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 5 of 8)

[SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE continues his cross examination of Birger Dahlerus]

[Page 226]

Q. Just let us proceed, quite shortly, with what happened after that.

On the week-end of 26th and 27th August you went to England. You have told me that you did not know about the calling off of the attack on the morning of the 26th, and you did not know that the intention of Hitler was to eliminate English intervention. You did not know these points; so you went back to England on the 27th with these fuller terms, and the English answer was that, while they maintained their obligations, they hoped and recommended that the German and Polish Governments might begin negotiations between themselves with regard to the point?

A. Yes.

Q. And that was the answer that you brought back.

Now, I just want you to think for a moment of the interview that you had at breakfast time with Goering, I think in his train or in his headquarters, on 28th August. You will find it at Page 65 of the book, if you want to refresh your memory. At that time, did not Goering try to convince you that the return of Danzig and the Corridor would make no difference to Poland's military situation?

A. Yes.

Q. Because, illustrating it from his own war maps, he thought that Germany was in a position to defeat the Poles anyhow, whether they had the Corridor or whether they had not?

A. Yes.

Q. And his air forces and the troops were all in position to carry that out?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, I want you now to come to the question of the meeting at which the terms were given to Sir Neville Henderson. That was at 7.15 in the evening, on 29th August, and the meeting went on for some time. Do you remember that meeting?

A. Yes.

[Page 227]

Q. And then, as I think one of the counsel has elicited from you, the difficulty arose over the demand for a plenipotentiary to be back in twenty-four hours, as you have explained.

A. Yes.

Q. Now, I think Sir George Ogilvy Forbes told you that that meeting had gone very badly, and then at 11.30 you saw Goering, and Goering said much the same as Sir George Ogilvy Forbes as to how the meeting had gone.

A. Yes.

Q. And he said that what had upset the Chancellor was that Sir Neville Henderson had characterised or implied that this demand that the plenipotentiary should come within twenty- four hours was equivalent to an ultimatum.

A. Yes.

Q. Do you remember at that time that Goering underlined certain of the terms?

Will you turn to the preface of your book ...

A. Yes.

Q. You see the facsimile. Have you a copy?

A. I have the original here.

Q. Well, if you will just look at it. Now, it is in German. If you follow the German, I want just to read the bits which Goering has underlined, and I will read it in English and you check to see that I have got the right piece:

"For the rest, in making these proposals the German Government has never had any intention of touching Poland's vital interests or questioning the existence of an independent Polish State. The German Government, accordingly, in these circumstances agrees to accept the British Government's offer of its good offices in securing the dispatch to Berlin of a Polish emissary with full powers. It counts on the arrival of this emissary on Wednesday, 30th August, 1939. The German Government will immediately draw up proposals for a solution acceptable to itself, and will, if possible, place these at the disposal of the British Government before the arrival of the Polish negotiator."
That is the bit which the defendant Goering has underlined, just before the bit about the sending of the plenipotentiary.

A. Yes.

Q. So that there was no doubt that the defendant Goering was associating himself with the importance of that point.

A. Yes.

Q. Now, you remember that at that time, during that interview, that is, the night of the 29th, the defendant Goering made a great tirade against the Poles.

A. That is right.

Q. I am not going to go into that in detail; but then he said to you that the Fuehrer was preparing what I think in English is a "magnanimous offer."

A. Yes.

Q. And to show you the nature of the "magnanimous offer," he hedged in a portion of the bits of Poland. That is also in the preface to your book.

A. Yes.

Q. Now, there are two points about what he hedged in. In fact, it was much more than had been taken from Germany under the Treaty of Versailles.

Secondly, it was entirely different from what was cabled over by the defendant von Ribbentrop to Sir Neville Henderson the next night.

A. That is correct.

Q. And, Mr. Dahlerus, I do not think I can put it better than in your own words, it you will turn to Page 75. Is this how you record it in your book, the second break:

[Page 228]

"This map, a reproduction of which is given in this book, is extraordinarily interesting because it illustrates the rapidity and recklessness with which the decisions in this question were reached. I had the map with me when I left for London a few hours later, but it turned out that the boundaries drawn up on it differed very considerably from those given in the well-known Project Ribbentrop, presented at top speed to Henderson on the night between 30th and 31st August."
That is rather less than twenty-four hours later.

A. Yes.

Q. And then you go on to describe what it showed. Well, it showed this quite clearly, that twenty-four hours before that was cabled over to Sir Neville Henderson, the German Government had never seriously considered what portion of the Corridor it was going to claim and what portion it was not going to claim. Is that so? Goering was putting an entirely different thing to you the night before, was he not?

A. The first proposal I brought with me on Sunday morning, the 27th. Yes, there it was only the small Corridor, and they extended the claims according to this last plan.

Q. They extended the claim, so that the effect of what was put to you, what you were sent to announce - that a "magnanimous offer" was coming - was actually an extension of claims and equally, actually, quite different from what was suggested the next night by the defendant Ribbentrop.

A. That is correct.

Q, Now, I just want to ask you about an interview which took place on 31st August. You will find it at Page 87. It is the interview at which Sir George Ogilvy Forbes gave you an account of what M. Lipski had said. I want you just to tell me this: You did meet M. Lipski, did you not?

A. Yes.

Q. And, of course - obviously, the same could be said of everyone, I am sure of yourself also - M. Lipski was suffering from considerable strain in that most critical time?

