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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
23rd March to 3rd April, 1946

Ninetieth Day: Monday, 25rd March, 1946
(Part 2 of 11)

[Page 15]

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, you are not forgetting, are you, the Tribunal's ruling that this is not the opportunity for making a speech, but simply the occasion for introducing documents and calling witnesses. You will have the opportunity of making your speech at a later stage.

DR. SEIDL: Yes, indeed. I do not intend to make a speech, but I intend to say a few introductory words on a document which I shall submit to the Tribunal.

Germany, in the secret documents, declared herself disinterested in Lithuania, Latvia, Esthonia, and Finland.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, we have not yet seen the document. If you are going to put in the document, put in the document.

DR. SEIDL: Yes, indeed. I can submit the document at once. It is an affidavit of the former ambassador Dr. Friedrich Gauss. In the year 1939 he was the Chief of the Legal Department of the Foreign Office. He was present at the negotiations as the escort of the then German plenipotentiary in Moscow, and it was he who drafted the non- aggression pact which has already been submitted as an exhibit, as well as the secret agreement, the contents of which I want to submit now to the Tribunal as facts which are important as evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, will you hand in the document?

DR. SEIDL: Certainly. However, I intend to read parts of this document later.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, the Tribunal does not quite understand what this document is, because it is not included in your document book, and it does not appear that you made any application for it or made any reference to it, and it is in German; it is not translated.

[Page 16]

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, when I prepared the document book for the defendant Hess, I did not then have this affidavit in my possession. It dates from the 15th March, 1946. At that time, when the relevancy of the applications for defendant Hess were discussed, I had then no definite knowledge of the context which would have enabled me to make a proper application. The excerpts which I intend to read from this document are short, and it will be possible for them to be translated immediately by the interpreters present here in the Courtroom.

THE PRESIDENT: Have you a copy for the prosecution?

DR. SEIDL: Certainly, a German copy.

THE PRESIDENT: I am afraid that would not be of any use to me. I do not know whether it is to all the members of the prosecution. Have the prosecuting counsel any objection to passages being read from this document?

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, I did not know about the existence of this document and I therefore strenuously object to having it read into the record. I would wish that the procedure established by the Tribunal be observed by the defence. The prosecution, in the past, when presenting its evidence invariably presented copies of these documents to the defence counsel. Counsel for Hess is now presenting a completely unknown document, and the prosecution - with every reason - would like to familiarise itself with this document beforehand. I do not know what secrets or what secret agreements counsel for the defence is talking about, and on what facts he is basing his statements. I would therefore, to say the least, define them as unfounded. I request that the document should not be read into the record.

DR. SEIDL: The prosecutor of the Soviet Union states that he has no knowledge of the existence of this secret document, which shall be established by this affidavit. Under these circumstances I am compelled to move that Foreign Commissar Molotov of the Soviet Union be called as a witness, so that it can be established firstly, whether this agreement was actually concluded, secondly, what the contents of this agreement are, and thirdly -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, the first thing for you to do is to have a translation of this document made, and until you have a translation of this document made the Tribunal is not prepared to hear you upon it. We do not know what the document contains.

DR. SEIDL: As to what the document contains, I already wanted to explain that before. In the document there is... THE PRESIDENT: No, the Tribunal is not prepared to hear from you what the document contains. We want to see the document itself and see it in English and also in Russian. I do not mean, of course, you have to do it yourself, Dr. Seidl. If you would furnish this copy to the prosecution they will have it translated into the various languages and then, after that has been done, we can reconsider the matter.

DR. SEIDL: Very well. I turn then to another document, the reading of which can certainly raise no objections, because it is a document which has already been submitted by the prosecution. It is the address made by the Fuehrer to the Commanders-in-Chief of the Armed Forces on the 22nd August, 1939. It was submitted by the prosecution of the Soviet Union as Document PS-789 and Exhibit USSR 29. I quote from page 6 of the German photostat:

"Thereupon Hitler declared ..."
THE PRESIDENT: Have you got it in your document book or not, I mean just for convenience?

DR. SEIDL: The document was already submitted by the prosecution in full.

THE PRESIDENT: You mean it is not here: I have not got the document before me. It is not in your document book.

DR. SEIDL: No, it is not in the document book because the Tribunal has already ruled that each defendant's counsel has the right to refer to any document which has already been submitted by the prosecution. I quote:

[Page 17]

"I have gradually brought about a change in Russia's attitude toward us. In connection with the trade agreement, we got into a political conversation, resulting in a proposal of a non-aggression pact. Then came a further proposal from Russia. Four days ago I took a special step which has resulted in Russia answering yesterday that she is ready for settlement. Direct contact with Stalin has been established. Von Ribbentrop will conclude the treaty the day after tomorrow. Now Poland is in the position in which I wanted her to be."
Mr. President, gentlemen: I had now the intention to call the witness Bohle who has already been approved by the Tribunal. The defendant Hess, however, has asked me to forego the personal appearance of that witness and to read an affidavit concerning the facts of evidence in reference to which the witness was to be heard.

