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

Ninety-First Day: Tuesday, 26th March, 1946
(Part 3 of 7)

[Page 66]

THE TRIBUNAL (Mr. Biddle): Sir David, is there anything in the Versailles Treaty that either calls for disarmament by the signatories other than Germany

[Page 67]

or which looks to such disarmament; and, if there is, could you give us the reference to it?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Yes, it is the preamble to the Military Clauses. That is the point which is usually relied on. It is about four lines at the beginning of the Military Clauses, and, in quite general terms, it looks to a general disarmament after Germany has disarmed. Of course, the position was that - I think I have got the dates right - disarmament was accepted. Whether, in view of the evidence in this case, it should have been accepted does not matter; it was accepted in 1927. After that, you may remember, there were a number of disarmament conferences which examined that question, and eventually in 1933 Germany left the then existing disarmament conference.

Now, I am trying to be entirely unbiased. I do not want to put the prosecution view or the defence view, but that is the position.

MR. BIDDLE: I am not quite clear. When you say "accepted," you meant that the extent of the disarmament called for had been accepted by Germany?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: The other way around: that Germany's response to the demand of Versailles was accepted by the Allies in 1927, and the Disarmament Commission which had been in Germany then left Germany, under, I think, a French General, Denoue.

MR. BIDDLE: Then, what I understand you to argue is that nothing contained in this folder has anything to do with that possible issue.


MR. BIDDLE: That is the point.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: It is not on that issue. I mean we will deal with that issue when we come to it. I rather thought from some words that Dr. Stahmer dropped that that would be one of the points which we should meet in the general argument on law which will be presented, which the defence counsel have -

DR. SEIDL (counsel for defendant Hess): I believe that Sir David is under a slight misconception. In book three of the document book for the defendant Hess, there are also a number of citations of foreign statesmen that refer to this military clause in the Versailles Treaty and in which it is stated that Germany fulfilled its obligations in the Versailles Treaty but that the reciprocal obligations in it for the opposite side were not fulfilled.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: Well, I am sorry. I did not remember any. I have read it through, and there may be some collateral matters dealing with that, but - and I do not think that I am doing Dr. Seidl's great industry in collecting these matters an injustice in saying that if they do exist they are collateral and the main point of this is an attack on the political and economic clauses of the Treaty. I hope that I have done him justice. I certainly intended to. That is the impression made on me.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)

THE MARSHAL: If it pleases the Tribunal, may I report that the defendant Streicher will be absent from this session of the Court.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal rules that evidence as to the injustice of the Versailles Treaty or whether it was made under duress is inadmissible, and it therefore rejects volume 3 of the documents on behalf of the defendant Hess.

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, your Honours. Since volume 3 of the document book for the defendant Rudolf Hess is not admissible as documentary evidence, I am, so far as the submission of documents is concerned, at the end of my submission of evidence.

Now, we are only concerned further with the affidavit of Ambassador Gauss which I have already submitted, and I ask you not to decide on the admissibility of this document until I have had an opportunity to present arguments on the

[Page 68]

relevance of it and of the secret treaty. But I should like to point out that with this affidavit, only the facts and the contents of this secret treaty are to be proved and therefore I shall read only excerpts from it, so that other events and the history prior to the treaty are not to be dealt with by me.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, we understand that this affidavit of the witness Gauss is now being translated and is going to be submitted to the various prosecutors. They will then inform us of their position and we shall be able to see whether it is admissible or not; and the prosecution will likewise be able to tell us whether they want to have the Ambassador here for the purpose of cross-examining him.


THE PRESIDENT: So we must postpone that until we get the translations.

DR. SEIDL: I had then further the intention of calling the defendant himself as a witness. In view of his attitude as to the question of the competency of this Tribunal, he has asked me, however, to dispense with this procedure. I therefore forego the testimony of the defendant as a witness and have no further evidence to put in at this point.


Then the Tribunal will now deal with the case against the defendant Ribbentrop.

DR. HORN (counsel for the defendant von Ribbentrop): Dr. Horn, on behalf of the defendant Ribbentrop. Your Lordship, your Honours. My client, Joachim von Ribbentrop, has instructed me at the beginning of the evidence to make the following statement for him:

"As Foreign Minister for the Reich, I had to carry through the directions and orders of Adolf Hitler concerning foreign policy. For the measures of foreign policy undertaken by me I accept full responsibility."
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, I thought defendant's counsel knew that the rule which we have laid down is that at this stage no speeches shall be made, but that the evidence should be called, the oral evidence should be called, and the documents should be briefly referred to and offered in evidence. Did you not understand that?

DR. HORN: I did not know, Mr. President, that one might not submit a statement on behalf of his client.

