Posts Tagged ‘World War I’

The Battles of the Isonzo, 1915-17

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

The battles of the Isonzo were so-named because they were fought along the Isonzo River on the eastern sector of the Italian Front between June 1915 and November 1917.

The Isonzo is located today in present-day Slovenia.  During the First World War however the sixty-mile long river ran north-south just inside Austria along its border with Italy at the head of the Adriatic Sea and then (as now) was flanked by mountains on either side.

Primary Sector for Italian Operations

The only practical area for Italian military operations during the war (the rest of the mountainous 400-mile length of the Front being almost everywhere dominated by Austro-Hungarian forces), the Austrians had taken due care to fortify the mountains ahead of the Italians’ long-expected entry into the war on 23 May 1915.

Italian Chief of Staff Luigi Cadorna judged that Italian gains (from Gorizia to Trieste) were most feasible at the coastal plain east of the lower end of the Isonzo.  However he also believed that the Italian army could strike further north and bypass the mountains either side of the river so as to come at the Austro-Hungarians in the rear.

Inherent Difficulties of the Isonzo

Not that he expected operations in the Isonzo sector to be easy.  He was well aware that the river was prone to flooding – and indeed there were record rain-falls during 1914-18.

Further, when attacking further north the Italian army was faced with something of a dilemma: in order to safely cross the Isonzo they needed to knock out the Austro-Hungarian defenders looking on from the mountains above; yet to neutralise these same forces they needed first to cross the river – an obstacle that the Italians never succeeded in satisfying.

In the south (along the coastal zone) geographic peculiarities, including a collection of ridges and valleys, conspired additionally to work to the Austro-Hungarian defenders’ advantage.

Huge Casualties

Despite the huge effort and resources poured into the continuing Isonzo struggle the results were invariably disappointing and without real tactical merit, particularly given the geographic difficulties that were inherent in the campaign.  The sector was chosen chiefly because it offered a greater prospect of Italian territorial gain.

Cumulative casualties of the numerous battles of the Isonzo were enormous.  Half of the entire Italian war casualty total – some 300,000 of 600,000 – were suffered along the Isonzo.  Austro-Hungarian losses, while by no means as numerous were nevertheless high at around 200,000 (of an overall total of around 1.2 million casualties).

10, 11 or 12 Battles?

It is a matter of debate as to just how many battles comprised the Isonzo.  Undeniably innumerable one battle often appeared to merge into another.  Some historians have assigned distinct names to a couple of the Isonzo struggles, most notably at Caporetto in October 1917, which would otherwise form the Twelfth Battle of the Isonzo.

This website lists Caporetto as both a standalone battle and as the final battle of the Isonzo; thus the twelve battles are listed below.  Details of each are available by selecting the appropriate link.

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Speech of German Chancellor Theobald von Bethmann-Hollweg to the Reichstag, 1914

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Where the responsibility in this greatest of all wars lies is quite evident to us.

Outwardly responsible are the men in Russia who planned and carried into effect the general mobilization of the Russian army.

But in reality and truth the British Government is responsible.

The London Cabinet could have made war impossible if they had unequivocally told Petersburg that England was not willing to let a continental war of the Great Powers result from the Austro-Hungarian conflict with Serbia.

Such words would have compelled France to use all her energy to keep Russia away from every warlike measure.

Then our good offices and mediation between Vienna and Petersburg would have been successful, and there would have been no war!

But England has chosen to act otherwise.  She knew that the clique of powerful and partly irresponsible men surrounding the Czar were spoiling for war and intriguing to bring it about.

England saw that the wheel was set a-rolling, but she did not think of stopping it.  While openly professing sentiments of peace, London secretly gave St. Petersburg to understand that England stood by France and therefore by Russia too.

This has been clearly and irrefutably shown by the official publications which in the meantime have come out, more particularly by the Blue Book edited by the British Government.

Then St. Petersburg could no longer be restrained.  In proof of this we possess the testimony of the Belgian Charge d’Affaires at St. Petersburg, a witness who is surely beyond every suspicion.

