The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th January to 19th January, 1946

Twenty-Ninth Day: Tuesday, January 8th, 1946
(Part 9 of 10)

[Page 81]

But there is one other new document which I shall put before the Tribunal in this part of the case, which is Exhibit GB 129, Document 1337-PS, which shows the establishment, of the Secret Cabinet Council and membership in the Foreign Ministry. These are the activities of this defendant in the earlier part of this career, and in the submission of the prosecution they show quite clearly that he assisted willingly, deliberately, intentionally and keenly in the militarily bringing of the Nazis into power and into the earlier stage of their obtaining control of the German State.

I now come to the second allegation in the Indictment, that this defendant participated in political planning and preparation with the Nazi conspirators for wars of aggression and wars in violation of international Treaties, agreements and assurances; and again it might help the tribunal if I took this up quite shortly, in order of aggressions, and stated briefly the constituent allegations that we make, and the references to matters before the Tribunal, referring the Tribunal only to any new document which I may now present.

The first is the Anschluss with Austria, and there the Tribunal will remember that the defendant Ribbentrop was present at a meeting at Berchtesgaden on 12th February, 1938, at which Hitler and von Papen met the Austrian Chancellor von Schuschnigg and his foreign minister, Guide Schmidt. The Tribunal will find the official account of that interview in Document 2461-PS, which I put in as Exhibit GB 132, and the Tribunal will find, I submit, a truthful account of the interview in Exhibit USA 72, Document 1780- PS, which is the diary

[Page 82]

of the defendant Jodl; and the relevant entries are those for the 11th and 12th February, 1938. They are extremely short, and I shall ask if the Tribunal will be kind enough to allow me to read from them. They do show quite clearly the case for the prosecution - the pressure that was used in Chancellor Schuschnigg's interview. It is at the foot of the first page in the document book, Document 1780-PS is the number.

And on the 11th of February and the days following the defendant Jodl writes:

"In the evening and on 12th February, General Keitel with General von Reichenau and Sperrle at Obersalzberg. Schuschnigg, together with R. G. Schmidt, are again being put under the heaviest political and military pressure. At 23.00 hours Schuschnigg signs protocol.

13th February: in the afternoon General Keitel asks Admiral Canaris and me 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.

At 2.40 o'clock the agreement of the Fuehrer arrived. Canaris went to Munich, to the Counter-Intelligence Office VII and initiated the different measures.

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

It is rather interesting, after reading the frank statement of the defendant Jodl, to look at the pale words of the official statement which I have also put in. That is the view of the meeting with Schuschnigg, which the prosecution placed before this Court.

Will the Tribunal be good enough to ignore an allegation that appears in the trial brief that this defendant visited Mussolini before the Anschluss, as is stated by a member of his staff. At that time it was disputed by another member. Therefore, I would rather the Tribunal ruled it out.

The next point, on which there is no dispute, is the telephone conversation which took place between the defendant Goering and the defendant Ribbentrop on the 13th March, 1938, when the latter was still in London. The Tribunal will remember that that was dealt with fully by my friend, Mr. Alderman. It was passing on what the prosecution submits was a completely false statement: that there was no ultimatum. The facts of the ultimatum were explained by the earlier telephone conversations with the defendant Goering in Vienna. Defendant Goering then passed that on to the defendant Ribbentrop in London in order that he might propagate the story - of there being no ultimatum - in political circles in London. That appears in the telephone conversation which is Exhibit USA 76, Document 2949-PS, and, I say, it is fully dealt with (Page 260, Part 1).

The third action which this defendant took occurred after his return from London. Although he bad been appointed Foreign Minister in February, he had gone back to London to clear up his business at the Embassy and he was still in London until after the Anschluss had actually occurred, but his name appears as a signatory of the law making Austria a province of the German Reich. That is Document 2307-PS, which I now put in as Exhibit GB 133. And there is a reference in the Reichsgesetzblatt, which is given. These were the actions of the defendant with regard to Austria.

Then we come to Czechoslovakia, and there you have an almost perfect example of aggressive work in its various ways. Again I simply remind the Tribunal of the outstanding points with the greatest brevity. First, there is the question of stirring up trouble inside the country against which aggression is going to be used.

[Page 83]

This defendant, as Foreign Minister, was concerned with the setting up of the Sudeten Germany under Henlein, and the contacts between the Foreign Office and Henlein are shown in Exhibits USA 93, 94, 95 and 96. These are Documents 3060-PS, 2789-PS, 2788-PS and 3059-PS. They have all been read by my friend, Mr. Alderman, but I simply mention to the Tribunal their purpose: to stir up the Sudeten-German movement in order to act with the Government of the Reich.

