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More than fourteen years have passed since the unhappy day when the German people, blinded by promises from foes at home and abroad, lost touch with honor and freedom, thereby losing all.
Since that day of treachery, the Almighty has withheld his blessing from our people. Dissension and hatred descended upon us. With profound distress millions of the best German men and women from all walks of life have seen the unity of the nation vanishing away, dissolving in a confusion of political and personal opinions, economic interests, and ideological differences. Since that day, as so often in the past, Germany has presented a picture of heartbreaking disunity. We never received the equality and fraternity we had been promised, and we lost our liberty to boot. For when our nation lost its political place in the world, it soon lost its unity of spirit and will....
We are firmly convinced that the German nation entered the fight in 1914 without the slightest feeling of guilt on its part and filled only with the desire to defend the Fatherland which had been attacked and to preserve the freedom, nay, the very existence, of the German people. This being so, we can only see in the disastrous fate which has overtaken us since those November days of 1918 the result of our collapse at home. But the rest of the world, too, has suffered no less since then from overwhelming crises. The balance of power which had evolved in the course of history, and which formerly played no small part in bringing about the understanding of the necessity for an internal solidarity of the nations, with all its advantages for trade and commerce, has been set on one side. The insane conception of victors and vanquished destroyed the confidence existing between nations, and, at the same time, the industry of the entire world.
The misery of our people is horrible to behold! Millions of the industrial proletariat are unemployed and starving; the whole of the middle class and the small artisans have been impoverished. When this collapse finally reaches the German peasants, we will be faced with an immeasurable disaster. For then not only shall a nation collapse, but a two-thousand-year-old inheritance, some of the loftiest products of human culture and civilization.
All about us the warning signs of this collapse are apparent. Communism with its method of madness is making a powerful and insidious attack upon our dismayed and shattered nation. It seeks to poison and disrupt in order to hurl us into an epoch of chaos.... This negative, destroying spirit spared nothing of all that is highest and most valuable. Beginning with the family, it has undermined the very foundations of morality and faith and scoffs at culture and business, nation and Fatherland, justice and honor. Fourteen years of Marxism have ruined Germany; one year of bolshevism would destroy her. The richest and fairest territories of the world would be turned into a smoking heap of ruins. Even the sufferings of the last decade and a half could not be compared to the misery of a Europe in the heart of which the red flag of destruction had been hoisted. The thousands of wounded, the hundreds of dead which this inner strife has already cost Germany should be a warning of the storm which would come....
In those hours when our hearts were troubled about the life and the future of the German nation, the aged leader of the World War appealed to us. He called to those of us in nationalist parties and leagues to struggle under him once more, in unity and loyalty, for the salvation of the German nation. This time the front lines are at home. The venerable Reichsprasident has allied himself with us in this noble endeavor. And as leaders of the nation and the national Government we vow to God, to our conscience, and to our people that we will faithfully and resolutely fulfill the task conferred upon us.
The inheritance which has fallen to us is a terrible one. The task with which we are faced is the hardest which has fallen to German statesmen within the memory of man. But we are all filled with unbounded confidence for we believe in our people and their imperishable virtues. Every class and every individual must help us to found the new Reich.
The National Government will regard it as its first and foremost duty to revive in the nation the spirit of unity and co-operation. It will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life....
Turbulent instincts must be replaced by a national discipline as the guiding principle of our national life. All those institutions which are the strongholds of the energy and vitality of our nation will be taken under the special care of the Government.
The National Government intends to solve the problem of the reorganization of trade and commerce with two four-year plans:
The German farmer must be rescued in order that the nation may be supplied with the necessities of life....
A concerted and all-embracing attack must be made on unemployment in order that the German working class may be saved from ruin....
The November parties have ruined the German peasantry in fourteen years.
In fourteen years they have created an army of millions of unemployed. The National Government will, with iron determination and unshakable steadfastness of purpose, put through the following plan:
Within four years the German peasant must be rescued from the quagmire into which he has fallen.
Within four years unemployment must be finally overcome. At the same time the conditions necessary for a revival in trade and commerce are provided.
The National Government will couple with this tremendous task of reorganizing business life a reorganization of the administrative and fiscal systems of the Reich, of the Federal States, and the Communes.
Only when this has been done can the idea of a continued federal existence of the entire Reich be fully realized....
Compulsory labor-service and the back-to-the-land policy are two of the basic principles of this program.
The securing of the necessities of life will include the performance of social duties to the sick and aged.
In economical administration, the promotion of employment, the preservation of the farmer, as well as in the exploitation of individual initiative, the Government sees the best guarantee for the avoidance of any experiments which would endanger the currency.
As regards its foreign policy the National Government considers its highest mission to be the securing of the right to live and the restoration of freedom to our nation. Its determination to bring to an end the chaotic state of affairs in Germany will assist in restoring to the community of nations a State of equal value and, above all, a State which must have equal rights. It is impressed with the importance of its duty to use this nation of equal rights as an instrument for the securing and maintenance of that peace which the world requires today more than ever before.
May the good will of all others assist in the fulfillment of this our earnest wish for the welfare of Europe and of the whole world.
Great as is our love for our Army as the bearer of our arms and the symbol of our great past, we should be happy if the world, by reducing its armaments, would see to it that we need never increase our own.
If, however, Germany is to experience this political and economic revival and conscientiously fulfill her duties toward the other nations, one decisive step is absolutely necessary first: the overcoming of the destroying menace of communism in Germany. We of this Government feel responsible for the restoration of orderly life in the nation and for the final elimination of class madness and class struggle. We recognize no classes, we see only the German people, millions of peasants, bourgeois, and workers who will either overcome together the difficulties of these times or be overcome by them. We are firmly resolved and we have taken our oath. Since the present Reichstag is incapable of lending support to this work, we ask the German people whom we represent to perform the task themselves.
Reichspräsident von Hindenburg has called upon us to bring about the revival of the German nation. Unity is our tool. Therefore we now appeal to the German people to support this reconciliation. The National Government wishes to work and it will work. It did not ruin the German nation for fourteen years, but now it will lead the nation back to health. It is determined to make well in four years the ills of fourteen years. But the National Government cannot make the work of reconstruction dependent upon the approval of those who wrought destruction. The Marxist parties and their lackeys have had fourteen years to show what they can do. The result is a heap of ruins.
Now, people of Germany, give us four years and then pass judgment upon us. In accordance with Field Marshal von Hindenburg's command we shall begin now. May God Almighty give our work His blessing, strengthen our purpose, and endow us with wisdom and the trust of our people, for we are fighting not for ourselves but for Germany.