Background: August Eigruber was Gauleiter of Oberdonau (Upper Danube), a region of Austria, from 1939-1945. He was tried after World War II for crimes against humanity, convicted, and hanged on 28 May 1947. This speech was given on 24 June 1941, two days after the invasion of the Soviet Union, to a meeting of railroad workers in Linz. The propaganda expectation was that the war against Russia would end soon, after which Germany could turn its full force against England.
The source: Ein Gau wächst ins Reich. Das Werden Oberdonaus im Spiegel der Reden des Gauleiters August Eigruber (Wels: Verlag Leitner & Co, 1942), 121-129.
Speech on the Invasion of the Soviet Union
The German people were certainly surprised early Sunday morning by the Führer’s proclamation and the special announcements over the radio about the beginning of military operations against the Soviet Union. Given the nature of things, it was not possible to keep the German people informed of the various things going on behind the scenes and the dirty game of those in power in Moscow, which had long been known to officials in the government. Sunday’s events, however, did not surprise us old National Socialists; it only brought about a situation with which we are familiar. It repeats the domestic battle that took place before the seizure of power in 1933. We all know our present opponent from the time in which we fought for state power. The liberal-capitalist parties with their moneybags were on one side, Bolshevism in its various forms on the other. We overcame these forces in domestic battle not because we began the battle with better resources, but rather because we had something better to offer. These same forces are now leading the battle against the Reich from outside.
Step by step, we destroyed the bourgeois and Bolshevist world by fulfilling our program. The means was the idea of a people’s economy, turning away from the idolization of making money. Some may ask: “Why this war?” The answer: “Because the capitalists in the plutocratic states want to continue to earn money from us as they did under the earlier systems. Back then we hard to work for them to pay the capitalists the interest on what they had “loaned” us, interest that was usually around 12%. In Austria we had to provide security; the railroad was pledged, the tolls, the tobacco trade, the salt monopoly, etc. National Socialism put an end to this interest slavery.
The capitalist world, however, could not bear the fact that they no longer made money from us. That is why they declared war on us. It is not a battle of worldviews on the side of the democracies, merely a war about dividends and interest. Already today, millions of Europeans are no longer working for international capital, but rather only for their own people.
National Socialism has never interfered in the internal affairs of other states or forced its views on them. National Socialism is not for export, but rather exclusively a form of community life specific to the German people, and the one most beneficial for it. Our economy, guided by the Führer’s idea, guarantees us food and independence. In contrast, the so-called democracies, the supposed shepherds of freedom, have always tried to restrict Germany’s development. Any attempt on Germany’s part at self-reliance, at finding its best form of life, was a thorn in their eye. In 1939 the Western Powers openly declared that they could not tolerate National Socialism in Germany, rearmament, or that the German economy should serve the needs of the German people. Leaving the gold standard, they said, was a crime. That is why they declared war on us.
We signed the treaty with Soviet Russia in August 1939. We said then that the German-Soviet pact was only a political instrument that had nothing to do with the worldviews of the two signatory peoples. It was clear that National Socialism would not be promoted in Russia, nor Communism in Germany. The peoples themselves, with their own tested worldviews should be brought closer together. Wealth should increase. We were to help the Russians with our own unique industry, with finished products, they would provide us with raw materials and foodstuffs, of which they had more than enough.
There were honorable grounds on our side. First, we were assured of a secure border to the east. The advantages of this were clear during the Western Campaign. Second, nothing divides us from the Russian people. We want to live in peace with this people, and we thought this was easily possible. Third, we hoped to build a dam against Bolshevism in Europe. Under the treaty it had to stop Bolshevist propaganda for world revolution, which would have meant a gradual retreat of Bolshevism to domestic Russian matters, to the concerns of its own people. Our hope was reasonable, since Stalin had repeatedly assured the Reich Foreign Minister that Bolshevist propaganda in Europe would cease.
