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Members of the German Reichstag:
For months we have been tormented by a problem once imposed upon us by the Dictate of Versailles and which, in its deterioration and corruption, had now become utterly intolerable. Danzig is a German City. The Corridor was and is German. All these territories owe their cultural development exclusively to the German people, without whom absolute barbarism would reign in these Eastern territories. Danzig was separated from us. The Corridor was annexed by Poland. The German minorities living there were mistreated in the most appaling manner. Already during the years 1919/20 more than one million people of German blood were driven from their homes. As usual, I have tried to change this intolerable state of affairs through proposals for a peaceful revision. It is a lie if it is claimed throughout the world that we insure all our revisions only by applying pressure. There was ample opportunity for fifteen years before National Socialism assumed power to carry through revisions by means of a peaceful understanding. This was not done. In every single case did I then take the initiative, not once but many times, to bring forward proposals for the revision of absolutely intolerable conditions.
As you know, all these proposals were rejected. I need not enumerate them in detail: proposals for a limitation of armaments, if necessary even for the abolition of armaments, proposals for restrictions on methods of warfare, proposals for eliminating methods of modern warfare which, in my opinion, are scarcely compatible with international law. You know my proposals for the necessity of the restoration of German sovereign rights over the territories of the German Reich, the countless attempts for a peaceful solution of the Austrian problem which I have made, and later, on the problem of the Sudetenland, Bohemia, and Moravia. It was all in vain. One thing, however, is impossible: to demand that a peaceful revision should be made of an intolerable state of affairs, and then obstinately refuse such a peaceful revision. It is equally impossible to assert that in such a situation to act on one's own initiative in making a revision is to violate a law. For us Germans the Dictate of Versailles is not a law. It does not work to force somebody at the point of a pistol and by threatening to starve millions of people into signing a document and afterwards proclaim that this document with its forced signature was a solemn law.
In the case of Danzig and the Corridor I have again tried to solve the problems by proposing peaceful discussions. It was obvious that they had to be solved! That the deadline for this solution may perhaps be of little interest to the Western Powers is conceivable. But for us this deadline is not a matter of indifference! First and foremost, it was not and could not be a matter of indifference to the suffering victims. In Conferences with Polish diplomats I have discussed the ideas which you have heard me express here in my last speech before the Reichstag. No one can say that this was an improper procedure or even unreasonable pressure.
I then had the German proposals clearly stated and I feel bound to repeat once more that nothing could be fairer or more modest than those proposals submitted by me. And now I want to tell the world that only I could afford to make such proposals. Because I know very well that at that time I placed myself in a position contrary to the conception of millions of Germans by acting the way I did.
Those proposals were rejected. But not only that! They were answered by mobilization, by increased terrorism, by intensified pressure on the people of German blood living in these territories, and by a gradual economic, political and, during the past few weeks, even military strangulation and blockade of the Free City of Danzig. Furthermore, Poland virtually began the war against the Free City of Danzig. Furthermore, she was not prepared to settle the problems of the Corridor in a fair manner satisfying the interests of both parties. And lastly, she did not even dream of fulfilling her obligations with regard to the minorities. I have to state here that Germany has fulfilled her obligations in this respect!
Minorities living in Germany are not subject to persecution. Let any Frenchman get up and declare that French citizens living in the Saar territory are being oppressed, ill-treated, or deprived of their rights. No one can make such an assertion.
For four months I have watched these developments without taking action but not without issuing repeated warnings. Recently I have made these warnings more and more emphatic. Over three weeks ago, the Polish ambassador was, at my request informed that if Poland persisted in sending further notes in the nature of an ultimatum to Danzig and in further oppressing the people of German blood, or if she should attempt to ruin Danzig economically through customs measures, Germany could no longer look on without taking action. I have left no room for doubt that in this respect the Germany of today is not to be confused with the Germany that existed before.
Attempts have been made to justify the action against the German minorities by declaring that they had provoked them. I am wondering in what the "provocation" through the women and children who are being mistreated and deported, consisted, or the "provocations" of those who were tortured in the most beastly and most sadistic manner and finally killed! One thing, however, I do know: there is not one single great power with any honor who would tolerate such conditions for any length of time.
