The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Opening Address for the United Kingdom
(Part 9 of 17)

Within six months of the signature of the Munich Agreement the Nazi Leaders had occupied the remainder of Czechoslovakia which by that agreement they had indicated their willingness to guarantee. On 14 March 1939, the aged and infirm President of the "Rump" of Czechoslovakia, Hacha, and his Foreign Minister, Chvalkowsky, were summoned to Berlin. At a meeting held between 1.15 and 2.15 a.m. in the small hours of the 15th March in the presence of Hitler and the defendants Ribbentrop, Goering, and Keitel, they were bullied and threatened and informed bluntly that Hitler "had issued the order for the German troops to march into Czechoslovakia, and for the incorporation of this country into the German Reich". It was made quite clear to them that resistance would be useless and would be crushed "by force of arms with all available means". It was thus that the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia was set up and that Slovakia was turned into a German satellite, though nominally independent, state. By their own unilateral action, on pretexts which had no shadow of validity, without discussion with the Governments of any other country, without mediation and in direct contradiction of the sense and spirit of the Munich Agreement, the Germans acquired for themselves that for which they had been planning in September of the previous year, and indeed much earlier, but which at that time they had felt themselves unable completely to secure without too patent an exhibition of their aggressive intentions. Aggression achieved whetted the appetite for aggression to come. There were protests. England and France sent diplomatic notes. Of course there were protests. The Nazis had clearly shown their hand. Hitherto they had concealed from the outside world that their claims went beyond incorporat-

[Page 619]

ing into the Reich persons of German Race living in bordering territory. Now for the first time, in defiance of their own solemn assurances to the contrary, non-German territory had been seized. This acquisition of the whole of Czechoslovakia, together with the equally illegal occupation of Memel on the 22d March, resulted in immense strengthening of the German position, both politically and strategically, as Hitler had anticipated it would when discussed the matter at his conference on 5 November 1937. (386-PS)

Long before the consummation by the Nazi Leaders of their aggression against Czechoslovakia, however, they had already begun to make demands upon Poland. On 25 October 1938, that to say within less than a month of Hitler's reassuring speech about Poland already quoted and of the Munich Agreement itself, M. Lipski, the Polish Ambassador in Berlin, reported to M. Beck, the Polish Foreign Minister, that at a luncheon at Berchtesgaden the day before (October 24th) the defendant Ribbentrop had put forward demands for the reunion of Danzig with the Reich and for the building of an extra-territorial motor road and railway line across Pomorze, that is, the province which the Germans called the Corridor. From that moment onwards until the Polish Government had made it plain, during a visit of the defendant Ribbentrop to Warsaw which ended on 27 January 1939, that they would not consent to hand over Danzig to German Sovereignty negotiations on these German demands continued. Even after Ribbentrop's return Hitler thought it worth while in his Reichstag Speech on 30 January 1939 to say --

"We have just celebrated the fifth anniversary of the conclusion of our nonaggression pact with Poland. There can scarcely be any difference of opinion today among the true friends of peace as to the value of this agreement. One only needs to ask oneself what might have happened to Europe if this agreement, which brought such relief, had not been entered into five years ago. In signing it, the great Polish marshal and patriot rendered his people just as great a service as the leaders of the National-Socialist State rendered the German people. During the troubled months of the past year the friendship between Germany and Poland has been one of the reassuring factors in the political life of Europe".

That utterance, however, was the last friendly word from Germany to Poland and the last occasion upon which the Nazi Leader mentioned the German-Polish Agreement with approbation. During February 1939 silence fell upon German demands. But as soon as the final absorption of Czechoslovakia had taken place,

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and Germany had also absorbed Memel, Nazi pressure upon Poland was at once renewed. In two conversations between himself and the defendant Ribbentrop, held on March 21st and March 26th respectively (Polish White Book Number 61 and Number 63), German demands upon Poland were renewed and further pressed. In view of the fate which had overtaken Czechoslovakia and of the grave deterioration in her strategical position towards Germany it is not surprising that the Polish Government took alarm at these developments. Nor were they alone in this. The events of March 1939 had at last convinced both the English and French Governments that the Nazi designs of aggression were not limited to men of German race and that the spectre of European war resulting from further aggressions by Nazi Germany had not been exorcised by the Munich Agreement.

As a result, therefore, of the concern of Poland, England, and France at the events in Czechoslovakia and at the newly applied pressure on Poland, conversations between the English and Polish Governments had been taking place, and, on 31 March 1939, Mr. Neville Chamberlain, speaking in the House of Commons, stated that His Majesty's Government had given an assurance to help Poland in the event of any action which clearly threatened Polish independence and which the Polish Government accordingly considered it vital to resist (TC-72 No. 17). On 6 April 1939 an Anglo-Polish communique stated that the two countries were prepared to enter into an Agreement of a permanent and reciprocal character to replace the present temporary and unilateral assurance given by His Majesty's Government. (TC-72, No. 18)

The justification for such concern is not difficult to find. With the evidence which we now have of what was happening within the councils of the German Reich and its armed forces during these months it is manifest that the German Government were intent on seizing Poland as a whole, that Danzig -- as Hitler was to say himself a month later -- "was not the subject of the dispute at all". The Nazi Government was intent upon aggression and the demands and negotiations in respect of Danzig were merely a cover and excuse for further domination.

As far back as September 1938 plans for aggressive war against Poland, England, and France were well in hand. While Hitler, at Munich, was telling the world that the German people wanted peace and that, having solved the Czechoslovakian problem, Germany had no more territorial problems in Europe, the staffs of his armed forces were already preparing plans. On 26 September 1938 he had said:

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"We have given guarantees to the States in the West. We have assured all our immediate neighbours of the integrity of their territory as far as Germany is concerned. That is no mere phrase. It is our sacred will. We have no interest whatever in a breach of the peace. We want nothing from these peoples."

The world was entitled to rely upon these assurances. International cooperation is impossible unless one can assume good faith in the leaders of the various States. But within two months of that solemn and considered undertaking, Hitler and his confederates were preparing for the seizure of Danzig. To recognize these assurances, these pledges, these diplomatic moves as the empty frauds they were, one must go back to enquire what was happening within the inner councils of the Reich from the time of the Munich Agreement.

Written some time in September 1938 is an extract from a file on the Reconstruction of the German Navy (C-23). Under the heading "Opinion on the Draft Study of Naval Warfare against England" it is stated:

"1. If, according to the Fuehrer's decision, Germany is to acquire a position as a world power, she needs not only sufficient colonial possessions but also secure naval communications and secure access to the ocean.

"2. Both requirements can only be fulfilled in opposition to Anglo-French interests and would limit their position as world powers. It is unlikely that they can be achieved by peaceful means. The decision to make Germany a world power, therefore, forces upon us the necessity of making the corresponding preparations for war.

"3. War against England means at the same time war against the Empire, against France, probably against Russia as well and a large number of countries overseas, in fact, against It half to one-third of the world.

"It can only be justified and have a chance of success if it is prepared economically as well as politically and militarily and waged with the aim of conquering for Germany an outlet to the ocean." (C-23)

The original plaintext version of this file is available via ftp.

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