Members of the Reichstag:
The present session has been called to enable me to give you the explanation I feel is necessary to understand the attitude and the decision made by the German Government on the great problems of the time which concern us all. I am happy to be able to give such explanations from this place, because danger is thereby obviated to which conversations in a smaller circle are liable – namely, that of misinterpretation. I conceive it may duty to be perfectly frank and open in addressing the nation. I frequently hear from Anglo-Saxon tribe’s expressions of regret that Germany has departed from those principles of democracy, which in those countries are held particularly sacred.
This opinion is entirely erroneous. Germany, too, has a democratic Constitution. The present National Socialist government also has been appointed by the people and feels itself responsible to the people. The German people have elected with 38,000,000 votes one single Deputy as their representative. This is perhaps the sole essential difference between the German Reich and other countries. It means, however, that I feel just as much responsibility to the people as any Parliament can. As Fuehrer-Chancellor and chief of the Reich government, I have often to make decisions, which are weighty enough, but the weight of which is made still heavier by the fact that I cannot share my responsibility or shift it to other shoulders. When the late Reich President called me on January. 30, 1933, to form a new government to take over the affairs of the State, millions of our people doubted whether the undertaking could succeed. Our situation was such that our enemies were filled with hope and our friends with sadness. After four years of disastrous war, a dictated peace left us with a situation which can be summed up as follows:
The nation had a surplus labor capacity; it was short of the necessities of life, food and raw materials. The foreign markets available to us too small and were getting smaller. The result thereof was paralyzed industry annihilated agriculture, ruined bourgeoisie, devastated trade, terrific debt burdens, shattered public finances and 6,500,000 registered unemployed, who is reality, however, exceeded 7,500,000. Sometime the course of the World War and its sequels will be recognized as classical refutation of the naive view unfortunately held by many statesmen before the war that the welfare of one European State is best served by the economic destruction of another. We all are convinced the economic autarchy of all States, as seems threatened now, is unwise and can only be detrimental in the end to all. If it is allowed to go on, the consequences to Europe will be exceedingly mischievous.
Restrictions on imports and the self-manufacture of substitutes for foreign raw materials call for a planned economy, which is a dangerous undertaking because every planned economy only too easily leads to bureaucratization. We cannot wish for an economic system that borders on communism and benumbs productive energy. It substitutes an inferior average for the law of survival of the fittest and going to the wall of the weaker. Yet, knowing all this, we embarked upon this procedure under the hardest pressure of circumstances. What we achieved was only possible because the living energy of the whole nations was behind it. First, we had to halt the ever shifting wages and price movements; then we had to reconstruct the whole fabric of the State by removing all employer and the employee organizations. The essential factors were maintenance of internal quiet and the time element.
We can only regret the world still refrains from taking the trouble to examine objectively what has been achieved here in the last two and half years, or study a weltanschauung (world outlook) to which these achievements are wholly due. If present-day Germany stands for peace, it is neither because of weakness nor of cowardice. National Socialism rejects any ideas of national assimilation. It is not our desire orientation to take away the nationality, culture or language of any peoples or Germanize them by force. We do not order any Germanization of non-German names. We do not believe that in present-day Europe denationalization is possible anyway. The permanent state of war that is called into being by such procedures may seem useful to different political and business interests; for the peoples it spells only burdens and misery. The blood that has been split on the European continent in three hundred years stand in no proportion to the results obtained.
After all, France remained France; Germany, Germany; Poland, Poland; Italy, Italy. What dynastic egoism, political passions and patriotic delusions achieved by shedding oceans of blood has, after all, only scratched the surface of peoples. How much better results would have been achieved if the nations had applied a fraction of their sacrifices to more useful purposes? Every war means a drain of the best elements. Victory can only mean a numerical addition to the victor nation’s population; how much better if the increase of population could be brought about the natural means, a national will be produce children of its own!
