The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

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

Eighth Day: Thursday, 29th November, 1945
(Part 5 of 6)

[MR. ALDERMAN continues]

[Page 259]

We now shift our scene from Vienna to Berlin. We have shifted our scene I mean, from Vienna to Berlin. It may now be appropriate to come back to Vienna just long enough to recall that late in the evening of 11th March, President Miklas did appoint defendant Seyss-Inquart as Chancellor. The radio announcement of Seyss- Inquart's appointment was made at 11.15 p.m. This is noted in Dokumente der Deutschen Politik, Volume 6, 1, page 137, number 25- A, and a translation of the announcement is in our document 2465- PS. Then something had to be done in London to smooth things over there and accordingly, one more act, played on the international scene, is set down in Air Ministry telephone transcript. On Sunday, 13th March, 1938, the day after the invasion, defendant Goering, who had been left in Berlin in charge of the Reich by Hitler, who had gone to his fatherland, phoned defendant Ribbentrop in London. I find this conversation very illuminating as to the way in which these defendants operated, using, if I may employ American vernacular, a kind of international "double talk" to soothe and mislead other nations. I quote from Part 1 of item "W" of document 2949-PS.
"Goering: As you know - speaking to Ribbentrop in London - "As you know, the Fuehrer has entrusted me with the administration of the current government procedures (Fuhrung der Regierungsgeschaefte), and therefore I wanted to

[Page 260]

inform you. There is overwhelming joy in Austria, that you can hear over the radio.

Ribbentrop: Yes, it is fantastic, isn't it?

Goering: Yes, the last march into the Rhineland is completely overshadowed. The Fuehrer was deeply moved, when he talked to me last night. You must remember it was the first time that he saw his homeland again. Now, I mainly want to talk about political things. Well, this story that we had given an ultimatum is just foolish gossip. From the very beginning the National Socialist ministers and the representatives of the people (Volksreferenten) have presented the ultimatum. Later on, more and more prominent people of the Movement Party participated, and as a natural result, the Austrian National Socialist ministers asked us to back them up, so that they would not be completely beaten up again and subjected to terror and civil war. Then we told them we would not allow von Schuschnigg to provoke a civil war, under any circumstances. Whether by von Schuschnigg's direct order or with his consent, the Communists and the Reds had been armed, and were already making demonstrations, which were photographed with "Heil Moskau " and so on. Naturally, all these facts caused some danger for Wiener-Neustadt. Then you have to consider that von Schuschnigg made his speeches, telling them the Fatherland Front (Vaterlaendische Front) would fight to the last man. One could not know that they would capitulate like that, and therefore Seyss-Inquart, who already had taken over the Government, asked us to march in immediately, before we had already marched up to the frontier, since we could not know whether there would be a civil war or not. These are the actual facts which can be proved by documents."

There the defendant Goering was giving to the defendant Ribbentrop the proper line that he should take in London, as to how to explain what had happened in Austria. Of course, when the defendant Goering said that his story about this matter could be proved by documents, I don't think he had in mind that his own telephone calls might constitute documents.

Another rather interesting item begins on page 3 of the English text of this Part "W" - still Goering talking to Ribbentrop in London. This is at the bottom of the page.

"Goering: No, no, I think so, too. Only, I did not know if you had spoken already to these people. I want you once more - but no - not at all once more, but generally speaking - to tell the following to Halifax and Chamberlain: It is not correct that Germany has given an ultimatum. This is a lie by von Schuschnigg, because the ultimatum was presented to him by Seyss-Inquart, Glaise-Horstenau and Jury. Furthermore, it is not true that we have presented an ultimatum to the Federal President, but that also was given by the others, and as far as I know, just a military attache came along, asked by Seyss- Inquart, because of a technical question" - you will recall that he was a Lieutenant-General directed by Goering to go along - "he was supposed to ask whether, in case Seyss-Inquart asked for the support of German troops, Germany would grant this request. Furthermore, I want to state that Seyss-Inquart asked us expressly, by 'phone and by telegram, to send troops because he did not know about the situation in Wiener- Neustadt, Vienna, and so on; because arms had been distributed there. And then he could not know how the Fatherland Front might react, since they always had had such a big mouth."

Ribbentrop: Tell me, how is the situation in Vienna; is everything settled yet?

Goering: Yes. Yesterday I landed hundreds of airplanes with some companies, in order to secure the airfields, and they were received with joy. To-day the advance unit of the 17th division marches in, together with the Austrian troops. Also, I want to point out that the Austrian troops did not withdraw, but that they got together and fraternised immediately with the German troops, wherever they were stationed."

[Page 261]

These are quite interesting explanations that the ultimatum was by Seyss-Inquart alone and not by Goering; that Lieutenant General Muff, the Military Attache, was along just to answer a technical question; and that Seyss-Inquart asked expressly by telephone and telegram for troops. But, perhaps to understand this conversation, we must try to create again the actual physical scene of the time and place as Goering talked over the phone. I quote nine lines from page 11 of the English text, about in the middle, Part "W."
"Goering: Well, do come! I shall be delighted to see you.

Ribbentrop: I shall see you this afternoon.

Goering: The weather is wonderful here. Blue sky. I am sitting here on my balcony - all covered with blankets-in the fresh air, drinking my coffee. Later on I have to drive in; I have to make the speech, and the birds are twittering, and here and there I can hear over the radio the enthusiasm, which must be wonderful over there" - that is Vienna.

Ribbentrop: That is marvellous."

