The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

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

Thirtieth Day: Wednesday, January 9th, 1946
(Part 1 of 10)

[Page 91]

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If the Tribunal please, when the Tribunal adjourned I had just dealt with the last of the two Norway documents, which I now put in as Exhibits GB 140 and GB 141. Their numbers were 004-PS and D-629.

My Lord, for convenience, the first document to which I shall refer in a few minutes will be Document 1871-PS.

THE PRESIDENT: I have that here.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, before I come to that, I just want to say one word about the aggression against the Low Countries: Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg.

The facts as to the aggression against these countries, during the period when this defendant was Foreign Minister, were stated in full by my friend Mr. Roberts, and if I give the Tribunal the reference (Pages 198 to 211, Part 2) I do not need to detain the Tribunal on that part of the case.

I only remind the Tribunal that the action of this defendant as Foreign Minister, to which attention may be called, is the making of a statement on the 10th May, 1940, to representatives of the foreign Press with regard to the reasons for the German invasion of the Low Countries, and these reasons were, in my respectful submission, demonstrated to be false by the evidence called by Mr. Roberts, which appears in that part of the transcript.

My Lord, I then proceed to the aggression in South-eastern Europe against Greece and Yugoslavia, and the first moment of time in that regard is the meeting at Salzburg in August, 1939, at which the defendant von Ribbentrop participated, when Hitler announced that the Axis had decided to liquidate certain neutrals. That document is 1871-PS, which I now put in as Exhibit GB 142, and the passage to which I should like to refer the Tribunal is on Page 2 of the English version, two-thirds down the page in the middle of the fifth paragraph, six lines from the top. Your Lordship will find the words "Generally speaking."


SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I desire to quote from there:

"Generally speaking, it would be best to liquidate the pseudo-neutrals one after the other. This is fairly easily done, if one Axis partner protects the rear of the other, who is just finishing off one of the uncertain neutrals, and vice versa. Italy may consider Yugoslavia such an uncertain neutral. At the visit of Prince Regent Paul he (the Fuehrer) suggested, particularly in consideration of Italy, that Prince Paul clarify his political attitude towards the Axis by a gesture. He had thought of a closer connection with the Axis, and Yugoslavia's leaving the League of Nations. Prince Paul agreed to the latter. Recently the Prince Regent was in London and sought reassurance from the Western Powers. The same thing was repeated that happened in the case of Gafencu, who was also very reasonable during his visit to Germany and who denied any interest in the aims of the Western democracies. Afterwards it was learned that he had later assumed a contrary standpoint in England. Among the Balkan countries the Axis can completely rely only on Bulgaria, which is, in a sense, a natural ally of Italy and Germany."

[Page 92]

Then missing a sentence:
"At the moment when there was a turn to the worse for Germany and Italy, however, Yugoslavia would join the other side openly, hoping thereby to give matters a final turn to the disadvantage of the Axis."
That demonstrates the policy with regard to uncertain neutrals.

Then, as early as September, 1940, this defendant reviewed the war situation with Mussolini. This defendant emphasised the heavy revenge bombing raids on England and the fact that London would soon be in ruins. It was agreed between the parties that only Italian interests were involved in Greece and Yugoslavia, and that Italy could count on German support.

Then von Ribbentrop went on further to explain to Mussolini the Spanish plan for the attack on Gibraltar and Germany's participation therein, and that he was expecting to sign the Protocol with Spain bringing the latter country into the war on his return to Berlin.

This is Document 1842-PS, which is the next document in the book to the one at which the Tribunal has just been looking, and the passage with regard to Greece and Yugoslavia occurs in the middle of the first page, if I might just read a very short extract:

"With regard to Greece and Yugoslavia, the Foreign Minister stressed that it was exclusively a question of Italian interests, the settling of which was a matter for Italy alone, and in which Italy would be certain of Germany's sympathetic assistance."
I do not think I need trouble the Tribunal with the rest.

The Tribunal (MR. BIDDLE): I think you had better read the next paragraph.


"But it seemed to us to be better not to touch on those problems for the time being, but to concentrate instead on the destruction of England with all our forces. Where Germany was concerned, she was interested in the Northern German districts (Norway, etc.), and this was acknowledged by the Duce."
I am very grateful to you, your Honour.

That I put in as Exhibit GB 143.

