Adolf Hitler’s First Political Document: A Letter to Adolf Gemlich
September 16, 1919
Dear Herr Gemlich,
If the danger which Jewry today constitutes for our people finds expression in an undeniable hostility by large sections of our people, then the causes for this dislike are not to be found in a clear awareness that the Jews as a whole, whether consciously or unconsciously, have a systematically corruptive effect upon our nation. Rather, it comes about as a result of personal experience and the impression that the Jew makes as an individual, which is almost always an unfavorable one. As a result, anti-Semitism very easily acquires an emotional character. But that is not right. Anti-Semitism as a political movement should not and cannot be based on momentary feelings, but upon a recognition of the facts. The facts are these:
First of all, the Jews unquestionably constitute as race and not a religious community. The Jew never calls himself a Jewish German, a Jewish Pole or even a Jewish American, but always a German, Polish or American Jew. Living in the midst of foreign peoples, the Jew never assimilated more from them than their language. And no more than a German who is forced to use the French language in France, the Italian language in Italy and the Chinese language in China, thereby becomes a Frenchman, Italian or, much less, a Chinaman, no more can we call a Jew who happens to live among us, and who therefore forced to use the German language, a German. Even the Mosaic faith, as important as it may be for the preservation of that race, is not the only criterion in determining whether someone is a Jew or a non-Jew. There is hardly a single race whose members all belong to a single religion.
Through inbreeding for thousands of years, often in very small circles, the Jew has preserved his race and his character traits more successfully than many of the other peoples among whom he lives. As a result, we have living among us a non-German, alien race, unwilling and unable to give up its racial character or to deny its own feelings, thoughts and ambitions, but which nevertheless enjoys all the same rights as we do. And since the Jew’s feelings are completely materialistic, his thoughts and ambitions are even more so. The dance around the golden calf becomes a ruthless struggle for all those things which we feel deep down are not the highest and not the only things worth striving for on this Earth.
The worth of the individual is no longer based upon his character or the importance of his achievements for the community, but solely by the size of his fortune, his wealth.
The greatness of a nation is no longer measured by the sum of its moral and spiritual resources, but only by the extent of its material goods.
From these feelings come the mental attitude and striving for money, and the power to protect it, which allows the Jew to become so unscrupulous in his choice of means and so pitiless in applying them. In autocratic states, he cringes before the “majesty” of the royalty and misuses its favors to become a leech on the people. In a democracy, he vies for the favors of the masses and grovels before the “majesty of the people,” but recognizes only the majesty of money.
He destroys the character of royalty with Byzantine flattery; and national pride, the strength of a people, by ridicule and shameless inducement to vice. His weapon is public opinion, which is never really represented in the press, but which the press manipulates and falsifies. His power is the power of money, which he accumulates effortlessly and endlessly in the form of interest and with which he forces a most dangerous yoke upon the people which is all the more pernicious because its golden glitter disguises its later dire consequences. Everything which encourages people to strive for higher things, be it religion, socialism or democracy, the Jew simply uses as a means to satisfy his greed for wealth and power.
The result of his work is racial tuberculosis among nations.
And these are the consequences: Purely emotional anti-Semitism ultimately expresses itself in the form of pogroms. Rational anti-Semitism, however, must lead to a systematic legal struggle against and the eradication of the privileges which the Jews enjoy above those foreigners living among us. (Alien laws.) The final aim, though, must be the complete removal of the Jews. Both objectives can only be achieved by a government of national strength, never by a government of national impotence.
The German republic owes its birth not to the unified national will of our people, but to the underhanded exploitation of a series of circumstances which, taken together, expressed profound general discontent. These circumstances, though, occurred independently of the form of government which emerged and are still present today. Indeed, more so than ever before. Hence a large part of our people already realizes that merely changing the form of government as such cannot change and improve our situation, but rather only through a rebirth of the nation’s moral and spiritual strength.
And this rebirth cannot be brought about by politicians elected by irresponsible majorities under the influence of particular party dogmas or by an irresponsible press using internationalist phrases and slogans, but only through the ruthless determination of national-minded leadership personalities acting out of a deep sense of responsibility.
These facts rob the Republic of inner support from the necessary spiritual resources of the nation. The present political leaders are thus forced to seek support from those who alone profited and continue to profit from the newly-created conditions in Germany and who, for that reason, were also the driving force of the revolution – the Jews.
Without regard for the clearly recognized dangers of Jewry (proven by various statement from prominent personalities), the present-day political leaders are compelled in their own interest to accept support from the Jews, and to deliver the payment demanded in return. This repayment consists not only in giving in to every possible Jewish demand, but above all in preventing the betrayed people from fighting their betrayers, that is by suppressing the anti-Semitic movement.
Source: The National Socialist, Number 4 (Spring 1982), pp. 17-18.
Commentary by Martin Kerr: This extraordinary letter is the first-known political document authored by Adolf Hitler. The date – September 16, 1919 – is the same day that the Fuehrer formally joined the fledgling German Workers’ Party, thus beginning his political career. Consequently, we can legitimately denote this letter as the foundational document of the National Socialist movement.
At the time it was written, Hitler was an educational officer for the German army, then known as the Reichwehr. Here is a chronology:
· August 20 – 25: Hitler lectures his fellow soldiers as part of a political education course;
· September 4: One of the course participants, Adolf Gemlich, writes a letter asking for clarification on the Army’s attitude towards the Jews. Hitler’s superior, Capt. Karl Mayr, assigns Hitler the task of answering the letter;
· September 12: Hitler and two comrades attend a meeting of the German Worker’s Party, known by its German initials, “DAP.” This was done in furtherance of an investigation by the Army to determine whether the DAP deserved the political and financial support of the Army;
· September 16: In response to an invitation extended by Party Chairman Anton Drexler, Hitler joins the DAP. On this same day, he types his response to Gemlich.
Hitler wrote this letter when he was 30 years old. It displays remarkable clarity of thought into the Jewish question. In it, Hitler (1) states that the Jews are a race and not a religion; (2) he rejects what he calls “emotional anti-Semitism” based on a personal dislike of the Jews, and instead argues for “rational anti-Semitism” based on the facts; (3) he rejects random violence against the Jews (“pogroms”) as response to Jewish machinations; (4) he notes that Jewish power rests on both enormous wealth and “unscrupulous” and “pitiless” behavior by the Jews; (5) he denounces the media for manipulating public opinion and for fabricating the news that it reports; and (6) he calls for a government of honest leaders, based on national unity and exemplifying national Will.
The translation of the letter present here is original and was specially commissioned for the World Union of National Socialists by World Union Commander Matt Koehl in 1982.
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