As dawn was breaking on Sunday morning, June 22, 1941, military forces of Germany, Finland and Romania suddenly struck against the Soviet Union along a broad front stretching hundreds of miles from the Arctic Circle in the far north to the Black Sea in the south. Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, and Croatia quickly joined the campaign – the largest military offensive in history. Soldiers from those nations were soon joined by volunteers from other European countries, including France, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, Spain, and Belgium.
The stunning news of this attack was announced to the world by German radio at 5:30 that Sunday morning, when Reich Minister Joseph Goebbels broadcast the text of a proclamation by Adolf Hitler to the German people that laid out his reasons for the historic offensive.
Following that was the broadcast of Germany’s declaration of war against the Soviet Union. This was in the form of a diplomatic note to the Soviet government, read by Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop to a packed and hastily organized news conference of journalists representing the German press, as well as newspapers across Europe and overseas.
This Foreign Office statement explains in some detail the German government’s reasons for the momentous decision to attack the USSR. About two hours earlier, Ribbentrop had given the text to the Soviet ambassador in Berlin, while at the same time the German ambassador in Moscow was delivering a shorter version of it to the Soviet Foreign Minister.
The text of Ribbentrop’s statement, quickly distributed by Germany’s DNB news agency, appeared the next day in newspapers in Germany and abroad. An English-language text, which contained a number of errors due perhaps to the haste with which it had been prepared, appeared in The New York Times.
Although the two German statements of June 22 portrayed a grave and looming Soviet threat, they actually understated the scale of the danger. While Hitler and his generals knew that the Red Army was large and formidable, they had seriously underestimated its size and power. This miscalculation proved to be an important and probably decisive factor in the failure to crush the Soviet military by the onset of winter 1941-42, as planned – which then made possible the ultimate triumph of the Red Army in the titanic four-year clash.
By June 1941, the Soviet air force was not only the world’s largest, it was greater than the combined air forces of all other countries together. Similarly, the Soviet airborne assault force – which could be used only in offensive operations – was not only larger than Germany’s, it was larger than the combined paratroop forces of the rest of the world. The Soviet Red Army’s tank force was not only the world’s largest, it was larger than the tank forces of the rest of the world combined.
German leaders did not know that the Soviets were already producing the T-34, KV-1 and KV-2 tanks, the heaviest and most deadly in the world, and more formidable than any German model. Nor they did they know that the Soviet military had more than 4,000 amphibious tanks – which were meant only for offensive operations – while the Germans had none.
The Germans were also unaware of how the Soviets had been preparing their military commanders for war. For example, at a secret speech to military academy graduates in May 1941, just weeks earlier, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin said: “In conducting the defense of our country, we are compelled to act in an aggressive manner. From defense we have to shift to a military policy of offense. It is indispensable that we reform our training, our propaganda, our press to a mindset of offense. The Red Army is a modern army, and the modern army is an army of offense.”
It did not take long for German leaders to realize that they had greatly misjudged the scope of the Soviet military buildup. On August 11, 1941 – just eight weeks after the start of “Operation Barbarossa” – General Franz Halder, chief of the German army high command, noted in his diary: “In the situation as a whole, it is becoming ever clearer that we have underestimated the Russian colossus, which has consciously prepared for the war with the absolute lack of restraint that is peculiar to totalitarian states … At the outset of the war we reckoned with about 200 enemy divisions. Now we are already counting 360.”
A week later – on August 19 – the well informed Reich Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels, similarly noted in his diary: “We obviously quite underestimated the Soviet shock power and, above all, the equipment of the Soviet army. We had nowhere near any idea of what the Bolsheviks had available. This led to erroneous decision-making …”
Hitler himself acknowledged, both in public and in private, that he had misjudged the extent and scale of the Soviet threat. “Certainly, though, we were mistaken about one thing,” the German leader told a large audience in Berlin on Oct. 3, 1941. “We had no idea how gigantic the preparations of this enemy were against Germany and Europe and how immeasurably great was the danger; how we just barely escaped annihilation, not only of Germany but also of Europe.”
The US government responded to the news of the German-led offensive with an official statement, issued by Deputy Secretary of State Sumner Welles. Completely ignoring the points made by the leaders in Berlin, it claimed that Germany’s “treacherous” attack was part of a plan by Hitler “for the cruel and brutal enslavement of all peoples and for the ultimate destruction of the remaining free democracies.” Actually, it was the Soviet Union – the world’s most oppressive regime at the time – that was dedicated to the eradication of “free democracies” and to the ultimate triumph of “proletarian dictatorship” in all countries. Stalin had made clear his elemental hostility to “free democracy” when the Red Army tried impose a Bolshevik regime on Finland in the “Winter War” of 1939-1940. In fact, soldiers of Finland – a parliamentary democracy – were now fighting as allies of Hitler’s Germany against the Soviets.
The American public, largely ignorant of European affairs and conditioned by years of media propaganda and alarmist rhetoric by President Franklin Roosevelt, generally accepted their government’s view of the conflict. “Of course,” Roosevelt told reporters on June 24, “we are going to give all the aid that we possibly can to Russia.” In violation of its proclaimed status as a neutral country, and with disregard for international law, the US was soon providing military aid to Soviet Russia.
Influential American historians have for years accepted the official US view of the German-Soviet clash. They portrayed the German-led offensive as a treacherous and unprovoked surprise attack against a peaceable country, motivated above all by grandiose visions of empire. Typical is the view of James MacGregor Burns, a prominent US historian and specialist of twentieth century American history. In his widely acclaimed book Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom he dismissed the German Foreign Office declaration of June 22, 1941, as a “pack of Nazi lies.”
In recent years, however, a growing number of historians have assembled considerable evidence that validates key points made by Hitler and the German government, and which shows that the Soviets were preparing a massive assault. The most influential of these historians has probably been a former Soviet GRU military intelligence officer, Vladimir Rezun. In a series of books written under the pen name of Viktor Suvorov, he has presented impressive evidence to show that the Soviet regime was preparing a massive offensive against Germany and Europe, and that the German-led attack forestalled an imminent Soviet strike. It is Stalin, not Hitler – he says – who should be considered the “chief culprit” of World War II.
Numerous documents and other historical evidence have come to light in recent decades that validate key points made in the German statements of June 22, 1941. This evidence also thoroughly discredits the simplistic portrayal of the German-Soviet clash, and indeed of the Second World War itself, that US officials and prominent historians presented to the American public during the war, and for years afterwards.
Even if the leaders in Germany, Finland, and other European countries were mistaken in believing that a Soviet assault was imminent, they certainly had ample reason to regard the Stalin regime as a dangerous threat, and to conclude that the Soviets were deploying vast military forces in preparation for attack at some point in the future. The reasons given by Hitler and his government to justify the German-led attack were not lies or pretexts.
Indeed, the German, Finnish, and Romanian leaders had more valid and substantive cause to strike against the USSR in June 1941 than American leaders have had for launching a number of wars – including against Mexico in 1845, against Spain in 1898, and against Iraq in 2003. In none of those cases did the country attacked by US military forces present a clear and present danger to the US, or a threat to vital American national interests.
Because Hitler’s proclamation of June 22, 1941, and the German Foreign Office declaration of the same day, explain at some length the reasons and motives for the fateful decision to strike against the USSR, these are documents of historic importance. The texts of specially prepared translations of these two statements are given below in full.
– Mark Weber, March 2019
Hitler’s Proclamation to the German People
German people! National Socialists!
Weighed down with heavy cares, condemned to months-long silence, the hour has now come when at last I can speak frankly.
