Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918


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The German Ultimatum to the Norwegian and Danish Governments, April 9, 1940


Contrary to the sincere desire of the German people and their Government to live in peace and amity with the English and French peoples, and in spite of the absence of any reasonable grounds for mutual strife, those in power in London and Paris have declared war on the German nation.

With the unleashing of this war of aggression against the existence of the German Reich for which they had long been preparing, England and France have also started a maritime war against the neutral world.

Whilst, with complete disregard of the elementary rules of international law, they sought to direct a starvation blockade against German women, children, and old people, at the same time they subjected neutral States to their ruthless blockade measures. The immediate consequences of these methods of warfare initiated by England and France, which are contrary to international law and which had to be met by Germany with countermeasures, were the most severe damage to neutral shipping and to neutral trade. This English procedure, however, dealt the very conception of neutrality a shattering blow.

Germany, for her part, has made equally serious efforts to preserve the rights of neutral countries by her endeavours to limit maritime warfare to maritime zones lying between Germany and her opponents. In contrast to this, England, with the object of diverting danger from her islands and at the same time of preventing German trade with neutral countries has expended greater and greater efforts on carrying maritime warfare into neutral waters. In pursuance of this truly British method of waging war, England has taken belligerent action in the territorial waters and regions of Denmark and Norway to an ever-increasing degree and in flagrant breach of international law.

From the outbreak of the war Germany had foreseen this development. Through her economic policy at home and abroad she has known how to frustrate the attempt made by the British starvation blockade against the German nation and to prevent the strangulation of German trade.

This has caused the complete collapse of the British blockade policy to become increasingly evident in recent months.

These developments, together with the hopelessness of any direct attack on German western defenses and the growing anxiety in England and France in the face of the successful German counterattacks at sea and in the air, have recently caused both nations to make increasingly serious efforts to carry the theatre of war by every means in their power into the neutral mainland both within and outside Europe. It goes without saying that, following the British tradition, England and France, in making these attempts, have the small European states in view in the first place. During recent months English and French statesmen have quite openly proclaimed the extension of the war to these territories to be the fundamental strategical concept of their conduct of war.

The Russo-Finnish conflict offered the first occasion for this. The English and French Governments had expressed quite openly their intention to intervene with military force in the conflict between Soviet Russia and Finland, and to use the territory of the northern States as a base of operations for this purpose.

Only the early conclusion of peace in the North, which occurred contrary to their wishes, hindered them from putting this resolution into effect at that time. If English and French statesmen subsequently declared that they would have made the carrying out of this intention dependent upon the concurrence of the Scandinavian States, that is a gross untruth. The Reich Government has documentary proof in its possession, showing that England and France had together decided if necessary to carry out the action through the territories of the Northern States even against their will.

The decisive factor is, however, the following:

From the attitude of the French and the English Governments before and after the conclusion of the Soviet-Finnish Peace, and from the documentary evidence actually in the hands of the Reich Government, there is indisputable proof that the decision to assist Finland against Russia should over and above that serve to aid further plans.

The further aim of England and France in Scandinavia was and primarily is:

1. By the occupation of Narvik to cut off Germany from her one supply route in the North.

2. In the landing of English and French fighting forces in Scandinavian countries to establish a new front in order to attack Germany’s flank from the North.

In this way the northern countries would serve as a theatre of war of the English and French forces, whilst the northern people in accordance with an age-long English tradition, would be allotted the role of auxiliary and mercenary troops.

As by reason [sic] of the conclusion of the Finnish-Russian peace, this plan was frustrated. It then became even clearer to the Reich Government that England and France were making decisive endeav-ours immediately to realize and develop their plans in a different way.

With the urgent necessity of preparing an intervention in the North, in recent weeks the English and French Governments openly proclaimed the thesis that there could be no neutrality in this war, and it was the duty of small countries actively to take part in the war against Germany. This thesis was prepared for by propaganda from the Western Powers, supported by ever-increasing political pressure on the neutral countries. Concrete reports regarding forthcoming en-deavours of the Western Powers to land in Scandinavia accumulated recently more and more. If there ever was the slightest doubt regarding the definite decision of the Western Powers to intervene in the North, it has finally been removed during the last few days.

