The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)
Nuremberg, war crimes, crimes against humanity

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
4th April to 15th April, 1946

One Hundred and Fourth Day: Wednesday, 10th April, 1946
(Part 9 of 11)

[Page 222]

THE PRESIDENT: One moment. Is that Document Book IV?

DR. HORN: It is Document Book IV, Mr. President, Page 213. I am reading from Page 214, centre of the last paragraph, as follows:

"He, the chancellor, only wished that the outstanding political questions existing between Germany and Poland could be examined and treated without passion by the statesmen of both countries. He was convinced that some way out of the present untenable position could be found. Germany desired peace. The forceful expropriation of Polish territory was not his intention, but he was reserving for himself those rights to which he was entitled according

[Page 223]

to the pact, and he would insist upon them at any time and whenever he thought fit."
Concerning this conference two official communique were issued by request of the Polish Ambassador. This is Ribbentrop Exhibit 86. This is the German communique and I request the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it, and also the next Document, 87, on Page 216 of the document book, which is the Polish communique So as to save time, I do not propose to read these communiques.

On 15th July, 1937, considerable parts of the German-Polish Pact which was signed in Geneva in 1922, regarding Upper Silesia, expired. The necessity arose, therefore, to create a new pact between the two countries, particularly since difficulties again arose due to the question of minorities and the treatment of German minorities. As evidence for this I refer to Document Ribbentrop Exhibit 117, on Page 257 of the document book, and I should like to read the second paragraph, where it says:

"The Reich Minister also pointed out to the Polish Ambassador that the rigorous Polish point of view regarding the expulsion of those who had indicated a preference for Germany could not be accepted by us."
THE PRESIDENT: I could not see that on Page 254,

DR. HORN: Page 257, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I see it.

DR. HORN: The result of those conferences between Poland and Germany is the pact which has been submitted as Ribbentrop Exhibit 123 on Page 263 of the document book. This is a co- ordinated declaration by the Polish and German Governments regarding the protection of their respective minorities, which was published on 5th November, 1937. So as to save time, I can point out that the German minorities were given those rights which are usual between civilised States in similar cases. May I also point out that this agreement does not contain anything which can be considered the sanctioning of any wrong previously committed in this field, a point of view which was recently presented by the prosecution.

So as to remove the difficulties between the Free City of Danzig and the Polish Government which had arisen with regard to minorities and economic matters, an agreement was reached on 5th August, 1933, which is Ribbentrop Exhibit 127, and found on Page 270 of the document book. May I request the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this document too?

Since, in spite of these treaty agreements on the question of minorities and the problems of the Free City of Danzig, difficulties between the two nations continued to arise, Hitler gave the order to the defendant Ribbentrop, after the solution of the Sudeten-German question in October, 1938, to commence negotiations regarding the Danzig and Corridor questions as well as the question of minorities. For this reason the then Polish Foreign Minister, Colonel Beck, was invited to come to Berchtesgaden. The discussions which took place on that occasion between Hitler and the Polish Foreign Minister are contained in Ribbentrop Exhibit 149, on Page 301 of Document Book V. May I quote from the document to explain what the main features of this conference were? On Page 2, it says:

"For Germany there was not only the Memel question, which would be settled in a manner consonant with German views (for it looked as if the Lithuanians would be willing to co-operate in finding a reasonable solution), but, within the direct German-Polish relationship, there was also the problem of Danzig and the Corridor to be solved, which, from the point of view of sentiment, was very serious for Germany."

[Page 224]

On Page 3 of the same document, last line of the next to the last paragraph, it says:
"Foreign Minister Beck promised that 'he would, however, be glad to give calm consideration to the problem.'"
With that Germany considered that negotiations regarding this problem had begun.

On 24th January, that is to say the following day, the then Reich Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop had another discussion with the Polish Foreign Minister Beck during which the question of minorities was once more touched on. That discussion is contained in Ribbentrop Exhibit 150 on Page 304. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this document.

By invitation of the then Foreign Minister Beck, Reich Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop went to Warsaw on 24th January, 1939. Once more the entire problem was discussed there.

On 21st March, after the Czech question had been settled, a reorganisation in the East became necessary. The then Reich Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop therefore asked the Polish ambassador, on 21st March, 1939, to come to visit him. The account of that conference is contained in Ribbentrop Exhibit 154, on Page 310 of the document book. May I quote the third paragraph, Page 2, which is the leading point regarding that conference?

"Generally, the decision on the Corridor was considered the heaviest burden put on Germany by the Versailles Treaty."
A few lines later, it says:
"The Reich Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop explained that a prerequisite for this was, however, that the purely German city of Danzig should return to the Reich, and he suggested that an extra-territorial motor-road and railway connection be established between the Reich and East Prussia. He promised that Germany, would in exchange guarantee the Corridor ... Ambassador Lipsky promised to inform Mr. Beck accordingly and then to give an answer."
May I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this document as well?

