Adolf Hitler – great speech before the Reichstag:
A reply to U.S. president F.D.Roosevelt
Berlin, April 28, 1939
Deputies, Men of the Reichstag!
The President of the United States of America has addressed a telegram to me, with the curious contents of which you are already familiar. Before 1, the addressee, actually received this document, the rest of the world had already been informed of it by radio and newspaper reports, and numerous commentaries in the organs of the democratic world press had already profusely enlightened us as to the fact that this telegram was a very skillful tactical document, designed to impose upon the states, in which the people govern, the responsibility for the warlike measures adopted by the plutocratic countries.
In view of these facts I decided to summon the German Reichstag so that
you, Gentlemen, might have an opportunity of hearing my answer first and
of either confirming that answer or rejecting it. But in addition, I considered
it desirable to keep to the method of procedure initiated by President
Roosevelt and, for my part, to inform the rest of the world of my answer
in our way.
But I should like also to take this opportunity of giving expression to the feelings with which the tremendous historical happenings of the month of March inspire me. I can give vent to my inmost feelings only in the form of humble thanks to Providence which called upon me and vouchsafed it to me, once an unknown soldier of the Great War, to rise to be the Leader of my people, so dear to me.
Providence showed me the way to free our people from the depths of its misery without bloodshed and to lead it upward once again. Providence granted that I might fulfill my life's task-to raise my German people out of the depths of defeat and to liberate it from the bonds of the most outrageous dictate of all times. This alone has been my aim.
Since the day on which I entered politics I have been moved by no other
idea than that of winning back the freedom of the German Nation, restoring
the power and strength of the Reich, overcoming the internal disruption
of the nation, remedying its isolation from the rest of the world, and
safeguarding the maintenance of its independent economic and political
I have worked only to restore that which others once broke by force. I have desired only to make good that which satanic malice or human unreason destroyed or demolished. I have, therefore, taken no step which violated the rights of others, but have only restored that justice which was violated twenty years ago.
The present Greater German Reich contains no territory which was not
from the earliest times a part of this Reich, bound up with it or subject
to its sovereignty. Long before an American continent had been discovered-not
to say settled-by white people, this Reich existed, not merely with its
present boundaries, but with the addition of many regions and provinces
which have since been lost.
Twenty-one years ago, when the bloodshed of the war came to an end, millions of minds were filled with the ardent hope that a peace of reason and justice would reward and bless the nations which had been visited by the fearful scourge of the Great War. I say "reward", for all those men and women – whatever the conclusions arrived at by the historians – bore no responsibility for these fearful happenings. In some countries there may still be politicians who even at that time were chargeable with the responsibility for this, the most atrocious massacre of all times, but the vast numbers of the combatant soldiers of every country and nation were by no means guilty, but rather deserving of pity.
I myself, as you know, had never played a part in politics before the war, and only, like millions of others, performed such duties as I was called upon to fulfill as a decent citizen and soldier. It was therefore with in absolutely clear conscience that I was able to take up the cause of the freedom and future of my people, both during and after the war. And I can therefore speak in the name of millions and millions of others equally blameless when I declare that all those, who had only fought for their nation in the loyal fulfillment of their duty, were entitled to a peace of reason and justice, so that mankind might at last set to work to make good by joint effort the losses which ail had suffered. But the millions were cheated of this peace; for not only did the German people or the other peoples fighting on our side suffer through the peace treaties, but these treaties had a devastating effect on the victor countries as well.
That politics should be controlled by men who had not fought in the war was recognized for the first time as a misfortune. Hatred was unknown to the soldiers, but not to those elderly politicians who had carefully preserved their own precious lives from the horrors of war, and who now descended upon humanity in the guise of insane spirits of revenge.
Hatred, malice and unreason were the intellectual forbears of the Treaty of Versailles.* Territories and states with a history going back a thousand years were arbitrarily broken up and dissolved. Men who have belonged together since time immemorial have been torn asunder; economic conditions of life have been ignored while the peoples themselves have been converted into victors and vanquished, into masters possessing all rights and slaves possessing none.
This document of Versailles has fortunately been set down in black and white for generations to come, for otherwise it would have been regarded in the future as the grotesque product of a wild and corrupt imagination. Nearly 115,000,000 people have been robbed of their right of self-determination, not by victorious soldiers, but by mad politicians, and have been arbitrarily removed from old communities and made part of new ones without any consideration of blood, origin, common sense or the economic conditions of life.
The results were appalling. Though at that time the statesmen were able to destroy a great many things, there was one factor which could not be eliminated; the gigantic mass of people living in Central Europe, crowded together in a confined space, can only ensure its daily bread by the maximum of employment and resultant order.
But what did these statesmen of the so-called democratic empires know of these problems?
A horde of utterly stupid and ignorant people was let loose on humanity. In districts in which about 140 people per square kilometer have to gain a livelihood, they merely destroyed the order which had been built up over nearly 2,000 years of historical development, and created disorder, without themselves being capable or desirous of solving the problems confronting the communal life of these people-for which, moreover, as dictators of the new world order, they had at that time undertaken responsibility.
However, when this new world order turned out to be a catastrophe, the democratic peace dictators, American and European alike, were so cowardly that none of them ventured to take the responsibility for what occurred. Each put the blame on the others, thus endeavoring to save himself from the judgment of history. However, the people who were maltreated by their hatred and unreason were, unfortunately, not in a position to share in this escape with those who had injured them.
It is impossible to enumerate the stages of our own people's sufferings. Robbed of the whole of its colonial possessions,deprived of all its financial resources, plundered by so-called reparations, and thus impoverished, our nation was driven into the blackest period of its national misfortune. Be it noted that this was not National Socialist Germany, but democratic Germany the Germany which was weak enough to trust even for a single moment the promises of democratic statesmen.
The resultant misery and continuous want began to bring our nation to
political despair. The decent and industrious people of Central Europe
thought that they would see the possibility of deliverance in the complete
destruction of the old order which to them represented a curse.
Jewish parasites, on the one hand, plundered the nation ruthlessly and, on the other hand, incited the people, reduced as it was to misery. As the misfortune of our nation became the only aim and object of this race, it was possible to breed among the growing army of unemployed suitable elements for the Bolshevik revolution.
The decay of political order and the confusion of public opinion by the irresponsible Jewish press led to ever stronger shocks to economic life and consequently to increasing misery and to greater readiness to absorb subversive Bolshevik ideas. The army of the Jewish world revolution, as the army of unemployed was called, finally rose to almost seven million.
Germany had never known this state of affairs before. In the area in which the great German people and the old Habsburg states belonging to it lived, economic life, despite all the difficulties of the struggle for existence involved by the excessive density of population, had not become more uncertain in the course of time but, on the contrary, more and more secure.
Industry and diligence, great thrift and the love of scrupulous order, though they did not enable the people in this territory to accumulate excessive riches, did at any rate insure them against abject misery.
The results of the wretched peace forced upon them by the democratic dictators were thus all the more terrible for these people, who were condemned at Versailles. Today we know the reason for this frightful outcome of the Great War.
Firstly, it was the greed for spoils. That which seldom pays in private life, could, they believed, when enlarged a millionfold, be represented to mankind as a profitable experiment. If large nations were plundered and the utmost squeezed out of them, it would then be possible to live a life of carefree idleness. Such was the opinion of these economic dilettantes.
To that end (1) the states themselves had to be dismembered. Germany had to be deprived of her colonial possessions, although, they were without any value to the world-democracies; the most important districts yielding raw materials had to be invaded and -if necessary – placed aced under the influence of the democracies; and above all the unfortunate victims of that democratic ill-treatment of nations and individuals had to be prevented from ever recovering, let alone rising against their oppressors.
Thus was concocted the devilish plan to burden generations with the
curse of those dictates. For 60, 70, or 100 years, Germany was to pay sums
so exorbitant that the question of how they were actually to be raised
must remain a mystery to all concerned. To raise such sums in gold, in
foreign currency, or by way of regular payments in kind, would have been
absolutely impossible without the bedazzled collectors of this tribute
being ruined as well. As a matter of fact these democratic peace dictators
destroyed the whole world economy with their Versailles madness.
Their senseless dismemberment of peoples and states led to the destruction of common production and trade interests which had become well established in the course of hundreds of years, thus once more enforcing an increased development of autarchic tendencies and with it the extinction of the general conditions of world economy which had hitherto existed.
When 20 years ago, I signed my name in the book of political life as the seventh member of the then German Workers' Party at Munich, I noticed the signs of that decay becoming effective all around me. The worst of it-as I have already emphasized – was the utter despair of the masses which resulted therefrom, the disappearance among the educated classes of all confidence in human reason, let alone in a sense of justice, and a predominance of brutal selfishness in all creatures so disposed.
The extent to which, in the course of what is now 20 years, I have
been able once more to mold a nation from such chaotic disorganization
into an organic whole and to establish a new order. is already part of
However, what I intend to propound before you today by way of introduction, is above all the purport of my intentions and their realization with regard to foreign policy.
One of the most shameful acts of oppression ever committed is the dismemberment of the German Nation and the political disintegration, provided for in the Dictate of Versailles, of the area in which it had, after all, lived for thousands of years.
I have never, Gentlemen, left any doubt that in point of fact it is scarcely possible anywhere in Europe to arrive at a harmony of state and national boundaries which will be satisfactory in every way. On the one hand, the migration of peoples which gradually came to a standstill during the last few centuries, and on the other, the development of large communities, have brought about a situation which, whatever way they look at it, must necessarily be considered unsatisfactory by those concerned. It was, however, the very way in which these national and political developments were gradually stabilized in the last century which led many to consider themselves justified in cherishing the hope that in the end a compromise would be found between respect for the national life of the various European peoples and the recognition of established political structures a compromise by which, without destroying the political order in Europe and with it the existing economic basis, nationalities could nevertheless be preserved.
This hope was abolished by the Great War. The peace dictate of Versailles did justice neither to one principle nor to the other. Neither the right of self-determination nor yet the political, let alone the economic necessities and conditions for the European development were respected. Nevertheless, I never left any doubt that-as I have already emphasized – even a revision of the Treaty of Versailles would also have to have its limits. And I have always said so with the utmost frankness-not for any tactical reasons but from my innermost conviction. As the national leader of the German people, I have never left any doubt that, whenever the higher interests of the European comity were at stake, national interests must, if necessary, be relegated to second place in certain cases.
