Adolf Hitler - speech at the annual rally of young officer cadets
at the Berlin Sportpalast
December 18, 1940
Introduction speech by Field Marshal von Brauchitsch
It is a great joy for all of us, a profound happiness, to be able to greet among us on this day the Fuhrer and Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht. He is and shall remain for us at all time the first soldier; the man whose experiences as an infantryman led him onward to greatness in leadership; the soldier who restored to Germany the belief in itself and built up the Wehrmacht to the proud greatness of today.
The Fuhrer led our Volk to freedom, to strength, and to greatness; his words are listened to carefully not only in Germany, not only in Europe, but throughout the world. On your behalf, my Cadets, I greet our Fuhrer, the Supreme Commander of the Wehrmacht. He will speak to you now. I know that your hearts will beat faster and that every one of his words will have a special meaning for you.
The Fuhrer speaks.
My Young Comrades!
Behind many of you already lie arduous battles. All will have to fight such battles in the future. Those of you who have already emerged from battle know well the strenuous psychological consequences of these hours. At such moments, all phrases, all theories, die. All that remains is the harsh realization: Defend yourself! Beat or be beaten! Kill or be killed! We can emerge victorious from this arduous battle, if only we realize its unchangeable, necessary, and inevitable nature. The individual cannot shrink from it, it is the fate of the entire Volk. Hence, at this hour, I would like to speak to you on the inevitability not only of this [battle], but of struggle as such: of the struggle which takes the life of the individual to give life to the community.
War and politics have always existed interdependently. I need only mention here two historic persons who were not only close to each other in age, but also in ideology. Clausewitz: “War is nothing but a continuation of political intercourse with the admixture of different means.” Clemenceau: “For us, peace is the continuation of war.” Beyond this, we can say that politics is history in the making, while history can grant us no more than a glimpse at the course of events in the struggle for life of a people. Now, the reason why this struggle of peoples with one another is necessary in the first place has two elements: Providence or nature has placed man on this earth. Man begins to multiply on this earth. This does not take place in a vacuum: his struggle begins as he encounters the other beings who populated this earth before him and who live there besides him. To the degree to which men now begin to associate with one another, to form families, and finally tribes, to this degree the struggle of men amongst themselves begins. For as they begin to occupy a part of this Lebensraum, the fact remains that while the Volk’s numbers are variable, the Lebensraum to be occupied remains a given. It will remain the same unless man somehow succeeds in expanding it.
In other words: life naturally makes a Volk multiply, provided it is healthy, while it is not as natural that the necessary Lebensraum also will expand or be enlarged. Sooner or later, there will be a discrepancy between the increase in the Volk’s numbers and the available Lebensraum. There are only two ways to overcome this discrepancy. Either the Volk’s numbers are adjusted to the available Lebensraum-by repressing or reducing it somehow, depending on the circumstances-or the Lebensraum is adjusted to accommodate the increase in the Volk. This first path has been chosen in the past. Nature by itself advocates this path. Through hunger, it decimates a people whose Lebensraum no longer affords it the means necessary to its existence. At this point, man himself begins to undertake this decimation-i.e. by adjusting his numbers to the available area.
Either alone or in groups, he leaves it, insofar as it is possible for him to emigrate. The biological consequences are grave: this takes the most active elements away from a people. The alternative is man restricting his natural fertility-i.e. he adopts a two or one child system. Again, the biological consequences are grave: this undermines the process of natural selection, the breeding of the fittest.
Germany has already followed both paths; it has tried both alternatives.
Poverty has decimated the Volk throughout many a century. When the age of emigration set in, German blood opened up foreign continents. And when we today follow certain developments in foreign policy with concern, we should not forget that the majority of these tall men are the descendants, the sons of our own Volk. And we also followed the latter path, namely, that of voluntary self-restriction. This voluntary restriction of our Volk through a reduction in the birthrate has already adversely affected our Volk, though this path has opened up to us only of late. Through it, the Volk loses its natural vitality.
Thus, it will no longer be in a position to successfully hold its own; it will not even be able to maintain what earlier generations have secured.
There is another way yet. It stands in opposition to this latter path leading to the adaptation of the Volk’s numbers to the Lebensraum. It is the natural way and the one willed by Providence: namely, that man should adjust the Lebensraum to his numbers. In other words: that he should partake in the struggle for this earth. For it is nature which places man on this earth and leaves it to him. Truly, this earth is a trophy cup for the industrious man.
