Reproduced with permission
STATEMENT BY JOACHIM VON RIBBENTROP, GERMAN FOREIGN MINISTER, ON THE DECLARATION OF WAR ON THE SOVIET UNION
Berlin, June 22, 1941
[New York Times, June 23, 1941]
When in the Summer of 1939 the Reich Government, motivated by a desire to achieve adjustment of interests between Germany and the U.S.S.R., approached the Soviet Government, they were aware of the fact that it was no easy matter to reach an understanding with a State that on one hand claimed to belong to a community of individual nations with rights and duties resulting therefrom, yet on the other hand was ruled by a party that, as a section of the Comintern, was striving to bring about world revolution-in other words, the very dissolution of these individual nations.
The German Government, putting aside their serious misgivings occasioned by this fundamental difference between political aims of Germany and Soviet Russia and by the sharp contrast between diametrically opposed conceptions of National Socialism and Bolshevism, made the attempt.
They were guided by the idea that the elimination of the possibility of war, which would result from an understanding between Germany and Russia, and safeguarding of the vital necessities of the two people, between whom friendly relations had always existed, would offer the best guarantee against further spreading of the Communist doctrine of international Jewry over Europe.
This belief was strengthened by the fact that certain happenings in Russia itself and certain measures of international scope undertaken by the Russian Government allowed it to be assumed that departure from these doctrines and former methods of causing disintegration among foreign nations appeared possible.
The reception accorded in Moscow to the German démarche and the readiness of the Soviet Government to conclude a pact of friendship with Germany appeared to confirm this change of attitude.
Thus, on Aug. 23, 1939, a non-aggression pact was concluded, while on Sept. 28, 1939, a frontier and friendship agreement was signed by the two States. The essence of these agreements consisted of:
1. Reciprocal engagement on the part of both States not to attack one another and to live on peaceful and neighborly terms, and
2. Delimitation of spheres of interest-the German Reich renouncing all influence in Finland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Bessarabia while territories of the former Polish State as far as the line formed by the Narew, Bug and San (rivers) were to be incorporated into Russia according to the desire of the Soviets.
The Reich Government, in the pact immediately following conclusion of the non-aggression pact with Russia, effected a fundamental change in their policy toward the Soviet Union. The German Government faithfully adhered in both letter and spirit to the treaties concluded with the Soviet Union.
In addition to this they had, through the conquest of Poland, by shedding German blood, gained for the Soviet Union the greatest success in foreign politics that it had achieved since coming into existence. This was only possible by reason of Germany's friendly policy toward Russia and the overwhelming victories of German forces.
Not unreasonably, the Reich Government therefore felt entitled to expect that the attitude of the Soviet Union toward the German Reich would be of the same nature, especially since, during the negotiations that were conducted in Moscow by Herr von Ribbentrop, Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs, and also on other occasions, the Soviet Government had repeatedly expressed the view that these treaties would form the basis for permanent adjustment of German-Soviet Russian interests and that the two peoples, each respecting the regime of the other and prepared to abstain from any interference in internal affairs of the other partner, could reach permanent good neighborly relations.
Unfortunately it soon was to become evident that the German Government had been quite mistaken in this assumption.
In actual fact the Comintern resumed its activities in every sphere very soon after conclusion of the German-Russian treaties. This was true not only of Germany herself, but also as applied to States friendly to Germany, to neutral States and to such European territory as was occupied by German troops. In order to avoid openly infringing the treaties methods were changed and camouflage was applied more painstakingly and with greater cunning.
It obviously was thought necessary in Moscow to counteract the effect of conclusion of the pact with National Socialist Germany by continually pillorying Germany's alleged "imperialistic war."
Strict and effective preventive measures adopted by German police compelled the Comintern to seek to conduct their subversive activities and their intelligence work in Germany by devious routes, making use of centers established for that purpose in neighboring countries.
For this purpose former German Communist agents were employed to foment sedition and to arrange for acts of sabotage in Germany. OGPU Commissar Kryloff was in charge of systematic courses of training with this object in view. Apart from this, intensive subversive activities were carried on in territories occupied by Germany, more particularly in the protectorate [Bohemia-Moravia] and occupied France, but also Norway, Holland, Belgium, etc.
