Hitler and Poland

Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Volume One
United States Government Printing Office
Washington, 1946

[Page 390]

C. Formulation and Execution of the Plan to Invade Poland.
The next phase of the aggression was the formulation and
execution of the plan to attack Poland, resulting in the
initiation of aggressive war in September 1939. Here again
the careful and meticulous record keeping of Hitler’s
adjutant, Schmundt, has provided a document in his own
handwriting which throws down the mask (L-79). The document
consists of minutes of a conference held on 23 May 1939. The
place of the conference was the Fuehrer’s Study in the New
Reich Chancellery. Goering, Raeder and Keitel were present.
The subject of the meeting was, “Indoctrination on the
political situation and future aims.”

The authenticity and accuracy of Schmundt’s record of the
meeting of 23 May 1939 has been admitted by Keitel in a
pretrial interrogation. The minutes read as follows:

“Top Secret “To be transmitted by officer only “Minutes
of a Conference on 23 May 1939”

“Place: The Fuehrer’s Study, New Reich Chancellery.
“Adjutant on duty: Lt-Col. (G.S.) Schmundt.

“Present: The Fuehrer, Field-Marshal Goering, Grand-
Admiral Raeder, Col-Gen. von Brauchitsch, Col-Gen.
Keitel, Col-Gen. Milch, Gen. (of Artillery) Halder,
Gen. Bodenschatz, Rear-Adml. Schniewindt, Col. ( G.S. )
Jeschonnek, Col. (G.S.) Warlimont, Lt-Col. (G.S.)
Schmundt, Capt. Engel (Army), Lieut-Commd. Albrecht,
Capt. v. Below (Army). “Subject: Indoctrination on the
political situation and future aims.

“The Fuehrer defined as the purpose of the conference:

“1. Analysis of the situation.
“2. Definition of the tasks for the Armed Forces
arising from the situation.
“3. Exposition of the consequences of those tasks.
“4. Ensuring the secrecy of all decisions and work
resulting from these consequences.

“Secrecy is the first essential for success.

“The Fuehrer’s observations are given in systematized
form below.

“Our present situation must be considered from two
points of view:

“1. The actual development of events between 1933 and

“2. The permanent and unchanging situation in which
Germany lies.

“In the period 1933-1939, progress was made in all

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Our military situation improved enormously.

“Our situation with regard to the rest of the world has
remained the same.

“Germany had dropped from the circle of Great Powers.
The balance of power had been effected without the
participation of Germany.

“This equilibrium is disturbed when Germany’s demands
for the necessities of life make themselves felt, and
Germany re-emerges as a Great Power. All demands are
regarded as ‘Encroachments’. The English are more
afraid of dangers in the economic sphere than of the
simple threat of force.

“A mass of 80 million people has solved the ideological
problems. So, too, must the economic problems be
solved. No German can evade the creation of the
necessary economic conditions for this. The solution of
the problems demands courage. The principle, by which
one evades solving the problem by adapting oneself to
circumstances, is inadmissible. Circumstances must
rather be adapted to aims. This is impossible without
invasion of foreign states or attacks upon foreign

“Living space, in proportion to the magnitude of the
state, is the basis of all power. One may refuse for a
time to face the problem, but finally it is solved one
way or the other. The choice is between advancement or
decline. In 15 or 20 years’ time we shall be compelled
to find a solution. No German statesman can evade the
question longer than that.

“We are at present in a state of patriotic fervor,
which is shared by two other nations: Italy and Japan.

“The period which lies behind us has indeed been put to
good use. All measures have been taken in the correct
sequence and in harmony with our aims.

“After 6 years, the situation is today as follows:

“The national-political unity of the Germans has been
achieved, apart from minor exceptions. Further
successes cannot be attained without the shedding of

“The demarkation of frontiers is of military

“The Pole is no ‘supplementary enemy’. Poland will
always be on the side of our adversaries. In spite of
treaties of friendship, Poland has always had the
secret intention of exploiting every opportunity to do
us harm.

“Danzig is not the subject of the dispute at all. It is
a question of expanding our living space in the East
and of securing our food supplies, of the settlement of
the Baltic problem. Food supplies can be expected only
from thinly populated

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areas. Over and above the natural fertility, thorough-
going German exploitation will enormously increase the

“There is no other possibility for Europe.

“Colonies: Beware of gifts of colonial territory. This
does not solve the food problem. Remember – blockade.

“If fate brings us into conflict with the West, the
possession of extensive areas in the East will be
advantageous. Upon record harvests we shall be able to
rely even less in time of war than in peace.

“The population of non-German areas will perform no
military service, and will be available as a source of

“The Polish problem is inseparable from conflict with
the West.

“Poland’s internal power of resistance to Bolshevism is
doubtful. Thus Poland is of doubtful value as a barrier
against Russia.