And this rightly so, in the service of natural selection. He who does not possess the force to secure his Lebensraum in this world and, if necessary, to enlarge it, does not deserve to possess the necessities of life. He must step aside and allow stronger peoples to pass him by. This was so at all times. The world will not be an empty one because one Volk renounces its life. Rather the Lebensraum will be filled up by other peoples, other beings. There is no vacuum in nature.
Now that we acknowledge that this eternal variable of the Volk’s numbers on the one hand, and the constant given of the surface of the earth, which in sum remains the same, constitute the causes for this eternal struggle for life, there arises the question of whether a Volk is willing to take part in this struggle or wishes to step aside, to eliminate itself and thereby to give up its own future in the end. Now that we look at the present strength of the German Volk, we arrive at a figure of around 85 million people-85 million people who have less than 600,000 square kilometers of Lebensraum. The numbers of this Volk are enormous. Most Germans do not even realize this.
How often was I forced to listen to the following in my political struggle: “You are striving for the impossible. Do we Germans even have the right to presume that we could achieve accomplishments equal to those of other great nations which, after all, rule world empires?” This question can only be answered in view of two aspects. First: is this German Volk, in terms of its value, equal to these other nations, to these truly leading peoples of this world, or is this German Volk inferior to them? It is always a sign of bad state leadership if it seeks to excuse its own Volk by devaluating its inner value, that it consciously seeks to breed an inferiority complex out of fear that its own weak and bad politics will otherwise receive the deserved criticism. We all have the right not only to presume that the German Volk is equal to other nations in relation to the first aspect. Rather, the opposite: history shows us that this [German] Volk even today has at its core the best in terms of value on this earth. We must not forget that what we refer to with the term Anglo-Saxon is nothing other than a branch [!] of our German Volk. Englishmen did not in time past migrate to Germany to cultivate it. Rather a tiny Anglo-Saxon tribe set out from Europe, conquered England, and later helped to develop the American continent. The wealth and the blood of this Volk are still today of equal value. In terms of numbers, there is no world empire which possesses at its core as great, as unified a race as the German Volk and the German Reich.
There are approximately 85 million Germans in Germany. I do not even include in this figure our Low German Volksgenossen. England, the British Empire, has barely 46 million Englishmen at home. The French Empire has barely 37 million Frenchmen at home. Even the American Union, minus Negroes and Jews and Latinos and Germans, has barely 60 million true Anglo- Saxons. Russia has barely 60 million Great Russians. And even today the unified racial core in Germany remains the largest by far; not only in value, in itself highly significant, but also in numbers, it is the greatest. By contrast, if we compare the percentage of Lebensraum occupied by the German Volk to that of the earth as such, then we must remark that our Volk is one of the most disadvantaged peoples of the world. Barely 600,000 square kilometers, in fact about 140 persons per square kilometer. 46 million Englishmen rule, control, and organize about 40 million square kilometers. Barely 60 million Great Russians rule an area of about 19 million square kilometers. About 60 million Anglo-Saxons within the American Union determine life within an area which encompasses about nine and a half million square kilometers. 37 million Frenchmen rule over life in an area of nearly ten million square kilometers. In other words: the German Volk, in terms of the space it occupies, is by far the most modest there is on this earth.
How did this situation come about? In the few centuries after our entry into history, we cultivated and civilized the European lands. The English did this and the French . . . rather it is the result of the labor of the old German Reich. So gigantic was the importance of the German state formation then that it rightly claimed the right to succeed the Roman Empire. Throughout the centuries, [the term] “Reich” was a standard expression, and even today we evoke memories of the Germany of back then by simply referring to it as the “Reich”-the “Reich” as such. This Reich had the means and the potential to secure for the German Volk its piece of the pie in the exploitation of this world. We may not doubt the ability not only of German statesmen, but also of German economists, to follow along the path of the Hanseatic League in securing for the German Volk, the German Reich, the position which is rightly that of Volk and Reich.
It was during this time that a most unfortunate development set in. Parallel to the development in France, but diametrically opposed in tendency, Germany slowly began to disintegrate into individual states, while, in France, the overcoming of feudalism made possible the organization of a centralized kingdom. Then there was the Thirty Years’ War. In the course of this unfortunate war, fought for purely fictitious, religious reasons, our Volk and our Reich were torn asunder for good. This led to the establishment of Germany’s impotence and hence to the impossibility of taking part in the division of the goods of the world which set in at this time. And during these 300 years, which now lie behind us, the face of the world as we know it was fashioned. And on the face of it, a few well-organized peoples made themselves masters of this earth, while the Volk, the most important in number and value, did not only get too little, but in fact got nothing.
