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                           of the
               International Military Tribunal
                           For The
             Trial of German Major War Criminals

               His Majesty's Stationery Office

                                                   [Page 22]

By March, 1939, the plan to annex Austria and
Czechoslovakia, which had been discussed by Hitler at the
meeting of the 5th November, 1937, had been accomplished.
The time had now come for the German leaders to consider
further acts of aggression, made more possible of attainment
because of that accomplishment.

On the 23rd May, 1939, a meeting was held in Hitler's study
in the new Reich Chancellery in Berlin. Hitler announced his
decision to attack Poland and gave his reasons, and
discussed the effect the decision might have on other
countries. In point of time, this was the second of the
important meetings to which reference has already been made,
and in order to appreciate the full significance of what was
said and done, it is necessary to state shortly some of the
main events in the history of German-Polish relations.

As long ago as the year 1925 an Arbitration Treaty between
Germany and Poland had been made at Locarno, providing for
the settlement of all disputes between the two countries. On
the 26th January, 1934, a German-Polish declaration of non-
aggression was made, signed on behalf of the German
Government by the Defendant von Neurath. On 30th January,
1934, and again on the 30th January, 1937 Hitler made
speeches in the Reichstag in which he expressed his view
that Poland and Germany could work together in harmony and
peace. On the 20th February, 1938 Hitler made a third speech
in the Reichstag in the course of which he said with regard
to Poland:

     "And so the way to a friendly understanding has
     been successfully paved, an understanding which,
     beginning with Danzig, has today, in spite of the
     attempts of certain mischief makers, succeeded in
     finally taking the poison out of the relations
     between Germany and Poland and transforming them
     into a sincere, friendly cooperation .. Relying on
     her friendships, Germany will not leave a stone
     unturned to save that ideal which provides the
     foundation for the task which is ahead of us --

On the 26th September, 1938, in the middle of the crisis
over the Sudetenland, Hitler made the speech in Berlin which
has already been quoted, and announced that he had informed
the British Prime Minister that when the Czechoslovakian
problem was solved there would be no more territorial
problems for Germany in Europe. Nevertheless, on the 24th
November of the same year, an OKW directive was issued to
the German Armed Forces to make preparations for an attack
upon Danzig; it stated:

     "The Fuehrer has ordered:
     (1) ..Preparations are also to be made to enable
     the Free State of Danzig to be occupied by German
     troops by surprise."

In spite of having ordered military preparations for the
occupation of Danzig, Hitler on the 30th January, 1939, said
in a speech in the Reichstag:

     "During the troubled months of the past year, the
     friendship between Germany and Poland has been one
     of the reassuring factors in the political life of

Five days previously, on the 25th January, 1939, Ribbentrop
said in the course of a speech in Warsaw:

     "Thus Poland and Germany can look forward to the
     future with full confidence in the solid basis of
     their mutual relations."

                                                   [Page 23]

Following on the occupation of Bohemia and Moravia by
Germany on the 15th March, 1939, which was a flagrant breach
of the Munich Agreement, Great Britain gave an assurance to
Poland on the 31st March, 1939, that in the event of any
action which clearly threatened Polish independence, and
which the Polish Government accordingly considered it vital
to resist with their National Forces, Great Britain would
feel itself bound at once to lend Poland all the support in
its power. The French Government took the same stand. It is
interesting to note in this connection, that one of the
arguments frequently presented by the Defense in the present
case is that the Defendants were induced to think that their
conduct was not in breach of international law by the
acquiescence of other Powers. The declarations of Great
Britain and France showed, at least, that this view could be
held no longer.

On the 3rd April, 1939, a revised OKW directive was issued
to the Armed Forces, which after referring to the question
of Danzig made reference to Fall Weiss (the military code
name for the German invasion of Poland) and stated:
     "The Fuehrer has added the following directions to
     Fall Weiss.
     (1) Preparations must be made in such a way that
     the operation can be carried out at any time from
     1st September, 1939 onwards.
     (2) The High Command of the Armed Forces has been
     directed to draw up a precise timetable for Fall
     Weiss and to arrange by conferences the
     synchronized timings between the three branches of
     the Armed Forces."

On 11th April, 1939 a further directive was signed by Hitler
and issued to the Armed Forces, and in one of the annexes to
that document the words

     "Quarrels with Poland should be avoided. Should
     Poland however adopt a threatening attitude
     towards Germany, 'a final settlement' will be
     necessary, notwithstanding the pact with Poland.
     The aim is then to destroy Polish military
     strength, and to create in the East a situation
     which satisfies the requirements of defense. The
     Free State of Danzig will be incorporated into
     Germany at the outbreak of the conflict at the
     latest. Policy aims at limiting the war to Poland,
     and this is considered possible in view of the
     internal crisis in France, and British restraint
     as a result of this."

