Adolf Hitler - speech in Lustgarten, Berlin
“The Day of National Labor.”
May 1, 1933
German boys! German girls!
Three cheers for our Reich President, Field Marshal von Hindenburg, the great soldier and leader of the World War: Er lebe hoch, hoch, hoch!
German Volk, you are strong when you are one. German Volk, you are not second-class, even if the world wants you to be a thousand times over. German Volk, forget fourteen years of disintegration and rise up to two thousand years of German history!
German Volksgenossen! ‘Der Mai ist gekommen.” That is how a German folksong puts it. And for many centuries, the first day of May was not only symbolic of spring’s arrival in the countryside; it was also a day of joy, of festive spirits and sentiments.
There came a time when this day was enlisted for other purposes, and the day of new life and hopeful joy was transformed into a day of quarrel and internal strife. A dogma which had seized hold of our Volk attempted to transform the day of awakening nature, of the visible approach of spring, into a day of hate, of fraternal strife, of discord, and of suffering. Centuries passed by this German country, and this day seemed more and more destined to document the division and disunity of our Volk. But there finally came a time of reflection, too, after the deepest suffering had seized our Volk, a time of turning inward and for German people to come together again.
And today we can once more join in singing the old folk song: “Der Mai ist gekommen. “Our Volk’s awakening has come to pass. The symbol of class conflict, of never-ending strife and discord, is now becoming once again the symbol of the great unity and uprising of the nation. And thus, for all time to come, we have chosen this day when nature awakens as the day of regaining our own power and strength and, at the same time, the productive work which knows no limits, which is not bound to unions or factories or offices; work we wish to recognize and promote wherever it is performed in a positive sense for the very existence and the life of our Volk.
The German Volk has a gruesome crisis behind it. But it is not as though this were due to lack of industry, no! Millions in our Volk are working like before. Millions of peasants are walking behind their plows as in the past, millions of workers are standing at the workbench, hammering to the sound of the ringing anvil. Millions in our Volk are working, and millions more want to work, but they cannot! Tens of thousands voluntarily put an end to an existence which, for them, holds only grief and misery. They have traded it for the next world, in which they hope for something more and better. Appalling suffering and misfortune have descended upon us and brought, in their wake, despondency and even despair. And we now ask ourselves, why? It is a political crisis. The German Volk has become disintegrated internally, its entire vitality is being used up in the internal struggle. The ability to build on the power of one’s own will has dwindled, people’s faith in the power of the individual has diminished. Millions are eyeing the rest of the world in the hope that it will bestow upon them good fortune and well-being. The Volk is disintegrating, and its vitality, its power to assert its own life, is fading with this disintegration. We see the consequences of this class conflict around and within us, and we want to learn from this. For there is one thing we have recognized as the primary requirement for the recovery of our Volk: the German Volk must once again come to know itself! The millions of people divided into professions, separated into artificial classes which, infested by arrogance of rank and class madness, are no longer able to understand each other-they must find their way back together! A gigantic, tremendous task-we know it! But when madness has been upheld and preached as a political idea for seventy years, when the destruction of the Volksgemeinschaft has been the political rule for seventy years, then it is difficult to seek to change people’s minds overnight. We must not allow this to let us become despondent and despair. What one man has built, another can tear down; what human madness once created can be overcome by the power of reason.
We know that this process of coming to know and understand each other cannot be a matter of weeks or months or even of a mere few years. We do, however, have the unshakable will to accomplish this great task before German history, we have the resolution to lead German people back together, and if necessary, to force them back together.
That is the meaning of May Day which shall be celebrated in Germany from now on and throughout the centuries so that all those who are active in the great machinery of our productive national work may join together and extend their hands to one another once a year in the realization that nothing can be accomplished unless everyone contributes his share of work and efforts. And thus, as our motto for this day, we have chosen the sentence, “Honor the work, and respect the worker!” For millions, it is difficult to overcome all the hate and misunderstandings which have been artificially cultivated in the past and find their way back together. There is one realization which allows us to tread this path more easily.
Take a person who is working, wherever it may be-he should and must not forget that his Volksgenosse, who is doing his duty just like him, is indispensable; that the nation does not subsist on the work of a government, of a certain class or in the products of its intelligence, but rather lives from the mutual and harmonious work of all! When millions believe that the type of work itself is any indication of the worthiness of those who execute it, this is a bitter mistake. There are many tens of thousands among us who want to make respect for the individual dependent upon the type of work he does. No! Not what he does, but rather how he does it must be the decisive factor. The fact that millions among us are industrious year in, year out, without ever being able to hope to gain riches, or even only to achieve a life without cares-that should oblige everyone to support them all the more. For it is their idealism and their devotion alone which make it possible for the whole to exist and live. It would be a sorry fate if today this idealism in our Volk were to fade and the value of an individual were to be judged solely by the external fortunes of life which have fallen to his lot. The value of our Volk would then no longer be great and its term of existence would not be long.
