Adolf Hitler's Zweites Buch
Chapter 9: On Necessity of an Active Foreign Policy
Summing up, therefore, it can be reiterated that our bourgeois national policy, the foreign policy aim of which is the restoration of the borders of the year 1914, is senseless and indeed catastrophic. It perforce brings us into conflict with all the States that took part in the World War. Thus it guarantees the continuance of the coalition of victors, which is slowly choking us. It thereby always assures France a favorable official opinion in other parts of the world for her eternal proceedings against Germany. Even were it successful, it would signify nothing at all for Germany's future in its results, and nevertheless compel us to fight with blood and steel. Further, it altogether prevents in particular any stability of German foreign policy.
It was characteristic of our pre War policy that it necessarily gave an outside observer the image of decisions often as wavering as they were incomprehensible. If we disregard the Triple Alliance, the maintenance of which could not be a foreign policy aim but only a means to such an aim, we can discover no stable idea in the leaders of our Voelk's fate in the pre War period. This is naturally incomprehensible. The moment the foreign policy aim no longer signified a struggle for the German Voelk's interests, but rather the preservation of world peace, we lost the ground under our feet. I can certainly outline a Voelk's interests, establish them, and, regardless of how the possibilities of their advocacy stand, I can nevertheless keep the great aim uninterruptedly in view. Gradually the rest of mankind will also acquire a general knowledge of a nation's special, definite, chief foreign policy ideas. This then offers the possibility of regulating mutual relations in a permanent way, either in the sense of an intended resistance against the known operation of such a power, or a reasonable awareness of it, or also in the sense of an understanding, since, perhaps, one's own interests can be achieved along a common path.
This stability in foreign policy can be established with a whole series of European States. For long periods of her existence, Russia exhibited definite foreign policy aims which dominated her whole activity. In the course of the centuries, France has always represented the same foreign policy aims regardless who embodied political power in Paris at the moment. We may speak of England not only as a State with a traditional diplomacy, but above all as a State with a foreign policy idea become a tradition. With Germany, such an idea could be discerned only periodically in the Prussian State. We see Prussia fulfil her German mission in the short period of the Bismarckian statecraft, but thereafter any foreign policy aim staked out far in advance came to an end. The new German Reich, especially after Bismarck's retirement, no longer had such an aim since the slogan of preserving peace, that is, of maintaining a given situation, does not possess any kind of stable content or character. Just as any passive slogan is doomed in reality to be the plaything of an aggressive will. Only he who himself wants to act can also determine his action according to his will. Hence the Triple Entente, which wanted to act, also had all the advantages which lie in the self-determination of action, whereas the Triple Alliance through its contemplative tendency to preserve world peace was at a disadvantage to the same degree. Thus the timing and opening of a war was established by nations with a definite foreign policy aim, whereas, conversely, the Triple Alliance powers were surprised by it at an hour that was everything but favorable. If we in Germany ourselves had had even the slightest bellicose intention, it would have been possible through a number of measures, which could have been carried out without effort, to have given another face to the start of the War. But Germany never had a definite foreign policy aim in view, she never thought of any kind of aggressive steps for the realization of this aim, and consequently events caught her by surprise.