When on September 3, 1939, the German Reich received the British declaration of war there was repeated anew the British attempt to thwart every beginning of a consolidation of Europe and thereby its rise, by fighting against whatever power on the Continent was strongest at any given time. That is how, in times past, Britain ruined Spain in many wars. That is how she conducted her wars against Holland. That is how later she fought France with the aid of all Europe, and that is how, at the turn of the century, she began the encirclement of the then German Reich and, in 1914, the [First] World War. It was only on account of its internal lack of unity that Germany was defeated in 1918. The consequences were terrible.
After hypocritical declarations that the fight was solely against the Kaiser and his regime, and once the German army had laid down its arms, the annihilation of the German Reich began according to plan.
While the prophecies of a French statesman [Georges Clemenceau] that there were twenty million Germans too many – in other words, that this number would have to be eliminated by hunger, disease or emigration – were apparently being fulfilled to the letter, the National Socialist movement began its work of unifying the German people, and thereby initiating the resurgence of the Reich. This rise of our people from distress, misery and shameful disregard was in the form of a purely internal renaissance. In no way did that affect, much less threaten, Britain.
Nevertheless, a new, hate-filled policy of encirclement against Germany began immediately. Internally and externally there came into being that plot, familiar to all of us, between Jews and democrats, Bolsheviks and reactionaries, with the sole aim of inhibiting the establishment of the new German people’s state, and of plunging the Reich anew into impotence and misery.
Apart from us, the hatred of this international world conspiracy was directed against those nations that, like ourselves, were neglected by fortune and were obliged to earn their daily bread in the hardest struggle for existence.
Above all, the right of Italy and Japan, just as much as that of Germany, to share in the goods of this world was contested and in fact was formally denied. The alliance of these [three] nations was, therefore, purely an act of self-protection in the face of the egoistic global combination of wealth and power that threatened them. As early as 1936 [Winston] Churchill, according to statements by the American General Wood before a committee of the American House of Representatives, declared that Germany was once again becoming too powerful and must therefore be destroyed.
In the Summer of 1939 the time seemed to have come for Britain to begin to realize its intended annihilation by repetition of a comprehensive policy of encirclement of Germany. The plan of the campaign of lies staged for this purpose consisted in declaring that other people were threatened, in tricking them with British promises of guarantees and assistance, and of getting them to go against Germany, just as had happened prior to the [First] World War.
From May to August 1939, Britain thus succeeded in broadcasting to the world that Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Finland and Bessarabia. as well as Ukraine, were being directly threatened by Germany. Some of these states allowed themselves to be misled into accepting the promise of guarantee proffered with these assertions, thus joining the new encirclement front against Germany. Under these circumstances I considered myself entitled to assume responsibility, before my own conscience and before the history of the German people, not only of assuring these countries or their governments of the falseness of these British assertions, but also of setting at rest the strongest power in the east [the Soviet Union], by especially solemn declarations regarding the limits of our interests.
National Socialists! At that time you probably all felt that this step was a bitter and difficult one for me. The German people has never harbored hostile feelings against the peoples of Russia. However, for more than two decades the Jewish Bolshevik rulers in Moscow had been endeavoring to set aflame not only Germany but all Europe. At no time did Germany ever attempt to carry her National Socialist worldview into Russia, but on the contrary Jewish Bolshevik rulers in Moscow unswervingly endeavored to foist their domination upon us and other European nations, not only by ideological means but above all with military force. The consequences of the activity of this regime were nothing but chaos, misery and starvation in all countries.
I, on the other hand, have been striving for two decades, with a minimum of intervention and without destroying our production, to arrive at a new socialist order in Germany, one that not only eliminates unemployment but also permits the productive worker to receive an ever greater share of the fruits of his labor. The achievements of this policy of national economic and social reconstruction – which strove for a true national community by overcoming rank and class divisions – are unique in today’s world.
It was therefore only with extreme difficulty that I brought myself in August 1939 to send my [Foreign] Minister [von Ribbentrop] to Moscow in an endeavor there to counter the British encirclement policy against Germany. I did this only out of a sense of responsibility toward the German people, but above all in the hope of finally, in spite of everything, achieving lasting easing of tensions and of being able to reduce sacrifices that otherwise might have been demanded of us.
While Germany solemnly affirmed in Moscow that the designated territories and countries – with the exception of Lithuania – lay outside any German political interests, a special [supplementary] agreement was concluded in case Britain were to succeed in inciting Poland into actually going to war against Germany. In this case, as well, German claims were subject to limitations entirely out of proportion to the achievements of the German forces.
National Socialists! The consequences of this treaty, which I myself desired and which was concluded in the interests of the German nation, were very severe, particularly for Germans living in the countries concerned. Far more than half a million [ethnically] German men and women, all small farmers, artisans and workmen, were forced to leave their former homeland practically overnight in order to escape from a new [Soviet] regime that at first threatened them with boundless misery and sooner or later with complete extermination.
Nevertheless, thousands of Germans disappeared! It was impossible ever to determine their fate, let alone their whereabouts. Among them were no fewer than 160 men of German Reich citizenship. To all this I remained silent – because I had to! For, after all, it was my one desire to bring about a final easing of tension and, if possible, a permanent settlement with this [Soviet] state.
However, already during our advance in Poland, Soviet rulers suddenly, and contrary to the treaty, also claimed Lithuania. The German Reich never had any intention of occupying Lithuania, and not only failed to present any such demand to the Lithuanian government, but on the contrary refused the request of the then Lithuanian government to send German troops to Lithuania in that spirit for that purpose as inconsistent with the aims of German policy.
Despite all this I complied also with this fresh Russian demand. However, this was only the beginning of continually renewed extortions, which have been repeated ever since.
The victory in Poland, which was won exclusively by German troops, prompted me to address yet another peace offer to the Western powers [Britain and France]. It was rejected, due to the efforts of the international and Jewish warmongers. Already at that time the reason for this rejection lay in the fact that Britain still had hopes of being able to mobilize a European coalition against Germany, which was to include the Balkans and Soviet Russia. It was therefore decided in London to send Mr. Cripps as ambassador to Moscow. He received clear instructions under all circumstances to resume relations between Britain and Soviet Russia, and develop them in a pro-British direction. The British press reported on the progress of this mission, except insofar as tactical reasons did not impose silence.
In the fall of 1939 and the spring of 1940 the first results actually made themselves felt. As Russia undertook to subjugate by armed force not only Finland but also the Baltic states, she suddenly motivated this action by the assertion, as ridiculous as it was false, that she must protect these countries from an outside threat, or forestall it. This could only be meant to apply to Germany, for no other power could even intervene in the Baltic area, let alone go to war there. Still I had to be silent. However, those in power in the Kremlin immediately went further.
Whereas in the spring of 1940 Germany, in accordance with the so-called Friendship Treaty [with Soviet Russia of Sept. 28, 1939] , withdrew her forces from the eastern frontier and, in fact, for the most part cleared these areas entirely of German troops, a deployment of Russian forces at that time was already beginning, to an extent that could only be regarded as a deliberate threat to Germany.
According to a statement that [Soviet Foreign Minister] Molotov personally made at that time, there were 22 Russian divisions in the Baltic states alone already in the spring of 1940. Given that the Russian government always claimed that it had been called in by the local population, the purpose of their presence there could only be a demonstration against Germany.
While our soldiers from May 10, 1940, onward were breaking Franco-British power in the west, Russian military deployment on our eastern frontier was continuing to an ever more menacing extent. From August 1940 onward I therefore considered it to be in the interest of the Reich to no longer permit our eastern provinces, which moreover had been laid waste so often before, to remain unprotected in the face of this tremendous deployment of Bolshevik divisions.
