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-Seventh Day: Tuesday, 18th June, 1946
(Part 1 of 10)

[Page 308]




Q. The witness Guido Schmidt has referred to an incident involving a flag at Pinkafeld, in May 1937. Would you please describe your activities in settling that incident?

A. The flag incident at Pinkafeld is mentioned either by myself or by my defence counsel because it is a typical example of Hitler's attempts to pass on to an aggressive policy in Austria, even in the days before 1938.

On 1st May, 1937, in the small hamlet of Pinkafeld, a flag of the German Reich was hauled down by an Austrian official. Great excitement in the Press! I instantly tried to settle the matter amicably with the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs. Thereupon I received a telegram to proceed to Berlin at once. I arrived in Berlin and reported to Hitler. Hitler did not receive me. I waited for three days. After three days, I wrote and told him: "It appears that you are trying to use the flag incident at Pinkafeld to introduce an aggressive policy against Austria. In that case, there is nothing more for me to do and I beg to hand in my resignation." A quarter of an hour later he called me to the Reich Chancellery. He gave me a lecture, which lasted half an hour, and was furious and beside himself with rage over the humiliations which, he said, the German Reich could no longer tolerate. After his rage had spent itself, I told him that, according to our agreement of 26th June, the policy concerning Austria was to be conducted on evolutionary lines. The agreement of 11th July emphasized that. Finally, I said: "If you wish to pursue a different policy, then dismiss me."

As a result of this very serious conversation he said: "No, no. Go back and settle everything; we do not want to change our peaceful policy."

I returned to Vienna, and the incident was settled satisfactorily with the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs within twenty-four hours.

Q. Did you talk to representatives of other Powers regarding the policy which you pursued in Austria?

A. Yes, I repeatedly discussed this policy with representatives of other Powers. For instance, in the summer of 1937 I discussed it with the British Ambassador, Sir Neville Henderson.

THE PRESIDENT: Has this letter which the witness speaks of been produced, or a copy of it? He has spoken of a letter to Hitler: "I wrote a letter."

DR. KUBUSCHOK: No, we have not got that letter, neither have we a copy of it. The files of the witness were destroyed in Berlin by air attacks.

THE WITNESS: May I add, Mr. President, that the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs has confirmed the incident in Court and the course it took. Herr von Neurath also knows about this incident very well indeed.

THE PRESIDENT: Who was the Minister for Foreign Affairs who confirmed it?

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THE WITNESS: The Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Schmidt, who was a witness here; the witness Guido Schmidt.


A. (Continuing) With reference to that question, may I remark that I, of course, very often spoke to representatives of other Powers about our Austrian policy. For instance, in June of 1937 I discussed it with Sir Neville Henderson, the British Ambassador to Berlin. In October 1937 I visited Paris, incognito, and there talked to many of the leading politicians about this problem, among them the President of France, M. Daladier, and M. Leon Blum. I assured these gentlemen that we would seek a solution of the Austrian problem exclusively on an evolutionary basis, and that the union we were striving for of the two States would never prove a threat to the interests of France, that on the contrary, we were only looking for that solution within the European framework, i.e., with the consent of France.

At that time, I was under the impression that in England, as well as in France, it was becoming increasingly understood that a general settlement was necessary.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: As proof that the defendant could actually have been convinced that the other Powers - in virtue of an evolutionary development in Austria - might eventually be prepared to come to an agreement, I submit Document 74, Page 169. It is a report from von Papen to Hitler on the conversation with Sir Neville Henderson on 1st June, 1937.

I draw your attention to this document and should like to point out that Henderson has stated that he was well disposed towards an amicable solution of the Austrian problem, and trusted that he too could exercise a corresponding influence in Paris.

I further draw your attention to Document 80, Page 177. It is a statement of the Belgian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Spaak, after the Anschluss. I invite your attention to the last sentence: "I have believed, for a long time past, that the Anschluss complied with the logic of facts, and had it been ratified in a normal manner, I should not have been surprised."


Q. Mr. Messersmith alleges that Nazi propaganda in Austria was paid for out of German funds. Did you ever give or arrange for any funds for that purpose?

A. The Party never received a penny, either from me personally or through the German Embassy. It is, however, quite possible - and even probable - that German Party funds did pour into Austria. I was never informed of this, for it was a well-known fact that I did not enjoy the confidence of the Party in either country.

