Delegates! Men of the German Reichstag! Amidst the mighty struggle for the freedom and for the future of the German nation, I have had you summoned to this session.
The reasons for this lie in the necessity to provide our own German folk with insight into the historical uniqueness of the events that we experienced, but to thank the serving soldiers, as well as the intention to direct still another, this time the last, appeal to common sense.
Whoever brings the triggering moments of this historical conflict into comparison with the magnitude, the size and the breadth of the military events, must gain the realization that the events and sacrifices of this struggle stand in no relation to the claimed causes, unless these causes themselves were mere pretexts for intentions lying hidden.
The program of the National Socialist movement, insofar as it related to the future shaping of the Reich’s relationship with the surrounding world, was an attempt to bring about a revision of the Versailles treaty under all circumstances - but, insofar as possible, along a peaceful path.
This revision was a naturally necessary one. The indefensibility of the Versailles decrees laid not only in the humiliating discrimination, the disenfranchisement corresponding to the ensured disarmament of the German folk, rather, above all, in the thereby resulting material destruction of the present and the intended destruction of the future of one of the world’s greatest cultured folks, in the totally senseless amassing of huge amounts of lands under the rule of a few states, in the robbing of the vanquished of their irreplaceable life foundations and most essential life goods. The fact that, already during the composition of this treaty, insightful men on the side of our opponents as well warned against the final realization of the decrees of this work of insanity, is evidence for the conviction prevailing even in those ranks of the impossibility of being able to uphold this dictate in the future. Their reservations and their protests, however, were brought to silence with the assurance that the newly formed League of Nations secured in its statutes the possibility of a revision of these decrees. The hope for a revision was accordingly at no time viewed as something unwarranted, rather as something natural. Unfortunately, corresponding to the will of the responsible men of the Versailles treaty, the Geneva institution did not view itself as an institution for the bringing about of reasonable revisions, rather from the beginning on only as the guarantor of the ruthless execution and upholding of the Versailles decrees.
All attempts by democratic Germany to achieve the German folk’s equality along the path of revision remained unsuccessful.
It lies now in the interest of a victor to present the decrees useful for him as sacred for all, but in the nature of the self-preservation drive of the defeated to again regain for himself general human rights. For him, the dictate of the arrogant opponent has all the less legal force, since the opponent back then was not an honest victor. A rare misfortune had it that the German Reich was very badly led in the years 1914-1918. Our collapse is to be attributed to this and to the, not yet otherwise taught, faith and trust of the German folk in the words of democratic statesmen.
Hence the British-French claim to pass off the Versailles dictate as a kind of international or even higher legislation was for any honest German nothing else than an arrogant presumption, the premise, however, that precisely the English or French statesmen were the guardians of right in itself or even of human culture, a stupid insolence. An insolence that is sufficiently illuminated through their own highly inferior accomplishments in these areas. For the world has rarely been governed with a greater minimum in cleverness, morality and culture than in that portion which, in a time of chaos, is surrendered to certain democratic statesmen.
The National Socialist movement has proclaimed in its program, aside from the internal release from the Jewish-capitalist chains of a pluto-democratic, thin exploiter stratum, externally the decision for the Reich’s liberation from the chains of the Versailles dictate.
The German demands for this revision were naturally necessary, for the existence and honor of any great folk self-evident ones. They will probably be characterized by posterity one day as infinitely moderate.
But in practice, all these demands had to be put through against the will of the British-French rulers. We all viewed it as a real success of the Third Reich’s leadership that the realization of this revision was achieved for years without war. Not because we - as the British and French demagogues claimed - were not in a position for war. But when it finally seemed that, thanks to certain awakening reason, the remaining problems could also be brought to a peaceful solution through an international cooperation, then the agreement reached by the four mainly involved large states on September 29, 1933 in Munich was not only not welcomed in the media in London and Paris, rather damned as contemptible sign of weakness.
The blood-stained Jewish-capitalist war agitators saw in the possibility of the success of such a peaceful revision the disappearance of tangible excuses for the realization of their crazy plans. That manifestation of pitiful corruptible political creatures and money-greedy finance magnets put in an appearance, for whom war is a welcomed means to make their businesses better prosper. The international Jewish poison of folks began to have an ever more decaying effect on any healthy reason, the men of letters managed to portray the decent men who wanted peace as weaklings, yes, as traitors, to denounce the opposition parties as fifth column, in order to eliminate any internal resistance against their criminal war policy. Jews and Freemasons, armament manufacturers and war profiteers, international traders, stock-exchange jobbers found political subjects, desperados and Herostratus natures who presented war as desirable and hence to be wished for.
It is to be ascribed to these criminal elements that the Polish state was encouraged to take a stance that stood in no relation to the German demands and even much less to the thereby produced consequences.
For precisely toward Poland, the German Reich has practiced true self-control since the National Socialist assumption of leadership. One of the vilest and dumbest measures of the Versailles treaty, namely, the separation of an old German province from the Reich, in itself already screamed for a revision! And what did I demand back then?
I may intervene with my person here, because no other statesman would have been able to dare to suggest to the German nation a solution such as I did. It was only Danzig’s return - thus of an ancient, purely German city - to the Reich as well as the creation of a link from the Reich to its torn off province, and even that only under the acceptance of a plebiscite, which itself was again supposed to be monitored by an international forum. If Mr. Churchill and the other warmongers had felt within themselves just a fraction of that responsibility that I felt toward Europe, they would not have been able to undertake their vile game.
For it is to be ascribed only to these and all other European and non-European war interested parties that Poland rejected proposals touching somehow neither its honor nor its existence and instead turned to terror and arms. And here it was a truly superhuman restraint probably without example that let us for months still seek the peaceful path of an agreement despite the continuous murders or ethnic Germans, yes, finally, despite the slaughter of tens of thousands of folk comrades.
For what was the situation?
One of the most unrealistic creations of the Versailles dictate, politically and militarily only a blown up scarecrow, insults for months a state and threatens to thrash it, to wage battles in front of Berlin, to chop up the German armies, to move the border to the Oder or the Elbe and so forth. And this state, Germany, patiently watches this activity for months, even though it would have required only a sweep of its arm in order to smash this bubble blown up by stupidity and arrogance.
