Adolf Hitler's Zweites Buch
Chapter 7: Military Power and the Fallacy of Border Restoration as Aim
On November 11th, 1918, the armistice was signed in the forest of Compiègne. For this, fate had chosen a man who was one of those bearing major guilt for the collapse of our Voelk. Matthias Erzberger, deputy of the Center, and according to various assertions the bastard son of a servant girl and a Jewish employer, was the German negotiator who affixed his name to a document which, compared and measured against the four and a half years of heroism of our Voelk, seems incomprehensible if we do not assume the deliberate intention to bring about Germany's destruction.
Matthias Erzberger himself had been a petty bourgeois annexationist, that is, one of those men who, especially at the beginning of the war, had tried to remedy the lack of an official war aim in their own way and manner. For even though in August, 1914, the entire German Voelk instinctively felt that this struggle involved their being or non being, nevertheless once the flames of the first enthusiasm were extinguished, they were not in any way clear either about the threatening non being, or the necessity of remaining in being. The enormity of the idea of a defeat and its consequences was slowly blotted out through a propaganda which had complete free rein within Germany, and which twisted or altogether denied the real aims of the Entente in a way that was as adroit as it was mendacious. In the second and especially in the third year of the War, it had also succeeded to some extent in removing the fear of defeat from the German Voelk, since, thanks to this propaganda, people no longer believed in the enemy's annihilatory will. This was all the more terrible as, conversely, nothing was allowed to be done which could inform the Voelk of the minimum that had to be achieved in the interests of its future self preservation, and as a reward for its unprecedented sacrifices. Hence the discussion over a possible war aim took place only in more or less irresponsible circles and acquired the expression of the mode of thought as well as the general political ideas of its respective representatives. While the sly Marxists, who had an exact knowledge of the paralyzing effect of a lack of a definite war aim, forbade themselves to have one altogether, and for that matter talked only about the reestablishment of peace without annexations and reparations, at least some of the bourgeois politicians sought to respond to the enormity of the bloodshed and the sacrilege of the attack with definite counter-demands. All these bourgeois proposals were purely border rectification’s and had nothing at all to do with geopolitical ideas. At best they still thought of satisfying the expectations of German princes who were unemployed at the time by the formation of buffer States. Thus even the founding of the Polish State appeared as a wise decision in national political terms to the bourgeois world, aside from a few exceptions. Individuals pushed economic viewpoints to the foreground according to which the border had to be formed; for example, the necessity of winning the ore basin of Longwy and Briey; other strategic opinions, for example, the necessity of possessing the Belgian fortresses on the Meuse River, and so on.
It should be self evident that this was no aim for a State engaged in a war against twenty six States, in which the former had to take upon itself one of the most unprecedented blood-sheddings in history, while at home an entire Voelk was literally surrendered to hunger. The impossibility of justifying the necessity for enduring the War helped to bring about its unfortunate outcome.
Hence when the collapse took place in the homeland, a knowledge of war aims existed even less, as their former weak representatives had meanwhile moved further away from their former meager demands. And this was quite understandable. For to want to conduct a war of this unprecedented extent so that the borders instead of running through Herbesthal should run through Liége, or so that instead of a Czarist commissar or governor, a German prince could be installed as potentate over some Russian province or other, would have been really irresponsible and monstrous. It lay in the nature of German war aims, so far as they were at all subject to discussion, that they were later altogether denied. Truly for such baubles a Voelk should not have been kept for even an hour longer in a war whose battlefields had slowly become an inferno.
The sole war aim that the monstrous bloodshed would have been worthy of could consist only in the assurance to German soldiers of so and so many hundred thousand square kilometers, to be allotted to front line fighters as property, or to be placed at the disposal of a general colonization by Germans. With that the War would have quickly lost the character of an imperial enterprise, and instead would have become a cause of the German Voelk. For, after all, the German grenadiers really had not shed their blood so that Poles might acquire a State, or so that a German Prince might be set on a plush covered throne.
Thus in 1918 we stood at the end of a completely senseless and aimless squandering of the most precious German blood. Once more had our Voelk infinitely staked its heroism, courageous sacrifice, indeed defiance of death and joyousness in responsibility, and nevertheless been forced to leave the battlefields weakened and beaten. Victorious in a thousand battles and skirmishes, and in the end nevertheless defeated by those who had been beaten. This was the handwriting on the wall for the German domestic and foreign policy of the pre War time and the four and a half years of the bloody struggle itself.