Thus, and just as intended by this British-Soviet Russian cooperation, there came about the tying up of such strong [German] forces in the east that a radical conclusion of the war in the west, particularly as regards aircraft, could no longer be vouched for by the German leadership. This, however, was in line with the goals not only of British but also of Soviet Russian policy, for both Britain and Soviet Russia intended to let this war go on for as long as possible in order to weaken all Europe and render it ever more impotent.
Russia’s threatened attack on Romania was in the last analysis equally intended to gain possession of or, if possible, to destroy, an important base of the economic life of not only Germany, but of all of Europe. Since 1933 the German Reich sought with boundless patience to win over states in southeastern Europe as trading partners. We therefore also had the greatest interest in their internal consolidation and order. Russia’s advance into Romania and Greece’s alliance with Britain threatened to quickly turn these regions as well into a general theater of war.
Contrary to our principles and customs, and at the urgent request of the then Romanian government, which was itself responsible for this development, I advised that it acquiesce to the Soviet Russian demands for the sake of peace, and to cede [the province of] Bessarabia. The Romanian government believed, however, that it could answer for this before its own people only if Germany and Italy in compensation would at least guarantee the integrity of what still remained of Romania. I did so with heavy heart, above all because when the German Reich gives a guarantee, that means it also abides by it. We are neither Englishmen nor Jews.
I still believe at this late hour to have served the cause of peace in that region, albeit by assuming a serious obligation of our own. In order, however, finally to solve these problems and achieve clarity concerning the Russian attitude toward Germany, as well as under pressure of continually increasing mobilization on our eastern frontier, I invited Mr. Molotov to come to Berlin.
The Soviet Foreign Minister [during their meeting, Nov. 12-13, 1940] then demanded Germany’s clarification of or agreement to the following four questions:
Molotov’s first question: Is the German guarantee for Romania also directed against Soviet Russia in case of attack by Soviet Russia against Romania?
My answer: The German guarantee is a general one and is unconditionally binding upon us. Russia, however, never declared to us that she had other interests in Romania beyond Bessarabia. The [Soviet] occupation of Northern Bukovina was already a violation of this assurance. I did not therefore think that Russia could now suddenly have more far-reaching intentions against Rumania.
Molotov’s second question: Russia again feels itself menaced by Finland, Russia is determined not to tolerate this. Is Germany ready not to give any aid to Finland, and above all immediately to withdraw German relief troops marching through to Kirkenes?
My answer: As ever, Germany has absolutely no political interests in Finland. A new war by Russia against the small Finnish nation could not, however, be regarded any longer by the German government as tolerable, all the more so because we could never believe that Finland could threaten Russia. Under no circumstances did we want another theater of war to arise in the Baltic.
Molotov’s third question: Is Germany prepared to agree that Soviet Russia give a guarantee to Bulgaria and, in this regard, send Soviet troops to Bulgaria, in connection with which he – Molotov – was prepared to state that the Soviets did not intend on that account, for example, to depose the King?
My answer: Bulgaria is a sovereign state, and I have no knowledge that Bulgaria had ever asked Soviet Russia for any kind of guarantee such as Romania had requested from Germany. Moreover, I would have to discuss the matter with my allies.
Molotov’s fourth question: Soviet Russia absolutely requires free passage through the Dardanelles, and for her protection also demands occupation of a number of important bases on the Dardanelles and the Bosporus [in Turkey]. Is Germany in agreement with this or not?
My answer: Germany is prepared at any time to agree to altering the Treaty of Montreux  in favor of the Black Sea states. Germany is not prepared to agree to Russia’s taking possession of bases on the [Turkish] Straits.
National Socialists! Here I adopted the only attitude that I could adopt as the responsible leader of the German Reich, but also a conscientiously responsible representative of European culture and civilization. The result was to increase the activity in Soviet Russia directed against the Reich, above all, however, the immediate commencement of undermining the new Romanian state from within, and an attempt to remove the Bulgarian government by propaganda.
With the help of confused and immature leaders of the Romanian [Iron Guard] Legion a coup d’état was staged in Romania whose aim was to overthrow Chief of State General Antonescu and produce chaos in the country so as to eliminate the legal authority and thus remove the precondition for implementing the German guarantee. I nevertheless still believed it best to remain silent.
Immediately after the failure of this undertaking, there was renewed reinforcement of concentrations of Russian troops on Germany’s eastern frontier. Tank units and parachute troops were transferred in ever increasing numbers to dangerous proximity to the German frontier. The German armed forces and the German homeland know that until a few weeks ago not a single German tank or motorized division was stationed on our eastern frontier.
If any final proof was required for the coalition meanwhile formed between Britain and Soviet Russia, despite all diversion and camouflage, the Yugoslav conflict provided it. While I made every effort to undertake a final attempt to pacify the Balkans and, in sympathetic cooperation with the Duce [Mussolini], invited Yugoslavia to join the Tripartite Pact, Britain and Soviet Russia jointly organized that coup d’état which, in a single night [March 27, 1941], removed the government that had been ready to come to agreement.
For today we can inform the German nation that the Serbian coup d’état against Germany did not take place just under British, but primarily under Soviet Russian auspices. While we remained silent on this matter as well, the Soviet leaders now went one step further. They not only organized the putsch, but a few days later [April 5, 1941] concluded that well-known friendship treaty with those submissive creatures, which was meant to strengthen the Serbs in their will to resist pacification of the Balkans, and to incite them against Germany. And this was no platonic intention: Moscow demanded mobilization of the Serbian army.
Because, even then, I still believed it better not to speak out, those in power in the Kremlin went still further: The government of the German Reich today possesses documentary evidence proving that Russia, in order finally to bring Serbia into the war, gave her a promise to supply her, by way of Salonika, with weapons, aircraft, munitions and other war materials against Germany. And this happened almost at the very moment that I was advising Japanese Foreign Minister Matsuoka to bring about an easing of tensions with Russia, still hoping thereby to serve the cause of peace.
Only the rapid advance of our incomparable divisions to Skoplje [Skopje], as well as the capture of Salonika itself, frustrated the aims of this Soviet Russian-British plot. Officers of the Serbian air force, however, fled to Russia and were there immediately received as allies.
It was only the victory of the Axis powers in the Balkans that thwarted the plan to tie down Germany this summer in months of fighting in southeastern Europe while meantime steadily completing the deployment of Soviet Russian armies and strengthening their readiness for battle in order, finally, together with Britain and supported by anticipated American supplies, to tie down and then defeat the German Reich and Italy.
Thus Moscow not only broke but miserably betrayed the stipulations of our friendship treaty. All this was done while the rulers in the Kremlin, exactly as in the case of Finland and Romania, up to the last moment pretended peace and friendship and issued seemingly harmless denials.
Although I have been obliged by circumstances again and again to keep silent, the moment has now come when to continue as a mere observer would not only be a sin of omission but a crime against the German people – yes, even against the whole of Europe.
Today something like 160 Russian divisions are standing at our frontier. For weeks there have been constant violations of this frontier, not only affecting us but also in the far north [against Finland], as well as Romania. Russian airmen consider it sport nonchalantly to overlook these frontiers, presumably to prove to us that they already feel themselves masters of these territories. During the night of June 17 to 18 Russian patrols again penetrated into Reich territory, and could only be driven back after prolonged exchange of fire.
This has brought us to the hour when it is necessary for us to counter this plot of Jewish-British warmongers and equally the Jewish rulers of the Bolshevik center in Moscow.
German people! At this moment a deployment of forces is taking place that, in its extent and scope, is the greatest the world hitherto has seen. United with their Finnish comrades, the fighters of the victory of Narvik are standing in the Northern Arctic. German divisions commanded by the conqueror of Norway [General Dietl], together with the heroes of Finnish freedom under their Marshal [Mannerheim], are protecting Finnish soil. Formations of the German eastern front extend from East Prussia to the Carpathians. German and Romanian soldiers are united under Chief of State Antonescu from the banks of the Prut [river] along the lower reaches of the Danube to the shores of the Black Sea.
