Delegates! Men of the German Reichstag! In a fateful time, you, my delegates, convened here as representatives of the German folk on September 1st of this year.
Back then, I had to inform you of the difficult decisions that had been forced upon us through the intransigent, provocative bearing of a state. Since then, five weeks have now passed. If I now had you summoned here again, then it happened in order to be able to give you an accounting over the past and the necessary insight into the present and, insofar as possible, into the future.
For two days, our cities, markets and villages have been decorated with the flags and symbols of the new Reich. Amidst bell chiming, the German folk celebrates a great, in its nature historically unique, victory. A state of still 36 million people, an army of around 50 infantry and cavalry divisions, had assembled against us. Their intentions were far-reaching, the confidence in the annihilation of our German Reich was considered self-evident.
Eight days after the outbreak of this struggle, however, the dice of war had fallen. Wherever Polish troops collided with German formations, they were thrown back or smashed. The daring structure of Poland’s strategic offensive collapsed already in the first 48 hours of this campaign. Death defying on the attack and with incomparable march performances, our German divisions, the air and the panzer arm as well as the units of the navy, snatched the law of the initiative; it could no longer be snatched away from them at any moment.
After 14 days, the largest portions of the Polish army were either scattered, captured or surrounded. The German armies, however, had during this period covered distances and occupied spaces for whose overcoming more than 14 months were required 25 years ago. Even though a number of especially inventive newspaper strategists of the other world nonetheless sought to portray the tempo of this campaign as disappointing for Germany, we all know, after all, that there has previously hardly ever been a greater accomplishment of highest soldiery in military history. That the last remnants of the Polish armies managed to hold out in Warsaw, Modi in and in Hela up to October 1st, was not the result of their ability, rather is to be ascribed solely to our cool cleverness and our consciousness of responsibility. I forbade sacrificing more people than was unconditionally necessary, this means, I have intentionally freed the German military leadership from the opinion still prevailing in the World War that for the sake of prestige it had to solve certain tasks under any circumstances in a set period. What is unconditionally necessary to do, happens without regard for sacrifice. But what can be avoided, is foregone. It would have been no problem for us to break the resistance of Warsaw from the 10th to 12th just like we broke it from September 25th to 27th. I just wanted, first, to spare German lives and, second, surrender myself to the - even if deceptive - hope that on the Polish side, for at least once, responsibility conscious reason instead of irresponsible lunacy could triumph.
But here in a smaller framework, precisely the same stage play repeated itself, which we had to previously experience on a larger scale. The attempt to convince the responsible Polish military leadership, insofar as such a thing existed at all, of the senselessness, yes, the lunacy of a resistance precisely in a city of a million people, failed. A generalissimo, who himself took flight in a hardly glorious manner, forced upon its land’s capital a resistance that, at best, had to lead to its destruction. In the knowledge that the fortification of the fortress Warsaw alone could not withstand the German attack, one transformed the city as such into a fortress, cross-crossed it with barricades, erected battery positions on all squares, in streets and courtyards, built thousands of machinegun nests and asked the whole populace for participation in the fighting.
Simply out of pity for women and children, I then offered the rulers in Warsaw to at least allow the civilian populace to evacuate. I let an armistice take effect, secured the necessary evacuation routes, and we all waited just as futilely for an emissary as at end of August for a Polish negotiator. The proud Polish city commandant did not even honor us with a reply. I had the periods extended in any case, instructed bombers and heavy artillery to attack only clearly military objects, and repeated my demands: it remained in vain again. I thereupon offered not to bombard at all the whole city district of Praga, rather to reserve it for the civilian population in order to give it an opportunity to withdraw to there. Even this proposal was punished with Polish contempt. I endeavored a second time to then at least remove the foreign colonies from the city. This finally succeeded with many difficulties, with the Russian one only at the last minute.
I now ordered for September 25th the beginning of the attack. This same defense, which first found it beneath its dignity to even just go into the humane proposals, then, however, changed its bearing extremely fast. On the 25th, the German attack began, and on the 27th, it capitulated! It did not dare with 120,00 men, like once our German General Litzmann with far inferior forces at Brzeciny, to make a daring sortie, rather it now preferred to lay down its arms.
One should hence make no comparison here to Alkazar. Spanish heroes there heroically defied the heaviest attacks for weeks and thereby really immortalized themselves rightfully. But here, one submitted a large city to destruction in an unscrupulous manner and then, after 48 hours, capitulated. The Polish soldier individually fought bravely at many places. His leadership, however, starting at the top, can only be characterized as irresponsible, unscrupulous and incapable.
In front of Hela as well, I had ordered not to sacrifice a single man before the most thorough preparation. There as well, the surrender occurred at the moment when the German attack was finally announced and took its start.
I make these statements, delegates, in order to preempt the historical formation of legends. For if a legend may form around anybody in this campaign, then only around the German musketeer, who, attacking and marching, added a new page to his immoral, glorious history. It can form around the heavy weapons that rushed to the aid of this infantry amidst unspeakable exertions. The black men of our armor branch are worthy of this legend, who, with daring determination, without regard for superior forces and resistance, again and again carried the attack forward anew, and, finally, the legend may glorify those death-defying pilots who, knowing that any being shot down that did kill them in the air had to mean their terrible massacre on earth after parachuting, observed with undaunted perseverance and attacked with bombs and machinegun wherever the attack was ordered or a target showed itself. The same is true for the heroes of our U-boat branch.
If a state of 36 million inhabitants and this military strength is totally destroyed in four weeks, and if in this period not a single setback came for the victor, then one can see in this not the mercy of a special good luck, rather the proof of the highest training, best leadership and most death-defying valor.
German soldiery has now again firmly placed upon its head the laurels that had been treacherously robbed from it in 1918. We all stand with deeply felt gratitude before the many unknown, nameless valiant men of our folk. They have now assembled for the first time from all the provinces of Greater Germany; the commonly shed blood, however, will bind them to each other even more strongly than any state legal construction.
The awareness of this strength of our Wehrmacht fills all of us with self-confident calm, for it has proven its strength not only on the attack, rather also in the holding of the acquired. The exemplary training of the individual officer and enlisted man has proven itself to the extreme. To it is to be ascribed this far lower number of losses, which, even if individually painful, overall nonetheless lie far below what we believed we had to expect. However, the total sum of these losses provides no picture of the severity of the individual battles; for there were regiments and divisions which, attacked by a supreme force of Polish formations or themselves on the attack colliding with them, had to make very heavy blood sacrifices.
