English Transcription of the Hitler-Mannerheim talk

General WWII era German military discussion that doesn't fit someplace more specific.
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English Transcription of the Hitler-Mannerheim talk

Post by Kitsune » Sun Dec 26, 2004 9:08 am

Some time ago Javier Sandoval posted a link to a secret recording of Hitler talking with Mannerheim, when he was visiting Finland in summer 1942:
http://ra.yle.fi/ramgen/multifoorumi/ar ... 0_01_05.ra
Aside from presenting the possibility to hear Hitlers voice, while he is talking in an informal setting, the contents of the conservation might be of interest as well.
So, I made an transcription of the audio recording, translated into English.

Some remarks: I took very great pains to translate this as truthfully as possible. I did not correct grammatical mistakes, neither those of Hitler nor of Mannerheim (who speaks German quite well, but does make mistakes). Anything in brackets is NOT part of the text but a remark, Iadded. A "..." represents a "mental breaking point", as they do happen quite often in a free conservation. If, within the brackets, I used a question mark, then it denounces the uncertainty of the translation that is followed by it.

Here is the text (I am sorry that I am presenting it "en bloc", especially the last two thirds of it, which are essentially a big monologue of Hitler, but I was unsure where to insert stops, so I left it as it is...Hitler simply goes on and on):

(Begin of the Audio Recording:)

Unidentified (Hitler?): “…a very great danger, perhaps the gravest one…”

Hitler: “(unintelligible)…we ourselves were not completely sure of this, how monstrous this strong armament was.”

Mannerheim: “We had not suspected this, in the Winter-War, in the Winter-War we had not suspected this, of course we had a (one unintelligible word) that they were well armed, but so as they had been in fact, and now there is no doubt at all what they had planned (‘was sie hatten in ihrem Schild’)”

Hitler: “It is evident…evident. They have the most monstrous armament that is humanly conceivable (‘menschendenkbar’)…so…if anybody had told me that one state…(footsteps)…if anybody had told me that one state can line up with 35.000 tanks (Hitler uses the word ‘tank’), I had said ‘you have gone mad’…

Unidentified: “Thirty-five…”

Hitler: “35.000 Panzer (now he uses the word ‘Panzer’)…we have more than, we have at the time more than 34 Pan…thousand Panzer destroyed. If somebody had told me this to…had said: you…if one general of mine had declared, that a state here had 35.000 tanks, I had said, Mister (‘Mein Herr’), you are seeing everything double… or tenfold, this is crazy, you are seeing ghosts…I had not thought this possible…If somebody had told me that…I have told this just before, we have found industrial plants…one of this in (unintelligible: Kalanuskaja?) for example, that was under construction two years ago…and we had no idea…and today there is a tank production facility that…that…in the first shift a bit over 30.000 and in full development should have employed more than 60.000 workers…one single tank production facility…we have occupied it…a gargantuan facility…lots of workers who nevertheless live like animals and such…”

Unidentified: “An amazing region…”

Another Unidentified (Hitler?): “An amazing region…”

Mannerheim: “If one considers that they had for 20 years…more than 20 years…25 years nearly, the freedom to arm themselves…and expended all, all for armament…only armament…”

