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 6 of 7)

[Page 148]

Q. Doctor, I will not pursue that further at the moment, I want you just to tell me this. You have given us your account of the interview between Hitler and the defendant Ribbentrop and Horthy when the question of the Jews was discussed, on the 17th of April, 1943. I just wanted on record that your account is based on the fact that you actually made the minutes; the minutes are signed by you?

A. Yes.

Q. I want to pass to another point. From 1943 to 1945, were you still going to Hitler's headquarters for occasional interpreting and attending of meetings and the like?

A. Yes.

Q. For example - I do not know if you can remember it, but I am sure you will try - on the 27th of February, 1944, do you remember a visit of Marshal Antonescu?

A. Yes.

Q. Were you present at that?

A. I remember I was always present during all the visits of Antonescu - since the discussion could not otherwise take place. Regarding the date, I cannot tell you anything exact at the moment.

Q. It was actually 27th February. I wanted to try and fix it by an incident which might remind you of it, that Antonescu was there. Now, do you remember on that occasion that the defendant Donitz was present?

A. It is possible, but I have no exact recollection. It is quite possible that he was present during the military discussions.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: The exhibit, my Lord, is GB-207, and it is dealt with on Page 2705 of the shorthand notes. The document was originally D-648.

Q. I want you to tell the Tribunal about the general governmental set-up. There has been considerable evidence given before the Tribunal that the Reichsregierung, as such, did not meet after the beginning of the war. Several people have told us that. Instead of a cabinet meeting, was it not a fact that the government of Germany was carried on by these constant meetings at Hitler's headquarters?

A. I consider it possible, but naturally I have no exact knowledge, since I never took part in such internal conferences. I only went to headquarters whenever I had to accompany a foreigner there.

Q. You only came when there was a foreign visitor, but you know that these meetings were continuously taking place and that the defendant Goering, the defendant Speer, the defendant Keitel, the defendant Jodl, and the defendant Donitz were constantly attending these meetings?

[Page 149]

A. I do not know, of course whether you can describe that conference as a meeting.

Q. I did not mean to play with words with you at all. I only used the word to describe what was happening. If you prefer to call it a conference, I am willing to do that.

A. I admit that conferences with Hitler took place or could have taken place, while these people who have just named were present at the headquarters.

Q. I think you agree with me, do you not, that as far as one can find any organism or organisation through which the government of the Reich was being carried on, it was this succession of meetings or conferences at Hitler's headquarters; is that not so?

A. Well, I do not know whether you can regard that as governmental activities, because if I drew a parallel with the conference at which I was present with these foreign gentlemen, then you will find that the person who spoke and who pushed through decisions was Hitler. If it was the same at those conferences, then you could call it a government discussion, but it was only a one-man government. The others were only there as an audience or to be questioned regarding individual points. That is how I imagine it, but I was not present.

Q. I quite appreciate your point, but these were the occasions at which each service and each department and each organisation - like the S.S., through the Reichsfuehrer S.S. Himmler - put their point of view and put the facts before Hitler on which decisions were come to, were they not? And that is what happened for the last two years of the war.

A. One could have drawn that conclusion from the presence of those people, yes, but as I say it could of course have been that there was only one way to receive orders at headquarters. Both possibilities exist, but which is applicable I cannot say.

Q. At any rate, I think you will agree with this, will you not, Herr Schmidt, that there was no other place at which the government of Germany took place except that?

A. Yes. That is right.

Q. Would you be good enough to look at your affidavit? I will just read the rest of it. It is quite short, but I want it to be on the record.

