Adolf Hitler – speech in Danzig
September 19, 1939
My Gauleiters! My dear Volksgenossen of Danzig!
This moment deeply moves not only you, but the entire German Volk is struck with profound emotion. I myself am aware of the greatness of the hour.
It is for the first time that I step on this soil, of which German settlers took possession half a millennium before the first white men began settling in what is today the State of New York. Half a millennium longer this earth has been German and has remained German. And-of this you may rest assured-it will always remain German.
The fate which beset this city and this beautiful countryside was the fate of all of Germany. The World War, this perhaps most senseless struggle of all time, has victimized this land and this city. This same World War which, in its wake, left no winners, only losers, also left a conviction in the minds of many, namely, that a similar fate would never again be repeated. Apparently, the main warmongers and war profiteers have forgotten the lessons of this slaughter of peoples (Volkergemetzel). As this bloody struggle, into which Germany had entered without any war objective, drew to an end, there was the desire to bestow upon mankind a peace which would lead to the restoration of law and hence to the final elimination of all despair. This peace was, however, not placed before our Volk at Versailles for discussion. Rather this peace was forced upon us by means of a brutal Diktat.
The fathers of this peace saw in it the end of the German Volk. Perhaps many men believed that this peace signaled the end of all destitution. Yet it meant only the beginning of new tribulations. For the warmongers and those who ended the war deceived themselves on one particular issue: this Diktat not only failed to resolve a single problem, it created a multitude of new problems.
It was only a matter of time before the trampled-down German nation would rise up once more to resolve the problems forced upon it.
The essential problem was completely overlooked at the time. This was the fact that peoples exist whether or not this pleases one or another British warmonger. Eighty-two million Germans are united within this one Lebensraum. These eighty-two million Germans wish to live and they shall live whether or not this pleases these warmongers! Germany was grievously wronged by the injustice of Versailles. When today a statesman of another people believes he is entitled to say that he has lost faith in the word of German statesmen or of the German Volk, then to the contrary it is we Germans who are entitled to say that we have lost faith completely in the assurances of those who back then so pitifully broke the solemn promises once extended.
It is not the injustice of Versailles that I wish to speak of here. The worst thing in the life of the peoples was perhaps not even the injustice perpetrated, but above all the nonsense, the utter lunacy and stupidity, with which the men back then sought to impose upon the world a peace which simply ignored all historical, economic, ethnic, and political facts. At the time, measures were taken which in retrospect lead us to doubt the sanity of those who perpetrated this crime. Devoid of any understanding of the historical developments in the European Lebensraum, devoid also of a comprehension of the economic situation there, these men ravaged Europe, tore asunder states and geographical units, suppressed their peoples, and destroyed ancient cultures.
The land of Danzig also fell victim to the insanity of the time. The Polish State as such arose as a product of this insanity. Perhaps the world is not sufficiently aware of the sacrifices Germany was forced to make for this Polish State. For there is one thing I must say: all those territories incorporated into Poland owe their cultural development exclusively to German vigor, to German diligence, and to German creative work. Motives for the tearing of more than one province from the German Reich and for incorporating them into the new Polish State were supposed ethnic necessities. And this in view of the fact that later, as a result of plebiscites in these areas, it became clear that no one in these provinces longed to become part of this Polish State. The Poland which grew on the fertile lands drenched by the blood sacrificed by countless German regiments expanded at the expense of ancient lands settled by Germans, and, above all, at the expense of reason and economic opportunity.
The last twenty years have proven beyond doubt: the Poles, who had not founded this culture, were not even capable of sustaining it. Once more it was proven a self-evident truth that only he who himself is creatively endowed in the cultural sphere is also able to secure true cultural achievement in the long run.
Fifty additional years of Polish mastery would have sufficed to restore these lands to that barbarism out of which Germans had brought them with arduous industry and diligence. Everywhere the first traces of regression and decline are already evident today.
