Adolf Hitler - speech at the Berlin Sportpalast
on the opening of the Kriegswinterhilfswerk
September 4, 1940
The first year of the war ended in these last days. The second began and with it the new Kriegswinterhilfswerk. The successes of the first year, my Volksgenossen, are unique-so unique in fact that not only our enemies had not envisioned the course of history in this manner, but many in the German Volk were hardly able to comprehend the greatness of the occurrences and the rapidity of events.
We cannot compare the first year of the war to the World War: for in it, despite the greatest of valor, despite the unheard-of, greatest of sacrifices, only partial results were obtained and no one, final solution. This time we need only look at the enormous triangle which is protected by the Wehrmacht today: in the East the Bug; in the North the North Cape, Kirkenes, and Narvik; in the South the border of Spain. A number of our adversaries have been eliminated. And the English owe it only to their fortuitous geographic position and to the enormous rapidity of their escape that they were spared a similar fate until now.
For matters are not standing as several British politicians attempt to portray the situation: that the British Army, tearing at its reins like a wild horse, is aflame with the desire to finally be unleashed, to hurl itself at the German enemy. It was surely close enough to us to satisfy this “desire” without much ado. It withdrew from our vicinity, and thus it is its lot to portray these pitiful retreats as great victories. And this is what all its “successes” look like! Besides the vast area already controlled by German troops at this time, our ally Italy has for its part taken the offensive in East Africa, strengthened its position there, and has beaten England back. Naturally, this is opposed by English “successes.” These are successes which defy comprehension by the normal, healthy human brain. We see time and time again how the English propaganda falls from one extreme to the next, from highs to lows, only to return to even greater highs a few days later.
Thus, one day, we read: “The die has been cast in this war. If the Germans fail to reach Paris-and in this they cannot succeed-then they will have lost the war. Should they still reach Paris, then England will still win the war.” England surely has fought through to many a success of this kind since that September 3. The most glorious of these victories was-although a disgraceful fiasco in our eyes-the flight from Dunkirk. Any port in a storm.
We need only read a British war bulletin to know what all these “successes” amount to. For instance, it says: “We were told that . . .” or “one gains the following information from well-informed circles . . .” or “one hears from knowledgeable officials . . .” or “from expert statements one can infer . .
.” One bulletin even read: “We believe we have cause to be permitted to believe that . . .” In this way any defeat can be transformed into a success! We were just moving into Poland when English propagandists declared that “well-informed circles” had related that the Germans had already suffered a number of grave setbacks: the Poles were victoriously advancing upon Berlin.
Only a few days later, these “well-informed circles” assured us that the tide had turned in the East for good.
Then came equally “well-informed experts” who remarked that, even if Germany should have gained a victory, which was not the case, then this victory was actually a defeat-as seen, naturally, from the viewpoint of higher strategic considerations. When we finally stood before Warsaw, they promptly changed their minds: “ . . . it would be correct to assume that the Allied attack in the West has achieved its first great victory, a breakthrough.” And thus matters went on until there was no more Poland.
And they said: “A great burden has been lifted from our shoulders. This Poland in the East was always a weak point for us. Now we can finally concentrate our efforts on a theater of war where we are superior to the Germans, as they will shortly realize.” Then there was calm for some time. This calm by itself naturally already constituted a consistent success of the British Armed Forces and an equally persistent failure for Germany. While the English worked throughout these months, we apparently slept through them! In this time, the English politicians saw it all, realized it all, and, above all, they grasped everything just in time. In the meanwhile, we missed out on everything.
This was until Norway. When operations began, English war reporters rejoiced at the “colossal mistake” we Germans had supposedly committed.
“Finally the Germans have made a mistake, and now they will have to pay for it,” so they wrote. And they were happy in England that finally they had been afforded the chance to measure themselves with the Germans.
They could have measured themselves with us at any hour, since in the West we lay but a few hundred meters apart. Still they pretended they could not possibly have seen us. And then, for the first time, good fortune afforded them the opportunity, thanks to our foolishness and in particular my own, to oppose us in armed conflict. And the conflict indeed came. It was truly an irony of fate that England owes perhaps the heaviest blow which it was dealt at the time to its very own propaganda.
Namely, as we had beaten the Norwegians back beyond Hamar and Lillehammer, a simple-minded British brigade marched unsuspectingly along the same road to Hamar. They had no connection with the rear, for this rear had been destroyed by our Stukas and fighters. They listened exclusively to British radio. And from the British radio, the commander of the brigade heard that we were far off still, far in front of Lillehammer, or rather, from his point of view, far behind Lillehammer. And that we had suffered a severe defeat.