I believe I may mention to you only two episodes from the great series of so rapidly following battles and combats as example for many. When, to cover Senior General von Reichenau’s army advancing toward the Vistula, on his left flank the divisions of the army of Senior General Blaskowitz advanced against Warsaw staggered with the assignment to fend off the attack by the Polish central army against the flank of General von Reichenau’s army, there suddenly occurred, at a moment when one presumed the Polish armies were generally already on the retreat toward the Vistula, their thrust into General Blaskowitz’s marching army. It was a desperate attempt by the Poles to burst the ring closing around them. Four Polish divisions and some cavalry formations threw themselves at one single German active division, which, itself spread out, had to cover a line of almost 30 kilometers. Despite five and six-fold enemy superiority and despite the exhaustion of its own troops, fighting and marching for days, this division parried the attack and in part threw it back in the most bloody hand-to-hand combat and did not bend or waiver until the necessary reinforcements could be brought up. And while the enemy radio already triumphantly spread the news of the breakthrough to Lodz, the division general, his shot up arm in a splint, reported to me the course of the attack, the prevention of the breakthrough, the valiant conduct of his soldiers. Here, the losses were admittedly great.
A German militia division, along with other small formations, had the assignment to push the Poles into the northern corridor, take Gdingen and advance in the direction of the Hela peninsula. This militia division was opposed by Polish elite formations, naval troops, ensign and non-commissioned officer schools, naval artillery and cavalry. With calm certainty, this German militia division went at the solution of its assignment, which have as enemy a numerically as well far superior opponent. In a few days, however, the Pole was thrown back from position to position, 12,600 prisoners were taken, Gdingen liberated, Oxhoeft stormed and another 4,700 men pushed back and cut off on the Hela peninsula. When the prisoners marched off, a moving picture presented itself: the victors, for the large part older men, many with the decorations of the Great War on their chest, and drawing past them columns of prisoners, young people of the age of 20 to 28 years.
Since I will now announce to you the number of our dead and wounded, I ask you to stand up.
Even though this number, thanks to the training of our troops, thanks to the effect of our weapons and the leadership of our formations, constitutes hardly a twentieth of what we believed we had to fear at the beginning of this campaign, we nonetheless do not want to forget that each individual who has given his life here, made the greatest sacrifice for his folk and our Reich that a man can make for his folk.
According to the figures of September 30, 1939, which will no longer experience any significant changes, in the army, navy and Luftwaffe, including officers, there were 10,572 men killed, 30,322 wounded and 3,404 missing. Of these missing, a portion that fell into Polish hands must unfortunately likewise be viewed as massacred and killed. To these victims of the Polish campaign belongs our gratitude, to the wounded our care, to the family members are empathy and our help.
With the fall of fortress Warsaw, Modlin and the surrender of Hela, the Polish campaign is finished. The securing of the land against wandering marauders, robber bands and individual terrorists is being carried out with determination. The result of the conflict is the annihilation of all Polish armies. The dissolution of this state was the consequence. 694,00 prisoners have started the “march to Berlin” so far. The booty in material is still totally incalculable.
Since the outbreak of the war, the German Wehrmacht simultaneously stands in the west in calm readiness and awaits the enemy. The Reich navy has fulfilled its duty in the fighting for the Westerplatte, Gdingen, Oxhoeft and Hela, in the securing of the Baltic Sea and the Bay of Heligoland, our U-boat branch, however, fights worthy of the former, unforgettable heroes.
In view of this historically unique collapse of a so-called state structure, there arises for each the question of the cause of such a process. The cradle of the Polish state stood in Versailles. From immeasurable bloody sacrifices - not only of the Poles, rather also of the Germans and Russians - was this structure born. What had previously for centuries already proven its inability for life, was artificially conceived only in 1916 by a likewise life-incapable, reality-alien German state leadership and in 1920 born no less artificially. Amidst disregard of almost half a millennium of experience, without regard for the fact of a several centuries long historical development, without respect for the ethnographic conditions and amidst disregard of all economic practicalities, a state was constructed in Versailles, which according to its whole nature sooner or later had to become the cause of the worst crises. A man, who is today unfortunately again on of our most fierce opponents, clearly foresaw this back then, Lloyd George, and just like many others, he, too warned not only during the emergence of this structure, rather also in the time of the later expansion, which was undertaken against any reason and against any right. Back then, he expressed the concern that in this state a whole series of conflict material were created, which sooner or later could provide the reasons for severe European conflicts.
Fact is that this new so-called state could not be clarified down to the present day in the structure of its nationalities. One must know the methods of Polish census taking in order to know how totally reality-alien and hence meaningless the statistics about the ethnic composition of this region were and are. In 1919, regions were claimed by the Poles in which they claimed to possess 95% majorities, for example, in East Prussia, while the plebiscites later taking place yielded a full 2% for Poland. In the state then finally created at the cost of former Russia, Austria and Germany, the non-Polish folks were treated and suppressed, tyrannized and tortured so barbarously that any vote was now dependent on the favor of the respective Woiwoden and hence yielded the desired or demanded falsified result. Just that the doubtlessly Polish element itself received hardly any better treatment. If this structure was still addressed as a democracy by the statesmen of our western hemisphere, then this was a mockery of the foundations of their own systems. For in this land ruled a minority of aristocratic or non- aristocratic large property-owners and wealthy intellectuals, for whom their own Polish folk represented, in the most favorable case, a mass of work forces. Behind this regime hence also never stood more than 15% of the total population. To this corresponds the economic state of emergency and the cultural nadir. In the 1919, this state took over from Prussia and also from Austria provinces painstakingly developed through centuries of work, yes, in part downright blossoming. Today, 20 years later, they are about to become steppe again. The Vistula, the river whose sea mouth was always so tremendously important for the Polish government, is already today, due to lack of maintenance, unsuited for any actual commerce and according to the season either a wild river or a dried-up stream. Cities and villages have become desolate, the streets, with very few exceptions, run down and decayed. Whoever views this land for the first time for two or three weeks first gets an idea of the meaning of the expression: “Polish economy!”
