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Hitler's Speech of 19 July, 1940 - A Final Appeal for Peace and Sanity

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July 11, 2015

Partial transcript below: See attached for complete transcript(s)

Deputies, Men of the German Reichstag!

In the midst of the mighty struggle for the freedom and future of the German nation, I have called on you to gather for this session today. The grounds for it are: to give our Volk insight into the historic uniqueness of the events we have lived through; to express our thanks to the deserving soldiers; and to direct, once again and for the last time, an appeal to general reason.

Whoever contrasts the factors which triggered this historic conflict with the extent, the greatness, and consequence of the military occurrences, must realize that the events and sacrifices of this struggle stand in no relation to the alleged causes, unless these causes themselves were but pretexts for intentions yet concealed.

The program of the National Socialist Revolution, insofar as it concerned the future development of the Reich’s relationship with the surrounding world, was an attempt to obtain a revision of the Treaty of Versailles under all circumstances-and as far as this was possible-by peaceful means.

This revision was by nature a necessity. The untenability of the provisions of Versailles lay not only in the humiliating discrimination, the disarmament of the German Volk secured with the result that they lost their rights, but above all in the resultant material destruction of the present and the intended destruction of the future of one of the greatest civilized peoples in the world, in the completely senseless accumulation of vast terrains under the mastery of a few states, in the depriving of the losers of irreplaceable foundations for life and indispensable vital goods.

The fact that insightful men on the side of the adversary, even while this Diktat was being composed, warned against the conclusive realization of the terms of this work of lunacy, is proof of the persuasion prevalent even in these ranks that it would be impossible to maintain this Diktat in the future. Their misgivings and their protests were silenced by the assurance that the statutes of the newly created League of Nations secured the possibility of a revision of these provisions, indeed that it was authorized for such a revision. At no time was hope for a revision regarded as something improper, but always as something quite natural. Regrettably, contrary to the will of the men responsible for the Versailles Diktat, the institution in Geneva never regarded itself as an agency for procuring sensible revisions, but rather, from the beginning, as the custodian of the ruthless implementation and maintenance of the provisions of Versailles. All endeavors of democratic Germany failed to obtain, by means of revision, an equality of rights for the German Volk.

It lies in the interest of the victor to portray as universally sanctified those conditions that benefit him, while the essence of the instinct of self preservation compels the vanquished to strive for a restoration of his general human rights. For him this Diktat penned by an arrogant enemy has even less force of law insofar as the victory of this enemy was a dishonest one. It was a rare misfortune that the German Reich was led exceedingly badly in the years 1914–18. To this, and to the not otherwise instructed trust and faith of the German Volk in the word of democratic statesmen, must our fall be ascribed.

It was thus that the joint British-French endeavor to portray the Versailles Treaty as some type of international or higher justice must have appeared to every honest German as nothing other than an insolent usurpation. The supposition that British or French statesmen of all people were custodians of justice itself, or even of human culture, was a stupid effrontery. It was an affront which is sufficiently elucidated by their own inferior performances in these fields. For rarely has this world been governed with a greater deficit of cleverness, morality, and culture than in that part of it which is presently at the mercy of the fury of certain democratic statesmen.

The National Socialist Movement has, besides its delivery from the Jewish capitalist shackles imposed by a plutocratic-democratic, dwindling class of exploiters at home, pronounced its resolve to free the Reich from the shackles of the Diktat of Versailles abroad.

The German demands for a revision were an absolute necessity, a matter of course for the existence and the honor of any great people. Posterity will some day come to regard them as exceedingly modest.

All these demands had to be carried through, in practice against the will of the British-French potentates. Now more than ever we all see it as a success of the leadership of the Third Reich that the realization of these revisions was possible for years without resort to war . . .

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