Still on September 2nd, this fight could have been avoided. Mussolini made a proposal for an immediate cessation of all hostilities and for peaceful negotiations. Although Germany saw its armies victoriously charging forward, I nonetheless accepted it. Solely the English-French war agitators needed war and not peace. And they needed a long war, as Mr. Churchill expressed back then, at least three years long, for they had, after all, meanwhile invested their capital in armament stocks, acquired machinery and now needed the time prerequisite for the blossoming of their businesses and for the amortization of their investments. And furthermore: What value do Poles, Czechs or similar folks have for these cosmopolitans?
A German soldier found a peculiar document at the La Charite train station on June 19, 1940 during the search of the cars there. He immediately delivered this document - since it bore a special notation - to his superiors. From there, this paper passed to more offices, which now became clear that they were on the track of an important enlightenment. The train station was subjected to another thorough search. So came into the hands of the high command of the Wehrmacht a collection of documents of unique historical significance. Found were the secret files of the Allied Supreme War Council, including the protocols of all sessions of this illustrious association. And this time, it will not be possible for Mr. Churchill to simply contest or deny the truth of the documents, like he had tried to do back then with the files from Warsaw.
For the documents all bear the handwritten border notations of the gentlemen Gamelin, Daladier, Weygand etc., so they can be confirmed by them at any time, but not disputed. And these documents now provide information about the activity of the gentlemen war interested parties and war spreaders. They will show, above all, how, for these ice-cold politicians and military men, the small folks are only means to an end, how they tried to utilize Finland for their interests, how they decided to make Norway and Sweden war theaters, how they intended to put the Balkans to the torch in order get to a hundred divisions from there as help, how they made preparations for the bombardment of Batum and Baku, under an equally cunning and unscrupulous interpretation of Turkish neutrality not averse to them, how they drew the Netherlands and Belgium ever deeper into their trap and finally entangled them in binding general staff agreements and so much more.
But the documents also provide a picture of the whole amateurish method with which these politics practicing war agitators sought to control the fire set by them, of their military democracy, which is coresponsible for the horrible fate that they have inflicted upon hundreds of thousands and millions of soldiers of their own lands, of their barbaric ruthlessness, with which they quite coldly intentionally drove their folks to mass evacuations, whose general human consequences, however, were shockingly horrible.
The same criminals, however, are simultaneously the responsible people for the incitement of the Poles into war.
18 days later, this campaign was practically finished.
On October 6, 1939, 1 spoke from this spot for the second time in the war to the German folk. I could report to it the militarily radiant subjugation of the Polish state. Back then, I simultaneously directed an appeal to the responsible men in the hostile states and to the folks themselves. I warned against a continuation of the war, whose consequences could only be devastating. I warned especially the French against waging a fight that invariably eats its way from the border and, regardless of how its end would be, would be terrible in its consequences. I also directed this appeal to the rest of the world back then, but - as I expressed it - with the fear of not only not being heard, rather of thereby probably really arousing the rage of the interested war agitators. It then turned out exactly that way. The responsible elements in England and French scented in my appeal a dangerous attack against their war business. They hence immediately went about declaring that any thought of an agreement would be futile, yes, would be judged a crime, that the war had to be continued in the name of culture, of humanity, of happiness, of progress, of civilization and - help what can help - also in the name of sacred religion, and that, for this purpose, Negroes and bushmen had to be mobilized, and that then victory would invariably come all by itself, that one actually just needed to reach for it, and that 1 knew this exactly, and that, for this reason alone, I would present my appeal for peace to the world. For if I were in the position to believe in victory, then I would not, after all, have proposed to England and France an agreement without any demand! In a few days, these gentlemen managed to portray me to the rest of the world as a downright coward.
Because of my peace proposal, I was cursed, personally insulted, Mr. Chamberlain literally spit at me before the world media and refused, corresponding to the directives of the agitators and instigators standing behind him, Churchill, Duff Cooper, Eden, Hore Belisha etc., to even just talk about a peace, let alone to act for one.
So this big capitalist interest clique screamed for the continuation of the war. This continuation has now taken its start.
I had once already assured, and all of you, my folk comrades, know it, that - if for a prolonged period I do not speak and if nothing else happens - this does not mean that hence I am also not doing anything. Among us, it is not necessary, like in the democracies, to multiply by five or by twelve every airplane that is built and then to shout it out into the world. It is not very clever for hens to announce every egg lain with a loud voice. But it is even dumber, if statements brag to the contemporary world about projects that they are only planning in order to inform them in advance. We owe to the excited chatter of two of these big democratic directors of the state constant knowledge of our opponents’ war expansion plans, and especially of their concentration on Norway and Sweden.
While this British-French war clique hence kept a lookout in order to find new war expansion possibilities and to catch new victims, I have endeavored to complete the organizational structure of the German Wehrmacht, to create new formations, to get the war production of material underway as well as to arrange the final schooling of the whole Wehrmacht for its new tasks. Furthermore, the bad weather of late autumn and winter forced a postponement of military operations. Over the course of the month of March, however, we gained knowledge of British-French intentions to intervene into the Russian-Finnish conflict, probably less in order to help Finland than to harm Russia, in which one saw a power working with Germany. From this intention then developed the decision, if at all possible, to intervene in Finland ourselves in order to thereby receive a basis for the carrying of the war into the Baltic Sea. But simultaneously, proposals by the Allied Supreme War Council popped up ever more strongly either to put the Balkans and Asia Minor to the torch in order to thereby cut off from the Reich Russian and Romanian oil imports or to get Swedish iron ore into their hands. For this purpose, a landing in Norway was undertaken with the goal, above all, to occupy the ore railway from Narvik across Sweden to the harbor of Lulea.
At the last minute, the Russian-Finnish peace accord made the already eyed action in the Nordic states recede again. Only already just a few days later, these intentions congealed anew and now found their expression in a clear decision. England and France had agreed to suddenly undertake the occupation of a number of the most important points in Norway under the pretext of thereby preventing the further war support of Germany through Swedish ore. In order to then totally secure Swedish ore, it was intended to march into Sweden itself and, if possible, on friendly terms, if necessary, by force, push aside the weak forces (which Sweden was in the position to mobilize).
That the threat was imminent, we learned through the untamable talkativeness of the First Lord of the British Admiralty personally. We further received confirmation for it through a reference which French Minister-President Reynaud made to a foreign diplomat. But that this schedule, already before April 8th, had been postponed twice and that the occupation was supposed to take place on April 8th, that hence the 8th was the third and thereby final date, we have known for only a shorter time, yes, finally confirmed only since the discovery of the protocols of the Supreme Allied War Council.