From Austria-Hungary we could hope for no other foreign policy aim as such, save that of wriggling through the hazards of European politics, so that the rotten State structure as much as possible nowhere bumps into anything, in order thus to conceal from the world the real inner character of this monstrous corpse of a State. The German national bourgeoisie, which alone is under discussion here--since international Marxism as such has no other aim but Germany's destruction -- even today has learned nothing from the past. Even today it does not feel the necessity of setting for the nation a foreign policy aim that may be regarded as satisfactory, and thereby give our foreign policy endeavors a certain stability for a more or less long time. For only if such a possible foreign policy goal appears fundamentally staked out can we discuss in detail the possibilities that can lead to success. Only then does politics enter the stage of the art of the possible. As long, however, as this whole political life is not dominated by any leading idea, individual actions will not have the character of utilizing all possibilities for the achievement of a certain success as such. Instead, they are but individual stations along the way of an aimless and plan-less muddling through from today to tomorrow. Above all is lost that certain persistence which the execution of great aims always requires; that is: one will try this today and that tomorrow, and the day after one will have this foreign policy possibility in view, and suddenly pay homage to a wholly opposite intention--insofar, that is, as this visible confusion as confusion is not actually in keeping with the wish of that power which rules Germany today, and in truth does not wish for a resurgence of our Voelk ever. Only international Jewry can possess a lively interest in a German foreign policy which by its continual, seemingly irrational, sudden transitions, lacks that clear plan, and which, as its only justification, at best asserts: Indeed, we too naturally don't know what should be done, but we do something precisely because something must be done. Yes, not seldom can we actually hear that these men are so little convinced of the inner sense of their foreign policy actions that, as highest motivation, they can only inquire whether somebody else may know a better one. This is the foundation on which the statecraft of a Gustav Stresemann rests.
In contrast, precisely today more than ever is it necessary for the German Voelk to set itself a foreign policy goal which meets its real inner needs and, conversely, guarantees an unconditional stability to its foreign policy activity for the humanly predictable proximate period of time. For only if our Voelk fundamentally determines and persistently fights for its interests in such a way, can it hope to induce this or that State whose interests are not opposed to ours, now at last established, and which indeed may even be parallel, to enter into a closer union with Germany. For the idea of wanting to solve our Voelk's distress through the League Of Nations is exactly as unjustified as it was to let the German question be decided by the Frankfurt Federal Parliament.
The satisfied nations dominate the League Of Nations. Indeed, it is their instrument. To a large measure they have no interest in allowing a change in the territorial distribution of the globe, unless it again appeals to their interests. And while they talk about the rights of small nations, in reality it is only the interests of the largest they have in view.
If Germany again wants to achieve a real freedom so that, under its blessing, she can give the German Voelk its daily bread, she must take the measures thereto outside the Parliament Of The League Of Nations in Geneva. But then, for the lack of sufficient strength, it will be necessary that she find allies who can believe that they may also serve their own interests by going along with Germany. Such a situation, however, will never arise if Germany's real foreign policy aim has not become fully clear to these nations. And, above all, Germany by herself will never acquire the strength and inner force for that persistence necessary, alas, to sweep away the obstacles of world history. For then one will never learn how to have patience in particulars, and also to renounce them if necessary, in order finally to be able to achieve the vitally necessary aim on a large scale. For even among allies, relations will never be completely frictionless. Disturbances of reciprocal relations can arise over and over again to assume threateningly dangerous forms if the strength to overcome these petty unpleasantness and obstacles does not lie in the very dimensions of the foreign policy aim ultimately staked out. Here the French national leadership of the pre War decades may serve as an exemplary model. How it lightly passed over small matters, indeed, even remained silent before the most bitter events, so as not to lose the possibility of organizing a war of revenge against Germany, in such contrast to our eternally bawling hurrah!-patriots, and, consequently, their frequent barking at the moon.
The staking out of a clear foreign policy aim appears as important, furthermore, for the reason that, otherwise, the representatives of other interests among one's own Voelk will always find it possible to confuse public opinion, and to make, and in part even provoke, petty incidents into a cause for the radical change of opinion on foreign policy. Thus, out of the petty disputes which result from conditions themselves or which are artificially fabricated, France will again and again try to bring about ill feeling, indeed estrangement, among nations which, by the whole nature of their real vital interests, would be dependent upon each other, and which perforce would have to take a stand against France in concert. Such attempts, however, will be successful only if in consequence of the lack of an unshakeable political aim, one's own political actions do not possess a true stability, and above all, because persistence in the preparation of measures serviceable to the fulfillment of one's own political aim is also lacking.
