Adolf Hitler's Zweites Buch
Chapter 3: Elements of Foreign Policy
Consequently if the task of domestic policy--besides the obvious one of satisfying the so called questions of the day--must be the steeling and strengthening of a nation by means of a systematic cultivation and promotion of its inner values, the task of foreign policy is to correspond to and collaborate with this policy in order to create and to secure the vital prerequisites abroad. A healthy foreign policy, therefore, will always keep the winning of the basis of a Voelk's sustenance immovably in sight as its ultimate goal. Domestic policy must secure the inner strength of a Voelk so that it can assert itself in the sphere of foreign policy. Foreign policy must secure the life of a Voelk for its domestic political development. Hence domestic policy and foreign policy are not only most closely linked, but must also mutually complement one another. The fact that in the great conjunctures of human history domestic policy as well as foreign policy has paid homage to other principles is not at all a proof of soundness, but rather proves the error of such action. Innumerable Nations and States have perished as a warning example to us, because they did not follow the above mentioned elementary principles. How little man thinks of the possibility of death during his life is a noteworthy fact. And how little he arranges the details of his life in accordance with the experiences that innumerable men before him had to have and which, as such, are all known to him. There are always exceptions who bear this in mind and who, by virtue of their personality, try to force on their fellow men the laws of life that lay at the base of the experiences of past epochs. Hence it is noteworthy that innumerable hygienic measures which perforce redound to the advantage of a Voelk, and which individually are uncomfortable, must be formally forced upon the main body of a Voelk through the autocratic standing of individual persons, in order however to disappear again when the authority of the personality is extinguished through the mass insanity of democracy. The average man has the greatest fear of death and in reality thinks of it most rarely. The important man concerns himself with it most emphatically, and nevertheless fears it the least. The one lives blindly from day to day, sins heedlessly, in order suddenly to collapse before the inevitable. The other observes its coming most carefully and, to be sure, looks it in the eye with calm and composure.
Such is exactly the case in the lives of nations. It is often terrible to see how little men want to learn from history, how with such imbecilic indifference they gloss over their experiences, how thoughtlessly they sin without considering that it is precisely through their sins that so and so many Nations and States have perished, indeed vanished from the Earth. And indeed how little they concern themselves with the fact that even for the short time span for which we possess an insight into history, States and Nations have arisen which were sometimes almost gigantic in size, but which two thousand years later vanished without a trace, that world powers once ruled cultural spheres of which only Sagas give us any information, that giant cities have sunk into ruins, and that their rubble heap has hardly survived to show present-day mankind at least the site on which they were located. The cares, hardships and sufferings of these millions and millions of individual men, who as a living substance were at one time the bearers and victims of these events, are almost beyond all imagination. Unknown men. Unknown soldiers of history. And truly, how indifferent is the present. How unfounded its eternal optimism, and how ruinous its willful ignorance, its incapacity to see, and its unwillingness to learn. And if it depended on the broad masses, the game of the child playing with the fire with which he is unfamiliar would repeat itself uninterruptedly and also to an infinitely greater extent. Hence it is the task of men who feel themselves called as educators of a Voelk to learn on their own from history, and to apply their knowledge in a practical manner [now], without regard to the view, understanding, ignorance or even the refusal of the mass. The greatness of a man is all the more important, the greater his courage, in opposition to a generally prevailing but ruinous view, to lead by his better insight to general victory. His victory will appear all the greater, the more enormous the resistances which had to be overcome, and the more hopeless the struggle seemed at first.
The National Socialist Movement would have no right to regard itself as a truly great phenomenon in the life of the German Voelk, if it could not muster the courage to learn from the experiences of the past, and to force the laws of life it represents on the German Voelk despite all resistance. As powerful as its inner reform work will be in this connection, equally it must [may] never forget that in the long run there will be no resurgence of our Voelk if its activity in the sphere of foreign policy does not succeed in securing the general precondition for the sustenance of our Voelk. Hence it has become the fighter for freedom and bread in the highest sense of the word. Freedom and bread is the simplest and yet, in reality, the greatest foreign policy slogan that can exist for any Voelk: the freedom of being able to order and regulate the life of a Voelk, according to its own interests, and the bread that this Voelk requires for its existence.
