The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Third Day: Thursday, 7th February, 1946
(Part 18 of 18)


I think I can now leave that interview. Nothing more was added and I turn to the next document, 119-M, which becomes Exhibit GB 272, and which is the report of the interview of the 15th of May, the third and last interview with Mr. Kirkpatrick. I quote from the third paragraph: there was some mention of Iraq at the beginning of the interview and then Mr. Kirkpatrick writes:

"I then threw a fly over him about Ireland. He said that in all his talks with Hitler, the subject of Ireland had never been mentioned except incidentally. Ireland had done nothing for Germany in this war and it was therefore to be supposed that Hitler would not concern himself in Anglo-Irish relations. We had some little conversation about the difficulty of reconciling the wishes of the South and North and from this we pass to American interest in Ireland, and so to America.

On the subject of America, Hess took the following line. The Germans reckoned with American intervention and were not afraid of it. They knew all about American aircraft production and the quality of the aircraft. Germany could outbuild England and America combined.

Germany had no designs on America. The so-called German peril was a ludicrous figment of imagination. Hitler's interests were European.

If we made peace now, America would be furious. America really wanted to inherit the British Empire.

Hess concluded by saying that Hitler really wanted a permanent understanding with us on a basis which preserved the Empire intact. His own flight was intended to give us a chance of opening conversations without loss of prestige. If we reject this chance, it would be clear proof that we desired no understanding with Germany and Hitler would be entitled, in fact it would be his duty, to destroy us utterly and to keep us after the war in a state of permanent subjection."

My Lord, those reports show the substance, and indeed the whole substance, of the visit. His humanitarian reasons for coming, which sounded so well on the 10th or between the 10th and 15th May, took on quite a different light when barely a little more than a month later Germany attacked the Soviet Union.

One cannot help remembering an exact parallel between this business and that which took place before Germany attacked Poland, when every effort was made to keep England out of the war and so let her fight her battle on one front only. Here the same thing appears to be happening, and what is more, we have it

[Page 163]

from Hess himself, that at that time, Germany had no intention at all of attacking Russia immediately. But that must be untrue, because it will be remembered, and the evidence is set out in the trial brief, that as far back as November, 1940, plans were being made, initial plans, for the invasion of Russia.

On 18th December, 1940, a directive ordered preparations to be completed by 15th May, 1941. On 3rd April, 1941, orders were given delaying the Barbarossa action for five weeks, and on 30th April, 1941, 10 days before he arrived in England, D-day for the invasion of Russia was actually fixed for 22nd June.

Well, now, in my submission, nobody who held the position that this defendant did at that time, in charge of the Foreign Organisation, Deputy to the Fuehrer, having been made designate successor No. 2 a year ago -- never in that position could he have been kept in ignorance of those preparations and of those plans.

My Lord, my submission, therefore, is that the only reason he came to England was not humanitarian at all, but purely, as I say, to allow Germany to fight her battle against Russia on one front only.

There is -- and I hesitate to refer the Tribunal to any other document -- but there is one document, which is a document of extreme interest from many points of view and has only just come to light. I did ask that it should be put in at the back of the Tribunal's document book, but if it has not been I have some spare copies which perhaps the Clerk may now hand out.

It is Document 1866-PS, which becomes Exhibit GB 273, and it is an account of conversations between Ribbentrop, Mussolini and Ciano on 13th May, 1941, signed by Schmidt.

It carries the question very little further, but of course the question has existed, and still does exist -- the question, of course, as to whether or not the flight to England was undertaken with the knowledge and approval of Hitler or any other members of the Government, or on his own initiative and in complete secrecy. He himself has always maintained that he did it secretly. On the other hand, it is difficult to see how he could have been planning it and practicing it for months previously and have tried three times before without anybody knowing.

This account of the conversations with the Italians casts little further light on it, but it does show, anyway, what Ribbentrop is saying to the Italians, their allies, three days later. I would ask the Tribunal to look at and read the first page of this document, and the paragraph of the next page:

"To begin with, the Reich Foreign Minister conveyed the Fuehrer's greetings to the Duce.

