Adolf Hitler – speech in Königsberg (Schlageterhalle)
March 25, 1938
Germany was to be weakened! She was to be torn asunder so that she might remain powerless as in past times. That was the purpose of this sovereignty, that was the meaning of the veto on the unification with Austria. And that is only what one might expect. Today it is only under quite peculiar presuppositions that such small state formations can have a possibility of life.
That is what all these international apostles of truth should have seen who today lie about an act of violence and refuse to see the facts because they do not suit their book. The world and the conscience of the world had no understanding for the facts. A foreign paper asks: Why could you not have done this peaceably? The world would have been ready to grant you all you wanted? We know better: the conscience of the world, the justice of the world shone forth upon us for the first time from the peace treaties. When has more shameless violence been done to peoples than in the period when men began to talk about world conscience and world justice? When have economic territorial unities been torn apart with less regard to conscience than since the day when a League of Nations was established with the professed aim of serving the interests of peoples? How often have I made representations, have warned and counselled -- but all to no effect? I should only rejoice if now -- as perhaps may be deduced from the remarks in this English newspaper -- there should be a change of mind. We still have a few injustices to complain of: perhaps now they may be settled by agreement! Up to the present our complaints fell on ears that were stone deaf.
And then one day there came the hour when one had to make a decision before one's conscience, before one's own people, and before an eternal German God who had created the peoples. And a fortnight ago I made that decision, and it was the only possible decision. For when men are deaf to every behest of justice, then the individual most assert his rights himself. Then he must turn to that ancient creed: Help yourself and then the German God will help you. And the German God has helped us!
I said to the Austrian Chancellor: Herr Schuschnigg, you are oppressing a country. You have no right to do so. This country is my homeland as much as it is yours. How comes it that you are continually doing violence to it? I am ready to stand with you before the people at an election. Both of us will stand as candidates. The people shall decide. He objected that that was impossible on constitutional grounds. But I warned him to seek a peaceful way of lessening the tension, as otherwise no one could guarantee that a people's tortured soul would not cry aloud. And besides, I could not let there be any doubt that on the frontiers of Germany no more fellow countrymen could be shot.
And I tried to make clear to him in all seriousness that this was the last way which perhaps might lead to a peaceful solution of this crisis. I left him in no doubt that, if this way should fail, in one way or another matters would not end there. I begged him to have no doubt that I was serious in my intention to place the help of the Reich at the service of my oppressed fellow countrymen, and not to doubt my resolution if, through deserting this road, a crisis should arise. He did not believe the seriousness of my assurances, and for this reason, one may suppose, he broke the agreement.
Today we have the proofs of that. We have found the letters in which on February 19 -- one day before my speech in the National Parliament -- he writes that on his part the whole affair would be purely a tactical move in order to gain time so that he could wait until the situation abroad should be more favourable. He therefore counted on being able at a more propitious hour to stir up foreign countries against Germany. In order to give a moral foundation to his scheme, this man then invented this ridiculous comedy of a plebiscite on which the clearest light is thrown by the fact that we were able to confiscate broadsheets and placards in which eight days before the plebiscite the figures of the voting were published! It was an unheard of fraud in a country in which for many years there had been no election, where no one could vote. It was clear that if this new fraud should be a success, then the world, cold as ice, would have declared: Now this regime is legitimised!
And against this, the German people in Austria at last began to rise, it turned against its persecutors. It revolted. And now I had to intervene in its behalf. And so I gave the order to answer the wish of this people: I let the forces march!
And I did this firstly in order to show the world that I was now in bitter earnest, that the time for any further oppression of Germany was past.
I admit openly that at times, in view of the terrible persecutions, the thought might even come to one that it was only right if the people did at last wreak its vengeance on its torturers; but in the end I decided to prevent that. For I saw one thing: amongst our opponents there are men who are so depraved that they must be counted as lost to the community of the German people, but on the other hand there are many blinded and mad folk who have only run with the rest. Perhaps their eyes have been thoroughly opened. And, above all, who can guarantee that when once madness has begun, private passions will not begin to rage as well, that private scores will not be settled under the watchword of a political act?
We will be rid of those of our opponents who are incurable through the normal means of our state. Part of them will, without our help, go where all the European worthies of this stamp have assembled of recent years. And we are glad that some of them have gone already. I can but hope and expect that the rest of the world which feels so deep a sympathy with these criminals will be at least magnanimous enough to turn this pity into practical assistance. On our side we are quite prepared to put all these criminals aboard luxury ships and let these countries do with them what they will. We have in the overwhelming joy of those days forgotten all desire for vengeance.
I wanted to spare this country the horrors of Spain, and then I had to help: I had been summoned. I could not have borne the responsibility before the history of Germany if I had not given the order to march.
Certain foreign newspapers have said that we fell on Austria with brutal methods: I can only say: even in death they cannot stop lying. I have, in the course of my political battle, won much love from my people, but when in these last days I crossed the former frontier of the Reich, there met me such a stream of love that I have never experienced a greater. Not as tyrants have we come, but as liberators: an entire people rejoiced.
Here not brutal violence, but our Swastika has conquered. As those soldiers marched into Austria, I lived again a song of my youth. I have in days past sung it so often with faith in my heart, this proud battle song: The people arises, the storm breaks loose. And it was in truth the uprising of a people, and the breaking loose of the storm. Under the force of this impression, I decided not to wait until April 10, but to effect the unification forthwith.
That which has happened in those last weeks is the result of the triumph of an idea, a triumph of will, but also a triumph of endurance and tenacity and, above all, it is the result of the miracle of faith: for only faith has availed to move these mountains. I once went forth with faith in the German people and began this vast fight. With faith in me first thousands, then hundreds of thousands, and at last millions have followed after me. With faith in Germany and in this idea, millions of our fellow countrymen in the New Ostmark in the south of our Reich have held their banners high and have remained loyal to the Reich and to the life of the German people. And now I have faith in this 10th of April. I am convinced that on this day for the first time in history in very truth all Germany will be on the march.
And on this day I shall be the Leader of the greatest army in the history of the world; for when on this 10th of April I cast my voting paper into the urn, then I shall know that behind me come 50 millions, and they all know only my watchword:
One People and one Reich