The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Dissenting Soviet Opinion:
Von Papen

[Page 137]

II. The Unfounded Acquittal of defendant von Papen

The verdict does not dispute the fact that von Papen prepared the way for Hitler's appointment to the post of the Reichkanzler and that he actively helped the Nazis in their seizure of power.

In a speech of November, 1933, von Papen said the following on the subject:

"Then and there, on becoming the Reichskanzler (this was in 1932) I spoke in favour of the young and fighting movement for freedom; just as on the 30th of January I was chosen by Fate to surrender power into the hands of our Kanzler and Fuehrer, so to-day I must tell the German people and all those who have maintained their trust in me; merciful God blessed Germany by granting her in these days of deep sorrow a Fuehrer like this." (PS-2375).

It was von Papen who revoked Bruning's order dissolving the SS and the SA, thus allowing the Nazis to realize their program of mass terror (D-631).

Again it was the defendant who, by the application of brute force, did away with the Social Democrat Government of Braun and Severing (Severing's Testimony, Transcript, Afternoon Session, 14th June, 1946).

On the 4th of January, 1933, Papen had a conference with Hitler, Hess, and Himmler (D-632).

Papen participated in the purge of the State machinery of all personnel considered unreliable from the Nazi point of view; on 21st March, 1933, he signed a decree creating special political tribunals, he had also signed an order granting amnesty to criminals whose crimes were committed in the course of the "national revolution" he participated in drafting the text of the order "insuring Party and State unity" and so on.

Subsequently Papen faithfully served the Hitler regime.

After the Putsch of 1934, von Papen ordered his subordinate Tschirschky to appear in the Gestapo, knowing full well what awaited him there. Tschirschky as is well known, was executed (D-684) while Papen helped to keep the bloody murder secret from public opinion. (D-718.)

Defendant played a tremendous role in helping Nazis to take possession of Austria.

Three weeks after the assassination of Dollfuss, on the 26th of July, 1934, Hitler told Papen that he was being appointed Minister to Vienna, specially noting in a letter: "You have been and continue to be in possession of my fullest and most unlimited trust." (PS-2799.)

In this connection it is impossible to ignore the testimony of the American Ambassador Messersmith who quoted Papen as saying that "the seizure of Austria is only the first step" and that he, von Papen, was in Austria for the purpose of "further weakening the Austrian Government." (US-57.)

Defendant was Hitler's chief advisor in effecting plans for the seizure of Austria. It was he who proposed several tactical manoeuvers, to quiet the vigilance of world opinion on the one hand, and allow Germany to conclude her war preparations, on the other.

This follows indisputably from Papen's statement to the Austrian Minister Berger-Waldeneck (PS-1760), from the report of Gauleiter Reuner of 6th July, 1939 (US-61), from Papen's Report to Hitler of 21st August, 1936 (PS-2246), from Papen's report to Hitler of 1st September, 1936 (US- 67), and from a series of other documents which had been submitted in evidence.

[Page 138]

Papen played this game until the issuance of the order for alerting the German Armed Forces for moving into Austria. He participated in arranging the conference between Hitler and Schuschnigg of 12th February, 1938 (US-69).

It was Papen who in a letter to Hitler emphatically recommended that financial aid be given the Nazi organisation in Austria known as the "Freedom Union" specifically for "its fight against the Jewry." (PS-2830.)

Indisputable appears the fact of the Nazi seizure of Austria and of Papen's participation in this act of aggression. After the occupation of Austria, Hitler rewarded von Papen with the golden insignia of the Nazi Party (D-632).

Neither is it possible to ignore von Papen's role as agent provocateur when in his capacity of diplomat he was the German Ambassador to Turkey -- whenever evaluation of his activity there is made.

The post of Ambassador to Turkey was at the time of considerable importance in helping the Nazis realize their aggressive plans.

The official Nazi biographer wrote about von Papen as follows:

"Shortly (after the occupation of Austria) the Fuehrer had need of von Papen's services again and on 18th April, 1939, he therefore, appointed him German Ambassador in Ankara" (D-632).

It should also be noted that for his Turkish activities, Hitler rewarded von Papen with the Knight's Cross for his "military services" (D-632.)

Thus, evidence submitted establishes beyond doubt that:

1. Von Papen actively aided the Nazis in their seizure of power.

2. Von Papen used both his efforts and his connections to solidify and strengthen the Hitlerian terroristic regime in Germany.

3. Von Papen actively participated in the Nazi aggression against Austria culminating in its occupation.

4. Von Papen faithfully served Hitler up to the very end, aiding the Nazi plans of aggression both with his ability and his diplomatic skill.

It therefore follows that defendant von Papen bears considerable responsibility for the crimes of the Hitlerite regime.

For these reasons I cannot consent to the acquittal of defendant von Papen.

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