Declaration made by King Leopold on behalf
of the Heads of the States of the Oslo Group,
August 23rd, 1939
THE declaration I am about to read is made at the Palace of Brussels before the Ministers for Foreign Affairs and on behalf of the Heads of the States of the Oslo Group.
The world is passing through a period of tension which threatens to put a stop to all normal collaboration between States. Great Powers take measures that amount almost to the mobilization of their armed forces. Have not the small Powers good reason to fear that they may become the victims of a conflict into which they might be drawn against their wills? Although they have indubitably followed a policy of independence and have made no secret of their strong determination to remain neutral, are they not open to the danger of being affected by arrangements made without their knowledge?
Even in the absence of hostilities, the world is threatened with economic collapse. Distrust and suspicion are everywhere. Under our very eyes the factions are gathering; the armies are forming; a terrifying struggle is about to begin in Europe. Shall our Continent destroy itself in a fearful war in which there will be neither victor nor vanquished, a conflict that will engulf the spiritual and material values built up through centuries of civilization?
The war psychosis is invading our own lands, and public opinion, though well aware of what an unthinkable disaster a conflagration would constitute for the whole of mankind, is increasingly giving way to the idea that we must inevitably be drawn into it. We must counteract this fatal mood of resignation.
Not a single people--we are absolutely convinced--would willingly send its children to their death in order to deprive other nations of their right of existence.
States have, of course, different interests. But are there any
interests that cannot be reconciled with one another more easily before than after a war?
Let the conscience of the world be roused! The worst may still be avoided, but time presses. The course of events may very soon render any direct contact between us even more difficult.
Let there be no mistake! We know that the right to live must be founded on a firm basis, and the peace that we want is peaCe with respect for the rights of all nations. A durable peace cannot be based on force. It can only be based on a moral order.
Does not wisdom command us to make a truce of this war of words, of provocations and threats, to be ready to discuss our problems with one another? We solemnly urge those who hold the future in their hands to agree to submit their disputes and their claims to open negotiation in a spirit of brotherly co-operation.
For that reason, on behalf of:
His Majesty the King of Denmark,and on my own behalf, each of acting with the approval of our Governments, I make this appeal. We hope that other Heads of States may show the same solicitude for the peace and security of their peoples and may join their appeal to ours.
The President of the Republic of Finland,
Her Royal Highness the Grand Duchess of Luxemburg,
His Majesty the King of Norway,
Her Majesty the Queen of the Netherlands,
His Majesty the King of Sweden.
To-morrow hundreds of millions will welcome our plea that the course of the war be arrested. May those who hold the future of the world in their hands show themselves responsive to these sentiments and see that their often-expressed desire to settle their differences by peaceful means is achieved.
And may the disaster which threatens mankind be averted!
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