Special to The New York Times
May 17, 1939
Here in this old medieval town deep in modern Germany, at one of the most revered centers of learning in Europe, Germany’s Fuhrer Adolf Hitler gave what most experts consider to be his most important address at the 500th Commencement day celebrations of the University. His appearance was not without controversy, but Chancellor Hitler, who has been the agent of so much change and a beacon of hope for a nation devastated by the recent war and the current worldwide economic situation accepted the invitation of University President the Rev. Johan Von Junkers with grace and fearlessly. He was calm and rational as he called for a dialogue on the subject of Racial Purity, the euthanizing of the mentally ill and old and debilitated peoples the divisive issue of Death Camps for Jewish citizens and the laws being enacted to bring about the hope and change he has built his promise to the German people of a Thousand Year Reich around.
“”I do not suggest that the debate surrounding the solution to the Jewish problem or these other problems we face today can or should go away,” he said. “At some level, the views of the two camps are irreconcilable. Each side will continue to make its case to the public with passion and conviction. But surely we can do so without reducing those with differing views to caricature.”
The Chancellor’s speech was interrupted briefly three times by shouts from protesters inside the newly constructed All Sports Center, as hundreds of others protested on campus and outside the school’s gates. Security officials later said that all of the protesters outside campus had been removed when it was determined they were undermining the peace of the area.
“Gassing is murder,” one man yelled. “Stop killing our mothers, fathers and brothers,” another said. The protesters were booed and escorted from the arena by brown shirted security guards.
Wearing a simple academic gown, and not his usual National Socialist uniform, Chancellor Hitler said the controversy reminded him of a letter he received from a doctor who voted for him in 1933. He said the man complained about language in Party publications that suggested “Communist and left-wing ideologues” wanted to take away a moron’s or a Jew’s right to live.
“The doctor said he had assumed I was a reasonable person,” he said. “But that if I truly believed that every pro-Jewish individual was simply an ideologue who wanted to weaken the German people, then I was not very reasonable.”
The Fuhrer said he did not change his position on the issue but did instruct his staff to change the language on his website. He also said a prayer that night to ask that he might extend the same presumption of good faith to others.
“When we open up our hearts and our minds to those who may not think precisely like we do or believe precisely what we believe, that’s when we discover at least the possibility of common ground,” he said.
The Fuhrer also pointed to the many good clerics of both Protestant and Catholic background who had influenced him when he was or ganizing the Party in the early days during some of Germany’s most trying times: “”They were good and kind and wise men.Saintly men,” he said. “They stood as both a lighthouse and a crossroads — unafraid to speak their mind on moral issues ranging from poverty, to proper race relations and war. And yet, they were congenial and gentle in his persuasion, always trying to bring people together, always trying to find common ground.”
University president, the Rev. Johan Von Junkers, praised the Fuhrer for accepting the school’s invitation, despite knowledge that his views differed from many of those taught by the Roman Catholic Church.
“Others might have avoided this venue for that reason,” Von Junkers said. “But the Fuhrer is not someone who stops talking with those who differ with him.”