Was Hitler ever a member of the Reichstag?

Was Hitler ever a member of the Reichstag?

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Pretty much what the title says. Hitler apparently wasn't noted for any parliamentary activity; either he was never a member of the Reichstag (MR), or he was a quite non-notable MR.

Ballots of the Reichstag elections show his name under the party name of the NSDAP, so I suppose he was a candidate. But perhaps I am wrong.

So, in detail, the doubts are:

  • Was Hitler ever a candidate to the Reichstag, or his name in the ballot was merely symbolic?
  • If he was a candidate, was he in the position it appears in the ballot, as the first on the list, or again this was merely to facilitate the identification of the party, so that voters who would vote "for Hitler" but would have trouble identifying him with the NSDAP, and in fact he was placed much lower in the list?
  • If he was a candidate, and was elected (which if he was first of list he certainly was) did he ever took charge of his parliamentary seat, or did he decline (probably because his policy was that he would be Reichskanzler or nothing?
  • If he was elected and seated, did he ever make any speech on the floor, or fostered any bill or other kind of parliamentary project?

I searched the internet, and found no reference to Hitler's being a Reichstag deputy or sponsoring legislation up to 1933. This tallies with my personal recollection of no such activity. A commenter found a source (John Toland's biography of Hitler) that supports an inference that he was a deputy up to 1928 (in the early days, before the Nazis' power became "national" in scope.) But there is a reason why he would have been "otherwise engaged" after 1928.

There are actually two governing "tracks" in Germany, even to this day; President, which is head of state; and Chancellor, which is the head of government.

It is noteworthy that on his first attempt at high office, Hitler ran for President (against Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg) rather than Chancellor, winning 37% of the vote. Hindenburg remarked ironically that he had lost most of his "own" (right-wing) vote to Hitler, and had been elected by the votes of Socialists and Communists (that he despised), as the "not Hitler." (The Communist candidate, Thalman, received only three-quarters of his party's vote.)

Hitler became Chancellor, as the result of a brokered deal between himself, Hindenburg, and Franz von Papen, whom HIndenburg favored. (Von Papen was made Vice-Chancellor and given 8 out of 11 seats in the Cabinet.) But it turned out that Hitler had the upper hand, because von Hindenburg was 86 years old. Hitler was gambling, correctly as it turned out, that HIndenburg would die during his four seven year term.

Hitler called a new round of Reichstag elections that he cast as a vote of confidence on himself. The Nazis won 44% of the vote, their highest proportion ever, and the single largest party bloc. By forming a coalition with the Nationalists (8%), they had a majority.

Hitler's next step was the passage of the so-called Enabling Act. That essentially stripped everyone of their power except the Chancellor (himself), for at least four years, making that role the supreme role. He needed a two-thirds majority to do this, but obtained it by arresting the Communists (reducing the denominator) and tricking the Catholic Center Party to support him (increasing the numerator). Once he did this, he was, in effect, Germany's Chief Executive, not Hindenburg. When Hindenburg died, he anointed himself Fuhrer. It was in this role that he addressed the Reichstag, notably in declaring war against the U.S.

Not till 1933. Germany Wikipedia has lists of all Reichstag members; Hitler only became a member in 1933 after he was already chancellor. In the Weimar Republic the chancellor didn't have to be a member of the Reichstag (contrary to the Federal Republic, where the chancellor must be a member of the Bundestag).

Hitler came to power in a Democracy as the NAZIs gained seats in the Reichstag, but he was never elected President in a Democratic election. Hitler was appointed Chancellor in 1933, then became President and Chancellor by decree in 1934 after the NAZIs gained power through democratic and non-democratic means over the course of the 1920s and early 1930s. [1] [2]

In America, we hear “Hitler was elected President in a Democracy” a lot, but the sentence is so semantically wrong it merits a detailed discussion. Yes, Hitler came into power in a democratic society loosely speaking, but no, he was not elected by direct popular vote or anything like that (and in some cases neither were the NAZIs who gained seats in the Reichstag parliament).

Below we will explain how Germany is a mixed-Republic with a Parliament where officials elect the heads of state (they are not a direct democracy), how the corrupt NAZI party didn’t exactly come to power in fair elections in the first place, and how Hitler was appointed Führer under less than democratic circumstances.

TIP: Chancellor (head of government) and President (head of state) are two very similar positions. Similar to King and Prime Minister. Germany was a parliamentary system with two heads of state (before Hitler became President and Chancellor AKA Führer und Reichskanzler).

Was Hitler ever a member of the Reichstag? - History

Sometimes, in discussions of fascism, we hear the idea that “Hitler was elected.” In other words, it’s the people’s fault. They chose Hitler. They chose fascism. They were anti-Semites who cared more about persecuting Jews than about protecting their own freedom. The reality isn’t so simple.

It’s true that Hitler’s Nazi Party was the single largest party and voting bloc in Germany in 1932–33. It’s also true that Hitler became Chancellor through constitutional means — that is, he was appointed to the office by Paul von Hindenburg, Germany’s president.

In this sense, German fascism was exceptional. Most other fascist regimes come to power through military means. In Italy, Fascist Squadristi, the infamous “Blackshirts,” marched on Rome, leading King Victor Emmanuel III to appoint Mussolini Prime Minister. Spain’s fascist dictator, Franco, came to power in a bloody civil war. In Portugal, Greece, Chile, Brazil, and Cuba military coups installed fascist rule. Germany’s case stands out by the degree to which Hitler and the Nazi Party used elections to develop a mass base.

At the same time, it’s important not to overstate Hitler’s sway with voters. In July 1932, the peak of the Nazis’ electoral reach, they won 37% of the vote, while 35% went to the Socialist and Communist parties. By November 1932, the tables had turned. The Nazis won 32% of the vote, but the combined total for Socialists and Communists was 36.8%. In the last election before Hitler’s appointment as Chancellor, his party was losing ground!

Most of the history we learn in school remembers Hitler as a talented demagogue: giving fiery speeches, whipping up a frenzy of anti-Semitic paranoia and nationalist fervor, rallying the people to the Reich. But that’s only one side of the picture. Hitler was just as diligent about courting Germany’s ruling class, its financial, industrial, and military elites. He understood that the Nazis would not come to power through direct electoral means, and that he would need their support in order to rule.

According to the constitution of the Weimar Republic, the chancellor and other cabinet members were appointed by the party, or coalition of parties, that held an absolute majority in the legislature. But two successive elections, July and November 1932, had produced no absolute majority in the Reichstag, and all efforts to form a coalition had failed. The decision of chancellor fell to Hindenburg, as president—but in January of 1933, Hindenburg refused to appoint Hitler, declaring even on the day before he issued the appointment that he would not do so.

That’s when Hitler’s efforts to court Germany’s big capitalists paid off. Bankers and industrialists pressured Hindenburg to appoint Hitler to the office of chancellor. They did not make that decision based on Hitler’s electoral strength. In fact, it was after the Nazis had begun to lose votes, in November 1932, that they intervened. Many right-wing industrialists who had not previously supported the Nazis thought that this might be their last chance to exercise the fascist option, short-circuiting democracy to prevent the left from taking control.

Hitler could not have come to power without the large section of German voters who rallied to his populist rhetoric and joined in his scapegoating of Jews and Communists for the capitalist crisis of the Great Depression. But it was not their votes that secured his power nor was it their interests that guided his policies. He placed himself — his paranoia and megalomania, his rabid anti-Semitism, his promises of Aryan greatness sealed in a thousand-year Reich — at the service of Germany’s industrial and financial elite. In his ambition for total power, they saw an opportunity to crush Communists, socialists, trade unionists, democratic movements and institutions, and any other obstacles to the unchecked rule of property.

Image: Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-S38324 (CC-BY-SA 3.0) , Wikipedia.

Reichstag fire

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Reichstag fire, burning of the Reichstag (parliament) building in Berlin on the night of February 27, 1933, a key event in the establishment of the Nazi dictatorship and widely believed to have been contrived by the newly formed Nazi government itself to turn public opinion against its opponents and to assume emergency powers.

Adolf Hitler had secured the chancellorship after the elections of November 1932, but his Nazi Party had not won an overall majority. He therefore obtained Cabinet consent to hold new elections on March 5, 1933. Meanwhile, his propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, was supposed to have devised the scheme whereby 10 agents led by Karl Ernst were to gain access to the Reichstag through a tunnel leading from the official residence of Hermann Göring, Reichstag president and Hitler’s chief minister, who was then to conduct an official investigation, which would fix responsibility for the fire on the communists. The supposed arsonist was a Dutchman, Marinus van der Lubbe, whom some have claimed was brought to the scene of the crime by Nazi agents. Others have contended that there was no proof of Nazi complicity in the crime, but that Hitler merely capitalized on van der Lubbe’s independent act. The fire is the subject of continued debate and research.

On February 28, 1933, the day after the fire, Hitler’s dictatorship began with the enactment of a decree “for the Protection of the People and the State,” which dispensed with all constitutional protection of political, personal, and property rights. Though the ensuing elections still did not give the Nazis an outright majority, they were able to persuade the Reichstag to pass an Enabling Act (March 23) whereby all its legislative powers were transferred to the Reich Cabinet by a vote of 444 to 94, so sanctioning the dictatorship.

In the ensuing arson trial, van der Lubbe was convicted of treason he was executed by guillotine in January 1934. Also tried in connection with the fire were Ernst Torgler, the chairman of the German Communist Party in the Reichstag, and three Bulgarian communists— Simon Popov, Vassili Tanev, and Georgi Dimitrov. Dimitrov in particular won international fame for his fearless and skilled defense against Nazi prosecutors. All four of the accused communists were acquitted because of the lack of evidence.

The Weimar Reichstag

The Weimar Reichstag was the German parliament or national assembly from 1919. During the Weimar period, the Reichstag was notorious for its high number of parties, its political division and instability and its ineffectiveness. Historians often cite these problems in the Reichstag as a major obstacle to good government in Weimar Germany.

Many voices, many divisions

Several problems emanated from the Weimar constitution adopted in August 1919. This constitution created a political system that was fundamentally democratic and allowed a multiplicity of voices and points-of-view.

This arrangement may have worked if there had been a national consensus about Germany’s political and economic future. The Weimar period was marked by difficult conditions and extreme political divisions, however, and the troubled Reichstag only reflected these divisions.

