Adolf Hitler Speech - War Declaration to the U.S.A. - Dec. 11, 1941

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Speech of Adolf Hitler at the Great German Reichstag Berlin, December 11, 1941

Part 1 of 2

Deputies, Men of the German Reichstag!

A year of events of historical significance is drawing to an end. A year of the greatest decisions lies ahead. In these serious times, I speak to you, Deputies of the German Reichstag, as representatives of the German nation. Beyond and above that, the whole German people should take note of this glance into the past, as well as of the coming decisions the present and future impose upon us.

After the renewed refusal of my peace offer in January 1940 by the then British Prime Minister and the clique which supported or else dominated him, it became clear that this war, against all reasons of common sense and necessity, must be fought to its end. You know me, my old Party companions: you know I have always been an enemy of half measures or weak decisions. If the Providence has so willed that the German people cannot be spared this fight, then I can only be grateful that it entrusted me with the leadership in this historic struggle which, for the next 500 or 1,000 years, will be described as decisive, not only for the history of Germany, but for the whole of Europe and indeed the whole world. The German people and their soldiers are working and fighting today, not only for the present, but for the coming, nay the most distant, generations. A historical revision on a unique scale has been imposed on us by the Creator.

Shortly after the end of the campaign in Norway, the German Command was forced, first of all, to ensure the military security of the conquered areas. Since then the defenses of the conquered countries have changed considerably. From Kirkenes to the Spanish Frontier there is a belt of great bases and fortifications; many airfields and naval bases have been built and protections for submarines constructed, which are practically invulnerable from sea or air. More than 1,500 new batteries have been planned and constructed. A network of roads and railways was erected so that today communications from the Spanish Frontier to Petsamo are independent of the sea. These installations in no wise fall behind those of the Western Wall, and work continues incessantly on strengthening them. I am irrevocably determined to make the European Front unassailable by any enemy.

This defensive work was supplemented by offensive warfare. German surface and underwater Naval Forces carried on their constant war of attrition against the British Merchant Navy and the ships in its service. The German Air Force supported these attacks by reconnaissance, by damaging enemy shipping, and by numerous retaliatory raids which have given the English a better idea of the so charming war caused by their present Prime Minister.

In the middle of last year Germany was supported above all by Italy. For many months a great part of British power weighed on the shoulders of Italy. Only because of their tremendous superiority in heavy tanks could the English create a temporary crisis in North Africa. On March 24th, a small community of German-Italian units under Rommel's command began the counter attack. (Dates on which certain points fell.) The German Africa Corps performed outstanding feats though they were completely unaccustomed to the climate of this theatre of war. Just as once in Spain, now in North Africa Germans and Italians have taken up arms against the same enemy.

While in these bold measures the North African Front was again secured by the blood of German and Italian soldiers, the shadow of a terrible danger threatening Europe gathered overhead. Only in obedience to bitter necessity did I decide in my heart in 1939, to make the attempt, at least, to create the pre-requisites for a lasting peace in Europe by eliminating the causes of German-Russian tension. This was psychologically difficult owing to the general attitude of the German people, and above all, of the Party, towards Bolshevism. It was not difficult from a purely material point of view-because Germany was only intent on her economic interests in all the territories which England declared to be threatened by us and which she attacked with her promises of aid-for you will allow me to remind you that England, throughout the spring and late summer of 1939, offered its aid to numerous countries, declaring that it was our intention to invade those countries and thus deprive them of their liberty. The German Reich and its Government were therefore able to affirm, with a clear conscience, that these allegations were false and had no bearing whatsoever on reality. Add to this the military realization that in case of war, which British diplomacy was to force on the German people, a two-front war would ensue and call for very great sacrifice.