None of our practical plans will be completed before ten or twenty years to come; none of our idealistic objects will come to fulfillment in fifty or perhaps a hundred years. We all shall only live to see the first beginnings of this vast revolutionary development. What could I wish but peace and quiet? If any one says this is only the wish of leadership, I can reply, "the people themselves have never wished for war." Germany needs and wills peace? If Mr. Eden says such assurances mean nothing and that a signature under collective treaties is the sole guarantee of sincerity, I beg him to reflect that in every case it is a matter of what is assurance. It is often far easier to put one’s signature under a treaty with mental reservations as to what action to take later than to champion a pacific policy before the whole nation, because that nation rejects war.
I could have signed ten treaties, but that would not have the weight of the declaration made to France at the time of the Saar plebiscite. If I, as Fuehrer, give my assurance that with the Saar problem settled we will make no further territorial demands on France, this assurance is a contribution to peace which is more important than many a signature under many a pact. I believe that with this solemn declaration a quarrel of long duration between two nations really ought to be ended.
It is a queer thing that in the historical life of peoples there are veritable inflation’s of conceptions, which can only with difficulty stand in the face of exact examination by reason. For some time, for instance, the world has lived in a veritable mania of collective effort, collective security, collective obligations; all of which terms at first blush seem to have concrete contents, but on closer examination afford the possibility of at least many interpretations. What does collective, cooperative effort mean? Who determines what collective cooperation is and what it is not? Has not the conception of collective cooperation for seventeen years been interpreted in the most different ways?
I believe I am putting if right when I saw that in addition to many their rights the victor states of the Versailles treaty also arrogated to themselves the right to define without contradiction what constitutes collective cooperation and what does not constitute cooperation… If here and now I undertake to criticize this procedure, I do it because thereby is the best possible way to make clear the inner necessity of the last decisions of the Reich government and to awaken an understanding of our real intentions. The present-day idea of collective cooperation of nations is essentially the spiritual property of the American President, Wilson.
The policies of the period before the war were rather more determined by the idea of alliances of nations brought together by common interests. Rightly or wrongly, this policy at one time was made responsible for the outbreak of the World War. Its end, as far as Germany was concerned, was hastened by the doctrine of the fourteen points of Wilson and three points which later complemented them. In them were contained essentially the following ideas for preventing the recurrence of a similar catastrophe to humanity :
Peace was not to be one of the one-sided right, but a peace of general equality, thereby of general right. It was to be a peace of reconciliation, of disarmament of all and thereby of security for all. From it was to result, as its crowning glory, the idea of international collective, cooperative effort of all States and nations in the League of Nations. I must from this place once more state emphatically there was no people anywhere who more eagerly took up these ideas than the Germans.
When in the year 1919 the peace of Versailles was dictated to the German people the death sentence had already been pronounced on collective cooperative of peoples. For, instead of equality of all, came classification into victors and vanquished; in place of equal rights, differentiation between those entitled to rights and those without rights; in place of reconciliation of all, punishment of the vanquished; in place of international disarmament, disarmament for defeated.
Germany, fairly renouncing herself, on her part created all the conditions for cooperation of a collective nature to meet the ideas of the American President. Well, at least after this German disarmament had taken place, the world in its part ought to have taken the same for restoring equality. What, however, happened? While Germany loyally fulfilled the obligations of the treaty dictated to her, the so-called victory States failed to fulfil what the treaty obliged them subsequently to fulfil. If one attempts today to apologize for the negligence through excuses, then it is not difficult to contradict these lame explanations. We know here, to our surprise, from the mouths of foreign statesmen, the intention for fulfillment existed, but the time for doing so had not yet come. But how? All conditions for disarmament of other States existed at that time without exception. Germany had disarmed.
Politically, too, the conditions were ripe, for Germany was then a democracy if ever there was one. Everything was copied exactly and was dutifully likened to its existing great models. The time was ripe, but disarmament was non-existent. Not only have these other States not disarmed, but, to the contrary, they have in the most extraordinary manner completed, improved and thereby increased their armaments. The objection has no weight in that connection that partial limitation of personnel has taken place. For this personal limitation is more than equalized by technical and planned improvement of the most modern weapons of war. Besides, this limitation could very easily at any time be caught up with.