Poland itself was a state of nationalities, a trait for which the old Austrian state was so faulted. Poland never was a democracy. A thin, consumptive upper class dictatorially ruled not only foreign nationalities, but also their own people, so-called. This state was founded upon violence. The rule of the policeman’s baton governed this state, to be supplanted at last by the military.
The fate of the Germans in this state was frightful. And we must differentiate here: it is one thing if a people of inferior cultural significance has the misfortune to be governed by one of greater import, and another if a people of high cultural standing has to experience the tragedy of being violated by one culturally less developed. For this culturally inferior people will take the opportunity to gratify all sorts of imaginable feelings of inferiority against the carrier of the higher culture. This superior people will be gruesomely and barbarously mistreated. Germans have been subject to such a fate for nearly twenty years. There is no need for me to give a detailed account of the fate of these Germans here. All in all, it was an exceedingly tragic and painful one.
Nevertheless, as always, in this instance, too, I sought to obtain an understanding which could have led to a reasonable settlement.
Once I endeavored to draw final borders for the Reich in the West and the South. Thereby I sought to relieve region after region from political insecurity and to secure the peace there for the future. I endeavored to attain the same here in the East.
At the time, a man of undeniable, realistic insight and great energy governed Poland. I managed to conclude an agreement with Marshal Pilsudski which would smooth the path toward peaceful understanding between both nations; an agreement which strove to secure at least a base, by completely ignoring the Versailles Treaty, for a reasoned, bearable cohabitation.
As long as the Marshal lived, it seemed as though this attempt could perhaps contribute to a relaxation of the tense situation. Immediately after his death, the fighting against Germans started anew. This struggle-which found a manifold expression-increasingly embittered and poisoned the relations between the two peoples. It is hardly possible in the long run to stand by patiently while the German minorities living in this state, whose existence means a great injustice to Germany, are being persecuted in an almost barbaric fashion.
The world which otherwise sheds many a tear if a Polish Jew who emigrated to the Reich only a few decades ago is expelled, this same world is blind and mute to the plight of the millions who were driven from their homes by the implementation of the Versailles Treaty. For after all, these are only Germans! And what so oppresses and outrages us is the fact that we had to bear this from a state which stood far beneath us.
In the final count, Germany is a great power, even if a few crazed men believe they can erase the right to life of a great nation by means of a senseless treaty or Diktat. For how could a great power such as Germany in the long run stand by to observe how a people far beneath it and a state far beneath it maltreated Germans! Two special circumstances made all this even more unbearable:
1. A city, the German character of which no one could deny, was not only prevented from finding its way back to the Reich, but it also was subjected to purposeful attempts to Polonize it, albeit in a roundabout manner.
2. The traffic of a province severed from the German Reich was made dependent upon the mercy of the Polish State in between and was subject to manifold harassment.
No power on earth would have borne up under the circumstances as long as Germany did! And I know not what England would have said if a similar peaceful resolution had been applied at its expense, or how France would have taken it, not to mention America.
And I still sought to find ways to a bearable solution of even this problem.
I brought these attempts orally to the attention of those in power in Poland at the time. You, my Volksgenossen, know of these proposals: they can only be termed reasonable.
I strove to attain a balance between our desire to connect East Prussia with the Reich once more, and the desire of the Poles to have access to the sea. I strove to obtain a synthesis between the German character of the city of Danzig and its desire to return to the German Reich, and the economic demands of the Poles.
I believe I am justified in claiming that I was more than modest back then.
There was many a moment in which I questioned myself, brooding, whether I could indeed answer to my own Volk for submitting such proposals to the Polish Government. I did it nonetheless because I wished to spare the German Volk and also the Polish people the suffering engendered by an armed confrontation.
The proposals then conceived I once more reiterated, in a most concrete manner, in the spring of this year: Danzig was to return to the German Reich. An extraterritorial route was to be built to East Prussia-at our expense, naturally. In exchange, Poland was to enjoy full rights to the harbor at Danzig and be accorded extraterritorial access thereto. I was even willing, in turn, to guarantee the barely tolerable situation along our borders and moreover to allow Poland to share in the securing of Slovakia.
