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Liveblogging World War II: December 10, 1940

Adolf Hitler:

Berlin, Rheinmetall-Borsig Works -- Speech of December 10, 1940: Nowadays I do not speak very often. In the first place I have little time for speaking, and in the second place I believe that this is a time for action rather than speech. We are involved in a conflict in which more than the victory of only one country or the other is at stake; it is rather a war of two opposing worlds....

Forty-six million Britishers dominate and govern approximately 16 million square miles of the surface of the earth. Thirty-seven million Frenchmen dominate and govern a combined area of approximately 4 million square miles. Forty-five million Italians possess, taking into consideration only those territories in any way capable of being utilized, an area of scarcely 190,000 square miles. Eighty-five million Germans possess as their living space scarcely 232,000 square miles. That is to say: 85 million Germans own only 232,000 square miles on which they must live their lives and 46 million Britishers possess 16 million square miles.

Now, my fellow-countrymen, this world has not been so divided up by providence or Almighty God. This allocation has been made by man himself. The land was parcelled out for the most part during the last 300 years, that is, during the period in which, unfortunately, the German people were helpless and torn by internal dissension. Split up into hundreds of small states in consequence of the Treaty of Muenster at the end of the Thirty Years' War, our people frittered away their entire strength in internal strife.... While during this period the Germans, notwithstanding their particular ability among the people of Western Europe, dissipated their powers in vain internal struggles, the division of the world proceeded beyond their borders. It was not by treaties or by binding agreements, but exclusively by the use of force that Britain forged her gigantic Empire....

My fellow-countrymen, man does not exist on theories and phrases, on declarations or on systems of political philosophy; he lives on what he can gain from the soil by his own labor.... A man may live in a stony desert or in a fruitful land of plenty. This handicap can never be fully overcome by theories, nor even by the will to work. We see that the primary cause for the existing tensions lies in the unfair distribution of the riches of the earth.... [T]he right to live is at the same time a just claim to the soil which alone is the source of life. When unreasonableness threatened to choke their development, nations fought for this sacred claim. No other course was open to them and they realized that even bloodshed and sacrifice are better than the gradual extinction of a nation.... [H]ow can our people, its 360 per square mile, exist at all if they do not employ every ounce of brain power and physical strength to wrest from their soil what they need? This distinguishes us from the others. In Canada, for example, there are 2.6 persons per square mile; in other countries perhaps 16, 18, 20 or 26 persons. Well, my fellow-countrymen, no matter how stupidly one managed one's affairs in such a country, a decent living would still be possible. Here in Germany, however, there are 360 persons per square mile. The others cannot manage with 26 persons per square mile, but we must manage with 360....

[T]wo worlds are face to face with one another. Our opponents are quite right when they say: 'Nothing can reconcile us to the National Socialist world.' How could a narrow-minded capitalist ever agree to my principles? It would be easier for the Devil to go to church and cross himself with holy water than for these people to comprehend the ideas which are accepted facts to us today. But we have solved our problems....

The German capacity for work is our gold and our capital, and with this gold I can compete successfully with any power in the world. We want to live in houses which have to be built. Hence, the workers must build them, and the raw materials required must be procured by work. My whole economic system has been built up on the conception of work. We have solved our problems while, amazingly enough, the capitalist countries and their currencies have suffered bankruptcy.

Sterling can find no market today. Throw it at any one and he will step aside to avoid being hit. But our Reichsmark, which is backed by no gold, has remained stable. Why? It has no gold cover; it is backed by you and by your work. You have helped me to keep the mark stable. German currency, with no gold coverage, is worth more today than gold itself. It signifies unceasing production. This we owe to the German farmer, who has worked from daybreak till nightfall. This we owe to the German worker, who has given us his whole strength. The whole problem has been solved in one instant, as if by magic.

My dear friends, if I had stated publicly eight or nine years ago: 'In seven or eight years the problem of how to provide work for the unemployed will be solved, and the problem then will be where to find workers,' I should have harmed my cause. Every one would have declared: 'The man is mad. It is useless to talk to him, much less to support him. Nobody should vote for him. He is a fantastic creature.' Today, however, all this has come true. Today, the only question for us is where to find workers. That, my fellow countrymen, is the blessing which work brings.

Work alone can create new work; money cannot create work. Work alone can create values, values with which to reward those who work. The work of one man makes it possible for another to live and continue to work. And when we have mobilized the working capacity of our people to its utmost, each individual worker will receive more and more of the world's goods.

We have incorporated seven million unemployed into our economic system; we have transformed another six millions from part-time into full-time workers; we are even working overtime. And all this is paid for in cash in Reichsmarks which maintained their value in peacetime. In wartime we had to ration its purchasing capacity, not in order to devalue it, but simply to earmark a portion of our industry for war production to guide us to victory in the struggle for the future of Germany....

I wish to put before you a few basic facts: The first is that in the capitalistic democratic world the most important principle of economy is that the people exist for trade and industry, and that these in turn exist for capital. We have reversed this principle by making capital exist for trade and industry, and trade and industry exist for the people. In other words, the people come first. Everything else is but a means to this end. When an economic system is not capable of feeding and clothing a people, then it is bad, regardless of whether a few hundred people say: 'As far as I am concerned it is good, excellent; my dividends are splendid.' However, the dividends do not interest me at all. Here we have drawn the line. They may then retort: 'Well, look here, that is just what we mean. You jeopardize liberty.'