The task of this front, therefore, is not merely the protection of individual countries, but the safeguarding of Europe, and thereby the salvation of all.
I therefore decided today to once again lay the fate and future of the German Reich and our people in the hands of our soldiers.
May the Lord God help us especially in this fight!
Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop announces Germany’s declaration of war against the Soviet Union. At a meeting room packed with foreign correspondents and journalists representing the German press, he reads the text of the lengthy diplomatic note to the Soviet government, which explains in some detail the reasons for the decision to attack the USSR. His reading of the statement on Sunday morning, June 22, 1941, is broadcast to the world on German radio.
Germany’s Declaration of War Against the USSR
The German Foreign Office Note to the Soviet Government
When in the Summer of 1939 the Reich government, motivated by the desire to achieve a settlement of interests between Germany and the USSR, approached the Soviet government, it was quite aware that it was no easy matter to reach an understanding with a state that on one hand claimed to belong to a community of nation states with rights and duties resulting therefrom, yet on the other hand was ruled by a party that, as a section of the Comintern [Communist International], was striving to bring about world revolution – in other words, the dissolution of those nation states.
The German Reich government made the effort, setting aside its serious misgivings, which were based on this fundamental difference in the political aims of Germany and Soviet Russia, and on the sharp contrast between the diametrically opposed worldviews of National Socialism and Bolshevism. It was guided by the idea that the elimination of the possibility of war, which would result from an understanding between Germany and Russia, and the safeguarding of the real vital needs of the two nations, between whom friendly relations had always existed, would offer the best guarantee against a further spreading to Europe of the Communist doctrine of international Jewry. This belief was strengthened by the fact that certain events in Russia itself and certain measures of international scope undertaken by the Russian government allowed one to assume that a departure from those doctrines and previous methods of subversion of other nations seemed at least possible. The reception accorded in Moscow to this German initiative and the readiness of the Soviet Russian government to conclude a pact of friendship with Germany appeared to confirm this change of attitude.
Thus, a Non-Aggression Pact was concluded on August 23, 1939, while a Boundary and Friendship Agreement was signed by the two states on September 28, 1939. The essence of these agreements consisted of:
1. Reciprocal pledges by both states not to attack one another and to live as peaceful neighbors, and
2. Delineation of spheres of interest, with 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 wishes of the Soviets.
Immediately following the conclusion of the Non-Aggression Pact with Russia, the Reich government in fact carried out a fundamental shift in its policy toward the USSR, and since that time assumed a friendly attitude toward the Soviet Union. The German government faithfully adhered in both letter and spirit to the treaties concluded with the Soviet Union. In addition, it had – through the defeat of Poland, that is, by shedding German blood – helped the Soviet Union to gain its greatest successes in foreign policy since its establishment. That was only possible as a result of Germany’s well-intentioned policy toward Russia and the overwhelming victories of German armed forces.
Not unreasonably, the Reich government therefore felt justified in expecting that the Soviet Union would adopt a similar attitude toward the German Reich, especially given that during the negotiations conducted by Reich Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop in Moscow, and on other occasions, the Soviet government had repeatedly expressed the view that these treaties would be the basis for a lasting settlement of German-Soviet Russian interests, and that the two nations, each respecting the regime of the other, and prepared to abstain from any interference in the internal affairs of the other partner, would achieve lasting good neighborly relations. Unfortunately it soon became evident that the Reich government had been quite mistaken in that assumption.
In fact the Comintern resumed its activities in every sphere very soon after conclusion of the German-Russian treaties. This was true not only with regard to Germany, but also regarding states friendly to Germany, as well as neutral States, and areas in Europe that were occupied by German troops. In order to avoid openly violating the treaties, methods were changed and camouflage was applied more carefully and with greater cunning. In Moscow it obviously was thought necessary to offset the impact of the conclusion of the pact with National Socialist Germany by continually denouncing Germany’s supposed “imperialistic war.” Strong and effective preventive police measures compelled the Comintern to try to conduct its subversive activities and its intelligence work in Germany in other ways, making use of centers established for that purpose in neighboring countries.
For that purpose former German Communist officials were deployed to foment subversion and to arrange for acts of sabotage in Germany. GPU [NKVD] Commissar Krylov was in charge of systematic training courses organized for that purpose. In addition, intensive subversive activities were carried out in territories occupied by Germany, notably in the Protectorate [Bohemia- Moravia] and in occupied France, as well as in Norway, Holland, Belgium, and so forth.
Soviet Russian diplomatic posts, notably the General Consulate in Prague, rendered valuable assistance in that regard. An active intelligence service that included radio transmitters and receivers is absolute proof of the work of the Comintern directed against the German Reich. There is also extensive documentary evidence consisting of witnesses’ statements and written materials on the full scope of other subversion and reconnaissance work of the Comintern. In addition, sabotage groups were organized, which maintained their own laboratories for making incendiary and high-explosive bombs for use in acts of sabotage. Such attacks were carried out, for example, against no fewer than 16 German ships.
In addition to this subversion and sabotage activity, espionage was also carried out. Thus, the repatriation of [ethnic] Germans from Soviet Russia was exploited by the most reprehensible means for the purpose of gaining the services of these Germans for the ends of the GPU. Not only men but women as well were victims of shameless extortion and forced to enter the service of the GPU. Even the Soviet Russian embassy in Berlin, in operations headed by embassy counselor [Amayak] Kobulov, did not shrink from unscrupulous abuse of the rights of extraterritoriality for espionage purposes. A staff member of the Russian Consulate at Prague, Mokhov [L. Mikhailov], headed another Russian espionage network that extended across the Protectorate [Bohemia-Moravia]. Further instances in which the police were able to take action in time provided clear, unequivocal evidence of these extensive Soviet Russian machinations. The evidence as a whole proves irrefutably that Soviet Russia carried out against Germany illegal, large-scale subversive activities, acts of sabotage and terror, and espionage in preparation for war, in the political, military and economic spheres.
With regard to Soviet Russia’s subversive activities in European countries outside of Germany, those extended to almost all countries in Europe that are friendly to or are occupied by Germany. Thus in Romania, for example, Communist propaganda in the form of leaflets of Russian origin portrayed Germany as being responsible for all local troubles in order to foster an anti-German public mood. The same thing had been evident in Yugoslavia since the Summer of 1940. Leaflets there incited the people to protest against the [Dragiša] Cvetković government, which was aligning with the “imperialistic” governments of 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 embassy in 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 slogans, in Hungary it was effective chiefly among the Ruthenian population, to whom it held out hopes of forthcoming liberation by Soviet Russia. Anti-German propaganda was particularly active in Slovakia, which openly agitated for annexation of that country by Soviet Russia.
In Finland the notorious “Society for Peace and Friendship With the Soviet Union” actively worked with the [Soviet-run] Petroskoi radio broadcasting station to promote the subversion of the country, and thereby operating in an entirely anti-German way.
In France, Belgium and Holland agitation was directed against the German occupation authority. A similar propaganda campaign, but of nationalist and pan-Slavic character, was carried out in the Government General [Poland]. Scarcely had Greece been occupied by German and Italian troops when Soviet Russian propaganda commenced there as well. All this is evidence of a campaign systematically carried out in every country by the USSR against Germany’s endeavor to establish a stable order in Europe.
