Adolf Hitler – speech at the Bürgerbräukeller
Munich, November 8, 1938
Nevertheless, had not the German Volk in its blindness allowed the civic unrest back then to foment a civil war, then there would never have been a collapse such as that of 1918. I believe I have a right to say that, had Fate put me at the helm back then, this collapse would never have come about.
I have been told that not too long ago, a man was heard saying: “Well, you know, the Fuhrer, too, can err. After all, he was wrong in 1923 and went under back then!” All I can say to these Philistines is: I was not wrong in 1923! I did not go under back then! I did receive a severe blow at that time, but the Party and hence Germany recovered from this blow and they are all the stronger for it.
What was the situation like in 1923? I was the leader of a rather small party, however, of a party in determination and courage. I was perhaps the only leader of a party who could claim that he was backed by a community of men and women, a community that stood ready to march upon a moment’s notice if necessary. Others had a following which was willing to make deals only.
Back then I resolved to eliminate this incompetent regime. The deed was not carried out then. However, this failure proved and will prove itself to be of greater benefit than we may realize to this day. I know not what the fate of Germany would have been had the course of events taken a different turn and had Herr Kahr and his comrades succeeded in their attempts to tear this country apart.
I declare and assert before all the world and posterity that in 1923 I, too, acted in accordance with this conviction!
Every day, as I read in foreign journals that we are deeply shaken by the armament efforts of our neighbors, I can assert only one thing, namely, that I would be shaken only if the German nation failed to arm itself! The fact that others are arming does not shake me up! Let there be no doubt: the German Volk will not be caught carrying the olive branch while the rest of the world arms itself to the teeth.
In this event, we will do precisely what is necessary to secure peace for ourselves! As a Gennan statesman I am obligated, in the interest of my Volk, to concern myself with measures taken by the rest of the world, to assess their consequences, and to take into consideration possible dangers arising from them. And here I will not tolerate a certain British member of parliament telling me what to do! Some people of late have come up to me and claimed: “Oh, we meant to destroy the dictatorships but not the German and Italian peoples.” My only answer to this is: something of this sort you could perhaps claim prior to November 1918, but no longer after November 1918! Back then, these very same circles had claimed that all they sought was the destruction of “Prussian militarism,” the destruction of only one dynasty, the House of Hohenzollern, not the destruction of the German Volk! The German Volk would then be led toward regaining its freedom in the framework of international democracy. We got to know this particular type of “freedom” quite well! And the German Volk has learned its lesson.
A collapse, such as the one experienced by the German Volk due to its naivety, will not repeat itself in the next millennium! And I can assure you this will also be the case for all those who still believe they can instigate hate campaigns against the German Volk once more! Germany will never again be duped by such rhetoric! As a Fuhrer of responsibility, I will point out these dangers to the nation. And one of these dangers I see arising from the constant hate campaigns abroad directed against Germany. Whoever does not want to believe this, should simply call to mind a few of the recent incidents.
It has not been all that long ago that there was a debate concerning questions of civil aviation before the House of Commons in England. Back then, a certain type of new civil airplane was declared to be of great practical value and particularly useful. Then one man of the opposition party stood up and shouted: “I hope this plane can also carry bombs to Berlin!” We know what this means! People might tell me: “That was only one man of the opposition party.” To that I can only reply: In these democracies, the Constitution allows the opposition of today to become the government of tomorrow. In general, this usually happens sooner or later. We are most grateful that France and England have removed men of such persuasion from office and that these two countries desire good relations with Germany. More than once, we have made it clear that all we want from these countries is the return of the colonies unjustly taken from us. I have always asserted that, of course, we shall not go to war simply because of this. Rather, it is a question of justice, we say, a question of whether there is an honest intent to render the peaceful coexistence of various peoples possible. We desire no more of these other peoples, we demand nothing of them. We simply wish to make deals with these peoples, that is we wish to conduct trade with them. So if there is talk of reaching an understanding, we really do not know what there is to reach an understanding about.
However, there is one thing I must never let out of sight. Today there might well be men in power in France and England who desire peace. Yet there are other men who do little to conceal that they wish for war with Germany.
I am forced to state this in all objectivity before the nation and to draw the consequences. Mr. Churchill can be Prime Minister by tomorrow. And when one leader of the British opposition declares that it is not the German Volk they wish to destroy but the regime, then that is one and the same thing since this regime will not be destroyed lest one destroys the entire German Volk! And if someone claims that he wishes to free the German Volk from this regime, then I will tell him: The German Volk is none of your business! If there is one man whose business is the German Volk, my dear gentlemen of the British parliament, then that is me! The regime in Germany is an internal affair of the German Volk, and we will not stand for being supervised as if by a schoolmaster. Moreover, I believe that we have achieved far more than these gentlemen. Above all we have restored order to our state which is something you cannot say for a good number of countries on the face of this earth.