Hitler: “May I tell you…(couple of unintelligible words)…president of state, I have not suspected this, had I suspected this, my heart would have felt even heavier…but I had made the decision all the more…because there was no other possibility. It was obvious to me, already in winter 39/40 that the (Invasion of the Soviet Union?) had to come. But I had the nightmarish pressure (‘Alpdruck’) of the West on me, because a war on two fronts, that would have been the downfall…we, too, would have been crushed. We see that better today as we could realize it back then…we would have been crushed…our complete…originally I wanted in autumn 1939 to…I wanted to carry out the West Campaign, only that continuously bad weather we had, that has hindered us. Our whole armament was…it is a ‘Good Weather’ Armament (‘Schönwetterbewaffnung’), it is very capable, it is good, but it is unfortunately a Good Weather Armament. Indeed, we have seen it recently here in this war, naturally all of our weapons are styled (‘zugeschnitten’) for the west. And we all had the conviction…that was until now (mumbling)…it was just our opinion, since the oldest times…one cannot wage war in wintertime. And we have…the German tanks…the German tanks have not been put to the test to perhaps prepare them for winter-war, but test-runs were made to prove that one cannot wage war in winter. It has been a different starting point. In autumn 1939 we have been facing the question…and I wanted yet to attack under all circumstances…I had the conviction that we would finish France within six weeks…but there was the question wether one would be able to move…and it was this continuously rainy weather…and since I know this French region very well…and I, too, could not discount the opinion of many of my generals, that we, probably, would not achieve this verve (‘Elan’), that we would not be able to make full use of the tank force (‘Panzerwaffe’), that we would not be able to make full use of the Air Force, too, with the front air fields, because of the rain…I knew northern France myself, I have been soldier for four years during the Great War…and that was the reason for this delay. Had I finished France in the year 39, the world history would have went a different way, but this way I had to wait until the year 1940…and that was not possible until May…the 10th of May was the first fair day, and I have attacked on the 10th of May at once. I have given order on 8th of May to attack on the 10th and…then there had to be…had this giant transposition of our divisions from the west to the east to be made…(unintelligible: the first occupations in…?) then we had this task in Norway…during the same time came…came actually, I can say that today, this very great misfortune upon us, namely the weaknesses that had arisen for Italy, firstly the North-African situation, secondly with the situation in Albania and Greece, a very grave misfortune. We had to help now. That, at a blow, meant for us first of all again a rending of our Air Force, a rending of our tank units…while were preparing our tank units for the east, we had, at a blow, to commit two divisions…two complete divisions, it turned out to be three at the end…and had to replenish very great losses there…it were bloody fights that have been fought out in the desert…naturally all of this has been missing here in the east…and…it was not imaginable any other way that the decision, which has been inevitable. I had a talk back then with Molotov, and it was absolutely obvious…Molotov left with the decision to begin the war, and I dismissed him with the decision to beat him to it, if possible…because, the demands this man was making were obviously aiming at ultimately ruling Europe…(the next sentence is whispered and largely unintelligible, something like ‘I have […] to dispute this, is downright ridiculous […]’)…Already in…in…in autumn 1940 there was constantly this question for us: shall one …err…risk a sundering?…I have advised the Finnish government back then…err…to negotiate and...err…to gain time to…err…err…to handle things divertoric (‘die Sachen divertorisch zu behandeln’- I have to admit that I never encountered the word ‘divertorisch’ before, but it seems to derive from the latin ‘divertere’ – to deflect, akin to the English ‘divert’), because I always had one fear: that Russia would suddenly assault Romania in late autumn, and would annex the petroleum sources…and we would have been not finished yet in late autumn 1940. If Russia had occupied the Romanian petroleum sources, Germany would have been lost…(unintelligible one or two words, something with ‘need’?)…with…with, with 60 Russian divisions this thing could have been arranged; back then we had in Romania no task force yet, the Romanian government has turned to us very lately…and what we had would have been ridiculous indeed. They only would have needed to occupy the petroleum sources, I could not have started a war in September or October any more with our arms, that was indeed impossible…we also had the deployment of our troops in the east not prepared in any way, the units had to be consolidated in the west first, the armament had to be brought in order…because, naturally, we had also have made our sacrifices during the West Campaign. It would have been impossible to line up before the Spring of 1941, and if now the Russian, back then in the autumn of 1940, had occupied Rumania, and had annexed the petroleum sources, then we would have been…err…helpless in the year 1941…We had…have the large German production, but the amount the Air Force alone is consuming, the amount our tank-divisions are consuming that is something quite monstrous. It is a…a…a consumption surpassing all imagination. And without the afflux of four to five million tons of Rumanian petroleum, we would not be able to wage the war…. (Unintelligible, a few words, some of them ‘had to let’?)…And this worried me greatly, hence my attempt to overcome this time through negotiations, until we were strong enough to oppose this extortionate demands…the demands were sheer extortion, it were extortions, the Russians knew that we were helpless, that we were tied in the west, they could extort everything from us…and only on the visit of Molotov…then I have offhandedly declared them, that we could not accept the demands…these many demands…Basically with this the negotiations were…abruptly ended…(a few unintelligible words)…there were four points, the one point concerning Finland…was the freedom to protect themselves from the Finnish threat…I said: ‘You do not want to tell me that Finland is threatening you?...He said, well, in Finland one would act against the friends of the Soviet Union…this would be a society…they would be continuously persecuted, and a Great Power could not accept being threatened from a small state regarding its existence.’ I said: ‘ you…your existence is not threatened by Finland, is it? You are not trying to tell me that your existence is threatened by Finland?’ (In the background someone says: ‘ridiculous.’) Well, there also would be a moral threat to the existence of a Great State, and what Finland was doing would be the mor…a threat to the moral existence…And I said to him, that we would not be able to accept another war on the Baltic Sea as passive spectators. Then he asked me how our positions would be regarding Romania, we had made a guarantee after all…whether this guarantee would be directed against Russia as well…I said: ‘I do not think that it is directed against you, because you do not have the intention to assault Romania, don’t you? Tell me…we never have heard that you have the intention to assault Romania, you have always stated that Bessarabia belonged to you, but you have never stated that you wanted to assault Romania.' He said that he wanted to know precisely…"

