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 8 of 9)


Page 109]

We submit we need not do more than draw attention to the personalities of the defendant von Papen and Hitler and to the fact that President von Hindenburg died in 1934. This defendant continued as Foreign Minister until 1938.

He then says that he was an inactive Minister from the 4 February 1938 until May 1945.

[Page 110]

At that point attention is drawn to the activities which will be mentioned below and to the terrible evidence as to Bohemia and Moravia which will be forthcoming from our friend the Soviet prosecutor.

This defendant's next point is that the Secret Cabinet Council never sat nor conferred.

I point out to the Tribunal that that was described as a select committee of the Cabinet for the deliberation of foreign affairs, and the Tribunal will find that description in Document 1774-PS, which I now put in as Exhibit GB; 246. This is an extract from a book by a well-known author, and on Page 2 of the document book the first page of that document, in about the seventh line from the bottom of the page, they will see that among the bureaus subordinated to the Fuehrer for direct counsel and assistance, number four is the Secret Cabinet Council; President: Reich Minister Baron von Neurath.

And if the Tribunal will be kind enough to turn over to Page 3, about ten lines from the top, they will see the paragraph beginning:

"A Secret Cabinet Council to advise the Fuehrer in the basic problems of foreign policy has been created by the decree of 4 February 1938," and a reference is given. "This Secret Cabinet Council is under the direction of Reich Minister von Neurath, and includes the Foreign Minister, the Air Minister, the Deputy Commander to the Fuehrer, the Propaganda Minister, the Chief of the Reich Chancellery, the Commanders-in-Chief of the Army and Navy and the Chief of the Supreme Command of the Armed Forces. The Secret Cabinet Council constitutes a select staff of collaborators of the Fuehrer which consists exclusively of members of the Government of the Reich; thus, it represents a select committee of the Reich Government for the deliberation on foreign affairs."
In order to have the formal composition of the body, that is shown in document 2031-PS, which is Exhibit GB 217. I believe it has been put in. I need not read it again.

The next point that the defendant makes as to his offices is that he was not a member of the Reich Defence Council.

If I may very shortly take that point by stages, I remind the Tribunal that the Reich Defence Council was set up soon after Hitler's accession to power on 4 April 1933, and the Tribunal will find a note of that point in Document 2261-PS, Exhibit USA 24, and they will find that on the. top of Page 12 of the document book there is a reference to the date of the establishment of the Reich Defence Council.

The Reich Defence Council is also dealt with in Document 2986-PS, Exhibit USA 409, which is the affidavit of the defendant Frick, which the Tribunal will find on Page 14. In the middle of that short affidavit, defendant Frick says:

"We were also members of the Reich Defence Council, which was supposed to plan preparations in case of war, which later on were published by the Ministerial Council for the Defence of the Reich."
Now, that the membership of this Council included the Minister for Foreign Affairs, who was then the defendant von Neurath, is shown by Document EC-177, Exhibit USA 390. If the Tribunal will turn to Page 16 of the document book, they will find that document, and at the foot of the page, the composition of the Reich Defence Council, the permanent members including the Minister for Foreign Affairs. That document is dated "Berlin, 22 May 1933," which was during this defendant's tenure of that office. That is the first stage.

The functioning of this Council, with a representative of this defendant's department, von Bulow, present, is shown by the minutes of the 12th meeting on 14 May 1936. That is Document EC-407, which I put in as Exhibit GB 247. The Tribunal will find at Page 21 that the minutes are for 14 May 1936,

[Page 111]

and the actual reference to an intervention of von Bulow is in the middle of Page 22.

Then, the next period was after the Secret Law of 4 September 1938. This defendant was, under the terms of that law, a member of the Reich Defence Council by virtue of his office as President of the Secret Cabinet Council. That is shown by the Document 2194-PS, Exhibit USA 36, which the Tribunal will find at Page 24. You will see that the actual copy which is put in evidence was enclosed in a letter addressed to the Reich Protector in Bohemia and Moravia on 6 September 1939. It is rather curious that the Reich Protector for Bohemia and Moravia is now denying his membership in the Council, when the letter enclosing the law is addressed to him.

But if the Tribunal will be good enough to turn on to Page 28, which is still that document, the last words on that page describe the tasks of that Council and say, "The task of the Reich Defence Council consists, during peacetime, in deciding all measures for the preparation of Reich defence, and the gathering together of all forces and means of the nation according to the directions of the Leaders and Reich Chancellor. The tasks of the Council in wartime will be especially determined by the Leader and Reich Chancellor."

If the Tribunal will turn to the next page, they will see that the permanent members of the Council are listed, and that the seventh one is the President of the Secret Cabinet Council, who was, again, this defendant.

I submit that this deals, for every relevant period, with this defendant's statement that he was not a member of the Reich Defence Council.

The second broad point that the prosecution makes against this defendant is that, in assuming the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs in Hitler's Cabinet, this defendant assumed charge of a foreign policy committed to breach of treaties.

We say first that the Nazi Party had repeatedly and for many years made known its intention to overthrow Germany's international commitments, even at the risk of war. We refer to Sections 1 and 2 of the Party Programme, which, as the Tribunal has heard, was published year after year. That is on Page 32 of the document book. It is Document 1708-PS, Exhibit USA 255.

I just remind the Tribunal of these points 1 and 2:

" 1. We demand the unification of all Germans in Greater Germany on the basis of the right of self-determination of peoples.

2. We demand equality of rights for the German people in respect to other nations; abrogation of the peace treaties of Versailles and St. Germain."