The Reichstag‘s most glaring problem was its plethora of divergent political parties. Their presence in the Reichstag was chiefly due to an electoral law, adopted in April 1920, that implemented a proportional system of voting.

Weimar electoral law

Under the 1920 electoral law, parties were awarded Reichstag seats not by winning an absolute majority but by reaching a quota, based on the proportion of votes cast. This system is known as proportional voting.

This voting system encouraged a wide variety of parties, including fringe or regional groups, to participate in national elections. As a consequence, Weimar-era ballot papers often contained more than 30 parties and candidates.

The ballot paper pictured above, from the 1928 election, contained 21. Among the parties listed are the German National People’s Party (DNVP, number one), the Centre Party (number three) and the National Socialists (NSDAP, number ten).

A multiplicity of parties

The proportional voting system not only encouraged smaller parties to participate but it also made it easier for them to win seats. In most Reichstag elections, around 60,000 votes, sometimes even less, was enough to win a seat in the national legislature.

In 1920, the tiny Bavarian Farmers’ League party won just over 200,000 votes – almost all from Bavaria – and was able to command four seats in the Reichstag.

As a result, the Reichstag became clogged with more than a dozen different parties from across the political spectrum. In the 1920 election, 11 different parties won Reichstag seats. By 1930, there were 14 different parties represented on the floor of the Reichstag.

Proportional voting and the abundance of parties it produced made it impossible for one or even two parties to ‘dominate’ the Reichstag. No party ever held a majority of seats in its own right. The closest any party came was the National Socialists (NSDAP) in July 1932, which won 37 per cent of seats.

Problematic government

The lack of a clear majority government in the Reichstag made executive government – that is, government by the president, the chancellor and his ministers – extremely difficult.

The nominal head of government was the chancellor, who led a cabinet of ministers. All were appointed by the president, who selected a cabinet he believed could steer laws through the Reichstag.

Passing legislation was necessary to govern effectively but getting bills through the Weimar Reichstag was difficult at the best of times and impossible at the worst.

The need for coalitions

The presence of so many parties in the Reichstag made a single-party majority government almost impossible. Instead, to form a majority government, the chancellor and his ministers had to organise coalitions (voting agreements between different parties).

There were several of these coalitions during the Weimar period. They were notoriously fragile and several coalitions collapsed. Some parties, like the National Socialists, refused to enter into coalitions at all.

Coalitions were continually being formed, tested by legislation, undermined by different views, fragmented, patched up and dissolved – only for the process to begin again. Parties fell out over issues and policies or found it difficult to set aside their ideological differences for any length of time.

Legislative paralysis

As a result of this instability, the Weimar Reichstag was often paralysed by division and unable or unwilling to pass legislation. Most Weimar chancellors found it impossible to get much done.

When it seemed that a chancellor could no longer work with the Reichstag to pass legislation, there were two options: the chancellor could ask the president to pass emergency decrees or the president could replace him.

Between 1919 and 1933, the German chancellor was replaced 15 times. Each change required a new cabinet of ministers, new policies and often the formation of a new coalition. The Reichstag itself was hardly more stable: there were nine general elections held during the same fourteen-year period.

‘Golden Age’ politics

The period between 1924 and 1929 was one of fewer changes of government and improved economic conditions. This five-year period is often described as the ‘Golden Age of Weimar‘.

To the outsider, the mid to late 1920s seemed a brief period of stabilisation. Political violence and extremist rhetoric eased domestic government functioned better than it had done in the early 1920s. Gustav Stresemann led reforms in foreign policy and international relations.

These outcomes disguised a lack of fundamental stability and cohesion, particularly within the Reichstag. Forming and maintaining coalition governments continued to be enormously difficult. The lack of trust between the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and centrist and right-wing parties remained the most significant obstacle to enduring coalitions.

A historian’s view:
“The Reichstag – that is, an assembly of close to 500 representatives of the most highly opposed political tendencies, split into six large and constant party groupings and a number of smaller and fluctuating groups. This Reichstag produces at best a simple majority, and then usually only at the cost of painful coalition and compromise. [It functions] only if the majority coalition, brought together to form a government, is able to convince a large enough part of the opposition of the necessity of legislation.”
Richard Thomas

1. The Weimar Republic is perhaps best known to historians for its political instability, such as its frequent changes of chancellor and ministers.

2. This instability was in part due to the proportional voting system adopted in 1919, which encouraged the presence of many parties in the Reichstag.

3. With no single party ever winning an absolute majority in the Reichstag, a national government was always formed by coalitions of several parties.

4. Chancellors were appointed by the president based on their ability to formulate laws and policies and steer them through the Reichstag, a most difficult task.

5. Coalition collapses and frequent changes in government eased in Germany after 1924, though the appearance of greater stability was superficial.

Citation information
Title: “The Weimar Reichstag
Authors: Jennifer Llewellyn, Steve Thompson
Publisher: Alpha History
URL: https://alphahistory.com/weimarrepublic/weimar-reichstag/
Date published: September 18, 2019
Date accessed: Today’s date
Copyright: The content on this page may not be republished without our express permission. For more information on usage, please refer to our Terms of Use.


The parliamentary system of the Weimar Republic had already been undermined before 30 January 1933, the day on which President Hindenburg appointed Hitler Chancellor of the Reic h. Hitler had commended himself to the elite conservative circles that shared his distaste for the Republic, not least through his desire to replace the parliamentary system with an authoritarian monocratic state or Führerstaat . Like the chancellors of the preceding presidential cabinets, Hitler prevailed upon Hindenburg to dissolve the Reichstag on 1 February 1933 and call a general election. The Reichsta g fire on the night of 27 to 28 February 1933 provided a welcome pretext for the enactment of the Presidential Order for the Protection of the Nation and the State, commonly known as the Reichstag Fire Decree, which suspended the fundamental individual rights enshrined in the Weimar Constitution ‘until further notice’ in fact, they remained in abeyance until the end of the Third Reich .

The Enabling Act

In spite of the reign of terror and the first wave of arrests of Communists, Social Democrats and trade unionists, in the Reichstag elections of 5 March 1933 the Communist Party of Germany (KPD) obtained 12.3% of the vote and the Social Democratic Party of Germany (SPD) 18.3%, while the moderate centre-right parties, namely the Centre Party and the Bavarian People’s Party (BVP), polled 13.9%. The National Socialist German Workers’ Party (NSDAP) and the German National People’s Party (DNVP) won 43.9% and 8% of the vote respectively, and so together they formed a right-wing government. By means of the Enabling Act - officially entitled the ‘Law to Remedy the Distress of the People and the Reich ’ - Hitle r intended to free himself from all parliamentary scrutiny, but he needed the support of a two-thirds majority in the Reichstag to enact such legislation. The 81 elected Members from the KPD did not take part in the vote, since they were already either under arrest or had gone into hiding or exile. While 94 Members from the SPD braved intimidation by voting against the bill, the Centre Party, the BVP, the German State Party (DStP), the Christian Social People’s Service (CSVD), the German Peasants’ Party (DBP) and the Agricultural League ( Landbund ) joined the DNVP and the NSDAP in approving the Enabling Act. The Act empowered the Government to enact laws without the consent of Parliament, even if they were inconsistent with the Constitution of the Reich . In this way the Reichstag downgraded itself from a legislative body to an acclamatory auditorium.

The Führerstaat

Very soon, on 31 March 1933, the Government adopted, without parliamentary involvement, the Act Establishing the Identity of the Länder with the Reich (Gesetz über die Gleichschaltung der Länder mit dem Reich ), which abolished the autonomous rights of the Länder , replacing them with stringent centralised rule. Ten months later, the Reich Restructuring Act ( Gesetz über den Neuaufbau des Reichs ) dissolved the parliaments of the Länder . This was followed on 14 February 1934 by the dissolution of the Reichsrat , the national representative assembly of the Länder . In the summer of 1934, another crucial step was taken towards the establishment of the ‘ Führer state’ with the Night of the Long Knives at the end of June and the beginning of July, when Hitler had troublesome rivals removed from the political scene or murdered. Following Hindenburg ’s death on 2 August 1934, a law amalgamating the offices of President and Chancellor - likewise adopted without parliamentary approval - enabled Hitler to assume the title of ‘Leader and Chancellor of the Reich ’ ( Führer und Reichskanzler ). He also became commander-in-chief of the Wehrmacht, whose members henceforth swore an oath of allegiance to him personally and no longer to the Weimar Constitution.

The Reichstag as a ‘one-party parliament’

After the adoption of the Enabling Act, the Reichstag only ever met on 19 occasions. It adopted seven laws, compared with 986 enacted by the Government. By the time of the Reichstag election of 12 November 1933, voters were already being presented with a single list of candidates whom they could approve or reject en bloc. Through the withdrawal of the mandates of Communist and Social Democrat members and the defection of representatives of the middle-class parties to the NSDAP, the Reichstag ultimately developed into a one-party parliament, whose members had to swear allegiance to the Führer . The insignificance of the parliament contrasted with the fact that a parliamentary seat carried great prestige and provided ample financial security, with which long-serving and distinguished party officials of the NSDAP were rewarded. The status attached to Parliament by the National Socialists is also reflected in the fact that the Reichstag building was never restored as a venue for plenary sittings. Instead, Parliament met in the Kroll Opera House, which had staged its last performance in 1931.

The end of parliamentary activity

The sole parliamentary group was chaired by Wilhelm Fric k, the NSDAP’s national returning officer, who had been Minister of the Interior in Hitler’ s cabinet since 30 January 1933. Other Reichstag bodies were successively abolished. Although committees were appointed in accordance with Article 35 of the Weima r Constitution as late as December 1933, they were no longer convened. After the Reichstag elections of 29 March 1936 and 10 April 1938, the appointment of committees was also dispensed with. Hitler, however, set great store by the legitimacy of apparent plebiscitary approval, which was used to underpin the ritualistic propaganda attaching to each of his policy statements. Even though the first ‘Great German Reichstag ’ after the annexation of Austria adopted neither a new constitution nor any other legislation, Hitler described that Parliament as the “representation of the German people”, which could “lay claim to being regarded as a truly constituent body”. At the last sitting of the Reichstag , on 26 April 1942, its members showed that they had entirely forsworn all of their rights. By rising from their seats, they approved a resolution of the Reichstag drafted by Hans Heinrich Lammers and read out by Hermann Göring , which stated that “the Führer , in his capacity as leader of the nation […], must therefore be able at any time - without being bound by existing legal provisions - to prevail if necessary upon all Germans […], by every means he deems appropriate, to fulfil their obligations”.