I have prepared such an affidavit, and undoubtedly it would accelerate the proceedings if the Tribunal would permit the reading of this affidavit. If, however, the Tribunal should have the opinion that -

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I have not had the opportunity of seeing the affidavit. As previously advised, if the witness covers the ground for which he was asked, I should want him for cross-examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Where is the witness?

DR. SEIDL: He is here. With the permission of the Tribunal I would like to call the witness Bohle now.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you mean to call him or to read his affidavit?

DR. SEIDL: Yes, indeed; since Sir David Maxwell Fyfe apparently protests against the reading of the affidavit, I would like to call the witness.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I have not seen the affidavit, of course, my Lord, so at the moment, as I say, if the affidavit covers the ground that the witness should speak upon, then I shall want to cross-examine him.

THE PRESIDENT: Unless the prosecution are agreeable that the affidavit should be put in, the witness must be called, but if the prosecution are agreeable to the affidavit being read and then the witness presented for cross-examination, the Tribunal is quite willing that should be done.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I do not mind that in the least, my Lord. Of course, I am in slight difficulty not knowing what is in the affidavit.

THE PRESIDENT: Perhaps the best course would be for the Tribunal to have a ten-minute adjournment now and you could perhaps just see what is in the affidavit.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: It is a pleasure, my Lord.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal did not wish to hurry counsel but we thought we had better get on with other witnesses and this document can be translated and considered and possibly dealt with after the main adjournment.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If your Lordship pleases, I have not had the chance of reading the translation. A preliminary view of the affidavit convinced my staff that it was not of very great importance, and I was going to consider whether the quickest way might be to let the affidavit be read if the Tribunal would then permit me to read three documents which I was going to put in cross-examination to the witness. That might be more convenient than to take the course which your Lordship suggests, of waiting until we have seen the full affidavit and then consider what would be the best way to deal with it.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, you have perhaps seen part of the document and you can perhaps judge better which would be the more convenient course. Whichever you think more convenient.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Well, I am quite content if Dr. Seidl reads it, but it would have to be on the terms that the documents which I was going to put in cross-examination to the witness are read. [Page 18] THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal think he had better be called.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: If your Lordship pleases.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Seidl?

DR. SEIDL: If I understood the High Tribunal correctly, it does not wish to have the affidavit read but to have the witness interrogated before the Tribunal.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, as soon as the affidavit has been translated and the prosecution have had an opportunity of considering it, they can let us know whether they think it will be better to treat the affidavit as the examination of the witness, and he must then be produced here for the purpose of cross-examination, unless you prefer to examine him orally yourself.

DR. SEIDL: I believe that under these circumstances it would be best to call the witness immediately to the witness stand.


(The witness ERNST WILHELM BOHLE took the stand.)


Q. Will you tell me your name?

A. Ernst Wilhelm Bohle.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth and withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeats the oath.)


Q. Witness, you were ultimately the leader of the Ausland Organization of the N.S.D.A.P.? Is that correct?

A. Yes.

Q. You were also State Secretary of the Foreign Office?

A. Yes.

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, Mr. Dodd of the American prosecution has just made the suggestion that, in order to save time, it might be possible to follow the same procedure as in the case of witness Blaha, that is, first of all, to read the affidavit in the presence of the witness and then afterwards hear him in cross-examination.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, certainly.

DR. SEIDL (to the witness):

You signed a sworn affidavit which I shall now read to you.

"1. The Ausland Organization of the N.S.D.A.P. was founded on the 1st of May, 1931, at Hamburg upon instigation of some Germans abroad. Gregor Strasser, Reich Organization Chief at the time, appointed as its leader Reichstag deputy of the N.S.D.A.P., Dr. Hans Nieland.

I myself became an honorary member of the Ausland Organization in December, 1931, and was taken into the Party on the 1st of March, 1932. On the 8th of May, 1933, Dr. Nieland resigned as leader of the Ausland Organization after becoming, in the meantime, a member of the Hamburg Government and also, as a German at home, less interested in questions concerning Germans abroad.

On the basis of my experience and my connection abroad - I was born in England and raised in South Africa - I was charged with the leadership of the Ausland Organization.

2. The purpose of the Ausland Organization was, upon the assumption of power to hold together in an organized way the approximately 3,300 Party members living outside the boundaries of Germany. Beyond that, through them the Germans abroad, who could have only a very vague idea of the political happenings at home, were to be taught the philosophy and the political programme of the new State.

3. Only native Germans could become members of the Party. The

[Page 19]

acceptance of foreigners or former Germans who had acquired citizenship in another State was strictly prohibited.

4. The basic principle of the Ausland Organization of the Party concerning its attitude to foreign countries was found on the Ausland pass of every native German member of the Party in the following passage: 'Follow the laws of the country whose guest you are. Let the citizens take care of the inner policy of the land where you are a guest; do not mix in these matters, even by way of conversation.'

This principle was basic for the work and the attitude of the Ausland Organization, with respect to foreign countries, from the day of its founding up to its end. I myself referred to this in many public speeches, and in so doing coined, among others, the phrase: 'National Socialism honours foreign folkdom because it loves its own.'

