The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: imt//tgmwc/tgmwc-14/tgmwc-14-135.08

Archive/File: imt/tgmwc/tgmwc-14/tgmwc-14-135.08
Last-Modified: 2000/03/17

Q. What was your reason for that?

A. I have just indicated these reasons. My friend Leuchtner,
who was hanged, together with other young Social Democrats -
von Harnack, Weber, Mass - my friend Leuchtner and I
discussed the composition of such a government. Leuchtner
informed me that a general would probably be the President
of the Reich, and another general would be the Minister for
War. I pointed out that Schacht in all probability would
become financial or economic dictator, since Schacht's
suitability for such a post had already been proved, through
his actual or alleged connections with American business
circles. But these connections between Schacht and - in
National Socialist parlance - between plutocracy and
militarism, these connections, I say, appeared to me so
compromising to the cause of democracy, especially to the
cause of Social Democracy, that I was under no circumstances
prepared to become a member of any cabinet in which Schacht
would be the financial dictator.


THE PRESIDENT Do you want to re-examine?



Q. Herr Severing, the prosecutor has just talked about the
construction of a U-boat in Finland, and of a U-boat in
Cadiz. With regard to the construction of the U-boat in
Cadiz, he has referred to D-854, I presume that this
document is unknown to you.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, Dr. Siemers, the witness said he knew
nothing about either of those instances.

DR. SIEMERS: Thank you.


Q. Do you not remember that during that discussion, Grand
Admiral Raeder and Reichswehrminister Groner mentioned the
Finland U-boat?

A. I do not remember.

Q. You do not know about it? And now - a leading question:
is it true that the agreement made on 18th October, 1928,
stipulated that the Chief of the Naval Command Staff was
bound to keep the Minister of the Reichswehr informed and
the Minister of the Reichswehr, in his turn, would inform
the other ministers of the Cabinet?

A. As far as I can remember, the agreement or the promise of
the two Chiefs of the Army Command was that the Cabinet
should, generally speaking, be kept informed about all
questions. That was technically possible only in the manner
to which you have just indicated, that is to say, that the
Minister of the Armed forces would be the first to be
informed and that he, in turn, would pass this information
on to the Cabinet.

Q. So that there was no obligation, on Raeder's part,
currently to report to you or to appear before the Cabinet?

A. That would have been quite an unusual measure, just as
the meeting of 18th October was in itself unusual; the
members of the Cabinet consisted either of the ministers or
of their official representatives.

                                                  [Page 268]

Q. So that the further management of the matter would
technically be handled by the Minister of the Reichswehr?

A. Technically by the Minister of the Reichswehr and
politically by the Cabinet.

DR. SIEMERS: Thank you very much. I have no further
questions to ask the witness.

BY DR. KUBUSCHOK (Counsel for defendant von Papen):

Q. On what legal regulation was your exemption from the
duties of Minister of the Interior in Prussia, on 20th July,
1932, based?

A. The release from my duties?

Q. Yes. The release from your duties.

A. It was based on Article 48.

Q. Who, on the strength of Article 48, issued emergency

A. This emergency decree was issued by the Reich President,
who alone was entitled to do so.

Q. Was the fact that you, on 20th July, under the
circumstances which you have just described, were removed
from office, based on the fact that von Papen, and
Hindenburg, who issued the decree, were of the opinion that
the emergency decree was legal, whereas it was your point of
view that the legal basis for the emergency decree did not
exist, and that, in consequence, you remained in your

A. I was of the opinion, and it was later confirmed by the
Supreme Court (Reichsgericht), that the President of the
Reich was authorized, on the strength of Article 48, to
issue directives for the maintenance of peace and order; and
if he did not see in the Prussian Ministers, and
particularly in myself as Minister of Police, sufficient
guarantee that this peace and order would be ensured in
Prussia, he had the right to relieve us of our police
functions, and especially to exclude us from all other
executive measures. But he did not have the right to
discharge us as ministers.

Q. Is it known to you that the highest court in Germany, the
State Court of Justice, on 25th October, 1932, issued a
statement to the effect that the decree of the Reich
President of 20th July, 1932, was compatible with the
Constitution of the State in so far as it had appointed the
Reich Chancellor as Reich Commissar for Prussia, and
authorized him temporarily to deprive Prussian Ministers of
their official functions, and to assume those functions

A. I have just quoted that decision.

Q. One more question: Did von Papen, then Reich Commissar
and carrying out certain changes in personnel, bring
National Socialists into the Police Force?

A. I cannot say. The political character of the police
officials was not outwardly recognizable. That might be the
case with administrative heads, Government presidents and
police presidents, but not with every simple police

Q. Is it true that von Papen gave the key position of Police
President in Berlin to the former Police President of Essen,

A. That is correct.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Thank you.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness can now retire and the Tribunal
will adjourn.

How many more witnesses have you got?

DR. SIEMERS: I now have the witnesses Freiherr von
Weiszacker and Vice-Admiral Schulte-Monting, the Chief of
Staff. The examination of Schulte-Monting will take up some
time, whereas I shall be through with Freiherr von
Weiszacker in a short while.


(A recess was taken.)

                                                  [Page 269]

DR. SIEMERS: If it please your Honours, may the witness,
Freiherr von
Weiszacker, be called.

ERNST VON WEISZACKER, a witness, took the stand and
testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Ernst von Weiszacker.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will
speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.



