The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Fifty-Seventh Day: Tuesday, 12th February, 1946
(Part 9 of 18)

(General Zorya comes to the microphone.)

THE PRESIDENT: Go on, General.

MAJOR-GENERAL ZORYA: Yesterday I stopped at the questions connected with the relations between the Fascist conspirators and the Roumainian aggressors. It seems to me that now is the most opportune moment to read into the record the testimony of Ion Antonescu, which the Soviet prosecution has at its disposal.

The interrogation of Ion Antonescu was conducted in conformanity with the laws of the Soviet Union and I present to the Tribunal, as Exhibit U.S.S.R. 153, the record of his deposition, which is of exceptional importance in making clear the characteristics of the relationship between Germany and her satellites.

[Page 273]

I consider it necessary to read the greater part of these depositions, beginning with the second paragraph on Page 1 of the record. It corresponds to Pages 63 and 64 of the document book.

"Throughout the entire period during which I held office in Roumania" -- testifies Ion Antonescu -- "I followed the policy of strengthening the alliance with Germany and resorted to her help for retraining and rearming the Roumainian army. For this purpose I had several meetings with Hitler. The first meeting with Hitler took place in November, 1940, soon after I became the head of the Roumainian Government. This meeting took place on my initiative at Hitler's official residence in Berlin, in the presence of the German Foreign Minister, Ribbentrop, and Hitler's personal interpreter, Schmidt. The conversation with Hitler lasted over four hours.

I assured Hitler that Roumania remained true to the previously concluded agreement regarding Roumania's adherence to the `Tripartite Pact.' In reply to my assurances of loyalty to the pact with Germany, Hitler declared that the German soldiers would guarantee the frontiers of Roumania. At the same time, Hitler told me that the Vienna Arbitration should not be considered as final, and thus gave me to understand that Roumania could count on a revision of the decision previously made in Vienna, on the question of Transylvania. Hitler and I agreed that the German Military Mission in Roumania should continue its work of reconstructing the Roumainian Army on German lines, and that it should also conclude an economic agreement, in accordance with which the Germans would at a later date supply Roumania with Messerschmidts 109, tanks, tractors, anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, automatic rifles and other armaments, while they, in return, would receive from Roumania, wheat and oil for the needs of the German armies. To the question put to me as to whether this, my first conversation with Hitler, could be regarded as the beginning of my agreement with the Germans concerning the preparations for war against the Soviet Union, I replied in the affirmative. There is no doubt that Hitler had this fact in mind, when he elaborated his plans for the attack on the Soviet Union.

In January, 1941, through the offices of the German Ambassador in Roumania, Fabricius, I was invited to Germany and had my second meeting with Hitler at Berchtesgaden. The following persons were present: Ribbentrop, Fabricius, and the newly appointed German Ambassador to Bucharest, Killinger. Besides these, Field Marshal Keitel and General Jodl were also present as representing the German Armed Forces.

At the beginning of the conversation Hitler introduced Killinger to me, emphasizing that the latter was one of his closest friends. After this, Hitler, describing the military situation in the Balkans, declared that Mussolini had appealed to him for help in connection with the Italian failures in the war against Greece and that he, Hitler, intended to give this help to Italy.

While on this subject Hitler asked me to allow the German troops concentrated on Hungarian territory to pass through Roumania, so that they could render speedy assistance to the Italians.

Knowing that the passage of German troops through Roumania to the Balkans would constitute an unfriendly act towards the Soviet Union, I asked Hitler what, in his opinion, would be the subsequent reaction of the Soviet Government.

Hitler reminded me that at our first meeting, in November, 1940, he had already given appropriate guarantees to Roumania and had taken upon himself the obligation of protecting Roumania by force of arms. I expressed my fears that the passage of German troops through Roumania

[Page 274]

might serve as a pretext for military operations on the part of the Soviet Union, and that Roumania would then be in a difficult position, since the Roumainian Army had not been mobilized, to which Hitler declared that he would give orders for some of the German troops intended for participation in the operations against Greece to be left in Roumania. Hitler also stressed that, according to the information at his disposal, the Soviet Union did not intend to fight either Germany or Roumania.

