Adolf Hitler - proclamation to the German folk
Berlin, June 22, 1941
German Volk! National Socialists!
The hour has finally come for me, weighed down by heavy burdens and sentenced to remain silent for months, to speak openly.
When, on September 3, 1939, the German Reich received the English declaration of war, the British attempted again to foil the consolidation and rise of Europe by fighting the strongest power on the continent. This is how England once destroyed Spain in many wars. This is how it waged war against Holland. This is how, with the help of all Europe, it later fought France. And this is how, at the turn of the century, it began the encirclement of the German Reich and then in the year 1914, it began the World War.
It was only because of its inner discord that Germany was defeated in the year 1918. What followed was terrible. First, they claimed hypocritically that they were only fighting the Kaiser and his regime. Then, after the surrender of the German Army, the systematic destruction of the German Reich was started. While the prophecies of a French statesman that there were twenty million too many people in Germany, that is, people who had to be eliminated by hunger, disease, or emigration, seemed to become literally true, the National Socialist movement began its work of uniting the German Volk and thereby initiating the rise of the Reich.
This new rising up of our Volk from need, misery, and shameful contempt was a sign of a purely inner rebirth. England, in particular, was neither concerned nor threatened by this. In spite of this, a new policy of encirclement, seething with hatred, immediately set in again against Germany. At home and abroad, there was the well-known conspiracy between Jews and democrats, Bolsheviks and reactionaries, with the single goal of preventing the establishment of a new German people’s state and plunging the Reich again into impotence and misery.
Besides us, the hatred of this international, worldwide conspiracy singled out those people whom fortune has likewise overlooked and who are also forced to earn their daily bread in a hard struggle for existence. Italy and Japan especially were denied their share of the goods of this earth, like Germany-yes, they were virtually forbidden them. The alliance of these nations therefore was only an act of self-defense in view of the threatening, egotistic international coalition of wealth and power.
In 1936, Churchill declared, according to the statements of the American general Wood before a committee of the American House of Representatives, that Germany was again becoming too powerful and therefore had to be destroyed.
In the summer of 1939, England thought the time had come to realize the new destruction by a repetition of a comprehensive policy of encirclement directed against Germany. The method of the campaign of lies staged for this purpose was to declare other people threatened, to trap them with British guarantees and promises of assistance, and then, as in the World War, to let them march against Germany.
And so England, from May to August 1939, succeeded in spreading the idea that Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Finland, Bessarabia, as well as the Ukraine, were directly threatened by Germany. Some of these states were thereby seduced into accepting the guarantees connected to these claims, and so joined the new front of encirclement against Germany.
Under those circumstances, I believed, before my conscience and the history of the German Volk, that I could not only assure these states, that is, governments, of the falsehood of the British claims, but also calm the strongest power of the East by making solemn declarations on the limits of our respective interests.
National Socialists! Probably all of you felt that this step was bitter and difficult for me. Never has the German Volk harbored feelings of animosity against the people of Russia. Alas, for over two decades, the Jewish-Bolshevik rulers have labored from Moscow to set afire not only Germany, but also all of Europe. Never has Germany attempted to carry its National Socialist ideology into Russia.
However, the Jewish-Bolshevik rulers in Moscow have constantly undertaken to force their rule on our people and others in Europe as well, and not merely ideologically, but especially in terms of military force and power. In all countries, the consequences of the activities of this regime were chaos, misery, and famine.
In contrast to that, I strove in the past two decades to achieve a new socialist order in Germany with a minimum of intervention and without destroying our production, a new socialist order that not only eliminated unemployment, but also increasingly let the profit from the work go to the working man.
The successes of this policy of a new economic and social order for our Volk, the systematic overcoming of social differences and class distinctions, are unequaled in the world.
Therefore, in August 1939, despite great misgivings, I sent my foreign minister to Moscow to attempt there to counteract the British policy of encirclement against Germany. I did this only because of a sense of responsibility to the German Volk, and, above all, in the hope of achieving a lasting detente in the end and, perhaps, lessening the sacrifices which might otherwise be demanded of us.
And then, after Germany solemnly declared in Moscow that the aforementioned areas and countries were outside the German sphere of interest-with the exception of Lithuania-a special agreement was made in case England succeeded in driving Poland to war against Germany. Here, too, the German demands were limited and stood in no relation to the accomplishments of the German arms.
National Socialists! The consequences of this treaty, which I desired in the interest of the German Volk, were very hard on the Germans living in the countries concerned.
Far more than half a million German Volksgenossen-all small farmers, craftsmen, and workers-were forced, practically overnight, to leave their former homeland in order to escape a new regime, which at first threatened them with infinite misery and, sooner or later, with complete extermination.
In spite of this, thousands of Germans disappeared! It is impossible to know what happened to them or where they are now. Among them, there are a hundred sixty men with German Reich citizenship.
I remained silent about all this, because I had to remain silent! After all, it was my wish to bring about a detente for good and, if possible, a lasting settlement with this state.