I have now, as soon as the threat of Norway’s being drawn into the war became clear, arranged the necessary measures for the German Wehrmacht as well.
The “Altmark” incident already showed that the Norwegian government was not ready to maintain its neutrality. Beyond that, agent reports revealed that, at least between the leading heads of the Norwegian government and the Allies, total agreement already existed. Finally, Norway’s reaction to the penetration by British minelayers into Norwegian sovereign territory banished even the last doubt. The German operation prepared down to the smallest detail was hence triggered.
Actually, the situation was now a bit different than it portrayed itself to us on April 9th. While we believed back then that we had anticipated the English occupation by a few hours, we know today that the landing of the English troops had been planned already for the 8th, that the boarding by British formations had already begun on the 5th and 6th, but that, at the same moment the first news arrived at the British admiralty about the German measures, i.e. the departure of the German fleet, under the impression of this fact, Mr. Churchill decided to again have the already boarded formations disembark in order to first have the German ships sought out and attacked by the British fleet. This attempt failed. Only a single British destroyer came into contact with the German naval forces and was sent to the bottom. This boat no longer managed to pass along any news to the British admiralty or to the English naval forces. So the landing by German advance units took place on the 9th in a region that stretched from Oslo northward to Narvik. When news of this arrived in London, the First Lord of the Admiralty, Mister Churchill, had already been waiting impatiently for many hours for the successes of his fleet.
This blow, my delegates, was the boldest enterprise in Ger-man military history. Its successful execution was possible only thanks to the leadership and bearing of all involved German soldiers. What our three arms of service: army, navy and Luftwaffe performed in this fight for Norway, ensures them the rank of highest soldiery.
executed its operations and later transports against an enemy who overall possesses a nearly tenfold superiority. All units of our young Reich navy covered themselves with immortal glory in the process. Only after the war will it be permitted to talk about the difficulties that occurred precisely in this campaign due to numerous unforeseeable setbacks, losses and accidents.
But to have nonetheless overcome everything in the end is the credit of the bearing of leadership and troop.
in this hugely vast region, often the sole transportation and communication possibility, overdid itself in everything. Daring attacks against the opponents, against ships and landing troops hardly stood above the tenacious heroism of those transport pilots who, despite unimaginably bad weather, again and again flew up into the land of the midnight sun in order to deliver soldiers or cargo often in snow storm.
Norway’s fjords have become the cemetery for numerous British warships. The British fleet finally had to retreat from the unbroken wild attack by German bombers and stukas and abandon those regions, of which just a few weeks earlier an English newspaper had tastefully claimed “that it will be a pleasure for England to accept in them the German challenge to combat.”
Already the crossing put the greatest demands on the soldiers of the army. Glider troops had at many places enabled the first foothold. Now division after division flooded in and began the fight in a region, which in its natural state possesses an extraordinary defensive strength and - insofar as it is about Norwegian formations - was also defended very valiantly. But it can only be said of the English landed in Norway that the solely notable thing in their existence was the unscrupulousness with which one put such badly trained, inadequately equipped and miserably led soldiers into the land as expeditionary corps. They were certainly inferior from the beginning on; but, conversely, what the German infantry, the military engineers, what our artillerists, our communications and construction troops accomplished in Norway, can only be characterized as proud heroism in struggle and work.
The word Narvik will forever be a glorious testament in history to the spirit of the Wehrmacht of the National Socialist Greater German Reich.
The gentlemen Churchill, Chamberlain, Daladier etc. were up until recently very badly informed about the nature of the Greater German unification. I announced back then that the future will probably teach them better. And I may probably presume that precisely the action of the Austrian mountain troops on this northernmost front of our struggle for freedom will have provided them with the necessary enlightenment about the Greater German Reich and its sons.
It is a shame that the grenadiers of Mr. Chamberlain did not devote the sufficient and, above all, lasting attention to this conflict, rather preferred to leave it be after the first tests of the inner stance of our folk’s tribes newly coming to the Reich.
General von Falkenhorst directed these operations in Nor-way.
Lieutenant Dietl was the hero of Narvik.
The operations at sea were conducted under the direction of General-Admiral Saalwächter and the Admiral Carls and Böhm and Vice-Admiral Liitjens.
The operations of the Luftwaffe stood under the direction of Senior General Milch and
The high command of the Wehrmacht, Senior General Keitel, as chief of the high command, and General Jodi, as chief of the Wehrmacht leadership staff, were responsible for the execution of my instructions for the whole action.
Even before the campaign in Norway had found its end, the news about the west became ever more ominous. While it had been prepared before the beginning of the war, in the event of a necessary conflict with France or England, to break through the Maginot Line, an enterprise for which the German troops were schooled and for which they were equipped with the necessary weapons, the necessity arose already over the course of the first war months to also cast an eye at a possible action against Belgium and Holland. While Germany initially positioned practically no formations facing Holland and Belgium, aside from necessary security troops, but had otherwise begun to expand its fortification systems, a visible massing of French formations took place on the French-Belgian border. Especially the concentration of almost all tank and motorized divisions in this sector revealed that the intention, but in any case the possibility existed, to rapidly hurl themselves through Belgium to the German border. But the following perception was now decisive: While, in the event of a loyal interpretation of Belgian-Dutch neutrality, both lands would have been compelled, precisely in view of the concentration of strongest French-English forces on their border, to themselves likewise direct their gaze toward the west, they began to dismantle there more and more to the same degree in order to occupy the border facing Germany. The news about the ongoing general staff conferences as well produced a unique illumination of Belgian-Dutch neutrality. I do not need to stress that these conferences, if they had really been neutral, would have had to take place with both sides. Furthermore, an intensification of indications for the advance of French-English troops through Holland and Belgium against the German sphere of interest occurred, so that, on our side as well, this threat had to be eyed as most serious danger. Hence the German Wehrmacht was made familiar with this possibility of development by me and provided with the necessary detailed instructions. In numerous conferences in the high command of the Wehrmacht with the supreme commanders of the three arms of service, the leaders of the army groups and of the armies down to the leaders of individual important enterprises, the tasks were set and talked through, and in the troop naturally made the basis of a special training.
The whole German deployment hence experienced the corresponding necessary changes.
