Version III: Posted February 4th, 2016


The Vindicated Victims of the Treaty of Versailles:
Analyzing Hitler’s September 1, 1939 Address

Adolf Hitler entered the Kroll Opera House on September 1, 1939, as his troops prepared to invade Poland. Hitler’s speech is an example of the Nazi propaganda that would be commonplace during the war. Propaganda was a major facet of Nazi Germany’s success and this speech reiterates the plight of Germany, Hitler’s beliefs on who was to blame for their failing economy, and what must be done about the crisis. This address was known as a Reichstag Extraordinary Session, a council meeting called upon by the President of the Reich or a majority of the council members.[1] Like many of Hitler’s speeches, nations all over the world had tuned in via radio and translated the speech in real time. Beyond the live audience, Yale University, through the Avalon Project, have collected English translations of this speech and others like it. This primary source is a vital window into the beliefs of Hitler’s regime and its supporters, as well as evidence the propaganda presented during World War II.

Upon losing World War I, parts of Germany were appropriated and given to other countries, such as Poland gaining the territory known as Danzig. [2] Moreover, Germany was expected to pay reparations after World War I to the Allied Powers via the agreement of the Treaty of Versailles.[3] Hitler repeatedly discussed neutrality with the West and claimed, “as long as others do not violate their neutrality we will likewise take every care to respect it.” [4] Yet, he decreed that the Treaty of Versailles was “no law to Germany” because they had signed it “with pistols at our head and with the threat of hunger for millions of people.” [5] After several minutes of discussing Germany’s failed attempts at peace talks with Poland and the Polish government’s insistence on communications being mediated by Great Britain, Hitler accused Poland of mistreating Germans in the annexed territory and soldiers firing into German territory. [6] This became a pivotal moment in his speech because he presented the future plans of his regime.

Despite first claiming that he would “not war against women and children” he followed up by saying, “from now on bombs will be met by bombs. Whoever fight with poison gas will be fought with poison gas. Whoever departs from the rules of humane warfare can only expect that we shall do the same.” [7] When this speech was given few people had read Hitler’s Mein Kampf, which was first published in 1925 and laid out his plans as a political leader. [8] Those that had read the book either saw Hitler as a revolutionary thinker or as a radical that would never achieve goals they deemed delusional.[9] At the Reichstag Extraordinary Session, Hitler claimed to have repeatedly sought out peace with Poland through both Great Britain and Poland. [10] However, as early as 1933, Hitler had established the Foreign Political Office (APA) of the National Socialist German Worker’s Party (NSDAP), a propaganda unit that led Germany down its anti-British and anti-Jewish path at the leadership of “Hitler’s long-time confidant, Alfred Rosenberg.”[11] Though he claimed to want to continue peace with the West and create peace with Poland, Hitler declared that he would fight for the retribution of his country and all German nationals that he believed had been mistreated both by Poland and the Treaty of Versailles. [12]

When Hitler claimed that Poland attacked Germany first, Hitler began World War II with his country’s support. With this speech being heard internationally, Hitler alleged to have an experienced and prepared military ready to fight and called then nation to arms by quoting himself. [13] Hitler closed the address saying, “If our will is so strong that no hardship and suffering can subdue it, then our will and our German might shall prevail.” [14] This showed the world that Hitler’s Germany was ready to fight for Danzig and that any nation that oppressed Germany or Germans was to be met with military force. History has shown that this speech was given to paint an image to the world of a strong and defensive Germany. Moreover, the blitzkrieg that took place on September 1, 1939, in Poland was evidence that this speech was carefully planned to present Hitler and the Reichstag as innocent parties protecting Germany. Together they propagated an addressed that not only started a war but presented a false image of what was to come and that is why this primary source is fundamental to the history of World War II.


Endnotes

[1] S. Miles Bouton, And the Kaiser Abdicates: The German Revolution, November 1918 – August 1919, trans. William Bennett Monro and Arthur Norman Holcombe (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1921), 280.

[2] “Address by Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of the Reich, Before the Reichstag, September 1, 1939,” (address, Reichstag Extraordinary Session, Kroll Opera House, Berlin, September 1, 1939), accessed January 22, 2016, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/gp2.asp.

[3] “Address by Adolf Hitler”

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Leonidas Hill, “Three Crises, 1938-39,” Journal of Contemporary History 3, no. 1 (January 1968): 114.

[9] Ibid.

[10] “Address by Adolf Hitler”

[11] Jürgen Angelow, “Accomplices with Reservations: German Diplomats and the Preparation of the Polish Campaign of September 1939,” Australian Journal of Politics & History 50, no. 3 (September 2004): 378.

[12] “Address by Adolf Hitler”

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid.


Bibliography

Primary Source

“Address by Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of the Reich, Before the Reichstag, September 1, 1939.” Address, Reichstag Extraordinary Session, Kroll Opera House, Berlin, September 1, 1939. Accessed January 22, 2016. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/gp2.asp.

Secondary Sources

Angelow, Jürgen. “Accomplices with Reservations: German Diplomats and the Preparation of the Polish Campaign of September 1939.” Australian Journal of Politics & History 50, no. 3 (September 2004): 372-384.

