The French Yellow Book

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No. 324 :
M. Coulondre, French Ambassador in Berlin, to M. Georges Bonnet, Minister for Foreign Affairs. Berlin, September 1, 1939.

(Received by telephone at 11.30 a.m.)

THE session of the Reichstag has just come to an end, having lasted one hour.

In his opening speech Field-Marshal Goering stated that it was only at 3 o'clock in the morning that the decision to summon the Reichstag had been taken. He added that more than one hundred delegates were absent because they were in the ranks of the Wehrmacht.

The following is an analysis and a translation of the essential passages of the speech made by the Chancellor:

"Since 1919 we have all been suffering the torments inflicted upon us by a problem created by the Diktat of Versailles, a problem which has become intolerable in its effects.

"Danzig has always been, and is, a German city: the Corridor has always been, and is, German. Both these territories owe their cultural development to the German people. Danzig was separated from Germany, and the Corridor annexed. In other regions, Germans have been ill-treated in such a manner that more than a million of them have had to abandon their homes.

"I have always tried to obtain an alteration of this position by peaceful methods. It is a lie to pretend that we have always had recourse to violence. In each case, not once but several times, I have tried to obtain indispensable modifications through the way of negotiation. My proposals for limitation of armaments, for the abolition of certain arms and for the elimination of certain methods of warfare, which I considered incompatible with the law of nations, were rejected.

"I tried in vain to solve amicably the problems of Austria, the Sudeten, Bohemia and Moravia. It is impossible to claim that only peaceful revisions can be admitted, and at the same time continually persist in rejecting them.

"For us, the Treaty of Versailles has never had the force of law!"

Then, passing on to the situation existing in the Polish regions with German minorities, the Führer declared that no people with any feelings of honour would accept for long such a state of affairs.

"I made, however, a final effort," the Führer added. "The British Government proposed that direct contact should be established between Poland and Germany. I accepted this proposal and I prepared bases for negotiation. For two whole days I waited without the Poles sending their plenipotentiaries. Last night the Polish Ambassador informed us that his Government was examining in what degree it would agree to the opening of negotiations.

"If it could be thought that the German Reich and its Leader could be treated in that way, nothing would be left for Germany but to disappear from the political stage.

"I am wrongly judged.... My love for peace is not to be mistaken for cowardice. I accordingly decided to inform the British Government last night that I considered the negotiations to have failed.

"As a first reply to my acceptance, Poland decreed general mobilization. There was a recrudescence of terrorism. I then decided to speak to Poland in her own language....

"If France and England consider that their essential interests are thus affected, that is an attitude which cannot make me hesitate to fulfill my duty.

"I have already declared that I ask nothing and that I never will ask anything from the Western Powers. That is a declaration which has a final value.

"I have always offered England my friendship, but love can never be unilateral. I have no interest in the West. Our Western frontier is final. Our western wall is for all time the frontier of the Reich. In that region we have no aims of any kind for the future. This attitude will not change. I thank Italy for having understood our attitude and for having backed us, but you will understand also that for the carrying on of this struggle I have no need of foreign aid. We shall carry out this task ourselves. I shall respect the neutrality of the neutral countries to the same extent that they respect it themselves.

"You know that Russia and Germany are governed by two different doctrines. But between the two countries there was only one question that had to be cleared up. Germany has no intention of exporting her doctrine, nor Russia hers. Neither of the two countries has any reason to take up a position against the other. We have, therefore, resolved to conclude a pact which excludes for ever any use of violence between us, which imposes the obligation on us to consult together in certain European questions and makes possible for us economic cooperation. Never again can it happen that the powers of these two countries will be used against one another. Any attempt on the part of Western Powers to bring about any change in this will fail. This political decision means a tremendous departure for the future, and it is a final one. I believe that the whole German people will hail this political attitude with satisfaction.

"In the World War Germany and Russia fought against one another, and in the end both of them were its victims. This will not happen a second time.

"The pact of non-aggression and consultation has been ratified by Berlin and Moscow. In Moscow the pact has been greeted with as much satisfaction as in Germany. I can only endorse word for word the speech made yesterday by M. Molotov.

"And now. here is our goal I am determined to solve:

"1. The Danzig question;

"2. The question of the Corridor:

"3. To see to it that a change is made in the relationship between Germany and Poland that shall ensure a peaceful collaboration of the peoples.

"I am resolved to continue to fight until the Polish Government accepts this change, or until another Polish Government accepts it. I wish to remove from the German frontier in the East every element of discord and lasting danger. There must reign in the East a peace similar to that on our other frontiers.

"The necessary measures will be taken so that the war is not directed against and does not affect women and children. But if the enemy thinks he can from that draw carte blanche on his side to act as he wills, he will receive a reply which will deprive him of hearing and sight.

"This night Polish soldiers fired upon our territory. Since a quarter to six we have been returning the fire. From now on, bombs will be with bombs. And if gas-warfare is started, we shall reply with gas.

"Whoever departs from the rules of humane warfare can only expect that we shall do the same. The struggle will be continued until the safety of the Reich and its rights are secured.

"I have worked for six years and I have spent ninety milliards in building up our army. It is better-armed and much finer than the army of 1914. I have an unshakable confidence in it. If I ask of this army and of all Germans sacrifices, it is because I myself am prepared to make every personal sacrifice. I am prepared to accept any post whatever, however dangerous it may be. I have consecrated the whole of my life to the National-Socialist movement. I have had no other ambition than to be the first soldier of the Reich. I have taken this uniform and I shall not lay it aside until the victory is secured, or I will not survive the outcome.

"If anything should happen to me, my successor will be Goering. If anything should happen to Goering, Hess will be the successor.

"I ask that they should be given an obedience as blind as is given to me. If anything should happen to Goering and to Hess, an electoral college appointed by me will choose the most worthy, that is, the most valiant."

The Führer then stated that a National-Socialist did not know the word capitulation, and that a second November 1918 could never be. "It matters little," he said, "that we individuals disappear, provided that our country lives on." The Chancellor exhorted the deputies to see that the morale of the people was maintained, and he concluded by saying that he counted upon the spirit of sacrifice and discipline of men, women and youth.


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