And thus the British brigade commander marched into Lillehammer at the head of his brigade. There he laid his head to rest, with a chest at his side, filled with documents which read: “Top secret” and “Do not allow to fall into enemy hands.” And that very night, our troops rounded him up, along with his precious Ark of the Covenant. That’s what you get when you rely on Mr. Churchill the war reporter.
And the story was the same all over: they lied and they lied again. They were thrown back into the sea, and this was a “complete and great victory.” When they succeeded in salvaging a bit of rubble from Andalsnes or Namsos, they declared this, before the world, the most mighty success in the modern British history of war. We cannot measure ourselves with something like that, naturally! Still all this is opposed by hard facts: a few weeks later, there was no more Norway and the British Armed Forces were forced to withdraw from this country also.
Then came the hour of the confrontation in the West. And here, too, we did not come too late. For in particular in this campaign, the Allied coalition suffered nothing other than defeat.
The facts-the historic facts-bear witness to this. In spite of this, the campaign also ended in the obligatory great British victory, namely, the magnificent, the glorious feat of arms at Dunkirk. The traces of this glorious military achievement I have seen with my very eyes-it looked rather confused.
Now France has fallen, too. And what rationale has been contrived this time? When Norway had finally been cleansed of the Allies, they had declared: “This was precisely what we wanted. We only wanted to lure the Germans up here. This was a victory, an unequaled victory for us.” After France had been knocked to the ground for good, they had declared: “Now England, for the first time, can concentrate its forces. We are no longer forced to squander our troops and to dissipate our energies. We have now reached the strategic position we have always longed for and hoped for. We are now rid of the burden of France.
It only cost us precious British blood. And now we are in a position to confront the Germans quite differently.” Right at the beginning of the war, they had concerned themselves with certain prophecies regarding the length of the war. They had said: “The war will last three years; Britain will prepare itself for three years.” And rightly so, for these folk, who are immensely rich owners of war production shares, are clever enough to know that their new acquisitions cannot bear interest or be amortized within half a year, or even a year.
Therefore things had to take a bit longer. But I was equally careful and immediately said to the Reichsmarschall at the time: Goring, let us prepare everything for five years! Not because I believe that the war will last five years, but, come what may, England will break down! In one way or another! And I do not know of any deadline other than this one! Of course I will prepare everything in a prudent, cautious, and careful manner. You will understand that.
And when people in England today nosily inquire: “Well, why isn’t he coming?” Calm yourselves: he is coming! Curiosity killed the cat.
The world will be free! The nonsense that it will be possible for one nation to blockade a continent arbitrarily must be done away with. It must be made impossible in the future that such a pirate state, according to disposition and mood, can undertake from time to time to more or less subject 450 million human beings to poverty and misery. We as Germans, for all time, are fed up with having England tell us if we can perhaps do this or that; in the end, if a German is allowed to drink his coffee or not. If England does not like it, then it simply blockades coffee imports. Personally, I am not affected. I do not drink anything. But I am nettled that others should not be able to drink it.
At any rate, I find it insupportable that a nation of eighty-five million should be at the mercy of another people at any time-whenever it suits the plutocrats in London. So often have I extended my hand for an understanding with the English people. You know it yourselves: it was my foreign policy program. I have recently done so for the very last time. I now prefer to fight to finally arrive at a clear decision.
This clear decision can consist only in the removal of this regime of pitiful and base warmongers and in a situation being established in which it will be impossible for one nation to tyrannically run all of Europe in the future.
Here Germany and Italy will take care that history does not repeat itself a second time. And here nothing will help England and its allies: no Emperor Haile Sellassie, no Herr Bene_-nor anyone else: no King Haakon, no Queen Wilhelmina, and no French General de Gaulle. All these allies will be of no help. And whatever other designs they may entertain, or whatever else they may envision in the depth of their hearts-we will be on the lookout, we are ready for anything, determined in everything, and willing to take action at any time.
Nothing frightens us. We German National Socialists have graduated from the toughest school conceivable. First we were soldiers in the Great War, and then we were fighters in the resurgence of Germany. What we had to suffer in these years made us hard. Thus we cannot be intimidated by anything and nothing can surprise us.
