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 5 of 11)

[COLONEL AMEN continues his cross examination of JOACHIM VON RIBBENTROP]

[Page 277]

Q. All right. Now see if you recall having made these statements:
"Before decisions, I always told the Fuehrer openly my view if he wanted to hear it, but if the Fuehrer once had decided, I, according to my attitude toward the Fuehrer, blindly carried out his orders and acted in the sense of his decision. In a few decisive foreign political points, I have tried to give my opinion in a more impressive manner. This was in the Polish crisis and also in the Russian question, because I considered this absolutely important and necessary, but since 1941 I had but very little weight and it was difficult to carry an opinion through with the Fuehrer."
Do you recall having made those statements? Yes, or no, please.

A. That is more or less true. Yes, I practically remember it.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Amen, the Tribunal has already heard a very long cross-examination of the defendant, and it thinks that this is not adding very much to what it has already heard. The defendant has given very similar evidence already.

COLONEL AMEN: Very good, sir. I will pass to another subject.


Q. You have testified that there was a sharp line of demarcation between the political and the military situations, correct?

A. Between - I did not understand that.

Q. You have testified that there was always a sharp line of demarcation between the political and the military elements.

A. Yes. The Fuehrer always differentiated fairly strongly between these two elements, that is correct.

Q. And that information belonging to the military was kept exclusively for the military and not made available to your office, for example? Is that correct?

A. I heard little of military matters and plans; yes, that is correct.

Q. And that the contrary was also true, that the information which you obtained was not made available to the military, is that correct?

A. That I am in no position to judge, but I would assume so, since I do not know what information the military received from the Fuehrer.

Q. Well, you told us that the Fuehrer's entire plan was to keep those political and military channels separate, each from the other, correct?

A. Yes, in general he kept them very severely apart - I have already said so several times. That is why I have only just now had cognisance of many military documents for the first time. That was perfectly in keeping with the Fuehrer's decrees on secrecy, that no one department should know more than was absolutely essential.

Q. Now, as a matter of fact that was not true at all, was it, Ribbentrop?

A. I have already given you my answer.

[Page 278]

Q. As a matter of fact you had secret agents out who were working jointly in foreign countries for your office, for the Army and for the Navy, is that not true?

A. No, that is incorrect.

Q. You are quite sure of that?

A. Yes, I am certain of that.

Q. And you are swearing to that?

A. You mean agents who did something, who -

Q. Who were out obtaining information for your office, for the Army and for the Navy at the same time, jointly?

A. I consider that highly improbable. It is, of course, possible that somehow or other, some one man may have worked for different departments, but this was definitely not done on an organised scale. The organisation - we maintained a very small intelligence service abroad - and the intelligence services of the other departments of the Reich generally worked - as far as I was informed - completely apart from ours. It is possible that here and there some person or other would work for other, for different departments. That is quite conceivable. For instance, some person or other, in our Embassies, as was customary at the English, American, Russian and other Embassies, who had dug themselves in as Consular Assistants or some other kind of assistants, and carried out intelligence work for some organisation or other.

Q. So you want to change the answer you made a moment ago, is that right?

A. No, I do not wish to change it at all. Fundamentally, as an organised routine matter, I never introduced any of the secret agents who worked for the different departments abroad. It is, however, conceivable, that the department of the Foreign Office, dealing with such matters may have appointed somebody. It was, however, a fairly insignificant affair. Today I say "unfortunately." it is quite possible that other agents from this department, working for other departments, for Counter-Intelligence and the S.D. were correlated. Later on we even ... I should like to add the following: I had pronounced differences of opinion over the intelligence services abroad with Himmler, and it was only through the good offices of the defendant Kaltenbrunner that I obtained an agreement to the effect that certain items of information would be placed at my disposal. But later this agreement was not honoured, I think it was practically ineffective because it was too late. That, I believe, was in 1944.

Q. Will you look at Document 3817-PS, please? Will you first tell the Tribunal who Albrecht Haushofer was, please?

A. Albrecht Haushofer was a former collaborator of mine and was a man who - yes - who dealt with German minority (Volkstum) questions. Could I perhaps read the letter first? Is it a letter from Haushofer? It is not signed.

Q. Yes, it is.

Have you finished reading?

A. No, not quite, not yet. Shall I read the others too, or only the first letter?

Q. We will get to the other letters in a moment. I am trying to make this as short as we possibly can.

Does that letter refresh your memory that Haushofer was out in the Orient investigating various matters and making reports to you as early as 1937?

A. At the moment I cannot recall that Haushofer was in Tokyo but it is conceivable, it is possible that such was the case.

Q. Well, the letter is addressed to you and it encloses a report, does it not?

A. Is this not a letter from Count Duerkheim? Is there not some misunderstanding? But if you say this was written by Haushofer, then it is conceivable that he was in Tokyo; it is possible. I am not acquainted with the details. I sent Count Duerkheim to Tokyo at that time, but it is possible that Haushofer was there, too. To be candid, I have, at present, forgotten all about it.

DR. HORN (counsel for the defendant Ribbentrop): Mr. President, I have just seen that this letter is not fully dated and is unsigned, but I hear from Colonel

[Page 279]

Amen it was allegedly written in 1937. In 1937 Ribbentrop was not yet Foreign Minister. He was only appointed Foreign Minister in 1938.

COLONEL AMEN: It has the date on it - 3rd October - and it was captured with Haushofer's documents.

