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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
12th March to 22nd March, 1946

Eighty-Fifth Day: Tuesday, 19th March, 1946
(Part 4 of 8)

[Page 222]


Q. Mr. Dahlerus, will you tell me whether I understood your last answer to Dr. Stahmer correctly? Did you say "I then realised that it was on 26th September that his" - that is Goering's - "aim had been to split Poland and Great Britain and to occupy Poland with the consent of Great Britain"? Is that right?

A. Yes, it is correct, but I should like to say it was the German Government, including Goering.

Q. Wait ... the German Government. Thank you. Now, I just want you to tell the Tribunal quite shortly why you did not realise that aim earlier.

DR. STAHMER: As far as I understood the witness's answer before, he said in answer to my question that that was Hitler's opinion. The witness did not speak of Goering at all.

THE PRESIDENT: You will be able to re-examine him.


Q. Now, I want you just to explain to the Tribunal - and listen to the question I put to you - why you did not understand that aim at the time. Your original object in seeing Goering at the beginning of July was to inform him that British public opinion had hardened and would not stand another act of aggression; that is right, is it not?

A. Yes.

Q. The reason you went to Goering is shown in Page 8 of your book, if you have the English version.

A. Yes.

Q. And, Mr. Dahlerus, I want you to be absolutely sure that when I quote your book I do not take anything out of its context. I shall try to make it as short as I can. Just before the break on Page 8 you say this:

"The essence of National Socialism was bellicose and aggressive and completely devoid of all moral scruples in its dealings with other nations. Hitler and his protígí Ribbentrop thirsted after conquest. It was said that Goering had energetically striven for a peaceful solution of the Munich crisis, and this had lessened his popularity within the German Government."
That was the reason you went to Goering?

A. Yes.

Q. And when you put your point of view to Goering, his first reaction was that the British Government were bluffing over Danzig and Poland.

A. Yes.

[Page 223]

Q. And you wanted, and succeeded in arranging, the first meeting in order to convince Goering that, according to British public opinion, the British Government was not bluffing, is that right?

A. Yes, that is correct.

Q. Now, I just want you to turn to Page 29 of your book, at the very top of the page, which describes the end of your conversation with the defendant Goering in the train before the meeting at the beginning of August. Do you remember?

A. Yes.

Q. Goering explained what his aim was. And if you look at the second line: "This was a mutual agreement regarding the holding of an Anglo-German conference..." And note the next words, Mr. Dahlerus, "with plenipotentiary representatives from both Governments." One matter which Goering had always made clear was that he would demand the return of Danzig and certain rights over the Corridor - the Polish Corridor - is that not right?

A. Yes.

Q. And from the very start he wanted a plenipotentiary conference at which territory could, if necessary, be ceded to Germany, did he not?

A. Evidently.

Q. Now, I want you to come straight on to 24th August, when you saw Goering and he asked you to go to London. One of the points that he wanted you to stress was that he and the German Government thought that there had been a great improvement in their military situation because of the German-Soviet Treaty.

A. That is correct.

Q. And the other - if you turn to the bottom of Page 35 in your book and then look at the top of Page 36:

"The reason was his disbelief that the German Foreign Office would be able or willing to establish a sufficiently close contact with the British Foreign Office."
A. That is correct.

Q. Now, you remember that day that you had the conversation with him, and later on he rang you up at 11.30 before your departure?

A. Yes.

Q. I just want you to tell the Tribunal one or two of the things that he did not tell you on that day. He did not tell you, did he, that two days before, on 22nd August, at Obersalzberg, Hitler had told him and other German leaders that he - Hitler - had decided in the spring that a conflict with Poland was bound to come? He did not tell you that, did he?

A. I never had any indication or disclosure on the declared policy on 11th April, or 23rd May, or 22nd August.

Q. You never heard of - that is Document 798-PS, the one of 22nd August - you told us you never heard of the "Fall Weiss" that had been prepared in April, but I want to get it quite clear about the other one, Document 75-L, of 23rd May. He never told you that Hitler had said to him on that day that Danzig is not the subject of the dispute at all. "It is a question of expanding our living space in the East." And I think he also did not tell you that Hitler had said on that day, "Our task is to isolate Poland, the success of the isolation will be decisive." He never spoke to you about isolating Poland?

A. He never indicated anything in that direction at all.

Q. But I think he did tell you in the earlier interview that he was going to see M. Lipski, the Polish Ambassador.

A. Yes.

Q. He did not tell you, as I understand you, that he was going to inform M. Lipski that the main obstacle to any diminution of the tension between the two countries was Poland's alliance with Great Britain. He did not tell you that, did he?

[Page 224]

A. No.

Q. That is Exhibit GB 29, Document 72-PS, Page 119. So that, while he was asking you to go to England to deal with, one side of the matter, he was dealing with M. Lipski on the other. I just want to get a clear picture of the situation on the 24th. Did he tell you that the decision had been made to attack Poland on the morning of the 26th?

A. No, in no way whatsoever.

Q. Now, you were asked to go with these general purposes, as I put them to you? You know now, Mr. Dahlerus, that on the next day the note verbale was given to Sir Neville Henderson by Hitler, on the 26th.

A. Yes.

Q. And that note, as distinguished from what was said to you later on, stated in general terms that the Polish question must be solved, so that the effect of the plans, as they stood on the evening of the 24th, when Goering rang you up, was that you were going off in the morning with the expression of a general desire for a peaceful solution. The note verbale was to be given to Sir Neville Henderson on the afternoon of the 25th and at that time the plan was that Poland would be attacked on the morning of the 26th when you had delivered your message and Sir Neville had sent on the note verbale. That was the position?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, did Goering ever tell you why the plan of attack was changed from the 26th to the 31st?

