Thanks to John Hardonfor alerting me to this article. It is a must read:
(Originally from “Das Schwarze Korps” on Hitler’s birthday, April 20, 1944. “Das Schwarze Korps” was a weekly journal published by the SS.)
Sometimes one says that a person is the soul of a battle or of resistance. The Führer proves that this is more than a nice phrase. It applies to him so well that one would have had to invent the phrase if it had not already existed in the German language. Many a man has had power. Many can give orders. And some have the inner greatness that justifies their power and gives their orders power.
The Führer, however, lives in his grenadiers, who are doing more than soldiers have ever done before them. He lives in the men and women of his people, who with stubborn loyalty and confidence do the impossible. They do not obey his power and follow his orders, but rather they obey and follow an inner voice named Adolf Hitler. He is the conscience of the German nation. All our virtue, bravery, good will, intelligence and sense of duty follow his example. He is the voice within us that accompanies our deeds and helps us overcome all obstacles.
What would we be without him? Spiritual movements and historical developments follow their own laws. Wars come and go like vast natural catastrophes. But it is not natural that a whole people rises to meet its great test, bringing forth miracles of bravery and confidence to a degree that no one could foresee, not even the best student of its nature. This goes beyond the natural course of things. Here we see spiritual forces that have neither historical nor biological foundations. The equation is simple: if one removes Adolf Hitler’s spiritual powers, if one cuts the bands of faith that bind each of us to him, what is left? Only people who can do what is humanly possible, who can only bear what humans can bear, and who one day will succumb. It is not natural that after five years of such a war, after such sacrifices and burdens, we still believe blindly in victory and fight and work more fanatically and bitterly than we did on its first day.
The Führer does not speak to us often. It is too seldom for us to attribute his power over our hearts to his direct personal impact. But he is there, he thinks and works for us, it is as if we feel the presence of an omnipresent will. The soldier in a difficult position who feels he can no longer master the situation with his own strength finds comfort in thinking of the man struggling with fate at his headquarters. He knows that everything humanly possible will be done to help him. And he knows that even a sacrifice, if it must be brought, is a meaningful sacrifice, part of his great plan. He never feels alone. Nor are the people at home alone who suffer the heavy burdens of air terror. They know that someone is there who knows their needs. He does not only cover their needs with the cloak of his sympathy; he is the one who is coining victory from their suffering.
Such blind trust places an enormous burden on him! His omnipresent will that we believe we feel assumes that with superhuman watchfulness he sees all, hears all, knows all that concerns Germany’s fate. Here we see the incomprehension of the world that speaks of deification and tries to keep him in human bounds.
The poor fools! How can they know how happy we are that he is the person he is! The simplest and most faithful among our people worry about him. Is he sleeping? Is he healthy? What about his cares and burdens? We know well enough that his day, too, has only 24 hours, and that he is human. We realize that he does not know what grenadier Schultze and worker Müller are thinking at the moment. No, he cannot read their minds. But he knows his people and their souls out of deep, almost prophetic knowledge. He knows what he can ask of them and what they can give, and that explains what the grenadier Schultze and the worker Müller think. He feels their will and their faith, just as we feel his. He needs no divine powers, for he feels in himself the strengths of his great, brave people. It is a wonderful sense of connectedness. And is not that enough?
He believes no less in us than we believe in him. If someone claims that we deify him, they must also claim that he deifies his people, that he trusts us more than is humanly possible. But he has always been right in the past.
He seems to know us better than we know ourselves. He certainly knows our shortcomings better than we do. They often seem big to us, particularly those that affect our neighbors instead of ourselves. Then we say: “If the Führer only knew, he would…” But the Führer probably does know. He just does not think it very important. No, he does not deify us, but he knows who we are. He knows all the characteristics of his people and can play on us like a musical instrument. He does not use force, but rather the fine sense of a gifted master.
Were this not the case, how could he bear the seemingly unlimited burdens of responsibility he carries! Back during what seemed to us happier days, we got used to calling him the greatest military commander in history. Should we change our minds now that he has not recently given us any great victories? Are we not thereby seeing the concept of military commander in all too narrow terms that do not fit his titanic tasks?
The goal of a military commander is victory on the battlefield, that and only that. We had great military commanders during the First World War. They won many victories. They often had good reason for blaming the victories they could not win on people and things outside their area of authority.
Kluck did not lose the Battle of the Marne, but rather the inadequate General Staff whose orders he had to follow. Hindenburg and Ludendorff did not lose the great battle in France, but rather those responsible at home. They weakened the army by allowing strikes and domestic decay. The responsibility for losing the First World War did not rest with the military commanders. They could wash their hands in innocence. They had done their limited duty. The Führer’s task, however, is not to win splendid victories on the battlefield, but rather in every area, in every realm, winning the final victory by every possible means. He cannot say I am winning in the East; what happens in the West does not concern me. He cannot say I am winning on the battlefields, what happens at home does not concern me. He is certainly a military commander, and nothing that happens there casts any shadow over his greatness. But beyond all his characteristics and significance, he is one thing even greater — the Führer.
History will not ask if the commander Adolf Hitler fought on the Volga or in the Carpathians, but rather if he gave his people the victory of life, the Reich greatness, and its children a happy future. The joy of a victor on the battlefield is a high point of human experience. Even greater, however, is the ability to fight against human pride by giving up outward successes, to wear out the enemy here or there by retreats, to give up hard-won ground to gain time, to amass reserve armies instead of laurel wreaths.
Imagine how many times during the great defensive battles an army corps that seemed to be doing nothing could have been moved elsewhere. What brilliant victories, what prestige they could have won, what jubilation they could have given the nation, what happy moments they could have given the commander and his soldiers. But the Führer resisted all the temptations of the moment, conscious of his larger responsibility to the near and distant future. He saves every man and every weapon he foresees he will need for the great battle that is coming. He has factories working for the future, even if it makes life hard for soldiers at the moment. He is holding back the use of new weapons for the right moment, even though the troops and the homeland would find the use of them encouraging today.
He could not do that if he did not feel the heartbeat of the people, if he did not know what he could expect of his people. He has more cares, greater responsibilities, and harder decisions than anyone before him. If any of us had even a hundredth of his burdens, he would say he could not carry them. Any of us would prefer to be a common soldier who faces death, but only death, or a city-dweller who lives his hard life between air raid alerts, or the housewife with her shopping difficulties.
But there is one man who cannot lay down his burden, who carries a hundred times more than anyone else, who does not weaken or falter, who does not confuse the forest with the trees. He is a granite wall we need not worry about, who is everything that is good and brave and true in us, who warms us with the glow of his great soul: the Führer!