If today, therefore, I come forward as a critic of our Voelk's leadership in the sphere of foreign policy both past and present, I am aware that the errors which I see today have also been seen by others. What distinguishes me from the latter perhaps is only the fact that in most cases it has only involved critical perceptions having no practical consequences, whereas, on the basis of my insight into the errors and faults of former and present German domestic and foreign policy, I strive to deduce proposals for a change and improvement and to forge the instrument with which these changes and improvements can some day be realized.
For example, the foreign policy of the Wilhelminian period was in many cases viewed by not a few people as catastrophic and characterized accordingly. Innumerable warnings came, especially from the circles of the Pan German League of that time, which were justified in the highest sense of the word. I can put myself in the tragic situation that befell all these men who raised their voices in warning, and who saw how and in what a Voelk perishes, and yet were not able to help. In the last decades of the unfortunate foreign policy of the pre War period in Germany, parliament, that is, democracy, was not powerful enough to choose the heads for the political leadership of the Reich by itself. This was still an imperial right, whose formal existence no one yet dared to shake. But the influence of democracy had grown so strong, however, that a certain direction already seemed to be prescribed to the imperial decisions. Hence this had disastrous consequences, for now a national minded man who raised his voice in warning, on the one hand, could no longer count on being invested with a very responsible post against the pronounced tendency of democracy, whereas, conversely, on the basis of general patriotic ideas, he could not fight against His Majesty The Kaiser with the final weapon of opposition. The idea of a March On Rome in pre War Germany would have been absurd. Thus the national opposition found itself in the worst of situations. Democracy had not yet triumphed, but it already stood in a furious struggle against the monarchic conceptions of government. The monarchical State itself responded to the struggle of democracy, not with the determination to destroy the latter, but rather with endless concessions. Anyone who at that time took a stand against one of the two institutions ran the danger of being attacked by both. Anyone who opposed an imperial decision on national grounds was proscribed by patriotic circles as much as he was abused by the adherents of democracy. Anyone who took a position against democracy was fought by democracy and left in the lurch by the patriots. Indeed, he ran the danger of being most ignominiously betrayed by German officialdom in the wretched hope that through such a sacrifice it could gain Jehovah's approval, and temporarily stop the yelping of the pack of Jewish press hounds. Under the conditions of that time, there was no prospect at hand of making one's way to a responsible position in the leadership of the German Government against the will of the democrats or against the will of His Majesty The Kaiser, and thereby being able to change the course of foreign policy. Further, this led to the fact that German foreign policy could be contested exclusively on paper, which consequently launched a criticism that necessarily took on the characteristic features of journalism, the longer it continued. The consequence of this, however, was that increasingly less value was placed on positive proposals, in view of the lack of any possibility of their realization, whereas the purely critical consideration of foreign policy occasioned the innumerable objections that one could adduce in all their fullness, all the more so because it was hoped that thereby one could overthrow the bad regime responsible. To be sure this was not achieved by the critics of that time. It was not the regime of that time which was overthrown, but the German Reich and consequently the German Voelk. What they had foretold for decades had now come to pass. We cannot think of these men without a deep compassion, men condemned by fate to foresee a collapse for twenty years, and who now, having not been heeded and hence in no position to be of help, had to live to see their Voelk's most tragic catastrophe.
Aged in years, care worn and embittered, and yet full of the idea that, now, after the overthrow of the Imperial Government, they had to help, they again tried to make their influence felt for the resurgence of our Voelk. For ever so many reasons this was futile, to be sure.