He reported (you know his words, but I will repeat them now), he reported to his Government on July 30th that:

England commenced by making it understood that she would not let herself be drawn into a conflict.  Sir George Buchanan said this openly.  To-day, however, everybody in St. Petersburg is quite convinced – one has actually received the assurance – that England will stand by France.

This support is of enormous weight and has contributed largely toward giving the war-party the upper hand.

Up to this summer English statesmen have assured their Parliament that no treaty or agreement existed influencing England’s independence of action, should a war break out, England was free to decide whether she would participate in a European war or not.

Hence, there was no treaty obligation, no compulsion, no menace of the homeland which induced the English statesmen to originate the war and then at once to take part in it.

The only conclusion left is that the London Cabinet allowed this European war, this monstrous world war, because they thought it was an opportune moment with the aid of England’s political confederates, to destroy the vital nerve of her greatest European competitors in the markets of the world.

Therefore, England, together with Russia (I have spoken about Russia on the 4th of August), is answerable before God and man for this catastrophe which has come over Europe and over mankind.

The Belgian neutrality which England pretended she was bound to shield, is but a mask.

On the 2nd of August, 7 p.m., we informed Brussels that France’s plan of campaign was known to us and that it compelled us, for reasons of self-preservation, to march through Belgium, but as early as the afternoon of the same day, August 2nd, that is to say, before anything was known and could be known of this step, the British Government promised unconditional aid to France in case the German navy attacked the French coastline.

Not a word was said of Belgian neutrality.  This fact is established by the declaration made by Sir Edward Grey in the House of Commons on the 3rd of August.

The declaration was communicated to me on August 4th, but not in full, because of the difficulties experienced at that time in the transmission of telegrams.  Besides the very Blue Book issued by the British Government confirms that fact.

How, then, can England allege that she drew the sword because we violated Belgian neutrality?  How could British statesmen, who accurately knew the past, talk at all of Belgian neutrality?

When on the 4th of August I referred to the wrong which we were doing in marching through Belgium, it was not yet known for certain whether the Brussels Government in the hour of need would not decide after all to spare the country and to retire to Antwerp under protest.

You remember that, after the occupation of Liege, at the request of our army leaders, I repeated the offer to the Belgian Government.

For military reasons it was absolutely imperative that at the time, about the 4th of August, the possibility for such a development was being kept open.  Even then the guilt of the Belgian Government was apparent from many a sign, although I had not yet any positive documentary proofs at my disposal.

But the English statesmen were perfectly familiar with these proofs.  The documents which in the meantime have been found in Brussels, and which have been given publicity by me, prove and establish in what way and to what degree Belgium has surrendered her neutrality to England.

The whole world is now acquainted with two outstanding facts:

(1) In the night from the 3rd to the 4th of August, when our troops entered Belgian territory, they were not on neutral soil, but on the soil of a state that had long abandoned its neutrality.

(2) England has declared war on us, not for the sake of Belgian neutrality, which she herself had helped to undermine, but because she believed that she could overcome and master us with the help of two great military powers on the Continent.

Ever since the 2nd of August when England promised to back up the French in this war, she was no longer neutral, but actually in a state of war with us.  On the 4th of August she declared war, the alleged reason being our violation of Belgian neutrality.

But that was only a sham motive and a spectacular scene intended to conceal the true war motive and thus to mislead both the English people and foreign neutral countries.

The military plans which England and Belgium had worked out to the minutest details now being unveiled, the policy of English statesmen is branded for all times of history to come.  But English diplomacy still added to this.  At its call, Japan snatched from us Kiautschau, so bravely defended, and thus violated Chinese neutrality.

Has England interfered with that breach of neutrality?  Has she shown in this instance her scrupulous anxiety about the neutral states?

When, in 1910, I became Chancellor, the Triple Alliance had to reckon with a solid counter-combination of Powers.  England had created the Triple Entente and knitted it firmly for the purpose of maintaining the “balance of power.”

For centuries it had been a fundamental tenet of British policy to turn against that Continental Power which was strongest, and this principle was to find its most efficient instrument in the Triple Entente.

Thus, whilst the Triple Alliance was of a strictly defensive character, the nature of the Triple Entente was offensive from the beginning.  In this lay all the elements of a terrific explosion.