Truly I know not what strange state of mind inspired the Polish Government to reject my proposal. But I do know this was a great relief to millions of Germans who held that I had already ventured too far with this offer. Poland’s only reply was an immediate mobilization of its troops, accompanied by a wild campaign of terror. My request to speak with the Polish Foreign Minister in Berlin, to once more discuss these questions, was declined.
Instead of going to Berlin, he went to London! Every week, every month, threats increased: threats of a nature barely tolerable for a small state. In the long run, this was simply insufferable for a great power. Polish newspapers informed us that Danzig was not the bone of contention; instead it was East Prussia which was to be annexed by Poland within a short time. The like continued day after day. Other Polish papers declared that East Prussia represented no solution to the underlying problem.
Instead, it was absolutely necessary, under all circumstances, to integrate Pomerania into Poland also. Then the Oder river was questioned as Poland’s frontier and many asked if the Elbe river did not in fact constitute the natural boundary of the Polish State.
Many racked their brains to determine whether it would be better to hack to pieces our army in front of Berlin or rather behind it. A Polish Marshal, who today has pitifully abandoned his army, declared at the time that he would hack Germany and the German Army to pieces.
Simultaneously, the martyrdom of our Volksgenossen began. Tens of thousands were abducted, abused, and murdered in a most gruesome manner. Sadistic beasts let themselves go and allowed their perverted instincts to run free. And the pious democratic world stood by without batting an eyelid.
I then asked myself: who could have so deceived Poland? Did the Poles truly believe that, in the long run, the German nation would stand for all this from so ludicrous a state? Apparently someone must have believed it, as this belief was reinforced elsewhere. This elsewhere has been the site where, not only in the last decades but in fact throughout the last centuries, the main warmongers have taken up residence-where they reside still as of this day! There they declared that Germany need not be considered a power. There they convinced the Poles they could, at any point, mount a sufficiently strong resistance to Germany without great difficulty. There they went yet a step further, reassuring the Poles that, should their own resistance falter, others would instantly come to their rescue, i.e. relieve them of this burden. It was there they received this infamous guarantee effectively placing the decision whether or not to go to war in the hands of an insignificant, megalomanic state. For these warmongers Poland was but a means to an end. Today they calmly proclaim that what is at stake in this war is not Poland at all, but the elimination of the regime in Germany! I have always warned of these men. You will recall, my German Volksgenossen, my speeches in Saarbrucken and Wilhelmshaven. In both these speeches I pointed to the danger here: that in one country some men simply get up and, without restraint, preach that war is a necessity, as the gentlemen Churchill, Eden, Duff Cooper, and the like, have repeatedly done.
I have pointed out how dangerous this is, especially in a country where no one knows if these men shall not be at the helm of government shortly.
Thereupon I was afforded the explanation that this surely would never occur. To the best of my knowledge, however, precisely these men govern today! And so precisely what I then predicted has occurred.
At the time I warned the German nation of these men. But I also left no doubt that Germany would not capitulate before their threats and their use of force. This answer of mine suffered the most shabby of attacks. A type of practice has become established in these democracies: there agitation for war is permissible; there foreign governments and heads of state may be subjected to slander, defamation, and insults, for there a liberal and free press reigns. In authoritarian states, one may not rise to protest this-for there discipline reigns! Accordingly, it is only permissible to agitate for war in undisciplined states, while in disciplined states no appropriate answer may be given.
In practice this would lead to the undisciplined states agitating for war and their peoples succumbing to it, whereas in disciplined states the people would not have a clue as to what was going on around them. Back then I decided to awaken the German Volk to these goings-on, to put it in a defensive posture. I judged this necessary so as not to be taken by surprise one day.
As September came, this situation had indeed become insufferable. You know the course of events in August; in spite of this, I hold that-without a British guarantee and the agitation of these apostles of war-it might well have been possible to reach an agreement in these last days.