Q. Herr von Weiszacker, at the beginning of the way, you
were Secretary of State in the Foreign Office, is that

A. Yes.

Q. You will recollect that on 3rd September, 1939, i.e., on
the first day of the war between Germany and England - the
English passenger ship Athenia was torpedoed north-west of
Scotland. There were American passengers on board. The
sinking of the ship naturally caused a great sensation.
Please tell the Tribunal how this matter was treated
politically, that is, by you.

A. I remember this incident, but I am not certain whether it
was a British or an American ship. In any case, the incident
alarmed me very greatly at the time. I inquired of the SKL
whether a German naval unit could have sunk the ship. After
this was denied, I spoke to the American Charge d'Affaires,
Mr. Alexander Kirk, to tell him that no German naval unit
could have participated in the sinking of the Athenia. I
asked the Charge d'Affaires to take cognizance of this fact,
and to cable this information to Washington without delay,
adding that it was most important in the interests of our
two nations-Germany and America.

Q. Herr von Weiszacker, you had contacted the Navy before
taking these steps?

A. Yes.

Q. Did you, at this first conversation, talk to Grand
Admiral Raeder personally, or did you speak with some other

A. That I am no longer able to say, but I did receive the
definite information. I am sorry I can no longer give you
full particulars on the matter. But I did receive a definite
answer that no German naval unit was involved. That
satisfied me.

Q. In connection with this matter, did you, on the same day
or shortly after, visit Grand Admiral Raeder and discuss
this matter further with him?

A. I believe I remember doing this. Yes.

Q. Did Raeder tell you on this occasion that it could not
have been a German U-boat, since reports coming in from the
U-boats advised that the distance from the nearest U-boat
was too great, i.e., about seventy-five nautical miles?

A. Raeder informed me that no German U-boat could have been
involved. He may also have mentioned details, such as the
distance of the U-boats from the point where the ship went
down, but I cannot today tell you about this with any

Q. During this conversation with Raeder, did you declare
that everything should be done to avoid war with the United
States, referring particularly to incidents like the sinking
of the Lusitania in the previous war?

A. That I certainly and emphatically did, for at that time
the recollections of similar past incidents still haunted my
mind. I definitely drew his attention to the urgent
necessity of avoiding all naval operations which might cause
a spreading of the war, and decrease the number of neutral

                                                  [Page 270]

Q. Did Raeder share your opinion?

A. To the best of my recollection - yes.

Q. Are you convinced, Herr von Weiszacker, that Raeder gave
you truthful answers in his reports about the Athenia?

A. But of course.

Q. Now U-boat No. 30 returned. from her combat mission on
27th September, 1939, i.e., about three weeks after the
sinking of the Athenia, and her Commander reported that he
had inadvertently sunk the Athenia. He had not noticed the
fact at the time, but was apprised of the incident later by
various wireless messages. Raeder heard about it at the end
of September, and discussed the matter with Hitler in order
to decide what attitude should be adopted. Hitler issued an
order enjoining silence. All this has already been discussed
here. I would like you to tell me if you were informed of
the fact, subsequently established, of this sinking by a
German U-boat.

A. No, certainly not.

Q. Did you hear of Hitler's order enjoining silence?

A. Neither, of course, of that.

Q. I shall now have Document 3260-PS handed to you, and I
must ask you to have a look at it. It is an article entitled
"Churchill Sinks the Athenia," taken from the Volkischer
Beobachter of 23rd October, 1939. Do you remember this

A. Yes. Perhaps I may look through it.

DR. SIEMERS: Mr. President, may I inform you, in order to
assist the Tribunal, that this is Exhibit GB 218 in the
British Document Book, No. 10, Page 97, No. Page 99.


Q. Herr von Weiszacker, you have read this article. May I
ask you to tell me whether you recall having read this
article at the time of its appearance?

A. I do recall that such an article did appear at that time.

Q. Then may I ask you further what your attitude was at the
time when you heard about this article?

A. I considered it a perverted phantasy.

Q. Then you condemned this article?

A. Naturally.

Q. Even though at the time you did not know that it was a
German U-boat.

A. The question of whether it was a German U-boat or not
could in no wise influence my opinion of the article.

Q. Then you considered this article objectionable, even if
it had not been a German U-boat?

A. Of course.

Q. Now the prosecution asserts that Grand Admiral Raeder had
instigated this article, and is reproaching him very
gravely, on moral grounds, for this very reason, and the
reproach is all the graver since, as we have seen, Raeder at
this time - unlike yourself - knew that it was a German U-
boat which had sunk the Athenia. Do you consider such an
action possible on Raeder's part? That he could have
instigated this article?

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute, Dr. Siemers, you can only ask
the witness what he knew and what he did. You can't ask him
to speculate about what Raeder has done.

DR. SIEMERS: I beg your pardon, Mr. President. I believed
that, according to this morning's affidavit, it would be
possible to voice an opinion; but I shall, of course,
retract my question.

THE PRESIDENT: What affidavit are you talking about?

DR. SIEMERS: The affidavit in which I suggested the
expunging of any expression of opinion, Dietmann's

                                                  [Page 271]

THE PRESIDENT: That is a perfectly different matter.

DR. SIEMERS: Herr von Weiszacker, did you at that time hear
that Raeder had authorized this article?

A. No, I did not hear that; I would never have believed it.
I consider it entirely out of the question that he could
have instigated an article of that sort, or that he could
have written it himself.

Q. To your knowledge, could this article be traced
exclusively to the Propaganda Ministry?

A. I cannot answer this question positively. It could not at
any rate be traced to Raeder or the Ministry for Foreign

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.