A British Journalist's Report Of The Awe Inspiring Speech Given By Hitler In Köln

The meeting was to be in the great hall, the so called Messehalle of the New Exhibition Buildings on the east of the Rhine River. It was due to begin at 8.30, doors to open at 7 p.m. As my tram crossed the Hohenzollern Bridge, it was escorted on both sides by a steady stream of people flowing east. I arrived at 7.10, none too soon. Five or six thousand people were already massed around the raised tribune that commanded the L-shaped hall in both directions. The immense building was well lighted and hung with the familiar scarlet flag, whose black Swastika stands out startlingly from a circular white ground. Huge slogans covered the walls:

Germans, be one in Hitler!
Marxism must die that Germany may live!
Hitler for Freedom, Work, and Food!

The gangways in every direction were lined by upstanding young men of twenty to twenty-five, in the khaki uniform of the Storm Detachments. As the crowds poured in from various entrances, they were shepherded with courtesy and efficiency. Any momentary rush was quietly stemmed by Storm Troopers linked arm in arm, who diverted the overhasty newcomers into better channels. Three thousand were on duty.

Though chairs were packed so tight that the thinnest of us sat slightly edgeways, perfect good humour prevailed throughout the ranks. Diversions occurred when bodies of students or schoolboys or mercantile marines marched in to allotted seats in the galleries. Cheers greeted a file of bareheaded young women wearing the white blouses and black ties of the Women Staff. The central rows of seats were surrounded by a sea of standing people completely filling the floor space. These were almost entirely men; the proportion of men to women in the seats was roughly three to one.

While the crowds still continued to arrive, the Nazi bands played military music, and elderly neighbours whispered how these tunes recalled the days of long ago, and as they murmured: Cavalry March Of Frederick The Great, Lützows Wilde Verwegene Jagd -- Lützow's Wild Audacious Hunt, the tears were very near. Newsboys offered the latest copies of various Hitler journals, lads in uniform brought flags and photographs for sale, and coins passed to and fro, quickly, quietly, as in a church.

The moments of the long wait flew by. Before 8.30 not one inch of space was left in any corner of the building. A universal stir: in filed the banners, two and two, of the Local Groups. Some forty of them, not a few hung with crepe in memory of a murdered comrade, one standard wholly black in honour of the dead. Many had leaped to their feet till rhythmic cries of Hinsetzen! Hinsetzen! -- Sit down!, taken up all around, shamed them to their seats again. When the banners had been ranged around the platform, the bands struck up a mourning air, and the multitude stood with bared and bowed heads to the strains of:

I once had a good comrade
No better could you find .....

in a silence as profound and moving as ours of Armistice Day.

The Leader was due, the atmosphere was tense. Someone stepped forward to announce that Herr Hitler had been speaking today, not only in Borchum, but also in Essen, and that his aeroplane would be an hour late. Not a quiver of disappointment, not a murmur of impatience, passed over the assembly as the maker of this unwelcome announcement proceeded ably to speak of the National Socialist Movement, its aims and ideals, its relation to political parties.

I had the good fortune to be seated by a Nazi Official, from whom I gleaned much. Hitler's favourite dog had been poisoned, and Hitler's own life four times attempted. I learned details of the minute and comprehensive organisation throughout the country, in which every participant works for love and finds his own expenses. My informant was himself in the Propaganda Department in charge of a certain block of houses. The work was not without risk; he had been attacked and nearly flung down five flights of stone stairs. He was saving up the fifty German Marks for a uniform to join the Storm Detachments. While we waited he explained the various signs and badges. The discipline, the idealism, the obliteration of caste and rank, the whole hearted unpaid service, recalled nothing I have met before but in the Boy Scouts.

We have waited two hours and a half. The bands strike up. The Leader comes. Preceded by flags, he paces between two lines of his Storm Detachments. The entire multitude leaps to its feet, and one shout breaks, again and yet again, from 125,000 throats: Heil Hitler! The roar continues until he has shaken hands on the platform; a hush falls; people are reseated. Someone in a brief phrase bids Hitler Welcome to our sacred city of Köln! The Leader raises his hand and speaks. For three quarters of an hour a pin falling to the floor could have been heard, no single person coughed, so absolute was the spell.

