The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

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

Eighth Day: Thursday, 29th November, 1945
(Part 2 of 6)

[MR. ALDERMAN continues]

[Page 245]

I had referred to two conversations, held by United States Ambassador Bullitt with the defendants Schacht and Goering, in November, 1937.

[Page 246]

For this purpose, I offer in evidence our document L-151, offered as exhibit USA 70. It is a dispatch from Mr. Bullitt, American Ambassador in Paris, to the American Secretary of State, on 23rd November, 1937.

Now, again, if the Tribunal please, we are embarrassed because that document is not in the document book before the members of the Tribunal. It has been furnished in German translation to the defence counsel.

THE PRESIDENT: We have got it in German, apparently.

MR. ALDERMAN: I expect you have, yes; you have the German version.

If the Tribunal will permit, I will read from the original exhibit. On top, is a letter from Ambassador Bullitt to the Secretary of State, 23rd November, 1937, stating that he visited Warsaw, stopping in Berlin en route, where he had conversations with Schacht and Goering, among others.

On the conversation with Schacht, I read from page 2 of the report:

"Schacht said that, in his opinion, the best way to begin to deal with Hitler, was not through political discussion, but through economic discussion. Hitler was not in the least interested in economic matters. He regarded money as filth. It was, therefore, possible to enter into negotiations with him in the economic domain without arousing his emotional antipathy; and it might be possible through the conversations thus begun to lead him into arrangements in the political and military field, in which he was intensely interested. Hitler was determined to have Austria eventually attached to Germany, and to obtain at least autonomy for the Germans of Bohemia. At the present moment he was not vitally concerned about the Polish Corridor and again - that is Schacht's opinion - it might be possible to maintain the Corridor, provided Danzig were permitted to join East Prussia, and provided some sort of bridge could be built across the Corridor, uniting Danzig and East Prussia with Germany."
And for the defendant Goering's statement to Ambassador Bullitt, I read from the second memorandum, "Memorandum of conversation between Ambassador Bullitt and General Hermann Goering," on page 2 of that document, the second page, following a part of a sentence which is underlined, just below the middle of the page:
"The sole source of friction between Germany and France was the refusal of France to permit Germany to achieve certain vital and necessary national aims.

If France, instead of accepting collaboration with Germany, should continue to follow a policy of building up alliances in Eastern Europe to prevent Germany from achieving her legitimate aims, it was obvious that there would be conflict between France and Germany.

I asked Goering what aims especially he had in mind. He replied: 'We are determined to join to the German Reich all Germans who are contiguous to the Reich, and are divided from the great body of the German race merely by the artificial barriers imposed by the Treaty of Versailles.'

I asked Goering if he meant that Germany was absolutely determined to annex Austria to the Reich. He replied that this was an absolute determination of the German Government. The German Government, at the present time, was not pressing the matter, because of certain momentary political considerations, especially in their relations with Italy. But Germany would tolerate no solution of the Austrian question other than the consolidation of Austria in the German Reich.

He then added a statement which went further than any I have heard on this subject. He said: 'There are schemes being pushed now for a union of Austria, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, either with or without a Hapsburg at the head of the union. Such a solution is absolutely unacceptable to us, and for us the conclusion of such an agreement would be an immediate casus belli.'"

Goering used the Latin expression "casus belli"; it is not a translation from the German, in which that conversation was carried on.

[Page 247]

"I asked Goering if the German Government was as decided in its views with regard to the Germans in Bohemia as it was with regard to Austria. He replied that there could be only one final solution of this question. The Sudeten Germans must enter the German Reich as all other Germans who lived contiguous to the Reich."
These, if the Tribunal please, are official reports made by the accredited representative of the United States in the regular course of business. They carry with them the guarantee of truthfulness of a report made by a responsible official to his own government, recording contemporaneous conversations and events.

My next subject is: Pressure and Threats Resulting in Further Concessions by Austria; a meeting at Berchtesgaden, 12th February, 1938.

As I have stated before, the Austrian Government was labouring under great difficulties imposed by its neighbour. There was economic pressure, including the curtailment of the important tourist trade; and there was what the defendant von Papen called "slowly intensified psychological pressure". There were increasing demonstrations, plots and conspiracies. Demands were being presented by Captain Leopold, and approval of the Nazis was being espoused by the defendant Seyss-Inquart, the new Councillor of State of Austria. In this situation, Chancellor Schuschnigg decided to visit Hitler at Berchtesgaden.

The official communique of this conference is quite calm: I invite the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it. It is document 2461- PS, the official German communique of the meeting of Hitler and von Schuschnigg at Obersalzberg, 12th February, 1938, taken from the official Dokumente der Deutschen Politik, Vol. 6, 1, page 124, number 21-a.

The communique states that the unofficial meeting was caused by mutual desire to clarify, by personal conversation, the questions relating to the relationship between the German Reich and Austria.