At one particular point, England itself attempted to bring about direct talks between us and Poland. I was willing. The Poles, however, failed to show up, naturally. I sat with my Government in Berlin for two days, and waited, and waited. In the meantime, I had worked out the new proposal.
You are aware of it. On the evening of the first day [August 30], I had the British Ambassador informed of it. It was read to him sentence for sentence.
Moreover, my Foreign Minister gave supplemental explanations. The next day dawned. Nothing happened-not a thing! Then came the general mobilization in Poland, renewed acts of terror, and endless assaults on Reich territory.
In international relations, one ought not to mistake patience for weakness. For years, I have stood these persistent provocations with sheer boundless patience. What I myself suffered in these days few can truly appreciate. For barely one month passed, barely a week went by, in which a delegation from these territories did not come to me to describe the unbearable nature of the situation, and to implore me to finally intervene.
Time and time again I bade them to exercise patience just a little longer.
The years passed by in this manner. Lately, however, I have taken to issuing warnings that things had to come to an end finally. And after months of waiting, making ever new proposals, I finally determined, as I have already declared in my speech to the Reichstag, to speak with Poland in the language Poland itself believes it is uniquely entitled to employ. Evidently this is the only language Poland understands.
And still, at this minute, the peace could have been saved yet one more time. Befriended Italy, the Duce, intervened to make yet one more proposal for mediation. France agreed to this, and I also pronounced my agreement. But England believed it was in a position to reject this proposal and to place a two-hour ultimatum before the German Reich, an ultimatum which contained provisions impossible to comply with.
However, the English were mistaken on one account. Once, in November 1918, they faced a government they themselves helped to prop up.
And, apparently, the English now mistook the present regime for this puppetregime of old and the present German nation for the German Volk then blinded and misled. Germany can no longer be handed ultimatums-of this London ought to take note.
Within the last six years, we have suffered great outrages from states such as Poland. Nevertheless, I never sent any of them an ultimatum. Now that Poland has chosen war, it has chosen it because others incited it to enter into this war. Those who incited it believed that this war would allow them to attain their great ambitions in world and financial politics. In doing this, however, they will not obtain the greatest profits, but the greatest disappointments.
Poland chose the struggle-and it got it! It chose the struggle with a light heart because certain statesmen in the West assured it that they had detailed documentation on: the worthlessness of the German army; the inferiority of its equipment; the deficient morale among its troops; the defeatist sentiment throughout the interior of the Reich; the gulf supposedly separating the German Volk from its Fuhrer. The Poles were persuaded that it would be exceedingly easy not only to resist our armies, but to throw them back as well.
And it was thanks to this advice by the western chiefs of staff that Poland apparently conceived its entire military strategy.
Since then eighteen days have passed. Scarcely ever before in history was this saying more appropriate: “Man and steed and wagon, the Lord struck all of them down.” And, as I am speaking to you now, our troops are arrayed along a long line stretching from Lemberg [Lvov] to Brest and northwards. Since yesterday afternoon, endless columns of the badly beaten Polish Army have been marching from the Kutno area as prisoners of war. Yesterday morning, they numbered 20,000; there were 50,000 last night; 70,000 this morning. I do not know how great their numbers are at present, but there is one thing I do know: whatever remains of this Polish Army west of this line will capitulate within a few days and lay down its arms, or it will be smashed! It is at this moment that our grateful hearts fly to our soldiers! The German Wehrmacht has accorded those ingenious statesmen, who were so well informed on the state of affairs in the German Reich, the necessary practical instruction.
Marshal Smigly-Rydz has a poor sense of direction. Instead of in Berlin, it has landed him in Czernowitz. And with him went his entire government and all those seducers who have so deceived the Polish people as to drive them into this insanity.
On land, at sea, and in the air, the German soldier, however, has done his duty and fulfilled his obligations in an exemplary fashion! Once more the German infantry has proven its unparalleled mastery. Time and again, others have sought to attain its level of valor, courage, and expertise.
