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-Eighth Day: Wednesday, 19th June, 1946
(Part 8 of 11)

[THE PRESIDENT, FYFE, continues his examination of Franz von Papen]

[Page 379]

Q. In the answer to that question, he says this:
"I clearly remember an incident in spring 1944 when I called upon von Papen at the request of Herr Barlas, the Refugees Commissioner of the Jewish Agency, to request his assistance in saving 10,000 Jews in France from deportation to Poland for extermination. These Jews had formerly held the Turkish nationality which they later renounced."
Then he says, through your intervention "the lives of these Jews were saved."

Is that statement true?

A. Yes, certainly.

Q. So at any rate, by the spring of 1944 you knew that 10,000 Jews in France were about to be deported for extermination?

A. I believed they were to be deported to Poland, my Lord. But we did not know in 1944 that they were to be exterminated. We wanted to protect them from deportation.

Q. I thought you said the statement was true.

A. For the purpose of exterminating - I believe that was not said to us at the time. The question was only whether I was willing to help keep 10,000 Jews who were in France from being deported to Poland.

THE PRESIDENT: That is all. You may return to the dock.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I had three witnesses approved by the Tribunal. The witness Freiherr von Lersner could not come here at the time because of transportation difficulties. He cannot be here before the end of July. After the questioning of the defendant, and considering the fact that Lersner has answered an interrogatory, I believe I can dispense with the witness. I regret this, because he is a man who was a companion of the defendant during his whole political career, a witness who would have been especially valuable because of his objectivity in these questions. He was president of the German Peace Delegation at Versailles.

THE PRESIDENT: If you have the affidavit or the interrogatory, you can put it in. We do not need any further statements about it.

[Page 380]


The second witness was Count Kageneck. Since the questions which were to be asked of Kageneck have been covered in answers of the defendant to relative questions, and the cross-examination did not challenge them, I can also dispense with this witness.

There remains only the witness Dr. Kroll, whom I now call to the stand.

HANS KROLL, a witness, took the stand and testified as follows:


Q. Will you state your full name, please?

A. Hans Kroll.

Q. Will you repeat this oath after me:

I swear by God, the Almighty and Omniscient, that I will speak the pure truth and will withhold and add nothing.

(The witness repeated the oath.)

THE PRESIDENT: You may sit down.



Q. Witness, what was your occupation in Ankara?

A. I was the First Counsellor of the embassy, and later Minister. I was in Ankara from the autumn of 1936 until April 1943; from April 1939 until April 1943 I worked together with Ambassador von Papen, as his principal collaborator. Daily, mostly in the morning and in the afternoon, we conferred together for several hours, so that I believe I am well informed about the various phases of his activity during this period in Turkey; that is, about his activity during the war.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: For explanatory purposes, I would like to say that these questions will refer mostly to the peace policy of the defendant.


Q. Did you know Herr von Papen before he became ambassador in Ankara?

A. No. We met in Ankara.

Q. Were you a member of the NSDAP?

A. No.

Q. After taking over the position as ambassador, Herr von Papen came to Ankara for a short stay. What was the purpose of this visit?

A. Herr von Papen wanted, first of all, to present himself to the Turkish Government and to obtain information on the general situation.

Q. Did Herr von Papen at that time, through his conduct and his statements, express his agreement with German foreign. policy, and in particular with the policy towards Poland? Or did he, as far as he was able, attempt to work against this policy?

A. After the arrival of Herr von Papen, I was, of course, interested to learn what he thought the future development of the general situation would be, and, in particular, of the Polish question. I assumed, of course, that, as he came from Germany, he was well informed about Hitler's plans, and I was disappointed to find that he knew no more than I did, which was nothing at all.

