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

The Trial of German Major War Criminals

Sitting at Nuremberg, Germany
7th June to 19th June 1946

One Hundred and Fifty-Sixth Day: Monday, 17th June, 1946
(Part 2 of 8)

[Page 279]

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Hugenberg's statement on Pages 194-195. Lersner's on Pages 210-212.


Q. The prosecution asserts that the government formed on the 30th of January took over the programme of the NSDAP as its own. Will you explain now, witness, what the basis of that government's policy was.

A [Franz von Papen]. The view held by the prosecution is completely incorrect. The programme which on the 30th of January we decided to adopt was not the programme of the Nazi Party, but was a coalition programme. And this is perfectly plain from the proclamation which this government issued to the German people on the 1st of February. And to give historical proof of this, may I quote two sentences from that proclamation?

It says:

"The national government will consider it as its first and foremost task to restore the spiritual and political unity of our people. It will consider Christianity as the basis of its general moral outlook and will firmly protect the family as the determining unit of the nation and the State.

The tremendous problem of reorganizing our economy will be solved with two comprehensive Four-Year Plans."

I should like to add just one sentence:
"This government is fully conscious of its sacred duty to maintain peace, which the world needs now more than ever."
In addition, this coalition programme which the prosecution describes as the Nazi programme contained the following points: Continued existence of the Lander and the federal character of the Reich; protection of justice and the legal system, irremovability of the judges; reform of the Constitution; safeguarding of the rights of the Christian churches; and, above all, abolition of the class conflict through a solution of social problems, the restoration of a true national community.

Q. Did you yourself do anything else to assure the application of your own political ideas?

A. I did everything within my power, together with my political friends, to carry through the ideas which I myself had contributed to this political programme. At that time, the essential point seemed to me the creation of a counter-balance to National Socialism, and, therefore, I asked the leaders of the Rightist parties to give up the old party programmes and to unite in a large, common political organization with the aim of fighting for the principles which we had enunciated. However, the party leaders did not act on this suggestion. Party differences were too marked and no changes took place. The only thing I accomplished was the establishment of a voting bloc of all these parties, and on behalf of this voting bloc I made many speeches in which I presented this programme, this coalition programme, to the country.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I want to refer to a speech delivered by the witness on the 11th of February on behalf of the voting bloc; it may be found in Document 12, Pages 54 and 55. I quote from about the middle of Page 55 the following brief passage:

[Page 280]

"Therefore, I consider the fact that the present Reich Cabinet is not made up of one single party or movement, but of various groups of the national movement, of free politicians and experts, not a disadvantage, but rather an advantage."

Q. What specific questions were emphasized and underlined in the programme of this voting bloc? You spoke of these questions in various speeches. In order to save time, I should like only to submit to the Tribunal the document dealing with this point - Document No. 10. Will you briefly explain your attitude and comment on the various questions; first of all, the social problem?

A. The social problem was, of course, at the head of my programme, because this question dominated all others. It was our task to re-make well-satisfied citizens out of the workers who were now engaged in class conflict and to give them the opportunity of a livelihood and a home. I stated in the speech, which is contained in this document, that there would always be differences in ownership of property, but that it was unethical and wrong that a small group should possess everything while the mass of the people had nothing. And above all, I again and again emphasized the fact that if we could succeed in solving the social problem we would, in that way, make a striking contribution to peace in Europe.

Q. What was your main policy in foreign political matters?

A. It was very simple, consisting merely of the desire to do away in a peaceful manner with the discriminations against the German people and against our sovereignty.

Q. What was your platform on religious questions?

A. It is plain from all of my speeches that I considered the regeneration of the German people in a Christian sense as the prerequisite for the solution of the social and all other problems which confronted us. I shall return to this point later.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I should like to submit as evidence the document which I have already mentioned, Document No. 10, and I ask that the Tribunal take judicial notice of it. Since a mistake in the translation affecting the sense has been made on Page 39, and since the question of dissolving the trade unions will play a large role later, I should like to read a brief paragraph on Page 39, about the middle of the page:

"I recognise that the trade unions have done much to imbue the working classes with professional honour and professional pride. Many trade unions, for instance the Union of Clerks, have made exemplary achievements in this respect. The conception of class conflict, however, stood in the way of real reform and constructive work in this direction.

The Socialist parties prevented any serious consequences from the trade unions' efforts to convert the workers into a class. If the trade unions would recognize the signs of the times and remain out of politics, then they could, especially now, become a strong pillar of the national life."


Q. Please comment on the results of the elections on the 5th March, 1933?

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I just want to draw the Tribunal's attention in this connection to Document No. 98, in which I have set down a diagram of the election results in the years in question.

A. This election became extremely significant in respect to later developments. First of all, I should like to state that this election was a completely free one, for it was conducted by the old functionaries of the Republic, and that it was actually free is demonstrated by the fact that the votes of the Communists and of the Social Democrats did not decrease at all. I, personally, had expected that the NSDAP would be successful at the polls. In November, 1932, I had gained 36 of its seats in the Reichstag, and I expected that it would regain some of those seats. I had also hoped that my own voting bloc would be very successful. I hoped that the

[Page 281]

people would realize the necessity of creating a counter-balance. However, this did not happen -

THE PRESIDENT: Surely the figures are sufficient for us. We can form our own conclusions from the figures. We can see the figures. We do not need to have them all explained and commented on to us. There are very much more important things for us to consider.


