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-Third Day: Thursday, 28th March, 1946
(Part 1 of 7)

[Page 128]

DR. HORN: In accordance with the request of the Tribunal, I am now presenting in groups the documents not yet named, as follows:

First of all, the group concerning the Polish question. In my document book Ribbentrop Exhibit 200 - you will find a document which I am submitting to the Tribunal for judicial notice. In this document, Prime Minister Chamberlain, in a letter to Hitler dated August 22nd, 1939, defines his attitude regarding the conflict existing between Germany and Poland. In this connection he states, as one of the main causes of the conflict, the question of minorities. As proof of the fact that this minority question was already playing an important part when the Polish State came into being, I refer to Ribbentrop Exhibit 72, which I submit to the Tribunal for judicial notice. This contains observations by the German peace delegation on the peace conditions.

In a further document, Ribbentrop Exhibit 74, which I submit to the Tribunal for judicial notice, the President of the Supreme Council of the allied and associated Powers, Clemenceau, draws the attention of the Polish Minister President Paderewski to this problem. May I offer as proof -

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, I want to explain the position of the prosecution.

We have not yet received these documents, and therefore we are in the position that we have only been able to make tentative selection of those to which we object. All this book of documents has been objected to as far as we know. I only want to make it clear that we are admitting, without protest, the course taken by Dr. Horn on the basis of which your Lordship announced yesterday, that he is putting them in en bloc, subject to our right to object formally when we have the documents.

Therefore, it is only right that we must preserve our position, because I have arranged, and all my colleagues agree, that there should be objections to a number of these documents on our present state of knowledge.

DR. HORN: May I ask your Lordship to hear me for a moment.

THE PRESIDENT: Do you want to say something? Were you going to add something to what Sir David had said?

DR. HORN: In view of the objections raised by the prosecution may a general ruling now be made as to whether the defence has to submit to restrictions arising out of technical deficiencies and for which it is not responsible, and whether our already limited presentation of evidence shall be made practically impossible by our being unable to discuss even, in a general way, documentary material with the prosecution and the Tribunal?

May I ask, therefore, that the presentation of documents in their shortened form, as requested by the Tribunal yesterday, be postponed until the document books are available.

THE PRESIDENT: The difficulty seems entirely to arise from the fact that your document books are not ready. That is what causes the difficulty. If the document books had been ready and had been submitted to the prosecution, the prosecution would be in a position to object to them. That is the reason why Sir David is objecting in this provisional form. But if you have witnesses whom you are going to call, why do you not call them whilst your books are being got ready? That seems to the Tribunal to be the obvious course.

[Page 129]

Call your witnesses and then we can have the documents introduced at a later stage when we can see them. That is the only reasonable course and why you do not adopt it I do not know.

DR. HORN: An officer of the translation department informed me recently that he is not in a position with the personnel at his disposal to catch up with translations. That is the cause of the trouble and is beyond my control. I submitted the documents in good time for translation.

THE PRESIDENT: That was not the point I was dealing with. Perhaps the interpretation did not come through correctly.

What I said was that if you have witnesses whom you propose to call, why do you not call them now?"

DR. HORN: I had intended to call the witnesses in the course of my presentation of documents and in accordance with the groups of questions on which witnesses could make statements.

THE PRESIDENT: No doubt you had, but as your documents are not here to be presented to the Tribunal, then you must get on and the only way to get on with your case is to call your witnesses.

DR. HORN: In that case, may I ask for five minutes so that I can have a short conversation with a woman witness and then I shall call her?

THE PRESIDENT: Certainly. Wait one moment.

Yes, Mr. Dodd?

MR. DODD: If your Honour pleases, I would not begrudge any counsel five minutes. This woman witness has been here for a long time. She stood outside all day yesterday. I think Dr. Horn has talked to her before. He has had ample opportunity to confer with her. He knew he was going to call her; he asked this Tribunal for permission to call her. I think we are faced here with almost a one man obstructionist at the moment.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal rules that the witness must be called at once.

