The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression
Volume I Chapter IX
Opening Address for the United Kingdom
(Part 11 of 17)

He anticipated the possibility that war with England and France might result. But a two front war was to be avoided if possible. Yet England was recognized as the most dangerous enemy. "England is the driving force against Germany *** the aim will always be to force England to her knees." More than once repeated that the war with England and France would be a life and death struggle. All the same, he concluded, "We shall not be forced into war but we shall not be able to avoid one."

On the 14 June 1939, General Blaskowitz, then Commander-in- Chief of the 3d Army Group, issued a detailed battle plan for the "Fall Weiss" (2327-PS). The following day Von Brauchitsch issued a memorandum in which it was stated that the object of the impending operating was to destroy the Polish Armed Forces. "High Policy demands" -- he said -- "that the war should be begun by heavy surprise blows in order to achieve quick results (C-126).

The preparations proceeded apace. On the 22d June Keitel submitted a preliminary time table for the operation which Hitler seems to have approved and suggested that the scheduled manuevre must be camouflaged "in order not to disquiet the population". On the 3d July Brauchitsch wrote to Raeder urging that certain preliminary naval moves should be abandoned in order not to prejudice the surprise of the attack. On the 12th and 13th August Hitler and Ribbentrop had a conference with Ciano, the Italian Foreign Minister.

At the beginning of the conversation Hitler emphasized the strength of the German position, of its western and eastern fortifications and of the strategic and other advantages that they held in comparison with those of England, France, and Poland.

"Since the Poles through their whole attitude had made it clear that in any case in the event of a conflict they would stand on the side of the enemies of Germany and Italy, a quick liquidation at the present moment could only be of advantage for the unavoidable conflict with the Western democracies. If a hostile Poland remained on Germany's Eastern frontier, not only would the eleven East Prussian divisions be tied down, but also further contingents would be kept in Pomerania and Silesia. This would not be necessary

[Page 626]

in the event of a previous liquidation. Generally speaking, the best thing to happen would be for the neutrals to be liquidated one after the other. This process could be carried out more easily if on every occasion one partner of the Axis covered the other while it was dealing with an uncertain neutral. Italy might well regard Yugoslavia as a neutral of this kind."

Ciano was for postponing the operation. Italy was not ready she believed that a conflict with Poland would develop into a general European war. Mussolini was convinced that conflict with the Western democracies was inevitable but he was making plans for a period two or three years ahead. But the Fuehrer said that the Danzig question must be settled one way or the other by the end of August. "He had, therefore, decided to use the occasion of the next Polish provocation in the form of an ultimatum." On the 22d August Hitler called his Supreme Commanders together at Obersalzberg and gave the order for the attack: in the course of what he said he made it clear that the decision to attack had in fact been made not later than the previous spring. He would give a spurious cause for starting the war (1014-PS; L-3). At that time the attack was timed for the early hours of the 26th August. On the day before the British Government, in the hope that Hitler might still be reluctant to plunge the world into war, and in the belief that a formal treaty would impress him more than the informal assurances which had been given previously, entered into an agreement for mutual assistance with Poland, embodying the previous assurances. It was known to Hitler that France was bound by the Franco-Polish Treaty of 1921, and by the Guarantee Pact signed at Locarno in 1925 to intervene in Poland's aid in case of aggression. For a moment Hitler hesitated. Goering and Ribbentrop agree that it was this Anglo-Polish Treaty which led him to call off, or rather postpone the attack. Perhaps he hoped that there was still some chance of repeating, after all, what he had called the Czech affair. If so, his hopes were short-lived.

On the 27th August Hitler accepted Mussolini's decision not at once to come into the war, but asked for propaganda support and a display of military activities to create uncertainty in the minds of the Allies. Ribbentrop on the same day said that the Armies were marching.

In the meantime, of course, and particularly in the last month, desperate attempts had been made by the Western Powers to avert war. You will have details of them in evidence. Of the intervention of the Pope. Of President Roosevelt's message. Of the offer by Mr. Chamberlain to do our utmost to create the conditions in which all matters in issue could be the subject of free

[Page 627]

negotiations and to guarantee the resultant decisions. This and the other efforts of honest men to avoid the horror of a European war were predestined to failure. The Germans were determined that the day for war had come. On the 31st August Hitler issued a top secret order for the attack to commence in the early hours of the 1st September. The necessary frontier incidents duly occurred -- was it for these that Keitel had been instructed by Hitler to supply Heydrich with Polish uniforms -- and thus, without a declaration of war, without even giving the Polish Government an opportunity of seeing Germany's final demands the Nazi troops invaded Poland. On the 3d September, Hitler sent a telegram to Mussolini thanking him for his intervention but pointing out that the war was inevitable and that the most promising moment had to be picked after cold deliberation (1831-PS). And so Hitler and his Confederates now before this Tribunal began the first of their wars of aggression for which they had prepared so long and so thoroughly. They waged it so fiercely that within a few weeks Poland was overrun.

On 23 November 1939 Hitler reviewed the situation to his military Commanders and in the course of his speech he said this

"One year later Austria came; this step was also considered doubtful. It brought about a tremendous reinforcement of the Reich. The next step was Bohemia, Moravia, and Poland. This step also was not possible to accomplish in one campaign. First of all the Western fortifications had to be finished ***. Then followed the creation of the Protectorate and with that the basis of action against Poland was laid. But I wasn't quite clear at that time whether I should start first against the East and then in the West or vice versa. The decision came to fight with Poland first. One might accuse me of wanting to fight again and again. In struggle, I see the fate of all human beings." (789-PS)

He was not sure when to attack- first. But that sooner or later he would attack was never in doubt, and he had been warned not only by the British and French Prime Ministers but even by his confederate Mussolini that an attack on Poland would bring England and France into the war. He chose what he considered the opportune moment -- and he struck.

In these circumstances the intent to wage war against England and France, and to precipitate it by an attack on Poland, is not to be denied. Here was defiance of the most solemn treaty obligations: here was neglect of the most pacific assurances. Here was aggression, naked and unashamed, which was indeed to

[Page 628]

arouse the horrified and heroic resistance of all civilized peoples but which was to tear down many of the pillars of our civilization.

Once started upon the active achievement of their plan to secure the domination of Europe, if not of the world, the Nazi Government proceeded to attack other countries, as occasion offered. The first actually to be invaded after the attack on Poland were Denmark and Norway.

On 9 April 1940 the German Armed Forces invaded Norway and Denmark without warning, without any declaration of war. It was a breach of the Hague Convention of 1907. It was a breach of the Convention of Arbitration and Conciliation between Germany and Denmark dated 2 June 1926. It was, of course, a breach of the Briand-Kellogg Pact of 1928. It was a violation of the Nonaggression Treaty between Germany and Denmark made on 31 May 1939. And it was a breach of the most explicit assurances which had been given. After his annexation of Czechoslovakia had shaken the confidence of the world, Hitler attempted to reassure the Scandinavian States. On the 28 April 1939, he affirmed that he had never made any request to them which was incompatible with their sovereignty and independence. On the 31 May 1939, he signed a nonaggression Pact with Denmark.

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

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.