Rouhani’s Charm Offensive and Hitler’s Peace Speeches

 The charm offensive of President Rouhani of Iran recalls the story of Hitler’s many conciliatory statements about peace in the eight years starting from when he became Chancellor in January 1933 up to the withdrawal of the British Forces from Dunkirk, in June 1940. During these years, there were those who interpreted these statements as evidence of benign intent, or at the minimum, the demands of a rational leader with rational aims for his country.

Since the Ayatollahs came to power in 1979, the public statements from the Ayatollahs on Israel—the Lesser Satan, bear  certain similarities to the peace speeches of Hitler. And  there has been a marked similarity between  the rhetoric of dehumanization, demonization and delegitimization of Jews by the Nazis and the same rhetoric directed at  Israel by the Iranian leadership. Iran’s rhetoric is coupled with its promotion of terror, internal suppression of human rights, nuclear enrichment and development of  intercontinental missiles which can reach Israel, Europe and the US. Rouhani’s past as Iran’s chief negotiator, his open bragging about he had hoodwinked the Americans, his reported behind the scenes involvement in the terror attack against the Jewish Community Center, and most of all the fact that he is not the Number One man in Iran, but is subservient to Ayatollah Khamenei, provide good reason for maintaining a high level of suspicion as to the credibility of Iranian motives and intentions. The most plausible explanation for his charm offensive remains to gain relief from the sanctions for the few months Iran needs to enrich from 180 to 250 kg enrichment of Uranium.  The burden of proof remains on those who believe that his statements represent a genuine turn around—or more likely, that Iran has already crossed the finish line and has all it take to make The Bomb.

I would like to suggest that Rouhani and his associates are using the metaphors and motifs used by Hitler and the Nazis to camouflage their intentions and confuse the outside world. Hitler was brilliantly successful in deceiving Chamberlain, but not Churchill, who from the very day that Hitler came into power was not fooled. When asked why, his answer was that he had read Mein Kampf.  Perhaps Obama and his negotiators should be advised to read the  statements of the many Mein-Kampf type statements of the Iranian leadership through the years about Zionism and Israel

Several years ago, Hooman Majd, an Iranian-American who was well connected with the Iranian political elites, wrote a book The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran, about his impressions, He reported that in the bookstore just outside the entrance to the Foreign Ministry of Iran, there was one book on display in the shop’s show window. It was Mein Kampf. It would be interesting to know if the book is still on display

In Chamberlain’s time, the editors of the London Times promoted his appeasement policies, as they suppressed reports from their Berlin Correspondence about Nazi hooliganism and persecution of Jews. Today, the New York Times editors seem to be playing a similar role, with Roger Cohen notoriously being their front man on appeasement of Iran.

Goggling “Hitler’s Peace Speeches” takes us to websites (some clearly neo-Nazi) that post the texts of these speeches.  Here are the major extracts of some Hitler’s peace speeches and policy statements from a Google Search which we at the Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention have arranged chronologically. Reading these speeches, it is easy to see how easy it was for the Nazis to deceive  those who were all too willing to be deceived,  even as the Nazis were rearming, persecuting, bullying and lying.

In February 1933, shortly after being sworn in has Chancellor, months after his appointment to the office of Reichskanzler he gave a speech saying that The new Germany desires work and peace.

“No war can freeze the stream of time, no peace can be the perpetuation of war. A time must come when victor and vanquished must find the way once more to common understanding and mutual trust…. One and a half decades the German nation has waited in the hope that the end of the war would at length lead to the end of hatred and enmity. The object of the Treaty of Versailles did not seem, however, to give mankind a lasting peace, but rather to perpetuate hatred forever”

On May 17, 1933, a few months after his appointment to the office of Reichskanzler, he delivered a speech in the German Reichstag:

“Germany will be perfectly ready to disband her entire military establishment and destroy the small amount of arms remaining to her, if the neighboring countries will do the same thing with equal thoroughness.

… Germany is entirely ready to renounce aggressive weapons of every sort if the armed nations, on their part, will destroy their aggressive weapons within a specified period, and if their use is forbidden by an international convention.

… Germany is entirely ready to renounce aggressive weapons of every sort if the armed nations, on their part, will destroy their aggressive weapons within a specified period, and if their use is forbidden by an international convention.

   ….. Germany is prepared to agree to any solemn pact of non-aggression because she does not think of attacking anybody but only of acquiring security.”

In April 1933 within a month after Hitler’s speech, President Roosevelt, shortly after his inauguration gave a speech in which he appeared to accept the genuineness of Hitler’s intentions.

