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 10 of 11)

[Page 226]

DR. HORN: I had last quoted some passages from Ribbentrop Exhibit 159, Page 317 of the document book, and I wish to briefly summarise what these documents refer to.

This document contains the request from the Polish Government to England regarding certain consultations which led to a concrete agreement. This agreement was in fact made between England and Poland during the period 21st March to 26th March.

Furthermore, and as a parallel to this, there is the coalition policy on the part of England which is proved by Documents 182 to 186, on Pages 370 and following of Document Book V. As is shown in Document 182, the following States were concerned: I am quoting from Document 182, at the bottom of Page 6:

"The following countries are said to have been invited to participate in the question of guarantees - Russia, Poland, Turkey and Yugoslavia. It is said to be definitely established that Hungary was not approached. It was left to Poland to approach Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia. The same is supposed to apply to Turkey with regard to Greece."
As evidence of this policy of coalition, I refer to Document 185, Page 372 of the document book. This is a telegram from the German charge d'affaires in London to the Foreign Office, and I should like to briefly quote:
"The available news proves clearly that the plan for a declaration on the part of Britain can be divided into two parts. The first part deals with guarantees to Belgium, Holland and Switzerland; the second part aims to protect the Eastern countries against aggression. The British Cabinet is supposed to be informed by a military spokesman that Roumania, because of her oil wells, will definitely have to be protected against German military seizure."
The same subject is dealt with in Ribbentrop Exhibit 186. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it without my reading from it, and I also ask that Document No. 183 be taken judicial notice of, which is on Page 375 of the document book and which, once more, so as to save time, I do not propose to read.

Based on this policy of coalition on Britain's part, which was directed against Germany, the Treaty of Friendship and Alliance between Germany and Italy was concluded on 22nd May, 1939. I am submitting it as Exhibit Ribbentrop 187, on Page 376 of the Ribbentrop Document Book. I request the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it without my reading it.

The result of the guarantee given by England to Poland was that Ambassador Lipsky, on 26th March, 1939, on the occasion of a conference with the Reich Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop, declared - and I am here referring to Exhibit Ribbentrop 162 and quoting from the third paragraph:

"Mr. Lipsky replied that it was his unpleasant duty to point out that further pursuance of these German plans, particularly regarding a return of Danzig to the Reich, would mean a war with Poland."

[Page 227]

I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this document. The same applies to the previous document, Ribbentrop 160, on Page 320 of the document book, which refers to the consultations between Britain and the governments previously mentioned.

On the strength of the declaration of Lipsky which I have just read - namely, that further pursuance of an attempt to alter the status quo regarding the Corridor and Danzig would mean war - the Reich Foreign Minister declared to the Polish Ambassador on 27th March, 1939 - I again quote from Ribbentrop Exhibit 163 on Page 335 of the document book - that this attitude of Poland could not be the basis for a settlement of these questions so far as Germany was concerned. The corresponding passage is the next to the last paragraph on Page 2 of this document, where it says:

"In conclusion the Foreign Minister remarked that he no longer knew what to make of the attitude of the Polish Government. They had given a negative answer to the generous proposals which Germany had made to Poland. The Foreign Minister could not regard the proposal, submitted yesterday by the Polish Ambassador, as a basis for the settlement of the problems. The relations between the two countries were therefore more and more strained."
I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this document.

So as to prove that the Anglo-Polish pact for Mutual Assistance was clearly aimed against Germany, I submit to the Tribunal as evidence Ribbentrop Exhibit 164, which is on Page 338 of the document book. I quote the last two lines, where it says:

"... that the pact applied only in the case of an attack by Germany. The Polish Government affirms that this is so."
I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the document.

The result of the Anglo-Polish agreement of 6th April, 1939, which has been submitted by the prosecution as No. TC 72, and which appears on Page 337 of my document book, was the termination of the Polish-German agreement of 26th January, 1934, since Germany was convinced that the Anglo-Polish guarantee declaration was contrary to the spirit of this agreement.

Subsequently there were a number of excesses against the German minorities in Poland. The documents referring to this are contained in my document book under Nos. 165 to 181. I am asking the Tribunal to take judicial notice of these numbers and to save time I shall limit myself to very short quotations.

I refer to Ribbentrop Exhibit 166, which states that serious incidents occurred in Pommerellen, Njevo and Bromberg.

I also refer to Exhibit Ribbentrop 167 on Page 353 of the document book. This document shows that in the last days there was a public appeal in Warsaw for the boycott of German trade and handicraft.

