The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
14th February to 26th February, 1946

Sixty-Sixth Day: Saturday, 23rd February, 1946
(Part 8 of 8)

[Page 269]

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: As far as Herr Gaus is concerned, there is no objection, subject to one point on what I may call the Foreign Office group of witnesses, and I think it will be convenient if I develop it now, and then Dr. Horn would deal with the point in one moment.

Dr. Horn is asking for Herr Gaus; Fraulein Blank, who was the defendant's private secretary, and then witnesses three to seven, five foreign office officials, von Sonnleitner, von Rintelen, Gottfriedsen, Hilger and Bruns.

The position at the moment is that there is some doubt as to whether Fraulein Blank was allowed or not by the Tribunal, and two of the witnesses, von Sonnleitner and Bruns were granted on 5th December. Von Sonnleitner was granted as one of two and Herr Bruns was granted simpliciter.

The prosecution draws the attention of the Tribunal to the fact that no special subjects are stated about which these witnesses will speak, and at the present moment, the applications are not within the Rule of Procedure 4 (a); but what the prosecution suggests is:

That it is reasonable that the defendant should have certain witnesses who will speak as to Foreign Office business and activities, but that, if he has Herr Gaus and his private secretary, Fraulein Blank, one other Foreign Office official to speak as to general methods would be sufficient, and von Sonnleitner is obviously the sort of person who could help the defendant on General Foreign Office matters. To call seven witnesses to deal with his general position in the business would be unduly cumulative, and it is suggested that three is sufficient.

I hope the Tribunal will not mind my dealing with the seven witnesses, but really my point involves all of them.

DR. HORN: May I say something in reply to that: Dr. Gaus, in all probability, will be my main witness for the defence. Therefore, since 10 November, 1945, I and my predecessor have done everything to find this witness, and then to bring him here. Consequently, I do not know on what matters he can give me rebutting evidence. For this reason I would also prefer not to commit myself yet as to the other witnesses from the Foreign Office. I would like to make only this point: The witnesses who have been listed in addition to Dr. Gaus are not such as will give information on routine matters or general matters of the Foreign Office, but are, rather, witnesses who can offer rebutting evidence concerning special subjects which the prosecution has brought up.

I consequently suggest that a final decision should be reached as to the calling of these other witnesses only after Ambassador von Gaus is here. In this connection, I should like to ask the Court again personally to assist me in the securing of this extraordinarily valuable witness because I can submit my evidence in writing to the General Secretary in time only if I have him here soon.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. Well, we will consider that. That leaves two to seven, does it not?

DR. HORN: Mr. President, may I say that I should like to omit from this group witness number two, Margarete Blank. Consequently not two to seven, but three to seven.

May I give the following explanation. Fraulein Blank was for many years secretary to the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, von Ribbentrop, particularly since 1933. The witness Blank drew up a number of important drafts and memoranda and also discussed outstanding points with Ribbentrop in connection with these manuscripts. Here I refer to memoranda which expressly relate to the charges, and I therefore ask that the Tribunal's original decision, which granted us this witness, be upheld.

[Page 270]

THE PRESIDENT: Then you are asking, are you, that Ambassador Gaus and Fraulein Blank should be brought here as soon as possible, and that the consideration of the other witnesses three to seven, should be deferred until you have had an opportunity of seeing Gaus and Blank?

DR. HORN: Yes, Mr. President. As regards Fraulein Blank, I can say that she is in an internment camp near Nuremberg, in Hersbruck.

THE PRESIDENT: Did you mean that Fraulein Blank was in a camp so near Nuremberg, that you could go and visit her and speak to her there?

DR. HORN: Yes, Mr. President, that is possible.


DR. HORN: May I interpret this as authorisation to visit Fraulein Blank in order to interrogate her?

THE PRESIDENT: We understand that that is your application, and we will consider it.

DR. HORN: Thank you, Mr. President.

As my next witness I name the former SS Gruppenfuehrer and personal adjutant to Hitler, at present in Nuremberg in solitary confinement.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Sir David?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: With regard to this witness, the application says that there was a decisive conference between Hitler and the defendant von Ribbentrop, and that he can speak as to certain things that occurred. If that is so, if he can speak as one attending the conference, the prosecution has no objection.

We object - and this point will arise in regard to a number of witnesses - to what I call self-created evidence. That is if a witness is merely coming to say that the defendant said that he had certain views. That, in the submission of the prosecution, does not carry the thing any further. If I understand, this witness is speaking as an observer of the conference, and, as such, we take no objection.

DR. HORN: I should like to give Sir David my assurance that this is a witness who has first-hand knowledge of decisive events and can testify to them.

My next witness is Adolph von Steengracht, since 1943 State Secretary of the Foreign Office. This witness is now in Nuremberg in solitary confinement.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If the Tribunal would be good enough to look at the seventh line from the foot of this application, it says that Steengracht will further testify that, contrary to the assertions of the Chief prosecutor of the United States, the protests of the churches and of the Vatican were always "processed", thus obviating even worse excesses.

If it is meant by that-and the English is a little obscure - that the defendant Ribbentrop forwarded the protests of the churches to Hitler, then the prosecution would feel that they ought not to object to the witness.

DR. HORN: I can say in regard to this, Mr. President, that these protests were submitted not only to Hitler, but that furthermore, on the initiative and orders of the defendant, other German offices concerned in these breaches of International Law were approached for the purpose of settling the difficulties arising from the protests of the churches and the Vatican.

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. Can we go on to 10?

