From early on in his political career, Adolf Hitler was known for his enthusiastic — sometimes even frenetic — style of speech-making. He used his words to disseminate his controversial populism and rile the crowd against his enemies, whether perceived or real: Jews, Marxists, foreign powers… whatever the situation demanded.
Witnesses have attested to the hypnotic effect Hitler could have on an audience: one minute holding them in rapt attention, the next whipping them into an hysterical frenzy. In speeches as well as writing, he could express himself diplomatically, but as evinced below, his true knack was to demonise, inspire hatred and (ultimately) war and genocide.
Here are 20 of Hitler’s most central quotes concerning World War Two, which bring out the essence of the Führer’s method and mission.
I want today to be a prophet again: if international Jewry inside and outside of Europe should succeed in plunging the nations once more into a world war, the result will not be the Bolshevisation of the earth and therefore the victory of Jewry, but the annihilation of the Jewish race in Europe.
Reichstag, 30 January 1939
I am now fifty. I would rather have the war now than when I am fifty-five or sixty.
To the Romanian foreign minister, Spring 1939
Best wishes for your personal well-being as well as for the prosperous future of the peoples of the friendly Soviet Union.
Message wired to Stalin in relation to his 60th birthday (18 December), 21 December 1939
We shall only talk of peace when we have won the war. The Jewish capitalist world will not survive the twentieth century.
Radio broadcast, 31 December 1939
The battle beginning today will decide the fate of the German nation for the next thousand years.
10 May 1940
Soldiers of the West Front! Dunkirk has fallen … with it has ended the greatest battle in world history. Soldiers! My confidence in you knows no bounds. You have not disappointed me.
Order of the Day, 5 June 1940
[The] most glorious victory of all time.
Declaration following news of France agreeing armistice terms, 25 June 1940
With Russia smashed, Britain’s last hope would be shattered. Germany will then be master of Europe and the Balkans.
To his generals at Berchtesgaden, 31 July 1940
Today I am at the head of the strongest Army in the world, the most gigantic Air Force and of a proud Navy. Behind and around me stands the Party with which I became great and which has become great through me… Our enemies must not deceive themselves – in the 2,000 years of German history known to us, our people have never been more united than today.
As part of his speech to the Reichstag declaring war on the United States, 11 December 1941
I don’t see much future for the Americans … it’s a decayed country. And they have their racial problem, and the problem of social inequalities … everything about the behaviour of American society reveals that it’s half Judaised, and the other half negrified. How can one expect a State like that to hold together?
In conversation, 7 January 1942
This is a war of extermination.
To his general, 30 March 1942
Now terror will be answered with terror.
In response to the news that Lübeck had been obliterated by the RAF, 28 March 1942
If we don’t take Maikop and Grozny, then I must put an end to the war.
To his generals, 23 July 1942
Victory at Kursk will be a beacon for the whole world
To his generals, 15 April 1943
Whenever I think of this attack, my stomach turns over.
To Heinz Guderian, in reference to the Kursk offensive, 14 May 1943
Once again I take this opportunity, my old comrades in arms, to greet you, joyful that I have once again been spared a fate which, while it held no terror for me personally, would have had terrible consequences for the German People. I interpret this as a sign from Providence that I must continue my work, and therefore I shall continue it.
Radio broadcast, in response to an assassination attempt, 20 July 1944
God the Almighty has made our nation. By defending its existence we are defending His work…Therefore, it is all the more necessary on this twelfth anniversary of the rise to power to strengthen the heart more than ever before and to steel ourselves in the holy determination to wield the sword, no-matter where and under what circumstances, until final victory crowns our efforts.
Radio broadcast, 30 January 1945
I ought to have seized the initiative in 1938 instead of allowing myself to be forced into war in 1939; for war was, in any case, unavoidable. However, you can hardly blame me if the British and the French accepted at Munich every demand I made of them.
14 February 1945
Our nation’s struggle for existence forces us to utilize all means, even within Reich territory, to weaken the fighting power of our enemy and to prevent further advances. Any opportunity to inflict lasting damage on the striking power of the enemy must be taken advantage of. It is a mistake to believe that undestroyed or only temporarily paralyzed traffic, communications, industrial, and supply installations will be useful to us again after the recapture of lost territories. During his retreat, the enemy will leave behind only scorched earth and will abandon all concern for the population.
I therefore command –
All military traffic, communications, industrial and supply installations as well as objects within Reich territory that might be used by the enemy in the continuation of his fight, either now or later, are to be destroyed.
From the Nero Decree, 19 March 1945
The Führer in Berlin expects that the armies will do their duty. History and the German people will despise every man who in these circumstances does not give his utmost to save the situation and the Führer.
26 April 1945