However, as soon as we advanced into Poland, the Soviet rulers suddenly claimed Lithuania in violation of the treaty. The German Reich never intended to occupy Lithuania. Not only did it not make any such demand on the Lithuanian government-on the contrary, it also declined a request by the Lithuanian government at the time to send German troops to Lithuania for that purpose, as this did not correspond with the goals of the German policy.
In spite of this, I yielded to this new Russian demand. However, this was only the beginning of constantly new extortions, which since then have been repeated time and again. The victory in Poland, exclusively secured by German troops, induced me to direct a new offer of peace to the western powers. It was rejected because of the international and Jewish warmongers.
Already at that time, the cause of this rejection was that England was still hoping to mobilize a European coalition against Germany, including the Balkans and Soviet Russia. And so they decided in London to send Ambassador Cripps to Moscow. He received clear instructions to enter again into diplomatic relations with Soviet Russia and to develop them in the interest of England. The English press reported on the progress of this mission for as long as tactical reasons required.
In the autumn of 1939 and the spring of 1940, the first consequences became apparent. While Russia undertook to subjugate not only Finland militarily but also the Baltic states, it all of a sudden tried to justify doing so with the mendacious and ridiculous claim that it had to protect these countries from, that is, to prevent, an external threat. No power other than Germany could penetrate these areas along the Baltic Sea or wage war there. In spite of this, I had to remain silent. But the ruling powers in the Kremlin immediately went a step further.
While, in the spring of 1940, Germany withdrew its armed forces far behind the eastern frontier in the spirit of the so-called Friendship Pact, thereby virtually clearing most of these areas of German troops, Russian forces immediately began to deploy to such an extent that this could only be seen as a deliberate threat to Germany.
According to a personal statement made by Molotov at the time, twentytwo Russian divisions were in the Baltic states alone. Since the Russian government always maintained that it had been called in by the local population, the purpose of its presence there could only be a demonstration against Germany. While-from May 10, 1940, on-our soldiers broke the French-British power in the west, the Russian concentration along our eastern front continued in an increasingly dangerous degree.
From August 1940 on, therefore, I believed that, in the interest of the Reich, I could not any longer leave our eastern provinces, which have so often been devastated in the past, unprotected from this colossal concentration of Bolshevik divisions.
This brought about what the Anglo-Soviet cooperation aimed for, namely to tie down strong German forces in the east, so that, especially in terms of the [war in the] air, a conclusive end of the war in the west would no longer be possible for the German leadership. This was not only the goal of the British but also of the Soviet policy.
England as well as Soviet Russia intend to let this war last as long as possible in order to weaken Europe and to make it increasingly impotent.
The alarming Russian attack on Romania ultimately served the purpose of getting hold of an important element of the economic life not only of Germany but also of all Europe, and, possibly, destroying it. However, it was the German Reich which, from the year 1933 on, strove with infinite patience to win the states of southeastern Europe as trading partners. Therefore, we had the greatest interest in their internal, governmental consolidation and order. Russia’s invasion of Romania, and Greece’s political ties with England, threatened to transform these areas shortly into a theater of war, too.
Contrary to our principles and customs, at that time I directed an urgent appeal to the Romanian government, which itself was responsible for this development, and I advised it to yield to the Soviet extortion for the sake of peace and to cede Bessarabia.
The Romanian government believed that it could tolerate this before its own people only if Germany and Italy gave a guarantee that the continuing existence of the remainder would not be disputed. I did this with a heavy heart. Because, after all, if the German Reich gives a guarantee, this means it will vouch for it. We are neither Englishmen nor Jews.
So I believed myself to have rendered a service to peace in these areas practically at the last minute, even if this meant taking on a heavy responsibility myself. In order to resolve these problems for good and to obtain clarity on the Russian attitude to the Reich, as well as under the pressure of the consistently increasing mobilization along our eastern borders, I invited Mr. Molotov to Berlin.
The Soviet foreign minister now demanded a clarification by Germany, that is, its answer to the following four questions: Molotov’s first question: In the event of a Soviet attack on Romania, will the German guarantee to Romania be directed against Soviet Russia? My answer: The German guarantee is a general one and is absolutely binding for us.
Russia has never informed us that, apart from Bessarabia, it has any interests in Romania. The occupation of northern Bukovina has already violated this assurance. Therefore, I do not believe that Russia could suddenly have further intentions against Romania.
Molotov’s second question: Russia again feels threatened by Finland. Russia is determined not to tolerate this. Is Germany ready not to assist Finland in any manner and, in particular, immediately to withdraw the German troops that are marching through it to Kirkenes for replacement? My answer: As before, Germany has no political interests in Finland. A new war by Russia against the small Finnish people cannot be regarded as tolerable by the German Reich government, all the more so as we cannot believe that Finland is threatening Russia. However, we do not wish the Baltic Sea to become a theater of war again.
Molotov’s third question: Is Germany willing to agree to Soviet Russia’s extending a guarantee to Bulgaria and sending Soviet troops into Bulgaria for this purpose? He, Molotov, also wished to declare, for example, that the Soviets did not intend to eliminate the king on this occasion.
My answer: Bulgaria is a sovereign state, and I do not know whether, unlike Romania, Bulgaria has even requested such a guarantee from Soviet Russia. Besides this, I will have to talk with my allies about this matter.