Then the rise of our Volk began. Prussia, at the core of the new Reich, began to strive for unity. As it began to see this unity through, in the process of this unification, it began to encounter a term, in the interim fashioned in Europe, a term called “balance of power in Europe.” What is this “balance of power in Europe?” This “balance of power in Europe” is the order of states in Europe. In it, Germany represents a certain factor of greatness in accordance with the place occupied by Germany throughout the centuries. That means: a place of lesser significance. As I already mentioned in my introduction, there is no such thing as a vacuum.
This means: a Volk which falls cannot presume that its former significance will somehow be silently recognized in the future, so that one day it can once more occupy this place. Once a Volk begins to lose its significance, other peoples will take its place. And this is how things came to pass. Germany, which once organized Europe, which once was the strongest power on the Continent, this Germany is now a power among powers. Still others, in particular England, are keen on preventing the European continent’s ever again being dominated by one power and thus being organized by it. But it is not this problem alone which has made the rise of Germany difficult. There are others, as well.
For the Germany which suffered the collapse of 1918, it was possible only to secure its resurrection under certain conditions. As I returned home from the World War, I found a picture of divisiveness which had elevated itself from the level of the former dynasties to that of an ideology (Weltanschauung).
While in former times counts and Lander had meant division for the nation, ideologies and parties had in the meanwhile developed from this. Here the bourgeoisie-there the proletariat; here Nationalism-there Socialism. At the time, both were frames of reference which could no longer be reconciled with each other. Neither of the two, in my opinion, was strong enough to secure final victory even after overcoming the other, since, in the life of a nation, there is no such thing as sentimentality. Once a certain standpoint prevails and reigns victorious in a Volk, then it is of no consequence-it is not even interesting to know-whether it obtained this victory rightly or not. What is decisive is that it manages to obtain unity of will on its own level. If this is possible, then the question of right or wrong is no longer relevant. If this is not possible, then the Volk will fail. For it is self-evident that it is difficult enough for a nation to maintain a position already obtained, but it is even more difficult to fight for a position which must yet be secured. There is hope for success in such a fight only if it is led with the complete dedication of the entire strength of a Volk.
It makes a difference whether a world empire such as Great Britain seeks to maintain its position, or whether a “Reich” such as Germany must first set out to secure its position in battle.
That life was impossible under the conditions of the Treaty of Versailles is something that I need not tell you about. New conditions for life had to be created. This was opposed by a divided nation and two ideologies, which already at the time appeared to be in the process of disintegration, since a large number of parties represented both the bourgeois and the Marxist ideology, which included groups from Social Democracy to the most radical syndicalism, namely, anarchism. It was clear that, in the year 1919, an exclusive, clear victory by one of these two ideas could no longer be expected. Just as Germany had once before disintegrated into countless small dynastic structures, there again was the threat of the German nation disintegrating into countless small ideological or party political groups. There was a time when a maximum of forty-six such “pocket parties” (Parteichen) stepped up to compete for the favor and approval of the German Volk. It was utopian to expect a resurrection under these conditions, not to mention bringing about such a resurrection.
No people can project strength abroad which it is unable to free it at home.
This means: the more a nation uses up its strength internally, the more it will lack external strength. A people has only one strength. The strength needed within the system of the assertion of life is either applied at home or abroad- one of the two.
When I returned at the time, I realized that, as long as the two definitions of socialism and nationalism remained what they had been, a resurrection of the German nation was inconceivable. On the other hand, I realized that no ideals existed outside the two worlds of socialism and nationalism. They were the only two concepts for which people were ready to die if necessary. At the time, I therefore undertook to form one common world out of these torn nationalist and socialist worlds-founded on a new definition of the two concepts. I did so in the realization that it was no longer a question of preserving what was old, but eliminating the impossible, and creating a new world in which it would be possible to concentrate and redirect the total strength of the nation from the inside to the outside. Of course, this change had to occur not within the state, but within the Volksgemeinschaft. This means: the new state had to begin to form within a new Movement. After about fifteen years, this new Movement had the strength to take over power and realize its ideas in practice. This not only brought about the creation of a new empire in Europe, but also-as we can confidently state-a new world.
It is a world which is naturally more modern that the world of those who need only preserve what they acquired over 300 years.