A. But I consider it quite probable that this letter is from Haushofer, although, to be quite candid, I no longer remember exactly that he had been to Tokyo in 1937.

Q. Well, now -

A. He was a collaborator who worked with us in the early years, but later dealt more with German minority questions, so that I lost track of him in recent years.

Q. I will just pass along through this document. You will find the next document is dated 15th April, 1937, requesting reimbursement and funds for this trip.

A. Yes.

Q. And then passing to the next document, you will find a letter to the Deputy of the Fuehrer, Hess, saying:

"I am using the courier to send you also personally a short report which is going to Ribbentrop at the same time. It contains as briefly as possible a summary of what I could observe and hear over here in four weeks."
Do you see that?

A. Yes, I see the letter.

Q. Then you will pass on to the next letter dated 1st September, 1937, addressed to yourself.

A. Yes.

Q. Enclosing a report covering the first four weeks.

A. Yes, I have it before me.

Q. Now, we will pass the report over just, for the moment and you will come to a letter dated 17th December, 1937.

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Amen, the Tribunal thinks this is very far from the matters which it has really got to consider.

COLONEL AMEN: Very good, sir. It seems to me that this indicates very clearly that copies of the same report which is included here were being sent simultaneously to the Army, to the Navy - that went to Raeder - and to Ribbentrop.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, it is true that the witness's first answer was that they did not have joint agents, but he subsequently qualified that and said they might sometimes have had joint agents.

COLONEL AMEN: That is right, sir. If you think he has conceded that point -

I should like to put this in as Exhibit USA 790.

THE WITNESS: Yes, but may I be allowed to say that we are not, in this case, dealing with an agent. Haushofer was a free collaborator of ours, interested in politics in general, and in the question of the German minorities in particular. If he were in Tokyo at that time, and he doubtless was there - although it has slipped my memory - then I must have told him to speak to several persons over there and report to me. He apparently - as I have only just gathered from this letter - either because he was busy or for some other reason unknown to me, or because he knew the other gentlemen, placed these reports at the disposal of these other gentlemen on his own initiative. But he certainly was no agent sent out by different departments. I think the only person who knew him better was Rudolf Hess, otherwise, I believe, he knew nobody at all. I fear I am not giving you quite the right idea; he was a private tourist, who submitted his impressions.

Q. Now, I believe you have told the Tribunal that you were not very close to, Himmler, is that right?

A. I have always said that my relations with Himmler were good during the first few years, but I regret to say that in the latter years I was not on good terms with him. I naturally - it was not very noticeable to the outside world, but I do,

[Page 280]

not wish to discuss this matter in detail. Many things have already been said about it and there were serious and violent divergencies - due to many reasons ....

Q. I do not care what the divergencies were. In what years did you get along closely with him?

A. I did not understand your question.

Q. In what years were you close to him?

A. The first divergencies between Himmler and myself arose, I believe, in 1941, over Roumania and difficulties in Roumania. The divergencies were smoothed over and naturally, to all outward appearances, we worked together as before, and we often exchanged letters on our respective birthdays and on other occasions. But later on relations were not very good. The final break came in 1941. Formerly I had been on good terms with him and also shared his opinion for the creation of a Leadership Class, at which he was aiming.

Q. And you had at least fifty social appointments with Himmler in 1940 and 1941?

A. How many?

Q. Fifty?

A. Fifty? No, that certainly could not have been the case. Perhaps, or thereabouts, I cannot say for certain. But after '41 relations between us were more strained, and later they were not very good. Others, I believe, have already testified to that effect.

Q. Well, I do not want to take any more time, except ...

THE PRESIDENT: Are you dealing with social appointments between Ribbentrop, or something else?


THE PRESIDENT: Is that a matter which the Tribunal has to go into?

COLONEL AMEN: Well, I expect, sir, that any person that has as many appointments as are indicated by these books, certainly has discussed with Himmler the matter of concentration camps and the entire matters which Himmler was exclusively handling. He has told the Tribunal that he had never heard anything about concentration camps from Himmler.

THE WITNESS: I wish to repeat my statement that at no time did Himmler discuss this matter with me. As for our 50 meetings, I do not know, we may have met frequently, despite everything, but I cannot remember 50 meetings. Possibly 5 or 10, I do not know. I do not believe it to be of vital importance since it is not a decisive factor. Of course, we had to work together on many theories and this collaboration was mostly very difficult.

Q. Well, there were many business appointments which you had with him also, were there not? Just take a look at this sheet of entries from Himmler's appointment book and tell me whether that conforms to your -

THE PRESIDENT: Colonel Amen, the Tribunal does not want this matter gone into any further.

COLONEL AMEN: Very good, sir, but these were business appointments as distinguished from social. There are no further questions.


Q. Defendant Ribbentrop, during the last few sessions of the Tribunal you explained in great detail the bases of German foreign policy. I should like to ask you a few comprehensive questions and request you to answer these questions laconically in terms of "yes" or "no." Do you consider the Anschluss as an act of German aggression? Please answer this.

A. Austria?

Q. Yes.

A. No, it was no aggression. It was the accomplishment of a purpose.

Q. I must request you ...

A. But I presume I can say a few sentences at least, after saying "yes," or must I never say anything else but "yes" and "no"?

[Page 281]

Q. I must beg you to answer my questions. You have replied far too extensively. I would like you to summarise your replies, precisely by saying "yes" or "no."

A. That depends on my state of health. I must ask you to forgive me.

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