(End of Audio-Recording)
"Tell my mother I died for my country. I did what I thought was best."

John Wilkes Booth
April 12, 1865

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Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2003 5:34 pm

Post by Kitsune » Sun Nov 27, 2005 5:13 am

Man...after all that work I put into this (and no recognition received :( ) I just found this side:

Here is another transcription (not done by myself) of what was said...I will quote it here, in case the site goes offline. (Feldgrau will last forever, I am certain of it. :P)
On the 4th of June 1942, it was Finnish Field-Marshal Carl Gustav Mannerheim's 75th birthday. Adolf Hitler took this occasion to fly to Helsinki to visit him in person and to discuss many important issues regarding how Barbarossa was going. Germany and Finland, though not in a formal alliance, had developed a good relationship and were "co-belligerents" in a struggle against the Soviet Union. They had continued good relations since WW I, after the Germans shared their military training and military assistance. They both had a common hatred of communism, made even more interesting, since they had such opposite forms of government. Germany was well known as Nazi (socialism), with Hitler as their dictator, and Finland had a republic with an elected president since 1918. Mannerheim had began his reputation as their primary General (then) in 1918, who rid their country of the Communists in their Civil War. He was again their supreme military commander in the Russo-Finnish War, and now in their Continuation War with the Germans against the Soviets.

At this point in their War against the Soviets, both German and Finnish armies were being held at bay, as they kept Leningrad in their stranglehold. The siege of that great city was in its tenth month, as the Soviets tenuously supplied the city through Lake Ladoga and continued to shore up the defenses. Since this was Finland's second war with the Soviets, their population's enthusiasm began to erode, as their losses began to mount and no substantial breakthroughs were being accomplished.

Germany now had the added pressure of the United States in the War against it. Finland did not, since they were only at War with Soviet Union. At the same time Hitler was not there to offer Finland any new military agreements or treaties, just reassurance that there were new offensives planned. Given all of these events, it was very unusual for Hitler to go and visit with foreign leaders. Normally, instead leaders were summoned to Berlin as guests for meetings with Hitler. His strategy was probably to show the world, that he considered Finland a valuable Ally, and more importantly it was to show that both countries stood side by side. This was despite the disappointment of Barbarossa's failure to deliver more successes and to knock the Soviet Union out of the war.

Still, this June 4th meeting between these two, would have remained fairly insignificant within the immense history of the Eastern Front, if it hadn't been for an accident, that 11 minutes of their private conversation had accidentally been taped by a Finnish radio engineer. He had been on hand for their meeting to record their comments for public broadcasts, and had accidentally left his recording machine running. That recording was in the Finnish Broadcasting Corporation's archives and had survived until being recently released for use by historians .

This recording consisted of primarily a monologue by Hitler, even though Finnish President Ryte, and the Chief of the German Armed Forces High Command Field Marshal Keitel, were also together in the room with Field-Marshal Mannerheim. Hitler's conversation is interesting not so much for the information of what he imparted, but the way he presented his decision making on the eve of his decision to drive south into the oil-rich Caucasus Mountains. Even more fascinating, was Hitler's frankness about his own mistakes in judgment, and his country's failures and that it came directly from him...

The transcript starts with Hitler talking as follows, italics were used to emphasize the heightening of their voices in the original voice recording. I also have removed all the "uh's" and repeated words to make the dialog easier to read:

Hitler: ...a very serious danger, perhaps the most serious one - it's whole extent we can only now judge. We did not ourselves understand - just how strong this state [the USSR] was armed.

Mannerheim: No, we hadn't thought of this.