It is useless to explain to the worker that he is important or to prove to the peasant the necessity of his existence; useless to approach the intellectual, the mental worker, in order to make him understand the importance of what he does. It is necessary to teach each rank and class the significance of the other ranks and classes. And therefore we want to go forth into the cities to proclaim to them the necessity and the essentiality of the German peasant and go out into the country and to our thinkers and teach them the significance of the German working class. We want to go to the worker and to the peasant to teach them that there can be no German life unless there is a German spirit; that they all must unite to form a great community: spirit, mind and hand, worker, peasant, and burgher.
This First of May shall also convey to the German Volk the realization that industry and work alone do not make up life if they are not wed to the power and the will of a people. Industry and work, power and will-only if they join forces, only when the strong fist of the nation is raised to protect and shelter the work, only then can real blessings result. And this day shall also make the German Volk conscious of one thing: German Volk! You are strong when you are united, when you banish from your heart the spirit of class conflict and your discord. You can place an enormous power behind your work if you unite that work with your entire Volkstum’s will to live! We dream of a State of the German Nation which is capable of once more securing our Volk’s daily bread on earth, and we know that this requires the concentrated force of the nation. Though today Marxism scoffs that this will never work, we will provide proof that it does. My friends! Things that are great in this world are never free. One must fight bitterly for everything; similarly, it will not be an easy matter for the uprising of the Volk to become reality: it, too, requires an inner struggle. We should not complain today; we know that we will earn this uprising, will earn the freedom of our Volk. And then it will be proven that Marxism was no more than mere theory and, as such, attractive and seductive, but in reality incapable of bringing real profit and good fortune to a people.
This First of May shall document that we do not intend to destroy, but rather plan to build up. One should not choose the most beautiful spring day of the year as a symbol of fight, but as a symbol of constructive work; not as an embodiment of decay and thus disintegration, but only of völkisch solidarity and thus of rising up. It is no coincidence that our opponents, who claim to have been celebrating this day for seventy years now and who have been in power in Germany for fourteen years have not, in spite of everything, succeeded in gaining hold of the German Volk on this day as we have done from the very beginning. The Volk unconsciously perceives in its core that any celebration of the Marxist type was contrary to the springtide season. It did not want hate, it did not want struggle, it wanted uplifting! And today the Volk senses it: the First of May has recovered its true, intrinsic meaning. That is the reason why millions throughout Germany are joyfully pouring forth to bear witness to a will which desires to take part in the reconstruction of the nation. And while we observe this holiday for the first time today, let us call to mind our aims for the time which lies before us: without faltering shall we struggle to ensure that the power captured by the new concept, the new political faith in Germany, will never again fade, but instead grow stronger and stronger.
We want to fight to ensure that this new idea rises above all of Germany and gradually captivates the entire German Volk in its spell. With courage and determination, we want to defend this flag of the resurrection of our Volk against anyone who believes he can tear it down. We want to reawaken our Volk’s self-esteem and self-confidence and attempt to increase them on a permanent basis. We know the time which lies behind us and those who typified it. They intentionally inoculated our Volk with the idea that it was, as a whole, inferior in the world, incapable of great deeds, not worthy of the rights accorded all others. They artificially cultivated inferiority complexes because this corresponded to the inferiority of the parties which seduced this Volk for long years. We want to release the Volk from this spell, want to continually impress upon it this belief: German Volk! You are not second-class, even if the world wishes it so a thousand times over. You are not of lesser value, of lesser significance. German Volk, remember what you are, remember your past and the accomplishments of your fathers, of your very own generation! Forget fourteen years of disintegration, and rise to two thousand years of German history! We have called out to you this way, my Volksgenossen throughout Germany, from the first day onwards to instill in all of you this conviction from a feeling of inner solidarity: Germans! You are a strong Volk if you will yourself to be strong! The millions who are demonstrating in Germany today will return home with the feeling of a newly won inner power and unity. I know, my comrades, that tomorrow your tread will be firmer again than it was yesterday. For all of us feel it: today it may be possible to rape the nation, to put it in chains-but it is no longer possible to break or humiliate it! Thus it is also our desire on this day to fortify the confidence not only in yourself, German Volk, no, but the confidence in your government, too, which feels bound to you and is a part of you, which belongs to you, which fights with you for your life, which has no other purpose but to make you, German Volk, free and happy once more.
And finally, today our solidarity is to be documented for all time by an act.
When we first presented the idea of compulsory labor service to the public, the representatives of the dying Marxist world raised a great outcry, declaring, “That is a new attack on the proletariat, an attack on work, an attack on the life of the worker!” Why did they do that? They knew very well that it would never be an attack on work and much less an attack on the worker, but merely an attack on a terrible prejudice, namely that manual labor is inferior. We want to wipe out this prejudice in Germany. At a time when millions in our ranks live without any comprehension of the significance of manual labor, we want to bring the German Volk, by means of compulsory labor service, to the realization that manual labor does not discredit, does not degrade, but rather, just as any other activity, does honor to him who performs it faithfully and honestly.