In spite of it all I have made one last attempt. Although I am deeply convinced that the Polish Government-perhaps also because of its being dependent on an unrestraint, wild military rabble-is not seriously interested in a real understanding, I have nevertheless accepted a proposal by the British Government for mediation. The latter proposed that it would not carry on any negotiations but assured me that it would establish a direct contact between Poland and Germany in order to get the discussion going once more.
I must here state the following: I accepted that proposal. For these discussions I had drawn up the fundamentals which are known to you. And then I and my Government were sitting for two whole days waiting for the Polish Government to make up its mind whether to finally dispatch a plenipotentiary or not! Until last night it had not sent any plenipotentiary but informed us through its ambassador that at present it was considering the question whether and to what extent it might be able to accept the British proposals; it would inform England of its decision.
Members of the Reichstag! If such treatment is meted out to the German Reich and its Chief, and the German Reich and its Chief were to submit to such treatment, then the German Nation would deserve no better than to disappear from the political scene. My love of Peace and my endless patience must not be mistaken for weakness, much less for cowardice. Therefore, I have last night informed the British Government that things being as they are, I have found it impossible to detect any inclination on the part of the Polish Government to enter into a really serious discussion with us.
Thus, these proposals for mediation are wrecked, for in the meantime the answer to these offers had been, firstly, the order for Polish general mobilization, and secondly new grave atrocities. Repetitions of the latter incidents occurred last night. Only recently twenty-one frontier incidents had occurred, there were fourteen last night. Three of them were very grave.
For that reason, I have now decided to talk to Poland in the same language Poland has been using toward us for months.
If there are statesmen in the West who declare that their interests are involved, I can only regret such a declaration; however, not for one single minute could that persuade me to deviate from the execution of my duties. I have solemnly declared and repeat once more that we have no claims at all on these Western powers, and shall never demand anything from them. I repeatedly offered Britain our friendship, and if necessary closest cooperation. Love, however, is not to be offered by one partner only; it'll have to find response from the other. Germany has no interests in the West, our fortifications in the West shall be the frontiers of the Reich for all times. We have no other aims in the future, and this attitude of the Reich will remain unchanged.
Some of the other European powers understand our attitude. First of all I'd like to thank Italy for having supported us all this time. But you'll also understand that we do not want to make an appeal for any foreign help in this struggle. This task of ours we shall solve ourselves.
The neutral powers have assured us of their neutrality just like we have previously guaranteed their neutrality. This assurance we consider a sacred obligation, and as long as nobody breaks their neutrality, we, too, shall observe it painstakingly. What could we desire or want from them?
I am happy to be able to inform you here of an event of special importance. You are aware of it that Russia and Germany are governed by two different doctrines. There was only one single question to be cleared up: Germany has no intention of exporting her doctrine, and the minute Russia does not intend to export her own doctrine to Germany, I no longer see any reason why we should ever be opponents again. Both of us agreed on this one point: any struggle between our two people would only result in benefits for others. We have therefore resolved to enter into an agreement which will exclude any application of force between us in the future, which compels us to consult each other in certain European questions, which makes economic cooperation possible and above all makes sure that these two great powers don't exhaust their energies in fighting each other.
Any attempt on the part of the Western Powers to alter these facts will prove futile, and in that connection I should like to state one thing: this political decision signifies an enormous change for the future and is absolutely final.
I believe that the whole German people will welcome this political attitude. In the World War, Russia and Germany fought each other and up to the end they both suffered. That shall not happen a second time! The nonaggression and consultation pact was yesterday finally ratified in Moscow and in Berlin.
In Moscow, the pact was acclaimed just as you have acclaimed it here. I approve of every word in the speech made by Mr. Molotov, the Russian Commissar for Foreign Affairs.
Our aims I am determined to solve:
Firstly, the question of Danzig;
Secondly, the question of the Corridor
Thirdly, to see to it that a change shall take place in Germany's relations to Poland, which will insure a peaceful coexistence of the two powers.
I am determined to fight until either the present Polish Government is willing to effect this change or another Poland Government is prepared to do so.