The communique lists among those present: Von Schuschnigg and his Foreign Minister Schmidt, Hitler and his Foreign Minister Ribbentrop, and the defendant von Papen.

The communique concludes on a rather bright note, saying, and I quote: "Both statesmen are convinced that the measures taken by them constitute at the same time an effective contribution toward the peaceful development of the European situation."

A similar communique was issued by the Austrian Government.

But, in fact, and as I think history well knows, the conference was a very unusual and a very harsh one. Great concessions were obtained by the German Government from Austria. The principal concessions are contained in the official Austrian communique of the reorganisation of the Cabinet and the general political amnesty, dated 16th February, 1938.

That communique, as taken from the Dokumente der Deutschen Politik, Vol. 6, page 125, number 21-b, is translated in our document 2464-PS, and I invite the Court's judicial notice of it.

That communique announced a reorganisation of the Austrian Cabinet, including most significantly, the appointment of the defendant Seyss-Inquart to the position of Minister of Security and Interior, where he would have control of the police. In addition, announcement was made of a general political amnesty to Nazis convicted of crimes.

Two days later another concession was divulged. I invite the Court's judicial notice to our document 2469-PS, a translation of the official German and Austrian communique concerning the so- called equal rights of Austrian National Socialists in Austria, 18th February, 1938, Dokumente der Deutschen Politik, Vol. 6, 1, page 128, number 21-d.

That communique announced that, pursuant to the Berchtesgaden conference, the Austrian National Socialists would be taken into the Fatherland Front, the single, legal political party of Austria.

[Page 248]

THE PRESIDENT: Will you tell us what exhibit numbers those two documents were?

MR. ALDERMAN: I am sorry, Sir; document 2469-PS.

THE PRESIDENT: We haven't had that yet. We have had 2461-PS; which is exhibit what?

MR. ALDERMAN: Well, I hadn't read it in. I was asking the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this as an official communique.

THE PRESIDENT: You are not going to give it an exhibit number?

MR. ALDERMAN: No, sir.


MR. ALDERMAN: No, sir.

In actual fact, great pressure was put on von Schuschnigg at Berchtesgaden. The fact that pressure was exerted, and pressure of a military nature involving the threat of the use of troops, can be sufficiently established from captured German documents.

I have our document 1544-PS, a captured German document, which I offer in evidence as exhibit USA 71. This document consists of the defendant von Papen's own notes on his last meeting with von Schuschnigg, on February 26th, 1938. I quote the last two paragraphs of these notes. This is von Papen speaking:

"I then introduced into the conversation the widespread opinion that he" - that is, von Schuschnigg - "had acted under brutal pressure in Berchtesgaden. I myself had been present and been able to state that he had always and at every point had complete freedom of decision. The Chancellor replied he had actually been under considerable moral pressure, he could not deny that. He had made notes on the talk which bore that out. I reminded him that despite this talk he had not seen his way clear to make any concessions, and I asked, him whether without the pressure he would have been ready to make the concessions he made late in the evening. He answered: 'To be honest, no.'"
And then von Papen says:
"It appears to me of importance to record this statement. In parting I asked the Chancellor never to deceive himself that Austria could ever maintain her status with the help of non- German, European combinations. This question would be decided only according to the interests of the German people. He asserted that he held the same conviction and would act accordingly."
Thus we have, through the words of von Papen, von Schuschnigg's contemporary statement to Papen of the pressure which had been exerted upon him, as recorded by von Papen in an original, contemporaneous entry.

For diplomatic purposes, Papen, who had been at Berchtesgaden, kept up the pretence that there had been no pressure applied.

But the defendant General Jodl, writing the account of current events in his diary, was much more candid. We are fortunate in having General Jodl's hand-written diary, in German script, which I can't read. It is our document 1780-PS, and I offer it in evidence as exhibit USA 72.

I may say that General Jodl, in interrogation, has admitted that this is his genuine diary in his handwriting.

This diary discloses not only the pressure at Berchtesgaden, but also the fact that for some days thereafter defendants Keitel and Admiral Canaris worked out a scheme for shamming military pressure in order, obviously, to coerce President Miklas of Austria into ratifying the agreement. It started from von Schuschnigg at Berchtesgaden. It will be noted that the approval of President Miklas was needed to ratify the Berchtesgaden agreement; that is, with respect to naming Seyss-Inquart as Minister of the Interior and Security.

And so the Nazi conspirators kept up the military pressure with threats of invasion for some days after the Berchtesgaden conference in order to produce the desired effect on President Miklas.

[Page 249]

I quote from General Jodl's diary, the entries for 11th February, 13th February, and 14th February, 1938.
The entry of 11th February: "In the evening and on 13th February General K" (Keitel) "with General von Reichenau and Sperrle at the Obersalzberg. Von Schuschnigg, together with G. Schmidt are again being put under heaviest political and military pressure. At 2300 hours Schuschnigg signs protocol.

