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Still wearing (contrary to Berlin reports) the special soldier suit he had sworn on Sept. 1 to clothe himself in “until victory or death,” Adolf Hitler rose one night last week before his rubber-stamp Reichstag. He had just returned from a one-day tour of his latest prize of war, the ruined city of Warsaw (see p. 45). He was now about to launch his well-heralded peace offensive.

But Herr Hitler did not begin by talking peace. In fact for almost an hour of his 80-minute address—a loosely knit discussion with few of the great dramatic lifts that characterized the Führer’s oratory before he began to discard his street-corner style in favor of what he considers the more statesmanlike fashion—he talked about almost everything except peace. Germans and colored folk like their sermons long and discursive, and, in spite of a disordered world’s need for straight plain talk, that is the way the Germans are still getting them from the Aggrandizer.

Lies and Laurels. The Polish victory came first on Speaker Hitler’s list, accompanied by three bare-faced lies. Lie No. 1: “A state of no less than 36,000,000 inhabitants took up arms against us. Their arms were far-reaching, and their confidence in their ability to crush Germany knew no bounds.” Lie No. 2: In spite of the “violations and insults which Germany and her armed forces had to put up with from these military dilettantes,” the First Soldier of the Reich claimed that he “endeavored to restrict aerial warfare to objectives of so-called military importance, or only to employ it to combat active resistance at a given point.” (For photographs and an accompanying eyewitness account of German restricted aerial warfare see p. 45.) Lie No. 3: All objective reports of the last days of besieged Warsaw agree that the Germans refused point-blank to allow the garrison to evacuate non-combatants from the city. Herr Hitler’s variorum: “Sheer sympathy for women and children caused me to make an offer to those in command of Warsaw at least to let civilian inhabitants leave the city. . . . The proud Polish commander of the city did not even condescend to reply.”

The German victory, though it had to be won at times over odds of 6-to-1, was not only sweet but cheap in casualties, said the Führer (see p. 44). And now “German soldiers have once more firmly established the right to wear the laurel wreath of which they were meanly deprived in 1918.”

“Abortion.” Herr Hitler paid his respects to all ranks of the vanquished Poles in another few thousand well-chosen words. The Polish government was supported by only 15% of the population, a “lapdog of the Western democracies,” an “abortion” of the Versailles Treaty. As to the character of the population, he went back to 1598 and quoted a diplomatic report of one Sir George Carew: “The outstanding features of Polish character were cruelty and lack of moral restraint.” When modern Poland, “although not menaced at all,” received the Allies’ guarantees, the “shameless insults” which she heaped on the Third Reich at last became unbearable. Hence Sept. 1.

Modest Negotiator. “National Socialism is not a phenomenon which has grown up in Germany with the malicious intent of thwarting League efforts at revision, but a movement which arose because for fifteen years the most natural human and social rights of a great nation had been suppressed and denied redress.

“And I personally take exception at seeing foreign statesmen stand up and call me guilty of having broken my word because I have now put these revisions through.

“On the contrary, I pledged my sacred word to the German people to do away with the Treaty of Versailles and to re-tore to them their natural and vital rights as a great nation.

“The extent to which I am securing these vital rights is modest.

“This I ask: If forty-six million Englishmen claim the right to rule over forty million square kilometers of the earth, it cannot be wrong for eighty-two million Germans to demand the right to live on 800,000 square kilometers, to till their fields and to follow their trades and callings, and if they further demand the restitution of those colonial possessions which formerly were their property, which they had not taken away from anybody by robbery or war but honestly acquired by purchase, exchange and treaties. Moreover, in all my demands, I always first tried to obtain revisions by way of negotiation. . . .”

“Thanks to Mr. Stalin.” Next Herr Hitler went on to “point out some facts that cannot be refuted by the scribblings of international press liars.” “It has . . . been proved that only as an entity is this central European space capable of existence, and whoever breaks up that entity commits a crime against millions of people,” declared Herr Hitler. If people did not like the way a “tolerable order of things was established in Central Europe,” then Herr Hitler could only answer that it was not the “method but the useful result that counts”—i.e., that the end justifies the means. But “thanks to Mr. Stalin,” Germany and Russia had now restored that entity. They were going to do more. Not only in Central Europe but to the “south and east” the Communazis intended to perform further cooperative works, including “reestablishment and reorganization of economic life,” and, in an unspecified manner, shift some ethnographic groups—possibly German Jews to central Poland and “splinters” of “German nationality” back into the Reich. This “south and east” business was the part of the speech that caused apprehensive Italians to grumble: “Our Duce could have said it better” (see p. 43).