May it please the Tribunal, I have nearly come to the end of the material relating to the aggression against Austria. In a moment I shall take up quite briefly the effect of the Anschluss, some of the developments which took place after the German troops marched across the border. What is to come after that is an epilogue, but before developing the epilogue, it may be appropriate to pause briefly for just a moment. I think that the facts which I have related to the Tribunal to-day show plainly certain things about the defendants involved in the conspiracy, and among the conspirators who particularly took action in the Austrian matter were von Papen, Seyss-Inquart, Ribbentrop, von Neurath, and Goering.

First I think it is plain that these men were dangerous men. They used their power without a bridle. They used their power to override the independence and freedom of others. And they were more than bullies. They compounded their force with fraud. They coupled threats with legal technicalities and devious manoeuvres, wearing a sanctimonious mask to cover that duplicity. I think they were dangerous men.

In accordance with the directive of 11th March, our document C- 1S2, exhibit USA 77, the German Army crossed the Austrian border at daybreak, 12th March, 1938. Hitler issued a proclamation to the German people announcing the invasion, and purporting to justify it. I refer again to Dokumente der Deutschen Politik, Volume 6, page 140, number 27, "Proclamation of Hitler." The British Government and the French Government filed protests. The German Government and the Austrian National Socialists swiftly secured their grip on Austria. Seyss-Inquart welcomed Hitler at Linz, and they both expressed their joy over the events of the day. Seyss- Inquart in his speech declared Article 88 of the Treaty of St. Germain inoperative. I refer to the speech of Seyss-Inquart at Linz on 12th March, 1938, as contained in the Dokumente der Deutschen Politik, Volume 6, 1, page 144, number 28-A, of which I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice, and which you will find translated in our document 2485-PS.

For a view of what was happening in Vienna, I offer in evidence our document L-292, telegram 70, American Legation, Vienna, to the American Secretary of State, 12th March,1938 - that is L-292,and I offer it as exhibit USA 78. I quote it in full.

"Secretary of State, Wien.
March 12th, noon.

"Numerous German bombers flying over Vienna dropping leaflets 'National Socialist Germany greets its possession, National Socialist Austria and its new Government in true indivisible Union.'

Continual rumours small German troops movements into Austria and impending arrival Austrian Legion. S.S. and S.A. in undisputed control in Vienna. Police wear Swastika arm bands, von Schuschnigg and Schmidt rumoured arrested. Himmler and Hess here."

Signed "Wiley."

[Page 262]

The law-making machine was put to work immediately on the task of consolidation. For all of this material I shall merely refer the Tribunal to the German sources and to the document number of the English translation, but I think I need not offer these legislative acts in evidence but shall merely invite the court to take judicial notice of them.

First, Miklas was forced to resign as President. I refer to Dokumente der Deutschen Politik, Volume 6, 1, page 147, number 30- B. Our translation is in our document 2466-PS.

In this connection the Court will no doubt recall Goering's telephone conversation as shown in document 2949-PS, that in view of Miklas' delay in appointing Seyss-Inquart, Miklas would be dismissed. Seyss-Inquart became both Chancellor and President.

He then signed a Federal Constitutional Law of March 12th, 1938, for the reunion of Austria with the German Reich, which in turn was incorporated into the Reich Statute of Reunion, passed the same day, German law. I cite for that the Reichsgesetzblatt 1938, Volume 11 page 237, number 21, a translation of which will be found in our document 2307-PS.

This Federal Constitutional Law declared Austria to be a province of the German Reich. By annexing Austria into the German Reich, Germany violated Article 80 of the Treaty of Versailles, which provided - by the way, on the constitutional law to which I just referred there appear as signatories the following names: Adolf Hitler, Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor; Goering, General Field Marshal, Reich Minister of Aviation; Frick Reich Minister of the Interior; von Ribbentrop, Reich Minister of Foreign Affairs; R. Hess, Deputy Fuehrer.

By annexing Austria into the German Reich, Germany violated Article 80 of the Treaty of Versailles, which provides, and I quote:-

"Germany acknowledges and will respect the independence of Austria within the Frontier, which may be fixed in a treaty between that State and the principal Allied and Associated Powers. She agrees that this independence shall be inalienable."
Similarly, the Austrian action violated Article 88 of the Treaty of St. Germain, which provides: "The independence of Austria is inalienable otherwise than with the consent of the Council of the League of Nations. Consequently, Austria undertakes, in the absence of the consent of the said Council, to abstain from any act which might directly or indirectly or by any means whatever compromise her independence, particularly until her admission to membership of the League of Nations, by participation in the affairs of another power."

This basic constitutional Law provided for a plebiscite to be held on 10th April, 1938, on the question of reunion, but this was a mere formality. The plebiscite could only confirm the union declared in the law. It could not undo Germany's union with and control over Austria.

To illustrate the way in which legal consolidation was swiftly assured under conditions of occupation of Austria by troops, it is not necessary to do more than review some of the acts passed within the month.

Hitler placed the Austrian Federal Army under his own command and required all members of the Army to take an oath of allegiance to Hitler as their Supreme Commander. A translation of the pertinent document will be found in our 2936-PS, and I refer to the instruction of the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor, concerning the Austrian Federal Army, 13th March, 1938, Dokumente der Deutschen Politik, Volume 6, 1, page 150.

Public officials of the province of Austria were required to take an oath of office swearing allegiance to Hitler, Fuehrer of the German Reich and people. Jewish officials as defined were not permitted to take the oath.

I refer to "Decree of the Fuehrer and Reich Chancellor concerning the administration of oath to the officials of the Province of Austria, 15th March, 1938,

[Page 263]

Reichsgesetzblatt, 1938, Volume 1, page 245, number 24, the translation being in our document 2311-PS.

Hitler and Frick signed a decree applying to Austria various Reich laws, including the law of 1933 against the formation of new political parties, and the 1933 law for the Preservation of Unity of Party and State.

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