Germany had destroyed all her airplanes. Germany became not only defenseless as regards active aerial weapons, but also defenseless as regards the passive means of air protection. During the same time, however, not only did the contracting parties fail to destroy existing planes but, to the contrary, continued to develop them extraordinarily. Instead of destroying existing bombing planes, as did Germany, these were most industriously improved, developed and replaced by ever larger and more complete types. The number of flying fields and airdromes was not only not reduced but everywhere increased. Warships were equipped with airplanes.
Germany, in accordance with the obligations imposed upon her, destroyed her World War tanks. Thereby she also, true to the treaty, destroyed and scrapped an offensive weapon. It should have been the duty of other States on their part to begin destroying their tanks. However, not only did they fail to destroy them, but they continuously improved them, both as regards speed and their ability to resist attack. The speed of World War tanks, 4 to 12 kilometers increased to 30, 40, 50 and finally 60 kilometers an hour. Within the same time in which Germany has destroyed her tanks and waited for the fulfillment of the destruction of others, these others built over 30,000 new tanks and improved and enlarged them into ever more terrible weapons.
Germany had to destroy her entire heavy artillery according to the provisions of the Versailles treaty. This was done, too! But while Germany’s howitzers and cannons were cut by blow-torches and went in as scrap iron to the blast furnaces, the other treaty partners not only failed to destroy their heavy artillery but, on the contrary even, there followed construction, development, improvement and perfection. Gas weapons: as a prerequisite for a disarmament treaty, the partners of Germany had her destroy her entire gas weapons, according to the Versailles Treaty, and she did it. In other States the people were busy in chemical laboratories, not to scrap this weapons, but, to the contrary, in improving it in an unheard of manner.
Submarines: Here, too, Germany had faithfully fulfilled her obligations in accordance with the letter or Versailles, to make possible international disarmament. The world about her not only has not followed this example, has not even merely preserved her stock left over from the war, but on the contrary, has constantly completed, improved and increased it. The increase in displacement was finally augmented to a 3,000-ton boat. Armaments increased to 20-centimeter cannon.
This, then, was the contribution to the disarmament on the part of States who in the Versailles Treaty obligated themselves, on their part, to follow the German example and destroy the submarine weapon. If all this is not an open breach of the treaty, and a one-sided one at that, coming as it does after the other partner had without exception fulfilled his obligation, it will be difficult to see how in the future the signing of treaties can have any meaning whatsoever.
No, for this there is no extenuation, no excuse! For Germany, with her complete defenseless, was anything but a danger to other States. Although Germany waited in vain for years for the other side to make good its obligations under the treaty, Germany, nevertheless, was ready still not to withhold her hand for a real collective, cooperative effort. It was not Germany that made the plan for an army of 200,000 men for all European States impossible of realization, but it was the other States that did not want to disarm.
The hope sometimes is expressed nowadays that Germany might herself advance a constructive plan. Well, I have made such proposals not once but repeatedly. Had my constructive plan for a 300,000 man army been accepted, perhaps many a worry today would be less onerous, many a load lighter. But there is almost no purpose in proposing constructive plans if their rejection can be regarded as certain to begin with. If, nevertheless, I decide to give an outline of our ideas, I do it merely from a feeling of duty not to leave anything untried that might restore to European peoples the feelings of solidarity.
Inasmuch as hitherto not only the fulfillment of the obligations of other States to disarm had failed to materialize, but also all proposals for limitation of armaments had been rejected. I, as leader of the German nation, considered myself obligated before God and my conscience, in view of the formation of new military alliances and after receipt of notification that France was proceeding to the introduction, of the two-year term of service, now to reestablish Germany’s equality, which had been internationally denied her. It was not Germany who thereby broke the obligation laid on her, but those States, which compelled us to undertake this independent action.