Now after the collapse there arose the alarmed question, whether our German Voelk had learned anything from this catastrophe, whether those who had deliberately betrayed it up to this time would still determine its fate, whether those who had so pitifully failed until this time would henceforth also dominate the future with their phrases, or whether finally our Voelk would be educated to a new way of thinking about domestic and foreign policy and shift its action accordingly.
For if a miracle does not take place for our Voelk, its path will be one of ultimate doom and destruction.
What is Germany's present situation? And what are the prospects for her future? And what kind of a future will this be?
The collapse which the German Voelk suffered in 1918 lies, as I want once more to establish here, not in the overthrow of its military organization, or in the loss of its weapons, but rather in its inner decay which was revealed at that time, and which today increasingly appears. This inner decay lies just as much in respect to the worsening of its racial value as in the loss of all those virtues which condition the greatness of a Voelk, guarantee its existence, and promote its future.
Blood value, the idea of personality, and the instinct for self preservation, slowly threatened to be lost to the German Voelk. Internationalism triumphs in its stead and destroys our Voelk value, democracy spreads by stifling the idea of personality, and in the end an evil pacifistic liquid manure poisons the mentality favoring bold self preservation. We see the effects of this vice of mankind appear in the whole life of our Voelk. Not only does it make itself noticeable in the field of political concerns, no, but also in that of economy, and not least in that of our cultural life, so that, if it is not brought to a halt once and for all, our Voelk will be excluded from the number of nations with a future.
The great domestic task of the future lies in the elimination of these general symptoms of the decay of our Voelk. This is the mission of the National Socialist Movement. A new nation must arise from this work which overcomes even the worst evils of the present, the cleavage between the classes, for which the bourgeoisie and Marxism are equally guilty.
The aim of this reform work of a domestic political kind must finally be the regaining of our Voelk's strength for the prosecution of its struggle for existence and thereby the strength to represent its vital interests abroad.
Our foreign policy is also presented by this with a task that it must fulfil. For the more domestic policy must furnish the Voelkish instrument of strength to foreign policy, the more must also foreign policy, through the actions and measures it adopts, promote and support the formation of this instrument.
If the foreign policy task of the old bourgeois national State had primarily been that of the further unification in Europe of those belonging to the German Nation in order then to work up to a higher territorial policy viewed in Voelkish terms, then the foreign policy task of the post War period must at the outset be one that promotes the forging of the internal instrument of power. For the foreign policy aspirations of the pre War period had at their disposal a State that perhaps was not very highly exigent in a Voelkish sense, but which had a wonderful Army establishment. Even if Germany of that time had long since ceased to place such an emphasis on the military, as for example Old Prussia, and therefore was outmatched by other States, especially in the extent of the Army organization, nevertheless the inner quality of the Old Army was incomparably superior to all other similar institutions. At that time this best instrument of the art of war stood at the disposal of a State leadership with a bold foreign policy. In consequence of this instrument as well as of the general high esteem which it enjoyed, the freedom of our Voelk was not only a result of our factually proved strength, but rather of the general credit that we possessed in consequence of this remarkable Army instrument, as well as partly in consequence of the rest of the extremely clean State apparatus. The German Voelk no longer possesses this most important instrument for the defense of a nation's interests, or at least it possesses it to a completely insufficient extent, and very far removed from the foundation which conditioned its former strength.