Adolf Hitler's Declaration of War against the United States

A year of world-historical events is coming to an end. A year of great decisions is approaching. In this grave period I speak to you, deputies of the Reichstag, as the representatives of the German nation. In addition, the entire German nation should also review what has happened and take note of the decisions required by the present and the future.

After the repeated rejection of my peace proposal in 1940 by the British Prime Minister and the clique that supports and controls him, it was clear by the fall of that year that this war would have to be fought through to the end, contrary to all logic and necessity. You, my old Party comrades, know that I have always detested half-hearted or weak decisions. If Providence has deemed that the German people are not to be spared this struggle, then I am thankful that It has entrusted me with the leadership in a historic conflict that will be decisive in determining the next five hundred or one thousand years, not only of our German history, but also of the history of Europe and even of the entire world.

The German people and its soldiers work and fight today not only for themselves and their own age, but also for many generations to come. A historical task of unique dimensions has been entrusted to us by the Creator that we are now obliged to carry out.

The western armistice which was possible shortly after the conclusion of the conflict in Norway compelled the German leadership, first of all, to militarily secure the most important political, strategic and economic areas that had been won. Consequently, the defense capabilities of the lands which were conquered at that time have changed.

From Kirkenes to the Spanish frontier stretches the most extensive belt of great defense installations and fortresses. Countless air fields have been built, including some in the far north that were blasted out of granite. The number and strength of the protected submarine shelters that defend naval bases are such that they are practically impregnable from both the sea and the air. They are defended by more than one and a half thousand gun battery emplacements, which had to be surveyed, planned and built. A network of roads and rail lines has been laid out so that the connections between the Spanish frontier and Petsamo can be defended independently from the sea. The installations built by the Pioneer and construction battalions of the navy, army and air force in cooperation with the Todt Organization are not at all inferior to those of the Westwall. The work to further strengthen all this continues without pause. I am determined to make this European front impregnable against any enemy attack.

This defensive work, which continued during the past winter, was complemented by military offensives insofar as seasonal conditions permitted. German naval forces above and below the waves continued their steady war of annihilation against the naval and merchant vessels of Britain and her subservient allies. Through reconnaissance flights and air attacks, the German air force helps to destroy enemy shipping and in countless retaliation air attacks to give the British a better idea of the reality of the so-called "exciting war," which is the creation, above all, of the current British Prime Minister.

During the past summer Germany was supported in this struggle above all by her Italian ally. For many months our ally Italy bore on its shoulders the main weight of a large part of British might. Only because of the enormous superiority in heavy tanks were the British able to bring about a temporary crisis in North Africa, but by 24 March of this year a small combined force of German and Italian units under the command of General Erwin Rommel began a counterattack. Agedabia fell on 2 April. Benghazi was reached on the 4th. Our combined forces entered Derna on the 8th, Tobruk was encircled on the 11th, and Bardia was occupied on 12 April. The achievement of the German Afrika Korps is all the more outstanding because this field of battle is completely alien and unfamiliar to the Germans, climatically and otherwise. As once in Spain, so now in North Africa, Germans and Italians stand together against the same enemy.

While these daring actions were again securing the North African front with the blood of German and Italian soldiers, the threatening clouds of terrible danger were gathering over Europe. Compelled by bitter necessity, I decided in the fall of 1939 to at least try to create the prerequisite conditions for a general peace by eliminating the acute tension between Germany and Soviet Russia. This was psychologically difficult because of the basic attitude toward Bolshevism of the German people and, above all, of the National Socialist Party. Objectively, though, this was a simple matter because in all the countries that Britain said were threatened by us and which were offered military alliances, Germany actually had only economic interests.

I may remind you, deputies and men of the German Reichstag, that throughout the spring and summer of 1939 Britain offered military alliances to a number of countries, claiming that Germany intended to invade them and rob them of their freedom. However, the German Reich and its government could assure them with a clear conscience that these insinuations did not correspond to the truth in any way. Moreover, there was the sober military realization that in case of a war which might be forced upon the German nation by British diplomacy, the struggle could be fought on two fronts only with very great sacrifices. And after the Baltic states, Romania, and so forth, were inclined to accept the British offers of military alliance, and thereby made clear that they also believed themselves to be threatened, it was not only the right but also the duty of the German Reich government to delineate the [geographical] limits of German interests.

All the same, the countries involved realized very quickly -- which was unfortunate for the German Reich as well -- that the best and strongest guarantee against the [Soviet] threat from the East was Germany. When those countries, on their own initiative, cut their ties with the German Reich and instead put their trust in promises of aid from a power [Britain] that, in its proverbial egotism, has for centuries never given help but has always demanded it, they were thereby lost. Even so, the fate of these countries aroused the strongest sympathy of the German people. The winter war of the Finns aroused in us a feeling of admiration mixed with bitterness: admiration because, as a soldierly nation, we have a sympathetic heart for heroism and sacrifice, and bitterness because our concern for the enemy threat in the West and the danger in the East meant that we were no position to help. When it became clear to us that Soviet Russia concluded that the delineation of political spheres of influence gave it the right to practically exterminate foreign nations, the relationship was maintained only for utilitarian reasons, contrary to reason and sentiment.

Already in 1940 it became increasingly clear from month to month that the plans of the men in the Kremlin were aimed at the domination, and thus the destruction, of all of Europe. I have already told the nation of the build-up of Soviet Russian military power in the East during a period when Germany had only a few divisions in the provinces bordering Soviet Russia. Only a blind person could fail to see that a military build-up of unique world-historical dimensions was being carried out. And this was not in order to protect something that was being threatened, but rather only to attack that which seemed incapable of defense.

The quick conclusion of the campaign in the West meant that those in power in Moscow were not able to count on the immediate exhaustion of the German Reich. However, they did not change their plans at all, but only postponed the timing of their attack. The summer of 1941 seemed like the ideal moment to strike. A new Mongol invasion was ready to pour across Europe. Mr. Churchill also promised that there would be a change in the British war against Germany at this same time. In a cowardly way, he now tries to deny that during a secret meeting in the British House of Commons in 1940 he said that an important factor for the successful continuation and conclusion of this war would be the Soviet entry into the war, which would come during 1941 at the latest, and which would also make it possible for Britain to take the offensive. Conscious of our duty, this past spring we observed the military build-up of a world power that seemed to have inexhaustible reserves of human and material resources. Dark clouds began to gather over Europe.

What is Europe, my deputies? There is no geographical definition of our continent, but only an ethnic-national volkliche and cultural one. The frontier of this continent is not the Ural Mountains, but rather the line that divides the Western outlook on life from that of the East.

At one time, Europe was confined to the Greek isles, which had been reached by Nordic tribes, and where the flame first burned that slowly but steadily enlightened humanity. And when these Greeks fought against the invasion of the Persian conquerors, they did not just defend their own small homeland, which was Greece, but [also] that concept that is now Europe. And then the spirit of Europe shifted from Hellas to Rome. Roman thought and Roman statecraft combined with Greek spirit and Greek culture. An empire was created, the importance and creative power of which has never been matched, much less surpassed, even to this day. And when the Roman legions defended Italy in three terrible wars against the attack of Carthage from Africa, and finally battled to victory, in this case as well Rome fought not just for herself, but also for the Greco-Roman world that then encompassed Europe.

The next invasion against the home soil of this new culture of humanity came from the wide expanses of the East. A horrific storm of cultureless hordes from the center of Asia poured deep into the heart of the European continent, burning, ravaging and murdering as a true scourge of God. On the Catalaunian fields, Roman and Germanic men fought together for the first time in 451 in a decisive battle of tremendous importance for a culture that had begun with the Greeks, passed on to the Romans, and then encompassed the Germanic peoples.

Europe had matured. The West arose from Hellas and Rome, and for many centuries its defense was the task not only of the Romans, but above all of the Germanic peoples. What we call Europe is the geographic territory of the Occident, enlightened by Greek culture, inspired by the powerful heritage of the Roman Empire, its territory enlarged by Germanic colonization. Whether it was the German emperors fighting back invasions from the East on the Unstrut River in 933 or on the Lechfeld in 955 or others pushing back Africa from Spain over a period of many years, it was always a struggle of a developing Europe against a profoundly alien outside world.

Just as Rome once made her immortal contribution to the building and defense of the continent, so now have the Germanic peoples taken up the defense and protection of a family of nations which, although they may differ and diverge in their political structure and goals, nevertheless together constitute a racially and culturally unified and complementary whole.

And from this Europe there have not only been settlements in other parts of the world, but intellectual-spiritual geistig and cultural fertilization as well, a fact that anyone realizes who is willing to acknowledge the truth rather than deny it. Thus, it was not England that cultivated the continent, but rather Anglo-Saxon and Norman branches of the Germanic nation that moved from our continent to the British Island and made possible her development, which is certainly unique in history. In the same way, it was not America that discovered Europe, but the other way around. And all that which America did not get from Europe may seem worthy of admiration to a Jewified mixed race, but Europe regards that merely as symptomatic of decay in artistic and cultural life, the product of Jewish or Negroid blood mixture.

My Deputies! Men of the German Reichstag!

I have to make these remarks because this struggle, which became obviously unavoidable in the early months of this year, and which the German Reich, above all, is called upon this time to lead, also greatly transcends the interests of our own people and nation. When the Greeks once stood against the Persians, they defended more than just Greece. When the Romans stood against the Carthaginians, they defended more than just Rome. When the Roman and Germanic peoples stood together against the Huns, they defended more than just the West. When German emperors stood against the Mongols, they defended more than just Germany. And when Spanish heroes stood against Africa, they defended not just Spain, but all of Europe as well. In the same way, Germany does not fight today just for itself, but for our entire continent.

And it is an auspicious sign that this realization is today so deeply rooted in the subconscious of most European nations that they participate in this struggle, either with open expressions of support or with streams of volunteers.

