8th of July 1934, Rudolf Hess appeals for peace between the fighting nations. Hess would fly to England seven years later to try to stop the war that England and France started through the war declaration against Germany.
Propaganda describes Hitler and the other leading people in national-socialist Germany as war lunatics. In fact, Hitler did not want a war, he repeatedly appealed for peace between the fighting nations. Hitler’s first foreign policy speech, in May 1933, was about securing peace. Millions of people would not have to pay with their lives if only the Allies had listened to Hitler’s speech about peace, German equality and the proposals for general disarmament.
Moreover, Hitler was not alone, his deputy, Rudolf Hess, held a speech on July 8, 1934, calling for peace between the nations. Hess held the speech in Königsberg at a Gau-meeting, but the speech was also intended for international audiences.
The speech had the title “A Veteran’s Plea for Peace” and in the speech Hess spoke from his own experiences as a frontier soldier during World War I. Hess mentions in the speech that the frontier soldiers of the various nations during the First World War shared the same burdens and today have common ties with each other. The fronts want peace because they feel inner inequality with the other side and because they fought and bleed in a meaningless war that might have been started “by the gun of a fool” (the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria). Therefore, the frontier soldiers must come forward and say no when politicians and other interests are pushing for the development of a new war.
The speech can be read in full in English here. Here is some excerpt:
Today our people have the good fortune to be led by soldiers who fought in the front line trenches [during the First World War] and who have brought over into the leadership of the state those virtues which they learned at the front. They are carrying out the rebuilding of the Reich in the spirit of the trenches; because it was the spirit of the trenches which created National Socialism.
While in the trenches they were everywhere confronted with death; and in the face of this terror all feeling of class distinction or differences of calling broke down. In the common sorrows and joys that they shared while in the trenches, there developed a spirit of comradeship between fellow countrymen such as had never been known before. In the trenches, the common destiny stood out, before all eyes and in gigantic form, above the destiny of the individual.
And this feeling of a common bond has remained up to the present day. Is it not so? When [former] soldiers of the front-line trenches who fought on the opposite sides now find themselves together they naturally speak of the world war, but the hope that is constantly glittering through their conversation is the hope of peace. And therefore, if the politicians cannot find the means of doing so, it is the men who fought in the frontline trenches who are now called upon to throw a bridge of understanding across the gulf that separates nation from nation.
It is no mere coincidence that the two nations that are [today] led by soldiers [Mussolini and Hitler] who once fought in the trenches – Italy and Germany – are now working hard to establish a world peace.
Even in France, Hitler’s attempt to bring about an understanding with our western neighbour met with the most favourable reception in the ranks of the former front-line soldiers.
The demand for an honourable understanding with Germany, expressed officially by the organizations of French [former] front-line soldiers, was received with keen sympathy by us, and especially by [former] German front-line soldiers.
We believe that this is particularly true of the French people; for we know that these people also yearn for peace. We who fought in the trenches remember that the French population behind the lines in the World War always spoke of it as a misfortune for themselves and the whole world.
A Frenchman who knows the people and politics of his country very well said to me once: “Have sympathy with us. We still govern through the parliamentary system.” He meant to say that statesmen are often forced in their speeches to avoid saying what they think and to say what the parliamentary majority wants to hear. But we know that parliamentary majorities do not represent the opinion of the public. They are rather the representatives of commercial interests and other forces.
We who have fought in the trenches are determined that an incompetent diplomacy shall not be the cause of our stumbling into another catastrophe. Once again, front-line soldiers would have to bear the brunt of the suffering. The soldiers who fought in the trenches, no matter on which side, feel free of all responsibility for the last war. We want to work together to prevent a new catastrophe. We desire in common to build up in peace what in common we destroyed in the war.
Let us be honest. Did not each one of us then and there often ask: Why all this? Must this be? Can humanity not be spared all this in the future?
Today I take up anew the question we then asked, and I send it out to ring as a summons around the world. As one who fought in the front-line trenches [speaking] to the [former] front-line soldiers throughout the world, as a leader of the German nation to the leaders of other nations, I ask: Must this be? With goodwill and cooperation, cannot we save humanity from this?
The former soldiers of the old front-line want peace.
The people want peace.
The German government wants peace.
Hess would be known as peace fighter in 1941 when he flew to England to mend peace – but instead, he was imprisoned and sentenced to life imprisonment in the Spandau prison. According to the rule of law in Nürnberg, Hess had been guilty of “crime against peace”. In 1987, when Hess’s release was imminent, he was assassinated in the Spandau prison, something now confirmed by previously classified documents. The motive for the murder should have been that the British did not want Hess to leak classified information about World War II.