Today’s Germany stands for several ideas which can claim to be truly revolutionary-ideas which managed to mobilize the strength of the Volk for one goal and to concentrate it in the direction of this goal. Other peoples and their state leaders are frightened by the thought of what has formed here.
They realize that this state has arrived at a lasting synthesis of nationalism and socialism and that, in the long run, this state will develop a powerful attraction, similar to that of the ideas of the French Revolution at the time.
This is also the case today: when they speak of a so-called “fifth column,” they are not referring to people who sympathize with Germany politically, but people who have weltanschaulich been inspired by us and who now form an opposition in their nations; an opposition based on the realization that the German example is essentially correct and that it should be copied elsewhere.
This does not mean that they wish to join Germany or subjugate themselves to it. When this is claimed in the other states, it is a dying world that makes the claim, in the hope of compromising these new movements by portraying them as unpatriotic, conspiring, or sympathizing with the enemy. Actually, it is much better for us if democracy continues to exist there than if movements organize themselves, which are in the final instance similar to those we possess.
Anyhow, all these ideas about race, blood, and soil, the idea of labor as the only creative force, the idea of the social community are the prerequisites for preserving a nation. After all, these ideas are today in the process of attracting more and more people. And this is where the fight against Germany sets in, not only because we are disrupting the European balance of power by our claim to life, but also because we are disrupting the European order by new ideas, which we made public in Europe and which are now gaining in popularity. In addition, there is the realization that suddenly there came about what the others tried to prevent for many centuries, especially by the Peace Treaty of Munster, namely, the mobilization of the strength of a Volk which is the most important race in Europe in terms of number and value. It was a historic formation of strength which took place here, and whose consequences are now being felt in its opposition to the perseverance or apathy of the others.
Before the year 1933, it was already evident in practice how much strength this new ideology lent to Germany. Only a few years earlier, there was a quite pitiful subservience to an outside world, a willingness to renounce everything. Now, suddenly, there was a resurrection of the nation, step by step, a mobilization of incredible strength parallel to an elimination of the internal strife, a building up of the German Wehrmacht as the most powerful expression of the determination to assert the German right to life abroad.
This Wehrmacht does not exist in a vacuum, but is instead supported by the fanatical will of the organized community. Behind this Wehrmacht, there is an army of millions of working Germans. They work with dedication each day; the substratum of their discipline is not based on a vacuum, but supported by the realization of this discipline by the entire Volkskorper. The Wehrmacht no longer stands alone in its belief in authority, but is supported by a shared belief in the political sphere. It is a Wehrmacht, whose principle of authority top to bottom no longer stands in opposition to the democratic idea of the state, but which sees that this principle has become common knowledge. It sees that these democratic principles of authority bottom to top have been eliminated from the organism of the Volk, that they have yielded to the life of the state, that the only possible definition has been arrived at: authority can only be exercised from the top. Authority from the top and accountability from below. This is the reverse of the democratic principle that accountability should come from the top and authority from the bottom, and which regards the voter as the supreme authority.
By these means, the Reich has since 1933 risen anew with surprising speed.
Of course, this was conceivable only because the value of the Volk is a given and because, whenever the strength of our Volk is mobilized, we are numerically in a position to claim our rights and successfully see them through.
When war against Germany broke out in 1914, England was the organizer of this war, its driving force, and the actual instigator-the same England which centuries before had undertaken to subjugate the Spanish world power with the help of the Dutch; which had fought the Dutch world power with the help of the French; which then finally had fought the French world power with the help of Germany; and which, in 1914, began to fight against the power of Germany with the help of Europe. Exhausted at the end of the Great War, this England was no longer able to draw the last consequence of the struggle. In its attempt to restore the balance of power in Europe after the war, it was not able to obtain the complete elimination of Germany. Still, it held Germany to be so weakened that this nation could no longer make its claim to life heard successfully. Then suddenly, after ’33, this German nation began to organize itself to an extent which allowed us to realize how England immediately undertook once more its policy of encirclement and isolation, and finally of hostile suppression. Ever since the years 1936–37, I slowly became aware that there exists a standpoint in England which precludes reconciliation. To this came our international enemy of the world, international Jewry, which perceived Germany as an element which, by setting a bad example, might open the eyes of other nations.
The rise of the German Volk began to have its repercussions politically abroad in the year 1938. The Greater German Reich was born. In the autumn of that year, the Sudetenland returned home. As of this moment, it was clear that England had decided to step up against Germany once again at any rate.
And now, my young Comrades, you must understand one thing: in the year 1919, I took up a struggle which appeared nearly hopeless at the time. An unknown man who undertook to rid a world of resistance, to tear down walls of prejudice. Prejudice at times is worse than divine force.