A. He was very nervous.

Q. Very nervous. And did not Sir George Ogilvy Forbes tell you that M. Lipski made his opinion quite clear, that the German offer was a breach of Polish sovereignty, and that in his view Poland and France and England must stand firm and show a united front and that Poland, if left alone, would fight and die alone? That was M. Lipski's mood, was it not, at the time?

A. Yes.

Q. And with regard to the other matter: I am not going into the details, but there is a considerable and significant different between the Polish version of the telegram of instructions to M. Lipski and the version which the defendant Goering showed to you?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, on the morning of 1st September I think you saw Goering at 8 o'clock. Would it be a correct description of the way in which he broke the fact that he had attacked Poland to say that it was very gradual or slow, with Goering almost walking backwards, when he broke the news to you that the attack had taken place?

A. Well, so much so that I immediately phoned up London and got in contact with the Foreign Office and informed somebody that, according to the information I had received, the Poles had been attacked, and they naturally wondered what was happening to me when I gave that information.

Q. Yes, but he did eventually admit that they had attacked Poland, and then you had a further interview with Hitler. There is just one point I want you to clarify. I do not think you told the Tribunal about the time when he said he would fight for ten years. Look at Page 98.

[Page 229]

A. Yes.

Q. You see there, after saying: "'Will ich zehn Jahre kaempfen,' he brandished his fist and bent down so that it nearly touched the floor."

A. Yes.

Q. So I take it he was in the same state as at the time of your previous interview.

A. Well, if possible, more nervous.

Q. Now, there is just one final matter, if you would look at Page 102, and then I shall leave your book.

You remember you saw the defendant Goering on the morning of Saturday, 2nd September?

A. Yes.

Q. Now, you say this:

"To my surprise he was more inclined to listen to the viewpoints which I maintained, for, as soon as we had sat down in his private drawing-room car, he told me that there was talk of a mediation sponsored by Mussolini. Mussolini was said to be fervently trying to stop the war, and especially to prevent it from spreading."
The next sentence is:
"Goering said that he wanted to inaugurate a new Munich."
I do not want to put it unfairly, and therefore I ask you, Mr. Dahlerus, does the "he" in that sentence refer to Goering or to Mussolini?

A. I think it refers to Mussolini.

Q. You think it refers to Mussolini. That is what I suspected, and therefore I will not trouble you further about it, except to ask you this:

I have taken you briefly - I hope you will agree, fairly - through the points on this matter, and on these facts that I have put to you and with which you will agree - are they the basis of your opinion that the aim of the German Government, including Goering, was to split Poland and Great Britain, and to occupy Poland with the consent of Great Britain?

A. Well, if I had known the facts that I heard later ...

DR. STAHMER: I believe that this question goes too far. Therefore, I have to object to this question. It refers in general to the Government and to a definite number of person. Besides, it is an expression of opinion and not a fact about which the witness is to testify.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: The question was: are these facts the basis of your opinion?

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks it is a perfectly proper question and arises directly out of the examination-in- chief.


Q. Mr. Dahlerus, you were answering. I had asked you are these facts ...

DR. SAUTER (counsel for the defendant Funk): But then I should like to ask, Mr. President, that it be clarified what is to be understood under the term "German Government," of which the prosecutor speaks constantly. The German Government consists of a whole number of Ministers, and, if one speaks here continuously of the "German Government" without saying who is meant individually, then the impression is created as if each and every one of the Ministers was responsible and had participated in these negotiations, although, in fact, he knew nothing about it. I am representing one of these Ministers who knew nothing about these negotiations, and therefore I am interested that the prosecutor may be kind enough to clarify who actually is involved by the term "German Government." That is to say, whether the Minister of

[Page 230]

Economics, Funk, for instance, is also included or whether it refers only to two or three other gentlemen.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I do not suppose ...

THE PRESIDENT: We do not agree at all with what Dr. Sauter has said. We have already heard the defendant Goering at considerable length about what the Government consisted of, and it will be upon the defendants' counsel, when the time comes to argue the case, to argue that the Government did not include the members whom they represent.

Defendants' counsel do not seem to understand that what they call clarification is a matter which can be done in re- examination. Dr. Stahmer will have the opportunity of re- examining, and then can ask any questions that arise out of the cross-examination.


Q. I will put it, Mr. Dahlerus, in this way: Are these facts which you have heard and agreed with this afternoon the basis of the view which you expressed in answer to Dr. Stahmer's question this morning?

A. Yes. At the time I thought I could contribute something to preventing a new war, I could definitely prove that nothing was left undone by the British, by His Majesty's Government, to prevent war. But had I known what I know to- day, I would have realised that my efforts could not possibly succeed.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, there is one other point. I ask your Lordship's indulgence. Dr. Stahmer asked for the names of these English industrialists. My Lord, I am very anxious, as representative of the British Government, that there should be no concealment about this matter at all, and I should, therefore, ask, with all humility, that your Lordship would allow me to ask Mr. Dahlerus to give the names, simply for that reason.

THE PRESIDENT: Certainly, if you wish to.


Q. Mr. Dahlerus, will you tell us the names of the gentlemen whom you met on your wife's estate in Schleswig-Holstein?

A. Shall I read them or hand them in?

Q. Read them if you will.

A. The Honourable Charles McLarn, S. W. Rossen, A. Holden, Sir Robert Renig, Bryon S. Mountain, C. F. Spencer, T. Menceford.

Q. Thank you very much.

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