“Perhaps the day will come.” Now that Poland was subjugated and Germany was on such excellent terms with all her neighbors—including Britain and France, as far as he was concerned—Mr. Hitler wondered what all the shooting was about on the Western Front. At this point Adolf Hitler figuratively vanished into the drapery behind him and a composite character made up of Aristide Briand, Ramsay MacDonald, Gustav Stresemann, Neville Chamberlain, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Cordell Hull suddenly took his place. The change of word and wind was nothing short of fantastic. Pacific, idealistic, hopeful, tenderly humane and sweetly vague, Herr Hitler turned his back on his old “Blood and Soil” act and began talking about war ending with “only losers”; about “millions of men uselessly sent to death and milliards of riches destroyed.” He even made a short bow to free trade and the sanctity of the borders of minor nations. It was as though, after six years, he realized he had about exhausted Mein Kampf not only as a platform but as a point of appeal, and had been compelled to appeal to some larger interest, i.e., the interest of all the European masses, for whom he now specifically set himself up as the provider of “peace,” “security,” and “real economic prosperity.”

It was his “inner sympathy” with the British, he indicated, and his “respect” for the “great achievements of the French nation” that caused Herr Hitler throbbingly to ask: “Why should this war in the west be fought? . . . “Continuation of the present state of affairs in the West is unthinkable. Perhaps the day will come when France will begin to bombard Saarbrücken. German artillery will in turn lay Mulhouse in ruins. France will retaliate by bombarding Karlsruhe and Germany in her turn will shell Strasbourg. Then the French artillery will fire at Freiburg and the German at Colmar or Schlettstadt. Long-range guns will then be set up and from both sides will strike deeper and deeper and whatever cannot be reached by long-distance guns will be destroyed from the air. . . . One day there will again be a frontier between Germany and France, but instead of flourishing towns there will be ruins and endless graveyards.”

The man who has done more to destroy international compacts than anyone who ever lived in Europe, now spoke feelingly of the Geneva war-conduct convention. Without naming the time, place or agenda, He seemed to be trying to suggest that another European peace conference be held.

“I do not believe that there is any responsible statesman in Europe who does not in his heart desire prosperity for his people. But such a desire can only be realized if all the nations inhabiting this continent decide to go to work together, to assist in assuring this cooperation must be the aim of every man who is sincerely struggling for the future of his own people.

“To achieve this great end, the leading nations of this continent will one day have to come together in order to draw up, accept and guarantee a statute on a comprehensive basis which will insure for them all a sense of security, of calm—in short, of peace.

“Such a conference could not possibly be held without the most thorough preparation; that is, without exact elucidation of every point at issue.

“It is equally impossible that such a conference, which is to determine the fate of this continent for many years to come, could carry on its deliberations while cannon are thundering or mobilized armies are bringing pressure to bear upon it. . . .”

Only at the finale did Adolf the Former emerge from the Reichstag speech: “If, however, the opinions of Messrs. Churchill and his followers should prevail, this statement will have been my last.”

“Maybe It’s Me.” Nonspecific as Mr. Hitler’s peace talk was, it was peace talk of sufficient weight to send that arsy-versy peace barometer, the New York Stock Exchange price index, down a few points. Coming from almost any other bigtime warring statesman, the Reichstag speech would probably have caused the general worldwide jubilation of another false armistice. That there was no such manifestation (see col. 2) was simply the result of Mr. Hitler’s past record for having such a singular deficiency in those simple old-fashioned virtues of honesty and candor. In spite of his new mantle of humanitarianism, he seemed to sense this, remarking almost pathetically at one point that “in my previous speeches to the Reichstag I made proposals with this [peace] end in view. At that time they were rejected—maybe for the simple reason that they were made by me.”

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