The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Opening Address for the United Kingdom
(Part 8 of 17)

With these developments of Nazi aggression my United States colleagues have already dealt. But it is obvious that the acquisition of these two countries, and of their resources in manpower and in the production of munitions of war, immensely strengthened the position of Germany as against Poland. It is, therefore, not surprising that, just as the defendant Goering assured the Czechoslovak Minister in Berlin, at the time of the Nazi invasion of Austria that Hitler recognized the validity of the German-Czechoslovak Arbitration Treaty of 1925, and that Germany had no designs against Czechoslovakia herself -- "I give you my word of honor" said Goering -- so also continued assurances should be given during 1938 to Poland in order to keep that country from interfering with the Nazi aggression on Poland's neighbors.

Thus, on 20 February 1938 on the eve of his invasion of Austria, Hitler, referring to the fourth anniversary of the Polish-Pact, permitted himself to say this to the Reichstag:

"*** and so a way to a friendly understanding has been successfully paved, an understanding which beginning with Danzig has today succeeded in finally taking the poison out of the relations between Germany and Poland and transforming them into a sincere friendly cooperation. Relying on her friendships, Germany will not leave a stone unturned to save that ideal which provides the foundation for the task ahead of us -- Peace". (2357-PS)

Still more striking are the cordial references to Poland in Hitler's speech in the Sportpalast at Berlin on the 26 September 1938.

He then said:

"The most difficult problem with which I was confronted was that of our relations with Poland. There was a danger that Poles and Germans would regard each other as hereditary enemies. I wanted to prevent this. I know well enough that I should not have been successful if Poland had had a demo-

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cratic constitution. For these democracies which indulge in phrases about peace are the most bloodthirsty war agitators. In Poland there ruled no democracy, but a man: and with him I succeeded, in precisely twelve months, in coming to an agreement which, for ten years in the first instance, entirely removed the danger of a conflict. We are all convinced that this agreement will bring lasting pacification. We realize that here are two peoples which must live together and neither of which can do away with the other. A people of 33 millions will always strive for an outlet to the sea. A way for understanding, then, had to be found, and it will be ever further extended. Certainly things were hard in this area. *** But the main fact is that the two Governments, and all reasonable and clear-sighted persons among the two peoples and in the two countries, possess the firm will and determination to improve their relations. It was a real work of peace, of more worth than all the chattering in the League of Nations Palace at Geneva".

Thus flattery of Poland preceded the annexation of Austria and renewed flattery of Poland preceded the projected annexation of Czechoslovakia. The realities behind these outward expressions of goodwill are clearly revealed in the documents relating to Fall Gruen, which are already before the Tribunal. They show Hitler as fully aware that there was risk of Poland, England and France being involved in war to prevent the German annexation of Czechoslovakia, and that this risk though realized was also accepted. On the 25th August top secret orders to the German Air Force in regard to the operations to be conducted against England and France if they intervened pointed out that, as the French- Czechoslovak Treaty provided for assistance only in the case of "unprovoked" attack, it would take a day or two for France and England to decide whether legally the attack was unprovoked or not. A blitzkrieg accomplishing its aims before effective intervention became possible was the object to be aimed at.

On the same day an Air Force memorandum on future organization was issued to which was attached a map on which the Baltic States, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Poland are all shown as part of Germany and preparations for expanding the Air Force "as the Reich grows in area", as well as dispositions for a two front war against France and Russia are discussed (L-43; Chart No. 10). And on the following day von Ribbentrop is being minuted about the reaction of Poland towards the Czechoslovak problem:

"The fact that after the liquidation of the Czech question

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it will be generally assumed that Poland will be next in turn" is recognized but, it is stated, "the later this assumption sinks in, the better". (TC-76)

I will pause at the date of the Munich Agreement for a moment and ask the Tribunal to consider what the evidence of documents and historical facts shows up to that time. It has made undeniable the fact both of Nazi aggressiveness and of active aggression.

Not only does the Conference of 1937 reveal Hitler and his associates deliberately considering the acquisition of Austria and Czechoslovakia, if necessary by war, but the first of those operations had been carried through in March 1938 and a large part of the second, under threat of war, though without actual need for its initiation, in September of the same year. More ominous still, Hitler had revealed his adherence to his old doctrines of Mein Kampf, those essentially aggressive to the exposition of which in Mein Kampf long regarded as the Bible of the Nazi Party we shall draw attention. He is in pursuit of Lebensraum and he means to secure it by threats of force or, if they fail, by force, by aggressive war.

So far actual warfare has been avoided because of the love of peace, the lack of preparedness, the patience or the cowardice -- which you will -- of the democratic Powers. But, after Munich, the questions which filled the minds of all thinking people with acute anxiety was, "Where will this end? Is Hitler now satisfied, as he declares he is? Or will his pursuit of Lebensraum lead to further aggressions, even if he has to make an openly aggressive war to secure it?"

It was in relation to the remainder of Czechoslovakia and to Poland that the answer to these questions was to be given. So far no direct and immediate threat to Poland had been made. The two documents from which I have just quoted (L-43; TC-76) show that high officers of the defendant Goering's Air Staff already regarded the extension of the Reich and, it would appear, the destruction and absorption of Poland as a foregone conclusion. They were already anticipating, indeed, the last stage of Hitler's policy stated in Mein Kampf, war to destroy France and to secure Lebensraum in Russia. And the writer of the Minute to Ribbentrop already took it for granted that, after Czechoslovakia, Poland would be attacked. More impressive than these two documents is the fact that, as I have said, the record of the Conference of 5 November 1937, shows that war with Poland, if she should dare t to attempt to prevent German aggression against Czechoslovakia, had been coolly contemplated and that the Nazi leaders were ready to take the risk. So also had the risk of war with England and

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France under the same circumstances been considered and accepted. Such a war would, of course, have been an aggressive war on Nazi Germany's part. For to force one State to take up arms to defend another against aggression in order to fulfill treaty obligations is to initiate aggressive war against the first State.

Yet it remains true that until Munich the decision for direct attack upon Poland and her destruction by aggressive war had apparently not as yet been taken by Hitler and his associates. It is to the transition from the intention and preparation of initiating an aggressive war, evident in regard to Czechoslovakia, to the actual initiation and waging of aggressive war against Poland that I now pass. That transition occupies the eleven months from 1 October 1938 to the actual attack on Poland on 1 September 1939.

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