The German Leader’s Reply to the American President’s Public Challenge
Of the many speeches made by Adolf Hitler during his lifetime, certainly one of the most important was his address of April 28, 1939. It was also very probably the most eagerly anticipated and closely followed speech of the time, with many millions of people around the world listening to it live on radio or reading of it the next day in newspapers. American journalist and historian William L. Shirer, a harsh critic of the Third Reich who was reporting from Europe for CBS radio at the time, later described this Hitler speech as “probably the most brilliant oration he ever gave, certainly the greatest this writer ever heard from him.” The address is also important as a detailed, well-organized presentation of the German leader’s view of his country’s place in the world, and as a lucid review of his government’s foreign policy objectives and achievements during the first six years of his administration. The speech was a response to a much-publicized message to Hitler – with a similar one to Italian leader Benito Mussolini – issued two weeks earlier by President Franklin Roosevelt. In it, the American leader issued a provocative challenge, calling on Hitler to promise that he would not attack 31 countries, which he named.
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