When, on top of all this, the Baltic States and Rumania showed themselves prone to accept the British Pacts of assistance and thus let it be seen that they, too, believed in such a threat, it was not only the right of the Reich Government, but its duty to fix the limits of German interests. The countries in question, and above all, the Reich Government, could not but realize that the only factor which could be a buttress against the East was Germany. The moment they severed their connection with the German Reich, and entrusted their fate to the aid of that Power which, in its proverbial selfishness, has never rendered aid, but always requested it, they were lost. Yet the fate of these countries roused the sympathy of the German people. The winter struggle of the Finns forced on us a feeling mixed with bitterness and admiration. Admiration because we have a heart sensitive to sacrifice and heroism, being a nation of soldiers ourselves; bitterness, because with our eyes fixed on the menacing enemy in the West, and on the danger in the East, we were not in a position to render military assistance. As soon as it became evident that Soviet Russia deduced the right to wipe out the nations living outside the limits of the German sphere of interest, as a result of that limitation of interests our subsequent relations were merely governed by utilitarian considerations, standing hostile against our reasons and feelings.

With every month I became more convinced that the plans of the men in the Kremlin aimed at dominating and annihilating all Europe. I have had to submit to the nation the full extent of the Russian military preparations. At a time when Germany had only a few divisions in the provinces bordering on Russia, it would have been evident to a blind man that a concentration of power of singular and world historic dimensions was taking place, and that not in order to defend something that was threatened, but in order to attack an object it did not seem possible to defend. The lightning conclusion of the Western campaign, however, robbed the Moscow overlords of their hope of an early flagging of German power. This did not alter their intentions-it merely led to a postponement of the date on that they intended to strike. In the summer of 1941 they thought the time was ripe. A new Mongolian storm was now to sweep Europe. At the same time, however, Mr. Churchill spoke on the English aspect of the struggle with Germany. He saw it fit, in a cowardly manner, to deny that in the secret session of 1940 in the House of Commons he pointed out that the entry of Russians into the war which was to come in 1941 at the very latest, was the most important factor which would make a successful conclusion of the war possible. This was also to enable England to take the offensive. In the spring of that year, Europe was to feel the full extent of the might of a world power which seemed to dispose of inexhaustible human material and resources. Dark clouds began to gather on the European sky. For, my Deputies, what is Europe? There is no fitting geographical definition of our Continent, but only a national and cultural one.

Not the Urals form the frontier of our Continent, but the eternal line which divides the Eastern and Western conceptions of life. There was a time when Europe was that Greek Island into which Nordic tribes had penetrated in order to light a torch for the first time which from then onwards began slowly, but surely, to brighten the world of man. When these Greeks repulsed the invasion of the Persian conqueror, they did not only defend their homeland, which was Greece, but that idea which we call Europe today. And then Europe traveled from Hellas to Rome. With the Greek spirit and Greek culture, the Roman way of thinking and Roman statesmanship were joined. An Empire was created which, to this day has not been equaled in its significance and creative power, let alone outdone. When, however the Roman legions were defending Rome against the African onslaught of Carthage, and at last gained a victory, again it was not Rome they were fighting for, but the Europe of that time, which consisted of the Greek-Roman world.

The next incursion against this homestead of European culture was carried out from the distant East. A terrible stream of barbarous, uncultured hordes sallied forth from the interior of Asia deep into the hearts of the European Continent, burning, looting, murdering-a true scourge of the Lord. In the battle of the Catalonian fields the (West?) was formed. On the ruins of Rome the West was built, and its defense was a task, not only of the Romans, but also above all of the Teutons (Germans). In centuries to come the West, enlightened by Greek culture, built the Roman Empire and then, expanded by the colonization of the Teutons, was able to call itself Europe. Whether it was the German Emperor who was repelling the attacks from the East on the Field of Lech, or whether Africa was being pushed back from Spain in long fighting, it was also a struggle of Europe coming into being against a surrounding world alien in its very essence. Once Rome had been given its due for the creative defense of this continent, Teutons took over the defense and the protection of a family of nations which might still differentiate and differ in their political structure and objective, but which nevertheless represented a cultural unity with blood ties. And it was from this Europe that a spiritual and cultural abundance went out, of which everyone must be aware who is willing to seek truth instead of denying it.