Paragraph 4:

"The attempted putsch in Austria and the murder of Dollfuss on the 25th of July, 1934, seriously disturbed the career personnel of the foreign office, because these events discredited Germany in the eyes of the world. It was common knowledge that the putsch had been engineered by the Party, and the fact that the attempted putsch followed so closely on the heels of the blood purge within Germany, suggested that the Nazi methods abroad and at home were very similar. This concern over the repercussions of the attempted putsch was soon heightened by recognition of the fact that these episodes were leading to the Franco-Soviet pact of 5th December, 1934, a defensive arrangement which Hitler did not wish to heed as a warning. The announcement in March of the establishment of a German air force and that Hitler had introduced conscription again was followed on the 2nd of May, 1935, by the conclusion of a mutual assistance pact between France and the Soviet Union. The career personnel of the foreign Office regarded this as a very serious further warning as to the potential consequences of Germany foreign policy, but the Nazi leaders only stiffened their attitude towards the Western Powers, declaring that they were not going to be intimidated. At this time the career officials at least expressed their reservations to the foreign minister, von Neurath. I do not know whether or not Neurath in turn related these expressions of concern to Hitler.

The re-entry of the German military forces into the Rhineland was preceded by Nazi diplomatic preparation in February. A German communique

[Page 150]

of the 21st of February, 1936, reaffirmed that the French- Soviet Pact of Mutual Assistance was incompatible with the Locarno Treaties and the Covenant of the League. On the same day Hitler declared, in an interview, that no real grounds existed for conflict between Germany and France. Considered against the background statements in "Mein Kampf" offensive to France, the circumstances were such as to suggest that the stage was being set for justifying some future act. I do not know how far in advance the march into the Rhineland was decided upon. I personally knew about it and discussed it approximately two or three weeks before it actually occurred. Considerable fear had been expressed, particularly in military circles, concerning the risks of this undertaking. Similar fears were felt by many in the Foreign Office. It was common knowledge in the Foreign Office, however, that Neurath was the only person in government circles, consulted by Hitler, who felt confident that the Rhineland could be remilitarised without armed opposition from Britain and France.

Neurath's position throughout this period was one which would induce Hitler to have more faith in Neurath than in any of the other diplomats, whom Hitler tended to hold in disrespect."

Then there is a paragraph about the sanctions in Italy which I do not think is a relevant matter before the Tribunal; and then in Paragraph 8, I will go on:
"Plans for the annexation of Austria were a part of the Nazi programme from the beginning. Italian opposition after the murder of Dollfuss temporarily forced a more careful approach to this problem, but the application of sanctions against Italy by the League, plus the rapid increase of German military strength, made safer the resumption of the Austrian programme. When Goering visited Rome early in 1937 he declared that union of Austria and Germany was inevitable and could be expected sooner or later. Mussolini heard these words in German, remained silent, and protested only mildly when I translated them into French.

The consummation of the Anschluss was essentially a Party matter, in which von Papen's role was to preserve smooth diplomatic relations on the surface, while the Party used more devious ways of preparing conditions for the expected move. The speech delivered by Papen on 18th February, 1938, following the Berchtesgaden meeting, interpreted the Berchtesgaden agreement as a first step towards the establishment of a general European commonwealth under the leadership of Germany. This was generally recognised in the Foreign Office as a clear prophecy of a greater Germany which would embrace Austria."

The final paragraph says these matters are true and that you have made this affidavit voluntarily and without compulsion. That is right, is it not, Schmidt?

Now, just one more point and then I have finished with you. It is correct, is it not, that in his period as Foreign Minister the defendant Ribbentrop brought a number of people who had rank in the S.S., or, in the old days, in the S.A., into the foreign office and made them part of the staff?

A. Yes. Principally they were members of his so-called office - that is to say, his former organisation. They were taken into the office, not all, but some of them.


THE PRESIDENT: Does any other prosecutor want to cross- examine?

Dr. Horn, do you want to re-examine?

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

THE PRESIDENT: The witness may retire.

DR. LOEFFLER (counsel for the S.A.): Mr. President, I have just one question to the witness.

THE PRESIDENT: Keep the witness.

[Page 151]

DR. LOEFFLER: May I have your permission to put one question to the witness?

THE PRESIDENT: Would you say whom you are appearing for?

DR. LOEFFLER: Dr. Loeffler, Defence Counsel for the S.A.


Q. Witness, you were as a rule personally present during the visit of highly placed foreign statesmen. Were you also present during the visit of statesmen during the Olympic Games of 1936?

