If I may state my views on those general questions that are of actual importance today, the most effective way of doing so will be to refer to the statements that were recently made by Mr. Eden in the British House of Commons. For those statements also imply the essentials of what must be said regarding Germany‘s relations with France. At this point I should like to express my sincere thanks for the opportunity which has been given me by the outspoken and noteworthy declarations made by the British Foreign Secretary.
I think I have read those statements carefully and have understood them correctly. Of course, I do not want to get lost among the details, and so I should like to single out the leading points in Mr. Eden’s speech, so as to clarify or answer them from my side.
In doing this, I shall first try to correct what seems to me to be a most regrettable error. This error lay in assuming that somehow or other Germany wishes to isolate herself and to allow the events which happen in the rest of the world to pass by without participating in them, or that she does not wish to take any account whatsoever of the general necessities of the time.
What are the grounds for the assumption that Germany wants to pursue a policy of isolation? If this assumption in regard to German isolation be a conclusion which must necessarily be drawn from what are presumed to be Germany’s intentions, then let me say the following: —
I do not believe at all that a State could ever mean to declare itself intentionally disinterested in the political events taking place throughout the rest of the world, especially when this world is so small as Europe is at the present day. I think that if a State should really find it necessary to take refuge in such an attitude, then the most than [sic] can be said is that it has been forced to do so under the coercion of a foreign will imposed upon it. Now, in the first place, I should like to assure Mr. Eden that we Germans do not in the least want to be isolated and that we do not at all feel ourselves isolated.
During recent years Germany has entered into quite a number of political agreements with other States. She has resumed former agreements and improved them. And I may say that she has established close friendly relations with a number of States. Our relations with most of the European States are normal from our standpoint and we are on terms of close friendship with quite a number. Among all those diplomatic connections I would give a special place in the foreground to those excellent relations which we have with those States that were liberated from sufferings similar to those we had to endure and have consequently arrived at similar decisions.
Through a number of treaties which we have made, we have relieved many strained relations and thereby made a substantial contribution towards an improvement in European conditions. I need remind you only of our agreement with Poland, which has turned out advantageous for both countries, our agreement with Austria and the excellent and close relations which we have established with Italy. Further, I may refer to our friendly relations with Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, Greece, Portugal, Spain etc. Finally, I may mention our cordial relations with a whole series of nations outside of Europe.
The agreement which Germany has made with Japan for combating the movement directed by the Comintern is a vital proof of how little the German Government thinks of isolating itself and how little we feel ourselves actually isolated. Furthermore, I have on several occasions [sic] declared that it is our wish and hope to arrive at good cordial relations with all our neighbors.
Germany has steadily given its assurance, and I solemnly repeat this assurance here, that between ourselves and France, for example, there are no grounds for quarrel that are humanly thinkable. Furthermore, the German Government has assured Belgium and Holland that it is ready to recognize and guarantee these States as neutral regions in perpetuity.
In view of the declarations which we have made in the past and in view of the existing state of affairs, I cannot quite clearly see why Germany should consider herself isolated or why we should pursue a policy of isolation. From the economic standpoint there are no grounds for asserting that Germany is withdrawing from international cooperation. The contrary is the truth. On looking over the speeches which several statesmen have made within the last few months, I find that they might easily give rise to the impression that the whole world is waiting to shower economic favors on Germany but that we, who are represented as obstinately clinging to a policy of isolation, do not wish to partake of those favors. To place this whole matter in its true light, I should like to call attention to the following bare facts:
(1) For many years the German people have been trying to make better commercial treaties with their neighbors and thus to bring about a more active exchange of goods. And these efforts have not been in vain; for, as a matter of fact, German foreign trade has increased since 1932, both in volume and in value. This is the clearest refutation of the assertion that Germany is pursuing a policy of economic isolation.
(2) I do not believe however that there can be a lasting economic collaboration among the nations on any other basis than that of a mutual exchange of commercial wares and industrial products. Credit manipulation may perhaps have a temporary effect, but in the long run economic international relations will be decisively influenced by the volume of mutual exchange of goods. And here the state of affairs at the present moment is not such that the outside world would be able to place huge orders with us or offer prospects of an increase in the exchange of goods even if we were to fulfill the most extraordinary conditions that they might lay down. Matters should not be made more complicated than they already are. If international commerce be sick, that is not due to Germany’s refusal to assist it, but is due to the fact that disorder has invaded the industrial life of the various nations and has influenced their relations with one another. But Germany cannot be blamed for these two things, and especially not National Socialist Germany. When we assumed power the world economic crisis was worse than it is today.