Thus it was not England that brought culture to the Continent, but the offspring of Teutonic nationhood on the Continent who went as Anglo-Saxons and Normans to that Island and made possible a development in a way surely unique. In just the same way, it was not America that discovered Europe, but the other way around. And everything which America has not drawn from Europe may well appear worthy of admiration to a juda-ised, mixed race; Europe, on the other hand, sees in it a sign of cultural decay.

Deputies and Men of the German Reichstag, I had to make this survey, for the fight which, in the first months of this year, gradually began to become clear, and of which the German Reich is this time called to be the leader, also far exceeds the interests of our nation and country. Just as the Greeks once faced the Persians in war, and the Romans faced the Mongolians, the Spanish heroes defended not only Spain, but the whole of Europe against Africa. Just so Germany is fighting today, not for herself, but for the entire Continent. And it is a fortunate symptom that this realization is today so deep in the subconscious of most European nations that, whether by taking up their position openly, or whether by the stream of volunteers, they are sharing in this struggle. When, on the 6th of April of this year, the German and Italian Armies took up their positions for the fight against Yugoslavia and Greece, it was the introduction of the great struggle in which we are still involved. The revolt in Belgrade, which led to the overthrow of the former Regent and his Government, was decisive for the further course of events in this part of Europe, for England was also a party to this putsch. But the chief role was played by Soviet Russia. What I refused to Mr. Molotov on his visit to Berlin, Stalin now thought he could achieve by a revolutionary movement, even against our will. Without consideration for the agreements which had been concluded, the intentions of the Bolsheviks in power grew still wider. The Pact of Friendship with the new revolutionary regime illuminated the closeness of the threatening danger like lightning.

The feats achieved by the German Armed Forces were given worthy recognition in the German Reichstag on the 4th of May. But what I was then unfortunately unable to express was the realization that we were progressing at tremendous speed toward a fight with a State which was not yet intervening because it was not yet fully prepared, and because it was impossible to use the aerodromes and landing grounds at that time of year on account of the melting snow.

My deputies, when in 1940 I realized from communication in the English House of Commons and the observation of the Russian troop movements on our frontiers that there was the possibility of danger arising in the East of the Reich, I immediately gave orders to set up numerous new armored, motorized infantry divisions. The conditions for this were available from the point of view both the material and personnel. I will give you, my Deputies, and indeed the whole German people, only one assurance: the more the democracies speak much about armaments, as is easily understandable, the more National Socialist Germany works. It was so in the past, it is not different today. Every year that brings us increased, and above all, improved weapons, there are decisions to be made. In spite of my determination under no circumstances to allow our opponent to make the first stab us in our heart-in spite of that, my decision was a very difficult one. If democratic newspapers today declare that: had I known the strength of our Bolshevik opponent more accurately, I would have hesitated to attack, then they understand the position just a little as they understand me. I sought no war. On the contrary I did everything to avoid it. But I would have been forgetful of my duty and responsibility if, in spite of realizing the inevitability of a fight by force of arms, I had failed to draw the only possible conclusions. In view of the mortal danger from Soviet Russia, not only to the German Reich, but to all Europe, I decided, if possible a few days before the outbreak of this mortal struggle, to give the signal to attack myself.

Today, we have overwhelming and authentic proof that Russia intended to attack; we are also quite clear about the date on that the attack was to take place. In view of the great danger, the proportions of that we realize perhaps only today to the fullest extent. I can only thank God that He enlightened me at the proper time and that He gave me the strength to do what had to be done!

To this, not only millions of German soldiers owe their lives, but Europe its very existence. This much I may state today: had this wave of over 20,000 tanks, hundreds of divisions, tens of thousands of guns, accompanied by more than 10,000 aircraft, suddenly moved against the Reich, Europe would have been lost. Fate has destined a number of nations to forestall this attack, to ward it off with the sacrifice of their blood. Had Finland not decided immediately to take up arms for the second time, the leisurely bourgeois life of the other Nordic countries would soon have come to an end.