All have failed. The new weaponry of our motorized units has proven itself worthy to the utmost. The soldiers of our Navy have fulfilled their duty in an astounding manner.
And above all this, it is the German Luftwaffe which keeps watch and secures the air space. All those who dreamed of crushing Germany, of reducing German cities to ashes, all are far less outspoken now because they know only too well that for every bomb on a German city five or ten will be dropped in return! They should not act as though they exercised such restraint because of humanitarian considerations. They are less concerned about humanity than retribution.
Let us take this occasion to render justice to the Polish soldier. He fought courageously at many sites. The lower ranks of the military made desperate efforts; the middle-rank leadership lacked intelligence; its upper-echelon leadership was bad beyond criticism. Its organization was Polish! At this moment, around 300,000 Polish soldiers are German prisoners of war. Nearly 2,000 officers and many generals share their fate.
I must also mention, however, that this admitted valor of many Polish units stands in contrast to the dirtiest deeds perhaps committed throughout the past centuries. As a soldier in the World War who fought only in the West, I never had the opportunity to witness such deeds: the thousands of slaughtered Volksgenossen; the brutishly butchered women, girls, and children; the countless German soldiers and officers who fell, wounded, into the hands of the enemy and who were massacred, bestially mutilated with their eyes gouged out. And worse yet-the Polish Government has openly admitted this in a radio broadcast-the Luftwaffe soldiers forced to parachute were killed in a cowardly fashion. There were moments when one had to ask oneself: under these circumstances, should one exercise restraint oneself? I have not heard whether any of the democratic statesmen found it worth their while to protest against these acts of barbarity.
I have instructed the German Luftwaffe to lead this war in a humane manner, i.e. only against fighting units. The Polish Government and the head of the armed forces have instructed the civilian population to lie in ambush, to fight this war as snipers.
It is most difficult to exercise restraint oneself here, and I would like to stress on this occasion: the democratic states ought not to be so vain as to believe this state of affairs can continue forever! If they would prefer things to go differently, well then they can have them differently. Here, too, I may lose my patience. In spite of this perfidious method of warfare which has not been paralleled throughout the past decades, our armies have dealt with the enemy at lightning speed (in Blitzesschnelle). A few days ago, an English paper wrote I had relieved a colonel general of his duties because I had counted on a Blitzkrieg for this operation and had been deeply disappointed by the slow pace of the mission.
Authors of this article may well have been those strategists who advised the Poles on how to array their troops.
Hence, we have beaten the Poles in scarcely eighteen days. Thereby we brought about a situation which may well enable us to speak with the representatives of these people calmly and in reasoned terms. In the meantime, Russia has felt it necessary, to safeguard the interests of its Belorussian and Ukrainian minorities, to march into Poland as well. And now we witness how England and France are outraged at this cooperation of Germany and Russia. It is termed a heinous crime-yes, one Englishman even writes that it is perfidious.
Here the English are experts! I believe the English conceive of this perfidy as the failure of cooperation between democratic England and Bolshevist Russia in view of the success of the attempt of National Socialist Germany and Bolshevist Russia at cooperation.
I would like to make a declaration here: Russia remains precisely what it is, and Germany will also remain what it is. On one point there is total agreement between both regimes: neither the Russian nor the German regime wishes to sacrifice even one man to the interests of the Western democracies.
The lessons of four years of war are sufficient for both states and both peoples. Ever since then we have known only too well that either one or the other would have the honor to come to the rescue of the ideals of the Western democracies. Both states and both peoples say no thank you to such a mission.
We intend to attend to our interests ourselves from now on. And we have found that we are best able to realize these interests when both great peoples and states come to an understanding.
And this is all the easier as the British claims concerning the unrestrained nature of German foreign policy objectives are lies. I rejoice in being able to contradict these assertions of the British statesmen in reality now. Persistently they claimed that Germany intended to rule Europe up to the Ural Mountains.