I fear however that I must interpret Mr. Eden’s words as meaning that in the carrying out of the four years plan he sees an element of refusal on Germany’s side to participate in international collaboration. Therefore I wish it to be clearly understood that our decision to carry out this plan is unalterable. The reasons which led to that decision were inexorable. And since then I have not been able to discover anything whatsoever that might induce us to discontinue the four years plan.
I shall take only one practical example: In carrying out the four years plan our synthetic production of rubber and petrol will necessitate an annual increase in our consumption of coal by a margin of something between 20 and 30 million tons. This means that an extra quota of thousands of coal miners are assured of employment for the rest of their active lives. I must really take the liberty of asking this question: Supposing we abandon [sic] the German four years plan, then what statesman can guarantee me some economic equivalent or other, outside of the Reich, for these thirty million tons of coal?
I want bread and work for my people. And certainly I do not wish to have it through the operation of credit guarantees, but through solid and permanent labor, the products of which I can either exchange for foreign goods or for domestic goods in our internal commercial circulation.
If by some manipulation or other Germany were to throw these 20 or 30 million tons of coal annually on the international market for the future, the result would be that the coal exports of other countries would have to decrease. I do not know if a British statesman, for example, could face such a contingency without realizing how serious it would be for his own nation. And yet that is the state of affairs.
Germany has an enormous number of men who not only want to work but also to eat. And the standard of living among our people is high. I cannot build the future of the German nation on the assurances of a foreign statesman or on any international help, but only on the real basis of a steady production, for which I must find a market at home or abroad. Perhaps my skepticism in these matters leads me to differ from the British Foreign Secretary in regard to the optimistic tone of his statements.
I mean here that if Europe does not awaken to the danger of the Bolshevik infection, then I fear that international commerce will not increase but decrease, despite all the good intentions of individual statesmen. For this commerce is based not only on the undisturbed and guaranteed stability of production in one individual nation but also on the production of all the nations together. One of the first things which is clear in this matter is that every Bolshevik disturbance must necessarily lead to a more or less permanent destruction of orderly production. Therefore my opinion about the future of Europe is, I am sorry to say, not so optimistic as Mr. Eden’s. I am the responsible leader of the German people and must safeguard its interests in this world as well as I can. And therefore I am bound to judge things objectively as I see them.
I should not be acquitted before the bar of our history if I neglected something–no matter on what grounds–which is necessary to maintain the existence of this people. I am pleased, and we are all pleased, at every increase that takes place in our foreign trade. But in view of the obscure political situation I shall not neglect anything that is necessary to guarantee the existence of the German people, although other nations may become the victims of the Bolshevik infection. And I must also repudiate the suggestion that this view is the outcome of mere fancy. For the following is certainly true: The British Foreign Secretary opens out theoretical prospects of existence to us, whereas in reality what is happening is totally different. The revolutionizing of Spain, for instance, has driven out 15.000 Germans from that country and has seriously injured our trade. Should this revolutionizing of Spain spread to other European countries then these damages would not be lessened but increased.
I also am a responsible statesman and I must take such possibilities into account. Therefore it is my unalterable determination so to organize German labor that it will guarantee the maintenance of my people. Mr. Eden may rest assured that we shall utilize every possibility offered us of strengthening our economic relations with other nations, but also that we shall avail ourselves of every possibility to improve and enrich the circulation of our own internal trade.
I must ask also whether the grounds for assuming that Germany is pursuing a policy of isolation are to be found in the fact that we have left he League of Nations. If such be the grounds, then I would point out that the Geneva League has never been a real League of peoples. A number of great nations do not belong to it or have left it. And nobody has on this account asserted that they were following a policy of isolation.
I think therefore that on this point Mr. Eden misunderstands our intentions and views. For nothing is farther from our wishes than to break off or weaken our political or economic relations with other nations. The contrary is the truth. I have already tried to contribute towards bringing about a good understanding in Europe and I have often given, especially to the British people and their Government, assurance of how ardently we wish for a sincere and cordial cooperation with them. I admit that on one point there is a wide difference between the views of the British Foreign Secretary and our views; and here it seems to me that this is a gap which cannot be filled up.
Mr. Eden declares that under no circumstances does the British Government wish to see Europe torn into two halves. Unfortunately, this desire for unity has not hitherto been declared or listened to. And now the desire is an illusion. For the fact is that the division into two halves, not only of Europe but also of the whole world, is an accomplished fact.
It is to be regretted that the British Government did not adopt its present attitude at an earlier date, that under all circumstances a division of Europe must be avoided; for then the Treaty of Versailles would not have been entered into. This Treaty brought in the first division of Europe, namely a division of the nations into victors on the one side and vanquished on the other, the latter nations being outlawed. Through this division of Europe nobody suffered more than the German people. That this division was wiped out, so far as concerns Germany, is essentially due to the National Socialist Revolution and this brings some credit to myself.
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