May 7, 1945
New York Times.
German men and women! The High Command of the armed forces has today at the order of Grand Admiral Doenitz declared the unconditional surrender of all fighting German troops.
As the leading Minister of the Reich Government which the Admiral of the Fleet [Doenitz] has appointed for the winding up of all military tasks, I turn at this tragic moment of our history to the German nation.
After a heroic fight of almost six years of incomparable hardness, Germany has succumbed to the overwhelming power of her enemies. To continue the war would only mean senseless bloodshed and a futile disintegration.
A government which has a feeling of responsibility for the future of its nation was compelled to act on the collapse of all physical and material forces and to demand of the enemy the cessation of hostilities.
It was the noblest task of the Admiral of the Fleet and of the government supporting him-after the terrible sacrifices which the war demanded-to save in the last phase of the war the lives of a maximum number of fellow countrymen.
That the war was not ended immediately, simultaneously in the west and in the east, is to be explained by this reason alone.
We end this gravest hour of the German nation and its Reich.
In this gravest hour of the German nation and its Reich we bow in deep reverence before the dead of this war.
Their sacrifices place the highest obligations on us. Our sympathy goes first to our soldiers. It goes out above all to the wounded, the bereaved and to all on whom this struggle has inflicted blows.
No one must be under any illusions about the severity of the terms to be imposed on the German people by our enemies. We must now face our fate squarely and unquestioningly.
Nobody can be in any doubt that the future-will be difficult for each one of us and will exact sacrifices from us in every sphere.
We must accept this burden and stand loyally by the obligations we have undertaken. But we must not despair and fall into mute resignation. Once again we must set ourselves to stride along the path through the dark future. These are the factors guaranteeing the best state: unity, justice and liberty.
From the collapse of the past, let us preserve and save one thing-unity, the ideas of the national community, which in the years of war have found' their highest expression in the spirit of comradeship at the front and readiness to help one another in all the distress which has inflicted the homeland.
Shall we retain this unity and not again split up under the stress * * *
[two or three words indistinct] can we get over the future hard times? We must make right the basis of our nation. In our nation justice shall be the supreme law and the guiding principle.
We must also recognize law as the basis of all relations between the nations: we must recognize it and respect it from inner conviction.
Respect for concluded treaties will be as sacred as the aim of our nation to belong to the European family of nations as a member of which we want to mobilize all human moral and material forces in order to heal the dreadful wounds which the war has caused.
Then we may hope that the atmosphere of hatred which today surrounds Germany all over the world will give place to a spirit of reconciliation among the nations, without which the world cannot recover.
Then we may hope that we will again receive the freedom without which no nation can lead a bearable and dignified existence. Let us devote the future of our nation to the meditation of the innermost and best forces of the German spirit, which has given the world lasting achievements and values.
To our pride in the heroic struggle of our nation let us link the determination-belonging as we do to the world of the Christian western civilization-to make to the honest work of peace a contribution which shall be worthy of the best traditions of our nation.
May God not leave us in our efforts. May He bless our difficult task.