On this day February 18, 1943

Joseph Goebbels, Hitler’s Propaganda Minister, delivered the Sportpalast speech to motivate the German people when the tide of World War II was turning against Germany.

Berlin Sportpalast

Berlin Sportpalast

It is considered the most famous speech of Josef Goebbels.

Although the speech claimed that the audience included people from “all classes and occupations” (including “soldiers, doctors, scientists, artists, engineers and architects, teachers, white collars”) it was evident in the free West that the propagandist had carefully selected the listeners.

The speech said that the English press had said that the German people did not want a total war. Goebbels then asked 10 questions to the carefully-selected Nazi-supporting audience, to all of which the audience answered “Yes!” with fanaticism. The first question was “I ask you, do you want the total war?” to which the Nazi-supporting audience answered “Yes!” with great emotion, practising the Nazi salute. Goebbels was moving his hands during the speech.

The speech claimed that no German was thinking of any compromise and instead that “the entire nation is only thinking about a hard war”.

The setting of the speech in the Sportpalast had the audience behind and under a big banner with the all-capitals German words “TOTALER KRIEG – KÜRZESTER KRIEG” (total war – briefest war) along with Nazi banners and Nazi swastikas.

After the speech the audience sang the national anthem of Germany‘s refrain, “Deutschland über alles” (Germany above all).

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