A month or two later, in January, 1941, at the meeting between Hitler and Mussolini, in which this defendant participated, the Greek operation was discussed. Hitler bad stated that the "German troops in Roumania were for use in the planned campaign against Greece. That document is C-134, which was put in as Exhibit GB 119, and therefore I do not propose to give it again, but to give the Tribunal the reference to the points which are mentioned at the foot of Page 3 of the English text.

With regard to that meeting there is a cross-reference in Count Ciano's diary, Count Ciano having attended as Italian Foreign Minister, and he recalls his impression of that meeting in the diary for the 20th-21st of January by saying:

"The Duce was, on the whole, pleased with the conversation. I am less pleased. Above all, because Ribbentrop, who had always been so boastful in the past, told us, when I asked him outright how long the war would last, that he saw no possibility of its ending before 1942."
Despite that somewhat pessimistic statement to Count Ciano, a short time later, three weeks later, when it was a question of encouraging the Japanese, this defendant took a more optimistic line.

On the 13th February, 1941, he saw Ambassador Oshima, the Japanese Ambassador, and that is the conversation that appears in Document 1834-PS, which is Exhibit USA 129. That was read previously, and again I simply give the reference on Page 3 of the English version.

The second and last paragraph dealt with the optimistic account of the military position and the position of Bulgaria and Turkey. I do not think I need read it further, because it gives the Tribunal the reference.

[Page 93]

Then, after that, in March, this defendant put forth his efforts to get Yugoslavia to join the Axis, and on the 25th March the defendant, in a note to the Prime Minister Ovstkovitch - and this is Document 2450-PS, which is Exhibit GB 123 - gave the assurance:
"The Axis power governments, during this war, will not direct a demand to Yugoslavia to permit the march or transportation of troops through the Yugoslav State or territory."
After that, it is only fair to point out that there was the coup d'etat in Yugoslavia. General Simovics took over the Government, and two days after the assurance which I just read, at the meeting of the 27th March, 1941, at which this defendant was present, Hitler outlined the military campaign against Yugoslavia and promised the destruction of Yugoslavia and the demolition of Belgrade by the German Air Force. That is contained in Document 1746-PS, which is Exhibit GB 120, and that was read by my friend Colonel Phillimore, at an earlier stage, so I don't need to read it again.

The final action of this defendant with regard to Yugoslavia was that after the invasion of Yugoslavia, von Ribbentrop was one of the persons directed by Hitler to draw up the boundaries for the partition and division of Yugoslavia. The preliminary directive for that was Document 1195-PS, which I now put in as Exhibit GB 144.

We now come to the aggression against the Soviet Union, and the first -

THE PRESIDENT: Has that been read, 1195-PS?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: No, it has not. I am much obliged, your Lordship. I will now read the relevant sentence with regard to this.

On Page 2, Section 2, your Lordship will see the words "the drawing up of boundaries."


SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: And in paragraph 1 it says:

"If the drawing up of boundaries has not been laid down in the above Part 1, it will be carried out by the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces in agreement With the Foreign Office" - that is the defendant - "the Plenipotentiary for the Four Year Plan" - the defendant Goering - "and the Reich Minister of the Interior."

THE PRESIDENT: Who is Reich Minister of the Interior?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I think the defendant Frick.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I think it was.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I am grateful to your Lordship. I had forgotten that had not been read before.

Now then, as I say, we come to the aggression against the Soviet Union, and the first document which has not been put in so far, which I now put in as Exhibit GB 145, is TC-25, the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact.

On 23rd August, 1939, this defendant had signed the German- Soviet Non-Aggression Pact. Now, the first point at which this defendant seems to have considered special problems of aggression against the Soviet Union was just after the 20th April, 1941, when the defendant Rosenberg and this defendant met or communicated to consider the problems which were expected to arise in Eastern occupied territory. This defendant appointed his Counsellor, Grosskopf, to be his liaison man with Rosenberg and also assigned a Consul General, called Brautigam, who had many years5 experience in the U.S.S.R. as collaborator with Rosenberg. That is shown in Document 1039-PS, which is Exhibit USA 146. I did not propose to read it again as it had been read. That passage to which I have referred is the first paragraph on the top of Page 2, beginning "After notification to the Reich Foreign Minister." It is that paragraph which I have just mentioned.

