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Hitler’s First Major Statement on Anti-Semitism: Reply to Adolf Gemlich (September 16, 1919)

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He destroys the character of the prince with byzantine flattery, and national pride, which is the strength of a nation, with mockery and shameless training in vice. His weapon is that public opinion which is never given utterance by the press, but is always led by it and falsified by it. His power is the power of money which in the form of interest effortlessly and interminably multiplies itself in his hands and forces upon nations that most dangerous of yokes, the sad consequences of which are so difficult to perceive because of the initial gleam of gold. Everything which makes men strive for higher things, whether religion, socialism or democracy, is for him only a means to an end, to the satisfaction of a lust for money and domination. His activities produce a racial tuberculosis among nations.

And this has the following result: Antisemitism stemming from purely emotive reasons will always find its expression in the form of progroms [sic]. But antisemitism based on reason must lead to the systematic legal combating and removal of the rights of the Jew, which he alone of the foreigners living among us possesses (legislation to make them aliens). Its final aim, however, must be the uncompromising removal of the Jews altogether. Both are possible only under a government of national strength, never under a government of national impotence.

The Republic in Germany owes its birth not to the united national will of our people but to the cunning exploitation of a series of circumstances which combined to produce a deep general discontent. But these circumstances were independent of the form of the State, and are still active today; more active, indeed, today than before. And a large section of our people is aware that no mere change in the form of the State as such can alter or improve our position, but only the rebirth of the moral and spiritual energies of the nation.

This rebirth will be set in motion not by the political leadership of irresponsible majorities under the influence of party dogmas or of an irresponsible press, nor by catchwords and slogans of international coinage, but only through the ruthless action of personalities with a capacity for national leadership and an inner sense of responsibility.

But this fact robs the Republic of the internal support of the spiritual forces of the nation which are so necessary. And so the present leaders of the State are compelled to seek support from those who alone benefited from the changed situation in Germany and do so now, and who for this reason have been the driving forces of the revolution, namely, the Jews. Taking no account of the Jewish peril, which has certainly been recognized by present-day leaders—proof of this is the various statements of present leading figures—they are compelled to accept the support readily offered by the Jews for their own benefit, and therefore to pay the required price. And this price consists not only in giving the Jews every possible encouragement, but above all in hampering the struggle of the duped nation against their brother Jews—in the neutralizing of the antisemitic movement.

Source of English translation: Jeremy Noakes and Geoffrey Pridham, eds., Nazism 1919-1945, Vol. 1, The Rise to Power 1919-1934. Exeter: University of Exeter Press, 1998, pp. 12-14.

Source of original German text: “Hitler an Gemlich. München, 16. September 1919, ” HStA München. Abt. II. Gruppen Kdo. 4. Bd. 50/8. Abschrift; reprinted in Ernst Deuerlein, “Hitlers Eintritt in die Politik und die Reichswehr,” Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte, 7. Jahrgang, 2.

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