Despite the unbearable conditions in this land, Germany has tried to establish a bearable relationship with it. I myself tried in the years 1933 and 1934 to find some kind of just, reasonable arrangement between our national interests and the wish for the preservation of peace with this land. There was a time, when Marshal Pilsudski still lived, in which it seemed to succeed, to be able to achieve this hope - even if to a modest degree. Unprecedented patience and even more self-control went with this. Because for many of the Polish Woiwoden, the government agreement between Germany and Poland seemed to be just a license for the only now really safe persecution and annihilation of Germandom there. In the few years until 1922, over 1 ½ million Germans had to leave their former homeland. They were chased away, often even without being able to bring along the most essential clothing. When, in the year 1918, the Olsa region fell to Poland, they proceeded with the same methods against the Czechs living there. Many thousands of them, often within a few hours, had to leave their workplaces, their residences, their apartments, their villages, hardly with them being allowed to bring along even a suitcase or box with clothing. That is how things went in this state for years, and for years we have looked on, always striving to perhaps be able, through a restriction of our state political conditions, to achieve an improvement in the lot of the unhappy Germans living there. Only it could not be overseen that every German attempt to come to an elimination of the bad conditions along this path was interpreted by the Polish rulers as weakness, perhaps even as stupidity.
Since the Polish government now went about gradually subjugating Danzig as well along a thousand paths, I tried to secure a solution through suitable proposals, which national- politically could integrate Danzig into Germany according to the will of its population without damaging Poland’s economic requirements and so-called rights. If someone claims today that here it was about ultimatum demands, then this is a lie. For the solution proposals passed along to the Polish government in March 1939 were nothing else than the suggestions and ideas already discussed long in advance by me personally with Foreign Minister Beck. Only that I believed, in spring 1939, I could ease the Polish government’s acceptance of these proposals in the face of its own public opinion through the offer to be able to grant it as compensation a share in the security of its independence desired by Slovakia.
If the Polish government back then now refused the acceptance of a discussion of these proposals, then there were two reasons for this.
First: The rebellious chauvinistic driving forces standing behind it did not think at all about solving the problem of Danzig, rather, quite the opposite, they already lived in the hope, later presented in text and speech, of acquiring Reich territory far beyond Danzig, that hence meant being able to attack and to conquer. And indeed, these wishes did not stop at East Prussia, no, in a flood of publications and in a continued series of addresses and speeches, of resolutions etc., beyond the annexation of East Prussia, the annexation of Pomerania, Silesia, was demanded, the Oder as the minimum border, yes, in the end, even the Elbe designated as the natural dividing line between Germany and Poland.
These demands, perhaps today sensed as crazy, but back then presented with fanatical earnest, were motivated in a downright ridiculous manner with the claim of a “Polish civilizing mission” and portrayed as justified, because fulfillable, with the reference to the strength of the Polish army. While I sent the then Polish Foreign Minister the invitation to discussions about our proposals, the Polish military magazines already wrote about the worthlessness of the German army, the cowardice of the German soldier, the inferiority of German weapons, the obvious superiority of the Polish armed forces and the certainty, in the case of a war, of beating the Germans in front of Berlin and destroying the Reich. But the man who wanted to “chop up” the German army in front of Berlin, was not just any little Polish illiterate, rather the Generalissimo Rydz-Smigly presently sitting in Romania.
The injuries and insults that Germany and the German Wehrmacht had to suffer from these military dilettantes would not have been tolerated by any other state, however, they were also not to be expected from any other folk. No French and probably also no English general would have ever allowed himself a similar verdict over the German Wehrmacht and conversely no German one over the English, French or Italian soldiers, such as we have heard and read for years, and since March 1939, again and again from the Polish side. It took a lot of self-control to be calm in the face of this fresh, impertinent vilification despite the awareness that the German Wehrmacht would in a few weeks smash this whole ridiculous state together with its army and sweep it off the world. Just that this mental bearing, for which the leading stratum in Poland was itself responsible, formed the first reason why the Polish government rejected even debating the German proposals in a discussion.
The second reason, however, laid in the wretched guarantee promise that one gave to state that was not threatened at all, but which, now covered by two world powers, very quickly became accustomed to the conviction of being able to provoke a great power undisturbed and unpunished, yes, perhaps even hoped to thereby be able to bring out the prerequisite for the realization of its own crazy ambitions. For as soon as Poland knew itself in possession of this guarantee, there began for the minorities living there a genuine regime of terror. I do not have the task to speak of the lot of the Ukrainian or White Russian folk elements; their interests lie today with Russia. But I have the duty to talk about the lot of those hundreds of thousands of Germans, who for many hundreds of years first brought culture to this land, whom one now began to drive out, to suppress and to ravish, but who, since March 1939, were surrendered to a genuinely Satanic regime of terror. How many of them had been dragged off, where they are, cannot be ascertained even today. Towns with hundreds of German inhabitants no longer have any men. They have been completely exterminated. In others, one raped and murdered the women. Girls and boys, ravaged and killed.
In the year 1598, the Englishman Sir George Carew wrote in his diplomatic reports to the British government that the most prominent character traits of the Poles were cruelty and moral laxity. This cruelty has not changed in the past centuries since then. Just as one first butchered tens and tens of thousands of Germans and tortured them to death in a sadistic manner, so did one, during the fighting, torture and massacre captured German soldiers. This lap child of the western European democracies does not belong to the cultured nations at all. For over four years, I was in the great war in the west. On none of the fighting sides was anything similar ever done back then. But what has played out in this land in the last months and transpired in the last four weeks, is a sole indictment against the responsible doers of a so-called state structure, which lacked any ethical, historical, cultural and moral prerequisite. If even one percent of these atrocities were to be committed anywhere in the world against Englishmen, then I would like to see the outraged philistines who today, in hypocritical indignation, condemn the German or Russian action.
No! To issue to this state and this state leadership a guarantee, such as this happened, could only lead to the most severe misfortune. Neither the Polish government nor the small clique bearing it nor the Polish state folk as such were capable of measuring the responsibility that laid in such an obligation by half of Europe in their favor.