And-as I have already emphasized-this is not for tactical reasons, for I have never left any doubt that I am absolutely in earnest in this attitude. In regard to many territories which might possibly be disputed, I have, therefore, come to final decisions which I have proclaimed not only to the world outside, but also to my own people and I have seen to it that they should abide by them.
I have not, as did France in 1870 - 1871, described the cession of Alsace-Lorraine as intolerable for the future, but I have here drawn a difference between the Saar territory and these two former imperial provinces. And I have never changed my attitude, nor will I ever do so. I have not allowed this attitude to be modified or prejudiced inside the country on any occasion, either in the press or in any other way. The return of the Saar territory has done away with all territorial problems in Europe between France and Germany. I have, however, always regarded it as regrettable that French statesmen should take this attitude for granted.
But this is not the way to regard the matter. It was not for fear of France that I preached this attitude. As a former soldier, I see no reason. whatever for such fear. Moreover, as regards the Saar territory I made it quite clear that we would not countenance any refusal to return it to Germany.
No, I have confirmed this attitude to France as an expression of appreciation of the necessity to attain peace in Europe, instead of sowing the seed of continual uncertainty and even tension by making unlimited demands and continually asking for revision. If this tension has nevertheless now arisen, the responsibility does not lie with Germany but with those international elements which systematically produce such tension in order to serve their capitalist interests.
I have made binding declarations to a large number of states. None of these states can complain that even a trace of a demand contrary thereto has ever been made of them by Germany. None of the Scandinavian statesmen, for example, can contend that a request has ever been put to them by the German government or by German public opinion which was incompatible with the sovereignty and integrity of their states.
I was pleased that a number of European states availed themselves of these declarations by the German government to express and emphasize their desire, too, for absolute neutrality. This applies to Holland, Belgium, Switzerland, Denmark, etc. I have already mentioned France. I need not mention Italy, with whom we are united in the deepest and closest friendship, nor Hungary and Yugoslavia, with whom, as neighbors, our relations are fortunately of the friendliest.
Furthermore, I have left no doubt from the first moment of my political activity that there existed other circumstances which represent so mean and gross an outrage of the right of self-determination of our people that we can never accept or endorse them.
I have never written a single line or made a single speech displaying
a different attitude towards the states just mentioned. Moreover, with
reference to the other cases, I have never written a single line or made
a single speech in which I have expressed any attitude contrary to my actions.
1. Austria, the oldest eastern march of the German people, was once the buttress of the German Nation on the south-east of the Reich.
The Germans of this country are descended from settlers from all the German tribes, even though the Bavarian tribe did contribute the major portion. Later this Ostmark became the crown lands and the nucleus of a five-century-old German Empire, with Vienna as the capital of the German Reich of that period.
This German Reich was finally broken up in the course of a gradual dissolution by Napoleon, the Corsican, but continued to exist as a German federation, and not so long ago fought and suffered in the greatest war of all time as an unit which was the expression of the national feelings of the people, even if it was no longer one united state. I myself am a child of this Ostmark
Not only was the German Reich destroyed and Austria split up into its component parts by the criminals of Versailles, but Germans were also forbidden to acknowledge that community to which they had declared their adherence for more than a thousand years. I have always regarded the elimination of this state of affairs as the highest and holiest task of my life. I have never failed to proclaim this determination, and I have always been resolved to realize these ideas which haunted me day and night.
I should have sinned against my call by Providence had I failed in my own endeavor to lead my native country and my German people of the Ostmark back to the Reich and thus to the community of the German people. In doing so, moreover, I have wiped out the most disgraceful side of the Treaty of Versailles. I have once more established the right of self-determination and done away with the democratic oppression of seven and a half million Germans. I have removed the ban which prevented them from voting on their own fate, and carried out this vote before the whole world. The result was not only what I had expected, but also precisely what had been anticipated by the Versailles democratic oppressors of peoples. For why else did they stop the plebiscite on the question of Anschluss?
.2. Bohemia and Moravia. When in the course of the migrations of peoples Germanic tribes began, for reasons inexplicable to us, to migrate out of the territory which is today Bohemia and Moravia, a foreign Slav people made its way into this territory and made a place for itself amongst the remaining Germans. Since that time the area occupied by this Slav people has been enclosed in the form of a horseshoe by Germans.
From an economic point of view an independent existence is, in the long run, impossible for these countries except by means of close relationship with the German Nation and German economy. But apart from this, nearly four million Germans lived in this territory of Bohemia and Moravia. A policy of national annihilation which set in, particularly after the Treaty of Versailles, under pressure of the Czech majority, combined, too, with economic conditions and the rising tide of distress, led to the emigration of these German elements, so that the Germans left in the territory were reduced to approximately 3,700,000.
The population of the fringe of the territory is uniformly German, but there are also large German linguistic enclaves in the interior., The Czech nation is in its origin foreign to us, but in the thousand years in which the two peoples have lived side by side, Czech culture has in the main been formed and molded by German influences. Czech economy owes its existence to the fact of having been part of the great German economic system. The capital of this country was for a time a German imperial city, and it contains the oldest German university. Numerous cathedrals, town halls, and residences of nobles and citizens alike bear witness to the influence of German culture.The Czech people itself has in the course of centuries alternated between close and more distant contacts with the German people.Every close contact resulted in a period in which both the German and the Czech nations flourished; every estrangement was calamitous in its consequences.
We are familiar with the merits and values of the German people, but the Czech nation. with the sum total of its skill and ability, its industry, its diligence, its love of its native soil and of its own national heritage, also deserves our respect. There were in actual fact periods in which this mutual respect for the qualities of the other nation was a matter of course.
The democratic peacemakers of Versailles can take the credit for having assigned to the Czech people the special role of a satellite state, capable of being used against Germany. For this purpose they arbitrarily adjudicated foreign national property to the Czech state which was utterly incapable of survival on the strength of the Czech national unit alone. That is, they did violence to other nationalities in order to give a firm basis to a state which was to incorporate a latent threat to the German nation in Central Europe.
For this state, in which the so-called predominant national element was actually in a minority, could be maintained only by means of a brutal assault on the national units which formed the major part of the population. This assault was possible only in so far as protection and assistance was granted by the European democracies. This assistance could naturally be expected only on condition that this state was prepared loyally to take over and play the role which it had been assigned at birth, but the purpose of this role was no other than to prevent the consolidation of Central Europe, to provide a bridge to Europe for Bolshevik aggression, and above all to act as a mercenary of the European democracies against Germany.
Everything followed automatically. The more this state tried to fulfill the task it had been set, the greater was the resistance put up by the national minorities. And the greater the resistance, the more it became necessary to resort to oppression. This inevitable hardening of the internal antithesis led in its turn to an increased dependence on the democratic European founders and benefactors of the state, for they alone were in a position to maintain in the long run the economic existence of this unnatural and artificial creation.
Germany was primarily interested in one thing only and that was to liberate the nearly four million Germans in this country from their intolerable situation, and make it possible for them to return to their home country and to the thousand-year-old Reich.
It was only natural that this problem immediately brought up all the other aspects of the nationalities problem. But it was also natural that the removal of the different national groups, should deprive what was left of the state of all capacity to survive – a fact of which the founders of the state had been well aware when they planned it at Versailles. It was for this very reason that they had decided on the assault on the other minorities and had forced these against their will to become part of this amateurishly constructed state.
I have, moreover, never left any doubt about my opinion and attitude. It is true that, as long as Germany herself was powerless and defenseless. this oppression of almost four million Germans could be carried out without the Reich offering any practical resistance. However, only a child in politics could have believed that the German nation would remain forever in the state in which it was in 1919. Only as long as the international traitors, supported from abroad, held the control of the German state, could one be sure of these disgraceful conditions being patiently put up with. From the moment when, after the victory of National Socialism. these traitors had to transfer their domicile to the place whence they had received their subsidies. the solution of this problem was only a question of time.
Moreover, it was exclusively a question affecting the nationalities concerned, not one concerning Western Europe. It was certainly understandable that Western Europe was interested in the artificial state brought into being for its own purposes; but that the nationalities surrounding this state should have regarded this interest as a determining factor for them was a fake conclusion which many perhaps have regretted. Had this interest been directed no further than towards the financial establishment of this state, and had this financial interest not been subjected exclusively to the political aims of the democracies, Germany could have had nothing to say.
The financial requirements of this state were guided by a single idea, namely creation of a military state armed to the teeth with a view to forming a bastion extending into the German Reich, which would constitute a basis for military operations in connection with invasions of the Reich from the west, or at any rate an air base of undoubted value.
What was expected from this state is shown most clearly by the observation of the French Air Minister, M. Pierre Cot, who calmly stated* that the duty of this state in case of any conflict was to be an aerodrome for the landing and taking off of bombers, from which it would be possible to destroy the most important German industrial centers in a few hours. It is, therefore, comprehensible that the German government in their turn decided to destroy this aerodrome for bombing planes. They did not come to this decision because of hatred of the Czech people. Quite the contrary. For in the course of the thousand years during which the German and Czech peoples lived together, there were periods. of close cooperation lasting hundreds of years, interrupted, to be sure, by only brief periods of tension. In such periods of tension the passions of the people struggling with each other on their national front lines can -very easily dim the sense of justice and thus give a wrong general picture. This is a feature of every war. Only in the long epochs of living together in harmony did the two peoples agree that they were both, entitled to advance a sacred claim to deference and respect for their nationality.
In these years of struggle my own attitude towards the Czech people has been solely confined to the guardianship of national and Reich interests, combined with feelings of respect for the Czech people. One thing is certain however. Even if the democratic midwives of this state had succeeded in attaining their ultimate goal, the German Reich would certainly not have been destroyed, although we might have sustained heavy losses. No, the Czech people, by reason of its limited size and its position, would presumably have had to put up with much more fearful, and indeed I am convinced – catastrophic consequences.