Q. Witness, will you now describe the events leading up to the Enabling Act of 23rd March, 1933.

A. The Enabling Act arose out of the necessity to have the economic measures carried out in an untroubled Reichstag session. Negotiations were conducted with the Centre Party to obtain a one-year parliamentary truce, but these negotiations failed. Hence, this law, of which there were precedents, became a necessity. The prosecution has emphasized this law as clear proof of the existence of a conspiracy. May I say, therefore, that I myself tried to provide for a certain check by endeavouring to maintain the veto power of the Reich President. The cabinet records of the 15th of March show, however, that State Secretary Meissner did not consider the participation of the Reich President necessary.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I should like to refer to Document 25, which is identical with Exhibit USA 578, dealing with the attitude taken by von Papen in this cabinet discussion, and, to the standpoint, just mentioned, of State Secretary Meissner, State Secretary of the minority cabinet.

I should also like to refer to Document 23, because from the enumeration of the emergency decrees in that document it is clear that, in the state of emergency which obtained then, it was not possible to govern by means of Reichstag laws, and that the Enabling Act was to be a substitute for these emergency decrees which were being repeatedly issued.

I must make one correction: the standpoint of State Secretary Meissner is contained in Document 91, Exhibit USA 578.


Q. On the 21st of March, 1933, an amnesty decree was issued. The prosecution has described this law as "sanction of political murder." What can you say about it?

A. I should like to say the following:

This law was promulgated in an emergency decree of the Reich President, not of the cabinet, and it was a natural end of a revolutionary period which had lasted seven weeks. There are very many historical precedents for this amnesty decree; for example, the law which was issued by the young German Republic on the 21st of July, 1922, and which includes murder in the amnesty measures.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: May I now refer to Document 28, Page 99 of Document Book 1. This contains the law of the 21st July, 1922, which concludes "the period of a state of unrest which obtained in the years 1920 and 1921."

May I also refer to Page 100 of this Document 28 which contains the law of the 20th December, 1932, which has been mentioned.


Q. On the 23rd of March, the law dealing with the special courts was issued. What can you say in that connection?

A. These special laws or special court laws are also not entirely new. I personally, as Chancellor of the Reich issued such a law on the 9th of August, 1932, and I based my action then on a directive of the Bruning cabinet, dated the 6th of October, 1931. In revolutionary periods, punishable political acts had to be brought to expeditious trial under the law.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: May I now point out Document 27, Page 89 of Document Book 1, especially the introduction preceding Paragraph 1, which shows that this emergency decree was based on the Bruning emergency directive of 1931.

[Page 282]


Q. On the 1st April, 1933, the Jewish boycott was carried out. Was this a measure taken by the government? Did you participate in it in any way?

A. The assertion of Dr. Goebbels that the cabinet had approved of this measure was completely false. On the contrary, at the suggestion of the cabinet, Hitler had on the 10th and 12 of March made public announcements, which my counsel will submit.

The prosecution refers to the telegram which I sent to New York on the 25th as a "white lie of the greatest magnitude"; I can only say, however, that this assertion is completely unfounded. The public statements of Hitler gave us the assurance that such excesses would not take place again. In that belief, I sent my telegram. It would be inconceivable that on the 25th I should send a telegram to New York -

THE PRESIDENT (Interposing): Dr. Kubuschok, I thought your question was: Did the defendant participate in these measures? I do not know what his answer is. He has been answering for some minutes, but I do not know what the answer is.

The question was: Did you participate? And I do not know what he has answered.

THE WITNESS: I said that the assertion of Goebbels that the cabinet had approved this Jewish boycott was a lie.

THE PRESIDENT: Why not answer directly, did you or did you not participate?

THE WITNESS: No, we did not participate.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: May I refer to Document 33, Page 113, a statement by Hitler on the 10th of March, the last two lines:

"Annoying of individuals, obstruction of automobiles, or disturbance of business life must be absolutely discontinued."
On the same page, Page 113, the declaration of Hitler on the 12th of March, last sentence of the paragraph next to the last:
"Whoever, from now on, attempts by individual action to cause disturbances in our administrative or commercial life, deliberately acts against the national government."
THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, I did not intend to prevent the defendant telling the Tribunal what he had done with reference to his telegram to the New York Times, but I wanted him in the first instance to answer your question.

Now, if he wants to add anything about what he telegraphed to the New York Times, let him do so.


Q. Will you then, please, go back to this point in connection with the New York Times.

A. I can only add, my Lord, that it would be quite inconceivable that on the 25th of April I should send this telegram to New York knowing that three or four days later a new Jewish boycott would be carried out; that is completely nonsensical.

Moreover, I might point out that on the same day Herr von Neurath sent a similar wire to Cardinal O'Connel.

Q. Will you now give an account of your attitude to the Jewish problem.

A. My attitude toward the Jewish problem can be briefly delineated; it has always, throughout my life, been the attitude demanded of its members by the Catholic Church.

I stated my view on the question of race, as regards National Socialist doctrine, in a public speech at Gleiwitz in the year 1934, and my counsel will submit that speech as evidence.

A completely different question, however, apart from my basic attitude toward the Jewish problem, was that of a kind of foreign monopolisation by, and overwhelming influence of, the Jewish element in those spheres which form the nation's

[Page 283]

public opinion, such as those of the Press, literature, theatre, film, and, especially, law. There seemed no doubt in my mind that this foreign monopolisation was unhealthy and that it ought to be remedied in some way.

But, as I said, that had nothing whatever to do with the racial question.

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