The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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DR. LATERNSER: Yes, but since we are concerned with a motion
which applies to procedure and which applies to a ruling
announced orally, I believe I am justified in putting my
motion in this manner.

THE PRESIDENT: No, the Tribunal does not think so. The
Tribunal would wish to have your motion in writing in
accordance with the rule of the Tribunal.

Now the Tribunal will continue with the case against the
defendant von Papen, which is I believe the next.

DR. KUBUSCHOK (Counsel for the defendant von Papen): I am
beginning with my presentation of evidence on behalf of my
client, von Papen, by calling the defendant von Papen as a

FRANZ VON PAPEN, a witness, took the stand and testified as


Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Franz von Papen.

Q. Will you repeat the 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.

                                                  [Page 257]



Q. Please give the High Tribunal, briefly, a picture of your
life, especially from the time you entered politics.

A. In order to describe my life briefly, I shall emphasize
only such points as are essential for the High Tribunal to
form a judgement of my personality and how they influenced
my life and my political attitude and opinion.

I was born on soil which has been in the possession of my
family for nine hundred years. I grew up with conservative
principles which link a man most closely to his own folk and
his native soil, and as my family has always been a strong
supporter of the Church, I of course grew up in this
tradition as well.

As the second son I was destined for a military career. At
the age of eighteen I became a lieutenant in a cavalry
regiment and I went -

THE PRESIDENT: I do not think you gave us the date of your


Q. Please give the date of your birth.

A. The date of my birth is the 29th of October, 1879.

THE PRESIDENT: You have told us you joined a cavalry
regiment at the age of eighteen.

A. Important for my development -

DR. KUBUSCHOK: There may be an error in translation. The
defendant entered it at the age of eighteen, not in 1918,
but at the age of eighteen.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I said so.

A. Important for my development was my marriage with the
daughter of a Saar industrialist, Geheimrat von Bock. The
relatives of this family brought me into contact with many
French and Belgian families, and in this way I acquired an
intimate knowledge of the spiritual and cultural factor of
these neighbourings countries, which made a very strong
impression on me at the time. From that time on, that is
from 1905, I have been convinced of how wrong a certain
political attitude can be, namely, that France and Germany
should be condemned to consider themselves eternal enemies.
I felt how much these two peoples had to offer each other on
a mutual basis, provided their peaceful development was not

In the years that followed I graduated from the
Kriegsakademie (War Academy), and in 1913, after training
for five years, I was taken into the General Staff. At the
end of 1913, at the command of His Imperial Majesty, I was
appointed Military Attache in Washington and in Mexico. In
this capacity, in the summer of 1914, I accompanied the
U.S.A. Expeditionary Corps, which was dispatched to Vera
Cruz as a result of the incident at Tampico. In Mexico, I
was surprised by the outbreak of the First World War. Until
the end of 1915 I remained at my post in Washington.

This period is of comprehensive significance to my political
life. Our war, which was carried on with legal methods
against the unilateral supplying of our enemies with war
materials, led to heated polemics and propaganda. This
propaganda, which was fostered by the enemy, tried by all
means to cast suspicion upon the military attaches of
Germany and to accuse them of illegal acts and especially of
having organized acts of sabotage.

At the end of 1915 I left the United States. I regret to say
that I never tried to rectify and correct this false
propaganda, but this propaganda followed me until the '30s,
and even until to-day, and it impressed its stamp upon me.
In order to cite just one example, even after 1931, the
Lehigh Valley Company stated before the Mixed Claims
Commission. that their claim of $50,000,000 against the
German Reich was justified, since I, the German Military
Attache, had caused an explosion which had taken place in
the year 1917, two years after I had left the United States.

                                                  [Page 258]

I am just mentioning this fact, Mr. President, since this
propaganda honoured me with titles such as "master spy,"
"chief plotter," and other names; for this propaganda was
the background for judging my personality, as I found out in
1932 when I entered public life.

THE PRESIDENT: Would that be a convenient time to break off?

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

THE MARSHAL: If it please the Tribunal, the report is made
that the defendants Funk and Speer are absent.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Kubuschok.




Q. Witness, we stopped when you were talking about the
formation of public opinion concerning you personally.
Please continue telling us of your career.

A. I had spoken about the propaganda about myself which was
carried on in the United States at the time of the First
World War. No effort was in fact ever made to investigate
whether this judgement was true or false. What I was able to
accomplish in those years, that is that I opposed sabotage,
that I fought against submarine warfare, has never become

This propaganda was public defamation, and it reached its
height in 1941 in a pamphlet published in New York, with the
intriguing title The Devil in the Top Hat. It repeats all
these fairy tales without criticism and adds new ones.

