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 9 of 9)


[Page 113]

The fourth point was the re-militarisation of the Rhineland. The Rhineland was reoccupied on 7 March, 1936. I remind the Tribunal of the two complementary documents, 2289-PS, Exhibit USA 56, the announcement of this action by Hitler; and C-139, Exhibit USA 53, which is the "Operation Schulung," giving the military action which was to be taken if necessary. These were the acts for which the defendant shared responsibility because of his position and because of the steps which he took; but a little later he summed up his views on the actions detailed above in a speech before Germans abroad made on 29 August, 1937, of which I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice, as it appears in "Das Archiv," 1937, at Page 650. I quote only a short portion of it that appears on Page 72 of the document book.
"The unity of the racial and national will, created through Nazism with unprecedented elan, has made possible a foreign policy through which the bonds of the Versailles Treaty were slashed, the freedom to arm regained and the sovereignty of the whole nation re- established. We have again become master in our own home, and we have produced the means of power to remain so for all times. The world should notice from Hitler's deeds and words that his aims are not aggressive war."
The world, of course, had not the advantage of seeing these various complementary documents of military preparation which I have had the opportunity of putting before the Tribunal.

[Page 114] The next section - and the next point against this defendant - is that both as Minister of Foreign Affairs and as one of the inner circle of the Fuehrer's advisers on foreign political matters, this defendant participated in the political planning and preparation for acts of aggression against Austria, Czechoslovakia and other nations.

If I might first put the defendant's policy in a sentence, I would say that it can be summarised as breaking one treaty only at a time. He himself put it - if I may say so - slightly more pompously, but to the same effect, in a speech before the Academy of German Law on 30 October, 1937, which appears in " Das Archiv," October 1937, Page 921, and which the Tribunal will find in the document book on Page 73. The underlining is mine:

"In recognition of these elementary facts the Reich Cabinet has always interceded in favour of treating every concrete international problem within the scope of methods especially suited to it; not to complicate it unnecessarily by involvement with other problems; and, as long as problems between only two powers are concerned, to choose the direct way for an immediate understanding between these two powers. We are in a position to state that this method has fully proved itself good not only in the German interest, but also in the general interest."
The only country whose interests are not mentioned are the other parties to the various treaties that were dealt with in that way; and the working out of that policy can readily be shown by looking at the tabulated form of the actions of this defendant when he was Foreign Minister, or during the term of his immediate successor when the defendant still was purported to have influence.

In 1935 the action was directed against the Western Powers. That action was the rearmament of Germany. When that was going on another country had to be reassured. At that time it was Austria, with the support of Italy - which Austria still had up to 1935. And so you get the fraudulent assurance, the essence of the technique, in that case given by Hitler, on 21 May, 1935. And that is clearly shown to be false, by the documents which Mr. Alderman put in. Then, in 1936, you have still the action necessary against the Western Powers, in the occupation of the Rhineland. You still have a fraudulent assurance to Austria in the treaty of 11 July of that year and that is shown to be fraudulent by the letters from the defendant von Papen, Exhibits USA 64 and 67, one of which my friend Major Barrington has just referred to.

Then in 1937 and 1938 you move on a step, and the action is directed against Austria. We know what that action was. It was absorption, planned, at any rate finally, at the meeting on 5 November, 1937 ; and action taken on 11 March 1938.

Reassurance had to be given to the Western Powers, so you have the assurance to Belgium on 13 October, 1937, which was dealt with by my friend Mr. Roberts. (See Part 2, pp. 198- 211).

We move forward a year and the object of the aggressive action becomes Czechoslovakia. Or I should say we move forward six months to a year. There you have the Sudetenland obtained in September; the absorption of the whole of Bohemia and Moravia on 15 March 1939.

Then it was necessary to reassure Poland; so an assurance to Poland is given by Hitler on 20 February, 1938, and repeated up to 26 September, 1938. The falsity of that assurance was shown over and over again in Colonel Griffith-Jones's presentation on Poland. (Part 2, pp. 125-176).

Then finally, when they want the action as directed against Poland in the next year for its conquest, assurance must be given to Russia, and so a non

[Page 115]

aggression pact is entered into on 23 August 1939, as shown by Mr. Alderman, at Pages 1160 to 1216 (see Part 2, pp. 229- 259).

With regard to that tabular presentation, one might quote the Latin tag, res ipsa loquitur. But quite a frank statement from this defendant, with regard to the earlier part of that, can be found in the account of his conversation with the United States Ambassador, Mr. Bullitt, on 18 May, 1936, which is on Page 74 of the document book, Document L-150, Exhibit USA 65, and if I might read the first paragraph after the introduction, which says that they called on this defendant, Mr. Bullitt remarks:

"Von Neurath said that it was the policy of the German Government to do nothing active in foreign affairs until 'the Rhineland had been digested.' He explained that he meant that, until the German fortifications had been constructed on the French and Belgian frontiers, the German Government would do everything possible to prevent rather than encourage an outbreak by the Nazis in Austria, and would pursue a quiet line with regard to Czechoslovakia. 'As soon as our fortifications are constructed and the countries of Central Europe realise that France cannot enter German territory at will, all those countries will begin to feel very differently about their foreign policies, and a new constellation will develop,' he said."
I remind the Tribunal, without citing it, of the conversation referred to by my friend, Major Barrington, a short time ago, between the defendant von Papen, as Ambassador, and Mr. Messersmith, which is very much to the same effect.

Then I come to the actual aggression against Austria, and I remind the Tribunal that this defendant was Foreign Minister.