Molotov’s fourth question: Soviet Russia in any event needs free transit through the Dardanelles. To protect it, Russia requires the occupation of strongholds along the Dardanelles, that is, at the Bosporus. Will Germany agree to this or not? My answer: Germany is prepared to give its consent at any time to a change in the status of Montreux in favor of the Black Sea states. Germany is not willing to agree to Russia’s taking possession of bases along the straits.
National Socialists! I assumed an attitude here, which I had to assume not only as the accountable Fuhrer of the German Reich but also as the responsible representative of European culture and civilization. The consequence was a reinforcement of the Soviet activities directed against the Reich, particularly the immediate start of subversive activities inside of the new Romanian state and the attempt to remove the Bulgarian government by propaganda.
With the help of the confused, naive heads of the Romanian Legion, a coup d’etat was staged in Romania with the goal of toppling the head of state, General Antonescu, and to create chaos in the country so that the elimination of legitimate authority would remove the preconditions for the German guarantee to take effect. Despite this, I still believed that it was best to remain silent.
Immediately following the failure of this undertaking, a renewed reinforcement of the Russian troop concentrations along the eastern border of Germany took place. armored units and parachute troops were moved in increasing numbers alarmingly close to the German border. The German Wehrmacht and the German homeland know that, only a few weeks ago, not a single German panzer or motorized division was on our eastern border.
Had there been need of conclusive proof of the coalition between England and Soviet Russia, which had meanwhile come about despite all the diversions and disguises, then the Yugoslav conflict would have served as such.
While I labored to make a last attempt to pacify the Balkans and, with the understanding cooperation of the Duce, I invited Yugoslavia to join the Tripartite Pact, England and Soviet Russia worked together to organize the turmoil which overnight removed the government that was willing to negotiate.
The German Volk can be told today: the Serbian coup de main against Germany took place not only under the English, but essentially under the Soviet, flag. Since we remained silent on this matter as well, the Soviet leadership went a step further. Not only did it organize the Serb putsch but also, only a few days later, it concluded the well-known Friendship Pact with its new subservient creatures. This was intended to encourage the Serbs in their resistance to a pacification of the Balkans and to goad them on against Germany.
And this was not a platonic ambition. Moscow demanded the mobilization of the Serbian army.
Since I still believed that it was better not to speak, the ruling powers in the Kremlin went a step further: the German Reich government today possesses documents which prove that Russia, in order to get Serbia finally to fight, promised to deliver weapons, planes, ammunition, and other war materiel via Salonika. And this occurred almost exactly at the same moment when I gave the Japanese foreign minister, Matsuoka, advice to seek a detente with Russia, always in the hope of rendering peace a service. Only the rapid breakthrough to Skopje and the taking of Salonika by our peerless divisions have prevented the ambitions of this Soviet-Anglo-Saxon conspiracy. The Serbian air-force officers escaped to Russia and were welcomed there immediately as allies.
The victory of the Axis powers in the Balkans alone prevented the plan to engage Germany in battle in the southeast for months on end this summer, while, in the meantime, the concentration of the Soviet armies would be completed, their readiness for battle reinforced, and then, together with England and supported by the expected American deliveries, Russia would strangle and eventually: crush the German Reich and Italy. Through this, Moscow not only violated the provisions of our Friendship Pact, it has also betrayed this pact most wretchedly. And all this, while the ruling powers in the Kremlin, as in the case of Finland and Romania, hypocritically spoke of peace and of friendship abroad.
If, previously, circumstances forced me to be silent time and again, the time has come when continuous sitting back and watching would not only be a sin of omission, but also a crime against the German Volk, yes, against all of Europe.
Today, approximately a hundred sixty Russian divisions stand at our border. For weeks, there have been persistent violations of this border not only down here, but also far up north, as in Romania. Russian pilots amuse themselves by lightheartedly looking over these borders, perhaps to prove to us that they already feel themselves the masters of these territories. On the night of June 17 to 18, Russian patrols reconnoitered German Reich territory and could only be driven back after a lengthy exchange of fire. Therefore, the hour has now come in which it has become necessary to oppose this conspiracy of the Jewish-Anglo-Saxon warmongers and likewise the Jewish ruling powers in the Bolshevik control station at Moscow.
German Volk! At this moment, the greatest concentration which the world has ever seen in terms of scope and dimensions is taking place. In unison with the Finnish comrades, the victorious warriors of Narvik stand at the Arctic Ocean. German divisions under the command of the conqueror of Norway protect Finnish soil, together with the heroic Finnish freedom fighters under their marshal. The formations of the German front in the east reach from East Prussia to the Carpathian Mountains. On the banks of the Pruth river, the lower reaches of the Danube, up to the shores of the Black Sea, German and Romanian soldiers unite under General Antonescu.
The mission of this front, therefore, is no longer the protection of individual countries, but the securing of Europe and, hence, the salvation of all.
Today, I have therefore determined to lay the fate and the future of the German Reich and of our Volk again into the hands of our soldiers.
May the Lord Almighty help us especially in this battle!