When the German and Italian armies took the offensive against Yugoslavia and Greece on April 6 of this year, that was the prelude to the great struggle in which we now find ourselves. That is because the revolt in Belgrade 26 March 1941 which led to the overthrow of the former prince regent and his government, determined the further development of events in that part of Europe. Although Britain played a major role in that coup, Soviet Russia played the main role. What I had refused to Mr. Molotov [the Soviet Foreign Minister] during his visit to Berlin [in November 1940], Stalin believed he could obtain indirectly against our will by revolutionary activity. Without regard for the treaties they had signed, the Bolshevik rulers expanded their ambitions. The Soviet treaty of friendship with the new revolutionary regime in Belgrade showed very quickly just how threatening the danger had become.

The achievements of the German armed forces in this campaign were honored in the German Reichstag on May 4, 1941. At that time, though, I was not able to reveal that we were very quickly approaching a confrontation with Soviet Russia that did not attack at the time of the campaign in the Balkans only because its military build-up was not yet complete, and because it was not able to use its air fields as a result of the mud from melting snow at this time of year, which made it impossible to use the runways.

My Deputies! Men of the Reichstag!

When I became aware of the possibility of a threat to the East of the Reich in 1940 through secret reports from the British House of Commons and by observations of Soviet Russian troop movements on our frontiers, I immediately ordered the formation of many new armored, motorized and infantry divisions. The human and material resources for them were abundantly available. [In this regard] I can make only one promise to you, my deputies, and to the entire German nation: while people in democratic countries understandably talk a lot about armaments, in National Socialist Germany all the more will actually be produced. It has been that way in the past, and it is not any different now. Whenever decisive action has to be taken, we will have, with each passing year, more and, above all, better quality weapons.

We realized very clearly that under no circumstances could we allow the enemy the opportunity to strike first into our heart. Nevertheless, in this case the decision [to attack Soviet Russia] was a very difficult one. When the writers for the democratic newspapers now declare that I would have thought twice before attacking if I had known the strength of the Bolshevik adversaries, they show that they do not understand either the situation or me.

I have not sought war. To the contrary, I have done everything to avoid conflict. But I would forget my duty and my conscience if I were to do nothing in spite of the realization that a conflict had become unavoidable. Because I regarded Soviet Russia as the gravest danger not only for the German Reich but for all of Europe, I decided, if possible, to give the order myself to attack a few days before the outbreak of this conflict.

A truly impressive amount of authentic material is now available which confirms that a Soviet Russian attack was intended. We are also sure about when this attack was to take place. In view of this danger, the extent of which we are perhaps only now truly aware, I can only thank the Lord God that He enlightened me in time, and has given me the strength to do what must be done. Millions of German soldiers may thank Him for their lives, and all of Europe for its existence.

I may say this today: If this wave of more than 20,000 tanks, hundreds of divisions, tens of thousands of artillery pieces, along with more than 10,000 airplanes, had not been kept from being set into motion against the Reich, Europe would have been lost.

Several nations have been destined to prevent or parry this blow through the sacrifice of their blood. If Finland had not immediately decided, for the second time, to take up weapons, then the comfortable bourgeois life of the other Nordic countries would quickly have been extinguished.

If the German Reich, with its soldiers and weapons, had not stood against this opponent, a storm would have burned over Europe that would have eliminated, once and for all time, and in all its intellectual paucity and traditional stupidity, the laughable British idea of the European balance of power.

If the Slovaks, Hungarians and Romanians had not also acted to defend this European world, then the Bolshevik hordes would have poured over the Danube countries as did once the swarms of Attila's Huns, and Tatars and Mongols would then, on the open country by the Ionian Sea, force a revision of the Treaty of Montreux regarding the Dardanelles strait.

If Italy, Spain and Croatia had not sent their divisions, then a European defense front would not have arisen that proclaims the concept of a new Europe and thereby powerfully inspires all other nations as well. Because of this awareness of danger, volunteers have come from northern and western Europe: Norwegians, Danes, Dutch, Flemish, Belgians and even French. They have all given the struggle of the allied forces of the Axis the character of a European crusade, in the truest sense of the word.

This is not yet the right time to speak of the planning and direction of this campaign. However, in a few sentences I would like to say something about what has been achieved [so far] in this greatest conflict in history. Because of the enormous area involved as well as the number and size of the events, individual impressions may be lost and forgotten.

The attack began at dawn on 22 June 1941. With dauntless daring, the frontier fortifications that were meant to protect the Soviet Russian build-up against us from surprise attack were broken through. Grodno fell by June 23. On June 24, following the capture of Brest-Litovsk, the fortress was taken in combat, and Vilnius and Kaunas were also taken. Daugavpils in Latvia fell on June 26.

The first two great encirclement battles near Bialystok and Minsk were completed on July 10. We captured 324,000 prisoners of war, 3,332 tanks and 1,809 artillery pieces. By July 13 the Stalin Line had been broken through at almost every decisive point. Smolensk fell on July 16 after heavy fighting, and German and Romanian units were able to force their way across the Dniester [River] on July 19. The Battle of Smolensk ended on August 6 after many encircling operations. As a result, another 310,000 Russians were taken as prisoners. Moreover, 3,205 tanks and 3,120 artillery pieces were counted -- either destroyed or captured. Just three days later the fate of another Soviet Russian army group was sealed. On August 9, in the battle of Uman, another 103,000 Soviet Russian prisoners of war were taken, and 317 tanks and 1,100 artillery pieces were either destroyed or captured.

Nikolayev [in the Ukraine] fell on August 13, and Kherson was taken on the 21st. On the same day the battle near Gomel ended, resulting in 84,000 prisoners as well as 144 tanks and 848 artillery pieces either captured or destroyed. The Soviet Russian positions between the Ilmen and Peipus [lakes] were broken through on August 21, while the bridgehead around Dnepropetrovsk fell into our hands on August 26. On the 28th of that month German troops entered Tallinn and Paldiski [Estonia] after heavy fighting, while the Finns took Vyborg on the 20th. With the capture of Petrokrepost on September 8, Leningrad was finally cut off from the south. By September 16 bridgeheads across the Dnieper were formed, and on September 18 Poltava fell into the hands of our soldiers. German units stormed the fortress of Kiev on September 19, and on September 22 the conquest of [the Baltic island of] Saaremaa [Oesel] was crowned by the capture of its capital.

And now came the anticipated results of the greatest undertakings. The battle near Kiev was completed on September 27. Endless columns of 665,000 prisoners of war marched to the west. In the encircled area, 884 tanks and 3,178 artillery pieces were captured. The battle to break through the central area of the Eastern front began on October 2, while the battle of the Azov Sea was successfully completed on October 11. Another 107,000 prisoners, 212 tanks and 672 artillery pieces were counted. After heavy fighting, German and Romanian units were able to enter Odessa on October 16. The battle to break through the center of the Eastern front, which had begun on October 2, ended on October 18 with a success that is unique in world history. The result was 663,000 prisoners, as well as 1,242 tanks and 5,452 artillery pieces either destroyed or captured. The capture of Dagoe [Hiiumaa Island] was completed on October 21. The industrial center of Kharkov was taken on October 24. After very heavy fighting, the Crimea was finally reached, and on November 2 the capital of Simferopol was stormed. On November 16 the Crimea was overrun as far as Kerch.

As of December 1, the total number of captured Soviet Russian prisoners was 3,806,865. The number of destroyed or captured tanks was 21,391, of artillery pieces 32,541, and of airplanes 17,322.

During this same period of time, 2,191 British airplanes were shot down. The navy sank 4,170,611 gross registered tons of shipping, and the air force sank 2,346,180 tons. Altogether, 6,516,791 gross registered tons were destroyed.

My Deputies! My German people!

These are sober facts and, perhaps, dry figures. But may they never be forgotten by history or vanish from the memory of our own German nation! For behind these figures are the achievements, sacrifices and sufferings, the heroism and readiness to die of millions of the best men of our own people and of the countries allied with us. Everything had to be fought for at the cost of health and life, and through struggle such as those back in the homeland can hardly imagine.

They have marched endless distances, tortured by heat and thirst, often bogged down with despair in the mud of bottomless dirt roads, exposed to the hardships of a climate that varies between the White and Black Seas from the intense heat of July and August days to the winter storms of November and December, tormented by insects, suffering from dirt and pests, freezing in snow and ice, they fought -- the Germans and the Finns, the Italians, Slovaks, Hungarians, Romanians and Croatians, the volunteers from the northern and western European countries -- in short, the soldiers of the Eastern front!

Today I will not single out specific branches of the armed forces or praise specific leaders -- they have all done their best. And yet, truth and justice requires that something be mentioned again: As in the past, so also today, of all of our German fighting men in uniform, the greatest burden of battle is born by our ever-present infantry soldiers.

From 22 June to 1 December 1941 the German army has lost in this heroic struggle: 158,773 dead, 563,082 wounded and 31,191 missing. The air force has lost: 3,231 dead, 8,453 wounded and 2,028 missing. The navy: 310 dead, 232 wounded and 115 missing. For the German armed forces altogether: 162,314 dead, 571,767 wounded and 33,334 missing.

That is, the number of dead and wounded is somewhat more than double the number of those lost in the [four month long] battle of the Somme of the [First] World War [in 1916], but somewhat less than half the number of missing in that battle -- all the same, fathers and sons of our German people.

And now let me speak about another world, one that is represented by a man [President Franklin Roosevelt] who likes to chat nicely at the fireside while nations and their soldiers fight in snow and ice: above all, the man who is primarily responsible for this war.

When the nationality problem in the former Polish state was growing ever more intolerable in 1939, I attempted to eliminate the unendurable conditions by means of a just agreement. For a certain time it seemed as if the Polish government was seriously considering giving its approval to a reasonable solution. I may also add here that in all of these German proposals, nothing was demanded that had not previously belonged to Germany. In fact, we were willing to give up much that had belonged to Germany before the [First] World War.

You will recall the dramatic events of that period -- the steadily increasing numbers of victims among the ethnic Germans [in Poland]. You, my deputies, are best qualified to compare this loss of life with that of the present war. The military campaign in the East has so far cost the entire German armed forces about 160,000 deaths, whereas during just a few months of peace [in 1939] more than 62,000 ethnic Germans were killed, including some who were horribly tortured. There is no question that the German Reich had the right to protest against this situation on its border and to press for its elimination, if for no other reason than for its own security, particularly since we live in an age in which [some] other countries [notably, the USA and Britain] regard their security at stake even in foreign continents. In geographical terms, the problems to be resolved were not very important. Essentially they involved Danzig [Gdansk] and a connecting link between the torn-away province of East Prussia and the rest of the Reich. Of much greater concern were the brutal persecutions of the Germans in Poland. In addition, the other minority population groups [notably the Ukrainians] were subject to a fate that was no less severe.