The careful observations that were arranged everywhere gradually produced the compelling realization that an English-French advance could be reckoned with from about the beginning of May on at any moment. In the days from May 6th to 7th, the fears intensified, especially also on the basis of intensified telephone calls, which had taken place between London and Paris, that now, at any moment, the advance of the so-called Allies into Holland and Belgium had to be expected. On the next day - May 8th -, I hence gave the order for the immediate attack on May 10th at 05:35 in the morning.
The basic idea of the operations was, with renunciation of small secondary successes, to so employ the whole Wehrmacht - above all, the army and Luftwaffe - that, given consequent execution of envisioned operations, the total annihilation of the French-English combat force would have to be achieved. In contrast to the Schlieffen Plan of the year 1914, I had the main weight of the operation put on the left wing of the breakthrough front, just with apparent preservation of the reverse version. This deception succeeded. The design of the overall operation, however, was simplified for me through the measure of the opponent himself. For the concentration of the whole English-French motorized combat power across from Belgium make it seem certain that, in the high command of the allied Allies, the decision existed to swiftly enter this region.
In trust in the steadfastness of all employed German infantry divisions, a thrust into the right flank of the French-English motorized army group hence had to lead to total disintegration and dissolution, yes, probably to an encirclement.
As second operation, I had envisioned the winning of the Seine up to Le Havre as well as the securing of a launch point on the Somme and Aisne for the third attack, which was supposed to break forth with the strongest forces across the high plateau of Langres to the Swiss border. The reaching of the coast up to south of Bordeaux was envisioned as conclusion of the operations.
The operations also took place in this framework and in this sequence.
The success of this mightiest series of battles in world history is owed foremost to the German soldier himself. He has proven himself again to the highest degree in all places where we was put. And all German tribes had the same share in this glory.
The soldiers of the new Reich provinces annexed only since 1938 have also fought exemplary and paid through blood tribute. Through this heroic action of all Germans, the National Socialist Greater German Reich emerging from this war will live not only today, rather also for always be sacred and dear to all following generations.
If I begin with the honoring of the forces to whose working this most glorious victory is owed, then the first praise is due to the leadership, which precisely in this campaign did justice to the highest demands.
The army. It has solved in truly glorious manner the tasks assigned to it under the leadership of Senior General von Brauchitsch and his general staff chief Halder.
If already the leadership apparatus of the German army of once was considered the best in the world, then it today de-serves at least the same admiration. Yes, since success is decisive for the final evaluation, the leadership of the new German army must be addressed as even better.
The western army was divided into three army groups under
Senior Generals Ritter von Leeb, von Rundstedt and von Bock.
The army group of General Ritter von Leeb initially had the task, beginning at the Swiss border up to the Mosel, to defensively hold the left flank of the German western front in highest defensive force. Only for the later course of operations was it envisioned to have this front as well’ with 2 armies under the leadership of Senior General Witzleben and General Dollmann’ to actively intervene into the battle of annihilation.
On May 10th, 05:35 in the morning, both army groups of Senior General von Rundstedt and von Bock had assembled for the attack. Their task was to thrust through the enemy border positions on the whole front from the Mosel to the North Sea, to occupy Holland, advance toward Antwerpen and at the Dyle Position, to take Lüttich, above all, however, to reach the Maas with the massed attack forces of the left flank, to force the crossing between Namur and Carigan with the main weight of the panzer and motorized divisions at Sedan, and in the further course of the operations, with concentration of all available panzer and motorized divisions, leaning against the canal and river system of the Aisne and Somme, to advance to the sea. To the southern army group Rundstedt fell furthermore the important task to systematically secure the envisioned defense of the left flank over the course of the breakthrough in order to prevent in advance a repetition of the Marne Miracle of 1914.
This mighty operation, already deciding the further course of the war, which, as planned, led to the annihilation of the main mass of the French army as well as of the whole British expeditionary corps, already makes German leadership shine in bright radiance.
Aside from both army group commanders and their general staff chiefs
Lieutenant-General von Sodenstern an Lieutenant-General von Salmuth,
the following army commanders earned the highest merit:
Senior General von Kluge as commander of the 4th army, Senior General List as commander of the 12th army, Senior General von Reichenau as commander of the 6th army, General von Küchler as commander of the 18lh army, General Busch as commander of the 16th army,
and the generals von Kleist, Guderian, Hoth and Hoeppner as commanders of panzer and motorized troops.
The large number of additional generals and officers who distinguished themselves in these operations are known to you, my delegates, through the bestowing of the highest decorations.
The continuation of the operation in the general direction to Aisne and Seine did not have the purpose to, above all, conquer Paris, rather to create or secure the launch point for the breakthrough to the Swiss border. This mighty attack action as well went according to plan thanks to the towering leadership of all grades.
The change in the high command of the French army that had meanwhile taken place was supposed to enliven anew its resistance and give the turn desired by the Allied to the struggle begun unluckily.
Actually, only after overcoming the strongest resistance was it possible to get the German armies’ new attack actions into motion. Not only the courage, rather also the training of the German soldier had an opportunity here to prove itself to the highest degree. Enthused by the example of countless officers and non-commissioned officers as well as valiant individual men, the infantry again and again pulled forward even in the most difficult situations. Paris fell! The breaking of the enemy resistance on the Aisne opened the way for the breakthrough to the Swiss border. In a mighty encirclement, the armies charged behind the back of the Maginot Line, which, for its part, was itself attacked by the army group Leeb stepping out from the reserve at two points west of Saarbrücken and Neubreisach and broken through under the command of the generals von Witzleben and Dollmann.
So it was possible to not only totally encircle the mighty front of the French resistance as a whole, rather also to fracture it into individual components and force it to the known surrenders.
These operations were crowned by the now generally setting in advance of all German armies, at the point again the army’s incomparable panzer and motorized divisions, with the goal, with the advance thrust of a left flank down the Rhone in the direction of Marseille and of a right flank across the Loire in the direction of Bordeaux and the Spanish border, to destroy the disintegrated remnants of the French army and to occupy French territory.
I want to report elsewhere in particular about our ally’s entry into the war, which had meanwhile taken place.
When Marshal Petain offered France’s laying down of arms, he did not put down a weapon still remaining to him, rather ended a situation completely untenable for the eye of any soldier. Only the bloody amateurism of a Mr. Churchill was able to either not grasp this or to deny it contrary to better knowledge.
In this second, third and final phase of this war, in union with the already mentioned generals, these generals likewise distinguished themselves as army commanders
Senior General von Witzleben and the generals von Weichs, Dollmann, Strauss.
