Below are passages from Hitler, Memoirs of a Confidant, published by Yale University Press in 1976. These memoirs were written by Otto Wagener, a political associate, frequent travel companion and personal confidant of Adolf Hitler from 1929-1933. He was also the chief of staff of the SA and head of the Economic Policy Section of the National Socialist party.
Unlike the memoirs of Hermann Rauschning, which were cited as evidence in the Nuremberg trials but have since been exposed by revisionists as a complete fraud (Rauschning apparently never had even one private conversation with Hitler), the authenticity of Wagener’s memoirs has never been questioned.
Wagener kept a detailed diary of his many private conversations and other meetings with Hitler, given that conversation and discussion were Hitler’s preferred approach to the formulation of policy. Wagener reconstructed this diary from memory in 1946, while held in custody by the British, filling thirty-six British military exercise notebooks. His original diary was apparently lost or destroyed during the war and has never been found.
According to the editor’s introduction to the 1976 publication:
“In the instances where… checks could be made, Wagener’s memory proved highly reliable… Obviously, Wagener was a man of unusual memory who had an eye and an ear for details. He was also accustomed, as one might expect of a former General Staff officer, to writing down his observations in extensive and precise form.”
Regarding terminology, it is crucial to understand what Hitler means when he talks about “liberalism,” “socialism,” and “Volk” community. These terms, as explained in the memoirs, had very specific meanings that are quite different from today’s typical understanding.
Hitler uses the term “liberalism” to refer to the passing stage of social and cultural evolution that is driven primarily by unrestrained individual ambition and individual self-interest. The international expression of “liberalism” is imperialism.
“Socialism,” on the other hand, refers to an emerging, more enlightened stage of civilization that is based on voluntary restraint of self-interest, combined with a new individual sense of responsibility for the good of the whole. “National socialism” refers to this shift in attitude when it is achieved by the people and government of a nation.
The international expression of this type of socialism is the “socialism of the nations” (see below), which is envisioned as a “socialist community of nations” wherein the sovereignty of every nation is both protected and restrained. National sovereignty is yielded to the “totality of nations” only to the extent that is necessary for the good of each and the good of the whole. The nations remain otherwise free and independent.
The term “Volk” has nothing to do with “folkishness.” It refers to any community (large or small) that possesses its own language, culture and shared attitudes toward ethics and morality. This is most simply expressed by Hitler as “groups of people who feel they belong together.” Black Rock City (aka Burning Man) is perhaps a good contemporary example of a “Volk” community.
“Socialism” — the understanding that the good of the part is inseparably bound up with the good of the whole — is the defining characteristic of all “Volk” communities. According to this vision, all of humanity will someday become a “Volk” community, unified by universal consideration for the good of the whole.
All of these ideas are rooted in the uniquely German concept of a “Weltanshauung,” for which there is no precise English equivalent. It refers to a view of reality that creates an inner unity in all fields of life.
I added titles for the excerpts below and inserted a few brief explanatory bracketed notes, along with occasional italics for emphasis. I scanned the page ranges from the book, as indicated, and converted the text. Quotation marks indicate comments by Hitler, as recalled by Otto Wagener.
National Socialism as an Inner Conversion
“What is at stake at the present great turning point? An individualistic worldview is being replaced by a socialistic one! A thousand-year-old attitude toward life is being thrust aside by completely new concepts.
“Such a change cannot be decreed by legislation! Nor can it be brought about by a ministry, no matter how homogeneously it is put together and how saturated and filled it is with the new ideas.
“Such a transformation requires an inner conversion! A mental, a spiritual, an ethical, even a religious one! …
“It is such a far-reaching and complete conversion that the adult is no longer capable of it. Only youth can be converted, newly aligned and adjusted to the socialist sense of obligation toward the community…
“…when you observe the enthusiasm of youth, when the cheerful hands of an innocent child reach for you, then you will sense the inner conversion; then you will realize that a new faith is awakening out of the lethargy of a corrupt epoch and taking to the march — the faith in divine justice, in heavenly truth; the faith in an unworldly, paradisiacal future, where the lust for power, force, and enmity gives way to equality and fraternity, the spirit of sacrifice, love and loyalty, and the will to stand before the throne of the Almighty with the open heart of one ready to believe in God. And they [the youth] will have sufficient greatness to stammer out the prayer for their brothers and fathers, ‘Forgive them, Lord, for they knew not what they did.’
“It is on this basis alone that the new world can be built! To lay this groundwork is our task. Our own hopes can aim no further. We must leave some things to be done by those who come after us. Your work will be a signpost for the future, a witness to our great intention, but in our time it will not be crowned with realization.”