Furthermore, as evidence for my statement, may I refer to Exhibit Ribbentrop 180, which is on Page 368 of the Ribbentrop Document Book. May I read this brief report, which I quote as follows:

"During the last few months the German Foreign Office has continuously received reports from the German Consulate in Poland about the cruel treatment to which members of the German minority are subjected by the Poles, who are being more and more lashed into fury and have abandoned themselves to unbridled fanaticism. Details of especially grave cases have been given in Appendix 38."
From Document 181 on Page 369 of the document book, it appears that these clashes, as a matter of fact, took place with the knowledge and under the

[Page 228]

protection of Polish statesmen and high officials. As evidence for this, I refer to Document 181, but for reasons of time I am not going to read from it, but ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it.

At the beginning of August, 1939, the German-Polish relations suffered an acute crisis. As evidence of this I present Ribbentrop Exhibit 188, on Page 381 of my document book. The cause was actually a small one. There was an argument regarding the functions of the customs officials on the Danzig frontier. Because of this argument, the diplomatic representative of the Polish Republic in Danzig made a protest to the President of the Senate of the Free City of Danzig. This protest is contained in Ribbentrop Exhibit 188. It contained an ultimatum, which becomes clear from paragraph 3 of the document.

On 7th August the President of the Free City of Danzig at that time replied to this as appears in Ribbentrop Exhibit 189. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this document also.

In Ribbentrop Exhibit 190, on Page 383, the Reich Government warns Poland not to deliver any ultimatum. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this document, and I do not propose to read from it.

The next document I am presenting is Ribbentrop Exhibit 192, which is on Page 385 of the document book. This is a document from the Under-Secretary of State of the Polish Foreign Ministry to the German charge d'affaires in Warsaw, and it is dated 10th August, 1939. It appears from the last two lines of the document that any intervention of the Reich Government to the detriment of Danzig's rights would be considered an aggressive act by Poland.

These notes created an even mote critical situation in German-Polish relations. The Reich Government and its departments attempted, in the time that followed, to avoid a threatening conflict. As evidence of this I submit Ribbentrop Exhibit 193, which is on Page 404 of the document book, and I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of it.

This is a memorandum regarding a visit of the French Ambassador to the State Secretary of the Foreign Office, Weizsaecker. During that conversation the then State Secretary, Weizsaecker, emphasised that Germany had no more urgent wish than a German-Polish agreement regarding Danzig. The French Ambassador assured him that his government would co-operate in attempts to attain this.

I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this document, Ribbentrop Exhibit 193, and the next document, No. 194, on Page 406 of the document book.

The last document concerns the discussion between the State Secretary and the British Ambassador, Sir Nevile Henderson, during which the German State Secretary pointed out the seriousness of the situation.

I read from Page 1 of the document, the third paragraph, fifth line, the following sentence which characterises the situation:

"Danzig was only protecting itself against its protector."
Apart from that, the State Secretary pointed out that the situation regarding Danzig had now reached extreme tension.

The next document I refer to is Ribbentrop Exhibit 195, on Pages 408 to 415, of the document book. This document refers to a conference between Hitler and Ambassador Henderson on 23rd August, 1939. This conference is contained in Ribbentrop Exhibit 199, on Page 422 of the Ribbentrop Document Book. I also ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of this document and, so as to clarify the subject matter of that conference, I am going to refer to Page 4 of the document, where it says:

"He once more drew attention to the Danzig and Polish Question in connection with which England's attitude was: 'Rather war than something to Germany's advantage.'"

[Page 229]

The second paragraph after that reads
"The Fuehrer stated that the fact that England opposed Germany in the Danzig question had deeply shaken the German people.

Henderson then stated that one was merely opposing the principle of force, whereupon the Fuehrer wanted to know whether England had ever found a solution by negotiation for any of the idiocies of Versailles.

The Ambassador had no reply to this, and the Fuehrer then stated that, according to a German saying, it took two to make a friendship."

Because of the tense relations the late British Prime Minister Chamberlain wrote a letter on 22nd August, 1939, directly to Hitler. This letter is Ribbentrop Exhibit 200 on Page 426 of the document book. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial, notice of this document also.

The next document is Ribbentrop, Exhibit 201, and it contains Hitler's reply to the British Prime Minister Chamberlain.