In the framework of these armies also fought the valiant divisions and regiments of the Waffen-SS.
If I express to these named generals as army group and army generals my and the German folk’s gratitude, then this goes simultaneously for all the other officers whom it is impossible to name individually, and especially for the nameless workers of the general staff.
In this struggle, my delegates, the German foot soldier has again proven himself as what he always was: as the best infantry in the world. All other weapons of the army competed with him: artillery and military engineers, and, above all, the young formations of our panzer and motorized troops. The panzer arm has introduced itself into world history with this war. The men of the Waffen-SS share in this glory.
Just the communication formations, the construction troops of the military engineers, rail troops etc. are also due the highest praise for their merits.
Behind the armies followed the commandos of the Organization Todt, of the Reich Work Service and of the NSKK, and likewise helped to again put roads, bridges as well as traffic in order.
In the framework of the army, elements of the Luftwaffe’s anti-aircraft artillery also fought. At the foremost front, they helped to break enemy resistance and attack strength. Only later can their working be reported in detail.
The Luftwaffe itself. When the morning of the 10th dawned, thousands of warplanes and stukas, covered by fighters and destroyers, descended upon enemy airports. In a few days, total air domination was won. It was no longer relinquished for one moment. Only where temporarily no German airplanes showed themselves could enemy fighters or bombers put in an appearance for short moments. Otherwise, their working was banished to night.
The action of the Luftwaffe in this fight took place under the command of the General Field Marshal. Its task was:
first, to destroy the enemy airforce and to remove it from the heavens,
second, to support the fighting troop directly and indirectly through uninterrupted attacks,
third, to destroy the enemy’s elements of leadership and movement,
fourth, to wear down and break enemy moral and resistance strength, and
fifth, to land paratroopers as advance detachments.
The manner of its operative action overall as well as its adaptation to the tactical requirements of the moment were excellent. If the successes won could have never been achieved without the army’s valor, then all the army’s valor would have nonetheless been futile without the Luftwaffe’s heroic action.
Army and Luftwaffe are both worth of the highest glory!
The organization of the Luftwaffe’s action:
The Luftwaffe’s action in the west took place under the personal command of General Field Marshal Göring.
His general staff chief: Major-General Jeschonnek.
Both air fleets were commanded by
Air General Sperrle and
Air General Kesselring.
The air corps standing under them stood under the command of the Air Generals Grauert, Keller, Lieutenant-General Loerzer and Lieutenant-General Ritter von Greim as well as Major-General Freiherr von Richthofen.
Both anti-aircraft artillery corps stood under the command of General of the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Weiss and of Major-General Dessloch.
The 9th air division under its Major-General Coeler deserves special distinction.
The commander of the paratroopers, Air General Student, was himself badly wounded.
The further conduct of the air war in Norway takes place under Air General Stumpff.
While then millions of soldiers of the army, the Luftwaffe and the Waffen-SS participated in this fighting, others could not be removed from the formation of the replacement formations located in the homeland. Many of the most capable officers - as bitter as it was for them - had to direct and watch over the training of those soldiers who, be it as replacement, be it as new formations, could only later come to the front. Here, too, the higher interests were decisive despite all understanding for the inner feelings of those feeling disadvantaged. Party and state, army, navy, Luftwaffe and SS have given any man who was at all dispensable to the front. Just that without the security of the replacement army, of the replacement air fleet, of the re-placement SS formations as well of the party and of the state, the fight at the front as well could not have been waged. As organizers of the replacement army of the homeland and of equipment and supply of the Luftwaffe, highest merit has been earned by:
Air General Fromm and
Air General Udet.
I cannot end the listing of all these deserved generals and admirals without now especially also remembering all those who are my closest co-workers in the staff of the High Command of the Wehrmacht:
Senior General Keitel as chief of the High Command of the Wehrmacht and
Major-General Jodl as chief of his staff.
They, along with their offices, have in care-ridden and work rich months the greatest share in the realization of my plans and thoughts.
The appreciation of the accomplishments of our navy and its leaders will be possible in full only at the end of this war.
If I now conclude the purely military observation of the war, then truth compels me to the statement of the historical fact that all this would not have been possible without the behavior of the home front, and here at the top, without the founding, the working and the activity of the National Socialist party!
In the period of greatest decline, already in the year 1919, it proclaimed in its program the resurrection of a German folk army and represented it for decades with fanatical determination. Without its working, all the prerequisites would have fallen away for the German Reich’s resurrection and hence for the creation of a German Wehrmacht. But it also gave the struggle, above all, a worldview foundation. It thereby confronted the senseless life action of our democratic opponents for the interests of their plutocrats with the defense of a social folk community. From its working hence also results the unity between front and homeland, unfortunately not present in the World War. I hence wish to name from its ranks the following men, to whom, aside from countless others, is owed great merit in the achievement of the possibility to be able to celebrate victories in a new Germany:
Party comrade Reich Minister Hess, himself an old soldier of the World War, was from the first period of the founding of the movement a most loyal comrade for the establishment of this present day state and its Wehrmacht;
Party comrade SA staff chief Lutze
has organized the mass of millions of SA men in the sense of highest state preservation and ensured their pre-military and post-military training;
Party comrade Himmler
organized the whole security system of our Reich as well as the formations of the Waffen-SS;
Party comrade Hierl
is the founder and leader of the Reich Work Service;
Party comrade Ley is the guarantor for the bearing of our German workers;
Party comrade Reich Minister Major-General Todt
is the organizer of the weapons and munitions production and has earned immortal merit as the architect of our mighty strategic road network as well as the fortification front in the west;
Party comrade Minister Dr. Goebbels
is the head of a propaganda whose height manifests itself most conspicuously in the comparison to that of the World War.
Among the numerous organizations of the home front, the following organizations are still to be named
The War Aid Work as well as the
under the direction of party comrade Hilgenfeldt
as well as the German Red Cross, furthermore, the Reich Air Defense Federation under the leadership of General of the Anti-Aircraft Artillery v. Schröder.
I cannot conclude this appreciation without in the process finally thanking the man who has for years been realizing my foreign affairs guidelines in loyal, tireless, self-consuming work.
The name of party comrade von Ribbentrop will for all time be linked to the political elevation of the German nation as Reich Foreign Minister.
