Ward Price - interview with Adolf Hitler
(Cited in the February 19 edition of the Völkischer Beobachter)
February 18, 1934
“We sympathize neither with Herr Dollfuss nor with his opponents. Both sides are using the wrong methods. Nothing of permanence can be achieved by the violent methods to which they have resorted.” It had been impossible for the Austrian Socialists to achieve power by proceeding as they had, the Chancellor stated. It had been equally impossible for Dollfuss to draw the opponents over to his side by using the means he had.
Everyone knew that it was possible to raze buildings using shell fire, but these methods would never convince an opponent, they would serve only to embitter him. The only way to make a revolution successful lay in gaining a hold on one’s opponent by persuasion.
“That is what we have achieved in Germany. Herr Dollfuss, on the other hand, attempted to carry out a coup d’etat. He violated the Constitution and his methods were doomed to fail from the beginning.” Assuming one had proceeded in like fashion in Germany, what would have been the result? In Austria, Hitler noted, 1,600 persons had been killed and four to five thousand wounded. Germany’s population was eleven times that of Austria’s, which meant that Germany would have had 18,000 dead and 50,000 wounded.
“What are the facts? The total number of our adversaries killed in the disturbances amounted to twenty-seven, while the number of wounded was 150.
Among them was not a single woman nor a single child. Not one building was destroyed, not one shop raided.
“Germany’s critics will say, ‘That may well be, but the Austrian Socialists were heavily armed!”’ So were the German Communists, Hitler continued. All kinds of weapons imaginable had been found in their possession.
The reason why the German Communists had not made use of these weapons was due to the fact that they had been won over to the cause of the National Socialists by persuasion, he said.
The proof for this lay in the election of this past November, in which a mere two million people had voted against the new regime, although previously the German Communists had numbered six million and the Social Democrats seven million. The remaining eleven million former opponents of National Socialism had not been suppressed, but converted.
The correspondent asked the Chancellor whether the developments in Austria would influence Germany’s attitude toward that country. Hitler replied: “By no means, the policies I uphold are determined solely by German interests.” Naturally the incidents of this week would serve to strengthen the position of the present Austrian Government, but on the other hand the number of Austrian National Socialists would increase. He was expressing only his private and personal view, Hitler stated, but it was his conviction that particularly the workers of Austria would side with the National Socialist cause as a natural reaction against the violent methods the Austrian Government had used against them.
The correspondent then remarked to the Chancellor that the German peace pact with Poland had come as a great surprise to the world and that several people were interpreting it as his intention to establish a basis for a joint attack on Russia by Germany and Poland with the aim of territorial expansion.
Hitler had laughed incredulously and stated: ‘ . . . What? We take territory from Russia? Ridiculous!” The correspondent interjected that, ten years before in his book, Mein Kampf Hitler had recommended acquiring new territory in Russia as a home for future German settlers, but that the decrease in the birth rate which had taken place since then had halted the growth of the German population, so that the necessity of a larger area was now of lesser importance.
In the further course of the interview, Hitler had said that all prior attempts to lay the groundwork for a lasting peace in Europe had failed because public opinion had held that Poland and Germany were irreconcilable enemies. He had never held this view. The first thing he had done after achieving power had been to take steps to initiate negotiations with Poland.
He had found that the Polish statesmen were very magnanimous and just as peacefully minded as he himself. The gulf which had been regarded as unbridgeable had now been crossed. The two nations had come closer together, and it was his sincere hope that this new understanding would signify that Germany and Poland had permanently abandoned the idea of resorting to arms not only for ten years, but for all time.
In respect to the situation within Germany, the Chancellor had stated that many thousands who had been in the concentration camps had already been released, and he hoped that even more would be freed. They had been interned not as an act of revenge-as had been the case in Austria-37 but rather because these opponents were not to be allowed to disrupt the process of restoring Germany’s political health. They had been given time to change their views. As soon as they were willing to take a pledge to relinquish their hostile attitude, they would be released.
The reporter countered with the question, “Do you intend to free Dimitrov, Popov and Tanev?” and Hitler replied, “The court has pronounced its judgment; the sentence will be carried out.” The correspondent stressed that these had heen the exact words of Hitler’s response.
“Do you believe,” the correspondent continued, “that these people will be released and brought beyond the German border?” Hitler had replied, “They certainly will.”38 He had added that he nevertheless believed that their release did not reflect the will of the German Volk, but the court’s judgment would be carried out.