The German Voelk, which possesses neither a foreign policy tradition nor a foreign policy aim, will by itself rather be inclined to pay homage to Utopian ideals, and thereby neglect its real vital interest. For what has our Voelk not raved over in the last hundred years? Now it was Greeks whom we wanted to save from the Turks, then Turks on whom we bestowed our affection against Russians and Italians, after which our Voelk again found an enchantment in waxing enthusiastic over Polish freedom fighters, and then in indulging their feelings for the Boers, and so on. But what have all the most stupid soulful gushiness, as incompetent politically as they were garrulous, cost our Voelk?
Thus the relation to Austria, as was emphasized with special pride, was not one of practical understanding, but a true inner alliance of the heart. If only reason instead of the heart had spoken at this time, and understanding had decided, Germany would be saved today. But for the very reason that we are the kind of a Voelk which lets its political actions be determined too little according to the grounds of a really reasonable, rational insight--for which reason we cannot look back on any great political tradition--we must, at least for the future, give our Voelk an unshakeable foreign policy aim which seems suitable for making the political measures of the State leadership understandable to the broad masses in their particulars. Only thus will it be ultimately possible that millions with a divining faith will stand behind a government leadership which carries out decisions which in their particulars may have something painful about them. This is a prerequisite for bringing about a mutual understanding between the Voelk and the State leadership and, to be sure, also a prerequisite for anchoring the State leadership itself in a certain tradition. It will not do that every German government have its own foreign policy goal. One can quarrel only over the means, one can dispute over them, but the goal itself must be established as unchangeable once and for all. Then politics can become the great art of the possible, that is, it is reserved to the brilliant abilities of the individual government leaders to perceive the possibilities, from instance to instance, of bringing the Voelk and the Reich nearer to its foreign policy aim.
This setting of a foreign policy goal is altogether non existent in present-day Germany. Hence the unguided, wavering and unsure manner of attending to our Voelk's interests becomes understandable, as does also the whole confusion of our public opinion. Hence also the incredible capers of our foreign policy which always end unhappily without the Voelk being even at least capable of judging the persons responsible and really calling them to account. No, one does not know what to do.
To be sure there are not a few people today who fully believe we should do nothing. They boil down their opinion to the effect that Germany today must be clever and reserved, that she engage herself nowhere, that we must keep the development of events well in view but ourselves not take part in them, in order, one day, to assume the role of the laughing third one, who reaps the benefits, while the other two quarrel.
Yes, yes, our present bourgeois statesmen are so clever and wise. A political judgement which is troubled by no knowledge of history. There are not a few proverbs which have become a real curse for our Voelk. For example, the wiser one yields, or clothes make the man, or one can get through the whole land with hat in hand, or when two fight, the third rejoices.
In the life of nations, at least, the last proverb applies only in a wholly conditional sense. [And this for the following reason] Namely, if two quarrel hopelessly within a nation, then a third who is outside a nation can win. In the life of nations with one another, however, the ultimate success will be had by States which deliberately engage in disputes because the possibility of increasing their strength lies only in a quarrel. There is no historical event in the world that cannot be judged from two points of view. The neutrals on one side always confront the interventionist on the other. And, in general, the neutrals will always get the worst of it, whereas the interventionists rather can claim the benefits for themselves, insofar, indeed, as the party on which they wagered does not lose.
In the life of nations this means the following: If two mighty powers quarrel on this globe, the more or less small or large surrounding States either can take part in this struggle, or keep their distance from it. In one case the possibility of a gain is not excluded, insofar as the participation takes place on the side which carries off the victory. Regardless who wins, however, the neutrals will have no other fate save enmity with the remaining victor State. Up to now none of the globe's great States has arisen on the basis of neutrality as a principle of political action, but only through struggle. If towering power States as such are on Earth, all that remains for small States to do is either to renounce their future altogether, or to fight with the more favorable coalition and under its protection, and thus increase their own strength. For the role of the laughing third always presupposes that this third already has a power. But whoever is always neutral will never achieve power. For to the extent that a Voelk's power lies in its inner value, the more does it find its ultimate expression in the organizational form of a Voelk's fighting forces on the battlefield, created by the will of this inner value. This form, however, will never rise if it is not put to the test from time to time. Only under the forge hammer of world history do a Voelk's eternal values become the steel and iron with which history is made. But he who avoids battles will never attain the strength to fight battles. And he who never fights battles will never be the heir of those who struggle with each other in a military conflict. For the previous heirs of world history were not, for instance, Voelks with cowardly concepts of neutrality, but young Voelks with better swords. Neither Antiquity nor the Middle Ages nor modern times knows even a single example of any power States coming into being save in permanent struggle. Up to now, however, the historical heirs have always been power States. In the life of nations, to be sure, even a third can be the heir when two quarrel. But then from the very outset this third is already the power that deliberately lets two other powers quarrel in order to defeat them once and for all later without a great sacrifice on its part.