He would shortly propose to the Duce a date for the planned meeting, which he would like to take place as soon as possible. As the place for the meeting he would probably prefer the Brenner. At the present moment he was, as the Duce could well understand, still busy with the Hess affair and with a few military matters.

The Duce replied that he would agree with all the Fuehrer's proposals," -- and so on.

"The Reich Foreign Minister then said that the Fuehrer had sent him to the Duce in order to inform him about the Hess affair and the conversation with Admiral Darlan about the Hess affair. He remarked that the Fuehrer had been completely taken aback by Hess's action, and that it had been the action of a lunatic.

Hess had been suffering for a long time from a bilious complaint and had fallen into the hands of magnetists and nature-cure doctors who allowed his state of health to become worse.

[Page 164]

All these matters were being investigated at the moment as well as the responsibility of the aides-de-camp who had known about Hess's forbidden flights. Hess had for weeks carried out secret practice flights in an ME-110. Naturally he had acted only from idealistic motives. His being unfaithful to the Fuehrer was utterly out of the question. His conduct had to be explained by a kind of mysticism and a state of mind caused by his illness."
And it goes on, and the gist of it really is that Ribbentrop is emphasising again that it was done without the authority of Hitler or without the knowledge of anybody else in Germany. I say he does not carry...

THE PRESIDENT: Can you not read the beginning of the next paragraph?


"Being sympathetically inclined towards England, Hess had conceived the crazy idea of using Great Britain's Fascist circles to persuade the British to give in. He had explained all this in a long and confused letter to the Fuehrer. When this letter reached the Fuehrer, Hess was already in England. It was hoped in Germany that he would perhaps have an accident on the way, but he was now really in England and had tried to contact the former Marquis of Clydesdale, the present Duke of Hamilton. Hess quite wrongly considered him as a great friend of Germany and had flown to the neighborhood of his castle in Scotland."
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you very much.

LIEUTENANT-COLONEL GRIFFITH-JONES: That is what Ribbentrop is saying to Mussolini. Ribbentrop, we know, is a liar, and indeed what he said later on in an interview proves it, and I would refer to Page 5 -- or rather to the bottom of Page 4 -- if the Tribunal would bear with me while I read that, because it would have been put in previously during this trial had this document been known of. And as I am putting it in now, perhaps I might be allowed to read this one paragraph which really concerns the defendant Ribbentrop:

"The Duce returned to his remark concerning the united front of Europe against England and the two countries, Spain and Russia, that were absent from it, with the remark that to him it seemed that it would be advantageous if a policy of collaboration with Russia could be carried out. He asked the Reich Foreign Minister whether Germany excluded such a possibility, that is, collaboration with Russia. The Reich Foreign Minister replied that Germany had treaties with Russia, and that the relations between the two countries were in other respects correct. He personally did not believe that Stalin would undertake anything against Germany, but should he do so, or should he follow a policy that was intolerable to Germany, then he would be destroyed within three months. The Duce agreed to this. The Fuehrer would certainly not look for any quarrel, but he had nevertheless taken precautions" -- this is again, I think, Ribbentrop speaking -- "the Fuehrer would certainly not look for any quarrel, but he had nevertheless taken precautions for all eventualities. He had in no way come to any decision, but as a result of certain occurrences and want of clearness on the part of the Russians, he had become suspicious. Thus, for example, the Russians had strengthened their forces along their Western frontier, which, of course, caused Germany to reinforce her troops too, but only after the Russians started it."
It really must have been a remarkable position in the German Government if undoubtedly the Fuehrer and the foreign secretary knew, on 13th May, 1941, that Germany was going to attack Russia a month later.

My Lord, that is the evidence which I have to present to the Tribunal on this matter. I regret that this should have taken so long. I am grateful to your Honours for your patience.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 8th February, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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