When the revolution shattered the Imperial scepter and raised democracy to the throne, the critics of that time were as far from the possession of a weapon with which to overthrow democracy as formerly they had been from being able to influence the Imperial Government. In their decades of activity, they had been geared so much to a purely literary treatment of these problems that they not only lacked the real means of power to express their opinion on a situation which was only a reaction to the shouting in the streets; they had also lost the capacity to try to organize a manifestation of power which had to be more than a wave of written protests if it were to be really effective. They had all seen the germ and the cause of the decline of the German Reich in the old parties. With a sense of their own inner cleanliness, they had to scorn the suggestion that they too now wanted to play the game of the political parties. And yet, they could carry out their view in practice only if a large number gave them the opportunity of representing it. And even though they wanted a thousand times to smash the political parties, they still indeed first had to form a party which viewed its task as that of smashing the other parties. That such did not come to pass was due to the following reasons: the more the political opposition of these men was forced to express itself purely journalistically, the more it adopted a criticism which, though it exposed all the weaknesses of the system of that time and shed light on the defects of the individual foreign policy measures, failed to produce positive proposals because these men lacked any possibility of personal responsibility, especially since in political life there is naturally no action which does not have its dark as well as its bright sides. There is no political combination in foreign policy that we can ever regard as completely satisfactory. For as matters stood then, the critic, forced to view his main task as the elimination of a regime recognized as altogether incompetent, had no occasion, outside of the useful critical consideration of this regime's actions, to come forward with positive proposals, which in consequence of the objections attached to them could just as easily have been subjected to a critical elucidation.
The critic will never want to weaken the impact of his criticism by bringing forward proposals which themselves could be subjected to criticism. Gradually, however, the purely critical thinking of those who then represented the national opposition became such a second nature that even today they consider domestic and foreign policy critically, and deal with it only critically. Most of them have remained critics, who therefore cannot even today make their way to a clear, unambiguous, positive decision, neither in domestic nor in foreign policy, partly because of their insecurity and irresolution, partly because of their fear of thereby furnishing the enemy with ready ammunition for criticism of themselves. Thus they would like to bring about improvements in a thousand things, and yet cannot decide upon taking a single step because even this very step is not completely satisfactory, and possesses doubtful points; in short it has its darker sides which they perceive and which make them fearful. Now, leading a nation from a deep and difficult illness is not a question of finding a prescription that itself is completely free of poison; not seldom it involves destroying a poison through an antidote. In order to eliminate conditions recognized as deadly we must have the courage to make and carry out decisions that contain dangers in themselves. As a critic I have the right to examine all the possibilities of a foreign policy and to take them apart in detail according to the doubtful aspects or possibilities they bear in themselves. As the political leader, however, who wants to make history, I must decide upon one way, even if sober consideration a thousand times tells me that it entails certain dangers and that it also will not lead to a completely satisfying end. Hence I cannot renounce the possibility of success because it is not a hundred percent certain. I must neglect no step for the reason that perhaps it will not be a full one, if the spot in which I momentarily find myself might bring my unconditional death the next instant. Neither, therefore, may I renounce a political action for the reason that, besides benefiting my Voelk, it will also benefit another Voelk. Indeed, I may never do this when the benefit to the other Voelk will be greater than that to my own, and when in the case of a failure to take action the misfortune of my Voelk remains with absolute certainty.
Indeed, right now I encounter the most stubborn resistance in the purely critical way of viewing things that many people have. They recognize this and this and this as good and as correct, but despite this they cannot join us because this and this and this is dubious. They know that Germany and our Voelk will perish, but they cannot join the rescue action because here, too, they detect this or that which is at least a blemish that mars its beauty. In short, they see the decline and cannot muster up the strength of determination to battle against it, because in the resistance and in this deed itself they already again begin to smell out some possible objection or other.
