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 8 of 8)

[Page 303]

Q. Mr. Messersmith in his affidavit also refers to a document whose author he does not, however, mention. This document is alleged to have been shown him by Foreign Minister Berger-Waldenegg in January, 1935, and is said to reveal the substance of your conference with Hitler, Schacht and von Neurath on the occasion of your visit to Berlin. An agreement is alleged to have been made at that conference to the effect that for the next two years intervention in the internal political affairs of Austria was to be avoided. Finally Dr. Schacht is said to have made available two hundred thousand marks monthly for support of the National Socialists in Austria.

What do you say about Mr. Messersmith's statement?

[Franz von Papen] A. The details given by Mr. Messersmith show that this is obviously an agent's report on my trip to Berlin received by the Austrian Foreign Minister. The contents of that report are largely incorrect. The inaccuracy of the passage referring to Dr. Schacht has already been shown by Dr. Schacht's testimony. But in that report there is something which is true. At that time there was a so-called relief fund in Austria, which was managed by a certain Herr Langott.

It has already been testified here in the witness box that this relief measure, which was intended to benefit wives and children of Austrian National Socialists who had emigrated to Germany, existed with the knowledge of the Austrian Government and police. But I neither requested Herr Schacht to make available official funds for this relief fund, nor did I myself pay out such moneys. Obviously this money originated from Party sources in Germany.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: In connection therewith, I refer to the testimony of Glaise-Horstenau, who stated here that the Austrian Government knew of the "Langott" relief fund.


Q. Mr. Messersmith believes that from information received from the Austrian Foreign Minister Berger-Waldenegg, he can reproduce the following statement made by you at the beginning of 1935:

"Yes, now you have your French and English friends, and you can have your independence a little longer."
Did you make such a statement?

A. Such a statement would have been not only extremely foolish from a diplomatic point of view, but actually impossible, because it would certainly have put an end to all diplomatic activity.

In no case could the co-operation, which Mr. Messersmith states was carried on successfully for years, or the political activity which he describes as also being

[Page 304]

carried on for years, have been reconciled with an open admission of this kind to the effect that I wanted Austrian independence to be of short duration only.

Q. Mr. Messersmith goes on to say in this affidavit, that you had publicly stated that you wished to get rid of certain members of the Austrian Government, among them Chancellor Schuschnigg. Is that true?

A. The contrary is true. I never aimed at the removal of Chancellor Schuschnigg; it was rather my aim to give him confidence in my policy, in the policy of reconciliation. I not only knew Herr von Schuschnigg to be an upright Austrian patriot but also a man who was far from wishing to deny his German ties, and in spite of many differences in policy, these German antecedents of his made an excellent basis for collaboration. I can ask only in addition whether a diplomat, who desires a change to come about in the government to which he is accredited, would proclaim it from the roof-tops?

Q. The prosecution have submitted a report which you made to Hitler, dated 17th May, 1935, as proof of your desire to steer Schuschnigg into a government collaborating with the National Socialists. This is Exhibit USA 64, included again in my Document book under Document 66, on Pages 159 and 160.

Witness, what were your intentions, actually?

A. I must be a little more explicit with reference to this document. This report was written eight months after the Dollfuss murder, that is, within the first two years, during which period the prosecution themselves admit that I had instructions to remain entirely passive. When this report was written we had news that Starhemberg, in conjunction with Mussolini, was pursuing a policy which would have put serious difficulties in the way of an understanding between Austria and Germany. For this reason I suggested to Hitler a drastic intervention: I proposed that Schuschnigg and the Christian Socialist elements, which were hostile to a Heimwehr dictatorship, should be played off against Starhemberg by the offer of a final agreement on German-Austrian interests. This report states that if Germany were to recognize the national independence of Austria and were to undertake to refrain from influencing the opposition in Austria, by which I meant the Nazis, a coalition between these factions would be bound to result. The consequence would be that Germany would participate in the Danube agreement, which would be tantamount to a peaceful solution of the entire European situation.

Q. You have just explained that you were pursuing an honest policy of balancing interests?

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, the Tribunal would like to understand more clearly what the defendant means by what he has just said.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I have just been told that the translation came over very badly; the English translation is said to have come through very badly. Would you suggest, Mr. President, that the defendant repeat the entire answer?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, most certainly. That is the best way. I think it is very likely that the English translation came over badly.