On   December 18, 1933, some two months after breaking with the League of Nations Hitler came forward with a proposal with the following six points:

1. Germany receives full equality of rights.

2. The fully armed States undertake amongst themselves not to increase their armaments beyond their present level.

3. Germany adheres to this agreement, freely undertaking to make only so much actual moderate use of the equality of rights granted to her as will not represent a threat to the security of any other European power.

]4. All States recognize certain obligations in regard to conducting war on humane principles, or to the elimination of certain weapons for use against the civilian population.

5. All States accept a uniform general control, which will watch over and ensure the observance of these obligations.

6. The European nations guarantee one another the unconditional maintenance of peace by the conclusion of non-aggression pacts, to be renewed after ten years.

This proposal was linked to a demand to increase the strength of the German army to 300,000 men, “having regard to the length of her frontiers and the size of the armies of her neighbors”, in order to protect her threatened territory against attacks

But, In March 1934, almost a year after FDR’s speech, none other than Rabbi Stephen S Wise, said the speech helped contribute to a belief in the genuineness of Hitler’s peace declarations.

“Whoever helped the President in the framing of his appeal to the nation in April, 1933, for world peace can hardly have come to feel any distress over the advantage which accrued to Hitler out of the acceptance of the Hitler peace program by the people, as if it were a true and genuine statement of Hitler’s peace principles and program.” The Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported, “Dr. Wise held up to scorn what he termed the “implacable optimism” on the part of American Jews with regard to Hitlerism in Germany, and especially in the United States.

   This implacable optimism was readily understandable. On March 6 1934, at the opening of the Berlin Auto Show Hitler was effusive in his statements about the horrors of war, and his desire for peace.

 “National Socialist Germany wants peace because of its fundamental convictions. And it wants peace also owing to the realization of the simple primitive fact that no war would be likely essentially to alter the distress in Europe… The principal effect of every war is to destroy the flower of the nation… Germany needs peace and desires peace!”

On March 16, 1935, Hitler reintroduced conscription. But  announced an offer to eliminate what we today would call Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD}.

On May 21 1935, two months later he repudiated any claims of conquest: “If present-day Germany stands for peace, it is neither because of weakness nor of cowardice. National Socialism rejects any ideas of national assimilation. It is not our desire orientation to take away the nationality, culture or language of any peoples or Germanize them by force. We do not order any Germanization of non-German names. We do not believe that in present-day Europe denationalization is possible anyway. The permanent state of war that is called into being by such procedures may seem useful to different political and business interests; for the peoples it spells only burdens and misery. The blood that has been split on the European continent in three hundred years stand in no proportion to the results obtained”

“After all, France remained France; Germany, Germany; Poland, Poland; Italy, Italy. What dynastic egoism, political passions and patriotic delusions achieved by shedding oceans of blood has, after all, only scratched the surface of peoples. How much better results would have been achieved if the nations had applied a fraction of their sacrifices to more useful purposes? Every war means a drain of the best elements. Victory can only mean a numerical addition to the victor nation’s population; how much better if the increase of population could be brought about the natural means, a national will be produce children of its own!”

He then made specific proposals to outlaw WMD:

“The German Government is ready to take an active part in all efforts which may lead to a practical limitation of armaments. It regards a return to the former idea of the Geneva Red Cross Convention as the only possible way to achieve this. It believes that at first there will be only the possibility of a gradual abolition and outlawry of weapons and methods of warfare, which are essentially contrary to the Geneva Red Cross Convention, which is still valid.”

“Just as the use of dumdum bullets was once forbidden and, on the whole, thereby prevented in practice, so the use of other definite arms should be forbidden and prevented. Here the German Government has in mind all those arms which bring death and destruction not so much to the fighting soldiers as to non-combatant women and children.”

But while opposing bans of aerial warfare, he proposed bans on bombing civilian populations—which the Luftwaffe carried out from the very outset of WWII in Poland.

“The German Government considers as erroneous and ineffective the idea to do away with aero planes while leaving the question of bombing open. But it believes it possible to proscribe the use of certain arms as contrary to international law and to excommunicate those nations which still use them from the community of mankind, its rights and its laws.”

His diplomats added some restrictions on aerial warfare in keeping with current concepts of distinction and proportionality: “It also believes that gradual progress is the best way to success. For example, there might be prohibition of the dropping of gas, incendiary and explosive bombs outside the real battle zone. This limitation could then be extended to complete international outlawry of all bombing. But so long as bombing as such is permitted, any limitation of the number of bombing planes is questionable in view of the possibility of rapid substitution.”

“Should bombing as such be branded as a barbarity contrary to international law, the construction of bombing aeroplanes will soon be abandoned as superfluous and of no purpose. If, through the Geneva Red Cross Convention, it turned out possible as a matter of fact to prevent the killing of a defenseless wounded man or prisoner, it ought to be equally possible to forbid, by an analogous convention, and finally to stop, the bombing of equally defenseless civilian populations.”