“It is questionable whether military success in the
West can be achieved by a quick decision, questionable
too is the attitude of Poland.

“The Polish government will not resist pressure from
Russia. Poland sees danger in a German victory in the
West, and will attempt to rob us of the victory.

“There is therefore no question of sparing Poland, and
we are left with the decision:

“To attack Poland at the first suitable opportunity.
[This sentence is underscored in the original German

“We cannot expect a repetition of the Czech affair.
There will be war. Our task is to isolate Poland. The
success of the isolation will be decisive,

“Therefore, the Fuehrer must reserve the right to give
the final order to attack. There must be no
simultaneous conflict with the Western. Powers [France
and England].

“If it is not certain that a German-Polish conflict
will not lead to war in the West, then the fight must
be primarily against England and France.

“Fundamentally therefore: Conflict with Poland —
beginning with an attack on Poland — will only be
successful if the Western Powers keep out of it. If
this is impossible, then it will be better to attack in
the West and to settle Poland at the same time.

“The isolation of Poland is a matter of skillful

“Japan is a weighty problem. Even if at first for
various reasons her collaboration with us appears to be

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cool and restricted, it is nevertheless in Japan’s own
interest to take the initiative in attacking Russia in
good time.

“Economic relations with Russia are possible only if
political relations have improved. A cautious trend is
apparent in Press comment. It is not impossible that
Russia will show herself to be disinterested in the
destruction of Poland. Should Russia take steps to
oppose us, our relations with Japan may become closer.

“If there were an alliance of France, England and
Russia against Germany, Italy and Japan, I would be
constrained to attack England and France with a few
annihilating blows. The Fuehrer doubts the possibility
of a peaceful settlement with England. We must prepare
ourselves for the conflict. England sees in our
development the foundation of a hegemony which would
weaken England. England is therefore our enemy, and the
conflict with England will be a life-and death

“What will this struggle be like [This sentence is
underscored in the German original.]

“England cannot deal with Germany and subjugate us with
a few powerful blows. It is imperative for England that
the war should be brought as near to the Ruhr basin as
possible. French blood will not be spared (West Wall).
The possession of the Ruhr basin will determine the
duration of our resistance.

“The Dutch and Belgium air bases will be occupied by
armed forces. Declarations of neutrality must be
ignored. If England and France intend the war between
Germany and Poland to lead to a conflict, they will
support Holland and Belgium in their neutrality and
make them build fortifications in order finally to
force them into cooperation.

“Albeit under protest, Belgium and Holland will yield
to pressure.

“Therefore, if England intends to intervene in the
Polish war, we must occupy Holland with lightning
speed. We must aim at securing a new defense line on
Dutch soil up to the Zuider Zee.

“The war with England and France will be a life-and-
death struggle.

“The idea that we can get of cheaply is dangerous;
there is no such possibility. We must burn our boats,
and it is no longer a question of justice or injustice,
but of life or death for 80 million human beings.

[Page 394]

“Question: Short or long war

“Every country’s armed forces or government must aim at
a short war. The government, however, must also be
prepared for a war of 10-15 years’ duration.

“History has always shown that the people have believed
that wars would be short. In 1914, the opinion still
prevailed that it was impossible to finance a long war.
Even today this idea still persists in many minds. But
on the contrary, every state will hold out as long as
possible, unless it immediately suffers some grave
weakening (e.g. Ruhr basin). England has similar

“England knows that to lose a war will mean the end of
her world power.

“England is the driving force against Germany. “Her
strength lies in the following:

“1. The British themselves are proud, courageous,
tenacious, firm in resistance and gifted as organizers.
They know how to exploit every new development. They
have the love of adventure and bravery of the Nordic
race. Quality is lowered by dispersal. The German
average is higher.

“2. World power in itself. It has been constant for 300
years. Extended by the acquisition of allies, this
power is not merely something concrete, but must also
be considered as a psychological force embracing the
entire world. Add to this immeasurable wealth, with
consequential financial credit.

“3. Geopolitical safety and protection by strong sea
power and a courageous air force.

“England’s weakness:

“If in the World War I we had had two battleships and
two cruisers more, and if the battle of Jutland had
begun in the morning, the British fleet would have been
defeated and England brought to her knees. It would
have meant the end of this war. It was formerly not
sufficient to defeat the fleet. Landings had to be made
in order to defeat England. England could provide her
own food supplies. Today that is no longer possible.

“The moment England’s food supply routes are cut, she
is forced to capitulate. The import of food and fuel
depends on the fleet’s protection.

“If the German Air Force attacks English territory,
England will not be forced to capitulate in one day.
But if the fleet is destroyed immediate capitulation
will be the result.

[Page 395]

“There is no doubt that a surprise attack can lead to a
quick decision. It would be criminal, however, for the
government to rely entirely on the element of surprise.