A man took a stand against all the bearers of public life back then, against the parties, against their press, against the whole system of capitalist fabrication of public opinion. I led this struggle until the final seizure of power.
You must understand one thing: that at this moment I could have only one wish, namely, that if this war is indeed inevitable, that it still be fought during my lifetime, because I am the man who possesses the greatest authority with the German Volk. And moreover, because I believe that based on the experiences of my life, I am the most able to strengthen the nation in this battle and to lead it into this battle. Thus, once I became aware that England was determined to fight this battle, I did not capitulate, but in an instant determined to do everything to prepare Germany to hold its own in this most difficult struggle for its existence. And my appeal to the German nation was not in vain. I labored in these years to build up armament for the German Volk. I subordinated everything to the one thought: how can Germany be made strong? How can its armament be made powerful? I was determined to do nothing by half-measures, but to stake everything on one throw. I knew that this struggle would determine whether Germany will be or will not be.
It is not a question of a system. It is a question of whether these 85 million people, in their national unity, can carry through on their right to life or not.
If yes, then the future of Europe belongs to this Volk. If no, then this Volk shall perish, shall sink back, and it will no longer be worthwhile to live in this Volk.
Faced with this alternative, I was determined to employ all means-down to the last-in this struggle. The nation understood this. Millions of men never spoke of it. Still all thought the same. And throughout this period, nobody ever reproached me for this enormous mobilization of public means for the one goal: national armament. I also wished that, if the hour was to come and come it would, the German soldier should not set out against the enemy as, regrettably, this has been the case far too often in Germany’s past.
This phrase, “the best weapons for the best soldier in the world,” has profound meaning. The best soldier must and will despair once it dawns on him that, in spite of his valor, the effectiveness of his arms does not suffice to force the victory. Therefore, I was determined to do my utmost to secure for us the best arms. And, before German history, I may be faulted on many a thing, but on one topic assuredly not: that I had not done my utmost, what was humanly possible, to prepare the German Volk better for this struggle than, regrettably, it was prepared in the year 1914. In this, I found the support of countless people, men of the state, the Party, and in particular the Wehrmacht. They walked by my side. And thus we were able, in barely seven years, to make the German Wehrmacht once more the world’s best. And, for my person, I have always been convinced that for us Germans there are only two possibilities: either we are no soldiers or we are the world’s best. There is no in-between.
In fighting, politics employ not only changing means, but also changing methods. It is the task of the political leadership to constantly and carefully reevaluate the situation and make its decisions in accordance with the changing circumstances. And it is the task of the soldier to implement these decisions with lightning speed. It is therefore necessary that the individual be profoundly suffused by the realization and the conviction that the fight in which he is involved is a fight which will determine the fate of the nation for centuries-perhaps forever. I know that there are hours when it is necessary to hold on to this harsh realization, hours in which the individual is threatened by death, when fear and worry clutch at his heart. Then duty alone must serve as his guide. Then the individual must fight his way through to this realization: “Here I stand so that later generations will be spared this fate. Here I stand so that the regrettable sins of earlier generations will be atoned for. Here I stand so that my Volk can live.“ As difficult as my struggle might be, it cannot be any more difficult than the struggle of the generations before us.
As much as the individual has to suffer in the fighting, he must always keep one thing in mind: In just this way suffered the soldiers of the World War, in just this way suffered the soldiers of the German War of Unification as did the soldiers of the age of Frederick and going back into the past all the way to Herman the Cheruscan. For no one has death been easier. It is hard, but it is the same for everyone. And if a generation no longer wants to bring this sacrifice, then with that generation end a people’s chain of destiny. That is hard for the individual, but it must not be avoided. Moreover, peace can be enforced only by the sword. Shield and spear-in this world, there exists no other formula for the preservation of peace and for the securing of peace. To date, peace has been possible only when protected by the shield and entrusted to the spear. And it will be no different in the future.
Today, we stand in the midst of the most decisive battle for our Volk. You yourselves are not only future officers in the German Wehrmacht, but also part of this great instrument of leadership and the entire German Volk-this German Volksgemeinschaft. You must completely identify yourselves mentally with the ideas which move this Volk today. Its hopes for the future must be your own.
Its present feelings must be met with understanding on your part. The sons whom the Volk will entrust to you for leadership in the future must be led in such a manner that, on returning, they all the more form part of this National Socialist Volksgemeinschaft, just as this Army forms the sword of this community.