“In such a fundamental way of dealing with the problem, Germany sees a greater reassurance and security for the nations than in all pacts of assistance and military conventions.”

“The German Government is ready to agree to any limitation, which leads to abolition of the heaviest arms, especially suited for aggression. Such are, first, the heaviest artillery, and, secondly, the heaviest tanks. In view of the enormous fortifications on the French frontier such international abolition of the heaviest weapons of attack would ipso facto give France 100 per cent security.”

“Germany declares herself ready to agree to any limitation whatsoever of the caliber-strength of artillery, battleships, cruisers and torpedo boats. In like manner the German Government is ready to accept any international limitation of the size of warships. And finally it is ready to agree to limitation of tonnage for submarines, or to their complete abolition in case “

And then came the most sweeping proposal:

“Germany gives the further assurance that it will agree to any international limitation or abolition of arms whatsoever for a uniform space of time”.

On March 31, 1936, 28 days after sending the Army to occupant the Rhineland Hitter proposed the following peace plan:

1. In order to give to future agreements securing the peace of Europe the character of inviolable treaties, those nations participating in the negotiations do so only on an entirely equal footing and as equally esteemed members. The sole compelling reason for signing these treaties can only lie in the generally recognized and obvious practicability of these agreements for the peace of Europe, and thus for the social happiness and economic prosperity of the nations.

2. In order to shorten in the economic interest of the European nations the period of uncertainty, the German Government proposes a limit of four months for the first period up to the signing of the pacts of non-aggression guaranteeing the peace of Europe.

3. The German Government gives the assurance not to add any reinforcements whatsoever to the troops in the Rhineland during this period, always provided that the Belgian and French Governments act in the same way.

4. The German Government gives the assurance not to move during this period closer to the Belgian and French frontiers the troops at present stationed in the Rhineland.

5. The German Government proposes the setting up of a commission composed of the two guarantor Powers, Britain and Italy, and a disinterested third neutral power, to guarantee this assurance to be given by both parties.

[6 6. Germany, Belgium and France are each entitled to send a representative to this Commission. If Germany, France or Belgium thinks that for any particular reason they can point to a change in the military situation having taken place within this period of four months, they have the right to inform the Guarantee Commission of their observations.

7. Germany, Belgium and France declare their willingness in such a case to permit this Commission to make the necessary investigations through the British and Italian military attaches, and to report thereon to the Powers participating.

8. Germany, Belgium and France give the assurance that they will bestow the fullest consideration to the objections arising therefrom.

9. Moreover the German Government is willing on a basis of complete reciprocity with Germany’s two western neighbors to agree to any military limitations on the German western frontier.

10. Germany, Belgium and France and the two guarantor Powers agree to enter into negotiations under the leadership of the British Government at once or, at the latest, after the French elections, for the conclusion of a 25-years non-aggression or security pact between France and Belgium on the one hand, and Germany on the other.

11. Germany agrees that Britain and Italy shall sign this security pact as guarantor powers once more.

12. Should special engagements to render military assistance arise as a result of these security agreements, Germany on her part declares her willingness to enter into such engagements.

13. The German Government hereby repeats its proposal for the conclusion of an air-pact to supplement and consolidate these security agreements.

14. The German Government repeats that should the Netherlands so desire it is willing to include that country too in this West-European security agreement.

And finally Nazi diplomats proposed a broad program of education of coming generations for peace:

15. In order to stamp this peace-pact, voluntarily entered into between Germany and France, as the reconciliatory conclusion of a centuries-old dispute, Germany and France pledge themselves to take steps to see that in the education of the young, as well as in the press and publications of both nations, everything shall be avoided which might be calculated to poison the relationship between the two [7] peoples, whether it be a derogatory or contemptuous attitude, or improper interference in the internal affairs of the other country. They agree to set up at the headquarters of the League of Nations at Geneva, a joint commission whose function it shall be to lay all complaints received before the two Governments for information and investigation.

He added proposals for plebiscites, non aggression agreements, willingness to return to the League of Nations, rights for colonial peoples, and repeal of the Versailles Treaty’s punitive measures, mechanisms for arbitration, and added  “the German Government considers it urgently necessary to endeavor by practical measures to put a stop to the unlimited competition in armaments. …(Which) would mean not merely an improvement in the financial and economic position of the nations, but above all a diminution of the psychological tension.”

However, Nazi  diplomats added that these proposals were not universal in scope but restricted to limiting naval armaments –i.e. the British Royal Navy. The German Government therefore proposes that future conferences shall have one clearly defined objective.