During those days in August [1939], when the Polish attitude steadily hardened, thanks to Britain's blank check of unlimited backing, the German Reich was moved to make one final proposal. We were prepared to enter into negotiations with Poland on the basis of this proposal, and we verbally informed the British ambassador of the proposal text. Today I would like to recall that proposal and review it with you.

Text of the German proposal of 29 August 1939:

Proposal for a settlement of the Danzig-Corridor problem and the German-Polish minority question:

The situation between the German Reich and Poland is now such that any further incident could lead to action by the military forces that have taken position on both sides of the frontier. Any peaceful solution must be such that the basic causes of this situation are eliminated so that they are not simply repeated, which would mean that not only Eastern Europe but other areas as well would be subject to the same tension. The causes of this situation are rooted in, first, the intolerable border that was specified by the dictated peace of Versailles [of 1919], and, second, the intolerable treatment of the minority populations in the lost territories.

In making these proposals, the German Reich government is motivated by the desire to achieve a permanent solution that will put an end to the intolerable situation arising from the present border demarcation, secure to both parties vitally important connecting routes, and which will solve the minority problem, insofar as that is possible, and if not, will at least insure a tolerable life for the minority populations with secure guarantees of their rights.

The German Reich government is convinced that it is absolutely necessary to investigate the economic and physical damage inflicted since 1918, with full reparations to be made for that. Of course, it regards this obligation as binding on both sides.

On the basis of these considerations, we make the following concrete proposals:

1. The Free City of Danzig returns immediately to the German Reich on the basis of its purely German character and the unanimous desire of its population.

2. The territory of the so-called Polish Corridor will decide for itself whether it wishes to belong to Germany or to Poland. This territory consists of the area between the Baltic Sea in the North to a line marked in the South by the towns of Marienwerder, Graudenz, Kuhn and Bromberg -- including these towns -- and then westwards to Schoenlanke.

3. For this purpose a plebiscite will be conducted in this territory. All Germans who lived in this territory on January 1, 1918, or were born there on or before that date will be entitled to vote in the plebiscite. Similarly, all Poles, Kashubians, and so forth, who lived in this territory on or before that date, or were born there before that date, will also be entitled to vote. Germans who were expelled from this territory will return to vote in the plebiscite.

To insure an impartial plebiscite and to make sure that all necessary preliminary preparation work is properly carried out, this territory will come under the authority of an international commission, similar to the one organized in the Saar territory for the 1935 plebiscite there. This commission is to be organized immediately by the four great powers of Italy, the Soviet Union, France and Britain. This commission will have all sovereign authority in the territory. Accordingly, Polish military forces, Polish police and Polish authorities are to clear out of this territory as soon as possible by a date to be agreed upon.

4. Not included in this territory is the Polish port of Gdynia, which is regarded as fundamentally sovereign Polish territory, to the extent of [ethnic] Polish settlement, but as a matter of principle is recognized as Polish territory. The specific border of this Polish port city will be negotiated by Germany and Poland and, if necessary, established by an international court of arbitration.

5. In order to insure ample time for the preparations necessary in order to conduct an impartial plebiscite, the plebiscite will not take place until after at least twelve months have elapsed.

6. In order to ensure unhindered traffic between Germany and East Prussia, and between Poland and the Baltic Sea, during this period [before the plebiscite], certain roads and rail lines may be designated to enable free transit. In that regard, only such fees may be imposed that are necessary for the maintenance of the transit routes or for transport itself.

7. A simple majority of the votes cast will decide whether the territory will go to Germany or to Poland.

8. After the plebiscite has been conducted, and regardless of the result, free transit will be guaranteed between Germany and its province of Danzig-East Prussia, as well as between Poland and the Baltic Sea. If the plebiscite determines that the territory belongs to Poland, Germany will obtain an extraterritorial transit zone, consisting of a motor super-highway (Reichsautobahn) and a four-track rail line, approximately along the line of Buetow-Danzig and Dirschau. The highway and the rail line will be built in such a way that the Polish transit lines are not disturbed, which means that they will pass either above or underneath. This zone will be one kilometer wide and will be sovereign German territory. In case the plebiscite is in Germany's favor, Poland will have free and unrestricted transit to its port of Gdynia with the same right to an extraterritorial road and rail line that Germany would have had.

9. If the Corridor returns to Germany, the German Reich declares that it is ready to carry out an exchange of population with Poland to the extent that this would be suitable for the [people of the] Corridor.

10. The special rights that may be claimed by Poland in the port of Danzig will be negotiated on the basis of parity for rights to Germany in the port of Gdynia.

11. In order to eliminate all fear of threat from either side, Danzig and Gdynia will be purely commercial centers, that is, with no military installations or military fortifications.

12. The peninsula of Hela, which will go to either Poland or Germany on the basis of the plebiscite, will also be demilitarized in any case.

13. The German Reich government has protested in the strongest terms against the Polish treatment of its minority populations. For its part, the Polish government also believes itself called upon to make protests against Germany. Accordingly, both sides agree to submit these complaints to an international investigation commission, which will be responsible for investigating all complaints of economic and physical damage as well as other acts of terror.

Germany and Poland pledge to compensate for all economic and other damages inflicted on minority populations on both sides since 1918, and/or to revoke all expropriations and provide for complete reparation for the victims of these and other economic measures.

14. In order to eliminate feelings of deprivation of international rights in the part of the Germans who will remain in Poland, as well as of the Poles who will remain in Germany, and above all, to insure that they are not forced to act contrary to their ethnic-national feelings, Germany and Poland agree to guarantee the rights of the minority populations on both sides through comprehensive and binding agreements. These will insure the right of these minority groups to maintain, freely develop and carry on their national-cultural life. In particular, they will be allowed to maintain organizations for these purposes. Both sides agree that members of their minority populations will not be drafted for military service.

15. If agreement is reached on the basis of these proposals, Germany and Poland declare that they will immediately order and carry out the demobilization of their armed forces.

16. Germany and Poland will agree to whatever additional measures may be necessary to implement the above points as quickly as possible.

The same measures would have applied with regard to the proposals to secure the rights of the minorities.

This is the treaty proposal – as straight-forward and as generous as has ever been presented by a government – that was made by the National Socialist leadership of the German Reich.

The former Polish government refused to respond to these proposals in any way. In this regard, the question presents itself: How is it possible that such an unimportant state could dare to simply disregard such proposals and, in addition, carry out further cruelties against the Germans, the people who have given this land its entire culture, and even order the general mobilization of its armed forces?

A look at the documents of the [Polish] Foreign Ministry in Warsaw later provided the surprising explanation. They told of the role of a man [President Roosevelt] who, with diabolical lack of principle, used all of his influence to strengthen Poland's resistance and to prevent any possibility of understanding. These reports were sent by the former Polish ambassador in Washington, Count [Jerzy] Potocki, to his government in Warsaw. These documents clearly and shockingly reveal the extent to which one man and the powers behind him are responsible for the Second World War. Another question arises: Why had this man [Roosevelt] developed such a fanatic hostility against a country that, in its entire history, had never harmed either America or him?

With regard to Germany's relationship with America, the following should be said:

1. Germany is perhaps the only great power which has never had a colony in either North or South America. Nor has it been otherwise politically active there, apart from the emigration of many millions of Germans with their skills, from which the American continent, and particularly the United States, has only benefited.

2. In the entire history of the development and existence of the United States, the German Reich has never been hostile or even politically unfriendly towards the United States. To the contrary, many Germans have given their lives to defend the USA.

3. The German Reich has never participated in wars against the United States, except when the United States went to war against it in 1917. It did so for reasons that have been thoroughly explained by a commission [a special U.S. Senate investigating committee, 1934-1935, chaired by Sen. Gerald Nye], which president Roosevelt himself established [or rather, endorsed]. This commission to investigate the reasons for America's entry into the First World War clearly established that the United States entered the war in 1917 solely for the capitalist interests of a small group, and that Germany itself had no intention to come into conflict with America.

Furthermore, there are no territorial or political conflicts between the American and German nations that could possibly involve the existence or even the [vital] interests of the United States. The forms of government have always been different. But this cannot be a reason for hostility between different nations, as long as one form of government does not try to interfere with another, outside of its naturally ordained sphere.

America is a republic led by a president with wide-ranging powers of authority. Germany was once ruled by a monarchy with limited authority, and then by a democracy that lacked authority. Today it is a republic of wide-ranging authority. Between these two countries is an ocean. If anything, the differences between capitalist America and Bolshevik Russia, if these terms have any meaning at all, must be more significant than those between an America led by a President and a Germany led by a Führer.

It is a fact that the two historical conflicts between Germany and the United States were stimulated by two Americans, that is, by Presidents Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Roosevelt, although each was inspired by the same forces. History itself has rendered its verdict on Wilson. His name will always be associated with the most base betrayal in history of a pledge (Wilson's 14 points). The result was the ruin of national life, not only in the so-called vanquished countries, but among the victors as well. Because of this broken pledge, which alone made possible the imposed Treaty of Versailles, countries were torn apart, cultures were destroyed and the economic life of all was ruined. Today we know that a group of self-serving financiers stood behind Wilson. They used this paralytic professor to lead America into a war from which they hoped to profit. The German nation once believed this man, and had to pay for this trust with political and economic ruin.

After such a bitter experience, why is there now another American president who is determined to incite wars and, above all, to stir up hostility against Germany to the point of war? National Socialism came to power in Germany in the same year that Roosevelt came to power in the United States. At this point it is important to examine the factors behind the current developments.

First of all, the personal side of things: I understand very well that there is a world of difference between my own outlook on life and attitude, and that of President Roosevelt. Roosevelt came from an extremely wealthy family. By birth and origin he belonged to that class of people that is privileged in a democracy and assured of advancement. I myself was only the child of a small and poor family, and I had to struggle through life by work and effort in spite of immense hardships. As a member of the privileged class, Roosevelt experienced the First World War in a position under Wilson's shadow (as assistant secretary of the Navy). As a result, he only knew the agreeable consequences of a conflict between nations from which some profited while others lost their lives. During this same period, I lived very differently. I was not one of those who made history or profits, but rather one of those who carried out orders. As an ordinary soldier during those four years, I tried to do my duty in the face of the enemy. Of course, I returned from the war just as poor as when I entered in the fall of 1914. I thus shared my fate with millions of others, while Mr. Roosevelt shared his with the so-called upper ten thousand.

