by Joseph Goebbels
Background: Dr. Goebbels gave an annual speech on New Year’s Eve in which he reviewed the old year and sometimes made predictions for the new one. This is the first of the series. He looks back on the first year of National Socialism and declares the revolution over.
The source: “Zum Jahreswechsel 1933/34,” Signale der neuen Zeit. 25 ausgewählte Reden von Dr. Joseph Goebbels (Munich: Zentralverlag der NSDAP., 1934), pp. 337-344
My fellow German citizens!
My goal is not to add a bitter taste to the holiday’s festive glass of cheer. I believe that every level and class of the German people has reason to celebrate today with confidence. And there is no reason to be moderate. We Germans over the last 20 years have had too much pain, sorrow, and disappointment to run the risk of overdoing our celebration. A bit of pain is behind all our joy, and the cheer with which we look back on the past year and forward to the coming one is filled with earnestness and proud manliness.
But now we raise our hearts and see with satisfaction that a year of success is behind us, and that the blessing of heaven has fallen on the German people. Our whole hearts rejoice. It is a kind of joy that looks back with pride on what has been accomplished, and that gives strength for new plans and decisions. The powerful movement that has seized the entire German people in the past year is a movement of life that is filled with a firm and faithful optimism that gives endurance and strength. We Germans have once more learned to love life in all its splendor. We affirm it and accept all its demands, even if they be hard and pitiless. National Socialism affirms life, it does not deny it. We draw from it the joyful strength that so wonderfully fills us in the last hours of the passing year.
No one is left out. It fills the festive streets of the great cities and the lonely alleys and paths of our German villages. It fills huts and palaces, the rich and the poor. It fills the heart of the lonely wanderer who greets the new year in the snow-capped and towering mountains, or those who are part of the crowds on Berlin’s Unter den Linden. It was a blessed year. The German people found themselves once more, and regained a hope that lets them look confidently into the coming year.
What a difference from the New Year’s Eve of a year ago. Then the Reich stood before the abyss. The people were torn by hatred and civil war. The parties and the government lacked the strength even to recognize the catastrophe, much less to deal with it. Collapse and desperation were rising wherever one looked, and the specter of Bolshevism was everywhere. But today? The Reich is once more strong and powerful, the people more united and firm than ever before, led by a strong hand who is dealing with the problems we face. Where once there was hopelessness and despair, today a whole nation is filled with faithful devotion.
A year of unprecedented victories and triumphs is behind us. What twelve months ago seemed the product of an overactive imagination has become reality. The flags of national renewal fly over the Reich, and a revolution of vast extent has captured the German people and given them back their true nature.
There were probably only a few last 30 January, when the great transformation began, who imagined that a new era of German history was beginning, and that within a year the revolution would be over. Remember 21 March, 1 May, the unforgettable days in Nuremberg, 1 October, and 12 November. A wonderful transformation unified the nation, one that future generations will scarcely be able to comprehend. They will judge the year 1933. It will go down in history as the year the German nation finally broke free of its two thousand years of misery.
What an astonishing collection of significant political, cultural and economic events mark this year of German awakening! It finally destroyed the Marxist nonsense that had tortured the German people for six decades, condemning them to political impotence. Only a year ago it threatened the Reich, ready at any moment to seize power. Today we know of it only through stories. It was replaced by the idea of a true community of the people that was not the empty theory of a meeting hall, but rather step by step and piece by piece became a total and happy reality. The socialism that we preached for years found its living expression in the active participation of all Germans, perhaps the most wonderful and exciting event of the past year.
Twelve months ago the parties carried on their nonsense in the parliaments, government crisis followed crisis, and the fate of the Reich was determined by special interests that used the holy idea of Germany only for their party’s benefit. This contemptible parliamentarianism, whose only Christmas gift to the people was the collapse of a cabinet, is gone. The German people overwhelmingly has affirmed one man and one idea. A movement fully aware of its responsibility governs the Reich.
The people itself, however, could not support the new regime any more strongly than it does. People, state and nation have become one, and the strong will of the Führer is over us all. The eternal quarreling particularism that threatened the Reich has been overthrown. Germany once more stands before the world as an unshakable unity, and no one inside our outside of our borders is able to damage the interests of the German nation by using some kind of group within the Reich.