Soviet Russian representatives, notably the Consul General at Prague, rendered valuable assistance in this connection. Assiduous intelligence service maintained by means of wireless transmitters and receiving stations afforded absolute proof of the activities of the Comintern directed against the German Reich. There also is comprehensive documentary evidence consisting of witnesses' statements and correspondence concerning all subversive activity and reconnoitering carried on by the Comintern.
In addition to this sabotage groups were formed, which maintained their own laboratories for the manufacture of incendiary and high-explosive bombs for the purpose of committing acts of sabotage. Attempts of this kind were made, for example, against no fewer than sixteen German ships.
Espionage was another field of activity. Thus repatriation of Germans from Soviet Russia was utilized for the purpose of gaining the services of these Germans for ends of the OGPU by the most reprehensible means. Not only men but women too were victims of shameless extortion and were forced to enter the service of the OGPU.
Even the Soviet Russian Embassy in Berlin, headed by M. Kobuloff, Counselor of the Embassy, did not shrink from unscrupulous abuse of the rights of extraterritoriality for espionage purposes. M. E. Mokhoff, member of the Russian Consulate at Prague, was at the head of another Russian espionage organization, which had ramifications throughout the protectorate.
Further instances in which the police were able to take action in good time provided clear, unequivocable evidence of these extensive Soviet Russian machinations. The whole of the evidence proves irrefutably that Soviet Russia was engaged against Germany in the political, military and economic spheres in large-scale subversive activities, acts of sabotage, terror and espionage in preparation for war.
As to activities by Russia in European countries outside Germany, they extended to almost all European states that are friendly to or are occupied by Germany. Thus in Rumania, for example, Communist propaganda in the form of pamphlets of Russian origin represented Germany as being responsible for all local troubles in order to create an anti-German atmosphere
The same thing had been evident in Yugoslavia since the Summer of 1940. Pamphlets there incited the people to protest against the Cvetkovitch regime, which was "hobnobbing with the imperialistic governments in Berlin and Rome." At a meeting of Communist party functionaries in Zagreb the whole of Southeastern Europe from Slovakia to Bulgaria was described as a Russian protectorate that would come into being after Germany's hoped for military decline.
In the Soviet Legation at Belgrade, German troops discovered documentary evidence of the Soviet Russian origin of this propaganda.
Whereas Communist propaganda in Yugoslavia sought to make use of nationalist catch-words, in Hungary it was effective chiefly among the Ruthenian population, to whom it held out hopes of coming liberation through Soviet Russia.
Anti-German propaganda was particularly active in Slovakia, where the propaganda was openly carried on in favor of annexation of that country by Soviet Russia.
In Finland the notorious "Association for Peace and Friendship With the Soviet Union" actively cooperated with the Petroskoi broadcasting station, attempting to bring about disintegration of this country and at the same time carried on activities of a marked anti-German nature.
In France, Belgium and Holland agitation was directed against the German armies of occupation. A similar campaign was conducted in the Government General [Poland], cloaked by national Pan-Slavistic propaganda.
Scarcely had Greece been occupied by the German and Italian Armies when Soviet Russian propaganda commenced there too.
All this is evidence of a campaign systematically carried out in every country by the U.S.S.R. against Germany's endeavor to establish a sound order in Europe.
Parallel with this there was directed propaganda designed to counteract measures of German policy, taking the form of denunciation of these measures as anti-Russian and attempting to win over various countries to side with Soviet Russia against Germany.
In Bulgaria there was agitation against adherence to the Tripartite Pact and in favor of a guarantee pact with Russia. In Rumania attempts were made at infiltration into the Iron Guard and suborning its leaders, including Groza, a Rumanian who started the Putsch of Jan. 23, 1941, and behind whom Bolshevist agents of Moscow stood as wire-pullers. Indisputable proofs of this are held by the Reich Government.
In regard to Yugoslavia the Reich Government has come in possession of documents according to which a Yugoslav delegate named Georgevitch gained the impression from a conversation with Molotoff [Vyacheslaff M. Molotoff, Russian Foreign Commissar], in Moscow early in May, 1940, that Germany was being regarded there as a mighty foe of tomorrow.
Soviet Russia's attitude to requests for arms made by Serbian military circles left even less doubt. In November, 1940, the Chief of the Soviet Russian General Staff declared to the Yugoslav military attaché: "We will give you everything you ask for immediately." The prices to be paid and the mode of payment were left to the discretion of the Belgrade Government and only one condition was made-secrecy as far as Germany was concerned.
