Propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels gives his views on Adolf Hitler. This extract is from an article titled “Our Hitler”, published in April 1935 to commemorate the Fuhrer’s birthday. Extract reproduced with the permission of the German Propaganda Archive.
“Fellow citizens! I believe it is time to portray to the entire nation the man Hitler, with all the magic of his personality, all the mysterious genius and irresistible power of his personality.
There is probably no one left on the planet who does not know him as a statesman and as a remarkable popular leader. Only a few, however, have the pleasure of seeing him as a man each day from close up, to experience him, and as I might add, to come as a result to a deeper understanding and love for him. These few wonder how it is possible that a man who only three years ago was opposed by half of the nation stands today above any doubt and every criticism. Germany has found a unity which will never be shaken. Adolf Hitler is the man of fate, who has the calling to save the nation from terrible internal conflict and shameful foreign disgrace, to lead it to longed-for freedom.
That one man has captured the hearts of the whole nation, despite the sometimes difficult and unpopular decisions he had to make, is perhaps the deepest, most amazing secret of our age. It cannot be explained only by his accomplishments, for it is just those who have had to make the heaviest sacrifices for him and for national reconstruction, indeed who must still bring them, who have sensed his mission in the deepest and most joyful way. They are the ones who have the most honest and passionate love for him as Führer and as a man. That is the result of the magic of his personality and the deep mystery of his pure and honest humanity.
It is of this humanity, which those who are nearest to him see most clearly, of which I speak today. One cannot imagine him putting on a front. His people would not recognise him were he to do so. His daily meals are the simplest, most modest imaginable. He dines no differently, whether it is with a small group of friends or at a state banquet. At a recent reception for officials of the Winter Relief program and old party member asked him if he could have an autographed copy of the menu as a souvenir. He paused for a moment and then laughed: “That’s fine. The menu stays the same here; anyone is welcome to look it over.”
Adolf Hitler is one of the few state leaders who avoid medals and decorations. He wears only a single high medal that he earned as a simple personal soldier displaying the greatest personal bravery. That is proof of modesty, but also of pride. There is no one worthy to decorate him, other than he himself. Any form of ostentation is foreign to him, but when he represents the state and his people, he does so with impressive and appropriate grace. Behind all that he is and does are the words of the great soldier Schlieffen, who wrote: “Be more than you seem!”
His industry and determination in reaching his goal far exceed normal human strength. Several days ago I returned to Berlin at 1 am after several hard days and was ready for sleep, but he wanted a report from me. At 2 am he was still alert, still at work all alone in his home. For two hours he listened to a report on the construction of the national highways, a theme that would seem distant from the great international problems with which he had been occupied the entire day from early in the morning to late at night. Before the last Nuremberg rally, I was his guest for a week in Obersalzburg. The light shone from his window each night until 6 am or 7 am. He was dictating the great speeches he would give a few days later at the rally.
His cabinet approves no law that he has not studied to the smallest detail. His military knowledge is comprehensive; he knows the details of each weapon, each machine gun as well as any specialist. When he gives a speech he knows each detail. His working method is entirely clear. Nothing is further from him than nervousness or hysterical tension. He knows better than anyone else that there are a hundred problems to be solved. He chooses the two or three he finds most central and works on them, undistracted by the remaining ones, for he knows that if he solves the great problems, the problems of second or third magnitude will solve themselves.
His approach to problems shows both the determination necessary to deal with essentials and the flexibility essential in the choice of methods. He has principles and beliefs, but he knows how to reach them by careful selection of methods and approaches. He has never changed his basic goals. He does today what he determined to do in 1919. But he has always been flexible in the methods he used to realise his goals. When he was offered the vice-chancellorship in August 1932, he rejected the offer. He had the feeling that the time was not yet ripe and that the ground offered to him was too small to stand on. But when he was offered a wider door to power on January 30th 1933, he walked courageously through it. It was not the full responsibility he wanted, but he knew that the ground he now stood upon was sufficient to begin the fight for full power. The know-it-alls understood neither decision. Today they must reluctantly grant that he was superior not only in his tactics but also in the strategic use of the principles in ways they short-sightedly failed to see.
The entire nation not only honours him, it loves him deeply and fervently, for it has the feeling that he belongs to them. He is flesh of its flesh and spirit of its spirit. That shows itself in the smallest aspects of everyday life. It is plain in the camaraderie in the Reich Chancellery between the least SS man and the Führer. When he travels, he sleeps in the same hotel and under the same conditions as everyone else. Is it any wonder that the least of those around him are the most loyal? They have the instinctive feeling that his is no facade, but rather the result of his inner and obvious spiritual nature.
This man is a fanatic in his cause. He has sacrificed his personal happiness and private life. He knows nothing other than the work that he does as the truest servant of the Reich. Not only we who stand near him, but the last man in the most distant village, join in saying: He is now what he always was, and always will be: Our Hitler!”