I cannot refrain here from expressing my astonishment at the definition by the British Premier Macdonald who, referring to the restoration of the German Army, opined that the other States, after all, had been right in holding back their disarmament, if such ideas are to be generally accepted, what is to be expected from the future ? For, according to this, every breach of the treaty will find later justification by the assumption the other party will probably break the treaty, too.
It is said Germany is threatened by nobody; there is no reason why Germany should rearm at all. Why did not the others, then, disarm? From disarmed Germany they had nothing to fear. There is the choice of only two things: either armaments are a menace to peace – then they are that in the case of all countries – or armaments are not a menace to peace. Then that applies the same way. It will not do for one group of States to represent their disarmament’s as an olive branch and the others their armaments as an instrument of Satan. A tank is a tank; a bomb is a bomb.
Germany refuses to be regarded and treated for all time as a second-class or inferior nation. Our love of peace perhaps is greater than in the case of others, for we have suffered most from war. None of us wants to threaten anybody, but we all are determined to obtain the security and equality of our people. And this equality is the first condition for practical collective cooperation. With mental reservations European cooperation is impossible.
With equality, Germany will never refuse to do its share of every endeavor, which serves peace, progress and the general welfare. At this point, I cannot withhold criticism of certain methods which were responsible for the failure of many well-meant efforts because they were conceived in the spirit of Versailles. We are living in the age of conferences. So many ended in failures because often their programs were a vaguely formulated mixture of possible and impossible aims in which the wish which is father to the thought seems to play a minor role. Then, when two or three States agree to a program, others invited to join later are told this program is an indivisible whole and must be accepted or rejected as such.
Inasmuch as such a program naturally very good ideas can also be found, the State not agreeing to the entire draft assumes the responsibility of failure of the useful part. This procedure reminds one very strongly of the practice of certain film distributors who, on principle, will give good and bad films only when they are joined together. Such procedure is understandable only as a last atavistic phenomenon that has its roots in the model of the so-called peace negotiations of Versailles. As far as Germany is concerned I can only say the following in reply to such attempts:
We shall in the future take part in no conference in the formation of whose program we have not participated from the beginning. We do not propose, when two States concoct a pact dish, to be the first, as a third party, to taste that dish. I do not mean by that to say we will not reserve to ourselves the right afterward to agree to treaties and affix our signature to them because we were not present when they were formulated or when conferences were held concerning them. Certainly not. It is well possible that a treaty, although we did not participate in its formulation or the conference which gave it effect for a number of States, nevertheless, in its final language, may be agreeable to us and seem useful to us.
We must re-emphasize, however, that the method seems to be wrong to offer drafts of programs for conferences that bear the superscription, "Everything for Nothing." I consider such a principle impracticable for political life. I believe much more would have been accomplished for the pacification of Europe if there had been a readiness to be satisfied with what could be achieved from case to case. Hardly a proposal for a pact has been offered for discussion during recent years in which one or other points might not have been generally accepted without further ado. By typing up this point, however, with other points, which were partly more difficult, partly or entirely unacceptable to individual States, good things were left undone and the whole thing failed.
To me it seems a risky thing to misuse the indivisibility of peace as a pretext for proceedings which serve collective security less than collective preparations for war, intentionally or unintentionally. The World War should be a cry of warning here. Not for a second time can Europe survive such a catastrophe. But such a catastrophe may happen all the more easily, the more a network of criss-cross international obligations makes the localization of a small conflict impossible and increases the danger of States being dragged in.
Germany has solemnly guaranteed France her present frontiers, resigning herself to the permanent loss of Alsace-Lorraine. She has made a treaty with Poland and we hope it will be renewed and renewed again at every expiry of the set period. We want to spare the German people all bloodshed, but we will not spill any of our blood for foreign interests or risk it in pacts of assistance of which one cannot foresee the end.
There are certain things that are possible and others that are impossible. As an example I would like to refer briefly to the Eastern Pact suggested to us. We found in it an obligation for assistance, which we are convinced, can lead to consequences that simply cannot be measured. German ideology, not international.