Hitler: No, I too, no.

Mannerheim: During the Winter War - during the Winter War we had not even thought of this. Of course...

Hitler: (Interrupting) Yes.

Mannerheim: But so, how they - in reality - and now there is no doubt all they had - what they had in their stocks!

Hitler: Absolutely, This is - they had the most immense armaments that, uh, people could imagine. Well - if somebody had told me that a country - with...(Hitler is interrupted by the sound of a door opening and closing.) If somebody had told me a nation could start with 35,000 tanks, then I'd have said: "You are crazy!"

Mannerheim: Thirty-five?

Hitler: Thirty-five thousand tanks.

Another Voice In Background: Thirty-five thousand! Yes!

Hitler: We have destroyed - right now - more than 34,000 tanks. If someone had told me this, I'd have said: "You!" If you are one of my generals had stated that any nation has 35,000 tanks I'd have said: "You, my good sir, you see everything twice or ten times. You are crazy; you see ghosts." This I would have deemed possible. I told you earlier we found factories, one of them at Kramatorskaja, for example, Two years ago there were just a couple hundred [tanks]. We didn't know anything. Today, there is a tank plant, where - during the first shift a little more than 30,000, and 'round the clock a little more than 60,000, workers would have labored - a single tank plant! A gigantic factory! Masses of workers who certainly, lived like animals and...

Another Voice In Background: (Interrupting) In the Donets area?

Hitler: In the Donets area. (Background noises from the rattling of cups and plates over the exchange.)

Mannerheim: Well, if you keep in mind they had almost 20 years, almost 25 years of - freedom to arm themselves...

Hitler: (Interrupting quietly) It was unbelievable.

Mannerheim: And everything - everything spent on armament.

Hitler: Only on armament.

Mannerheim: Only on armament!

Hitler: (Sighs) Only - well, it is - as I told your president [Ryte] before - I had no idea of it. If I had an idea - then I would have been even more difficult for me, but I would have taken the decision [to invade] anyhow, because - there was no other possibility. It was - certain, already in the winter of '39/ '40, that the war had to begin. I had only this nightmare - but there is even more! Because a war on two fronts - would have been impossible - that would have broken us. Today, we see more clearly - than we saw at that time - it would have broken us. And my whole - I originally wanted to - already in the fall of '39 I wanted to conduct the campaign in the west - on the continuously bad weather we experienced hindered us.

Our whole armament - you know, was - is a pure good weather armament. It is very capable, very good, but it is unfortunately just a good-weather armament. We have seen this in the war. Our weapons naturally were made for the west, and we all thought, and this was true 'till that time, uh, it was the opinion from the earliest times: you cannot wage war in winter. And we too, have, the German tanks, they weren't tested, for example, to prepare them for winter war. Instead we conducted trials to prove it was impossible to wage war in winter. That is a different starting point [than the Soviet's]. In the fall of 1939 we always faced the question. I desperately wanted to attack, and I firmly believed we could finish France in six weeks.

However, we faced the question of whether we could move at all - it was raining continuously. And I know the French area myself very well and I too could not ignore the opinions, of many of my generals that, we - probably - would not have had the élan, that our tank arm would not have been, effective, that our air force could not been effective from our airfields because of the rain.

I know northern France myself. You know, I served in the Great War for four years. And - so the delay happened. If I had in '39 eliminated France, then world history would have changed. But I had to wait 'till 1940, and unfortunately it wasn't possible before May. Only on the 10th of May was the first nice day - and on the 10th of May I immediately attacked. I gave the order to attack on the 10th on the 8th. And - then we had to, conduct this huge transfer of our divisions from the west to the east.

First the occupation of - then we had the task in Norway - at the same time we faced - I can frankly say it today - a grave misfortune, namely the - weakness of, Italy. Because of - first, the situation in North Africa, then, second, because of the situation in Albania and Greece - a very big misfortune. We had to help. This meant for us, with one small stoke, first - the splitting of our air force, splitting our tank force, while at the same time we were preparing, the, tank arm in the east. We had to hand over - with one stroke, two divisions, two whole divisions and a third was then added - and we had to replace continuous, very severe, losses there. It was - bloody fighting in the desert.