Thus a so-called public opinion was formed about me which, I
believe, is a completely distorted picture of my character,
my opinion, and, above all, my motives in the time from 1932
to 1945.

I ask the Tribunal to keep in mind these psychological
associations, as I attempt to give now a true picture of my
thoughts and my acts.

After returning to Germany in 1916 I did my duty as a
soldier, as a battalion commander, and as a General Staff
Officer in the war in France. In 1917 I became Chief of the
Operational Section of Army Group Falkenhayn in Turkey. When
Falkenhayn was recalled in 1918 I became Chief of the
General Staff of the Fourth Turkish Army until the

Perhaps I may recall briefly - after so many bad things have
been said about me by the world - an episode which shows
that I was able to do something useful for the history of
humanity. On 8th December, 1918, after a hard struggle with
the German and Turkish headquarters, I succeeded in getting
Falkenhayn to evacuate Jerusalem. Because of this decision
the city was not shelled and not destroyed by the British

THE PRESIDENT: The translation came through to me, I
thought, the 8th of December, 1918. That must have been

DR. KUBUSCHOK: NO, 1918, my Lord, 1918.

THE WITNESS: 8th December, 1918.

When in November, 1918, I was negotiating with Ataturk about
the evacuation of the German troops, we received the news of
the collapse of the German armies and the abdication of the
German Kaiser. This fact meant for me not only the loss of
the war. A whole world had collapsed for me. The German
Reich had collapsed after a thousand years of development
and everything that we had believed in had been plunged into
an unforeseeable future. At this juncture I decided to
accept the inevitable.

After my return to Germany I asked for and was granted my
release from the army. I went back to my home where I lived
on a modest agricultural estate: There I was on traditional
soil and devoted myself to home tasks. Before long my farmer
friends entrusted me with the administration of their

                                                  [Page 259]

affairs. They elected me honorary mayor and in 1923 they
sent me to the Prussian Parliament.

When I was requested to do this I decided not to join the
Right, the German National Party, but the centre party, the
Zentrum. This decision was influenced by my conviction that
in this party I would be able to do much more for
adjustments in the social sphere than amongst the
conservatives. At the same time this party represented the
principles of a Christian concept of the State.

The eight years in which I belonged to Parliament were
filled with struggles for the internal recovery and
strengthening of the German Republic. In the Zentrum Party I
represented the conservative ideas of my agricultural
electors. I endeavoured to make this party, which in Prussia
had formed a coalition with the Left, form a coalition with
the Right also. Thus, I wanted to help create an outlet for
the tensions out of which National Socialism was really
born. Also, into the same period fall my efforts to remove
the discriminations against Germany through the numerous
terms of the Versailles Treaty and that by way of reaching a
better understanding with the French people. I became a
member of the German-French Study Committee, a committee
which, founded by the Luxemburg industrialist Meirisch,
comprised a large number of outstanding men of both
countries. Close relations and conversations also linked me
with the Veterans' organizations of both countries, on the
French side with the well-known leader of the "Gueules
Cassees," Colonel Piccat. I took an active part at the
congresses of German-French Catholic circles which took
place in Paris and Berlin. All these efforts had as their
aim to put the European peace on the basis of a deeper
knowledge and closer co-operation of our two countries.

This realization of mine was strengthened further when I had
moved to the Saar in 1929, which at that time was, as is
well known, under international control. When in 1929 the
Young Plan was accepted by Germany I asked Herr Stresemann
to arrange with M. Briand a settlement of the Saar question
without plebiscite because I was always of the opinion that
a candid solution of this thorny question by both sides
would leave less resentment and more solidity than a
decision brought about by an election campaign carried on
with passion on both sides. Unfortunately, this did not come

Then in 1930 the great economic world crisis set in which
embraced victors and vanquished alike. Germany's new
democratic regime was not able to cope with such a burden,
and under the ever increasing economic pressure and
increasing internal tension the Papen Cabinet was formed in
the spring of 1932. Here starts the political development
which I am pleased to be able to account for before this
Tribunal. I should like to add a request to the Tribunal.
The Tribunal has ruled that the defendants have to be brief
because the defendant Reichsmarschall Goering has completely
presented the history of National Socialism. I ask that it
be taken into consideration that I am not speaking here for
National Socialism. My defence will be that of the other

DR. KUBUSCHOK: In questioning the witness it will be
necessary to go into the details of the events and the
activities of the witness as Reich Chancellor in the year
1932. The Indictment covers the time from 1st June, 1932,
the date of the appointment of Herr von Papen as Reich
Chancellor. The Indictment sees in the conduct of his
official activity as Reich Chancellor the preparation for
Hitler's government.

