As reported in the War Illustrated in September 1939
No Statesmen knows Hitler so well as Mr Chamberlain, and we have it on his authority that Hitler’s “word is not worth the paper it is written on”. Below are some of the outstanding instances of the Fuhrer’s breaches of faith.
May 17th – In a speech to the Reichstag, Hitler said:
“Germany will tread no other path than that laid down by the treaties. The German Government will discuss all political and economic questions only within the frame-work and through the treaties. The German people have no thought of invading any country.
(On October ’14th Germany left the league and the Disarmament Conference’. On March 19th 1935 General Goering made known the existence of a German Air Force, the constitution of which had been forbidden by the Peace Treaty. On March 16th 1935, Hitler decreed Conscription in Germany, also forbidden by the Peace Treaty.)
January 30th – From Hitler’s Speech in the Reichstagg:
“After this question (the Saar) has been settled the German Government is ready to accept not only the letter, but also the spirit of the Lorcarno Pact.”
(In March, 1936, Germany denounced the Locarno Pact by reoccupying the demilitarized zone of the Rhineland.)
May 21st – In a Speech to the Reichstag, Hitler declared:
“The German Government has broken away from the discriminatory articles of the Treaty, but it herewith solemnly declares that these measures relate exclusively to the points which involve moral and material discrimination against her people. It will therefore respect unconditionally the articles concerning the mutual relations of nation in other respects and including the territorial provisions and will bring about the revisions inevitable in the course of time by the method of peaceful understanding.”
January 30th – In a speech at Berlin, Hitler said:
“Germany will be a lover of peace such as only a peace-loving nation can be.”
(On March 7th – Germany denounced the Treaty of Locarno and reoccupied the demilitarized Rhineland.)
On the same day Hitler declared to the Reichstag:
“Germany will never break the peace of Europe. After three years I can regard the struggle for German equality as concluded today. We have no territorial demands to make in Europe. We are aware above, all that all the causes of tension which arise as a result of either faulty territorial provisions of a disproportion between the size of populations and their living space cannot be solved by the means of war in Europe. At the same time we hope that human wisdom will help to mitigate the painful effects of these conditions and to removed causes and tension by the way of gradual evolutionary development in peaceful collaboration.”
January 30th – in a speech to the Reichstag, Hitler declared:
“The period of so-called surprise is now over…..PEACE IS OUR DEAREST TREASURE…..As an equal state Germany is conscious of it’s European task to co-operate loyally in removing the problems which affect us and other nations.”
In the agreement reached with Dr Schuschnigg at Berchtesgaden on February 12th, Hitler reaffirmed his recognition of Austrian sovereignty, already expressed in the Austro-German Agreement of July 1936.
(On March 11th Germany Annexed Austria.)
The disparity between the declarations of May 21st, 1935 and the events of March 11th, 1938, prompted M Mastny, the Czechoslovakian Minister in Berlin to convey to Field Marshall Goering on the same evening the apprehensions of the Czechoslovakian Government. Field Marshal Goering immediately assured him that Germany had no hostile intentions against Czechoslovakia. He alluded to the interest taken by Germany in the Sudeten Germans, but at the same time expressed the hope that, “This domestic question of the Czechoslovakian state” might be satisfactorily settled.
Baron von Neurath also referred to the Treaty of Arbitration concluded in 1925 between Germany and Czechslovakia as part of the Locarno pacts. This treaty had been specifically recognised as still valid by the Reich after the Locarno Pacts were disavowed by Herr Hitler. An attempt was made by the Czechoslovakia Government to invoke it, but it was then denied in Germany that it was still binding.
On March 13th M Mastny received a fifth assurance from Field Marshall Goering that German had no hostile intentions against Czechslovakia. With the consent of the German Government these assurances were communicated by Mr Chamberlain to the House of Commons on March 14th.
(On Sept 24th, Germany sent her seven-day ultimatum to Czechoslovakia, which led to the Munich Conference of September 29th/30th.)
September 26th – Speaking in Berlin, Hitler said:
“and now the last problem which must be solved confronts us. It (the claim for the Sudeten lands), is the last territorial claim that I have to make in Europe, but it is one I will not renounce…..I assured Mr Chamberlain that after this there would be no more international problems. I promised afterwards that if Herr Benes would settle peacefully his problems with other minorities, I would even guarantee the new Czech state. We do not want any Czechs. our demand for Sudeten is, however, irrevocable.”
October 9th – Speaking at Saarbrucken, Hitler said:
“Now as a strong State we can be ready at any time to pursue a policy to understanding with surrounding States. We can do this because we want nothing from them. We have no wishes, no claims. We want peace.”
January 30th – Speaking in the Reichstag, Hitler said:
“Only the warmonger thinsk there will be a war. I think there will be a long period of peace.”
(On March 15th Bohemia and Moravia were declared German protectorates, after a threat that otherwise Prague would be mercilessly bombed. On March 23rd it was announced that Memel had returned to Germany.)
After Czechoslovakia and Memelland came the turn of Poland. After the signing of a non-aggression pact with Poland in January 1934, Hitler had said:
“I sincerely hope that our new understanding will mean that Germany and Poland have definitely abandoned all idea of a resort to arms, not for tens years only, but for ever……”
Furthermore in May 1935, he declared:
“Germany has reached a non-aggression pact with Poland which she will keep blindly, and which she hopes will keep blindly, and which she hopes will be prolonged constantly, and will lead to more and more friendly relations….Germany has nothing to gain by a European war, we want peace…..”
Again on February 22nd 1938, in a speech to the Reichstag, he stated:
“We are sincerely satisfied about the friendly rapprochement which has taken place in recent years between ourselves and Poland….Since the League has ceased its disturbing interference in Danzig, this most critical spot for the peace of Europe has lost its danger. Poland respects German claims on Danzig, and the Free city and Germany respect Polish rights.”
Nevertheless on September 1st 1939, Danzig was declared part of the German Reich and Poland was invaded by Germany.