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 Eighth Day: Monday, 15th April, 1946
(Part 10 of 10)

[DR. THOMA continues his direct examination of Alfred Rosenberg]

[Page 384

Q. Herr Rosenberg, you were the leader of the Foreign Political Office of the Party. What was your function?

A. The Foreign Political Office was founded in April, 1933. After the accession to power many foreigners came to Germany in order to obtain information about the origin and the nature of the National Socialist Party. In order to create an information centre for the Party the Fuehrer assigned me to direct this office. As I said it was the task of this office to receive foreigners who were interested in these problems, to give them information, to refer them to the proper organisations of the Party and the State, if they were interested in the labour front, the Jewish problem, the winter aid work and so forth. Furthermore, we were interested in working on certain initial suggestions made to us, temporarily in the field of foreign trade, and if they had any merit, in transmitting them to the suitable departments of the government.

Furthermore, we kept abreast of the foreign Press in order to have good archives for subsequent research work and to keep the Party leadership well informed politically through short excerpts from the foreign Press. Among other things, I am accused here of having written articles for the Hearst Press. On invitation by the Hearst combine I wrote five or six articles in 1933 or 1934, but after I had met Hearst once for about twenty minutes at Nauheim, I did not see him or speak to him again. I heard only that the Hearst combine did get into extraordinary difficulties because of the favour shown me by publishing my factual statements.

Q. As the leader of the Foreign Political Office, did you at times take official political steps?

A. In the documents presented here, 003-PS, 004-PS, and 007- PS, the activity of the Foreign Political Office has been discussed and submitted, and in regard to this activity I could give a brief summary to the Tribunal and read from the documents.

Q. But I would like you to tell us what steps you took as the leader of the Foreign Political Office to reach an active agreement between the European nations.

A. Adolf Hitler called, a meeting in Bamberg, I believe in 1927, at which he stated his foreign political conviction that at least some nations could have no direct interest in the total extinction of central Europe. By "some nations" he meant particularly England and Italy. After that, in wholehearted agreement with him, I tried to find a way to an understanding through the personal contacts I had made. Frequently, I had conversations with British Air Force officers of the British Air Forces General Staff. On their invitation I visited London in 1931, and at that time had purely private conversations with a number of British personalities.

In 1932, at a meeting of the Royal Academy of Rome, the topic "Europe" was discussed and for the first time I had the opportunity to speak. I made a speech about this problem, in which I explained that the development of the last centuries had been determined by four nations and states, namely, England, France, Germany and Italy. I pointed out that, first of all, these four should define their vital interests so that shoulder to shoulder they could defend the ancient and venerable continent of Europe and its traditions. I believed that these fourfold national roots of the rich European culture were a historical and political legacy. Excerpts of my speech were published and parts of it have been translated for the Tribunal.

On the last day of the conference, the former British ambassador to Italy, Sir Rennell Rodd, came to me and told me that he had just left Mussolini and the latter had said to him that I, Rosenberg, had spoken the most important words of the conference.

Q. Herr Rosenberg, may I ask you please to be a little more brief.

A. In May, 1933, I was again in London, this time by Hitler's personal order, and I visited a number of British ministers whose names are not relevant here,

[Page 385]

and tried again to [REVIEWER'S NOTE: The President's question is due to the fact that in the foregoing answers the interpreter said "to bring about an agreement" instead of "to promote understanding."] promote understanding for the sudden and estranging developments in Germany. My reception was rather reserved, and a number of incidents occurred which showed that there was considerable hostility. But that did not prevent me from keeping up these personal contacts and from inviting a great number of British personalities to come to Germany later. It was not within the scope of my assignment to do that.

THE PRESIDENT: Why don't you ask the defendant what the agreement was to be about? Why doesn't he tell its what the agreement was to be about instead of going on talking about an agreement in the abstract?

DR. THOMA: Mr. President, I asked the defendant that question because he took steps to come to an understanding with England and worked towards that goal. The defendant is accused -

THE PRESIDENT: But what was the understanding about?

DR. THOMA: We were concerned with the fact that the defendant went to London in order to ...

THE PRESIDENT: I want you to ask the defendant. I don't want you to tell me.

