The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

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Q. As an explanation I should like to mention that the
reform of the constitution which was to do away with the
conditions at that time - that government measures were
issued solely on the authority of Article 48, the emergency
decree. To what extent this took place may be seen in
Document 4, which gives a picture of the wealth of emergency
decrees which were issued.

Witness, on 6th November, 1932, the election for the
Reichstag took place. What was the election slogan of the
government and what was your opinion about the result?

A. Unfortunately, we had to vote once again. The programme
of my government was the same as it had been before. That
is, the attempt to establish a new state leadership, a state
leadership resting upon the co-operation of a parliament
capable of accomplishing something and an authoritarian

In this manifesto to the electors of 4th November, I
addressed Hitler, and I told him

  "It is the exclusiveness of your movement, your demand
  for everything or nothing, which the Reich President
  could not recognize and which led to his decision of 13th
  August. What is at stake today is this: the question is
  not whether this or that party leader occupies the
  Chancellor's chair, whether his name is Bruning, Hitler
  or von Papen, but, rather, that we meet on common ground
  so that the vital interests of the German people can be

                                                  [Page 270]

I hoped that through this Reichstag election the National
Socialists, whom I was fighting against, would be weakened
in such a way that this party would be squeezed out of the
central parliamentary position.

Q. What was the result?

A. This result was not achieved. The National Socialists
lost 34 seats, but that was not sufficient to crowd them out
of their key position, for, again, the formation of a
majority in the Reichstag from the Socialists to the extreme
Right was possible only with Hitler; without him, no

In order that we might be in a position to continue
governing in a constitutional way, I tried once more to
negotiate with the various parties and the National

Q. Please give us a description of these negotiations.

A. These negotiations are interesting, and the Tribunal must
be made familiar with them so that they can judge the events
of 30th January, 1933.

First of all, I tried to clear the situation with those
parties that were in opposition to my government, and
especially with the Social Democrats and with the Centre
Party. The Centre Party took an adverse position. It wished
a majority government with Hitler, but Hitler did not wish
to govern with a parliamentary majority. From Document 2,
Page 13, we can see what the attitude of the Centre Party

Since Hitler's collaboration for a coalition government was
out of the question, I again turned to Hitler in order to
ask him whether he was now ready to enter my government. I
did this out of a sense of responsibility in order to
achieve some sort of result at all, and, therefore, I wrote
him the letter dated 13th November, 1932, which is Document
D-633, which was submitted by the prosecution as an
"undignified" document because after all of my failures, I
had once more turned to Hitler. In this letter I said:

  "I would consider it a violation of duty if I did not
  turn to you, in spite of everything, and I am of the
  opinion that the leader of such a great movement, whose
  service to the country and the people I always
  appreciated despite much that I had to criticise, that
  this leader should not refuse to confer with the
  responsible statesman."

Q. Then on 8th November you again turned to the foreign
Press and spoke to them on foreign political matters -

A. May I interrupt you for a moment? I should like to add
here, in regard to the judgement of the letter by the
prosecutor Mr. Barrington: it is customary in every
parliamentary State that, if the leader of the government
turns to the opposition in order to obtain its co-operation,
he writes a courteous and cordial letter to the leader of
the opposition; that he does not call him an ass. Therefore,
I cannot quite see why these remarks of mine are
characterised as lacking dignity.

Q. On 8th November, you turned to the foreign Press, and
spoke about the revision of the Versailles Treaty. Can you
explain briefly the statement you made at that time?

A. I only mention the speech made to the representatives of
the foreign Press in order to show to the High Tribunal the
frequency of my appeals to foreign countries; appeals - to
foreign countries, to the victorious powers - to be willing
to undertake a moral reconciliation; for then, gentlemen,
the radical tendencies in Germany would have disappeared of
their own accord.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: This speech before the foreign Press will be
found in Document 1, Pages 11 and 12.


Q. What were the consequences of the failure of your
negotiations with the party leaders?

A. The failure of my negotiations with the party leaders and
Hitler led to my resignation on 17th November. I was
instructed to carry on the affairs of the government until a
new government could be formed.

Q. What efforts were made by the Reich President after your
resignation toward forming a new government?

                                                  [Page 271]

A. My resignation gave the Reich President the opportunity
to try once more to form a parliamentary majority.

He immediately tried to do that, and beginning on 18th
November, he received all the party leaders, from the Right
to the Centre; and on the 19th he received Hitler. The topic
was: How can we form a parliamentary majority government? He
instructed Hitler to form a majority government. Hitler
would then be Chancellor.