From this incited passion on the one hand as well as from the feeling of security, which, after all, Poland had been guaranteed under all circumstances, arose the behavior of the Polish government in the period between the months of April and August of this year. This also conditions the position toward my pacification proposals. The government rejected these proposals, because it felt itself covered or even driven on by public opinion, and public opinion covered it and drove it along this path, because it had not been taught better by the government and, above all, because it felt sufficiently secured in every act toward the outside. So it had to come to the increase of the terrible acts of terror against the German nationality, to the rejection of all solution proposals and, finally, to ever greater violations of Reich territory itself. Given such a mentality, however, it was probably also understandable that one then viewed German patience only as weakness, this means that every German concession was viewed only as proof for the possibility of further action. The warning to the Polish government to no longer annoy Danzig with ultimatum notes and, above all, to not definitively strangle the city economically, did not lead to an easing of the situation, rather, quite the opposite, to the transportation technical cutting off of the city. The warning to finally cease the eternal shootings, mistreatment and torture of ethnic Germans and to take action against these acts led to an increase of these cruel acts and to escalated proclamations and agitation speeches by the Polish Woiwoden and the military rulers. The German proposals, even at the last minute to bring about a reasonable and rational agreement, were answered with general mobilization. The German request, corresponding to the suggestion made by England itself to send an emissary, was not followed and on the second day answered with a downright ridiculous declaration.
Under these circumstances, it was clear that, given further attacks against Reich territory, German patience would now find its end. What the Poles had wrongly interpreted as weak-ness, was in reality our consciousness of responsibility and my will, if at all possible, to still come to an agreement. But since they believed this patience and this forbearance, as weakness, would allow them everything, there was nothing else left to do than to enlighten them about this error and finally strike back with the means that they themselves had made use of for years.
Under these blows, this state has now, in a few weeks, col-lapsed and been swept away. One of the most insane deeds of Versailles has thus been eliminated.
If now, in this German advance, an interest community with Russia has arisen, then this is based not only on the similarity of the problems that touch both states, rather also in the similarity of the realization that has developed in both states about the shaping of relations with each other.
I declared already in my Danzig speech that Russia is organized according to principles that are different from our own. Just that since it has been shown that Stalin viewed no obstacle in these Russian-Soviet principles to nurturing friendly relations with states of different view, National Socialist Germany as well no longer sees any reason on its own side, say, to apply a different yardstick.
Soviet Russia is Soviet Russia; National Socialist Germany is National Socialist Germany. But one thing is certain: at the same moment in which both states reciprocally respective their diverse regimes and principles, the reason for any mutually hostile bearing falls away.
It has been proven in historically long-time frames of the past that the folks of both these largest states of Europe were the happiest, when they lived in friendship with each other. The great war that Germany and Russia once waged against each other has become the misfortune of both lands. It is understandable that especially the capitalist lands of the west today possess an interest, if possible, in playing both states and their principles against each other. For this purpose and to this degree, they would view Soviet-Russia as sufficiently fit for good society to conclude useful military alliances with it. But they consider it a perfidy, if this honorable approach is rejected and, instead of it, an approach arises between both those powers that have every reason to seek in mutual peaceful cooperation, in the expansion of their economic relations, the happiness of their folks. I declared already a month ago in the Reichstag that the conclusion of the German-Russian non-aggression pact means a change in the whole of German foreign policy.
The new, meanwhile concluded, friendship and interest pact between Germany and Soviet-Russia will enable for both states not only peace, rather a fortunate permanent cooperation. Germany and Russia will together remove its threatening character from one of Europe’s most dangerous spots and contribute to the welfare of the people living there and thus to European peace.
If today certain circles, each per requirement, soon wants to see Russia’s defeat or Germany’s defeat, then I wish to give them the following reply: One has for many years ascribed to German policy goals that could at most stem from the imagination of a high school student. At a moment, when Germany struggles for the consolidation of a living space that encompasses only a few 100,000 square kilometers, unabashed newspaper writers declare in states that themselves rule 40 million square kilometers that Germany, for its part, strives for world domination. The German-Russian agreements would have to represent a tremendous soothing for these concerned advocates of world peace, for they show them, in a presumably authentic manner, that all these claims of Germany’s striving for the Urals, the Ukraine, Romania etc. were only the product of their sick Mars fantasy.
In one thing, however, Germany’s decision is inalterable, namely: in our Reich’s east as well to create peaceful, stable and hence tenable conditions. And precisely here, German interests and wishes coincide with those of Soviet Russia. Both states are determined to not allow that problematic conditions arise between them, which contain within themselves the seed for domestic unrest and hence also external disruptions that could perhaps unfavorably touch upon the relationship of both great powers to each other. Germany and Russia have hence drawn a clear line of the reciprocal interest spheres with the decision to each concern itself in its part for peace and order and to prevent everything that could inflict damage on the other partner.
The goals and tasks that result from the fall of the Polish state, insofar as the German interest sphere is concerned, are roughly as follows:
First, the establishment of a Reich border that does justice to the historical, ethnographic and economic facts.
Second, the pacification of the whole region in the sense of the establishment of a tenable peace and order.
Third, the absolute guarantee of the security of not only Reich territory, rather of the whole interest zone.
Fourth, the new order, the new construction of economic life, of commerce and hence also of cultural and civilizing development.
Fifth, as the most important task, however: a new order of the ethnographic conditions, this means a resettlement of the nationalities so that, at the conclusion of the development, better lines of separation result than is the case today.
In this sense, however, it is not just about a problem that is limited to this area, rather about a task that expands much farther. For the whole east and southeast of Europe is in part filled with untenable splinters of the German nationality. Precisely in them lies a reason and a cause for continued intrastate disturbances. In the age of the nationality principle and the race idea, it is utopian to believe that these members of a highly valuable folk could simply assimilate. But it also belongs to the tasks of a far-sighted ordering of European life to carry out resettlements here, in order to eliminate in this manner at least a portion of the European conflict issues.
Germany and the Union of the Soviet Republics have agreed to mutually support each other here. The German Reich government will never allow it in the process that the then resulting Polish remnant state could become a somehow disruptive element for the Reich itself or even a source of disturbances between the German Reich and Soviet Russia. If Germany and Soviet Russia undertake this reorganizational work, then both states can rightfully point out that the attempt to solve this problem with the methods of Versailles has totally failed. And it had to fail, because this task could not be solved at all on a theoretical basis at all or through simple decrees. Most of the statesmen who had to judge these complicated matters in Versailles did not possess the slightest historical education, yes, often not even the vaguest idea of the sense of the tasks put to them.