Then we discussed the situation in detail, and, as far as I was able to gather, Herr von Papen, who spoke very frankly with me about these things, distrusted Hitler's foreign policy. He was an opponent of war, a true and sincere opponent of war, and, of course, he was also opposed to war against Poland. He was quite convinced that an agreement could be reached on the Polish question if it could only be made clear to Hitler that a conflict with Poland would, of necessity, lead to a world war. He then endeavoured, and I must say in very open and clear and courageous language, to point out this view in his reports. And from his talks with the Turkish statesmen, as well as with the accredited diplomats in Ankara,

[Page 381]

he attempted to prove that, in fact, a conflict with Poland would of necessity lead to a conflict with England and France. He often told me later he was convinced that if everyone, Germans as well as foreigners, had spoken to Hitler in this clear manner, the war would probably have been avoided.

Q. After the outbreak of the Polish war, what was the attitude of Herr von Papen towards the spread of the war to the Nordic States, Holland, Belgium, and, finally, Russia?

A. Herr von Papen, of course, hoped that during this winter pause some agreement would be reached or at least a meeting arranged. He knew that once the action spread to the West, a world war would spread out with all its horrors and that then it would probably be too late to talk things over. Of course, as far as possible, he looked for mediation in Turkey and other countries, and he was glad and willing to seize any opportunity such as had resulted from talks with his friend, the Dutch Minister in Ankara, Mr. Visser. The motive behind this offer of Visser was Holland's wish to have the war ended before spring, by getting England and Germany to engage in peace negotiations.

Q. I am interested in knowing what Herr von Papen's opinion of such a peace was. Did he think that he would be able to achieve annexation by way of peace or what was the purpose of this peace which he had in mind?

A. I believe it is known from the previous activity of Herr von Papen that he was a friend and believer in European understanding. He knew that this war had not begun because of a territorial problem, but because of a principle; that is to say, the prevention of future, one-sided aggressive wars. And so, in the restoration of the legal status before the beginning of the war, that is, in the restoration of the status quo ante on the basis of 1938, including the restoration of Poland and Czechoslovakia, he saw the prerequisite for instituting pourparlers.

He considered the second prerequisite for the successful carrying on of such pourparlers the restoration of confidence in the German signature, which it is known was destroyed through Hitler's foreign policy. The only question was how this confidence could be restored. He clearly realised that the prerequisite for this was a basic reform of the regime, with the aim of making Germany a legal State once more. Finally, Herr von Papen, being posted as he was in Turkey, believed he saw the possibility of ending the war by reaching an understanding, because Turkey, like hardly any other State of equal importance in foreign politics, was in an ideal position for mediating. It enjoyed the confidence of both belligerent parties, and that is essential for arranging a pourparler. And so he endeavoured, in all his talks with Turkish statesmen, to win Turkey over to the idea of mediation. During all his years in Turkey, that was the leit motiv of his work, namely, to bring the war to an end as soon as possible. Then, it is a fact, his efforts led to some success, for the Turkish President in 1942, in an important public speech before the Turkish National Assembly, offered the services of Turkey for mediation between the belligerents.

Q. Did you have knowledge of the efforts of Herr von Papen to avert a spread of the war towards Turkey, contrary to the efforts of certain circles of the Axis partners around Hitler? During the war there were several crises which you might briefly mention.

A. I should like to say first that Papen's activity in Turkey can be summed up in one word. He considered it his mission to make one and the same the interests of Germany, his country, and the interests of peace. That meant, in effect, that he endeavoured to prevent the spreading of the war to Turkey and the Near East and thus create the prerequisite for having Turkey intervene as mediator at the proper time.

Now, as to the crises. I should like to limit myself to those cases in which Herr von Papen had the impression that the neutrality of Turkey was endangered by the intentions of the Axis partners.

[Page 382]

THE PRESIDENT: I think I did before draw your attention to the fact that there was no charge against von Papen in connection with his activities at Ankara; and also, I may add, that I thought this was a summing up in one word.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: There are only a very few cases, your Lordship. He will tell us about them briefly to complete the general picture.