Had the German Reich not faced the enemy with her soldiers and arms, a flood would have swept over Europe, that once and for all would have finished the ridiculous British idea of maintaining the European balance of power in all its senselessness and stupid tradition. Had Slovaks, Hungarians, Rumanians not taken over part of the protection of this European world, the Bolshevik hordes would have swept like Attila's Huns over the Danubian countries, and at the cost of the Ionic Sea, Tartars and Mongols would have enforced today the revision of the Montreux Agreement. Had Italy, Spain and Croatia not sent their divisions, the establishment of a European defense Front would have been impossible, from that emanated the idea of the New Europe as propaganda to all other nations.

Sensing and realizing this, the volunteers have come from Northern and Western Europe-Norwegians, Danes, Dutchmen, Flemings, Belgians, even Frenchmen-volunteers who gave the struggle of the United Powers of the Axis the character of a European crusade-in the truest sense of the world.

The time has not yet come to talk about the planning and the conduct of this campaign, but I believe that I may sketch in a few sentences what has been achieved in this most gigantic of all struggles, in that memories of the various impressions might so easily fade because of the vastness of the space and the great number of important events.

The attack began on 22nd of June; with irresistible daring. The frontier fortifications that were destined to secure the Russian advance against us were broken through, and on the 23rd Grodno fell. On the 24th Vilna and Kovoo were taken after Brest-Litovsk had been occupied. On the 26th Duenaburg was in our hands and on 10th July, the first two great pincer battles of Bialystok and Minsk were concluded: 324,000 prisoners, 3,332 tanks and 1,809 guns fell to us. Already, on 13th July, the Stalin Line was broken through on all important points. On the 16th Smolensk fell after heavy fighting, and on the 19th German and Rumanian formations forced the crossing of the Dniester. On the 6th of August, the Battle of Smolensk was concluded in many pockets and again 310,000 Russians fell into German captivity, while 3,205 tanks and 3,120 guns were destroyed or captured. Only three days later the fate of another Russian Army group was sealed and on 9th August another 103,000 Russians were taken prisoner in the Battle of Ouman; 317 tanks and 1,100 guns destroyed or captured. On 17th August Nicolaeff was taken, on the 21st, Kherson. On the same day the Battle of Gomel was concluded with 84,000 prisoners taken and 124 tanks, as well as 808 guns captured or destroyed. On the 21st August, the Russian positions between Lakes Peipus and Ilmen were broken through and on the 26th the bridgehead at Dniepropetrovsk fell into our hands. On 28th August German troops marched into Reval and Boltisk Port after heavy fighting, while on the 30th the Finns took Viipuri. By conquering Schluesselburg on the 8th September, Leningrad was finally cut off, also from the South. On 6th September we succeeded in establishing bridgeheads on the Dnieper and on the 8th Poltava fell into our hands. On 9th September German formations stormed the citadel of Kiev and the occupation of Oesel was crowned by taking the Capital. Only now the greatest operations matured into the expected successes; on 27th September the Battle of Kiev was concluded; 665,000 prisoners began to move westwards, 884 tanks and 3,178 guns remained as booty in the pockets. As early as 2nd October the break-through battle on the Central Front began, while on 11th October the battle on the Sea of Azov was successfully concluded; again 107,000 prisoners, 212 tanks and 672 guns were counted. On 16th October, German and Rumanian troops marched into Odessa after hard fighting. On 8th October the break-through battle on the Central Front was concluded with a new success, unique in history, when 663,000 prisoners were only part of its results; 1,242 tanks and 5,452 guns were either destroyed or captured. On 31st October, the conquest of Dagoo was concluded.

On 24th October, the industrial centre of Kharkov was taken. On 28th October, the entrance of the Crimea was finally forced at great speed, and on 2nd November already the capital Sinferopol was taken by storm. On 6th November we had pierced through the Crimea up to Kerch.

