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TO THE GERMAN PEOPLE!
When in November 1918, the German people trusting the assurances given in Wilson's 14 points, laid down their arms, after four and a half years of glorious resistance in a war which they never wanted, they believed, not only to have rendered a service to tortured mankind but also toward a great idea. Suffering the most, under the consequences of this insane battle, millions of our people faithfully grasped at the thought of a reorganization of the relationship between people. This would be improved by the elimination of secret diplomatic cabinet politics on one hand, and the horrible means of war on the other. The harshest results of defeat which are history appeared, to many German people as the necessary sacrifices in order to free the world once and for all of similar horrors.
The idea of the League of Nations has probably not aroused a more hearty approval in other nations than in the German which lost all earthly happiness. And so it was easy to understand, why the German people occupied and fulfilled the inane requests for destruction of armaments. The German people, and especially the administration, were convinced that through their fulfillment of orders for disarmament, laid down at Versailles, an international disarmament program was going to be started and guaranteed. For only in a fulfillment of these orders, by both sides, lies a moral sensible justification for a demand, which if unilaterally imposed and executed, will lead to eternal discrimination and with that, to a declaration of inferiority, of a great nation. But such a peace treaty could never be the prerequisite for a real inner reconciliation of the people and with that lead to a pacification of the world; but it would only create an eternal burning hatred. Germany has fulfilled the imposed disarmament obligations laid down by the Inter-Allied Control Commission.
The following were the works of the destruction of the German military power and its means which were certified to, by this commission.A. Army
Further under the destruction duties; vehicles of all kinds, means of gas attack and partly gas defense, gas and explosives, searchlights, sighting mechanisms, range-finding and sound-ranging devices, optical apparatus of all kinds, harnesses for horses, narrow gauge equipment, field printing shops, field kitchens, workshops, slash and stabbing weapons, steel helmets, ammunition transport material, normal and special machines of the War industry as, buildings, blueprints thereof, airplane and zeppelin hangars, etc.
Following this unprecedented historical fulfillment of a treaty, the German people had the right to expect the redemption of the introduced duties also from the other side.
1. Germany has disarmed.
2. In the peace treaty it was plainly required that Germany must be disarmed in order to set precedent for general disarmament; this means, it was said that only in Germany's armament alone lies the basis for the armament of other nations.
3. The German people were filled with such principles in its governments and in its Parties which completely agreed with the pacifistic-democratic ideals of the League of Nations and its founders.
While Germany however had fulfilled its obligations on one side of the treaty, there remained the redeeming of the obligations on the other side. That means: the high treaty-makers of the former victorious states have unilaterally released themselves from the obligations of the Versailles treaty!
Not enough that every disarmament, was in some way or another comparable to the German destruction of arms, discontinued, no: Not even a standstill in the armament was seen, on the contrary the armament of a whole number of states became visible. What was discovered during the War in the way of new destructive machinery now was completed in a methodical-scientific way. In the field of creating mighty tanks, fighters and bombers, uninterrupted and terrible improvements took place. New large guns were constructed, new high explosive, incendiary and gas bombs were developed.
In the meantime however, the world resounded again with war cries as if there never had been a World War and never a Versailles Treaty. Germany was an empty powerless space, among these highly armed War states, which continually made available the most modern motorized equipment [Kraefte] and had no defense against any menace or threat. The German people recall the disaster and suffering from fifteen years of economical distress, political and moral humiliation. It is therefore easily understood when Germany began to ask loudly for the redeeming of the promise of the disarmament of the other nations.
Because this is clear, the world would not tolerate a hundred year long peace but it must be an unmeasurable blessing to her. But it would not endure a hundred year long break between conqueror and conquered.
The feeling regarding the moral rectification and necessity of an international disarmament was not only active in Germany but also within many other nations. Out of the pursuance of these strengths resulted attempts to try and direct an armament reduction by means of conferences and thereby bring about a general international assimilation on a lower level.
And so resulted the first proposition for an international armament abrogation, of which we have the memory of the MacDonald Plan as being significant.
Germany was prepared to accept this plan and to take it as foundation of a final agreement.
It failed due to the rejection by other nations and was finally abandoned. Since the German people and Reich under such circumstances found no realization in the equality of rights solemnly guaranteed in the December declaration of 1932, the new German government saw in themselves, the guardians of the honor and the living rights of the German people; they were not in the position to continue to take part in such conferences or to belong to the League of Nations.