I feel happy that it has proved possible, even to the annoyance of democratic interests, to avoid this catastrophe in Central Europe thanks to our own moderation and also to the good judgment of the Czech people. That which the best and wisest Czechs have struggled for decades to attain, is as a matter of course granted to this people in the National Socialist German Reich, namely, the right to their own nationality and the right to foster this nationality and to revive it. National Socialist Germany has no notion' of ever betraying the racial principles of which we are proud. They will be beneficial not only to the German Nation, but to the Czech people as well. But we do demand the recognition of a historical necessity and of an economic exigency in which we all find ourselves. When I announced the solution of this problem in the Reichstag on February 22, 1938, I was convinced that I was obeying the necessity of a Central European situation.
As late as March 10, 1938, 1 believed that by means of a gradual evolution it might prove possible to solve the problem of minorities in this state and, at one time or another, by means of mutual cooperation to arrive at common ground which would be advantageous to all interests concerned, politically as well as economically.
It was not until Mr. Benes who was completely in the hands of his democratic international financiers, turned the problem into a military one and unleashed a wave of suppression over the Germans, at the same time attempting. by that mobilization of which you all know,* to lower the international standing of the German state and to damage its prestige, that it became clear to me that a solution by these means was no longer possible. For the false report of a German mobilization was quite obviously inspired from abroad and suggested to the Czechs in order to cause the German Reich such loss of prestige.
I do not need to repeat again that in May of the past year Germany had not mobilized one single man, although we were all of the opinion that the very fate of Herr Schuschnigg should have shown all others the advisability of working for mutual understanding by means of a more just treatment of national minorities.
I for my part was at any rate prepared to attempt this kind of peaceful
development with patience, though, if need be, the process might last some
years. However, it was exactly this peaceful solution which was a thorn
in the flesh of the agitators in the democracies.
They hate us Germans and would prefer to eradicate us completely. What do the Czechs mean to them? They are nothing but means to an end. And what do they care for the fate of small and valiant nation? Why should they worry about the lives of hundreds of thousands of brave soldiers who would have been sacrificed for their policy?
These Western European peacemongers were not concerned to work for peace but to cause bloodshed so as in this way to set the nations against one another and thus cause still more blood to flow. For this reason they invented the story of German mobilization and humbugged Prague public opinion with it. It was intended to provide an excuse for the Czech mobilization; and then by this means they hoped to be able to exert the desired military pressure on the elections in Sudeten Germany which could no longer be avoided.
According to their view there remained only two alternatives for Germany: Either to accept this Czech mobilization and with it a disgraceful blow to her prestige, or to settle accounts wit Czecho-Slovakia. This would have meant a bloody war, perhaps entailing the mobilization Of the nations of Western Europe which had no interest in these matters, thereby involving them in the inevitable bloodlust and immersing humanity in a new catastrophe in which some would have the honor of losing their lives and others the pleasure of making war profits.
You are acquainted. Gentlemen. with the decisions I made at the time:
1. the solution of this question and. what is more, at the latest, by October 2, 1938.
2. the preparations of this solution with all the means necessary to leave no doubt that any attempt at intervention would be met by the united force of the whole nation.
It was at this juncture that I decreed and ordered the construction of the western fortifications. On September 25, 1938 they were already in such condition that their power of resistance was thirty to forty times as great as that of the old "Siegfried Line" in the Great War. They have now been practically completed and are at the present moment being enlarged by the new lines outside Aachen and Saarbrücken which I ordered later. These, too, are very largely ready for defense.
In view of the quality of these, the greatest fortifications ever constructed, the German Nation may feel perfectly assured that no power in this world will ever succeed in breaking through this front.
When the first provocative attempt at utilizing the Czech mobilization
had failed to produce the desired result, the second phase began,. in which
the motives underlying I a question which really concerned Central Europe
alone, became all the more obvious.
If the cry of "Never another, Munich" is raised in the world today, this simply confirms the fact that the peaceful solution of the problem appeared to be the most awkward thing that ever happened in the eyes of those warmongers. They are sorry no blood was shed-not their 'blood, to be sure-for these agitators are, of course, never to be found where shots are being fired, but only where money is being made. No, it is the blood of many nameless soldiers!
Moreover, there would have been no necessity for the Munich Conference, for that conference was only made possible by the fact that the countries which had at first incited those concerned to resist at all costs, were compelled later on, when the situation pressed for a solution in one way or another, to try to secure for themselves a more or less respectable retreat; for without Munich -that is to say, without the interference of the countries of Western Europe – a solution of the entire problem-if it had grown so acute at all-would very likely have been the easiest thing in the world.
The decision of Munich led to the following results:
1. The return of the most essential parts of the German border settlements in Bohemia and Moravia to the Reich;
2. The keeping open of the-possibility of a solution of the other problems of the state-that is a return or separation of the existing Hungarian and Slovak minorities;
3. There Still remained the question of guarantees. As far as Germany and Italy were concerned, the guarantee of this state had, from the first, been made dependent upon the consent of all interested parties bordering on Czecho-Slovakia, that is to say, the guarantee was coupled with the actual solution of problems concerning the parties mentioned, which were still unsolved.
The following problems were still left open:
1. The return of the -Magyar districts to Hungary;
2. The return of the Polish districts to Poland;
3. The solution of the Slovak question;
4. The solution of the Ukrainian question.
As you know, the negotiations between Hungary and Czecho-Slovakia had scarcely begun when both the Czechoslovak and the Hungarian negotiators requested Germany and Italy, the country which stands hand in hand with. Germany, to act as arbitrators in defining the new frontiers between Slovakia, the Carpatho-Ukraine, and Hungary.** The countries concerned did not avail themselves of the opportunity to appeal to the four powers; on the contrary, they expressly renounced this opportunity. They even declined it. And this was only natural. All the people living in this territory desired peace and quiet. Italy and Germany were prepared to answer the call. Neither England nor France raised any objection to this arrangement, though it-actually constituted a formal departure from the Munich agreement. Nor could they have done so. It would have been madness for Paris or London to have protested against an action on the part of Germany or Italy which had been undertaken solely at the request of the countries concerned. As always happens in such cases, the decision arrived at by Germany and Italy proved not entirely satisfactory to either party. From the very beginning the difficulty was that it had to be voluntarily accepted by both parties. Thus after its acceptance by the two states, violent protests were raised directly it was put into effect.
Hungary, prompted by both general and specific interests, demanded the Carpatho-Ukraine,* while Poland demanded direct means of communication with Hungary.
It was clear that in such circumstances even the remnant of the state which Versailles had brought into being was predestined to extinction. It was a fact that perhaps only one single state was interested in the preservation of the status quo and that was Rumania; the man best authorized to speak on behalf of that country told me personally how desirable it would be to have a direct line of communication with Germany, perhaps via the Ukraine and Slovakia. I mention this as an indication of the extent of the menace from Germany from which the Rumanian government according to the American clairvoyants – is supposed to be suffering.
But it was now evident that Germany could not undertake the task of permanently opposing a natural development, nor of fighting to maintain a state of affairs for which we could never have made ourselves responsible. The stage was thus reached at which I decided to make a declaration in the name of the German government, to the effect that we had no intention of any longer incurring the reproach of opposing the common wishes of Poland and Hungary as regards their frontiers, simply in order to keep an open road of approach for Germany to Rumania.
Since, moreover, the Czech government resorted once more to its old methods, and Slovakia also gave expression to its desire for independence, the further existence of the state as such was out of the question. The structure of Czecho-Slovakia worked out at Versailles had had its day.
It broke up not because Germany desired its breakup, but because, in the long run, it is impossible to create and sustain artificial states at the conference table, for these are incapable of survival. Consequently, in reply to a question regarding a guarantee which was asked by England and France a few days before the dissolution of this state, Germany refused to give a guarantee since the conditions for it laid down at Munich no longer existed.
On the contrary, after the whole structure of the state had begun to break up and had already actually dissolved, the German government also finally decided to intervene. That it did this only in fulfillment of an obvious duty, the following facts show. On the occasion of the first visit of the Czech Foreign Minister, Mr. Chvalkovsky in Munich, the German government plainly expressed its views on the future of Czecho-Slovakia I myself assured Mr. Chvalkovsky on that occasion that provided the large German minorities remaining in the Czech territory were properly treated and provided a general settlement throughout the state were achieved we would guarantee a correct attitude on Germany's part and would assuredly place no obstacles in the way of the stale.
But I also made it clear beyond all doubt that if the Czechs were to lake any steps in line with the policies of the former president, Dr. Benes, German), would not tolerate any such developments, but would stifle them in their infancy. I also pointed out at the same time that the maintenance of such a tremendous military arsenal in Central Europe fur no reason or purpose, could only be regarded is a danger spot.
Later developments proved how justified my warning had been. A constantly growing stream of underground propaganda and a gradual tendency of Czech newspapers to relapse into their old trends made it obvious even to the veriest simpleton that the old state of affairs would soon be restored.
The risk of a military conflict was all the greater as there was always the possibility that some madman might get control of those vast stores of munitions. This involved the danger of a tremendous explosion. As a proof of this, I am constrained, Gentlemen, to give you an idea of the truly gigantic extent of this international store of explosives in Central Europe.
Since the occupation of this territory, the following items have been taken over and placed in safe keeping:
Air Force: airplanes, 1582; anti-aircraft guns, 501.
Army: guns light and heavy, 2175; mine throwers, 785; tanks, 469; machine
guns, 43,876; automatic pistols, 114,000; rifles, 1,090.000. Ammunition:
infantry ammunition, over 1,000,000,000 rounds; shells, over 3,000.000
rounds; other implements of war of all kinds, for example, bridge-building
equipment, aircraft defectors, searchlights, measuring instruments, motor
vehicles and special motor vehicles in vast quantities.
I believe it is a blessing for millions and millions that, thanks to the fact that the eyes of responsible men on the other side were opened at the eleventh hour, I succeeded in averting such an explosion and found a solution which, I am convinced, has finally abolished the problem of this source of danger in Central Europe.
The contention that this solution is contrary to the Munich agreement
cannot be supported or confirmed. This agreement could under no circumstances
be regarded as having been final because it admitted that it left other
problems still requiring solution.
We cannot rightly be reproached for the fact that the parties concerned and this is the main thing – did not turn to the four powers but only to Italy and Germany nor for the fact that the state as such finally split up of its own accord and that consequently Czecho-Slovakia ceased to be.
It was, however, understandable that after ethnographic principles had long since been violated, Germany should take under her protection her thousand-year-old interests, Which are not only political but also economic in their nature.