He fell silent. His inner enthusiasm had driven the blood into his cheeks. His eyes glowed like bright lights. I thought of Strasser, of our plans. And I felt: Our thinking is so puny.
Then Hitler rose to his feet and shook hands with me.
“You still owe me an explanation of why you want a general as chief of staff. Come to see me tomorrow at eleven.”
Christianity and the Teachings of Jesus
“Socialism is a political problem…” he once said to me in the course of one of our conversations. “Socialism [individual responsibility for the good of the whole] is a question of attitude toward life, of the ethical outlook on life of all who live together in a common ethnic or national space. Socialism is a Weltanschauung!
“But in actual fact there is nothing new about this Weltanschauung. Whenever I read the New Testament Gospels and the revelations of various of the prophets and imagine myself back in the era of the Roman and late Hellenistic, as well as the Oriental, world, I am astonished at all that has been made of the teachings of these divinely inspired men, especially Jesus Christ, which are so clear and unique, heightened to religiosity. They were the ones who created this new worldview which we now call socialism, they established it, they taught it and they lived it! But the communities that called themselves Christian churches did not understand it! Or if they did, they denied Christ and betrayed him! For they transformed the holy idea of Christian socialism into its opposite!…
“It is in this that the monstrous crime of these enemies of Christian socialism lies! With the basest hypocrisy they carry before them the cross — the instrument of that murder which, in their thoughts, they commit over and over — as a new divine sign of Christian awareness, and allow mankind to kneel to it. They even pretend to be preaching the teachings of Christ. But their lives and deeds are a constant blow against these teachings and their Creator and a defamation of God!
“We are the first to exhume these teachings! Through us alone, and not until now, do these teachings celebrate their resurrection! Mary and Magdalene stood at the empty tomb. For they were seeking the dead man! But we intend to raise the treasures of the living Christ!
“Herein lies the essential element of our mission: we must bring back to the German Volk the recognition of those teachings! For what did the falsification of the original concept of Christian love, of the community of fate before God and of socialism lead to? By their fruits ye shall know them! The suppression of freedom of opinion, the persecution of the true Christians, the vile mass murders of the Inquisition and the burning of witches, the armed campaigns against the people of free and true Christian faith, the destruction of their towns and villages, the hauling away of their cattle and their goods, the destruction of their flourishing economies, and the condemnation of their leaders before tribunals, which, in their unrelenting hypocrisy, can only be described as blasphemous.
“That is the true face of those sanctimonious churches that have placed themselves between God and man, motivated by selfishness, personal greed for recognition and gain, and the ambition to maintain their high-handed willfulness against Christ’s deep understanding of the necessity of a socialist community of men and nations. We must turn all the sentiments of the Volk, all its thinking, acting, even its beliefs, away from the anti-Christian, smug individualism of the past, from the egotism and stupid Phariseeism of personal arrogance, and we must educate the youth in particular in the spirit of those of Christ’s words that we must interpret anew: love one another; be considerate of your fellow man; remember that each one of you is not alone a creature of God, but that you are all brothers! This youth will, with loathing and contempt, abandon those hypocrites who have Christ on their lips but the devil in their hearts, who give alms in order to remain undisturbed as they themselves throw their money around, who invoke the Fatherland as they fill their own purses by the toil of others, who preach peace and incite to war!
“These are the Christians whom it is important to unmask, whom our youth must learn to recognize in order to grow strong for all time against the foreign lie and against the perfidy that conceals the poisoned dagger under a cloak studded with the emblems of the Christian churches.
“You see, Wagener: our mission is not an economic one. Of course, the economy and its ethics must also be adapted to the conditions of this socialism. I agree with all your plans. But they are not primary. To fill the Volk with the reborn faith and the Weltanschauung of Him who once before was a savior in the peoples’ deepest hour of need — that is primary! And since the old people are usually inextricably enmeshed in their economic interests and egotistical petty shopkeepers’ mentality, we can, in the main, seek support only from the young people. It is youth that will once more conquer the true kingdom of heaven for its Volk and for all mankind!”
Hitler reiterated these ideas whenever there was discussion of economic problems that he considered correct and worthwhile, but nevertheless not crucial…
The Meaning of Volk Community
“…I am a politician. I bring to the German Volk national socialism, the political doctrine of the Volk community, the solidarity of all who are part of the German Volk and who are ready and willing to feel themselves an inextricable but co-responsible particle of the totality of the Volk, having responsibility for it.