Even so, Hitler’s diplomats repeated a call “… to bring aerial warfare into the moral and humane atmosphere of the protection afforded to non-combatants or the wounded by the Geneva Convention. Just as the killing of defenseless wounded, or prisoners, or the use of dumdum bullets, or the waging of submarine warfare without warning, have been either forbidden or regulated by international conventions, so it must be possible for civilized humanity to prevent the senseless abuse of any new type of weapon, without running counter to the object of warfare.”

 And then came some very far-reaching no-nonsense proposals:

“The German Government therefore puts forward the proposal that the immediate practical tasks of this conference shall be:

1. Prohibition of dropping gas, poison, or incendiary bombs.

2. Prohibition of dropping bombs of any kind whatsoever on open towns and villages outside the range of the medium-heavy artillery of the fighting fronts.

3. Prohibition of the bombarding with long-range guns of towns more than 20 km. distant from the battle zone.

4. Abolition and prohibition of the construction of tanks of the heaviest type.

5. Abolition and prohibition of artillery of the heaviest caliber. As soon as possibilities for further limitation of armaments emerge from such discussions and agreements, they should be utilized. The German Government hereby declares itself prepared to join in every such settlement, in so far as it is valid internationally. The German Government believes that if even a first step is made on the road to disarmament, this will be of enormous importance to the relationship between the nations, and to the recovery of confidence, trade and prosperity.

In accordance with the general desire for the restoration of favorable economic conditions, the German Government is prepared immediately after the conclusion of the political treaties to enter into an exchange of opinions on economic problems with the other nations concerned, in the spirit of the proposals made, and to do all that lies in its power to improve the economic situation in Europe, and the world economic situation which is closely bound up with it.

6. The German Government believes that with the peace plan proposed above it has made its contribution to the reconstruction of a new Europe on the basis of reciprocal respect and confidence between sovereign states. Many opportunities for such a pacification of Europe, for which Germany has so often in the last few years made her proposals, have been neglected. May this attempt to achieve European understanding succeed at last!

The German Government confidently believes that it has opened the way in this direction by submitting this peace plan “

Later, that summer at the 1936 Olympic Games Hitler declared, “The German people are not a warlike nation. It is a soldierly one, which means it, does not want a war, but does not fear it. It loves peace but also loves its honor and freedom”

All during these years, of course, Germany was secretly rearming. Then in 1938 came the Anschluss in Austria, the demands of the Sudetenland, the Munich Conference in October, the capitulation of Czechoslovakia, the Molotov-von Ribbentrop pact in August 1939, and, a month later, the Nazi invasion of Poland on September

But there were still two more Peace Speeches.

In July 19th, 1940 in the Reichstag, Berlin, following Germany’s victory over France and her allies, the British, on the western front in the Spring of 1940. Hitler presented a narrative, trying to spell out, from the German perspective, who and what caused the war, and the reasons for his own actions, followed by a final call to reason, in order to stop the hostilities and senseless bloodshed. A half a year later, on January 30 1941 here is what he had to say about Great Brittan and its colonialism:

“And England? I held out my hand, again and again. It was actually my program to reach an understanding with the English people. We had really no point of difference, absolutely none. There was a solitary point, the return of the German colonies, and on that I said, “We will negotiate that some time, -I do not fix any time.” For England those colonies are useless. They cover 40,000,000 square meters. What do they do with them? Absolutely nothing. That is only the avarice of old usurers, who possess something and will not give it up; perverted beings who see their neighbor has nothing to eat, while they themselves cannot use what they possess. The mere thought of giving away something makes them ill. Moreover, I have demanded nothing, which belonged to the English; I have demanded only what they robbed and stole in the years 1918 and 19l9. In fact, robbed and stole against the solemn assurance of the American President. We have not asked them for anything. What we are doing is making a sacrifice in the interest of peace.”

As President Obama and other Western leaders begin to engage Iran, they might want to spend a few minutes skimming through Hitler’s peace speech and the proposals of his diplomats to give themselves an immunizing dose of skepticism and suspicion. Most of the proposals in the Peace Speeches were eminently sensible, and in fact, contained much more substance than what we have heard from Rouhani so far. But Hitler’s actions—and the vicious rhetoric of his mass rally the anti-Semitic violence, and the increasing brutality of Nazi rule projected demonic intentions.

 As Churchill warned Mein Kampf was a better guide to Hitler’s intentions than his peace speeches.  We suggest that Rouhani’s many statements about how he fooled the West as a nuclear negotiator, his role as a planner of the bombing the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, and his past record as an insider among the Mullahs of Iran are a better guide Is Iran in certain ways in 2013 potentially as dangerous as Nazi Germany appeared to be in  1936?

The burden of proof is on those who are reckless enough to wait to find out.

About the Author
Dr. Elihu D Richter is a founder of the Jerusalem Center for Genocide Prevention