5. My speeches in Porchester Hall in London on the 2nd of October, 1937, and in Budapest at the end of 1938 give a comprehensive picture of the attitude of the Ausland Organization of the N.S.D.A.P. toward foreign countries.

Winston Churchill in late summer of 1937 repeatedly attacked the activity of the Ausland Organization in newspaper articles, and in his well-known article, 'Friendship with Germany,' in the London 'Evening Standard' of the 17th of September, 1937, designated it as an encumbrance on German-English relations. In the same article he said that he was ready to converse with me in the most cordial manner about this question. The German Embassy in London told the Foreign Office at that time that a question by Churchill in the House of Commons regarding the activity of the Ausland Organization would be specially not desired. As a result, a meeting between Churchill and myself was advocated as urgent. This took place on the day of my speech to the Reich Germans in London, in Winston Churchill's London home, and lasted more than an hour. I had ample opportunity in this thoroughly cordial conversation, to describe the activity of the Ausland Organization and to dispel his misgivings. At the end he accompanied me to my car, and let himself be photographed with me, in order, as he said, to show the world that we were parting as friends. There was no inquiry in the House of Commons. Since that day Churchill emitted no word of objection again to the activity of the Ausland Organization. My speech of the same date, which was published shortly afterwards in English in pamphlet form by an English concern, was very favourably received. 'The Times' published from it under the heading: 'Herr Bohle's Plea for an Understanding!' After this conversation, Churchill wrote me a letter in which he voiced his satisfaction with the result of our conversation.

6. In the trial concerning the murder of the Landesgruppenleiter of the Ausland Organization in Switzerland, Wilhelm Gustloff, which was held in a Swiss court at Chur in 1936, the legality of the activity of the Ausland Organization was the subject of investigation by the Court. The defendant, David Frankfurter, was sentenced to eighteen years imprisonment. From what I remember, I can say that the Swiss authorities, who were in no way friendly to Nazis, had to testify that Gustloff and the Landesgruppe of the Ausland Organization had never in any way given reason for objection with regard to their activity. The testimony of Federal Councillor Baumann, who, to my knowledge, was then Minister of the Interior and of the Police in Switzerland, was decisive at that time.

7. I should further like to point out in this connection that after the outbreak of the war the Landesgruppen of the Ausland Organization in neutral countries continued to function, right until the end of the war. That is especially true of Switzerland, Sweden, and Portugal.

At the latest, from 1943 on, the Reich would hardly have been able to react

[Page 20]

to an act of prohibition. If the Ausland Organization had come into conflict with the internal laws of these countries, prohibition certainly would have been the final result.

8. Apart from the indisputable legality of the Ausland Organization, as its leader, I have repeatedly expressed the idea that the Auslandsdeutschen (Germans abroad) would certainly be the last people who would let themselves be misused as warmongers, or as conspirators against the peace. From bitter experience they knew that with the outbreak of a war they would face at once internment, persecution, confiscation of property, and destruction of their economic existence.

9. As a result of knowledge of the situation abroad, no one knew better than the Auslandsdeutschen, that any activity in the nature of a 'Fifth Column' would be just as foolish as damaging to the interests of the Reich. To my knowledge, moreover, the expression 'Fifth Column' can be traced back to the Spanish Civil War. It is in any case a foreign invention. When France attacked Madrid with four columns of troops, it was asserted that a 'Fifth Column' consisting of nationalist elements was doing its seditious work underground within the besieged city.

10. There is no basis whatsoever for applying the term 'Fifth Column' to the Ausland Organization of the N.S.D.A.P. If this assertion were true, it would mean that members of the Ausland Organization working together with local opposition elements in one or more foreign countries had been delegated, or had themselves tried, to undermine this State from within. Any such assertion would be pure invention.

11. Neither from the former Deputy to the Fuehrer, Rudolf Hess, nor from me, as the leader of the Ausland Organization, has this organization, or members of this organization, in any way received orders, the execution of which might be considered as 'Fifth Column' activity. Even Hitler himself never gave me any directive in that respect. To summarize, I can say that the Ausland Organization at no time, as long as I was its leader, displayed any activity in the sense of a 'Fifth Column.' Never did the Deputy to the Fuehrer give orders or impart directives to the Ausland Organization which might have led to such activity. On the contrary, Rudolf Hess most urgently desired that members of the Ausland Organization should under no circumstances take part in the internal affairs of the country in which they were living as guests.

12. Of course, it is known that just as were citizens of the then enemy countries, so also were Germans, employed in the espionage and intelligence service abroad. This activity had however nothing at all to do with membership in the Ausland Organization. In order not to imperil the permanency of the Ausland Organization groups, which worked legally and entirely in the open, I constantly demanded that members of the Ausland Organization should not be used for such purposes, or that I should previously be given the opportunity to relieve them of their functions within the Ausland Organization."

And that is the end of the statement of the witness Bohle. For the moment I have no questions to ask the witness, your Honour.

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