A. Yes.

Q. Did any one of the foreign statesmen express the wish to inspect the German institutions and the establishments set up by the National Socialists - in particular in a social sphere - before or after 1936?

A. Whether any such wishes were expressed during the Olympic Games I cannot remember at the moment; but that such wishes were expressed and that they were fulfilled becomes clear from a number of facts - for instance, from Lloyd George's visit to the Obersalzberg and, later on, his inspection of social institutions in Germany; from the visit of a number of interested foreign persons who, in my opinion, took a very lively interest in the social institutions in Germany.

Q. You were present personally during these inspections. Do you remember an inspection during which you were present?

A. Mostly I was not present at these inspections. I only recollect that, for instance, the Workers' Front had an organisation which was called "Joy and Work" and that was an international organisation which held an annual congress at Hamburg, during which I often acted as interpreter.

Q. Do you know anything about the impressions made by these institutions on foreign statesmen?

A. The social institutions, as far as I know, always made rather a favourable impression on visitors.

Q. Do you remember the visit of the Prince of Wales to Germany?

A. Yes. I acted as interpreter.

THE PRESIDENT: What has this got to do with the charges in the Indictment? Dr. Loeffler, your duty was to ask any question you have got at the same time as the other defence counsel. I asked you whether you had any questions to ask. You said "no" or you indicated that you had not. You now get up and say you have one question to ask and you have asked about- . I do not know how many you are going to ask, but they are all, in the opinion of the Tribunal, I think, irrelevant.

DR. LOEFFLER: Mr. President, the questions which I am putting are caused by the cross- examination by Sir David. Sir David has mentioned the S.A., and I want to put corresponding counter-questions to the witness, and apart from that -

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): Sir David did not ask any question as to the social conditions of Germany, and he did not ask any questions about the Olympic Games of 1936. In any event, you are not the right person to re-examine.

DR. LOEFFLER: Mr. President, the questions which I have put are important, because through those visits which were made here, and through the statements made by the foreign statesmen afterwards, a number of our members got the impression that competent statesmen abroad were giving their recognition to the leaders of National Socialist Germany. And that is of quite decisive importance in the question of the guilt or innocence of millions of Germans whom I represent here, since these millions of Germans regarded the attitude of these foreign statesmen as authoritative. It is therefore not irrelevant, but for us, in fact, decisive, and he is the only witness who can really make an authentic report about it. However, I am finished with my questions about the Olympic Games and I have only two more questions to ask, I ask you to permit me -

THE PRESIDENT (interposing): The Tribunal thinks that the questions you are

[Page 152]

putting do not arise out of the cross-examination and are entirely irrelevant, and they will not hear any further questions from you.

DR. KUBUSCHOK (Dr. Kubuschok, for the defendant Papen): In connection -

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, as you know perfectly well, this is not the time to put questions on behalf of von Papen. You have had your opportunity, and you have not taken it.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Mr. President, I merely propose to rectify some words which were probably incorrectly repeated through translation, since I did not receive copies of the affidavit. I heard that in that affidavit of von Papen of the 8th or 18th of February, 1938, was mentioned a speech ...

THE PRESIDENT: Very well. If that is correct you can correct anything in the translation you want to.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I would like to mention that the names "Hitler" and "Papen" were mentioned here before. I heard "Papen" in the translation, but Papen never made such a speech, and any conclusions drawn about Papen from that speech are incorrect.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, you will receive the affidavit. You will have an opportunity to look at the affidavit.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I shall look at the affidavit, and, if necessary, apply in writing to have it rectified.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. If there is any mistake in the affidavit it must be corrected.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: It really says Papen in the text, but that is completely wrong since he has never made such a speech. On Page 4 of the text it says "The speech delivered by von Papen."

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: My Lord, that is what the affidavit said. Learned Counsel says it is completely wrong, that he did not make a speech. But with the greatest respect to the learned Counsel, I must suggest if he wants to refute the affidavit, he will have the opportunity of calling von Papen and giving evidence then.

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