This deplorable mentality owes its existence to [springs from] a still further evil. Today there are not a few men, especially the so called educated ones, who, when they finally make up their minds to fall in line with a certain action or even to promote it, first carefully weigh the percentage of the probability of its success, in order then to calculate the extent of their active involvement likewise on the basis of this percentage. Thus this means: because, for example, any decision on foreign policy or domestic policy is not completely satisfying and hence does not seem certain to succeed, one should also not espouse it unreservedly with the full dedication of all his powers. These unhappy souls have no understanding at all of the fact that, on the contrary, a decision which I deem to be necessary, whose success however does not seem completely assured, or whose success will offer only a partial satisfaction, must be fought for with an increased energy so that what it lacks in the possibility of success in percentage points, must be made up for in the energy of its execution. Thus only one question is to be examined: whether a situation demands a definite decision or not. If such a decision is established and recognized as incontestably necessary, then its execution must be carried out with the most brutal ruthlessness and the highest employment of strength even if the ultimate result will be a thousand times unsatisfactory or in need of improvement or possibly will meet with only a small percentage of probability of success.
If a man appears to have cancer and is unconditionally doomed to die, it would be senseless to refuse an operation, because the percentage of the possibility of success is slight, and because the patient, even should it be successful, will not be a hundred percent healthy. It would be still more senseless were the surgeon to perform the operation itself only with limited or partial energy in consequence of these limited possibilities. But it is this senselessness that these men expect uninterruptedly in domestic and foreign policy matters. Because the success of a political operation is not fully assured or will not be completely satisfactory in result, not only do they renounce its execution, but expect, should it take place nevertheless, that at least it will ensue only with restrained power, without a complete dedication, and always in silent hope that perhaps they can keep a little loophole open through which to make their retreat. This is the soldier who is attacked by a tank on an open battlefield and who, in view [in consequence] of the uncertainty of the success of his resistance, conducts it at the outset with only half his strength. His little loophole is flight, and certain death is his end.
No, the German Voelk is today attacked by a pack of booty hungry enemies from within and without. The continuation of this state of affairs is our death. We must seize every possibility of breaking it, even if its result may a thousand times likewise have its weaknesses or objectionable sides as such. And every such possibility must therefore be fought out with the utmost energy. The success of the battle of Leuthen was uncertain, but it was necessary to fight it. Frederick The Great did not win because he went toward the enemy with only half his strength, but because he compensated for the uncertainty of success by the abundance of his genius, the boldness and determination of his troop dispositions, and the elan of his regiments in battle.
I'm afraid, indeed, that I will never be understood by my bourgeois critics, at least as long as success does not prove to them the soundness of our action. Here the man of the Voelk has a better counselor. He sets the assurance of his instinct and the faith of his heart in place of the sophistry of our intellectuals.
If I deal with foreign policy in this work, however, I do so not as a critic, but as the Leader Of The National Socialist Movement, which I know will some day make history. If I am, therefore, nevertheless forced to consider the past and the present critically, it is only for the purpose of establishing the only positive way, and to make it appear understandable. Just as the National Socialist Movement not only criticizes domestic policy, but possesses its own philosophically grounded Program, likewise in the sphere of foreign policy it must not only recognize what others have done wrongly, but deduce its own action on the basis of this knowledge.
Thus I know well that even our highest success will not create a hundred percent happiness, for in view of human imperfection and the general circumstances conditioned by it, ultimate perfection always lies only in programmatic theory. I also know, further, that no success can be achieved without sacrifice, just as no battle can be fought without losses. But the awareness of the incompleteness of a success will never be able to keep me from preferring such an incomplete success to the perceived complete downfall. I will then strain every nerve to try to offset what is lacking in the probability of success or the extent of success through greater determination, and to communicate this spirit to the Movement led by me. Today we are fighting against an enemy front which we must and will break through. We calculate our own sacrifices, weigh the extent of the possible success, and will stride forward to the attack, regardless of whether it will come to a halt ten or a thousand kilometers behind the present lines. For wherever our success ends, it will always be only the point of departure for a new struggle.
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