More than fourteen years have passed since that ill-fated day when, blinded by promises at home and abroad, the German Volk lost sight of the most valuable assets of our past and of our Reich, its honor and its freedom, and thus lost everything. Since those days of treachery, the Almighty has withheld His blessing from our Volk. Dissension and hatred have made their way into our midst. In the profoundest distress, millions of the best German men and women from all walks of life watch as the unity of the nation vanishes and dissolves in a muddle of political and egotistical opinions, economic interests and differences in Weltanschauung.
As so often before in our history, Germany has presented a picture of heartbreaking disunity since that day of revolution. We were never given the promised equality and fraternity, and we have lost our liberty. The disintegration of the unity of spirit and will of our Volk at home was followed by the disintegration of its political standing in the world.
Imbued with burning conviction that the German Volk entered the great fight in 1914 without a thought to any guilt on its part and filled only with the burdensome care of having to defend the Reich from attack and preserve the freedom and the very existence of the German Volk, we see in the shattering fate which has plagued us since November 1918 merely the product of our disintegration at home. However, the rest of the world as well has been shaken no less by major crises since then. The historical balance of power, which once played no small part in bringing about an understanding of the necessity for internal solidarity of the nations, with all its positive economic consequences, has been done away with.
The insane conception of victors and vanquished destroys the confidence between nations and with it world economy. But the misery of our Volk is appalling! The starving millions of unemployed proletarians in industry are being followed by the impoverishment of the entire Mittelstand and artisan professions. When this disintegration ultimately reaches the German peasants, we will be confronted by a catastrophe of unfathomable dimensions. For not only will a Reich disintegrate at the same time, but also a two-thousand-year-old inheritance of valuable, the most valuable assets of human culture and civilization. The warning signs of this approaching disintegration are all about us. In a single gigantic offensive of willpower and violence, the Communist method of madness is attempting to poison and disrupt the Volk, which is shaken and uprooted to its innermost core, with the aim of driving it toward an age which would be even worse in relation to the promises of today’s Communist spokesmen than the period we have now left behind us in relation to the promises of those same apostles in November 1918.
Beginning with the family and ranging through all of the concepts of honor and loyalty, Volk und Vaterland, culture and economy, all the way to the eternal foundation of our morality and our faith: nothing has been spared by this negating, all-destroying dogma. Fourteen years of Marxism have ruined Germany. One year of Bolshevism would destroy Germany. The richest and most beautiful cultural areas of the world today would be transformed into chaos and a heap of ruins. Even the suffering of the last decade and a half could not be compared to the misery of a Europe in whose heart the red flag of destruction had been hoisted. May the thousands of wounded, the innumerable dead which this war has already cost Germany serve as storm clouds warning against the coming tempest.
In these hours when we were overcome by a powerful anxiety as to the existence and the future of the German nation, the aged leader of the World War appealed to us men in the national parties and leagues to fight under him once more as we had at the front, this time at home, in unity and loyalty for the salvation of the Reich. The venerable Reich President has allied himself with us in this noble sense, and therefore we shall vow to God, our conscience and our Volk as national leaders that we may resolutely and steadfastly fulfill the task thus conferred upon us as the National Government.
The inheritance we have taken on is a terrible one.
The task which we must accomplish is the most difficult ever posed to German statesmen within the memory of mankind. But our confidence is unbounded, for we believe in our Volk and in its imperishable virtues. Peasants, workers, and bourgeoisie must all join together to provide the building blocks for the new Reich.
The National Government will therefore regard it as its first and foremost duty to reestablish the unity of spirit and will of our Volk. It will preserve and defend the foundations upon which the power of our nation rests. It will extend its strong, protecting hand over Christianity as the basis of our entire morality, and the family as the germ cell of the body of our Volk and State. It will reawaken in our Volk, beyond the borders of rank and class, its sense of national and political unity and its resultant duties. It will establish reverence for our great past and pride in our old traditions as the basis for the education of our German youth. Thus it will declare a merciless war against spiritual, political and cultural nihilism. Germany must not and will not drown in anarchistic Communism.
It will replace turbulent instincts with national discipline as the guiding rule of our life. In doing so, it will devote great care to those institutions which constitute the true guarantors of the power and strength of our nation.
The National Government will perform the immense task of reorganizing the economy of our Volk with two great four-year plans: Salvation of the German peasant in order to maintain the food supply and thus the basis of life in our nation.
Salvation of the German worker in an enormous and all-embracing attack on unemployment.
In fourteen years, the November parties have ruined the German peasantry.
In fourteen years they have created an army of millions of unemployed. The national government will, with iron determination and unshakable persistence, implement the following plan: Within four years the German peasant must be rescued from impoverishment.
Within four years unemployment must be finally overcome.
At the same time, this will lay the groundwork for the recovery of the rest of the economy.
The National Government will couple this gigantic task of reorganizing our economy with the task and accomplishment of reorganizing the Reich, the Länder, and the communities, both in administrative and fiscal terms.
Only then will the concept of a federal preservation of the Reich become a full-blooded, real-life certainty.
The concept of a compulsory labor service and the settlement policy number among the cornerstones of this program.
Securing daily bread, however, also includes the performance of social duties for the sick and the aged.
In an austerity administration, promoting employment, maintaining our peasantry, as well as exploiting individual initiative also give the best guarantee for avoiding any experiments which would endanger our currency.
In terms of foreign policy, the National Government regards preserving the right to live and thus regaining the freedom of our Volk as its highest priority.
By being resolute in bringing about an end to the chaotic state of affairs in Germany, it will assist in restoring to the community of nations a state of equal worth and thus, however, also a state with equal rights. The Government is impregnated with the immensity of the duty of advocating, together with this free and equal Volk, the preservation and maintenance of a peace which the world needs today more than ever before.
May the understanding of all others assist us in fulfilling this, our most sincere wish, for the welfare of Europe, and more, for the welfare of the whole world. As great as is our love for our army as the bearer of our arms and the symbol of our great past, we would be happy if the world, by limiting its own armaments, would never again make it necessary for us to increase ours.
However, if Germany is to experience this political and economic revival and conscientiously fulfill its obligations to the other nations, one decisive step is required: overcoming the Communist infiltration of Germany.
We men of the Government feel that we are responsible to German history for reestablishing the great and orderly body politic and thus finally overcoming class madness and class struggle. It is not any one class we look to, but rather the German Volk, its millions of peasants, bourgeois and workers, who will together either overcome the problems of these times or succumb to them.
Resolved and true to our oath, we will thus-in view of the present Reichstag’s inability to support this work-ask the German Volk itself to take on this task we call our own.
Reich President von Hindenburg has called upon us and given us the order to use our own unity to restore to the nation the chance for recovery.
Thus we now appeal to the German Volk to take part in signing this deed of reconciliation.
The Government of the National Uprising wants to work, and it will work.
It was not this government which led the German nation into ruin for fourteen years; this government wants to lead the nation to the top once more.
It is determined to pay the debt of fourteen years in four years.
But it cannot make the work of reconstruction dependent upon the approval of those who are to blame for the collapse.
The Marxist parties and their fellow travellers have had fourteen years to prove their prowess.
The result is a heap of ruins.
Now, German Volk, give us four years, and then pass judgment upon us! True to the order of the Field Marshal, we shall begin. May Almighty God look mercifully upon our work, lead our will on the right path, bless our wisdom, and reward us with the confidence of our Volk.
We are not fighting for ourselves, but for Germany!