The German Voelk has acquired a mercenary Army. In Germany, these mercenary troops run the danger of sinking to the level of policemen armed with special technical weapons. The comparison of the German mercenary Army with the English turns out unfavorably to the Germans. The English mercenary army was always the bearer of England's military defense and aggressive ideas as well as of her military tradition. In her mercenary troops and the militia system peculiar to her, England possessed the Army organization which, in view of her insular position sufficed, indeed seemed suitable for fighting to the finish for England's vital interests. The idea of manifesting English power of resistance in such a form in no way sprang from cowardice, in order thereby to be able to spare shedding the blood of the English Voelk. On the contrary, England fought with mercenaries as long as they sufficed for the defense of England's interests. She called for volunteers immediately the struggle required a greater commitment. She introduced general military conscription immediately the needs of the country demanded it. For regardless of how the momentary organization of the English power of resistance looked, it was always committed in a dauntless struggle for England. And the formal army organization in England was always only an instrument for the defense of English interests, committed with a will, which did not even shrink, if necessary, from demanding the blood of the whole nation. Wherever England's interests were decisively at stake, she at any rate knew how to preserve a hegemony that, considered purely technically, goes as far as the demand for a two power standard. If we compare the infinitely responsible [solicitous] care shown here with the frivolousness with which Germany, and national bourgeois Germany at that, neglected her armaments in the pre War period, we must still today be gripped by a deep sadness. Just as England knew that her future, indeed her existence, depended on the strength of her fleet, so should this bourgeois national Germany have known that the existence and future of the German Reich depended on the strength of our land power. In Europe, Germany should have had to counter the two power standard on land to the two power standard on the seas. And just as England with an iron determination saw a reason for going to war at every violation of this standard, so did Germany have to prevent every attempt in Europe to outflank her army through France and Russia by a military decision, even one which had to be precipitated, and for which more than one favorable opportunity had presented itself. Even here this bourgeoisie misused one of Bismarck's utterances in a most senseless way.
Bismarck's assertion that he did not intend to wage preventive war was joyfully seized upon by all weak, lazy and also irresponsible armchair politicians as a cover for the disastrous consequences of their anything goes policy. Only thereby they completely forgot that all three wars which Bismarck had conducted were wars which, at least according to the conceptions of these anti preventive war peace philosophers, could have been avoided. Consider, for example, what insults by Napoleon III in 1870 would have to be heaped on the German Republic of today for it to decide to request M. Benedetti to moderate his tone somewhat. Neither Napoleon nor the whole French Voelk would ever have been able to incite the German Republic of today to a Sedan: or does one believe that if Bismarck had not wanted a decision, the war of 1866 could not have been prevented? Now here it can be objected that this was a question of wars with clearly set aims, and not of a kind whose only ground lies in the fear of an attack by the enemy. But in reality this is only word splitting. Because Bismarck was convinced that the struggle with Austria was inevitable, he prepared himself for it and carried it through when the occasion suited Prussia. The reform of the French army by Marshal Niel made clearly perceptible the intention to give French policy and French chauvinism a forceful weapon for an attack against Germany. As a matter of fact, it would doubtless have been possible for Bismarck to bring the conflict to some kind of a peaceful solution in 1870. But it was more expedient for him to fight it out to the finish at a time when the French army organization had not yet arrived at its full efficiency. Moreover, all these interpretations of Bismarckian utterances suffer from one thing, namely, they confuse Bismarck the diplomat with a republican parliamentarian. How Bismarck himself judged such utterances is best shown in his reply to a questioner before the outbreak of the Prussian Austrian War, who would have very much liked to know whether Bismarck really intended to attack Austria, whereupon the latter, with an impervious expression, replied: No, I have no intention of attacking Austria, but neither would I have the intention of telling them, in case I wanted to attack her.
Moreover, the hardest war that had ever been fought by Prussia was a preventive war. When Frederick The Great had received final knowledge of the intention of his old enemies, through a scribbler soul, he did not wait until the others attacked, on the grounds of a fundamental rejection of a preventive war, but went immediately over to the attack himself.
For Germany, any violation of the two power standard of necessity should have been a cause for a preventive war. For what would it have been easier to answer before history: for a preventive war in 1904, which could have defeated France when Russia seemed to be entangled in Eastern Asia, or for the World War which ensued from this neglect, and which required many times the blood, and plunged our Voelk into the abyss of defeat?
England never had such scruples. Her two power standard on the seas seemed to be the prerequisite for the preservation of English independence. As long as she had the strength, she allowed no change to be made in this situation. When, however, this two power standard was given up after the World War, it was then only under the pressure of circumstances which were stronger than any contrary British intention. With the American Union, a new power of such dimensions has come into being as threatens to upset the whole former power and orders of rank of the States.
