mere change of government. More than enough of those changes have already taken place without bringing about any essential betterment of the distress that exists in Germany. All these Cabinet reconstructions brought some positive advantage only to the actors who took part in the play; but the results were almost always quite negative as far as the interests of the people were concerned. As time has gone on the thought and practical life of our people have been led astray into ways that are unnatural to them and injurious. One of the causes which brought about this condition of affairs must be attributed to the fact that the structure of our State and our methods of government were foreign to our own national character, our historical development and our national needs.

The parliamentary-democratic system is inseparable from the other symptoms of the time. A critical situation cannot be remedied by collaborating with the causes of it but by a radical extermination of these causes. Hence under such conditions the political struggle must necessarily take the form of a revolution.

(2) It is out of the question to think that such a revolutionary reconstruction could be carried out by those who are the custodians and the more or less responsible representatives of the old regime, or by the political organizations founded under the old form of the Constitution. Nor would it be possible to bring this about by collaborating with these institutions, but only by establishing a new movement which will fight against them for the purpose of carrying through a radical reformation in political, cultural and economic life. And this fight will have to be undertaken even at the sacrifice of life and blood, if that should be necessary.

In this connection it is worthy of remark that when the average political party wins a parliamentary victory no essential change takes place in the historical course which the people are following or in the outer aspect of public life; whereas a genuine revolution that arises from a profound ideological insight will always lead to a transformation which is strikingly impressive and is manifest to the outside world.

Surely nobody will doubt the fact that during the last four years a revolution of the most momentous character has passed like a storm over Germany. Who could compare this new Germany with that which existed on the 30th. of January four years ago, when I took my oath of loyalty before the venerable President of the Reich?

I am speaking of a National Socialist Revolution; but this revolutionary process in Germany had a particular character of its own, which may have been the reason why the outside world and so many of our fellow-countrymen failed to understand the profound nature of the transformation that took place. I do not deny that this peculiar feature, which has been for us the most outstanding characteristic of the lines along which the National Socialist Revolution took place—a feature which we can be specially proud of—has hindered rather than helped to make this unique historic event understood abroad and among some of our own people. For the National Socialist Revolution was in itself a revolution in the revolutionary tradition.

What I mean is this: Throughout thousands of years the conviction grew up and prevailed, not so much in the German mind as in the minds of the contemporary world, that bloodshed and the extermination of those hitherto in power—together with the destruction of public and private institutions and property—were essential characteristics of every true revolution. Mankind in general has grown accustomed to accept revolutions with all these consequences somehow or other as if they were legal happenings. I do not mean that people endorse all this tumultuous destruction of life and property; but they certainly accept it as the necessary accompaniment of events which, because of this very reason, are called revolutions.

Herein lies the difference between the National Socialist Revolution and other revolutions, with the exception of the Fascist Revolution in Italy. The National Socialist Revolution was almost entirely a bloodless proceeding. When the party took over power in Germany, after overthrowing the very formidable obstacles that had stood in its way, it did so without causing any damage whatsoever to property. I can say with a certain amount of pride that this was the first revolution in which not even a window-pane was broken.

don’t misunderstand me however. If this revolution was bloodless that was not because we were not manly enough to look at blood.

I was a soldier for more than four years in a war where more blood was shed than ever before throughout human history. I never lost my nerve, no matter what the situation was and no matter what sights I had to face. The same holds good for my party colleagues. But we did not consider it as part of the program of the National Socialist Revolution to destroy human life or material goods, but rather to build up a new and better life. And it is the greatest source of pride to us that we have been able to carry through this revolution, which is certainly the greatest revolution ever experienced in the history of our people, with a minimum of loss and sacrifice. Only in those cases where the murderous lust of the Bolsheviks, even after the 30th of January, 1933, led them to think that by the use of brute force they could prevent the success and realization of the National Socialist ideal—only then did we answer violence with violence, and naturally we did it promptly. Certain other individuals of a naturally undisciplined temperament, and who had no political consciousness whatsoever, had to be taken into protective custody; but, generally speaking, these individuals were given their freedom after a short period. Beyond this there was a small number who took part in politics only for the purpose of establishing an alibi for their criminal activities, which were proved by the numerous sentences to prison and penal servitude that had been passed upon them previously. We prevented such individuals from pursuing their destructive careers, inasmuch as we set them to do some useful work, probably for the first time in their lives.

I do not know if there ever has been a resolution which was of such a profound character as the National Socialist Revolution and which at the same time allowed innumerable persons who had been prominent in political circles under the former regime to follow their respective callings in private life peacefully and without causing them any worry. Not only that, but even many among our bitterest enemies, some of whom had occupied the highest positions in the government, were allowed to enjoy their regular emoluments and pensions.

That is what we did. But this policy did not always help our reputation abroad. Just a few months ago we had an experience with some very honorable British world-citizens who considered themselves obliged to address a protest to me because I had some criminal protégés of the Moscow regime interned in a German concentration camp. Perhaps it is because I am not very well informed on current affairs that I have not heard whether those honorable gentlemen have ever expressed their indignation at the various acts of sanguinary violence which these Moscow criminals committed in Germany, or whether they ever expressed themselves against the slogan: “Strike down and kill the Fascist wherever you meet him”, or whether, for example, they have taken the occasion of recent happenings in Spain to express their indignation against slaughtering and violating and burning to death thousands upon thousands of men, women and children. If the revolution in Germany had taken place according to the democratic model in Spain these strange apostles of non-intervention abroad would probably find that there was nothing which they need to worry about. People closely acquainted with the state of affairs in Spain have assured us that if we place the number of persons who have been slaughtered in this bestial way at 170.000, the figure will probably be too low rather than too high. Measured by the achievements of the noble democratic revolutionaries in Spain, the quota of human beings allotted for slaughter to the National Socialist Revolution would have been about 400.000 or 500.000; because our population is about three times larger than that of Spain. That we did not carry out this mass-slaughter is apparently looked on as a piece of negligence on our part. We see that the democratic world-ci