DR. HORN: In that case I wish to have Fraulein Blank called as a witness.

MARGARETE BLANK, called as a witness, testified as follows:


Q. Will you tell me your name?

A. My name is Margarete Blank.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

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

(Witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down if you wish.



Q. When did you first meet Herr von Ribbentrop?

A. I met him at the beginning of November, 1934, in Berlin, when he was delegate for disarmament questions.

Q. When did you become secretary of the former Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop?

A. On November 1st, 1934, I was engaged as secretary in his office. His personal secretary gave notice and, as her successor did not turn up, von Ribbentrop asked me whether I was willing to take the post. I said "yes" and became his personal secretary in February, 1935.

Q. What was von Ribbentrop's attitude towards Hitler?

A. As far as I can judge he always showed the greatest admiration and veneration for Adolf Hitler. To enjoy the Fuehrer's confidence, to justify it by his conduct and work, was his chief aim and to this he devoted all his efforts. To achieve this aim no sacrifice was too great.

In carrying out the tasks set him by the Fuehrer he showed utter disregard for

[Page 130]

his own person, When speaking of Hitler to his subordinates he did so with the greatest admiration. Recognition of his services by the Fuehrer, as for instance the award of the Golden Party Badge of Honour, the recognition of his accomplishments in a Reichstag speech, a letter on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday, full of appreciation and praise, meant to him the highest recompense for his devotion.

Q. Is it true that Ribbentrop adhered to Hitler's views even if he himself was of a different opinion?

A. What I just said shows that in cases of differences of opinion between Ribbentrop and the Fuehrer, Ribbentrop subordinated his own opinion to that of the Fuehrer.

When Hitler made a decision there was never any criticism. Before his subordinates Ribbentrop presented the Fuehrer's views as if they were his own. If the Fuehrer said something, it was equivalent to a military order.

Q. To what do you attribute this attitude?

A. I attribute it first of all to Ribbentrop's view that the Fuehrer was the only person capable of making the right political decisions.

THE PRESIDENT: Witness, will you observe the lights? When the yellow light goes on it means that you are speaking too fast. When the red light is on it means that you must stop altogether. Will you follow that?

THE WITNESS: Yes, indeed.

A (continued). I attribute it first to Ribbentrop's view that the Fuehrer was the only person capable of making the right political decisions.

Secondly, I attribute it to the fact that von Ribbentrop, as the son of an officer and as a former officer himself, having taken the oath of allegiance to the Fuehrer, felt himself bound by it and considered himself a soldier who had to carry out orders given him, and not to criticise or change them.

Do you know anything about Ribbentrop having tendered his resignation several times?

A. Yes, that happened several times. But about such personal matters Ribbentrop did not speak to his subordinates.

I only remember the resignation handed in by him in 1941. I assume that, in the case of this resignation, as well as the later ones, the letter was written by Ribbentrop himself. The reason for this resignation was differences with other departments as to competency - in view of their interference in Foreign Affairs Herr von Ribbentrop felt he could no longer take responsibility for the Reich's foreign policy.

Q. What was the result of these offers to resign?

A. They were turned down.

Q. Were you with Ribbentrop whilst he was Ambassador in England?

A. Yes.

Q. Is it true that Ribbentrop, over a number of years, worked for an alliance between Germany and England?

A. Yes. For this reason Ribbentrop, in the summer of 1936, asked the Fuehrer to send him as Ambassador to England. The Naval agreement of 1935 was only a first step. Subsequently an air pact was contemplated, but, for reasons unknown to me, was not concluded.

Q. Do you know anything about Ribbentrop's views on the British theory of balance of power on the Continent?

A. From numerous statements by Ribbentrop I know he was of the opinion that England still adhered to the traditional balance of power policy. In this his ideas were opposed to those of the Fuehrer, who was of the opinion that the Russian development in the East constituted a factor which necessitated a revision of the old balance of power policy, in other words, that England had a vital interest in the steadily increasing strength of Germany. When the Polish situation became critical Ribbentrop held the view that it was to be expected that the guarantee given by England to Poland would be honoured.