Thereby neutrality loses the character of passive non participation in events altogether, and instead assumes that of a conscious political operation. Obviously no sagacious State leadership will begin a struggle without weighing the size of its possible stakes and comparing it with the size of the adversary's stakes. But if it has perceived the impossibility of being able to fight against a certain powers, all the more so will it be forced to try to fight together with this power. For then the strength of the hitherto weaker power can eventually grow out of this common struggle, in order if necessary to fight for is own vital interests also against the latter. Let no one say that then no power would enter into an alliance with a State which some day itself might become a danger. Alliances do not present policy aims, but only means to the aims. We must make use of them today even if we know a hundred times that the later development can possibly lead to the opposite. There is no alliance that lasts forever. Happy the nations which, in consequence of the complete divergence of their interests, can enter into an alliance relationship for a definite time without being forced to a mutual conflict after the cessation of the same. But a weak State especially, which wants to achieve power and greatness, must always try to take an active part in the general political events of world history.
When Prussia entered her Silesian War, this too was a relatively secondary phenomenon alongside the violent dispute between England and France, which at that time was already in full swing. Perhaps Frederick The Great can be reproached for having pulled English chestnuts out of the fire. But would the Prussia ever have arisen with which a Bismarck could create a new Reich, if at that time a Hohenzollern prince had sat on the throne who, in the knowledge of the future greater evens of world history, preserved his Prussia in a State of pious neutrality? The three Silesian Wars brought Prussia more than Silesia. On these battlefields grew those Regiments which in the future were to carry the German banners from Weissenburg and Wörth up to Sedan, in order finally to greet the new emperor of the new Reich in the Hall Of Mirrors in the Palace Of Versailles. Prussia at that time was certainly a small State, unimportant in population and territorial size. But by leaping into the middle of the great actions of world history, this little State had obtained for itself a legitimization for the founding of the later German Reich.
And once, even the neutralists triumphed in the Prussian State. This was in the period of Napoleon I. At that time it was believed at first that Prussia could remain neutral, and for this she was later punished with the most terrible defeat. Both conceptions confronted one another sharply even in the year 1812. The one for neutrality, and the other, headed by Baron vom Stein, for intervention. The fact that the neutralists won out in 1812 cost Prussia and Germany infinite blood and brought them infinite suffering. And the fact that at last in 1813 the interventionists broke through saved Prussia. The World War gave the clearest answer to the opinion that one can achieve political success by preserving a careful neutrality as a third power. What have the neutrals of the World War achieved practically? Were they the laughing third one, for instance? Or does one believe that, in a similar event, Germany would play another role? And let no one think that the reason for this lies only in the magnitude of the World War. No, in the future, all wars, insofar as they involve great nations, will be Voelk's wars of the most gigantic dimensions. As a neutral State in any other European conflict, Germany, however, would possess no more importance than Holland or Switzerland or Denmark, and so on, in the World War. Does one really think that after the event we would get out of nowhere the strength to play the role against the remaining victor which we did not venture to play in a union with one of the two combatants? At any rate, the World War has proven one thing explicitly: whoever conducts himself as a neutral in great world historical conflicts, may perhaps at first make a little business, but, in terms of power politics, he will thereby ultimately also be excluded from a codetermination of the world's fate.