It remains our firm decision to lead every single German, be he who he may, whether rich or poor, whether the son of scholars or the son of factory workers, to experience manual labor once in his lifetime so that he can come to know it, so that he can here one day more easily take command because he has learned obedience in the past. We intend by no means to eliminate Marxism only in an external sense. We are resolved to remove its very foundations. We want to spare coming generations the mental confusion it causes.
Mental and manual workers must never be allowed to be on opposite sides.
For this reason we are exterminating that feeling of arrogance which so readily befalls the individual and makes him look down upon comrades who “only” stand at the workbench or the machine or walk behind the plow. Not only must every German become acquainted at least once with this type of work, but viceversa, too: the manual worker must realize that mental work is also necessary.
And he must be taught that no one has the right to look down upon others, to imagine oneself something better; rather, each must be willing to join the great community.
This year for the first time we will turn this great ethical concept, which we connect with the Arbeitsdienst, into reality. And we know that when forty years have passed, the term manual work will have undergone a change in meaning for millions of people, just as the term Landsknecht has come to be replaced by the concept of the German soldier.
This year we will also accomplish the great task of liberating creative initiative from the disastrous influences of majority resolutions. Not only in parliament, but in the economy as well. We know that our economy cannot advance unless a synthesis can take place between the freedom of the creative spirit and the obligation to the Volk as a whole. Thus it will also be our task to give to the treaties the meaning they deserve. Man does not live for the sake of treaties; treaties are there in order to make it possible for man to live. And finally, this year we will endeavor to finish the first lap on the way to an organic management of the economy, and we will proceed on the basic realization that there is no advancement which does not begin at the root of national, völkisch and economic life: the peasant. There begins the path which leads to the worker and further on to the intellectual.
Thus we will begin with our husbandman and, as first priority, lead his business back to health. We know that this is the foremost prerequisite for the recovery of the rest of the economy. The opposite has been done now for fourteen years. And we are witnessing the results. It has helped neither the urban dweller nor the worker nor the Mittelstand-they have all been forced to the brink of destruction.
And this leads to yet another task: the elimination of unemployment by a program providing employment. We are dividing this employment program into two parts. First of all, there is private provision of employment. Before the year is over, we will have set out to accomplish a work of greatness, a work which will put German structures and buildings back in order and thus provide work for hundreds of thousands. At this time and in this place, we want to direct our appeal to the German Volk for the first time: German Volk! Do not believe that the problem of providing employment will be solved in the stars. You yourself must lend a hand toward solving it. You must do everything you can out of understanding and trust to provide work. Each and every person has the duty not to hesitate to provide that which he requires; not to wait to produce what he will once have to produce. Every entrepreneur, every property owner, every businessman, every private person has the duty to bear German labor in mind. Since today the world is circulating untrue allegations against us, since German labor is being denounced, we must expect each German to take on his work. This is an appeal which, directed to millions of individuals, is best able to provide work for millions of people. We will also attempt to provide public employment opportunities on a large scale within the current year. We are installing a program which we do not want to pass on to posterity, the program of building a new road system, a gigantic undertaking which will require billions. We will sweep away resistance and make a great beginning. We will thereby introduce a series of public work projects which will help to steadily decrease the unemployment rate.
We want to work and we will work! However, in the end everything depends upon the German Volk itself, on you, on the confidence you place in us; it depends on the force of your belief in the national State. Only when you all unite in the single will to save Germany will the German individual be able to find his salvation in Germany. We know that we still have tremendous difficulties to overcome. We also know that all human labors are doomed to fail if they are not blessed by the light of Providence. But we do not belong to those who comfortably rely on a hereafter. Nothing will be given us for free. Just as, for us, the road from the past fourteen years to the present day has been a road of incessant struggle, a road which often led us near despair, the road to a better future will also be difficult. The world is persecuting us, it is turning against us, it does not wish to recognize our right to live, does not want to admit that we have a right to protect our homeland.
My German Volksgenossen! The fact that the world is so against us is all the more reason why we must become a unified whole; all the more reason for us to continually assure the world: you can do whatever you want! But you will never break us, never force us to submit to any yoke! You will no longer be able to wipe out the cry for equal rights in our Volk! The German Volk has come to its senses. It will no longer tolerate people in its midst who are not for Germany! We want to earn the renewed ascent of the nation by honest means, through our industry, our persistence, our unshakable will! We are not asking of the Almighty, “Lord, make us free!” We want to take an active part, to work, to accept one another as brothers and unite in a common struggle so that one day the hour will come when we can step before the Lord and have the right to ask of Him, “Lord, You can see that we have changed. The German Volk is no longer a Volk of infamy, shame, self-reproach, faintheartedness, and little faith.
No, Lord, the German Volk is once again strong in its will, strong in its persistence, strong in bearing any sacrifice. Lord, we will not give You up! Now bless our fight for our freedom and thus our German Volk und Vaterland!”