When the English entered the war one year ago, they said: “We have an ally.” We were curious to see who that might be. They said: “It is a general, this ally, and his name is General Revolution.” Ha-ha! They have not an inkling of the new National Socialist German Volksstaat. And now London is waiting for this general to commence activities. On September 6, on September 7, nothing happened, and by September 8, there was great disappointment. For, according to their forecasts, this General Revolution was to rise up within a week’s time.
He was nowhere to be found.
Then they said: “We have another allied general; his name is General Hunger.” We had already anticipated that these great friends of humanity would undertake, as in the World War, to starve women and children. And we prepared ourselves. And this general, too, turned out to be a false speculation, a ghost, a jack-o’-lantern in the brain of Mr. Churchill.
Now they have traced a third ally. His name is General Winter. We made his acquaintance once before. And back then he failed, and he will fail and is destined to fail again this time. The English should not forget, if they insist on resorting to such obscure, foreign generals, to promote their own most important General to the rank perhaps of a British Field Marshal: namely, General Bluff. He is their only ally who actually merits so high a distinction. However, this general lacks his former bite. With him you might succeed in deluding the British people, but the German Volk knows England sufficiently well not to be deceived.
The blabbering of a Mr. Churchill or a Mr. Eden-to speak of the old Chamberlain good taste forbids-this blabbering leaves the German Volk cold, and, at best, elicits laughter. In standard German there is no appropriate term for a phenomenon like Duff Cooper. Here you must resort to dialect, and the Bavarian has coined a term which fittingly characterizes the man: Krampfhenne (nervous old hen)! The gentlemen ought to calm down as they cannot win the war with such weapons. The means for this, thank God, lie in our hands and will remain in our hands.
For when the bell tolls, we shall replace the Generals Hunger, Revolution, Winter, or Bluff, with General Action-and then we shall see who will hold his own better! I have already expressed the German Volk’s gratitude to its soldiers before the Reichstag. In these days, we all are moved by gratitude to our Luftwaffe, our valiant heroes, who fly to England day after day, to give our answer there to what the ingenious Mr. Churchill so recently invented. I will speak of this later.
Today I would like to address my thanks to the homeland for the year lying behind us; my thanks to the entire German Volk for the attitude it displayed during the many, not so easy events of this year. For perhaps many do not realize precisely what it means to evacuate, within a few weeks, over 700,000 people. Everything went according to plan. Then, however, everything was well prepared on our side-in contrast to the other side. But what the mass took upon itself in certain instances was often daunting. How it bore up under this truly inspires awe! We are happy that these people can now return to their homeland.
We must also thank those who have taken the most crucial precautions in this homeland, those who were responsible for all of this: the air-raid protection personnel; and, in particular, the colossal organization of the Red Cross, its doctors, its medical personnel, and its nurses. They have accomplished incredible things. Above all, we wish to think of the German woman, of the crowd of millions of German women, German mothers, and also German girls, who had to replace the men working in the cities and in the countryside. They took care of the provision of daily bread and saw to it that the soldier received the necessary weapons and ammunition.
At their side stood the millions of German workers in the ammunition factories, who placed themselves at the disposal of the fighting front, whether young or old, so that it should not be missing any of those items the lack of which led in the end to the breakdown of the year 1918.
It is truly magnificent to see our Volk at war and its total discipline. We realize this all the more in a time when Mr. Churchill is demonstrating to us the use of his invention: the nightly air raid. He does not do this because air raids at night are particularly effective, but because his Air Force cannot penetrate German airspace during the day. While the German pilots, the German planes, fly over English land day by day, no Englishman has yet managed to as much as cross the North Sea by daylight. That is why they come at night and drop their bombs-you know it well-indiscriminately and without plan on civilian residential centers, on farmsteads, and villages.
Wherever they see a light, they drop a bomb.
I did not answer for three months because I was of the opinion that they would ultimately stop this nonsense. Mr. Churchill perceived this as a sign of our weakness. You will surely understand that now we are giving our answers night after night, and this at an increasing rate.