When the Cvetkovitch government subsequently approached the Axis powers Moscow began to delay deliveries of munitions, and this was briefly communicated to the Yugoslav military attaché by the Soviet Russian War Ministry.
The staging of the Belgrade Putsch of March 27 of this year formed the climax to these conspiracies against the Reich by Serbian plotters and Anglo-Russian agents. The Serbian leader of this Putsch and the head of the "Black Hand," M. Simitch, is still today in Moscow, displaying there great activity against the Reich on closest cooperation with Soviet Russian propaganda officers.
The foregoing examples provide only a glimpse of the enormously varied propaganda activities which the U.S.S.R. is conducting against Germany throughout Europe. In order to furnish the outside world with a comprehensive survey of the activities of Soviet Russian authorities in this direction since the conclusion of the pacts between Germany and Russia and to enable the public to judge for themselves, the Reich Government will publish the extensive material at their disposal.
In general, the Reich Government note the following:
At the conclusion of the pacts with Germany, the Soviet Government repeatedly made the unequivocal declaration that they did not intend to interfere, either directly or indirectly, in German affairs.
On conclusion of the pact of friendship they solemnly stated they would collaborate with Germany in order to bring an end, in accordance with the true interests of all peoples, of the war existing between Germany on one hand and Great Britain on the other, and to achieve this aim as soon as possible.
In the light of the above mentioned facts, which have continually become more apparent during the further course of the war, these Soviet Russian agreements and declarations were revealed as being intentionally misleading and deceptive. Nor did the advantages accruing from Germany's friendly attitude cause the Soviet Government to adopt a loyal attitude toward Germany.
On the contrary, the Reich Government have been forced to observe that conclusion of the pacts in 1939 was yet another instance of the application of Lenin's thesis, as expressly reaffirmed in October, 1939, in "instructions for the Communist party in Slovakia," stating that "pacts may be concluded with certain other countries if they further the interests of the Soviet Government and help render the opponent innocuous."
The conclusion of these pacts of friendship was, accordingly, for the Soviet Government only a tactical manoeuvre. The real aim was to reach agreements which were advantageous to Russia, thus simultaneously preparing for future action.
The leading idea remained the weakening of non-bolshevist states in order to be in a position to disintegrate them more easily and, when the time came, break them up. In a Russian document discovered after the capture of Belgrade in the Soviet Legation there, this object was expressed with stark brutality in the following words:
"The U.S.S.R. will not wait until the opportune moment occurs. Axis powers have further dissipated their forces and the U.S.S.R. will consequently strike a sudden blow against Germany."
The Soviet Government have not heeded the voice of the Russian people, who sincerely wished to live in peace and friendship with the German people, but have continued in the old bolshevist policy of duplicity and, by so doing, have assumed a heavy burden of responsibility.
If the Soviet Union's subversive propaganda carried out in Germany and the rest of Europe leaves no room for doubt as to its attitude toward Germany, then the policy of the Soviet Government toward Germany in the military sphere and in the fields of foreign politics, even since the conclusion of pacts between Germany and Russia, makes matters even clearer.
In Moscow, on the occasion of the delineation of spheres of interest, the Soviet Government declared to the German Minister of Foreign Affairs that it did not intend to occupy, bolshevize or annex any states situated within their sphere of interest, other than territories of the former Polish State, which were at that time in a state of disintegration.
In actual fact, however, as the course of events has shown, the policy of the Soviet Union during the whole time was exclusively directed toward one object-namely, that of extending Moscow's military power wherever the possibility offered in the area between the Arctic Ocean and the Black Sea, and of furthering bolshevism in Europe.
Development of this policy was marked by the following stages:
In the second pact, at the desire of the Soviet Union, the German Government relinquished their interests in a greater part of Lithuania in favor of the Soviet Union for the sake of peace, although they did so with heavy heart. A strip of this territory still remained within the German sphere of interest.
Following upon an ultimatum delivered on June 15, the whole of Lithuania, including that part which had remained within the German sphere of interest, was occupied by the Soviet Union without notification of the German Government so that the U.S.S.R. now extended right up to the entire eastern frontier of East Prussia.
When subsequently Germany was approached on this question the German Government, after difficult negotiations and in order to make a further effort toward reaching a friendly settlement, ceded this part of Lithuania also to the Soviet Union.