Even after the leaving of Geneva, the German Government was still prepared not only to consider proposals by other nations but also to make several practical proposals themselves. They undertook thereby the conception, which was coined by other nations themselves, that the creation of short services Armies are inappropriate for purposes of aggression and therefore are to be recommended for a peaceful defense.
They were therefore prepared to convert the long-service Reichswehr into a short service Army according to the wishes of other nations. Their proposals of the winter 1933/34 were practical and easy to accomplish. Their rejection as well as the final rejection of the similar proposed Italian and English plan however led us to believe that the inclination toward a further sensible fulfillment of the Versailles disarmament provision no longer exists.
Under these circumstances, the German government was forced to take every necessary which measure would guarantee the termination of conditions, which are just as unworthy as menacing; of the helpless defenselessness of a great people and Reich.
They started out from the same motivations as the very true expression given by Minister Baldwin in his last speech:
"A country, which is not willing to seize the necessary precautionary measures for its own protection will never have might in this world, neither moral nor material might."
The Government of the present day German Reich however, only wishes one single moral and material might; it is the power to be able to protect the peace for the Reich and with that, peace for all of Europe!
Therefore she did everything that was in her power and what could serve toward the furtherance of the peace.
1. For a long period of time she has proposed to all her neighbor nations, the signing of non-aggression pacts.
2. She has sought and found an agreeable arrangement with the eastern neighbor nation, which, thanks to the great arbitrary understanding, has for ever decontaminated the menacing atmosphere which existed when they took over the power, and it will lead to a lasting understanding and friendship between the two peoples.
3. She has finally given France the solemn security that Germany, after the effectuated arrangement of the Saar question will not place or raise any more territorial claims against France. She believes thereby to have created, in a historically rare form the prerequisite for the termination of a hundred year long conflict between two large nations through a great political and essential sacrifice.
However, the German government must witness to its regret, that for months a continually rising rearmament is taking place in the world. She sees in the creation of a Soviet-Russian Army of 101 Divisions, which means 960,000 men in present peacetime strength, and element which could not be foreseen at the time of the composition of the Versailles Treaty.
She sees further signs of rejecting the disarmament idea, proclamated in its time, in the overdoing of similar measures. It is far from the German Government to reproach any nation. However, she sees today that through the present resolved introduction of the two-year military service in France, the basic ideas of the creation of a short service defense Army has been abandoned in favor of a long-service organization.
This, however, was one of the arguments used in the demands on Germany, to surrender its Reichswehr.
Under these circumstances, the German government feels that it is impossible longer to postpone taking the necessary measures for the security of the Reich, or even to hide them from the knowledge of the world.
Therefore, if it now complies with the desire, expressed in the speech of the English Minister Baldwin on November 28, 1934 for a clarification of the German intentions, then this is done:
1. IN ORDER TO GIVE THE GERMAN PEOPLE THE CONVICTION AND THE OTHER STATES THE KNOWLEDGE THAT THE MAINTAINING OF THE HONOR AND SECURITY OF THE GERMAN REICH WILL, FROM NOW ON, AGAIN BE ENTRUSTED TO THE GERMAN NATION'S OWN POWER.
2. But in order, by fixing the extent of the German measures, to invalidate these assertions which wish to imply that the German people are striving for a position of military hegemony in Europe.
What the German government desires, as the guarding of the honor and interests of the German nation, is to guarantee the extent of those means of power which are required not only for maintaining the integrity of the German Reich, but also for the international respect and esteem of Germany as a co-guarantor of the general peace.
For in this hour the German government renews, before the German people and before the whole world, the assurance of its determination never to trespass the limit of guarding German honor and the freedom of the Reich, and especially of its determination to (wish to) form, in the national German armament, not an instrument of military attack, but rather exclusively one for defense, and thus for maintaining the peace.
In so doing, the German Reich Cabinet expresses the confident hope that the German people, which thus regains its honor, may be permitted, with independent equal right, to make its contribution to the pacification of the world in a free and open cooperation with the other nations and their governments.
In this spirit the German Reich Cabinet has today passed the following law:
Law for the Organization of the Armed Forces of March 16, 1935.
The Reich Cabinet has passed the following law which is herewith promulgated:
Service in the Armed Forces is based upon compulsory military duty.
In peace time, the German Army, including the police troops transferred to it is organized into:12 Corps and
The Reich Minister of War is charged with the duty of submitting immediately to the Reich Ministry, detailed laws on compulsory military duty.Berlin, March 16, 1935
Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression Volume IV
Office of the United States Chief Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality
Washington, DC : United States Government Printing Office, 1946