DR. THOMA: I have just asked him, Mr. President. The defendant is accused of having participated in the Norwegian action, in that he advocated the violation of Norwegian neutrality.


Q. Please, answer the question, how did you meet Quisling?

A. I met Quisling in the year 1933, when he visited me, and I had a discussion of twenty minutes' duration with him. Subsequently, an assistant of mine, who was interested in Scandinavian culture and had written books about it, corresponded with Quisling. During the next six years I did not see Quisling again, and I did not intervene either in the Norwegian political situation, nor in the Quisling movement until he visited me in June, 1939, when the tension in Europe had become critical, and told me that he was apprehensive about the situation of Norway in the event of a conflict. He said it was to be feared that Norway would not be able to remain neutral in such a case and that his home country might be occupied in the North by Soviet troops and in the South by the troops of the Western Powers and that he viewed this development with great concern.

My Stabsleiter made a note of his apprehensions and then reported them to Dr. Lammers, as it was his duty to do.

Q. When was that?

A. That must have been in June, 1939. Also Quisling asked one of my assistants to help to maintain German-Norwegian understanding and especially to acquaint his Party with the structure and propaganda of our Party movement.

In the beginning of August there were, I believe, twenty- five Norwegians in our training school being trained for this propaganda work in Norway.

Q. What were they trained in, and how?

A. I did not see them nor did I speak to them individually.

They were taught how to carry on more effective propaganda, and how the organisation of the Party in this field had been built up in Germany. We promised to assist them.

Suddenly, after the outbreak of the war, or shortly before - I do not remember exactly - Hagelin, an acquaintance of Quisling, came to me with apprehensions which were similar to those expressed by Quisling. After the outbreak, of the war, this assistant of Quisling reported various details about the activity of the Western Powers in Norway. Finally, in December, 1939, Quisling came to Berlin with the declaration that, from his wide knowledge of affairs and information received, he knew that the Norwegian Government was only seemingly neutral now and that in reality it was practically agreed that Norway should give up her neutrality.

[Page 386]

Quisling himself had formerly been a Minister of War in Norway, and therefore he should have had exact knowledge of these things. In accordance with my duty as a German citizen, I recommended that the Fuehrer should hear Quisling. The Fuehrer thereupon received Quisling twice and at the same time Quisling, with his assistant Hagelin, visited the Navy headquarters and gave them similar information. I spoke once to Raeder after that and he also recommended the Fuehrer to consider Quisling's report.

Q. Then you personally transmitted only those reports which Quisling had given you?

A. Yes, I would like to emphasise that I had not been involved in these political affairs for six years, and Quisling visited me in spite of my inactivity. Naturally I had to consider it my duty to forward to the Fuehrer reports which, if correct, indicated a tremendous military threat to Germany; and also to make notes of and report to the Fuehrer those things which Quisling told me orally, namely his plan to bring about a political change in Norway and then to ask Germany for support. At this time ...

This development has been described in those documents produced by the prosecution in words which express it much more precisely than I could summarise it here. In Document 004-PS, my Stabsleiter made a short summary of it, about one and a half or two months after the Norwegian operation.

DR. THOMA: This document - I would like to call the attention of the Tribunal particularly to this document - was compiled immediately after the Norwegian operation while the impression of its success was still fresh and it describes quite unequivocally the measures which were taken. It clearly states that Quisling was the cause of everything, that he suddenly turned up in Luebeck and made reports, that he begged that his people be trained further, and that he came back repeatedly and always informed Rosenberg about the new incidents in Norway.

THE PRESIDENT: What document are you referring to?

DR. THOMA: No. 004-PS, Exhibit GB 140. That is in Document Book II, Page 113.

THE PRESIDENT: The Document Book is not numbered or paged?

DR. THOMA: I believe the number is at the bottom, Mr. President.

THE PRESIDENT: Which book is it you are referring to?

DR. THOMA: My Document Book No. II, Page 113. Document Book Alfred Rosenberg, Page 113, Volume II (Page 70). It is on Page 72 of the English translation.

THE PRESIDENT: Now then, what is your question?

