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Translation of document 3700-PS
Copy At present Lindow — Mark, 3.11. Dear Reich Marshal, By way of inter-office communication I received for cognizance the draft of your decree concerning the conscription of 15-yearold students for the Auxiliary War Service. As you know, since the end of 1937, I have been only nominally a Reich minister without portfolio. There have been no cabinet meetings since 1938. I have no longer been invited to any meetings of ministers. I live in the country, and in complete retirement. For several months, I have even been expressly forbidden to listen to foreign broadcasts, so that my entire knowledge of the military, economic and political situation comes from no other source than that available to any other thinking German, whose number, however, should not be underestimated, even in the so-called rank and file. Since I am not a member of the Reich Defense Council, I am under no obligation to participate in the compilation of this draft. Although I am absolutely free of any responsibility, my conscience and the wish not to be guilty of any negligence are driving me to write these lines. May I say in advance that I have always maintained before responsible authorities that we were not sufficiently prepared economically for a long war. But anybody familiar with the Anglo-Saxon mentality was bound to know that the war would be a long one, after England made known her decision to regard a German attack upon Poland as a casus belli. In the beginning of 1940, I proposed to the Fuehrer that I go to the United States in order to attempt to slow down America’s assistance to England in the matter of armaments, and in order, if possible, to prevent America becoming involved in the war more deeply. The Minister of Foreign Affairs refused this offer, which the Fuehrer viewed sympathetically. A further suggestion which I made to the Fuehrer in the fall of 1941, the high point of our successes, was without effect. It may be militarily necessary to conscript the 15-year- olds, but it ill be a heavy burden on the fighting morale of the German people. The facts, as the German people see them, are as follows: 1. The original promise of a short war has not been fulfilled. 2. The promised quick victory over England by the Air Force did not materialize. 3. The public statement that Germany would remain free of enemy air raids has not been fulfilled. 4. The repeated announcements that the Russian resistance was definitely broken have been proved to be untrue. 5. Allied supplies of arms to Russia and the manpower reserves of Russia have, on the contrary, been sufficient to bring continuous heavy counter-attacks against our Eastern front. 6. The original victorious advance into Egypt has been halted after repeated attempts. 7. The landing of the Allies in North and West Africa, declared impossible, has nevertheless been accomplished. 8. The extremely large amount of shipping space which was required for this landing has shown that our U-boats, in spite of their great successes, did not suffice to prevent this movement. In addition, any person of German extraction can see the reductions in the civilian supplies, in the traffic, in armaments, and in the availability of manpower. The conscription of the 15-year-olds will increase the doubts concerning the termination of this war. I am taking the precaution of forwarding this letter through State Councillor Gritzbach, under seal, in order to prevent misuse. Heil Hitler! [signed] Dr. Hjalmar Schacht.