Nazi Germany quotations: power and totalitarianism

nazi totalitarianism
An Australian cartoon depicting Hitler, Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebbels

Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party held extreme views about the nature of power. They believed that state power was paramount because it served the interests of the nation. Individual rights and interests, in contrast, were subordinate to the state.

Democracy was scorned for its lack of consensus. In Nazism, leadership was provided by the National Socialist Party and its supreme leader, the Führer. These views underpinned Hitler’s dictatorship and Nazi totalitarianism, which pervaded almost all aspects of German society.

This collection of quotes reflects Nazi perspectives on power and totalitarianism. These quotes have been compiled by Alpha History authors and will be expanded and updated. If you would like to suggest or contribute a quotation for inclusion on this page, please contact Alpha History.

“It is thus necessary that the individual should finally come to realise that his own ego is of no importance in comparison with the existence of the nation, that the position of the individual is conditioned solely by the interests of the nation as a whole.”
Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, 1924

“The only stable emotion is hate.”
Adolf Hitler, 1926

“In every revolution, it has been the rule to brand political opponents as enemies of the Fatherland and so to justify completely depriving them of legal protection and property.”
Carl Schmitt, Die Diktatur, 1928

“Over the last 40 years the German bourgeoisie has been a lamentable failure. It has not given the German people a single leader. It will have to bow without concession to the totality of my ideology… The bourgeoisie rules by intrigue but it can have no foothold in my movement.”
Adolf Hitler, May 1931

“I will tolerate no opposition. We recognise only subordination – authority downwards and responsibility upwards.”
Adolf Hitler, May 1931

“Brutality is respected. Brutality and physical strength. The plain man in the street respects nothing but brutal strength and ruthlessness. Women too, for that matter, women and children. The people need wholesome fear. They want to fear something. They want someone to frighten them and make them shudderingly submissive.”
Adolf Hitler, 1933

“The [Nazi] government will regard its first and supreme task to restore to the German people unity of mind and will. It will preserve and defend the foundations on which the strength of our nation rests… In place of our turbulent instincts, it will make national discipline govern our life.”
Nazi proclamation to the German people, February 1933

“The great strength of the totalitarian state is that it forces those who fear it to imitate it.”
Adolf Hitler, September 1933

“It is nonsense to suppose that a people wants to rule itself. It always comes to such ideas only when it is badly ruled.”
Joseph Goebbels, September 1933

“Each activity and each need of the individual will be regulated by the party as the representative of the general good. There will be no licence, no free space in which the individual belongs to himself. The decisive factor is that the State, through the Party, is supreme.”
Adolf Hitler, 1933

“Only one person at a time can be Führer. Who it is is not so important. The important thing is that everybody should back up the second and all subsequent leaders. An organisation with such inner solidity and strength will last forever. Nothing can overthrow it. The sense of community within the movement must be inconceivably intense. We must have no fighting among ourselves; no differences must be visible to outsiders.”
Instructions to Nazi Gauleiters, February 1934

“Anyone may grumble who is not afraid to go to a concentration camp.”
Der Angriff, May 1934

“In the hours when it was a question of ‘to be or not to be’ for the German people, it was not possible nicely to weigh the relative guilt of individuals in the exact scales of justice… Mutinies have been quelled among soldiers by shooting every tenth man out of hand, without raising the question as to whether he was individually guilty or not.”
Rudolf Hess, Nazi leader, July 1934

“There is no need for a constitution regulating the conduct of the affairs of state. One thing suffices in the National Socialist state: a fanatical will based on faith in the Fuhrer.”
Dr Hans Lammers, Secretary of the Chancellery, October 1934

“Only an authoritarian government, firmly tied to a people, can [lead the people] over the long term. Political propaganda, the art of anchoring matters of state in the broad masses so the whole nation will feel a part of them, cannot therefore be a means of winning power. It must become a means of building and keeping power.”
Joseph Goebbels, Nuremberg, 1934

“The law today is nothing less than the plan and will of the Fuhrer. Only he who has absorbed Adolf Hitler’s book Mein Kampf can be a lawyer.”
Carl Schmitt, pro-Nazi academic, October 1935

“Germany must obey like a well-trained soldier because the Fuhrer, Adolf Hitler, is always right.”
Robert Ley, December 1935

“We do not recognise any tradition of civil rights.”
Dr Hans Frank, January 1936

“Of all those who like to point again and again to the democratic form of government as the institution which is based on the universal will of the people, in contrast to dictatorships, nobody has a better right to speak in the name of the people than I have.”
Adolf Hitler, January 1937

“Since Adolf Hitler has been in power, you have a private life only when you sleep. There is no other private life. The moment you wake, you are the soldiers of Adolf Hitler.”
Robert Ley, 1937

“Force does not get the best over right – but right does not always triumph over force. The truth is that force creates right.”
Nazi broadcast to occupied Belgium, October 1941

“The state, which is simply the Nazi Party, is in control of everything. It controls investment, raw materials, rates of interest, working hours, wages. The factory owner still owns his factory, but he is for practical purposes reduced to the status of a manager. Everyone is in effect a state employee, though the salaries vary very greatly. The mere efficiency of such a system, the elimination of waste and obstruction, is obvious. In seven years it has built up the most powerful war machine the world has ever seen.”
George Orwell, 1941

“The whole world has been built up in accordance with the principle that might makes right.”
Adolf Hitler, January 1942

“National Socialism as a form of government refuses to be considered a dictatorship, despotically imposed on the people by force. It regards itself as a new form of democracy on a national basis, as a Germanic democracy. The Germans have their own idea of liberty but this is not necessarily identical with the conceptions of other people.”
Nazi radio broadcast to Paris, February 1942