The future will show whether the solution which Germany has found is
right or wrong However, it is certain that this solution is not subject
to English supervision or criticism. For Bohemia and Moravia, as but the
remnants of former Czecho-Slovakia, have nothing more to do with the Munich
agreement. just as little are English measures, say in Northern Ireland.
-whether they be right or wrong, subject to German supervision or criticism.
This hold-, good too for these old German electorates. However, I entirely fall to understand how the agreement between Mr. Chamberlain and myself at Munich can apply in this instance, for the case of Czecho-Slovakia was settled in the Munich Four Power Conference, as far as it could be settled at all at that time.
Apart from this, provision was merely made that if the interested parties should fail to come to an agreement, they should be entitled to appeal to the four powers. who had agreed in such eventuality to meet for further consultation after the expiration of three months.
However, these interested pat-ties did not appeal to the four powers at all hut only to Germany and Italy. That this was fully justified moreover. is proven by the fact that neither England nor France have raised any objections to it but themselves accepted the decision given by Germany and Italy, No, the agreement between Air. Chamberlain and myself had nothing to do with this problem. but solely with questions concerning the mutual relationships of England and Germany. This is clearly shown by the fact that such questions are to be treated in the future in the spirit of the Munich agreement and of the Anglo-German Naval Agreement, that is to say in a friendly spirit of consultation.
If however, this agreement were to be applied to every future German activity of a political nature England. too, should not take any step whether in Palestine or elsewhere without first consulting Germany. It is obvious that we do not expect this; likewise, we refuse to permit any similar expectation of us.
Now, if Mr. Chamberlain concludes that my agreement with him at Munich has been rendered null and void through a breach on our part, then I shall take cognizance of the fact and proceed accordingly.
During the whole of my political activity I have always propounded the idea of a close friendship and collaboration between Germany and England. In my movement I found innumerable others of like mind. Perhaps they joined me because of my attitude in this regard. This desire for Anglo-German friendship and cooperation conforms not merely to sentiments based on the racial origins of our two peoples but also to my realization of the importance of the existence of the British Empire for the whole of mankind.
I have never left room for any doubt of my belief that the existence of this empire is an inestimable factor of value for the whole of human -culture and economic life. By whatever means Great Britain has acquired her colonial territories-and I know that they were those of force and often brutality – I know full well that no other empire has ever come into being in any other way, and that, in the final analysis, it is not so much the methods that are taken into account in history as success, and not the success of the methods as such, but rather the general good which those methods produce.
Now, there is no doubt that the Anglo-Saxon people have accomplished immense colonizing work in the world. For this work I have sincere admiration.
The thought of destroying this labor seemed and still seems to me, from the higher point of view of humanity, as nothing but a manifestation of wanton human destructiveness. However, my sincere respect for this -achievement does not mean neglecting to make the life of my own people secure.
I regard it as impossible to achieve a lasting friendship between the German and the Anglo-Saxon peoples if the other side does not recognize that there are German as well as British interests, that just as the preservation of the British Empire is the object and life-purpose of Britons, so also the freedom and preservation of the German Reich is the life-purpose of Germans.
A genuine lasting' friendship between these two nations is only conceivable on a basis of mutual regard. The English people rule a great empire. They built up this empire at a time when the German people were internally weak.
Germany had once been a great empire. At one time she ruled the Occident. In bloody struggles and religious dissensions, and as a result of internal political disintegration, this empire declined in power and greatness and finally fell into a deep sleep.
But as this old empire appeared to have reached its end, the seeds of its rebirth were springing up. From Brandenburg and Prussia there arose a new Germany, the Second Reich, and out of it has finally grown the Reich of the German People.
nd I hope that all English people understand that we do not possess the -slightest feeling of inferiority to Britons. The part we have played in history is far too tremendous for that.
England has given the world many great men and Germany no less. The severe struggle for the maintenance of the life of our people has, in the course of three centuries, cost a sacrifice in lives, which far exceeds that which other peoples have had to make in maintaining their existence.
If Germany, a country forever being attacked, was not able to retain her possessions but was compelled to sacrifice many of her provinces, it was due only to her unfortunate political development and her impotence which resulted from it.
That condition has now been overcome. Therefore, we Germans do not feel in the least inferior to the British Nation. Our self- esteem is just as great as that of an Englishman. In the history of our people, throughout approximately two thousand years there are events and accomplishments enough to fill us with just pride.
Now, if England cannot understand our point of view, thinking perchance she may regard Germany as a vassal state, then our love and affection hive indeed been wasted on England. We shall not despair or lose heart on that account, but – relying on the consciousness of our own strength and on the strength of our friends – we shall find ways and means to secure our independence without impairing our dignity.
I have heard the statement of the British Prime Minister to the effect that he is not able to put any trust in German assurances. Under the circumstances I consider it a matter of course that we should no longer expect him or the British people to bear the burden of a situation which has become onerous to them and which is only to be borne in an atmosphere of mutual confidence.
When Germany became National Socialists and thus paved the way for her national resurrection, in pursuance of my unswerving policy of friendship with England, of my own accord I made the proposal for voluntary restriction of German naval armaments. That restriction was, however, based on one condition, namely, the will and the conviction that a war between England and Germany would never again be possible. This wish and this conviction are alive in me today.
I am now, however, compelled to state that the policy of England, both
unofficially and officially, leaves no doubt as to the fact that such a
conviction is no longer shared in London, and that, on the contrary, the
opinion prevails there that no matter in what conflict Germany might some
day be entangled, Great Britain would always have to take her stand against
Germany. Thus war against Germany is taken for granted in that country.
I most profoundly regret such a development, for the only claim I have ever made and shall continue to make on England is that for the return of our colonies. But I always made it very clear that this would never become a cause of military conflict. I have always held that the English, to whom those colonies are of no value, would one day understand the German situation and would then value German friendship higher than the possession of territorieswhich, while yielding no real profit whatever to them, are of vital importance to Germany.
Apart from this, however, I have never advanced a claim which might in any way have interfered with British interests or have become a danger to the Empire and thus have meant any kind of harm to England. I have always kept within the limit of such demands as are intimately connected with Germany's rightful territory, and thus concern the eternal property of the German nation.
Since England today, both in the press and officially, upholds the view that Germany should be opposed under all circumstances and confirms this by the familiar policy of encirclement, the basis for the naval treaty has been removed. I have therefore resolved to send today a communication to this effect to the British Government.
This is to us not a matter of practical material importance for I still hope that we shall be able to avoid an armaments race with England-but an action of self-respect. Should the British Government, however, wish to enter once more into negotiations with Germany on this problem, no one would be happier than I at the prospect of still being able to come to a clear and straightforward understanding.
Moreover, I know my people-and I rely on them. We do not want anything that did not formerly belong to us and no state will ever be robbed by us of its property; but whoever believes that he is able to attack Germany will find himself confronted with a measure of power and resistance compared with which that of 1914 was negligible.
In connection with this I wish to speak here and now of that matter which was chosen as the starting-point for the new campaign against the Reich by those same circles that caused the mobilization of Czecho-Slovakia.
I have already assured you, Gentlemen, at the beginning of my speech, that never, either in the case of Austria or in the case of Czecho-Slovakia, have I adopted any attitude in my political life that is not compatible with events which have now happened. I therefore pointed out in connection with the problem of the Memel Germans that this question, if it was not solved by Lithuania herself in a dignified and generous manner, would one day have to be raised by Germany.
You know that the Memel territory too was once torn from the Reich quite arbitrarily by the Dictate of Versailles and that finally, in the year 1923, that is to say, in the midst of a period of complete peace, this territory was occupied by Lithuania and thus more or less confiscated. The fate of the Germans has since then been sheer martyrdom.
In the course of reincorporating Bohemia and Moravia within the framework
of the German Reich it was also possible for me to come to an agreement
with the Lithuanian Government which allowed the return of this territory
to Germany without any act of violence and without shedding blood. Also
in this instance I have not demanded one square mile more than we formerly
possessed and which had not been stolen from us.
This means, therefore, that only that territory has returned to the German Reich which had been torn from us by the madmen who dictated peace at Versailles. But this solution, I am convinced, will only prove advantageous to the relations between Germany and Lithuania, seeing. that Germany, as our attitude has proved, has no other interest than to live in peace and friendship with this state and to establish and foster economic relations with it.
In this connection I wish to make one point perfectly clear. The significance of the economic agreements with Germany lies not only in the fact that Germany is able as an exporter to meet almost all industrial requirements, but that she, being a very large consumer, is at the same time also a purchaser of numerous products which alone enable other countries to participate in international trade at all.
We are interested not only in retaining these economic markets, but especially in promoting good relations with them, because the existence of our people is based to a large extent on them. So-called democratic statesmen regard it as among their greatest political achievements to exclude a nation from its markets by boycott, for example, presumably in order to starve it out. I need not tell you that any nation would assuredly rather fight than starve under such circumstances.
As far as Germany is concerned, she is in any case determined not to allow certain economically important markets to be stolen from her by threats or brutal intervention.
But this is not only for our own sake, but also in the interest of our trade partners. Here, as in every business, dependence is not one-sided but mutual.
How often do we have the pleasure of reading in amateurish articles on economy in the newspapers of our democracies that Germany, because she maintains close economic relations with a country, makes that country dependent upon her. This is utterly impossible Jewish nonsense. For if Germany; supplies an agrarian country today with machines and receives foodstuffs in payment, the Reich as a consumer of foodstuffs, is at least as dependent, if not more dependent, on the agrarian country as the latter is dependent on us, from whom it receives industrial products in payment.
Germany regards the Baltic States as among its most important trade partners. And for this reason it is in our interest that 'these countries should lead an independent, orderly national life of their own.
This is in our opinion a prerequisite for that internal economic development which is in turn the condition upon which the exchange of goods depends.
I am, therefore, happy that we have been able to dispose also of the point of dispute between Lithuania and Germany. This removes the only obstacle in the way of the policy of friendship, which can prove its worth-as I am convinced it will-not in mere political phrases but in practical economic measures.
It was assuredly once more quite a blow to the democratic world that there was no bloodshed - that 175,000 Germans were able to return to the homeland which they loved above all else without a few hundred thousand others having to be shot for it!