After the war, while Mr. Roosevelt tested his skills in financial speculation in order to profit personally from the inflation, that is, from the misfortune of others, I still lay in a military hospital along with many hundreds of thousands of others. Experienced in business, financially secure and enjoying the patronage of his class, Roosevelt then finally chose a career in politics. During this same period, I struggled as a nameless and unknown man for the rebirth of my nation, which was the victim of the greatest injustice in its entire history.

Two different paths in life! Franklin Roosevelt took power in the United States as the candidate of a thoroughly capitalistic party, which helps those who serve it. When I became the Chancellor of the German Reich, I was the leader of a popular national movement, which I had created myself. The powers that supported Mr. Roosevelt were the same powers I fought against, out of concern for the fate of my people, and out of deepest inner conviction. The "brain trust" that served the new American president was made up of members of the same national group that we fought against in Germany as a parasitical expression of humanity, and which we began to remove from public life.

And yet, we also had something in common: Franklin Roosevelt took control of a country with an economy that had been ruined as a result of democratic influences, and I assumed the leadership of a Reich that was also on the edge of complete ruin, thanks to democracy. There were 13 million unemployed in the United States, while Germany had seven million unemployed and another seven million part-time workers. In both countries, public finances were in chaos, and it seemed that the spreading economic depression could not be stopped.

From then on, things developed in the United States and in the German Reich in such a way that future generations will have no difficulty in making a definitive evaluation of the two different socio-political theories. Whereas the German Reich experienced an enormous improvement in social, economic, cultural and artistic life in just a few years under National Socialist leadership, President Roosevelt was not able to bring about even limited improvements in his own country. This task should have been much easier in the United States, with barely 15 people per square kilometer, as compared to 140 in Germany. If economic prosperity is not possible in that country, it must be the result of either a lack of will by the ruling leadership or the complete incompetence of the men in charge. In just five years, the economic problems were solved in Germany and unemployment was eliminated. During this same period, President Roosevelt enormously increased his country's national debt, devalued the dollar, further disrupted the economy and maintained the same number of unemployed.

But this is hardly remarkable when one realizes that the intellects appointed by this man, or more accurately, who appointed him, are members of that same group who, as Jews, are interested only in disruption and never in order. While we in National Socialist Germany took measures against financial speculation, it flourished tremendously under Roosevelt. The New Deal legislation of this man was spurious, and consequently the greatest error ever experienced by anyone. If his economic policies had continued indefinitely during peace time, there is no doubt that sooner or later they would have brought down this president, in spite of all his dialectical cleverness. In a European country his career would certainly have ended in front of a national court for recklessly squandering the nation's wealth. And he would hardly have avoided a prison sentence by a civil court for criminally incompetent business management.

Many respected Americans also shared this view. A threatening opposition was growing all around this man, which led him to think that he could save himself only by diverting public attention from his domestic policies to foreign affairs. In this regard it is interesting to study the reports of Polish Ambassador Potocki from Washington, which repeatedly point out that Roosevelt was fully aware of the danger that his entire economic house of cards could collapse, and that therefore he absolutely had to divert attention to foreign policy.

The circle of Jews around Roosevelt encouraged him in this. With Old Testament vindictiveness they regarded the United States as the instrument that they and he could use to prepare a second Purim against the nations of Europe, which were increasingly anti-Jewish. So it was that the Jews, in all of their satanic baseness, gathered around this man, and he relied on them.

The American president increasingly used his influence to create conflicts, intensify existing conflicts, and, above all, to keep conflicts from being resolved peacefully. For years this man looked for a dispute anywhere in the world, but preferably in Europe, that he could use to create political entanglements with American economic obligations to one of the contending sides, which would then steadily involve America in the conflict and thus divert attention from his own confused domestic economic policies.

His actions against the German Reich in this regard have been particularly blunt. Starting in 1937, he began a series of speeches, including a particularly contemptible one on October 5, 1937, in Chicago, with which this man systematically incited the American public against Germany. He threatened to establish a kind of quarantine against the so-called authoritarian countries. As part of this steady and growing campaign of hate and incitement, President Roosevelt made another insulting statement [on Nov. 15, 1938] and then called the American ambassador in Berlin back to Washington for consultations. Since then the two countries have been represented only by charges d'affaires.

Starting in November 1938, he began systematically and consciously to sabotage every possibility of a European peace policy. In public he hypocritically claimed to be interested in peace while at the same time he threatened every country that was ready to pursue a policy of peaceful understanding by blocking credits, economic reprisals, calling in loans, and so forth. In this regard, the reports of the Polish ambassadors in Washington, London, Paris and Brussels provide a shocking insight.

This man increased his campaign of incitement in January 1939. In a message 4 January 1939 to the U.S. Congress he threatened to take every measure short of war against the authoritarian countries.

He repeatedly claimed that other countries were trying to interfere in American affairs, and he talked a lot about upholding the Monroe Doctrine. Starting in March 1939 he began lecturing about internal European affairs that were of no concern of the President of the United States. In the first place, he doesn't understand these problems, and secondly, even if he did understand them and appreciated the historical circumstances, he has no more right to concern himself with central European affairs than the German head of state has to take positions on or make judgments about conditions in the United States.

Mr. Roosevelt went even beyond that. Contrary to the rules of international law, he refused to recognize governments he didn't like, would not accept new ones, refused to dismiss ambassadors of non-existent countries, and even recognized them as legal governments. He went so far as to conclude treaties with these ambassadors, which then gave him the right to simply occupy foreign territories Greenland and Iceland.

On April 15, 1939, Roosevelt made his famous appeal to me and the Duce, which was a mixture of geographical and political ignorance combined with the arrogance of a member of the millionaire class. We were called upon to make declarations and to conclude non-aggression pacts with a number of countries, many of which were not even independent because they had either been annexed or turned into subordinate protectorates by countries allied with Mr. Roosevelt. You will recall, my Deputies, that then I gave a polite but straightforward answer to this obtrusive gentleman, which succeeded in stopping, at least for a few months, the storm of chatter from this unsophisticated warmonger.

But now the honorable wife took his place. She and her sons [she said] refused to live in a world such as ours. That is at least understandable, for ours is world of work and not one of deceit and racketeering. After a short rest, though, he was back at it. On November 4, 1939, the Neutrality Act was revised and the arms embargo was repealed in favor of a one-sided supply of weapons to Germany's adversaries. In the same way, he pushed in eastern Asia for economic entanglements with China that would eventually lead to effective common interests. That same month he recognized a small group of Polish emigrants as a so-called government in exile, the only political basis of which was a few million Polish gold pieces they had taken from Warsaw.

On 9 April 1940 he froze all Norwegian and Danish assets in the United States on the lying pretext of wanting to keep them from falling into German hands, even though he knew full well, for example, that Germany has not interfered with, much less taken control of, the Danish government's administration of its financial affairs. Along with the other governments in exile, Roosevelt now recognized one for Norway. On May 15, 1940, Dutch and Belgian governments in exile were also recognized, and at the same time Dutch and Belgian assets [in the USA] were frozen.

This man revealed his true attitude in a telegram of 15 June 1940 to French premier Reynaud. Roosevelt told him that the American government would double its aid to France, on the condition that France continue the war against Germany. In order to give special emphasis to his desire that the war continue, he declared that the American government would not recognize acquisitions brought about by conquest, which included, for example, the retaking of territories that had been stolen from Germany. I do not need to emphasize that now and in the future, the German government will not be concerned about whether or not the President of the United States recognizes a border in Europe. I mention this case because it is characteristic of the systematic incitement of this man, who hypocritically talks about peace while at the same time he incites to war.

And now he feared that if peace were to come about in Europe, the billions he had squandered on military spending would soon be recognized as an obvious case of fraud, because no one would attack America unless America itself provoked the attack. On June 17, 1940, the President of the United States froze French assets [in the USA] in order, so he said, to keep them from being seized by Germany, but in reality to get hold of the gold that was being brought from Casablanca on an American cruiser.

In July 1940 Roosevelt began to take many new measures toward war, such as permitting the service of American citizens in the British air force and the training of British air force personnel in the United States. In August 1940 a joint military policy for the United States and Canada was established. In order to make the establishment of a joint American-Canadian defense committee plausible to at least the stupidest people, Roosevelt periodically invented crises and acted as if America was threatened by immediate attack. He would suddenly cancel trips and quickly return to Washington and do similar things in order to emphasize the seriousness of the situation to his followers, who really deserve pity.

He moved still closer to war in September 1940 when he transferred fifty American naval destroyers to the British fleet, and in return took control of military bases on British possessions in North and Central America. Future generations will determine the extent to which, along with all this hatred against socialist Germany, the desire to easily and safely take control of the British Empire in its hour of disintegration may have also played a role.

After Britain was no longer able to pay cash for American deliveries he imposed the Lend-Lease Act on the American people [in March 1941]. As President, he thereby obtained the authority to furnish lend-lease military aid to countries that he, Roosevelt, decided it was in America's vital interests to defend. After it became clear that Germany would not respond under any circumstances to his continued boorish behavior, this man took another step forward in March 1941.

As early as December 19, 1939, an American cruiser [the Tuscaloosa] that was inside the security zone maneuvered the [German] passenger liner Columbus into the hands of British warships. As a result, it had to be scuttled. On that same day, US military forces helped in an effort to capture the German merchant ship Arauca. On January 27, 1940, and once again contrary to international law, the US cruiser Trenton reported the movements of the German merchant ships Arauca, La Plata and Wangoni to enemy naval forces.

On June 27, 1940, he announced a limitation on the free movement of foreign merchant ships in US ports, completely contrary to international law. In November 1940 he permitted US warships to pursue the German merchant ships Phrygia, Idarwald and Rhein until they finally had to scuttle themselves to keep from falling into enemy hands. On April 13, 1941, American ships were permitted to pass freely through the Red Sea in order to supply British armies in the Middle East.

In the meantime, in March 1941 all German ships were confiscated by the American authorities. In the process, German Reich citizens were treated in the most degrading way, ordered to certain locations in violation of international law, put under travel restrictions, and so forth. Two German officers who had escaped from Canadian captivity [to the United States] were shackled and returned to the Canadian authorities, likewise completely contrary to international law.

