When Adolf Hitler invaded Poland on 1 September 1939, he disregarded the 'scrap of paper' signed by himself and British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, as well as the ultimatums issued by Britain and France. Subsequently, Chamberlain was forced to declare war on Hitler and Germany, and he stated as much in a speech broadcast on the radio.
Despite having assured Britain he would had no desire to invade other European territories, Hitler stated that Poland had disregarded his "reasonable" proposals and made the following reply to Chamberlain:
Hitler stated that the Reich Government and the German nation would not under any circumstances agree to any ultimatum issued the British government.
He argued that the Nazi Government had been trying since 1933 to having some of the more damaging and unreasonable parts of the Treaty of Versailles, but stated that the British government had been unwilling to compromise on even the most practical of suggestions.
According to Hitler, he and the Nazi government had no wish to destroy Poland and would had come to an agreement with the country had Britain not insisted on interfereing. Specifically, the actions of Chamberlain in giving Poland the go-ahead for action opposing Germany, and confirmation that they would provide military assistance should Germany show any aggression, made the lives of Germans living in Poland very difficult. In fact, Hitler stated that the Free City of Danzig (which was populated by a hge number of Germans) was treated in a way that was against the law, in violations that were openly sanctioned by Britain.
Hitler added that, although he had been very moved by the suffering of these Germans, he had waited patiently for five months, issuing nothing more than a warning that the terror must end. Rather than persuading the Polish government to stop the unjust behaviour, Hitler added, Britain continued to encourage the country to target the Germans, thereby endangering European peace and becoming responsible for the war.
For the sake of the German Reich's peace, security and honour, Hitler confirmed that he was determined to hit back at the Polish attacks with full force, regardless of the warnings issued by other countries.
"The Reich government and the German nation refuse to accept, or even to satisfy, demands in the form of an ultimatum from the British government.
For many months there has been a virtual state of war on our Eastern frontier. After the German government had torn up the Treaty of Versailles all friendly settlements were refused to the government.
The National Socialist Government has endeavoured repeatedly since the year 1933 to remove the worst forms of coercion and violations of its rights contained in this Treaty.
It was always, in the first instance, the British government that, by its unbending attitude, prevented any practical revision.
But for the intervention of the British government a settlement reasonable and satisfactory to both sides would have been found to the dispute between Germany and Poland, and this is well known not only to the German government but also to the German people.
Germany has neither the intention, nor has she put forward the demand, to annihilate Poland.
The Reich only demanded the revision of those articles of the Treaty of Versailles which far-seeing statesmen of all nations regarded, at the time the dictate was being drafted, as intolerable, and therefore impossible in the long run not only for a great nation but also for the whole political and economic interest of Eastern Europe.
British statesmen also described the solution in the east at that time as the germ of wars to come. It was the intention of all German governments, and of the new National Socialist government in particular, to remove this danger.
The British government is to be blamed for having prevented this peaceful revision. By an action, which is unique in History, the British government gave the Polish state a blank cheque for any action against Germany which that State might wish to carry out.
The British government promised military help to the Polish government unreservedly in the event of Germany defending herself against any provocation of attack. Thereupon, the Polish terror assumed intolerable dimensions against the Germans living in territories torn away from Germany.
The Free City of Danzig was treated illegally, contrary to all legal stipulations. It was threatened with annihilation both economically and through Customs policy. Finally it was encircled and its communications were strangled.
All these violations of the law of the Danzig Constitution, known to the British government, were sanctioned and backed by the blank cheque given to Poland.
The German government, profoundly affected by the suffering of the German population, tortured and inhumanely maltreated by the Poles, watched patiently for five months without even once adopting a similar aggressive attitude towards Poland.
It merely warned Poland that these occurrences would become intolerable if they continued, and that it was determined to take the matter into its own hands if the German population got no help from elsewhere.
The British government was fully aware of all these events. It should have been easy for the British government to make use of its great influence in Warsaw to warn the rulers there to give way to justice and humanity and to observe the existing regulations.
The British government did not do this. On the contrary, while constantly stressing its pledge to assist Poland under all circumstances it encouraged the Polish government to continue its criminal attitude which endangered European peace.
In accordance with this spirit the British government rebuffed Signour Mussolini’s proposal which could still have saved the peace of Europe though the German government had declared itself willing to accept it.
The British government, therefore, bears the responsibility for all the misfortune and suffering which has now come upon many nations and will come in the future.
After all attempts to find and conclude a peaceful settlement had been rendered impossible by the uncompromising attitude of the Polish government, backed by the British, after conditions similar to the civil war, which had existed for months on the Eastern frontier of the Reich without the British government making any objection, gradually developed into open attacks on Reich territory, the German government decided to put an end to this continuous threat, intolerable to a great power, to the external, and ultimately, the domestic, peace of the German people, with the only means that remain at its disposal to defend the peace, security and honour of the German Reich after the governments of the democracies had virtually wrecked all other possibilities of revision.
The German government has answered the latest attacks by the Poles, which threaten Reich territory, with the same measures."
See also: Public Opinion and Appeasement
"Germany 1939". HistoryLearning.com. 2023. Web.