Accordingly they should be happy to learn of the limited nature of Germany’s ambitions. I believe I am robbing them of yet another rationale for going to war when I proclaim this-as they declare they must fight the present regime because it pursues “unlimited war aims.” Well, my dear gentlemen of the Great Britannic World Empire, Germany’s objectives are very limited in fact. We have discussed this in great detail with Russia, as the Russians are our next-door neighbors and, in the end, those most immediately affected. Accordingly, England ought to welcome the understanding arrived at by Germany and Soviet Russia. For the arrival at this understanding should remove once and for all the haunting images of the present German regime being out to conquer the world, an image which robbed the British statesmen of their sleep so many nights. It ought to be reassuring to know that it is not true that Germany wishes to conquer the Ukraine, or wished to do so in the past.
Our interests are of a very limited nature. However, these interests we are determined to pursue, no matter what the danger or who opposes us. The last eighteen days should have amply proven that we are not joking in this respect.
What state formations shall populate this vast terrain in the end depends foremost upon the two countries which possess vested, vital interests in this area. Germany strides forth in pursuit of limited, but unyielding demands.
Germany will realize these demands in one way or another. Germany and Russia will create a situation which some day one will only be able to call a relaxation of tensions, here on the site of a storm-center of Europe.
I would like to make a few statements in reply to the West, where many, especially in England, have announced their determination not to allow, under any circumstances, anything of the kind and, if need be, to do battle to this end in a war of three years’ duration, of even five or eight years in length.
1. With difficult sacrifices, Germany has accepted a redrawing of the Reich’s frontiers in the West and in the South in order to obtain a final pacification of these borders. At the time, we truly believed this could indeed be attained. And I still believe we would have been successful had not certain warmongers had a vested interest in the disruption of the peace in Europe.
I do not pursue any war aim against either England or France. Ever since I came into office, I have sought to slowly restore close relations and trust with the former enemies in the World War. I endeavored to remove all tensions which once existed between Italy and Germany. And it is with a feeling of great contentment that I say that I was extraordinarily successful in this. Close and heartfelt relations have been established between both countries and have found a firm foundation in the close human and personal relationship between the Duce and myself.
I went further yet. I endeavored to accomplish the same thing with regard to France. Immediately after the resolution of the Saar question, I solemnly, for all time, renounced the further pursuit of revision of the borders in the West. I did this not only in theory but in practice as well. I have placed the entire German propaganda apparatus in the service of this, my idea. I eliminated every trace of what might have furnished occasion for doubt or apprehension in Paris.
You know of my proposals to England. All my ambitions were to enter into a sincere and friendly relationship with England. Now that all of them have been rejected and today the English believe they must wage war against Germany, I must say the following: never again will the Poland of the Versailles Treaty arise! Not only Germany guarantees this, the Russians do so as well! And now that England has chosen to refocus its war aims, i.e. now that it has finally betrayed its true objectives in this war, I would like to comment on this.
In England they say that this war is about Poland, although this is only of secondary importance. What is of greater import is the present regime in Germany. In this context, I am accorded the honor of a special mention as the representative of this regime.
Since, apparently, this is the primary objective pursued, I would like to reply as follows to the gentlemen in London: It is an honor for me to be judged in such a manner. As a matter of principle, I have educated, taught the German Volk to regard as contaminated any regime our enemies praise. Hence the German Volk will reject it. Should the gentlemen Churchill, Duff Cooper, Eden, etc., choose to accord their approval to a German regime, this would be interpreted to mean that this regime is being propped up and paid for by these gentlemen. Hence it would not represent a viable option for Germany.
This cannot be said of us, naturally. Condemnation by these gentlemen constitutes praise in our eyes. For my person, I can assure you of one thing: should these men praise me, I would be greatly upset. I am proud to furnish a target for their attack.
Should they truly believe they can divorce the German Volk from me in this fashion, then they hold the German Volk to be as weak in character or as stupid as they themselves are! They are mistaken on both counts! National Socialism has not re-educated the German man for naught these past twenty years. All my men have known only attacks from our opponents throughout their lives. This has merely served to reinforce the love of our followers for them and has created inseparable bonds between them.