THE PRESIDENT: The only way in which the evidence can be relevant at all is in so far as it throws light upon von Papen's activities before he went to Ankara. That is what I pointed out to you before.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: I said the other day, your Lordship, that the personality of a person charged with war conspiracy cannot be judged correctly if only one period of his activity is covered. He was at a post where he could do only negative or positive things. Evidence relative to his activities in that post is not immaterial.

THE PRESIDENT: Dr. Kubuschok, this witness has been telling us for a considerable time that his activities - that Papen's activities were entirely peaceful, and that they were endeavours to make Turkey mediate; and what he is doing now is simply going on with further details on the same subject and it is over a period when, as I say, no charge is made against von Papen at all by the prosecution.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: If the Tribunal understands that the defendant von Papen actually interpreted his mission in Ankara as a peace mission, I need put no further questions to the witness. Then I come to my last questions.


Q. What was the position of Herr von Papen in regard to the Party, especially as to the Landesleitung in Ankara?

A. On his arrival, von Papen was received with unconcealed distrust. No wonder, for it was known that he was no National Socialist. During these four years in Turkey, I did not meet anyone who considered him a National Socialist. His relationship to the Party became worse in the course of the years, and finally it resulted in open conflict. That was in 1942, when the Landesgruppenleiter of the Party in Ankara once told his colleagues if it rested with him he would have Herr von Papen shot. Then he was challenged about it and corrected himself. He said he did not say that; he only said he would have him put in a concentration camp.

Q. What was the attitude of von Papen to the Jewish question?

A. Repeatedly in public speeches as well as in his actions, Herr von Papen quite clearly opposed the anti-Jewish policy of the Party. He was acquainted with Jewish emigrants. He had Jewish doctors; he bought in Jewish stores. In short, I believe that was one of the main reasons which caused this tension between him and the Party.

Q. Did Herr von Papen even employ a Jewish woman in the embassy?

A. As far as I know, yes. I believe that was the wife of his servant, his porter.

Q. She was employed as a telephone operator there? Frau B ... , is that right?

A. Yes.

Q. Do you know a Herr Posemann? Did he have any connection with the German Embassy?

A. At my time, Posemann was not in the German Embassy. I recall that he had a bookstore in Ankara. He had nothing to do with the embassy.

Q. What was the attitude of Herr von Papen on the personnel question? Did he employ National Socialists in the embassy, or what preference did he have?

A. It is well known that the Party was never quite satisfied with von Papen's choice of workers. That was shown by the very severe consequences on 30th June and after the Anschluss. It was somewhat dangerous to be one of his intimate co-workers.

Of course, he was regarded with suspicion because he did not make a National Socialist centre of command (Kommandostelle) out of the embassy as was done in

[Page 383]

the Balkans and because, when he asked for personnel, he chose people whom he knew were not National Socialists.

I think I need only mention two names, Herr von Haften and Legationsrat Trott zu Solz, two men who, I believe, were executed in connection with 20th July. It was especially held against von Papen that he opposed all efforts to remove me from my post. I do not know whether I should go into that?

Q. Please do, briefly.

A. Repeatedly - I could really say every month - attempts were made to have me eliminated as a deputy of von Papen. Finally, these efforts being unsuccessful, since von Papen always opposed these attempts, the Landesgruppenleiter and the Ortsgruppenleiter of Ankara and Istanbul in the spring of 1942 came to see von Papen and officially, in the name of the Party, demanded that I should be removed from my post. Von Papen refused, but, finally, in 1943, the pressure of the Party became too great, especially since other sources conspired against me, and so at last I was removed.

Q. A final question: During the years you worked together you became well acquainted with the activity of von Papen and his personality. Perhaps you can give us a brief picture of the defendant.

A. I already said before -

THE PRESIDENT: No, he has already sketched it at very considerable length and we do not want it briefly reiterated.

DR. KUBUSCHOK: Then I shall dispense with this question. I have finished the examination of the witness.

SIR DAVID MAXWELL FYFE: I have no questions, my Lord.

THE PRESIDENT: Do any of the defendants' counsel want to ask any questions? Then the witness can retire.

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