But they also bore no responsibility of any kind for the consequences of their action. The realization that their work might perhaps not be right after all was without significance, because, in practice, the path to a real revision did not exist. For in the Versailles Treaty, it was indeed foreseen that the possibility of such revisions had to remain open; just that, in reality, all the attempts to come to such a revision failed, and they had to fail all the more so as, after all, the League of Nations, as the authorized court, ceased to be able to claim the inner justification for the execution of such a procedure.
After first America refused to sanction the peace treaty of Versailles or even to join the League of Nations, but later other folks as well believed they could no longer reconcile their presence in this organization with the interests of their lands, this organization sank ever more into the circle of the interested parties of the Versailles dictate. It is a fact, at any rate, that none of the revisions recognized from the start as necessary were carried out by the League of Nations.
Since, in the present time, the practice has taken root that a fled government is still viewed as existent, even if it consists of just three members, insofar as they have just brought along so much gold that they do not become an economic burden to their democratic host lands, it is to be presumed, after all, that the League of Nations as well will valiantly continue to exist, even if only two nations sit together in it, yes, in the end, perhaps even only one does it! According to the law of the League, however, any revision of the Versailles clauses would still be exclusively subject to this illustrious association, this means, in other words, practically be impossible.
Now the League of Nations is not a living thing, rather already today something dead. But the affected folks are not dead, rather they live, and they will achieve their life interests even if the League of Nations should be incapable of seeing, comprehending or considering them.
National Socialism is hence also not a manifestation that grew up in Germany with the malicious intent of preventing the League of Nation’s revision efforts, rather a movement that came because, for 15 years, one prevented the revision of the suppression of the natural human and folk rights of a great nation. And I personally wish to forbid it, if a foreign statesman now stands up and declares I have broken my word, because I have now carried out these revisions. Quite the opposite, I have given the German folk my sacred word to eliminate the Versailles Treaty and to return to it the natural life right as great nation. The extent to which I secure this life right is a modest one. If 46 million English in the mother land claim the right to rule 40 million square kilometers of the earth, then it is probably no injustice, if 82 million Germans demand the right to live in 800,000 square kilometers, to cultivate their cropland there and to pursue their trades. And if they further demand that one gives back to them that colonial possession that was once their own, which they took from nobody through robbery or war, rather which they acquired honestly through purchase, swap and treaties.
I furthermore tried with all the demands that I made to always first achieve the revisions along the path of negotiations. But I refuse to present the German life right to any international, unauthorized consortium as most servile request. As little as I presume that Great Britain requests the respect of its life interests, just as little should one expect the same from National Socialist Germany. But I have - I must declare this here in a solemn manner - extraordinarily limited the extent of these revisions of the Versailles peace treaty. Especially everywhere I did not see my folk’s most natural life interests threatened, I myself have advised the German folk to be modest or to renounce. But these 80 million must live somewhere. For even the Versailles Treaty was not able to remove from the world one fact: it did, indeed in an unreasonable manner, dissolve states, rip apart economic regions, severe transportation lines etc.; but the folks, this means the living substance of flesh and blood, have remained, and they will remain in the future as well.
Now it cannot be contested that, since the German folk has received and found its resurrection in National Socialism, a clarification of the German relationship to the surrounding world has set in to a large degree. The uncertainty that today burdens the coexistence of folks does not stem from German demands, rather from the publicized accusations from the so-called democracies. The German demands themselves have been presented very clearly and precisely. But they have not found their fulfillment thanks to the insight of the Geneva League of Nations, rather thanks to the dynamics of the natural development. The goal of the Reich’s foreign policy led by me, however, was in no case a different one than to ensure for the German folk existence and hence life, to eliminate the injustices and lunacies of a treaty that, after all, has economically destroyed not only Germany, rather dragged the victor nations exactly the same into ruin.
Furthermore, however, the whole work of the Reich’s reconstruction was one aimed inwardly. In no other land in the world was hence the yearning for peace also greater than in the German folk. It is a good fortune for mankind and no misfortune that I managed, without domestic political burdening of the foreign statesmen, to peacefully eliminate the most insane impossibilities of the Versailles treaty. That this elimination may in details be painful for certain interested parties, is understandable. Just that all the greater is probably the credit that the new regulation in all cases, with the exception of the last, took place without bloodshed. The last revision of this treaty, however, could have taken place exactly the same way along peaceful path, if the two circumstances mentioned by me had not worked out for the opposite. But the blame for that is born primarily by those who were not only not highly pleased by the previous revisions, rather who, quite the opposite, complained about seeing a new central Europe building itself along peaceful path, and indeed a central Europe that could gradually again give its inhabitants work and bread.
I have mentioned that it was a goal of the Reich government to bring clarity to the relations between us and our neighbors. And I may here now refer to facts that cannot be removed from the world by the writings of international press liars:
First, Germany has concluded non-aggression pacts with the Baltic lands. Its interests there are of a purely economic nature.
Second, already earlier, Germany has had no conflicts of interest or even points of dispute with the Nordic states, and today it has them just as little. Sweden and Norway have both been offered non-aggression pacts by Germany and only rejected them, because they themselves felt in no way threatened.
Third, Germany has drawn no consequences toward Denmark in regard to the separation of German territory undertaken in the Versailles treaty, rather, quite the opposite, established a loyal and friendly relationship with Denmark. We have raised no kind of demands for a revision, rather concluded a non-aggression pact with Denmark. The relationship with this state is hence directed at an inalterable loyal and friendly cooperation.
Fourth, Holland: The new Reich has sought to continue the traditional friendship with Holland, it has adopted no difference between both states and has created no new differences.
Fifth, Belgium: I tried immediately after the assumption of state business to shape the relationship to Belgium more friendly. I have renounced any revision, any revision wish. The Reich has placed no demands that would have been somehow suited to be felt as a threat in Belgium.
Sixth, Switzerland: Germany takes the same stance toward Switzerland. The Reich government has never given even the slightest cause for a doubt of its wish for a loyal shaping of the relations between both lands. Furthermore, it has never itself brought a complaint about the relationship between both lands.
