gl0spana wrote:So upon quick review it's pretty obvious the machine translation is more accurate, at least for this section.
Yes, I am now inclined to think you're right about that. I've checked with a few friends of mine and it does seem to be mis-translated. Nonetheless, the speech isn't important, nor is it incriminating. The entire document, in summary, can be taken to be a resolution that in a conflict with Poland it will be an isolated border incident in which the Germans must act with haste and hardness to achieve a decisive and swift victory, which makes total sense.
The document doesn't pretend to be a verbatim transcript of Hitler's words, only a summary of his ideas.
Ultimately, Raeder-27 is a 13 page document, which mostly discusses the military situation of Germany's potential adversaries, and lists reasons why Hitler doesn't think the Western powers will intervene in a potential conflict with Poland if one were to ensue, and also why Germany had a better advantage at that time, rather than a few years later.
It discusses how in 1938 there was war of nerves, and Germany won because she held out and was actually willing to come to blows against the Czechs if necessary, while the British weren't. That Germany would have to be just as courageous in the confrontation with Poland is also a sentiment expressed in this document all the way through. Which of course, makes perfect sense.
The first 3 pages of the document primarily discuss why Germany had a geopolitical advantage, pages 4-5 mention that the situation with Poland was intolerable and the British were getting in the way of an agreement being made; referenced in this regard is Hitler's proposals in late 1938 early 1939 for a cession of Danzig and the establishment of a transit route through the corridor, an offer which the Poles refused, thereby making it quite clear that the only solution in the long term was going to be a physical conflict. This is obvious. Hitler's preparedness to fight for Danzig and not back down in the war of nerves was thus not unexpected, nor unjustified. These pages then finish with the affirmation that Hitler had been right before in his belief the risk was worth taking (eg. Rhineland), and it required determination: "there was a great risk that could only be mastered by iron determination"
(Auch jetzt bestuende ein grosses Risiko, das nur durch eiserne Entschlossenheit gemeistert werden koenne.) This, still, is not an affirmation that a conflict must arise
as the be all end all of the solution to the Danzig and corridor problem.
Pages 6-12 discuss why it would be silly to expect Britain and France to get involved in a conflict, especially considering that they failed to get support from the Soviets, in this respect Hitler quotes Lloyd George as (cynically) remarking on how he hoped that Britain had support from Russia before giving a blank check to Poland. They didn't of course.
The rest of page 12 and ending on page 13 is where Hitler discussed what the German attitude should be. He says again that one needs to have a "firm attitude" (feste Haltung). After this is where you get the parts most commonly quoted about how Germany in a conflict with Poland needs to smash Poland's military power: "The aim is to eliminate and destroy Poland's military force"
(Das Ziel ist die Beseitigung und Zerschlagung der militaerischen Kraft Polens). However, this comes in rather abruptly, without any prior warning, which leads one to the probable conclusion that more was said in-between that isn't present in this document, because there was never a verbatim transcript of what Hitler said. It seems rather out of place because it lacks any linear relation to the rest of the document.
But not even that quote necessitates a physical conflict with Poland. The purpose is to illustrate that in a conflict with Poland the logical thing to do is destroy her military power, concluding that: "Great speed in success in the East offers best the prospect of limiting the conflict."
(Groesste Schnelligkeit im Erfolg im Osten bietet am besten die Aussicht auf eine Beschraenkung des Konfliktes.). The aim therefore, is to limit the conflict, not expand it.
Next is the line regarding propaganda which is unimportant because no such propaganda was ever produced and no discussion of military details ensued. Taken together the speech largely reads like the evaluation of what the reactions would be to a German act against Poland, not the insistence on such an attack. Although it was certainly in the cards, so long as it wasn't thought the West would get involved.
The second to last paragraph in the document returns to the idea that the military leadership must keep their nerves and stay strong. The final paragraph emphasises that speed is key, adaption is also necessary and so is destroying the enemy's forces wherever they appear in order to win. It even says that the military solution is merely a "precondition" to the "narrower political goal of a later border demarcation", implying as Halder also does, of a border with a rump Polish state after Germany had won, even if she needed to advance against the Polish army into territory that wouldn't be apart of a later demarcation line. The concern was not with territory, but military considerations on how to best defeat the Poles, the answer being that Germany must hold fast and do whatever it takes to win, hence the entire point of the speech.
None of this is incriminating because it's a discussion of strategy regarding what risks Germany could afford to run. Hitler in this speech, is quite clearly discussing a coming conflict with Poland and how risky it would be to engage in it. He comes to the conclusion that it would be worth the risk, which is evident by the fact that after the pact with Russia was signed Hitler prepares to take action against Poland and orders an invasion slated for August 26th (due to limited time to solve the German-Polish crisis). That goes awry for reasons I've discussed already. This fact however, has nothing to do with war guilt, and neither does this speech, because Hitler wasn't the only one who was looking for a way to achieve his goal, a conflict with Poland was merely one solution that couldn't be off the table. And it was, evidently the only solution Hitler was left with, due to the actions of other nations like Poland who had no desire to accede without a fight anyway. Such a war with Poland then was merely the logical conclusion.
Hitler can hardly be criticised for discussing what he recognized as a necessity due to the attitudes of others. Hitler nonetheless tried to limit the conflict as much as possible, and didn't desire nor expect the war erroneously attributed to him.
Halder's view of the conference was that of many of those other Generals present, that negotiations would continue, and so would the war of nerves:
Colonel General Halder, former Chief of the German Army General Staff:
“The meeting ended with Hitler saying that Poland was isolated and that negotiations would be continuing…Udo Walendy, Who Started World War II? (Castle Hill Publishers, 2014), Pp. 462.
Here [within the circle of those present] we were of the impression that the famous war of nerves would continue amid the favourable conditions created by Poland’s isolation; no decision was made.”
Halder, Manstein, Rundstedt and Küchler were of the impression that the speech, due to being public and not secret, was a bluff of sorts, to "apply the final squeeze" as Manstein put it, on Poland. The speech clearly left a tactical impression on its listeners, and not an imminent notion of anything to come. The speech didn't lead, as far as I know, to anything in particular, not even dates were discussed and certainly not military preparations.