This grieved the apostles of humanitarianism deeply. It was, therefore, no wonder that they immediately began to look for new possibilities for bringing about a thorough disturbance of the European atmosphere, after all. And so, as in the case of Czecho- Slovakia, they again resorted to the assertion that Germany was taking military measures, and that it was supposed to be mobilizing. This mobilization was said to be directed against Poland.
I want to say something about German-Polish relations. Here, likewise, the Peace Treaty of Versailles – of course, intentionally -wounded Germany most severely. The peculiar way in which the Corridor, giving Poland access to the sea, was marked out, was meant above all to prevent for all time the establishment of an understanding between Poland and Germany. This, as I have already emphasized is perhaps the most troublesome of all Germany's problems.
Nevertheless, I have never ceased to uphold the view that the necessity of a free access to the sea for the Polish State cannot be ignored. That is a general principle, equally valid for this case. Nations which Providence has destined or, if you will, condemned to live' side by side, would be well advised not to make life- still harder for each other by artificial and unnecessary means. The late Marshal Pilsudski, who was of the same opinion, was therefore prepared to go into the question of clarifying the atmosphere of German-Polish relations and finally to conclude an agreement whereby Germany and Poland expressed their intention of renouncing war altogether as a means of settling the questions which concerned them both.
This agreement contained one single exception which was in effect a concession to Poland. It was laid down that the pacts of mutual assistance. already entered into by Poland-this applied to a pact with France – should not be affected by the agreement. But it was obvious that this could apply only to the pact of mutual assistance already concluded beforehand, and not to whatever new pacts might be concluded in the future.
It is a fact that the German-Polish agreement resulted in a remarkable lessening of tension in Europe. Nevertheless, there remained one question open between Germany and Poland which sooner or later, quite naturally, would have to be solved-the question of the German City of Danzig:
Danzig is a German city and wishes to belong to Germany. On the other hand this city has contracts with Poland which were admittedly forced upon it by the dictators of the Peace of Versailles. Moreover, since the League of Nations, formerly the greatest trouble maker, is now represented by a High Commissioner -incidentally a man of extraordinary tact – the problem of Danzig must in any case come up for discussion, at any rate by the time this calamitous league has gradually reached extinction.
I regarded the peaceful settlement of this problem as a further contribution
to the final loosening of the European tension. For. loosening of this
tension assuredly cannot be achieved through the agitation of insane warmongers,
but only through the removal of the real elements of danger.
After the problem of Danzig had already been discussed several times some months ago. I made a concrete offer to the Polish Government. I now make this offer known to you, Gentlemen, and -you yourselves may judge whether this offer did not represent the greatest concession imaginable in the interests of European peace.
As I have already pointed out, I have always seen the necessity. of an access to the sea for this country and have consequently taken this necessity into consideration. I am no democratic statesman, but a National Socialist and a realist.
I considered it necessary, however, to make it clear to the government in Warsaw that, just as they desire access to the- sea, so Germany needs access to her province in the East. Now these are all difficult problems.
It is not Germany who is responsible for them, however, but rather the jugglers of Versailles who, either in their maliciousness or their thoughtlessness, placed a hundred powder barrels round about in Europe, all equipped with lighted fuses that would be hard to extinguish.
These problems cannot be solved with old-fashioned ideas. I think rather that we should adopt new methods.
Poland's access to the sea by way of the Corridor on the one hand, and a German route through the Corridor on the other, have no kind of military importance whatsoever. Their importance is exclusively psychological and economic. To attach military importance to a traffic route of this kind, would be to show oneself. completely ignorant of military affairs. Consequently, I have caused the following proposals to be submitted to the Polish Government:
1. Danzig to return as a Free State into the framework of the German Reich.
2. Germany to obtain a route through the Corridor and a railway line for herself with the same extra-territorial status for Germany as the Corridor itself. has for Poland.
In return, Germany is prepared:
1 . To recognize all Polish economic rights in Danzig.
2. To insure Poland of a free harbor in Danzig of any size desired, giving her completely free access to the sea.
3. To accept at the same time the present boundaries between Germany and Poland and to regard them as final.
4. To conclude a twenty-five-year non-aggression treaty with Poland, a treaty therefore which would extend far beyond the duration of my own life; and
5. To enter into a guarantee of the independence of the Slovak State by Germany, Poland and Hungary jointly, – which means in practice, renunciation of any exclusive German hegemony in this territory.
The Polish Government has rejected my offer and has declared itself prepared only
1. To negotiate concerning the question of a substitute for the Commissioner of the League of Nations, and
2. To consider facilities for the transit traffic through the Corridor.
This incomprehensible attitude of the Polish Government, was a matter of deep regret to me. But that is not all. The worst is that Poland, like Czecho-Slovakia a year ago, under the pressure of an international campaign of lies, now believes that it must call up troops, even though Germany has not called up a single man and had no thought of taking any measures against Poland.
As I have said, this is highly regrettable. Posterity will one day decide whether it was really right to refuse this suggestion of mine. As I have also said, it was an endeavor on my part to solve, by a compromise that was truly unique, a question intimately affecting the German people-and to solve it to the advantage of both countries.
I am convinced that this solution would not have meant any giving, but only getting, on the part of Poland, for there should be no shadow of doubt that Danzig never will become Polish.
Germany's intention to attack was a sheer invention of the international press. This, as you know, led to an offer of so-called guarantees and to an obligation on the Polish government for mutual assistance. Under certain circumstances Poland would also be compelled by this to take military action against Germany in the event of a conflict between Germany and any other power, if such conflict in turn involved England.
This obligation is contradictory to the agreement which I made with Marshal Pilsudski some time ago, seeing that in this agreement reference is made exclusively to existing obligations, which meant at that time the obligations of Poland towards France, of which we were aware. The subsequent extension of these obligations is contrary to the terms of the German-Polish Non-aggression Pact.
Under these' circumstances I would not have entered into this pact
at that time. For what can be the value of concluding non- aggression pacts if one partner makes a number of exceptions in the
execution of them? The alternatives are – either collective security which
is nothing but collective insecurity and continuous danger of war or else
clear cut agreements which exclude fundamentally ;in), use of arms
between the contracting parties. 1, therefore. regard the agreement which
Marshal Pilsudski and I once concluded a., having liven unilaterally infringed
by Poland and therefore voided.
I have sent 1 communication to this effect to the Polish Government I However, I can only repeat at this point that my decision does not constitute a modification in principle of ill), attitude with regard 14) the problems I have just mentioned. Should the Polish Government wish to make fresh contractual arrangement.,,- determining its relations with Germany, I call only welcome such an idea, provided. of course. that these arrangements are based oil all absolutely clear obligation binding both parties equally. Germany is perfectly willing at any time to undertake such obligations and also to fulfill them.
If these things have brought about the outbreak of fresh unrest in Europe during the last few weeks, it is the well-known propaganda of file international warmongers that is solely responsible for it. This propaganda conducted by numerous organs of the democratic states. endeavors, by constantly building up nervous tension, and by inventing continual rumors it) make Europe ripe for a catastrophe – that catastrophe by which it is hoped to bring about what his not yet been achieved, namely, the Bolshevik destruction of European civilization!
The hate of these mischief makers is the more readily understandable since the), were deprived of one of the most critical danger spots in Europe, thanks to the heroism of one man and his nation and – I may say – thanks also, to Italian and German volunteers.
In recent weeks Germany his witnessed the victory of Nationalist Spain with the most fervent sympathy and rejoicing. When I resolved to answer the plea of General Franco to give him the assistance of National Socialist Germany ill countering the international support of the Bolshevik incendiaries, this step of Germany's was subjected to misinterpretation and outrageous abuse by these same international agitators.
They declared at that time that Germany intended to establish herself in Spain and proposed taking Spanish colonies; they even invented the infamous lie of the landing of 20,000 soldiers in Morocco. In short, nothing was left undone that might cast suspicion on the idealism of our support and the Italian support in the attempt to find material for renewed warmongering.
In a few weeks from now, the. victorious hero of Nationalist Spain will celebrate his festive entry into the capital of his country. The Spanish people will acclaim him as their deliverer from unspeakable horrors and as the liberator from bands of incendiaries, of whom it is estimated that they have more than 715,000 human lives on their conscience, by executions and murders alone.
The inhabitants of whole villages and towns were literally butchered while their benevolent patrons, the humanitarian apostles of Western European and -American democracy, remained silent.
In this, his triumphal procession, the volunteers of our German legion will march, together with their Italian comrades, in the ranks of the valiant Spanish soldiers. It is our hope to welcome them home soon afterwards. The German Nation will then know how bravely its own sons too have played their part on that soil, in the struggle for the liberty of a noble people. It was a struggle for the salvation of European civilization, for if the subhuman forces of Bolshevism proved victorious in Spain, they might well have spread across. the whole of Europe.
Hence the hatred of those who are disappointed that Europe did not once more go up in fire and flames. For this very reason they are doubly anxious to miss no opportunity of sowing the seeds of mistrust among the nations and stirring up elsewhere the war atmosphere which they so much desire.
Some of the lying statements fabricated in the past few weeks by these international warmongers and published in numerous newspapers are just as childish as they are malicious.
The first result-apart from serving the internal political purposes of the. democratic governments is the spreading of a nervous hysteria which even makes the landing of Martians seem possible in the land of unlimited possibilities. The real purpose, however, is to prepare public opinion to regard the English encirclement policy as necessary and, consequently, to support it, should the worst come to the worst.
The German people, on the other hand, can go about their business with-perfect tranquillity. Their frontiers are guarded by the best army in the history of Germany. The sky is protected by the most powerful air fleet, and our coasts are rendered unassailable by any enemy power. In the west, the strongest defensive work of aft times has been built.
But the deciding factors are the unity of the German Nation as. a whole, the confidence of all Germans in one another and in their fighting forces and – if I may say so – the faith of all in their leadership...'
But the trust of the people and their leader in our friends is no less. Foremost among these is the state which is closest to us in every. respect as a result of the common destinies. which unite us. This year again Fascist Italy has shown the fullest understanding for Germany's just interests. No one should be surprised if we, for our part, have the same feelings for Italy's needs. The bond which unites the two peoples cannot be severed. All attempts to throw doubt on this are preposterous.
In any case, this is best confirmed by the fact that an article appeared a few days ago in a leading democratic newspaper, which stated that it should 'no longer be considered possible to separate Italy and Germany in order to destroy them separately.
