Speeches by Adolf Hitler. Translated from the Third Reich original.
My German People,
When the German people, trusting to the assurances given in President Wilson’s Fourteen Points, laid down their arms in November 1918, that marks the end of a fateful warfare for which perhaps individual statesmen, but certainly not the peoples themselves can be held responsible. The German nation fought so heroically because it was fighting in the sacred conviction that it had been wrongfully attacked, and that therefore right was on its side. Of the magnitude of the sacrifices which the German people – having to rely almost entirely on its own resources – made during those years, other nations can scarcely have any conception. If, in the days following the armistice, the world had stretched out a hand to its vanquished opponent in the spirit of fairness, mankind would have been spared endless sorrow and countless disappointments.
It was the German people who suffered the deepest disappointment. Never has a conquered nation so earnestly striven to help heal the wounds o its former enemies, as did the German nation in the long years in which it fulfilled the conditions which had been imposed upon it. If all these sacrifices have not led to real, lasting peace between the nations, the cause of this is to be found in the very nature of a treaty which, by its attempt to perpetuate the discrimination between victors and vanquished, could not but perpetuate hatred and enmity. The nations could rightly have expected that out of this greatest war of all times, the lesson might have been learned that, especially for European nations, no possible gain could compare with the immensity of the sacrifice. As, therefore, in this treaty the German nation was charged to destroy its armaments in order to make world-disarmament possible, countless millions believed that this demand was the sign of growing enlightenment.
The German people destroyed their arms.
Believing that their former enemies would fulfil their part of the treaty obligations, the German people honoured their side of the bargain with almost fanatical sincerity. Land, naval and air material was destroyed in countless numbers. In place of an army which had once nambered a million, a small professional army, with utterly inadequate arms, was established in accordance with the demands of the victor powers. The political destinies of the nation were at this time in. the hands of men whose outlook had its roots in the world of the victor states. The German nation had every right to expect that, if for this reason alone, the rest of the world would keep its word in the same way that the German people, by the sweat of their brows, in deep distress, and under terrible deprivations, were fulfilling their part of the agreement.
No war can freeze the stream of time, no peace can be the perpetuation of war. A time must come when victor and vanquished must find the way once more to common understanding and mutual trust.
One and a half decades the German nation has waited in the hope that the end of the war would at length lead to the end of hatred and enmity. The object of the Treaty of Versailles did not seem, however, to give mankind a lasting peace, but rather to perpetuate hatred forever.