Younger looking, slighter, taller than I had imagined, Hitler stood, unselfconscious and commanding before his audience. He has natural gestures and a pleasant voice, delightfully clear and easy to follow. When he raised it in passion or in fervour, it was either hoarse from incessant speaking or the loudspeakers were ill tuned. It then rang discordant, harshly vibrant, hard to hear. No attempt was made to expound the Nazi program. The Leader brilliantly rebutted the attacks of those who claim that he should have taken office on August 13 last. I skim the passages that most took the house:

People taunt me with refusing to join von Papen's Government. Why did I not? I had no mind to sail in Papen's wake. [Wild applause.] People say: But you can join a train and step out at the first station if it likes you not. You can! But why get in, if the train is bound for the wrong destination and little likely to arrive even there? [Delighted laughter.] And I have no great agility for hopping out, [laughter] and besides, I carry with me too much heavy kit. [Roars of prolonged applause.] You cannot hop in and out with fourteen million souls .....

I am willing enough to travel by a train going in the right direction if I drive the engine, but I have no mind to be carted in the baggage van. [Wild applause.] I might have been Vice Chancellor, and people say the Vice Chancellor is free to act when the Chancellor is away or ill. But if I had been Vice Chancellor, do you think the Chancellor ever would have been away or ill? [No! No!]

I might, they say, have used my influence. I have no use for influence that cannot be translated into action. I am told that the post has a decorative value. Nature never meant me to be decorative. [Loud laughter.] I am told I should have had a nice little salary and a pretty title. I ask no salary, and there is no title the Republic can bestow which I rate higher than my name of Hitler. [Roars of prolonged applause.]

People ask how I dare claim to lead. I answer, because I have toiled for thirteen years to fit myself to lead, to fit the country to be led. If Germany is to rise again, recovery must come from the people, for disaster began amongst the people. No economic policy is possible while we are split into two dozen parties: landlords, tenants, employers, workers, bureaucrats, and the rest. No recovery is possible until Germany is one. [Enthusiastic cheering.] Catholic and Protestant, rich and poor, soldier and civilian, doctor, lawyer, artisan, and peasant, must form one brotherhood. We have grown from seven to a million, from one million to fourteen. We have not done growing. The new Government must be of the whole Folk, and have its roots deep in German soil.

If I join a party, I fling away the fruits of thirteen years -- and worse: I betray the men who trust me. No political movement in history has ever boasted such loyalty as ours. You are loyal to me, and I no less to you. [Echoing and reechoing applause.] I will not desert you. We have laboured and suffered together. We will work until not fourteen but forty millions are ours. No blow shall stay us. No lure shall tempt us. Our watchword is:


Kein Kapitulieren! -- No surrender!

[Unending applause.]

Heads were bared and right hands raised as
Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles burst from every throat. After a pause it changed into the great song that was the murdered Wessel's Last Greeting To The Germany Of Tomorrow.

As poetry it might be bettered, but it has great lines, and, sung with the religious fervour of this multitude, it left an impression not lightly to be effaced:

The day of Freedom and of Food shall dawn .....
The knell of slavery shall soon be rung .....

Each verse ends with the twice repeated refrain:

The comrades slain by Communists and cowards
In spirit still are marching in our ranks.

(This alliterative line is, of course, a very free translation. A literal English rendering of Comrades whom Red Front and Reactions [have] shot would betray the lack of rhythm and logic even more grievously than the original.)

The host of full an eighth of a million dispersed quietly and silently into the night. The spell still held. Scarcely a word was heard.

Outside we passed the 85 mounted and 250 unmounted Police who had guarded the hall from molestation. The silver grey Exhibition Buildings, with their rigid rectilinear lines, shouldered us out into an inky winter night. The black satin shining river flowed noiselessly by, flanked and crossed by golden lights whose reflections plunged quivering lances into the unplumbed depths. Across the water, behind the blaze of city lights, two immense spears thrust up towards heaven, spectrally silhouetted against a sky of indigo. Something of the spirit that reared the Cathedral of Köln had been throbbing in the Messehalle tonight.


E. O. L., October 31, 1932.