[Page 94]

That was in April, 1941. The following month, on 18th May, 1941, the German Foreign Office prepared a declaration setting forth operational zones in the Arctic Ocean, the Baltic and Black Seas, to be used by the German Navy and the Air Force, in the coming invasion of the Soviet Union. That is the next document, C-77, which I now put in as Exhibit GB 146, and it is very short. Therefore, I think I should quote it; it has not been read before:
"The Foreign Office has prepared for the use in Barbarossa the attached draft of a declaration of operational zones. The Foreign Office has, however, reserved its decision as to the date when the declaration will be issued as well as the discussion of particulars."
These last two documents show quite clearly that this defendant was again implicated in the preparation for this act of aggression. Then, on the 22nd June, 1941, this defendant announced to the world that the German armies were invading the U.S.S.R., as was seen by the Tribunal in the film shown on the 11th December. And how untrue were the reasons given, is shown by the report of his own Ambassador in Moscow who said that everything was being done to avoid a conflict. The Tribunal will find the reference to that in my learned friend, the Attorney General's speech (Page 84, Part 2).

We now come to the aggression which involved Japan and was directed against the United States of America. And there the initial document is 2508-PS, which I now put in as Exhibit GB 147. That shows that on the 25th November, 1936, as a result of negotiations of this defendant as Ambassador at Large, Germany and Japan had signed the Anti-Comintern Pact. I do not think that has been read, but if I may, I will just read the introduction, the recital that gives the purposes of the agreement:

"The Government of the German Reich and the Imperial Japanese Government, recognising that the aim of the Communist Internationale, known as the Comintern, is to disintegrate and subdue existing States by all the means at its command; convinced that the toleration of interference by the Communist Internationale in the internal affairs of the nations not only endangers their internal peace and social well-being, but is also a menace to the peace of the world; desirous of co- operating in the defence against Communist subversive activities, have agreed as follows."
And then there follow the effective terms of the agreement under which they will act together for five years. It is signed by this defendant.

On the 27th September, 1940, this defendant, as Foreign Minister, signed the Tripartite Pact with Japan and Italy, thereby bring about a full-scale military and economic alliance for the creation of a new order in Europe and East Asia. That is 2643-PS; Exhibit USA 149, and it has been read.

Then, on the 13th February, 1941 - that is, a month or two later - this defendant was urging the Japanese to attack British possessions in the Far East. And that is shown in Document 1834-PS, which is Exhibit USA 129, and which has already been read by my friend, Mr. Alderman. That was in February.

Then, in April, 1941, at a meeting between Hitler and Matsuoka, representing Japan, at which this defendant was present, Hitler promised that Germany would declare war on the United States in the event of war occurring between Japan and the United States as a result of Japanese aggression in the Pacific. That is shown in Document 1831- PS, Exhibit USA 33, which has already been read and which I did not intend to read again.

Then, the next document which reinforces that point is 1882- PS, which is Exhibit USA 153. If I might trouble the Tribunal with just two short paragraphs of that; it is interesting, showing the psychological development of this defendant and his views at that time. It is the first two paragraphs in the document that are quoted, under the heading "Pages 2 and 3 it is on the first page of the document:

[Page 95]

"Matsuoka then spoke of the general high morale in Germany, referring to the happy faces he had seen everywhere among the workers during his recent visit to the Borsig Works. He expressed his regret that developments in Japan had not as yet advanced as far as in Germany and that in his country the intellectuals still exercised considerable influence.

The Reich Foreign Minister replied that at best a nation which had realised its every ambition could afford the luxury of intellectuals, most of whom are parasites, anyway.

A nation, however, which has to fight for a place in the sun must give them up. The intellectuals ruined France; in Germany they had already started their pernicious activities when National Socialism put a stop to these doings; they will surely be the cause of the downfall of Britain, which is to be expected with certainty."

Then, it continues on the usual lines. That was on the 5th April.

Then, the next stage; within a month after the German Armies invaded the Soviet Union, the 22nd June, 1941, Ribbentrop was urging his Ambassador in Tokyo to do his utmost to cause the Japanese Government to attack the Soviet in Siberia, and that is proved by two documents which have already been put in: 2896-PS, which is Exhibit USA 155, a telegram to the German Ambassador in Tokyo, one Ott; and 2897-PS, Exhibit 156, which is the reply from Ambassador Ott. Both of these were read by my friend, Mr. Alderman, and I won't trouble the Tribunal again.

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