A short time afterward Latvia and Estonia were likewise occupied by military force, procedure which constituted gross abuse of the pacts of assistance concluded with these states.
Contrary to the express assurance given by Moscow, all Baltic States were then Bolshevized and summarily annexed by the Soviet Government a few weeks after occupation.
Simultaneously with the annexation, the Red Army was for the first time concentrated in force throughout the whole of the northern sector of the Soviet Russian buttress directed toward Europe.
It goes almost without saying that the economic pacts between Germany and these States, which, according to the Moscow agreements were not to be affected, were unilaterally canceled by the Soviet Government.
4. In the pacts of Moscow it had been expressly agreed in connection with the delimitation of interest in former Polish territories that no kind of political agitation was to take place beyond the frontiers marking these zones of interest, but that activity of occupation authorities on either side was to be restricted exclusively to peaceful development of these territories.
The German Government possesses irrefutable proof that in spite of these agreements the Soviet Union very soon after occupation of the territory not only permitted anti-German propaganda for consumption in the Government-General of Poland but, in point of fact, sponsored it parallel with Bolshevist propaganda in the same region. Strong Russian garrisons were also transferred to these territories immediately after the occupation.
5. While the German Army still was fighting in the west against France and Britain, the Soviet Union advanced in the Balkans. Although the Soviet Government had declared during the Moscow negotiations they would never make the first move toward achieving settlement of the Bessarabian question, the German Government was informed on June 24, 1940, by the Soviet Government that they now were resolved to settle the Bessarabian question by force.
It was stated at the same time that Soviet claims also extended to Bukovina, that is to say, territory which was ancient Austrian crown land, had never belonged to Russia and had, moreover, not ever been mentioned at the time of the Moscow negotiations.
The German Ambassador to Moscow declared to the Soviet Government their decision had come as a complete surprise to the German Government and that it would seriously affect Germany's economic interest in Rumania and lead to disruption of the life of a large German settlement there as well as of the German element in Bukovina. Molotoff replied that the matter was one of extreme urgency and that the Soviet Union expected to be apprised of the German Government's attitude with regard to this question within twenty-four hours.
In spite of this brusque action against Rumania, the German Government once more intervened in favor of the Soviet Union in order to preserve peace and maintain their friendship with that country.
They advised the Rumanian Government, who had appealed to Germany for help, to yield and recommended to them to surrender Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to Soviet Russia. The affirmative answer of the Rumanian Government was communicated to the Soviet Government by Germany, together with the Rumanian Government's request to be granted sufficient time for evacuation of these large areas and the safeguarding of lives and property of the inhabitants.
Once more, however, the Soviet Government presented an ultimatum to Rumania, and, before its expiration, began to occupy parts of Bukovina on June 28, and immediately afterward the whole of Bessarabia as far as the Danube. Those territories were also immediately annexed by the Soviet Union, bolshevized and thus literally reduced to ruin.
By occupying and bolshevizing entire spheres of interest in Eastern Europe and in the Balkans accorded to the U.S.S.R. by the Reich Government during the Moscow negotiations, the Soviet Government plainly and irrefutably acted contrary to the Moscow agreements.
In spite of this, the Reich Government continued to maintain an absolutely loyal attitude toward the U.S.S.R. They refrained from intervention in the Finnish war and in the Baltic question. They supported the attitude of the Soviet Government against the Rumanian Government in the Bessarabian question, and reconciled themselves, albeit with heavy heart, to the state of affairs created by the Soviet Government.
Furthermore, in order to eliminate as far as possible any divergences between the two States from the very outset, the Reich government set to work on a large-scale resettlement scheme, whereby all Germans in areas occupied by the U.S.S.R. were brought back to Germany. The Reich Government felt that more convincing proof of their desire to come to a lasting peace with the U.S.S.R. could scarcely be given.
As a result of Russia's advance toward the Balkans, territorial problems in this region came up for discussion. In the Summer of 1940, Rumania and Hungary appealed to Germany to effect settlement of their territorial disputes after these divergencies, fostered by British agents, had resulted in a serious crisis at the end of August.
War was imminent between Rumania and Hungary. Germany, who had repeatedly been requested by Hungary and Rumania to mediate in their quarrel, desired to maintain peace in the Balkans and, together with Italy, invited the two States to confer at Vienna, where, at their request, she proclaimed the Vienna arbitration award of Aug. 30, 1940.