Q. Witness, will you please repeat your answer but rather more slowly so that the interpreters will have no difficulty?

A. When this report was written, we had news that Starhemberg - Starhemberg was the chief of the Heimwehr - wanted to link himself with Mussolini in a policy which would be hostile in future to any Germanophile tendencies in Austria. In order to counter Prince Starhemberg's manoeuvre, I advised Hitler to suggest to Schuschnigg that, instead of forming a coalition with the Heimwehr, he should do so with the Christian Socialist elements, who were not opposed to a reconciliation of Germany with Austria. In order to induce him to enter into such a coalition, Hitler was to offer Schuschnigg a final settlement of German and Austrian interests. In other words, Hitler was to tell him that Germany would recognize the national independence of Austria and would undertake not to interfere in future in the internal affairs of Austria.

[Page 305]

And I went on to say to Hitler that if we achieved this pacification and established good and friendly relations with Austria, we could even join in the Danube Pact. This was the combination of the French, the Italians, and the Czechoslovaks, who were always in favour of a pact of the Danube Powers, including Austria. We in Germany had opposed the policy of those Powers at the time, because we feared that if Austria joined a Danube Pact, she would be estranged from Germany once and for all. If, on the other hand, we were on good terms with Austria and friendly relations were established again, we could, as I pointed out to Hitler, join in this Danube Pact and by this means achieve something extraordinarily constructive for the cause of European peace.

THE PRESIDENT: You are not forgetting your hopes which you expressed this morning?


Q. You have just said that you pursued an honest policy of co-ordination of interests.

Is it true that you persuaded Hitler to make a statement in favour of Austria's independence in his Reichstag speech on 21st May, 1936?

A. Yes, that is perfectly true, because that statement was the prerequisite for any normal settlement of interests in a revolutionary way; for our joint policy could only be advanced by Austria. Austria had been ordered by the peace, treaty of St. Germain and the protocol of Geneva to remain aloof from Germany. If Austria, therefore, were to take the initiative and improve her relations with Germany, it was essential that we should first recognize her sovereignty.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: May I draw your attention to a mistake in the translation. In the English translation the words "revolutionary way" should read "evolutionary way."


Q. Will you please comment on the pact of 11th July, 1936?

A. The agreement of 11th July has been described by Sir David as a deceptive manoeuvre and an attempt to get the Austrian Government into new difficulties, to undermine it by introducing men of pro-German sympathies, like Glaise-Horstenau or Foreign Minister Schmidt. This judgement passed upon the pact is entirely incorrect, and I think historically untenable; and I believe that that has been proved by examinations here and the statements of the Austrian Foreign Minister.

The pact was the result of my efforts over two years to re-establish normal relations between the sister nations. The agreement was desired by both governments, not by the German Government only, and Chancellor Schuschnigg admitted that himself, as mentioned in a report of mine, dated 1st September, 1936, on a speech made by Schuschnigg to Austrian workers. Why should the Austrian Government have concluded this pact? It was not compelled to conclude it, unless it wanted to bring about normal, friendly relations with the German Reich.

For that very reason I had asked Hitler to proclaim Austrian sovereignty in his Reichstag speech. That agreement was certainly not intended to imply our willingness to give up the idea of union at a later date, which we wanted, but it acknowledged Austria's full independence of action. But the aim of union of the two States was now to be pursued in a regular and evolutionary manner.

This corresponded with the agreement which I had made with Hitler on 26th July. There was a second part to that agreement which was not published. It contained all the elements necessary for pacification - an amnesty, the regulation of our Press relations and the lifting of the so-called "1,000 mark bar." This was a frontier bar imposed by Hitler's decree upon people travelling into Austria. Any German wishing to go to Austria at that time had to pay 1,000 marks. This bar was removed. Herr Schuschnigg, for his part, promised in this unpublished part of the agreement that men in his confidence, who were members of the national

[Page 306]

opposition, were to be drawn in to co-operate in Austria. It appeared to us that the inclusion of the Austrian opposition in Austrian parliamentary procedure was an essential condition for any further peaceful solution. In other words, the ban against the Party was gradually to be relaxed.

