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PART three: THE THIRD REICH - SOURCES

Section One: Politics and Economics - 1933-39

Source A

Ludendorff to Reich President Hindenburg in late January 1933.



You have delivered up our holy German Fatherland to one of the greatest demagogues of all time. I solemnly prophesy that this accursed man will cast our Reich into the abyss and bring our nation to inconceivable misery. Future generations will damn you in your grave for what you have done.

Source B


Hitler’s ‘Appeal to the German People’ on 31 January 1933.
The task before us is the most difficult which has faced German statesmen in living memory. But we all have unbounded confidence, for we believe in our nation and in its eternal values. Farmers, workers, and the middle class must unite to contribute the bricks wherewith to build the new Reich.

The National Government will therefore regard it as the first and supreme task to restore to the German people unity of mind and will …

We, men of this Government, feel responsible to German history for the reconstitution of a proper national body so that we may finally overcome the insanity of class and class warfare. We do not recognise classes, but only the German people, its millions of farmers, citizens and workers who together will either overcome this time of distress or succumb to it.

(from Nazism:1919-1945 Vol I ,J Noakes and G Pridham (Eds), University of Exeter, 1983)


Source C


Goering on 2 March 1933
My main task will be to stamp out the Communist pestilence. I am going over to the offensive all down the line … The Communists never expected 2,000 of their top swindlers to be sitting under lock and key just 48 hours later … I don’t need the fire in the Reichstag to take action against Communism, and it’s no secret either that if it had been up to Hitler and me the culprits would already be swinging from the gallows.

(The Hitler State, Martin Broszat, Longman, 1981)
Source D

A Nazi theorist explains that Hitler’s dictatorship is not ‘legal’.


The office of Fuhrer has developed out of the National Socialist movement. In its origins it is not a state office. The office of Fuhrer has grown out of the movement into the Reich … The position of Fuhrer combines in itself all sovereign power of the Reich: all public power in the state as in the movement is derived from the Fuhrer’s power …’Fuhrer power’ is comprehensive and total: it unites within itself all means of creative political activity: it embraces all spheres of national life.

(from Politics and Economics in the Nazi State, 1933-45, G Layton, Hodder and Stoughton 1992)

Source E

Vice Chancellor von Papen on Hitler’s rule in November 1933.



We, your nearest and most intimate colleagues, are still spellbound by the unparalleled, most overwhelming recognition, a nation has ever rendered its leader. In nine months the genius of your leadership and the ideals which you newly placed before us have succeeded in creating, from a people internally torn and without hope, a Reich united in hope and faith in its future. Even those who hitherto stood apart have now unequivocally professed their loyalty to you …

(from National Socialist Rule in Germany, Norbert Frei, Blackwall, 1993)

Source F

A contemporary on the responsibility for the Night of the Long Knives in June 1934.



The suppression of the Rohm revolt has been like a purifying thunderstorm. The nightmare which has burdened the people has been followed by a liberating sign of relief … Wide sections of the population, however, have been deeply shocked by the shooting of persons completely unconnected with the Rohm revolt. It is realised that these were excesses, which took place without the knowledge and against the will of the Fuehrer and leading figures.

(from National Socialist Rule in Germany, Norbert Frei, Blackwall, 1993)

Source G


Albert Speer on Hitler’s lifestyle in the 1930s.
When, I would often ask myself, did he really work ? Little was left of the day; he rose late in the morning, conducted one or two official conferences; but from the subsequent dinner on he more or less wasted his time until the early hours of the evening. His rare appointments in the late afternoon were imperilled by his passion for looking at building plans. The adjutants often asked me: ‘please don’t show any plans today’… In the eyes of the people Hitler was the Leader who watched over the nation day and night. This was hardly so … According to my observations, he often allowed a problem to mature during the weeks when he seemed to be entirely taken up with trivial matters. Then after the ‘sudden insight’, he would spend a few days of incisive work giving final shape to his solution … Once he had come to a decision, he lapsed again into his idleness.

(from Hitler and Nazism, Jane Jenkins, Longman, 1998)

Source H

Hitler speaks to Party officials on 29 April 1937.



It is always hard if someone says, ‘only one person can command; one commands and the rest must obey’ … In a genuine Fuhrer State, it is now, let’s say, the honour of him who leads that he also assumes responsibility … Today the people are happier in Germany than anywhere else in the world. They only become uncertain if there is no leadership … I saw the madness of the belief that the ordinary man does not want any leadership in the first place, I saw this never more starkly than during the war. If a company is faced with a critical situation, the company only has one wish, that it has a decent company commander, and then it will rely on him.

(from National Socialist Rule in Germany, Norbert Frei, Blackwall, 1993)

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