But probably clearer than that is the statement contained in Hitler's speech at Munich on 15 March, 1939; and the Tribunal will find one of the references to that on Page 40, at the middle of the page. It begins:
"My foreign policy had identical aims. My programme was to abolish the Treaty of Versailles. It is futile nonsense for the rest of the world to pretend today that I did not reveal this programme until 1933 or 1935 or 1937. Instead of listening to the foolish chatter of emigrees, these gentlemen would have been wiser to read what I have written thousands of times."
It is futile nonsense for foreigners to raise that point. It would be still more futile for Hitler's Foreign Minister to suggest that he was ignorant of the aggressive designs of the policy. But I remind the Tribunal that the acceptance of force, as a means of solving international problems and achieving the objective's of Hitler's foreign policy, must have been known to anyone as closely in touch with Hitler as the defendant von Neurath; and I remind the Tribunal, simply by reference to the passages from "Mein Kampf," which were quoted

[Page 112]

by my friend Major Elwyn Jones, especially those toward the end of the book, Pages 552, 553, and 554.

So the prosecution say that, by the acceptance of this foreign policy, the defendant von Neurath assisted and promoted the accession to power of the Nazi Party.

The third broad point is that in his capacity as Minister of Foreign Affairs this defendant directed the international aspects of the first phase of the Nazi conspiracy, the consolidation of control in preparation for war.

As I have already indicated, from his close connection with Hitler this defendant must have known the cardinal points of Hitler's policy leading up to the outbreak of the World War, as outlined in retrospect by Hitler in his speech to his military leaders on 23 November, 1939.

This policy had two facets: internally, the establishment of rigid control externally, the programme to release Germany from its international ties.

The external programme had four points:

1. Secession from the Disarmament Conference;

2. The order to re-arm Germany;

3. The introduction of compulsory military services; and

4. The remilitarisation of the Rhineland.

If the Tribunal will look at Page 35 - in the document book, at the end of the first paragraph they will find these points very briefly set out, and perhaps I might just read that passage. It is Document 789-PS, Exhibit USA 23 - about ten lines before the break
"I had to reorganise everything, first the masses of the people and then the Armed Forces. First, reorganisation of the interior, abolishment of appearance of decay and defeatist ideas, education to heroism. While reorganising the interior I undertook the second task, to release Germany from its international ties. Two particular characteristics are to be pointed out: secession from the League of Nations and denunciation of the Disarmament Conference. It was a hard decision. The number of prophets who predicted that it would lead to the occupation of the Rhineland was large; the number of believers was very small. I was supported by the nation, which stood firmly behind me, when I carried out my intentions. After that, the order for rearmament. Here again there were numerous prophets who predicted misfortunes, and only a few believers. In 1935 the introduction of compulsory armed service. After that, militarisation of the Rhineland-again a process believed to be impossible at that time. The number of people who placed trust in me was very small. Then the beginning of the fortification of the whole country, especially in the West."
Now, these are summarised in four points. The defendant von Neurath participated directly and personally in accomplishing each of these four aspects of Hitler's foreign policy, at the same time officially proclaiming that these measures did not constitute steps toward aggression.

The first is a matter of history. When Germany left the Disarmament Conference this defendant sent telegrams dated 14 October, 1933, to the President of the conference - and that will be found in 'Dokumente der Deutschen Politik,' on page 94 of the first volume for that year. Similarly this defendant made the announcement of Germany's withdrawal from the League of Nations on 21 October, 1933. That again will be found in the official documents. (Part 1, pp. 183-203) and I remind the Tribunal of the complementary documents of military preparation, which of course were read and which are Documents C-140, Exhibit USA 51, 25 October 1933, and C- 153, Exhibit USA 43, 12 May, 1934. These have already been read, and

[Page 113]

I merely collect them for the memory and assistance of the Tribunal.

The second point the rearmament of Germany: When this defendant was Foreign Minister, on 10 March, 1935, the German Government officially announced the establishment of the German Air Force. That is Document TC-44 Exhibit GB 11, already referred to. On 21 May, 1935, Hitler announced a purported unilateral repudiation of the Naval, Military and Air Clauses of the Treaty of Versailles which, of course, involved a similar purported unilateral repudiation of the same clauses of the Treaty for the Restoration of Friendly Relations with the United States, and that will be found in Document 2288-PS, Exhibit USA 38, which again has already been read. On the same day the Reich Cabinet, of which this defendant was a member, enacted the secret "Reich Defence Law " creating the office of Plenipotentiary General for War Economy, afterwards described by the Wehrmacht armament expert as "the cornerstone of German rearmament." The reference to the law is Document 2261-PS, Exhibit USA 24, a letter of von Blomberg dated 24 June 1935, enclosing this law, which is already before the Tribunal; and the reference to the comment on the importance of the law is Document 2353- PS, Exhibit USA 35. Some of that has already been read, but if the Tribunal will be good enough to turn to Page 52 where that appears, they will find an extract, and I might just give the Tribunal the last sentence:

"The last orders were decreed in the Reich Defence Law of 21 May, 1935, supposed to be published only in case of war, and already declared valid for carrying out war preparations. As this law fixed the duties of the Armed Forces and the other Reich authorities in case of war, it was also the fundamental ruling for the development and activity of the war economy organisation."
The third point is the introduction of compulsory military service. On 16 March, 1935, this defendant signed the law for the organisation of the armed forces, which provided for universal military service and anticipated a vastly expanded German army. This was described by the defendant Keitel as the real start of the large-scale rearmament programme which followed. I will give the official reference in the Reichsgesetzblatt, year 1935, volume 1, Part 1, p. 369; (Part 1, pp. 187, 205).

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