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Hitler’s Confidential Memo on Autarky (August 1936)

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Germany will, as always, have to be regarded as the focal point of the Western world in face of the Bolshevist attacks. I do not regard this as an agreeable mission but rather as a handicap and encumbrance upon our national life regrettably resulting from our position in Europe. We cannot, however, escape this destiny.

Our political situation results from the following:

Europe has at present only two States which can be regarded as standing firm in the face of Bolshevism: Germany and Italy. The other countries are either disintegrated through their democratic form of life, infected by Marxism, and thus likely themselves to collapse in the foreseeable future, or ruled by authoritarian Governments whose sole strength lies in their military means of power; this means, however, that, being obliged to secure the existence of their leadership in face of their own peoples by means of the armed hand of the Executive, they are unable to direct this armed hand outwards for the preservation of their States. All these countries would be incapable of ever conducting a war against Soviet Russia with any prospects of success. In any case, apart from Germany and Italy, only Japan can be regarded as a Power standing firm in the face of the world peril.

It is not the aim of this memorandum to prophesy the time when the untenable situation in Europe will become an open crisis. I only want, in these lines, to set down my conviction that this crisis cannot and will not fail to arrive and that it is Germany’s duty to secure her own existence by every means in the face of this catastrophe, and to protect herself against it, and that from this compulsion there arises a series of conclusions relating to the most important tasks that our people have ever been set. For a victory of Bolshevism over Germany would not lead to a Versailles Treaty but to the final destruction, indeed to the annihilation of the German people.

The extent of such a catastrophe cannot be foreseen. How, indeed, would the whole of densely populated Western Europe (including Germany), after a collapse into Bolshevism [nach einem bolschewistischen Zusammenbruch], live through probably the most gruesome catastrophe for the peoples which has been visited on mankind since the downfall of the States of antiquity. In face of the necessity of defence against this danger, all other considerations must recede into the background as being completely irrelevant.

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