Although the German Government at that time expected that, on the strength of these discussions, the question of the minorities and the question of Danzig and the Corridor would find some solution, these discussions had the opposite effect.

It appears from Ribbentrop Exhibit 155, on Page 313, and Ribbentrop Exhibit 156, on Page 314 of the document book, that Poland at that time ordered partial mobilisation. That partial mobilisation could only be directed against Germany.

Apart from that, the settling of the Czechoslovakian question on 15th March, 1939, had led to a change of attitude on the part of Britain. The then Prime Minister, Chamberlain, under pressure from the Opposition, held consultations with various European statesmen. As evidence of this fact, I refer to Ribbentrop Exhibit 159, which is Page 317 of the document book. This is a conversation of the Reich Minister for Foreign Affairs, von Ribbentrop, with the Polish Ambassador, Lipski, in Berlin on 26th March, 1939. May I quote its beginning, which is as follows:

"On 21st March the British Government proposed that first of all in Warsaw, as well as in Paris and Moscow, a 'formal declaration' by the British, French, Russian and Polish Governments should be made."
I shall then omit a few lines, and quote further as follows - line 7 from bottom:
"The Polish Government, which ordered partial mobilisation on 23rd March, was in no way satisfied with this British proposal for negotiations but

[Page 225]

rather demanded far more concrete commitments from England on behalf of Poland. Therefore, also on 23rd March, Foreign Minister Beck instructed the Polish Ambassador in London, Count Edward Raczynski, to submit to the British Government the following proposal for an Anglo-Polish union; 'Referring to the English proposal,' it says further on, 'of 21st March, I request you to ask Lord Halifax if

(1) In view of the difficulties and the unavoidable complications and ensuring loss of time ... '"

MR. DODD: If your Honour pleases, I see no reason - if I may say so with greatest respect - for reading any part of any of these documents. They are all in evidence, or will be, I assume. All that needs to be done, it seems to us, is to give them numbers. I know that we read from and commented on documents at the time we put forward the prosecution's case, but the compelling reasons for that procedure are not present now and cannot apply as far as these defendants are concerned.

THE PRESIDENT: Mr. Dodd, the Tribunal would like to know what the compelling reasons were to which you refer.

MR. DODD: Yes, I shall be glad to explain. At that time it was physically impossible for the prosecution to have its material all translated in the four languages, or the three languages in addition to the ones in which the original was written. Now the defendants have those facilities. Had we been able to have our papers all translated, we would have submitted them and we would not have commented; but the necessity for comment seemed very real to us, because we had to read everything we wanted into the record over the speaking system, and if we had read a lot of disjointed excerpts from documents we could not have presented a coherent chain of evidence before this Tribunal. But I say that now the defence can do so, it can submit the whole document, and later on, as I understand the rules and the Charter, counsel will have an opportunity to argue and comment about it as evidence.

THE PRESIDENT: But you will remember that this matter was argued - I think it was - a week or so ago. And if I remember rightly, Dr. Dix argued in favour of the defendants' counsel being still entitled to read such passages as they wanted, and with short connecting remarks, and we adhered to that rule.

MR. DODD: I didn't understand that your Honours had already ruled. I remember that Dr. Dix gave as one of his principal reasons that he wanted an opportunity to make this information available to the Press or the public. If that is still the reason, it is all available; the Press can have it without having the passages read over this microphone. However, I won't press the matter if the Court has already ruled.

THE PRESIDENT: I think so.

GENERAL RUDENKO: I would like to say a few words on the subject of Mr. Dodd's proposal. I fully support ...

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, I just pointed out to Mr. Dodd that we have made a specific ruling upon this subject and in the opinion of the Tribunal Dr. Horn has been performing his task with great discretion.

GENERAL RUDENKO: I still would like to be permitted to make a few remarks in regard to Mr. Dodd's proposal.

As the Tribunal will remember, just before the start of the questioning of the defendant Keitel the defence gave full documentation for Keitel, and the Tribunal looked into the matter of what document was to be accepted as evidence and what was to be declined ...

THE PRESIDENT: General Rudenko, if you are repeating - you are repeating the very words I used to Dr. Horn when he began, and, as I say, in the opinion of the Tribunal Dr. Horn has met the views of the Tribunal and has made his reading of these documents reasonably short.

GENERAL RUDENKO: I understand, Mr. President. I merely wanted to remark

[Page 226]

that the Soviet Prosecution considers that Dr. Horn's comments are superfluous as the defendant has already given us too many comments on the subject.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Horn, I am sure you will continue to use every possible means of cutting it short as much as you can.

DR. HORN: I hope, Mr. President, that I have convinced the Tribunal that I will be as brief as possible and that I shall read as little as possible, only that which is necessary to make understandable why I am presenting the documents.

THE PRESIDENT: Shall we adjourn now?

(A recess was taken.)

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