The German Reich, especially the present German Government, has no other wish except to live on terms of peace and friendship with all the neighboring States. Much as we ourselves love peace, it is not within our power to prevent the outbreak of conflicts between States, especially in the East. To determine who is guilty is infinitely difficult itself in such a case. Once the fury of war rages among peoples the end begins to justify every means. I fear at the beginning of such a conflict an obligation for assistance will be less calculated to lead the way for recognizing who is the attacking body than it will to supporting the State that is useful to one’s own interests.
Aside from these considerations of a fundamental nature, we have here to deal with a special case. The Germany of today is a National Socialist State. The ideology that dominates us is in diametrical contradiction to that of Soviet Russia. National Socialism is a doctrine that has reference exclusively to the German people. Bolshevism lays stress on international mission. We National Socialists believe a man can, in the long run, be happy only among his own people. We are convinced the happiness and achievements of Europe are indissolubly tied up with the continuation of the system of independent and free national States. Bolshevism preaches the establishment of a world empire and recognizes only section of a central international.
Bolshevism destroys not only private property but also private initiative and the readiness to shoulder responsibility. It has not been able to save millions of human beings from starvation in Russia, the greatest Agrarian State in the world. National Socialists and Bolshevists both are convinced they are a world apart from each other and their differences can never be bridged. Apart from that, there were thousands of our people slain and maimed in the fight against Bolshevism. If Russia likes Bolshevism it is not our affair, but if Bolshevism casts its nets over to Germany, then we will fight it tooth and nail.
The fact remains that Bolshevism feels and acts as a world revolutionary idea and movement. Prominent Bolshevist statesmen and Bolshevist literature have admitted it proudly. If I am not mistaken, the impression of the British Keeper of the Privy Seals is that the Soviets are entirely averse to any aggressive military intention. Nobody would be happier than we if this impression should prove correct in the future. But the past speaks against it.
I started my movement just at the time when Bolshevism registered its first victories in this country. After fifteen years the Bolshevists number 6,000,000; my movement, 13,000,000. We have beaten them and saved Germany, perhaps all of Europe, from the most terrible catastrophe of all times. Germany has nothing to gain from a European war. What we want is liberty and independence. Because of these intentions of ours we are ready to negotiate non-aggression pacts with our neighbor States. If we except Lithuania, this is not because we desire war there, but because we cannot enter into political treaties with a State which disregards the most primitive laws of human society.
It is sad enough that because European nations are split up, the practical drawing of frontiers according to national boundaries corresponding with nationalities themselves can in some case be realized with difficult only. It is sad enough that in certain treaties consciously no regard was had for the fact that certain people belong nationally together.
In that case, however, above all it is not necessary that human beings who have the misfortune of having been torn away from the people to whom they belong should additionally be tortured and maltreated. We see no possibility, as long as the responsible guarantors of the Memel statute, on their part, are unable to persuade Lithuania to respect the most primitive right of humanity, on our part, to conclude any treaty whatsoever with this State.
With this exception, however, which any moment can be made non-existent by the great powers responsible for it, we are ready for every adjoining European State to heighten, by means of a non-aggression and non-force treaty, that feeling of security by which we, too, as the other contracting power, can profit.
We, however, are unable to supplement such pacts by the obligations of a system, which dogmatically, politically and factually is unbearable for us. National Socialism cannot call citizens, of Germany, that is, its adherents, to fight for the maintenance of a system, which in our own State, manifests itself as our great enemy. Obligations for peace – yes!
Bellicose assistance for Bolshevism we do not desire, nor would we be in a position to offer it. As for the rest, we see in the conclusion of pacts of assistance, as they have become known to us, a development that differs in no wise from the formation of military alliances of earlier days. We regret this, especially because the military alliance concluded between France and Russia without doubt carries the element of legal insecurity into the only clear and really valuable mutual treaty of security in Europe, namely, the Locarno Pact.
