Adolf Hitler: Proclamation to the German People


Explanation and Analysis of the Document

Hitler opens his proclamation by reminding his radio listeners of the Treaty of Versailles, which ended World War I. He does not mention the treaty by name, but he knows that every German will recognize his reference to “that ill-fated day when, blinded by promises at home and abroad, the German Volk lost sight of the most valuable assets of our past and of our Reich, its honor and its freedom.” He deliberately uses two words that resonate with Germans: Volk and Reich. Volk would normally be translated simply as “people,” yet the word tapped into a more elemental sense of the German people as a race apart, defined by their industry, achievements, traditions, and history. Reich is often translated as “kingdom,” but of course Germany was not a monarchy, so the word carried implications more of “empire.” It was this longing for empire—for Lebensraum, or “living space”—in central and western Europe that would lead to World War II. He...

Image for: Adolf Hitler: Proclamation to the German People

Adolf Hitler (Library of Congress)

View Full Size