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-Seventh Day: Tuesday, 2nd April, 1946
(Part 2 of 11)

[M. FAURE continues his cross examination of JOACHIM VON RIBBENTROP]

[Page 264]

Q. I would like to show you Document EC 265, which I wish to submit as Exhibit RF 1504. It is a telegram from Abetz dated 1st October, 1940, I will merely read the first and last pages.
"The solution of the Jewish problem in the occupied territory of France requires, besides other measures, a regulation as soon as possible of the citizenship status of the Reich German Jews who were living here at the beginning of the war."
And the last sentence:
"The measures proposed above are to be considered as merely the first

[Page 265]

step towards the solution of the entire problem. I reserve the right to make other proposals."
A. May I have time to read the telegram first?

THE PRESIDENT: That is a little too fast.

M. FAURE: Yes.

A. (continuing): So far as I can see, this telegram apparently deals with the fact that Austrian and German Jews are to be repatriated to Austria and Germany from France. I do not know. This is the first time I have seen this telegram, and I can give no information about it. It probably represents one of the routine measures adopted by the Foreign Office in the course of the day's work, and it was not submitted to me; and apart from that, these matters were individually dealt with by other departments, not by us.

Q. If you will look on the left-hand side of the telegram, you will see the distribution list. There were nineteen, including yourself, were there not? You were number 2.

A. I should like to inform the French Prosecutor that every day four, five, six or eight hundred such documents and telegrams reached my office, of which only one or two per cent. were submitted to me.

Q. Apart from the question ...

A. In any case I know nothing about this telegram.

Q. Apart from the question of Jews of Austrian and German origin, your colleagues and subordinates in the Embassy also dealt with the question of the French Jews?

Now, before asking you this question, I should like to read out to you two sentences from a document which was submitted to the Tribunal as Exhibit RF-1207. It is a report from Dannecker, who was responsible for solving the Jewish problem in France. Dannecker concluded his report as follows:

"In this connection, I cannot speak of this matter without mentioning the genuinely friendly support which our work received from the German Ambassador Abetz, his representative, the attache Schleier, and S.S.- Sturmfuehrer and Embassy Councillor Dr. Zeitschel. I should like to add that the Embassy in Paris has, on its own initiative, placed large sums at the disposal of the lawyer in charge of the Jewish question, for the financing of the anti-Jewish Institute, and that it will continue to do so in future."
Therefore, according to these documents, Abetz, Schleier and Zeitschel worked together.

THE PRESIDENT: M. Faure, we do not know where you are reading from.

M. FAURE: Mr. President, this document was not given to you in this folder because it has already been submitted to the Tribunal. I merely wished to read two sentences from it.



Q. It is evident, therefore, from this document, that three officials of the German Embassy, Abetz, Schleier and Zeitschel, collaborated with Dannecker in the settlement of Jewish affairs. That is shown by the document, is it not?

A. Am I supposed to answer that? Is it a question?

Q. It is a question.

A. To that question I must answer "naturally." They certainly collaborated to some extent in the Jewish question in France, that is perfectly clear. But I can also add that the French prosecution must definitely have been informed to the effect that Ambassador Abetz was not only instructed by me, but also acted on his own initiative in an attempt to reach some kind of conciliatory settlement. It goes without saying that the Embassy was involved, one way or the other, in this sphere of action. And it also goes without saying that I must accept responsibility

[Page 266]

for anything done by the gentlemen in the Embassy, and I should like to repeat that my instructions and the activities of Ambassador Abetz invariably ran diametrically counter to each other. It is quite clear that, with the radically anti-Semitic tendency spread over all the departments and naturally, in any sphere - I mean, every Government office - somehow or other came into contact with these matters. Our task in the Foreign Office - which could be proved in thousands of cases if we had the files here - was to act as an intermediary in this sphere. I might say, we often had to do things in accordance with this anti- Semitic policy, but we always endeavoured to prevent these measures and to reach some kind of conciliatory settlement. In fact, the German Embassy was not responsible for any anti- Semitic measures of any description in France.

Q. I would like to draw your attention to another document, Exhibit RF-1210, a French document which is a second report from Dannecker of the 22nd of February, 1942. I should like to refer to Page 3 of the document, Page 2 of the German text.

A. I should like to say here and now that I do not even know who Dannecker is. Perhaps you can give me some information on that subject.

