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Hitler offers Britain 'peace or destruction'

By
FREDERICK C. OECHSNER

BERLIN, July 19, 1940 (UP) -- Adolf Hitler today addressed an "appeal to reason" to Great Britain to avert "destruction of a great world empire," but he made it clear that rejection would mean an attack with all of the forces at the command of the Axis powers.

"In this hour and before this body," the Nazi Fuehrer told the German Reichstag in the presence of Italian Foreign Minister Count Galeazzo Ciano, "I feel myself obliged to make one more appeal to reason to England."

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"I do this not as a victor, but for the triumph of common sense."

Without delivering any ultimatum, Hitler said that it had never been on his desire or his aim to destroy the British Empire.

The Fuehrer warned against interpreting his appeal as weakness and said that "Churchill may parry my words with the claim that I feel doubt or fear, but in any case I will have my knowledge that I acted rightly, according to my conscience."

The Fuehrer said that his cardinal aims in foreign policy had been friendship with Britain and with Italy.

"Despite my sincere efforts it has not been possible," he said, "to achieve the friendship with England which I believed would have been blessed by both."

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Hitler made it clear that rejection of his appeal to "reason" would result in a "final" attack upon Britain with every resource that German could throw into the battle.

As he spoke German airplanes ranged over the British Isles again and dive bombers slashed at British shipping in what Nazi had said was a mere preliminary to the long threatened "blitzkrieg" offensive by Germany and Italy in an attempt to invade England for the first time in nine centuries.

Hitler said that German armed forces, toughened by their mighty sweep through Poland and through France, were stronger today than before the war started.

Germany has a greater supply of munitions; iron, gasoline, food and other essentials are more than adequate, he declared, regardless of the length of the war.

Hitler said that "tens of thousands of Germans" had been slaughtered, but he "still sought" an understanding with Poland.

After the Polish victory, Hitler said, "I appealed to the insight of the statesmen, predicting devastating consequences."

"I appealed to the rest of the world," he added, "although I feared that my word would not be heard and would more than ever arouse the fury of the warmongers.

"I predicted correctly that my appeal would not be heard."

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Hitler said documents found in France June 19 contained reports of secret meetings of the Allied War Council and that marginal notes by French Generalissimo Maxime Weygand and the then Premier Edouard Daladier showed the "machinations of the warmongers regarding all small nations."

They intended, he said, "to use Finland for their own interest, turn Norway and Sweden into a theater of war and had planned the bombardment of Baku, violating Turkey's neutrality."

These "warmongers," Hitler said, "inflicted an appalling fate on hundreds of thousands, even millions, of their own soldiers, callously enforcing mass evacuations for their own people."

"What is coming will visit the people, not Churchill, who will probably be in Canada," Hitler said in caustic reference to the British Prime Minster as a warning to the British people of the effects of blitzkrieg attack.

"He may think the outcome will be the annihilation of Germany, but it will the destruction of a great world empire -- the destruction of which was never my wish or aim."

Hitler recalled his speech of Oct. 6, in which he said he had stretched out his hand to England and France, even though he was then convinced of German military superiority and of the outcome of the war.

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He said his hand had been rejected, as had all of his peace offers in the past.

"I regret the victims the war will exact among civilians in Britain as well as among Germans," he said, "even though I know millions of young Germans are straining to fight England."

He warned Britain against viewing his appeal to reason as a weakness.

"Churchill may parry my words with the claim that I feel doubt or fear, but in any case I will have the knowledge that I acted rightly according to my conscience," he said.

Hitler praised Mussolini warmly for participation in the war on Germany's side. He also warned against any hopes for a split between Germany and Russia.

Hitler declared:

"German-Russian relations have been thoroughly and decisively established, as even British statesmen will also learn."

Hitler said that he had heard the cry of Churchill and the London politicians that the war must go on.

"I am not sure that they understand what such a war will be," he said.

Hitler also paid grateful tribute to the German soldiers and military leadership as well as

to the civil population, "whom our enemies thought they could separate from me."

Hitler said that the men in various European countries who wanted "honest peace" had been denounced as "weaklings" or traitors or as "fifth columnists." He denounced "the scribblers" who called such men fifth columnists and charge them with following a "criminal" policy.

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The victories of the German army in the west proved that he, Hitler, was right and his enemies wrong, the Fuehrer continued.

"We have established a front from the North Cape to the Spanish frontier and with incredibly small losses compared to the World War," he said.

Hitler reviewed the progress of the war from the beginning and repeated the German reasons for occupation of Norway, Denmark, and the Low countries, declaring the German tactics from the first had been to attack the Maginot Line frontally and that the decision to go through Belgium and Holland was taken only after discovery of an alleged British-French plan to invade those countries.

"Deputies, in the midst of a great battle for the freedom and greatness of the German nation. I called you," he said. "The necessity for this is an historic hour.

"We appeal to general reason Germany wanted to revise the Versailles Treaty peacefully, if possible. Even our enemies knew it was impossible to hold his situation forever.

"Germany's peaceful attempts at revision did not succeed. Germany did not recognize the legality of this treaty because the victor was not a real victor. Our downfall was due to poor leadership.

"National Socialism wanted to free Germany from Versailles as well as from the chains of the Demo-Plutocratic system. In actual fact, this revision had to be forced through against the wills of the French and British rulers."

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Turning to events leading up to the present war, Hitler said:

"I asked from Poland something no other German statesman could have dared. I asked for the return of the old German provinces, then only with a plebiscite. If Churchill and the warmongers felt half the responsibility toward Europe that I did they never would have started the war.

"On Sept. 2, 1939, war still could have been avoided. The British and the French wanted war, however-they wanted a three-year war in order reap profits from their war investments."

After alleging that the Germans had obtained possession of documents proving the "machinations of the warmongers" aimed at the spread of war, to Finland, Scandinavia, the Balkans and the bombardment of Baku and Batum, Hitler said that "after 18 days the Polish campaign ended. Then I issued an appeal to responsible men.

"I warned all against war, particularly the French against the pursuance of a war which would be horrible. This only served to incite the Franco-British warmongers, who saw their war profits most endangered. They began, however, to call it danger to civilization and culture."

Hitler said that only the armistice in the Russo-Finnish war prevented Allied intervention in Finland.

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"Nevertheless, they determined to occupy Narvik and if necessary defeat any Norwegian-Swedish resistance," he said.

"When we learned this we were determined to anticipate them."

Hitler described the German expedition to Norway as "the most glorious chapter of German warfare."

"After the war we will be able to recount how numerous severe blows and setbacks were overcome and converted into victory," he added.

"The only remarkable thing about the British was how such miserably equipped and poorly trained, abominable troops could be been employed for such a serious task."

Hitler then turned to the Western Front.

"French formations began to mass on the Belgian border with the intention of a lightning-like stroke against Germany," he said.

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