Thus, had the American Union preserved her neutrality in the World War, today she would be regarded as a power of the second rank, regardless of whether England or Germany had emerged as a victor. By entering the War, she raised herself to England's naval strength, but in international political terms marked herself as a power of decisive importance. Since her entry into the World War the American Union is appraised in a completely different way. It lies in the nature of mankind's forgetfulness no longer to know [to forget], after only a short time, what the general judgement of a situation had been only a few years before. Just as today we detect a complete disregard of Germany's former greatness in the speeches of many foreign statesmen, just as little, conversely, can we appraise the extent of the increase in value that the American Union has experienced in our judgement since her entry into the World War. This is also the most compelling statesmanlike justification for Italy's entry into the War against her former allies. Had Italy not taken this step, she would now share the role of Spain, no matter how the dice had rolled. The fact that she carried out the much criticized step to an active participation in the World War brought a rise in her position and a strengthening of the same which has found its ultimate crowning expression in Fascism. Without her entry into the War, the latter would have been a completely unthinkable phenomenon.
The German can ponder this with or without bitterness. It is important to learn from history, especially if its teachings speak to us in such a compelling way.
Thus the belief that through a prudent, reserved neutrality vis-à-vis the developing conflicts in Europe and elsewhere, one can some day reap the benefits thereof as a laughing third one, is false and idiotic. In general, freedom is preserved neither by begging nor by cheating. And also not by work and industry, but exclusively by struggle, and indeed by one's own struggle. Thus it is very easily possible that more weight is attached to the will than to the deed. Not seldom, in the framework of a wise alliance policy, nations have achieved successes unrelated to the success of their arms. But fate does not always measure a nation which boldly stakes its life according to the dimensions of its deeds, but rather, very frequently, according to the dimensions of its will. The history of Italian unification in the nineteenth century is noteworthy for this. But the World War also shows how a whole number of States can achieve extraordinary political successes less through their military accomplishments [successes] than through the foolhardy boldness with which they take sides and the doggedness with which they hold out. If Germany wants to put an end to her period of enslavement by all, she must under all circumstances actively try to enter into a combination of powers in order to participate in the future shaping of European life in terms of power politics.
The objection that such participation contains a grievous risk is correct. But, after all, does one really believe that we will achieve freedom without taking a risk? Or does one think that there has ever been a deed of world history which was not linked with a risk? Was Frederick The Great's decision, for instance, to participate in the first Silesian War, not linked with a risk? Or did Germany's unification by Bismarck entail no dangers? No, a thousand times no! Beginning with man's birth up to his death, everything is questionable. Only death seems certain. But for this very reason the ultimate commitment is not the worst for the reason that one day, in one way or another, it will be demanded.
Naturally it is a matter of political sagacity to choose the stake in such a way that it yields the highest possible gain. But not to stake anything at all for fear, perhaps, of picking the wrong horse means to renounce a Voelk's future. The objection that such an action may have the character of a risky gamble can most easily be refuted by simple reference to previous historical experience. By a risky gamble we understand a game in which from the outset the chances of winning are subject to the fate of chance. This will never be the case in politics. For the more the ultimate decision lies in the darkness of the future, the more is the conviction of the possibility or impossibility of a success erected on humanly perceptible factors. The task of a nation's political leadership is to weigh these factors. The result of this examination, then, must also lead to a decision. Thus this decision is consonant with one's own insight, and is sustained by faith in possible success on the basis of this insight. Hence I can just as little call a politically decisive deed a risky gamble, just because its outcome is not one hundred percent certain, as an operation undertaken by a surgeon the outcome of which likewise will not necessarily be successful. From time immemorial it has always been in keeping with the nature of great men to execute deeds whose success is even doubtful and indefinite with the utmost energy, if the necessity thereof as such lay before them, and if after a mature examination of all conditions this very action alone could be considered.
