April 4, 1934
Reich Chancellor Adolf Hitler pointed out at the beginning of the interview that he was a staunch advocate of personal interchange, of “man-to-man diplomacy.” He would most prefer, he said, being able to speak privately with the responsible leaders of the most important nations, including America.
The antiquated diplomatic method of exchanging notes defeated its own purpose, which was evidenced in the fact that, despite the endeavors of the diplomats, in 1914 the nations had skidded into the biggest war in history, although-in his own personal opinion-the diplomats had been most astonished of all when the War had, in fact, broken out.
The Führer continued: “Any representative of a foreign power will find, when he confers with me, that I am absolutely frank in stating what Germany is willing to do and that I do not make my demands any higher than is necessary.
For instance, if I say that we need a Wehrmacht of 300,000 men, I will not condescend to reduce the number to 250,000 afterwards.
“I want to make Germany’s word and signature respected once more.
“Under no circumstances will I subject to a Diktat. If I have once become convinced that a certain course is the only right course for my Volk, I will adhere to it, come what may. And what I do, I do openly. For instance, I will never be capable of outwardly accepting 150,000 men as a sufficient force for our Reichswehr and then secretly train and equip another 150,000 men.” Speaking of the armament problems resulting from France’s refusal to adopt the English, Italian and German position, the Reich Chancellor stated: “No one would be happier than I were the world to disarm. We want to devote all of our energies toward productive ends. We want to lead our unemployed back to work.
“Then we intend to raise each individual’s standard of living. We want to drain our swamps, reclaim and improve unproductive land, if possible put our Volk in a position to provide for its own needs, enable the peasant to reap the maximum from his soil, put the manufacturer and industrial worker in a position to work as productively as possible, supply our country as far as possible with man-made substitutes for the raw materials it lacks. By building roads, digging canals, draining swampland, and installing dams and sluices, we are accomplishing constructive work which has a right to claim our energies.
“As a statesman who is responsible for the welfare of his country, I cannot allow Germany to be exposed to the danger that one of its neighbors might attack it or drop bombs on our industrial plants, or wage a so-called preventive war only in order to distract from its own internal difficulties. For this reason only-and for none other-do we demand a Wehrmacht which fulfills the requirements of a genuine defense.” In response to the question whether ‘work for all’ meant that a proletarian levelling would take place, in other words whether the Reich Chancellor would be satisfied if, by stretching the available work, each person would in fact be assured of a certain minimum income, but that larger incomes would then disappear, the Reich Chancellor replied: “Just the opposite! Naturally the first step must be to eliminate the scourge of unemployment. However, as soon as our Volk has work again, buying power will also increase, and then the logical next step is an increase in the standard of living. We do not want to become a primitive Volk, but one with the highest possible standard of living. In my opinion, the Americans are right in not wanting to make everyone the same but rather in upholding the principle of the ladder. However, every single person must be granted the opportunity to climb up the ladder. I also believe that it is absolutely right that an invention should first be the property of the inventor; however, his endeavors must be aimed toward having his invention benefit the general public.
“The first windowpane was a luxury article, but today everyone wants glass.
It has become an article of daily use. The first light bulb was a luxury article, but its inventor aimed at making it available to everyone. The aim and the purpose of all progress must be to make a Volk as a whole, and humanity as a whole, happier than before.”
Lochner’s initial question was: “Mr. Chancellor, what is your attitude toward criticism, both personal and that in the press?” The Chancellor replied: “Do you know something else? That I have surrounding me an entire staff of experts thoroughly versed in economic, social and political life whose sole purpose is to criticize? Before we pass a law, I show these men the draft and ask them, ‘Would you tell me what is wrong with this, please?’ I do not want them to simply say amen to everything. They are of no value to me if they are not critical and do not tell me which defects might, under certain circumstances, detract from our measures. I am similarly not in support of the press simply printing only what it has been instructed to print.
“It is no pleasure to read newspapers which all have almost exactly the same text. In the course of time, our editors will be so trained that they will be able to make their own valuable contributions to building the nation. However, there is one thing of which I can assure you: I will never tolerate a press whose exclusive aim is to destroy what we have undertaken to build up.