On 25th August, 1939, there was yet another meeting between Hitler and Ambassador Sir Nevile Henderson. That meeting is contained in Ribbentrop Exhibit 202, which is on Page 431 of the Ribbentrop Document Book. May I refer to paragraph 5, where Hitler emphasised once more that

"The problem of Danzig and the Corridor would have to be solved."
On the following page, in paragraph 3 on Page 2, Hitler says:
"But after the solution of this problem he is prepared and determined to approach England with a major, all- inclusive proposal."
This offer is contained in the same Document 202, in detail.

Henderson made an entry regarding this discussion in his diary, which is Exhibit 195, and on Page 415 he refers to the meeting of 25th August, 1939.

"My interview with Hitler," says Henderson, "at which Herr von Ribbentrop and Dr. Schmidt were also present, lasted on this occasion over an hour. The Chancellor spoke with calm and apparent sincerity. He described his proposals as a last effort for conscience' sake to secure good relations with Great Britain, and suggested that I should fly to London myself with them."
Under No. 8, on the same Page, 415, Henderson continues to say:
"Whatever may have been the underlying motive of this final gesture on the part of the Chancellor, it was one which could not be ignored ..."
The next document, which gives in detail the course of events and the crisis which led up to the outbreak of war, is Ribbentrop Exhibit 208, on Page 451 of the document book. To the extent that I do not read from it, I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of the entire document.

The first extract from this document, which is a telegram from Lord Halifax to the British Ambassador in Warsaw, Sir Howard William Kennard, states the following, and I quote:

"Our proposed reply to Herr Hitler draws a clear distinction between the method of reaching agreement on German-Polish differences and the nature of the solution to be arrived at. As to the method, we wish to express our clear view that direct discussion on equal terms between the parties is the proper means."
This request for direct negotiations is an essential part of the events which followed.

Under No. 5 of the same document, on Page 52 of the document book, it states as follows:

"As the Polish Government appear in their reply to President Roosevelt

[Page 230]

to accept the idea of direct negotiations, His Majesty's Government earnestly hope that, in the light of the considerations set forth in the foregoing paragraph, the Polish Government will authorise them to inform the German Government that Poland is ready to enter at once into direct discussions with Germany."
In the following document, which has the same number and is on the same page, is a telegram from Sir Nevile Henderson to Lord Halifax, which was dispatched on 29th August, 1939. Great Britain's role is once more clarified. It says under No. 3 of this document:
"Note observes that German proposals have never had for their object any diminution of Polish vital interests, and declares that the German Government accepts mediation of Great Britain with a view to visit to Berlin of some Polish plenipotentiary. German Government, note adds, counts on, arrival of such plenipotentiary tomorrow, Wednesday, 30th August.

I said that this phrase sounded like an ultimatum, but, after some heated remarks, both Herr Hitler and Herr von Ribbentrop assured me that it was only intended to stress urgency of the moment when the two fully mobilised armies were standing face to face."

These proposals, which I have previously submitted in a special exhibit, had the following reaction in Great Britain. I read from Page 453 of Ribbentrop's Document Book. It is a telegram from Lord Halifax to Sir Nevile Henderson of 30th August, 1939. It says:
"We shall give careful consideration to German Government's reply, but it is, of course, unreasonable to expect that we can produce a Polish representative in Berlin today, and German Government must not expect this."
In the meantime the situation had become so serious that Sir Nevile Henderson didn't consider it possible that Britain's action would be successful. This is shown in the same document on Page 454. This is a telegram from Sir Nevile Henderson to Lord Halifax. I am reading only a short quotation, to save time, from point 3 of the telegram:
"While I still recommend that the Polish Government should swallow this eleventh-hour effort to establish direct contact with Herr Hitler, even if it be only to convince the world that they were prepared to make their own sacrifices for preservation of peace . "
The Polish Government was, nevertheless, not willing to enter into direct negotiations. This can be seen from the same document on Page 455, from which I will only read the first three lines. It is a telegram from the British Ambassador in Warsaw to Lord Halifax, and it states:
"I feel sure that it would be impossible to induce the Polish Government to send Mr. Beck or any other representative immediately to Berlin ..."
In the same telegram the British Ambassador emphasises in point 4, and I quote:
"I am, of course, expressing no views to the Polish Government, nor am I communicating to them Herr Hitler's reply until I receive instructions, which I trust will be without delay."
Through the failure to pass on the German Government's proposals to the Polish Government, direct negotiations were frustrated. As evidence of the fact that the Polish Government, too, had no intention of entering into such direct negotiations, I refer to Page 465 of the same document, which is a telegram from Lord Halifax to the British Ambassador in Warsaw. Once more he is asking the Ambassador to invite the Polish Government to enter into direct negotiations.