“A Volk in the current political sense has ceased to be a racial unit, a racially pure community. The great migrations of world history, the military expeditions, the times of enemy occupation, and also, of course, the admixture that became ever more frequent as the result of international trade relations, have seen to it that all sorts of races and racial mixtures live side by side within the borders of any state.
“Nevertheless, most nations — the United States of America forming the most notable exception — are the structures within certain areas where either the old tribal system has survived or a community has come into being over time that was consolidated into a Volk, possessing its own style, its own language, its own attitudes on ethics and morality, and its own culture. Such groups of people who feel that they belong together continue to unite under economic, political, and even purely geographic influences, and these groups rightly designate themselves a Volk. In this same way, America will in time turn into one Volk.
“…Our movement has adopted the mission of enabling the German Volk to change the Weimar constitution, so that it will correspond to the essence and will of the Volk. And this essence of the German Volk is socialist in the most profound sense. Any Volk community is, in the last analysis, always socialist.” [Self-interest is restrained; everyone must also serve the good of the community as a whole.]
Two Kinds of Socialism
“… Individual striving — yes, individual acquisitiveness — is the driving force that animates the world and the economy and that has engendered all major inventions and discoveries. If we eliminate it, the drive slackens and progress stagnates. But to stand still is to regress.
“That is why we must preserve this driving force, we must nurture it, even reward it! We must take this striving, which is in itself selfish, and place it in the service of all, in the service of the whole nation — yes, perhaps in time in the service of all mankind…
“For if we permitted our Gauleiter and speakers to preach pure socialism of the customary order, we would be doing nothing different from the Bolsheviks. In that case, we would not have to do battle with them. But what we want is precisely to keep this destructive Bolshevism, which annihilates culture and economy, from taking further root, so that it destroys our life as well!
“Communism results in a welfare state where the standards are averaged downward. We want a state that allows for free development of the personality, but in the last analysis, this must also be for the needs of the people — that is, in the service of the community,where the standard is to be raised as high as possible, and then higher yet…
“…the closer we come to normal times, the more the shackles and restraints that hinder the free play of the natural struggle must be loosened. The state must be, not a nursemaid, but the incarnation of the ethical conscience of a people and of each individual.”
The Handling of Racial Differences within a Volk Community
“If… we examine the advantages and disadvantages of keeping the races and tribes apart in our German fatherland, we can see nothing but disadvantages! The German Volk would only be more splintered, set against one another, atomized by stirring up the racial problems; so it would be rendered insignificant as far as foreign policy goes. That is why I have forbidden more than once — and at the next Gauleiter conference I shall unequivocally repeat my prohibition against — any talk or writing about racial theory and the racial problem. We must do precisely the opposite! The community of the Volk, the community of the Volk, the community of the Volk — that must be our battle cry! Everything that unites and allies the strata must be brought out, cultivated, and promoted, and everything that separates them, everything that serves to awaken the old prejudices must be avoided, fought against, removed… Like Christ, we must preach, ‘You are all brothers! Love one another!’
“Only we alone can and must think clearly about racial questions. You, and I, and Rosenberg, and one or two others. For to us, these questions are a key and a signpost. But for the public at large, they are poison! Besides, such discussion would only rouse superiority and inferiority complexes. And these are the surest way to destroy a Volk community.
“Much as I gaze in awe at the Jews’ laws for maintaining and preserving the purity of their race, I must nevertheless proceed from my belief that racial theories, should they become the subject of public discussion, may prove a national disaster rather than a blessing.
“We must accept the mixing of blood as it is. We must not call one blood worse than another, one mixture better than another. Rather, we must employ other means to breed a higher form from this gray mass. We must try to bring to the surface the valuable traits of the people living in Germany, to cultivate and to develop them, and we must find ways and means to prevent the propagation of all the bad, inferior, criminal, and decadent tendencies and all the congenital diseases so damaging to the Volk.
“Furthermore, we must educate the young people in the beauty of movement, the beauty of the body, and the beauty of the spirit.Athletics, personal grooming, physical training, public performances of competitive games and contests, and a revival of the performing arts along the old Greek models will contribute to making a girl see how the man who is worthy of her should look and appear, as well as letting a boy know what his ideal woman is like..
“And such selective breeding will become all the more a matter of course the more we bring the German Volk together and weld it into one. In their earliest childhood, in kindergarten, in elementary school, in the Hitler Youth and the League of German Girls, all classes must meet. No distinction should be allowed to be made between the rich and the poor, between high and low, between city and country, between employer and employee; rather, there is only the distinction between respectable and disreputable, between companionable and uncompanionable, between aboveboard and furtive, between truth and lies, between courage and cowardice, and between health and sickness.