“If an editor’s policy is to hold up his own interesting Weltanschauung in contrast to ours, may he take note that I will then equally make use of the modern opportunities afforded by the press in order to combat him. I will allow the agents of foreign powers no opportunity whatsoever. People like these agents are infringing upon their right to hospitality. I warmly welcome foreign correspondents who report what they see and hear in Germany objectively and without bias. However, each and every correspondent should make it a matter of his own concern, for his own sake and for the sake of his reputation as a journalist, not to expose himself to the risk of having to deny his own reports because he has failed to correctly assess the effectiveness of our regime. Bear in mind that the press was forced to change its opinion of Richard Wagner.” “Whereas on the one hand, I want criticism,” the Chancellor continued, “on the other I insist that those who work for the welfare of the entire Volk must have the security of knowing that they can go about their work in peace. The mistake of the systems which preceded our own lay in the fact that none of the ministers nor anyone in public office responsible to the State knew how long they would be at the helm. This had as a consequence that they were able to neither do away with the deplorable state of affairs their predecessors had left behind nor dare to concern themselves with questions involving the future. I assured the gentlemen when I took over the government-even those who were not members of my Party-that they could be certain of the stability of their offices. As a result, they were all enthusiastic and wholeheartedly devoted to what they were doing, and their sights were set solely on a constructive future.” Lochner then asked, “Mr. Chancellor, it has occasionally been said that, among the gentlemen in your immediate vicinity, there are those who would like to take your place. It is claimed, for instance, in respect to one of your most prominent staff members that he attempts to thwart your measures.” Describing his own impressions after having posed this question, Lochner wrote: “The Chancellor’s features became illuminated. It was as though the faces of the various men who had been closest to him in the struggle were passing by his mind’s eye, and what he saw there pleased him.” The Führer replied: “Of course I know that you are asking this question in order to clarify my relationship to my staff and not because you are personally questioning their loyalty. It would really be slanderous to insinuate that any one of the men who have stood by me year after year had any desire to get me out of the way.
“The world has never witnessed a more wonderful example of blind empathy than that which my staff provides. Perhaps the reason why this type of story comes into being lies in the fact that I have not surrounded myself, so to speak, with washouts, but with real men. Washouts have no backbone. They are the first to collapse when things are going badly. The men around me are strong and upstanding men. Each of them is a person of stature, each has his own will and is filled with ambition. If these men were not ambitious, they would not be where they are today. I welcome their ambition.
“When such a group of powerful personalities comes together, it is inevitable that some friction may ensue. But never has a single one of the men who have given me their allegiance attempted to force his will upon me. On the contrary: they have subordinated themselves to my wishes in an admirable way.”
With an almost boyish laugh, the Führer replied: “First of all, you should see what my lunch hour is like upstairs in this building. You would see how new faces appear there every day. My home is like a Central Station. My home is always open to my fellow fighters, regardless of how plain and simple their circumstances may be. Our organization reaches all the way down to the smallest village, and the men of my retinue come from all over to visit me in Berlin.
“We sit at the table and, with time, they tell me their cares and problems.
Then again, there are naturally many other opportunities to come into contact with the Volk. I have mentioned this only as a typical example. However, I would like to stress one thing: although I listen to all of these minor cares and put together a composite picture of the whole from a wealth of details, I never allow my overall view to become clouded. I must constantly keep my sights focused on our primary aim and pursue this goal with unwavering tenacity. I am not equally satisfied with every single detail. Admittedly, I am forced to leave it to my staff to settle the minor matters.
“We are pursuing great aims. Our primary task consists of adhering to this method. I need four years to translate the first segment of our program into reality. Then I will require another four years for the next segment, and so on.
We are striving for an important, a better, and a happier Germany.”
Peoples who fight for lofty national ideas lead strong lives and look forward to a rich future. They have taken their fate into their own hands. Hence the sums of their composite powers do not seldom comprise values which enjoy international prestige and are more beneficial for the mutual coexistence of the peoples than the “immortal ideas” of liberalism which confuse and destroy the relations between nations.
Fascism and National Socialism, both related in their basic Weltanschauungen, are called upon to blaze new trails to productive international cooperation. To comprehend their purpose and their nature means to promote peace in the world and, with it, the welfare of the nations.