[Page 131]

Q. What political aims did Ribbentrop want to achieve by the conclusion of the Tripartite Pact?

A. To prevent the war from spreading.

Q. Do you know whether Ribbentrop endeavoured to keep America out of the war?

A. Yes, the Tripartite Pact was signed with this end in view.

Q. Now another set of questions. What was Ribbentrop's attitude towards the Church?

A. As far as I can judge, his attitude towards the Church was very tolerant. To my knowledge, he left the Church as early as 1920 or thereabout, but in this respect he exercised no pressure or influence on his personnel or, rather, he did not bother about it at all. His tolerance went even so far that in 1935 he let his two eldest children have their wish and rejoin the Church. His tolerance in personal questions of religion was in line with his attitude towards the Church. In this connection I remember von Ribbentrop sending the Fuehrer a memorandum in which he advocated a tolerant church policy. In the winter of 1944 he received Bishop Heckel to discuss church matters with him. On the occasion of a journey to Rome in 1941 or 1942, he was given a long audience by the Pope.

Q. Ribbentrop was an introspective and retiring character, was he not?

A. Although I was his personal secretary for ten years, I hardly ever saw him in a communicative mood. His time and thoughts were so completely occupied by his work, to which he devoted himself whole-heartedly, that there was no room for anything else. Apart from his wife and children there was nobody with whom von Ribbentrop was on terms of close friendship. This, however, did not prevent him from having the welfare of his subordinates at heart and from showing them generosity, particularly in time of need.

Q. Is it true that you often felt that there were certain differences of opinion between Ribbentrop and Hitler?

A. Yes. True to his attitude, which I mentioned before, he never discussed such differences with his subordinates, but I do remember distinctly that there were times when such differences did exist.

At such times the Fuehrer refused for several weeks to receive von Ribbentrop. Ribbentrop suffered physically and morally under such a state of affairs.

Q. Was Ribbentrop, as far as his foreign policy was concerned, independent, or was he bound by orders and directives of the Fuehrer?

A. Von Ribbentrop often said that he was responsible only for carrying out the Fuehrer's foreign policy. By this he meant that, in formulating his policy, he was not independent. In addition, even to carrying out the directives given him by the Fuehrer, he was bound by instructions from Hitler to a considerable extent.

Thus, for instance, the daily reports of a purely informative nature transmitted by the liaison officer between the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Fuehrer, Herr Hewel, were often accompanied by requests for the Fuehrer's decision on individual questions and by draft telegrams containing instructions to the Heads of Missions abroad.

Q. Did Ribbentrop suffer by the fact that, although he was responsible for foreign policy, he was not allowed to formulate it?

A. He never complained about it in my presence, but I had the feeling that he did suffer.

Q. What was Hitler's attitude toward the Foreign Office?

A. The Fuehrer saw in it a body of old-fashioned red-tape Civil Servants, more or less untouched by National- Socialism. I gathered, from men of his entourage, that he often made fun of the Foreign Office. He considered it to be the home of reaction and defeatism.

Q. In what way did Ribbentrop try to bring the Foreign Office closer to Hitler?

A. When taking over the Foreign Office in February, 1938, Ribbentrop intended

[Page 132]

to carry out a thorough reshuffle of the German diplomatic service. He also intended to make basic changes in the training of young diplomats. These plans did not go beyond the initial stage because of the war. In the course of the war they were taken up again, when the question of new blood for the Foreign Office became acute. Ribbentrop's anxiety to counteract the Fuehrer's animosity towards the Foreign Office led him to fill some of the posts of Heads of Missions abroad, not with professional diplomats, but with tried S.A. and S.S. leaders.

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