Thus the German Government fully understands and appreciates the justice of the action taken by their Italian friend in Albania and has, therefore, welcomed it. Yes, it is not only the right, but also the duty of Fascism to secure for Italy, in the sphere unquestionably allotted her by nature and history, the maintenance of an order, which alone is obviously the basis and security for a really flourishing human civilization.
After all, there can be just as little room for doubt in the rest of the world concerning the civilizing work of Fascism as there is about that of National Socialism.
In both instances indisputable facts stand in contradistinction to the unfounded brag and unproved statements of the other side. The creation of still closer ties between Germany, Italy and Japan is the constant aim of the German Government. We regard the existence and maintenance of the freedom and independence of these three great powers as the strongest factor for the future, making for the preservation of a true human culture, a practical civilization and just order in the world.
As I mentioned at the beginning, on April 15, 1939, -the world was informed of the contents of a telegram which I myself did not see until later. It is difficult to classify this document or to place it in any known category. I will, therefore attempt, Gentlemen, to present to you – and so to the whole German people-an analysis of the contents of this amazing document and in your name and in the name of the German people to give the appropriate answers to it.
Mr. Roosevelt is of the opinion that 1, too, must realize that throughout the world hundreds of millions of human beings are living in constant fear of a new war or even a series of wars.
This, he says, is of concern to the people of the United States, for whom he speaks, as it must also be to the peoples of the other nations of the entire Western Hemisphere.
In reply to this it must be said in the first place that this fear of war has undoubtedly existed among mankind from time immemorial, and justifiably so.
For instance, after the Peace Treaty of Versailles, 14 wars were waged between 1919 and 1938 alone, in none of which Germany was concerned, but in which states of the "Western Hemisphere" in whose name President Roosevelt also speaks, were certainly concerned.
In addition there were in the same period 26 violent interventions and sanctions carried through by means of bloodshed and force. Germany played no part whatever in these either.
The United States alone has carried out military interventions in six cases since 1918. Since 1918 Soviet Russia has -engaged in 10 wars and military actions involving force and bloodshed. Again, Germany was concerned in none of these, nor was she. responsible for any of these.
It would therefore be a mistake in my eyes to assume that the fear of war inspiring European and non-European nations can at this present time be directly traced back to actual wars at all.
The reason for this fear lies simply and solely in an unbridled agitation on the part of the press, an agitation as mendacious as it is base in the circulation of vile pamphlets against the heads of foreign states, and in the artificial spreading of panic, which finally goes so far that interventions from another planet are believed possible and scenes of desperate alarm ensue.
I believe that as soon as the governments responsible impose upon themselves and their journalistic organs the necessary restraint and truthfulness as regards the relations of the various countries to one another, and in particular as regards internal happenings in other countries, the fear of war will disappear at once and the tranquillity which we all so much desire will become possible..
In his telegram Mr. Roosevelt expresses the belief that every major war, even if it were confined to other continents, must have serious consequences not only while it lasts, but for generations to come.
Answer: No. one knows this better than the German people. For the Peace Treaty of Versailles imposed burdens on the German people, which could not have been paid off in a hundred years, although it has been proved conclusively by American teachers of constitutional law, historians and professors of history that Germany was no more to blame for the outbreak of the war than any other nation.
But I do not believe that every conflict need have disastrous consequences for the whole world, literally the whole of mankind, provided that it is not systematically drawn into such conflicts by the obligations of a network of nebulous pacts.
For since in the past centuries and – as I pointed out at the beginning, of my answer – in the course of the last decades also, the world Has experienced a continuous series of wars, if Mr. Roosevelt's assumption were correct, the sum total of the outcome of all these wars. would have already imposed a burden on humanity, which it would have to-bear for millions of years to come.
Mr. Roosevelt declared that he had already appealed to me on a former
occasion for a peaceful settlement of political, economic and social
I problems, without resort to arms.
Answer: I myself have always been an exponent of this view and, as history proves, have settled necessary political, economic and social problems without force of arms-without even resorting to arms.
Unfortunately, however, this peaceful settlement has been made more 'difficult by the agitation of politicians, statesmen and newspaper representatives who were neither directly concerned nor even affected by the problems in question.
Mr. Roosevelt believes that the "tide of events" is once more bringing the threat of arms with it, and that if this threat continues, a large part of the world is condemned to common ruin.
Answer: As far as Germany is concerned, I know nothing of this kind of threat to other nations, although I read lies about such a threat every day in the democratic newspapers.
Every day I read of German mobilizations, of the landing of troops, of extortions – all this in connection with states with whom we are not only living absolutely peacefully, but with whom we are also in many cases, the closest friends.
Mr. Roosevelt believes further that in case of war, victorious, vanquished
and neutral nations will all suffer alike.
Answer: In the course of my political activity, I have been the exponent of this conviction for twenty years, at a time when responsible statesmen in America, unfortunately, could not bring themselves to make the same admission as regards their participation in the Great War and its issue.
Mr. Roosevelt believes that in the end it lies with the leaders of the
great nations to preserve their peoples from the impending disaster.
Answer: If that is true, then it is culpable neglect, not to use a stronger word, if the leaders of nations in authority fail to control their newspapers which agitate for war, and thus save the world from the threatening calamity of an armed conflict.
I cannot understand, further, why these responsible leaders instead of cultivating diplomatic relations between nations, make them more difficult and indeed disturb them by such actions as the recall of ambassadors without any reason.
Mr. Roosevelt declared finally that three nations in Europe and one in Africa have seen their independent existence terminated.
Answer: I do not know which three nations in Europe are meant. Should it be a question of the provinces reincorporated in the German Reich, I must draw the attention of Mr. Roosevelt to a mistake in history on his part.
It was not now that these nations sacrificed their independent existence in Europe, but rather in 1918. At that time, in violation of solemn promises, their logical ties were torn asunder and they were made into the nations which they never wished to be and never had been. They were forced into an independence which was no independence but at most could only mean dependence upon an international foreign world which they detested.
Moreover, as to the allegations that one nation in Africa has lost its freedom-that, too, is erroneous. It is not a question of one nation in Africa having lost its freedom. On the contrary, practically all the original inhabitants of this continent have lost their freedom through being made subject to the sovereignty of other nations by bloodshed and force.
Moroccans, Berbers, Arabs, Negroes, and the rest have all fallen victim to the swords of foreign might, which, however, were not marked "Made in Germany" but "Made by Democracies".
Mr. Roosevelt then speaks of the reports which he admittedly does not believe to be correct, but which state that still further acts of aggression are contemplated against other independent nations.
Answer: I consider every such unfounded insinuation as an attempt against the tranquillity and peace of the world. I also see in them an effort calculated to alarm smaller nations or at least to put them on edge.
If Mr. Roosevelt really has any specific instances in mind in this
connection I would ask him to name the states which are
threatened with aggression and to name the aggressor in question. It will then be a simple matter to refute these preposterous general charges quite briefly.
Mr. Roosevelt states that the world is plainly moving towards the moment when this situation must end in catastrophe unless a rational way of guiding events is found.
He also declares that I have repeatedly asserted that I and the German people have no desire for war and that if this is true there need be no War.
Answer: I should like to point out in the first place that I have not
waged any war; in the second, that for years I have expressed my abhorrence
of war and, no less, of warmongers; and, thirdly, that I do not know for
what purpose I should wage a war at all.
I would appreciate if Mr. Roosevelt would give me some explanation in this regard.
Mr. Roosevelt is further of the opinion that the peoples of the world could not be persuaded that any governing power has any right or need to inflict the consequences of war on its own or any other people, save in the. self-evident cause of home defense.
Answer: I should think that every reasonable human being is of this opinion, but it seems to me that in almost every war both sides claim that theirs is a case of unquestionable home defense. I do not believe there is an authority 'in this world, including the American President himself, who could decide this question unequivocally. There is hardly any possibility of doubt, for example, that America's entry into the Great War was not a case of unquestionable home defense. A research committee set up by President Roosevelt himself has examined the causes of America's entry into the Great War, and reached the conclusion that the entry ensued chiefly for reasons that were exclusively capitalistic. Nevertheless, no practical conclusions have been drawn from this fact.
Let us hope, then, that at least the United States will in the future act according to this noble principle herself, and will not go to war. against any country except in the cause of unquestionable home defense.
Mr. Roosevelt says further that he does not speak from selfishness, fear, or weakness, but with the voice of strength and friendship for mankind.
Answer: If this voice of strength and friendship for mankind had been raised by America at' the proper time, and particularly if it had had any practical value, then at least that treaty which was to become the source of the direst derangement of humanity and history, the Dictate of Versailles, could have been prevented.
Mr. Roosevelt declares further that it is clear to him that all international problems can be solved at the council table.
Answer: Theoretically one ought to believe in this possibility, for common sense would correct demands oil the one hand and show the compelling necessity of compromise oil the other.
For example. by the logic of common sense and the general principles of a higher human justice, indeed, according to the laws of a divine will, all peoples ought to have all equal share in the world's goods.
It ought not then to happen that one people needs so much space to live in that it cannot get along with fifteen inhabitants to the square kilometer, while others are forced to sustain 140, 150 or even 200 on the same area.
But in any event these fortunate peoples should not curtail the existing space allotted to those who ire already suffering, by robbing them of their colonies for instance. I should therefore be more than happy if these problems could really find their solution at the council table.
My skepticism, however, is based oil the fact that it was America herself who gave sharpest expression to her mistrust in the effectiveness of conferences. For the greatest conference of-all time was without doubt the League of Nations.
This authoritative body, representing all the peoples of the world, created in accordance with the intentions of an American President, was supposed to solve the problems of humanity at the council table.
The first state, however, that shrank from this endeavor was the United States-the reason being that President Wilson himself even then cherished the greatest doubts of the possibility of really being able to solve decisive international problems at the conference table.
We honor your well-meant expression of opinion, Mr. Roosevelt, but over against your opinion stands the actual fact that in almost twenty years of the activity of the greatest conference in the world, the League of Nations, it has proved impossible to solve one single decisive international problem.
Contrary to Wilson's promise, Germany was prevented for many years by the Peace Treaty of Versailles from participating I in this great world conference. In spite of the -bitterest experience there was one German Government that believed that there was no need to follow the example of the United States, and that it should therefore take a seat at this conference table.
