The Coming Europe by Joseph Goebbels

Source: Das kommende Europa. Rede an die tschechischen Kulturschaffenden und Journalisten,” Die Zeit ohne Beispiel (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1941), pp. 314-323.

I welcome the opportunity to speak to you on a number of questions that in my view must be openly discussed if relations between the Reich and the Protectorate are to be improved. I believe it necessary to do so now, despite the war. I fear that once the war is over, we will not be able to discus these matters as calmly as we now can.

As intelligent people, you know that the greatest events in the history of Europe are now taking place. I am firmly convinced — how could it be otherwise! — that things will turn out to our advantage.

When England falls, we will have the chance to reorganize Europe in a way that befits the social, economic, and technical possibilities of the twentieth century.

Our German Reich went through a similar process about a hundred years ago. It was splintered into larger and smaller entities, just as Europe is divided today. This collection of small states was possible as long as the transportation system was such that it took considerable time to travel from one small principality to the next. The invention of the steam engine, however, rendered this situation untenable. Before the development of the railroad, one needed 24 hours to go from one place to another, but only three or four hours were necessary thereafter. Before the steam engine one could travel 24 hours before reaching a customs boundary, but even the most fanatic proponents of federalism found it intolerable once it took five hours, then three, then two, and finally only half an hour.

There were also forces in the Reich back then who attempted to remedy the situation through negotiation. History proved that their way was false, and in a rather common way. History follows harder laws than those that usually prevail at the negotiating table. You will recall perhaps Bismarck’s words from those years. He said that German unity would come not through speeches and decisions, but through blood and iron. This was controversial at the time, but history proved its correctness. The unity of the Reich was established through battles. A large number of the peculiarities of the individual areas, along with their prejudices, narrow-mindedness and limited horizons were overcome. They had to be overcome, since the Reich otherwise would not have been able to compete with the other powers in Europe. Our unification was the foundation of our ability to overcome these problems.

Naturally there were Bavarians or Saxons or Wurtembergers or people from Baden or Schaumberg-Lippe who were unhappy about developments, but in the end their prejudices vanished and their attention turned to the greater goal, the new Reich.

Of course, the Bavarian remained a Bavarian, the Saxon a Saxon, the Prussian a Prussian. But they saw beyond their provincial origins to a larger community, and in the course of the decades learned that a whole series of economic, financial, foreign, and military problems could be resolved through the community.

The greatness of the Reich was the result of this process — a process that seems obvious to us today, but which many back then some could not or would not understand. They were the prisoners of their prejudices, and lacked the strength to overcome them and imagine a better world. Only a few could look beyond their own age.

The railroad is no longer the most modern method of transportation, having been replaced by the airplane. A modern airplane covers a distance in an hour or an hour and a half for which a train needs twelve hours. Technology has brought not only tribes, but also peoples closer together than could even be imagined in the past. In the past one needed 24 hours to speak from Berlin to Prague through a newspaper. Today I only need a second. Standing before this microphone, one can simultaneously be heard in Prague, Slovakia, Warsaw, Brussels, and Den Haag. I once needed twelve hours to travel from Berlin to Prague by train. Now I can fly in an hour. Technology has once again brought people closer together. It is certainly no accident that this technology has developed only recently. The population of Europe has grown, presenting Europe with entirely new problems in agriculture, the economy, finance, and the military. And the continents, too, have grown closer as a result of new technology. Europeans are more and more realizing that our differences are only family squabbles when measured against the vast problems that the continents must solve.

I am convinced that, just as we look back with some amusement on the narrow-minded conflicts between German provinces in the 1840’s and 1850’s, our posterity in fifty years will look back with similar amusement on what is going on today in Europe. They will see the “dramatic battles between nations” of small European states as family squabbles. I am convinced that in fifty years we will no longer think in terms of nations, but of continents, and that entirely different, and perhaps much larger, problems will concern Europe.

Do not think that, as we bring about a certain order in Europe, we do it to harm individual nations. The freedom of individual countries must be brought in harmony with the conditions of the present and with simple questions of practicality. Just as a member of a family does not have the right to disturb everyone else’s peace, an individual nation does not have the right to resist the larger order.