This political foundation had to be established if the government had any intention of dealing with the big problems of the day, if it was to do everything possible to deal with the specter of unemployment. The government had not only the intention to do something, it acted. It attacked unemployment with impressive measures. With God’s help, it was able to do even more than it promised: over two million people are at work again, and even the hard winter did not slow us down. The entire world admires this accomplishment of the German people, gained by our will and toughness. The world is just as astonished as it watches the German people fight hunger and cold; the first half of the battle has already been won. It fills us with pride that in this first National Socialist winter no one, however poor and needy, has been left alone, that none of us, no matter how heavy our burdens, has gone uncared for through winter’s cold months, that we have done our duty and need not fear anyone’s gaze.
Is it any wonder that courage, confidence and optimism in growing measure fill the German people? Is not the flame of a new faith rising in the people from this sacrificial readiness? This people is noble, brave, generous, willing, and full of devotion under the care of a strong hand, and it may rightly believe that it is spotless and pure, and that it has the blessing of God.
Is there any reason to doubt that we will return this people to its just place among the nations of the world? We have had the courage to break with the unacceptable methods of international post-war diplomacy and claim the absolute right of the German nation to national honor and equality. We knew from the beginning that it would take a tough battle. Today we think we can say that we will win if we keep our nerve.
The year 1933 ends under this happy sign. With nostalgia we look back once again. It was a proud and manly year. It was a year of beginning and renewal, the first since the end of the war of which we can say that it ended for Germany better than it had begun.
As always, we stand at the helm even more firmly after the battle. The new year is before us, with its new challenges and tasks. Nothing will be given to us; we will have to seize it. Hard and challenging problems await us. We will need all our strength and intelligence to hold the ground that we have won, to increase it, to build on it, for only from it can we make the leap to new territory.
The comradeship of the people that has begun in so wonderful a way is not something that has found eternal root in German hearts. It is the foundation from which we will find the strength to bring a victorious end to coming battle against hunger and cold, and then to begin in the spring a second great campaign against the unemployment that we will eliminate in the coming year.
A major political problem in the coming year will be to give a new and organic structure to the Reich. Based on the firm ground of tradition, a reform must be implemented that will give the same unity to the Reich as to the people. The National Socialist idea and movement will fill both people and state for all time. Then we will be able to view our foreign problems with calmness. The people and nation stand on firm ground. No power on earth can split them apart.
The tasks before us are large and difficult, almost discouragingly so. Only our strong and fanatic faith will give us the strength to solve them. If the German people stay united and work together, it will master fate and build a new future. Peoples never lose because of inadequate weapons, only through a lack of self- confidence and will.
Let us then stand together and enter the new year with courage. The whole people should be confident of the government’s thanks. Each of us is proud that we serve the people in a high position. We are all members of the people, we express its spirit and its will. The lowliest of our people is dearer to us than the king of another nation. And we would rather be the lowliest citizen of our nation than the king of another.
This nation has displayed remarkable heroism both during the war and thereafter. Covered with scars, it has recovered from the blows dealt us by fate. It lives once more and will live as long as we faithfully affirm its life.
No one has the right to become weary. Everyone is needed, each in his place. We know full well how much need remains in Germany, but we will never surrender to it. We do not stick our head in the sand, but rather we raise it high and offer it to fate.
No one should lose courage. Only he who thinks he is lost is lost.
In these last hours of the year, we join in humble thanks to the great God who gave us the gift of doing our work loyally and industriously. We ask his blessings for the coming year, and promise that we will not be unworthy of his blessings.
The year of revolution is over. The year of construction is beginning.
We give our respectful greeting to the General Field Marshall and Reich President [Hindenburg], who in the past year was once more the loyal Ekkehard of his people. May fate preserve him for us for many years to come. We give our loyalty and eternal allegiance to the Führer, who, never wavering, bore the flag through storms and dangers. May he stay strong and healthy, and complete his work.
I wish a happy New Year, filled with struggle and victory, to all good Germans at home and to our brothers on the other side of the border.
We will not fail if we have the courage to be stronger than the misery that once defeated Germany.