There is, however, one exception which I particularly wish to emphasize, i.e., the donation - and it was known to me - of funds in support of the "Langott" relief.

Q. The prosecution has reproached you for your anti-Semitic attitude in connection with your report to Hitler of 12th May, in which you suggested giving financial aid to the Freedom League for the furtherance of their fight against Jewry. What was this Freedom League?

A. The Freedom League was a focal point, a union of the former Christian Trade Unions and the Christian Workers' Union, under the leadership of the President of the Trade Unions. Dollfuss took over the leadership in 1934. It would be utterly ridiculous to accuse this Freedom League, mainly composed of Catholic workers, of an anti-Semitic attitude in the National Socialist sense.

The Freedom League fought to purge the administration of Vienna of unsuitable Jewish elements. The problem of this undue alien penetration was absolutely similar to conditions then existing in Germany, conditions which I mentioned yesterday in detail. This fact is also proved by the report submitted yesterday to the prosecution. I learned that the Czechs were endeavouring to establish

[Page 310]

close relations with the Freedom League and that for this purpose they desired to support the League with large sums of money.

I thereupon suggested to Hitler that this possible influencing of the Freedom League by the Czechs should be eliminated by supporting it ourselves. But we could not, of course, tell the Freedom League: "We are now going to subsidise you so that you do not go over to the Czechs." So I proposed to Hitler that he should give these moneys in consideration of the League's continued fight against Jewry, which was pure camouflage. Had I wanted to give this money specifically for the fight against Jewry, I would not have written "in consideration of" but "for the furtherance of its fight."

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I refer to Document 32, Page 112 of the document book. It is an excerpt from the Austrian Annual of 1933-1934, which is an official publication. I draw your attention to the beginning of the second paragraph, where it is explained that the Freedom League originated in the Christian Workers' Unions and the Christian Trade Unions.

I further draw your attention to the fifth line from the bottom, and I quote:

"At the beginning of 1934, the late Federal Chancellor, Dr. Dollfuss, took over the supreme leadership of the League of Freedom."
I also draw your attention to Document 72, Page 166. It is a report of von Papen to Hitler in which he quotes a report from the Prague Secret Service. Of interest, in this connection, is a reference to the fact that the Freedom League was striving for an understanding with Social Democracy.

The next document, number 70, has already been presented as Exhibit GB 243. I draw your attention to the first paragraph which reflects the efforts of the Czech diplomats.

Document 70, Page 164. This is the document mentioned by the prosecution, part of which has been submitted under Exhibit G B 243. The first paragraph is important in that it deals with the activities of Czech diplomacy, mentioned a short time ago by the defendant. Furthermore, there is, with reference to this Freedom League, von Papen's report, Document 73, Page 176, to which I wish to invite your attention.

Another report of von Papen's is interesting, Document 69, Page 163. It shows the efforts of the Freedom League to gain a foothold in the political field.


Q. Witness, in the summer of 1937, Schuschnigg was making efforts to persuade the National Opposition to collaborate. What do you know about it and what were the subsequent developments'?

A. In the summer of 1937, Schuschnigg was making efforts to keep his promise to induce the National Opposition to collaborate. The visit of the Minister, Glaise Horstenau, to Hitler in June 1937 took place with Schuschnigg's consent. Later he founded the so-called "Committee of Seven" with Dr. Jury and Dr. Taws. This choice of members was effected without any participation on my part. But with regard to this "Committee of Seven" I should like to make a statement. Obviously, the Chancellor's attempts for appeasement were either not sufficiently far reaching for the Party in Austria, or they were too slow. In November 1937 the Austrian police discovered in the office of this "Committee of Seven" documents known as the "Taws Papers," which indicated new, illegal and radical intentions. The Austrian Government did not inform me of these papers, and no official "demarche" took place. But I did learn that amongst the documentation was a plan for my assassination. It was suggested that an attempt be made on my life which would provide a pretext for marching into Austria.

The Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Schmidt, confirmed this fact the day before yesterday before the Tribunal, and it appears to me that this suggestion, this plan against me, best proves exactly how great was the harmony between my

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policy and that of the Austrian or German National Socialists, a harmony which the prosecution insists on taking for granted.