“Then, when these children grow up, they will use their feet to cast aside all this party rubbish, and in every district they will elect the man, the only one, who represents them and goes to the Reichstag on their behalf. Only then will we see true democracy! And it is ridiculous to think that among these elected candidates there would be even a single one who is not a genuine paragon and prototypical representative of the German spirit, a German person — representative, in short, of this German Volk that from generation to generation rises ever higher from the oozing slime in which Europe, in which the Old World is still wading.”
Suddenly, his voice somewhat subdued, Hitler said:
“Sometimes I have the feeling that it is not granted us to experience this great future, that only a coming generation will be mature enough to translate our ideas and plans into action. But it is our mission to bring about the basis for such a community of the Volk, and especially to guide the young people of Germany along the paths that lead to this goal…”
Socialism of the Nations
“The international element of the communist movement that emanates from Russia is not really Russian, or Slavic; it is Jewish. And we must not make the mistake of believing that it is supported by a Russian-Slavic idea, which might even have some creative content. The current activities of the Comintern members are purely destructive.
“There also exists a constructive international socialist idea. But it is altogether different. For, look here, once nations have begun to carry out a socialist and socio-economic reorganization within their own borders, the time is ripe for the totality of nations — that is, all the peoples and states — to give up fighting each other for power and supremacy, enslavement and exploitation, according to liberal principles — that is, acting according to imperialist principles. Then, even among them the time has come for giving consideration to pride of place, communal spirit, even ‘socialism.’ What first occurred on a small scale within the individual nations will then take place among the worldwide community of nations. Even the smallest of them will enjoy equal rights… That is socialism of the nations! But it is quite different from the international socialism of a Marx or a Lenin!
“If, for example, acting out of a higher discernment, industrial plants decide not to compete with each other, establishing instead a community of interests, each enterprise remains independent in itself. The only change is that each will be integrated into the totality according to a higher plan, taking into account considerations of production and market conditions and according to principles of reason and profitability. So each must give up something of its sovereignty, in the interest of the whole — but consequently also in its own best interest. It is equally true within a nation that each individual citizen must surrender something of his own sovereignty — what is colloquially spoken of as ‘personal liberty’ –to the organization of self-administration, the state. All rights originate primarily with the people… The Volk, each separate person, however, yields as much as necessary — but not more than necessary — to the state it has created or the government it has established according to its constitution.
“The same thing will happen with the socialism of nations. Each nation remains independent. It yields to the community, to the organization of self-administration, to the world state only as much of its sovereignty as is necessary to enable the execution of the tasks that are in the interest of all and each separately.
“But first, there will have to be national socialism [nations that internally advance the common good]. Otherwise the peoples and their governments are not ready for the socialism of nations. It is not possible to be liberal [everyone for himself] in one’s own country and demand socialism among nations. Education about and firm belief in national socialism must precede that change. But if we do not succeed in taking this road, we will either be given a world empire headed by a single state — the strongest, the most powerful, which will, in the end, have to resort to military methods to secure and maintain its power — or end up with international Bolshevism, which can equally be nothing but despotism. The first goal is obviously being striven for at present by North America, while Russia aims at the latter. [The fact that National Socialism was a threat to both can be seen in the temporary WWII alliance that succeeded in destroying Germany’s remarkable pre-war achievements.] Perhaps neither of them yet realizes what is happening. But, as I said: If we do not succeed in paving the way for the socialism of nations, then one or another of these two must set in!
“But here, too, I carry within me the conviction — and I see myself as a trailblazer — that humanity will find the right way. For the peoples and their states are natural creations, divinely ordained, they are associations of men, all of whom are created by God and therefore stand side by side, with equal rights, judged only for the totality, each according to his abilities and achievements for the totality. The international powers that are at work to penetrate the unanimity of the national bodies, the states, the nations, to dissolve and undermine them, are therefore contrary to nature and hostile to the divine order. Among them are primarily Jews, but next in line are the Catholic church, the internationally oriented trade unions, international communism, the major international trusts [corporations and banking], and many more. Such organizations can, at times, be stronger than the states! And herein lies their danger! Not only for the individual state, but especially for the possibility of creating the great socialist community of nations.