This all naturally was inevitable, you see. I had a conversation with Molotov [Soviet Minister] at that time, and it was absolutely certain that Molotov departed with the decision to begin a war, and I dismissed the decision to begin a war, and I dismissed him with the decision to - impossible, to forestall him. There was - this was the only - because the demands that man brought up were clearly aimed to rule, Europe in the end. (Practically whispering here.) Then I have him - not publicly...(fades out).

Already in the fall of 1940 we continuously faced the question, uh: shall we, consider a break up [in relations with the USSR]? At that time, I advised the Finnish government, to - negotiate and, to gain time and, to act dilatory in this matter - because I always feared - that Russia suddenly would attack Romania in the late fall - and occupy the petroleum wells, and we would have not been ready in the late fall of 1940. If Russia indeed had taken Romanian petroleum wells, than Germany would have been lost. It would have required - just 60 Russian divisions to handle that matter.

In Romania we had of course - at that time - no major units. The Romanian government had turned to us only recently - and what we did have there was laughable. They only had to occupy the petroleum wells. Of course, with our weapons I could not start a, war in September or October. That was out of the question. Naturally, the transfer to the east wasn't that far advanced yet. Of course, the units first had to reconsolidate in the west. First the armaments had to be taken care of because we too had - yes, we also had losses in our campaign in the west. It would have been impossible to attack - before the spring of 19, 41. And if the Russians at that time - in the fall of 1940 - had occupied Romania - taken the petroleum wells, then we would have been, helpless in 1941.

Another Voice In Background: Without petroleum...

Hitler: (Interrupting) We had huge German production: however, the demands of the air force, our Panzer divisions - they are really huge. It is level of consumption that surpasses the imagination. And without the addition of four to five million tons of Romanian petroleum, we could not have fought the war - and would have had to let it be - and that was my big worry. Therefore I aspired to, bridge the period of negotiations 'till we would be strong enough to, counter those extortive demands [from Moscow] because - those demands were simply naked extortion's. They were extortion's. The Russians knew we were tied up in the west. They could really extort everything from us. Only when Molotov visited - then - I told him frankly that the demands, their numerous demands, weren't acceptable to us. With that the negotiations came to an abrupt end that same morning.

There were four topics. The one topic that, involved Finland was, the, freedom to protect themselves from the Finnish threat, he said. You do not want to tell me Finland threatens you! But he said: "In Finland it is - they who take action against the, friends, of the Soviet Union. They would [take action] against [our] society, against us - they would continuously, persecute us and, a great power cannot be threatened by a minor country."

I said: "Your, existence isn't threatened by Finland! That is, you don't mean to tell me..."

Mannerheim: (Interrupting) Laughable!

Hitler: "...that your existence is threatened by Finland?" Well [he said] there was a moral - threat being made against a great power, and what Finland was doing, that was a moral - a threat to their moral existence. Then I told him we would not accept a further war in the Baltic area as passive spectators. In reply he asked me how we viewed our position in, Romania. You know, we had given them a guarantee. [He wanted to know] if that guarantee was directed against Russia as well? And that time I told him: "I don't think it is directed at you, because I don't think you have the intention of attacking Romania. You have always stated that Bessarabia is yours, but that you have - never stated that you want to attack Romania!"

"Yes," he told me, but he wanted to know more precisely if this guarantee...(A door opens and the recording ends.)

Unfortunately, we don't get to hear the rest of Hitler's comments, or the other three out of the four topics that he discussed with Molotov, since the recording ends. But, nevertheless there is some interesting insight.

"Tell my mother I died for my country. I did what I thought was best."

John Wilkes Booth
April 12, 1865

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Post by Kitsune » Sun Nov 27, 2005 5:15 am

Double post, sorry.
"Tell my mother I died for my country. I did what I thought was best."

John Wilkes Booth
April 12, 1865

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Joined: Mon Feb 21, 2005 11:01 am
Location: UK

Post by Jake » Sun Nov 27, 2005 7:52 am

Fascinating stuff, Kitsune. Thank you for posting it.


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Post by Enrico Cernuschi » Sun Nov 27, 2005 11:42 am

Great Kitsune, you are a chic type.

Ciàpla adasi, stà léger.

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Post by Jock » Sun Nov 27, 2005 11:47 am

Thanks Kitsune, will print that out and read it later. My eyes may explode if I tried to read that much on the PC!


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Post by infanterielandser » Thu Dec 08, 2005 9:45 am

Great Kitsune, thank you!

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