Adolf Hitler – speech at the Culture Convention
Nuremberg, September 6, 1938
I want to differentiate here between the Volk, i.e. the healthy, full-blooded mass of Germany loyal to the Volk, and a decadent, so-called high society, unreliable because only conditionally linked by blood. It is sometimes casually referred to as the “upper class,” being, however, in reality no more than the scum produced by a societal mutation gone haywire from having had its blood and thinking infected by cosmopolitism.
In this period of the most inward orientation, Christian mysticism demanded an approach to the solution of structural problems and hence to an architecture whose design not only ran contrary to the spirit, of the time, but which also helped produce these mysterious dark forces which made the people increasingly willing to submit themselves to cosmopolitism. The germinating resistance to this violation of the freedom of the spirit and the will of man which lasted for centuries immediately found an outlet in the forceful expression of a new form of artistic design. The cathedrals’ mystical narrowness and somberness gave way to more generous room and light, reflecting the increasingly free spirit of the time. More and more the mystical twilight gave way to light. The uncertain and probing transition to the twentieth century finally led to the crisis we face today and which will find its resolution in one way or another. [-] And in this manner the cultural evolution of a Volk resembles that of the Milky Way. Amongst countless pale stars a few suns radiate. However, all suns and planets are made of the same one material, and all of them observe the same laws. The entire cultural work of a Volk must not only be geared toward fulfillment of one mission, but this mission must also be pursued in one spirit.
National Socialism is a cool and highly-reasoned approach to reality based upon the greatest of scientific knowledge and its spiritual expression. As we have opened the Volk’s heart to these teachings, and as we continue to do so at present, we have no desire of instilling in the Volk a mysticism that transcends the purpose and goals of our teachings.
Above all, National Socialism is a Volk Movement in essence and under no circumstances a cult movement! Insofar as the enlightenment and registration of our Volk demands the use of certain methods, which by now have become part of its traditions, these methods are rooted in experience and realizations that were arrived at by exclusively pragmatic considerations. Hence it will be useful to make these methods part of our heritage at a later date. They have nothing to do with other borrowed methods or expressions derived from other viewpoints which have to this date constituted the essence of cults. For the National Socialist Movement is not a cult movement; rather, it is a volkisch and political philosophy which grew out of considerations of an exclusively racist nature.
This philosophy does not advocate mystic cults, but rather aims to cultivate and lead a Volk determined by its blood. [-] Therefore we do not have halls for cults, but halls for the Volk. Nor do we have places for worship, but places for assembly and squares for marches. We do not have cult sites, but sports arenas and play areas. And it is because of this that our assembly halls are not bathed in the mystical twilight of cult sites but rather are places of brightness and light of a beautiful and practical nature. In these halls, no cult rituals take place, they are exclusively the site of Volk rallies of the type which we conducted in the years of our struggle, which we have become accustomed to, and which we shall preserve in this manner.
Hence the National Socialist Movement will not tolerate subversion by occult mystics in search of an afterlife. They are not National Socialists but something different, and in any event, they represent something that has nothing to do with us. At the heart of our program you will not find any mysterious presentiments, rather you will find succinct realization and hence open avowal. Since we place the sustenance and securing of a creature created by God at the center of this realization and avowal, we sustain God’s creation, and it is in this manner that we serve this will. We do not do so at a new cult site bathed in mysterious twilight, but rather, in the open, for the Lord to see.
There were ages when twilight was the prerequisite for the propagation of certain teachings. In this day and age, however, light is the prerequisite if our work is to succeed. God have mercy on him who attempts to subvert our Movement and our State by insisting upon convoluted orders or introducing vague mystical elements to them. It suffices for this lack in clarity to be contained in words only.
It is already dangerous to order the construction of a so-called cult site because this already entails the necessity of coming up with cult games and rites at a later date. The only cult we know is that of a cultivation of the natural and hence of that which God has willed. We stand in complete and unconditional humility before the divine laws as revealed to man. These laws we respect and our prayer is one of brave fulfillment of the duties entailed. We cannot be held responsible for acts of worship; after all, that is the domain of the churches!
