Berlin, June 6, 1939
Finally, I am able to greet you now in person.
I am so happy to see you here before me, and above all I am so proud of you! And at this hour the entire German people feels as I do. All those millions who are experiencing at the loudspeaker and in spirit your entry and reception take you into their hearts, filled with gratitude and joyfully moved that again you are with us in the homeland.
In the Summer of 1936, Spain appeared to be lost. International forces fanned the fire of a revolution which was certain to reduce to ruins not only Spain but Europe as well. Even the Christian Democrats insisted on delivering for this purpose, weapons fuel, and so-called volunteers. A dreadfully threatening fate raised itself over our continent. The most ancient cultural lands of Europe appeared to be endangered. From Spain itself tens of thousands of Germans had to flee. Their worldly goods fell victim to the destruction. Many were murdered. What the Germans there had built up in a laborious, long, honest battle for life as the basis of their existence was destroyed and annihilated in just a few weeks.
German warships, which I immediately sent to Spain in response to the cries for help from our racial comrades, attempted to assist, as they — at least as well as could be — took over the defense of life and limb and enabled the removal of our racial comrades to the homeland. Then arose ever more clearly in this land a man who seemed to be called by the command of his own conscience to act for his people.
Franco began his struggle for the salvation of Spain. Against him arose a conspiracy fed from around the world.
In July 1936, I had resolved quickly to respond to the request for help which this man extended to me and to help him in the same measure and for as long as the rest of the world would render support to the internal enemies of Spain. With that National Socialist Germany began to partake actively in the battle for the reestablishment of a national and independent Spain under the leadership of this man. I ordered this in the knowledge that I could save not only Europe but also our own fatherland from a similar catastrophe in the future.
But I also did this from the deep sympathy for the suffering of a land which once had remained neutrally friendly towards us in the World War, in spite of all oppressive attempts on the part of England. With that I have extended the thanks of the German nation.
This happened furthermore in full agreement with Italy. Because Mussolini, inspired by the same idealistic considerations, had likewise made the decision to have Italian assistance sent to the savior of Spain in his struggle against the internationally organized annihilation of his land. With that a practical, mutual demonstration of the unified world-view of our two lands was revealed for the first time.
These idealistic motives were neither able to be grasped nor wanted to be admitted in the international plutocracies. For years British and French newspapers informed their readers that Germany and Italy allegedly had the intention of conquering Spain, dividing it up, and above all of robbing it of its colonies. Trains of thought which in any case seem less unnatural in the representatives of these lands than with us, since the robbing of foreign colonies has always belonged indeed to the permitted and tested methods of these democracies.
So we recall the infamous assertions which were spread one day that Germany had landed 20,000 men in Morocco in order to occupy it and thus take it away from Spain. With these libels the politicians and journalists of the democracies have agitated their peoples and have sought again and again to take from Spain the outcome of that catastrophe which these politicians of encirclement, war-mongers, and war-profiteers desire most ardently the new great war between the European peoples.
Now you, my comrades, have returned from Spain. This day of festive reception in the Reich capital is at the same time the conclusion and the completion of all these mendacious democratic lies.
Because once I sent you to help an unfortunate land, to support a heroic man, who wanted as a splendid patriot to rescue his people from annihilation and has indeed gloriously rescued it. You are now returned as the valiant executors of my task. I would like to make it known at this moment to the entire German nation how much reason it has to be thankful to you. For that service to which you were entrusted you have reported as honorable and dutiful German soldiers, courageous and loyal and above all modest. The high praise which the Spanish hero of freedom has expressed of you can only make the German people but especially proud of you.
It was painful for us all to have to be silent about your battle through these long years. But I conceived at that time the idea of giving you in the homeland after the end of this war the reception which valiant, victorious soldiers deserve. Today for you and for me my intent is fulfilled. The entire German people greets you in proud elation and heartfelt solidarity.
But thanks also are due those who as soldiers have had to sacrifice life, limb, and health in the service of this mission, and finally thanks are due to the bereaved families, who mourn their so valiant men and sons today as victims. They are fallen, but their death and their suffering will spare the lives of countless other Germans in the future.
No one has more understanding of this than National Socialist Germany, which, emerging from the struggle of the World War, itself had to bear in the German rebuilding many victims to the same enemy. I thank you soldiers of the Legion as well as the soldiers of the Navy for your readiness for action, for your sacrificial courage, for your loyalty, your obedience, for your discipline, and above all for your silent fulfillment of your duty.
Your example, my comrades, will above all but increase the trust of the German people for you, strengthen the band of camaraderie with our friends, and leave for the world no doubt that whenever the international war-mongers should ever desire to realize their intention of attacking Germany, their attempt will experience from the German people and the German Wehrmacht a repulse of which the propagandists of encirclement seem incapable even today of imagining. In this sense as well, my comrades, your battle in Spain, as a lesson for our foes, was a battle for Germany.
That you yourselves are now returned as hardened soldiers has not only sharpened your own appreciation for the achievements of the German soldiers in the World War, but also made you fit in an equally high measure to be the examples and instructors of the young soldiers of our new Wehrmacht. Thus have you helped in strengthening the trust in the new German Wehrmacht and in our new weapons.
At this moment we also desire to remember on whose side you have fought. We remember the Italian comrades, who valiantly and loyally gave their blood and life for this battle of civilization against destruction. And we remember above all the land itself from which you have just come. Spain has had to endure an appalling fate. You, soldiers of the Legion, have seen the destruction with your own eyes. You have experienced the cruelty of this battle. But you have also gotten to know a proud people, which boldly and heroically has fought with resolution for almost three years for the salvation of its freedom, its independence, and, with that, its national existence. You had above all the fortune to stand there under the command of a general who from his own power of resolve, unerringly believing in victory, became the savior of his people.
We all have in this moment only the sincere and heartfelt desire that the noble Spanish people now might not be begrudged the completion of a new, proud ascent under the genial leadership of this man.
Legionaries and soldiers! Long live the German people! Long live the Spanish people and its leader Franco! Long live the Italian people and its Duce! German people! Long live our Legion!