This defined the new frontier between Hungary and Rumania and, in order to enable the Rumanian Government to justify before their people territorial sacrifices which they made and to eliminate any quarrels in this area for the future, Germany and Italy undertook to guarantee the remaining Rumanian State.
As Russian aspirations in this area had been satisfied, this guarantee could never be taken as directed against Russia. The Soviet Union nevertheless complained and stated that, contrary to former declarations according to which its aspirations in the Balkans had been satisfied by occupation of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, it had further interests in Balkan questions, though for the time being those were not further defined.
Soviet Russia's anti-German policy began from that time to become steadily more apparent. The Reich Government kept on receiving more and more definite news, according to which negotiations which had been carried on for some time in Moscow by British Ambassador Cripps were developing favorably. The Reich Government at the same time came into possession of proof of the Soviet Union's intensive military preparations in every sphere.
These proofs are, among other things, confirmed by a report recently found in Belgrade by the Yugoslav military attaché to Moscow, dated Feb. 17, 1940, which reads literally: "According to information received from Soviet sources, armaments for the air force, tank corps and artillery in accordance with experiences of the present war are in full progress and will, in the main, have been completed by August, 1941. This probably also constitutes a time limit before which no appreciable changes in the Soviet's foreign policy can be expected."
Despite the unfriendly attitude of the U.S.S.R. over the Balkan question, Germany made a fresh effort to come to an understanding with the Soviet Union: the Reich Minister of Foreign Affairs, in a letter to Stalin, gave a comprehensive survey of the policy of the Reich Government since the negotiations in Moscow. The letter referred in particular to the following points:
When the Tripartite Pact between Germany, Italy and Japan was concluded it was unanimously agreed this pact in no sense was directed against the Soviet Union, but that friendly relations of the three powers and their treaties with the U.S.S.R. should remain completely unaffected by the pact. This was also placed on record in the Tripartite Pact of Berlin.
At the same time the letter expressed the desire and hope that it might prove possible jointly to clarify still further friendly relations with the U.S.S.R. desired by the signatories to the Tripartite Pact and to give such relations concrete form. In order to discuss these questions more fully, the Reich Minister of Foreign Affairs invited Molotoff to visit Berlin.
During Molotoff's visit to Berlin the Reich Government was forced to the conclusion that the U.S.S.R. was inclined toward genuinely friendly cooperation with the signatories of the Tripartite Pact and with Germany in particular, provided the latter were prepared to pay the price demanded by the Soviet Union. This price was to take the shape of further penetration of the Soviet Union into North and Southeast Europe.
The following demands were made by Molotoff in Berlin and in subsequent diplomatic conversations with the German Ambassador in Moscow:
1. The Soviet Union desired to give a guarantee to Bulgaria and, above this, to conclude with her a pact of assistance on the same lines as those concluded with the Baltic states-i.e., providing for military bases.
At the same time Molotoff declared he did not wish to interfere with the internal regime of Bulgaria. A visit of Russian Commissar Soboleff to Sofia at that time was likewise undertaken with the object of realizing this intention.
2. The Soviet Union demanded an agreement in the form of a treaty with Turkey for the purpose of providing, on the basis of a long-time lease, a base, for Soviet land and naval forces on the Bosporus and in the Dardanelles. In case Turkey should not agree to this proposal, Germany and Italy were to cooperate with Russia in diplomatic steps to be undertaken to enforce compliance with this demand. These demands were aimed at the domination of the Balkans by the U.S.S.R.
3. The Soviet Union declares that once more it felt itself threatened by Finland and therefore demanded complete abandonment of Finland by Germany, which, in actual fact, would have amounted to occupation of this state and extermination of the Finnish people.
Germany naturally was unable to accept these Russian demands designated by the Soviet Government as a primary condition for cooperation with the signatories to the Tripartite Pact. Thus the latter's efforts to come to an understanding with the Soviet Union failed.
In consequence the attitude adopted by Germany was that the U.S.S.R. now had intensified a policy more openly directed against Germany and that its increasingly close cooperation with Britain was clearly revealed.
