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 2 of 7)

[DR. HORN continues his direct examination of Fraulein Margarete Blank]

[Page 132]

Q. What were Ribbentrop's views and intentions regarding Russia?

A. The intentions regarding Russia were shown by the Non- Aggression Pact of August, 1939, and the trade agreement of September, 1939.

Q. Do you know that, in addition to the Non-Aggression Pact and the trade agreement, a further agreement was concluded in Moscow?

A. Yes, there was an additional secret agreement.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Your Honours: It appears to me that the witness, who has been called to attend the present sitting of the Tribunal, is, by the very nature of her position as secretary to the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ribbentrop, able to testify to the personality of the defendant Ribbentrop, to his way of life, to the reticence or frankness of his character, and so forth. But the witness is quite incompetent to pass an opinion on matters pertaining to agreements, foreign policy, etc. In this sense I consider the questions of the defence absolutely inadmissible and request that they be withdrawn.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, that is the same matter that is raised, is it not, upon the affidavit of Dr. Gauss? I mean, you said that you were going to produce an affidavit of Dr. Gauss which dealt with a secret agreement between - I beg your pardon. I ought to have said that Dr. Seidl was going to produce an affidavit of Dr. Gauss with reference to this alleged agreement. That is right, is it not?

DR. HORN: I assume so, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: The Soviet Prosecutor objected to that agreement being referred to until the affidavit should be admitted, until it had been seen. Well, now, is the agreement in writing?


THE PRESIDENT: Is the alleged agreement between the Soviet Government and Germany in writing?

DR. HORN: Yes. It was put down in writing, but I am in possession of a copy of the agreement, and I should therefore like to ask the Tribunal, in case the decision depends on the affidavit of Ambassador Gauss, to allow me, to obtain at the appropriate time an affidavit from Fraulein Blank who saw the original.

Would your Lordship be agreeable to that?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Seidl, have you a copy of the agreement itself?

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, there are only two copies of this agreement. One copy was left in Moscow on 23rd August, 1939. The other copy was taken to Berlin by von Ribbentrop. According to an announcement in the Press, all the archives of the Foreign Office were confiscated by the Soviet troops. May I, therefore, request that the Soviet Government or the Soviet Delegation be asked to submit to the Tribunal the original of the agreement?

THE PRESIDENT: I asked you a question, Dr. Seidl. I did not ask you for an argument. I asked you whether you have a copy of that agreement available.

DR. SEIDL: I, myself, am not in possession of a copy of the agreement. The affidavit of Ambassador Gauss only states the contents of the secret agreement. He was able to give the contents of the secret agreement because he drafted it. The secret agreement as drafted by Ambassador Gauss was signed by Foreign Commissar Molotov and von Ribbentrop. That is all I have to say.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, General Rudenko?

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, I wish to make the following statement: With regard to what was mentioned here by counsel for the defence, Seidl, about the agreement allegedly seized by Soviet troops in connection with the capture of

[Page 133]

the archives of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, i.e. - the agreement concluded in Moscow in August, 1939 - I would draw the attention of the defence counsel to the newspapers in which this agreement, the German-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact of 23rd August, 1939, was published. That is a known fact.

In so far as other agreements are concerned, the Soviet Prosecution considers that Dr. Seidl's application for the incorporation into the record of affidavits by Friedrich Gauss should be denied, and for the following reasons. Gauss' testimony on this pact and on the history immediately preceding the conclusion of the German-Soviet pact is irrelevant. Moreover, the presentation of these affidavits, which do not shed a true light on events, can only be looked upon as an act of provocation. This is clearly borne out by the fact that Ribbentrop himself repudiated this witness even though his affidavits describe Ribbentrop's activities, even though defence counsel for Hess has accepted testimonies from this witness and applied for their incorporation, despite the fact that they contain no reference to Hess. On the strength of these considerations, of these circumstances, I request the Tribunal to reject the request made by defence counsel Seidl and to consider the question submitted by defence counsel Horn as being irrelevant to the matter under our consideration.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, Dr. Seidl? Do you want to say something?

DR. SEIDL: May I say something? The translation of what the Soviet Prosecutor has just said has come through incompletely. I could not make out whether General Rudenko wanted to deny altogether that such an agreement was concluded or whether he only wanted to state that the contents of this secret agreement are not relevant. In the former case, I repeat my application that the Soviet Foreign Commissar Molotov be called and examined before this Tribunal; in the latter case, I ask to be given the opportunity here and now to submit to the Tribunal my points regarding the relevance of this secret agreement.

THE PRESIDENT: At the moment we are considering an objection to the evidence of this witness, so we will not trouble ourselves with that.

The Tribunal will adjourn for a few moments.

(A recess was taken.)

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal desires to point out to counsel for the defence that there was no mention of this alleged treaty in his application for evidence to be given by the witness now in the witness box, but as the matter has now been raised the Tribunal rules that the witness may be questioned upon the matter.


Q. You were speaking about the secret agreement. How did you come to know about the conclusion of this agreement?

THE PRESIDENT: I am told that what I said was wrongly translated into the Russian language. At any rate, I do not know whether it was rightly translated into the German language; but what I said was that the witness may be questioned, not that the witness may not be questioned. Is that clear to you?

DR. HORN: Thank you. I understood the statement correctly.


Q. In connection with your previous statement about the secret agreement I should like to ask you how you came to know about the conclusion of this agreement?

A. Owing to illness, I could not accompany von Ribbentrop on his two trips to Russia. I was also absent when the preparatory work for the agreements was being done. I learned of the existence of this secret agreement through a special sealed envelope which, according to instructions, was filed separately and bore the inscription "German- Russian Secret or Additional Agreement."