In this struggle, the German Wehrmacht yet faces enormous tasks. Still, there can be no doubt that this struggle will end in victory for us, not only, because our weapons are the best, our organization is the best, and we can call the best soldiers and the best leadership our own, but also because behind these soldiers today stands truly the best Volk. It is the best to a degree which surpasses what we possessed in the past, because now millions and millions of laborers of the mind and of the fist stand behind the German soldier, because behind him stands an army of millions of German women, because a German youth is being reared filled with the one thought, because never before in Germany’s history have we had such an intense identification between the will of the political leadership, the thoughts of the Volk, and the Wehrmacht, as we do this time, and because no state on the side of our enemies can point to similar complete unity.
They all live with their tensions. For some time, they might be able to deny these tensions or temporarily relieve them by some measures. However, this does not eliminate them. On the contrary! They will resurface worse than before. In this world, you cannot get out of resolving these internal social problems of today. One state uses reason to resolve them, as we do, another state will have them resolved by its lack of reason. In the one case, a buildup will set in; in the other case, nihilistic and anarchical destruction will follow.
Nobody can get around these problems. They must be solved. We are presently in the process of resolving these problems in a reasonable manner and, therefore, we already have the most united Volk. Others have up to now rejected this resolution. Therefore, there are tensions in their nations-a profound unrest and the nervousness of an age in transformation is taxing their strength.
Victory can fall to no other nation than ours! Another thing also is decisive: not only must you be strong in your faith in the necessity of this struggle, you must pass this faith on to your men. There is a biblical story in which a city is destroyed because, in the end, no one there deserved that it should any longer exist. One can put it in another way yet: as long as someone keeps the faith, the community is not yet lost. And this applies also to the tiniest entity, not only to large ones. As long as in a regiment, in a battalion, in a company, there is one man who keeps and cherishes the faith and as a leader passes this faith on, no one will falter. And for this long, this body will not break.
If somebody characterizes the morale of a company as bad, then the company leader is responsible for this. If somebody characterizes the morale of a regiment as bad, then the regiment’s commander is responsible for this. A leader is always responsible for his followers. He passes his own spirit on to his followers. If he shows signs of weakness, then his followers will also become weak. If he shows signs of resistance and valor, then his followers will resist and will be valiant. If he shows signs of heroism, then his followers will die heroically. If he shows signs of cowardly capitulation, then his followers will capitulate. The leader of any organization is not only the bearer of its shield. He also fashions its character, its valor. And, in turn, in this sense, he is also responsible for its defeatism. You must hence pass on the faith and insights which you possess to your followers. They must believe in you. And you must always and at all times be the banner, the living banner, behind which they march, an example in all things to the soldier. If this idea continues to suffuse the entire Wehrmacht to the extent which we are already witnessing today-to our great joy and pride-then this Wehrmacht will be invincible. And then this age in which we live will not only be a great age for all of us now, but it will also be regarded as an age of enlightenment by future generations. Just as we think with shame of the years 1918, 1919, 1920, 1921, and so on, so posterity will think with pride and joy of the age we are fashioning at present. Then, we will have done our duty. A man cannot expect more from life. Everyone will die sooner or later. Thus, there is only one question: how did he live his life? Did he live decently? Did he live courageously? Did he live faithfully and did he fulfill his duties? Or did he live like a drone among his Volk? Did he live as one of those who go with the flow of lethargy or apathy? That is the question.
And if there is one reason for living, then it is to be able to say in one’s old age: “For my part, I did my duty. I always was indifferent to what the others did.” When one day you look back to this age, I wish that you will be able to do one thing: to look back with a feeling of pride: “Back then, when the Greater German Reich was fighting for its destiny, I was a soldier. I was an officer back then and I did my duty for this eternal Germany!”
Closing words by Field Marshal von Brauchitsch
You have given us this hour of your life filled with hard work. You have passed on to thousands of cadets the experiences of your life. The thousands of cadets of this class are bound to you in life and in death. What you order, they will execute. And you, my Cadets, now have the duty to step forth. You have to pass on to your units the ideas of which the Fuhrer spoke-the general guidelines, problems and tasks-what each one of you must do. Out there, you are to strengthen the faith, to maintain it, and to carry always in your hearts the belief that what has been ordered must be done for the sake of Germany; that what has been ordered by the Fuhrer will lead to success, just as it has in the past by bringing us to where we are today. And thus old and young soldiers close ranks. And thus everything stands.