Scholarly edition of Adolf Hitler’s speeches from 1933 to 1945


A comprehensive critical edition of Hitler’s speeches beginning in 1933 has long been considered a research desideratum. The speeches constitute a central source for the nature and ruling practices of National Socialism. Despite this, there is neither a systematic overview of all of Hitler’s speeches, nor a reliable textual basis. As a result, researchers in the field of history and related disciplines such as linguistics have mostly relied on the flawed and incomplete compilation put together by Max Domarus in the 1960s. Besides that, only a select few speeches have been published in the form of scholarly editions.

It is indisputable that Hitler achieved his political rise before 1933 most notably as a speaker. His addresses motivated and provided political orientation to the Nazi movement in a way which surpassed his commentary in Mein Kampf.  after 1933, Hitler continued to frequently use his speeches as a concentrated performance designed to assert both political and ideological influence.

After years of preparation, the editorial project of Hitler’s speeches began on January 1, 2024. It is being carried out by the Leibniz Institute for Contemporary History (IfZ) in cooperation with the Goethe University of Frankfurt am Main (Chair for Contemporary History with a focus on 20th-century European history, Prof. Dr. Christoph Cornelißen), the Philipps University of Marburg (Chair for Practical Computer Science, Prof. Dr. Bernd Freisleben), the German Broadcasting Archive (DRA) in Frankfurt/Main and Potsdam-Babelsberg (Dr. Götz Lachwitz), and the Leibnitz Institute for the German Language (IDS) in Mannheim (Prof. Dr. Henning Lobin). The German Research Foundation (DFG) will be funding the project for seven years.

The goal of the project is, for the first time, to comprehensively document Hitler’s speeches from January 30, 1933, provide commentary and context, and – as far as possible – render them accessible in both text and audio formats. As a working hypothesis and research interest, the central question of this project is the extent to which the speeches reflect the connection between political ideology, rhetorical communication and social mobilization as essential elements of the dynamization of Nazi rule and also the extent to which were themselves driven forward by the speeches. As of now, 745 speeches by Hitler have been identified, approximately four-fifths of which stem from the pre-war period. Around 300 of these have been preserved either entirely or partially in spoken form.

Following in the footsteps of earlier editorial projects conducted by the IfZ, notably “Hitler: Speeches, Writings, Directives, 1925-1933” and “Hitler, Mein Kampf: A Critical Edition,” all of the speeches will be published in printed form with introductions that provide the current state of research and the historical context. They are also to be subsequently published digitally in an open access format.

The audio recordings are regarded as the most authentic versions of the speeches and thus constitute the main basis of the project. These recordings will undergo meticulous research and compilation, will be verified for authenticity by the DRA, and technically enhanced to ensure optimal sound quality. While the IfZ is to take the lead in establishing the textual corpus and providing commentary, the Chair for Contemporary History in Frankfurt will also provide its expertise in the field in order to edit and annotate the existing audio recordings for the first time, applying advanced electronic methods for comprehensive searchability and analysis.

The commentary will elucidate crucial issues and backgrounds to the speeches, will explore how the locations for speeches were staged as well as the staging of radio addresses and will introduce all the individuals mentioned. The conditions for the production, broadcasting, and reception of speeches will also to be reconstructed, with attention being paid to Hitler’s voice and speaking style as they appear in the audio recordings. The Marburg Chair for Practical Computer Science will develop tools to search the audio recordings and transcripts and will carry out the indispensable task of synchronizing the sound and text for the audio edition. The digital audio edition will be made accessible for use by various target groups (academic and educational institutions, journalism, public history). The IDS will accompany the project as a whole with a series of workshops, while also contributing its linguistic expertise to the development of software-based analysis tools.

The printed and digital text and audio editions will constitute a significant contribution to research on National Socialism, while also paving the way for new and innovative technical approaches to the discipline.


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