Parallel with that was propaganda directly aimed at countering German policy measures, which denounced those measures as anti-Russian and sought to win over these various countries for Soviet Russia and against Germany. In Bulgaria there was agitation against that country’s joining the Tripartite Pact, and in favor of a guarantee pact with Russia. In Romania attempts were made at infiltration of the [nationalist] Iron Guard [movement] and suborning its leaders, including Groza, a Romanian who initiated the attempted putsch of January 23, 1941, and behind whom Bolshevist agents of Moscow stood as wire-pullers. The Reich government has indisputable evidence of this.
With regard to Yugoslavia, the Reich government has come in possession of documents showing that the Yugoslav envoy [Milorad] Georgevic [Djordjevich] became convinced, on the basis of a conversation with [Soviet foreign minister] Molotov in May 1940 that Germany was regarded there as the “powerful enemy of tomorrow.” Soviet Russia’s attitude was made even more clear by its response to the requests for armaments made by Serbian military circles. In November 1940, the chief of the Soviet Russian General Staff declared to the Yugoslav military attaché: “We will give you, immediately, everything you ask for.” The prices to be paid and the method of payment were left to the discretion of the Belgrade government, and only one condition was made: to keep this a secret from Germany. When the Cvetković government subsequently approached the Axis powers, Moscow began to delay deliveries of weapons, and this was communicated curtly to the Yugoslav military attaché by the Soviet Russian War Ministry. The staging of the Belgrade putsch of March 27 of this year was the climax of those conspiratorial activities against the Reich by Serbian plotters and Anglo-Russian agents. The Serbian leader of that putsch and the head of the “Black Hand,” Mr. [Božin] Simić, is still in Moscow, where he works actively against the Reich in close collaboration with Soviet Russian propaganda centers.
The foregoing points are only a small portion of the enormously comprehensive propaganda activities against Germany that the USSR has been carrying out across Europe. In order to furnish the outside world with an overview of these activities by Soviet Russian agencies since the conclusion of the treaties between Germany and Russia and to enable the public to reach its own judgment, the Reich government will be publishing the extensive material at its disposal. In summary, the Reich government points out the following:
At the conclusion of the treaties with Germany, the Soviet government repeatedly made the unequivocal declaration that it did not intend to interfere, either directly or indirectly, in German affairs. When the friendship treaty was concluded, it solemnly stated it would work together with Germany in order to bring an end, in accordance with the true interests of all nations, of the war existing between Germany on one hand and Britain and France on the other, and to achieve this aim as soon as possible. In the light of the above-mentioned facts, which have steadily become more apparent during the further course of the war, these Soviet Russian agreements and declarations have been shown to be 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 has been forced to realize that the conclusion of the pacts in 1939 was yet another instance of the application of Lenin’s thesis, as expressly reaffirmed in the October 1939 “Guidelines 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 signing of these treaties of friendship was, accordingly, for the Soviet government only a tactical maneuver. The real goal was to reach agreements that were advantageous to Russia and, at the same time, enable preparation for powerful future action by the Soviet Union. The guiding idea remained the weakening of non-Bolshevist states in order to be in a position to subvert them more easily and, when the time came, to smash them. In a Russian document discovered after the capture of Belgrade in the Soviet legation there, this purpose was expressed with stark brutality in the following words: “The USSR will respond only at the opportune moment. The Axis powers have further dissipated their forces, and the USSR will consequently strike a sudden blow against Germany.” The Soviet government has not heeded the voice of the Russian people, who sincerely wish to live in peace and friendship with the German people. Instead, it has continued the old Bolshevist policy of duplicity and, by so doing, has 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 with regard to its attitude toward Germany, then the policy of the Soviet government toward Germany in the military sphere and in the field of foreign policy, even since the conclusion of pacts between Germany and Russia, makes matters even clearer. On the occasion of the delineation of spheres of interest, the Soviet government declared in Moscow to the Reich Foreign Minister that it did not intend to occupy, bolshevize or annex any of the states situated within its sphere of interest, other than territories of the former Polish State, which were at that time in a state of disintegration. In truth, however, and as the course of events has shown, the policy of the Soviet Union during this period was exclusively directed toward one goal – namely, to extend Moscow’s military power wherever the possibility presented itself in the area between the Arctic Ocean and the Black Sea, and to further spread Bolshevism in Europe.
The development of this policy was carried out in the following stages:
1. It was initiated by the conclusion of so-called assistance pacts with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in October and November 1939, and by the establishment of military bases in those countries.
2. The next Soviet Russian move was against Finland. When the Finnish government rejected the Soviet Russian demands, acceptance of which would have meant the end of the sovereignty of an independent Finnish state, the Soviet government then set up the Kusinin Communist pseudo- government. When the Finnish people rejected any association with that government, an ultimatum was presented to Finland, and then, in late November 1939, the Red Army attacked. The Finnish-Russian peace concluded in March  obliged Finland to surrender part of her southeastern provinces, which were immediately brought under Bolshevist rule.
3. A few months later – that is, in July 1940 – the Soviet Union took action against the Baltic states. Under the terms of the first Moscow treaty, Lithuania was in the German sphere of interest. In the second treaty, and at the desire of the Soviet Union, the German government relinquished its interests in the greater part of that country for the sake of peace, although it did so with a heavy heart. A strip of this territory still remained within the German sphere of interest. Following up on an ultimatum delivered on June 15, the whole of Lithuania, including the part that had remained within the German sphere of interest, was occupied by the Soviet Union without notification to the German government, so that the USSR now extended right up to the entire eastern frontier of East Prussia [Germany]. When subsequently Germany was approached on this matter, the German government, after difficult negotiations and in order to make a further effort toward reaching a friendly settlement, ceded that part of Lithuania as well to the Soviet Union.
A short time later Latvia and Estonia were likewise occupied by military force, an action that constituted a violation of the pacts of assistance concluded with those states. Contrary to the express assurances given by Moscow, all the Baltic states were then bolshevized, and a few weeks after occupation were summarily annexed by the Soviet government. Simultaneously with the annexation, the Red Army was for the first time strongly massed against Europe throughout the entire northern sector of the Soviet Russian territory.
Incidentally, the Soviet government thereby unilaterally cancelled the economic agreements that had been concluded between Germany and those [Baltic] states, which, according to the Moscow agreements were not to be affected.
4. In the treaties of Moscow it had been expressly agreed in connection with the delineation of interests in the territory of the former Polish state that no kind of political agitation was to take place beyond the frontiers marking those zones of interests. Instead, the activities of the occupation authorities on both sides were to be restricted exclusively to the peaceful development of those territories. The German government possesses irrefutable proof that in spite of those agreements the Soviet Union very soon after the occupation of the territory not only permitted anti-German propaganda for consumption in the [German controlled] General Government of Poland but, in fact, supported it along 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 was still fighting in the west against France and Britain, the Soviet Union advanced against the Balkans. Although the Soviet government had declared during the Moscow negotiations that it would never make the first move toward settling the Bessarabia question, the German government was informed on June 24, 1940, by the Soviet government that it was now resolved to settle the Bessarabia question by force. At the same time it was stated that Soviet claims also extended to Bukovina, that is, to a territory that had been an ancient Austrian crown land, had never belonged to Russia, and, moreover, had never been mentioned at the time of the Moscow negotiations.
The German ambassador to Moscow declared to the Soviet government that its decision had come as a complete surprise to the German government, and that it would have a seriously adverse impact on German economic interests in Romania, and would also lead to disruption in the life of the large [ethnic] German settlement there, as well as for the [ethnic] German presence in Bukovina. Molotov 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 24 hours. In spite of this brusque action against Romania, the German government once again intervened in favor of the Soviet Union in order to preserve peace and maintain its friendship with that country. It advised the Romanian government, which had appealed to Germany for help, to yield, and recommended that it surrender Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina to Soviet Russia. The affirmative answer of the Romanian government was communicated to the Soviet government by Germany, together with the Romanian government’s request to be granted sufficient time for evacuation of these large areas and the safeguarding of lives and property of the inhabitants there.