Then, after that, the defendant Ribbentrop was present on the 28th May, 1938, at the Hitler conference, at which the latter gave the necessary instructions to prepare the attack on Czechoslovakia. That was dealt with previously (Page 6, Part 2). And I want to put before the Tribunal Document 2360- PS as Exhibit GB 134, which is a report of a speech of Hitler's in the "Volkischer Beobachter"; and, if the Tribunal would be good enough to look at it, it is a useful date to fix with regard to the aggression against Czechoslovakia, because that was the day on which Hitler, on his own proclamation, had decided that aggression was to take place against that country.

The extract which I have taken is quite short and, if the Tribunal would look at it, the important passage is:

"On the basis of this unbearable provocation, which was still further emphasised by a truly infamous persecution and terrorising of our Germans there, I have now decided to solve the Sudeten-German question in a final and radical manner."
That was in January, 1939. Then he goes on to say:
"On 28th May I gave the order for the preparation of military steps against this State, to be concluded by 2nd October."
The important point is that the 28th of May was the date when the "Fall Grun" for Czechoslovakia was the subject of orders, and it was thereafter put into effect to come to fruition at the beginning of October. That is the second stage: "To lay well in advance your plans of aggression. The third stage is to see that the neighbouring States are not likely to cause you trouble."

So we find that on the 18th July, 1938, this defendant had a conversation with the Italian Ambassador Attolico, at which the attack on Czechoslovakia was discussed. That is Exhibit USA 85, Document 2800-PS. And there were further discussions which are contained in Exhibit USA 86 and 87, which are Documents 2791-PS and 2792-PS.

I think it is sufficient for me to say to the Tribunal that the effect of these documents is that it was made clear to the Italian Government that the German Government was going to move against Czechoslovakia.

The other country which was interested was Hungary, because Hungary had certain territorial ideas with regard to parts of the Czechoslovakian Republic.

So, on the 23rd and 25th of August, this defendant was present at the discussions and had discussions himself with the Hungarian politicians Imredy and Kania, and these are found in Exhibits USA 88 and 89, Documents 2796-PS and 2797- PS.

This defendant attempted to get assurances of Hungarian help, and the Hungarian Government at the time was not too ready to commit itself to action, although it was ready enough with sympathy. These are to be found in the documents which I have mentioned. And, again, unless the Tribunal desires, I shall not read any document that I summarised that way.

Now I have already mentioned that there had been contact with the Sudeten-Germans. That was the long-term grievance that had to be exploited. But the next stage was to have a short-term grievance and to stir up trouble, preferably at the fountain-head. And so, between the 16th and 24th September, we find the German Foreign Office, of which this defendant was the head, stirring

[Page 84]

up trouble in Prague, and that is shown very clearly in Exhibits USA 97 to 101, which are Documents 2858-PS, 2855- PS, 2854-PS, 2853-PS and 2856-PS. I have read them in order of date. It would be interesting for the Tribunal to look at these. They ought to follow quite shortly the document thay [sic] have just been looking at, beginning with 2858. Here you have the document of the 19th September coming from the Foreign Office to the German Embassy in Prague:
"Please inform Deputy Kundt at Conrad Henlein's request to get in touch with the Slovaks at once and induce them to start demands."
The others deal with questions of arrest and the action that would be taken against any Czechs in Germany in order to make the position more difficult.

That was the contribution which this defendant made to the pre-Munich crisis. After, as the Tribunal will remember, on the 29th September, 1938, the Munich agreement was signed. That is Exhibit GB 23, Document TC-23, which I have already read to the Tribunal.

And, after that - I just remind the Tribunal of an interesting document which shows the sort of action which the Wehrmacht expected and the advice that the Wehrmacht expected from the Foreign Office.

You have, on the 1st of October, Document C-2, which is Exhibit USA 90 and that is a long document putting forward an almost infinite variety of breaches of International Law, which were likely to arise or might have arisen from the action in regard to Czechoslovakia; and on all these points the opinion of the Foreign Office is sought. That, of course, remained a hypothetical question at that time because no war resulted.

THE PRESIDENT: Can you give us the number of that document?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, C-2, My Lord, Exhibit USA 90.

Then, if the Tribunal please, we come to the second stage in the acquiring of Czechoslovakia. That is, having obtained the Sudetenland, arranging that there would be a crisis in Czechoslovakia which would be an excuse for taking the rest. The Tribunal will remember the importance of this because it is the first time that the German Government went outside its own statement about not going beyond German blood.