And should the Royal Air Force drop two thousand, or three thousand, or four thousand kilograms of bombs, then we will now drop 150,000; 180,000; 230,000; 300,000; 400,000; yes, one million kilograms in a single night. And should they declare they will greatly increase their attacks on our cities, then we will erase their cities! We will put these nighttime pirates out of business, God help us! The hour will come that one of us will crack, and it will not be National Socialist Germany! In my life, I have once already waged such a fight unto the last. And then the enemy cracked who now has his seat in England as the last available island in Europe. It is precisely in view of this battle that it is all the more necessary to comprehend how important the fashioning and formation of our German Volksgemeinschaft is. We could not have achieved a single thing, if the German soldier had stood at the front, forlorn and on his own, without any connection to kindred souls at home. What makes the German soldier strong at the front is the awareness and knowledge that behind him stands an entire Volk united in iron determination and a fanatical will! And indeed, a Volk in the pursuit of loftier objectives. And these objectives go far beyond the mere winning of this war.
We want to build up a new state! That is why the others hate us so much today. They have often said as much. They said: “Yes, their social experiment is very dangerous! If it takes hold, and our own workers come to see this too, then this will be highly disquieting. It costs billions and does not bring any results. It cannot be expressed in terms of profit, nor of dividends. What is the point?! We are not interested in such a development. We welcome everything which serves the material progress of mankind insofar as this progress translates into economic profit. But social experiments, all they are doing there, this can only lead to the awakening of greed in the masses. Then we will have to descend from our pedestal. They cannot expect this of us.” And we were seen as setting a bad example. Any institution we conceived was rejected, as it served social purposes. They already regarded this as a concession on the way to social legislation and thereby to the type of social development these states loathe. They are, after all, plutocracies in which a tiny clique of capitalists dominate the masses, and this, naturally, in close cooperation with international Jews and Freemasons.
We know these enemies from our inner struggle, our dear old coalition of the System-Deutschland, a part of which has saved itself by swimming ashore.
They hate us because of our social attitude, and everything which we plan and implement based on this appears threatening. They are of the conviction that this development must be eradicated.
I am convinced, however, that the future belongs to this development, and that those states that do not follow suit will, sooner or later, break apart.
If they do not find a reasonable solution, the states with unresolved social problems will, sooner or later, arrive at an insane solution. National Socialism has prevented this in the German Volk. They are now aware of our objectives. They know how persistently and decisively we defend and will reach this goal.
Hence the hatred of all the international plutocrats, the Jewish newspapers, the world stock markets, and hence the sympathy for these democrats in all the countries of a like cast of mind. Because we, however, know that what is at stake in this war is the entire social structure of our Volk, and that this war is being waged against the substance of our life, we must, time and time again in this war of ideals, avow these ideals. And, in this sense, the Winterhilfswerk, this greatest social relief fund there is on this earth, is a mighty demonstration of this spirit.
Any person will judge me quite capable of having gone about the resolution of the financial aspect of this problem in a different manner. We could have generated the income, without much ado, by means of taxation. It would not have been necessary to build up this gigantic organization. We could have accomplished the same through the good offices of civil servants. But while the result might well have been as financially rewarding-perhaps even greater still-in terms of ideals, nothing comparable to what we possess could have been attained.
Thus, the value of this voluntary association of the German Volksgemeinschaft lies in its practical application: for one, the education of the one who gives, but also the education of the other who now voluntarily does the work. For there are two making sacrifices. The one makes a sacrifice in donating, the other in administering this donation and in doing so voluntarily. They all experience the practical education of the Volksgemeinschaft: every small girl who collects on the streets; and all those professionals who take turns lending their support, all the way up to the representatives of the state, of the economy, of the arts, and so on. And this is what is decisive, my Volksgenossen.
For all of us, in one way or another, are burdened with the heritage of the past, our descent, our social standing, our profession, and so on. We have the choice of making do without millions of men, who are irreplaceable in their national work and economic activities, because they are not yet mature enough for membership in such a community. From the start, National Socialism has maintained that man’s behavior is merely a product of education, habit, and heritage; it can thus be relearned. For the child who is reared by our Volk is not born with any prejudices of standing or class; these are instilled in him. Only in the course of his life is this differentiation artificially forced upon him. And to remove this is our mission if we are not willing to renounce the building of a truly organic, sustainable, human community. And this mission we have taken upon ourselves and are beginning to implement in all spheres of life. At the age at which a child formerly was judged old enough to be taught the differences in human existence, we begin with his education towards the community and we do not let go again.
And when this man or another comes to inquire about results-well, my dear friend, we began only a few years ago. First we did so with the Party as the community and then, for nearly eight years now, with the German Volk.