DR. THOMA: I would like to point out that on Page 1 it states:

"Before the meeting of the Nordic Society in Luebeck, Quisling was in Berlin, where he was received by Rosenberg."
That was in June, 1939, as is shown by the Document 007-PS. Then, on the next page, it says that in August a course was given in Berlin-Dahlem. It says further that in December, 1939, Quisling reappeared in Berlin on his own initiative and made his reports. That was on 14th and 15th December and Rosenberg, in line with his duty, transmitted to the Fuehrer these reports which Quisling made to him. However, he did nothing beyond that in this matter. Parallel to this, and entirely independently of each other, the same reports were received by Raeder.


Q. Do you have anything to add to Document 004-PS?

A. Yes. Please let me have the document.

(The document was submitted to the defendant)

A. (continuing): On Page 5 of this Document 004-PS, it is stated that Hagelin, Quisling's assistant, who moved in Norwegian governmental circles, and who had received orders from the Norwegian Government for the purchase of arms from Germany, after the Altmark incident, for instance, that is the incident where a

[Page 387]

German vessel was fired upon in Norwegian territorial waters, had heard Norwegian deputies of the Storthing say that Norway's reserved attitude was clearly a pre-arranged matter.
In addition, "On 20th March" - see the middle of page 7 - "on 20th March on the occasion of his participation in negotiations regarding German deliveries of Flak- artillery, he made a detailed report on the increasing activity of the Allies in Norway with the acquiescence of the Nygaardsvold Government. According to his report, the Allies were already inspecting the Norwegian harbour towns for landing and transport facilities. The French Commandant, Kermarrec, had orders to that effect" - incidentally I also remember this name spelled Karramac, or something similar - "in a confidential conversation with Colonel Sundlo, the Commandant of Narvik, who was also a follower of Quisling. They had informed him about the intention of the Allies to land mechanised troops at Stavanger, Drontheim, and perhaps also at Kirkenes, and to occupy the Sola airport near Stavanger."
A little further down it says and I quote:
"In his report of 26th March he - that is, Hagelin - pointed out once more that the speech of the Norwegian Foreign Minister Koht, dealing with Norwegian neutrality and his protests, were not taken seriously either in London by the English, or in Norway by the Norwegians, since it was well known that the Government had no intention of taking a serious stand against England."
Q. That is what Quisling reported to you?

A. Yes, these were the reports which Quisling had instructed Hagelin to make. I would like to add further that some time after the Fuehrer had received Quisling, the Fuehrer told me that he had instructed the O.K.W. to consider the position from a military viewpoint and he asked me not to discuss this matter further. In this connection I would like to point out also that - as can be seen from Document 004-PS - the Fuehrer had emphasised that he wanted the entire Scandinavian north to maintain neutrality at all costs, and would change his attitude only if the neutrality was threatened by other powers.

Later, an assistant of mine was instructed by the Fuehrer to keep up connections with Quisling at Oslo and he received a certain sum from the Foreign Office to support propaganda friendly to Germany as against other propaganda. He also returned to Germany with reports about the opinions of Quisling. Later I heard - and this was entirely understandable - that this assistant, who was a soldier at that time, had also received military intelligence reports and that he delivered his reports after the Norwegian operation.

Q. Please be more brief, Herr Rosenberg.

A. The Fuehrer did not inform me of his final decision or whether he had actually decided to carry through the operation. I learned of the entire operation of 9th November through the Press, and thereupon paid a visit to the Fuehrer on that day. Several weeks later the Fuehrer called me to him and said that he had been forced to make this decision because of concrete warnings which he had received and documents which had been found gave proof that these warnings had been correct. He said it had been absolutely true that when the last German ships arrived in the fjord of Trondheim, they were attacked by the first approaching British vessels.

Q. In this connection I have just one more question: Did Hitler ever call on you to attend foreign political or military conferences in your capacity as Chief of the Foreign Political Office?

A. The Fuehrer differentiated strictly between the official foreign policy and the policy followed because of an initiative or suggestion which was urged upon me

[Page 388]

from outside. I believe all the documents show that he never asked me to participate in any conference concerning foreign policy or military preparations.

Q. That is you were never called upon to participate in the operations against Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Russia, etc.? I believe, Mr. President, that this is a suitable time to adjourn.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 16th April, 1946, at 10.00 hours.)

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