At any rate, up to now the English fleet was always the most striking proof, regardless of how the form of the organization of the land army looked, that decisively determined England's will to self preservation. This was the reason why the English mercenary army never acquired the bad characteristics of other mercenary troops. It was a fighting military body of wonderful individual training, with excellent weapons, and a conception of service which viewed it as a sport. Thus what endowed this small body of troops with a special importance was the direct contact with the visible manifestations in life of the British world empire. As this mercenary army had fought for England's greatness in almost all parts of the world, it had thereby in like measure also come to know England's greatness. The men who now in Southern Africa, now in Egypt, and at times in India, represented England's interests as the possessors of her military prestige, through this also received an indelible impression of the immense greatness of the British IMPERIVM.
Such an opportunity is completely lacking to the present-day German mercenary troops. Indeed, the more we feel ourselves induced to make concessions to this spirit in the small Army itself, under the pressure of pacifistic parliamentary majorities, which in reality represent traitors to their Voelk and country, it gradually ceases to be an instrument of war. Instead it becomes a police corps for the maintenance of peace and order, which means, in reality, of peaceful subjugation. No army with a high intrinsic value can be trained, if the preparation for war is not the aim of its existence. There are no armies for the maintenance of peace, but rather only for the victorious fighting of wars to the end. The more, in short, one tries finally to unhinge the Reich Defence from the tradition of the Old Army, the more it lose its traditions. For with troops, the value of a tradition does not lie in a few successful quelling of internal strike revolts, or in preventing the plundering of foodstuffs, but in the glory gained through victorious battles. In reality, however, the German Reich Defence departs from the tradition of this glory in proportion as from year to year it ceases to be a representative of the national idea. The more it finally kills the conscious, national, hence nationalistic spirit in its own ranks, and removes its representatives, in order to give their posts to democrats and altogether ordinary ambitious persons, all the more will it become alien to the Voelk. Let the sly gentlemen not fancy that they can make contact with the Voelk by concessions to the pacifistic democratic part of our Voelk. Any military organization as such is deeply hated by this part of the German Voelk, as long as it is indeed military and not the burglar protection agency of international pacifistic stock exchange interests. The only part to which an army can have an inner relationship in a militarily valuable sense, is that nationally conscious core of our Voelk which not only thinks in a soldierly manner out of tradition, but rather, out of national love, is also the only part ready to wear the gray tunic in defense of honor and freedom. It is necessary, however, that a military body maintain intimate relations with those from whom it itself in the hour of need can supplement itself, and not with those who betray it at every opportunity. Hence the present leaders of our so called Reich Defence can act as democratically as they please; nevertheless, they will thereby never attain to a closer bond with the German Voelk, because the German Voelk for which this is appropriate is not to be found in the democratic camp. Since, however, the former Chief Of The German Reich Defence especially, General von Seeckt, not only did not put up any resistance to the removal of hardened, deliberately national minded Officers, but rather even [himself] advocated it, they themselves finally created the instrument which dropped him with a relatively light heart. Since General von Seeckt's retirement, however, the democratic pacifistic influence has been tirelessly active in order to make out of the Defence Force that which the present rulers of the State have in their minds as the most beautiful ideal: a republican democratic parliamentary guard.
Obviously a foreign policy cannot be conducted with such an instrument.
Hence today the first task of German domestic policy ought to be that of giving the German Voelk a military organization suitable to its national strength. Since the forms of the present Defence Force could never suffice for this goal, and, conversely, are determined by foreign policy motives, it is the task of German foreign policy to bring about all the possibilities that could permit the reorganization of a German National Army. For that must be the immovable aim of any political leadership in Germany, so that one day the mercenary Army will again be replaced by a truly German National Army.
For just as the purely technical military qualities of the present are superior, so must the general qualities of the German Defence Force deteriorate in their development in the future. The former without doubt is to be credited to General von Seeckt and to the Defence Force's Officers' Corps altogether. Thus the German Defence Force could really be the Army framework for the future German National Army. Just as, in general, the task of the Defence Force itself must be, by the educational stress placed on the national fighting task, to train the mass of Officers and Sergeants for the later National Army.
No true national thinking German can dispute that this aim must be held immovably in sight. Even less can he dispute that its execution is possible only if the nation's foreign policy leaders assure the general necessary prerequisites.
Thus the first task of German foreign policy is primarily the creation of conditions which make possible the resurrection of a German Army. For only then will our Voelk's vital needs be able to find their practical representation.
