The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
21st January to 1st February, 1946

Forty-First Day: Wednesday, 23rd January, 1946
(Part 6 of 9)


[Page 101]

Yet it was only five weeks before this that on 3 March, 1933, von Papen had warned the electorate at Stuttgart against abolishing federalism. I will now read from Document 3313-PS, which is on Page 48 of the English document book, and which I now introduce as Exhibit GB 240, about the middle of the third paragraph. This is an extract from von Papen's speech at Stuttgart. He said:
"Federalism will protect us from centralism, that organisational form which focuses all the living strength of a nation, like a burning mirror, on one point. No nation is less adaptable to being governed centrally than the German nation."
Earlier, at the time of the elections in the autumn of 1932, von Papen, as Chancellor, had visited Munich. The Frankfurter Zeitung of 12 October, 1932, commented on his policy. I refer to Document 3318-PS on Page 51 of the English document book, which I introduce as Exhibit GB 241. The Frankfurter Zeitung commented:
"Von Papen claimed that it had been his aim from the very beginning of his tenure of office to build a new Reich for, and with, the various States. The Reich Government is taking a definite federalist attitude. Its slogan is not a dreary centralism or unitarianism."
That was in October 1932. All that was now thrown overboard in deference to his new master.

[Page 102]

I now come to the Jews. In March, 1933, the entire Cabinet approved a systematic State policy of persecution of the Jews. This has already been described to the Tribunal.

Only four days before the boycott was timed to begin, "with all ferocity" - to borrow the words of Dr. Goebbels - von Papen wrote a radiogram of reassurance to the Board of Trade for German-American Commerce in New York, which had expressed its anxiety to the German Government about the situation. His assurance - which I now put in as Document D- 635, and it will be Exhibit GB 242, on Page 73 of the English document book - his assurance was published in the "New York Times" on 28 March, 1933, and it contained the following sentence, which I read from about the middle of the page. This document is the last but one in the German document book.

"Reports circulated in America and received here with indignation about alleged tortures of political prisoners and mistreatment of Jews, deserve strongest repudiation. Hundreds of thousands of Jews, irrespective of nationality, who have not taken part in political activities, are living here entirely unmolested."
This is a characteristic -

DR. KUBUSCHOK (Counsel for von Papen): The article in the "New York Times" goes back to a telegram of the accused von Papen, which is contained in the document book one page ahead. The English translation has the date of 27 March. This date is an error. The German text which I received shows that it is a question of a week-end letter, which, according to the figures on the German document, was sent on 25 March. This difference in time is of particular importance for the following reason

In effect, on 25 March nothing was yet known concerning the Jewish boycott, which Goebbels then announced for 1 April. The accused von Papen could, therefore, on 25 March, point to these then comparatively few smaller incidents, as he does in the telegram. In any case, the conclusion of the Indictment, that the contents of the telegram were a lie, thereby fails.

THE PRESIDENT: Major Barrington, have you the original of that?

MAJOR BARRINGTON: The original is here, my Lord, yes. It is quite correct that there are some figures at the top, which, though I had not recognised it, might indicate that it was dispatched on the 25th.

THE PRESIDENT: And when was the meeting of the cabinet which approved the policy of persecution of the Jews?

MAJOR BARRINGTON: Well, my Lord, I cannot say. It was sometime within the last few days of March, but it might have been on the 26th. I can have that checked up.


DR. KUBUSCHOK: May I clarify that matter by saying that the cabinet meeting in which the Jewish question was discussed took place at a much later date, and that in this cabinet meeting, cabinet members, among others the accused von Papen, condemned the Jewish boycott. I shall submit the minutes of the meeting as soon as my motion has been granted.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not know what you mean by your motion being granted. Does counsel for the prosecution say whether he persists in his allegation or whether he withdraws it?

MAJOR BARRINGTON: I will say this. Subject to checking the date when the cabinet meeting took place

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you can do that at the adjournment and let us know in the morning.

MAJOR BARRINGTON: If your Lordship pleases.

[Page 103]

At this point I will just say this: That it was, as the Tribunal has already heard, common knowledge at the time that the Nazi policy was anti-Jewish, and Jews were already in concentration camps. So I will leave it to the Tribunal to infer that at the time when that radiogram was sent, which I am prepared to accept as being 25 March, von Papen did not know of this policy of boycotting.