This was but a short time, but the results are already overwhelming when you consider how many centuries before sought the opposite. For this, the colossal demonstrations of our community speak. Only twenty years ago this would have been impossible; thirty years ago inconceivable; and forty years ago no one would have wanted this; but today it is a virtual reality. We educate man to a single conception of life, to a single, balanced conception of duty. And we are convinced that, after a certain period of such an education, men will emerge as products of this education who then will, to the same extent, represent the new ideas as today they still embody, in part, the old ones.
It was a laborious process of polishing and educating. But in the Winterhilfswerk already we can see: it is making progress. When the first Winterhilfswerk was called to life, many still went about Germany-you know what I mean, according to Ludwig Schmitz497-and said: “Who is coming along there? A man with a collection tin! About face right or left, march!” Or some other stupid comment.
That the situation has improved is evident already in the growing amount of donations. Persistence here, too, has led to success. And slowly, even the most thickheaded representative of the old order has to acknowledge: first, it is of no use anyway, the collectors come time and time again; and second, it is better to donate something; and third, everything considered, something is truly being achieved. And what is happening? The wounds we have healed in Germany! In how many instances did we help others out! In how many instances did we give people a leg-up! What gigantic social institutions have we created! Believe me, many people are against such reforms simply because of apathy or mental sluggishness! But once they do finally see results, they say: “Well, naturally one can contribute to this. I did not think, I could not imagine, either something so colossal coming of it, or it having such consequences. These are truly deeds of greatness which are being accomplished here.” And when these men then come to reflect upon themselves as representatives of the old stubborn opinions, then they are already on the way towards a new Germany.
By contrast, if thirty years ago we had told someone: “Sir, here take this collection tin. Now go stand at the street corner and ask people to donate something for their Volksgenossen”-then that someone would surely have said: “What for? I myself will give you something. But more you cannot ask of me. I am Mister So and So. Never would I think of doing anything of the kind. And what’s more: What will people think of me? What should I do if someone comes up to me and says something stupid?” Well, this man obviously is not all that much more intelligent than the person whom he considers to be stupid. You have to educate people to be considerate to one another. It is good if they see how ill-considered, how stupid some people are.
And precisely this great work has shown within a few years’ time how open to influence a Volkskorper is; how a great idea can lay hold of people in the end. This is true also of a great work, of a great achievement. And we are in fact laying hold of them from all sides. Everywhere this education is being conducted.
I do not know how often, in former times, people remarked on the Napoleonic phrase that every soldier carries the marshal’s baton in his knapsack. This was not meant literally, of course. For then it was simply inconceivable that a regular soldier set out on such a path. All this has changed today, top to bottom.
Whereas once the highest distinction was accorded only to officers, today a valiant non-commissioned officer or private may equally well earn it. The walls of a world of prejudice have been torn down. A world of prejudice is gone and, you may believe me, in the course of the decades it will become ever the more beautiful to live in this state. All the greater will be the tasks to be faced. They will draw our Volk ever closer together, will transform it into a closer community of even greater depths. And if there should still remain some who are not willing, under any circumstances, then we will just have to accord them an honorable funeral. For they are the representatives of a bygone era and, perhaps, of great interest in this respect. But the future belongs to the young nations who will solve this question. And we have undertaken its solution and we shall see to it.
In this context, the Winterhilfswerk constitutes a colossal demonstration of the community of the homeland in view of the colossal demonstrations of the community of our front. As a gigantic organism there fulfills its duty in a wellorganized manner, so the homeland does here and is prepared to undertake the same, willing to make any sacrifice this struggle for existence, for our future, will impose upon us. And when I pay tribute here once more to all those who have contributed to the first Kriegswinterhilfswerk or who were otherwise active as helpers, then, at the same time, I ask all of you: Fulfill anew your mission in this second Kriegswinterhilfswerk. May some of you become voluntary helpers while the others become voluntary contributors. And take care that this project should once more demonstrate to the world our indivisible sense of community, that it should finally recognize all speculations connected to “General Revolution” to be idiotic. Another general has taken the place of this general: the general of a common fulfillment of duty! It is the spirit of our Volksgemeinschaft which allows us to bear all this and which makes our Volk strong for all confrontations and decisions of the future! With this the individual contributes to breaking the will of our enemies, to robbing them of their illusions, and thereby does his part in the dissemination of correct information about our Volk. The more the other world sees this great Volk to be a single unit, the more it will recognize the hopelessness of its undertaking.
People who set forth on paths separate from one another could be broken.
But eighty-five million men who have one will, one resolve, and who are prepared to act-no power on earth can break them!