August 5, 1934
The correspondent opened with the following remark:
“As eventful as the past few weeks have been for the Reich Chancellor, they have left no mark on his features. In fact, he looks healthier than in February, when I saw him last.” The correspondent’s first question concerned general armament and international tensions.
Adolf Hitler replied: “As far as Germany is concerned, there will be no new war.
Germany knows the terrible consequences of war better than any other country.
“Almost all of the members of the National Government know its horrors.
They know that it is not a romantic adventure, but rather an atrocious catastrophe. It is the conviction of the National Socialist Movement that war is of no use to anyone and can only result in ruin. We would not profit by a war.
For us, 1918 was a lesson and a warning. We believe that the problems of present-day Germany cannot be solved by war. The demands it places upon the rest of Europe do not harbor the danger of such a misfortune, for they are limited to what the other nations consider their most elementary rights. We demand only that our present borders be maintained. We will certainly never fight again, except in self defense. I have repeatedly reassured the French that there will be no further territorial difficulties between us once the question of the Saar has been settled; at our eastern border I have proven our peaceful intentions by concluding a pact with Poland.” The Reich Chancellor continued: “Baldwin once said that Great Britain’s defensive border lay, in future, at the Rhine. Perhaps a French statesman might go even further and say that France must be defended at the Oder; Russia might perhaps claim that its national defense line runs along the Danube. In view of this situation, Germany can hardly be reproached for seeking national protection within its borders. To you as an Englishman I may say that, if England does not attack us, we will never have any differences with England, neither at the Rhine nor elsewhere. We do not have any claims upon England.” In response to the correspondent’s interim question, “Not even colonies?” the Führer raised his voice to reply: “I would not demand the life of a single German in order to gain any colony in the world. We know that the former German colonies in Africa are an expensive luxury for England. The expansion of the British air fleet has not given rise to the least bitterness in Germany. The English can double or quadruple their fleet, they can make it any size they choose; it is no affair of ours, because we do not intend to attack them.”
The correspondent interrupted to point out that England was building airplanes because it believed that Germany was building up a large air fleet, just as it had built up a large navy before the World War.
Hitler replied: “The English did not feel threatened when France built up a large air fleet. Why should they be excited about German measures for self defense? For us, Great Britain lies outside such considerations. The steps we are taking are designed to do justice to the fact that we may well be surrounded by a ring of powerful enemies on the continent who might one day place demands upon us which we are unable to accept. It is not the volume of arms which brings the threat of war but inequality of arms. That encourages the stronger nations to harbor ambitious plans which the weaker nations cannot tolerate.”
The correspondent posed a number of questions on Austria.
Hitler replied with feeling: “We will not attack Austria, but we cannot prevent Austrians from attempting to reestablish their former ties with Germany. These States are separated only by a line, and on both sides of this line live peoples of the same race.
“If one part of England were artificially separated from the rest, who would prevent its endeavoring to become united once more with the rest of the country? Germany and Austria were united until 1866.” “Is Your Excellency aspiring to reinstate the Holy Roman Empire?” the correspondent asked.
“The question of the Anschluss,” Hitler declared, “is not a present-day problem. I am certain that the entire affair would be settled if a secret ballot were to take place in Austria. Austrian independence is not at stake, and no one is questioning it.
“In the Austrian Empire of old, the various nationalities professed an affinity to their neighbors of their own race. It is only natural that the Germans of Austria are in favor of a unification with Germany. We all know that this goal is unattainable at present, for resistance in the rest of Europe would be too strong.”
The correspondent mentioned the tremendous power and responsibility which now lay united in Hitler’s hands.
The Führer stated: “Every year I take one opportunity or another to present my powers to the German Volk. It has the chance to confirm them or to deny them. We wild Germans are better democrats than other nations.” The correspondent asked: “Will you retain the dual office of Head of State and Chancellor for life?” Hitler replied: “It will be some time until a national plebiscite deprives the present government of its foundation.” The correspondent said: “Five weeks ago, the world was surprised by indications of a rift in the National Socialist Armed Forces and by the severe measures applied to eliminate it. Are you confident that the Party is a completely unified whole?” The Führer replied, eyes flashing: “The party is stronger and more solid than ever before!” The ensuing section of the interview concerned Germany’s economic prospects. Hitler declared he was confident that Germany would make itself independent of raw materials from abroad if forced to do so. He recalled earlier experiences during Napoleon’s Continental Blockade and during the World War.