The Reich Government has in its possession conclusive evidence that England and France intended to effect a surprise occupation of certain territories in the northern countries within the next few days.

The northern countries have on their side not only not offered any resistance to these encroachments by England and France but have even tolerated without taking any countermeasures the greatest en-croachments on their sovereign rights.

The Reich Government must, consequently, assume that the Royal Norwegian Government will adopt the same attitude towards the preparations and fulfillment of plans of action now intended by England and France. But even if the Royal Norwegian Government had intended to take countermeasures, the Reich Government was quite certain that the Norwegian military forces would not be sufficient to be able to oppose the English-French actions successfully.

In this decisive phase of the fight for existence forced on the German people by England and France, the Reich Government can in no circumstances tolerate that Scandinavia should be made the theatre of war against Germany by the Western Powers, and the Norwegian people, whether directly or indirectly, misused in a war against Germany.

Germany does not intend to await idly or to put up with such a realization of the opponents’ plans. The Reich Government therefore has today begun certain military operations, which will lead to the occupation of strategically important points on Norwegian territory. The Reich Government therewith undertakes the protection of the Kingdom of Norway for the duration of the war. It has resolved, from now on, to protect peace in the North with all its power against any English-French attack, and finally to assure it.

The Reich Government did not wish for this development. England and France alone bear the responsibility. Both States proclaim quite hypocritically the protection of small countries. In reality, however, they offer violence to these (smaller countries) in the hope thereby to be able to realize their will to destroy, directed against Germany and daily more openly announced.

The German troops therefore do not set foot on Norwegian soil as enemies. The German High Command does not intend to make use of the points occupied by German troops as bases for operations against England, as long as it is not forced to do so by measures taken by England and France. German military operations aim much more exclusively at protecting the North against the proposed occupation of Norwegian strongpoints by English-French forces.

The Reich Government is convinced that by this action it is at the same time serving Norway’s interests. For this protection the German Wehrmacht offers the Scandinavian peoples the only guarantee that during this war their countries will not become a field of battle or a theatre of perhaps most terrible engagements.

The Reich Government thus expects that the Royal Norwegian Government and the Norwegian people will respond with understanding to the German measures and offer no resistance to it. Any resistance would have to be and would be broken by all possible means by the German Forces employed and would therefore lead only to absolutely useless bloodshed. The Royal Norwegian Government is therefore requested to take all measures with the greatest speed to ensure that the advance of the German troops can take place without friction and difficulties.

In the spirit of the good German-Norwegian relations that have always existed, the Reich Government declares to the Royal Norwegian Government that Germany has no intention of infringing by her measures the territorial integrity and political independence of the Kingdom of Norway now or in the future.

6 United States, Office of United States Chief of Counsel for Prosecution of Axis Criminality, Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, 8 vols. and 2 suppl, vols., Government Printing Office, Washington, 1946–1948, vol. VIII, pp. 410–414.

7Ibid.,vol. VIII, p. 415.


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Chicago: "The German Ultimatum to the Norwegian and Danish Governments, April 9, 1940," Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918 in Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918, ed. Walter Consuelo Langsam and James Michael Egan (Chicage: Lippincott, 1951), 867–871. Original Sources, accessed January 26, 2023,

MLA: . "The German Ultimatum to the Norwegian and Danish Governments, April 9, 1940." Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918, in Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918, edited by Walter Consuelo Langsam and James Michael Egan, Chicage, Lippincott, 1951, pp. 867–871. Original Sources. 26 Jan. 2023.

Harvard: , 'The German Ultimatum to the Norwegian and Danish Governments, April 9, 1940' in Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918. cited in 1951, Documents and Readings in the History of Europe Since 1918, ed. , Lippincott, Chicage, pp.867–871. Original Sources, retrieved 26 January 2023, from