First: During the early Nazi plottings against Austria in 1934.
The Tribunal will find these in the transcript (Part 1, pp. 214-220), and I remind them generally that it was the murder of Chancellor Dollfuss and the ancillary acts which were afterwards so strongly approved.
Second: When the false assurance was given to Austria on 21 May, 1935, and the fraudulent treaty made on 11 July, 1936.
References to these are Document TC-26, which is Exhibit GB 19, and Document TC-22, which is Exhibit GB 20 (see Part 1, p. 243).
Third: When the defendant von Papen was carrying on his subterranean intrigues in the period from 1935 to 1937.
I again give the references so that the Tribunal will have it in mind: Document 2247-PS, Exhibit USA 64 - letter dated 17 May 1935 - and Exhibit USA 67, Document 2246-PS - 1 September 1936. (Part 1, pp. 231, 232).

This defendant von Neurath was present when Hitler declared, at the Hoszbach interview on 5 November, 1937, that the German question could only be solved by force, and that his plans were to conquer Austria and Czechoslovakia. That is Document 386-PS, Exhibit USA 25, which the Tribunal will find at Page 82. If you will look at the sixth line of Page 82, after the heading, you will see that one of the persons in attendance at this highly confidential meeting was the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs, Freiherr von Neurath.

Without reading a document which the Tribunal have had referred to them more than once, may I remind the Tribunal that it is on Page 86 that the passage about the conquest of Austria occurs, and the next sentence is:

"For the improvement of our military political position, it must be our first aim in every case of entanglement by war to conquer Czechoslovakia and Austria simultaneously, in order to remove any threat from the flanks in case of a possible advance Westwards."
That is developed on the succeeding page. The important point is that this

[Page 116]

defendant was present at that meeting; and it is impossible for him after that meeting to say that he was not acting except with his eyes completely open, and with complete comprehension as to what was intended.

Then the next point. During the actual Anschluss he received a note from the British Ambassador dated 11 March, 1938. That is Document 3045-PS, Exhibit USA 127. He sent the reply contained in Document 3287-PS, Exhibit USA 128. If I might very briefly remind the Tribunal of the reply, I think all that is necessary - and of course the Tribunal have had this document referred to them before - is the at top of Page 93. I wish to call attention to two obvious untruths.

The defendant von Neurath states in the sixth line: "It is untrue that the Reich used forceful pressure to bring about this development, especially the assertion, which was spread later by the former Chancellor Schuschnigg, that the German Government had presented the Federal President with a conditional ultimatum. It is a pure invention."
According to the ultimatum, he had to appoint a proposed candidate as Chancellor to form a Cabinet conforming to the proposals of the German Government. Otherwise the invasion of Austria by German troops was held in prospect.
"The truth of the matter is that the question of sending military or police forces from the Reich was only brought up when the newly formed Austrian Cabinet addressed a telegram, already published by the Press, to the German Government, urgently asking for the dispatch of German troops as soon as possible, in order to restore peace and order and to avoid bloodshed. Faced with the immediate threat of the danger of a bloody civil war in Austria, the German Government then decided to comply with the appeal addressed to it."
Well, as I said, My Lord, these are the two most obvious untruths, and all one can say is that it must have, at any rate, given this defendant a certain macabre sort of humour to write that, when the truth was as the Tribunal know it from the report of Gauleiter Rainer to Burckel, which has been put in before the Tribunal as Document 812-PS, Exhibit USA 6 1, and when they have heard, as they have done at length, the transcripts of the defendant Goering's telephone conversation with Austria on that day, which is Document 2949-PS, Exhibit USA 76, and the entries of the defendant's Jodl's diary for 11, 13 and 14 February, which is Document 1780-PS, Exhibit USA 72.

In this abundance of proof of the untruthfulness of these statements, the Tribunal may probably think that the most clear and obvious correction is in the transcription of the defendant Goering's telephone conversations, which are so amply corroborated by the other documents.

The prosecution submits that it is inconceivable that this defendant who, according to the defendant Jodl's diary - may I ask the Tribunal just to look at Page 116 of the document book, the entry in the defendant Jodl's diary for 10 March so that they have this point clear? It is the third paragraph, and it says

"At 1300 hours General Keitel informs Chief of Operational Staff and Admiral Canaris. Ribbentrop is being detained in London. Neurath takes over the Foreign Office."
I submit that it is inconceivable, when this defendant had taken over the of Foreign Office, was dealing with the matter and, as I shall show the Tribunal in a moment, co- operating with the defendant Goering to suit the susceptibilities of the Czechs, that he should have been so ignorant of the truth of events, and what really was happening, as to write that letter in honour and good faith.

His position can be shown equally clearly by the account which is given of

[Page 117]

him in the affidavit of Mr. Messersmith, Document 2385-PS, Exhibit USA 68. If the Tribunal will look at Page 107 of the document book, I remind them of that entry, which exactly describes the action and style of activity of this defendant at this crisis. Two-thirds of the way down the page the paragraph begins:
"I should emphasise here in this statement that the men who made these promises were not only the dyed-in-the- wool Nazis, but more conservative Germans who already had begun willingly to lend themselves to the Nazi programme.

In an official dispatch to the Department of State from Vienna, dated October 10, 1935, I wrote as follows :

'Europe will not get away from the myth that Neurath, Papen and Mackensen are not dangerous people, and that they are diplomats of the old school. They are in fact servile instruments of the regime, and, just because the outside world looks upon them as harmless, they are able to work more effectively. They are able to sow discord just because they propagate the myth that they are not in sympathy with the regime.'"

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 24th January 1946 at 1000 hours)

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