January 17, 1935
Question I: Under which conditions could Germany return to the League of Nations?
Answer: Neither I nor anyone else in Germany would even consider placing any “conditions” on our possible return to the League of Nations. Whether or not we return to this body depends exclusively upon whether we can belong to it as a completely equal nation. This is not a “condition,” but a matter of course.
Either we are a sovereign state, or we are not! As long as we are not, we have no business in a community of sovereign states. As long as the National Socialist Movement is leading Germany-and that will be the case for the next few centuries, no matter how often our emigrants conjure up the opposite view- this opinion will not change.
Incidentally, I stated this explicitly in my May speech in 1933.19 I would like to stress that the German Volk feels that the differentiation between “moral” and “factual” equality is an insult.
Whether or not sixty-eight million people are morally equal in this world or not is ultimately something which can be decided by no one save the respective people itself.
Either one is factually equal, and consequently morally equal as well; on the other hand, if one is morally equal, there is no reason why one should contest factual equality of rights or simply refuse to grant them.
Question II: Will it be necessary to separate the general provisions of the League of Nations from those of the Treaty of Versailles?
Answer: As long as the League of Nations constitutes only a treaty of guarantee for the victorious nations, it is by no means worthy of its name. The fact that, with time, this League-which was presumably designed by its founders to exist for all eternity-cannot be coupled with a Treaty the short term of which is inherent in its own weaknesses and impracticabilities, is a point which can perhaps be contested by today’s interested parties, but which will one day be deemed a matter of course in history.
Question III: Should the recognition of equality of rights be a precondition, or could granting equality of rights and rejoining the League take place .simultaneously?
Answer: German equality of rights is the prerequisite for any participation on Germany’s part in international conventions and agreements. I certainly am not alone in the world with this demand; I am in the best of company. Let it be said that no self-respecting people and no responsible government would be able to think or much less act differently in such a case. The world has already seen a great many wars lost in the past.
If in the past, after every lost war, the unlucky vanquished were divested forever of their honor and their equality of rights, the League of Nations would even now have to be satisfied with a whole series of non-equal and thus ultimately dishonorable and inferior nations. For there is hardly a state or nation in existence which has not once had the misfortune, even if it was in the right a thousand times over, to be defeated by a stronger opponent or a stronger coalition.
Until now, this abominable absurdity has not yet been able to gain a foothold in the world, and we are determined to ensure that Germany will not be the first to set an example for the introduction of such an absurdity.
Question IV: Does Your Excellency not find that a reform of the League of Nations is called for? What practical steps would this entail? Wbich arguments could be used to obtain public support?
Answer: Since we are not in the League of Nations in any case, we do not devote our attention to reflecting on its internal reforms.
Question V: Recently I spoke with a high-ranking political personage in France.
I asked him the following: Why does France choose not to recognize the fait accompli of the restoration of German arms? We English always hold that it is more sensible not to ignore such facts.
The politician replied to me: Yes, we believe that Germany will uphold a policy of reconciliation only until the Reichswehr judges itself capable of successfully waging a war. In France, there is fear that the overtures to the French associations of front-line soldiers are only a camouflage to conceal aggressive future intentions.
What is Your Excellency’s reply to this fear?
Answer: That politician has never led a people. Otherwise how could he believe that one can talk about peace for a decade and then suddenly, with the same people, simply start a war without further ado? When I talk about peace, I am expressing none other than the innermost desire of the German Volk. I know the horrors of war: no gains can compensate for the losses it brings. The disastrous consequences of widespread European butchery in the future would be even worse. I believe that the madness of Communism would be the sole victor. But I have not fought this for fifteen years to elevate it finally to the throne by way of a detour. What I want is the well-being of my Volk! I have seen that war is not the highest form of bliss, but the contrary: I have witnessed only the deepest suffering. Hence I can quite frankly state two of my beliefs:
- Germany will never break the peace of its own accord, and
- He who would lay hands upon us will encounter thorns and barbs! For we love liberty just as we love peace.
And if, without being compelled to do so, I submit to France on behalf of the entire German Volk the pledge that we will place no further territorial demands upon it and thus of our own accord eliminate any grounds for revenge, at the same time I pledge an equally sacred vow that no measure of need, pressure or violence will ever move us to relinquish our honor or our equality of rights.
I hold that this must be said, for treaties only make sense when concluded by honor-loving peoples and honor-conscious governments. Germany wishes to establish honest relations with the peoples of neighboring countries. We have done this in the East, and I believe that not only Berlin but Warsaw as well will rejoice in the decontamination of the atmosphere brought about through our joint efforts. I hold to my conviction that, once this path of mutual understanding and consideration has been taken, more will come of it in the end than through ever so extensive pacts inherently lacking in clarity.
In any case, I will reflect a thousand times over before I allow the German Volk to become entangled in agreements whose consequences are not readily evident. If, on our own account, we do not intend to wage war, we are much less willing to do so for interests which do not concern Germany and are alien to it.
I may add that we have more than once stated our willingness to conclude nonaggression pacts with the states neighboring our own!