In respect to world economics as a whole, the Chancellor stated that three things were required for the world’s recovery, namely: maintaining peace, the presence of strong, well-organized governments in each country, and the necessary energy to take on world problems as a whole. The Germans were willing to cooperate with other nations in this respect if they demonstrated the same attitude.
In response to a question as to Germany’s return to the League of Nations, Hitler declared: “We left the League of Nations for definite, clearly stated reasons. It was impossible for my government to continue to take part in negotiations in which we were treated on an inferior basis. When our complete equality is recognized, we will perhaps return. The British Government has declared its support of equal armaments, which constitute the major criterion, but unfortunately it has not succeeded in convincing other governments to adopt the same position.” Hitler’s next remarks were devoted to the necessity of putting an end to the war psychosis. He said that he had been striving for a better understanding with Great Britain and was continuing to do so. Two Germanic nations should, by the sheer power of natural instinct, be friends. The National Socialist Movement would view a war against England as a crime against the race. He pointed out that English who visited Germany were always able to come to friendly terms with the Germans, and it was desirable that even more English would come in order to satisfy themselves personally as to the circumstances in Germany.
Hitler closed with the remark: “It is regrettable that our old Marshal Hindenburg has died. Had he lived but a few years longer, he would, I believe, have found a way to make Germany’s sincere wish for peace even more evident
Herr und Frau von Hindenburg! Esteemed Mourners! Deputies, Men of the German Reichstag! For months now we have been burdened by a gnawing worry. The knowledge of the illness of our highly esteemed Old Gentleman filled millions of German hearts with inner anxiety for the life of a hoary head who was more to us than only Head of State. For this man, whom the Almighty has watched over for nearly 87 years now, had become for all of us the symbolic personification of the indestructible, ever-replenishing vitality of our Volk.
The fateful will of Providence had visibly raised him above the measure of the commonplace. Only when the nation placed its highest rank into his hands did this position attain the highest honors. For all of us, the German Reich President is indivisibly bound up with the venerable name of the departed.
Only now, as we prepare to pay our last respects to the dearly departed, has the true realization of the scope and greatness of this unique life dawned upon us. And we make a humble bow to the unfathomable Will which serves to shape lives by what seems to be mere coincidence or triviality in a manner which the inquiring man only subsequently sees and recognizes in the whole, wonderful framework of necessary coherences.
Reich President Field Marshal von Hindenburg is dead. When we endeavor to explain the sentiments which move the entire Volk to its innermost depths, we wish to do so in such a manner as to recall the great deceased in ever more gratitude. Only when, seized by the desire to do justice to history, we begin our inquiry into this figure, are we able to gauge the scope and the contents of a human life of a greatness which is manifested only rarely in the course of centuries.
How much the face of this earth has changed since that October 2, 1847 when Paul von Hindenburg was born! His life began in the midst of a revolution. The lunacy of political Jacobinism refused to allow Europe any peace in those days. The concepts of a new, so-called humanity struggled against the elements and forms of an obselete order. When the year 1848 came to a close, the bright flames seemed perhaps smothered; however, the inner turmoil had remained.
At that time, the world did not yet know a German Reich or an Italy.
Frederick William IV ruled in Prussia. The House of Habsburg controlled not only the German Confederation, but also Venetia and Lombardy. The Balkans were mere tributary provinces of the Turkish Empire.
Prussia itself, just as the other states in the German Confederation, was internally weak and incapable of instilling any genuinely strong idea in the people. The disgrace of Olmütz burns in the hearts of the few true patriots.
Prince William becomes King of Prussia. The young Hindenburg now witnesses the great triumvirate of the political and military reorganization of our Volk. Bismarck, Moltke and Roon enter onto the stage of history! While the American revolution is triumphantly mastering the Civil War, Prussia’s path leads from the Entrenchments of Düppel to Kbniggrätz. And in these regiments marches a young second lieutenant, brave and enthusiastic: Paul von Hindenburg. A piece of shrapnel shatters his helmet, bestowing a baptism of fire upon the young fighter for the unification of the Reich.