Hence I am forced to take into consideration the persuasions of men who might not govern today but could do so tomorrow and who have left little doubt as to their convictions. The German Volk will understand why I am warning it and why I myself am determined to take all precautions necessary to make certain that there is no foreign interference! On a side note, let me assure you that the German Volk shall not succumb to a fear of bombs, falling-let us say-from either Mars or the moon.495 We will keep good measure as is the custom of all Germans. But I am determined to ensure the security of the Reich by fortifying it to the last. And I know that the entire German Volk agrees with me on this! No doubt this means sacrifice.
However, it is better for us to make sacrifices now than having to pay up one day in the form of contributions or should we rather say “reparations” as they were called back then.
For us there is only one maxim that truly counts and that I spoke of in Saarbrucken: “We are always ready for peace!” It was not us who broke the peace. However, we are always ready to stand up in defense of ourselves as well, in a manner both manly and determined.
When someone says to me, “So it is not by legal means that you intend to enter into world history, but rather it is violence which serves as your means,” then all I can say in reply is that today’s Germany did not refuse to obtain its rights by means of negotiation! Year after year we attempted to secure our rights by negotiating. And most certainly English parliamentarians have no right to doubt this. After all, it was by means of negotiation that we concluded a treaty with England. It is not our fault that others did not become parties to the treaty.
Always keep in mind the following: National Socialist Germany will never go to Canossa!496 We have no need to! If the rest of the world persists in denying us our rights by means of negotiation, then it should not be surprised if we resort to other means in order to secure our rights, rights we cannot obtain in the customary fashion. Now that these British advocates of world democracy maintain that this year alone we destroyed two democracies, I can only ask them: What precisely is democracy? Who has the right to speak in the name of democracy? Has the good Lord handed over the keys to democracy to Mr. Churchill or to Mr. Duff Cooper? Has the lock combination been engraved upon some ancient tabulae perhaps at present in the hands of the British opposition? In our opinion, democracy implies a regime supported by the will of a people. I became Chancellor of Germany once in compliance with the rules of parliamentary democracy; and that as the leader of the strongest party by far.
And it was in compliance with the rules of parliamentary democracy that I possessed the absolute majority then, and today I received the complete approval of the German Volk-let Mr. Churchill doubt this if he pleases. I did not eliminate two democracies this year, rather, I destroyed, as the epitome of a true democrat, two dictatorships! Namely, the dictatorship of Herr Schuschnigg and the dictatorship of Herr Beneš. It was by peaceful means that I attempted to persuade these two dictators to open up a path toward democracy for their peoples by permitting them to exercise their right to selfdetermination.
I did not succeed in this attempt. It was only then that I applied the force of our great German Volk to restore democracy to these countries, in other words to liberate these oppressed people.
These gentlemen of the British parliament might know their way around the British world empire, but of Central Europe they know nothing! Here they completely lack any idea of the situation, the events, and their circumstances.
They should not, and will not, regard this as an insult, for, after all, we do not know our way around India, Egypt, or Palestine either.
Nonetheless, I believe it would be for the better if these gentlemen applied their enormous expertise and their infallible wisdom for which they are so well known, if they applied these, let us say, for instance or rather especially to the case of Palestine. They might do great good there. Because, after all, damn it, what is happening there reeks of brute force rather than democracy! But I am just citing this as an example, I do not mean to criticize, for I am but the advocate of the German Volk rather than that of others. In this I differ from Mr. Churchill and Mr. Eden who see themselves as the advocates of the whole world.
I am merely the advocate of my Volk! And here I do everything in my power that I deem necessary. And if Mr. Churchill turns to me and says, “How can a head of state be at odds with a British parliamentarian?” then all I can say to him is: “Mr. Churchill, you should be honored by this!” By the fact that a German head of state does not hesitate to be at odds with a British parliamentarian, you can see in what great esteem English parliamentarians are held here. Besides that, I am not a head of state in the sense that a dictator or monarch is, I am a leader of the German Volk! Rest assured, there are plenty of titles I could have appropriated myself. I kept my old title and I will keep it as long as I live because I have no desire to be anything other and I have no intention of ever becoming anything other! I am content this way. Mr. Churchill and these gentlemen are delegates of the English people, and I am a delegate of the German Volk. The only difference here is that Mr. Churchill received only a fraction of his people’s votes while, I may confidently say, I represent the entire German Volk! Therefore, my Old Comrades in Arms, when I call upon you and the entire German Volk to proceed with caution, I have the holy right to do so! In these few years, I have scored great successes for the nation. The nation must understand that I always take great care to preserve it. I do not want to live to see that on my dying bed I would have to close my eyes to equally sinister prophecies, as was the case with Bismarck