The defence will set forth that the Papen government
consistently fought for a new programme entirely independent
of the ideas of National Socialism, a programme representing
Papen's own basic political ideas, to which he remained
loyal in the following period also. As the Indictment -

THE PRESIDENT: It is not proper for a counsel to make a
statement of that sort. You must elicit the evidence from
the witness by questions, and the questions ought to be
questions - which are not leading questions - which do not
suggest the answers. You are now telling us what the witness
is going to say. We want to hear it from the witness.

                                                  [Page 260]

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Mr. President, I only wanted to point out
that this period of time before 1933 must also be discussed,
and I wish to ask for your indulgence. We shall -

THE PRESIDENT: We have not attempted to stop you from giving
the evidence from eliciting the evidence. Ask the witness.
But you must not state the facts yourself.


Q. Witness, will you explain to the Tribunal what the
situation was in Germany when Hindenburg called upon you on
1st June, 1932, to form a cabinet?

A. Before I answer this question will you please permit me,
as one of the last Chancellors of the Reich, to make a brief
statement on the government formed by me? If and to what
extent the Charter of the Tribunal, in our opinion, is
compatible with the sovereignty of the Reich and its
different governments will later be expounded by one of the
other counsel.

When the prosecution deals with my activity as Reich
Chancellor in 1932, I assume that this is done in order to
get a clear, historically accurate picture of the
developments and to form a judgement on my character as a
whole. For this reason I will comment on this part of the

However, I must state here emphatically that this cabinet of
1932 governed to the best of its knowledge and ability under
the constitution and under the emergency powers of the
President, at a time of a most severe internal economic

It is an historical fact that the activity of my cabinet
would not justify the slightest suspicion of a crime in the
meaning of the Charter. I believe I must make this
statement, my Lord, to uphold the integrity of my
ministerial colleagues, and above all the integrity of the
President, Field Marshal von Hindenburg, the last great
historical figure of Germany.

As to your question: Dr. Bruning, my predecessor in office,
was highly esteemed by all of us and had been welcomed with
great expectations. During his period of office occurred the
great economic crisis, the customs, political blockades by
other countries, production and trade almost completely at a
standstill, no foreign currency for the procurement of
necessary raw materials, increasing unemployment, youth out
on the streets, and the economic world depression leading to
bankruptcy of the banks. Government was possible only
through emergency decrees; that is, by one-sided legislative
acts of the President. Support of the unemployed empties the
treasury, is unproductive, and is no solution. As a result
of the great unemployment, the radical parties were
increasing. The political splitting up of the German people
reached its height. In the last Reichstag election, there
were thirty-two parties.

After the war, we had all hoped that we might be able to
build up an orderly democracy in Germany. The English
democracy was our model, but the Weimar Constitution had
given the German people an abundance of rights which did not
correspond to its political maturity. In 1932 it had long
been clear that the Weimar Constitution made the mistake of
giving the government too little authority. I remind you
that the forming of governments often took weeks because all
parties wanted to participate.

In Prussia, the Social Democrats had ruled since 1919. They
shared with the Zentrum in filling political offices in
Prussia. The dualism between Prussia, the greatest of the
provinces, and the Reich was constantly increasing. My wish,
that Bruning should return to the old construction of
Bismarck, to be Reich Chancellor and at the same time
Minister President of Prussia, in order to co-ordinate the
policy of this greatest province with that of the Reich, was
rejected by Bruning .

In all these years, in the last years, nothing was done to
restrain the ever-increasing National Socialist movement,
that is to direct it into a politically responsible course.

                                                  [Page 261]

The entire political confusion and the realization that
something had to be done in order to make it possible for
the Reich Government to govern and to make it more
independent brought Hindenburg to the decision to appoint a
cabinet independent of the parties, directed by experts. The
members of this cabinet of mine were all experts in their
fields. Von Neurath was an old diplomat, the Minister of the
Interior, Gail, was an old administrative official, the
Agricultural Minister was general director of great
agricultural societies, the Finance Minister was formerly
Ministerial Director in his ministry, the Railway Director,
Elz, had been president of the board of directors of a
railway, and so forth.

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