Mr. Messersmith, if I may add, stated incorrectly in his affidavit:

"Part II of this pact contained a clause that a number of persons who were in the Chancellor's (Hitler's) confidence should be called to positions in the cabinet."
That, obviously, is a mistaken conclusion on Mr. Messersmith's part, because we were not concerned with people who had Hitler's confidence, but with those who had Schuschnigg's confidence. This was an agreement made by Schuschnigg. Apart from this, Mr. Messersmith says with reference to this agreement:
"The first penetration of German nationals into the Austrian Government was achieved through the nomination of Dr. Guido Schmidt as Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs."
This is entirely wrong. Dr. Schmidt was an Austrian and directed Austrian policy; he represented Austrian interests, as was natural, and at no time did Germany exert any influence to make him, Dr. Schmidt, Foreign Minister.

On the whole, world public opinion at that time regarded this agreement as an instrument of peace and a great step forward. It was left to the prosecution to call it a deceptive manoeuvre.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I refer to Prince Erbach's affidavit, Document 96, of the English book, Pages 233 and 234, questions 4 to 7 and questions 12 and 13, dealing with the subject which we have just discussed.


Q. Did you, after the conclusion of the July Agreement, regard your mission in Austria as terminated?

A. Yes, I regarded it as terminated. That is proved by the resignation which I tendered to Hitler on 16th July, 1936.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I refer to Document 71, Page 165 of the second Document Book. I quote the beginning:

"On 26th July, 1934, you proposed to the late Field Marshal that I should be sent to Vienna on a temporary mission to restore normal and friendly relations.

"With the agreement signed on 11th July, the decisive step has been taken in this direction."

In a later part of the document, he asks to be recalled. I go on to quote the last but one paragraph:
"Even though the 'German question' will need very careful and considerate handling in the future too - especially after the incredible difficulties which have gone before - I would like now, at the end of the task you entrusted to me, to place my resignation in your hands."

Q. The Prosecution have used the report you made to Hitler on 1st September, 1936, 2246-PS, and they accuse you of remaining in contact with the illegal leaders of the Austrian National Socialists, of attempting to bring that opposition into the Fatherland Front and of desiring to change the Schuschnigg regime.

A. In the report mentioned I wrote:

"In the normalisation of relations to Germany, progress has been hindered by the stubbornness of the Ministry of Security, where the old anti-National-Socialist officials are located. Changes in regime are, therefore, urgently required."
The expression which I used in this report, "Changes in regime," actually means "Changes in personnel"; in that connection I also go on to say, in the

[Page 307]

Following sentence, that economic negotiations will follow in the near future. This shows quite clearly that these words do not refer to a removal of Schuschnigg's person. Apart from that, this report speaks of the gravity of the situation in the Danube area, and makes proposals for a peaceful solution.

If I am accused by the prosecution of having had contacts with the Nazi opposition, although the July Agreement had excluded all intervention in Austrian affairs, I must point out that I was perfectly entitled to these contacts because I was interested in ascertaining whether and how far Herr von Schuschnigg kept his promise to draw men in whom he had confidence from the nationalist opposition for collaboration. Just how far the Nazi opposition submitted to that agreement of 11th July is shown by Leopold's statement in January, 1937, which Mr. Messersmith has attached to his own affidavit.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I refer to Document 75, Page 171, which contains this file note of Leopold. The document is identical with Exhibit USA 57. There is an error in the English translation. In the fifth last line, on Page 1, the word "Anschluss" has been translated by "annexation."


Q. Witness, what do you have to say about Leopold's proposals?

A. Leopold's proposals show the following. The leaders of the Austrian Nazis fully accepted the policy of the July Agreement. They recognized that in future the question of the Anschluss would be an internal Austrian affair to be settled by the Austrian Government. They proposed that this solution should be found in an evolutionary manner by the Austrian Government and the Party. In favour of this solution is the fact that by means of the declaration of the sovereignty of Austria, these arguments could, in the future, no longer represent foreign political dangers for Austria, that is, that the agreement of July was approved of by the Austrian National Socialists, and that they were prepared to proceed in a legal way with the Austrian Government.

THE PRESIDENT: The Tribunal will adjourn now.

(The Tribunal adjourned until 18th June, 1946, at 1000 hours.)

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