We have never intended to promote this ordering or reordering process by force. Although we are Germans, we do not wish to injure the economic, cultural or social characteristics of the Bavarians or Saxons. It is no more in our interest to injure those, say, of the Czech people. However, the two peoples must understand each other. We must be either friends or enemies. As I believe you know well from history, the Germans can be terrible enemies, or good friends. We can extend our hand to a friend and work with him. We can also destroy an enemy.

The peoples who have joined this ordering process, or who will join it, have to decide if they will participate whole-heartedly and loyally, or if they will resist it. That will not change the facts. You may be sure that once the Axis powers have defeated England, they will not allow major political, economic or social changes in the re-organized Europe. If England cannot stop it, neither can the Czech people. If you have understood recent history, you will know that today’s political power situation cannot and will not be altered.

Therefore, gentlemen, I speak realistically, with no appeal to sentiment. It makes no difference whether you like this or not. Whether you applaud it or not, the facts remain the same. I believe that when one cannot change a situation and must accept certain disadvantages because of it, one would be foolish not to accept its advantages as well. Since you have become a part of the Reich, I do not see why the Czech people would prefer to oppose the Reich rather than to accept its advantages.

You have had to accept a series of political changes. I know that they were not pleasant. No one knows that better than I. I know that you have had to give up things that you enjoyed in the past, and I know that one does not adjust to such a situation overnight. There are certain matters that are much more unpleasant than they seem from the perspective of the Reich.

Nonetheless: If you have to accept the disadvantages, I believe you should also accept the advantages. Let me give an example.

In 1933, we faced the Jewish Question. Everyone in the world knew that we opposed the Jews. We discovered the disadvantages of anti-Semitism, but we also got the benefits. We had to accept the fact that we were slandered and attacked throughout the world. We also got the advantages — namely excluding the Jews from theater, film, public life, and the government. When we were later attacked as enemies of the Jews, we at least could say: It was worth it. We got something for it.

You, gentlemen, have had a chance to visit the Reich. I made sure that you had done so before speaking to you. You have seen the Reich in the middle of a war, and will be able to imagine how it will look in peace. Our well-populated Reich and Italy will lead Europe. That will happen. There is no changing it. For you, this means that you are part of a large Reich that will give a new order to Europe. It will put an end to a situation that clearly cannot satisfy people. We are about a work of reform that I am sure will be a major chapter in European history. Can you imagine the importance of the Reich after the war?

You know that we have made energetic efforts not only in politics, but also in the cultural and economic spheres. You know that we want the people to join in these measures and their results. Let me give an example: Formerly, German films had an audience of 86 million. In the future, the audience will be much larger. It is up to you whether you want to participate, or stand aside. You can be sure that in the latter case, we have the ways and means to eliminate Czech films. We do not want to do that. We would rather you join with us. Nor do we want to suppress your cultural life. On the contrary, we want a lively cultural exchange. But that can happen only on the basis of loyalty. You must accept the present situation without leaving a back door open and thinking that if things go wrong, you will have a way out.

Take the history of the National Socialist movement as an example. Some members of our party carry a special badge with a gold wreath around it. That says: “I was a National Socialist when there was no advantage to it. I fought for this movement before it came to power.” They affirmed the movement at a time when its victory was not at all certain. Affirming a cause when it has won takes no great intelligence. But if you announce your loyalty before the victory is gained, gentlemen, you will give us full confidence in your loyalty.

I believe that you have to work through this matter. I have done the same thing myself. Recently I have read quite a number of Czech books and seen quite a few Czech films. I have read numerous reports about Czech cultural activities. I really regret that I cannot recommend most of the products of your cultural life to the German people. Things must first be cleaned up. I would for example like to have the German people see a number of Czech films. Do you want to be satisfied with the Czech market, or would you like your films to be shown throughout the Reich? Does it not fill you with pride to go to Hamburg and say: “That is my harbor?” Would you not like to look at the German fleet and say: “That is the fleet that protects us,” or see the heroic German army and say “That is the army that also protects our people with iron strength?” I think that is more beneficial than saying: “Oh well, I guess we have to go along!,” but only half-heartedly.