And just as the National Socialist Party took up the challenge throughout the years to emerge victorious in the end, so the National Socialist German Reich and the German Volk rise to the challenge today! May the gentlemen rest assured: their ludicrous propaganda campaign no longer has the ability to divide the German Volk. These propaganda amateurs would do well to serve an apprenticeship with us here for an extended time.
Should peoples indeed perish, then this shall not hold true for the German Volk which is fighting for its right. The German Volk does not want war, yet it was attacked. No, other peoples shall perish, those who are slowly learning who their seducers are; they are slowly realizing what little cause they had for entering into this war. Yes, a small clique of profiteers actually is the only party with a viable political interest in this war.
And now that the English further declare that this war shall last three years, I can only express my compassion for the French Poilu. It does not know what it will be fighting for, but it does know, at least for starters, that it will have the dubious honor of fighting for three years at a minimum.
Whether this war will truly last three years depends a bit on us, too, however. Should it indeed last three years, the chapter will no more close with the word “capitulation” than it would at the end of a fourth, a fifth, a sixth, or a seventh year.
May the gentlemen please note: the generation now leading Germany is not the generation of Bethmann-Hollweg. Today they once more face a “Frederician” Germany! The German Volk will not be divided by this struggle. It will stand ever the more firmly united. If anything shall be divided thereby it will be those states whose substance is as inhomogeneous as that of these plutocratic world democracies, these so-called world empires, whose might rests on the suppression and rule of foreign peoples.
We fight for our national existence! And we will let no one among these narrow-minded propagandists (beschrankte Propagandafatzken) tell us that what is at stake is our regime-that is a lie! Imagine the people who say: “Oh, in this country, there is someone in power who is not to our liking. Therefore, we will just have to engage in war for the next three years. Naturally, we will not wage this war ourselves. No, we will search the world for someone who will wage it in our stead. We will provide the cannons and grenades to him and he will provide the grenadiers, the soldiers, and the men.” What recklessness! What would they have said of us had we, at some point, stood up to declare: “We do not like this regime which presently rules-let us say for instance-France or England. Therefore we will engage it in war now.” What utter recklessness! To drive men to their deaths for that?! Let there be no doubt as to one thing: We shall pick up the gauntlet! We shall fight in the manner of the enemy! The English have already once more, under the cover of deceit and dishonesty, begun conducting war against women and children.
England possesses one weapon under the umbrella of which it believes it cannot be attacked, namely, its naval forces. And now the English say: because we ourselves cannot be attacked with this weapon, this entitles us to use this weapon not only against the women and children of our enemies, but also against the neutral states, if this should be necessary.
One ought to be careful not to let oneself be deceived here either! Soon there could come a time in which we would use a weapon with which we ourselves cannot be attacked. I hope it will not be then that others begin to suddenly recall the term “humanity” and the “impossibility” of conducting war against women and children. We Germans do not want this! In this campaign also I have issued orders to spare the cities, if possible. Should however, a column choose to march across the market square and is attacked by fighter planes, then it cannot be excluded that someone else might become a victim as well.
As a matter of principle, we have consistently exercised mercy. In towns where no crazed or criminal elements have put up resistance, not a window pane was smashed. In a city such as Cracow, for example, not one bomb fell on the city itself. Only the airport and the train station, purely military objectives, were subject to bombardment. If, however, in a city such as Warsaw the war involves the civilian population, if it spreads to all street corners and houses, then, of course, we must involve the entire city in the war.
We have abided by this general rule in the past and wish to do so in the future as well.
It is up to England either to conduct this blockade in compliance with international law, or in violation of international law. We shall follow suit.