The only sphere in which the Jewish international newspapers still today think that they can attack the new Reich is the cultural sphere. Here they attempt, by a constant appeal to the sentimentality - untroubled by any sort of knowledge - of the world-citizens of democracy to bewail the downfall of German culture: in other words, they lament the commercial closing-down of those elements which, as the heralds and exponents of the November Republic, forced their cultural characteristics, as unnatural as they were deplorable, upon the period between the two Empires; and which have now played out their role for good and all....
Fortunately, however, despite the short time which the National Socialist leadership has been able to allot to works of culture, positive facts, here too, speak louder than any negative criticism. We Germans can today speak with justice of a new awakening of our cultural life, which finds its confirmation not in mutual compliments and literary phrases, but rather in positive evidences of cultural creative force. German architecture, sculpture, painting, drama, and the rest bring today documentary proof of a creative period in art, which for richness and impetuosity has rarely been matched in the course of human history. And although the Jewish-democratic press magnates in their effrontery even today seek brazenly to turn these facts upside down, we know that the cultural achievements of Germany will in a few years have won from the world respect and appreciation far more unstinted even than that which they now accord to our work in the material field. The buildings which are arising in the Reich today will speak a language that endures, a language, above all, more compelling than the Yiddish babblings of the democratic, international judges of our culture. What the fingers of these poor wretches have penned or are penning the world will - perhaps unfortunately - forget, as it has forgotten so much else. But the gigantic works of the Third Reich are a token of its cultural renascence and shall one day belong to the inalienable cultural heritage of the Western world, just as the great cultural achievements of this world in the past belong to us today.
Moreover, it is naturally not decisive what attitude, if any, foreign peoples take toward our works of culture, for we have no doubt that cultural creative work, since it is the most sensitive expression of a talent conditioned by blood, cannot be understood, far less appreciated, by individuals or races who are not of the same or related blood. Therefore we do not trouble in any way to make German art and culture suit the tastes of international Jewry.
The art of Greece is not merely a formal reproduction of the Greek mode of life, of the landscapes and inhabitants of Greece; no, it is a proclamation of the Greek body and of the essential Greek spirit. It does not make propaganda for an individual work, for the subject, or for the artist; it makes propaganda for the Greek world as such, which confronts us in Hellenism....
And so art today will in the same way announce and herald that common mental attitude, that common view of life, which governs the present age. It will do this not because this age entrusts commissions to artists, but because the execution of these commissions can meet with understanding only if it reveals in itself the true essence of the spirit of this age. The mysticism of Christianity, at the period of its greatest intensity, demanded for the buildings which it ordered an architectonic form which not only did not contradict the spirit of the age, but rather helped it to attain that mysterious gloom which made men the more ready to submit to renunciation of self. The growing protest against this crushing of the freedom of the soul and of the will, which had lasted for centuries, immediately opened the way to new forms of expression in artistic creation. The mystic narrowness and gloom of the cathedrals began to recede and, to match the free life of the spirit, buildings became spacious and flooded with light. Mystical twilight gave way before increasing brightness. The unsteady, groping transition of the nineteenth century led finally in our days to that crisis which in one way or another had to find its solution. Jewry, with its bolshevist onslaught, might smash the Aryan States and destroy those native strata of the people whose blood destined them for leadership, and in that case the culture which had hitherto sprung from these roots would be brought to the same destruction.
Therefore, truly great solutions to the problems of architecture today can only he found if architecture is charged with great and timely tasks. To abandon this principle would render the undertaking hideous. The attempts at resolution would become artificial, dishonest, and wrong and hence would lose their significance for present and future.
In the same manner, one cannot ask music to resolve problems the fulfillment of which transcends its domain. Music as a form of pure art continues to obey laws unknown to us. [-] Finally, it is absolutely impossible to express a Weltanschauung scientifically in terms of music.
We are proud of you! All of Germany loves you! For you are not merely bearers of the spade, but rather you have become bearers of the shield for our Reich and Volk! You represent the most noble of slogans known to us: “God helps those who help themselves!” I thank you for your creations and work! I thank your Reich Leader of Labor Service for the gigantic build-up accomplished! As Fuhrer and Chancellor of the Reich, I rejoice at this sight, standing before you, and I rejoice in recognition of the spirit that inspires you, and I rejoice at seeing my Volk which possesses such men and maids!