Bouton, S. Miles. And the Kaiser Abdicates: The German Revolution, November 1918 – August 1919. Translated by William Bennett Monro and Arthur Norman Holcombe. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1921.

Hill, Leonidas. “Three Crises, 1938-39.” Journal of Contemporary History 3, no. 1 (January 1968): 113-144.


Version II: Posted January 29th, 2016


The Vindicated Victims of the Treaty of Versailles:
Analyzing Hitler’s September 1, 1939 Address

Adolf Hitler entered the Kroll Opera House on the first of September, 1939, as his troops prepared to invade Poland. Hitler’s speech is an example of the Nazi propaganda that would be commonplace during the war. Propaganda was a major facet of Nazi Germany’s success and this speech reiterates the plight of Germany, Hitler’s beliefs on who was to blame for their failing economy, and what must be done about the crisis. Like many of Hitler’s speeches, outside of those in physical attendance, nations all over the world had tuned in via radio and translated the speeches in real time. This event was known as a Reichstag Extraordinary Session, a council meeting called upon by the President of the Reich or a majority of the council members.[1] Beyond the live audience, English translations of the transcripts of this speech and others like it have been collected by Yale University through the Avalon Project. This primary source is a vital window into the beliefs of Hitler’s regime and its supporters, as well as evidence of the corruption and propaganda presented during World War II.

Upon losing World War I, parts of Germany were appropriated and given to other countries, such as Poland. [2] Wars, being expensive, had already hit Germany hard but because the Central Powers lost the Allied Powers demanded they pay reparations.[3] Reparations and annexed lands were damning demands on Germany after the war, at the beginning of Hitler’s reign of terror- a man who had fought in World War I, and placed on the unstable country by the Treaty of Versailles.[4] Immediately at this address, Hitler explains the poor treatment of those living in the annexed town of Danzig and how they are German peoples and belong to Germany.[5] All those listening knew that war was likely to happen soon if something was not done to loosen the noose on Germany and if they did not think it was easily understood when Hitler claimed the Treaty of Versailles was illegal due to forced ratification.[6] This was the moment the war would start, with a Blitzkrieg, and with this speech he made sure his people believed that Poland had struck first by claiming there had been communications for weeks of economics, politics, and military.[7]

Propaganda and the corruption of the German government were not yet fully realized on September 1st, 1939. In fact, despite laying out his plans in Mein Kampf, few people had read it and those that did either saw Hitler’s book as revolutionary or delusions of a radical that would never be achieved.[8] In the address, Hitler was quick to mention that Germany had wanted peace, but it was denied to them.[9] The blame remains with Britain and Poland with no mention of anti-Semitism though as early as 1933 with the establishment of the APA, a propaganda unit that led Germany down it’s anti-British and anti-Jewish path at the leadership of “Hitler’s long-time confidant, Alfred Rosenberg.”[10] It remains just as important to know that this address was in a moment when it was vital for Hitler to present his plans in a favorable and rational light.

The address by Adolf Hitler is a fundamental primary source for World War II history because it shows how Germany believed their actions, particularly the invasion of Poland, was just. Additionally, it presents an early glimpse at the expert manipulation of his regime. With a perfectly timed speech and carefully chosen words, Hitler had prepared his people to believe that it was Poland that was planning to strike Germany. This speech contributes to the dialogue of the history of World War II in Germany. Firstly, people chose to believe their elected government. Secondly, there was the truth about what happened in Poland. Hitler declared a fight for Danzig to be just, that the reparations were wrong, and with more sources available today regarding the start of the war, historians can now use this to debate World War II as just or unjust.


Endnotes

[1] S. Miles Bouton, And the Kaiser Abdicates: The German Revolution, November 1918 – August 1919, trans. William Bennett Monro and Arthur Norman Holcombe (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1921): 280.

[2] “Address by Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of the Reich, Before the Reichstag, September 1, 1939,” (address, Reichstag Extraordinary Session, Kroll Opera House, Berlin, September 1, 1939), accessed January 22, 2016, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/gp2.asp.

[3] “Address by Adolf Hitler”

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Leonidas Hill, “Three Crises, 1938-39,” Journal of Contemporary History 3, no. 1 (January 1968): 114.

[9] “Address by Adolf Hitler”

[10] Jürgen Angelow, “Accomplices with Reservations: German Diplomats and the Preparation of the Polish Campaign of September 1939,” Australian Journal of Politics & History 50, no. 3 (September 2004): 378.


Bibliography

Primary Source

“Address by Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of the Reich, Before the Reichstag, September 1, 1939.” Address, Reichstag Extraordinary Session, Kroll Opera House, Berlin, September 1, 1939. Accessed January 22, 2016. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/gp2.asp.

Secondary Sources

Angelow, Jürgen. “Accomplices with Reservations: German Diplomats and the Preparation of the Polish Campaign of September 1939.” Australian Journal of Politics & History 50, no. 3 (September 2004): 372-384.

Bouton, S. Miles. And the Kaiser Abdicates: The German Revolution, November 1918 – August 1919. Translated by William Bennett Monro and Arthur Norman Holcombe. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1921.

