Adolf Hitler - speech in Schwerin at the funeral of Wilhelm Gustloff
February 12, 1936
My German Volksgenossen! National Socialists!
My dear deceased Party Comrade!
It is a painful path the peoples must take to find their fortunes. The milestones along the way have always been graves, graves in which their best men lie buried. Movements, too, can reach the goal of their desires-if truly worth striving for-only by way of this same painful path. Happiness cannot be had for nothing in this world. Everything must be hard-won and bitterly earned, and every fight will require sacrifices and result in victims. The fact that these victims are witnesses of the holy conviction upon which such a fight is based makes them guarantors of victory, success and fulfillment! Our own National Socialist Movement did not begin by demanding sacrifices from others. Back then we stood in the front lines of the World War as soldiers, and there did our duty for Germany. And when this Germany was delivered a lethal stab at home in those November days of 1918, we attempted to convert those who, at that time, were the tools of a terrible supranational power. We were not the ones who victimized our Volksgenossen who rose up against Germany. During those November days the bloody red terror began to rage openly in Germany for the first time. In Berlin and many other places, German men were murdered: not because they had done anything wrong- no, only because they were devoted to Germany and wanted to remain devoted to it. In the heavy fighting of the first quarter of 1919, German men everywhere sank to the ground, struck by the bullets of their own Volksgenossen.
They did not die because they harbored any hatred for these Volksgenossen, but merely because of their love for Germany. Because they refused to believe that a free and honorable Germany had come to an end, because they wanted to devote themselves to the future of this German Volk; that is why they were shot, stabbed, murdered by mad, blind people! Yet behind this mad blindness we see at every turn the same power, at every turn the same phenomenon which led these people on and stirred them up and finally equipped them with rifles, pistols, or daggers! The victims multiplied. The soviet republic broke out in the south of the Reich, and for the first time now we are seeing victims who had already made an inner, albeit unconscious, choice to take the path leading to National Socialism. These hundreds who were murdered back then in their drive to help Germany and to save Germany have now been joined by eleven Volksgenossen, ten men and one woman, who consciously supported a new idea, who had never harmed a single opponent, who knew but one ideal, the ideal of a new and purified, better Volksgemeinschaft: the members of the Thule Society.42 They were savagely slaughtered in Munich as hostages. We know who the principals are. They too were members of this disastrous power which was and continues to be responsible for the fratricide in our Volk.
Then the National Socialist Movement set out on its path, and I must put one thing straight here: on this, the path of our Movement, lies not a single opponent murdered by us, not a single assassination. We rejected that from the very first day onwards. We have never fought with these weapons. However, we were just as determined not to spare our own lives, but to defend the life of the German Volk and the German Reich, and to protect it from those who would not shrink from the most treacherous murder, as history has so often taught us.
Then comes an infinitely long list of murdered National Socialists, murdered by cowards, nearly always ambushed and beaten to death, stabbed or shot. But behind every murder stood the same power which is responsible for this murder: behind the harmless, insignificant, indoctrinated Volksgenossen who were driven to sedition stands the hate-filled power of our Jewish foe, a foe to whom we had done no harm but who attempted to subjugate and make of our German Volk its slave, who is responsible for all the misfortune which came upon us in November 1918 and responsible for the misfortune which plagued Germany in the years thereafter! They all died, these party comrades and good comrades, and so were others, too, to die; many hundreds have survived as cripples or badly wounded; many have lost their power of sight, are paralyzed; more than 40,000 others were injured. Among them were so many loyal men whom we all knew who were dear and close to us, of whom we knew they were incapable of doing harm to anyone and who never had done harm to anyone but been guilty of a single crime, namely, of having devoted themselves to Germany. One who stood in the ranks of these victims was Horst Wessel, the singer who gave the Movement its song, never suspecting that he too would join the spirits who march with us now and have marched with us in the past.
Thus National Socialism has now registered its first conscious martyr (Blutzeuge) abroad. A man who did nothing but stand up for Germany-which is not only his sacred right, but also his duty in this world; who did nothing but be mindful of his homeland and loyally pledge himself to it. He too was murdered exactly as were so many others. We know this method. Even as we took power three years ago on January 30, exactly the same incidents were taking place in Germany: in Frankfurt an der Oder, then again in Kopenick, and again in Brunswick. The same procedure was used each tune: a few men appear, call the man to come out of his house, and then stab him to death or shoot him down.
That is no coincidence; a guiding hand organized these crimes and will continue to do so. Now, for the first time, the party responsible for these deeds has become visible. For the first time this party has not employed a harmless German Volksgenosse. It is a glorious chapter for Switzerland and for our own Germans in Switzerland that no one let himself be hired to do this deed, thereby forcing the spiritual author to himself become the perpetrator. Thus our Party Comrade was struck down by the power which is waging a fanatical battle not only against our German Volk, but against every free, autonomous, and independent people. We understand the declaration of war, and we will respond! My dear Party Comrade, your death is not in vain! Our dead have all come back to life. They are marching with us not only in spirit; they are alive, too. And one of those who will accompany us into the most distant future will be this dead man. May that be our sacred vow in this hour, that we wish to ensure that this dead man take his place in the ranks of our Volk’s immortal martyrs. From his death shall hence come forth life a millionfold for our Volk. That Jewish murderer did not suspect or foresee that, by killing one, he would awaken millions upon millions of comrades to a truly German life long into the most distant future. Just as it was formerly impossible to hinder the triumphant march of our Movement by means of such deeds, for the opposite was the case-these dead became the banner bearers of our idea- so shall this deed too in no way hinder Germans abroad from belonging to our Movement and to the German Fatherland. Quite the contrary, now every Ortsgruppe abroad has a National Socialist patron, a sacred martyr for the Movement and for our idea. From now on his picture will hang in every headquarters. His name will be engraved upon every heart, and he will nevermore be forgotten for all time to come.
That is our pledge. This deed will fall back upon its doer. It is not Germany that will be weakened by it, but the power which committed this crime.
The German Volk has lost one of its living in the year 1936, but has gained an immortal for the future!