THE PRESIDENT: Well, the Tribunal has laid down on several occasions I think, verbally, and certainly once in writing, that no speeches can be made now, but that speeches can be made at the time laid down in the Charter. The present opportunity is for all evidence to be given and for documents to be offered in evidence, with such explanatory observations upon the documents as may be necessary.

DR. HORN: The former Foreign Minister for the Reich, Joachim von Ribbentrop, is, according to the general Indictment, and according to the trial brief of the British delegation and the verbally presented special charges, held responsible for all crimes cited in paragraph 6 of the Charter of the International Military Tribunal.

Sir David Maxwell Fyfe, in the session of the International Military Tribunal of 8th January, 1946, described the charges against my client as follows:

Firstly, the using of his offices and of his personal influence and close connection with Hitler to facilitate the taking over of power through the N.S.D.A.P. and the preparation of wars.

Secondly, the participation in the political planning, preparation of the National Socialist conspiracy for wars of aggression ...

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Dr. Horn, are you again making a speech or what are you doing?

DR. HORN: No, Mr. President. I am just enumerating on one page how I plan to arrange my evidence, and I ask to be allowed to divide it in this way.


[Page 69]

DR. HORN: Secondly, Sir David Maxwell Fyfe adduced his participation in the political planning and preparation of the National Socialist conspiracy for aggressive war and the wars in violation of international treaties. He accordingly bears the responsibility for the execution of the foreign policy planned by the political conspirators.

Thirdly, participation in and approval of Crimes Against the Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes Against Humanity, especially crimes against persons and property in the occupied territories.

The defendant von Ribbentrop has declared himself not guilty of all crimes charged against him. To refute the charges made against him, I will begin now my presentation of evidence.

The honourable prosecutor at the beginning of his statements quoted from Exhibit USA 5, Document 2829-Ps, and brought out that the defendant von Ribbentrop was an SS Obergruppenfuehrer. He asserted that this rank was not an honorary one. In opposition to this, the defendant asserts that the rank of an SS Gruppenfuehrer - and later of Obergruppenfuehrer, bestowed by Hitler, was bestowed upon him only on an honorary basis, because Hitler wished that the members of the Government should appear on official occasions in uniform, and the rank of an SS Gruppenfuehrer appeared in keeping with the official position of the defendant. The defendant neither took part in the SS services nor led an S.S. unit. Neither did he have any suitable military training and preparation for this high military position.

To demonstrate this I will submit evidence from the defendant himself as a witness.

The prosecution has asserted that von Ribbentrop, after the taking over of power, for a short period of time, was adviser of the Party in foreign political matters. This assertion is refuted by Document 2829-Ps which is contained in the document book in the hands of the Tribunal. I will read paragraph III, where it says:

"Foreign policy collaborator to the Fuehrer, from 1933 to 1938."
This is the first document of the Ribbentrop document book. According to it, in the years 1933 to 1938 von Ribbentrop was only Hitler's adviser in foreign political questions. The honourable prosecutor claimed, with reference to Document D-472, Exhibit GB-130, this is the second document in the document book "Ribbentrop", it concerns an excerpt from the records filed for publicity work, that the defendant even before 1932 worked for the N.S.D.A.P., after he had entered the Party service in 1930. The prosecution cites paragraph II, lines 6-9, of this document, which says:
"With reference to his foreign contacts, he arranged new connections with England and France, which he, having been in the service of the N.S.D.A.P. from 1930, knew how to extend to political circles."
The statement is not correct. The defendant was until 1932 member of no political party in Germany, particularly not of the N.S.D.A.P. As far as his political views were concerned, he leaned toward the German Volkspartei - that is the party of Stressmann.

In the year 1932 the defendant got to know Hitler personally. His views on domestic and foreign political matters brought him ...

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Dr. Horn, I do not want to interrupt you unnecessarily, but I do not understand what you are doing now. You seem to me to be stating a part of the evidence which presumably the defendant von Ribbentrop will give, and, if so, when he gives it it will be cumulative to your statement. Also, you seem to be referring to documents which have been produced by the prosecution and answering them yourself. Well, that is not what the Tribunal desires at this stage. It quite understands that at the appropriate time you will make whatever argument you think right with reference to the evidence which has been brought forward on behalf of the defendant von Ribbentrop. But, as

[Page 70]

I have already said, I thought quite clearly, what the Tribunal wants done now is to hear all the evidence on behalf of von Ribbentrop and to have offered in evidence the documents upon which you will rely, with any short explanatory statement as to the meaning of the documents. And if there is any part of a document which has been produced by the prosecution but not cited by them, which you think it necessary to refer to, as explanatory of the part of the document which has been used by them, then you are at liberty to put in, to offer in evidence that part of the document with any short explanatory words that you wish. But I do not understand what you are doing now except making a speech.

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