[Page 231]

I will not quote from this document, but I will quote from the next document, Page 466, which is an extract from the British Blue Book, and which refers to the Polish reaction. It is a telegram from the British Ambassador to Lord Halifax, 31st August, 1939. I am going to read the first three paragraphs of this document. From these paragraphs it becomes clear what the Polish attitude was regarding the possibility of direct negotiations. I quote:
"Mr. Beck has just handed me in. writing Polish reply to my demarche last night;"
The second paragraph states:
"I asked Mr. Beck what steps he proposed to take in order to establish contact with the German Government. He replied that he would instruct Mr. Lipski to seek an interview with the Minister for Foreign Affairs or the State Secretary in order to say Poland had accepted British proposals. I urged him to do this without delay.

I then asked him what attitude Polish Ambassador would adopt if Herr von Ribbentrop or whomsoever he saw handed him the German proposals. He said that Mr. Lipski would not be authorised to accept such a document as, in view of past experience, it might be accompanied by some sort of ultimatum."

This extract from the British Blue Book proves that, as far as Poland was concerned, all possibilities of clarifying the question of Danzig or the minorities were refused. In this manner it was no longer possible for the German Government or the British Government to discuss this question with Poland any further. As evidence of further efforts I submit to the Tribunal Ribbentrop Exhibit 209 on Page 494, of which I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice; I will not quote from it, or from Ribbentrop Exhibit 210, which I also offer to the Tribunal for judicial notice.

The next document is Ribbentrop Exhibit 213, which is on Page 504b of my document book. This last document is an official German report regarding the subject and basis of negotiations during the time of the Polish-German crisis.

Since Poland was unable to discuss these questions of Danzig or the Corridor with Germany, a war arose between these two countries. In my final defence speech I shall discuss specifically the legal aspect of this war and its nature in respect to International Law. What I want to state today is that the lack of any effective international institution for the alteration of the insufferable status quo was the final reason which led to the outbreak of war in 1939.

The next group of documents which I am submitting to the Tribunal are those which refer to the occupation of Denmark and Norway by Germany. These are the documents, Ribbentrop Exhibits 216a, on Page 509 of the document book; 216b, and 217. I ask the Tribunal to take judicial notice of these documents, and as far as evidence and the actual events are concerned I refer to the documents and statements which my colleague, Dr. Siemers, will submit to the Tribunal when he speaks on behalf of Raeder.

The next group of documents are those which refer to the occupation of Holland and Belgium. They are Documents 218 and the following on Page 518 of the document book. The documents are contained in Document Book VII. So as to explain the German viewpoint, I quote from Ribbentrop Exhibit 218 in Document Book VII. I am going to quote the following brief passages. Paragraph 2:

"As the Reich Government has long been aware, the true aim of England and France is the carefully prepared and now immediately imminent attack on Germany in the West, so as to advance through Belgium and Holland to the region of the Ruhr. Germany has recognised and respected the inviolability of Belgium and Holland; it being a natural prerequisite that these two countries,

[Page 232]

in the event of a war between Germany and England and France, should maintain the strictest neutrality.

Belgium and the Netherlands have not fulfilled this condition."

On Page 2 in the same document, under No. 8, reference is made to the evidence which was known to the German Government at the time and which I will submit in due course in support of the assertion just made. It says:
"Documents at the disposal of the German Government prove that preparations by Britain and France on Belgian and Netherlands territory are already far advanced.

Thus for some time all obstacles on the Belgian border towards France which might hinder the entry of the English and French invasion Army have been secretly removed. Air fields in Belgium and the Netherlands have been reconnoitred by English and French officers, and their enlargement has been ordered. Belgium has made transport facilities available at the frontier, and recently advance parties of staff personnel and units of the. French and English Army have arrived in various parts of Belgium and the Netherlands. These facts, together with further information which has accumulated in the last few days, furnish conclusive proof that the English and French attack against Germany is imminent and that this thrust will be directed against the Ruhr through Belgium and the Netherlands."

As proof of these statements I refer to documents in Ribbentrop Exhibits 221 and 229, which I submit to the Tribunal for judicial notice. They are the Anglo-French plans in preparation for violation of Holland's and Belgium's neutrality in agreement with these countries.

[ 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.