The Führer’s Reply to Daladier (Berlin, August 27, 1939)
Dear Mr. Minister-President! I understand the reservations that you express. I, too, have never overlooked the great responsibility that is placed upon those who are put over the fate of the folks.
As an old front soldier, I know, like you, the horrors of war. From this orientation and knowledge, I have also honestly striven to eliminate all conflict matter between both our folks.
I once quite openly assured the French folk that the return of the Saar region would be the prerequisite for it. After this return, I immediately solemnly reinforced my renunciation of any further claims that could touch France. The German folk has supported this standpoint of mine. As you could convince yourself during your last visit here, it felt and feels no rancor or hatred in the awareness of its own bearing against the former valiant opponent. The pacification of our western border led to increasing sympathy, at any rate, on the side of the German folk, a sympathy that on many occasions showed itself downright demonstratively. The construction of the great western fortification, which devoured and devours numerous billions, simultaneously represents for Germany a document in the acceptance and setting down of the final Reich border. The German folk has thereby renounced two provinces which one belonged to the old German Reich, were later conquered again with much blood and were finally defended with even more blood.
The renunciation, as you must admit to me, your Excellency, not a tactical, outwardly displayed bearing, rather a decision that experienced its logical hardening in all our measures. You will not be able to relate to me a single case, Mr. Minister-President, in which we violated this permanent fixing of the German Reich order in the west through a single line or a single speech. I believed I had, through this renunciation and through this bearing, eliminated any conceivable conflict matter between both our folks, which would be able to lead to a repetition of the tragedy of 1914/18.
This voluntary limitation of German life claims in the west, however, cannot be interpreted as an acceptance of the Versailles Dictate in all other areas as well.
I have now really tried year after year to achieve the revision of at least the most impossible and most unbearable decrees of this dictate along the path of negotiation. This was impossible. That the revision had to come, was known and clear to numerous insightful men from all folks. Whatever one can bring against my method, whatever one believes one must hold against it, it must not be overlooked or disputed that it was made possible for me, in many cases, to find, without new blood-letting, solutions satisfying not only for Germany, rather, that through the manner of proceeding, I freed the statesmen of other lands from the obligation, often impossible for them, to have to take responsibility for this revision before their own folks; for anyway, your Excellency will have to admit one thing to me: The revision had to come. The Versailles Dictate was unbearable. No Frenchman of honor, not even you, Mr. Daladier, would have acted differently than I in a similar situation. I have now also tried in this sense to remove from the world the most unreasonable measure of the Versailles Dictate.
I have made an offer to the Polish government at which the German folk is shocked. No other than I could have dared it at all to set before the public with such an offer. Hence it could also be one time only. I am now deeply convinced that, if, especially from England, back then, instead of releasing a wild campaign against Germany in the press, inserting rumors of a German mobilization, Poland had been somehow urged to be reasonable, Europe could today and for 25 years enjoy the state of deepest peace. But first Polish public opinion was incited through the lie of German aggression, its own necessary clear decisions were made more difficult for the Polish government, and, above, then the view for the boundary of real possibilities was blurred through the then following guarantee promise.
The Polish government rejected the proposals. Polish public opinion, in the sure conviction that, after all, England and France would now fight for Poland, began to raise demands that one would perhaps be able to characterize as ridiculous insanity, if they were not so infinitely dangerous. Back then, am unbearable terror set in, a physical and economic harassment of the Germans numbering more than one and a half million in the regions separated from the Reich. I do not want to speak here about the atrocities that occurred. Solely that Danzig as well was increasingly made aware through the continued excesses of Polish authorities that it had apparently been surrendered beyond rescue to the arbitrariness of a power alien to the national character of the city and populace.
May I now allow myself the question, Mr. Daladier, how you as Frenchman would act, if, through whatever unfortunate outcome of a valiant struggle, one of your provinces had been cut off through a corridor occupied by a foreign power, a large city - say Marseille - was prevented from affirming France, and the Frenchmen living in this region were now persecuted, beaten, mistreated, yes, murdered in a bestial manner?
You are a Frenchman, Mr. Daladier, and I hence know how you would act. I am a German, Mr. Daladier. Do not doubt my feeling of honor and my consciousness of duty to act exactly so. If you now had this misfortune, which we possess, would you then, Mr. Daladier, understand, if Germany without any reason would stand up for it that the corridor through France remains, that the robbed regions not be allowed to return, and that Marseille’s return to France be banned?
At any rate, I cannot imagine, Mr. Daladier, that Germany would fight against you for this reason. For I and all of us have renounced Alsace-Lorraine in order to avoid further bloodletting; all the less so would we shed blood in order to maintain an injustice that would have to be unbearable for you, just as it would be meaningless for us.
Everything that you write in your letter, Mr. Daladier, I feel exactly like you. Perhaps precisely we as old front soldiers can most easily understand each other in many areas; solely, I ask you, understand this as well: That it is impossible for a nation of honor to renounce almost two million people and to see them mistreated on its own borders.
I have hence raised a clear demand: Danzig and the corridor must return to Germany. The Macedonian conditions on our eastern border must be eliminated. I see no way to be able to move Poland, which, after all, now feels itself unassailable under the protection of its guarantees, to a peaceful solution here. But I would despair of my folk’s honorable future, if under such circumstances we were not determined to solve the question one way or another. If fate thereby now again forces both our folks to combat, then there would still be a difference in the motives. I, Mr. Daladier, then fight for my folk for the correction of an injustice, and the others for the maintaining of the same. This is all the more tragic as many of the important men of your own folk have likewise recognized the senselessness of the solution back then as well as the impossibility of its permanent upholding. I am clear about the grave consequences that such a conflict brings with it. But I believe Poland would have to bear the gravest ones, for regardless of how a war over this question would turn out, the Polish state of today would be lost one way or another.
But that we should now allow both our folks to enter into a new bloody war of annihilation for this, is no only for you, rather also for me, Mr. Daladier, very painful. But as already noted, I see no possibility from us to be able to influence Po-land in a more reasonable sense for the correction of a situation that is unbearable for the German folk and the German Reich.