13th February: In the afternoon General K" (Keitel) "asks Admiral C" (Canaris) "and myself to come to his apartment. He tells us that the Fuehrer's order is to the effect that military pressure, by shamming military action, should be kept up until the 15th. Proposals for these deceptive manoeuvres are drafted and submitted to the Fuehrer by telephone for approval.

14th February: At 2:40 o'clock the agreement of the Fuehrer arrives. Canaris goes to Munich to the Counter-Intelligence Office VII and initiates the different measures.

The effect is quick and strong. In Austria the impression is created that Germany is undertaking serious military preparations."

The proposal for deceptive manoeuvres reported on by defendant Jodi are set forth in document 1775-PS, a captured German document, which I offer in evidence as exhibit USA 73.

The proposals are signed by the defendant Keitel. Underneath his signature appears a note that the Fuehrer approved the proposal.

In the original document that note is hand-written in pencil.

The rumours which Keitel proposed for the intimidation of Austria make very interesting reading. I quote the first three paragraphs of the suggested order:

"1. To take no real preparatory measures in the Army or Luftwaffe. No troop movements or redeployments.

2. Spread false, but quite credible news, which may lead to the conclusion of military preparations against Austria.
(a) Through V-men (V-Maenner) in Austria.
(b) Through our customs personnel (staff) at the frontier.
(c) Through travelling agents.

3. Such news could be:
(a) Furloughs are supposed to have been barred in the sector of the VII A. K.
(b) Rolling stock is being assembled in Munich, Augsburg and Regensburg.
(c) Major General Muff, the Military Attache in Vienna, has been called for a conference to Berlin. (As a matter of fact, this is the case.)"

That reminds me of a lawyer from my own home town who used to argue a matter at great length, and then he would end up by saying, and, incidentally, it is the truth.
(d) The police stations located at the frontier of Austria have called up reinforcements.
(e) Custom officials report about the imminent manoeuvres of the Mountain Brigade (Gebirgsbrigade) in the region of Freilassing, Reichenhall and Berchtesgaden ".
The total pattern of intimidation and rumour was effective, for in due course, as we have already seen from the communiques referred to, President Miklas verified the Berchtesgaden Agreement, which foreshadowed National Socialist Austria and then the events culminating in the actual German invasion on 12th March, 1938.

Mr. President, would this be a convenient moment for a recess?

THE PRESIDENT: We will adjourn for ten minutes.

(A recess was taken.)

MR. ALDERMAN: May it please the Tribunal, I had reached the subject of the events culminating in the German invasion of Austria on 12th March, 1938, and,

[Page 250]

first under that, the plebiscite and the preparations for both German and Austrian National Socialists.

The day after his appointment as Minister of the Interior of Austria, Seyss-Inquart flew to Berlin for a conference with Hitler. I invite the Court to take judicial notice of the official German communique covering that visit of Seyss-Inquart to Hitler, as it appeared in the "Dokumente der Deutschen Politik," Volume 6- 1, page 128, number 21-c, a copy of which will be found in our document 464-PS.

On 9th March, 1938, three weeks after Seyss-Inquart had been put in charge of the police of Austria and was in a position to direct their handling of the National Socialists in Austria - three weeks after the Nazis began to exploit their new prestige and position with its quota of further victories - von Schuschnigg made an important announcement.

On 9th March, 1938, Schuschnigg announced that he would hold a plebiscite throughout Austria, the following Sunday, 13th March, 1938. The question to be submitted in the plebiscite was: "Are you for an independent and Social, a Christian, a German and united Austria?" A "Yes" answer to this question was certainly compatible with the agreement made by the German Government on the 11th July, 1936, and carried forward at Berchtesgaden on the 12th February, 1938. Moreover, for a long while the Nazis had been demanding a plebiscite on the question of Anschluss, but the Nazis apparently appreciated the likelihood of a strong "Yes" vote on the question put by von Schuschnigg in the plebiscite, and they could not tolerate the possibility of such a vote of confidence in the Schuschnigg government.

In any case, as events showed, they took this occasion to overturn the Austrian government. Although the plebiscite was not announced until the evening of 9th March, the Nazi Organisation received word about it earlier in that day. It was determined by the Nazis that they had to ask Hitler what to do about the situation (that is, the Austrian Nazis), and that they would prepare a letter of protest against the plebiscite, from Seyss-Inquart to von Schuschnigg; and that, pending Hitler's approval, Seyss-Inquart would pretend to negotiate with von Schuschnigg about details of the plebiscite.

This information is all contained in the report of Gauleiter Rainer to Reich Commissar Burckel, transmitted, as I have already pointed out, to Seyss-Inquart, and which has already been received in evidence -- our document 8122-PS, USA 61.

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