The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
November 20 to December 1, 1945

Seventh Day: Wednesday, 28th November, 1945
(Part 3 of 6)

[MR. ALDERMAN continues]

[Page 220]

Now, that original memorial plaque, if the Court please, to- day is rubble, like so much of Nuremberg, but we found a photograph of it in the National Library in Vienna. I should like to offer that photograph in evidence, taken on this occasion four years later, the Nazi wreath encircling the plaque, the memorial tablet, and with a large wreath of flowers with a very distinct Swastika Nazi symbol laid before the wreath. I offer that photograph in evidence, identified as our 2968-PS. I offer it as exhibit USA 60. You will find that in the document book, and I know of no more interesting or shocking document that you could look at. We call that murder by ratification, celebrating a murder four years later.

As that photograph shows, this plaque which was erected to celebrate this sinister occasion reads: "One hundred and fifty-four German men of the 89th SS Standarte stood up here for Germany on 26th July, 1934. Seven found death at the hands of the hangman." The Tribunal may notice that the number 154 at the top of the plaque is concealed in the photograph by the Nazi wreath surrounding the plaque. I must confess that I find myself curiously interested in this tablet and in the photograph which was taken and carefully filed. The words chosen for this marble tablet, and surely we can presume that they were words chosen carefully, tell us clearly that the men involved were not mere malcontent Austrian revolutionaries, but were regarded as German men, were members of a paramilitary organisation, and stood up here for Germany. In 1934, Hitler repudiated Doctor Rieth because he dragged the German Reich into an internal Austrian affair without any reason. In 1938, Nazi Germany proudly identified itself with this murder, took credit for it, and took responsibility for it. Further proof in the conventional sense, it seems to us, is hardly necessary.

Next the programme culminating in the act of 11th July, 1936. In considering the activities of the Nazi conspirators in Austria between 25th July, 1934, and November, 1937, there is a distinct and immediate point, the act of 11th July, 1936. Accordingly, I shall first review developments in the two-year period, July, 1934, to July, 1936.

First, the continued aim of eliminating Austria's independence, with particular relation to the defendant von Papen's conversation and activity. The first point that should be mentioned is this. The Nazi conspirators pretended to respect the independence and sovereignty of Austria, notwithstanding the aim of Anschluss stated in "Mein Kampf." But in truth and in fact they were working from the very beginning to destroy the Austrian State.

A dramatic recital of the position of defendant von Papen in this regard is provided in Mr. Messersmith's affidavit, from which I have already quoted, and I quote now from page nine of the English copy, the second paragraph.

[Page 221]

THE PRESIDENT: What is the number?

MR. ALDER.MAN: Document 176o-PS, which is exhibit USA 57.

"That the policy of Anschluss remained wholly unchanged was confirmed to me by Franz von Papen when he arrived in Vienna as German Minister. It will be recalled that he accepted this assignment as German Minister even though he knew that he had been marked for execution in the St. Bartholomew's massacre on 30th June, 1934. When, in accordance with protocol, he paid me a visit shortly after his arrival in Vienna, I determined that during this call there would be no reference to anything of importance, and I limited the conversation strictly to platitudes, which I was able to do as he was calling on me in my office. I deemed it expedient to delay my return call for several weeks in order to make it clear to von Papen that I had no sympathy with, and on the other hand was familiar with the objectives of his mission in Austria. When I did call on von Papen in the German Legation, he greeted me with 'Now you are in my Legation and I can control the conversation.'

In the boldest and most cynical manner he then proceeded to tell me that all of South-East Europe, to the borders of Turkey, was Germany's natural hinterland, and that he had been charged with the mission of facilitating German economic and political control over all this region for Germany. He blandly and directly said that getting control of Austria was to be the first Step. He definitely stated that he was in Austria to undermine and weaken the Austrian Government, and from Vienna to work towards the weakening of the Governments in the other states to the South and South-east. He said that he intended to use his reputation as a good Catholic to gain influence with certain Austrians, such as Cardinal Innitzer, towards that end. He said that he was telling me this because the German Government was firmly resolved on this objective of getting this control of South- eastern Europe and there was nothing which could stop it, and that our own policy and that of France and England was not realistic.