You and the Czech people will have to make up your minds. Do not tell me that the Czech people wants this or that. I think I know something about leadership. A people thinks the way its intelligentsia teaches it to think. It has the ideas of its intellectual leaders. It is your intellectual duty to make clear to the Czech people the decision they should make. Should you not tell them that the Czech people have chosen the right side? You have seen Rotterdam. That should enable you to properly evaluate the decision your president made [to accept German occupation].

No one should say: “Well, perhaps one could have avoided that.” We do not act according to whim. We, too, are servants of fate, and cannot act any differently than we do. We are only the instruments of history. One should not say: “Without National Socialists, there would be peace in Europe.” No, there would have been others to act in our place. When the time is ripe things must happen, just like an apple falls from the tree when it is ripe. We cannot stop fate; it would roll right over us.

In other words, you have the choice of making these facts clear to your people, of giving them a broader perspective than they formerly had. I believe that if you look back on the war’s development so far, you will conclude: “We have chosen the better side. Things could not continue as they were. That would have been possible only by holding Germany down, which is unthinkable.”

Today you have the opportunity of accepting all the advantages that the German Reich has to offer. You have our protection. No one can attack you. You have the opportunity to tell all of Germany of your virtues. You have the opportunity to send your music to Germany, your films, your literature, your press, your radio. You know that the German people have a great interest in culture. We cannot and do not want to change that. We are not dictators, but rather instruments of the will of our people.

As I said, we offer you cooperation. I have offered you here a foundation for understanding. We do not ask anything dishonorable of you, or that you become parvenus or lackeys, or whatever.

That gives no pleasure in the long run. But I do not believe that it is asking too much that, in this dramatic moment in European history that will lead to new forms of human community, we come to an understanding about these matters, to create clarity and decide if we will be friends or foes.

We want to know if we are friends of foes of another people’s intelligentsia. Over the past few years, we have proven our abilities as enemies. If you display a positive and active loyalty, you will see what kind of friends we can be. Friendship between the German and Czech peoples will result.

My task today has been to make that clear to you. I believe we could work together, and that we will. I am firmly convinced that if you are willing to show loyalty, you will do us and your Czech people a big favor. One cannot go by what people say today. The average man does not see very far. The task of the intelligentsia is to help him see further, to help him imagine things that will be. The role of the intelligentsia is to open the way to coming events, not be blind servants of the present.

I therefore urge you to speak of these matters to the Czech people. If we did it, the Czech people would not believe us. We are National Socialists, and they might think we were speaking egotistically, even though our only goal is to establish clear relations between two peoples who have to get along with each other. You live there, we live here. Only a vast natural catastrophe that destroyed our people could change the present situation. Since that is not likely, we will have to get along. Whether we like each other or not is irrelevant. What is relevant is that we want to give the millions of Europe a common basis and a common ideal. England has until now resisted this ideal. England has attempted to keep Europe in disorder, since it saw that as the best defense of its island existence. But it is falling under the gigantic blows of our army. Once it falls, we will have the chance to bring peace to Europe. You are warmly invited to join us.

#nationalsocialism #nsdap #thirdreich

Originally found at https://research.calvin.edu/german-propaganda-archive/goeb31.htm

Risking One’s Own Life by Joseph Goebbels

The source: “Der Einsatz des eigenen Lebens,” Das Reich, 15 April 1945

I turn to all Germans throughout the Reich, regardless of class, occupation, or age, at one of the most dramatic moments in the history of our people. I will say what the hour demands of us, of what we must do for our own salvation and for the continued existence of our people. I know better than most of us the enormous difficulties that stand in the way of the successful continuance of our courageous resistance against a bloodthirsty and revenge-hungry enemy in the East and West. I know that the nation is at the edge of exhaustion and the chances of resistance have significantly decreased as a result of the most recent territorial losses in the East, Southeast, and West. However, I also am one of the few of us who knows the extraordinary pressures that the enemy camp faces, and can prove from a thousand witnesses that it must win quickly if it is to win at all. I have proof in my hands that the enemy coalition suffers from internal tensions and is held together only by military successes and by the hope of an immanent final victory. At this stage of the war, to win time is to win everything. We can only win time if we remain firm and continue to resist, regardless of the conditions and disregarding the fact that this resistance costs us sacrifice after sacrifice and strains our nerves to a level that almost seems unbearable.