In spite of the contents of those two directives, Hitler
made a speech in the Reichstag on the 28th April, 1939,  in
which, after describing the Polish Government's alleged
rejection of an offer he had made with regard to Danzig and
the Polish Corridor, he stated:

     "I have regretted greatly this incomprehensible
     attitude of the Polish Government, but that alone
     is not the decisive fact; the worst is that now
     Poland like Czechoslovakia a year ago believes,
     under the pressure of a lying international
     campaign, that it must call up its troops,
     although Germany on her part has not called up a
     single man, and had not thought of proceeding in
     any way against Poland .. The intention to attack
     on the part of Germany which was merely invented
     by the international press . . ."

It was four weeks after making this speech that Hitler, on
the 23rd May, 1939, held the important military conference
to which reference has already been made. Among the persons
present were the Defendants Goering, Raeder, and Keitel. The
adjutant on duty that day was Lieutenant Colonel Schmundt,
and he made a record of what happened, certifying it with
his signature as a correct record.

                                                   [Page 24]

The purpose of the meeting was to enable Hitler to inform
the heads of the Armed Forces and their staffs of his views
on the political situation and his future aims. After
analyzing the political situation and reviewing the course
of events since 1933, Hitler announced his decision to
attack Poland. He admitted that the quarrel with Poland over
Danzig was not the reason for this attack, but the necessity
for Germany to enlarge her living space and secure her food
supplies. He said:

     "The solution of the problem demands courage. The
     principle by which one evades solving the problem
     by adapting oneself to circumstances is
     inadmissible. Circumstances must rather be adapted
     to needs. This is impossible without invasion of
     foreign States or attacks upon foreign property."

Later in his address he added:

     "There is therefore no question of sparing Poland,
     and we are left with the decision to attack Poland
     at the first suitable opportunity. We cannot
     expect a repetition of the Czech affair. There
     will be war. Our task is to isolate Poland. The
     success of the isolation will be decisive .. The
     isolation of Poland is a matter of skillful

Lt.- Col. Schmundt's record of the meeting reveals that
Hitler fully realized the possibility of Great Britain and
France coming to Poland's assistance. If, therefore, the
isolation of Poland could not be achieved, Hitler was of the
opinion that Germany should attack Great Britain and France
first, or at any rate should concentrate primarily on the
war in the West, in order to defeat Great Britain and France
quickly, or at least to destroy their effectiveness.
Nevertheless, Hitler stressed that war with England and
France would be a life and death struggle, which might last
a long time and that preparations must be made accordingly.

During the weeks which followed this conference, other
meetings were held and directives were issued in preparation
for the war. The Defendant Ribbentrop was sent to Moscow to
negotiate a non-aggression pact with the Soviet Union.

On the 22nd August, 1939 there took place the important
meeting of that day, to which reference has already been
made. The Prosecution have put in evidence two unsigned
captured documents which appear to be records made of this
meeting by persons who were present. The first document is
headed: "The Fuehrer's Speech to the Commanders-in-Chief on
22nd August, 1939." The purpose of the speech was to
announce the decision to make war on Poland at once, and
Hitler began by saying:

     "It was clear to me that a conflict with Poland
     had to come sooner or later. I had already made
     this decision in the spring, but I thought that I
     would first turn against the West in a few years,
     and only afterwards against the East ..I wanted to
     establish an acceptable relationship with Poland
     in order to fight first against the West. But this
     plan, which was agreeable to me, could not be
     executed since essential points have changed. It
     became clear to me that Poland would attack us in
     case of a conflict with the West."

Hitler then went on to explain why he had decided that the
most favorable moment had arrived for starting the war:
"Now", said Hitler, "Poland is in the position in which I
wanted her .. I am only afraid that at the last moment some
Schweinehund will make a proposal for mediation .. A
beginning has been made for the destruction of England's

                                                   [Page 25]

This document closely resembles one of the documents put in
evidence on behalf of the Defendant Raeder. This latter
document consists of a summary of the same speech, compiled
on the day it was made, by one Admiral Boehm, from notes he
had taken during the meeting. In substance it says that the
moment had arrived to settle the dispute with Poland by
military invasion, that although a conflict between Germany
and the West was unavoidable in the long run, the likelihood
of Great Britain and France coming to Poland's assistance
was not great, and that even if a war in the West should
come about, the first aim should be the crushing of the
Polish military strength. It also contains a statement by
Hitler that an appropriate propaganda reason for invading
Poland would be given, the truth or falsehood of which was
unimportant, since "the Right lies in Victory".

The second unsigned document put in evidence by the
Prosecution is headed: "Second Speech by the Fuehrer on the
22nd August, 1939," and is in the form of notes of the main
points made by Hitler. Some of these are as follows:

     "Everybody shall have to make a point of it that
     we were determined from the beginning to fight the
     Western Powers. Struggle for life or death
     ..destruction of Poland in the foreground. The aim
     is elimination of living forces, not the arrival
     at a certain line. Even if war should break out in
     the West, the destruction of Poland shall be the
     primary objective. I shall give a propagandist
     cause for starting the war  never mind whether it
     be plausible or not. The victor shall not be asked
     later on whether we told the truth or not. In
     starting and making a war, not the Right is what
     matters, but Victory .. The start will be ordered
     probably by Saturday morning." (That is to say,
     the 26th August.)

