Hitler on the League of Nations (1937)

Adolf Hitler speaks about the League of Nations, new European nations and the loss of Germany’s colonies after World War I. Taken from a speech given in January 1937:

“During the last hundred years, a number of new nations have been created in Europe which formerly, because of their disunion and weakness, were of only small economic importance and of no political importance at all.

Through the establishment of these new States, new tensions have naturally risen. True statesmanship, however, must face realities and not shirk them. The Italian nation and the new Italian State are realities. The German nation and the German Reich are likewise realities. And for my own fellow citizens, I should like to state that the Polish nation and the Polish State have also become realities. Also in the Balkans nations have reawakened and have built their own States. The people who belong to those States want to live and they will live.

The unreasonable division of the world into nations that have and nations that have not will not remove or solve that problem, no more than the internal social problems of the nations can be simply solved through more or less clever phrases.

For thousands of years, the nations asserted their vital claims by the use of power. If in our time some other institution is to take the place of this power for the purpose or regulating relations between the peoples, then it must take account of natural vital claims and decide accordingly. It is the task of the League of Nations only to guarantee the existing state of the world and to safeguard it for all time, then we might just as well entrust it with the task of regulating the ebb and flow of the tides or directing the Gulf Stream into a definite course for the future.

But the League of Nations will not be able to do the one or the other. The continuance of its existence will, in the long run, depend on the extent to which it realises that the necessary reforms which concern international relations must be carefully considered and put into practice.

The German people once built up a colonial empire without robbing anyone and without violating any treaty. And they did so without any war. That colonial empire was taken away from us. And the grounds on which it was sought to excuse this act are not tenable.

First, it was said that the natives did not want to belong to Germany. Who asked them if they wished to belong to some other power? And when were these natives ever asked if they had been contented with the power that formerly ruled them?

Second, it is stated that the colonies were not administered properly by the Germans. Germany had these colonies only for a few decades. Great sacrifices were made in building them up and they were in a process of development which would have led to quite different results than in 1914. But anyhow the colonies had been so developed by us that other people considered it worthwhile to engage in a sanguinary struggle for the purpose of taking them from us.

Third, it is said that they are of no real value. If that is the case then they can be of no value to other States also. And so it is difficult to see why they keep them.

Moreover, Germany has never demanded colonies for military purposes, but exclusively for economic purposes. It is obvious that in times of general prosperity the value of certain territories may decrease, but it is just as evident that in times of distress such value increases. Today Germany lives in a time of difficult struggle for foodstuffs and raw materials. Sufficient imports are conceivable only if there be a continued and lasting increase in our exports. Therefore, as a matter of course, our demand for colonies for our densely populated country will be put forward again and again.”