English

This publication of the speeches and proclamations of Adolf Hitler
is the final product of records I compiled during the years 1932 to 1945
and supplemented by sources and publications made available after
World War II.
Such in-depth study of materials documenting the very recent past—
and at such an early date—may first appear unusual for a historian who
had, until then, specialized in the nineteenth century. There are,
however, certain parallels between the two fields. My own avid interest
in English history led me to concentrate my scholarly research on
Napoleon I and Wihelm II. When, in 1932, Adolf Hitler became the
most important political figure in Germany, I became interested in his
public words for, in terms of foreign policy, they reminded me of these
two historical predecessors. There could be no doubt that this man—once
in power—would perforce come into marked conflict with the western
world, above all with Great Britain. Hence I began to collect all of
Hitler’s speeches, interviews, proclamations, letters, and other statements
available, convinced that they would one day be of documentary value,
should this demagogue be allowed to pursue his course.
During my university studies and as a journalist, I had the
opportunity to travel widely in Germany from 1932 to 1939 and to gain
a close view of many significant aspects of the Third Reich. I personally
heard Hitler speak and was able to interview public figures who had
direct contact with him. In this way I was able to witness for myself
Hitler’s astonishing power and influence as an orator. The enthusiasm
his speeches prompted was not confined only to easily-aroused mass
audiences but also infected—perhaps even more strongly—individuals
belonging to Germany’s leading circles.
At that time I was aware that Hitler’s arguments were most persuasive
with the German people and with people in neighboring countries
or those who had some link to the German mentality and culture.
Members of the Anglo-Saxon nations were unimpressed by Hitler’s
oratory, just as were the Soviets and Japanese, although they did make
certain concessions to Hitler for diplomatic and tactical reasons. My own
observations of the events and the comparisons I drew with historic
parallels soon taught me how to accurately and soberly assess both the
real and alleged accomplishments of the Third Reich and to anticipate
the reactions they would elicit abroad.
I became a particularly attentive and critical listener, studying the
various phases and methodology of his oratory and making my own
notes of key phrases either during his speeches or shortly thereafter.
Thus I was able to immediately spot changes and deletions in texts of the
speeches subsequently published.
As a soldier from 1939 to 1945, I no longer had the opportunity to
personally attend speeches and visit mass rallies. However, this was less of
a handicap than might have been expected, for Hitler’s public appearances
became increasingly infrequent during World War II, and the few speeches
he did deliver were broadcast on the radio. When I had leave, I updated my
collection and supplemented it with such military orders, proclamations
and directives as were available to me. After 1945, I was able to further
complement the documents I had compiled with archive material.
Friends and fellow historians at home and abroad urged me to
publish the collection in the form of a day-to-day chronicle,
accompanied by a detailed commentary providing the historical
background. This would then serve to make the most anomalous and
terrifying phenomenon of our century more accessible and
comprehensible and—by revealing the sharp contrast between the
Führer myth and reality—act as a corrective to an incomplete or false
interpretation of the Nazi regime.
Much research on the history of the Third Reich has perhaps viewed
its subject in too complicated a fashion. The initiator and driving force
behind the fatal events was Adolf Hitler. While he did not necessarily
reveal his innermost thoughts, he never made any significant distinction
between what he poured forth before mass audiences and what he said
in more intimate circles. He readily disclosed most of his views to the
public eye, albeit not always at the same time he took action. The
advantage in studying his public statements lies in their authenticity, for
memoirs and even personal records are inherently prone to error.
The present study is confined to the years 1932 to 1945—but not only
for reasons of length. Inarguably, many of Hitler’s speeches in the years
preceding 1932 also present interesting and valuable sources of
information, but his activities as a minor party leader and failed putschist
are of lesser importance for German and European history. He did not
become a major factor until he began gaining influence and exercising
power, first as leader of the largest party in Germany, then as head of
government, head of state, and supreme commander of the German armed
forces. This decisive epoch commenced with Hitler’s dramatic struggle for
control of the government in 1932 and ended with the total collapse of his
foreign and military policies in 1945.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude
to all those who, by their inspiration and their assistance, have
promoted the publication of this work. First of all, I would like to thank
Professors Hugh Trevor-Roper (Baron Dacre of Glanton), Oxford; Alan
Bullock, Oxford; Fridolin Solleder, Erlangen-Nuremberg; and Hugo
Hantsch, Vienna for their encouragement and support. I would further
like to thank the following for their expert assistance: Professor Heinz
Lieberich, Munich, Director-General of the Bavarian State Archives;
Hofrat Gebhard Rath, Vienna, Director-General of the Austrian State
Archives; and Dr. Fritz de Quervain, Bern, head of the Swiss Military
Library.
I am especially indebted to the Institut für Zeitgeschichte, Munich,
particularly to Secretary-General Helmut Krausnick, Professor Thilo
Vogelsang and Dr. Anton Hoch; the Bundesarchiv, Koblenz,
particularly to Director Karl G. Bruchmann and former Colonel G.S.
D.H. Teske (Bundesarchiv, Militärarchiv, Freiburg im Breisgau); the
Staatsarchiv, Nuremberg, the Staatsarchiv, Munich and the Monacensia-
Division of the Munich City Library; the Stadtarchiv, Würzburg; the
Würzburg University Library; the Stuttgart Military Library; and the
Militärgeschichtliches Forschungsamt, Freiburg im Breisgau.
A debt of gratitude is owed to my assistant, Dr. Gerhard G. Drexler,
Würzburg, who not only spent years with me working through the
voluminous material and reading the proofs, but who also, as a member
of the young generation, contributed his valuable assistance in keeping
the commentary succinct and to the point. My particular thanks are due
to my wife, Gertrud, for her interest and patience throughout.

THE FULL BOOK OF THE SPEECHES OF HITLER IS AVAILABLE HERE

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