Hitler on foreign policy (1939)

Adolf Hitler on foreign policy, from a speech to military commanders in February 1939:

“All our actions in 1938 represent only the logical extension of the decisions which began to be realised in 1933. It is not the case that during this year of 1938—let us say—a particular action occurred which was not previously envisaged. On the contrary, all the individual decisions which have been realised since 1933 are not the result of momentary considerations but represent the implementation of a previously existing plan.

For example, in 1933 I was not exactly certain when our withdrawal from the League of Nations would occur. However, it was clear that this withdrawal had to be the first step towards Germany’s revival. And it was further clear that we would have to choose the first appropriate moment. We could see from the start that the next step would have to be rearmament, without the permission of foreign countries, but naturally, we could not gauge the exact speed and extent of this rearmament right from the start.

It was also further obvious that after a period of rearmament, Germany would have to take the daring step of proclaiming to the world its freedom from restrictions on rearmament. At the beginning, one could not foresee the right moment for this.

Finally, it was also clear that every further step must first involve the remilitarisation of the Rhineland. The date for this was in fact envisaged as being one year later: I did not think I would carry it out until 1937. The circumstances at the time made it seem appropriate to carry it out as early as 1936.

It was also quite obvious that the Austrian and the Czech problems would have to be solved, in order further to strengthen Germany’s political and in particular, her strategic position. To start with, I was not quite sure whether both problems could be solved simultaneously, or whether one should deal first with the question of Czechoslovakia, or with the Austrian questions. There was no doubt that these questions would have to be solved, and so all these decisions were long-made plans which I was determined to realise the moment I thought the circumstances at the time would be favourable.”