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Joseph Goebbels: Plea for Clothing for Troops on the Russian Front & Hitler's Proclamation

(December 20, 1941)

Our soldiers are in Belgium, France, all over half of Europe, and Africa, and from Finland to the Balkans. All people can meet the Christmas holidays with gratitude for the accomplishments of our army. Our soldiers in their tasks on all fronts went through with the problems that were given to them, and gave a good account of munitions and other war supplies that were supplied to them by our hard-working factories and plants.

This Christmas we owe to our soldiers, who could not come home for Christmas, the same gratitude we have owed to them for the past two years. But we have to make them feel, every one of them at the front, that we owe an unlimited gratitude at this time when Christmas is approaching, to make them feel that they are not alone.

Our soldiers still need a lot for this Winter. Our Wehrmacht today on the front totals that many millions. So that it is possible only with great difficulty to send them from one single point all those things of which a single man is in need.

But for this very reason the homeland must not have one quiet hour as long as there is a single soldier left in the east, in the southeast, in Norway or especially on the top of Finland, who is not as yet equipped to withstand the rigor of Winter cold.

I know that at the last collection the German people gave all they could spare in consideration of the tense situation regarding textile supplies. Nevertheless, there are still in the homeland countless objects of Winter equipment of the civil population which the population admittedly cannot very well spare but which, however, the front needs at this time without a doubt to a greater degree than the Fatherland.

We certainly have to deprive ourselves at home to a large extent, but one would not do justice to the front if one would compare such small curtailments with the sacrifices made at the front during this Winter campaign.

At home everybody has a roof over his head and a bed to sleep in. The nutrition is admittedly limited, but compared with that of all other European nations it is still sufficient. At home one is still in a position to get such relaxation as newspapers, theatres, concerts, visits to movies, radio-the relaxation which the population needs pressingly in consideration of the strain it bears during its process of work.

Almost all this does not hold good for our soldiers on the Eastern Front. That cannot be changed. But in one thing the hinterland can help. It can give to its sons and fathers protection against the wrath of the wintry climate.

As long as a single object of Winter clothing remains in the fatherland, it must go to the front. I know that also in the homeland the individual can spare such equipment only with great difficulty. He is not in a position to replace it. But a thousand times more urgently do our soldiers need such equipment, which they cannot replace either.

It would be an exaggeration if I talked of sacrifices at this time. What the homeland has suffered in the war are only inconveniences, and little curtailments, compared to what our front soldiers have borne daily and hourly, over two years.

Thanks to the actions of our front soldiers the homeland still enjoys an internally safe life. The front, for its part, must stake health and life almost in all of Europe. In Europe does our front stand guard for all of Europe, and thereby above all, for us.

As our soldiers have suffered during the Summer months, continuously and without complaining, heat, terrific Summer down-pours, subsequent dust or mud in their superhuman effort on the march to victory, so do German soldiers now stand on the wintry defense positions in snow, ice, rain, sleet, frost and cold, as a safeguard of the homeland.

Against heat, the front could hardly protect itself; against cold, only the entire homeland can help our front. Who at home would dare to withdraw his help from this service of unity?

The front needs the following badly, and above all: overshoes, if possible lined ones, or fur-lined ones; warm woolen clothing, socks, stockings, heavy underwear, vests, or pullovers; warm, especially woolen, underclothing, undershirts, chest and lung protectors; any kind of headgear protection, ear muffs, wristlets, ear protectors, woolen helmets; furs in all senses of the word, fur jackets and fur waistcoats, fur boots of every kind, and every size; blankets, especially fur covers, thick warm gloves, again especially fur-lined leather ones, or knitted gloves, and wool mittens; altogether everything of wool is needed urgently on the front and will be doubly welcome.

Desired further are quilted or lined undervests, woolen shawls, neckerchiefs and scarfs; altogether everything that serves to keep up the battle against the Winter cold, which has arrived so early this year.

The party, with all its auxiliary and allied organizations, has been instructed to be at disposal for collections of these items needed so badly right now at the front.

The collection starts on Dec. 27 and ends on the eve of Jan. 4, 1942. Party members will make the collection from house to house, or from apartment to apartment. Dear Volksgenossen [people's comrades] make it easier for those collectors while they are at their work.

The collectors will immediately bring the given objects to central points and the army has provided facilities that will bring them in the shortest possible time to the most distant point in the front. They must be put to use by our soldiers as soon as possible and with the utmost speed. Germany has only seen little of the war in spite of air-raid attacks. Nevertheless, this is a war which will decide the existence, or non-existence, of the German nation. Our soldiers at the front have taken from us for the most part the burdens of this war by their actions.

I believe that now, during the third wartime Christmas, the homeland will have the urgent wish to show to the front its gratitude in a more visible form than in mere words. This festival, which is known in the entire world as the most German one, is now approaching. For the first time in this war our soldiers are deprived of a return to the homeland, deprived even of an extended furlough. Now it is time that the homeland proves its closeness to the front in true National Socialist people's unity. We must now thank our soldiers. I would therefore like to call this collection the Christmas present from the German nation to the Eastern Front.

Some time ago I spoke for a phonograph record collection for the front. That collection has exceeded the most optimistic hopes. The German people in the homeland have again acted in an exemplary manner. Therefore I am convinced this time that everything will be given, not only what can be spared, but also what is badly needed right here. Our soldiers have more right to such clothing than we have.

The Führer himself has commissioned me [Goebbels] to proclaim the following:

"German People: While omitting air attacks, the German homeland is not threatened, millions of our soldiers stand after a year of the heaviest battles against an enemy who is superior in numbers and in material on the front. Victories such as the world has never yet seen were gained, thanks to the leadership and the heroism and valor of officers and men.

"Thus holds and fights now the greatest front of all time, from the polar regions to the Black Sea, from the Finnish snow fields to the mountains of the Balkans, so long until the hour of complete destruction nears for the most dangerous adversary.

"If now the German nation, at the occasion of the Christmas festival, desires to make a present to the German soldiers, then it should give up and do without all those things that exist in the warmest pieces of clothing. All those things that can now be spared, and that later on in peacetime, will be obtainable any-how. Whatever the leadership of the army has provided and prepared in Winter equipment, each soldier deserves much more. Here the homeland can help, but the soldier on the Eastern Front shall thus realize that the unity of the people in National Socialist Germany is no empty phrase."

Sources: New York Times, (December 20, 1941), ibiblio