Once again, however, the Soviet government presented an ultimatum to Romania, and, before its expiration, began on June 28 to occupy parts of Bukovina, and immediately afterward the whole of Bessarabia as far as the Danube. These territories were also immediately annexed by the Soviet Union, bolshevized, and thus literally reduced to ruin.
By occupying and bolshevizing the entire sphere of interests in Eastern Europe and in the Balkans accorded to the USSR by the Reich government during the Moscow negotiations, the Soviet government clearly and plainly acted contrary to the Moscow agreements. In spite of this, the Reich government continued to maintain an absolutely loyal attitude toward the USSR. It refrained entirely from intervention in the Finnish war and in the Baltic question. It supported the stance of the Soviet government against the Romanian government in the Bessarabia question, and reconciled itself, albeit with a heavy heart, to the state of affairs created by the Soviet government.
Furthermore, in order to eliminate as far as possible from the outset any divergences between the two states, it [Germany] undertook a large-scale resettlement action, whereby all [ethnic] Germans in areas occupied by the USSR were brought back to Germany. The Reich government maintains that more convincing proof of its desire to come to a lasting peace with the USSR could scarcely be given.
As a result of Russia’s advance toward the Balkans, territorial problems in that region came up for discussion. In the Summer of 1940, Romania and Hungary appealed to Germany for help in arranging a settlement of their territorial disputes, after these divergences, stirred up by British agents, had resulted in a serious crisis at the end of August. War was imminent between Romania and Hungary. Germany, which had repeatedly been requested by Hungary and Romania to mediate in their dispute, desired to maintain peace in the Balkans and, together with Italy, invited the two states to confer at Vienna, where, at their request, it proclaimed the Vienna Arbitration Award of August 30, 1940. This established the new frontier between Hungary and Romania. In order to help enable the Romanian government to justify before its people the territorial sacrifice they were making and to eliminate any dispute in this area for the future, Germany and Italy undertook to guarantee the remaining Romanian state. Given that Russian aspirations in this area had already been satisfied, this guarantee could not in any way be taken as directed against Russia. Nevertheless the Soviet Union lodged a complaint and stated that, contrary to earlier declarations according to which its aspirations in the Balkans had been satisfied by the taking of Bessarabia and Northern Bukovina, it had further interests in Balkan questions, though for the time being those were not further defined.
From that time Soviet Russia’s anti-German policy became steadily more apparent. The Reich government continued to receive ever more concrete reports, according to which negotiations that had been carried on for some time in Moscow by British ambassador [Sir Stafford] Cripps were developing favorably. At the same time the Reich government came into possession of evidence of the Soviet Union’s intensive military preparations in every sphere. This evidence was confirmed by, among other things, a report of Dec. 17, 1940, recently found in Belgrade, by the Yugoslav military attaché in Moscow, which reads: “According to information received from Soviet sources, the arming of the air force, tank corps and artillery in accordance with experiences of the present war are in full progress and will, substantially, have been completed by August 1941. This probably also constitutes the [time] limit before which no appreciable changes in Soviet foreign policy can be expected.”
Despite the unfriendly attitude of the Soviet Union with regard to the Balkan question, Germany made a fresh effort to come to an understanding with the USSR: the Reich Foreign Minister, 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 Germany, Italy and Japan concluded the Tripartite Pact [Sept. 27, 1940] it was unanimously agreed that this pact in no sense is directed against the Soviet Union, but rather that the friendly relations of the three powers and their treaties with the USSR should remain completely unaffected by this agreement. 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 USSR, as 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 Foreign Minister invited Mr. Molotov to visit Berlin.
During Molotov’s visit to Berlin [Nov. 12-13, 1940] the Reich government was forced to the conclusion that the USSR was only inclined toward genuinely friendly cooperation with the Tripartite Pact powers, and with Germany in particular, provided they were prepared to pay the price demanded by the Soviet Union. This price consisted of further penetration of the Soviet Union into North and Southeast Europe. The following demands were made by Molotov 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, beyond that, to conclude with her a pact of assistance on the same lines as those concluded with the Baltic states – that is, providing for [Soviet] military bases. At the same time Molotov declared that he did not wish to interfere with the internal regime of Bulgaria. A visit of Russian commissar [Arkady] Sobolev 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 did not agree to this proposal, Germany and Italy were to cooperate with Russia in diplomatic measures to be undertaken to enforce compliance with this demand. These demands were aimed at the domination of the Balkans by the USSR.
3. The Soviet Union declared that once again that it felt itself threatened by Finland, and therefore demanded complete abandonment of Finland by Germany, which practically would have meant the occupation of that state and the extermination of the Finnish people.
Germany naturally was unable to accept these Russian demands, which the Soviet government characterized as a pre-condition for cooperation with the Tripartite Pact powers. Thus the efforts of the Tripartite Pact powers to come to an understanding with the Soviet Union failed. The result of this German attitude was that Russia now intensified its already steadily more obvious anti-German policy, and that its increasingly closer cooperation with Britain became more clear. In January 1941 this disapproving attitude on the part of Russia first manifested itself in the diplomatic sphere. When in 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 a security zone of the USSR, and that it could not remain a passive spectator of events taking place in these areas, which threatened those security interests. For that reason the Soviet government warned against the appearance of German troops on Bulgarian territory or on either of the two straits.
In response the Reich government furnished the Soviet government with exhaustive information about the causes and aims of its military measures in the Balkans. This made it clear that Germany would prevent, with every means of her power, any attempt on the part of Britain to gain a foothold in Greece, but that it 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 government believed that those operations served Soviet interests. After carrying through its operations in the Balkans, Germany withdrew her troops from there.
Despite this Reich government declaration, the Soviet government for its part published a declaration addressed to Bulgaria directly after the entry of German troops into that country that 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 peace in the Balkans, but rather to war. An explanation for this attitude was found by the Reich government in incoming information, steadily increasing in scale, about ever closer collaboration between Soviet Russia and Britain. Even in the face of these facts, Germany remained silent.
Along the same lines was the assurance given by the Soviet government in March 1941 that Russia would not attack Turkey in event of the latter’s joining in the war in the Balkans. According to information in possession of the Reich government, this was the result of Anglo-Russian negotiations during the visit of the British Foreign Secretary [Anthony Eden] in Ankara, whose efforts were aimed at drawing Russia closer to the British camp.
The aggressive policy of the Soviet government toward the German Reich, which steadily was becoming more pronounced ever since that time, as well as the hitherto somewhat discreet political cooperation between the Soviet Union and Britain became, however, obvious to the entire world at the outbreak of the Balkan crisis at the beginning of April of this year. It is today fully established that the putsch instigated by Britain in Belgrade after Yugoslavia had joined the Tripartite Pact was instigated with the connivance of Soviet Russia. For some time before that, in fact since November 14, 1940, Russia had secretly assisted Yugoslavia in arming against the Axis powers. This is conclusively proven by documents that came into the hands of the Reich government after the occupation of Belgrade, which reveal every phase of those Russian deliveries of weapons to Yugoslavia.
Once the Belgrade putsch had succeeded, Russia on April 5 concluded a pact of friendship with the illegal Serbian government of General [Dušan] Simović, 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 that 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: 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 that 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 Romanian and Bulgarian territory against growing large-scale landings of British troops in Greece, the Soviet Union, now obviously in cooperation with Britain, was attempting to stab Germany in the back by:
1. Giving Yugoslavia open political and secret military support.
2. Attempting to get Turkey to adopt an aggressive attitude toward Bulgaria and Germany by promising not to attack her and to deploy the Turkish army in a very unfavorable strategic position in Thrace.