Four years later, Fate has elected him to be a witness in the hour marking the birth of the German Reich. When Bismarck finishes making his proclamations on the power and glory of the new State and its will to augment itself by means of the treasures of peace and culture and calls ‘long live the Kaiser of the new Reich’ for the first time, the rapier of Lieutenant von Hindenburg is also raised and crossed in allegiance to the Kaiser and the Reich.
A life of labor for this new Reich now begins. The great Kaiser dies, a second and a third follow; Bismarck is dismissed; Roon and Moltke take their last breath-but Germany grows as a guarantor of peace and a truly European order.
The world is given a new face. In all areas of human development, one revolutionary invention follows upon the heels of the last. Over and over again, what is better takes the place of what is good. Germany becomes a major power.
In constant service to the life of this Reich and our Volk, commanding General von Hindenburg bade his farewell at the age of 64 on March 19, 1911.
His term of service seemed to have ended. One of the nameless officers among all of the other tens of thousands who neverfalter in doing their duty and serving the Vaterland but nonetheless fade into anonymity and are forgotten.
Thus when the World War descended upon Germany and moved the German Volk to rise in resistance, of the sacred conviction that it had been attacked through no fault of its own, the Kaiser called out in a difficult hour to a man living in retirement, a man who was less to blame for the war and the onset of war than anyone else in this world could be. On August 22, 1914, Hindenburg was assigned the task of assuming supreme command of an army in East Prussia. Eight days later, the German Volk and the world are first told of this appointment and thus become acquainted with the name of the new Colonel General.
Wolffs Telegraphisches Büro makes the following official report: “Our troops in Prussia under the leadership of Colonel General von Hindenburg have defeated the Russian Army advancing from the Narew River in a force of five army corps and three cavalry divisions in a three-day battle in the district of Gilgenburg and Ortelsburg, and are now pursuing them over the border.
Quartermaster General von Stein” Tannenberg was won. From now on, the greatest battle in world history was indivisibly bound up with this name. Together with his great assistants, he averted the crisis of the year 1916 and, as head of the German Field Forces, saved the nation from destruction many times over. Had the political leadership of our Volk been equal in merit to that of the military, Germany would have been spared the worst humiliation in history.
When the November Revolution finally broke the German Reich and the German Volk after all, the worst catastrophe was at least able to be avoided due to the figure of the Field Marshal, which had already gone down in history.
For a second time, the Commander in Chief retired. And for a second time, he was called upon. On April 26, 1925, the German Volk elected him as President of the Reich and moreover, without suspecting it at the time, as patron of the new national revolution.
And here I now fulfill my obligation to the truth when, overcome by gratitude, I draw the attention of the German Volk to the immeasurable service which the Field Marshal has rendered in history by the reconciliation brought about in his name between the best of Germany’s past and a better German future to which we fervently aspire. Since that hour when I was allowed to solemnly swear my oath before this esteemed man as Chancellor of the Reich, I have increasingly sensed the mercy of Fate which has bestowed upon us such a paternal and generous patron.
Like a mystical arc, the life of this figure stretches from the muddled revolution of 1848 along an unfathomably long path to the national uprising of 1933. The German Volk can only be grateful for the dispensation of Providence that its “most German” (deutscheste) uprising was placed under the protection and guidance of its most venerable nobleman and soldier. We who did not only have the fortune to know him personally but who, each in his own way, were also allowed to contribute to the miracle of this new resurrection of our Volk wish to cherish the image of this great German in our hearts in grateful remembrance. We shall guard and keep it as a precious inheritance of a great age, and we wish to pass it on to the generations which will come after us.
He who remained so loyal to his Volk deserves to be loyally remembered for all time! Because Fate has chosen us to lead the Reich and Volk onwards, we can but beg the Almighty to give us the strength to stand up at all times for the freedom of the Volk and the honor of the German nation and, in particular, to always mercifully allow us to find the right means to secure the good fortune of peace for our Volk and to preserve it from the misfortune of war, just as the great departed always sincerely and wholeheartedly desired.
Deputies of the German Reichstag! Ladies and Gentlemen! German Volk! In this solemn hour I ask you all to look beyond this transitory moment and into the future. Let our hearts be filled with a single, firm realization: Reich President and Field Marshal von Hindenburg is not dead. He lives on, for in dying he has come to dwell above us in the company of the immortals of our Volk, surrounded by the great spirits of the past as the everlasting patron of the German Reich and the German nation.