“Experience has shown that surprise may be nullified by

“1. Disclosure outside the limit of the military
circles concerned.
“2. Mere chance, which may cause the collapse of the
whole enterprise.
“3. Human failings.
“4. Weather conditions.

“The final date for striking must be fixed well in
advance. Beyond that time, the tension cannot be
endured for long. It must be borne in mind that weather
conditions can render any surprise intervention by Navy
and Air Force impossible. “This must be regarded as a
most unfavorable basis of action.

“1. An effort must be made to deal the enemy a
significant or the final decisive blow right at the
start. Consideration of right and wrong or treaties do
not enter into the matter. This will only be possible
if we are not involved in a war with England on account
of Poland.

“2. In addition to the surprise attack, preparation for
a long war must be made, while opportunities on the
Continent for England are eliminated.

“The Army will have to hold positions essential to the
Navy and Air Force. If Holland and Belgium are
successfully occupied and held, and if France is also
defeated, the fundamental conditions for a successful
war against England will have been secured.

“England can then be blockaded from Western France at
close quarters by the Air Force, while the Navy with
its submarines extend the range of the blockade.

“Consequences: “England will not be able to fight on
the Continent:

“Daily attacks by the Air Force and Navy will cut all
her life-lines:

“Germany will not bleed to death on land.

“Such strategy has been shown to be necessary by World
War I and subsequent military operations. World War I
is responsible for the following strategic
considerations which are imperative

“1. With a more powerful Navy at the outbreak of the
War, or a wheeling movement by the Army towards the
Channel ports, the end would have been different.

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“2. A country cannot be brought to defeat by an air
force. It is impossible to attack all objectives
simultaneously, and the lapse of time of a few minutes
would evoke defense counter-measures.

“3 The unrestricted use of all resources is essential.

“4 Once the Army, in cooperation with the Air Force and
Navy, has taken the most important positions,
industrial production will cease in flow in to the
bottomless pit of the Army’s battles, and can be
diverted to benefit the Air Force and Navy.

“The Army must, therefore, be capable of taking these
positions. Systematic preparation must be made for the
attack. “Study to this end is of the utmost importance.

“The aim will always be to force England to her knees.

“A weapon will only be of decisive importance in
winning battles, so long as the enemy does not possess

“This applies to gas, submarines and the Air Force. It
would be true of the latter, for instance, as long as
the English Fleet had no available countermeasures; it
will no longer be the case in 1940 and 1941. Against
Poland, for example, tanks will be effective, as the
Polish Army possesses no counter-measures.

“Where straightforward pressure is no longer considered
to be decisive, its place must be taken by the elements
of surprise and by masterly handling. ***”


“1. Study of the entire problem.
“2. Study of the events.
“3. Study of the means needed.
“4. Study of the necessary training.

“Men with great powers of imagination and high
technical training must belong to the staff, as well as
officers with sober sceptic powers of understanding.

“Working principles:

“1. No one is to take part in this who does not have to
know of it.
“2. No one can find out more than he must know.
“3. When must the person in question know it at the
very latest? No one
may know anything before it is necessary that he know

“On Goering’s question, the Fuehrer decided that:

“a. The armed forces determine what shall be built.

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“b. In the shipbuilding program, nothing is to be
“c. The armament programs are to be modeled on the
years 1943 or 1944.

[Schmundt certified this text.]” (L-79)

These minutes demonstrate that the Nazi conspirators were
proceeding in accordance with a plan. They demonstrate the
cold-blooded premeditation of the assault on Poland. They
demonstrate that the questions concerning Danzig, which the
Nazis had agitated with Poland as a political pretext, were
not true questions, but were false issues, issues agitated
to conceal their motive of aggressive, expansion for food,
and Lebensraum.

Just one week prior to the launching of the attack on
Poland, Hitler made an address to his chief military
commanders, at Obersalzberg, on 22 August 1939. [Three
reports of this meeting are available: (L-3; 798-PS; and
1014-PS). The first of the three documents (L-3) was
obtained through an American newspaperman, and purported to
be original minutes of the Obersalzberg meeting, transmitted
to the newspaperman by some other ‘person. There was no
proof of actual delivery to the intermediary by the person
who took the notes. That document (L-3) therefore, merely
served as an incentive to search for something better The
result was that two other documents (798-PS) and (1014-PS)
were discovered in the OKW files at Flensberg. These two
documents indicate that Hitler on that day made two
speeches, one apparently in the morning and one in the
afternoon. Comparison of those two documents with the first
document (L-3) led to the conclusion that the first document
was a lightly garbled merger of the two speeches, and
therefore was not relied upon.]