A nation as great and efficient as the Germans are does not allow its free and pacific development to be thwarted.  In the face of this aggressive combination the course of German policy was clear.  We had to try to come to a separate understanding with each member of the Triple Entente in order to dispel the clouds of war, and at the same time we had to increase our armaments so as to be ready if war actually broke out.

Gentlemen, you know that we have done both.  In France we encountered, again and again, sentiments of revenge.  These sentiments being fed and fostered by ambitious politicians proved stronger than the wish, undoubtedly cherished by a part of the French people, to live with us, as neighbours should, on friendly terms.

We made, indeed, some specific agreements with Russia, but her close alliance with France, her opposition to our Austro-Hungarian ally and an anti-German feeling, born and bred of the Panslavistic craving for power, made agreements impossible which would have averted all dangers of war in the case of a political crisis.

Freer than France and Russia was England.  I have already reminded you how British statesmen in parliament, again and again, proudly affirmed Great Britain’s absolutely unrestricted right to steer her own course.  The attempt to come to an understanding, which would have safeguarded the peace of the world, was easiest to make with England.

On these lines I had to act and I did act.  I well knew that it was a narrow road, not easy to tread.  In the course of centuries, the English insular way of thinking had evolved the political maxim that England had a right to an “arbitrium mundi,” which she could only uphold by an unrivalled supremacy on sea and by the maintenance of the balance of power on the Continent.  I never had any hopes that my persuasion could break that old English maxim.

What I did hope and thought possible was that the growth of German power and the increase of the risks of a war might open England’s eyes to the fact that her old-fashioned maxim had become untenable and impracticable, and that an amicable settlement with Germany was preferable.

But that old doctrine of hers more than once stood in the way of a peaceful understanding.  The crisis of 1911 gave a new impetus to the negotiations.  The English people suddenly realized that they had stood at the brink of a European war.

Popular sentiment forced the British Government to a rapprochement with Germany.  After long and arduous negotiations we finally arrived at an understanding on various disputed questions of an economic character, regarding Africa and Asia Minor.  This understanding was to lessen every possible political friction.  The world is wide.  There is room enough for both nations to measure their strength in peaceful rivalry as long as our national strength is allowed free scope for development.

German policy always stood up for that principle.  But during the negotiations England was indefatigable in her endeavours to enter into ever closer relations with France and Russia.  The decisive point was that beyond the political sphere of action one military agreement after the other was made in view of a possible continental war.

England kept these negotiations as secret as possible.  When something about them would percolate, it was declared, both in the press and in Parliament, to be perfectly harmless.  But things could not be concealed, as you know from the official papers that were published by me.

The general situation was this: England was indeed ready to come to an understanding on single items, but the first and foremost principle of her policy was the “balance of power” as a means of checking German strength in its free development.

This forms the border-line of England’s amicable relations with Germany; and the purpose was the utmost strengthening of the Triple Entente.  When the Allies demanded military assurances in return, England was at once ready to give them.  The circle was closed.  The English were sure of the following of France and hence of Russia.

But they, too, had to abandon their free-will.  As the jingoes of France and Russia found their strongest support in the military accommodation promised by her, England, as soon as either of the two Allies began the war, was morally bound to support them.

And all this was done to what purpose?  Because Germany was to be kept down.  We have not been remiss in warning the British Government.  As late as the beginning of last July I gave them to understand that their secret negotiations with Russia about a naval agreement were well known to me.  I called their attention to the grave danger which such policy implied for the peace of the world.  As soon as a fortnight afterward my predictions came true.

We have taken the consequences of the general situation.  In quick succession I have laid before you the hugest war bill which history ever recorded, and you, gentlemen, fully recognizing the country’s danger, have gladly made the sacrifice and have granted what was necessary for our national self-defence.

And when war broke out, England dropped the mask of hypocrisy.  Loudly and openly she declares her determination to fight until Germany is laid prostrate both in an economic and military sense.  Anti-German Panslavism joins its jubilant notes, France with the full strength of an old warlike nation hopes to redeem the humiliation inflicted on her in 1870.

Our only answer to our enemies is Germany does not allow herself to be crushed!