A. No, he never mentioned anything about the plan of attack; nor that it was changed.

Q. He did not tell you that - this is Document 90-TC, Exhibit GB 64 - I quote Goering's own words: "On the day when England gave her official guarantee to Poland" - that was the 25th - "the Fuehrer called me on the telephone and told me that he had stopped the planned invasion of Poland. I asked him whether this was just temporary or for good. He said, 'No, I will have to see whether we can eliminate British intervention.' So then I asked him, 'Do you think that it will be any different within four or five days?"' Goering never told you that, at the time you were being sent to London, all that was wanted was to eliminate British intervention?

A. Not at all.

Q. Well, now, I just want to state again, quite shortly: you went and came back with Lord Halifax's letter. I want to make this quite clear, Mr. Dahlerus: Throughout, Lord Halifax made it clear that Great Britain was going to stand by her obligations to Poland, did he not?

A. Yes.

Q. And then on 27th August, the night of 26th to 27th, at 12.30 a.m., you had this interview with Hitler. Now, to you, Mr. Dahlerus, Hitler for the first time made it clear that his terms were, that Great Britain should help Germany in securing Danzig and the Corridor.

A. Yes.

Q. Not "rights in the Corridor," but "the Corridor." Do you remember that, when you told that to Mr. Chamberlain, he was surprised at the difference between your account and that given to Sir Neville Henderson?

A. That is correct.

Q. Now, I am not going to go through it all again, but I just want you to help me from your own book, which you say was carefully and objectively written, as to the state of mind of the rulers of Germany at that time. Now, would you first of all look, with regard to Hitler, on Page 47? That is the passage you have already told the Tribunal about, where he was shouting, "Dann werde ich U-Boote bauen."

A. Yes.

[Page 225]

Q. Now, just let me put it to you - it is quite short - how you described it at the time, and you tell me if it is right. "If there should be a war," he said, "Dann werde ich U-Boote bauen, U-Boote, U-Boote, U-Boote!" And he raised his voice each time?

A. Yes.

Q. "The voice became more indistinct and finally one could not follow him at all. Then he pulled himself together, raised his voice as though addressing a large audience and shrieked - shrieked - 'Ich werde Flugzeuge bauen, Flugzeuge bauen, Flugzeuge, Flugzeuge, und ich werde meine Feinde vernichten.'"
And you go on to say:
"Just then he seemed more like a phantom from a story book than a real person. I stared at him in amazement and turned to see how Goering reacted, but he did not turn a hair."
Now, would you mind turning to Page 53. No, just one sentence before the bit I read on Page 47, I just want to get that clear. You say: "His voice became blurred and his behaviour was that of a completely abnormal person."

Now, you turn to Page 53? I want you to tell the Tribunal your impression of the way he treated the defendant Goering. The Tribunal has heard a lot about the relations between them. At the bottom of the page you say this:

"From the very beginning of our conversation I had resented his manner toward Goering, his most intimate friend and comrade from the years of struggle. His desire to dominate was explicable, but to require such obsequious humility as Goering now exhibited from his closest collaborator seemed to me excessively repellent and nauseating."
Would you just turn over to Page 54, the fifth line from the end?
"I realised that I was dealing with a person who could not be considered normal."
That was your considered view, was it not, Mr. Dahlerus?

A. It was the opinion I formed the first time I met him.

Q. That was the Chancellor of Germany. Now I want you - for a moment - to deal more with the Foreign Minister of Germany, according to the impressions that you formed. Generally, I think you got the impression that von Ribbentrop was doing everything he could to interrupt and spoil your endeavours?

A. That is correct.

Q. But according to Goering he went further than that. Will you look at Page 76? This is, you remember, when you were just saying goodbye to Goering, on leaving, I think, for your last visit to London, after he had drawn the map, which I will come to in a moment. Did you say this:

"Before we parted, he again went over the German standpoint, saying, finally that if we never met again he would like to take the opportunity of thanking me for what I had done, and for my tireless energy in the cause of peace. I was somewhat surprised by this farewell and could not help replying that in all probability we should meet again soon. His expression changed and he said solemnly: 'Perhaps; but certain people are doing what they can to prevent your getting out of this alive.'"
That was said seriously and solemnly, Mr. Dahlerus?

A. Exactly.

Q. And you go on:

"At a meeting in October of the same year Goering told me that Ribbentrop had tried to arrange for my plane to crash. Hence Goering's solemn mien when he bade me farewell."

[Page 226]

A. Well, he had mentioned Ribbentrop's name just a minute before, and when he spoke about the plane crashing, he used the word "he." I assumed he meant Ribbentrop.

Q. That was the Foreign Minister, according to Goering.

I want you now to turn to Page 100, because I want to correct a few things. This describes events of 1st September, the afternoon of the day on which Poland had been attacked, and you saw the defendant Goering, I think, in the Air Ministry or at one of his offices. Do you see it? It is just before the second break.

"To him"-that is, to Goering-"everything was lined up according to a plan which nothing could upset. Finally he called in the State secretaries Korner and Gritzbach, gave them a long harangue, and presented each of them with a sword of honour, which he hoped they would carry gloriously through the war. It was as if all these people were in some crazy state of intoxication."
Are these your words?

A. Yes.

Q. And that is the impression? Of course you mean that they were mentally intoxicated with the idea of war?

A. They had changed their frame of mind within a short time.

Q. So that, of the three principal people in Germany, the Chancellor was abnormal, the Reichsmarschall, or the Field- Marshal as he was then, was in a crazy state of intoxication, and, according to the defendant Goering, the Foreign Minister was a would-be murderer who wanted to sabotage your plane?

(The witness nodded.)

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