On this day of 22 August 1939, Hitler addressed the supreme
commanders of the-three branches of the armed forces, as
well as the commanding generals, (Oberbefehlshabers) as

“I have called you together to give you a picture of
the political situation, in order that you may have
insight into the individual element on which I base my
decision to act, and in order to strengthen your
confidence. After this, we will discuss military

“It was clear to me that a conflict with Poland had to
come sooner or later. I had already made this decision
in Spring. [Apparently this referred to (L-79).] But I
thought I would first turn against the West in a few
years, and only afterwards against the East. But the
sequence cannot be fixed. One cannot close one’s eyes
even before a threatening situation. I wanted to
establish an acceptable relationship with

[Page 398]

Poland, in order to fight first against the West, but
this plan which was agreeable to me could not be
executed, since essential points have changed.

“It became clear to me that Poland would attack us, in
case of a conflict in the West.

“Poland wants access to the sea.

“The further development became obvious after the
occupation of the Memel region, and it became clear to
me that under the circumstances a conflict with Poland
could arise at an unopportune moment.

“I enumerate as reasons for this reflection, first of
all, two personal constitutions, my own personality,
and that of Mussolini. Essentially, it depends on me,
my existence, because of my political activity.

“Furthermore, the fact that probably no one will ever
again have the confidence of the whole German people as
I do. There will probably never again be a man in the
future with more authority. My existence is, therefore,
a factor of great value. But I can be eliminated at any
time by a criminal or an idiot.

“The second personal factor is Il Duce. His existence
is also decisive. If something happens to him, Italy’s
loyalty to the alliance will no longer be certain. The
basic attitude of the Italian Court is against the
Duce. Above all, the Court sees in the expansion of the
empire a burden. The Duce is the man with the strongest
nerves in Italy.

“The third factor, favorable for us is Franco. We can
only ask benevolent neutrality from Spain, but this
depends on Franco’s personality. He guarantees a
certain uniformity and steadiness of the present system
in Spain. We must take into account the fact that Spain
does not as yet have a Fascist Party of our internal

“On the other side, a negative picture, as far as
decisive personalities are concerned. There is no
outstanding personality in England or France.

“For us it is easy to make decisions. We have nothing
to lose: we can only gain. Our economic situation is
such, because of our restrictions, that we cannot hold
out more than a few years. Goering can confirm this. We
have no other choice; we must act. Our opponents risk
much and gain only little. England’s stake in a war is
unimaginably great. Our enemies have men who are below
average. No personalities, no masters, no men of

“Besides the personal factor, the political situation
is favor

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able for us; in the Mediterranean rivalry among Italy,
France, and England; in the Orient tension, which leads
to the alarming of the Mohammedan world.

“The English empire did not emerge from the last war
strengthened. From a maritime point of view, nothing
was achieved: Conflict between England and Ireland, the
south African Union became more independent,
concessions had to be made to India, England is in
great danger, unhealthy industries. A British statesman
can look into the future only with concern.

“France’s position has also deteriorated, particularly
in the Mediterranean.

“Further favorable factors for us are these:

“Since Albania, there is an equilibrium of power in the
Balkans. Yugoslavia carries the germ of collapse
because of her internal situation.

“Rumania did not grow stronger. She is liable to attack
and vulnerable. She is threatened by Hungary and
Bulgaria. Since Kemal’s death, Turkey has been ruled by
small minds, unsteady weak men.

“All these fortunate circumstances will no longer
prevail in two to three years. No one knows how long I
shall live. Therefore conflict better now.

“The creation of Greater Germany was a great
achievement politically but militarily it was
questionable, since it was achieved through a bluff of
the political leaders. It is necessary to test the
military, if at all possible, not by general
settlement, but by solving individual tasks.

“The relation to Poland has become unbearable. My
Polish policy hitherto was in contrast to the ideas of
the people. My propositions to Poland, the Danzig
corridor, were disturbed by England’s intervention.
Poland changed her tune towards us. The initiative
cannot be allowed to pass to others. This moment is
more favorable than in two to three years. An attempt
on my life or Mussolini’s could only change the
situation to our disadvantage. One cannot eternally
stand opposite one another with cocked rifle. A
suggested compromise would have demanded that we change
our convictions and make agreeable gestures. They
talked to us again in the language of Versailles. There
was danger of losing prestige. Now the probability is
still great that the West will not interfere. We must
accept the risk with reckless resolution. A politician
must accept a risk as much as

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a military leader. We are facing the alternative to
strike or to be destroyed with certainty sooner or


“Now it is also a great risk. Iron nerves, iron


“We need not be afraid of a blockade. The East will
supply us with grain, cattle, coal, lead and zinc. It
is a big arm, which demands great efforts. I am only
afraid that at the last minute some Schweinhund will
make a proposal for mediation.”

“Goering answers with thanks to the Fuehrer and the
assurance that the armed forces will do their duty.”