For a while it seemed as if the Bolshevists would adhere to the pact. For some months, however we could see with growing certainty that the Soviets had entirely different reasons for signing the treaty. First, they knew that we would deal quickly with Poland and hoped to gain territory to Germany’s cost (Poland, the Baltic, Finland, etc.) without risk. Second, they thought that Germany and the Western Powers would exhaust themselves in years of trench warfare, that unrest would break out in the homeland as it had during the World War, that economic crisis would result. Then the Bolshevists would bring the slogans of world revolution to the masses and prepare bloody turmoil. The Führer honorably hoped that Stalin and his men would follow the treaty. He even made concessions and gave them territory that had not originally been intended. However, he saw clear evidence of their intent. There were no more concessions. He acted with decisive strength to frustrate all Bolshevism’s plans! The Red rulers in the Kremlin had been carrying out their plans in covert ways for quite a while. cooperating with the plutocratic powers. Churchill admitted this cooperation with the Soviets in his speech two days ago. He said that he had repeatedly exchanged opinions with Stalin. In violation of their treaty obligations, the Bolshevists were strongly promoting their plans for world revolution in Europe.
This was seen in the areas occupied by Germany. In the Protectorate, for example, Czechs were beginning once more to see Stalin as the future liberator of the Slavs. The results of communist agitation in Holland were clear, also in Belgium and Norway. Bolshevist activity was seen most clearly in Yugoslavia. Moscow had a hand in the overthrow of Zwetkowitsch’s Axis-friendly government, Moscow pledged the Putschist government wide-ranging assistance and promised war material through Saloniki. And finally, the Soviet Union signed a treaty of friendship with the Belgrade government that was hostile to Germany just a few hours before the outbreak of the Balkan campaign. This was the clearest evidence of the plans of the Bolshevist rulers to widen and lengthen the war to prepare the ground for the idea of world revolution. Today we know that there were secret agreements between Moscow and the powers opposing Germany in which the Soviet Union was to force Germany to keep strong military forces in the East of the Reich, hindering the use of Germany’s full forces against England.
That is how Stalin and his people betrayed us. They gained huge territory from Poland without having to fight for it. They waged war on Poland for six months with their 160 million people against a country with 3.2 million people. They finally accepted German mediation and gained more land. In their insatiability they took over Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania without asking Germany, then occupied Bessarabia and Bukovina. While we were in the middle of critical battles they wanted to extend their reach to Bulgaria, Rumania, and Turkey, taking hold of the Southeast. Stalin now thought that we would wait for his attack. 160 divisions were preparing to attack us in the East when Stalin thought the time was ripe. Since Sunday, however, our weapons are having the say! The Führer acted before their attack and picked the right season from our point of view. No one needs to worry about the outcome of the war in the East. We believe absolutely that the Führer picked the right moment, we believe absolutely in the superiority of our weapons, of our battled-tested soldiers!
Germany now faces the world danger of Bolshevism. Moscow wanted to make a treacherous stab in the back of all of Europe, forcing upon it a bloodthirsty and evil regime that would destroy Occidental civilization, plunging first our part of the world and then the whole planet into vast and hopeless misery. The Jewish ruling class would have everything in its hands at the cost of the broad masses. We reject the Bolshevist concept of the masses, seeing the people’s comrade at a part of and contributor to the community. Bolshevism demands the average, National Socialism rewards achievement. Bolshevism is Asiatic, National Socialism is European. The two worldviews are like fire and water. We do not fear that Bolshevism will inspire or workers with its idea. The socialist people’s state that we have built in recent years can stand any comparison with what the Bolshevist system has accomplished in 22 years in Soviet Russia. The best witnesses of that are those from here who went in 1934 as comrades to the presumed Soviet paradise and have returned healed today. Another example of Moscow’s true face is Red Spain’s soldiers. 6,000 of them fell into our hands in France. Franco would not accept them back because they had fought against Spain. Stalin, too, refused these 6,000 men, even though they had been urged on in their bloody battle by Soviet agitation. They are thus condemned to life in German camps far from home. That is how the “solidarity of the proletariat” looks in practice! Many Reds went to the Soviet Union; they ended up in Siberia or vanished without trace. That is Asia!
We have no territorial demands on Russia in this war, but it is necessary to defeat this enemy. If there is to be war, then let it be a total war against everyone who is waiting to stick a knife in our back. Eliminating the Bolshevist threat in the East is necessary to free all our forces for the final blow against England. This battle, too, is aimed directly against England and will not delay the end of the war, but rather speed it up. We at home will work for victory. We will show that Bolshevism can do nothing against our unity, that any such attempt will be defended against by the whole people, that we stand together against this treacherous betrayal!
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