3. Itself concentrating a strong military force on the Romanian frontier in Bessarabia and in Moldavia, and
4. Through a sudden attempt early in April by [Andrey] Vyshinsky, Deputy People’s Commissar of Foreign Affairs in his conversations with [Grigore] Gafencu, Romanian ambassador in Moscow, to inaugurate a policy of rapid rapprochement with Romania in order to persuade that country to break away from Germany. 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 Romania and Bulgaria were to have been attacked from three sides, namely from Bessarabia, from Thrace, and from the Serbian-Greek frontier. It was due solely to the loyalty of [Romanian leader] General [Ion] Antonescu, the realistic attitude of 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, nearly 200 Yugoslav aircraft carrying Soviet Russian and British agents as well as Simović and other Serbian putschists took off — some of them to Russia, where those officers are today serving the Russian army, and some to Egypt. This fact alone throws a particularly characteristic light on the close collaboration between Britain, Russia and Yugoslavia.
In vain the Soviet government tried on various occasions to hide the real intentions underlying its policy. Besides maintaining trade-economic relations with Germany even during the final period, it adopted a succession of specific measures to deceive the world into thinking it was maintaining normal, even friendly, relations with Germany. These include, for example, the expulsion a few weeks ago of the diplomatic representatives of Norway, Belgium, Greece and Yugoslavia, the silence observed by the British press about German-Russian relations, arranged through the British ambassador Cripps in cooperation with the Russian government, and finally the dementi [statement] issued [June 13] by the [Soviet] Tass agency, which sought to portray relations between Germany and the Soviet Russia as completely correct. These attempts at camouflage, which were in such crass 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 with a steadily increasing concentration of all available Russian armed forces along a broad front extending from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Already at a time when Germany was deeply engaged in the west in the French campaign, and when only a very few German detachments were stationed in the east, the Russian High Command began systematically to transfer large contingents of troops to the eastern Reich frontiers, with especially large deployments being identified on the borders with East Prussia and the Government General [Poland], as well as in Bukovina and Bessarabia, opposite Romania.
Russian garrisons facing Finland were also steadily being strengthened. Transfers of ever more new Russian divisions from the Far East and the Caucasus to western Russia were additional measures in that regard. After the Soviet government had declared that the Baltic area, for instance, would only be occupied by very small numbers of troops, it proceeded to concentrate in that area, after the occupation had been completed, steadily increasing masses of troops, their number today being estimated at 22 divisions. It became clear that Russian troops were being moved ever closer to the German frontier, even though the German side had adopted no military measures that might have justified such Russian action. It is this Russian behavior that first compelled the German armed forces to adopt counter-measures. Moreover, various units of the Russian army and air force moved up, and strong air force detachments were posted on air fields along the German border. Since early April ever more frontier violations and a steadily increasing number of incursions over German Reich territory by Russian aircraft have also been observed. The Romanian government has reported similar developments on the Romanian frontier areas of Bukovina, Moldavia and the Danube.
Since the beginning of this year the German Armed Forces High Command has repeatedly notified the [German] foreign policy leadership of the steadily increasing menace posed against Reich territory by the Russian army, emphasizing in that regard that only aggressive intentions could account for these deployments. These Armed Forces High Command reports will be made public, with all the details.
If there was even the slightest doubt about the aggressive nature of this Russian deployment, they have been completely dispelled by the news that reached the German High Command in recent days. Now that the Russian general mobilization is complete, no less than 160 divisions are deployed against Germany. The results of reconnaissance carried out in recent days have shown that the deployment of Russian troops, and especially of motorized and armored units, has been carried out in such a way that the Russian High Command is ready at any moment to take aggressive action at various points against the German frontier. Reports of increased reconnaissance and patrol activity as well as reports coming in daily of incidents on the frontier and outpost skirmishes between the two armies complete the picture of an extremely strained military situation, which could erupt at any moment. News received today from England about negotiations by British ambassador Cripps to establish even closer collaboration between the political and military leaders of Britain and Soviet Russia, together with the appeal by [Britain’s] Lord Beaverbrook, who at one time was anti-Soviet, to support Russia in the coming conflict by every available means, and his call for the United States to do the same, show unambiguously what kind of a fate is being prepared for the German nation.
To sum up, the Reich government makes the following declaration:
Contrary to all the obligations it had assumed, and in crass violation of its solemn declarations, the Soviet government has turned against Germany. It has:
1. Not only continued but, since the outbreak of war, intensified its subversive activities against Germany and Europe. And it has
2. In steadily increasing measure developed its foreign policy against Germany in an ever more hostile way. It has
3. Deployed its entire military forces on the German border ready for attack.
The Soviet government has thus violated and broken its treaties and 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 ready 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 Führer has, therefore, ordered the German armed forces to oppose this threat with all the might at their disposal. In the coming struggle the German people fully understand that they are called upon not only to defend the homeland, but to save the entire civilized world from the deadly dangers of Bolshevism, and clear the way for true social progress in Europe.
‘No country for working parents’
Even before the pandemic, childcare was one of the biggest challenges facing young families. “It cripples families financially,” says Lucia Ryan, a school principal and parent of three-year-old twins.
Covid-19 has intensified the pressure on parents and providers, launching them into a new world of regulations, “play pods” and resulting staffing pressures.
“Our creche couldn’t find staff. So they reduced their hours to finish at 4pm,” Ryan, the principal of Hartstown Community School in Dublin, tells The Irish Times.
She was left trying to “run a school from home in the afternoons” and look after two-year-old twins, Matilda and John, though they are now enrolled in the State’s Early Childhood and Childcare Scheme, along with an afternoon childminder.
But she worries about the pressure facing parents and the “absolute heroes” who are the country’s childcare workers. Her third child is due in three weeks. She’s trying not to think about what happens when her maternity leave ends. “I don’t know what I’ll do.”
For many, the complications of the post-pandemic world of work and childcare are only beginning. A new era of flexibility is supposed to free people but, in practice, things could get worse, not better.
Up to 200,000 children are in early years services, with parents paying €800 per month for a creche place, and up to €1,200 a month in some areas. Now, some are discovering that their needs do not always align with either a childcare provider or their employer.
Michelle Walsh, who works with the Health Service Executive, recently returned to work after maternity leave with her second child, and considered herself lucky to get a place for the baby in the only creche in her rural town, where her three year old already attends. “On my first day back at work, the creche called to say they had to cut hours for my one year old and could only provide childcare until 1pm.”
The three-year-old could still stay full days. Walsh runs clinics in primary care four days a week, so “it is impossible to change hours to facilitate this. I’ve now had to find a childminder for the afternoons and start settling in again. To say the situation has been stressful is an understatement.”
The combination of a creche in the mornings and childminder in the afternoons is proving more expensive than full days in the creche would be. But it is her last option and she may have to take a career break if arrangements falter.
Other parents have similar stories, telling of the difficulty of juggling the same hours at work with reduced hours in childcare, the fees which haven’t changed and the dread felt that a child could be sent home with a sniffle.
“Our creche has reduced its hours. They haven’t reduced fees,” says Olivia, who doesn’t want to use her real name because she does not want to be perceived as critical of her creche or her employer, when she’s just frustrated by the system. “It used to be 7.30am to 6pm. Now it’s 8.00am to 5.30pm, which can be challenging . . . I know management are keen not to raise fees, but they say with the pod system, it’s impossible to have the staff for longer hours.”