On 1st December, the total number of Soviet prisoners amounted to 3,806,865; the number of tanks destroyed or captured was 21,391, that of guns, 32,541 and that of airplanes, 17,322. During the same period 2,191 British planes were shot-down. The Navy sank 4,170,611 g.r.t. of British shipping, the air force 2,346,080 g.r.t.; a total of 6,516,791 g.r.t. was thus destroyed. [Note: Figures checked, as they do not tally.]

My Deputies, my German people, those are sober facts or perhaps dry figures. Yet, may they never disappear from the history and, above all from the memory and the consciousness, of our own German people. For behind those figures are hidden the achievements, the sacrifices, the privations, the everlasting heroic courage and the readiness to die of millions of the best men of our own nation and of the States allied to us.

All this had to be fought for by my staking health and life and by effort of that those at home can hardly have an idea. Marching for an endless distance, tormented by heat and thirst, often held up by the mud of bottomless roads that would drive them almost to despair, exposed, from the Black Sea to the Arctic Sea, to the inhospitability of a climate that from the blazing heat of the July and August days, dropped to the wintry storms of November and December, tortured by insects, suffering from dirt and vermin, freezing in snow and ice, they have fought-the Germans and the Finns, Italians, Slovaks, Hungarians and Rumanians, the Croats, the volunteers from the North and West European countries, all in all the soldiers of the Eastern Front.

The beginning of winter only will now check this movement; at the beginning of summer it will again no longer be possible to stop the movement. On this day I do not want to mention any individual section of the Armed Forces, I do not want to praise any particular command; they have all made a supreme effort. And yet, understanding and justice compel me to state one thing again and again; amongst our German soldiers the heaviest burden is born today, as in the past, by our matchless German infantry.

From 22nd June to 1st December the German Army lost in this heroic fight 158,773 killed, 563,082 wounded and 31,191 missing. The Air Force lost 3,231 killed, 8,453 wounded and 2,028 missing. The Navy lost 210 killed, 232 wounded and 115 missing. The total losses of the armed forces are thus 162,314 killed, 571,767 wounded and 33,334 missing. [Note: The figures for soldiers killed do not tally.] That is to say, in killed and wounded slightly more than the field of death of the Somme Battle, in missing a little less than half those missing at that time. But all fathers and sons of our German people.

And now permit me to define my attitude to that other world, that has its representative in that man, who, while our soldiers are fighting in snow and ice, very tactfully likes to make his chats from the fireside, the man who is the main culprit of this-war. When in 1939 the conditions of our national interest in the then Polish State became more and more intolerable, I tried at first to eliminate those intolerable conditions by way of a peaceful settlement. For some time it seemed as though the Polish Government itself had seriously considered to agree to a sensible settlement. I may add that in German proposals nothing was demanded that had not been German property in former times. On the contrary, we renounced very much of what, before the World War, had been German property. You will recall the dramatic development of that time, in that the sufferings of German nationals increased continuously. You, my deputies, are in the best position to gauge the extent of the blood sacrifice, if you compare it to the casualties of the present war. The campaign in the East has so far cost the German armed forces about 160,000 killed; but in the midst of peace more than 62,000 Germans were killed during those months, some under the most cruel tortures. It could hardly be contested that the German Reich had had a right to object to such conditions on its Frontiers and to demand that they should cease to exist and that it was entitled to think of its own safety; this could hardly be contested at a time when other countries were seeking elements of their safety even in foreign continents. The problems that had to be overcome were of no territorial significance. Mainly they concerned Danzig and the union with the Reich of the torn-off province, East Prussia. More difficult were the cruel persecutions the Germans were exposed to, in Poland particularly. The other minorities, incidentally, had to suffer a fate hardly less bitter.