Q. I informed you that Dannecker was the person responsible for Jewish affairs in France. As a matter of fact, these documents were submitted a long time ago to the Tribunal and communicated to the defence.

At Page 3 of the document - which is Page 2 of the German - there is a paragraph entitled, "Action," from which I read one sentence: "Up to the present, three important operations have been undertaken against the Jews in Paris."

Now, if you will look at the last page of the document, the last paragraph but one, we read as follows: "Since the middle of 1941 there has been a conference every Tuesday, one, two and three, military commands, administrative, police and economic sections; four, German Embassy Paris; five, Einsatzstab Westen of Reichsleiter Rosenberg.

The result of the conference is that with very few exceptions, the anti-Jewish policy is to be carried out without modification in the occupied territories."

This document clearly shows, does it not, that your collaborators were in agreement with the anti-Jewish policy in the occupied territories and that this policy included the arrest of Jews?

A. May I reply to this statement that the Offices mentioned here would, naturally, have included themselves in this proceeding.

Q. I ask that you be shown Exhibit RF-1220, which is a letter from the German Embassy of the 27th of June, addressed to the Head of the Security Police and the S.D. in France; and before asking you a question I would like to read with you the first two paragraphs of this letter:

"Following my interview with Hauptsturmfuehrer Dannecker on the date of the 27th of June, during which he indicated that he required that 50,000 Jews from the unoccupied zone be deported to the East as soon as possible, and that on the basis of notes sent by the Commissar General for Jewish questions, Darquier de Pellepoix, we simply had to do something for the latter, I reported the matter to Ambassador Abetz and Embassy Counsellor Hahn immediately after the discussion. The latter is to confer with Laval this afternoon, and he has promised me that he will speak to him at once about the handing over of these 50,000 Jews; also he will insist that Darquier de Pellepoix be given complete freedom of action according to the laws already promulgated, and that the credits which have been promised to him be handed to him immediately."
Now, I should like to ask you a question. I ask you to answer as briefly as possible.

[Page 267]

Were you aware of this demarche for the handing over of these 50,000 Jews?

A. No, I was not, I heard about it here for the first time, when this document was, I believe, read out once before.

Q. If your collaborators Abetz, Hahn, and Schleier took such action on this subject without informing you, was it not because they thought they were acting in accordance with your general directives?

A. No, I do not think so; they worked very independently in Paris, but I should like to repeat once again that I am assuming responsibility for everything that these gentlemen have done. I make a point of emphasising this fact.

I did not, however, know anything about the proposed measure against the 50,000 Jews. And I do not even know whether it was ever put into effect, and in what manner these gentlemen had implicated themselves in the matter. The letter does not make it clear. I only know one thing and that is that my general instructions were to tread cautiously in such matters and, if possible, to bridge difficulties according to my own original concepts and not to do anything to force matters but, on the contrary, to smooth them over. I can say no more on the subject.

Q. During the interrogation of your witness Steengracht, the British Prosecution produced a document 3319-PS, Exhibit GB 287. I should like to refer to this document for one question only.

In this document there is an account of a meeting, or a congress, at which were present all the reporters on Jewish questions from the various diplomatic missions in Europe. This congress was held on the 3rd and 4th of April, 1944, in Krummhuebel. It was organised by Schleier. This was read the other day.

You knew about this congress, I suppose?

A. No. This is the first time I have heard about it. What congress was that? I have never heard that such a congress ever took place. What kind of congress was it supposed to be?

Q. This document has already been submitted; it was a congress held -

A. I only know about one congress, which I asked the Fuehrer not to hold. That I do know. But I know nothing at all about a congress which did take place. Please give more detailed information on the subject.

Q. The document was handed over to the Tribunal, and I would like to ask you one question. You testified that you were unaware of this meeting at which were present thirty-one persons who nearly all belonged to the diplomatic service. I will inform you that during this meeting Embassy Counsellor Von Tadden made a declaration which was reported in the following terms:

"The speaker explained the reasons why the Zionist solution of Palestine and similar alternative solutions must be rejected and why the Jews must be deported into the Eastern territories."
I suggest that this declaration made by an Embassy Counsellor in the presence of 31 people belonging to your service voiced your own attitude on these matters.

