Adolf Hitler – speech at the Tempelhofer Feld – May 1, 1935
Berlin, May 1, 1935
The first of May-in days of yore the German Spring holiday. And another first of May-a day of strife and discontent, a day of our Volk being torn asunder in classes. And yet another first of May-the day marking the springtime of the nation! The day of the solidarity of a Volk in its work! A great age has thus dawned once again for Germany. We say this knowing that the greatness of an age lies in the greatness of the tasks assigned to it and thereby to us. Great tasks, such as those vested in only few generations in history.
Yesterday we were still a powerless Volk, for we were strife-torn, falling out and apart in internal discord, fragmented into hundreds of parties and groups, leagues and associations, Weltanschauungen and confessions-a Reich built upon this fragmented Volk, equally weak and powerless, a mere plaything at the mercy of alien despotism! Small states deride it, small states deprive it of its rights and gag the people of this Volk. The economy was in the throes of death.
Disintegration and ruin at every turn. Every principle had been abandoned.
What had once seemed good became bad; what had been detestable was suddenly venerable. What was once meant to and able to give life more meaning was now passed off and perceived to be merely a burden to mankind. One author summed up the impressions of this age in a book which he entitled, The Decline of the West.
Is this then really the end of our history and hence of our peoples? No! We cannot believe or accept it! It must be called not the ‘Decline of the West,’ but the ‘Resurrection of the Peoples of the Western World’! Only what has become old, rotten and bad dies. And it should die! But new life will generate. The will shall find the faith. This will lies in leadership, and faith lies in the people! But all must believe in one thing. He who would tackle this great work of reorganization must begin with the Volk itself. First a new Volk, and with it the new age! Great tasks have always been accomplished only by strong leaders; but even the strongest leadership must fail if it does not have a faithful, inwardly steadfast and truly strong Volk standing behind it.
It is mankind’s misfortune that its leaders forget all too often that ultimate strength does not lie anchored in divisions and regiments or in cannons and tanks; rather, the greatest strength of any leadership lies in the people themselves, in their unanimity, in their inner unity and in their idealistic faith.
That is the power which, in the end, can move the mountains of resistance! But this requires a philosophy which the Volk understands, a philosophy which it comprehends and which it loves.
When we first set forth in 1919 as preachers of the National Socialist philosophy, we were a tiny little group of idealists or, as they said, dreamers, the object of ridicule. The critics have been proven wrong today. Some of them might also have striven for what has happened since, but they were incapable of bringing it about; in a historical sense, visible success is ultimately decisive for the correctness of a principle. And this here is documentary proof of this success which no one can forge: one Volk in one Reich! Everything we have achieved would have been impossible; nothing we did could have been accomplished; there never would have been a January 30th; never a 21st nor a 16th of March; the external success would never have come about if the German Volk had not gone through an inner transition. The fact that we were able to give the German Volk a new philosophy and to lead it to a new type of life by means of this philosophy is the greatest feat of this century for our Volk. The greatest achievement which will outlive by far everything which can be accomplished in day-to-day work, thanks to this unique achievement.
And this united nation-we need it, for when was a leadership confronted with a more difficult task than our German leadership? Bear in mind, my Volksgenossen, what our Germany is, and compare it to other countries. How little we have! 137 people per square kilometer, no colonies, no natural resources, no foreign currency, no capital, no foreign assets left, only heavy burdens, sacrifices, taxes, and low wages. What do we have compared to the wealth of other states, the wealth of other countries, the wealth of other peoples, the wealth of possibilities they have? What do we have? Only one thing: we have our Volk! It is either all, or it is nothing. Our Volk is the only thing on which we can depend. The only thing upon which we can build. Everything we have accomplished to date we owe only to its quality, its capabilities, its loyalty, its decency, its diligence, its sense of order. And when I weigh all of that, then it appears to me to be more than everything the rest of the world has to offer us.
And that, I believe, is something we can well impart to other peoples on this first of May: you need not fear that we will place demands on you. We are proud enough to confess that the utmost-something you cannot give us-is something we have ourselves: our Volk.
As Fuhrer, I cannot conceive of any task on this earth more marvelous and glorious than to serve this Volk. Were I given the gift of continents, I would still prefer being even the poorest citizen of this Volk. And with this Volk it must and will be possible to accomplish the tasks of the future as well.
And thus I ask of you: renew on this day of the greatest and most glorious demonstration in the world your vow to your Volk, to our community and to our National Socialist State. My will-and this must be the vow of each and every one of us-is your faith! To me-as to you-my faith is everything I have in this world! But the greatest thing God has given me in this world is my Volk! In it rests my faith. It I serve with my will, and to it I give my life! May this be our mutual sacred vow on the day of German labor, which so rightfully is the day of the German nation! To our working German Volk:
Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil!