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World War II Friday, 3 September, 1999, 07:07 GMT 08:07 UK
Hitler's address to the Reichstag
Hitler hoped to conquer the whole of Europe
At dawn on 1 September, German troops invaded Poland, unleashing Blitzkrieg or 'lightning war' on the world for the first time.

The day the war began
The Nazi invasion of Poland was entirely unprovoked and the German dictator, Adolf Hitler, gave no ultimatum or declaration of war to the Polish government.

Instead the Nazi leader simply issued a proclamation to the army saying that Poland had refused the "peaceful settlement" desired by him, but which in reality he had never worked for.

Later that morning the German High Command issued the order: "Soldiers of the German Army - after all other means have failed - weapons must decide."

Hitler addressed the German Parliament, the Reichstag, later that day.

Here are some extracts from his speech which have been translated from the original German.

For months we have been suffering under the torture of a problem which the Versailles 'Diktat' created. A problem which has deteriorated until it has become intolerable for us.

Danzig was and is a German city . The [Polish] Corridor was and is German. Danzig was separated from us. The corridor was annexed by Poland. As in other German territories [outside Germany] the east German minorities have been ill-treated in the most distressing manner... I attempted to bring about, by making proposals for revisions, an alteration in this intolerable position.

It is a lie when the outside world says that we only tried to carry our revisions through by pressure. I have, not once but several times, made proposals for the revision of intolerable conditions.

All these proposals have been rejected... In the same way I have also tried to solve the problem of Danzig, the Corridor etc... by proposing peaceful discussion... I then formulated at last the German proposals, and I must repeat that there is nothing more modest and loyal than these proposals.

These answers have been refused. Not only were they answered first with mobilisation, but with increased terror against our German compatriots and with a slow strangling of the Free City of Danzig - economically, politically, and in recent weeks by military and transport means.

I made one more final effort to accept a proposal for mediation on the part of the British Government. They proposed, not that they themselves should carry on the negotiations, but rather that Poland and Germany should come into direct contact and once more pursue negotiations.

I accepted this proposal and worked out a basis for those negotiations which are known to you. For two whole days I sat with my government and waited to see if it was convenient for the Polish Government to send a plenipotentiary or not. Last night they did not send us a plenipotentiary, but instead informed us through their ambassador that they were still considering whether and to what extent they were in a position to go into the British proposals...

If the German Government and its leader patiently endured such treatment Germany would deserve only to disappear from the political stage. I therefore, decided late last night, and informed the British Government that, in these circumstances I can no longer find any willingness on the part of the Polish Government to conduct serious negotiations with us...

When statesmen in the West declare that this affects their interests, I can only regret such a declaration. We ask nothing of these Western states and will never ask anything. I have declared that the frontier between France and Germany is a final one. I have repeatedly offered friendship and the closest co-operation to Britain, but this cannot be offered from one side only...

I will not make war against women and children. I have ordered my airforce to restrict itself to attacks on military objectives. If, however, the enemy thinks he can from that draw 'carte blanche' on his side to fight by other methods he will receive an answer that will deprive him of hearing and sight.

Hitler: "Germany can no longer stand idly by" [in German]
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