A. Yes, but I do not know in the very least what you mean. May I to begin with, please have some information on the matter with which we are dealing. I do not understand it at all. I have told you once before that I know nothing about any congress except the one which I countermanded. That was an international congress which we were supposed to have held. I know nothing of a congress of diplomats. Would you kindly place the document in question at my disposal in order that I may make my reply.

Q. I do not intend to show you this document. I read one sentence contained in this document, and I am merely asking you if this phrase represents your opinion or not. Answer "yes" or "no."

A. Then I must request you to repeat the sentences. I wish to confirm again, however, that no congress took place; it is not true.

DR. HORN: Mr. President, I object to that question, if the opportunity is not afforded the defendant to give a truthful answer.

[Page 268]

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal thinks the question was proper.

Q. I ask you whether this phrase which I have read out to you corresponded to your opinion.

A. May I ask you to repeat the sentence. I did not understand it correctly.

Q. The speaker explained the reasons why the zionist solution of Palestine and similar alternative solutions must be rejected and why the Jews must be deported to the eastern territories."

Was that your thesis?

A. No, it was not.

Q. Was your attention drawn to the fact that the Italian authorities in France protected the Jews against persecution by Germans?

A. Yes. I recollect that there was something of the kind, but I no longer remember exactly.

Q. Did you approach the Italian Government on this subject?

A. I recollect that on one occasion I spoke either to Mussolini or to Count Ciano about certain acts of sabotage, espionage or something of that kind which had occurred in France, and against which one would have to be on the alert, and in this connection, I believe, the Jewish problem was also discussed.

Q. I ask that you be shown Document D-734, which I would like to submit as Exhibit RF 1501. This note is headed:

"Account of a conference between the Reich Foreign Minister and the Duce in the Palazzo Venezia in the presence of Von Mackensen, Alfieri and the State Secretary Bastianini, on the 25th of February, 1943." I would like to read with you the second paragraph on this page:

"Further, the Reich Foreign Minister dealt with the Jewish question. The Duce was aware that Germany had taken up a radical position with regard to the treatment of the Jews. As a result of the development of the war in Russia it had gained even greater clarity. All Jews had been transported from Germany and from the territories occupied by her to reservations in the East. He, the Reich Foreign Minister, knew that this measure was described as cruel, particularly by enemies, but it was necessary in order to be able to carry the war through to a successful conclusion."
I shall not read the following paragraph, but the fourth:
"France also had taken measures against the Jews, which were extremely useful. They were only temporary, because here, too, the final solution would be in the deportation of the Jews to the East. He, the Reich Foreign Minister, knew that in Italian military circles - and occasionally among German military people, too - the Jewish problem was not sufficiently appreciated. It was only in this way that he could understand an order of the Kommando Supremo, which had in the Italian occupation zone of France cancelled measures taken against the Jews by the French authorities acting under German influence. The Duce contested the accuracy of this report and traced it back to the French tactics of causing dissension between Germany and Italy."
Now I shall ask you a question: A short while ago you told us that you wanted to make all the Jews emigrate to Madagascar. Is Madagascar in the Eastern reservations mentioned in the document?

A. About what? I have not understood.

Q. You were talking in this document of deporting Jews to the reservations in the Eastern territories, and a short while ago you spoke to us of settling the Jews in Madagascar. Is Madagascar meant here?

A. No, that was the Fuehrer's plan. This document refers to the fact that a large scale espionage system had been discovered, I believe, in France. The Fuehrer sent me while I was on a journey to Italy and told me to speak to Mussolini and see to it that in cases of Jews involved in these acts of sabotage and espionage,

[Page 269]

the Italian Government or the Italian Army did not intervene in order to prevent this measure. Also I should like to state definitely that I knew, and I knew too that it was the Fuehrer's plan, that the European Jews were to be re- settled, on a large scale, either in Madagascar, North Africa or in reservations in the East. This was generally known in Germany. That is all that we are concerned with here: and I also knew that a great many unpleasant things had occurred at that time and that the Fuehrer was convinced that all of them could be attributed to Jewish organisations, in the South of France, I believe. I now recollect that at the time I discussed the matter in great detail with Mussolini and begged him to adopt suitable measures since these Jews were furnishing all the information to the English and American Intelligence Services. At least - that was the information which the Fuehrer was constantly receiving.

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