Fundamentally, however, it must be further observed that the political actions which are to guarantee the resurrection of a German Army must lie in the framework of a necessary future development for Germany as such.
Hence there is no need to stress that a change of the present army organization, wholly apart from the present internal political situation as well as for reasons of foreign policy, cannot materialize as long as purely German interests and German viewpoints alone speak for such a change.
It lay in the nature of the World War and in the intention of Germany's main enemies, to carry out the liquidation of this greatest battle action of the Earth in such a way that as many States as possible would be interested in its perpetuation. This was achieved through a system of distribution of territories, in which even States with otherwise divergent desires and aims were held together in a solid antagonism by the fear that they could in that case suffer losses through a Germany once more become strong.
For, if ten years after the World War it is still possible, against all the experience of world history, to maintain a kind of coalition of the victor States, the reason lies only in the fact, glorious for Germany, of the recollection of that struggle in which our Fatherland had stood up to twenty six States all together.
Thus it will also last as long as the fear of suffering losses through a resurrected German power Reich is greater than the difficulties between these States. And it is further obvious that it will last as long as no will exists anywhere to allow the German Voelk a rearmament which can be viewed as a threat by these victor States. On the basis of the knowledge that, first, a real representation of German vital interests in the future cannot take place through an inadequate German Defence Force but rather only through a German National Army, that, second, the formation of a German National Army is impossible for as long as the present foreign policy strangulation of Germany does not slacken, third, that a change of foreign policy obstacles to the organization of a National Army appears possible only if such a new formation is not in general felt as a threat, the following fact emerges with respect to a German foreign policy possible at this time:
Under no circumstances must present-day Germany see her foreign policy in terms of a formal border policy. Once the principle of the restoration of the borders of the year 1914 is laid down as the set goal of foreign policy, Germany will face a closed phalanx of her former enemies. Then any possibility is excluded of setting up another Army which serves our interests more, as against the one whose definite form was determined by the peace treaty. Hence the foreign policy slogan of restoration of the borders has become a mere phrase, because it can never be realized for the lack of the necessary strength for this.
It is characteristic that precisely the so called German bourgeoisie, again headed by the patriotic leagues, has made its way to this most stupid foreign policy aim. They know that Germany is powerless. They know further that, wholly apart from our internal decline, military means would be required for the restoration of our borders, and they know further that we do not possess these means as a result of the peace treaty, and also that we cannot acquire them in consequence of the solid front of our enemies. But nevertheless they proclaim a foreign policy slogan which precisely because of its essential character forever removes the possibility of achieving those means of power which would be necessary in order to carry out the slogan. This is what is called bourgeois statesmanship, and in its fruits that we see before us it exhibits the incomparable spirit that dominates it.
The Prussia of that time required only seven years, from 1806 to 1813, for her resurgence. In the same time bourgeois statesmanship, in union with Marxism, has led Germany up to Locarno. Which is a great success in the eyes of the present bourgeois Bismarck, Herr Stresemann, because it offers the possible, which even the above mentioned Herr Stresemann could achieve. And politics is the art of the possible. If Bismarck had ever imagined that fate would have damned him to endorse with this utterance the statesmanlike qualities of Herr Stresemann, he would have surely omitted the utterance, or in a very small note he would have denied Herr Stresemann the right to refer to it.
Thus the slogan of the restoration of the German borders as an aim for the future is doubly stupid and dangerous, because, in reality, it in no way encompasses any useful aim worth striving for. The German borders of the year 1914 were borders which presented something incomplete in exactly the same way as the borders of all nations are at all times incomplete. The territorial distribution of the world at any time is the momentary result of a struggle and a development which by no means is concluded, but one which clearly continues further. It is stupid to take the border of any sample year in a nation's history, and, offhand, to represent it as a political aim. We can, of course, present the border of the year 1648, or that of 1312, and so on, just as well as the border of the year 1914. This all the more so as indeed the border of the year 1914 was not satisfactory in a national, military or geopolitical sense. It was only the momentary situation in our Voelk's struggle for existence which has been going on for centuries. And even if the World War had not occurred, this struggle would not have had its end in 1914. If the German Voelk had in fact achieved the restoration of the borders of the year 1914, the sacrifices of the World War would have been no less in vain. But also, there would not be the slightest gain for our Voelk's future in such a restoration. This purely formal border policy of our national bourgeoisie is just as unsatisfactory in its possible end result as it is intolerably dangerous. Indeed it need not even be covered by the dictum of the art of the possible, for this is, above all, only a theoretical phrase, which nevertheless seems suitable to destroy every practical possibility.