The circumstances were such, as I was calling on him in the German Legation, that I had to listen to what he had to say, and, of course, I was prepared to hear what he had to say although I already knew what his instructions were. I was nevertheless shocked to hear him speak so boldly to me, and when he finished I got up and told him how shocked I was to hear the accredited representative of a supposedly friendly State to Austria admit that he was proposing to engage in activities to undermine and destroy that Government to which he was accredited. He merely smiled and said, of course this conversation was between us, and that he would, naturally, not be talking to others so clearly about his objectives. I have gone into this detail with regard to this conversation as it is characteristic of the absolute frankness and directness with which high Nazi officials spoke of their objectives."

And again, reading from the same document on page ten, beginning at the last paragraph at the bottom of the page:-
"On the surface, however, German activities consisted principally of attempts to win the support of prominent and influential men through insidious efforts of all kinds, including the use of the German Diplomatic Mission in Vienna and its facilities and personnel.

Von Papen as German Minister entertained frequently and on a lavish scale. He approached almost every member of the Austrian Cabinet, telling them, as several of them later informed me, that Germany was bound to prevail in the long run, and that they should join the winning side if they wished to enjoy positions of power and influence under German control. Of course, openly and outwardly he gave solemn assurance that Germany would respect Austrian independence, and that all that she wished to do was to get rid of elements in the Austrian Government like the Chancellor, Schuschnigg and Starhemberg, as head of the Heimwehr, and others, and replace them by a few nationally minded Austrians, which of course meant Nazis. The whole basic effort of von Papen was to bring about Anschluss.

[Page 222]

In early 1935, the Austrian Foreign Minister, Berger- Waldenegg, informed me that in the course of a conversation with von Papen, the latter had remarked 'Yes, you have your French and English friends now, and you can have your independence a little longer.' The Foreign Minister, of course, told me this remark in German, but the foregoing is an accurate translation. The Foreign Minister told me that he had replied to von Papen, 'I am glad to have from your own lips your own opinion which agrees with what your chief has just said in the Saar, and which you have taken such pains to deny.' Von Papen appeared to be terribly upset when he realised just what he had said, and tried to cover his statements, but according to Berger-Waldenegg, kept constantly getting into deeper water.

Von Papen undoubtedly achieved some successes, particularly with men like Glaise-Horstenau and others who had long favoured the 'Grossdeutschtum' idea, but who nevertheless had been greatly disturbed by the fate of the Catholic Church. Without conscience or scruple, von Papen exploited his reputation and that of his wife as ardent and devout Catholics to overcome the fears of these Austrians in this respect."

May I inquire if the Court expects to take a short recess?

THE PRESIDENT Yes. We will adjourn now for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal wishes to make it clear, if I did not make if clear when I spoke before, that, if defence counsel wishes to put interrogatories to Mr. Messersmith upon his affidavit, they may submit such interrogatories to the Tribunal in writing for them to be sent to Mr. Messersmith to answer.

DR. KRANZBUEHLER (Counsel for defendant Donitz): I do not know whether my question has yet been answered or whether it has been made known to the President of the Court.

In the testimony of Mr. Messersmith, Donitz' name was mentioned. It appears on page four of the German version. I should like to read the whole paragraph:-

"Admiral Karl Donitz was not always in an amicable frame of mind. He was not a National Socialist when the National Socialists came to power" -
THE PRESIDENT : This passage was not read in evidence, was it?

DR. KRANZBUEHLER: No, only the name was mentioned.

THE PRESIDENT: I don't think the name was mentioned, because this part of the affidavit was not read.

DR. KRANZBUEHLER: The name was read, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well; go on.


"Nevertheless, he became one of the first high officers in the Army and Fleet and was in complete agreement with the concepts and aims of National Socialism."
As an introduction to this paragraph, Mr. Messersmith said, on page 2, the last sentence before the Number 1 -

THE PRESIDENT: Which page are you on?

DR. KRANZBUEHLER: I am reading out of document 1760.


DR. KRANZBUEHLER: Page 2, last sentence before the Number 1.



"Among those whom I saw frequently and to whom I have referred in many of my statements were the following."
Then after Number 16 Donitz' name appears. My client has informed me that he has heard the name Messersmith today for the first time; that he does not know the witness Messersmith, has never seen him, nor has ever spoken to him.

I therefore request that the witness Messersmith be brought before the Court to state when and where he spoke to the defendant Donitz.