I will go further now that I am on this point, and I will say that von Papen was indeed himself a supporter of the anti-Jewish policy, and as evidence of this I will put in Document 2830-PS, which is on Page 37A of the document book, and which I now introduce as Exhibit GB 243.

This is a letter, my Lord, written by von Papen from Vienna on 12 May, 1936 to Hitler on the subject of the Freiheitsbund. Paragraph 4 of the English text is as follows:

"The following incident is interesting. The Czech Legation secretary Dohalsky has made to Mr. Staud, leader of the Freedom Union, an offer to make available to the Freedom Union every desired amount from the Czech Government which he would need for the strengthening of his fight against the Heimwehr. His only condition is that the Freedom Union should guarantee to take a stand directed against Germany. Mr. Staud has simply refused this offer. It is shown by that how, even in the enemy's camp, there is one who already evaluates the new grouping of forces. From that arises the further necessity for us to support, as before, this movement financially, and especially in reference to the continuation of its fight against Jewry."
DR. KUBUSCHOK: I must point out here a difficulty which has apparently been caused by the translation. In the original German text the word "in reference" are used in regard to the transmittal in the following way:

"In reference to the continuation of its fight against Jewry." These words "in reference" mean here that under this heading the money must be transmitted, although this was not the real purpose, for the Austrian Freiheitsbund (Freedom Union) was not an anti-Semitic movement but a legal trade union, to which Chancellor Dollfuss also belonged. This expression "in reference" means only that the transmittal of the money demanded a covering designation, because it was not permissible to transmit money from abroad to a party recognised by the State, for any party purposes, as is shown by the rejected offer of the Czechoslovaks. I only wanted to point out here that the words "in reference" perhaps give a wrong impression and should rather be translated "referring". In any case, I should like to point out that this "in reference" was a kind of camouflage for the transmittal of the money.

THE PRESIDENT: I do not know to which word you are referring, but as I understand it the only purpose of referring to this letter was to prove that in it von Papen was suggesting that a certain organisation should be financially assisted in its fight against Jewry. That is the only purpose of referring to the letter. I do not know what you mean about some word being wrongly translated.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: That is exactly how the error originated. The money was not transmitted to fight Jewry, for that was not at all the purpose of this Christian Trade Union in Austria, but a certain designation for the transmittal of the money had to be devised, so this continuation of its fight against Jewry was used. The purpose therefore was not the fight against Jewry, but the elimination, through financial support, of another foreign influence, namely that of Czechoslovakia.

THE PRESIDENT: I should have thought myself that the point which might have been taken against the prosecution was that the letter was dated nearly 3 years after the time with which you were then dealing.

[Page 104]

MAJOR BARRINGTON: That is so, my Lord; it was not at the time of the previous one.

THE PRESIDENT: No, the previous one was marked 1933, and this was 1936.

MAJOR BARRINGTON: Yes. I only put it in, My Lord, to show what von Papen's position was by then, at any rate. If your Lordship has any doubt as to the translation I would suggest that it might now be translated by the interpreter. We have the German text, a photostat.

THE PRESIDENT: I think you can have it translated again tomorrow; if necessary, you can have it gone into again then.


I come now to the Catholic Church. The Nazi treatment of the Church has been fully dealt with by the United States Prosecution. In this particular field von Papen, a prominent lay Catholic, helped to consolidate the Nazi position both at home and abroad, as perhaps no one else could have done.

In dealing with the persecution of the Church, Colonel Wheeler read to the Tribunal Hitler's assurance given to the Church on 23 March 1933 in Hitler's speech on the Enabling Act, an assurance which resulted in the well-known Fulda Declaration of the German Bishops, also quoted by Colonel Wheeler. That was Document 3387-PS, which was Exhibit USA 566. This deceitful assurance of Hitler's appears to have been made at the suggestion of von Papen eight days earlier at the Reich Cabinet meeting at which the Enabling Act was discussed, on 15 March, 1933. I refer to Document 2962-PS, which is exhibit USA 578, and it is on Page 40 of the English document book. I read from Page 44, that is at the bottom of Page 6 of the German text. The minutes say:

"The Deputy of the Reich Chancellor and Reich Kommissar for Prussia stated that it was of decisive importance to co- ordinate into the new State the masses standing behind the parties. The question of the incorporation of political Catholicism into the new State was of particular importance."