I believe that history has meaning. The misfortunes that have struck us cannot destroy this faith. I am certain that the Führer will find a way out of the dilemma, and that only then will the outwardly lost meaning of this war be renewed. The tests that we have to withstand today are enormous and put the German people through trials it has only seldom faced in its history. Nonetheless we must stand firm, or else everything will be lost. This war will be decided one second before midnight. Should we lay down our weapons before that, things can only go against us. Each of us knows what that would mean. Our enemy has told us that himself often and openly enough so that no one any longer can have the least doubt. If one of us now and again forgets that in the midst of the war’s events and surrenders himself and the nation to common disaster, he must be taught better by friendly reminder or firm warning. It is no time to forgive weakness or faintheartedness. Our focus is entirely and only on our people, which is in the midst of a severe life crisis. Only we can resolve this crisis. If we succeed, we win everything; if we fall, we lose everything. Everyone knows what he must do.

Our enemies in the East and West have the same perfidious plan to destroy the German people. It is, therefore, entirely in vain to set one’s hopes on one side or the other of the coalition. One way or the other, life for our people under their tyranny would be hell on earth. We do not have the option of trying one side or the other. Such an attempt could not be undone and would lead to the total extinguishing of our national substance. Who would want even to think about living under such conditions? For this reason alone we are obligated to ourselves and to our people to do everything to hinder that, to exhaust every means and each possibility available. He who does not do that is a cowardly traitor. He sins in the worst way against the most holy duty to the fatherland. If it were up to him, Germany would cease to exist. The generations that will come after us would shed tears of shame over our disgraceful failure in this hour of our nation’s fate. The misery that we would do would be a thousand times more unbearable than the misery we today endure to prevent that.

Throughout the entire war I have written openly to our people each week. I need not be embarrassed about anything that I have written. If occasionally I made a mistake, this was the result of human weakness. Today, however, it is not a question of who is right and who is not. The hour demands of us unity, firmness, and steadfastness, from every one of us. He who falters in his duty to the people must be called firmly to account, for only in that way can discipline be upheld in these critical days. We must preserve the threatened existence of our people. Other considerations must be forgotten. We must be willing to risk our own life, and if need be sacrifice it. Only our hard resistance can stop the enemy. There is no other way. It will be enough if we use it to the full everywhere. There are cities behind the German lines that have resisted the enemy’s assault for two months and forced the enemy to make sacrifice after sacrifice in blood. They must be the model and example. If each German city acts in that way, the enemy will not be able to march forward. In this battle for our freedom, we note the heroic actions of individuals that breath the spirit of antiquity. Each German can imitate them. Only so can the enemy be halted, forced in countless small battles to bleed, to have his insolent arrogance reduced. National resistance is not only for the army, but rather a matter for the entire people. No one can stand to the side.

We must learn to improvise, to make a virtue out of necessity. A few brave men and women can work miracles. Do not always expect help from above, but look around and see what you can do until help arrives from above. We are not fools. The enemy is relying on our fear, and his basing his risky operations on it. If we face him courageously he will have to respond, bring up reinforcements or hold back forces from his advanced positions. That weakens him in the long run, chasing way the fear of his tanks. He does not, after all, have inexhaustible reserves. He is also limited by his manpower and matériel. He is using his forces so recklessly only because he believes he will face no opposition. That is our opportunity. He who even indirectly aids him is a traitor to our people. He will receive the penalty he deserves. But it is not enough to resist the enemy passively; one must defend actively. That ranges from showing him icy contempt to using weapons against him. He who thinks he has to defend his own house and home must be told that if everyone behaved in that way, the nation would lose its freedom, and with the loss of that national freedom his house and home, and his own life, would be worthless. The people’s freedom can demand any sacrifice of us. It is cowardly and despicable to demand heavy sacrifices of someone else, or of a neighboring city, that one is oneself unwilling to bring.