Seventh, I informed Yugoslavia immediately after the accomplished annexation that the border with this state as well is from now an inalterable for Germany and that we only wish to live in peace and friendship with it.
Eighth, A many years long tradition bond of close and hearty friendship connects us to Hungary. Here, too, the borders are inalterable.
Ninth, Slovakia itself directed the wish for help to Germany on the occasion of its emergence. Its independence is acknowledged by the Reich and not impugned.
But not only with these states has Germany clarified and regulated the relations, still in part burdened by the Versailles treaty, rather also with the great powers.
In union with II Duce, I have produced a change in the Reich’s relationship with Italy. The borders existing between both states have been solemnly acknowledged by both empires as inalterable. Any possibility of opposing interests of territorial nature was eliminated. The former opponents of the World War have meanwhile become sincere friends.
It did not stop with a normalization of relations, rather this led in the following period to the conclusion of an ideologically and politically based close pact, which has had the effect of a strong element of European cooperation.
But I have, above all, undertaken to decontaminate the relationship with France and to make it bearable for both nations. I have presented here in the utmost clarity the German demands, and I have never deviated from these demands. The return of the Saar region was the sole demand that I viewed as the unconditional prerequisite for a German-French reconciliation. After France itself loyally solved this problem, any further German demand on France fell away; no such demand still exists, and such a demand will also never be raised. This means: I have rejected even just bringing to discussion the problem of Alsace-Lorraine - not because I would have been compelled to it, rather because this matter is no problem at all that could ever stand between the German-French relationship. I have accepted the decision of the year 1919 and rejected sooner or later again going to a bloody war for a question that stands in no relationship to the German life necessities, but is indeed suited to plunge every second generation into a wretched conflict. France knows this. It is impossible that whatever French statesman stands up and declares I had ever put a demand to France whose fulfillment would have been incompatible with French honor or with French interests.
But I have indeed put to France, instead of a demand, always just one wish, to bury the old hostility forever and to let both nations with their great historical past to find the path to each other. I have done everything in order to exterminate in the German folk the idea of an inalterable traditional hostility and in its place to implant respect for the great accomplishments of the French folk, of its history, just like every German soldier has the greatest respect for the accomplishments of the French armed forces.
No lesser were my efforts for a German-English reconciliation, yes, beyond that, for a German-English friendship. Never and at no point have I really opposed British interests. Unfortunately, only all too often did I have to defend myself against English inventions into German interests, even where they did not touch England in the least. I have downright felt it a goal of my life to bring both folks closer to each other, not only rationally, rather also emotionally. If my effort failed, then only because there existed a downright shocking hostility toward me personally in a portion of the British statesmen and journalists, who made no secret of it that it was their sole goal, for reasons that are inexplicable for us, to again take up the fight against Germany at the first opportunity offering itself. The less objective reasons these men have for their plan, the more they try to fake the motivation for their action with empty slogans and claims. But I still believe even today that a real pacification in Europe and in the world can only exist, if Germany and England reconcile. From this conviction, I have very often taken the path toward reconciliation. If this, in the end, nonetheless did not lead to the desired result, then it was really not my fault.
As final thing, I have now tried to normalize the Reich’s relations with Soviet Russia and finally put them on a friendly basis. Thanks to Stalin’s same thinking, this has now also succeeded. With this state as well, a permanent friendly relationship has now been established, whose effect will be beneficial for both folks.
So overall, the revision of the Versailles treaty carried out by me has not created chaos in Europe, rather, quite the opposite, the prerequisite for clear, stable and, above all, bearable conditions. And only the person who hates this order of European conditions and desires disorder, can be an enemy of these actions.
But if one believes, with hypocritical bearing, to have to reject the methods through which a bearable order has arisen in the central European region, then I can only reply that, in the final analysis, not so much the method is decisive as the practical success.
Before my assumption to power, Europe was sinking, and indeed, not only Germany, rather also the surrounding states, in the distress of cheerless unemployment. Production fell, and hence people’s consumption invariably also decreased. The living standard sank, distress and misery were the results. None of the criticizing foreign statesmen can dispute that, not only in the old Reich, rather also in all regions united with it, it has been possible to eliminate these symptoms of decay, and indeed, under the most difficult circumstances. It has hence been proven that this central European region is capable of life only if united and that the person who divides it commits a crime against millions of people. To have now eliminated this crime is not a breach of faith, rather my honor, my pride and a great historical achievement. Neither the German folk nor I took an oath to the treaty of Versailles, rather I only took an oath to the well-being of my folk, whose agent I am, and to the well-being of those whom fate has put in our living space and thereby indissolubly bound to our own well-being. To secure for all of them existence and thus life, is my sole care. The attempt to criticize, to judge or to reject my action from the rostrum of an international obstinacy, is un-historical and leaves me personally ice cold. The German folk has summoned me through its trust and is only strengthened in this stance toward me through any such attempt of a foreign criticism or intervention.
Furthermore, I first disseminated proposals before each individual revision. I tried, along the path of negotiations, to achieve and secure the unconditionally necessary. I also succeeded in this in a series of cases. In other cases, however, my will for negotiation, and often also the small extent of my demands, the modesty of my proposals, was, unfortunately, interpreted as weakness and hence rejected. This could hurt nobody more than me myself. Just that there exist in the life of folks necessities which, if they do not find their solution along peaceful path, must then achieve their realization through strength. This may be regrettable; but this is true just as much for the life of the individual citizens as for the life of the community.
The principle that the largest interest common to all cannot be harmed by the obstinacy, or even the malicious will, of individuals and individual communities, is irrefutably correct.
I presented the most moderate proposals to Poland as well. They did not fall to mere rejection, rather, quite the opposite, they led to the general mobilization of this state with a justification that makes perfectly clear that one believed to see precisely in the modesty of my proposals the confirmation for my weakness, yes, in the end, even for my fear.
Actually, this experience would have to make one reluctant to still present at all reasonable and moderate proposals. These days as well, I already read in certain newspapers that any attempt for a peaceful arrangement of the relationship between Germany on the one side and England and France on the other is out of the question, and that any proposal in this direction only proves that, filled with fear, I see before me Germany’s collapse, hence that I make it only out of fear or from a bad conscience.