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Hitler Speaks in Munich SPEECH OF APRIL 13, 1923

Monday, May 21st, 2012

 

IN OUR view, the times when there was no ‘League of Nations‘ were far more honorable and more humane.. .. We ask: ‘Must there be wars?’ The pacifist answers ‘No!’ He proceeds to explain that disputes in the life of peoples are only the expression of the fact that a class has been oppressed by the ruling bourgeoisie. When there are in fact differences of opinion between peoples, then these should be brought before a ‘Peace Court’ for its decision. But he does not answer the question whether the judges of this court of arbitration would have the power to bring the parties before the bar of the court. I believe that an accused ordinarily only appears ‘voluntarily’ before a court because, if he did not, he would be fetched there.

I should like to see the nation which would allow itself to be brought before this League of Nations Court in the case of a disagreement without external force. In the life of nations, what in the last resort decides questions is a kind of Judgment Court of God. It may even happen that in case of a dispute between two peoples – both may be in the right. Thus Austria, a people of fifty millions, had most certainly the right to an outlet to the sea. But since in the strip of territory in question the Italian element of the population was in the majority, Italy claimed for herself the ‘right of self-determination.’ Who yields voluntarily? No one! So the strength which each people possesses decides the day. ALWAYS BEFORE GOD AND THE WORLD THE STRONGER HAS THE RIGHT TO CARRY THROUGH WHAT HE WILLS.

History proves: He who has not the strength – him the ‘right in itself’ profits not a whit. A world court without a world police would be a joke. And from what nations of the present League of Nations would then this force be recruited? Perhaps from the ranks of the old German Army? THE WHOLE WORLD OF NATURE IS A MIGHTY STRUGGLE BETWEEN STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS – AN ETERNAL VICTORY OF THE STRONG OVER THE WEAK. There would be nothing but decay in the whole of Nature if this were not so. States which should offend against the elementary law would fall into decay. You need not seek for long to find an example of such mortal decay: you can see it in the Reich of today….

. . . Before the war two States, Germany and France, had to live side by side but only under arms. It is true that the War of 1870-1 meant for Germany the close of an enmity which had endured for centuries, but in France a passionate hatred against Germany was fostered by every means by propaganda in the press, in school textbooks, in theaters, in the cinemas. . . . All the Jewish papers throughout France agitated against Berlin. Here again to seek and to exploit grounds for a conflict is the clearly recognizable effort of world Jewry.

The conflict of interests between Germany and England lay in the economic sphere. Up till 1850 England’s position as a World Power was undisputed. British engineers, British trade conquer the world. Germany, owing to greater industry and increased capacity, begins to be a dangerous rival. In a short time those firms which in Germany were in English hands pass into the possession of German industrialists. German industry expands vastly and the products of that industry even in the London market drive out British goods.

The protective measure, the stamp ‘Made in Germany,’ has the opposite effect from that desired: this ‘protective stamp’ becomes a highly effective advertisement. The German economic success was not created in Essen alone but by a man who knew that behind economics must stand power, for power alone makes an economic position secure. This power was born upon the battlefields of 1870-71, not in the atmosphere of parliamentary chatter. Forty thousand dead have rendered possible the life of forty millions. When England, in the face of such a Germany as this, threatened to be brought to her knees, then she bethought herself of the last weapon in the armory of international rivalry – violence. A press propaganda on an imposing scale was started as a preparatory measure.

But who is the chief of the whole British press concerned with world trade? One name crystallizes itself out of the rest: Northcliffe – a Jew! . . . A campaign of provocation is carried on with assertions, libels, and promises such as only a Jew can devise, such as only Jewish newspapers would have the effrontery to put before an Aryan people. And then at last 1914: they egg people on: ‘Ah, poor violated Belgium! Up! To the rescue of the small nations – for the honor of humanity!’ The same lies, the same provocation throughout the entire world! And the success of that provocation the German people can trace grievously enough!