It was not till after years of purposeless participation that I resolved to follow the example of America and likewise leave the largest conference in the world. Since then I have solved my people's problems, which, like all others, were, unfortunately not solved at the conference table of the League of Nations – and solved them without recourse to war in any instance.
Apart from this, however, as already mentioned, numerous other problems have been brought before world conferences in recent years without any solution having been found.
If, however, Mr. Roosevelt, your belief that every problem can be solved at the conference table is true. then all nations, including the United States, have been led in the past seven or eight hundred years either by blind men or by criminals.
For no statesmen, including those of the United States and especially her greatest, made the outstanding 'part of their countries' history at the conference table, but by reason of the strength of their people.
The freedom of North America was not achieved at the conference table any more than the conflict between the North and the South was decided there. I will not mention the innumerable struggles which finally led to the subjugation of the North American Continent as a whole.
1. recite all this is only in order to show that your view, Mr. Roosevelt, although undoubtedly deserving of all respect, is not confirmed by the history either of your own country or of the rest of the world.
Mr. Roosevelt continues that it is no answer to the plea for peaceful discussion for one side to plead that, unless they receive assurances beforehand that the verdict will be theirs, they will not lay aside their arms.
Answer. Do you believe, Mr. Roosevelt, that if the ultimate fate of nations is in the balance, a government or the leaders of a people will lay down their arms or surrender them before a conference, simply in the blind hope that the other members of the conference will be wise enough, or rather clear-sighted enough, to reach the right decision?
Mr. Roosevelt, there has been only one country and one government which has acted in accordance with the recipe you extol in such glowing terms; and that country was Germany. The German Nation, trusting in the solemn assurances of President Wilson and in the confirmation of these assurances by the Allies, once laid down its weapons and went unarmed to the conference table.
It is true that as soon as the German nation laid down its arms there was no question of an invitation to a conference table, but in violation of all assurances, it was made the victim of the worst breach of a promise ever known.
Then one day, instead of the greatest confusion known to history being repaired around the conference table, the world's most cruelly dictated treaty brought about a still more fearful confusion.
But the representatives of the German Nation, who had laid down their arms, trusting in the solemn assurance of an American President, and therefore came unarmed, were not received, even though they came to accept the terms of the dictated treaty. After all, they were the representatives of a nation, which at least, had held out with infinite heroism against a whole world for four years in the struggle for its liberty and independence. They were subjected to even greater degradation than can ever have been inflicted on the chieftains of Sioux tribes.
The German delegates were insulted by the mob, stones were thrown at them, and they were dragged like prisoners, not to the council table of the world but before the tribunal of the victors; and there, at the pistol's point, they were forced to undergo the most shameful subjection and plundering that the world had ever known,
I can assure you, Mr. Roosevelt, that I am steadfastly determined to
see to it that not only now , but for all time to come, no
German hall ever again enter a conference defenseless, but that at all times and forever every representative of Germany must and shall have behind him the united strength of the German Nation, so help me God.
The President of the United States believes that in conference rooms as in courts it is necessary that both sides enter in good faith, assuming that substantial justice will accrue to both.
Answer: German representatives will never again enter a conference that is for them a tribunal. For who is to be the judge there? At a conference there is no accused and no prosecutor, but two contending parties. If their own good sense does not bring about a settlement between the two parties, they will never surrender themselves to the verdict of other powers whose interests are wholly foreign to theirs.
Incidentally, the United States herself declined to enter the League of Nations and to become the victim of a court which was able, merely by a majority vote, to give a verdict adverse to individual interests. But I should be much obliged to President Roosevelt if he would explain to the world what the new World Court is to be like.
Who are the judges here? According to what procedure are they selected? On what responsibility do they act? And above all, to whom can they be made accountable for their decision?
Mr. Roosevelt believes that the cause of world peace would be greatly advanced if the nations of the world were to give a frank statement relating to the present and future policy of their governments
Answer: I have already done this, Mr. Roosevelt, in innumerable public speeches. And in the course of this present meeting of the German Reichstag, I have again – as far as this is possible in the space of two hours – made a statement of this kind.
I must, however, decline to give such an explanation to any one else than to the people for whose existence and life I am responsible, and who, in their turn, alone have the right to demand that I account to them. However, I give the aims of the German policy so openly that the entire world can heir it in any case.
But these explanations are without significance for the outside world as long as it is possible for the press to falsify and cast suspicion on every statement, to question it, or to drown it with new wave of lies.
Mr. Roosevelt believes that, because the United States as one of the nations of the Western Hemisphere is not involved in the immediate controversies which have arisen in Europe, I should therefore be willing to make such a statement of policy to him. as the head of a nation so far removed from Europe,
Answer: Mr. Roosevelt therefore seriously believes that the cause of international peace would really be furthered if I were to make a public statement on the present policy of the German Government to the nations of the world.
But how does Mr. Roosevelt come to single out the head of the German Nation to make a statement, without the other governments being invited to make such a statement of their policy as well?
I certainly believe that it is not appropriate to make such a statement to the head of any foreign state, but rather that such statements should be made preferably to the whole world, in accordance with President Wilson's proposal, for the abolition of secret diplomacy.
Hitherto I was not only always prepared to do this, but, as I have already said, I have done it all too often. Unfortunately, the most important statements concerning the aims and intentions of German policy have in many so-called democratic states either been withheld from the people or distorted by the press.
If however, President Roosevelt thinks that he is entitled to address such a request, in particular to Germany or Italy, because 'America is so far removed from Europe, we on our side might, with the same right, address to the President of the American Republic the question as to what aim American foreign policy in turn has in view, and on what intentions this policy is based-in the case of the Central and South American states, for instance. In this event Mr. Roosevelt would, I must admit, have every right to refer to the Monroe Doctrine and to decline to comply with such a request as an interference in the internal affairs of the American Continent. We Germans support a similar doctrine for Europe – and, above all, for the territory and interests of the Greater German Reich.
Moreover, I would obviously never presume to address such a request to the President of the United States of America, because I assume that he would probably rightly consider such a presumption tactless.
The American President further declares that he would then communicate information received by him concerning the political aims of Germany to other nations now apprehensive Its to the course of our policy.
Answer: How has Mr. Roosevelt learned which nations consider themselves threatened by German policy and which do not?
Or is Mr. Roosevelt in a position, with the enormous amount of work which he must have to do in his own country, to recognize of his own accord all the inmost thoughts and feelings of other peoples and their governments?
Finally, Mr. Roosevelt asks that assurances be given him that the German armed forces will not attack, and above all, not invade, the territory or possessions of the following independent nations. He then names as those to which he refers: Finland, Lithuania, Latvia,' Estonia, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands, Belgium, Great Britain , Ireland, France, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Poland, Hungary, Rumania, Yugoslavia, Russia, Bulgaria, Turkey, Iraq, the Arabias, Syria, Palestine, Egypt and Iran.
Answers I have first taken the trouble to ascertain from the states mentioned, firstly, whether they feel themselves threatened, and, what is most important, secondly, whether this inquiry by the American President was addressed to us at their suggestion or at least with their consent.
The reply was in all cases negative, in some instances strongly so. It is true that there were certain ones among the states and nations mentioned, whom I could not question because they themselves – as for example, Syria – are at present not in possession of their freedom, but are under occupation by the military agents of democratic states and consequently deprived of their rights.
Apart from this fact, however, all states bordering on Germany have received much more binding assurances and -particularly, more binding proposals than Mr. Roosevelt asked from me in his curious telegram.
But should there be any doubt as to the value of these general and specific statements which I have No often made, then any further statement of this kind, even if addressed to the American President, would be equally worthless. For in the final analysis it is not the value which Mr. Roosevelt attaches to such statements which is decisive, but the value attached to these statements by the countries in question.
But I must also draw Mr. Roosevelt's attention to one or two mistakes in history. He mentions Ireland, for instance, and asks for a statement to the effect that Germany will not attack Ireland. Now, I have just read a speech delivered by Mr. de Valera, the Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister), in which strangely enough, and contrary to Mr. Roosevelt's opinion, he does not charge Germany with oppressing Ireland, but reproaches England with subjecting Ireland to continuous aggression.
With all due respect to Mr. Roosevelt's insight into the needs and cares of other countries, it may nevertheless be assumed that the Irish Taoiseach would be more familiar with the dangers which threaten his country than would the President of the United States.
Similarly the fact has obviously escaped Mr. Roosevelt's notice that Palestine is at present occupied not by German troops but by the English; and that the country is undergoing restriction of its liberty by the most brutal resort to force, is being robbed of its independence and is suffering the cruelest maltreatment for the benefit of Jewish interlopers.
The Arabs living in that country would therefore certainly not have complained to Mr. Roosevelt of German aggression, but they are voicing a constant appeal to the world, deploring the barbarous methods with which England is attempting to suppress a people which loves its freedom and is merely defending it.
This, too, is perhaps a problem which in the American President's view
should be solved at the conference table, that is, before a just judge,
and not by physical force or military methods, by mass executions, burning
down villages, blowing up houses and so on.
For one fact is surely certain. In this case England is not defending herself against a threatened Arab attack, but as an uninvited interloper, is endeavoring to establish her power in a foreign territory which does not belong to her.
A whole series of similar errors which Mr. Roosevelt has made could be pointed out, quite aside from the difficulty of military operations on the part of Germany in states and countries, some of which are from 2000 to 5000 kilometers away from us. Lastly I have the following statement to make:
The German Government is in spite of everything prepared to give each of the states named an assurance of the kind desired by Mr. Roosevelt, on condition of absolute reciprocity, provided that such state wishes it and itself addresses to Germany a request for such an assurance, together with correspondingly acceptable proposals.
In the case of a number of the states included in Mr. Roosevelt's list, this question can probably be regarded as settled from the very outset, since we are already either allied with them or at least united by close ties of friendship.
As for the duration of these agreements, Germany is willing to make
terms with each individual state in accordance with the wishes of that
But I should not want to let this opportunity pass without above all giving to the President of the United States an assurance regarding those territories which would, after all, give him most cause for apprehension, namely the United States herself and the other states of the American continent.