There have been isolated cases in which individuals without character did not face the enemy with the cold and contemptuous manner that he deserves. These disgraceful cases make them guilty, and they will feel shame until their hopefully immanent death. What despicable weakness is shown by facing the enemy even with indifference, he who has turned our cities and villages into heaps of rubble merely to torture our civilian population! What more could he do to earn our hate and our contempt? English and American newspapers make such isolated events the general rule, drawing the conclusion that the German people has no national character, If, on the other hand, a city shows heroic resistance and falls only after honorable battle, and where when other methods of active resistance are unavailable the population shows only hate as he marches in, then the enemy is full of fearful admiration. Cowardly creatures who think that they can quiet the enemy’s lust for revenge by surrender only earn his contempt. Disaster does not rob people of their character. Those who do not meet the enemy with the required inner and outward attitude should note that. They are a disgrace to our people.

Thank God, that is only a tiny minority. But they may not be tolerated. They harm our good name in the world, which takes no notice of the accomplishments of our fighting front and homeland, but tries to draw from a few examples of cowardly submission broad evidence of our sinking war morale. That is why it is necessary to take hard and strict action in this matter, regardless of whether it gives opportunity to the enemy to draw false conclusions. We have no cause to be ashamed. The achievements of the German people in this war are already part of history. No filthy enemy hand will be able to steal the victory wreath that our people already wears. We will not allow members of this people who have forgotten their duty to add weeds to this glorious wreath. The war’s heroism obligates us all. In this critical time we must display conduct that is worthy of the misfortune that has struck us. We must bear it calmly. Only in that way will we deserve the respect of the world without losing our respect for ourselves. This war is the destroyer of bourgeois comfort. We surrender to its pressures not only the external, but also the internal aspects of this comfort. When a nation has lost as much in a war as the German nation has in this one, it must assiduously guard against also losing its honor in the midst of the general confusion, for without it, it would lose everything. Loss of confidence in national honor would end in nothingness. Any future attempt at salvation would be in vain.

My appeal is to all who hold the honor of their people higher than their own lives. They must stand guard, ensuring that the nation suffers no internal harm. They must do their duty, without regard for themselves or their property. Silence is a sin when one must speak. We must overcome lethargy and weariness and challenge passivity. The enemy can be stopped if we all worth together. That will happen not only with weapons, but also with attitude. If he meets a passive population, he can move on. If he faces a population that resists, he must stop. If that becomes our general military policy, much will be gained and nothing lost. Each leader in the army and party here must set a good example. Withdrawing before the enemy is easy and can, if repeated, lead to a general weakening of national resistance. And where can we go if we continue to withdraw? We will have to fight in the end. It is better to do our duty near our house and home, near our workplaces, where the simple but hard demand is to fight, to win, or to die.

That is how we must see things if we are to survive. No one is exempt from this categorical imperative. And what life is to previous to sacrifice for the fatherland! The people wants to see examples that it can follow. It wants examples of courage and contempt of death so that it can be courageous and contemptuous of death. We are in the midst of a crisis in which a man can prove himself only by deeds. Everything else is incidental. War determines the value not only of peoples, but also of individuals. Each must prove himself anew, each must again prove his inner and outer steadfastness in the face of difficulties. Otherwise he will lose his honor and his good name. That is true for our entire people. The true man shows himself only in the face of death. Everything else falls aside and only that which is lasting, which is genuine, which cannot be destroyed by the external destruction of this war, will survive this war. It may be as a living personality, or as the memory of a man who did not seek to avoid his death, but rather gained a new, never before seen radiance.

This is the foundation of our work for ourselves and for our people. We must, every one of us, without emotion, swear to die than to accept the yoke of slavery. Better to risk everything than to give up, and a thousand times better to fight to the last breath than to capitulate in disgrace. Only so can the nation be saved, We are in the final stages of the war. By human standards, it cannot continue much longer. Now is the decisive hour. Will we be its victims or its master? We have mastered all its burdens for nearly six years. We are now at its last and hardest phase, perhaps in its center. Let us go on with pride and character! We can master it only with we leave no possibility unused. The decisive factor in war is always the risk of one’s own life.

#nationalsocialism #nsdap #thirdreich #worldwar2 #wwii #goebbels

Originally found at https://research.calvin.edu/german-propaganda-archive/goeb75.htm