Consequently, she has to finish work at 5pm. “Right now I’m still WFH [working from home] but it will be even more challenging once I go back to the office in a couple of weeks. In the old days, I used to drop three kids to creche for 7.45am, where they got breakfast and two were brought to school from there. Then I could work from 8am to 5.30pm. Now, we need to split drop-off for school and creche, make it to work for 9am and rush out of work at 5pm for pick-up.”
Her employer is understanding, but the hours have to be made up. “It’s just back to the same old juggling – logging in early morning or after kids go to bed.”
So what exactly is going on to put Ireland’s already-struggling childcare infrastructure under such additional strain? “The pre-Covid pressures are back with a bang,” says Frances Byrne, policy director with Early Childcare Ireland, which represents 3,900 childcare providers providing care for 120,000 children.
Irish parents already pay the third-highest proportion of their income on childcare of OECD countries, due, provider say, to the lack of spending over generations by successive governments.
According to the OECD, Ireland was spending just 0.1 per cent of gross domestic product on early years prior to Covid, the lowest investment of any developed country. During Covid, additional government funding “kept the show on the road” and meant that creches were able to keep staff employed and stay open, Byrne says. But as the world returns to normal, there’s no certainty over how long that funding will be available.
Meanwhile, although the pod system is supposed to offer some flexibility – allowing staff to move between pods to cover breaks for each other for example – in practice many creches feel they’ve been left with a choice of hiring more staff or reducing hours. Regina Bushell, who is the managing director of Grovelands, which operates six childcare centres in the midlands and runs the Seas Suas group representing independent childcare providers, explains how it has reduced the places available to babies.
“The regulations require a ratio of three [babies] to one [staff member]. But realistically for governance, I need a three to two ratio, because that one person has to have annual leave, lunch breaks, their comfort breaks, they may go out sick. I require those three babies to be in on a full-time basis to cover the cost.”
“Service providers would love to be able to provide as much flexibility as required. But there is a sustainability problem if parents only want to do five hours, but there are staff there who need to be paid for 10 hours.”
One mother in a different part of the country, Sinead, said her daughter used to attend after-school care from 2.30pm to 5.30pm five days a week. She had been hoping to use the care for two days, not five because of Covid-prompted changes to her work, but the provider can only do all or nothing.
Sinead is understandably annoyed, but, explains Byrne, “It’s not an inflexibility by choice; it’s an inflexibility imposed by the funding models.”
Funding is tied to attendance, says Byrne. So the National Childcare Scheme is the most flexible, but it can only offer flexibility “for up to eight weeks”, says Byrne. “If someone is saying I’m not going to need care on a Wednesday because I’m working from home or I reduced my hours, it’s really difficult for providers to offer that flexibility. Over time, their public funding will be withdrawn.”
The answer, believes Early Childhood Ireland, is more money and more flexibility. The Government has committed to doubling spending by 2028, but a five-year budget is needed, says Byrne.
And the models must adapt to post-Covid working. In Scandinavian counties, the provider is not “punished” if a parent is in a position to reduce their child’s hours. “We need to move to a Scandinavian model, where everybody pays something, but the richest pay more – but even the richest only pay up to a certain amount.”
As things stand, says Olivia, Ireland is no country for working parents and “definitely no country for working mothers.”
France recalls ambassadors from US, Australia over submarines row
President Emmanuel Macron ordered the recalling of the envoys after Canberra ditched a deal to buy French submarines in favour of US vessels, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
Le Drian said in a statement that the decision was made to “immediately” recall the two French ambassadors due to “the exceptional seriousness of the announcements made on September 15th by Australia and the United States.”
The abandonment of the ocean-class submarine project that Australia and France had been working on since 2016 constituted “unacceptable behaviour among allies and partners,” the minister said.
“Their consequences affect the very concept we have of our alliances, our partnerships, and the importance of the Indo-Pacific for Europe”
US President Joe Biden announced the new Australia-US-Britain defence alliance on Wednesday, extending US nuclear submarine technology to Australia as well as cyber defence, applied artificial intelligence and undersea capabilities.
The pact is widely seen as aimed at countering the rise of China.
The move infuriated France, which lost a contract to supply conventional submarines to Australia that was worth Aus$50 billion (€31 billion, $36.5 billion) when signed in 2016.
The French ambassador recalls from the United States and Australia, key allies of France, are unprecedented.
At request of @EmmanuelMacron, @Ph_Etienne & his colleague appointed in Canberra are being recalled to Paris for consultations. This reflects exceptional seriousness of announcements made on Sept 15 that constitute unacceptable behavior for allies/partnershttps://t.co/o75Lnte9I8
— French Embassy U.S. (@franceintheus) September 17, 2021
France has made no effort to disguise its fury and on Thursday accused Australia of back-stabbing and Washington of Donald Trump-era behaviour over the submarines deal.
“It’s really a stab in the back,” Le Drian said Thursday. “We had established a relationship of trust with Australia, this trust has been
France has also called off a gala at its ambassador’s house in Washington scheduled for Friday. The event was supposed to celebrate the anniversary of a decisive naval battle in the American Revolution, in which France played a key role.
Australia earlier shrugged off Chinese anger over its decision to acquire US nuclear-powered submarines, while vowing to defend the rule of law in airspace and waters where Beijing has staked hotly contested claims.
Beijing described the new alliance as an “extremely irresponsible” threat to regional stability, questioning Australia’s commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and warning the Western allies that they risked “shooting themselves in the foot”.
China has its own “very substantive programme of nuclear submarine building”, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison argued Friday in an interview with radio station 2GB.
China claims almost all of the resource-rich South China Sea, through which trillions of dollars in shipping trade passes annually, rejecting competing claims from Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.
Beijing has been accused of deploying a range of military hardware including anti-ship missiles and surface-to-air missiles there, and ignored a 2016 international tribunal decision that declared its historical claim over most of the waters to be without basis.
France’s European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune said on Friday that Paris was unable to trust Canberra in ongoing European Union trade deal talks following the decision, before the ambassadors were recalled.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne, in Washington, said she understood the “disappointment” in Paris and hoped to work with France to ensure it understands “the value we place on the bilateral relationship and the work that we want to continue to do together”.
Pope Francis calls President Higgins a ‘wise man of today’
Pope Francis has described President Michael D Higgins as a “wise man of today” during an Audience in the Vatican on Friday morning.
President Higgins met the Pontiff for the fourth time on Friday and discussed issues including climate change, environment and global inequality.
During the formal photocall, the Pope said: “Today, I did not just meet a man, a President, I met a wise man of today.
“I thank God that Ireland has such a wise man as its Head (of State).”
A statement issued by the Vatican said that after the audience with the Pope, President Higgins met with Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, accompanied by Archbishop Paul Richard Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States.
“During the cordial talks, various matters of mutual interest were discussed, such as migration and the protection of the environment, with particular attention to the prospects of the 26th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP26), to take place in Glasgow.
“There was also a joint reflection on the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and the future of Europe, focusing finally on the theme of the strengthening of the peace process in the country.”
The President was accompanied to the Vatican by his wife, Sabina Higgins, and by Ireland’s Ambassador to the Holy See, Derek Hannon.
He presented to the Pope a ‘Bata Iascaire’ or ‘Fisherman’s Stick’ made on Inis Mór, the largest of the Aran Islands.
Artist Lochlainn Cullen took a local blackthorn stick and wove it with special cotton, using knots drawn from fishing.
The spiral is called ‘St. Mary’s Hitch’ and consists of three interwoven strands and represents the divine trinity.
A controversy around Mr Higgins’s declining of an invitation to a church service in Armagh next month marking the centenary of partition and creation of Northern Ireland, which the queen will attend, had threatened to overshadow the Vatican visit.
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