And I here solemnly declare that all the assertions which have in any way been circulated concerning an intended German attack or invasion on or in American territory are rank frauds and gross untruths, quite apart from the fact that such assertions, as far as the military possibilities are concerned, could only be the product of the silliest imagination.
The American President then goes on to declare in this connection that he regards the discussion of the most effective and immediate manner in which the peoples of the world can obtain relief from the crushing burden of armaments, as the most important factor of all.
Answer: Mr. Roosevelt perhaps does not know that this problem in so far as it concerns Germany was once already completely solved. Between 1919 and 1923 Germany had already fully disarmed as was expressly confirmed by the allied commission. This was the extent of the disarmament:
The following military equipment was destroyed:
1. 59.000 guns and barrels.
2. 130.000 machine guns.
3. 31.000 minenwerfer (mine throwers) and barrels.
4. 6,007.000 rifles and carbines.
5. 243.000 machine gun barrels.
6. 28.000 gun carriages.
7. 4.390 minenwerfer carriages.
8 38,750.000 shells.
9. 16,550.000 hand and rifle grenades.
10. 60,400.000 rounds live ammunition.
11. 491,000.000 rounds small caliber ammunition.
12. 335,000 metric tons shell jackets.
13. 23,515 metric tons cartridge cases.
14., 37.600 metric tons powder.
15. 79.000 unfilled rounds of ammunition.'
16. 212.000 sets telephone apparatus.
17. 1072 flame throwers, etc., etc.
There were further destroyed:
Sleighs. transportable workshops, anti-aircraft carriages, gun carriages, steel helmets gas masks, 'munitions industry machinery and rifle barrels.
The following air force equipment was destroyed:
15.714 fighters anti bombers
27.757 airplane engines.
In the navy, the following, was destroyed:
26 capital ships.
4 coastal defense vessels.
4 armored cruisers.
19 small cruisers.
21 training and other special ships.
83 torpedo boats.
In addition, the following were destroyed:
Vehicles of all kinds, poison gas and (partly) anti-gas apparatus, fuel and explosives, searchlights, sighting apparatus, distance and sound-measuring apparatus, optical instruments of all kinds, harness, etc.; all aerodromes and airship hangars, etc.
According to the solemn pledges once given Germany, pledges which found their confirmation even in the Peace Treaty of Versailles, all this was supposed to be an advance payment which would then make it possible for the rest of the world to disarm without danger.
In this respect, as in all others where Germany believed that a promise would be kept, she was disgracefully deceived. All attempts to induce the other states to disarm, pursued in negotiations at the conference table over many years, as is well known, came to nothing. This disarmament would have been just and sensible, and would have fulfilled pledges already given.
I myself, Air. Roosevelt, have made any number of practical proposals for consultation and tried to initiate a discussion of these 'in order to effect a general limitation of armaments to the lowest possible level.
I proposed a maximum strength of 200.000 for all armies, likewise the abolition of all weapons of offense, of bombing planes, of poison gas, and suchlike. The attitude of the rest of the world, unfortunately, made it impossible to carry out these plans, although Germany herself was at the time completely disarmed.
I then proposed a maximum strength of 300,000 for armies. The proposal met with the same negative result. I then submitted a great number of detailed disarmament proposals-in each case before the forum of the German Reichstag and thereby before the whole world. It never occurred to anyone even to discuss the matter. Instead the rest of the world began still further increases in their already enormous armaments.
Not until -after the final rejection of my proposals of suggesting 300.000 as the maximum strength, did I give the order for German rearmament, and this time on an intensive scale.
Nevertheless, I do not want to be an obstacle in the way of disarmament discussions at which you, Mr. Roosevelt, intend to be present. I would ask you, however, not to appeal first to me and to Germany but rather to the others. I have the benefit of experience 'behind me and shall remain skeptical until facts have taught me otherwise.
Mr. Roosevelt assures us further that he is prepared to take part in discussions to consider the most practical manner of opening up avenues of international trade to the end that every nation of the world may be enabled to buy and sell on equal terms in the world market, as well as to possess assurance of obtaining the raw materials and products of peaceful economic life.
Answer: It is my belief, Mr. Roosevelt, that it is not so much question of discussing these problems theoretically as of removing in practice the barriers which exist in international trade.* The worst barriers, however, lie. in, the individual states themselves.
Experience so far shows at any rate that the greatest world economic conferences have been shipwrecked simply because the various countries were unable to maintain order in their internal economic systems; or else because they brought uncertainty into the international financial market by currency manipulations, and especially by causing continual fluctuations in the value of their currencies to one another.
It is likewise an unbearable burden for world economic relations that it should be possible in some countries for one ideological reason or another to let loose a wild boycott agitation against other countries and their goods, and so in effect to eliminate them from the market.
It is my belief, Mr. Roosevelt, that it would be most commendable on your part, if you, with your great, influence, would ,begin with the United States in the removal of these barriers to a genuinely free world trade. For it is my conviction that if the leaders of nations are not even capable of regulating production in their own countries or of removing boycotts pursued for ideological reasons, which can do so much damage to trade relations between ,countries, there is much less prospect of achieving any really fruitful step towards the improvement of economic relations by means of international agreements. There is no other way to guarantee the equal right of all to buy and sell in the world market.
Further, the German people has made very concrete claims in this regard and I would appreciate it very much if you, Mr. Roosevelt, as one of the successors of the late President Wilson, would use your efforts to seeing that promises, on the basis of which Germany once laid down her arms and placed herself in the hands of the so-called victors, be at last redeemed.
I am thinking less of the countless millions extorted from Germany as so-called reparations than of the return of the territories stolen from Germany.
Germany lost approximately 3,000,000 square kilometers of territory in and outside Europe although the whole German colonial empire, in contrast to the colonies of other nations, was not acquired by means of war but solely through treaties or purchase.
President Wilson solemnly pledged his word that the German colonial claim like all others would receive the same just examination. Instead of this. however, the German possessions were given to nations who already have the largest colonial empires in history, while our people were subjected to great cares which are now-as they will continue to be in the future – particularly pressing.
It would be a noble act if President Franklin Roosevelt were to redeem the promises made by President Woodrow Wilson. This, above all, would be a practical contribution to the moral consolidation of the world and the improvement of its economic conditions.
Mr. Roosevelt also stated in conclusion that the heads of all great governments are in this hour responsible for the fate of humanity and that they cannot fail to hear the prayers of their peoples to be protected from the foreseeable chaos of war. And I, too, would be held accountable for this.
Mr. Roosevelt, I fully understand that the vastness of your nation and the immense wealth of your country allows you to feel responsible for the history of the whole world and for the fate of all peoples. My sphere, Mr. President, is considerably smaller and more modest. You have 130,000,000 people on 9,500,000 square kilometers. You possess a country with enormous riches, all mineral resources, fertile enough to feed half a billion people and to provide them with every necessity.
I took over the leadership of a state which was faced by complete ruin
thanks to its trust in the Promises of the outside world and to the evil
government of its own democratic regime. In this state there are roughly
140 people to each square kilometer- not 15, as in America. The fertility
of our country cannot be compared with that of yours. We lack numerous
minerals which nature has bestowed on you in unlimited quantities.
Billions of German savings accumulated in gold and foreign exchange during many years of peace were extorted from us. We lost our colonies. In 1933 1 had in my country 7,000,000 unemployed, a few million part-time workers, millions of impoverished peasants, trade destroyed, commerce ruined; in short, general chaos.
Since then, Mr. Roosevelt, I have only been able to fulfill-one single task. I cannot feel myself responsible for the fate of a world, for this world took no interest in the pitiful fate of my own people.
I have regarded myself as called upon by Providence to serve my own people alone and to deliver them from their frightful misery. Thus, for the past six-and-ahalf years, I have lived day and night for the single task of awakening the powers of my people in face of our desertion by the rest of the world, of developing these powers to the utmost and of utilizing them for the salvation of our community.
I have conquered chaos in Germany, re-established order, immensely increased production in all branches of our national economy, by strenuous efforts produced substitutes for numerous materials which we lack, prepared the way for new inventions, developed transportation, caused magnificent roads to be built I It and canals to be dug, created gigantic new factories. I have striven no less to translate into practice the ideal behind the thought "community" and. to promote the education and culture of my people.
I have succeeded in finding useful work once more for all the 7,000.000 unemployed who are so close to our hearts; in keeping the .German peasant on his soil in spite of all difficulties and in saving it for him; in causing German trade to flourish once again; and in promoting transportation to the utmost.
To protect them against the threats of the outside world, I have not only united the German people politically but also rearmed them, I have likewise endeavored to rid them of that treaty, page by page, which in its 448 articles contains the vilest oppression which has ever been inflicted on men and nations.
I have brought back to the Reich the provinces stolen from us in 1919; 1 have led back to their native country millions of Germans who were torn away from us and were in abject misery; I have reunited the territories that have been German throughout a thousand years of history-and, Mr. Roosevelt, I have endeavored to attain all this without bloodshed and without bringing to my people and so to others, the misery of war.
This I have done, Mr. Roosevelt, though 21 years ago, I was an unknown worker and soldier of my people, by my own energy and can therefore claim a place in history among those men who have done the utmost that can be fairly and justly demanded from a single individual.
You, Mr. Roosevelt, have an immeasurably easier task in comparison. You became President of the United States in 1933 when I became Chancellor of the Reich. Thus, from the very outset, you became head of one of the largest and wealthiest states in the world.
It is your good fortune to have to sustain scarcely 15 people per square kilometer in your country. At your disposal are the most. abundant natural resources in the world. Your country is so vast and your fields so fertile, that you can insure for each individual American at least ten times more of the good things of life than is possible in Germany. Nature at least has given you the opportunity to do this.
Although the population of your country is scarcely one-third larger than that of Greater Germany, you have more than fifteen times as much room. And so you have time and leisure – on the same huge scale as you have everything else – to devote your attention to universal problems. Consequently the world is undoubtedly so small for you that you perhaps believe that your intervention can be valuable anti effective everywhere. In this way, therefore, your concern and your suggestions cover a much larger and wider field than mine.
For my world, Mr. President, is the one to which Providence has assigned me and for which it is my duty to work. Its area is much smaller. It comprises my people alone. But I believe I can thus best serve that which is in the hearts of all of us – justice, well-being, progress and peace for the whole community of mankind.