The German Government will, especially, be grateful for an authentic interpretation of the repercussions and influence of the Russo-France military alliance upon the treaty obligations of various contracting parties involved in the Locarno pact. It would like to leave no doubt about its own belief that it regards military alliances as incompatible with the spirit and letter of the League of Nations Covenant.
No less impossible than the assumption of unlimited assistance obligations seems to us the signing of non-intervention pacts, so long as this conception is not most closely defined. Because we Germans would be only too delighted if a way or method were found to prevent foreign interference with other countries’ internal affairs. For them this Germany has suffered greatly since the war. All internal disturbances were fomented from abroad, and the world knows it, but it never excited itself about it!
An army of emigrants is agitating from foreign centers like Prague and Paris. Revolutionary literature is smuggled into Germany with calls to violence; radio senders make propaganda for illegal terroristic organizations in Germany; courts are set up abroad which attempt to interfere with German administration of justice, and so on. Without precise definition of these proposed pacts, the danger seems evident that any regime based on force will seek to represent any internal revolt as the result of outside interference and will call outside help to suppress it.
There can be no doubt that in Europe political frontiers are not frontiers of the idea. Since the introduction of Christianity, ideas have passed beyond frontiers and have created and linked elements there. When a foreign cabinet minister regrets that in Germany Western European notions are no longer current, it should be all the more comprehensible that, conversely, German Reich ideas cannot remain without effect in some one or other German land.
Germany has neither the wish nor the intention to mix in internal Austrian affairs, or to annex or to unite with Austria. The German people and government have, however, from a simple feeling of solidarity and common ancestry, the wish that not only to foreign peoples but also to German people shall be granted the right of self-determination. I do not believe any regime not anchored in and by the people can be enduring.
With the German part of Switzerland there is no trouble because Swiss independence is an absolute fact, and no one doubts the Swiss Government is true to the legal expression of the will of the Swiss people. We Germans have every reason to be glad that on this frontier there is a State with such a large part of German population that enjoys such great internal stability and independence.
Germany regrets the tension caused by the Austrian conflict all the more because it has led to disturbance of our former good relations with Italy, with which country we have otherwise no divergences of interests. The German Government’s Position Stated Point by Point: If I now turn from this general consideration to a precise fixation of the actual problem before us, I arrive at the following statement of the position of the German Government:
First: The German Government rejects the Geneva resolution of March 17. It was not Germany that one-sidedly broke the Treaty of Versailles, but the dictate of Versailles was one-sided, violated in the points known thereby, and rendered ineffective by the powers that could not bring themselves to let their own disarmament, agreed to by the treaty, follow in the wake of the disarmament demanded from Germany. This new discrimination administered to Germany by this decision of Geneva rendered it impossible for the German Government to return to this institution before the conditions for a really legal status had been created for all the adherents thereto.
Second: The German Reich Government herewith most solemnly declares these methods (denunciation of the articles of the Versailles treaty) refer exclusively to points which morally and textually discriminate against the German people. Therefore, the German Government will unconditionally respect the other articles which refer to arrangements by which the nations are to live together, including territorial clauses and will bring about revisions that are unavoidable as times change, only by way of peaceful arrangement.
Third: The German Government has the intention of singing no treaty which seems unfulfillable. It will, however, adhere scrupulously to each voluntarily signed treaty, even if its conclusion occurred before this government seized power. Particularly it will fulfil all obligations resulting from the Locarno Pact as long as the other contracting powers on their part are ready to stand behind this pact. The German Government sees in the respecting of the demilitarized zone a contribution to the pacification of Europe that is indescribably heavy for a sovereign State. It believes, however, it must point out the continuous increase of troops on the other side can by no means be looked on as a complement to these efforts.
Fourth: The German Government is at all times ready to participate in collective cooperation for securing the peace of Europe, but it then considers it necessary to meet the law of eternal evolution by holding open the possibility of revision of treaties.
Fifth: The German Government is of the opinion a new building up of European cooperation cannot take place within the forms of one-sidedly imposed conditions. It believes it is right, in view of the fact that interests do not always coincide, to be satisfied with a minimum instead of permitting this cooperation to come to naught because of the un-fulfillable maximum of demands.