When in August the attitude of Poland-thanks to the carte blanche guarantee received from England-became still stiffer, the Government of the Reich found it necessary to submit, for the last time, a proposal on the basis of that we were willing to enter into negotiations with Poland-negotiations of that we fully and completely apprised the then British Ambassador. I may recall these proposals today: "Proposal for the settlement of the problem of the Danzig Corridor and of the question of the German-Polish minorities. The situation between the German Reich and Poland has become so strained that any further incident may lead to a clash between the Armed Forces assembled on both sides. Any peaceful settlement must be so arranged that the events mainly responsible for the existing situation cannot occur again-a situation that has caused a state of tension, not only in Eastern Europe, but also in other regions. The cause of this situation lies in the impossible Frontiers laid down by the Versailles dictate and the inhuman treatment of the German minorities in Poland. I am now going to read the proposals in question. [Hitler then proceeded to read the first 12 points of these proposals.] The same goes for the proposals for safeguarding the minorities. This is the offer of an agreement such as could not have been made in a more loyal and magnanimous form by any government other than the National Socialist Government of the German Reich.

The Polish Government at that period refused even as much as to consider this proposal. The question then arises: how could such an unimportant State dare simply to refuse an offer of this nature and furthermore, not only indulge in further atrocities to its German inhabitants who had given that country the whole of its culture, but even order mobilization?

Perusal of documents of the Foreign Office in Warsaw has given us later some surprising explanations. There was one man who, with devilish lack of conscience, used all his influence to further the warlike intentions of Poland and to eliminate all possibilities of understanding. The reports that the then Polish Ambassador in Washington, Count Potocki, sent to his Government are documents from that it may be seen with a terrifying clearness to what an extent one man alone, and the forces driving him, are responsible for the second World War. The question next arises, how could this man fall into such fanatical enmity toward a country that in the whole of its history has never done the least harm either to America or to him personally?

So far as Germany's attitude towards America is concerned, I have to state:

(i) Germany is perhaps the only great power that has never had a colony either in North or South America, or otherwise displayed there any political activity, unless mention be made of the emigration of many millions of Germans and of their work, that, however, has only been to the benefit of the American Continent and of the U.S.A.

(ii) In the whole history of the coming into being and of the existence of the U.S.A. the German Reich has never adopted a politically unfriendly, let alone hostile attitude, but, on the contrary with the blood of many of its sons, it helped to defend the U.S.A.

(iii) The German Reich never took part in any war against the U.S.A. It itself had war imposed upon it by the U.S.A. in 1917, and then for reasons that have been thoroughly revealed by an investigation committee set up by President Roosevelt himself.

Exactly this investigation to clarify the reasons for the Americans to enter the war, clarified without a doubt, that the reasons for the U.S. to enter the war in 1917 were without exception for the purpose of capitalistic interest of a few small groups, and that Germany herself in any case, never had the intention to get into a conflict with the U.S.

There are no other differences between the German and the American people, either territorial or political, that could possibly touch the interests let alone the existence of the U.S.A. There was always a difference of constitution, but that cannot be a reason for hostilities so long as the one state does not try to interfere with the other. America is a Republic, a Democracy, and today is a Republic under strong authoritative leadership. The ocean lies between the two States. The divergences between Capitalist America and Bolshevik Russia, if such conceptions had any truth in them, would be much greater than between America led by a President and Germany led by a Führer.

But it is a fact that the two conflicts between Germany and the U.S.A. were inspired by the same force and caused by two men in the U.S.A., Wilson and Roosevelt. History has already passed its verdict on Wilson, his name stands for one of the cruelest breaches of a promise of all times, that led to disruption of life not only among the so-called vanquished nations, but also among the victors. This breach of his word alone made possible the Dictate of Versailles.

We know today that a group of interested financiers stood behind Wilson who used this paralytic professor to lead the U.S. into the war because they hoped for increased business. The German people have had to pay for having believed this man with the collapse of their political and economic existence. But what is now the reason, that after such bitter experience of the German people, there is now another President of the U.S.A. who regards it as his only task to again create and intensify anti-German feelings to drive all to the pitch of war?

National-Socialism came to power in Germany in the same year as Roosevelt was elected President. I understand only too well that a world-wide distance separates Roosevelt's ideas and my ideas. It is important now, to examine the reasons that have led to today's development:
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