WHAT CAUSE FINALLY HAD AMERICA TO ENTER THE WAR AGAINST GERMANY? WITH THE OUTBREAK OF THE WORLD WAR, WHICH JUDAH HAD DESIRED SO PASSIONATELY AND SO LONG, ALL THE LARGE

JEWISH FIRMS OF THE UNITED STATES BEGAN SUPPLYING AMMUNITIONS. They supplied the European ‘war-market’ to an extent which perhaps even they themselves had never dreamed of – a gigantic harvest! Yet nothing satisfied the insatiable greed of the Jew. And so the venal press which depended upon the Stock Exchange kings began an unparalleled propaganda campaign. A GIGANTIC ORGANIZATION FOR NEWSPAPER LYING WAS BUILT UP. AND ONCE MORE IT IS A JEWISH CONCERN, THE HEARST PRESS, WHICH SET THE TONE OF THE AGITATION AGAINST GERMANY.

The hatred of these ‘Americans’ was not directed solely against commercial Germany or against military Germany. It was directed specially against social Germany, because this Germany had up to that time kept itself outside of the principles which governed the world trusts. The old Reich had at least made an honorable attempt to be socially-minded. We had to show for ourselves such an initiative in social institutions as no other country in the wide world could boast. . . . This explains why, even in Germany itself, the ‘comrades’ under Jewish leadership fought against their own vital interests. This explains the agitation carried on throughout the world under the same watchword.

For this reason the Jewish-democratic press of America had to accomplish its masterpiece – that is to say, it had to drive into the most horrible of all wars a great peace-loving people which was as little concerned in European struggles as it was in the North Pole: America was to intervene ‘in defense of civilization,’ and the Americans were persuaded so to do by an atrocity propaganda conducted in the name of civilization which from A to Z was a scandalous invention the like of which has never yet been seen – a farrago of lies and forgeries. Because this last State in the world where social aims were being realized had to be destroyed, therefore twenty-six peoples were incited one against the other by this press which is exclusively in the possession of one and the same world people, of one and the same race, and that race on principle the deadly foe of all national States.

Who could have prevented the World War? Not the Kul- tursolidarität, the ‘solidarity of civilization,’ in whose name the Jews carried on their propaganda: not the so-called World Pacifism – again an exclusively Jewish invention. Could the so-called ‘Solidarity of the Proletariat?’ . . . All the wheels stand silent, still, If that be your strong arm’s will…. The German wheel on November 9, 1918, was indeed brought to a standstill. The Social Democratic party in its principal organ, Vorwärts, declared in so many words that it was not in the interest of the workers that Germany should win the war. . .

Could the Freemasons perhaps stop the war? – this most noble of philanthropic institutions who foretold the good fortune of the people louder than anyone and who at the same time was the principal leader in promoting the war. Who, after all, are the Freemasons? You have to distinguish two grades. To the lower grade in Germany belong the ordinary citizens who through the claptrap which is served up to them can feel themselves to be ‘somebodies,’ but the responsible authorities are those many-sided folk who can stand any climate, those 300 Rathenaus who all know each other, who guide the history of the world over the heads of Kings and Presidents, those who will undertake any office without scruples, who know how brutally to enslave all peoples – once more the Jews!

Why have the Jews been against Germany? That is made quite clear today – proved by countless facts. They use the age-old tactics of the hyena – when fighters are tired out, then go for them! Then make your harvest! In war and revolutions the Jew attained the unattainable. Hundreds of thousands of escaped Orientals become modern ‘Europeans.’ Times of unrest produce miracles. Before 1914 how long would it have taken, for instance, in Bavaria before a Galician Jew became – Prime Minister? – Or in Russia before an anarchist from the New York Ghetto, Bronstein (Trotsky), became – Dictator? Only a few wars and revolutions – that was enough to put the Jewish people into possession of the red gold and thereby to make them masters of the world.

Before 1914 there were two States above all, Germany and Russia, which prevented the Jew from reaching his goal – the mastery of the world. Here not everything which they already possessed in the Western democracies had fallen to the Jews. Here they were not the sole lords alike in the intellectual and economic life. Here, too, the Parliaments were not yet exclusively instruments of Jewish capital and of the will of the Jew. The German and the genuine Russian had still preserved a certain aloofness from the Jew. In both peoples there still lived the healthy instinct of scorn for the Jew, and there was a real danger that in these monarchies there might one day arise a Frederick the Great, a William I, and that democracy and a parliamentary regime might be sent to the devil.