In January, 1941, this antagonistic attitude on the part of Russia first showed in the diplomatic sphere. When that month Germany adopted certain measures in Bulgaria against the landing of British troops in Greece the Russian Ambassador in Berlin pointed out in an official démarche that the Soviet Union regarded Bulgarian territory and the two straits as the security zone for the U.S.S.R. and that it could not remain a passive spectator of events taking place in these territories which amounted to a menace for the interests of such security. For this reason the Soviet Government issued a warning with regard to the appearance of German troops on Bulgarian territory or on that of either of the two straits.
Thereupon the Reich Government furnished the Soviet Government with exhaustive information about the causes and aims of their military measures in the Balkans.
They made it clear Germany would prevent, with every means of her power, any attempt on the part of Britain to gain a foothold in Greece, but that she had no intention of occupying the straits and would respect Turkish sovereignty and territory. The passage of German troops through Bulgaria could not be regarded as an encroachment on the Soviet Union's security interests; on the contrary, the Reich's Government believed they were serving Soviet interests by those operations. After carrying through her operations in the Balkans, Germany withdrew her troops from there.
Despite the declaration on the part of the Reich Government, the Soviet Government for their part published a declaration addressed to Bulgaria directly after the entry of German troops into that country which manifested a character clearly hostile to the German Reich and said in effect that the presence of German troops in Bulgaria was not conducive to the peace of the Balkans, but rather to war.
An explanation of this attitude was found by the Reich Government in incoming information, steadily increasing in volume, about growing collaboration between Soviet Russia and Britain. Even in the face of these facts, Germany remained silent.
Along the same lines was the assurance given in March, 1941, that Russia would not attack Turkey in event of the latter's joining in war on the Balkans. This, according to information in possession of the Reich Government, was the result of Anglo-Russian negotiations during the visit of the British Foreign Secretary in Ankara, who thereby aimed at drawing Russia closer to the British camp.
The aggressive policy of the Soviet Union toward the German Reich, which steadily was becoming more pronounced ever since this time, as well as the hitherto somewhat discreet political cooperation between the Soviet Union and Britain became, however, patent to the whole world on the outbreak of the Balkan crisis at the beginning of April.
It is today fully established that the Putsch instigated by Britain in Belgrade after Yugoslavia had joined the Tripartite Pact was started with the connivance of Soviet Russia. A long time before, in fact since Nov. 19, 1940, Russia had secretly assisted Yugoslavia in arming against the Axis powers. Documents which fell into the hands of the Reich Government after the occupation of Belgrade revealing every phase of these Russian deliveries of arms in Yugoslavia give decisive proof of this.
Once the Belgrade Putsch had succeeded Russia on April 5 concluded a friendly agreement with the illegal Serbian Government of General Simovitch which was to lend moral support to the Putschists and with its weight assist the growing Anglo-Yugoslav-Greek front.
Evident satisfaction was expressed on this occasion by American Under-Secretary of State Sumner Welles when he stated on April 6, 1941, after several conversations with the Soviet Ambassador in Washington that "the Russo-Yugoslav Pact might, under certain circumstances, be of the greatest importance. It is attracting interest in many quarters and there are grounds for assuming it will be more than a mere pact of friendship and non-aggression."
Thus, at the same time when German troops were being concentrated on Rumanian and Bulgarian territory against growing landings of British troops in Greece, the Soviet, now obviously in concerted action with the British, was attempting to stab Germany in the back by:
British diplomacy through the intermediary of the Americans was making efforts in the same direction in Bucharest.
According to the Anglo-Russian plan, German troops concentrated in Rumania and Bulgaria were to have been attacked from three sides, namely Bessarabia and Thrace and from the Serbian-Greek frontier.
It solely was due to the loyalty of General Antonescu's realistic policy, followed by the Turkish Government and, above all, to the rapid German initiative and decisive victories of the German Army, that this Anglo-Russian plan was frustrated.
According to information in the hands of the Reich Government, almost 200 Yugoslav aircraft carrying Soviet Russian and British agents as well as Serbian parachutists led by Simitch were flown off, partly to Russia-these officers are today serving in the Russian Army-and partly to Egypt. This fact alone throws a particularly characteristic light upon the close collaboration between Britain, Russia and Yugoslavia.
In vain the Soviet Government tried on various occasions to veil the real intentions underlying their policy. Besides maintaining economic relations with Germany even during the last stage, they adopted a succession of measures to deceive the world into thinking they were maintaining normal, even friendly, relations with Germany.