On 27 March 27 1941 the same president who is supposedly against all aggression announced support for [General Dusan] Simovic and his clique of usurpers [in Yugoslavia], who had come to power in Belgrade after the overthrow of the legal government. Several months earlier, President Roosevelt had sent [OSS chief] Colonel Donovan, a very inferior character, to the Balkans with orders to help organize an uprising against Germany and Italy in Sofia [Bulgaria] and Belgrade. In April he [Roosevelt] promised lend-lease aid to Yugoslavia and Greece. At the end of April he recognized Yugoslav and Greek emigrants as governments in exile. And once again, in violation of international law, he froze Yugoslav and Greek assets.

Starting in mid-April 1941 US naval patrols began expanded operations in the western Atlantic, reporting their observations to the British. On April 26, Roosevelt delivered twenty high speed patrol boats to Britain. At the same time, British naval ships were routinely being repaired in US ports. On May 12, Norwegian ships operating for Britain were armed and repaired [in the USA], contrary to international law. On June 4, American troop transports arrived in Greenland to build air fields. And on June 9 came the first British report that a US war ship, acting on orders of President Roosevelt, had attacked a German submarine near Greenland with depth charges.

On June 14, German assets in the United States were frozen, again in violation of international law. On June 17, on the basis of a lying pretext, President Roosevelt demanded the recall of the German consuls and the closing of the German consulates. He also demanded the shutting down of the German "Transocean" press agency, the German Library of Information in New York and the German Reichsbahn office.

On July 6 and 7 1941, American armed forces acting on orders from Roosevelt occupied Iceland, which was in the area of German military operations. He hoped that this action would certainly, first, finally force Germany into war [against the USA] and, second, also neutralize the effectiveness of the German submarines, much as in 1915-1916. At the same time, he promised military aid to the Soviet Union. On July 10 Navy Secretary [Frank] Knox suddenly announced that the US Navy was under orders to fire against Axis warships. On September 4 the US destroyer Greer, acting on his orders, operated together with British airplanes against German submarines in the Atlantic. Five days later, a German submarine identified US destroyers as escort vessels with a British convoy.

In a speech delivered on 11 September 1941, Roosevelt at last personally confirmed that he had given the order to fire against all Axis ships, and he repeated the order. On September 29, US patrols attacked a German submarine east of Greenland with depth charges. On October 17 the US destroyer Kearny, operating as an escort for the British, attacked a German submarine with depth charges, and on November 6 US armed forces seized the German ship Odenwald in violation of international law, took it to an American port, and imprisoned its crew.

I will overlook as meaningless the insulting attacks and rude statements by this so-called President against me personally. That he calls me a gangster is particularly meaningless, since this term did not originate in Europe, where such characters are uncommon, but in America. And aside from that, I simply cannot feel insulted by Mr. Roosevelt because I regard him, like his predecessor Woodrow Wilson, as mentally unsound.

We know that this man, with his Jewish supporters, has operated against Japan in the same way. I don't need to go into that here. The same methods were used in that case as well. This man first incites to war, and then he lies about its causes and makes baseless allegations. He repugnantly wraps himself in a cloak of Christian hypocrisy, while at the same time slowly but very steadily leading humanity into war. And finally, as an old Freemason, he calls upon God to witness that his actions are honorable. His shameless misrepresentations of truth and violations of law are unparalleled in history.

I am sure that all of you have regarded it as an act of deliverance that a country (Japan) has finally acted to protest against all this in the very way that this man had actually hoped for, and which should not surprise him now (the attack on Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941). After years of negotiating with this deceiver, the Japanese government finally had its fill of being treated in such a humiliating way. All of us, the German people and, I believe, all other decent people around the world as well, regard this with deep appreciation.

We know the power behind Roosevelt. It is the same eternal Jew that believes that his hour has come to impose the same fate on us that we have all seen and experienced with horror in Soviet Russia. We have gotten to know first-hand the Jewish paradise on earth. Millions of German soldiers have personally seen the land where this international Jewry has destroyed and annihilated people and property. Perhaps the President of the United States does not understand this. If so, that only speaks for his intellectual narrow-mindedness.

And we know that his entire effort is aimed at this goal: Even if we were not allied with Japan, we would still realize that the Jews and their Franklin Roosevelt intend to destroy one state after another. The German Reich of today has nothing in common with the Germany of the past. For our part, we will now do what this provocateur has been trying to achieve for years. And not just because we are allied with Japan, but rather because Germany and Italy with their present leaderships have the insight and strength to realize that in this historic period the existence or non-existence of nations is being determined, perhaps for all time. What this other world has in store for us is clear. They were able to bring the democratic Germany of the past [1918-1933] to starvation, and they seek to destroy the National Socialist Germany of today.

When Mr. Churchill and Mr. Roosevelt declare that they want to one day build a new social order, that's about the same as a bald-headed barber recommending a tonic guaranteed to make hair grow. Rather than incite war, these gentlemen, who live in the most socially backward countries, should have concerned themselves with their own unemployed people. They have enough misery and poverty in their own countries to keep themselves busy insuring a just distribution of food there. As far as the German nation is concerned, it doesn't need charity, either from Mr. Churchill, Mr. Roosevelt or the British foreign secretary Mr. Eden -- but it does demand its rights. And it will do what it must to insure its right to life, even if a thousand Churchills and Roosevelts conspire together to prevent it.

Our nation has a history of nearly two thousand years. Never in this long period has it been so united and determined as it is today, and thanks to the National Socialist movement it will always be that way. At the same time, Germany has perhaps never been as far-sighted, and seldom as conscious of honor. Accordingly, today I had the passports returned to the American charge d'affaires, and he was bluntly informed of the following:

President Roosevelt's steadily expanding policy has been aimed at an unlimited world dictatorship. In pursuing this goal, the United States and Britain have used every means to deny the German, Italian and Japanese nations the prerequisites for their vital natural existence. For this reason, the governments of Britain and the United States of America have opposed every effort to create a new and better order in the world, for both the present and the future.

Since the beginning of the war [in September 1939], the American President Roosevelt has steadily committed ever more serious crimes against international law. Along with illegal attacks against ships and other property of German and Italian citizens, there have been threats and even arbitrary deprivations of personal freedom by internment and such. The increasingly hostile attacks by the American President Roosevelt have reached the point that he has ordered the U.S. navy, in complete violation of international law, to immediately and everywhere attack, fire upon and sink German and Italian ships. American officials have even boasted about destroying German submarines in this criminal manner. American cruisers have attacked and captured German and Italian merchant ships, and their peaceful crews were taken away to imprisonment In addition, President Roosevelt's plan to attack Germany and Italy with military forces in Europe by 1943 at the latest was made public in the United States [by the Chicago Tribune and several other newspapers on Dec. 4, 1941], and the American government made no effort to deny it.

Despite the years of intolerable provocations by President Roosevelt, Germany and Italy sincerely and very patiently tried to prevent the expansion of this war and to maintain relations with the United States. But as a result of his campaign, these efforts have failed.

Faithful to the provisions of the Tripartite Pact of September 27, 1940, German and Italy accordingly now regard themselves as finally forced to join together on the side of Japan in the struggle for the defense and preservation of the freedom and independence of our nations and realms against the United States of America and Britain.

The three powers have accordingly concluded the following agreement, which was signed today in Berlin:

With an unshakable determination not to lay down arms until the common war against the United States of America and Britain has been fought to a successful conclusion, the German, Italian and Japanese governments have agreed to the following:

Article 1. Germany, Italy and Japan will together conduct the war that has been forced upon them by the United States of America and Britain with all the means at their command to a victorious conclusion.

Article 2. Germany, Italy and Japan pledge not to conclude an armistice or make peace with either the United States of America or Britain unless by complete mutual agreement.

Article 3. Germany, Italy and Japan will also work very closely together after a victorious conclusion of the war for the purpose of bringing about a just new order in accord with the Tripartite Pact concluded by them on September 27, 1940.

Article 4. This agreement is effective immediately upon signing and is valid for the same period as the Tripartite Pact of September 27, 1940. The high contracting parties shall inform each other in due time before the expiration of this term of validity of their plans for cooperation as laid out in Article 3 of this agreement.

Deputies! Men of the German Reichstag!

Ever since my peace proposal of July 1940 was rejected, we have clearly realized that this struggle must be fought through to the end. We National Socialists are not at all surprised that the Anglo-American, Jewish and capitalist world is united together with Bolshevism. In our country we have always found them in the same community. Alone we successfully fought against them here in Germany, and after 14 years of struggle for power we were finally able to annihilate our enemies.

When I decided 23 years ago to enter political life in order to lead the nation up from ruin, I was a nameless, unknown soldier. Many of you here know just how difficult those first years of that struggle really were. The way from a small movement of seven men to the taking of power on January 30, 1933, as the responsible government is so miraculous that only the blessing of Providence could have made it possible. Today I stand at the head of the mightiest army in the world, the most powerful air force and a proud navy. Behind and around me is a sacred community -- the National Socialist Party -- with which I have become great and which has become great through me.

Our adversaries today are the same familiar enemies of more than twenty years. But the path before us cannot be compared with the road we have already taken. Today the German people fully realizes that this is a decisive hour for our existence. Millions of soldiers are faithfully doing their duty under the most difficult conditions. Millions of German farmers and workers, and German women and girls, are in the factories and offices, in the fields and farm lands, working hard to feed our homeland and supply weapons to the front. Allied with us are strong nations that have suffered the same misery and face the same enemies.

The American President and his plutocratic clique have called us the "have not" nations. That is correct! But the "have nots" also want to live, and they will certainly make sure that what little they have to live on is not stolen from them by the "haves." You, my Party comrades, know of my relentless determination to carry through to a successful conclusion any struggle that has already commenced. You know of my determination in such a struggle to do everything necessary to break all resistance that must be broken. In my first speech on 1 September 1939, I pledged that neither force of arms nor time would defeat Germany. I want to assure my opponents that while neither force of arms nor time will defeat us, in addition no internal uncertainty will weaken us in the fulfillment of our duty.

When we think of the sacrifice and effort of our soldiers, then every sacrifice of those here in the homeland is completely insignificant and unimportant. And when we consider the number of all those in past generations who gave their lives for the survival and greatness of the German nation, then we are really conscious of the magnitude of the duty that is ours.