“So, if we pursue the goal of such a community of nations — and it must, as I said, be pursued, and it will be the final goal of human politics on this earth — then we must first reconstruct the independence and autonomy of the nations, even the smallest, and drive the large international organizations back to their purely technical sphere of operations, eliminating every last possibility of their influence on governments and governmental organizations. This is a further basic perception.
“Furthermore, the principle in power politics of always oppressing smaller nations, annexing them, occupying them, dissolving their statehood, divesting them of their autonomy, their divinely ordained sovereignty — this is a useless and foolish undertaking, a sin against nature… Yes, one can say that the suppression of a people, the forced incorporation in artificial borders, or military occupation of a particular country only heighten the will to freedom and the urge to liberation of the people in question! …
“Even if one expels the members of a Volk from a country or scatters them all over the world, the Volk does not cease to exist. Even after generations, it continues to harbor the longing for the native soil from which it was driven or the yearning for reunification…
“The application of this realization is a further great task of the future. Here lie the roots of true religion, the link to divinity! There are those poor creatures, bending their knees and wringing their praying hands before carved wooden figures, and those great hypocrites hoodwink them into believing that, thanks to this behavior, their souls will sizzle a few days less in the fires of hell. But the true link to God, the elevated consciousness of being a divine creature — that is driven out of them and forbidden them! Here is where I see the A6yo£ of St. John, which Luther unfortunately translated as ‘word.’ Goethe tried to rectify the error with the critical lines: ‘I cannot possibly place such a high value on the word, I must translate it differently,’ and he said: ‘In the beginning was the deed.’ But I say: ‘In the beginning was the urge!’ And the urge existed from eternity! And the urge was a creation of God, and God himself was this urge. And the urge was the spark of life, which resides in us as well.
“And though it rose to consciousness in man, we pass it by, as Christ already bemoaned. The peace on earth Christ wanted to bring is the very same socialism of nations! It is the new great religion, and it will come because it is divine! …”
Hitler stopped for a moment before continuing…:
“…I… have the will to create for the German Volk the foundations of a true Volk community. And that is a political mission, though it encompasses the ideological as well as the economic…”
Once again, Hitler paused briefly. Then he straightened his shoulders and declared, louder than before:
“I cannot believe that the civilized nations of the world are so blind that they will lacerate each other to smooth the way for Bolshevism. The contrary is essential: coalition, by groups, into confederacies of states, into families of nations, perhaps even here and there into federal states…
“It is all the more important that we work at coalition. And on that point I will tell you over and over again: without England it is not possible! England has the necessary power. We bring along only the idea and the will. I cannot imagine that England will not decide to climb down from its pedestal of arrogance and imperialism, which has been made outmoded by history, and to extend its hand to a community of nations. England cannot ignore present-day events to such an extent! It cannot discard the world mission of the Aryan race in the world to such an extent! It must surely recognize the danger of international Communism, even if its island realm might be the last to fall into its hands.
“And it must notice that for the world… a new great adversary has arisen across the Atlantic — America. As a result of excessive industrialization, which received its latest impetus precisely during the Great War, America has no choice but to wage an imperial policy all over the world. For the moment, Roosevelt hopes only to achieve ‘prosperity.’ But if he cannot make it come into being by peaceful means — and in this he will fail — then it can be coerced only by a war — a war intended to permanently eliminate economic competition from Europe and possibly also from Japan, securing for America the international markets of the future: South America and China, perhaps Russia as well.
“Now England is simply part of Europe, even if it was unwilling to admit it before this. Its front is against Russia and against America. The struggle has already begun in the oil fields of Persia, it will continue in India and the Far East. And in the end it will encompass the whole Empire!
“…England and Germany are equally threatened. But they are also the backbone of the West, the old world, the cultural source of mankind. And a Europe that stretches from Gibraltar to the Caucasus includes all the spheres of interest of the countries that belong to it in other parts of the world, especially all of Africa, India, the Malayan archipelago, Australia, and New Zealand. Canada will also remain loyal to such a concentration of power, which would otherwise fall to America; and the Arabic family of nations will complete the circle of these United States of the old world.
“This is the prize we offer England! World peace would be assured for all eternity. No earthly power could sow discord into such a community, and no army or navy in the world could shake such power.
“It cannot be that England does not recognize and understand this. In any case, I am prepared, even at the risk of failing to persuade England, to take this road, and I will never betray Europe to Bolshevism and Jewry.”
Hitler raised his voice for the final words…
[600,000 men from countries all over Europe volunteered to fight alongside the Germans, in the east, in their battle against communism. Why the American and British governments became allied with Soviet communism and not with Germany’s struggle to defend Europe against communism is the important question that is rarely asked.]