Jimmy Breslin
Familiar, Haunting Words

March 20, 2003

At 8 o'clock last night, the Sikh in a blue turban in the subway change
booth at 42nd Street gave me a little wave and I waved back. Suddenly, he
was a front-line soldier in a war. I designate the subway at Times Square as
a prime target in America in the war with Iraq.

I had just been at the public library, where I discovered the speech that
started World War II. I print much of it here. It is darkly familiar to what
we have been hearing here, when for the first time in American history we
became all the things we ever hated and invaded another country. Herewith
the speech:

Address by Adolf Hitler to the Reichstag, Sept. 1, 1939.

For months we have suffered under the torture of a problem which the
Versailles Diktat created - a problem that has deteriorated until it becomes
intolerable for us ...

As always, I attempted to bring about, by the peaceful method of making
proposals for revision, an alteration of this intolerable position. It is a
lie when the outside world says that we only tried to carry our revisions
through by pressure. Fifteen years before the National Socialist Party came
to power there was the opportunity of carrying out these revisions by
peaceful settlements and understanding. On my own initiative I have, not
once but several times, made proposals for the revision of intolerable
conditions. All these proposals, as you know, have been rejected - proposals
for the limitation of armaments and, even if necessary, disarmament,
proposals for the limitation of warmaking, proposals for the elimination of
certain methods of modern warfare ... You know the endless attempts I made
for peaceful clarification and understanding of the problem of Austria, and
later of the problem of the Sudetenland, Bohemia and Moravia. It was all in

It is impossible to demand that an impossible position should be cleared up
by peaceful revision, and at the same time constantly reject peaceful
revision. It is also impossible to say that he who undertakes to carry out
the revisions for himself transgresses a law, since the Versailles Diktat is
not law to us.

In the same way, I have tried to solve the problems of Danzig, the Corridor,
etc., by proposing a peaceful discussion. That the problems had to be solved
was clear. It is quite understandable to us that the time when the problem
was to be solved had little interest for the Western Powers. But time is not
a matter of indifference to us ...

For four months I have calmly watched developments, although I never ceased
to give warnings. In the last few days I have increased these warnings ...

I made one more final effort to accept a proposal for mediation on the part
of the British government. They proposed, not that they themselves should
carry out the negotiations, but rather that Poland and Germany should come
into direct contact and once more pursue negotiations.

I must declare that I accepted this proposal and worked out a basis for
these negotiations which are known to you. For two whole days I sat in my
government and waited to see whether it was convenient for the Polish
government to send a plenipotentiary or not. Last night they did not send us
a plenipotentiary, but instead informed us through their ambassador that
they were still considering whether and to what extent they were in a
position to go into the British proposals. The Polish government also said
they would inform Britain of their decision.

Deputies, if the German government and its leader patiently endured such
treatment Germany would deserve only to disappear from the political stage.
But I am wrongly judged if my love of peace and my patience are mistaken for
weakness or even cowardice. I, therefore, decided last night and informed
the British government that in these circumstances I can no longer find any
willingness on the part of the Polish government to conduct serious
negotiations with us.

The other European states understand in part our attitude. I should like all
to thank Italy, which throughout has supported us, but you will understand
for the carrying on of this struggle ... we will carry out this task

This night for the first time, Polish regular soldiers fired on our
territory. Since 5:45 a.m. we have been returning the fire and from now on
bombs will be met with bombs. Whoever fights with poison gas will be fought
with poison gas. Whoever departs from the rules of humane warfare can only
expect that we shall do the same ... until the safety, security of the Reich
and its rights are secured.


On that night, Hitler used this dry, unimaginative language to start a world
war that was to kill 60 million, and they stopped counting.

Last night, George Bush, after speech after speech of this same dry, flat,
banal language, started a war for his country, and we can only beg the skies
to keep it from spreading into another world war.

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