On 23rd November, Goering presented Hitler's answer to
Hindenburg; it was:

  "Hitler could not undertake the formation of a majority

On the 24th, Hindenburg received Monsignor Kaas, the leader
of the Centre Party. He declared that Hitler had not even
tried to find out whether a majority government could be
formed, but Monsignor Kaas promised the Reich President to
try once more to form a majority government. On 25th
November, he reported to Hindenburg that the attempt had
been in vain, that the leader of the Nazi faction, at that
time Herr Frick, had stated that the Party would not be
interested in such discussions. The result: the formation of
a majority government with Hitler is impossible.

Q. Did other possibilities for a coalition present
themselves? Were there other possibilities for a coalition?

A. No. There was only the possibility of a cabinet such as I
had had, or a majority cabinet.

Q. With regard to these negotiations I should like to refer
you to Document 2, Pages 14 and 15.

After the discussions between the Reich President and the
Party leaders had failed, a conference took place on 1st
December between the Reich President and you and General von
Schleicher. This consultation was especially important for
the future political development, and has a considerable
historical character. Therefore I ask you to go into the
details of this conversation.

A. The Field Marshal, on 1st December, asked General von
Schleicher and me to meet him for a conference. I should
like to remark that previously no conversation between Herr
von Schleicher and myself about the possibilities for the
formation of a future government had taken place.

Herr von Hindenburg asked us about our attitude; I set forth
the following:

The attempt to include the Nazi movement into the
Presidential Cabinet of Hindenburg had twice failed. Hitler
equally refuses to form a majority government. On the other
hand, he is exercising a tremendous amount of opposition and
is trying to have all my decrees rescinded by the Reichstag.
If therefore there is no possibility to form a parliamentary
government or to include Hitler into our government without
making him Chancellor, then a state of emergency has arisen
which requires extraordinary measures. Therefore, I proposed
recess of Parliament for several months, immediate
preparation of a constitutional reform bill later to be
presented to the Reichstag or to a national assembly. This
proposal involves a violation of the Constitution. I
emphasize that I know how the great soldier and statesman
cherishes the sacredness of his oath, but my conscience
leads me to believe that a violation of the constitution
seems to be justified in view of the extraordinary
situation, for which the German Constitution provides no

Then Herr von Schleicher spoke. He said:

  "Field Marshal, I have a plan which will make it
  unnecessary for you to break your oath to the
  Constitution, if you are willing to put the government
  into my hands. I hope that I will be able to obtain a
  parliamentary majority in the Reichstag by splitting the
  National Socialist Party."
During the discussion of this plan, I said that it was
doubtful to me whether a splitting of the Party, which had
sworn loyalty to Hitler, could be achieved. I reminded the
Field Marshal of the fact that he should free himself of
weak parliamentary majorities through a basic reform.

                                                  [Page 272]

However, the proposals were thrown overboard through the
solution offered by Schleicher. The solution offered by
Schleicher was only a provisional matter, and a very
doubtful one.

Q. What was the decision of the Reich President?

A. The decision of the Field Marshal was perhaps the most
difficult that he had to make in his long life. Without
giving any further reasons, he told me:

  "I have decided in favour of the solution of Herr von
  Papen, and I request you to start immediately
  negotiations for the formation of a government to which I
  can give the instructions in accordance with your

The conference was over.

Q. What did Herr von Schleicher do then?

A. I exchanged only a few brief words with Herr von
Schleicher and tried to persuade him to recognize the
decision that the Reich President had made. Herr von
Schleicher said "no".

Then, the same evening, I started discussions with several
ministers with regard to the formation of a new government.
These ministers told me, "The plan is excellent, but Herr
von Schleicher has told us that we will have a civil war and
in that case the Reichswehr will not be in a position to
keep law and order in the country."

I interrupted the discussion; called the cabinet together
the next morning and presented to it the situation and
informed them of Hindenburg's decision. Then I asked Herr
von Schleicher to tell the cabinet now why he believed that
there would be a civil war, and why the Reichswehr would not
be in a position to keep law and order in the country. Herr
von Schleicher called on one of his general staff officers
to tell the cabinet that this case had been considered from
a practical and theoretical point of view and that they had
come to the decision that the Reichswehr and police were not
in a position to keep law and order in the country.

Then I said to the gentlemen, "This is a new situation which
I have to report to the Reich President."

I went to Hindenburg and reported to him. Herr von
Hindenburg, deeply stirred about my report, said to me, "I
am an old man, and I cannot face a civil war of any sort in
my country. If Herr von Schleicher is of this opinion, then
I must - as much as I regret - withdraw the task with which
I charged you last night."