I am determined to eliminate from the German frontiers the element of insecurity, the atmosphere which permanently resembles civil war. I shall see to it that peace on the Eastern frontier shall be the same as it is on our other frontiers.
I shall carry out all necessary actions in such a manner that they shall not contradict the proposals which I have made known to you here, members of the Reichstag, as my proposals to the rest of the world.
That is, I will not wage war against women and children! I have instructed my air force to limit their attacks to military objectives. However, if the enemy should conclude from this that he might get away with waging war in a different manner he will receive an answer that he'll be knocked out of his wits!
Last night for the first time regular soldiers of the Polish Army fired shots on our territory. Since 5.45 a.m. we have been returning their fire. From now on, every bomb will be answered by another bomb. Whoever fights with poison gas will be fought with poison gas. Whoever disregards the rules of human warfare can but expect us to do the same.
I will carry on this fight, no matter against whom, until such time as the safety of the Reich and its rights are secured!
For more than 6 years now I have been engaged in building up the German armed forces. During this period more than 90 billion Reichsmark were spent building up the Wehrmacht. Today, ours are the best equipped armed forces in the world and they are far superior to those of 1914. My confidence in them can never be shaken.
If I call upon the Wehrmacht and if I ask sacrifices of the German people and, if necessary, unlimited sacrifices, then I am in the right to do so, for I myself am just as ready today as I was in the past to make every personal sacrifice. I don't ask anything of any German which I myself was not prepared to do at any moment for more than four years. There shall not be any deprivations for Germans in which I myself shall not immediately share. From this moment on my whole life shall belong more than ever to my people. I now want to be nothing but the first soldier of the German Reich.
Thus I have put on once again the coat which has always been the most sacred and dearest to me. I shall not put it aside until after victory-or I shall not live to see the end.
Should anything happen to me in this war, my first successor shall be Party member Goering. Should anything happen to Party member Goering, his successor shall be Party member Hess. To these men as your leaders you would then owe the same absolute loyalty and obedience that you owe to me. In the event that something fatal should happen to Party Member Hess, I am about to make legal provisions for the convocation of a senate appointed by me, who shall then elect the worthiest, that is to say the most valiant among themselves.
As a National Socialist and a German soldier I enter upon this fight with a stout heart! My whole life has been but one continuous struggle for my people, for its resurrection, for Germany, and this whole struggle has been inspired by one single conviction: faith in this people!
One word I have never known: capitulation. And if there was anybody who'd think that hard times are ahead of us I'd like him not to forget the fact that at one time a Prussian king with a ridiculously small staff confronted one of the greatest coalitions ever known and came forth victoriously after three campaigns because he possessed that strong and firm faith which is required of us in these times.
As for the rest of the world, I can only assure them that a November 1918 shall never occur again in German history.
I ask of every German what I myself am prepared to do at any moment: to be ready to pay with his life for his people and for his country.
Whoever believes to have a chance to evade this patriotic duty directly or indirectly, shall perish. We will have nothing to do with traitors. We all are acting only in accordance with our old principle: our own life matters nothing, all that matters is that our people, that Germany shall live.
I expect of you, as deputies of the Reich, that you will do your duty in whatever position you are called upon to fill. You must carry the banner of resistance, cost what may. Let no one report to me at any time that in his province, in his district or in his group or in his cell the morale is low. Bearers, responsible bearers of the morale are you! I am responsible for the province your district! None has the right to shun this responsibility. The sacrifice that is demanded of us is not greater than the sacrifice which has been made by many generations in the past. All those men who before us have traveled the most bitter and hardest road did nothing different from what we are called upon to do; the sacrifice they made was no less costly, no less painful, and therefore no easier than the sacrifice that may be demanded of us.
I also expect every German woman to take her place with unflinching discipline in this great fighting community.
German youth, needless to say, will do with heart and soul what is expected and demanded of it by the nation and by the National Socialist State.
If we form this community, forged together, ready for everything, determined never to capitulated, then our strong will shall master every emergency.
I conclude with the words with which I once started my fight for power in the Reich. At that time I said: "If our will is so strong that it cannot be broken through any distress, then our will and our German state will be able to master and subjugate distress."Germany-Sieg Heil!
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