In spite of it being described as a second speech, there are
sufficient points of similarity with the two previously
mentioned documents to make it appear very probable that
this is an account of the same speech, not as detailed as
the other two, but in substance the same.

These three documents establish that the final decision as
to the date of Poland's destruction, which had been agreed
upon and planned earlier in the year, was reached by Hitler
shortly before the 22nd August, 1939. They also show that
although he hoped to be able to avoid having to fight Great
Britain and France as well, he fully realized there was a
risk of this happening, but it was a risk which he was
determined to take.

The events of the last days of August confirm this
determination. On the 22nd August, 1939, the same day as the
speech just referred to, the British Prime Minister wrote a
letter to Hitler, in which he said:

     "Having thus made our position perfectly clear, I
     wish to repeat to you my conviction that war
     between our two peoples would be the greatest
     calamity that could occur."

On 23 August Hitler replied:

     "The question of the treatment of European
     problems on a peaceful basis is not a decision
     which rests with Germany, but primarily on those
     who since the crime committed by the Versailles
     Diktat have stubbornly and consistently opposed
     any peaceful revision. Only after a change of
     spirit on the part of the responsible Powers can
     there be any real change in the relationship
     between England and Germany."

There followed a number of appeals to Hitler to refrain from
forcing the Polish issue to the point of war. These were
from President Roosevelt

                                                   [Page 26]

on 24 and 25 August; from his Holiness the Pope on the 24th
and 25th August; and from M. Daladier, the Prime Minister of
France, on the 26 August. All these appeals fell on deaf

On the 25 August, Great Britain signed a pact of mutual
assistance with Poland, which reinforced the undertaking she
had given to Poland earlier in the year. This, coupled with
the news of Mussolini's unwillingness to enter the war on
Germany's side, made Hitler hesitate for a moment. The
invasion of Poland, which was timed to start on the 26
August, was postponed until a further attempt had been made
to persuade Great Britain not to intervene. Hitler offered
to enter into a comprehensive agreement with Great Britain,
once the Polish question had been settled. In reply to this,
Great Britain made a counter-suggestion for the settlement
of the Polish dispute by negotiation. On the 29th August
Hitler informed the British Ambassador that the German
Government, though skeptical as to the result, would be
prepared to enter into direct negotiations with a Polish
emissary, provided he arrived in Berlin with plenipotentiary
powers by midnight for the following day, August 30th. The
Polish Government were informed of this, but with the
example of Schuschnigg and Hacha before them, they decided
not to send such an emissary. At midnight on the 30th August
the Defendant Ribbentrop read to the British Ambassador at
top speed a document containing the first precise
formulation of the German demands against Poland. He
refused, however, to give the Ambassador a copy of this, and
stated that in any case it was too late now, since no Polish
plenipotentiary had arrived.

In the opinion of the Tribunal, the manner in which these
negotiations were conducted by Hitler and Ribbentrop showed
that they were not entered into in good faith or with any
desire to maintain peace, but solely in the attempt to
prevent Great Britain and France from honoring their
obligations to Poland.

Parallel with these negotiations were the unsuccessful
attempts made by Goering to effect the isolation of Poland
by persuading Great Britain not to stand by her pledged
word, through the services of one Birger Dahlerus, a Swede.
Dahlerus, who was called as a witness by Goering, had a
considerable knowledge of England and things English, and in
July, 1939 was anxious to bring about a better understanding
between England and Germany, in the hope of preventing a war
between the two countries. He got into contact with Goering
as well as with official circles in London, and during the
latter part of August, Goering used him as an unofficial
intermediary to try and deter the British Government from
their opposition to Germany's intentions towards Poland.
Dahlerus, of course, had no knowledge at the time of the
decision which Hitler had secretly announced on the 22nd
August, nor of the German military directives for the attack
on Poland which were already in existence. As he admitted in
his evidence, it was not until the 26th September, after the
conquest of Poland was virtually complete, that he first
realized that Goering's aim all along had been to get Great
Britain's consent to Germany's seizure of Poland.

After all attempts to persuade Germany to agree to a
settlement of her dispute with Poland on a reasonable basis
had failed, Hitler, on the 31st August, issued his final
directive, in which he announced that the attack on Poland
would start in the early morning of the 1st September, and
gave instructions as to what action would be taken if Great
Britain and France should enter the war in defense of

In the opinion of the Tribunal, the events of the days
immediately preceding 1st September, 1939 demonstrate the
determination of Hitler and his associates to carry out the
declared intention of invading Poland at all costs, despite
appeals from every quarter. With the ever increasing

                                                   [Page 27]

before him that this intention would lead to war with Great
Britain and France as well, Hitler was resolved not to
depart from the course he had set for himself. The Tribunal
is fully satisfied by the evidence that the war initiated by
Germany against Poland on 1st September, 1939 was most
plainly an aggressive war, which was to develop in due
course into a war which embraced almost the whole world, and
resulted in the commission of countless crimes, both against
the laws and customs of war, and against humanity.

The PRESIDENT: Now I shall ask M. Falco to continue the
reading of the judgment.


[See j-invasion-denmark-norway]

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