If I now nonetheless announce my thoughts on this problem, then I hence take it upon myself of being seen in the eyes of these people as coward or as desperate. I can also do this, because the verdict over me in history, thank God, will not one day be written by these pitiful scribblers, rather stands from through my life work and because it is rather indifferent to me, which judgement I now receive at the moment from these people. My prestige is great enough in order to allow myself such a thing. For whether I now announce my following thoughts really out of fear or desperation, that, after all, the later course of things will prove in any case. Today I can, at most, regret that the people who, in their thirst for blood, cannot see enough war, unfortunately are not where the war is really fought out, and even already earlier were not where there was shooting. I understand very well that there are interested parties who earn more from war than from peace, and I further understand that, for a certain species of international journalists, it is more interesting to report about war than about the actions or even the cultural creations of peace, which they cannot gauge and cannot comprehend; and, finally, it is clear to me that a certain Jewish-international capitalism and journalism does not sympathize with the folks at all, whose interest they pretend to represent, rather as Herostratus of human society see the greatest success of their life in arson.
But I also believe, for yet another reason, to have to raise my voice here. If I today read certain international press organs or hear the speeches of various hot-headed war glorifiers, then I believe I speak and reply in the name of those who must provide the living substance for the intellectual activity of these war goal setters - that living substance to which I, as unknown soldier, also belonged for four years in the Great War. The effect is splendid, if a statesman or journalist stands up and proclaims in glowing words the necessity of the elimination of the regime in another country in the name of democracy or of something similar. The execution of this glorious slogan, however, then looks quite different. Today newspaper articles are being written that can be sure of the enthusiastic agreement of a genteel reading public. The realization of the demands contained in them, however, has a much less enthusiastic effect. I do not want to say anything here about the judgment or ability of these people. But whatever they may write: the real nature of such a conflict is not touched by it. Before the Polish campaign, these scribblers wrote the German infantry was perhaps not bad, just the armored branch - the motorized formations over all - were inferior and would simply fail in any action. - Now, after Poland’s destruction, the same people write with straight face that the Polish armies collapsed only because of the German panzers and the rest of the Reich’s motorization, but that, in comparison, the German infantry, in a downright amazing manner, had deteriorated and came up short even in the clash with the Poles. Such an author writes this literally - one rightly sees therein a favorable symptom for the conduct of the war in the west, and the French soldier will notice this.
I believe that as well, insofar as he really faces it and can still remember it later. He will then presumably take this military soothsayer by the ears. But, unfortunately, that will also be impossible again, because these people, after all, never test the competence or inferiority of German infantry personally on the battlefield at all, rather only describe it in their editorial offices. Six weeks - what then! - fourteen days of drum-fire, and the gentlemen war propagandists would quickly come to a different view. They also talk about necessary world political events, but they do not know the military course of things. Just that I know it all the better, and hence I also consider it my duty to speak here, even at the risk that the war agitators again see in this my speech just an expression of my fear and a symptom for the degree of my desperation.
Why then should this war take place? For Poland’s restoration? The Poland of the Versailles treaty will never rise again! The two greatest states on earth guarantee that. The final shaping of this region, the question of the restoration of a Polish state, are problems that are not solved through war in the west, rather exclusively by Russia in one case and by Germany in the other. Furthermore, any elimination of both these powers in the regions in question would not produce a new state, rather total chaos. The problems that are to be solved there will be solved neither at the conference table nor in editorial offices, rather in decades long work. It simply does not suffice that a few statesmen, who, in the final analysis, are disinterested in the fate of the affected people, come together and issue decrees, rather it is necessary that somebody who is himself involved in the life of these regions takes over the work for the restoration of a really permanent condition. The ability of the western democracies for the creation of such orderly conditions, leastwise in the recent period, has been proven by nothing. The example of Palestine shows how it would be better to occupy oneself with the existing problems and to rationally solve them than to concern oneself with problems that lie within the life and interest sphere of other folks and can be better mastered by them. At any rate, Germany has not only secured peace and order in its protectorate Bohemia and Moravia, rather, above all, also laid the foundation for a new economic blossoming and for ever more close agreement between both nations. England will still have very much to do before it will be able to point to similar results in its Palestinian protectorate.
One furthermore knows quite precisely that it would be an absurdity to destroy millions of human lives and ruin hundreds of billions in assets in order, say, to again set up a structure that, already at its first emergence, was designated a miscarriage by all non-Poles. So what else should be the reason? Has Germany put any demand to England that, say, threatens the British World Empire or puts its existence into question? No, quite the opposite! Neither to France nor to England has Germany directed any such demand. But if this war should really only be waged in order to give Germany a new regime, this means, in order to again smash the present Reich and consequently create a new Versailles, then millions of people will be pointlessly sacrificed, for neither will the German Reich break nor will a second Versailles emerge!
But even if, after a three or five- or eight-year war, that should succeed, then this second Versailles would for the following period already again become a source for new conflicts. In any case, however, a regulation of the problems of the world without consideration of the life interests of its strongest folks would, in five or ten years, end no differently at all than this attempt ended 20 years ago today. No, this war in the west regulates no problem at all, be it the ruined finances of a few armaments’ industrialists and newspaper owners or other international war profiteers.
Two problems today stand to discussion:
First, the regulation of the questions arising from Poland’s disintegration and second, the problem of the elimination of those international concerns that politically and economically hamper the life of the folks.
What then are the goals of the Reich government in regard to the ordering of the conditions in this region, which west of the German Soviet Russian demarcation line is recognized as German sphere influence?
First, the creation of a Reich border, which - as already emphasized - corresponds to the historical, ethnographic and economic facts, second, the arranging of the whole living space according to nationalities, this means a solution of those minority questions that touch not only this region, rather, beyond that, affect almost all southern and southeastern European states, third, in the connection, the attempt of an arranging and regulation of the Jewish problem, fourth, the rebuilding of commercial and economic life for the benefit of all people living in this region, fifth, the guarantee of the security of this whole region and sixth, the creation of a Polish state that, in its construction and its leadership, offers a guarantee that neither a new fire against the German Reich arises nor an intrigue central against Germany and Russia is formed.
Beyond that, it must immediately be attempted to eliminate the effects of the war, or at least to mitigate them, this means soothing the excessive suffering present through practical aid activity.
