A select record from week to week of important war declarations and speeches made during 1939
Saturday, September 30th
His Holiness Pope Pius XII in an address to a deputation of Poles:
I am most sorrowful that hundreds of thousands of human beings were made to suffer in Poland. We want still to hope, despite the fact that there are many reasons to believe to the contrary, on account of plans by an enemy of God which are only too well known that Catholic life will continue deep and fervent meaning in Poland.
In her agitated history Poland has known periods of apparent death, but she has also known many days of recovery and new life. There are hundreds of thousands of poor human beings suffering as a result of this war against which all our efforts – as you must realise – have been persistently but fruitlessly directed for the purpose of preserving Europe and the world.
Before our eyes at this moment passes a vision of mad folly and horrible despair.
We visualise the multitude of refugees and wanderers who have lost their country and their hearts. We hear the desperate cries of mother and brides we are weeping for their dear ones falling on the field of battle.
We hear the lamentations of old sick men, the cries of babies who no longer have any parents, and the cries of wounded men and the death-rattle of dying people who were not all combatants.
There is one thing which has never seen in your glorious history – an unfaithful Poland. We will not cease to repeat that it will be possible finally through means of justice and charity – and only through these means – to restore peace to a troubled world, peace for which millions of sincere souls are lifting prayers.
Monday, October 2nd
His Grace the Archbishop of York in a broadcast:
…..The Prime Minister has said that the world of Herr Hitler is not in our eyes worth the paper it is written on; he has broken too many promises ever to be trusted again. The series of broken pledges is vividly present to all our minds, from the militarization of the Rhineland in breach of the Treaty of Locarno which he has himself reaffirmed, tot he rate of Czecho-slovakia and the device whereby he accused the Poles of rejecting proposals which has never even been submitted to them. This is a series of outrages upon foreign States. Even more fraught with shame and with unworthiness to speak for a great people like the German in the record of scandalous action at home.
It is a custom in France to use dates as the names of men and events; Danton was proud to be called the man of the tenth of August – the date when the French Revolution entered on its final phase. Napoleon III is spoken of as the Man of December; the reign of Louis Phillips as the July Monarchy. WE should similarly think of Hitler as his colleagues as the men of the 22nd of August 1932; of the 27th February 1933; of the 30th June 1934; of the 25th of July 1934; of the 3rd March 1938; of the 8th of October 1939; and the 9th of November 1939.
What do these dates stand for? On the 22nd of August 1932 that dreadful telegram, known as the Buethan telegram, was published, which glorified six Nazis who trampled a helpless Communist to death in front of his mother. Those six men were ont he trial, and Hitler telegraphed to them, “Your freedom is out honour.”
On the 27th of February 1933, on Reichstag building was set on fire. No one doubts who started that fire: but someone else was done to death as the culprit. On the 30th of June, 1934 at least 700 Germans were shot in gold blood some of the great patriots. One was a builder of te Reichswehr. Some were comrades of Hitler from the early days. On the 25th of July 1934, Dollfuss was murdered. Can we acquit of guilt for this the man who set up a memorial in honour of the murdered?
On the third of March 1938, Paster Niemoller was acquitted by the Law Courts and imprisoned in a concentration camp; he is – so far as we know – still in a concentration camp.
On the eight of October, 1938, the palace of Cardinal Innitzer, who had welcomed Hitler to Vienna, was sacked.
On the ninth of November, 1938, the great pogrom against the Jews took place in Germany.
The best German citizens are deeply ashamed of all these things. Many of them, because must endure at present that their country should be governed by the criminals, would be glad to forget those dates and what took place on them. But such deeds cannot be forgotten and those who are guilty of them are unworthy to speak and act for a great people…..
Friday October 6th
Herr Hitler in a speech to the Reichstag:
……What are the aims of the German Government with regard to the regulation of the conditions in the space west of the German Russian line of demarcation, which has been recognised as a sphere of German interest ?
- To create a Reich frontier which, as has already been emphasized, corresponds to the historical, ethnographic and economic realities.
- To regulate the whole living space according to nationalities; that means a solution of those nationality problems which do not always affect this space alone, but extend into practically all countries in South Eastern Europe.
- In this connexion to try to solve the jewish problem.
- To reconstruct economic life and traffic to the benefit of all those living in that space.
- To guarantee the security of that Empire space; and
- To establish a new Polish State which by its structure and leadership will give a guarantee that neither a new centre of conflict directed against Germany will come into being, not that a focus of intrigues will be created against Germany and Russia.
In addition, we must try to remove the immediate consequences arising from teh war, or at least to mitigate them…….
If Europe wants calm and peace, then the European States ought to be grateful that Germany and Russia are prepared to transform this area of disturbance into a zone of peaceful development.
The second task, which I believe is by far the most important, should lead to establishment not only of the feeling, but also the certainty, of European security. For this it is necessary that:
- There should be absolute clarity with regard to the aims of the European States in the sphere of foreign policy. As far as Germany is concerned it can be stated that the Reich Government is prepared to make its aims in the sphere of foreign policy perfectly clear without any reservations. First of all, we want to say that we consider the Versailles treaty extinct, and that the German Government and with it the entire German nation see no reason and no cause for any further revision except for the demand for such colonial possessions as are due to the Reich and correspond to it. This means, in the first place the restoration of the German colonies. The request, let it be noted, is not dressed up in the form of an ultimatum backed by force. It is simply a claim based on political justice and economic reason.
- To facilitate the exchange of productions it is necessary to attain a new ordering of markets and a definitive regulations of currencies, this removing step by step the obstacles to free trade.
- The most important condition for the real prosperity of European and extra-European economics is the creation of an absolutely guaranteed peace and a feeling of security among all the peoples.
This requires not only a final sanctioning of the status of Europe, but also the reduction of armaments to a reasonable and economically tolerable extent.
It is also necessary to define clearly that applicability and the use of certain modern weapons capable of striking at any time into the heart of any nation and so causing a lasting feeling of insecurity.
I do not believe there is a single responsible European statesmen who does not desire at the bottom of his heart to see the prosperity of his people. The realisation of this wish is only possible in the framework of the general collaboration of the nations of this Continent. The safeguarding of such collaboration must be the aim of every man who is really struggling for the benefit of his people.
To attain this aim on day the great nations of this Continent must come together and hammer out and guarantee a comprehensive agreement which will give to all a feeling of security and quiet and peace.
Tuesday October 19th
M Daladier, in a broadcast to the French nation:
……who will now believe that is was for a question of Danzig and the Corridor or of the fate of German minorities?
Germany had proved that she wanted either to subjugate Poland by trickery, or defeat her by iron and the sword.
After Austria, Czecho-Slovakia; after Czecho-Slovakia, Poland. All these conquests were but stages on the road which would have led France and Europe to the direct slavery.
I know well that today you hear talk of peace – of a German peace – a peace which would but consecrate the victories of cunning of violence and would not hinder in the least the preparation of new conquests.
Summed up, what does the latest Reichstag speech means? It means this:
“I have annexed Poland. I am satisfied. Let us stop fighting; let us a conference to consecrate my conquests and organise peace.”
We have already heard this language before……
If peace is really wanted – a lasting peace – it is necessary also to understand that the security of nations can only rest on reciprocal guarantees excluding all possibility of surprise and raising a barrier against all attempts at domination.
If peace is really wanted, a lasting peace, it is necessary to understand, in short, that the time has passed when territorial conquests bring welfare to the conquerors…………