I have decided, as leader and supreme commander of the German Wehrmacht, to undertake the honoring of the more deserving generals before that forum that is in truth the representation of the whole German folk. I must now place at the top that man, for whom it is difficult for me to find sufficient gratitude for the merits that link his name with the movement, the state and, above all, with the German Luftwaffe.
Since the SA foundation period, party comrade Göring has been tied to the development and the rise of the movement. Since the assumption of power, his work energy and pleasure in responsibility have produced accomplishments in numerous areas for the German folk and the German Reich that cannot be dismissed from the history of our folk and Reich.
Since the reconstruction of the German Wehrmacht, he became the creator of the German Luftwaffe. It is given to few mortals, over the course of a life, to create a military instrument out of nothing and to develop it into the strongest weapon of its kind in the world. He has given it, above all, his spirit.
General Field Marshal Göring has already, as creator of the German Luftwaffe, as a single man made the highest contribution to the new construction of the German Wehrmacht.
He has as leader of the German Luftwaffe over the previous course of the war helped create the prerequisite for victory.
His merits are unique!
I hence name him Reich Marshal of the Greater German Reich and bestow upon him the Great Cross of the Iron Cross.
For contributions to the victory of German arms in the fight for the freedom and future of our Greater German Reich, I now promote:
the supreme commander of the army, Senior General von Brauchitsch, to General Field Marshal;
Senior General von Rundstedt, commander of army group A, to General Field Marshal;
Senior General Ritter von Leeb, commander of army group C, to General Field Marshal;
Senior General von Bock, commander of army group B, to General Field Marshal;
Senior General List, commander of the 12lh army, to General Field Marshal;
Senior General Kluge, commander of the 4lh army, to General Field Marshal;
Senior General von Witzleben, commander of the 1st army, to General Field Marshal, and
Senior General von Reichenau, commander of the 6th army, to General Field Marshal.
General Halder, chef of the general staff of the army, to Senior General;
General Dollmann, commander of the 7th army, to Senior General;
General Freiherr von Weichs, commander of the 2nd army, to Senior General;
General von Küchler, commander of the 18th army, to Senior General;
General Busch, commander of the 16th army, to Senior General;
General Strauss, commander of the 9th army, to Senior General;
General von Falkenhorst, military commander in Norway, to Senior General;
General von Kleist, commanding general of the XII. AK., to Senior General;
General Ritter von Schobert, commanding general of the VII. AK., to Senior General;
General Guderian, commanding general of the XIV. AK., to Senior General;
General Hoth, commanding general of the XV. AK., to Senior General;
General Hoeppner, commanding general of the XVI. AK., to Senior General;
General Haase, commanding general of the III. AK., to Senior General;
General Fromm, chief of army armament and commander of the replacement army, to Senior General.
In consideration of previous services, I promote
Lieutenant-General Dietl, commanding general of the mountain corps in Norway, to General of the Infantry and bestow upon him as first officer of the German Wehrmacht the Oak Leaves to the Knights Cross of the Iron Cross.
With the proviso for a later overall appreciation of the leaders and officers of the Reich navy, I promote:
Admiral Carls, the commanding admiral of the naval station Baltic Sea, simultaneously Naval Troop Commander East, to General Admiral.
In recognition of the unique accomplishments of the German Luftwaffe, I promote
Senior General Milch to General Field Marshal;
Air General Sperrle to General Field Marshal;
Air General Kesselring to General Field Marshal.
Air General Stumpff to Senior General;
Air General Grauert to Senior General;
Air General Keller to Senior General;
General of the Anti-Aircraft Artillery Weise to Senior General;
Air General Udet to Senior General.
I further promote to Air Generals:
Lieutenant-General Geissler, Major-General Jeschonnek, Lieutenant-General Loerzer, Lieutenant-General Ritter von Greim and Major-General Freiherr von Richthofen.
In my High Command Wehrmacht, I promote
Senior General Keitel to General Field Marshal;
Major-General Jodl to General of the Artillery.
In that I pronounce these promotions on the occasion of the most successful campaigns in our history before this forum and hence before the whole German nation, I thereby honor the whole Wehrmacht of the National Socialist Greater German Reich.
I cannot end the examination of this struggle without remembering right here our ally.
Since National Socialist regime has existed, two goals stood in its foreign affairs program:
First, the establishment of a genuine agreement and friendship with Italy and
second, the establishment of the same relationship with England.
You know, my party comrades, that these views moved me 20 years ago just like they did later. I have treated and defended these thoughts in print and in speeches countless times, as long as I was just an opposition figure in the democratic republic. I have - since the German folk entrusted me with its leadership - immediately tried to practically achieve this oldest goal of National Socialist foreign policy. I am still sad today that, despite all my efforts, with England, I have not managed to come to that friendship, which - as I believe - would have been a blessing for both folks. And indeed, that I have not succeeded in this despite steadfast sincere efforts.
But I am all the happier that at least the first program point of my foreign affairs goal could be achieved. I owe this, above all, to the genius who today stands at the head of the Italian folk. For only thanks to his secular working did it become possible to bring together both regimes, spiritually so closely related, in order to now, at the end, through the jointly shed blood, seal a bond that is determined to cultivate a new life for Europe. That I personally have the honor to be able to be the friend of this man, makes me happy in view of the uniqueness of the life fate that displays just as much in common with mine as both our revolutions, yes, beyond that, even the history of the unification and rise of both our folks.
Since the resurrection of the German folk, we have been able to perceive human voices of understanding solely from Italy. From this answered mutual reciprocal understanding grew a living community of interest. It was finally set down in treaties.
When this war, contrary to my wish and will, was forced upon the German Reich last year, a discussion of the further action by both our states took place between Mussolini and myself. The benefit that arose for us from Italy’s bearing was an extraordinary one. Not only economically did Italy’s situation and bearing benefit us, rather also militarily. From the start, Italy tied down strong forces of our enemies and, above all, their freedom of strategic disposition. But when II Duce judged the moment had come to take a stand, with weapon in hand, against the ongoing unbearable rapes, which were inflicted upon him, especially by French and British interventions, and the King carried out the declaration of war, it happened in the full freedom of his decision.
All the greater must be the feeling of our gratitude.
Italy’s entry into the fight has helped in France to hasten the realization of the total hopelessness of continued resistance.