So the Jews became revolutionaries! The Republic should bring them to wealth and to power. This aim they disguised: they cried ‘Down with the monarchies!’ ‘Enthrone the sovereign people!’ I do not know whether today one could venture to call the German or the Russian people ‘sovereign.’ At least one cannot see any trace of it! What the German people can trace, however, what every day stands in the most crass form before its eyes, is debauchery, gluttony, speculation ruling unchecked, the open mockery of the Jew….

So Russia and Germany had to be overthrown in order that the ancient prophecy might be fulfilled. So the whole world was lashed into fury. So every lie and propaganda agency was brutally set in action against the State of the last – the German – idealists! AND THUS IT WAS THAT JUDAH WON THE WORLD WAR. OR WOULD YOU WISH TO MAINTAIN THAT THE FRENCH, THE ENGLISH, OR THE AMERICAN ‘PEOPLE’ WON THE WAR? THEY, ONE AND ALL, VICTORS AND VANQUISHED ARE ALIKE DEFEATED: one thing raises itself above them all: the World Stock Exchange which has become the master of the people.

WHAT GUILT HAD GERMANY HERSELF FOR THE OUTBREAK OF THE WAR? HER GUILT CONSISTED IN THIS: THAT AT THE MOMENT WHEN THE RING CLOSED ABOUT HER EXISTENCE GERMANY NEGLECTED TO ORGANIZE HER DEFENSE WITH SUCH VIGOR THAT THROUGH THIS DEMONSTRATION OF HER POWER EITHER THE OTHERS, DESPITE THEIR ABOMINABLE PURPOSES, WOULD HAVE BEEN ROBBED OF THEIR WILL TO STRIKE, OR ELSE THE VICTORY OF THE REICH WOULD HAVE BEEN ASSURED.

The guilt of the German people lies in this: that when in 1912 a criminal Reichstag in its unfathomable baseness and folly had refused to allow the raising of three army corps the people did not create for itself those army corps in the Reichstag’s despite. With these additional 120,000 men the Battle of the Marne would have been won and the issue of the war decided. Two million fewer German heroes would have sunk into their graves. Who was it who in 1912 as in 1918 struck its weapons from the hands of the German people? Who was it that in 1912, as in the last year of the war, infatuated the German people with his theory that if Germany throws down her arms the whole world will follow her example – who? – the democratic-Marxist Jew, who at the same hour incited and still today incites the others to arm and to subjugate ‘barbarous’ Germany.

But someone may perhaps yet raise the question whether it is expedient today to talk about the guilt for the war. Most assuredly we have the duty to talk about it! For the murderers of our Fatherland who all the years through have betrayed and sold Germany, they are the same men who, as the November criminals, have plunged us into the depths of misfortune. We have the duty to speak since in the near future, when we have gained power, we shall have the further duty of taking these creators of ruin, these clouts, these traitors to their State and of hanging them on the gallows to which they belong. Only let no one think that in them there has come a change of heart. On the contrary, these November scoundrels who still are free to go as they will in our midst, they are, even today, going against us. From the recognition of the facts comes the will to rise again. Two millions have remained on the field of battle. They, too, have their rights and not we, the survivors, alone. There are millions of orphans, of cripples, of widows in our midst. They, too, have rights. For the Germany of today not one of them died, not one of them became a cripple, an orphan, or a widow. We owe it to these millions that we build a new Germany!

 

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YOUNG, OWEN D

Sunday, May 13th, 2012

(1874-19??) American businessman who served as chairman of the second committee of financial experts of the Allied Reparations Commission for WWI debts and reparations, which produced the so-called Young Plan in 1929. From 1922 to 1939, he served as chairman of the board of the General Electric Company. He organized the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) in 1919.