However, let no one be deluded as to one fact: the English objective in this war is not the elimination of a regime-it is the elimination of the German Volk, of German women and children, and, therefore, we shall act accordingly. And, in the end, one thing is certain: this Germany will never capitulate! We know only too well what the fate of such a Germany would be. Mr. King-Hall has kindly informed us on behalf of his masters: a second Versailles Treaty, worse yet. For we have in the interim been afforded precise illustration of what they have in mind for us: how Germany is to be torn to pieces, how large sections of its southern lands are to be severed from it; what lands are to be restored to Poland; what type of new states are to be erected, and which princes are to be crowned as their heads of state. The German Volk acknowledges this information and will fight accordingly! I would like, above all, to express my gratitude to the German Volk on this occasion. It has not only rendered evidence of its inner unity within these past weeks. It has also given us ample proof of its truly valiant character.
And here, too, National Socialism has wrought a change: “The German Volk is not as enthusiastic as in 1914!” Oh no, it is all the more enthusiastic! Only the enthusiasm of today is a flame burning inside which steels people. It is not a superficial “hurrah” patriotism. Rather it is a fanatical determination.
It is the serene enthusiasm of men who know war. They have lived through one war already. They have not entered into this one light-heartedly. Once forced into another war, however, they will wage it in the manner the old German front once waged it.
As I saw numerous regiments and divisions in the course of my visits to the front-the young, the old, all with one state of mind-I saw before me the entire German Volk. We need no “hurrah” patriotism. All of us know how terrible war is. Yet we still are determined to bring these developments to a victorious conclusion, come what may. Not one of us is worth any more than the men and women who lived in the past. All the sacrifices they had to make back then were no easier than the sacrifices we must make today.
Every sacrifice demanded of us is no more difficult than the sacrifices borne in the past. We are determined, in one way or another, to see this struggle through and to survive it.
We have but one desire: that the God Almighty who has now bestowed His blessings on our weapons might enlighten the other peoples, that He might impart to them insight into how senseless this war, this struggle of the peoples, will be. May He induce them to contemplate the blessings of a peace they abandoned merely because a handful of infernal warmongers and war profiteers sought to drive the peoples into a war. It is for the first time that I am in this city of Danzig today. It shared the fateful path of the German Volk throughout many a century. It shared in the fighting of the Great War through its sons. After the war, its fate was one of particular suffering, a bitter one. Now, after twenty years, it returns to the great German Volksgemeinschaft. Much has changed in the Reich since. The former state of classes and castes has become the German Volk State. This state which was once defined and ruled by the interests of a few groups has now become a Reich, which is the possession of the German Volk. The ideas reigning supreme in this state were preached in this city for many, many years. Yes, you have helped to raise the spirit which made it possible to retain the German character of this city and to suffuse it with faith, and to persist until the hour of deliverance and liberation had finally come. This hour has now come! Imagine my own feeling of joy to be called upon by Providence to realize that goal which the best of Germans have always longed for. Imagine how deeply I was touched when, in these hallowed halls, I stood up to speak to you and the people of this city and of this land. Once I resolved not to journey to Danzig before this city belonged again to the German Reich. I wished to make my entry into this city as its liberator. And it is today that this proud happiness has been imparted to me! I regard and receive this happiness as ample recompense for numerous hours, days, weeks, and months of great inquietude. Please, my dear men and women of Danzig, see in me also an emissary of the German Reich and of the German Volk which, through me, embraces and admits you into our eternal community, and which never again shall release you.
Whatever suffering shall be imparted to individual Germans within the next months or years, it shall be easier to bear in the acknowledgment of the inseparable community encompassing and forming our great German Volk.
We accept you into this community with the firm resolve never again to permit you to withdraw from it. This decision also forms a commandment for the entire Movement and for the entire German Volk. Danzig was German, Danzig has remained German, and Danzig shall be German from now on as long as there exists a German Volk and a German Reich! Generations will come and generations will pass. They will reflect on the twenty years of absence of this city from the annals of German history as a sad epoch. And they will not only think the same of the year 1918, but they will also think with pride of the period of Germany’s resurrection. And they will remember the German Reich, that Reich which has now brought together all German tribes to form one unity for which we shall stand up until we draw our last breath.
To this Germany, to this German Volksgemeinschaft of all German tribes, to this Greater German Reich: