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 6 of 11)

[GENERAL RUDENKO continues his cross examination of JOACHIM VON RIBBENTROP]

[GENERAL RUDENKO continues his cross examination of JOACHIM VON RIBBENTROP]

[Page 281]

Q. I understand.

A. I did not consider the Anschluss as an act of aggression, that is, no - I considered it a realisation of the mutual purpose of both nations involved. They had always wished to be together and the government, before Adolf Hitler, had striven for it.

Q. I ask you once more: please answer "yes" or "no." Do you consider that the Anschluss was not an act of German aggression? Do you consider ...

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, he gave you a categorical answer to that that it was not an aggression.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Yes, I understand, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: And we have already ruled that the witnesses are not to be confined to answering "yes" or "no." They must answer "yes" or "no" first, and then make a short explanation if they want to. But, anyhow, with reference to this question, he has answered it categorically.


Q. The second question: do you consider the seizure of Czechoslovakia as an act of aggression by Germany?

A. No, it was no aggression in that sense, but a union in accordance with the self-determination of nations, as laid down in 1919 by the President of the United States, Wilson. The annexation of the Sudetenland was sanctioned by an agreement of the four great Powers in Munich.

Q. You evidently have not understood my question. I asked you whether you considered the seizure of Czechoslovakia, of the whole of Czechoslovakia, as an act of aggression by Germany?

A. No, it was not an act of aggression by Germany. I consider, according to the words of the Fuehrer, and I believe he was right, that it was a necessity, resulting from Germany's geographical position. This position meant that the remaining part of Czechoslovakia, the part which still existed, could always be used as a kind of aircraft- carrier for attack against Germany. The Fuehrer therefore considered himself obliged to occupy the territory of Bohemia and Moravia in order to protect the German Reich against air attack - the air journey from Prague to Berlin took only half an hour. Looking back on the matter, I remember that the Fuehrer told me at the time that the United States had declared the entire Western Hemisphere as their particular sphere of interest, that Russia was a powerful country with gigantic territories, and that England embraced the entire globe, so that Germany would be perfectly justified in considering so small a space as her own sphere of interest.

Q. Do you consider the attack on Poland as an act of aggression by Germany?

A. No, I must again say no; the attack on Poland was rendered inevitable by the behaviour of the other Powers. It might have been possible to find a peaceful solution to the German demands, and I think the Fuehrer would have trodden this path of peace had the other Powers taken this path with him. As matters stood, the situation had become so tense that Germany could no longer accept it as it was, and as a great power Germany could not tolerate Polish provocations any further. That is how this war arose. I am convinced that primarily the Fuehrer was never interested in conquering Poland.

Q. Do you consider the attack on Denmark as an act of aggression by Germany?

A. No, the "invasion" of Denmark, as it is called, was - according to the Fuehrer's words and explanations - a purely preventive measure adopted against imminent landings of British fighting forces. How authentic our information was is proved by the fact that only a few days later English and German troops were engaged in battle in Norway. That means that it was proved that these English troops had been ready for some time past for fighting in Norway and

[Page 282]

from the documents discovered later on, and published at the time and from orders issued, that the English landing in Scandinavia had been prepared down to the smallest detail. The Fuehrer therefore thought that by seizing Scandinavia, he would prevent it from becoming another theatre of war. I do not therefore think that the invasion of Denmark can be considered as an act of aggression.

Q. And you do not consider this attack on Norway as an act of aggression on the part of Germany either?

A. We have just been talking about Norway. I was talking about Norway and Denmark - a combined action.

Q. Together with Denmark. All right, it was a simultaneous action. Do you consider the attack on Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg as an act of aggression on the part of Germany?

A. That is the same question. I must again say "no," but I would like to add an explanation.

Q. Just a moment. I would like you to give shorter replies because you explain the basic questions far too extensively. You deny that this was an act of aggression on the part of Germany?

A. The Russian prosecutor will understand that we are dealing with very important questions, which are not easily explained in a sentence, especially since we did not have the opportunity to explain the matter in detail. I shall be quite brief.

Q. I quite appreciate that you have already been answering questions of this nature for three days running.

A. I shall now be very brief. After the Polish campaign military considerations proved to be the decisive factors. The Fuehrer did not wish the war to spread. As for Holland, Belgium and France, it was France which declared war on Germany and not we who declared war on France. We therefore had to prepare for an attack from this direction as well. The Fuehrer told me at the time that such an attack on the Ruhr area was to be expected, and documents discovered at a later date have proved, beyond even a shadow of doubt, and to the world at large, that this information was perfectly authentic. The Fuehrer therefore decided to adopt preventive measures in this case as well, and not wait for an attack on the heart of Germany. He attacked first - and the timetable of the German General Staff was put into practice.

Q. Do you consider the attack on Greece as an act of aggression on the part of Germany?

A. The attack on Greece and Yugoslavia by Germany has already been discussed. I do not believe I need give any further details on this point.

Q. I also do not think it is necessary to give detailed replies. I ask you whether you consider the attack on Greece as an act of aggression on the part of Germany? Answer "yes" or "no."

A. No, and I consider that the measures adopted in Yugoslavia and the measures taken by Greece in granting air bases to the enemies of Germany justified the intervention of Adolf Hitler, so that here too one cannot speak of aggressive action in this sense. It was quite clear that British troops were about to land in Greece, since they had already landed in Crete and the Peloponnesus, and that the rising in Yugoslavia as I mentioned yesterday by the enemies of Germany, in agreement with the enemies of Germany, had been encouraged in the intent of launching an attack against Germany from that country. The documents discovered later in France showed only too clearly that a landing in Salonika had been planned.

Q. Witness Ribbentrop, you have already spoken about that in much detail. You explained it yesterday at great length. Now will you please answer "yes" or "no" to my last question: do you, or do you not consider the attack on the Soviet Union as an act of aggression on the part of Germany?

A. It was no aggression in the literal sense of the word.

[Page 283]

Q. You say that in the literal sense of the word it was not an act of aggression. Then in what sense of the word was it an aggression?

THE PRESIDENT: You must let him answer.

A. May I offer a few words of explanation? I must be allowed to say something.

Q. You ...

A. The concept of "aggression" is a very complicated concept, which even today the world at large cannot readily define. That is a point I should like to emphasise a priori. We are here dealing, undeniably, with a preventive attack, with a war of prevention. That is quite certain, for attack we did. There is no denying it. I had hoped that matters with the Soviet Union could have been settled differently, diplomatically, and I did everything I could in this direction. But the information received and all the political acts of the Soviet Union, in 1940 and 1941 until the outbreak of war, persuaded the Fuehrer, as he repeatedly told me, that sooner or later the so-called East-West pincers would be applied to Germany, i.e. that in the East, Russia, with her immense war potential, and in the West, England and the United States, were pushing steadily towards Europe with the purpose of making a large-scale landing. That was Hitler's great worry. Moreover, the Fuehrer informed me that close collaboration existed between the General Staffs of London and Moscow. This I had not known, I personally had received no such news. But the reports and information which I received from the Fuehrer were of an extremely concrete nature. At any rate, he feared that, one day, Germany, faced with this political situation, would be threatened with catastrophe and he wished to prevent the collapse of Germany and the destruction of the balance of power in Europe.

Q. In your testimony you have frequently stated that, in the pursuit of peaceful objectives, you considered it essential to solve a number of decisive questions through diplomatic channels. Now this testimony is obviously arrant hypocrisy since you admitted just now that all these acts of aggression on the part of Germany were justified.

A. I did not mean to say that, I only said that we were not dealing with an act of aggression, Sir, while explaining how this war came to pass and how it developed. I also explained how I had always done everything in my power to prevent the war at its outbreak during the Polish crisis. Beyond the precincts of this Tribunal, history will prove the truth of my words and show how I endeavoured to localise the war and prevent it from spreading. That too is true. Therefore, in conclusion I say that the outbreak of war was caused by circumstances which, at long last, were no longer in Hitler's hands, He could only act in the way he did, and when the war spread ever further, all his decisions were principally prompted by considerations of a military nature, and he acted solely in the highest interests of his people.

Q. I understood that you have submitted to the Tribunal a document, No. 111, written by yourself, which is an appreciation of Hitler entitled "The Personality of the Fuehrer." You wrote that document not so very long ago. I am not going to quote from it, since you doubtless remember it, you wrote it a very short time ago.

A. No, I am not quite sure what document that is. May I look at it?

Q. This document was submitted by you to your own defence counsel, as Exhibit No. Ribbentrop 111, and submitted to the Tribunal by your attorney. On page 5 there -

A. Will you be kind enough to give me this document?

THE PRESIDENT: It cannot have been submitted to the Tribunal as 111, without anything more. What is it, 111-PS or 111?

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, this is the same document submitted as Ribbentrop 311. We have only a Russian translation here, which came to us together with a German Document Book. I presume that the Document Book has been submitted to the Tribunal. [Page 284] THE PRESIDENT It is R-111 or Ribbentrop 111, you mean. It is not 111; it is Ribbentrop 111.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, this is document 311.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I have it now. It is in Document Book No. 9.

GENERAL RUDENKO: May I continue, Mr. President?


Q. On page 5 of the document, your appreciation of Hitler, you state: "After the Polish victory, Hitler's plans in the West, under an influence which we can only ascribe to Himmler, were further worked out, with the purpose of establishing German hegemony in Europe." Do you remember the passage of the document you wrote yourself, defendant Ribbentrop?

A. May I see this document, I do not know it?

Q. I would like to ask counsel for the defendant Ribbentrop to submit this document to his client.

DR. HORN: Mr. President, we are dealing here with ...

THE PRESIDENT: Wait a minute.

Dr. Horn, the Tribunal is inclined to think that this document is quite irrelevant. It is apparently a document prepared by the defendant Ribbentrop, upon the personality of the Fuehrer. I do not know where it was prepared, but it seems to us to be irrelevant.

DR. HORN: Yes, Mr. President, I too am of opinion that it is irrelevant. I only included this document in case the defendant did not have an opportunity to speak in greater detail of his relationship to Hitler. Since he has had that opportunity I should like to withdraw the document.

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, the Tribunal considers the document quite irrelevant.

GENERAL RUDENKO: Mr. President, this document was presented by the defence counsel. It was written by the defendant Ribbentrop in the course of this Trial. All the prosecutors considered it admissible since this document, this appreciation, presented by the defendant Ribbentrop would justify us in asking a whole number of questions. But if the Tribunal considers that it really is quite irrelevant to the case, I shall, of course, refrain from quoting it.

THE PRESIDENT: We have not yet had an opportunity of ruling on the admissibility of these documents. It is the first time we have seen them, this morning. We all consider this document irrelevant.

GENERAL RUDENKO: I understand, Mr. President.

Q. I should like to put a few questions with regard to German aggression against Yugoslavia. I should like you to acquaint yourself with Document PS-1195. This document is entitled "Current Directive for the Partition of Yugoslavia." I invite your attention to paragraph 4 of the first section of the document. It states:

"In connection with the partition of Yugoslavia the Fuehrer has issued the following instructions:

The transfer of territories occupied by the Italians has already been arranged in a letter of the Fuehrer to the Duce and will be carried out by detailed directive of the Foreign Office."

Have you found the place?

A. No, I do not see the place.

Q. Page 1, paragraph 4, beginning with the words: "The Fuehrer ... " Got it?

A. Yes.

Q. I have already read this paragraph into the record.

A. It begins: "In connection with the partition of Yugoslavia, the Fuehrer has issued the following instructions"? That is how the document begins. May I ask ... now what passage are you quoting?

Q. It ends with the following words: " ... will be carried out by a detailed directive of the Foreign Office." And then reference is made to a teletype from the Quartermaster General of the O.K.H.

[Page 285]

A. There must be some mistake. It is not mentioned here.

(A recess was taken until 1400 hours.)




Q. Defendant Ribbentrop, have you acquainted yourself with the contents of the document?

A. Yes, I have.

[ Previous | Index | Next ]

Home ·  Site Map ·  What's New? ·  Search Nizkor

© The Nizkor Project, 1991-2012

This site is intended for educational purposes to teach about the Holocaust and to combat hatred. Any statements or excerpts found on this site are for educational purposes only.

As part of these educational purposes, Nizkor may include on this website materials, such as excerpts from the writings of racists and antisemites. Far from approving these writings, Nizkor condemns them and provides them so that its readers can learn the nature and extent of hate and antisemitic discourse. Nizkor urges the readers of these pages to condemn racist and hate speech in all of its forms and manifestations.