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Like a disciplined army…”

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

This truly military behavior of the city’s 800,000 inhabitants filled some old front soldiers with amazement and pride. And old World War officer, now a political leader, experienced the terror attack and recorded his impressions: “In 1917, my company and I experienced a terrible air attack. We were marching to relieve a battalion at Chemin-des Dames, and spent the night in a destroyed village behind the front. Tommy came during the night and dropped bombs on us. He seemed to know we were there, and bombed us for an hour. The bombs destroyed whatever was left in the village. I was a corporal then. As I took the important papers from my burning quarters and tried to find someplace safe for them, I saw that all around me buildings had been hit and were on fire, and watched the young soldiers of my company seeking cover in ditches and behind ruins. This feeling of helplessness against an enemy one cannot reach is the worst thing I experienced as a soldier. I wondered if the young lads could hold out. Are they still a unit, or only a group of scattered men thinking only of themselves? Then came a moment of silence, and the captain’s command came through — and the company came together. Discipline prevailed. Everything was in order, and each did what he was ordered to do. It was exactly the same later during the great battles.

I thought back on that night in later years, and see it as an example of military discipline that young recruits had learned through hard training. I had never thought it possible for a whole city, women, children and the aged, to display such conduct under conditions of life and death. But I saw and experienced it in the night of the attack on Cologne.”

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Morale as a Decisive Factor in War by Joseph Goebbels

Sunday, March 18th, 2012

We are in the midst of a decisive period in the war. Using an unprecedented mass of weapons and psychological warfare, the enemy is attempting to capture positions that we won during the first half of this vast world struggle, and which are the foundation of our coming victory. That is the reason for the enormous material battles in the East, the renewed and pitiless attacks of the English and Americans in Sicily, and the brutal air attacks that the enemy is unleashing on the German homeland. The other side hopes to achieve decisive breakthroughs on the f ront and also to shatter the morale of the German people, which they think is not able to bear such strains. Such an interpretation of the military situation is no mere theory; the enemy admits it openly and unashamedly. They hope to force us to our knees by massive attacks from all directions and win final victory in a way that will spare protracted, difficult and bloody military operations. The war against our nerves naturally has a critical role. The enemy seems to have realized that agitation is having no success in this area, so it has turned to action.

These actions are consistent with the nature of Anglo-American plutocrats. During the First World War, they attempted to demoralize the German people by a ruthless starvation campaign against defenseless women and children. Today they are attempting the same thing by air terror against the German homeland. I do not deny that enemy air attacks have cost us much property and blood and cause difficulties of every manner. The enemy knows that as well as we do, since they went through something similar in the summer and fall of 1940, though the German Luftwaffe then attacked only military and industrial targets, but the enemy’s attacks today are directed almost exclusively against the civilian population, and thereby our morale. The English hardly bother to deny that any longer. In fact, they claim that it will shorten the war and spare British blood. This simple and typical English way of thinking proves the brutal cynicism of the gentlemen on the other side of the Channel.

It is up to us to answer in the same way. Since at the moment we are not able to do that by massive counter attacks, which would be the most effective method, we must do it through defensive measures. There are two aspects: the military and the civilian. Everything militarily possible is being done, and will be intensified. Our military defenses have increased significantly, and are growing from day to day. The enemy experiences enormous losses during its attacks on the Reich which they might be able to withstand materially, but not from the personnel standpoint. We expect that these losses will not decrease, but rather increase as our defensive means improve. That can happen very quickly.

What we are experiencing in the air war is a test of nerves. The English withstood a test of nerves under much less favorable political and military conditions in 1940; we must withstand it in 1943. Just as the English government decided then to win the air war by radical means, including new weapons, we have made a similar decision. Naturally we cannot speak of their nature or the presumed date when they will be introduced, but that does not change the fact that they are slowly but surely being developed.

With regards to civil defense against enemy air terror, methods are either preventative or reparative. Sending children, the aged and nonworking women out of Berlin because we expect it to be the target of enemy air terror is an example of a preventative measure. That does not mean that Berlin is certain to be attacked, only that we think taking precautions to be wise. We are not conducting a complete evacuation. It is a planned partial evacuation that is being carried out in an orderly manner and is no cause for alarm.