Since then, our ally fought first on the ridges and peaks of the Alps and now in the broad spaces of his sphere of interest. Precisely his present-day air attacks and the fighting at sea are being carried out in the spirit that is inherent to the Fascist revolution, and pursued by us in the spirit that National Socialism feels for Fascist Italy. Every pain of Italy, such as we experience it today in view of Balboa’s death, is also Germany’s pain. Every joy ours as well.
Our cooperation in the political and military area is a total one. It will extinguish the injustice that has been inflicted on the German and Italian folk for centuries. For: In the end stands, above, the shared victory!
My delegates, men of the German Reichstag, if I now speak about the future, then it does not happen in order to boast or to swagger. I can comfortably leave that to others, who probably need it more, such as, for example, Mr. Churchill. I hence wish to now present a picture of the situation without any exuberance such as it is and as I see it.
First. The course of the ten months of this war lying behind us has proven my view right and the views of our opponents wrong.
If so-called neutral English statesmen assure that their land emerges stronger from any defeat and any failure, then it is at least not arrogance, if I inform hereby inform you that we have likewise emerged stronger from the successes.
I already declared to you on September 1st of the previous year that, quite regardless of what may come, neither force of arms nor time will bring Germany down. The Reich is today militarily stronger than ever before. You have seen the, individually certainly heavy, but overall nonetheless so light, losses, which the German Wehrmacht has suffered in the combat of the last three months. If you consider that, in this period, we established a front that now stretches from the North Cape to the Spanish border, then these loses, especially measured against the losses of the World War, are extraordinarily small ones. The reason for this - aside from the on average splendid leadership - lies in the excellent tactical training of the individual soldier, of the formations as well as the coordination of arms of service. The further reason lies in the quality and purposefulness of the new weapons and the third in the intentional renunciation of any so-called prestige success. I have myself endeavored to fundamentally avoid any attack and any operation that is not necessary in the sense of a real annihilation of the opponent, rather was supposed to be done solely for a perceived prestige.
Nonetheless, we have naturally made preparations for losses many times greater. The men of our folk thereby spared will benefit the continuation of the struggle for freedom forced upon us. At the moment, many of our divisions are again being withdrawn from France ad transferred to their home bases. Many men can go on leave. Weapons and equipment are again being repaired or supplemented with newer, better material. Overall, the Wehrmacht is today stronger than ever before!
Second. The weapons. The loss of weapons in the Norwegian, and especially in the campaign against Holland, Belgium and France, has been a totally insignificant one. It stands in no relationship to production.
Army and Luftwaffe are at this moment - as I speak to you - in their equipment as well more perfect and stronger than they were before the assembly in the west.
Third. Munitions. Munitions were prepared in a magnitude, the established stores are so great, that, in many areas, a limitation of production or a shift of production must now be undertaken, since the existing depots and rooms, even given maximum expansion, would, in part, no longer be in the position to store up increased additions. Munitions consumption, similar as in Poland, was a small one beyond all expectation. It stands in no relationship at all to the inventories. The overall reserve supplies among army and Luftwaffe for all weapons is at the time significantly greater than before the attack in the west.
Fourth. War essential raw materials. Thanks to the Four-Year Plan, Germany was equipped in a magnificent manner for even the most severe burden. In no other armed force in the world has a conversion from war essential materials, which must be imported, to those that are inside the land taken place even approaching the degree as in Germany. Thanks to the working of the Reich Marshal, the conversion of the German economy to an autocratic war economy took place already in peacetime. We possess, above all, both the most important raw materials: coal and iron, to an - I may say today - unlimited extent. The supply with fuel is in the inventories a rich one and the capacity of our production such an increasing one that in a short time - even given the stoppage of any import - our need will be sufficiently covered.
Through our metal collection, the basic inventory of our metal reserves has so increased that we are up to any war duration and are subject to no event. In addition to this come the mighty possibilities that lie in the utilization of an immense booty as well as in the development of the regions occupied by us. Germany and Italy possess in the economic region regulated and controlled by them around 200 million people, of whom only 130 million provide soldiers, while over 70 million can be active exclusively economically.
I informed you, my delegates, on September 1st, that I initially had a new Five-Year Plan drafted for the conduct of this war. I can assure you today that in this sense all measures have been taken, but that - regardless of what may come - I no longer see in this period any factor somehow threatening us. Nourishment as well, thanks to the measures taken in time this time, is ensured for any duration.
Fifth. The bearing of the German folk. The German folk, thanks to the National Socialist education, has entered this war not with the superficiality of a hurrah-patriotism, rather with the fanatical earnest of a race that knows the fate that faces it in the event it should be defeated. The attempts by our opponents’ propaganda to dissolve this solidarity were hence just as stupid as ineffective. Ten months of war have deepened this fanaticism. Indeed, it is a misfortune that the world’s opinion is not shaped by people who want to see things as they are, rather only by those you see them like they want. I have in the last days studied through countless documents from the Ark of the Covenant of the Allied headquarters, which, among other things, also contain morale reports from Germany and memorandums about the constitution and inner bearing of the German folk. These are reports, which also stem from diplomats. There results from the study of these reports really only the question, whether their authors are blind, stupid or base scoundrels. I readily admit that, even in Germany, there have naturally existed, and probably still exist today, individual subjects who experience the Third Reich’s triumphant march almost with regret. Incurable reactionaries or blind nihilists may indeed be sad inside that everything turned out differently than they had hoped. Just their number is a ridiculous one and their significance is even smaller.
Unfortunately, however, apparently this scum of the nation was chosen as yardstick for the outward evaluation of the German folk. From this then results in the sick fantasy of failed statesmen the last strongholds for new hope. Accordingly, it is “General Hunger”, which the British commanders chose as ally, or the “looming revolution”. There is no nonsense so crazy that these people would not present it to their own folks in order to thereby help themselves along again for at least a few weeks. The German folk has proven its inner bearing, above all, through its sons, who fight on the battlefields and who have in a few weeks defeated and annihilated the, after Germany, militarily strongest opponent. Their spirit was and is today also the spirit of the German homeland!
Sixth. The surrounding world. The last hopes in the eyes of the English politicians appear to rest, aside from the allied nations, represented by a series of kept heads of state without throne, statesmen without folks and generals without armies, on new complications, which they believe they can produce thanks to their proven skill in this. A real Ahasuerus among these hopes is the belief in a positive new alienation between Germany and Russia.