With that, Herr von Schleicher was appointed Chancellor on
the conditions which he had offered to the Reich President
at this meeting.

Q. Did Herr von Schleicher offer you the post of Ambassador
at Paris?

A. Herr von Schleicher, who for a long time knew of my
interest in German-French relations, asked me whether I
wanted to become Ambassador in Paris. This would have been
quite in accordance with my inclinations. But the Reich
President objected to this, and -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): Dr. Kubuschok, the Tribunal
thinks that this is going in far too great detail into all
this, all of which is known through history, and most of
which we have heard before.


Q. Now we shall turn to the year 1933. On 4th January a
conference between Hitler and you took place at the home of
the banker, Schroder. The prosecution is presenting this
conference as the actual beginning of your common
conspiracy. Please give the Tribunal a description of how
this conference came about.

A. I was -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): Dr. Kubuschok, we have been
hearing for the whole of the afternoon the background of the
conference. Surely we can hear of the conference now.

                                                  [Page 273]

DR. KUBUSCHOK: The defendant is charged with the fact that
he was the promoter of the negotiations, which supposedly
started on 4th January, for the formation of the government
formed on 30th January. The role which von Papen played in
it is of decisive importance. Therefore, I consider it
necessary that he tell us briefly about the background -

THE PRESIDENT: The negotiations did not start on the 4th of
January. The defendant told us earlier, about a couple of
hours ago, that they started on the 12th of August, 1932.
The negotiations started earlier than this.

THE WITNESS: I may perhaps quite briefly say, Mr. President,
what it concerns. This conference on 4th January, on the
occasion of which the prosecution asserts that I pledged
myself to National Socialism, was a conference which took
place on the initiative of Hitler. At this conference,
nothing was said about the overthrow of the government of
von Schleicher; and there was nothing said about the
formation of a government by Hitler, as it later actually
took place on Seth January. We merely discussed the
necessity for Hitler to decide to take a responsible part,
not as Chancellor, but with his Party. And, my Lord, that I
did not engineer or cause this conference to be called may
he seen clearly from the statement of Herr von Schroder, at
whose home this conference took place.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: This may be seen from Document 9, Page 26.


Q. Witness, you are accused of the fact that in this
conference you discussed plans for the overthrow of the
cabinet of von Schleicher. Did you keep the fact of this
conference from Herr von Schleicher?

A. On the contrary. Immediately after this conference at
Cologne, I wrote a letter to Herr von Schleicher, which must
have reached him the next morning. And after I had returned
to Berlin, I went at once to Herr von Schleicher and told
him just what had been discussed at this conference.
Thereupon, Herr von Schleicher caused an official communique
to be issued. Document 9.

Q. 9A - I submit Document 9A.

A. In this document it says

  "The conversation revealed the complete lack of
  foundation for the assertions deduced from this meeting
  by the Press about controversies between the Reich
  Chancellor von Schleicher and Herr von Papen."

Q. Did you then, that is, during the time until 22nd
January, participate in any political discussions about the
formation of a new government?

A. No. Between 9th and 22nd January I did not participate in
any political discussions about the formation of a

Q. Please give us a short summary of the political
development from 10th until 21st January.

A. The prosecution asserts that now, in the interval between
9th and 30th January, I was the chief factor in forming the
government of Hitler on 30th January. A chronological
recapitulation of the days between the 11th and the 30th
will reveal how completely wrong this assertion of the
prosecution actually is. Therefore, I shall have to mention
a few dates in this connection.

On 11th January: Hitler is in Berlin. He did not see von
Schleicher, von Hugenberg, or von Papen. But the Reichstag
decided through the Council of Elders:

  "We have to give a reprieve to the government of von

On 13th January: Schleicher receives Hugenberg, the chief of
the Right Wing movement.

On the 14th: Hindenburg receives Hugenberg.

Later on we shall see that on both of these days, Hugenberg,
the leader of the Right, negotiated with von Schleicher
about his entry into the cabinet, not about the formation of
a government with Hitler.

                                                  [Page 274]

Then on 15th January, the well-known Lippe elections took
place. The Lippe elections gave the National Socialists a
new impetus.

On 20th January, the Reichstag, the Council of Elders
decided to postpone their meeting from the 24th to 31st.

The State Secretary of the Reich Government, Schleicher,
declared in this connection: "The Reich Government intends
to clear the political situation as quickly as possible, but
the Reich Government is not interested in majority

From that can be seen that Herr von Schleicher no longer
considered the formation of a government on the basis of a

Q. Now we can leave the political developments and turn to
your personal -

THE PRESIDENT: If you are going into another subject, we had
better adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 1000 hours, Monday, 17th June,

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