As a matter of fact, such a foreign policy aim also cannot stand up to a real critical examination. Hence attempts are made to motivate it less on logical grounds than on grounds of national honor. National honor requires that we restore the borders of the year 1914. This is the tenor of the discussions at the beer evenings which the representatives of national honor hold on all sides. First of all, national honor has nothing to do with the obligation to conduct a stupid and impossible foreign policy. For the result of a bad foreign policy can be the loss of a Voelk's freedom, whose consequence is slavery, and which certainly cannot be viewed as a condition of national honor. To be sure a certain degree of national dignity and honor can still be preserved under oppression, but then this is not a question of shouting or national phrases, and so on, but, on the contrary, the expression which is to be found in the decorum with which a Voelk bears its fate.
Let there be no talk in present-day Germany, above all, of national honor, let no one try to make himself conspicuous, as though one could preserve the national honor outwardly by any kind of rhetorical barking. No, this cannot be done, and for the reason that it is no longer there. And by no means is it no longer there because we lost the War, or because the French occupied Alsace-Lorraine, or the Poles stole Upper Silesia, or the Italians took the Southern Tyrol. No, the national honor is no longer there because the German Voelk, in the most difficult time of its struggle for existence, exposed to the light of day a lack of character, an unabashed servility, a dog like crawling fawning that can only be called shameless. For the reason that we subjected ourselves miserably without being forced to do so, indeed because the leaders of this Voelk, against eternal historical truth and our own knowledge, themselves assumed the war guilt, and indeed burdened our whole Voelk with it, because there was no oppression by the enemy which would have not found thousands of creatures as willing helpers among our Voelk. Because, conversely, there were those who shamelessly reviled the time of the great deeds of our Voelk, spat upon the most glorious flag of all times, indeed defiled it with dirt, tore the cockades from home coming soldiers before whom the world had trembled, pelted the flag with mud balls, ripped off ribbons and badges of honor, and degraded a thousand-fold even the memory of Germany's greatest period. No enemy had so reviled the German Army as it was defiled by the representatives of the November crime. No enemy had disputed the greatness of the Commanders of the German Army as much as they were calumniated by the scoundrel representatives of the new idea of government. And which was more certain dishonor for our Voelk: the occupation of German areas by the enemy, or the cowardice with which our bourgeoisie surrendered the German Reich to an organization of pimps, pickpockets, deserters, black marketer’s and hack journalists? Let not the gentlemen prattle now about German honor, as long as they bow under the rule of dishonor. They have no right to want to conduct a foreign policy in the name of national honor, if the domestic policy is one characterized by the most anti-nationalist shamelessness which has ever afflicted a great nation.
Whoever wants to act in the name of German honor today must first launch a merciless war against the infernal defilers of German honor. They are not the enemies of yore, but they are the representatives of the November crime. That collection of Marxist, democratic pacifistic, destructive traitors of our country who pushed our Voelk into its present state of powerlessness.
To revile former enemies in the name of national honor and recognize the shameless allies of this enemy as the rulers within their own country--that suits the national dignity of this present-day so called national bourgeoisie.
I frankly confess that I could reconcile myself to any of the former enemy, but that my hatred against the betrayers of our own Voelk in our ranks is and remains irreconcilable.
What the enemy inflicted on us is grievous and deeply humiliating to us, but the wrong committed by the men of the November crime is the most dishonorable, the basest crime of all times. I am helping to make amends for German honor by striving to bring about a situation in which these creatures will some day be called to account.
I must, however, reject the idea that any other grounds could be a standard for the ordering of foreign policy save that of the responsibility of securing the freedom and the future of the life of our Voelk.
The whole senselessness of the patriotic national bourgeois border policy shows itself on the basis of the following consideration: If the avowal of German as the mother tongue is used as a basis, the German nation numbers .......... Voelk.
Of this figure, .......... millions are in the mother country.
In which .....Consequently, of all the Germans in the world, there are only .......... millions within the present Reich territory, who represent .......... percent of the total number of our Voelk altogether.
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