But whoever tries to shirk this duty has no right to be regarded as a fellow German. Just as we were pitilessly hard in the struggle for power, so also will we be just as ruthless in the struggle for the survival of our nation. During a time in which thousands of our best men, the fathers and sons of our people, have given their lives, anyone in the homeland who betrays the sacrifice on the front will forfeit his life. Regardless of the pretext with which an attempt is made to disrupt the German front, undermine the will to resist of our people, weaken the authority of the regime, or sabotage the achievements of the homeland, the guilty person will die. But with this difference: The soldier at the front who makes this sacrifice will be held in the greatest honor, whereas the person who debases this sacrifice of honor will die in disgrace.

Our opponents should not deceive themselves. In the two thousand years of recorded German history, our people have never been more determined and united than today. The Lord of the universe has been so generous to us in recent years that we bow in gratitude before a Providence that has permitted us to be members of such a great nation. We thank Him, that along with those in earlier and coming generations of the German nation, our deeds of honor may also be recorded in the eternal book of German history!

Germany's Formal Declaration of War Against the United States

About two hours before Hitler began his address to the Reichstag, Germany formally declared war against the United States when Reich Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop delivered a diplomatic note to the American Charge d'Affaires in Berlin, Leland B. Morris.

At almost the same time, the German Charge d'Affaires in Washington, Hans Thomsen, presented a copy of this note to the Chief of the European Division of the Department of State, Ray Atherton. Here is the text of the note:

The government of the United States of America, having violated in the most flagrant manner and in ever increasing measure all rules of neutrality in favor of the adversaries of Germany, and having continually been guilty of the most severe provocations toward Germany ever since the outbreak of the European war, brought on by the British declaration of war against Germany on 3 September 1939, has finally resorted to open military acts of aggression.

On 11 September 1941, the President of the United States of America publicly declared that he had ordered the American Navy and Air Force to shoot on sight any German war vessel. In his speech of 27 October 1941, he once more expressly affirmed that this order was in force.

Acting under this order, American naval vessels have systematically attacked German naval forces since early September 1941. Thus, American destroyers, as for instance, the Greer, the Kearny and the Reuben James, have opened fire on German submarines according to plan. The American Secretary of the Navy, Mr. Knox, himself confirmed that the American destroyers attacked German submarines.

Furthermore, the naval forces of the United States of America, under order of their government and contrary to international law, have treated and seized German merchant ships on the high seas as enemy ships.

The German government therefore establishes the following facts:

Although Germany on her part has strictly adhered to the rules of international law in her relations with the United States of America during every period of the present war, the government of the United States of America from initial violations of neutrality has finally proceeded to open acts of war against Germany. It has thereby virtually created a state of war.

The government of the Reich consequently breaks off diplomatic relations with the United States of America and declares that under these circumstances brought about by President Roosevelt, Germany too, as from today, considers herself as being in a state of war with the United States of America.

Fact or fiction: Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932

Did US presidential candidate Bernie Sanders fail history when he said, "Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932?" The Washington Post thinks so, but historian Mark Roseman told DW that Sanders does have a point.

Senator Bernie Sanders was asked about his religion. How does it inform his politics? The US presidential candidate and self-proclaimed democratic socialist is Jewish. He responded by discussing the cautionary tale of Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler's rise to power.

"A guy named Adolf Hitler won an election in 1932," Sanders said during an event organized by the Christian Science Monitor in June. "He won an election, and 50 million people died as a result of that election in World War II, including 6 million Jews. So what I learned as a little kid is that politics is, in fact, very important."

This statement by Sanders was subsequently re-tweeted and posted across social media. The Washington Post, in response to one of its readers, published a fact-check article on Friday with the headline: "Why you shouldn't re-tweet Sanders's claim that 'Hitler won an election in 1932."

The Post reports that Sanders got his history wrong: "There was an election in 1932 - but Hitler lost." The article focuses on the German presidential elections.

Deutsche Welle spoke with historian Mark Roseman, a professor of modern European and German history at Indiana University in Bloomington. According to Roseman, there were five German elections in 1932. And if you look at the national parliamentary elections, what Sanders said makes sense.

DW: Is Bernie Sanders, and those who are re-tweeting his comment, wrong about their history?

Mark Roseman: I think in fact Bernie Sanders is not wrong. But of course it's more complicated than that. There were actually five major elections in 1932. There were two presidential elections there were two national elections and there was a big Prussian election. But what people are talking about are the two national elections, the elections for parliament.

So, who won the 1932 national parliamentary elections in Germany?

Basically, Hitler didn't win those [elections] outright. In the German system nobody won outright. It was always going to be a coalition. But what he did do was, he got a huge share of the vote, more than any other parties by a million miles. It was a landslide victory in that sense.

No party had done anywhere near as well as the Nazis did in the summer of 1932. So to that extent, they were the obvious party of government, because they were the party that had done massively better than anybody else.

The complexity is that it then obviously required more steps to actually become the governing party. They would have to be in a coalition, because they hadn't gotten more than 50 percent of the votes or the seats. And it also then depended on the president to invite someone to form the new government.

Hitler didn't win the parliamentary elections like you would in a winner-take-all system like in the US. But the Nazis did become the largest party?

By far the largest party. They had 230 seats in the elections in July and 196 seats in the elections in November. The total number of seats varied because the number seats elected was in direct proportion to the number of people who voted. So if more people vote, you have more seats.

In the June elections, there were a little over 600 seats. They had around 40 percent of the vote on their own right. So they were amazingly successful.

They were successful also in the sense that they drew their support from everywhere. From Catholics and Protestants, from town and country, from rich and poor. Men and women as well. Young and old.

They were the first party that really made a national breakthrough. They stopped being a party of a particular group. They were a real national party.

How did Hitler take over the government?

There were right-wing circles with access to the president, who was getting on in years at this point and looking for a quiet life. They were saying, although the Nazis are a big party, if we can get them into a coalition, then we'll be able to constrain them, and they'll give popular credibility to the right-wing coalition, but they won't run the show.

They were looking at Hitler because Hitler had the votes. So, in that way, his electoral support was absolutely key. Hitler holds out for chancellorship, the top position within government. He won't agree to be junior partner. He doesn't mind if there are a smaller number of seats in the cabinet, but he won't agree to a deal in which he's not chancellor.

That's the basis on which President Hindenburg then made the offer to appoint him chancellor in a coalition government and he become chancellor at the end of January 1933.

At that stage, he's not yet dictator. He's the chancellor, he's inherited the prerogatives of the previous office and the Nazis are in a minority in the government. The next thing is the amazing process by which they were able to leverage that to remove virtually all the constraints on that power by the summer of 1933 and certainly by the end of 1933.

To argue that he received a level of support that made him the legitimate government and by the standards established of who would be invited to the office, it would be the Nazis. That's incontestable.

75 Years Ago, Reichstag Fire Sped Hitler's Power Grab

Fire broke out in the German parliament on the night of Feb. 27, 1933. It accelerated Adolf Hitler's dictatorial take-over of Germany, but he would have seized power even if the blaze hadn't occurred.

The 1933 fire gutted the Reichstag's main assembly room

The fire that tore through the Reichstag's assembly room 75 years ago was blamed on Dutchman Marinus van der Lubbe, who was caught and arrested outside the building. The recent arrival from the Netherlands admitted to the act, saying he was a communist and single-handedly wanted to take revenge on capitalism.

His statement was, however, enough for then-Prussian Interior Minister Hermann Goering to call the event an "outrage" and the first act in a planned communist uprising.

Communists set the Reichstag fire, Goering said

"When [police chief Wolf-Heinrich] Graf von Helldorf heard about the fire, it was as clear to him as it was to all of us that the Communist Party had to be behind it," Goering said. "Of course, I then called him to my office and said that all of them had to be arrested."

Lead by von Helldorf, who headed a section of SA storm-troopers, police arrested numerous Communist Party (KPD) members and left-leaning authors in connection with the Reichstag fire.

Cause of fire still debated

While those immediate effects of the fire are clear, historians continue to disagree whether van der Lubbe acted alone, or if the Communist Party or even Hitler's Nazi Party (NSDAP) set the blaze.

Historian Hans Mommsen, author of "The Reichstag Fire and Its Political Consequences," says neither of the political parties was involved.

"The Reichstag fire was set by the Dutchman van der Lubbe and he was the sole perpetrator," Mommsen said. "The communists did not have anything to do with it and neither did the National Socialists. There are no motives or reasons to doubt he was alone."

Van der Lubbe maintained he did not have any accomplices

Regardless of whether then-Chancellor Hitler and the Nazis laid the fire or took advantage of the situation as it unfolded, as Mommsen says, the event was followed by a state of emergency, established by President Paul von Hindenburg.

The emergency situation gave the government additional powers to censor the media, search homes and outlaw public assemblies, all rights which Hitler would have grabbed sooner or later, Mommsen says.

"The Reichstag fire decrees took care of much of what was already clearly planned in the Enabling Act," he said, referring to the changes in law Hitler used to consolidate power. "In this way, the Reichstag fire accelerated the implementation of the dictatorship. In effect, Hitler came to power faster than he had expected so that the Enabling Act functioned more as 'legalization.'"

After early elections made the Nazi Party the strongest parliamentary party in March 1933, the Enabling Act was passed, giving Hitler power to rule by decree, bypassing the parliament.

Four others acquitted

The trial of van der Lubbe and four other defendants began on Sept. 21, 1933, and ended on Dec. 23 with van der Lubbe convicted of arson and sentenced to death. The others charged, including the KPD's parliamentary leader Ernst Torgler and Bulgarian Communist Georgi Dimitrov, were acquitted due to insufficient evidence against them.

Goering was sentenced to death at the Nuremberg Trials in 1945

The court's decision, which infuriated Hitler, is reported to have been one of the reasons he created the "People's Court" to try cases of treason against the Third Reich and other political offenses outside the established legal system. This extra-legal court became known for issuing death sentences and other severe punishments.

The sentence given to van der Lubbe, who was beheaded on Jan. 10, 1934, was overturned in January 2008, and a memorial dedicated to him is to be inaugurated on Wednesday, Feb. 27.

A private initiative, the memorial consists of two plaques and will be unveiled in his home city of Leiden.

The first plaque contains a large photograph of van der Lubbe and the second a short text, recounting -- in Dutch and German -- the history of what one of the memorial's initiators, historian Cor Smit, told the DPA news agency was "an early act of resistance against the Nazi regime."

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