That was a statement made by von Papen at the meeting at which the Enabling Act was discussed, prior to Hitler's speech on the Enabling Act in which he gave his assurance to the Church.

On 20 July 1933 Papen signed the Reich Concordat negotiated by him with the Vatican. The Tribunal has already taken judicial notice of this as Document 3280-A-PS. The signing of the Concordat, like Hitler's Papen-inspired speech on the Enabling Act, was only an interlude in the church policy of the Nazi conspirators. Their policy of assurances was followed by a long series of violations which eventually resulted in Papal denunciation in the Encyclical "Mit brennender Sorge," which is Document 3476-PS, Exhibit USA 567.

Papen maintains that his actions regarding the Church were sincere, and he has asserted, during interrogations, that it was Hitler who sabotaged the Concordat. If von Papen really believed in the very solemn undertakings given by him on behalf of the Reich to the Vatican, I submit it is strange that he, himself a Catholic, should have continued to serve Hitler after all those violations and even after the Papal Encyclical itself. I will go further. I will say that Papen was himself involved in what was virtually, if not technically, a violation of the Concordat. The Tribunal will recollect the Allocution of the Pope, dated 2 June 1945, which is Document 3268-PS, Exhibit USA 356, from which, on Page 1647 of the transcript Colonel Storey read the Pope's own summary of the Nazis' bitter struggle against the Church. (Part 3, p. 50). The very first item the Pope mentioned was the dissolution of Catholic organisations and, if the Tribunal will look at Document 3376-PS on Page 56 of the English document book, which I now put in as Exhibit GB 244 and which is an extract

[Page 105]

from "Das Archiv," they will see that in September, 1934 von Papen ordered - and I say "ordered" advisedly - the dissolution of the Union of Catholic Germans, of which he was at the time the leader. The text of "Das Archiv" reads as follows:
"The Reich Directorate of the Party announces the self- dissolution of the Union of Catholic Germans.

Since the Reich Directorate of the Party, through its Department for Cultural Peace, directly, and to an increasing extent, administers all cultural problems and those concerning the relationship of State and Churches, the tasks at first delegated in the Union of Catholic Germans are now included in those of the Reich Directorate of the Party in the interest of a stronger co-ordination.

Former Vice-Chancellor von Papen, up to now the Leader of the Union of Catholic Germans, declared, about the dissolution of this organisation, that it was done upon his suggestion, since the attitude of the National Socialist State toward the Christian and Catholic Church had been explained often and unequivocally through the Leader and Chancellor himself."

I said that von Papen "ordered" the dissolution, although the announcement said it was self-dissolution on his suggestion, but I submit that such a suggestion from one in Papen's position was equivalent to an order, since by that date it was common knowledge that the Nazis were dropping all pretence that rival organisations might be permitted to exist.

After nine months' service under Hitler, spent in consolidating the Nazi control, von Papen was evidently well content with his choice. I refer to Document 3375-PS, Page 54 of the English document book, which I put in as Exhibit GB 245. On 2 November 1933, speaking at Essen from the same platform as Hitler and Gauleiter Terboven, in the course of the campaign for the Reichstag election and the referendum concerning Germany's leaving the League of Nations, von Papen declared:

"Ever since Providence called upon me to become the pioneer of national resurrection and the rebirth of our homeland, I have tried to support with all my strength the work of the National Socialist Movement and its leader; and just as I at the time of taking over the Chancellorship" - that was in 1932 - "advocated paving the way to power for the young fighting liberation movement, just as I on 30 January was selected by a gracious fate to put the hands of our Chancellor and Fuehrer into the hand of our beloved Field Marshal, so do I today again feel the obligation to say to the German people and all those who have kept confidence in me:

The good Lord has blessed Germany by giving it in times of deep distress a leader who will lead it through all distresses and weaknesses, through all crises and moments of danger, with the sure instinct of the statesman, into a happy future."

And then the last sentence of the whole text on Page 55;
"Let us in this hour say to the Fuehrer of the new Germany that we believe in him and his work."

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