Q. You were also responsible for filing separately secret matters? Is this correct?

[Page 134]

A. Yes.

Q. I should like to turn now to another group of questions. Did von Ribbentrop endeavour to keep the pact with Russia in any case?

A. Having signed the German-Russian pacts, von Ribbentrop was, of course, interested in their being kept. Moreover, he realised the great danger a German-Russian war would mean for Germany. Accordingly he informed and warned the Fuehrer. For this very purpose, as far as I recall, Embassy Counsellor Hilger from Moscow and Ambassador Schnurre were called to Berchtesgaden to report. Also, in the spring of 1941, Ambassador Count von der Schulenberg was again ordered to report, to back up and to corroborate von Ribbentrop's warnings to the Fuehrer.

Q. Do you know whether von Ribbentrop was informed beforehand of Hitler's intent to incorporate Austria into the Reich?

A. At the time of the German march into Austria Ambassador von Ribbentrop, who in February had been appointed Foreign Minister, was in London on a farewell visit. There he heard to his surprise of the Anschluss of Austria. He himself had had a different idea of a solution of the Austrian question, namely, an economic union.

Q. Do you know whether von Ribbentrop made repeated efforts to end the war by diplomatic methods?

A. Yes. One of his moves was to send Ambassador Professor Berber to Switzerland in the winter of 1943. Later on these moves were intensified by sending Herr von Schmieden to Bern and Dr. Hesse to Stockholm.

As the Fuehrer had not given official authority to initiate any negotiations, it was only possible to try to find out on which conditions discussions might be opened between Germany and the Allies. Similar missions were entrusted to the German Charge d'Affaires in Madrid, Ambassador von Biebrach; Consul General Moellhausen in Lisbon; and the Ambassador to the Vatican, von Weizsaecker. A former member of the Ribbentrop office living in Madrid was instructed to sound the British Government to the same end.

On the 20th of April von Ribbentrop dictated to me a detailed memorandum for the Fuehrer in which he asked for official authorisation to initiate negotiations. I do not know the outcome of this request because I left Berlin.

Q. In the course of your duties did you get to know what Hitler's basic attitude to this question was?

A. From what I heard from men of his entourage I know that the Fuehrer did not expect much of it. He would have been in favour of initiating negotiations only at a time of military successes. If and when, however, there were military successes, he was likewise against diplomatic initiative. As to the mission of Dr. Hesse - after its failure, he is said to have indiscreetly remarked that, from the beginning, he had not expected much of it.

Q. Just one more question: Is it correct that von Ribbentrop was notified of the impending invasion of Norway and Denmark only a very short time before this action?

A. Yes; just a few days previously.

Q. Is it correct to say that von Ribbentrop was of the opinion, England would fight for Poland?

A. Yes. In line with his view that England would adhere to the old balance of power policy, he was of the opinion that England would honour her guarantee to Poland.

DR. HORN: I have no further questions to put to this witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defendant's counsel wish to ask any questions of this witness? Do the prosecution?

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, the prosecution has very carefully considered this matter. They hope that the Tribunal will not hold it against them that they accept everything that this witness says, but they feel that all the matters

[Page 135]

could be more conveniently put to the defendant himself, and therefore they do not intend to cross-examine.

THE PRESIDENT: The witness may retire.

DR. SEIDL (Counsel for Hess): Mr. President, the Tribunal has permitted the question concerning the secret agreement to be put to the witness. The witness knew only of the existence of this agreement but not its contents.

May I please be told whether the admission of this question to the witness is to be considered as implying the decision by the Tribunal on the admissibility of Ambassador Gauss' affidavit, and whether I might now be given the opportunity of reading an excerpt from this affidavit?

THE PRESIDENT: Has the affidavit been submitted to the prosecution?

DR. SEIDL: Last Monday - that is, three days ago - I submitted six copies of the affidavit to the Translating Division or to Lt. Schrader of the Defendants' Information Centre. I assume that in the meantime, since three days have elapsed, the prosecution has received a copy.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, the prosecution have not received the copies. I have not seen the affidavit yet. Neither has my friend Mr. Dodd, nor have my other colleagues, General Rudenko, or M. Champetier de Ribes.

THE PRESIDENT: Then I think we had better wait until the document is in the hands of the prosecution, when it can be considered.

DR. SEIDL: Mr. President, I believe that I did everything in my power to furnish the prosecution with the affidavit. This is the General Secretary's business, and not mine, and I should be obliged if the Tribunal would assist in this matter.

THE PRESIDENT: Nobody has said that you have done anything wrong about it, Dr. Seidl.

Yes, Dr. Horn.

DR. HORN: As my next witness I should like to call Ambassador Paul Schmidt.

PAUL OTTO SCHMIDT, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Will you tell me your name?

A. Schmidt is my name.

Q. Your full name.

A. Dr. Paul Otto Schmidt.

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.

(The witness repeated the oath.)



Q. Witness, you took part in some of the most important discussions between Sir Nevile Henderson, the British representative, and members of the Reich Government, before the outbreak of war. Is it correct that you were present at the conference on the 30th of August 1939 between the defendant von Ribbentrop and the British Ambassador Henderson?

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn until 1.45

(A recess was taken until 13.45 hours.)

DR. PAUL SCHMIDT - resumed.



Q. Witness, is it correct that you were present at a conference on 30th August, 1939, between the defendant von Ribbentrop and the British Ambassador Henderson?

A. Yes, that is correct.

[Page 136]

Q. Where did that conference take place?

A. It took place in the office of the Minister of Foreign Affairs in Berlin.

Q. In what capacity did you take part in that conference?

A. I took part in that conference as interpreter and recorder.

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