Instances of this, for example, are requests to leave that they addressed a few weeks ago to diplomatic representatives of Norway, Belgium, Greece and Yugoslavia, silence observed by the British press about German-Russian relations, acting under instructions of Sir Stafford Cripps, British Ambassador, who was in agreement with the Russian Government, and finally the dementi recently published by the Tass Agency in which relations between Germany and the Soviet Union were described as completely correct.
These attempts at camouflage, which stand in such flagrant contrast to the real policy of the Soviet Government, naturally did not succeed in deceiving the Reich Government.
The anti-German policy of the Soviet Government was accompanied in the military sphere by steadily increasing concentration of all available Russian armed forces on the long front extending from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Already at the time when Germany was deeply engaged in the west in the campaign against France and when only a few German detachments were stationed in the east, the Russian High Command began systematically to transfer large bodies of troops to their eastern frontiers with the Reich, marked mass movements being noticed along the East Prussian frontier and that of the Government-General, as also in Bukovina and Bessarabia, opposite Rumania.
Russian garrisons facing Finland continually were being reinforced. Constant transfers of more and more fresh Russian divisions from the Far East and the Caucasus to Western Russia were further measures of a similar kind. After the Soviet Government had declared originally that the Baltic area, for instance, would only be occupied by troops, they proceeded to concentrate in this area, after military occupation had been completed, masses of additional troops, their number today being estimated at twenty-two divisions.
It was obvious that Russian troops were advancing ever closer to the German frontier, although no military measures had been adopted on the German side which might justify such action on the part of the U.S.S.R. It is this action on the part of the Soviet Union which first compelled German armed forces to adopt counter-measures.
Various units of the Russian Army and Air Force moved closer and closer in the direction of the frontier and strong detachments of the air force were posted on airdromes along German boundaries. Since the beginning of April more frontier violations also have taken place and a steadily increasing number of incursions over Reich territory by Russian aircraft have been observed.
According to reports from the Rumanian Government, similar occurrences have been observed on the Rumanian frontier in the area of Bukovina and along Moldavia and the Danube.
Since the beginning of the current year the German High Command has repeatedly attracted attention of the Foreign Office to the steadily increasing menace which the Russian Army presents for Reich territory, emphasizing at the same time that only aggressive intentions could account for the troop concentrations. The communications from the German High Command will be published in detail.
If the slightest doubts about the aggressive intentions of this Russian concentration could still be entertained, they have been completely dispelled by news which reached the German High Command during the past few days.
Now that the Russian general mobilization is complete, no less than 160 divisions are concentrated facing Germany. Observations made during the past few days have shown that grouping of Russian troops, and especially of motorized and armored units, has been carried out in such a way as to allow the Russian High Command at any moment to make an aggressive advance on the German frontier at various points.
Reports about increased reconnaissance patrol activity as well as accounts received daily of incidents on the frontier and outpost skirmishes between the two armies complete the picture of an extremely strained military situation which may at any moment reach the breaking point.
News received today from England about negotiations by Sir Stafford Cripps, with the view of establishing still closer collaboration between the political and military leaders of Britain and the U.S.S.R., together with the appeal by Lord Beaverbrook, one-time enemy of the Soviet regime, to support Russia in the oncoming conflict by every available means and his exhortation to the United States to do the same, show unambiguously what kind of a fate it is desired to prepare for the German nation.
Summarizing the foregoing points the Reich Government wish therefore to make the following declaration:
Contrary to all engagements which they have undertaken in absolute contradiction to their solemn declarations, the Soviet Government have turned against Germany. They have:
The Soviet Government have thus violated treaties and broken their agreements with Germany.
Bolshevist Moscow's hatred of National Socialism was stronger than its political wisdom.
Bolshevism is opposed to National Socialism in deadly enmity.
Bolshevist Moscow is about to stab National Socialist Germany in the back while she is engaged in a struggle for her existence.
Germany has no intention of remaining inactive in the face of this grave threat to her eastern frontier.
The Fuehrer has, therefore, ordered German forces to oppose this menace with all the might at their disposal.
In the coming struggle the German people are fully aware that they are called upon not only to defend their native land but to save the entire civilized world from the deadly dangers of bolshevism and clear the way for true social progress in Europe.
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