The areas receiving and caring for citizens that have been evacuated are doing an important and difficult job. But we have already managed other difficulties. Those receiving the evacuees must have sympathy for them, and vice versa. The English press is claiming that these and similar measures are causing panic in Germany. Their public will have to pay for their error. We made a similar mistake in 1940, when the English government sent children to the countryside. Our hopes proved in vain. We therefore see no reason to avoid speaking openly about the matter. Things would be much worse if we did nothing. The war will not be won by wishing or illusions, but only through hard facts.

Our measures of civil defense reflect the rhythm of the enemy’s methods of air terror. We announce them regularly to the public, and it is in everyone’s interest to pay heed. The government is doing everything it can. These methods would be inadequate if the public did not do its part. Much can be done by staying calm, being courageous, and thinking clearly. We should never forget that we are dealing with temporary difficulties here, and that the enemy’s attacks against us will pass, just as they have on the fronts in the East and South. Everyone needs to stay at his post and do his duty. One may be involved in active defense, the other in caring for the victims of enemy air terror. The more resolutely the people in the Homeland get to work, the more certain is success. The main burden of the war sometimes falls here, other times there, and each must prove himself when it is his turn.

That is also true for soldiers. At the front, periods of relative quiet alternate with ones of enormous, almost superhuman exertion and danger. At such times, the troops must keep their nerve, fight bravely, and stubbornly defend their position that loyal hands gave them. The enemy does not plan his actions for our comfort, but rather to wear us down. He tries in every possible way to attack, even to break through; that above all must be stopped.

The enemy cooks with water, too. The Soviets attack our front with gigantic masses of men and material, hoping to break into the Ukraine. They need it, since otherwise they cannot meet their need for food. The English and Americans storm against our front in Sicily, and accept serious losses in their air attacks, in order to break our morale. An American correspondent in London recently reported that the British people are weary of war, and are calling for victory to put an end to it. We must stop England from gaining such a victory, and that is our duty on all fronts, both abroad and at home. England has never won a war through a genuine military victory. It either sent other peoples to fight for it, or it broke the nerve of its enemies even when there was no prospect of military success. It is trying it again with us. Our task is to frustrate the attempt.

During such a phase of war, public morale is a decisive factor. During the Seven Years War, there were times when only the strength of its king rescued Prussia. Our present crisis is in no way as severe as Prussia’s. We would have no right to claim the greatness of our age if we did not believe we could master the difficulties. Overcoming the dangers will be remembered, not the dangers themselves. No one will be forgiven by posterity for failing under particularly difficult circumstances. We will forget the difficulties we have from all sides the more time passes. We will remember only the ways in which we overcame them.

We consider it obvious that the soldier at the front keeps his cool in critical situations, and when the order comes leaves his protecting trench to storm the enemy’s position. If he does not, we call him a coward. Still, every attack demands courage, bravery, cold-bloodedness, and a strong heart. We need these same virtues in the homeland with regards to morale, and if it comes to that, physically as well. Our enemies are human. They can be beaten, even if it here or there seems difficult. London newspapers reported recently that our troops in Sicily were fighting like the Devil, and that the attacker had to pay for every meter of ground with streams of blood. German sons stand at their distant posts, and they prove through their unshakable heroism not only their physical, but also their moral courage. If our whole nation is filled with their spirit, the enemy can never defeat us.

None of us wants to minimize the severity of the air war against the German homeland. It is a severe trial. But we must pass the trial. The attacks of the enemy on our morale will fail in the face of our firm resolve, just as the storm of his weapons fails against the bravery of our front. We have become citizens of the world, and must behave accordingly. Friend and foe alike look our way each day and ask: Will they pass the test?

Our answer cannot be in doubt. The English no longer boast that their people can take more than we can. They face a nation that is determined to defend its life and freedom by all means, and which will end the great battle only when it has the victory. In the long run, such determination must be rewarded with victory. There will be hard times, but in them above all the nation has to prove its mettle. Everyone gives such proof. Our war morale is a matter of the individual, but also of the community. It is attacked by the enemy today, and we must all defend it.

Our nation has learned much from the past. Above all, it has learned never to trust a treacherous foe. This lesson is deep in our bones. Without wavering we know that a nation of brave men and sacrificing women, with an obedient and devoted youth, a nation that is risking its very existence in fighting for freedom, will gain it.

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