The joy of responsibility in the framing of great decisions in the struggles of nations will, of course, be all the greater the more the actors, by observation of their Voelk, can conclude that even a miscarriage will not be able to destroy the nation's vital strength. For in the long run a Voelk, inwardly healthy at its core, can never be effaced through defeats on the battlefield. Thus insofar as a Voelk possesses this inner health, with the prerequisite of a sufficient racial importance, the courage for difficult undertakings can be the greater since even the failure of the same would not, by far, signify the downfall of such a Voelk. And here Clausewitz is right, when in his principles he asserts that, with a healthy Voelk, such a defeat may repeatedly lead to a later resurgence, and that, conversely, only cowardly subjection, that is, a supine surrender to fate, can lead to ultimate destruction. The neutrality, however, which is today recommended to our Voelk as the only action possible, is really nothing but a volition-less surrender to a fate determined by foreign powers. And only therein lies the symptom and the possibility of our decline. If, on the contrary, our Voelk itself had undertaken abortive attempts to achieve freedom, a factor that could be beneficial to our Voelk's strength would lie in the very manifestation of this attitude. For let it not be said that it is political sagacity which holds us back from such steps. No, it is a wretched cowardice and a lack of principle which in this case, as so often in history, one tries to confuse with intelligence. Obviously a Voelk under the duress of foreign powers can be forced by circumstances to endure years of foreign oppression. But the less a Voelk can seriously do outwardly against overpowering forces, the more, however, will its internal life press toward freedom and leave nothing untried that could be suitable for changing the momentarily given condition one day by staking such a Voelk's entire strength. One will then endure the yoke of a foreign conqueror, but with clenched fists and gritted teeth, waiting for the hour which offers the first opportunity of shaking off the tyrant. Something like this can be possible under the pressure of conditions. But what presents itself today as political sagacity, however, is as a matter of fact a spirit of voluntary subjection, of unprincipled renunciation of any resistance, indeed the shameless persecution of those who dare to think of such a resistance and whose work obviously could serve their Voelk's resurgence. It is the spirit of inner self disarmament, of the destruction of all moral factors which one day could serve a resurrection of this Voelk and State. This spirit can really not give itself the airs of political sagacity, for actually it is a State destroying dishonorableness.
And, to be sure, this spirit must hate every attempt at an active participation of our Voelk in future European developments, because the necessity of a struggle against this spirit indeed lies in the mere attempt at such a participation.
If, however, a State leadership seems to be affected by this corrupting spirit, it becomes the task of the opposition which perceives, represents and thus espouses a Voelk's real vital forces to inscribe the struggle [the education] for national resurgence, and through it for national honor, on its banners. And it must not let itself be intimidated by the assertion that foreign policy is the task of responsible State leadership, for there has not been such a responsible leadership for a long time. On the contrary, it must adhere to the conception that, besides the formal laws of momentary governments, there exist eternal obligations which compel every member of a nation to do what is perceived as necessary for the existence of the Voelkish Community. Even if this stands a thousand times in opposition to the intentions of bad and incompetent governments.
Hence precisely in Germany today the highest obligation should devolve on the so called National Opposition, in view of the unworthiness of the general leadership of our Voelk to establish a clear foreign policy aim, and to prepare and educate our Voelk for the execution of these ideas. Primarily, it must launch the sharpest war against the hope, widely spread today, that our fate can be changed somewhat by active cooperation with the League Of Nations. In general, it must see to it that our Voelk gradually realizes that we must not expect an amelioration of the German situation from institutions the representatives of which are the interested parties in our present misfortune. Further, it must deepen the conviction that all social aspirations are Utopian promises devoid of any real worth without the regaining of German freedom. It must further bring our Voelk the knowledge that, for this freedom, one way or another, only the staking of its own strength can be considered. And that, consequently, our whole domestic and foreign policy must be such that by virtue of it our Voelk's inner strength grows and increases. Finally, it must enlighten the Voelk to the effect that this staking of strength must take place for a really worthwhile aim, and that for this purpose we cannot go forward to meet our fate alone, but will need allies.
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