DR. HORN: My witness No. 10 is Dahlerus. Mr. Dahlerus has already been referred to at length to-day, and I should like to know whether further discussion as to procurement of this witness is necessary.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I have already explained my general attitude with regard to Dahlerus. Apparently this defendant wants him on one particular point, namely, an order from Hitler, and I submit that the appropriate way would be if Dr. Horn added an interrogatory on that point.

Prima facie, it seems highly improbable that Hitler communicated his private order to a Swedish engineer, but in view of the fact that interrogatories have been ordered, I suggest that Dr. Horn can send a further interrogatory on that point.

[Page 271]

DR. HORN: Mr. President, may I make a remark in this connection? It is not, as was translated, a question in this case of an order from Hitler, but a question of the decisive note that was the beginning of the second World War.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My point of view applies to many of these requests. This is only evidence if Herr Dahlerus can say what Hitler said, what Hitler told him. It is not evidence if Herr Dahlerus can say, "Herr Ribbentrop told me that Hitler had so ordered". That does not add to the evidence of the defendant himself. Therefore, I think it is essential that before one can judge of the evidential value at all, the matter should be submitted, as I suggest, by way of interrogatory.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, unless you have anything further to add with reference to this witness, we will stop at this point, because we think it is impossible to go further to- day, and apparently it is impossible to finish the whole of your applications this afternoon, so do you wish to add anything more about Dahlerus?

DR. HORN: Yes, I should like to make another short statement in answer to what Sir David considers as important for the evidence. Mr. Dahlerus; will not say here what he heard from Ribbentrop; he will testify to what he heard about Ribbentrop from an important person and from Hitler himself, and that is why I consider his evidence particularly important.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: A general point, my Lord: In the case of the witnesses who are asked for by Dr. Horn, I had prepared the comments of the prosecution, and they have been typed out in English. The Tribunal will realise that we only received this application yesterday, and it had to be translated, and is not ready by to-day. I have not been able to get this translation, but I have given Dr. Horn a copy quite informally so that he would be informed, and it might be useful if I handed it in because it might shorten the proceedings and also act as a record when the Tribunal resumes the consideration of these points. I do not know if that appeals to the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, very well. Then we will adjourn now.

I wish to ask the Soviet Chief Prosecutor whether it would be convenient to the Soviet prosecution that we should continue on Monday morning with this examination of witnesses and evidence. I think it will probably take the whole of the morning if we deal with the defendant Ribbentrop's applications and then the defendant Keitel's, so that the Soviet prosecution, if that course were adopted, would come on at two o'clock. Would that be convenient for them?

GENERAL RUDENKO: If it is convenient for the Tribunal it will be so for us, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: There is just one other point I should like to ask you. I think the Tribunal were notified that there were two witnesses whom the Soviet prosecution proposed to call. I think that we said that General Warlimont and, I think, General Halder, ought to be called so as to give the defence counsel the opportunity of cross-examining them.

GENERAL RUDENKO: If the Tribunal so wishes I shall deal with this question. I became acquainted with the transcript of the reports made by General Zorya and Colonel Pokrovsky when the question concerning witnesses Halder and Warlimont was discussed. The Soviet Delegation considers there to be no basis for objections to the Court examining the witnesses Generals Warlimont and Halder at the request of the defence. But the Soviet prosecution intended to request that the Tribunal admit these witnesses as witnesses on behalf of the Soviet prosecution.

I would like once again to state the plan which the Soviet prosecution has in mind regarding the conclusion of its presentation of evidence. It remains for us to present to the Tribunal the last section, "Crimes Against Humanity". The presentation of this will take approximately three to four hours.

[Page 272]

In addition, we shall ask the Tribunal to permit us to examine four witnesses, Soviet citizens who have been specially brought here and are now in Nuremberg. In such a way we consider that, if we start our presentation to-morrow at two o'clock, then on Tuesday we will finish our presentation on all counts.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will expect to have General Warlimont and Halder presented here before the Soviet case finishes, not for the Soviet prosecution to ask them questions but for them to be cross-examined by the defence if the defence so wish, but that may take place at any time that is convenient to you. If you wish, they could be called at two o'clock on Monday; if you prefer, at the end of the Soviet presentation, either on Tuesday afternoon or on Wednesday morning, whichever is convenient to you.

GENERAL RUDENKO: As I already stated, the Soviet prosecution did not think of introducing either Halder or Warlimont. The Soviet prosecution did not object that, on the request of the defence counsel Halder and Warlimont be subjected to cross-examination. As far as I can remember, as far back as last December the Tribunal granted the application of the defence to call Halder into Court as a witness. Wherefore it seems to me - and as to an expeditious presentation of material by the Soviet prosecution, it really will not influence the examination of essential questions - that the examination of the witnesses Warlimont and Halder should be made in the trial during the presentation of evidence by defence counsel.

As far as I know, in the application of the defendant Keitel, which was presented to the Tribunal, Halder and Warlimont are indicated as witnesses, and the defendant Keitel and his attorney applied for examination of them as witnesses on behalf of the defence.

On the basis of this, I consider that the examination of these witnesses should be made during the presentation of evidence by the defence counsel.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal understands that both General Warlimont and General Halder are here in Nuremberg. Is that so?


THE PRESIDENT: Probably the most convenient course would be for the Tribunal to see exactly what order the Tribunal made with reference to their being called. We will look up the shorthand notes and see exactly what order we made, and deal with the matter on Monday morning. In the meantime, on Monday morning we will continue, as you said is convenient to you, the applications by Dr. Horn for the defendant Ribbentrop and the applications by Dr. Nelte on behalf of the defendant Keitel, and we shall sit from two until four o'clock only on Monday afternoon.

(The Tribunal adjourned until February 25, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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