[Page 223]

THE PRESIDENT : The Tribunal has already ruled that the affidavit is admissible in evidence, that its probative value will of course be considered by the Tribunal, and the defendants' counsel have the right, if they wish, to submit interrogatories for the examination of Messersmith; and of course defendants will have the opportunity of giving evidence when their turn comes, when Admiral Donitz, if he thinks it right, will be able to deny the statements of the affidavit.


MR. ALDERMAN: I want to call the Court's attention to a slight mistranslation into German of one sentence of the Messersmith affidavit. In the German translation the word "nicht" crept in when the negative was not in the English.

The English statement was:

"I deemed it expedient to delay my return call for several weeks, in order to make it clear to von Papen that I had no sympathy with, and on the other hand was familiar with the objectives of his mission in Austria."
The German text contains the negative:
"Und dass ich anderseits nicht mit den Zielen seiner Berufung in Oesterreich vertraut war."

The "nicht" should not be in the German text.

The continued existence of Nazi organisations was a programme of armed preparedness. The wiles of the defendant represented only one part of the total programme of Nazi conspiracy. At the same time Nazi activities in Austria, forced underground during this period, were carried on.

Mr. Messersmith's affidavit at pages 9 and 10, the English text, discloses the following. Reading from the last main paragraph on page 9:

"Nazi activities, forced underground in this period, were by no means neglected. The Party was greatly weakened for a time as a result of the energetic measures-
THE PRESIDENT: One moment. The French translation isn't coming through.

MR. ALDERMAN: Apparently it is a mechanical difficulty and not the interpretation.

THE PRESIDENT: Will you try again then

MR. ALDERMAN: Nazi activities, forced underground-

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a moment.

MR. ALDERMAN: I am informed that the French line is electrically dead and that it will take some little time to restore it.

THE PRESIDENT: We think it could be translated to the French member of the Tribunal, but we feel there may be some difficulty with the shorthand writers.

MR. ALDERMAN: That would be the main difficulty, yes, unless the shorthand writer could take one of the transcripts in one of the other languages and put it into French.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, that seems to be possible. Very well.

MR. ALDERMAN: The French prosecutor may object at not being able to hear.

(Pause: Mr. Alderman then began to speak.)

THE PRESIDENT: Speak up, Mr. Alderman, I couldn't hear.

MR. ALDERMAN: The French prosecutor states that not only would he object to not being able to understand the proceedings, but that the French Press is present and he has an interest in the French Press understanding what is going on.

Colonel Dostert thinks a five-minute recess will enable him to fix it.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well, we will adjourn then.

(A recess was taken.)

MR. ALDERMAN: I was just reading from the bottom of page 9 of the Messersmith affidavit:

"Nazi activities, forced underground in this period, were by no means neglected. The Party was greatly weakened for a time as a result of the energetic measures taken against the 'putsch' and, as a result of the public indignation, reorganisation work was soon begun. In October, 1934, the Austrian Foreign Minister, Berger-

[Page 224]

Waldenegg, furnished me with the following memorandum which he told me had been supplied to the Austrian Government by a person who participated in the meeting under reference."
I quote the first paragraph of the memorandum:
"A meeting of the chiefs of the Austrian National Socialist Party was held on the 29th and 30th of September, 1934, at Bad Aibling in Bavaria."
Then skipping four paragraphs and resuming on the fifth one:
"The Agents of the Party Direction in Germany have received orders in every Austrian district to prepare lists of all those persons who are known to actively support the present Government, and who are prepared closely to co-operate with it.

When the next action against the Government takes place these persons are be proceeded against just as brutally as all those other persons, without distinction of party, who are known to be adversaries of National Socialism.

In a report of the Party leaders for Austria the following Principles have been emphasised:

A. The taking over of the power in Austria remains the principal duty of the Austrian National Socialist Party. Austria has for the German Reich a much greater significance and value than the Saar. The Austrian problem is the problem. All combat methods are consecrated by the end which they are to serve.

B. We must, on every occasion which presents itself, appear to be disposed to negotiate, but arm at the same time for the struggle. The new phase of the struggle will be particularly serious, and there will be this time two centres of the terror, one along the German frontier and the other along the Yugoslav frontier."

That ends the quotation from the memorandum.

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