At that time I was very pleased that the Austrian Chancellor had also included in the cabinet Dr. Seyss-Inquart, whom I knew personally, in this work of appeasement. At this point I consider it only fair to make a correction. The Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs has reported a conversation which he had with me at Ankara, in October 1943. I told him at the time - and I also repeated my statement during my preliminary interrogation - that Dr. Seyss-Inquart had proved to be the greatest disappointment of my life. I had assumed that it was he who had called for the entry of the German troops into Austria and who was responsible for the Nazification of Austria after the "Anschluss." In the light of the knowledge we have gained from various documents, I must correct my previous verdict.

Q. At the end of 1936 your first collaborator, Counsellor of Embassy Prince Erbach, was recalled from Vienna. His successor was Counsellor of Embassy von Stein. Since he took over your duties, after you had been recalled on February 4th, 1938, it would be interesting to know what his attitude was towards both the Party and you.

A. Later I learned that Counsellor of Embassy Baron von Stein was appointed my Embassy Counsellor by special request of the Party because he was to execute control over my policy as regards the Party. Herr von Stein was an ardent National Socialist. His relations with me were entirely different from those I had had with his predecessor, Prince Erbach. But I want to state that also during that period I continued to pursue my original line of policy and that von Stein merely had the management of technical matters.

Q. The Hossbach document of November 5th, 1937, has been frequently mentioned. Did you know about the conference at Berchtesgaden which forms the basis for this document?

A. Of this sensational conference, of this truly important document in the hands of the prosecution, I, of course, never even had an inkling. I first became acquainted with the document here, in this Court. But if I may be permitted to say something more: the concatenation of ideas between the events of the 11th March and this document appears to be rather tenuous. This document indicates that Hitler only intended to march into Austria by force, only intended to carry out the Anschluss by force, if the political situation in Europe was favourable. He expected the right moment to arrive between 1943 and 1945.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, this is mere argument, is it not? He says he never saw the document until he came into this Court. He is now arguing to us about his connection with the events of March 1938. Well, that is a matter for you, not for the defendant.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: All right, then I shall deal with that later.


Q. Witness, on 4th February, 1938, you were, much to your surprise, dismissed from your post in Vienna. Please inform the Tribunal on the matter.

A. At the end of January 1938, I had been to Berlin to see Hitler; I talked to him about the conversation which I had had with Dr. Seyss-Inquart at Garmisch, and I received no indication of any kind that he intended to dismiss me from his service. I was notified to this effect by a telephone call from Dr. Lammers on the 4th February. This sudden dismissal, for which I was given no reasons, coinciding with the dismissals of von Fritsche and Blomberg and of other leading diplomats, led however, to one final conclusion. I was quite aware of the fact that this recall meant a change, at the very least, of the political direction. The following day I discussed the situation with the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs and told him of my troubles. Subsequently, I took leave of the Austrian Government, in an official note, and on the following day I went to see Hitler. I must, however, mention the following: I considered this development, through

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the very fact of my recall, so serious that I decided on the evening of the 4th that all my political reports, compiled during those four years, ought to be removed to Switzerland. I wanted to be in a position to prove to the whole world that I had pursued a peaceful and evolutionary policy in Austria during those four years; I wanted to be in a position to prove this to the outside world in case Hitler committed an act of aggression. This decision, particularly on the part of a high ranking official, was certainly not an easy one to reach because I would have to suffer all the consequences which this forbidden action might entail. On the following day, I went to Hitler. I felt the urge to tell him that, even if he no longer wanted me, he should at least send another reasonable and moderate man to Austria. During the discussion I had with him he did not mention the reasons for my dismissal. I had suspected that this was due to a wish of Herr von Ribbentrop, who had become Minister for Foreign Affairs on this 4th February, but Hitler told me that this was not the case. During the discussion on the Austrian situation, I told Hitler, inter alia, that I very much regretted that he had recalled me because, particularly during recent weeks, Chancellor Schuschnigg had declared himself willing to have a personal discussion with Hitler in order to eliminate all differences between the two States. When Hitler heard this, he told me: "If that is the case, then I should be very glad if you would go back to arrange for this discussion with Herr von Schuschnigg." I told him: "That is rather a peculiar task. Yesterday you recalled me and today you want me to go back. But if there is something I can do in the interest of the Austrian problem, if I can bring about such a discussion, I am only too willing to do it."

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