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Adolf Hitler's Proclamation to the Soldiers of the Western Front (10 May 1940)

The hour of the most decisive battle for the future of the German nation has come.

For over 300 years it has been the ambition of British and French rulers to prevent a real consolidation of Europe and, in particular, to keep Germany weak and impotent. To this end, France alone has declared war on Germany thirty-one times in the course of two centuries.

For decades it has also been the ambition of the British rulers of the world to prevent Germany, under all circumstances, from attaining unity while denying the Reich those vital goods necessary to sustain a people of eighty million. England and France have pursued this policy regardless of which regime reigned in Germany at any point in time. Their target was always the German Volk. Men of responsibility in those countries proclaimed this ambition openly.

Germany was to be shattered and dissolved into many small states. Then the Reich would lose its political power and hence its means of securing for the German Volk its vital rights upon this earth. For this reason, all my offers of peace were rejected and war was declared on us on September 3 of last year.

The German Volk harbors neither hatred nor animosity toward either the English or the French people. Today, however, it faces the question whether it desires to live or rather to perish.

Within a few weeks, the valiant troops of our armies have defeated the Polish enemy sent up to the front by Britain and France. Thereby they have eliminated the danger in the East. Consequently, Britain and France determined to assault Germany in the North. Ever since April 9, the Wehrmacht has quelled this attempt from its very beginnings.

Now has come to pass what we have envisioned as a threatening danger throughout the past months. Britain and France aim to push for the Ruhr territory through Holland and Belgium while undertaking a gigantic effort at diversion in southeast Europe.

Soldiers of the Western Front! Your hour has come. The battle beginning on this day will determine the fate of the German nation for the next one thousand years. Now do your duty. The German Volk is with you in its desire for victory.

Adolf Hitler