The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Opening Address for the United Kingdom
(Part 10 of 17)

Here is something which is both significant and new. Until this date the documents in our possession disclose preparations for war against Poland, England, and France purporting at least to be defensive measures to ward off attacks which might result from the intervention of those powers in the preparatory aggression of Germany in Central Europe. Hitherto aggressive war

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against Poland, England, and France has been contemplated only as a distant objective. Now, for the first time, we find a war of conquest by Germany against France and England openly recognized as the future aim, at least of the German Navy.

On 24 November 1938 an Appendix was issued by Keitel to a previous order of the Fuehrer. In this Appendix there are set out the future tasks for the armed forces and the preparation for the conduct of the war which would result from those tasks.

"The Fuehrer has ordered that besides the three eventualities mentioned in the previous Directive preparations are also to be made for the surprise occupation by German troops of the Free State of Danzig.

"For the preparation the following principles are to be borne in mind -- the primary assumption is the lightning seizure of Danzig by exploiting a favorable political situation and not war with Poland ***. Troops which are going to be used for this purpose must not be held at the same time for the seizure of Memel-land, so that both operations can take place simultaneously should such necessity arise." (C-17)

Thereafter, as the evidence which has already been produced has shown, final preparations for the invasion of Poland were taking place. On 3 April 1939, three days before the issue of the Anglo-Polish communique, Keitel issued to the High Command of the Armed Forces a Directive in which it was stated that the Directive for the uniform preparation of war by the armed forces in 1939-40 was being re-issued, and that the part concerning Danzig would be issued in the middle of April. The basic principles were to remain the same as in the previous Directive. Attached to this document were the orders "Fall Weiss", the code name for the proposed invasion of Poland. Preparations for that invasion were to be made in such a way that the operation could be carried out at any time from 1 September 1939 onwards. (C-120)

On the 11th April Hitler issued his Directive for the uniform preparations of war by the armed forces 1939-40. In it he says: "I shall lay down in a later Directive future tasks of the armed forces and the preparations to be made in accordance with these for the conduct of war. Until that Directive comes into force the armed forces must be prepared for the following eventualities:

"1. Safeguarding of the frontiers.
"2. "Fall Weiss".
"3. The annexation of Danzig."

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In an Annex to that document headed "Political Hypotheses and Aims" it is stated that quarrels with Poland should be avoided. Should Poland, however, change her present policy and adopt a threatening attitude towards Germany, a final settlement would be necessary, notwithstanding the pact with Poland. The Free City of Danzig was to be incorporated into Germany at the outbreak of the conflict at the latest. The policy aims to limit the war to Poland and this is considered possible with the internal crisis in France and resulting British restraint.

The wording of this document does not directly involve the intention of immediate aggression. It is a plan of attack "if Poland changes her policy and adopts a threatening attitude". But the picture of Poland, with her inadequate armaments, threatening Germany is ludicrous enough and the real aim emerges in the sentence "The aim is then to destroy Polish military strength and to create, in the East, a situation which satisfies the requirements of defense" -- a sufficiently vague phrase to cover designs of any magnitude. Even now the evidence does not suffice to prove that the actual decision to attack Poland has been taken. But all preparations are being set in train in case that decision is reached.

It was within three weeks of the date of this last document that Hitler addressed the Reichstag (28 April 1939). In his speech he repeated the German demands already made to Poland and proceeded to denounce the German-Polish Agreement of 1934. Leaving aside for the moment the warlike preparations for aggression, which Hitler had set in train behind the scenes, I will ask the Tribunal to consider the nature of the denunciation of an agreement to which, in the past, Hitler had professed to attach so high an importance.

In the first place Hitler's denunciation was per se ineffectual, since the text of the Agreement made no provision for its denunciation by either Party until six months before the expiration of the ten years for which it was concluded. No denunciation could be legally affective, therefore, until June or July 1943, and Hitler was speaking on 28 April 1939 -- more than five years too soon!

In the second place Hitler's actual attack on Poland when it came on 1 September 1939, was made before the expiration of the six months period after denunciation required by the Agreement before such a denunciation became operative. In the third place the grounds for his denunciation of the Agreement stated by Hitler in his speech to the Reichstag are entirely specious. How ever one reads its terms it is impossible to accept the view that the Anglo-Polish guarantee of mutual assistance against aggression could render the Pact null and void. If that were so then

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certainly the Pacts already entered into by Hitler with Italy and Japan had already invalidated it, and Hitler might have spared his breath. But the truth is that the text of the German-Polish Agreement contains nothing whatever to support Hitler's contention.

Why then did Hitler make this trebly invalid attempt to denounce his own pet diplomatic child? Is there any other possible answer but that, the Agreement having served its purpose, the grounds which he put forward were chosen merely in an effort to provide Germany with some justification for the aggression on which she was intent.

For Hitler sorely needed some kind of justification, some apparently decent excuse, since nothing had happened, or was likely to happen, from the Polish side to provide him with it. So far he had made demands upon his Treaty partner which Poland, as a sovereign State had every right to refuse. If dissatisfied with that refusal Hitler was bound, under the terms of the Agreement itself, to "seek a settlement through other peaceful means, without prejudice to the possibility of applying those methods of procedure, in case of necessity, which are provided for such a case in the other agreements between them that are in force" -- a reference, it can only be supposed, to the German-Polish Arbitration Treaty signed at Locarno in 1925.

The very fact, therefore, that as soon as the Nazi leader cannot get what he wants, but is not entitled to, from Poland by merely asking for it, and that, on his side, he made no further effort to settle the dispute "by peaceful means" in accordance with the terms of the Agreement and of the Kellogg Pact, to which the Agreement pledged both Parties, in itself creates a strong presumption of aggressive intentions against Hitler and his associates. That presumption becomes a certainty when the documents to which I shall now refer are studied.

On 10th May Hitler issued an order for the capture of economic installations in Poland and on 16th May the Defendant Raeder, as Commander in Chief of the Navy, issued a memorandum setting out the Fuehrer's instructions to prepare for the operation "Fall Weiss" at any time from 1 September 1939. (C-120)

But the decisive document is the record of the Conference held by Hitler on 23 May 1939 with various high-ranking officers, including the defendants Goering, Raeder, and Keitel. Hitler then stated that the solution of the economic problems could not be found without invasion of foreign States and attacks on foreign property.

"Danzig is not the subject of the dispute at all: it is a ques-

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tion of expanding our living space in the East ***. There is therefore no question of sparing Poland, and we are left with the decision: to attack Poland at the earliest opportunity. We cannot expect a repetition of the Czech affair. There will be war. Our task is to isolate Poland. The success of this isolation will be decisive. The isolation of Poland is a matter of skillful politics." (L-79)

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

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