Hill, Leonidas. “Three Crises, 1938-39.” Journal of Contemporary History 3, no. 1 (January 1968): 113-144.

 


Version I: Posted January 28th, 2016


The Vindicated Victims of the Treaty of Versailles:
Analyzing Hitler’s September 1, 1939 Address

Adolf Hitler entered the Kroll Opera House on the first of September, 1939, as his troops prepared to invade Poland. Propaganda was a major facet of Nazi Germany’s success and this speech reiterates the plight of Germany, Hitler’s beliefs on who was to blame for their failing economy, and what must be done about the crisis. Like many of Hitler’s speeches, outside of those in physical attendance, nations all over the world had tuned in via radio where these speeches were translated in real time. This event was known as a Reichstag Extraordinary Session, a council meeting called upon by the President of the Reich or a majority of the council members.[1] Beyond the live audience, English translations of the transcripts of this speech and others like it have been collected by Yale University through the Avalon Project. This primary source is a vital window into the beliefs of Hitler’s regime and its supporters, as well as evidence of the corruption and propaganda presented during World War II.

Upon losing World War I, parts of Germany were appropriated and given to other countries, such as Poland. [2] Wars, being expensive, had already hit Germany hard but because they lost, they needed to pay reparations.[3] These were the damning demands on Germany after the war, at the beginning of Hitler’s reign of terror- a man who had fought in World War I, and placed on the unstable country by the Treaty of Versailles.[4] Immediately at this address, Hitler explains the poor treatment of those living in the annexed town of Danzig and how they are German peoples and belong to Germany.[5] All those listening knew that war was likely to happen soon if something was not done to loosen the noose on Germany and if they did not think it was easily understood when Hitler claimed the Treaty of Versailles was illegal due to forced ratification.[6] This was the moment the war would start, with a Blitzkrieg, and with this speech he made sure his people believed that Poland had struck first by claiming there had been communications for weeks of economics, politics, and military.[7]

Propaganda and the corruption of the German government were not yet fully realized on September 1st, 1939. In fact, despite laying out his plans in Mein Kampf few people had read it and those that did either saw Hitler’s book as revolutionary or delusions of a radical that would never be achieved.[8] In the address, Hitler was quick to mention that Germany had wanted peace, but it was denied to them.[9] The blame remains on Britain and Poland with no mention of anti-Semitism though as early as 1933 with the establishment of the APA, a propaganda unit that led Germany down it’s anti-British and anti-Jewish path at the leadership of “Hitler’s long-time confidant, Alfred Rosenberg.”[10] It remains just as important to know that this address was in a moment when it was vital for Hitler to present his plans in a favorable and rational light.

The address by Adolf Hitler is a fundamental primary source for World War II history because it shows how Germany believed their actions, particularly the invasion of Poland, was just. Additional, it presents an early glimpse at the expert manipulation of his regime. With a perfectly timed speech and carefully placed words, Hitler had prepared his people to believe that it was Poland that was planning to strike Germany. This speech contributes to the dialogue of the history of World War II in Germany. Firstly, people chose to believe their elected government. Secondly, there was the truth about what happened in Poland. Hitler declared a fight for Danzig to be just, that the reparations were wrong, and with more sources available today regarding the start of the war, historians can now use this to debate World War II as just or unjust.


Endnotes

[1] S. Miles Bouton, And the Kaiser Abdicates: The German Revolution, November 1918 – August 1919, trans. William Bennett Monro and Arthur Norman Holcombe (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1921): 280.

[2] “Address by Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of the Reich, Before the Reichstag, September 1, 1939,” (address, Reichstag Extraordinary Session, Kroll Opera House, Berlin, September 1, 1939), accessed January 22, 2016, http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/gp2.asp.

[3] “Address by Adolf Hitler”

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Leonidas Hill, “Three Crises, 1938-39,” Journal of Contemporary History 3, no. 1 (January 1968): 114.

[9] “Address by Adolf Hitler”

[10] Jürgen Angelow, “Accomplices with Reservations: German Diplomats and the Preparation of the Polish Campaign of September 1939,” Australian Journal of Politics & History 50, no. 3 (September 2004): 378.


Bibliography

Primary Source

“Address by Adolf Hitler, Chancellor of the Reich, Before the Reichstag, September 1, 1939.” Address, Reichstag Extraordinary Session, Kroll Opera House, Berlin, September 1, 1939. Accessed January 22, 2016. http://avalon.law.yale.edu/wwii/gp2.asp.

Secondary Sources

Angelow, Jürgen. “Accomplices with Reservations: German Diplomats and the Preparation of the Polish Campaign of September 1939.” Australian Journal of Politics & History 50, no. 3 (September 2004): 372-384.

Bouton, S. Miles. And the Kaiser Abdicates: The German Revolution, November 1918 – August 1919. Translated by William Bennett Monro and Arthur Norman Holcombe. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1921.

Hill, Leonidas. “Three Crises, 1938-39.” Journal of Contemporary History 3, no. 1 (January 1968): 113-144.