Adolf Hitler – opening speech at the third Winterhilfswerk



Kroll Opera in Berlin, October 8, 1935


First of all: in terms of power, class struggle in Germany today has been abolished; in other words, no one is left who would be in a position to engage in it. There may be an isolated individual here or there who still entertains this idea in his thoughts and hopes for better times-which is to say worse times-in which he might once again be in a position to mobilize these instincts.


Let no one be deceived! We have the power to prevent that, and we are resolved to prevent it under all circumstances, and to do so on both sides.


Secondly: we are presently engaged in arriving at a material solution to the differences underlying this class struggle. We are fortunate to be able to enforce this material solution because we ourselves are above such differences. I might well say that I view myself as the most independent of men in this context; obligated to no one, subordinate to no one, indebted to no one-instead answerable only to my own conscience. And this conscience has but one single commander: our Volk! The German Volk and its elite, united in the Movement, in the National Socialist Party!


Now one might say, “if the economy cannot solve everything, why do you not have the State solve it?” But what is the State? Volksgenosse, you are the State! And the State should not force you to fulfill this natural duty; rather, you yourself should express in real terms your feelings for the Volksgemeinschaft, you must come forth and make voluntary sacrifices! [] Don’t tell me, “All right, but it’s still a bother to do all this collecting.” You have never known hunger, otherwise you would know what a bother it is to be hungry. You have never experienced what it means to have nothing to eat, much less what it means not to be able to give one’s loved ones anything to eat! And if the other then says, “But you know, all these stew Sundays231-I would like to give something, but it’s my stomach, I have stomach problems all the time anyway, I don’t understand it. I’d give ten pfennigs just the same.” No, dear friend, there is a reason behind everything we do. It is particularly useful for you, someone who does not understand, if in this way at least we can guide you back to your Volk, to the millions of your Volksgenossen who would be happy if they only had that stew all winter long that you perhaps eat once a month. We did this intentionally and will never depart from it. On the contrary: we are convinced that this is a great day in the German nation and that he who would play truant is without character and a pest within our Volk.


We hold that, by such visible demonstrations, we are continually stirring the conscience of our Volk and making each of you once more aware that you should perceive yourself as a Volksgenosse, and that you should make sacrifices! Do not say, I would gladly give! You should give, even if it means forbearing on your part, for you should make sacrifices for others. We too might have done things differently. But no, we want to show the whole world and our Volk that we Germans perceive the word “community” not as a hollow phrase, but that for us it really does entail an inner obligation.


That is our war! We are engaged in the greatest campaign of conquest in world history; in other words, we are making the conquest of our German Volk.


That is the most splendid conquest there can be-if one has possession of a Volk which shares one mind, one heart, one will, and one action. If this conquest is successful, Providence will not withhold from us our earthly reward in other respects, either.


We National Socialists view this as our tremendous, great task, the most splendid mission there is, the most wonderful battle we can imagine. Anyone who has once found access to this world of ideas will be infinitely and richly rewarded. He will then no longer view it as something painful, as a series of deprivations, but will finally achieve true happiness, namely the happiness of being able to help others and thus to make progress on the road to pure idealism.


Therefore this Winterhilfswerk is a proud affair of the heart to us National Socialists. We are truly proud in feeling that, with it, we have built up something which the world has hitherto not known the likes of, nor we ourselves. If we take only the achievements of peace, of our rich age of peace, as a comparison-how deplorable that was!232 That is the way of things: first our Volk had to be beaten so that it could finally find its way to its own.


Hence we are once more appealing to the Germans. And we are not miserly regarding the outcome of this project. We do not exclude anyone! We are fighting with the Communists here, and we will beat them into the ground if necessary. But should they say, “I’m hungry”-fine, then let them have something to eat.We are not fighting them in order to kill them, but in order to preserve our Volk from madness. But if they come to their senses and return to their Volk, they shall be welcomed with open arms. We rejoice in every person who has found the way to his community. We are just as resolved to defend this community as we are generous in winning over members for this community.