On that point, again, this defendant was active. On the 13th March, as events were moving to a climax, he sent a telegram to the German Minister in Prague, who was under him, telling him to "make a point of not being available if the Czech Government wants to get in touch with you in the next few days." That is Exhibit USA 116, Document 2815-PS.

At the same time this defendant saw a delegation of pro-Nazi Slovaks in Berlin at a conference with Hitler. Tiso, one of the heads of the pro-Nazi Slovaks, was directed to declare an independent Slovak State, in order to assist in the disintegration of Czechoslovakia. That is Exhibit USA 117, Document 2802-PS, and the Tribunal might care to compare it with a previous meeting with another Slovak, Tuca, a month before, which is shown in Document 2790-PS, Exhibit USA 110. So that this defendant was again assisting in the task of proposing internal trouble.

Then, on the 14th March, 1939, the next day, Hacha, the President of Czechoslovakia, was called to Berlin. This defendant was present at the meeting and the Tribunal will remember the usual pressure and threats which resulted in the aged President's permission to hand over the Czechoslovak State to Hitler. The Tribunal will find that subject dealt with on Pages 96-97, Part 2, and the relevant exhibit is Exhibit USA 118, Document 2798-PS, which is the minutes of the meeting between Hitler and Hacha that this defendant attended. You will also find it dealt with in Exhibit USA 126, Document 3061-PS, which is the Czechoslovakian Government Report.

[Page 85]

That was the end of the Czech part of Czechoslovakia. The following week this defendant signed a treaty with Slovakia which I now put in. It is Document 1439-PS, and I put it in as Exhibit GB 135, and the important part is Article 11, under which the German Government was given the right to construct military posts and installations and keep them garrisoned within Czechoslovakia. That is 1439-PS, which I put in as GB 135. I am not going to read it at length, but I hope the Tribunal will stop me if there are any of these documents which they would like read instead of summarised. In that way this defendant, by the terms of that treaty, after completely finishing Bohemia and Moravia as an independent state, had got military control in Slovakia.

Before I pass to Poland, there is one interesting little point on the northern Baltic which I put before the Tribunal to show that this defendant could hardly keep his hands out of the internal affairs of other countries, even when it did not seem a very important matter. The Tribunal will remember that on the 3rd April, 1939, as shown in Exhibit GB 4, TC-53- A, Germany had occupied Memelland. It would have appeared, as far as the Baltic States were concerned, that the position was satisfactory; but if the Tribunal will look at Document 2953-PS, which I put in as Exhibit GB 136, and Document 2952-PS, which I put in as Exhibit GB 137, they will find that this defendant acted in close concert with the conspirator Heydrich, who is dead, in stirring up trouble in Lithuania with a group of pro-Nazi people called the "Woldemaras Supporters." Document 2953-PS shows that Heydrich was passing to the defendant Ribbentrop the request for financial support for the ...

THE PRESIDENT: Just one moment, Sir David. Unfortunately, these documents are not in any order.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I am terribly sorry.

THE PRESIDENT: It is very difficult to find them. This follows after 3061 and 1439?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, it follows after 3061. The next one that I referred to, the treaty with Slovakia, 1939, should come after that.

THE PRESIDENT: You are going to read 2953?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, my Lord. That is the one I was going to read. That is a letter from Heydrich to the defendant Ribbentrop and it says:

"Dear Party Comrade v. Ribbentrop,

Enclosed please find a further report about the 'Woldemaras Supporters.' As already mentioned in the previous report the 'Woldemaras Supporters' are still asking for help from the Reich. I therefore ask you to examine the question of financial support brought up again by the 'Woldemaras Supporters' set forth on Page 4, paragraph 2 of the enclosed report and to make a definite decision.

The request of the 'Woldemaras Supporters' for financial support could, in my opinion, be granted. Deliveries of arms should not, however, be made under any circumstances."

Then, 2952, the next document, is a fuller report, and at the end of that there is added, in handwriting, "I support small regular payments, e.g., 2,000 to 3,000 marks quarterly." It is signed "W," who I understand to be the Secretary of State.

I quoted that merely to show the extraordinary interference, even with comparatively unimportant countries.

Then we pass to the aggression against Poland, and again the Tribunal has had that fully dealt with by my friend Colonel Griffith-Jones, but again it might be useful if I just separated the various periods so that the Tribunal will have these in mind. The first was what one might call the Munich period, up to the

[Page 86]

end of September, 1938, and at that time no language was too good for Poland. The Tribunal will remember the point.

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