The German-Russian relationship is set down definitively. The reason for this establishment lies in that, supported by certain small states, England and France continuously assigned to Germany intentions of conquest in regions which lie outside all German interests. First it went that Germany wanted to occupy the Ukraine, then to march into Finland, another time, one claimed Romania as threatened, yes, finally one even feared for Turkey.
Under these circumstances, I considered it correct to undertake, above all, with Russia, a sober establishment of interests in order to clarify for always what Germany believes it must view for its future as region of interest, and, conversely, what Russia considers important for its existence. From this clear delineation of reciprocal spheres of interest resulted the new regulation of the German-Russian relationship. Any hope that in the execution of this new German-Russian tension could arise, is childish. Neither did Germany take a step that would have taken it outside its sphere of influence nor did Russia take such a step. England’s hope, however, to be able to achieve an easing of its current situation through the creation of some new European crisis, is a fallacy, insofar as Germany’s relationship to Russia is concerned. The British statesmen grasp everything somewhat slower, hence they will also still learn to grasp this over the course of time.
In my speech of October 6th, I already correctly predicted the further development of this war. I assured you, my delegates, that I could not for a moment doubt victory. If one does not see precisely in the defeats the traits and guarantees of final victory, then I believe the development - as said - has previously proven me right. Although I was convinced of this development, I offered France and England the hand of reconciliation back then. The reply that I received to this is still in your memory. All my arguments about the senselessness of a continuation of this fight, about the certainty, even in the most favorable case to receive no gain, rather only loss, were either met with mockery and scorn or at least silenced to death.
I immediately assured you back then that I feared, due to this my peace proposal, to even be decried a coward who does not want to fight, because he no longer can fight. It then happened exactly so. But I now believe that already today France - naturally less the guilty statesmen than the folk - will think differently about this October 6th. What nameless misery has come upon this great land and folk since then! I do not even want to talk about what pain this war has inflicted upon the soldiers. For above that almost stands the suffering that arose through the unscrupulousness of those who drove millions of people from their home without any reason, only with the thought to thereby perhaps be able to cause difficulties for the German conducting of war. However, an incomprehensible presumption. This evacuation had the most harmful effect for the Allied conducting of war, but most terribly for the unfortunate victims affected by it. The suffering that Mr. Churchill and Reynaud inflicted upon millions of people through their advice and decrees, they can justify neither on this side nor on that side.
All that, as said - did not have to come. For still in October, I demanded neither from France nor from England anything else than just peace.
But the armaments profiteers wanted the continuation of this war at any price, and they have now gotten this war.
I am myself too much a soldier to not have understanding for the misfortune of such a development. I now hear from London only a shout - it is not the shout of the masses, rather of the politicians -, that precisely now the fight must be continued.
I do not know whether these politicians possess the correct perception of the coming development of this fight. But they declare that they will continue to wage this fight and, if England perishes from it, even from Canada. I hardly believe that this is to be so understood that the English folk goes to Canada, rather probably only the war profiteers will withdraw to Canada. The folk, I believe, will have to stay in England. And it will then certainly see the war in London with different eyes than its so-called leaders in Canada.
Believe me, my delegates, I feel an inner revulsion before this sort of parliamentarian destroyer of folk and state. I am almost sorry, if fate has selected me to knock down what has been made ripe for collapse by these people; for it was not my intention to wage war, rather to build a new social state of the highest culture. Each year of this war robs me of this work. And the causes for this robbery are ridiculous zeroes, whom one can at most characterize as political manufactures of nature. insofar as their corruptible wickedness has not stamped them as something special.
Mr. Churchill has recently declared again that he wants war. About six weeks ago, he started with the war in the area where he apparently believed he was especially strong, namely the air war against the civilian population, however, under the feigned motto against so-called war important institutions. These institutions, since Freiburg, are open cities, market spots and peasant villages, residences, field hospitals, schools, kindergartens and what else all is hit. I have previously hardly responded to this. But this should not mean that this is or will remain the sole reply.
It is clear to me that nameless suffering and misfortune will descend upon people from our reply coming one day. Naturally, not upon Mr. Churchill, for he, after all, will safely sit in Canada, where one has, after all, already taken the fortunes and the children of the most prominent war profiteers. But great suffering will arise for millions of other people. And Mr. Churchill should perhaps believe me this time as an exception, if I now pronounce the following as prophet: A great world empire will be destroyed by it. A world empire, which to destroy, or even just to harm, was never my intention. Only it is clear to me that the continuation of the fight will end only with the total smashing of one of both of those fighting. Mr. Churchill may believe that this is Germany. I know it will be England.
At this hour, I feel myself obligated before my conscience to once more direct an appeal to reason in England as well. I believe I may be able to do this, because, after all, I do not ask for something as the vanquished, rather speak as victor for reason. I see no reason that could compel the continuation of this conflict.
I regret the sacrifices, which it will demand. I wish to spare them my own folk as well. I know that millions of German men and youths glow at the idea of finally being able to deal with the enemy, who, without any reason, has declared war against us for the second time.
Only I also know that at home there are many wives and mothers, who despite the greatest willingness to sacrifice even the ultimate thing, nonetheless still cling with their hearts to this ultimate thing.
Mr. Churchill may now dismiss my declaration again with the shout that this is only the product of my fear or of my doubt in final victory. I have then at least lightened my conscience regarding coming things.
Delegates! Men of the German Reichstag!
In review of the ten months lying behind us, we are probably all overcome by the mercy of Providence that let us succeed with the great work. It has blessed our decisions and accompanied us on difficult paths. I myself am moved by the awareness of the mission assigned to me by it to again give my folk freedom and honor. The shame that took its start 22 years ago in the forest of Compiegne has been extinguished forever at this same spot. I have now today named men before history, who enabled me to complete the great work. They have all performed their utmost, consecrated their abilities and their industriousness to the German folk. I want to close now with the mention of those nameless ones who did their duty no less so, who by the millions risked body and life and were ready at any hour, as fine German officers and soldiers, to make the ultimate sacrifice for their folk, which a man has to make. Many of them now lie bedded at the side of the graves in which their fathers from the great war already rest. They are witnesses of a silent heroism. They are the symbol for those hundreds of thousands of musketeers, tank-hunters and panzer crews, military engineers and artillerists, soldiers of the navy and of the Luftwaffe, men of the Waffen-SS and all the other fighters, who have assembled in the struggle of the Wehrmacht for the freedom and future of our folk and for the eternal greatness of the National-Socialist Greater German Reich.
Germany, Sieg Heil!