These tasks - as already emphasized - can indeed be dis-cussed at a conference table, but never solved. If Europe is at all concerned about calm and peace, then the European states would have to be grateful that Russia and Germany are ready to now turn this trouble spot into a zone of peaceful development, that both lands assume responsibility and hence also make sacrifices. For the German Reich, this task, since it cannot be taken imperialistically, means an activity for 50 or 100 years. The justification for this German work lies in the political organization of the region as well as in the economic opening up. In the final analysis, however, both benefit all of Europe.
The second, and, in my eyes, far more important, task, however, is the creation of not only the conviction, rather also of the feelings, of a European security. Necessary for this it that first, an unconditional clarity about the goals of foreign policy in the European states sets in. Insofar as Germany is concerned, the Reich government is ready to provide a complete and total clarity about its foreign political intentions. In the process, it puts at the top of this declaration the statement that the Versailles treaty is viewed by it as no longer existing, this means that the German Reich government, and with it the whole German folk, sees no reason for any further revision outside of the demand for colonial possession due to and corresponding to the Reich, hence, above all, the return of the German colonies.
This demand for colonies is justified not only in historical legal claim, rather, above all, in the elementary legal claim to a participation in the earth’s raw material sources. This demand is not an ultimatum, and it is not a demand behind which force stands, rather a demand of political justice and of economic common sense.
Second, the demand for a real blossoming of the international economy, in connection with the increase of trade and commerce, is preconditioned by the repair of the domestic economies, this means of production inside the individual states. To ease the exchange of this production, however, one must come to a new arrangement of the markets and to a permanent regulation of the currencies in order to gradually dismantle the obstacles to free trade.
Third, the most important prerequisite, however, for an economic blossoming of the European and extra-European economy is the creation of an unconditionally guaranteed peace and of a feeling of security for the individual folks. This security will be made possible not only through the final sanctioning of the European status, rather, above all, through the reduction of armaments to a reasonable, and also economically bearable, magnitude. To this necessary feeling of security belongs, above all, however, a clarification of the utilization and the range of utilization of certain modern weapons, which, in their effect, are suited to strike at any time into the heart of each individual folk, and which will hence leave behind an enduring feeling of insecurity. I have already, in my earlier Reichstag speeches, made proposals in this direction. Back then - probably already because they came from me -, they fell to rejection. But I believe that the feeling of a national security in Europe will only arrive, if in this area, through clear international and binding obligations, an extensive fixing of the concept of allowed and not allowed weapons utilization takes place.
Just as the Geneva Convention once managed, leastwise among civilized states, to prohibit the killing of wounded, the mistreatment of prisoners, combat against non-belligerents etc., and just as it managed to help this ban, over the course of time, to general adherence, so must it manage to so set down the use of air force, the use of gas etc., of the U-boat, but also the concept of contraband, so that war loses the terrible character of a fight against women and children and against non-belligerents overall. The horror of certain actions will then, on its own, lead to the elimination of the weapons then become superfluous. I have endeavored, already in this war with Poland, to let the Luftwaffe be used only against so-called military objects, this means only put in an appearance, if active resistance is offered at a point.
But it must be possible, with reference to the Red Cross, to find a fundamental, commonly valid international regulation. Only under such preconditions, especially in our densely populated continent, will a peace arrive, which then, freed of mistrust and of fear, can provide the prerequisite for a real blossoming of economic life as well. I believe there is no responsible European statesman who does not, in the bottom of heart, wish for his folk’s blossoming. A realization of this dream, however, is conceivable only in the framework of a general cooperation of the nations of this continent. To ensure this cooperation can hence only be the goal of every man really wrestling for the future of his own folk, too.
In order to reach this great goal, the great nations on this continent will have to come together in order to work out, accept and guarantee in an extensive regulation a statute that gives all of them the feeling of security, of calm and hence of peace. It is impossible that such a conference convenes without the most thorough preliminary work, this means without the clarification of the individual points and, above all, without preparatory work. But it is just as impossible that such a conference, which is supposed to decide the fate of precisely this continent for decades, is active under the roar of canons or also just under the pressure of mobilized armies. But if, sooner or later, this problem must be solved nonetheless, then it would be more reasonable to get at this solution before first millions of people have pointlessly bled to death and billions in assets have been destroyed.
The preservation of the present condition in the west is unthinkable. Each day will soon demand increasing sacrifices. Perhaps France will then one day, for the first time, bombard Saarbrücken. German artillery, for its part, will crush Mülhausen as revenge. France will then itself again, as revenge, put Karlsruhe under the fire of cannons, and Germany again Straßburg. Then the French artillery will shoot at Freiburg and the German at Kolmar or Schlettstadt. One will then deploy farther reaching guns, and what finally cannot be reached by the long-range guns, the pilots will destroy. And it will be very interesting for a certain international journalism and very useful for the manufacturers of planes, of weapons, of munitions etc., but horrible for the victims.
And this war of annihilation will not just limit itself to the mainland. No, it will stretch far out over the sea. Today there are no longer any islands.
And the European national fortune will burst in shells and folk energy will bleed to death on the battlefields. One day, however, there will nonetheless again be a border between Germany and France. Only that on it, then, instead of blossoming cites, fields of rubble and endless cemeteries will stretch.
Mr. Churchill and his comrades may now calmly interpret this my view as weakness or as cowardice. I do not have to deal with their opinions. I only provide this explanation, because I naturally wish to spare my folk as well this suffering. But if the view of Mr. Churchill and his entourage should remain successful, then this explanation will simply have been my last one. We will then fight!
Neither force of arms nor time will subdue Germany. A November 1918 will never again repeat itself in German history. The hope for a disintegration of our folk, however, is childish. Mr. Churchill may be of the conviction that Great Britain will triumph. Not for a second do I doubt that Germany triumphs!
Fate will decide who is right. Only one thing is sure: never yet in world history have their been two victors, but often only defeated. Already in the last war, this seems to me to have been the case.
May those folks and their leaders now speak, who are of the same view, and may those push back my hand, who believe they must see war as the better solution. As Führer of the German folk and as chancellor of the Reich, I can only thank the Lord at this moment that he has so wonderfully blessed us in the first difficult fight for our right, and ask him to let us and all others find the right path so that not only the German folk, rather all of Europe, is allotted a new good fortune of peace.