Yes, certainly, we jeopardize the liberty to profiteer at the expense of the community, and, if necessary, we even abolish it. British capitalists, to mention only one instance, can pocket dividends of 76, 80, 95, 140, and even 160 per cent from their armament industry. Naturally they say: 'If the German methods grow apace and should prove victorious, this sort of thing will stop.' They are perfectly right. I should never tolerate such a state of affairs. In my eyes, a 6 per cent dividend is sufficient....

To take another instance, besides dividends there are the so-called directors' fees. You probably have no idea how appallingly active a board of directors is. Once a year its members have to make a journey. They have to go to the station, get into a first-class compartment and travel to some place or other. They arrive at an appointed office at about 10 or 11 A.M. There they must listen to a report. When the report has been read, they must listen to a few comments on it. They may be kept in their seats until 1 P.M. or even 2. Shortly after 2 o'clock they rise from their chairs and set out on their homeward journey, again, of course, traveling first class. It is hardly surprising that they claim 3,000, 4,000, or even 5,000 as compensation for this: Our directors formerly did the same - for what a lot of time it costs them! Such effort had to be made worth while! Of course, we have got rid of all this nonsense, which was merely veiled profiteering and even bribery....

Opposed to this there stands a completely different world. In the world the highest ideal is the struggle for wealth, for capital, for family possessions, for personal egoism; everything else is merely a means to such ends. Two worlds confront each other today. We know perfectly well that if we are defeated in this war it would not only be the end of our National Socialist work of reconstruction, but the end of the German people as a whole. For without its powers of coordination, the German people would starve. Today the masses dependent on us number 120 or 130 millions, of which 85 millions alone are our own people. We remain ever aware of this fact....

These are the two worlds. I grant that one of the two must succumb. Yes, one or the other. But if we were to succumb, the German people would succumb with us. If the other were to succumb, I am convinced that the nations will become free for the first time. We are not fighting individual Englishmen or Frenchmen. We have nothing against them. For years I proclaimed this as the aim of my foreign policy. We demanded nothing of them, nothing at all. When they started the war they could not say: 'We are doing so because the Germans asked this or that of us.' They said, on the contrary: 'We are declaring war on you because the German system of Government does not suit us; because we fear it might spread to our own people.' For that reason they are carrying on this war. They wanted to blast the German nation back to the time of Versailles, to the indescribable misery of those days. But they have made a great mistake.

If in this war everything points to the fact that gold is fighting against work, capitalism against peoples, and reaction against the progress of humanity, then work, the peoples, and progress will be victorious. Even the support of the Jewish race will not avail the others....

It was quite obvious: Who was I before the Great War? An unknown, nameless individual. What was I during the war? A quite inconspicuous, ordinary soldier. I was in no way responsible for the Great War. However, who are the rulers of Britain today? They are the same people who were warmongering before the Great War, the same Churchill who was the vilest agitator among them during the Great War; Chamberlain, who recently died and who at that time agitated in exactly the same way. It was the whole gang, members of the same group, who believe that they can annihilate nations with the blast of the trumpets of Jericho....

I waited for a month, because I thought that after the conclusion of the campaign in France the British would give up this method of warfare. I was mistaken. I waited for a second month and a third month. If bombs were to be dropped I could not assume the responsibility before the German people of allowing my own countrymen to be destroyed while sparing foreigners. Now, this war, too, had to be fought to its end. And it is being fought; fought with all the determination, with all the materials, with all the means and all the courage at our disposal. The time for the decisive conflict will arrive. You may be sure it will take place. However, I should like to tell these gentlemen one thing: It is we who shall determine the time for it. And on this point I am cautious. We might perhaps have been able to attack in the West during the autumn of last year, but I wanted to wait for good weather. And I think it was worth while waiting....

This struggle is not a struggle for the present but primarily a struggle for the future. I stated on September 3, 1939, that time would not conquer us, that no economic difficulties would bring us to our knees, and that we could still less be defeated by force of arms. The morale of the German people guarantees this. The German people will be richly rewarded in the future for all that they are doing. When we have won this war it will not have been won by a few industrialists or millionaires, or by a few capitalists or aristocrats, or by a few bourgeois, or by anyone else....

When this war is ended, Germany will set to work in earnest. A great 'Awake!' will sound throughout the country. Then the German nation will stop manufacturing cannon and will embark on peaceful occupations and the new work of reconstruction for the millions. Then we shall show the world for the first time who is the real master, capitalism or work. Out of this work will grow the great German Reich of which great poets have dreamed. It will be the Germany to which every one of her sons will cling with fanatical devotion, because she will provide a home even for the poorest. She will teach everyone the meaning of life.

Should anyone say to me: 'These are mere fantastic dreams, mere visions,' I can only reply that when I set out on my course in 1919 as an unknown, nameless soldier I built my hopes of the future upon a most vivid imagination. Yet all has come true.

What I am planning or aiming at today is nothing compared to what I have already accomplished and achieved. It will be achieved sooner and more definitely than everything already achieved. The road from an unknown and nameless person to Fuehrer of the German nation was harder than will be the way from Fuehrer of the German nation to creator of the coming peace.

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