Satisfied with Hitler's declaration, I agreed to the passage of German troops through Roumainian territory.

General Jodl, who was present at this conference, described to me the strategic dispositions of the German Army and stressed the necessity for an attack against Greece launched from Bulgaria.

My third meeting with Hitler took place in Munich in May, 1941. At this meeting at which, in addition to ourselves, there were present Ribbentrop and Hitler's personal interpreter, Schmidt, we reached a final agreement with regard to a joint attack on the Soviet Union.

Hitler informed me that he had decided on an armed attack on the Soviet Union. 'Once we have prepared this attack,' said Hitler, 'we must carry it out without warning, along the entire extent of the Soviet frontier, from the Black to the Baltic Seas.

The unexpectedness of the military attack,' Hitler went on to say, would in a short time give Germany and Roumania a chance to liquidate one of our most dangerous adversaries.'

In accordance with his military plans, Hitler asked me to permit the use of Roumainian territory for concentrations of German troops, and, at the same time, requested me to participate directly in the attack on the Soviet Union.

Hitler stressed the point that Roumania must not remain outside this war, for, if she wished to have Bessarabia and North Bukovina returned to her, she had no other alternative but to fight on Germany's side. At the same time he pointed out that, in return for her assistance in the war, Roumania would be allowed to occupy and administer other Soviet territories, right up to the River Dnieper.

Since Hitler's offer to initiate a joint campaign against the U.S.S.R. corresponded to my own aggressive intentions, I announced my agreement to participate in the attack on the Soviet Union and pledged myself to prepare the necessary number of Roumainian troops and, at the same time, to increase deliveries of the oil and food required by the German armies.

Before Hitler and I took the decision to attack Russia, I asked Hitler whether he had any understanding with Hungary regarding her participation in the war. Hitler replied that the Hungarians had already given their consent to participate in the war against the U.S.S.R. in alliance with Germany. When, exactly, the Germans had agreed on this joint attack with the Hungarians, Hitler did not specify.

On my return from Munich to Bucharest I began active preparations for the coming campaign."

Antonescu concludes his testimony in the following words. I refer to Page 67 in the document book, the last paragraph of the testimony.
"After the invasion of Soviet territory, the Roumanian troops under my supreme command rendered great assistance to the Germans, and Hitler accordingly sent a letter addressed to me expressing his gratitude to me and to the Roumanian Army."
The date of the beginning of Roumainian preparations for war against the U.S.S.R. can be established from the depositions furnished by the former Vice-

[Page 275]

Premier, Michael Antonescu, who was also interrogated by the Soviet authorities at the request of the Soviet prosecution; I now submit his testimony as Exhibit USSR l52. I shall not quote these depositions in detail since their greater part is a repetition of some of the facts described already in the testimony of Ion Antonescu. I shall only refer to a few paragraphs. I would refer you to Page 1 of the Russian text, paragraphs 1, 2, and 5. This corresponds to Page 68 of the document book:

"In November, 1940, Marshal Antonescu, accompanied by the then Minister for Foreign Affairs, Prince Struza, left for Germany, where he had a meeting with Hitler.

During the negotiations with Hitler, Marshal Antonescu signed the agreement for Roumania's adherence to the 'Tripartite Pact' and received Hitler's promise for the later revision, in favor of Roumania, of the decisions of the Vienna Arbitration.

The first journey of Marshal Antonescu was the initial step of a policy which subsequently led to a joint German and Roumainian attack on the Soviet Union."

Your Honours, the evidence of the witness, Paulus, as well as the testimonies of Ion Antonescu and Michael Antonescu which have just been submitted to the Tribunal, justify the Soviet prosecution in making the following statement:

1. The decision to send to Roumania a military mission of the German General Staff for the reorganisation of the Roumainian Army, in order to prepare for and subsequently to attack the U.S.S.R., was taken no later than September, 1940, i.e., no less than nine months prior to the attack on the U.S.S.R.

2. In November of the same year, Roumainian war preparations had been fully developed.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps that would be a good time to break off.

(A recess was taken.)

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