Sixth: The German Government is ready in principle to conclude non-aggression pacts with its individual neighbor States and to supplement these provisions which aim at isolating belligerents and localizing war areas. It especially is ready to assume all obligations resulting therefrom as regards supplying materials and weapons in war or peace in so far as they are undertaken to be respected by all partners.
Seventh: The German Government is ready to supplement the Locarno Pact by agreeing to an air convention and entering into its discussion.
Eighth: The German Government has announced the extent of the reconstruction of the German Army. Under no circumstances will it depart therefrom. It sees neither on land nor in the air nor at sea any threat to any other nation in fulfilling its program. It is, however, ready at all times to undertake such limitations of armaments as other States also are ready to undertake. In limiting German air armament to parity with individual other great nations of the west, it makes possible that at any time the upper figure may be limited, which limit Germany will then take as a binding obligation to keep within. The limitation of the German Navy to 35 percent of the strength of the British Navy is still 15 percent lower than the total tonnage of the French fleet. Inasmuch as different press commentaries express the opinion this demand is only a beginning, and would be raised if Germany possessed colonies, the German Government declares in a binding manner : This demand is final and lasting for Germany.
Ninth: Germany is ready to participate actively in any efforts for drastic limitation of unrestricted arming. She sees the only possible way in a return to the principles of the old Geneva Red Cross convention. She believes, to begin with, only in the possibility of the gradual abolition and outlawing of fighting methods which are contrary to this convention, such as dum-dum bullets and other missiles which are a deadly menace to civilian women and children.
To abolish fighting places, but to leave the question of bombardment open, seems to us wrong and ineffective. But it believes it is possible to ban certain arms as contrary to international law and to outlaw those who use them. But this, too, can only be done gradually. Therefore, gas and incendiary and explosive bombs outside of the battle area can be banned and the ban extended later to all bombing. As long as bombing is free, a limitation of bombing planes is a doubtful proposition. But as soon as bombing is branded as barbarism, the building of bombing planes will automatically cease. Just as the Red Cross stopped the killing of wounded and prisoners, it should be possible to stop the bombing of civilians. In the adoption of such principles, Germany sees a better means of pacification and security for peoples than in all the assistance pacts and military conventions.
Tenth: The German Government is ready to agree to every limitation leading to abandonment of the heaviest weapons which are especially suitable for aggression. These comprise, first, the heaviest artillery and heaviest tanks.
Eleventh: Germany declares herself ready to agree to the delimitation of caliber of artillery and guns on dreadnoughts, cruisers and torpedo boats. Similarly, the German Government is ready to adopt any limitation on naval tonnage, and finally to agree to the limitation of tonnage of submarines or even to their abolition, provided other countries do likewise.
Twelfth: The German Government is of the opinion that all attempts effectively to lessen tension between individual States through international agreements or agreements between several States are doomed to failure unless suitable measures are taken to prevent poisoning of public opinion on the part of irresponsible individuals in speech, writing, in the film and the theatre.
Thirteenth: The German Government is ready any time to agree to an international agreement which will effectively prevent and make impossible all attempts to interfere from the outside in affairs of other States. The term ‘interference’ should be internationally defined.
If people wish for peace it must be possible for governments to maintain it. We believe the restoration of the German defense force will contribute to this peace because of the simple fact that its existence removes a dangerous vacuum in Europe. We believe if the peoples of the world could agree to destroy all their gas and inflammable and explosive bombs this would be cheaper than using them to destroy one another. In saying this I am not speaking any longer as the representative of a defenseless State which could reap only advantages and no obligations from such action from others.
I cannot better conclude my speech to you, my fellow-figures and trustees of the nation, than by repeating our confession of faith in peace: Whoever lights the torch of war in Europe can wish for nothing but chaos. We, however, live in the firm conviction our times will see not the decline but the renaissance of the West. It is our proud hope and our unshakable belief Germany can make an imperishable contribution to this great work